Chapter Four – Leaving Canada
In the second week of August, we retraced our steps from Sault Ste. Marie. We left Canada and registered as US Customs at Drummond Island. The Customs officer simply wrote down our names, the boat’s name and said we could be on our way. We didn’t even get a copy of any documents and were quite puzzled. But, because our boat was less than thirty feet, the rules were very relaxed. Perhaps the US government felt sorry for us having to live on a boat that small. So, we went on our way and returned to Harbor Island. Dennis really liked it but I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. For me, there wasn’t a lot to do. I didn’t fish and was too shy to introduce myself to other boaters, so my choices were limited. Nick though, had a good time catching bait for the several fishing expeditions.
After two days of idle time, we motored over to DeTour Passage. Our luck was improving and we waited for our next disaster. It came soon enough and the problem this time was us not having our VHF radio on. We crept up to the DeTour marina and looked around for a place to dock the boat for a few hours while we got our supplies. We headed up a narrow passageway and soon found out from a man we assumed was the Harbor Master, yelling and waving his arms at us, that we were in the wrong place. We were supposed to go to the shopper’s dock which was on the other side of the marina. He told us to turn on our radio. Good idea. He explained what dock we were to go to and we backed out of the passage which was no easy feat considering the way Hetarae steered.
We came up to a slip which we thought was suitable and as I jumped off the boat, the man yelled at us again. We were beginning to feel pretty stupid. Dennis then got the boat into the designated slip with much difficulty and many onlookers. We had a few heated words over the importance of communication via the VHF and turned to watch the Harbor Master yell at several other boaters coming in.
I went jogging and Dennis and Nick checked out the stores. As I came back from my fun, I watched Nick turn on and off every single tap along the entire dock. It was quite funny to see and I hoped that the Harbor Master was busy elsewhere.
That afternoon, we worked our way towards Les Cheneaux Islands. We had difficulty finding an anchorage that night. There were great little hidden places but the were populated with beautiful cottages and we didn’t want to intrude. Finally at 7:00, we anchored in front of Government Island. We quickly made supper and cleaned up. The water was icy cold and it made me long for a hot shower.
The next day was cloudy and drizzly. Our destination was Mackinac Island and we resigned ourselves to anchoring in the harbour. We had been told that we could wait for days to get a slip because it was such a popular spot.
We anchored, took the dinghy to the dinghy dock – where we felt welcome – and inquired about a slip. It just so happened that there were some available. Our luck was changing – there’d be hot showers tonight! We were ecstatic because we knew we’d be getting on and off the boat a lot as there was so much to do on Mackinac. Climbing down the ladder, into the dinghy, starting the motor, docking and climbing out of the dinghy was quite a procedure and we didn’t relish doing it three or four times a day, especially in rough water. Since the ferries seemed to zoom in and out of the harbour non-stop, the water was never calm.
We checked out our assigned slip and planned our docking procedure. Nick and I waited at the dock so we could grab the lines while Dennis went back to Hetarae. Well, we waited and waited. Finally, we saw him coming towards us. He maneuvered the boat skillfully into the slip. We tied up and asked him what took him so long. The poor guy had run out of gas and had to row back to Hetarae. His blisters had just healed from the last bout of rowing!
Mackinac Island was a lot of fun. We toured everything including The Grad Hotel, wax museum and the fort. We rented bikes for a day and even bought some fudge to sample. We met some very nice people and Nick was able to play with some other children. I roller-bladed around the island twice and for the first time since leaving home, was physically exhausted – what a great feeling!
We knew we had to press on southward and after two days, we said good-bye to Mackinac Island. We sailed under the Mackinac Bridge and left Lake Huron. It was very frightening in a way but also exciting to begin a new adventure.