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The Great Lakes: Huron and Michigan 9.10. - 6.11.2001
9.10.2001 Alpena, Michigan, USA
When we were still on the River St. Claire, on the Canadian side, we met two
extraordinary boats. The other was russian, Saint Paul, a replica
of the explorer Bering's boat. In 1741 Vitus Bering discovered Alaska and the
Northwest Territory with other russian explorers. The Bering Strait is named
after him. Saint Paul is 50 feet long and built in 1991. That year the vessel
left it's homeport Vladivostok with the crew of three: captain Michael, Irene
and Koozya-cat. They crossed the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands and
Alaska, continued down the west coast of Canada and USA, visited Guatemala, El
Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica - not always without problems and
dangers. They sailed in Mexico and Florida, from where they followed the
coastline and canals to the Great Lakes. At the moment the motor is broken and
no money to buy a new one.
On the Columbus Day (8.10.) we started to conquire our thrid lake, Lake Huron. Again the sun was shining and we had the wind with us. We hoisted the spinnaker and speeded towards the North. Huron is 200 miles long and formed like a glove. In the narrow end it's only about 35 miles wide, but the other side is 150 miles wide.
The forecast promised 30 knots for the night, so we took the spinnaker down.
Back home or at sea a 30-knot wind is not bad, but here the waves went grazy.
Kristiina was hopping and rolling. The waves seemed to come from every
direction, as well as the wind. The autopilot couldn't hold the course during
the worst hours, so we drove by hand, turning the wheel like mad. Now we
understand all the warnings about these lakes, I wouldn't like to be hit by the
lake waves during a storm.
16.10.2001 Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA
In the evening we wanted to go out and taste our first American beers. We walked
in to a bar opposite the boat, and ordered two beers. Instead of serving we were
told to show our ID's. What, do you have to prove your identity to drink beer in
the USA? I just do my work and follow the rules, was the rude answer. I had my
driver's license in the wallet, which I showed to the lady, but Hannu didn't
have any ID with him. So, no beer. Well, we didn't give up that easily, we went
to another bar nearby. Right away at the door we asked about the ID-thing and
explained what we just had experienced. The waitress said, that only in that
case she would think someone is underaged, she would ask for an ID. The
21-age-limit was clearly marked at the door in the first bar. Either we look 20
years younger after 5 months in the fresh air, or the whole epsiode was to spite
foreigners. But we got a laugh, anyway.
From Cheboygan we motored the 10 mile passage to the Mackinac Island, which is
really special and beautiful place. Motorvechiles are not allowed on this island,
so the small streets are full of horse carriages and bicycles. The island is
very popular during the summer, the little guest harbour full of boats,
hydrofoils bringing tourists. Some wealthy people have their summer houses here.
Most of the houses are wooden, built in 1900th century decorated style. There
are a number of hotels of which the most famous and expensive is the Grand
Hotel. You cannot even get into the lobby without paying 10 dollars, and there
is a very strict dressing code (men: tie and jacket, women: no slacks). The
interests include the Fort Mackinac, which was built by the British in the
1800th century. The luxuriant forest, with huge cedar trees, is full of paths
and narrow roads for riders and bikers. The Mackinac Island is a bit higher from
the surrounding low lands, and the uphills give you a nice sweat.
23.10.2001 Port Washington, Wisconsin, USA
26.10.2001 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
First time we tried to call on Presque Isle. Because it was my first time on an American phonebox, I did not know what kind of tone to expect. I tried to read the small print on the apparatus, finding out that first you dial (long distance with the country code 1), then you wait for a voice to tell you the charge. Insert a dollar and 75 cents for your call, I heard, so I stuffed the seven 25-cent coins in. Nothing happened. I tried again. And again. Several times. On this phone and on the next phone. I went back to the boat and checked the number. I tried with the country code and without it. I tried with the area code and without it. I checked out the area code from the phone book. Nothing else than a silence. Then a man came up to me, he wanted also to make a call. I told him about my misfortune. He listened the quiet humming of the line for a while and said that the phone was closed. Off-season, you see. We walked to a shop nearby in a hope for a phone, but they didn't have one. After the weekend we grasped the handle again on the Mackinac Island. Similarly, the phone was in the closed marina area, but now I knew to expect a tone. Ha, I heard it! I dialed the number, the voice told me the amount, I inserted coins, and remain hopefully waiting. Your call did not go through, please try again, said the voice. I did as told, no result. Maybe the phone was closed after all (only the Voice was overwintering inside...). We went bicycling, and tried a phone along our way. Negative result. I asked a park worker on the spot about the secrets of the American phones, but he couldn't help. The next try was in the harbour, and yes, the call was connected! The person I wanted to talk to would be back in the office after a week. So, after a week, in Port Washington, we called again. The voice said: insert 4 dollars and 85 cents for your call. What!? On the Mackinac Island the price was 1,75 and now, even nearer our calling destination, almost five dollars. We didn't have 20 pieces of 25 cent coins, and would not pay that much for a call, anyway. We were wondering the price at the harbour office and were told that the various phone companies price their calls as they like, there is no rational in it. We were allowed to make the call from the marina office. The phone acted as phones are supposed to act, and we got our matter in order. Thousand thanks! (The marina staff did not hear this story before they let us to use the phone.)
From Port Washington we sailed to the million-city Milwaukee on Tuesday 23.10. We entered the first marina, McKinley, just to hear that they are closed for the season and don't have a dockage for us. We stayed the night at the end of a dock under a demolishing work. The workers were so far away that we thought we were ok, but in the morning we were told to leave. However, we could stay at the short-time dock beside the gas station. Unfortunately, that was too shallow. So, the marina manager allowed us to dock at the slip for a day. We were off to get a glimpse of the city. During the day the wind started to blow and the forecast warned about 40-50 knots, at the open seas 60 knots, SW winds. These figures are not terrible at the sea, but here the winds of 20-25 knots rise waves, which are - if not dangerous, so uncomfortable. In addition, the forecast has always been careful with the prediction, and we have learned that even the 20-25 knot, which is "only" 10-12.5 m/s, means reefing the sails. So we would not go out to 40-50 knots wind against us. Kind enough, the marina manager let us stay.
Milwaukee is comfortable city to be so big, at
least what we discovered on the bike back. The cold and stormy weather made
inside sightseeing preferable. We wondered the Art Museum, designed by the
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and admired the cupola ceiling and marmore
columns of the library. At the Museums and IMAXtheatre complex we discovered a
film on Shackleton. It was fantastically done, combining Hurley's
authentic photo and film material, fictive parts, and shootings of the amazing
and desolate nature of the Antarctic. Both of us had read Caroline Alexander's
brilliant book on Shackleton, and back to the boat we took it out again. This
book, translated also to Finnish, is highly recommedable, although the
uncredible story of Shackleton and his 22 men - a story of leadership and
unyield - is interesting as such.