A Kiwi couple's cruising adventures on America's Great Loop and around the coast of New Zealand

Sunday, 5 August 2012


Sorry for the delay in a post. A lot has happened in the last week and we have not always been anywhere we can report it. We decided to stay at Egg harbour Marina another night rather than head back to Sturgeon Bay to ready for the Lake Michigan crossing. Of course as soon as I booked in, the wind dropped and it became a beautiful day. However, when I checked in I saw this poster on the noticeboard
Since we had been looking for folding bikes, these seemed ideal. We rang the man and said we would be in Sturgeon Bay the next day and he said he would pick us up from the Marina. So if we had gone there tata day we would never have seen the poster....Karma, eh? We ate at a local reataurant that night and retired early for an early start the next day.

At which time we departed Egg Harbour and had an uneventful trip down (other than avoiding the box nets prevalent around the area) and arrived around 10am to be given the same slip we had been on during our last visit. We called the bike man, he picked us up, we bought the bikes, and took us back to the boat. Later that I took one for a test run to buy a tire pump and rode probably 4 miles, after which time I discovered bones in my ass that I didn't know existed. More bad weather was forecast, so I negotiated a deal with the marina, having been there now for 7 days, and it being my birthday...they gave us a free night.

By the way, Centrepointe is a great place with top class facilities and excellent service. The staff could not have been more helpful, taking us wherever we wanted to go and providing any support we needed. .....and I'm not just saying that because they gave us a free night (although it helped).

The next day we took the new bikes for a tutu and discovered the flaw in the Karma theory. Going over a large bump in the road, the rear axle support on Carolyn's broke off rendering its only further use as spare parts for the other one. A disappointment but the excercise was worth it. We know we need, and would use bikes....we just have to be a little more selective in their capabilities. The weather reports were suggesting that the next day was going to be the best for a crossing for about 3-4 days, so we decided to go for it.

When we departed the Sturgeon canal the next morning, we enountered 3-5 foot waves, not the 2-4 forecast and for the first hour we had to make about 14kts to have a comfortable ride. Halfway across, the opposite happened to the forecast. Instead of increasing to 3-5 ft they decreased to 2-4, and an hour later dropped to less than 2, so it was  very flat by the time we reached Frankfort.

 It had been an interesting crossing - you loose sight of land about 10 miles out and don't see any again until 10 miles from your destination. The strange thing was not seeing any wildlife - no whales or dolphins or penguins, of course, but not even any fish or birds, for that matter. (although about 10 miles out we were buzzed by a strange creature that I swear was a bat!)

We tied up at Frankfort's Municipal marina, which has no Wifi or cable! I called in to Sault Ste Marie CBP and after a little confusion was told that Frankfort came under the jurisdiction of Grand Rapids. I then rang them and, lo and behold, a CBP officer that knew what I was talking about. He took our details (somewhat bemused by our cruising licence number that ended in 00001......"first one they've issued, huh" he said) and told me to give him a call when we moved down the coast until we got past Holland, after which we enter another jurisdiction. After that we were greeted by our next door neighbours Rick and Dianne off TOUCAN, who are Loopers and were invited to cocktails aboard at 5.30 with other Loopers, Tom and Linda (Q's END). It was then that we realised that there had been a change in timezone and it was now an hour later. We had the coktails then went for dinner uptown. The forecast was for that deterioration to arrive the next day so we decided to wait and see about the next days activities.

The next morning TOUCAN was gone, headed for Manistee. By the time we had gone the the supermarket and passed the Farmers market, the wind had picked up so we decided to stay another night. This was also prompted by the local Rotary setting up for thier annual Chicken BBQ right behind the boat.

We also met up with another 453 owner JC (and Debra) from GLASS SEA LADY whic is very similar to our boat. They have owned it for 8 years and JC knows more about his 453 than I think Bert does, and I didn't think that was possible. It was a very useful experience in getting some ideas on how to attack the DC system problem during anchoring out.
Later that afternoon, a wedding party came and had its photo opportunity on the fuel dock beside us.
We partook of the BBQ - $10 a serving and met a lady from Wanganui (yes I spell it the non PC way) and were joined by the folk off GLASS SEA LADY and Debra graced us with a portion of an exquisite blackberry pie she ahd made from locally picked fruit (I just saw her get some more, so I know where they are  now).

Overnight the wind got up and Frankfort suffers from a strong swell that enters the harbour in big west winds. We got a couple of big bumps against the dock so at 4.45 I got up and added some more fenders and dock lines. By daybreak the wind had increased so we decided it was prudent to stay another day - it is supposed to ease off tomorrow. I said earlier there is no Wifi, but you can get it sitting outside the Library, where I am now - hence this posting. We talk a walk to the beach at the entrance to the harbour and were pleased to be tied up when we saw the state of the lake. Back at he boat there was a family of ducks sheltering behind us and a large white swan came scrounging around - and got some bread for it efforts.

Well I'd better get this posted while I can and go and cook dinner. Spaghetti Bolognese tonight.
Catch y'all next time


  1. Happy Birthday! Safe travels, we found that on Lake Michigan its best to be off and tied up by 1-2pm at the latest. Enjoy the journey!

  2. Glad you met Qs End. This is their second Loop. Fine folks.

  3. FWIW, we carry two folding bikes, one by Downtube and one by West Marine. The former has a front suspension and is therefore more comfortable over rough surfaces, and it also has an 8-speed internal hub with twist-grip shifter... but the fastening hardware isn't 316 stainless so rust can be an issue. The latter is the less expensive Jetty Express model, with a 3-speed derailleur with twist-grip shifter... quite adequate, and better fasteners. I believe the sturdy luggage rack is the most important feature.

    About batteries: yep, Silverton often used 3x batteries per side, and each main bank runs approx half the house, plus either bridge electronics (starboard bank, on ours) or bridge electrics (our port bank). As delivered, I think Silverton told me the batteries were automotive Group 29s for our model. I changed to 3x Marine Group 31s per side, and also to AGMs, to increase available amp-hours and to reduce the maintenence requirements. The Sears Platinum Plus PM-1 AGMs have become popular with Silverton owners (especially when they offer sale prices); they're essentially Odyssey PC-2150s, with 1150 CCAs and the typical 100 Ah rating per battery.

    If the generator starting battery is near one of the other banks, you could also consider adding one battery to that main bank, jumping the charger properly, and thereby gaining some Ah on that side. At the expense of dedicated genset starting, but you also have a parallel switch so you could always briefly tie all 7 batteries together to start the generator if necessary (and the gennie requires fewer CCAs, anyway).

    Changing incandescent bulbs to LEDs could buy you a little improvement (at some expense), especially the anchor light. Another thought might be about your fridges. If they're combination AC-DC models and you're running them on AC provided by the inverter, you might be losing some slight amount of efficiency within the inverter/converter processes. Our fridges (NovaKool) say they run on either AC or DC, but the compressor actually only runs on DC... so the AC input is always converted to DC first. If you're inverting from DC to AC, then the fridge is converting AC back to DC, you'll be losing a bit in the processes.

    I know several members in the Silverton Owners Club have installed a separate house bank to feed the inverter. I haven't, but that's mostly because we don't particularly use AC appliances all that much when underway or at anchor... without just using the generator at the same time (e.g., cooking, while charging batteries). Because of that, the inverter idea is just further down my list of nice-to-haves.


    1. Yes Chris, that is the setup on the 453. The refrigeration is all subzero residential appliances at 115VAC, which is why I fitted the inverter in the first place. They are much more energy hungry than most AC/DC marine fridges that I have used or seen in the past...about 4 to 6 times as much. The concept of having to run a generator 24/7 when you are not connected to shore power just to keep the beer (and other things) cold is quite alien and unacceptable to me. I had hoped that if I left the system as it was I could get through a night without running the batteries so low that they couldn't start the engines, but that was not the case. The original RSM31 deep cycle batteries have been replaced at some stage with type 31 "diesel start batteries", so this makes the situation worse and will ulimately kill them as cranking batteries don't take kindly to being run flat and recharged all the time. At the moment my leaning is towards separating out two of the start batteries per engine as per the Volvo manual, and replacing the other one with as big a deep cycle as I can fit in the space. This won't give a lot of storage but it doesn't worry me as much to have the genset running to charge the house batteries as it does to not have the engines start when I want or need them to. The engine alternators will charge them and the start batteries via charging isolators, and the converter/charger will just charge the house. I figure the start batteries will get enough from the engine running to not have to be charged continuously.