Crossing My Wake

I’m in Wiarton. Yesterday I noodled down to a late lunch at Gillies in Snug Harbour, then headed across the Bay. Got in here after dark. Nice weather.

I’ve completed another Great Loop. We were here 23 months ago on the way to Toronto. I’ll have to gather some stats, but we’ve traveled a little over 9,400 nautical miles since then.

Filled up with fuel and water. Used 235 litres of fuel to travel 361 NM in six days, much of it at slow speeds.

Tomorrow Susan is joining me for a few days. Not sure where we’ll go, but weather looks nice. Lots of choices.

North Channel

Wow.  It’s been five days of working my way east on the north shore since I left Bruce Mines.  A lot of it was new to me.  I basically followed the shoreline as closely as I could.  Lots of fun. 

I’m now anchored here in Pointe au Baril. Last night was at Bad River, and the night before was in MacGregor Bay.  The previous night was near Whitefish Falls.  

I was especially happy to get up to MacGregor Island and the tip of Killarney Park.  I’d like to go back there and try to get up to Iroquois Bay.  It looks doable, but tricky.  Would need a bow spotter for rocks in a few places.

Hello Canada!

It’s nice to be back.

Approaching Mackinac bridge

From Manastique I went to Beaver Island. Nice trip. Anchored in the harbour and dined ashore. At first I couldn’t remember whether I’d eaten before at the local restaurant. Once the food arrived I remembered that I had. Note to future self: walk down the road to the second restaurant next time.

Yesterday was another nice run, to De Tour, where I anchored here just off the port bow of the John W Boardman. While I didn’t take any pics of the ship cottage I did take a picture of the lighthouse marking the passage northbound to Lake Superior.

This morning I came around the east side of St Joseph’s Island and in to Bruce Mines, where I cleared customs and fueled up. I’m now anchored here just off the marina. Mallory picked me up this evening and we had dinner in The Soo and loaded up with groceries. Tomorrow I head east.

For the segment from Chicago to here I traveled 547 NM over ten days and burned 455 l of fuel.

Batteries and electrical is all good. I’ve been playing with regulator and solar configurations to optimize for lithium. Motor is running great. I wasn’t able to remedy or diagnose the AP failure. But I haven’t minded steering as much as I thought I would. I have a good unit on Tin Lizzie that I’ll fetch next time I’m in Guelph.


I came in here about noon, and am anchored here just inside the breakwater.

Good news: the motor is running perfectly, better than it has in a year. I ran here from Sturgeon Bay with no issues, and the occasional miss is gone.

I had considered wiring as a cause for minor erratic behaviour last winter, and when in Florida sprayed out all the sensor connections, but not the ECU harness. I should have done it sooner.

Bad news: my autopilot stopped working about midnight last night. I was planning to do an all nighter and get to Lake Huron with a nice weather window.

I diverted course slightly to get out of the waves in the lee of Summer Island, and anchored there. Spent some time troubleshooting, and it’s nothing obvious. I may have dropped the controller one time too many. So I slept until morning then headed down here. Weather looks good Tuesday to follow the north shore to Drummond Island. There’s a front coming through tomorrow.

Having to steer in a pain, particularly in waves or at night. I didn’t have internet last night, but there is very good online reference material on the AP. Maybe I’ll be able to get it operational before I leave.

Yesterday I had a lovely cruise north out of Green Bay. Poked into the ports, stopped in Ephraim for a nice dinner.

Sturgeon Bay

I’m anchored here in Sturgeon Bay. Weather has been great, nice temps and light winds. Beautiful sunsets.

I started having motor problems late Monday as I was coming in here from Lake Michigan.

I went down to Green Bay on Tuesday, and picked up new seals for the low pressure lines from the local JD dealer. I went through the whole fuel system again.

Yesterday I left Green Bay and the problems continued. I spent most of the day drifting. Checked the return lines, then finally decided to consider other causes. Probably should have done that earlier.

It turns out that the motor hasn’t been stopping because of air or fuel starvation, it’s being shut off by the computer.

After some experimentation and observation I realized that the ECU seemed to be shutting down without warning or error codes. After a period of time ranging from minutes to an hour or more it would start working, but then fail again after 10-30 minutes of operation.

Today I went through the wiring and all the connectors and fuses in the harness during periods of power loss.

As a final step I removed the harness from the ECU and sprayed WD40 on the connectors. After reassembly the motor started and ran fine for ~ 2 hours to get back in to here. I’m cautiously optimistic.

In the meantime, I’ll get ashore to get some groceries and see the sights.

Up the Lake, Again


I launched Escapade on Friday in Chicago, and am now heading up the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. I’m in Sheboygan tonight.

All is good aboard. I got a few things done while ashore. I replaced the inverter/charger with a new Victron unit and bought a couple of 300 ah lithium batteries as a house bank. That was pretty much the last item on my big $$ list.

My plan is to head up into Green Bay, then follow the west/north shore of the lake up to Mackinac, then north to Canada. Weather looks great for the next few days.

These pics were the start of the Chicago-Mac race on Saturday.

Into the Lakes

I haven’t been posting because I’ve largely been ashore in Chicago. I did get out on the lake a couple of weeks ago to help Bruce get Pippa to her summer slip.

That’s Escapade in the first couple of pics.

Friday I left Chicago to sail a Beneteau 345 to Port Elgin ON. This was arranged a couple of months ago when Bruce introduced me to the new owner Glenn. He flew in Thursday evening and we managed to get underway Friday around 5 pm.

Glenn had no prior sailing experience, I had tried to caution about delays due to weather or equipment issues, and had my usual trepidation around the trip. It’s about 450 NM up Lake Michigan and across Lake Huron, with the direct route crossing 100 miles between shores.

As it turned out, we motored all but a couple of hours, and never encountered significant wind or seas. A pleasant motorboat ride. We arrived in Port Elgin at noon Wednesday. Apart from brief refueling stops at Ludington and Rogers City our only stop was Mackinac Island, where we arrived late Sunday and left Tuesday morning.

We used 45 gallons of fuel, so about 10 NM/gal. About 2/3 gph at 6.5 knots.

Escapade is in the shed in Chicago. I’m hanging with family in Ontario, trying to get motorcycle licencing, and plotting my next boating adventures.

Escapade Fuel Stats – 21 months

I’ve been looking at my fuel logs for Escapade.  I bought the boat 21 months ago and have been mostly aboard and traveling since then.

Here are summary fuel numbers as of my last fill-up.  I won’t refuel until September when I’m back aboard. Maybe prices will be lower then. Or not.

Distance traveled: 8,219 NM / 15,223 km / 9,458 miles

Engine hours: 1,314

Furnace hours: 1,426

Fuel Used (diesel): 9,251 l / 2,444 gallons

The furnace uses 1.7 l/hr.  So heat and hot water used 2,424 l. That’s a lot, more than 25% of the total burn.    This includes a winter in Toronto and lots of shoulder season.  I’ve got a list of simple improvements that I know will bring down the heating costs for the future. 

On the propulsion side that leaves 6,826 l / 1,803 gal.  1.37 gal/hr.  4.75 NM/gal or 5.45 mpg.

Average speed was 6.5 knots.

That’s fabulous mileage.  It got better as I went along, partly because I gradually slowed down, but repropping and new injectors helped a bit too.

Summer Plans

I’ve been docked at Crowley’s for 4 weeks now. Was in Ontario for a visit, and am now back in Chicago helping out in the yard during their spring launch season.

Escapade will get hauled in a few weeks and stay ashore here for the summer, getting some professional attention. Minor glass and paint repairs and engine and generator service.

I’m leaving in early June to sail a Beneteau 345 from Chicago to Port Elgin ON with the new owner, who is completely new to sailing.

The new boat I was hinting about earlier is a MacGregor 65 Pilothouse sailboat. I’ll try to write a post with my complete rationale, but I’m excited at the possibilities for that boat. Negotiations haven’t concluded, but I’ve left July and August open to sail around the lakes in this boat.

Escapade needs to be back in Canada by mid November to satisfy my cruising permit conditions. So I’ve blocked off September for a cruise up to Canada in Escapade. I’m thinking North Channel is probably beautiful that time of year.

Bruce suggested the name Guttersnipe for the MacGregor. It’s my current favourite.

A few random pics – I really like watching the commercial traffic go in and out the Calumet River.