Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mackinaw to Frankfort

The Emita and her crew left Mackinaw at 5:45 am headed for Frakfort. Lake Michigan has so far proved to be kinder than Lake Huron and the trip was pretty uneventful.  We like uneventful!

Captain Dan wasn't too excited about the Sea Gulls who decided to hang put on the canopy. I'm not sure which were worse, the swans of bugs or big gulls!

By all accounts the water was beautiful and calm. 

It's pretty amazing this has been home for the guts for the past 2 weeks. And everyone is still taking to each other!

The Emita docked in Frankfort for the evening. Captain Ben did the honors. The crew are, relaxed and prepated for a big day tomorrow.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Making a Run For It!

Leaving Port Sanilac
The weather continued to be poor after waiting a day at the dock in Port Sanilac.  You can see in this picture that the harbors were calm, but the east winds were still creating havoc out on Lake Huron itself.  Unfortunately the weather was not predicted to change for a number of days.  However in researching all the information available to them, the Captains found the weather further north to be favorable.  With a delivery date looming, crew who wanted to go home and a small weather window the decision was made at 3pm on Sunday afternoon to make a run for it.  As Captain Duane said, "This was a nice place to visit but it's time to go!"

A route was plotted and posted on the wall.
On the last "run" from Port Huron into the bad weather a number of things were broken in the Galley, so precautions were taken this time to get everything packed away.

Even the refrigerator was tied shut!

With Captain Dan at the wheel, Captain Steve in the bow and Captain Duane navigating and watching weather it was time to give it a go.

After battling weather for 5 hours (during which Dan said it was "Not Fun") the Emita broke through into calm weather, weather and water.  In fact the sunset was beautiful, probably made even prettier by the feeling of safety and accomplishment.

An Overnight Adventure?
While plotting the course out of the weather the crew had allowed for Plan B, wherein if the conditions were right they would keep going through the night in order to make up for lost time. Dan had originally said they would not travel through the night on this trip, but after becoming extremely confident in the radar and other navigation equipment he felt more comfortable traveling overnight and picking up lost time so the decision was made to continue forward.

And everything and everyone did its job!  The Emita successfully traveled throughout the night.
The three Captains took roughly three hour shifts; one drove for 3 hours, a second stayed in the pilot house and helped navigate and keep the driver alert and the third slept.  Every 3-4 hours the Captains rotated.  (It should be noted it was Captain Ben's day to drive the van, so he had gone ahead to wait for the Emita to dock.)

Dan assured me Duane was looking at the instruments and not asleep!  :-)

And a beautiful sunrise...

Lake Huron's Last Laugh
As the Emita approached the northern end of Lake Huron, the boat was enveloped by bugs!  Luckily they did not bite, but they covered everything!  Dan said it was "Lake Huron's last laugh!"  YUCK!

Mackinaw City
27 hours after making the decision to leave Port Sanlilac the Emita reached Mackinaw City.
And she finally, safely, docked!

The crew will get a good night's sleep and leave tomorrow (Tuesday) probably before dawn for another 12+ hour day. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Due to bad weather and continuing east winds, the Emita II and her crew spent Saturday hunkered down in Port Sanilac to wait out the weather. Captain Ben caught up on some important reading.

There may be a weather window starting around 2pm today (Sunday) and we will keep you posted.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lake Huron Humbles...and Uncle Ben

 The Emita and Lake Huron
When I talked to Dan on Thursday night he said the weather was changing and there were projected winds from the East (unusual and when you are traveling north on the western side of the Lake, not ideal) as well as decent waves, so he had decided to stay put at the Marina in Port Huron for Friday into Saturday afternoon. Saturday afternoon the winds and waves were projected to diminish so they would head out then, perhaps traveling through the night for the first time to pick up lost time.  We want to get the Emita II to her new home as quickly as possible, but safety for the crew and the boat always comes first.

However, on Friday morning Dan and Duane took the chase van north to scout out locations for the next few days, and as they checked out harbors they looked pretty good.  So, in the interest of time and getting the Emita to Michigan City as quickly as possible (and getting back home!) Dan made the decision in the afternoon to travel up Lake Huron.

So off she went...if you zoom in on the small rectangle going under the bridge, it is the Emita II.
However once they got out into Lake Huron, it was much worse than they expected.  The water level in Lake Huron is high and the winds and waves were significant.  The Emita was getting tossed around a bit and a number of glass items were broken in the Galley.  Gear on the lower deck was moving around - this was the first "bad" conditions of the trip.  Dan had some colorful language to describe it!  Overall the Emita and her crew handled conditions, but as Dan said after, "We are not doing that again."  After about 5 1/2 hours the Emita had only traveled 30 miles, and the decision was made to go to shore and hunker down safely in Port Sanilac, Michigan.  Again, that's 30 miles closer to Michigan City, but as Dan said, he was "humbled".

Back Home... 
Meanwhile back home life goes on.  While the adventure was happening on the Emita on Lake Huron, Colleen Nickerson and I stopped by to visit Uncle Ben Wiles, Dan's 101 year old uncle.  He is amazing and I thought you might enjoy our visit too.  When I started giving Uncle Ben the update on where his nephew was, he said "Let's go into the living room and get the charts." 

During our visit we mapped out the entire trip, as well as where Dan and the Emita was at that time.  I just happened that during the time we were there was a relative calm out for the boat and crew, and Dan was able to answer a few texts at that point and to say hi to his 101 year old Uncle as we was .  Isn't technology amazing?!
Me, Uncle Ben and Colleen Nickerson
Uncle Ben is awesome!  Having Dan away has not been fun for me and this visit was the highlight so far of this part of the trip for me.  By the way, Colleen worked with Dan on the Emita on and off for about 20 years.  Her visit to the Emita to wish her farewell was chronicled earlier in the blog.

I will keep you updated on progress as I know it!  Pray for good, calm weather!

Port Huron Bound & Freighters Are Old Hat

Early on Thursday (May 17) morning the Emita and crew left Detroit and went out onto Lake St. Clair.  The weather again was on their side, creating calm seas.  After leaving the Lake, the Emita traveled forward on the St. Clair River.  Although the weather stayed steady, the current picked up, creating extremely slow progress.  By the end of the day the boat had only traveled 57 miles in 9 hours.  But that's 57 miles closer to Michigan City!

Now on Day 7 of the trip, the large ships have now become old hat, although still interesting!  Here are a few that traveled by:

 Lift Bridges
The Emita was not done with lift bridges either, but these worked perfectly!  These bridges were on the Black River on the way to the Marina where the Emita would spend the night.

Port Huron Marina
Each Marina the Emita has stayed in have been safe and efficient, but some have nicer amenities than others.  The Marina in Port Huron had a great sense of humor!

And Captain Steve Wunder has been doing his duty at every location the Emita stops to spread the word about the Canal System in New York!
And after a little bowling to blow off some steam, the crew of the Emita went to bed. Tomorrow the Emita will tackle her second Great Lake and head north on Lake Huron.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Destination Detroit! And Really Big Boats!

Today would mark another benchmark day for the Emita and her crew as by the end of the day they would have left Lake Erie and traveled the Detroit River.  The weather was still good, so crossing Lake Erie wasn't a big concern, but the Detroit River was another unknown. Depending on who you talk to, the current was fine or the current was terrible!  So not knowing how it would affect time, Duane went to work plotting a course.  Duane has now been dubbed the "Professor" by the rest of the crew and his attention to detail is serving the trip well.  And taking up lots of room on the Emita wall!  Lol!  For those of you familiar with the Emita, this is the wall where the library used to be.  The close up:
photo by Duane Morton
 The full wall shot!
photo by Dan Wiles

The crew left Sandusky around 6 am to leave extra time in case the current was against them.

While crossing the crew was able to see a nuclear power station from the water off shore of Toledo.

And being perfectly candid since I'm not on the boat any longer, this picture sent to me by Steve is either the same plant from the road, or this area is big into nucler power.  But it's a cool picture, regardless!  Steve said there were water droplets on the chase van from the steam.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing!

Big Ships
We knew the Emita would see some freighters and large ships on this trip, and so far this was the closest encounter.  Whoa!  Again, we are not the big boat any longer!  

Even better, Dan took a video.  PS the Emita handled the wake fine, even though it got a little bit turned.  8-10 seconds of excitement keeps the day interesting!

Shortly after Captain Ben Horne piloted the Emita II off Lake Erie and on to the Detroit River.  Goodbye Lake Erie!  Thanks for playing nice!
photo by Dan Wiles

 The Detroit River
As the Emita traveled north on the Detroit River the current was not challenging so they continued to make good time.  The weather improved too - sunshine and "short sleeve" weather as Duane said.  And the scenery, although industrial, was much different than at least Dan expected.

Steel Plant
photo by Duane Morton
 The Ambassador Bridge heading into Detroit City
photo by Dan Wiles
 The GM Building
photo by Duane Morton

And eventually they made their way to the Marina and docked for the night. 
Photo by Steve Wunder

You can see in the background the large tour boat.  Dan said it had been docked there for years and was really showing it's poor condition.  It looked like an impressive boat in her day.  I'm glad the Emita is going on to work, and not to sit at a dock and rot!  Here's another shot of the tour boat and a little more of the Marina. Dan said it wasn't fancy, but it was safe and accommodated a good night's rest for all!
photo by Dan Wiles

The plan for tomorrow (Thursday) is to leave the Detroit River, cross Lake St. Clair to the St. Clair River and travel that to Port Huron at the southern tip of Lake Huron.  They will stay there over night and if the weather holds travel north to Port Austin on Friday.