Summer cruising in the era of COVID-19

We spent last week anchored in the outer anchorage at Harbor Island, just north of Drummond Island. Our cell phones welcomed us to Canada, but we were still in U.S. waters. We looked longingly at the high hills of the Canadian shore as we made our way along the north side of Drummond Island to the anchorage. Cell coverage is always “iffy” at Harbor Island. Nearly always, when we had a cell signal, we were connected to one of the Canadian towers.

This is not the summer we planned last February. We miss our Canadian friends, harbors, and villages we look forward to each summer. However, we understand Canada’s decision to keep us away this season. At last report, Manitoulin Island is still COVID-19 free. I don’t know an area in all of Michigan that can make that claim.

We expected to see a large number of U.S. boats cruising this area since it’s as far north as one can go in U.S. waters without heading up the St. Mary’s River to Lake Superior. But that’s not been the case. We ran across relatively few boats cruising this area last week.

Just two boats anchored in the inner harbor at Harbor Island…

Zola has adjusted to boat life beautifully and loved being at anchor. (It may have something to do with the fact that we’re living in a small space, she knows we are always nearby.) Her latest accomplishment: she climbs the ladder to the flybridge, then uses the upper window at the rear of the pilothouse to get back inside. It has become her own personal “cat door.” She keeps us busy, keeping track of where she has climbed to aboard Mossy Paws. And she makes us laugh… she is such a fun little girl!

Our thanks to Amy Babinchak for this photo of Zola aboard Mossy Paws.

We must have been a bit too anxious to get out of our slip and experience some “away” time because we didn’t prepare for a week-long trip as we would normally do.

About an hour out of the marina, we discovered the fresh water pump was running (we usually turn it off when we are making passages—experience has shown us it’s a wise thing to do): one of the hose clamps had loosened and we were pumping fresh water into our bilge. We carry 150 gallons of water, but we had no idea how much of that water we had lost. At least we were in a sweet water sea and not saltwater! Still, we were very cautious with our water consumption all week.

I prepared to inflate and launch my kayak, only to discover the pump was not in the bag. And Ron left the pump for the dinghy in our dock box. I lucked out when a fellow Eagle trawler owner stopped by to chat with us, and had a pump with them: boaters helping boaters. Thanks Solitaire!

Our gas grill wouldn’t light, and thinking we were out of propane in our 5# tank, we tried the larger extra tank we carry with us, and that wouldn’t light either. Then, as we began looking at last year’s log, realized we were still on the original tank of propane from last summer. We hadn’t refilled any of the three propane tanks on board this season. After stressing out for a bit, we realized that the extra tank was too heavy to be empty, maybe the issue was the gas grill’s regulator. We tried a different regulator and got the gas grill working again. Whew. At least we weren’t going to run out of propane!

Ron ALWAYS catches fish at Harbor Island. But the nightcrawlers he purchased just before we left Cheboygan was sorely short of the 15 worms that were supposed to be in the container. He ran out of bait on our third day. He did catch one small bass and a couple of baby perch, but they were thrown back to grow a bit more.

It was a great week away, in an isolated anchorage. We hope to get out of our marina for a few days again before we call it a season.


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