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

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Bikes n things

The trip to St Joe was delightful - the flatest it had been on the lake since beginning our trip. The trip up to the fuel dock at Pier 33 was not and it is small wonder the fuel is so cheap at 3.69/gallon. To get there, you turn off the main channel into a small river that was showing 3.2ft on the sounder at the entrance. You wind up a channel about half a mile with the depth sounder varying between 3 and 13 ft (we draw 4'4") until, just within sight of the fuel dock the sounder shows 2.2ft, at which time we touch bottom. It gets deeper at the dock , which only has room for 1 boat at a time, but you are warned to turn around in your own boat length or you will be aground upstream. We tried the other side of the channel going down, but had the same 2.2ft grounding experience at the same spot - which goes to prove that my transducer is 2ft below the waterline (which is handy to know, but would rather have measured it!). In both cases I was going very slowly and removed power immediately so the props weren't turning when they touched. It also felt like a very slushy bottom and no damage was done.

We decided we didn't like it there and pressed on to New Buffalo to take advantage of the excellent Sunday Brunch that I experienced during the boat buying trip last year. On arrival the beaches were packed, there were squillions of water craft parading up and down the small harbour and yes....there were no slips available.

So we continued on to Michigan City (after ringing first to ensure there was a berth for us). Their's is a big marina and there was plenty of room. There was also a boat show on, the largest in Lake Michigan, so we arranged to stay for 3 days. The following day was overcast and it began to rain around mid morning, so I visited the boat show while Carolyn read books. It was a bit of a disappointment with very little in the way of chandlery, in which I was really interested, and beer was $4 a cup. Auckland's show at the Viaduct Basin leaves it for dead. There was a cute water-skiing squirrel and a demo of a new device called a fly board. It is an attachment to a jet ski that was quite entertaining when demonstrated by an expert, but I can just imagine what it will be like when  it falls into the hands of inexperienced idiots - and at less than $10000 at todays price, they soon will. As if jet skiers needed anything more crazy and dangerous than the craft they already misuse - if these become wide spread I predict there will be some serious injuries and fatalities very quickly.

It was nicer the following day so I took a ride to a bike shop about 1.8 miles away that I had found on the net. It turned out to have exactly the bike we were looking for for Carolyn with 3 speeds, low bar and even the right colour. So I pedalled back and roused Carolyn and we set off to view it. I checked with the office to see if someone could give us a lift (we would ride the bikes back if we bought it) and one of the staff, Don, loaned us his Jeep to drive there and back. He also offered that we could use it to go grocery shopping if we wanted. We drove to the store tested and bought the bike (after a seat change) and even  negotiated a trade in on the bikes we bought in Sturgeon Bay - including the broken one - as they had become unwanted cargo.
We arrived back just as JETSTREAM arrived from St Joe and as they were needing supplies, I took Don's kind offer and used his car to take them to Al's grocery store, which is past the bike shop - not the 0.8 miles from the marina like the Skipper Bob guide book says. When I returned the key to the office I left some money to cover gas, for which Don later chastised me, but I insisted he keep it as his generosity should not be at his cost and he had saved us a lot of effort and money.

The next day was a monday, so I rang CBP in Chicago and tracked down an officer whose name I was given by another Kiwi Looper. She knew nothing of the procedure, so I gave her my details and suggested she rang the officer in Grand Rapids who did know how it worked. We then left for Hammond marina, where we now are - but I have decided that will be the subject of a separate posting as we are still there and there is a story to tell.....

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