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Old 21-03-2015, 09:00   #46
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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I'm more familiar with the northern Lake Michigan side than the North Channel but what sticks in my mind about the North Channel is that there are areas where your compass may be have some variance due to iron deposits.
Yes!! The first time I sailed past Magnetic Island my autohelm did a 180. Looking at the compass (which showed that the entire planet had changed its axis) I realized why they called it Magnetic Island. (FYI located on SE side of Cockburn Island near the Magnetic Reefs :-)
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Old 21-03-2015, 09:09   #47
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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And I know this is a bit of thread drift, but I really do encourage cruisers to consider going north into Lake Superior. You're very close when you're at the west end of the NC. If wild, rugged beauty is what is attracting you to the NC, then you'll adore the east and north shores of Lake Superior (the Canadian shores). It's truly an undiscovered country for cruisers who have the time, and are able to be self-sufficient. We would travel for weeks sometimes and not see another cruiser. Yes, it's big water, with the potential for bigger weather. Sure, if you get in trouble you're pretty much on your own, but the anchorages are stunning, plentiful, and mostly empty. The waters is crisp, cold and clear. And there's wildlife that is truly wild.

Point your bows north -- but only when you're ready .
I've been tempted to head up to Superior but have heard (perhaps unsubstantiated) reports of southern harbors (West Bay, Copper, Lac LaBelle, etc) being silted in. Maybe I should take a counter-clockwise route following the Canadian shore? Sometime I'd like to chat with you about this....
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Old 21-03-2015, 09:33   #48
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Can we just live to be 200?? There is too much to see!!! Shouldn't have waited to 62 to retire!!!!
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Old 21-03-2015, 09:35   #49
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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I've been tempted to head up to Superior but have heard (perhaps unsubstantiated) reports of southern harbors (West Bay, Copper, Lac LaBelle, etc) being silted in. Maybe I should take a counter-clockwise route following the Canadian shore? Sometime I'd like to chat with you about this....
Happy to chat Jim, although perhaps we should start another thread (or you can PM me). I've never actually sailed the south shore beyond the Apostles, although I always wanted to try Copper Harbour (it looks great), and the Keewena looks like an interesting place to explore. But most of it looks like there's little or no places to safely anchor. That said, the towns like Grand Marais, Copper Harbour and Houghton are fun places to visit. And of course, once you get into the Apostles area it is a wonderful mix of small towns and interesting anchorages. Just gotta watch the weather, and be prepared to move to the other side of the island in the Apostles.

Now, the Canadian shore past Agawa Bay becomes littered with small anchorages. Lots of places to explore. As I say, happy to share what I know. I've probably dropped the hook in most places from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie.
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Old 21-03-2015, 09:45   #50
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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I've been tempted to head up to Superior but have heard (perhaps unsubstantiated) reports of southern harbors (West Bay, Copper, Lac LaBelle, etc) being silted in. Maybe I should take a counter-clockwise route following the Canadian shore? Sometime I'd like to chat with you about this....
I've done the south shore within the last 5 years. 6' draft. No problems.

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Old 21-03-2015, 09:58   #51
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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I've done the south shore within the last 5 years. 6' draft. No problems.
I had heard about some silting problems in some marinas (possible Grand Marais ... but I could be wrong ). However, I also heard these had all been dredged out in the last few years. In addition, Superior's water level is now back up above the long-term average. We were low (just like all the Great Lakes) for a number of years, but we're now trending back up. Check before heading out, but I bet like Van says, that there won't be any depth problems (unless you have a very deep keel).
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Old 22-03-2015, 07:08   #52
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

How does the depth change affect charts & GPS numbers?


Ps....Our boat is a bridge boat...Does that mean it will be more "tippy" in rough water?
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Old 22-03-2015, 08:55   #53
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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How does the depth change affect charts & GPS numbers?
Note: I started writing a simple response to your question, and I kept getting deeper into it, so please ignore it all if it's painfully obvious.

Depths contours on a chart (paper or digital) are based on a standard level known as chart datum. The general definition of chart datum is that this is the lowest level the water depth typically gets. In tidal zones this is the average height of the lowest tide. On the Great Lakes there are almost no tides (but we do have seiches) so chart datum is the lowest long-term level water typically gets (or something like that).

Anyway, the real point of all this is that Great Lakes water levels will be measured compared to this chart datum. In the recent decade Huron/Michigan has been quite low, with water levels below chart datum. The last two years we've seen a reversal of this now.

Water heights are recorded and reported by the Canadian and US Coast Guard weekly. So you apply this measure against chart datum: Five feet above chart datum means water levels will be 5' higher than your chart depths. The reverse is obviously true. Huron/Michigan is predicted to remain considerably above chart datum this coming season, as are all the Great Lakes. Take a look at this website for historic and coming season predictions.

GPS lat/long coordinate is unaffected by changing water depths, but it does have an error range which varies from a few feet to 100s of feet. Water depth affects your vertical coordinate, but that information is not typically used by boaters.

Chartplotters overlay your GPS-measured location onto your digital chart, which allows us to turn boating into a video game. This is incredibly powerful, but the key fact to remember is that the little dot on your digital chart plotter is a twice-removed estimate of where you actually are in the real world. It relies on charts that are approximations of reality (and sometimes they can be significantly off) and a GPS coordinate that has an inevitable error range. So the key point is to use your chart plotter as a useful tool, but don't rely on it as your sole navigation tool.

Depth sounders, on the other hand, give actual real world data of what's actually under your keel. This is why a depth sounder is probably your most important navigation tool. With that, a compass, and a good chart you're good to go .

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Ps....Our boat is a bridge boat...Does that mean it will be more "tippy" in rough water?
Motor cruisers tend to be more rolly than sailboats but I don't know your boat at all, nor much about motor cruisers in general (I'm a sailor). Hopefully a fellow motor cruiser can step in on this one.
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Old 22-03-2015, 16:25   #54
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

None of what you wrote was obvious to me at all....I greatly appreciate the explanation in detail. My question took you to information that I didn't even know enough about to ask an intelligent question. This, again, is just the sort of information we need (& didn't even know we needed to know it!) I am going to also try to save a shortcut to the link you cited....This is GOOD stuff!!! Keep it coming!!!
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Old 24-03-2015, 18:56   #55
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Last year I delivered a 47' cruiser from the upper Mississippi River to the Detroit River. My 1st time on the lake, I did the same as you researched all the information I could find and ask the question on here for local knowledge. I used Jeppesen C-Map Max electronic chart card in my Standard Horizon plotter + my SH vhf radio with the capability to receive AIS, knowing where the freighters and ferries are and their navigation information is priceless. We anchored out (Duncan Bay 2 windy days) or tied to free walls except when we needed fuel and water, anchor was a Danforth and never drug, you will need good fenders for use if you stay on the free walls, the large round type worked very well for us. Michigan was calm most of the time on it, 1' to 2's one day and fog on another, that is when I really loved having the AIS. The state of Michigan has ports of refuge scattered along their shore approximately 20 miles apart, this is the reason I chose going up the Michigan side instead of the Wisconsin. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to return with my boat and spend a couple of months exploring. Check out South Manitou Island and Beaver Island, small town on Beaver and a very nice anchorage on S. Manitou. Lake Huron was pretty rough with winds out of the south, we lost 2 travel days 1 spent in Duncan Bay, and the 2nd at Alpena, Mi. A really great cruising area I'am sure you'll enjoy all it has to offer just watch the weather, the freighters and the Express ferry that makes about 30 knots.


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Old 24-03-2015, 19:45   #56
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

I forgot to add that I also used my iPad with Garmin Blue Chart Mobil with Active Captain overlay for planning all routes and stops. The reviews from other boaters were invaluable in picking anchorages and marina stops for fuel/water.


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Old 25-03-2015, 06:28   #57
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

Again, more invaluable info for us!! I have begun to read our Chapmans book cover to cover. I also have a navigation book that is way too technical for me at his point so I will have to wait until we take the class on April 9th. We went to West Marine and looked at the dividers and rulers but thought we would wait for the class in case they had a special deal.
In his younger days my husband used to teach white water kayaking and in anticipation of the beautiful anchorages in the North Channel we bought 2 blow up kayaks to paddle around the area and also use as dinghys. It is a real come down for him to digress to a blow up but we think they will be a blast on calm days!!
Once we finally DO get the nerve to venture further north it wil be the best day possible weather wise but maybe someone can weigh in about Harbor Island. We thought that would be a good first anchorage for us since it appears to be protected on all sides and have excellent scenery. Does anyone know of any other anchorages like that which would also have internet access through AT&T tethering?
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Old 25-03-2015, 06:56   #58
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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In his younger days my husband used to teach white water kayaking and in anticipation of the beautiful anchorages in the North Channel we bought 2 blow up kayaks to paddle around the area and also use as dinghys. It is a real come down for him to digress to a blow up but we think they will be a blast on calm days!!
Can't help you with your anchorage question, but we also carry two inflatable kayaks. As former wilderness canoe and sea kayakers we wanted to find a way to combine our former life with our new one. After researching all the options we bought a couple of Advanced Elements inflatable kayaks (Advanced Frame Convertible and Expedition). They are definitely a step down from a good quality sea kayak, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how well they actually do paddle. We expect to be using our new kayaks to undertake short (up to a week) wilderness trips.
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Old 25-03-2015, 11:14   #59
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

We've found ATT coverage OK around Drummond Island. I'm not sure about inside Harbor Island. Often there are sweet spots in a harbor- a place where you can get signal, and other places where you can't. We're bringing an unlocked iPhone this year and getting on Telus- just so we won't continue being reamed by ATT's high data roaming charges.

Active Captain has been recommended before- I'll suggest it again as an excellent place to get harbor reviews. And you have joined the Great Lake Cruising Club by now, right? :-) They have Harbor Guides that you can print out and/or download to your favorite electronic gadget.

I hope the availability of cell phone coverage isn't the primary factor affecting your choice of anchorage. If so you'll miss most of the best places. One of the nicest aspects of cruising is getting off the grid. However you don't have to be totally out of touch. Up to date weather forecasts specific for the Straights, the North Channel, and the Georgian Bay are routinely broadcast throughout the day on VHF weather channels.

Kayaking- yes!!!! I'm an avid paddler and fortunately most of the best anchorages are awesome places to paddle. In addition to our dinghy, which paddles nicely, we bring a kayak. This season we're bringing a second paddle-able boat. I'm tempted to get an ultralight solo canoe/open kayak for portaging through Killarney Provincial Park. (DOH! I just gave away one of my favorite places to anchor & paddle in Ontario! Now you just have to look at a map and see where you can sail up into part of Killarney PP and you'll know where I'm talking about :-)

See you up at Duncan Bay!

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Old 25-03-2015, 11:28   #60
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Re: New B adventure in Lake Huron/North Channel

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I had heard about some silting problems in some marinas (possible Grand Marais ... but I could be wrong ). However, I also heard these had all been dredged out in the last few years. In addition, Superior's water level is now back up above the long-term average. We were low (just like all the Great Lakes) for a number of years, but we're now trending back up. Check before heading out, but I bet like Van says, that there won't be any depth problems (unless you have a very deep keel).
I can't speak to Grand Marais- my route to Thunder Bay was as I mentioned above. Saulte, Paradise, Marquette, Hancock/Houghton, Thunder Bay.

No problemo with a 6' draft, I only heard sand pinging on my props going into paradise. I had a fuel Range of about 180 miles.

This was a delivery of a 60' power boat, not my sailboat. I wouldn't attempt any of these legs if it looked like it was going to be rolly. Marquette-Houghton/Hancock is the safest leg.

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