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ContinuousWave: Trips and Rendezvous
And "They" Said It Couldn't Be Done - Grand Haven to Milwaukee and Back
|Author||Topic: And "They" Said It Couldn't Be Done - Grand Haven to Milwaukee and Back|
posted 06-14-2009 10:06 PM ET (US)
Well, we did it. We crossed Lake Michigan from Grand Haven to Milwaukee and back again. A Montauk 170, a Dauntless 180, and Outrage V-20. Two Mercurys and one Suzuki. Three boats, all with single engines. Nobody broke down, nobody needed a tow, and nobody broke a hip. The whole trip came off without a hitch. A good time was had by all.
Now for the detail, from my perspective, of course: My trip started early Saturday morning, when I left my house in White Lake, Michigan, near Detroit, for the two-and-a-half hour drive to Grand Haven. I made one last check of the wind and wave forecast at 4:45 a.m., finished loading my car and got on the road at 5:00 a.m.
When I left my house the weather was pleasant and the stars were out. Within an hour it was raining, and although it should have been getting light out, it really wasn’t. Nevertheless, I pushed on for Grand Haven, and pulled into Barrett Boat Works at 7:30 a.m. Once there I met up with David Hart (Hoosier) and his wife Kathy, who had spent the night there in their Outrage V-20. It was still raining lightly, and the sky was ominously dark, particularly in the west where we would be heading.
On the forty-minute no-wake ride from Spring Lake to Lake Michigan, via the Grand River, the water temperature at the surface was in the mid-60s, and a light rain continued to fall. The sky was overcast, but the forecast was good, so we continued to plug along.
When we hit Lake Michigan, the water temperature began to drop, along with the air temperature. We began cruising at our previously agreed speed of approximately 25 m.p.h. with Jon leading the way in his Montauk. Within an hour after leaving the pier heads, the water surface temperature had dropped to 39 degrees. But there was hope – the rain was letting up. The water had also been amazingly calm, with wave heights of only a few inches, and a bit of ripple on top of the water from the light breeze.
After a short stop to put on some extra clothes, we continued on our way. Our next stop came about an hour later, at mid-lake, 42 miles from either shore. Here we took a few minutes to ponder our progress and the surprisingly calm conditions. Since this where the so-called “Old Salts” had predicted we would break down, I didn’t dare shut down my motor. After clearing the Grand Haven recreational fishing fleet, which stretched out fifteen miles from shore, we had not seen another vessel.
A few minutes later we were back under way. This time we had agreed that since the water was so calm we would pick up the pace. We cruised along for another hour at about 30 to 32 m.p.h., with Jon and I taking turns at the occasional 40 m.p.h. sprint. David and Kathy followed along, with all of the boats maintaining easy visual contact with each other the whole time.
About 12 miles from Milwaukee we made our final stop out on the lake. The skies had cleared considerably, but there was still a bit of haze, and we could not see land. Since the water and the air had warmed up, I took this chance to shed my outer layer – my wind- and rain-proof pants and coat. After a few minutes we began to pick up some radio chatter from the Wisconsin Whaler gang. We could also hear the distant thrum of the Lake Express ferry returning from Muskegon, Michigan, just north of Grand Haven, to its home port of Milwaukee.
Calm water, clearing skies: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ CalmWaterClearingSkies.jpg
After a few unsuccessful attempts at relaying our coordinates to some of the Wisconsin Whalers, we head for shore. Within a few minutes we spotted an outbound Whaler. It turned out to be Eric Brodsky (Wiscbw) and his son, Ethan (DiveWI), in their Outrage 19. We stopped for a short chat, and then continued onward. Within a few minutes we met up with the rest of the Wisconsin group. In attendance from Wisconsin were: Patrick Jones (prj) on his Outrage 18; Steve Salick (stevesalick) and Donna on Steve’s 16.7 Cohasset II; Dennis Wamser (skred) and Kelly on Dennis’ Sport 13; Andy Lewis (Ablewis), Pam Lewis, Andy’s friend Bill and another friend on Andy’s Montauk 17; and Eric and Ethan Brodsky on their Outrage 19. From Michigan we had me (K Albus) in my Dauntless 180; Jon and Mark in Jon’s Montauk 170; and David and Kathy in their Outrage V-20. Eight boats, and not two of them alike.
Our trip across Lake Michigan had taken about three and half hours. The lake was remarkably calm, and we had no problems with any of the boats. Although I had expected the trip to be somewhat monotonous, it really wasn’t. It was a little colder than I expected, but that was easily remedied by adding another layer of clothing. All-in-all it was a rather pleasant crossing.
Next post: our time in Milwaukee.
posted 06-14-2009 10:14 PM ET (US)
We rendezvoused with the Wisconsin Whalers outside of the breakwall, just south of the opening leading to the Milwaukee river. Introductions were made, pleasantries were exchanged, photos were taken, and we began to discuss our plans for the day. Patrick Ramsey, our Milwaukee tour guide for the day, suggested a cruise up the Milwaukee River with a stop for lunch at the Milwaukee Ale House. Although Patrick and I were under the impression that we were just trying to come up with a plan, we very quickly learned that the group was all about action and not words. They all took off, leaving me and Patrick on the lake to enjoy a beer by ourselves.
A short while later we caught up with the group, and I soon learned that the Milwaukee River is an excellent place to visit for a recreational boater. There are numerous bars and restaurants along both sides of the river, as well as boardwalks along a substantial majority of the river. There were thousands of people of all kinds (it was PrideFest weekend, afterall) eating, drinking, and walking along the river. There were also several party boats shuttling people, including various bachelor and bachelorette parties, from bar to bar.
The Milwaukee River: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ MilwaukeeRiver.jpg
After a nice lunch – standard bar fare: burgers and fried foods – we continued our trip up the Milwaukee River. More restaurants, more bars, and more boats. After passing under one bridge, we were attacked by a huge flock of seagulls. They swirled round-and-round above our heads, and unfortunately, we had one casualty, whose name I shall withhold to protect the innocent.
Attacked by seagulls: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ MilwaukeeRiver.jpg
After reaching the end of the navigable portion of the Milwaukee River, we backtracked a ways, and headed up the Menominee River for a quick look at the Harley-Davidson museum. We then headed back for Lake Michigan. Before we could get there, however, we came across two gentlemen on a 30-something foot, aluminum hulled, Boston Whaler Defiance. It turned out they had been following our thread planning the trip, and they knew who we were. One of the gentlemen had just purchased the Defiance, “to goof around in”, and they had just put it in the water that day. Patrick and I stopped and had short, friendly chat with them while we waited for some of the other boats to catch up with us.
Pau Hana at Harley-Davidson Museum: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ PauHanaatHarleyMuseum.jpg
From there, it was out into harbor, and over to Lakefront Park. We navigated through the park and beached our boats at the Small Boat Beach to take a short break. We were soon approached by the park’s superintendent of security, who confirmed for us that we weren’t allowed to beach our boats there (yes, we already knew that, but there weren’t many people around, and we thought we’d be okay for a few minutes). The park officer was very friendly and courteous, and no tickets were issued.
Being thrown off the beach, the group decided that it was time to wrap things up for the day. The Wisconsin Whalers headed in their separate directions, and the Michigan Whalers headed for McKinley Marina. David and Kathy Hart would be spending the night on their Outrage V-20, and after saying please, they were given a slip near the restrooms and showers. Me and Jon, on the other hand, were assigned slips on the K-Dock, which apparently sees more traffic from geese and seagulls than from people. Although there were no geese or seagulls present to confirm this, it certainly appeared that they had been there recently.
After a short break, David, Kathy and I met up with Patrick on Brady Street for dinner. Jon and Mark headed in their own direction for dinner. After checking out a few places, we ended up at Cempazuchi, a nice Mexican restaurant. Patrick had recommended the place, and it lived up to his praise.
When dinner was over, David and Kathy headed back to the marina, and Patrick and I went to a local watering hole, The Garage, for a couple of beers. We talked about Whalers; we talked about Continuous Wave; and we talked about life in general. Patrick is great guy, and he was an excellent tour guide for the day. I look forward to meeting up with him again at another rendezvous.
After the nightcap, I checked into my hotel room for the night, at the Comfort Inn atop the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. When I made my reservation, I was charged extra for a “Lakeview” room. From what I could see when I got there, nearly every room must’ve had a view a lake, and most of them certainly had a better view of it than I did. It didn’t really matter, though. It was almost midnight Michigan time (11:00 p.m. Milwaukee time), and I was very tired. Within a few minutes I was fast asleep.
Next post: The Return Trip
posted 06-14-2009 10:27 PM ET (US)
On Sunday morning, the Michigan Whalers met at the McKinley Marina fuel dock. We filled our respective tanks, and we got underway just after 10:00 a.m. We had checked the marine forecasts on Saturday evening, and we were expecting a smooth trip home. We had no idea what we were in for. When we got out to the lake, it was even smoother than it had been on Saturday. I mean it was like a mirror.
We got underway, and given the conditions, we traveled even faster than we had on Saturday. We ran at or above 30 m.p.h. for almost the entire crossing. Just as we had done on the way to Milwaukee, we stopped every hour or so for short break and brief chat. We were all amazed at the calmness of the lake, and that subject took up a good part of our conversation.
In addition to calm waters, we also had amazing visibility. Near mid-lake we came across a couple of freighters, one traveling north, and one traveling south. I would estimate that we saw these ships from more than 15 miles away. The wake from the north-bound freighter provided the only waves (a couple of six-inchers) that we would see for the day until we approached Grand Haven. During our break near the time we crossed paths the freighters, we also saw the Lake Express ferry several miles to our north.
Pau Hana on the mirror-calm waters of Lake Michigan: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ CalmConditionsMid-Lake.jpg
Short video clip of mirror-calm water 30 miles offshore: http://s512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ ?action=view¤t=MVI_1252.flv
Continuing our homeward trip, we came upon our next wonder at about 20 miles off the Michigan coast. We spotted what appeared to be a number of small islands, or possibly a fleet of fishing boats, several miles ahead. This was unusual because there are no small islands off the Michigan coast, and because fishing boats would rarely be so far offshore. As we continued on, the islands grew bigger, and it soon became apparent that we seeing the Michigan coast appear over the horizon. It was a truly magnificent experience.
"Islands" Off Michigan Coast: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ IslandsOffGrandHaven.jpg
Just over three hours after leaving Milwaukee, we were back in Grand Haven. The weather there was beautiful, and the boaters were out en masse.
After negotiating the forty-minute no wake zone, we were back at Barrett Boat Works, where we parted ways with Jon and Mark. With a little help from David Hart, I loaded my boat on its trailer. Then I stood and watched as David and Kathy expertly loaded their boat onto its trailer. Farewells were exchanged, and I got on the road for the long drive home.
All-in-all, it was a most excellent adventure. Although “they” said it couldn’t be done, or shouldn’t be done, we did it. And we had a great time doing it.
posted 06-14-2009 11:02 PM ET (US)
Kevin--Thanks for the great trip narrative and excellent photographs. I think a lot of us are now saying "shudda, wudda, cudda..." Calm conditions like that are not going to come along very often. It probably won't happen again until the start of the Chicago-Mackinac Sailboat Race.
posted 06-15-2009 01:11 AM ET (US)
If the Sail Boat Race has those conditions, nobody's going to leave Chicago. This has got to have been a "once in five years" set of conitions.
posted 06-15-2009 08:53 AM ET (US)
Duh, now I get the humor. It was late last night....
posted 06-15-2009 10:56 AM ET (US)
Nice narrative and images. I think you guys got an outstanding set of conditions for the 2 day trip. I personally have never seen that lake glass smooth for 2 continuous days ever in my life. Congrats on making the voyage.
posted 06-15-2009 01:55 PM ET (US)
I'm more impressed that you were able to get David Hart to run 35 miles per hour!
posted 06-15-2009 02:40 PM ET (US)
Excellent and incredibly prompt narrative Kevin, thanks for posting that so quickly. I'm equally impressed with your grasp of names and details from the trip, you either have an exceptional memory or were taking notes discretely.
Your photos truly capture the moments described, but none quite as viscerally as one I spied in Steve Salick's slideshow on the other thread, wherein numerous seagulls' discharge is quite visible. That was a special moment, particularly for the unnamed victim, I'm sure.
I'm pleased you guys had even flatter seas crossing east, that video of Phatboy's Montauk is remarkable. It was great meeting you all and expect we'll have more Crosslake gatherings in the future.
posted 06-15-2009 02:44 PM ET (US)
I have a picture of the seagull attack, but I linked the wrong photo above. The real picture is here: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ AttackedbySeagulls.jpg
Hopefully Jim can correct the link above.
posted 06-15-2009 03:01 PM ET (US)
Water conditions were slightly different, also I had corrected my fuel flow problem, gotten a new performance prop, and off loaded 500 pounds of camping gear we didn't need.
posted 06-15-2009 05:05 PM ET (US)
I'm just pulling your leg, Dave.
posted 06-15-2009 05:36 PM ET (US)
I know. I was very pleased with how well the boat performed on the trip with the "tuning" I did based on what I learned from you guys last summer. Finding the kinked fuel line made a huge difference. The new prop is cupped and vented, a 13X21, aluminum that lets the engine rev in its sweet spot. We did most of Sunday's crossing at 5400 RPM. The paddle wheel was reading 38/9 mph and the GPS was 34/6 most of the time. I still have the throttle slip problem, it won't hold the setting and gradually backs off the RPMs, so I'll slow down gradually if I'm not paying attention.
posted 06-15-2009 06:14 PM ET (US)
Congrats on a great trip and memory for you! Thanks for sharing. The pic "IslandsOffGrandHaven.jpg" is one of the best Whaler shots I have seen in a while. Really nice photo.
posted 06-15-2009 06:34 PM ET (US)
Some additional details from the trip:
Lake Michigan Water Temperatures – On the trip from Grand Haven to Milwaukee I marked surface temperatures as low as 39.8 degrees, and the for the vast majority of the trip the water temperature was in the low 40s. On the return trip, just 24 hours later, the water surface temperature had dramatically increased – the lowest temperature I noted was about 48 degrees. This is consistent with the water temperature data from the nearest weather buoy, which showed a 12 degree increase in surface temperature from Saturday to Sunday. See: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ surfacetemps.png . That change in water temperature made a big difference in the air temperature. The ride home was much nicer than the ride there.
Wave Heights – The wave information from the nearest weather buoy shows just how calm Lake Michigan was for our trip. See: http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Milwaukee%20Trip/ wavechart.png . The wave heights were four inches or less on Saturday, and zero inches on Sunday.
Fuel Consumption – I burned 20 gallons on Saturday, covering about 100 miles. On Sunday, I burned 18 gallons covering the 86 miles back to Barrett Boat Works. Just under five gallons on average, and easily within the range of my 60 gas tank. Jon originally had questions about whether he could make the crossing with his 26 gallon tank and two additional five gallons cans of gas. He made it easily without any mid-lake refueling. (He'll have to give you the actual figures on his fuel consumption.)
My Trip Report – In response to Patrick’s post, I did not take any notes regarding the people or events – everything is from my memory, and I’m sure those memories will last for a long time. I did take some notes regarding distances and fuel usage. Unfortunately, however, I did not keep real good track of the time on either Saturday or Sunday, so I can’t tell you how long any of this took, or where I was at any given point during either day.
|L H G||
posted 06-15-2009 10:17 PM ET (US)
Great report and photos. Nice to see that flat weather on Lake Michigan. Remids me of the run I made from Portage IN to Frankfort MI in my 18 Outrage, encountering same conditions, and averaging 40 MPH.
Also nice to see what a fuel miser that 135 Optimax is on a heavier hull like the 18 Dauntless. I have not even heard of that kind mileage on a lighter weight 18 Outrage. How did Dave's 115 Suzuki do on fuel?
posted 06-15-2009 11:31 PM ET (US)
The last Chi-Mac race with that flat of water for two days was the 1989 Chi-Mac. You remember drifting for three days off Chicago. One full day that flat maybe every 10 years. The photos are surreal with the calm water and the land rising up.
Congratulation’s on your trip. It looks like it was fun from the posts.
posted 06-15-2009 11:55 PM ET (US)
Great photos and stories. I'm jealous. Love the "islands" photo with the Montauk. Looks like some 2010 BW Calendar material.
posted 06-16-2009 02:01 AM ET (US)
Albus - your fuel report is unbelievable. I doubt my 94 Johnson 115 would have done anywhere near that well. As we learn about it we'll make a decision regarding the motor. Thanks for posting.
posted 06-16-2009 08:55 AM ET (US)
Kevin--I am superstitious, too, and I wouldn't have shut off my motor in the middle of Lake Michigan, either.
David sent a few photos to me which I will add when I get a chance.
posted 06-16-2009 09:00 AM ET (US)
Larry, I filled up about 30 gal on Sunday after the crossing and the Miwaukee river tour. I don't think that's very accurate since the starting fill-up at Spring Lake may have only been to 90%. According to Suzuki that engine's most economical cruise is at ~4500 rpm, I was doing 5100-5400 for all of Saturday's crossing.
posted 06-16-2009 09:04 AM ET (US)
Make that 25.904 gal, $80.02. I found the receipt from McKinley Marina.
|L H G||
posted 06-17-2009 04:07 PM ET (US)
It sounds like all three of the boats got about 5 MPG. That's not bad for the 2-stroke 90 on the heavier 170 Montauk.
Dave - I think that new red rubrail installation brought you guys the good weather.
posted 06-17-2009 05:43 PM ET (US)
It's still the old one but with Jeff's "restoration technique" applied. It didn't help much, now I have a nice raspberry rub rail. My son and I are going to put the new one on after I get back from New York. It's been too cold in the UP to work with the vinyl. At least I'm keeping with the "berry" theme, the new one's color is cranberry.......
posted 06-18-2009 08:37 AM ET (US)
Here's a link to Steve Salick's pictures from the rendezvous: http://s644.photobucket.com/albums/uu169/stevesalick/ ?albumview=slideshow . Great pictures, Steve, and that's a beautiful boat you have.
posted 06-20-2009 12:14 PM ET (US)
Thanks for the compliments on my photos but I see I was not the only one to get some good shots. Loved the video as well, mirror conditions is right. Nice job documenting the trip Kevin, very complete. Really nice record of the adventure we can read for many years to come. Thanks so much. I was wondering what the odds are on picking a weekend in February, sticking to it, and having conditions like you did for crossing both ways, 1 in 300 maybe?
Does anyone have any more photos they would like to share? It seems I saw others snapping away, would sure like to see them . Also, if anyone wants me to email them a photo or two that I shot, in full resolution, send me an email and I will gladly comply.
Thanks for a great time and coming to Wisconsin!
posted 06-21-2009 10:10 AM ET (US)
Wow! Love the pic's, too!
posted 06-21-2009 10:47 PM ET (US)
It was great meeting you all. Thanks to the MI contingent for making the crossing and thanks to all the WI folks for coming out to join in the fun. I had an awesome time.
I put my photos online here:
posted 06-22-2009 10:08 AM ET (US)
That video is AWESOME. I'm really bummed I couldn't make it happen - looks like an excellent time and really, you guys got spoiled on the crossing!!
posted 06-23-2009 08:02 AM ET (US)
Great trip. I really enjoyed the photos. It looks like a completely different world from the East Coast. It must have been fun to ride through Milwaukee on the river.
posted 06-29-2009 10:36 PM ET (US)
Thanks for making this happen and for taking the time for the detailed post! It was great meeting everyone and I will try to post some pictures soon. I will be a repeat rendezvous participant sometime soon.
I have to say, as we were fishing coho in the A.M., I couldn't believe how calm the water was. We were very fortunate!
posted 06-29-2009 11:40 PM ET (US)
It was a lot of fun meeting everyone and a beautiful weekend for boating. Hope we can make the reverse crossing next summer. Unfortunately it will likely be a rougher ride.
My online photos are posted in
posted 07-08-2009 12:46 PM ET (US)
I look forward to seeing your photos, Andy. How about slipping a couple Bay du Noc hogs into that set as well, sounds like a good trip.
And Eric, fine set of photographs as well. The color of the white boats set against the blue grey sky and water makes for some compelling images, very serene. Love the head-on symmetrical shot of Steve's Cohasset as well.
On a somewhat related note, the attached article on my house features the stern of my Whaler in the garage. We boated about 2500 feet from here near the top of our Milwaukee River cruise:
posted 07-17-2009 08:05 PM ET (US)
I finally found time to post a large number of pictures from the rendezvous. See:
Patrick, I also posted pictures of my Father's day walleye fishing expedition to Big Bay de Noc. See:
Thanks to all for making this a great trip!
posted 07-17-2009 08:06 PM ET (US)
0ops. Url for Walleye trip in Big Bay de Noc Michigan:
posted 07-17-2009 08:08 PM ET (US)
And the correct URL for the Milwaukee Rendezvous pictures is:
posted 07-18-2009 12:15 PM ET (US)
Great photos Andy,Steve and Donna sure got in your viewfinder alot ;-)
Next time you all get together there will be another Cohasset in the flotilla.
Tom from Rubicon
posted 07-18-2009 03:21 PM ET (US)
Andy, nice photos. Thanks for posting.
Thanks to Eric and Ethan for posting their photos as well.
Hot-link for Eric's photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/elb20001/MilwaukeeWhalers61309#
Hot-link for Ethan's photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/ethan.brodsky/BostonWhalerOuting
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