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Just Passing Through

10 July 2011 1735 EDT
Pos: 45 19.4’N x 083 17.1’W
Sailing under all plain sail, plus T’gallant, making 4.5 knots, Wind SxW F2,
Mostly Cloudy

Departing Detroit’s Port Authority Dock yesterday, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II had a hot, steamy motorboat ride up the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. The route offers an interesting mix of summer cottages, waterfront communities, industrial docks and factories. We even encountered a racing fleet of 40 sailboats off St. Clair, Michigan and threading through them made for some interesting navigation. Finally, meeting the strongest current of the rivers near Port Huron, we saw the historic pilot schooner HIGHLANDER SEA at the Bean Docks. Though she hasn’t operated in two years, HIGHLANDER SEA still presents a striking image at the docks.

After the Port Huron it was out into Lake Huron itself, and with a decent Northeast Breeze to work with. We quickly set all sail and started off for the “Thumb” of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Near sunset, however, the breeze faded to a breath of easterly. To wash off the heat of the day and check off another Great Lake, we had a pre-sunset swim call, much to the delight of a few pleasure sailboats that were following us and taking pictures.

We motored through the night until a South-Southwesterly built up and we were able to shut down and sail, occasionally getting up to nine knots and warily watching the string of rain clouds coming across the aptly named Thunder Bay area. Averaging seven knots for most of the day, we seem to be at the end of the breeze now and will have to start motoring soon. With a little push, we should be into the St. Marys River by dawn and through the SOO locks by early afternoon. That schedule will have us into the Greatest of Lakes before sunset. We have also crossed the 45th parallel for the third time this season – once along the East end of Nova Scotia, once at the American Locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway and now here. We’ll stay “half way to the North Pole” for nearly a month.

Excitement for arriving to Duluth builds among the crew. This is probably in no small part because in my four consecutive years of sailing there – three aboard PRIDE II and once with the schooner DENIS SULLIVAN – I have come to like the city and its unique status as the inland most port in the world. But there is an oddity to be simply passing through the whole of Lake Huron without a stop. In past years PRIDE II has made port calls at Bay City and Alpena, Michigan, or at least stopped in for a quick rest at Port Huron. But this year all we’ll see of the Lake Huron shoreline is from over the rail. Not to worry, though, we’re busy enough. And we’re sure to have a Huron port in 2013.

For now, however, we have a third of the lake left to cover, and the wind has taken a break of the evening.

All best,
Jamie Trost and the Superior Bound crew of PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II