Hi All,

Louise and I headed back up to the boat on Labour Day, getting an early start, but not as early as some others recently. (Jamie left for Memorial on Thursday at some ridiculously early hour. On Saturday I drove Martha to Montreal to get her plane to Halifax. I don't know just how early we left, but I had been to Montreal and back again by not long after 11.) So we got out of town a little after 7. The drive was uneventful, and we had turned in the rental car and got out on the water by about 1430. Jim was taking Aqualibrium out just ahead of us, so we got the chance to wave.

As usual, the wind was more or less on the nose, so we motored into it until we had everything squared away. It swung a little further west and we rounded the point, so up went the sails for a nice fetch. As usual when the wind swings to a suitable direction, it started to die. We eventually motored into Goderich at about 2030 in the gathering darkness. Summer is over and it is getting dark a lot earlier. Being away from the boat for a week made that even more obvious. We tied up in the inner harbour behind the salt depot and BBQd some lamb for dinner.

Some time around midnight the Algorail bulk carrier docked in the channel and started loading salt. The Ports book had warned that light sleepers might be disturbed by the noise. We didn't even know they were there until I came out on deck about 0045. They continued loading through the night and much of the next day without bothering us. At least, the noise was no problem, but to reach the forward holds they had to swing their conveyer boom out over the channel and I couldn't see whether or not we would have clearance to get out. I guess I wasn't highly motivated, or I could have radioed to see if there was room for us to sneak around or under it. They shifted the ship and swung the boom in just after lunch and we were able to get out about 1300.

I had been talking with the people moored next to us and exchanging stories about the places we had each visited in the North Channel. They were interested to hear about our visit to Great Duck, and told me about this guy they met who had recommended it highly. Yup, it was Scott from Brinehog ;-) I seconded his recommendation. We agreed that the late start to the day probably meant just puddling along the coast to Bayfield and said we might see each other there. Turns out that was not the case.

We had a nice sail for a little while before the wind tapered off. The forecast called for it to come back in from the S or SW and stay that way for at least 36 hours. Of course, our direction towards Sarnia was SSW! It seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the calm to put some miles behind us, so we continued. We started to get some help from a little SE breeze, but it quickly turned S and we were motor sailing to get more point. We hit Sarnia with only a couple of tacks and went under the Bluewater Bridge at over 8 knots just before midnight. That was about 4 knots through the water. I could have been going faster, but 10 knots would have made steering through the swarm of little fishing boats a little tricky in the dark. We continued down the river, since there's not much of anywhere to stop once you pass Sarnia YC. We shared the channel with a few of the big guys, but there was room enough to share. By dawn we were approaching Windsor.

We stopped again at Westport Marina so that I could make the hike across the street for a couple of jerry cans of gas. It was about a 500 metre hike and my arms and shoulders are still a little sore. There is virtually no dockside gas available on the Canadian side below Windsor. Imagine my thoughts when we pulled into Colchester and found that their dockside gas was 11 cents cheaper than the self-serve in Lasalle.

Anyhow, we were back on the river before 1100 and talking final destination for the day. Pelee Island seemed a little far, plus it would be complicated for Louise to make it back to the mainland and catch her train, so we settled on Colchester, about 12 miles east of the river mouth. We were caught by surprise when they told us on the radio that we might not get in. The guidebook said eight feet. Turns out there was plenty of water in the entry and we made it to the slip without contact. Getting into the slip took some agressive line pulling, but I think that was mostly pushing weeds out of the way. The boat is bobbing gently in the swell, and if we are making any bottom contact it's an awfully soft bottom. Our log shows 118 miles for this leg, but the GPS is sure we got 139, so that's about 20 extra miles we can chalk up to favourable current in the river. It sure is a lot easier going down than it was coming up.

We slept away most of the afternoon and evening before BBQing some souvlaki, with rice and tomatoes. Louise is arranging a cab ride to the train for tomorrow and I will probably head on to Pelee Island late in the day, where I will wait for a nice westerly to get me further down Lake Erie. I think I'm ready for some more sleep.