Monthly Archives: February 2015

Cold, yes, but beautiful too

As a Californian, I sometimes wonder during the winter months why I’m still living in Michigan. And then Michigan does something like this, and I’m entranced.

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Summer 2009 Slideshow

I stumbled upon this slideshow of our 2009 summer cruise on my dad’s YouTube channel. I’d forgotten he put it together.

St. Joseph Harbor Review

It’s hard not to be biased about your hometown, but St. Joseph really is a great town – and it’s getting better.

The St. Joseph River channel is well marked and dredged to a depth of approximately 20 ft. Visitors arriving by boat can find transient slips at either West Basin Municipal Marina, Marina at Harbor Shores, or Anchor’s Way Marina, a private marina located upriver. West Basin, located on the north side of the channel, has several well-maintained transient slips, is easily accessed, and provides foot access to Tiscornia Beach. The marina is located next to the St. Joseph River Yacht Club, a beautiful, historic brick building on the water’s edge, and a railroad swing bridge. The entrance is clearly marked and the marina has good depth for moderate-draft vessels. Major renovations in fall 2009 and early spring 2010 resulted in updated docks and a new marina office. The marina staff is helpful during normal business hours; however, after-hours service is virtually non-existent. Typical quitting time seems to be around 4:30pm, so plan your arrival accordingly. Visitors should contact the harbormaster on VHF ch 9 for slip assignment. As always, specify your vessel type, length, and draft.

Anchor’s Way Marina has been undergoing renovations to make way for a condo and marina complex. Since most of the area likely will be rebuilt, little maintenance has been performed on the existing docks. Visitors will need to pass through three bridges to reach Anchor’s Way Marina – one railroad swing bridge and two bascule bridges. Water depth in the area of the marina gets very shallow and is not well marked. It would be wise to stay near the slips on the south side of the river.

Access to the downtown on foot from West Basin Municipal and Anchor’s Way requires crossing the river, but West Basin has a courtesy van available. Additionally, slip renters may use four bicycles provided by West Basin Municipal marina. A shuttle also operates between West Basin and downtown during certain hours. If you do walk into town, plan on a 10-15 minute walk from either location.

If you don’t mind a potentially bumpy ride and boat traffic, boats may tie up along the seawall on the south side of the channel just past the railroad swing bridge. From there it is a short walk up the bluff to the downtown – and it’s free. Even better, you just might have a front row seat to a concert in the nearby bandshell. Skippers tying up along the seawall should use fender boards or several over-sized fenders to keep the boat off of the corrugated steel. The seawall will be especially uncomfortable during periods of sustained winds from the W to NW, as waves tend to roll down the St. Joseph channel.

Anchoring in the inner basin just upriver from the first bascule bridge is possible, but St. Joseph is a working harbor and large ships deposit loads of gravel nearby. Bottom conditions in the area are unknown to me, but I would expect them to be muddy and potentially foul.

Boaters arriving in St. Joseph would do well to check out Wolf’s Marine, Southwest Michigan’s largest marine store. Wolf’s stocks an extensive inventory and has an on-site rigging shop.

Downtown St. Joseph is a great mix of natural beauty and quaint city streets lined by shops of all kinds. There are several great places to eat – Silver Beach Pizza, Pump House Grill, Port 412, Tim’s Too, Kilwin’s ice cream – and several fun shops. The newest attraction opened in 2010, the St. Joseph Carousel. Located in a brand new pavilion, the carousel comes close to recreating an old-time St. Joseph carousel that closed sometime in the 70s, I believe. And nearby Silver Beach is one of the most attractive beaches on Lake Michigan.

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Fuel dock at West Basin Marina.

Fuel dock at West Basin Marina.

St. Joseph channel
The channel during a fall storm.

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Freeze Frame

So, after I said that this winter hasn’t been as bad as predicted, the cold hit. We’ve been in the low single-digits the past two days, with more cold to come. Even though I’m not a big fan of the cold, I love the satellite images we get from this time of the year. This image was taken yesterday:

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CA to Hawaii Video

Here’s a nicely done video of a gentleman’s passage from CA to Hawaii.

 

Cool Alberg 30 Refit Videos

One of these days I hope to have the A30 that’s languishing in my driveway looking like this. James Baldwin does nice work. Yep, I’m jealous.

 

Winter Diversions

Contrary to the predictions, this winter hasn’t been as bad as last year. I’d heard that we were in for either more snow than last year or less snow but colder temps. I’d say it’s been warmer (for the most part) with a lot less snow. Last winter the majority of the Great Lakes was covered in ice. This year we’ve had far less ice coverage, which makes me a little sad because a lot of ice coverage means a lot less evaporation during the winter months. And that, of course, means more water during the summer months!

Here’s something a little interesting. I visited the Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard to see what Huron/Michigan are doing. Things are looking good! The last time Lake Michigan reached this level was in 1998.

The red portion indicates forecasted water levels advanced six months.

The red portion indicates forecasted water levels advanced six months.

And here’s all of the Great Lakes’ levels:

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So what’s happening on the boat front? Not much. I removed Ariel’s two forestays (and furlers) in preparation for replacing some of the rigging. The plan is to replace the bobstay, headstay, staysail stay, backstay, and cap shrouds. Then next winter I guess we’ll replace the lowers and intermediates, since replacing all of it at once is just too expensive.

Anyway, that’s the big project for this season. Fortunately, she’s looking good and just about ready to go. She’s got a newer jib and a brand spanking new staysail. Her main is hanging in there, but might be replaced in the next year or so.

Like a lot of northern sailors (I suspect), I sail vicariously during the winter months through a few blogs and YouTube channels. Here are two blogs: A couple sailing their Westsail 32 out of Louisiana for points south (Sundowner Sails Again), and another couple sailing their Cape Dory 30 (Sea Changes). Check them out – you might be glad you did.

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