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Author Topic:   Placido Lake Erie-O
jimh posted 11-02-2008 11:20 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
We had a very enjoyable impromptu cruise yesterday on Lake Erie with Dave on GAMBLER and Kevin (K Albus) on DAUNTLESS. After an early morning rendezvous at Lockeman's Hardware and Boat in SE Detroit, we launched at the Wyandotte Municipal Ramp a few miles south on the Detroit River. This ramp stays open just about year round to provide the diehard fishermen access to the river. My boat is in storage so I hopped aboard GAMBLER.

Photo: Launching ramp at Wyandotte, Michigan
DAUNTLESS 18 at Detroit River launch ramp, Wyandotte, Michigan
Photo by Dave Buckalew

For November 1st the weather was delightful. It was sunny and the temperature was climbing from an early morning 45-degrees toward a forecast high of 60-degrees. As we motored southward in the lower Detroit River I was bemoaning my lack of sunglasses. We jogged over to the eastern side of the river and took the Amherstburg Channel to the Detroit River Light. We saw very few other recreational boaters.

Kevin running at speed in his DAUNTLESS 18, Amherstburg Channel, Detroit River.
Photo by Dave Buckalew

Photo: GAMBLER in Amherstburg Channel, Lower Detroit River
GAMBLER in the lower Detroit River
Photo by Kevin Albus

Photo: GAMBLER at the Detroit River Light in Lake Erie
GAMBLER alongside the Detroit River Light
Photo by Kevin Albus

We headed out into Lake Erie, which was delightfully and uncharacteristically calm, with only a hint of waves. The breeze was very light from the northwest, and what little seas there were were a following sea. We followed the shipping channel southeast, drawn by the approaching bulk of the JAMES R. BARKER, a 1,004-foot ore carrier. The "Big Barker" (as she is known to differentiate from a smaller sister ship the KAYE E. BARKER, only 767-feet, and known as "The Little Barker") was making some speed in the open lake. She was pushing a six-foot or higher bow wave, and we had to slow to idle to cross her rather significant wake. After that close encounter we jogged to the south-southwest and headed for Toledo, about 25 miles away.

Photo: GAMBLER and BARKER arranging a pass
GAMBLER making a one-whistle (PORT to PORT) pass with the BARKER.
Photo by Kevin Albus

Photo: 1004-foot JAMES R. BARKER underway in Lake Erie
The 1004-feet of the Big BARKER in Lake Erie
Photo by Dave Buckalew

As we cruised along at 30-MPH, Lake Erie's open water started to roll up some 2-footers. I speculated aloud to Dave that I hoped these wouldn't get bigger when it came time to return. Dave and I were tucked in behind his Mills forward shelter and windshield, so we quite warm and cozy, particularly as the sun was shinning. As we headed south we passed under a large cloud bank, and lost the solar heating from the sun. We also lost any heat from land, and I imagine the air was not much warmer than the 45-degree water. Kevin was out in the open, dressed in warm gear but lacking much of a lee from the wind.

By about 1:45 p.m. we made the Toledo Light, proceeded up the dredged and marked channel to the inner harbor, found an empty dock in front of a shore-side restaurant complex, tied up, and went for lunch. We got a table next to the fireplace at THE SEAFOOD CO., and the radiant heat from the logs was much appreciated.

Photo: The Toledo Light, Lake Erie
Toledo Harbor Light, Lake Erie
Photo by Dave Buckalew

At about 3 p.m. after a warm and relaxing meal, we got back into the Boston Whalers for the trip home. I jumped into Kevin's DAUNTLESS 18 with Mercury 135-HP OptiMax for the trip up the Maumee River to Lake Erie, but I added an extra layer of clothing and changed to warmer gloves. Kevin kindly let me take the helm. We backed away from the floating dock and motored at No-Wake speed about a mile. As the Maumee River widens slightly the speed restrictions are lifted. The shoreline there is all commercial docks.

Photo: Boston Whaler DAUNTLESS 18 underway in Maumee River, Toledo, Ohio.
A gloved hand points the way toward home in the Maumee River, Toledo, Ohio
Photo by Dave Buckalew

The AMERICAN REPUBLIC was sitting very high, drawing only about 7-feet at midships, and her bow thruster, extensive flanking rudders, and Kort nozzle twin propeller arrangements were above the waterline, prompting a closer look. She is rigged this way to permit her to navigate up the Cuyahoga River without much vessel assistance. THE WHISTLER, a saltie stick ship with Chinese home port, was also riding high at the Toledo Overseas Terminal dock. We speculated what cargo she had just off loaded.

As we left the inner harbor I motioned for Dave to bring GAMBLER along side so I could get into the shelter of all that canvas for the trip home. I jumped aboard but left the extra layers of clothing in place. The sun had disappeared down here in Ohio, and it was cold. As we returned to Lake Erie we found that the light northwest breeze had also disappeared, and the great lake was laying down to almost calm conditions.

We broke out of the shipping channel and took a more northerly course, heading at an oblique angle toward the Michigan shoreline at over 30-MPH cruising speed. A few miles out in the lake we broke back into sunshine, as an early autumn sun angled low in the sky and made our wake sparkle. The sun was still strong enough to put warmth into our backs.

Photo: Low autumn sun shines in a sparking boat wake in Lake Erie, November 2008.
The Michigan side of Lake Erie brought a return to sunshine
Photo by Dave Buckalew

We passed the port of Monroe about a mile offshore, and headed for the very prominent twin cooling towers of the Enrico Fermini Nuclear Power plant a few miles north. I was surprised how close we could approach before a string of buoys marked a RESTRICTED AREA. We veered eastward and out into the lake to skirt around.

About then we sighted the 730-foot EDWARD L. RYERSON steaming toward Detroit from eastern Lake Erie. The RYERSON is just about unique among Great Lakes freighters as she still retains her original straight-deck design. No self-unloading crane breaks up her long profile. Boat Nerds call her "the most aesthetically pleasing of all lake boats." Dave pushed the throttle ahead to catch up to her as she passed the Detroit River Light. After taking a few pictures with the benefit of the low sun angle, we then jogged west to take the Trenton Channel passage.

Photo: The beautiful EDWARD L. RYERSON underway on Lake Erie, November 2008
Built in 1959, the RYERSON's raked masts and streamlined superstruture give her a distinctively modern style
Photo by Dave Buckalew

From the 30-foot depths of the shipping channel, we crossed water as shallow as 4-feet to make our way, passing between Celeron Island and the southern tip of Grosse Ile. We slowed to no-wake speed to make the passage under the highway bridge, then we went back on plane. The Detroit River was completely calm, with barely a ripple on her surface. We cruised effortlessly to the launching ramp.

The two Boston Whaler boats were expertly loaded on their trailers and hauled to the parking lot to be prepared for the highway. It was about 5 p.m. and both the sun and the temperature were dropping. It was delightful to get into the car and run the heater on the 40-minute drive home.

The mini-cruise was approximately 100-miles, and most of that in very calm seas. Kevin remarked, "This is the longest boat ride I have ever done in November." I think I can agree with him. Lake Erie was extremely cooperative, with hardly any wind waves, and, with the almost complete absence of other boaters, no crisscrossing boat wakes to roil up the waters.

jimh posted 11-02-2008 12:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Some technical notes.

The pictures above were taken by Dave Buckalew and Kevin Albus.

The low transom and relatively low gunwale height of the DAUNTLESS series have always appealed to me. They echo the more classic Boston Whaler designs. The view at the launch ramp shows this well.

Kevin's DAUNTLESS 18 with 135-HP OptiMax were purchased new in 2002. The motor gives the boat a top speed in the mid-30-MPH range. Kevin seemed to like to run there all day long, even in the cold winds. I need to find out what kind of foul-weather gear he was wearing. It must have worked well, otherwise he'd have been frozen.

The size of these big Great Lake freighters is hard to appreciate until you get really close to them. An 18-foot boat looks like a small dot along side. When we generally see these big boats they are running under check in the river, making only about 7-knots. Out in the open lake they move considerably faster, and make a wake that's big enough to take seriously.

The Toledo Harbor Light looks like it has not been manned in a while. The white stuff on the roof is not snow, but rather bird droppings. It is so far out in the lake that it is not shown on the harbor chart! You have to use the general Lake Erie chart to find it.

Cruising in the DAUNTLESS 18 I noticed that the console is placed more forward than in Dave's OUTRAGE 18, but then Dave revealed that he had moved his console aft about five inches when he was doing a re-fit. This created some extra leg room in the forward half of the boat for sleeping. Although not shown in any of the above photographs, the DAUNTLESS 18 when on plane at high speed tends to ride on a small pad of hull at the stern. Most of the boat hull is out of the water.

The demarcation between Michigan and Ohio seemed to be marked all day by the transition from clear skies to heavy clouds. You can see it in all the pictures. If there is sunshine, we were in Michigan.

The RYERSON is a classic Great Lakes freighter with her original straight decks. She has to be unloaded by shore cranes. These specialized cranes were known as Bessemer Unloaders. There used to be one in Little Current, Ontario, another of our favorite cruising spots. In Toledo we passed a dock with the appropriate cranes. This arrangement is quite rare these days, as most all ships can self-unload.

Photo: Bessemer Unloader at Toledo Harbor
GAMBLER runs along on plane past a Bessemer Unloader in Toledo Harbor
Photo by Kevin Albus

The RYERSON was in lay-up for several seasons in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. We saw her there in a visit a few years ago. She came out again in 2006. She has been running all this season, making a regular trip from Superior down to Erie with iron ore, putting it on the dock at Hamilton, Ontario. Although not visible in the photograph, the RYERSON's stack emblem is now that of Arcelor Mittal, her charterer and a global steel company.

K Albus posted 11-02-2008 03:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
A great day of boating in November. As Jim noted, the day started out nice and sunny, and got cloudier the closer we got to Ohio. On the return trip, it was sunny and the wind had died to almost nothing.

An album of my photos for the day can be found here: PhotoBucket Link
(Jim, feel free to add any of my photos to your narrative above.)

One minor correction to Jim's report: Although we did indeed spend most of the day cruising in the low-to-mid 30 mph range, my boat's top speed is now in the low 40s. See:

In fact, my boat set a new high speed mark on the return trip. I clocked 42.5 mph at 5600 rpm, against the slight wind and current, with the over-rev alarm sounding.

K Albus posted 11-02-2008 03:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Here's an alternate link to the Photobucket album which shows the whole album at once: Lake Erie 2008 .

I also forgot to mention in my previous post that it was a pleasure meeting both Jim and Dave, and I look forward to boating with them again.

jimh posted 11-02-2008 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Cold air and water usually add to performance. It's good to hear you set the new top-speed mark. I wouldn't want to go boating in much colder temperatures.

Thanks for the link to the rest of the pictures.

Buckda posted 11-02-2008 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
It was a great weekend trip. Nothing beats 100 miles aboard the Whaler on a beautiful fall afternoon. The leaves are generally past-peak, but for a former "Summer only" boater, it never ceases to give me a thrill to be out on the water with the brown orange colors of the last leaves, with virtually no boat traffic.

Thanks JimH for coming along, and Kevin - I'm glad we finally had a chance to meet in person and do some boating together!

jimh posted 11-02-2008 05:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I added some of Kevin's pictures in-line above. Dave--sorry I accidently deleted your comments. I am sure they were excellent, and I encourage you to re-append them!

This was the first time we'd met Kevin. He said, "Jim, you're not as crabby in person as I expected."

jimh posted 11-02-2008 06:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
This was the longest I'd been aboard GAMBLER, and it was the first time I really had a chance to see and use Dave's big chart plotter, a GARMIN 2210, for any length. The 10.4-inch color display provides a fantastically clear and easy to see presentation--it is huge. I was also impressed with the digital cartography loaded into it. I had brought my printed charts for these waters, but they were older editions, both from 1997. Dave's digital chart showed the restricted zone around the power plant; my printed charts did not.

I think all the cartography is pre-loaded into the GARMIN, and Dave hasn't bought any more detailed charts, at least probably not for Toledo Harbor and the Maumee River. But his plotter was excellent. Is a 10.4-inch display too much for an 18-footer? Not really. I think I'll have to upgrade my ancient black-and-white 4-inch display before too long. Having a big color chart plotter is too much fun to miss when you go boating.

As Dave mentioned we put about 100-miles under the keel. Both of these boats get excellent fuel economy. Dave's tank indicator moved from FULL to 3/4-FULL, and Kevin's electronic SmartCraft instrument showed he used around 25-gallons. Both figured fuel economy was around 4-MPG. And were running quite fast for much of the trip. You can't pack 100-miles into a few hours of boating any other way.

Today the temperatures were also nice, and the sky was sunny. But there were 15-MPH winds, and I bet Lake Erie was not as calm as she was Saturday.

Buckda posted 11-02-2008 07:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Worse than the lake conditions, I've been stuck at work all afternoon today. But it was worth it in exchange for the nice long run yesterday. I'll be topping off my tank in a couple days before I take the boat back for storage; so I'll be able to provide a fairly accurate figure on my economy, but as stated, I should be in the 3.75 - 4 MPG range.

I was impressed that Kevin's 135 OptiMax was indicating 4 MPG on a bit heavier boat, and he was running at a higher percentage of WOT than I was for most of the trip. I am excited at the prospect of doing some more boating with Kevin to get more familiar with the OptiMax.

Despite some of my regular cruising buddies being fans of OptiMax motors, none of them actually own one - so this was my first opportunity to run with one for any distance.

Too bad we changed course from the original destination of Put-In-Bay.


jimh posted 11-02-2008 07:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Put-In-Bay will always be there, somewhere over the hazy dark Ohio horizon. Maybe next weekend?
K Albus posted 11-02-2008 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I refilled my gas tank today. I put in just over 22 gallons. Using 100 miles for the distance traveled, I averaged about 4.5 miles per gallon.
prj posted 11-02-2008 10:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Thats a fine trip you fellas pulled together for this late in the season. Its certainly nice to be flexible during the late fall in the Midwest, one never knows when a spectacular day could call you down to the water.

I'm with the Boat Nerds in their astute opinion of the RYERSON, what a stunning and clean lined vessel she is.

jeffs22outrage posted 11-03-2008 10:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
The Ryerson is also one of my favorite lakers for is design aesthetics alone. It looks more like a great lakes cruise ship for the 50's rather than a freighter.

Here is some great info on the ship. If you look at the pictures you can see it looks like they explored the option of retrofitting it to be a self off loader. Glad they didn't do it.

Here is where you can find some great rendered profiles as well.

Sorry I missed out on this trip. I stopped in at Lockeman's Saturday but I just missed Dave. Anyway I had family over all weekend so I had to be social. My father and I are still hoping to get one more ride this fall if anyone would like to join.

home Aside posted 11-03-2008 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Great Photo's & Narrative...

sorry I missed out on this one at the last minute...seems I've become a member of the "I forgot to go to work Club" I thought Saturday Nov 1, 08 was the change of shift date, turns out Monday Nov 3, 08 was.....

I was on my way to Lockeman's to meet Dave, Jim, & Kevin, I stopped in the station to drop something off, when low & behold everyone was running around looking for the Duty Detective....Ooops I ended up working the day instead of Whalering the day...rats.....


Shady Grady posted 11-03-2008 07:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Shady Grady  Send Email to Shady Grady     
Kevin, the only problem with your cruise is you did not have a Grady White in any of them!!
jimh posted 11-04-2008 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
While I have been out on GAMBLER before, this 100-mile trip was by far the longest, and it gave me a chance to get a feel for how the boat runs with the twin 90-HP E-TEC motors. Having twin engines on an 18-foot boat is something of a rarity these days, as most modern outboard motors are much too big and too heavy to be properly fitted in twin-engine configuration on only an 18-foot boat. The E-TEC 90-HP motors are very compact (at least in comparison to the other modern 90-HP motors) and they look absolutely perfect on the transom. When running off shore and alone, or like this, late in the season with hardly another boat in sight, having twin engines is a comforting redundancy. As you know, Dave likes to go boating in some remote places, and I am sure the twin engine rig contributes to that tendency.

At cruising speed the engine speed is only about 3,000-RPM, and you get the impression that these engines could run a very long time in this sort of service.

Dave's boat also has trim tabs, and Dave has become quite expert in their use. He was able to adjust the boat's trim to suit the wave conditions. As the pictures above show, GAMBLER likes to run on plane with a very low planing angle. This keeps more hull in the water, which might increase drag and thus burn a bit more fuel, but it provides a very steady ride.

The short stretch I took on DAUNTLESS was also interesting. The boat transitions to plane with little bow rise, and it runs very smoothly. For an 18-footer the DAUNTLESS has a lot of beam. I think this gives good lift and as a result good fuel economy.

We did not bash into any of Lake Erie's famous square waves--three-foot high waves that are three-feet apart--but believe me, there are no small boats that perform well in those conditions, in spite of the many declarations of proud owner's to the contrary.

jimh posted 11-04-2008 01:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The picture that shows GAMBLER's low planing angle is Toledo%20Trip%20With%20Gambler/?action=view& current=GamblerOnMaumeeRiver2.jpg

Buckda posted 11-04-2008 02:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
In the photo above, GAMBLER is running at near WOT, but I have not yet trimmed the motors out, which adds considerable lift and raises the hull out of the water.

But you are correct - she likes to plane at a fairly flat angle compared to other 18's. I attribute this to 6 blades in the water compared to 3 or 4 at the most on single engine rigs.

jeffs22outrage posted 11-04-2008 10:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
Here are some images I shot of Gambler on 9-25-08 showing Dave's trimming. BostonWhalerGroup92708#5250876790896287906 BostonWhalerGroup92708#5250877078917205554 BostonWhalerGroup92708#5250877393027727170 BostonWhalerGroup92708#5250877148271191106 BostonWhalerGroup92708#5250878035630119634

jimh posted 11-09-2008 09:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
What a difference a week can make. I was down on the Detroit River this Saturday. There was a near Gale blowing out of the southwest, and against the river's current the waves built to white-capped four-footers. The wind intensified for about an hour, and the waves built to even greater height. In four hours of watching I only saw one non-commercial boat, a 45-foot motor yacht trying to go south against the waves, and throwing spray to the flying bridge. The only other small boat was the USCG's 35-foot SAFE boat. The Coast Guard was not running on plane, and it looked like a rough ride. It is snowing tonight.
RJG posted 11-10-2008 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for RJG  Send Email to RJG     
Great photo album.

Jimh--Are the front navigation lights on your boat mounted on the bow rail? I have not seen this before on a Revenge. Why are they mounted like that and how are they wired?

jimh posted 11-11-2008 12:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE to RJG: The combined SIDELIGHTS on my REVENGE are mounted on the bow rail. The wiring is concealed in the railing. The WHITE ALL-AROUND light is carried off center at the stern. On boats where there is a WHITE ALL-AROUND light that is mounted off-center, the SIDELIGHTS must be combined and mounted on the centerline. I assume the railing was used to get the lamp out of the way of any anchor or mooring lines on the pulpit.
jimh posted 11-11-2008 12:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
After the cruise I got more information on some of the ships we saw.

The AMERICAN REPUBLIC, which was sitting very high in the water and drawing only a fraction of her normal draft, proceeded from the wharf to a graving dock, where she was raised in order to repair a leak in her stern thruster tube.

The RYERSON was on her way back from Lorain, Ohio, where she has spent an uncharacteristically long 40 hours being off-loaded of her Taconite ore. There was a breakdown dockside and only one crane was working. She was heading north in ballast and bound for winter lay-up in Superior, Wisconsin. Even though it takes longer for her to be unloaded than a self-unloading vessel, the RYSERSON can run at 17-knots, so her speed makes up for the extra time spent unloading.

I don't know where THE WHISTLER has gone, but most likely out to the St. Lawrence.

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