St. Clair Cruise 2006      May 5th 2006

The The first boat trip of the 2006 season began with a conversation over dinner the last weekend in April with John & Sheila from The Swift Boat and Jim and Jana of the Lime Cutter III.

We were talking about the first scheduled outing of the MacRay Yacht Club; the 'Shakedown Cruise' to Windsor set for June 3rd. We all were getting antsy and thought we needed a 'shakedown cruise' prior to the 'official' Shakedown Cruise.

So, weather permitting, the following Friday May 5th was chosen for a nice 31 mile trip up the St. Clair River to St. Clair Boat Harbor.


We got underway at 6:15p.m. under overcast skies, a 'mild' temperature of about 50-some degrees, and a stiff breeze out of the North. The waves were about a foot and it was a fairly comfortable ride with the canvas and glass all up. Gina fixed crackers and cheese as an 'on-the-road' appetizer as we followed the other two boats.

The no-wake buoys were not in yet for the North Channel, so we slowed down until we were sure we were out of the zone. Swift Boat took the lead and we proceeded up the river at about 3000 rpm. Going past Algonac and heading North there were numerous small fishing boats. We encountered several freighters along the way, as we stopped just outside of St. Clair at 7:45pm to await the 8:00 drawbridge opening. Rain started to fall, the wind picked up, and the skies were looking a little more threatening as we pulled into the Pine River for the short trip to St. Clair Boat Harbor.

John hailed the Harbor and pulled into a slip first, and we sterned in next to him, with Lime Cutter taking a slip on the other side of the finger dock. We helped each other tie up, and then hooked up electric. The docks are still a little high, but in our slip there was a ladder hooked to the dock near the bow, so it made it a little easier to board. We checked in at the office with the rate being $1 per foot (and $2 extra for cable tv).

eing cold and lightly raining, one of the dockhands gave us a ride for the short trip into town for a late dinner at Murphy's Inn. We enjoyed A nice meal in the bar section and some karaoke (just listening, no participation this time). We got a ride back to the boat where the heat was turned on, as it got below 40 degrees overnight.

John, Jim, Jana, Sheila, and Gina

This was the first trip using the new 10" Chartplotter and it sure is a pleasant difference from the old one. Had a bit of a scare when the screen went blank, but I realized that I had accidentally hit the power down switch. Turned it back on and it picked right up where we left off.

The tripometer read 31.4 miles, 1hr 54min, and a maximum speed of 27.2mph for the ride up. Normally we run just a tad bit faster, but Jim is still 'breaking in' their new boat; hence the slightly slower speed.


Heading Out
Friday Night


We Woke up about 9:00 Saturday morning to the sound of sirens. Then more sirens. The even more sirens. Got out on the dock and saw fire engines across the road and figured it must be about a 12 alarm fire at the Salt Mine. Turned out it was a parade for the start of the local Little League season.

We walked across the bridge and down the street to St. Clair Coney Island for breakfast. The camera batteries died and we didn't have any spares so I found a pharmacy for replacements. The weather for Saturday was sunny but with a cold breeze. John and Sheila are avid golfers so they brought their clubs and so did I, but we decided against playing.

Back at the boat Gina and I mounted the extra bracket for the Satellite radio and ran the wiring. After relaxing for a while and taking nice hot showers (the bathrooms are nice at the Harbor) it finally warmed up enough to get out the chairs and sit in the sun on the docks. We had made dinner reservations at the Voyager restaurant close by, so we changed and walked up there at 6:00. A very nice location, our window seat allowed us to overlook the River.

After dinner we gathered on Lime Cutter to watch our North Channel 2004 Cruise movie. Jim and Jana have a new Four Wins 378 Vista and it is a really really nice boat. Very comfortable set up for the six of us to view the flat screen TV. Jim and Jana are one of the boats scheduled to make the North Channel trip with us this summer, so they found the video quite interesting.



Sunday morning we decided to have breakfast at the Lyons Club. The Harbor gave us a ride in their van, a nice short trip along the river. We enjoyed eggs, sausage, and pancakes, all for $5. Back at the Harbor, we started to get ready to head back. There were signs plaster all over stating gas was only $2.60 a gallon. Apparently they still have gas left over from last year and  the regulations about sulfur content are changing so they're required to stop selling it by the end of the month. If they don't get rid of it all they will have to pump it out and refill their tank with the newer gas. They still have about 4,000 gallons left. The workers at the Harbor have been filling 5 gallon cans and filling their cars and even their lawn mowers, as $2.60 is cheaper than the price is on land. Currently we are paying 50 cents more at MacRay, so this is really a good deal and we all decided to top off our tanks.

We left the gas dock to make the 12:30 bridge opening. Swift Boat lead the way, and a freighter was passing just as we went under the bridge. 

The wind had kicked up out of the South pretty good, so we decided to help guide each other out of the slips and tie up at the gas dock. At 11:45 Lime Cutter went first, and they were fairly close to the rocks so it was a little tricky pushing them out. John went next, and again it was somewhat difficult in the wind. I went to start up Tick Tock Too and the port engine was dead. The emergency start button didn't help either. We had turned off the battery charger overnight, but that shouldn't have made a difference. So I fired up the generator and turned the charger back on. Ten minutes later it fired right up and I maneuvered behind Lime Cutter at the gas dock. We took on 40.95 gallons, so we saved about $20.

For the ride back the sun was out, the clouds were gone, and beside a chilly breeze, it felt like a 'normal' cruising day in July. We picked up the pace at about 3200 rpm today. When we got in the North Channel and heading out into Anchor Bay we radioed Lime Cutter that we were going to ride close and parallel so we could get some nice pictures of their boat at cruising speed. The DNR has some fishing nets placed close to the Belle Maer and MacRay channels, so we had to keep a lookout for those.




We pulled into MacRay Harbor at 2:00. A fantastic first trip of the season.