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Author Topic:   International Whaler Hunt - St. Clair River - July 4, 2009
K Albus posted 07-05-2009 01:58 PM ET (US)   Profile for K Albus   Send Email to K Albus  
This July 4th I had planned to take my boat out on Lake St. Clair with my wife to watch a fireworks display put on by a couple of the local marinas. My wife was just getting over the flu, however, and with chilly weather forecast we decided to scrap our evening boating plan. This left me with a clean slate for the weekend, so I decided to take my boat on a photo safari. My intended prey: Boston Whalers and Great Lakes Freighters.

I decided to cruise up the St. Clair River and out into Lake Huron. These two bodies of water form a part of the international border between the United States and Canada. In most places the St. Clair River is less than 2,000 feet wide. The vast majority of the river on both sides is edged with steel breakwalls which cause the wakes from passing boats to rebound back-and-forth across the river. The river also has a very strong current. When there’s a lot of boat traffic, the river can get very rough, even with little or no wind. The forecast for the day called for light winds, cool temperatures, and lots of sunshine. Because of the holiday, however, I was not expecting a smooth ride.

I started my trip at the municipal marina in St. Clair, Michigan, located just off the St. Clair River, about halfway between Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair. The City of St. Clair hosts an annual fireworks show, and there were lots of people and boats in the marina for the occasion.

After launching my boat at about 12:30 p.m., I took a quick spin around the marina to look for Whalers. The sailboats in the marina were in full dress for the holiday. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/StClairHarborMarina.jpg .

At the far end of the marina I spotted a beautiful, sixty-foot enclosed bridge Viking sport fisherman. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/Viking60EBjpg.jpg . And there on the foredeck, my first Whaler for the day, a Dauntless 13. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/Dauntless13.jpg .

After checking out the rest of the marina, I turned around and headed for the St. Clair River. Across the street from the marina, just before reaching the river, is a Cargill salt plant which makes table salt using the "Alberger process" (see Wikipedia), the only plant of its kind in the nation. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/SaltPlant.jpg . This process apparently results in a lighter, flakier salt which is coveted by the fast-food industry. If you’re eating fast-food french fries while reading this report, there’s a good chance the salt on those fries came from this plant.

I reached the river and turned north, heading for Port Huron. I soon came across my next Whaler, a Dauntless 160. Instead of sitting on the foredeck of a multi-million dollar boat, this one was sitting on a hoist next a large cabin cruiser, in front of a multi-million dollar home. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/Dauntless160.jpg .

A few miles up the river, near Marysville, Michigan, I came across my next target. As I approached the Marysville power plant, one of the oldest coal-burning power plants still in service, I spotted the Cason J. Calloway, one of the oldest Great Lakes freighters still in service. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/CasonJCalloway.jpg . The Calloway was built in 1952, and is 767 feet long, with a 70-foot beam.

Continuing up the river, I next came across the Sichem Bejing, and ocean-going vessel, docked on the Canadian side just south of Sarnia. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/SichemBejing.jpg .

A little farther up the river, the U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender Hollyhock was docked on the American side, of course. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/Hollyhock.jpg . The Hollyhock is 225 feet long, with a 46-foot beam, and was commissioned in 2003.

A short way further up the river I passed by this 210 Outrage without so much as a wave. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/210Outrage.jpg .

As I neared its headwaters, the St. Clair River got choppier and choppier. With numerous boats large-and-small out for the holiday, creating wakes in all sizes, and the river’s five-knot current running below, the experience can best be described as boating in a virtual washing machine.

While managing my boat with one hand, I used my other hand to get a picture of my next target: the decommissioned Huron lightship. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/Huron.jpg . This boat used to sit out in Lake Huron, in place of a lighthouse, to mark the entrance of the channel leading to the St. Clair River. The Huron was the last lightship to work the Great Lakes, and was decommissioned in 1970.

A short way ahead, I crossed under the Bluewater Bridge, which connects Port Huron, Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/BluewaterBridge.jpg . Just north of the bridge is the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse and the Coast Guard Station Port Huron. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/FortGratiotLighthouse.jpg . Bridge and Lighthouse: St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/BridgeandLighthouse.jpg .

I headed out into Lake Huron for about six miles, running up the shipping channel. When I reached the area where the Huron lightship used to sit, I turned around, took a quick picture, and then headed back for the river. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/PortHuronLight.jpg .

Back in the river, I decided to make a quick stop in Port Huron. To reach the town, you travel up the Black River, first passing an old railroad bascule bridge. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/BasculeBridge.jpg . The bridge has been out of service for many years, and is always in the open position.

On the Black River I spotted a couple more Whalers. First, this Outrage 26, “7 Treasures”, which was apparently visiting from Florida. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/7Treasures.jpg . Towing a large boat 1,200 miles with seven kids in the car seems like it might be a bit taxing unless, of course, the children truly were "treasures". Just forward of 7 Treasures sat an Outrage 210. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/210Outrage2.jpg .

In Port Huron, I met up with an old friend who came aboard for a short cruise. We headed out on to the St. Clair River and took a ride around Stag Island on the Canadian side of the river. On the west side of the island we saw a few small Whalers including a Montauk 17 named “Bob Marley and the Whalers 3” and 13-footer named “Bob Marley and the Whalers”. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/TheMarleys.jpg . No “Bob Marley and the Whalers 2” anywhere in sight. Maybe if I had taken the picture at 4:20 instead of 4:02 the Bob Marley 2 would have appeared.

After dropping my buddy off, I ran back down the St. Clair River as fast as I could - all of about 17 to 20 mph. Choppy was the word for the day. Just north of St. Clair, I passed another old freighter, the Michipicoten (698 feet long, 70-foot beam). St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/Michipicoten.jpg . Like the Calloway, the Michipicoten was commissioned in 1952.

At 6:00 p.m. I was back in the St. Clair marina. While waiting for the ramp to clear, I spotted my last Whaler for the day, a Dauntless 160, tied to the seawall, waiting for the fireworks show. St%20Clair%20River%20July%204%202009/WaitingfortheFireworks.jpg . Although my knees took quite a beating, it was another good day of boating. (Any day of boating is a good day of boating.)

Classic Whalers spotted: 1
Post-Classic Whalers spotted: 7
Total distance traveled by boat: 79 miles
Total fuel burned: 5 gallons
Fuel economy: 6.08 mpg

K Albus posted 07-05-2009 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Two small corrections:

1. I waved to the guy in the Outrage 210. He blew by me without so much as a wave.

2. Gallons of gas burned: 13. The fuel economy stated above is correct: 6.08 mpg.

home Aside posted 07-05-2009 03:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     

nice photo's....last weekend Paul Mott & myself threw his Outrage 18 & My Revenge 22 in the Detroit River & headed south for a day on the water. On our way back to the ramp an Outrage 32 with twin Verados passed us like we were standing still, I gave a wave, no reply...I think the common denominator is the three guys on the Outrage 32 looked to be about 16-17 years old out burning Dad's fuel, the fellow in your photo looks pretty young too, they probably didn't even know what brand boat they were piloting...

Give me a call we can meet up for some day trips


jimh posted 07-05-2009 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Kevin--I have noticed that the captain and crew aboard Post-Classic Boston Whaler boats are less likely to wave or to return a wave from the captain and crew of a Classic Boston Whaler boat than are the captain and crew of other Classic Boston Whaler boats. I have had this happen several times, and I have wondered if it was simply anecdotal or if representative of a trend.

I will try to move your images to be in-line later.

MarthaB posted 07-05-2009 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for MarthaB  Send Email to MarthaB     
Jim----WiFi is great.......Did you move on to your next destination?
dfmcintyre posted 07-05-2009 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Kevin -

See the home in the lefts background of this image:

Belongs to a friend of mine. Head of our departments dive team. Good guy. Took well over a year to complete.


Nushlie posted 07-06-2009 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Nushlie  Send Email to Nushlie     
Gentlemen and Ladies:

When passing or being passed by a fellow Whalerite some form of acknowledgement is in order. A simple wave or thumbs up should not be too much to ask.

It should be considered a professional courtesy.

I also want to thank everybody for the pictures, just great!


prj posted 07-06-2009 10:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Nice story and photographs Kevin. I love taking these cruises vicariously.

By the by, that 13' Dauntless tender, the Far Niente , is for sale if anyone was interested in it. vessels_id=82353&curr_id=7

Hoosier posted 07-07-2009 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Sorry I missed joining you, we were on Lake St. Claire the weekend before. Speaking of tenders for sale...
Hoosier posted 07-07-2009 08:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier current=IMGP2976.jpg

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