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Great Loop Blog - Day 8/9

We waited in Port Sanilac for the Amazon Santa until around two O'Clock. As soon as the harbormaster delivered Darina's package we cast off our lines and headed out. Once again the kindness and understanding of people who support the cruising community came to light, as we were supposed to check out at 11, but knowing how important packages are to cruisers the Harbormaster let us stay despite the marina being booked full for the Blues Festival weekend that was coming up.

The trip to Harbor Beach was at first nerve wracking. Had the leak really been fixed? I was afraid to go down to the holy space for two hours, fearing the worst. Finally I got my courage up, headed down below with my trusty DeWalt 20v LED flashlight, and to my great joy the gasket was holding, and there were no leaks. That being said the oil pressure gauge was still reading in the high 20's when it usually reads 40 so I put two quarts of oil in. This turned out to be unnecessary, as the engine had plenty of oil and was now overfilled by two quarts.

Conditions were fair - one to three foot seas building as the afternoon winds picked up. Fortunately they were on the bow and we enjoyed them. Pulling into Harbor Beach around 7:30 pm we found an absolutely marvelous harbor with a huge anchorage that only had one vessel in it. When we docked at the marina we found ourselves between two other loopers MV Pilar and MV Classea. Here is a view of the Marina:

We showered and went to bed early. The next morning we awoke at 5:30 AM for the eight hour run to Tawas across Saginaw Bay. I switched the fuel manifold to tank 4, one of the new tanks installed during the final days of preparation, as we planned to hit the fuel dock in Tawas, and this would enable me to get an accurate measure of our fuel burn fully loaded and running at 1850 indicated RPM.

There is nothing quite so beautiful as leaving early in the morning and experienced sunrise at sea. Sadly this was not the day as there was a thick haze that limited visibility to less than a mile. We watched our two new friends slowly pull away as they were running hard at 7 knots and headed to Harrisburg. The Garmin, as usual, auto routed the most efficient route that tooks us too close to the shallows whereas the Navionics setup on the iPad/Bad Elf GPS was far too conservative so we steered a course between the two. This is a rocky coast so we kept 1 to 2 miles offshore as we worked our way up the eastern side of the thumb of Michigan.

We enjoyed our coffee, and Darina made yet another spectacular breakfast. We were running with the wind so sitting on the foredeck together was simply grand. As it was Saturday we dodged anchored fishing boats.

Finally we cleared the top of the thumb and turned West to cross the open waters of the north end of Saginaw Bay. We did not encounter a single vessel until we were 2 miles off Tawas Bay. The seas completely flattened for most of this section, which was a real surprise as I had fully expected to have 1 to 3 foot seas dead on the beam and a very unpleasant ride. This didn't happen until we were right off Tawas Bay.

It was hazy. We saw the coastline on radar about two hours before we made visual contact. Coming around the shallows of Tawas Point we went from solitude to utter madness, there were windsurfers, kite surfers, jet skis, little Sea Doo Jet boats, anchored fishing boats, party barges packed with people, and everything in between running in different directions.

We picked our way carefully through the traffic and the shallows finally entering the breakwall of East Tawas Municipal Harbor around 2:40 PM. We tied up at the fuel dock - which is crazy tight, in a 15 knot wind pushing us against the dock. Topping off tank 4 we used 14.35 gallons to travel 48 nautical miles, for a burn rate of 2.05 gallons per hour and an efficiency of 3.34 nautical miles to the gallon. Given that the Sea Moose is loaded to the gills with stuff, I was not disappointed in these numbers. On the next run I'll drop the RPM to 1750 - which is the sweet spot for a Lehman - and see how we do.

Coming into Tawas Darina noticed a funny smell in the aft cabin and to our complete shock the 30 gallon holding tank was nearly full. Seems the fuel girls at Denison Marine in Port Huron had failed to pump out anything, and had added 10 gallons of water or so to flush it in the process. The professional girls at the East Tawas fuel dock got all but the last drop out of the tank which was a big relief as the entire system was a new install and of course I worried that I had screwed up the dip tube, or the hose from the tank to the deck pump out fitting.

At this point we are 209 nautical miles from home, which means we have only 5,800 miles to go!

We made a long, hot trek to Walmart for some groceries, and then went back out for Ice Cream, enjoying Pecan Praline and Blueberry double Waffle Cones at the East Tawas Ice Cream and Fudge factory downtown. There was a Wine, Ale, and Craft festival going on right in front of the marina but as that really wasn't our thing we passed it by.

The showers at Tawas were even better than the ones at Harbor Beach. It seems that water conservation doesn't exist in Northern Michigan. Tomorrow we are sleeping in, and taking it easy before starting another work/travel week. Here we are enjoying the beach next to the Marina.

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