This Is For All My Detroit Players

Tuesday August 21,2012

Up early and on the road again the big goal for the day was just to get through the Detroit River and into Lake Erie.  I was handed the wheel right away as usual and after slowly crossing the shallow lake and passing multi-million dollar homes on shore and getting out of the way of a 990 ft freighter we were ready to enter the Detroit River.  Right away there was a fork in the road and we had to decide to go left or right.  The chart plotter was still only showing US marked waters and since the left side of the fork was technically Canadian the chart plotter was no help to me there.  Luckily Matt’s laptop did have these charts and while he was browsing through them I’d exclaim “Left or right?  I need to know!!”.

Since I had been using the chart plotter in front of me to look into the US side and didn’t see any shoals which wouldn’t be passable, and I somehow assumed that would be the only obstacle we’d encounter, I told Matt that the right side looked good and unless he could find reason for me not to take it then I would.  I must have been rushing him too much and exasperated goes “Yeah, sure, just take the right”.  I happily continued on my way, staying in between the red and green buoys while he worked on projects below.  Then 20 minutes into the right fork I saw it.  A very low pedestrian bridge.  Yelling to Matt to come up and double check that I wasn’t just seeing things he eyes it and goes, “Oh yeah, I knew there was a reason I didn’t want to go down this side”.  We should have really checked the charts before we left that morning.

Turning around we backtracked and I kept the laptop with the charts on the left side of Belle Isle right next to me.  Until a little rain storm came through and took them away from me but I just stayed between the buoys and hoped not to run aground.  As soon as we were coming out of the island and the river was joining back up again the clouds went away and the sun came out shinning.  This was also right around the time we were coming up to downtown Detroit and it was a spectacular sight.  I don’t think we could have viewed it on a better day.

Once past the city skyline and under the Ambassador Bridge we came upon the industrial area.  Not quite as pretty.  With not much else to view now Matt went down below for a nap and left me to navigate for myself.  Not a problem, I had been doing fine so far.  Of course it was 10 minutes after he had gone below that I started scanning further into the charts and found there was another fork.  This one had multiple routes and I had no idea which one to take.  Frantically looking at the computer I was trying to follow each route to see where it led before I quickly came up on the fork itself.  Luckily for me there was a mid size freighter about a mile in front of me and I thought to myself ‘Anything he’s trying to avoid, I’m probably trying to avoid as well.  I’ll just follow him’.  I hopped on his tail and hoped that he wasn’t pulling into port somewhere and then I’d be screwed.  Just as I was able to breath a little bit I followed the chart more and saw I was following him into a large commercial shipping lane that would drop me right out into Lake Erie.  Whew.

An hour and a beer later Matt joined me in the cockpit just as we were coming up on Grosse Isle, and more multi-million dollar homes.  Behind us were dark storm clouds that I had spent the last hour trying to figure out if they were coming toward us or away, but it was obvious now that they were right on our back and soon to catch up with us.  It was kind of a strange sight since we were in the sun and right behind us it was dark as night.  I have a panoramic shot below that shows from our bow to stern and the change in the sky.  I was just hoping for no downpours or thunder and lightning.  We could hear it off in the distance and started listening to the weather report on the VHF and it did not sound good.

Following the last little channel to Lake Erie we kept an eye out as the sky around us kept growing darker.  I started to worry about it less and less though and after we had gotten to the lake I thought we might even use the opportunity of rain for a shower.  We got everything all ready on deck, shampoo, conditioner, and soap.  We told ourselves that as soon as the rain came we’d quickly strip down and ‘shower’ on deck.  Once the rain finally did come we threw off our clothes and ran out to freezing droplets of ice water on our skin.  The worst part was it wasn’t even coming down that hard and wasn’t enough to soak our hair.  And then it was gone.  No shower for us.  We figured as long as we were trying we’d just throw the bucket overboard and take a quick deck bath.  Living on a boat you never miss an opportunity to get clean.