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Old 18-03-2015, 12:38   #16
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

There is cell/data coverage in many parts of the North Channel. It will be low-quality and slow (3G if you're lucky) and will be via Canadian providers, so Americans are advised to get a remote package. Apparently we have some of the most expensive cell/data charges in the world here .

I sat in the Tolsmaville "marina" (Coburn Island) for nearly a week last year hiding from a prolonged summer gale. I was able to pick up my email by standing in the magic spot on the dock and lifting my pad as high as possible, so who said you can't get Internet service .
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Old 18-03-2015, 15:17   #17
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Thank you everyone so much for responding to my thread!!! I have really enjoyed reading all of your input and it has made us even MORE excited but also more nervous about crossing such a big body of water where even on a clear day you can't see land in any direction once you are half way across.
We are feeling pretty hopeless that we will ever learn what all of the different kind of buoys mean when we saw pictures in Chapmans book. There were barely any markers on our previous lake. ...Our plan (once we are feeling really brave) is to overnight on the hook just outside our marina in Duncan Bay and see how that goes! I understand that trying to do that with a NW wind would not be in our best interest to say the least!! We have a chart plotter, auto pilot and radar on our boat. We also have a windless and have talked about adding more chain to the 40+ foot of chain then rope that we have now. The classes sound like a great idea and I will have to check on where they are available. (We live one hour south of Cheboygan)
We were ecstatic to read that there is at least one other Duncan Bay Boat Club owner on this site so be careful if you tell us that as we will most likely be looking you up once the marina opens!!!
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Old 18-03-2015, 15:24   #18
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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Originally Posted by MicHome View Post
Thank you everyone so much for responding to my thread!!! I have really enjoyed reading all of your input and it has made us even MORE excited but also more nervous about crossing such a big body of water where even on a clear day you can't see land in any direction once you are half way across.
We are feeling pretty hopeless that we will ever learn what all of the different kind of buoys mean when we saw pictures in Chapmans book. There were barely any markers on our previous lake. ...Our plan (once we are feeling really brave) is to overnight on the hook just outside our marina in Duncan Bay and see how that goes! I understand that trying to do that with a NW wind would not be in our best interest to say the least!! We have a chart plotter, auto pilot and radar on our boat. We also have a windless and have talked about adding more chain to the 40+ foot of chain then rope that we have now. The classes sound like a great idea and I will have to check on where they are available. (We live one hour south of Cheboygan)
We were ecstatic to read that there is at least one other Duncan Bay Boat Club owner on this site so be careful if you tell us that as we will most likely be looking you up once the marina opens!!!
That's interesting that your boat has all those electronics on a 28 mile lake. I don't have any of those goodies.

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Old 18-03-2015, 16:23   #19
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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It sounds like you've already got a good handle on your known unknowns. Go cautiously, go slow. Respect the Big Lakes. They will kill you if you treat them with arrogance, but you already know this.

All the Great Lakes can produce large, steep seas. It's not uncommon to have 3+ meter (10+ feet) waves, but luckily during prime cruising months they are mostly in the 1/2 to 2 meter range. Your boat will manage most sea states well, but do listen to forecasts. As waves get bigger and steeper it's usually better to take the at a slight angle off the bow or stern, as opposed to being dead perpendicular. Surfing may be an issue as well when running with large seas. Each boat behaves different. You'll learn what yours likes.

With regard to forecasts, take them as one source of information, but use your own eyes and skills. Weather on the Great Lakes can change fast, and local conditions can be significantly different compared to the general forecasts. Learn to read the sky. In the summer months fast moving fronts and thunder storms (both frontal and localized) will pose the greatest dangers. Fog is an issue, especially in May/June.

The North Channel is a wonderful cruising ground. Yes, watch your depths. Have a good sounder, and carry good charts; both digital and paper. In addition to the Ports book you can also get the Huron Richardson's chart book.

You mention anchoring, so make sure your system is up to the task. Your bower should be a large, good quality anchor (I recommend one of the newer spade-style anchors like Rocna, Mantus, Spade, etc.). Carry a spare or two. You should have at least 60' of chain, but you can't go wrong with more. You and your back will appreciate a good windlass. It goes without saying, but learn how to anchor properly. Even in protected anchorages a sudden thunderstorm can wreck havoc on poorly-anchored boats.

Is this what you're looking for? I can tell you about some anchorages and marinas in the North Channel if you like. There's an endless amount to be said... As I say, there's a ton of experienced Great Lakes sailors on CF, including many Lake Michigan folks. Hopefully someone will chime in with direct local knowledge of your area.

Go slow, have fun.
Richardson's is exactly the charts we were looking at to buy. It is nice to read that you recommend them! I want to read about the anchorages but we will first be concentrating on the ones on the west side of the North Channel and at the entrance to DeTour Passage.
Ps...Hubby says we have a Delta anchor....
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Old 18-03-2015, 16:27   #20
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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That's interesting that your boat has all those electronics on a 28 mile lake. I don't have any of those goodies.

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It came with the boat....They are Northstar, from what we heard they aren't the best but we are glad we have them....
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Old 18-03-2015, 16:29   #21
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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Not only will you not have internet in much of the north channel, but you may not have cell service in much of Northern Lake Huron, although Coast Guard Radio stations can generally be reached on channel 16.

Treat the open water of Northern Lake Huron with caution, it can be very rough and you could very easily be many miles to a safe anchorage if things start to go south.

I had a flooding situation that started to cause me serious concern about 5 or 6 years ago when I discovered my forepeak hatch had failed to keep the seas on the outside of the boat and a bulkhead fitting failed, allowing my galley to flood to as well. I was able to stem the flooding using a mattress over the forpeak hatch and my pumps were more than up to the task- fortunately because I had to continue into the weather for a good few hours. This was on a well maintained 60' boat. Before I started my pumps, I figured there was 5-10 tons of water onboard.

You'll love the North Channel, it's beautiful I spent a summer working on Manitoulin island- fantastic.

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I wonder how many boats were sold following an experience like the one you had!!!!
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Old 18-03-2015, 16:32   #22
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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Check out the Great Lakes Cruising Association. Tons of good info.
I have already before I read your post....Thanks for answering that the cost was worth it in a time when there are so many places to throw your money away in boating....Do they also give you access to electronic charts that you can download when you don't have internet??
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Old 18-03-2015, 16:37   #23
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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Welcome to the Great Lakes State! You guys will have tons of fun and adventures ahead of you. Take safety seriously. As others have said you're in open water now. No cell service in many areas. If you don't already have a DSC VHF get one, and make sure you have it hooked to your GPS properly. Also a good GPS Epirb wouldn't be a bad idea either.

With a home port of Cheboygan you are well suited to experience some of the best cruising the Great Lakes has to offer. Not only the North Channel but also Northern Lake Michigan!

As always when planning trips have a LOOSE itinerary of where you'd like to go. That however will ALWAYS be dependent on weather. Two years ago we tried to cruise from Muskegon MI to Beaver Island. We had two weeks planned for the trip. It should only take about 3 days for us sailboaters to reach it. However we never made it farther than Aracdia that year. Thunderstorms kept rolling in an hindering our progress. The weather was poor and wavy so we made the best of it and hung out in lots of the towns along the way. Remember cruising is about the trip not the destination. If you want wifi stay in the main land Marinas, going cruising to remote areas is fun because of the remote wilderness of it, not because of the streaming netflix at night

Take some navigation courses if you're not comfortable navigating, they will prove invaluable if you plan to do any trips and cruising. It will help with you comfort level when going into strange ports and navigating unfamiliar treacherous areas.
We live an hour south of Cheboygan, I will have to check out who is offering courses locally or maybe even online? We DO have the
DSC VHF but not the GPS Eprib.....We do have the GPS but without the beacon
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Old 18-03-2015, 16:40   #24
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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You'll be centrally located to a cruiser's paradise in Cheboygan with quick access to the Straits, Drummond Island, the North Channel, TC, Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Beaver Island archipelago and more. You'll have enough water world to explore to keep you busy for as many summers as you'd like.

As for the North Channel, all of our favorite anchorages, towns, eats and tips can be found here.
So funny that I read your entire link 3 days ago then was thrilled when you responded to my thread....Ps...Your kids are adorable!!!
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Old 18-03-2015, 16:54   #25
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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Welcome to Northern Michigan and Great Lakes cruising! Except for weather, navigation will probably be your biggest challenge, so I would start with a navigation course, especially if you've never been in big water or out of sight of land. I'd also get a Coast Guard or Power Squadron vessel safety check. You'll need passports to get back into the States (but not to enter Canada), and you can preregister your boat with Customs at: https://svrs.cbp.dhs.gov. I would start with a couple of mini-cruises to become familiar with your boat and the local waters; Machinac area, the "Snows" etc. Finally, remember that "schedules" and "cruising" are antithetical.
I think the safety check is a great first step....I am imagining we only need to preregister with Customs if we are staying at a marina or do we need it just to be in Canadian waters? Is there a fee?
Ps....We just retired when we moved here so we have given up "schedules" which I imagine is a very good thing when you are waiting out a storm front!!
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Old 18-03-2015, 18:07   #26
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla or Power Squadron for a vessel safety check and navigation classes. See: I Want a Vessel Safety Check!. You can fill out the paper work for the CBP SVRS program at Drummond Island Yacht Haven; their office is right on the wharf there. There is a nominal one-time charge. Entering Canada, stop at the first Canadian port you come to and call Canadian Customs from the marina. They should clear you in by phone. You'll need full names and nationality of all persons aboard, and they will ask you a few questions. (Where are you going, how long, etc.) Do not have any firearms aboard. Also, you might want to check your wireless plan before you go. They can upgrade your access so you're not roaming. We use a Virgin Mobile wireless plan at $50/mo. and the device plugs into our computer USB port.
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Old 18-03-2015, 18:30   #27
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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Richardson's is exactly the charts we were looking at to buy. It is nice to read that you recommend them! I want to read about the anchorages but we will first be concentrating on the ones on the west side of the North Channel and at the entrance to DeTour Passage.
Ps...Hubby says we have a Delta anchor....
Milford Haven is a beauty, but watch out for the deadheads nearer shore. Drummond Island has a number of nice spots. The Grant Islands are OK, depending on wind directions. You can anchor in the NE corner of Cockburn Is., but I like going into Tolsmaville. Dock comes with shore power if you want it. Otherwise no services, but the old village is kinda cool. From there you get into Manitoulin Is. with an increasing number of anchorages. Personally, I would head across to Turnbull Is. and go through the Whale's Back. Tons of anchorages everwhere. Duck into Serpent Harbour and find the North Channel Yacht Club. They offer transient dockage, and are very friendly folk. It's my former yacht club.

I'll stop there, but happy to share more if you want/need. As I say, lots of anchorages. Great Lakes Cruising Club is a good source of info. They have harbour reports that you can download in PDF format. Active Captain is another source. It's crowd sourced, so open to those foibles. But a good (free) resource.

I've never used a Delta. Some people love them. As long as it is large (oversized) for your boat, it's probably fine. Look at a spade-style if you decide to upgrade. Do get more chain. You'll mostly be anchoring in 10-20 feet so with 60 feet you'll be close to your 5 to 1 scope that you want as a normal setting. With chain to rope I like being able to drop all my chain and get to the rope which then acts as the snubber.

And latch onto Jim Krause like a barnacle. It's great to have someone in your own club who knows the area.
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Old 19-03-2015, 09:27   #28
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

What a beautiful boating area. You are more ahead of the game then you think as you have been boating and have a boat you know. Now you just need some experience but you are so on the right track to get that the safest way possible.....with lots of caution.
I was telling a lady on the dock that I seem to get more and more cautious each boating season and she consoled me by saying she and her husband just called themselves "chickens of the sea".
Hopefully, words of encouragement!
Louise
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Old 20-03-2015, 06:03   #29
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

I understand watching the weather reports before venturing out across Lake Huron on our way to the NC....How do you know for sure that a small cell won't appear on the way? With our boat we have found that if we go the equivalent of 9mph we only use less than 1 gallon of diesel which is very efficient travel! We can go up to 30mph in a pinch if the weather turns sour but as Mike has as his signature "why go fast if you can go slow" which we have always done for frugality. Where do we learn what to do if a storm rears up? On our previous lake we loved nothing more than being on the bridge listening to rain on the canvas. It was both relaxing and cathartic. Now it is in different water that could be life threatening.
I have called Traverse City Sailing School but they haven't returned my call. Looking on their site it looks like they cater to the sailing community not the power boat community.
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Old 20-03-2015, 06:55   #30
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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I understand watching the weather reports before venturing out across Lake Huron on our way to the NC....How do you know for sure that a small cell won't appear on the way?
What do you do? The best you can .

To be slightly more serious, you do exactly what you describe. You make the best choice you can based on forecasts and local knowledge, and then you prepare your boat to be offshore, which means being prepared for bad weather and big seas.

The crossing from Cheboygan to Detour Passage is only about 30 nm, so with your boat it is very unlikely that you'd get caught in the open with anything too scary. It can happen, but the odds are slight with your boat (mine ... not so much ). If you are concerned, less direct routes keep you closer to good anchorages or wind protection along the way.

One thing to realize is that most of the time a well-found boat is safer away from shore. If you are out there and notice weather deteriorating fast, unless you have time to get to a secure anchorage or marina, in most cases the best choice on these Big Lakes is to head out to sea. These are usually fast moving systems, so get away from the rocky bits, get on your foulies, secure everything, and manage the conditions until it passes. Try to stay away from big metal bits on your boat (engines, stoves, masts, etc) in case you're hit by the inevitable lightening. In most cases you'll be in the storm for less than an hour.
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