Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Boating Season is Over

The boating season is winding down in Northern Michigan and is over for us. Tomorrow the boat will be pulled from the water, winterized and moved to a barn for storage until next year. You know the season is winding down as we were the only boat in the Canadian Soo. On the way down we stopped at Lime Island again and were the only boat there. We then went over to Bob Lo Island and there were four other boats in the marina, but no one was on any of them.

And then on Wednesday we went to Mackinac Island and for the first time ever we were the only boat there. Another cruiser did come in later that afternoon.

We just experienced our best month of weather all summer. It would have been perfect, but for our last day on the water. Thursday we rode over to St. Ignace from Mackinac Island in T-shirts, on the flybridge in flat calm seas. Friday morning we woke up to 20-25 knot winds and a wind chill of 42. The winds were down to 15 for our ride back to Mackinaw City, but it still wasn’t a pleasant ride.

We hope that you all have had a wonderful summer and have enjoyed riding with us. We have certainly enjoyed it and having you along. We will let you know when we get back to the Keys, but that might be a while as we are going to explore a bit on the way back in the motorhome.
Hey what is happening to our Steelers? Loosing two in a row both in the last minute? Everyone needs to get on board and start sending nothing but good vibes our way. Go Steelers!!!

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Kohuts in the Canadian Wilds, eh.

Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada

The Canadian Wilds might be a bit of a stretch as we are in the Canadian Soo, one of the largest cities in northern Ontario. We crossed over this Tuesday after our company left. The marina is closed so we are here by ourselves with no power or water. The good thing is the docks are free. That helps to pay for some of the great dinners we are having at the many of the Soo's fantastic restaurants.

Our stretch of good weather continues at almost three weeks of warm sunshine and fair seas. That might end tonight as a cold front moves through. It has already begun to cloud up and the temperatures are dropping into the 30’s tonight. We got a nice bike ride in today in t-shirts, probably our last one of the season.

Karl Lund and Juanita Fanto were guest aboard the boat last week.

We picked them up in Mackinaw City where we watched the Steelers give us all heart failure in their overtime victory over the Tennessee Titans. Friday we started cruising and visited Mackinac Island and a round island bike ride, and Hessel, where we spent the night. Saturday we took a cruise through the Les Cheneaux Islands and up the St. Mary’s river to Lime Island.

Lime Island is unique as it is the first place that we have stayed all summer that didn’t have a restaurant. In fact it doesn’t have much of anything as it is an abandoned fueling station for freighters in days gone by. We were the only boat on at the island and we could let Jake run free and swim. Needless to say, Jake calls it heaven.

Sunday we had to go back down the River to Detour to pump out as our holding tank went full during the night. We decided to take advantage of the restaurants and had breakfast in town. Afterwards it was back to Lime Island and a hike to the lime kilns, from which the island was originally named. Again we were the only boat and Jake got to run free and swim. That afternoon we were off to the American Soo where we celebrated Karl’s 59th birthday at the world famous Antlers Bar. The marina in the Soo is right next to the locks. All of the big freighters going into or coming out of Lake Superior pass within a hundred yards of the boat.

One of the neat things to watch is the supply ship Ojibway pulling along side a freighter and hoisting up the ships stores.

We have another week out on the water before we start to head back to the barn. We hope that you all have had a great week. Go Steelers!!!

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Kohuts, Tween in Mackinac City

Greetings to all,

We are now between company in Mackinaw City.
Yesterday Dr. Ed left and tomorrow Karl Lund and Juanita Fanto arrive. We also have a new record of ten straight days of wonderful weather. It looks like it is going to stay nice all the way through this weekend.

Steve and Paula’s timing was a little off and they had to endure the worst weather we had all summer. It was cold, raining and blowing a gale.
We ended up sitting in Charlevoix until Monday when the weather turned. We were able to get a quick cruise down to Elk Rapids. It was still cold, but sunny and smooth. Tuesday, the day they were leaving it started to warm up into the 70’s.

Steve and Paula enjoy their only warm day aboard the Blue Chip.

Ed Gordon arrived the same day and he says that he brought the good weather. Who can argue? He spent a week on the boat and we had the best week of weather of the whole summer. We crossed over to Beaver Island on Wednesday with flat calm conditions and warm temperatures. Even Jake didn’t mind it too much. On Beaver Island we were able to bike and enjoy our favorite restaurant, The Beaver Island Lodge. After a few days on Beaver we moved back to the Straits for the busy Labor Day weekend and got the last slip open in St. Ignace. Again it was flat calm and warm.
We could easily get used to this type of cruising. Sunday, a couple of docks opened on Mackinac Island, so we went over there for the rest of the weekend. Mike was able to get his bike repaired (it wouldn’t shift gears) and we had another delightful ride around the island.

Dr. Ed and Mike biking on Beaver Island.

Ed’s week was up yesterday and we came over to Mack City so he could drive home. We spent today shopping and getting ready for our next adventure, which will be running up the St. Mary’s River to Sault Ste Marie with Karl and Juanita. They will be aboard until Monday. We are hoping the good weather will hold out for another couple of weeks, so that we can do a little cruising in the North Channel of Canada. We are scheduled to pull the boat on September 28th.

We hope that you all have had a great week and you are ready for the big football game tomorrow. Go Steelers!!!

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

While we were in Charlevoix, the Linda Lu arrived. At 198 feet it is the largest boat to ever dock at a Michigan State recreational dock. Mike told Linda he ordered it for her, but it was supposed to be named the Linda Q, so he wasn't going to take it. The Blue Chip is in the center in the foreground.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shakedown Cruise

Many of you asked about Jake, as he was absent from the last report. That is because Jake has been the perfect dog and has provided little material to write about. This is his fourth summer aboard and we have to report, Jake still hates the boat.

When we left Mackinaw City last Wednesday we thought that maybe summer was over. It was cold, overcast and blowing like stink, normal Great Lakes weather. It was too cold to ride on the flybridge, but that is where Jake wanted to go as soon as he heard the engines cranked, so Mike boosted him up. After leaving the harbor, Linda went up to the bridge to check on Jake and found him under the seat covers cowering. So Linda put on her winter coat and went up to ride with him. It was only an hour over to Mackinac Island, but Jake was one happy dog to get ashore.

The weather stayed cool the rest of the week. Floyd and Maggi Lewis came over in their boat, Bonnie Banks and spent the weekend with us. Jim and Diane Richards came up from the store to finish up an accounting upgrade that we had going on. Sunday we left Mackinac Island and summer had returned. We all got to ride on the flybridge, it was dead flat calm and Jake was as happy as he is ever going to be on the boat. It was a short ride over to St. Ignace, but Jake was glad to get ashore.

After arriving in St. Ignace, we linked up with Larry and Kathy McElroy and had dinner at the Douglas Lake Steakhouse. Larry bought our dive charter business in St. Ignace and it is still going strong. If anyone wants to do any shipwreck diving, the Straits has the most shipwrecks and the clearest water of anywhere in the Great Lakes.

We are happy to report that the boat seems to be running perfectly. We didn’t find any faults on our two short shakedown cruises. We did have one glitch. Our old GPS that plugs into the computer failed last year. Mike had an even older GPS that he used to use, so he brought it up from Florida to use this year. When he plugged it in it worked perfectly and he was feeling pretty good until he realized that the adapter to plug into the computer was still attached to the old GPS which was now in Florida. No problem, just buy a new one. He found the cheapest adapter that he would buy was $43. He found a complete GPS designed for computers for $36. Needless to say he now has a new GPS for his computer. We will see how well it works when we take off this week and start down Lake Michigan.

We hope that you all have had a great week. It does look like summer has finally arrived everywhere.

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Somebody please help get me off this boat!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Mackinaw City

We are happy to report that we made it to Mackinaw City. We arrived last Friday afternoon and found the Blue Chip already in the water.

Our leaking sewer problem was fixed by noon last Monday and we were back on the road. We didn’t get far and stopped to have lunch with Mike’s Uncle John and his cousin Ray Haski. Uncle John lives in Tucson, AZ and is in Pittsburgh visiting with his daughter Judy, who unfortunately was out of town during our visit. Uncle John is Mike’s Dad’s only living brother and turns 90 this year. He looks and is doing great.

From Pittsburgh it was off to northern PA and a short visit with Mike’s old college roommate, Bill Petraitis and his wife Jill. We didn’t mention it before, but we are towing our Jeep this year. Don’t ask why, as no one has a good answer. Any way with the Jeep on the back we can’t back the motorhome up, so we had to take it off when we were in Conneaut Lake at the Petraitis’. When we were leaving we moved it to hook it back to the motorhome and noticed a funny smell like something was burning. It didn’t seem that bad and we were just going to be towing the Jeep so we didn’t worry about it.

We got to Detroit (Royal Oak) and visited with our business partners, Jim and Diane Richards. We ended up spending almost all day Thursday there working on corporate issues that needed to be resolved. Just as we were ready to leave, some one got into the coach and broke the automatic steps that come out of the door. We are not going to say who broke it, but let’s say that he is big and heavy. The steps were now just dangling in the air ready to hit what ever we go by. Mike was able to tie them in an up position which made getting in and out of the coach a bit difficult.

Instead of making it to Mackinaw City Thursday night as was our original plan, we slept at the road side rest in West Branch, about half way there. Mike was up early Friday and was anxious to get on the road. Linda was up shortly after the diesel engine started under her bed. Mike saw a sign for a Camping World store in Houghton Lake and decided to go over there and see if they might either have or could order a part for our steps. We pulled into their parking lot and waited until 8:00 AM when they opened. Mike took the manual for the steps in to the store and showed them what part he needed. Not only did they have the part in stock, they could put it on. By 9:00 we were fixed and back on the road.

Life is good. Two minor repairs to the coach, which we were able to have fixed immediately while we waited; and all for less than $600. We arrived in Mackinaw City Friday afternoon and saw the Blue Chip floating serenely at the dock. Our thoughts were immediately, “wonder what is going to be wrong with the boat this year.”

But alas, the boat problems would have to wait. Mike unhitched the Jeep from the motorhome and the Jeep wouldn’t start. It was stone dead. He figured that the battery must have drained while we were towing it as the ignition has to be left on to unlock the front wheels so they can turn. Mike moved the motorhome around in position and put on jumper cables. Still nothing and that is with four batteries hooked to it. He jiggled everything and pounded a couple of things and finally it started. He ran it around the block and that burning smell that we didn’t worry about before was back. Now he was worried. He called a Dodge dealer that was 25 miles away and they said they could look at it on Monday morning. No use worrying about it now, as we had a lot of work ahead of us on the boat.

The first order of business is a thorough interior cleaning of the dirt and dust that occurred over the winter storage. Mike checked out the boat’s living systems to see what was still running and what wasn’t. The aft refrigerator which just had a new compressor installed in it wasn’t working. Fortunately the repair man that just installed it was still in town and came back to look at it. After some deliberation and consultation with his boss, he found that he had over charged it with Freon or what ever they are now using. A small tweak and it was now cooling.

Next started the unloading process. It is amazing how much crap we can jam in that motorhome. It is also amazing how late it stays light here. We quit at 10:00 PM that night just as it was getting dark. We don’t have a freezer on the boat, so we had to use up the last of our Weight Watchers TV dinners. Mike was certainly sad to see that streak end, 106 straight days of TV dinners. He did loose some weight though.

Saturday we completed the unloading process and got everything stowed on the boat. It is amazing how much crap that boat can hold. Sunday we took the motorhome down to Cheboygan to the Wal-Mart and Glens Super Market and bought more stuff to bring back and unload and store on the boat. On the way back we stopped at a campground to dump the holding tanks and fill with water. That is when Mike discovered that the repair man who did the tank valves didn’t put the water hose back in the coach, so no water. Oh well, we have an extra on the boat. By Sunday evening everything was all done. The motorhome was empty and the boat was loaded. All that was left was to clean up the motorhome to put it away.

Monday morning we were off to the Dodge dealer to have the Jeep looked at. The Jeep started without any problem and there was no smell. Mike thought for sure it was going to be on these “everything is working fine we can't find anything wrong with it” occasions. We dropped the Jeep and walked about a mile down the road to a restaurant to have breakfast. That is about the farthest that Mike has walked since he started to have knee problems. Just as our order came, the dealership called and said they had found the problem with the Jeep. It was some type of electronic control module that was bad, but they didn’t have one in stock and would have to order it. The good news is that they could have it Tuesday morning. After breakfast, Mike suggested to Linda that she should walk back to the dealership alone and bring the car back to pick him up. Linda suggested that he should take a hike.

We spent most of the rest of the day returning stuff that we bought Sunday that didn’t work and buying more stuff that we forgot to buy the first time. We also discovered on Monday that the forward refrigerator that we filled with all the stuff we just bought Sunday was not working properly, although it worked perfectly before we put any stuff in it. After what seemed like an eternity sentenced to “the hole”, commonly called an engine room, Mike found a bad connection to the water cooling pump and repaired it. Afterwards it was off to the “quarter car wash” to wash the motorhome. Do you have any idea how many quarters you have to put in to wash a motorhome?

Tuesday it was back to the Jeep garage. It took a little longer than expected, but we got it fixed and were back just after noon. We moved the motorhome up to the barns where we store the boat for the winter. With everything done our plan was to make a dash to Mackinac Island. Linda decided that was too hectic and just wanted to sit here and relax for the rest of the day.

So today is the day that we pull the plug on the boat and head out for the beginning of our summer boating adventure. Now we will see how the boat runs.

Take care, Love,Linda, Jake and the Fat Man

Monday, June 8, 2009

On the Road Again

Just a short note to let you all know that we are back on the road for the summer. Well we actually are not on the road now; we are in an RV repair garage in Greensburg, PA. Saturday we noticed a puddle under the motorhome while we were parked in Mike’s brother’s driveway. We had a problem last year with a water leak that formed a puddle under the coach and of course everyone thought it was a leaking sewer. Mike fixed that to eliminate that misconception. This year the puddle under the coach was sewage, much to the distain of his family and their neighbors. We had to run out to a Flying J truck stop to dump our tanks as there are no campgrounds nearby. That left us without the use of the plumbing in the coach for the weekend. We showed up at the repair facility this morning (Monday) at 7:00 AM. They got us in right away and tore into the project. It turned out to be a leaking valve that is hidden in the bowels of the coach. They have most of the parts and hope to re-use the ones they don’t, so hopefully we will be back on the road later today. So much for a trouble free summer.

We have the boat scheduled to be launched on Friday and need to be in Mackinaw City on Thursday. We can hardly wait to see what challenges await us there.

Our home phone is not receiving calls, if you want to get a hold of us please call our cell phone or send us an e-mail. We hope to be able to pick up our e-mail at least every few days using hot spots along the way. Our cell phone sits in our coach, we don’t carry it with us, so you will probably have to leave a message.

We hope that you all have had a nice winter and spring. We are looking forward to an interesting summer.

Take care, Love,

Linda, Jake and the Fat Man