Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lake Superior Day Trip

As first-timers to the Great Lakes we had a wonderful day out to see just how the lakes impact the area. While my phone thought we were in Canada we did not need passports and nor did we set foot there although we could almost touch it at one point.
We headed out in a northerly direction, over the Mackinaw bridge with Michigan's oldest city, Sault St. Marie as our destination. Our purpose was to take a Soo Locks boat tour which would carry us through the locks and into Lake Superior. The difference in water level between the St Mary's River water level on the lower side and Lake Superior on the upper side is 21', hence the need for locks.
 There are three locks currently operational; this is the American Lock A where we entered, got locked in and waited while the water level rose to the Lake Superior height. The A and B locks are for small craft and large freighters. At the time we passed through it was just our small craft in the lock although there was a large freighter coming through Lock B heading in the opposite direction.
 Now the water level has equalized with Lake Superior, the gates slowly open and we can continue our cruise.
 Had we wanted to enter Canada by road this bridge, the International Highway, was the one we needed to be on.
 We cruised around somewhat allowing views of the large Canadian steel plant and hydro electric plant. The authorities made sure we stayed on the correct side!
 As intended we turned and headed back towards the St Mary's River which empties into Lake Huron. But first we had to drop down again and this time we passed through the Canadian lock. It is a smaller and newer one which can only take small and pleasure craft.
 The Canadians take a much more low key approach and people were wandering back and forth over the lock gates almost until they opened. But happily, all was fine, no-one fell in and we continued on our way.
 Looking back we could see the rapids which are natures way of getting from the higher water level of Superior down to the river. There's another of the three power stations we saw on our trip in the left foreground.

p.s. Later in the week we found out we were quite lucky to be at the Locks on Tuesday. On Wednesday a large freighter ran aground in the entry area to B Lock which shut down all water traffic in both directions until late Friday.
 We had our picnic lunch in the parking lot and then headed further on to Whitefish Point. The afternoon destination was the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The lakes are deceivingly beautiful but Lake Superior has earned the reputation of being the most treacherous. With the loss of over 6000 ships to storms on the Great Lakes there is plenty of material for a shipwreck museum. Built around the restored Whitefish Point Light Station (established in 1849) there are many fascinating exhibits and buildings to look through.
 And afterwards, a walk on the lakeshore beckoned. Yes, it was a midsummer day but this is not your average "day at the beach".
 The most recent and perhaps most famous and mysterious wreck was the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald just 17 miles from here in November 1975.
 But for now it was time to lighten up a little and enjoy some beach art.
 Who's that looking out to Canada? A fabulous piece of driftwood don't you think?
 Where did they all go?
This creature is on the lookout.

Maybe we need to alert the lookout!

This was a great day out and we gained a better understanding of what it means to be a mariner in this area. For sure there's plenty of scope for writing sea shanties.

1 comment:

  1. Are you personally responsible for the beach art in the photo with the rocks on the driftwood? I find it strange now that I grew up so close to the Great Lakes and we paid no particular attention to their relevance to the local economy - they were simply recreational. Thanks for taking us on this trip to Sault St. Marie.


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