Day 57: Ego Alley
The size of our boat and a few humbling experiences held our pride well in check. But before leaving Annapolis, Maryland, we couldn’t resist taking an unnecessary trip down “Ego Alley,” a dead-end route through the downtown waterfront area of Annapolis.
This short channel deserves its name. There’s no practical reason for the parade of expensive yachts that navigate down this narrow waterway, except that for some captains the opportunity to cruise past thousands of onlookers is worth the tight maneuver to turn around at the end. We had no such problems making the turn.
Day 76: Rocky Situation
Our day had begun before sunrise, and we were determined to make progress before the afternoon wind kicked up. Unfortunately the wind wasn’t today’s only nemesis. Our navigation skills left us wandering the small-craft route in Canada’s Georgian Bay. We debated whether the buoy in front of us was the same buoy under Elizabeth’s finger on the chart.
“Let’s go back,” Elizabeth suggested.
“What, so we can do this all over again tomorrow?”
We had the boat in gear, with just enough power to keep us from drifting into the rocky shallows. Armed with a pile of charts and a GPS we’d forgotten to equip with charts of Canadian waters, we puttered through the wilderness, alone, debating whether to press on blindly or turn back.
The very moment we resigned to turn around, another boat appeared from behind a small island. It slowed and began to turn toward us.
“Need a tow?” offered the middleaged captain of an older outboard-powered boat.
“Um, no, but where are you going?”
“Pointe au Baril,” answered his passenger.
We followed them to the Ontario community, giving us a chance to match their course to our chart and to get our bearings straight.
Day 84: Last Blast
Our last day on Lake Michigan seemed relatively uneventful compared with the days before it. The five-foot waves had subsided; the small-craft advisory that halted our progress was over, and we had no rip currents to worry about. This was, in fact, the culminating event we’d been looking forward to for the last three months.
Our 6,000-mile loop down the Mississippi River, through the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, across the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, up the east coast and through the waters of Canada and the Great Lakes had returned us to the place it all started: Lake Michigan.
It was a quick and easy ride from Marinette, Wisconsin, to the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay, where we turned west and, for the first time in nearly three months, navigated away from the Great Loop. We had one important stop to make: Waupaca, a small Wisconsin resort town where Elizabeth and I, and three generations of family before us, had spent many of our summer vacations. The summers we spent here helped grow our love of boating and planted the interest for the adventure we’d just completed. There could be no more fitting finale to this ridiculous boat ride than to spend a few days along the Waupaca Chain o’Lakes, relaxing on the water.
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