First Crossing

Fog on Lake Huron

In early June of my second year of Great Lakes sailing and a navigation course under my belt, I felt I was ready for the 70 mile crossing of Lake Huron from Rattlesnake Harbour, ON to Alpena, Michigan.

As always, my Dad was eager to accompany me on our adventure. We had an uneventful 40 mile, a one day sail, from Little Current to Rattlesnake Harbour.

At 6 o'clock next morning we weighed anchor and sailed through the Owen Channel and onto Lake Huron. The weather was hazy with a 8-10 knot SW wind. The fog closed in behind us by late morning, allowing us 100 meters visibility. I must admit I was a little concerned as I did not yet have the electronic navigation system, Loran, and the GPS had not been developed yet. I had to rely on Dead Reckoning, using my compass and speed/log and plot it on the chart, I'm glad I'd taken the Basic Navigation Course.

In diminishing winds we sailed until midnight when we doused the sails. The busy shipping lanes were 10 - 15 miles ahead and I was reluctant to cross them in the fog and darkness. So we slept as we drifted.

We awoke at dawn to the sound of wind on the mast, and I observed the fog was lifting. The weather forecast predicted 20 knots from the NW so I hoisted a reefed main and the jib. To confirm my course I used my Radio Direction Finder ( RDF ) and homed in on Thunder Bay Light nr. Alpena.

The wind increased to NW 20 knots and the waves were building to 8ft., exhilarating but tiring, particularly for my Dad. I was relieved to see Thunder Bat Lighthouse and later locate the buoy we had to keep to starboard for the sail up Thunder Bay to Alpena.

After docking and a hot lunch on shore we enjoyed a well deserved nap.

Rough Water


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Created 17 April 2002 by Mark Smith
Last Updated on 27 December 2010