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Great Loop Blog - Day 2

Day 2 started out bright and early with our departing our lovely slip at JP's waterfront restaurant at 7:59 AM. We choose to head South and come up the Amherst channel as opposed to taking the Western route and dealing with the toll bridge, which we would have needed to wait for.


The current in the Detroit River was strong. At 2,000 rpm indicated we managed between 3 and 4 1/2 knots. On this leg we burned an astonishing amount of fuel. I estimate we used 20 gallons of fuel in 7 hours. About halfway up the river we were running hot - which I thought was the current.


This was Darina's first experience with big ships, lots of boat traffic, and something on the shore to look at and she loved it. Here she is participating in a Q/A review meeting prior to a critical product launch.



The power boaters - especially the bigger boats - were oblivious to us, locked on to the center of the Magenta line, and blasting up the river at full throttle. At one point in the day while the Admiral was piloting, a 65' Sea Ray whipped between us and a bulk cargo carrier, passing within 20 feet of the Sea Moose at 25 knots plus. The wake sent 2 gallon containers of drinking water flying across the salon, where they literally exploded when the hit the cabin sole, quickly seeping through the floorboards and turning to steam as they hit the hot engine.


Here is one of many bulk cargo carriers we passed.





The channel is quite deep, but watch the edges as it abruptly becomes shallow very quickly. We came within seconds of running aground just north of the Ambassador bridge, where the depth went from 35 feet to 2.1 feet in about three seconds. We may have scraped bottom as the transducer is one foot higher than the bottom of the keel.


Coming through downtown Detroit and Windsor was the highlight of the day, at that point we had the river all to ourselves, and we imagined all the people in the office buildings looking out at us wistfully and wishing they were cruisers too.


As we entered the mouth of the St Clair river after nearly 8 hours of slogging north our speed did not increase as expected, and the engine temperature soared to 210 degrees. Going down in the holy space I was treated to the smell of burning oil and a smoky haze. We quickly throttled back and after pulling the floorboards, realized that the valve cover gasket was leaking and we were low on oil. This began the saga of the valve cover.


Pouring a gallon of Rotella in brought us down to 180 (the gauge reads 10 degrees high) but as it was 4 miles to our destination and that was the last of our oil we choose to limp back downriver to Riverside Marina at 2 knots.


Riverside Marina was the complete opposite of JP's Waterfront. They didn't ask us our beam, and put us into a slip that was extremely tight. It took 30 minutes to check in, and we paid an exorbitant $139 for one night. I've bought new cars with less paperwork. The showers were clean, but in poor repair - out of 10 showers in the mens bathhouse the first one had no shower head, the second had no hot water, the third had only hot water with no pressure, and the fourth - which worked - was for the pool and had no place to put clothes or a towel.





On the boat next to us they must have smoked two ounces of weed between 6pm and 10pm. At night the marina resembles an anchorage with swells rolling in.


I tightened down the valve cover, and paid $60 for 2 gallons of Rotella. Darina cleaned off the oil off the engine. We tightened the belt. Ran the motor in the slip up to full RPM and only saw a tiny drop leak out.


Later in the afternoon Shannon of Billman Marine - who had adjusted the valves and replaced the gasket advised me not to over-tighten the valve cover. Too late.


The plan for tomorrow is to go the 4 miles to Jefferson Beach, and if all is well with the engine make it a leisurely day, if not we'll reseal the valve cover gasket. Next, it's 10 hours to Port Huron and we will be free of the Detroit River current.


We have great footage of being waked which will be in a later episode on You Tube with extended footage on Patreon,


At this point in the voyage - 2 days in - we have a multitude of things broken on the boat already:


  • We're probably leaving a faint oil slick every time the bilge pump runs due to the oil leak.

  • I can't get the Bullet Wi-Fi Air OS configured, despite having a Ubiquity M2 Nano before I upgraded to a bigger antenna and a 12v router. This was broken before we left.

  • The starboard aft saloon window blind - brand new from Select Blinds, broke the string used to raise and lower it on day 1 so it flops around.

  • The GC-100 backup camera - that the chart plotter declared non existent yesterday - came back today after multiple attempts to resync it failed the day before.

  • The new fresh water pump, which died 3 days before departure, cycles on for 1/2 second when we are not using water every 30 minutes or so, so there is a leak somewhere. Wrapped paper towels around various fittings in Gibraltar, they come up dry so who knows.

And two annoyances


  • The 12v Igloo cooler in the former forward head turned cedar closet and storage area is too dark, I should have installed an LED light above it.

  • The AGLCA flag rattles in the wind, so we have to take it down every night when we sleep in the forward cabin. Going to try rolling it up with a bungee cord.

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