Navigation and the Horizon: How to Get There

Shawn spends a lot of time pouring over charts (water maps) to determine where we will go to next. Each chart is full of numbers and lines and red and green dots and squiggly lines and….well, needless to say, they are full of information. Once we have determined where we are going we have to plot our course on our GPS. This helps us to get there the quickest and safest way possible.

One thing we learned when cruising in the 1000 islands on Lake Ontario when there is a “2” on the chart in the middle of lots of 40’s, you are guaranteed to hit if you are not careful. Yup, that 2″ represented the water depth over a rock. Slam! We were in a small boat with 8 people and it was not a good sound. No one was hurt but we do not want to repeat that.

Navigating in the North Channel is just as tricky. One thing that we have to our advantage this year is all the rain. The lake waters are up about 18 inches and the last charts were done in 2012. You can almost safely say that the depths on the chart are a little low. We have a line with a weight on it that we can drop over the side and it will tell us how many fathoms are beneath us (1 fathom is 6 feet). We took the dink out several times to do this before we entered an area that had low water. In one place, the Pool, we were able to get in and anchor safely. Portage bay, we could not. Good thing we anchored somewhere else and checked it out first! Hitting really big rocks is no fun and they lurk below a surface that is somewhat murky. Lake Michigan has lots of sand so the few times we touched bottom it sounded horrific, but really only scraped off some paint from the keel.

One of the coolest things about being on the open water is the horizon. You can always see it in the distance of course, but up close with the binoculars it is an amazing site. I took a picture with my camera through the binoculars for you to see what we see.  The land in the distance looks as if it is floating but as we get closer, the trees grow taller and become more defined.   It never ceases to amaze me that we live on a round ball that spins and all is ok. And yet, on a clear day, you can see forever and you wonder how the world could be round.

Once when crossing Lake Michigan, I saw black smoke in the distance. Now, we are literally in the middle of Lake Michigan. There is no one around us and no land for hours, yet there is smoke. As the smoke got larger and came over the horizon, I realized it was attached to a boat. At this point, a very tiny boat. Slowly the boat got bigger and the smoke rose higher until I could see that it was the Badger! That is the ferry that crosses the lake from Manitowoc, WI to Luddington, MI. It was amazing to watch it rise up over the edge of the world. It is no wonder our ancestors thought they would fall off the edge if they kept on going past their comfortable homes.

shiney lakeshiney s unset

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