Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Sarnia, Ont. to Put In Bay, OH
A rough ride down the river - Not because of the big boat though but all those power boaters! What is the stinking hurry?
AT the left is Sarnia Marina: something from the 1950's ...or the 30's with the art deco motiff.
Sarnia to Detroit:
Our 1 day stay over in Sarnia was very nice. We left the gas dock on Sunday morning around 8:30 a.m. rested and ready for the trip down the St. Clair River. Sailing a river is a new experience for us. Actually there is no sailing, just motoring. We shared the 1/2 mile wide river with freighters and a gazillion power boats. The freighters were awesome in their size and structure leaving some of the calmest wakes imaginable. The power boats were loud, fast, and obnoxious leaving some of the wickedest wakes to maneuver. Where were all these power boaters going anyway. It was a hot sunny summer Sunday, but this was ridiculous! As we left the river and openned up into Lake St. Clair, we saw hundreds of boaters all anchored off one beach. How fun is that. And in a few hours they would all race back up the river against the current. Oh well, they have power to burn.
The St. Clair river opens up into 20 mile wide Lake St. Clair. Yeah, 20 miles wide and 17 feet deep! What a weird lake. Once again we motor-sailed along with the big boys and then followed the buoys into the Detroit River and downtown Detroit. Many Marinas along the Detroit shore and we ended up at Harbor Hill in the Hood Marina....a-how, how, how, how.
Up at 0515 for a 0600 start. I do my usual checking of belt tension and discover that about 8 inches of the inner rubber toothed part of the belt has been peeled off! Nice. I think I know when this happened too…Part way across our motoring Lake St. Clair I realized that the selector switch was set to charge the starting battery only but not the house bank. We had been on it for several hot hours with the frig running so I switched the selector switch to all. This put a sudden load on the alternator and mechanical load on the belt and I bet right at that moment the belt dug in and got its teeth ripped out!
Looks like NOT a 0600 start. This could turn into one of those nightmare days where you are wandering all over some strange city (Detroit!) trying to find just the right belt. Now, I DID have a backup belt but none after that plus the backup belt was just a bit long. When I pivoted the alternator all the way to the dead end of the support bracket the belt was maybe tight enough but there was going to be no tensioning it after that. We considered our options.
Certainly it was too early to actually find a belt somewhere. There were a number of marinas around though so finding one should be ultimately possible. Also possible is that we have to make the boat go a ways on the longish belt to get more backups. Hmmmm…I remembered a picture in Calders book That showed an alternator being tensioned with a turnbuckle rather than the usual slotted bracket and screw. I dug through my sailing hardware box and came up with a nice big old turnbuckle! What was that from? I discovered that it would reach from the screw in the alternator horizontally over to the underside of the port settee. A few minutes with my trusty cordless drill and some random nuts and bolts and viola! I can now use a bigger range of belts!
Let’s face it, when you are cruising you can’t always find just the right part but only come close. This modification allows for close being OK. I can now tension the belt with one hand and then put a wire through the turnbuckle screw and body to keep it from backing off. But still would like some back up. We’ve had a bad history with belts. I walked back to the boat yard part of the marina and found Mike who said the shop would be open soon and they might have a belt. He said he’d come around 9 or so when they were open. Sure enough Mike came down to our boat to get me. Get me indeed! He gave me a free golf cart ride way back to the shop which is called Shipwreck Boat Works. I showed the lady there my belt and asked if she had one or two like it. A few minutes later she came back and said no but I was welcome to dig through their collection of old belts! Sure! Who says cruising isn’t exotic. There I am on a upper floor of a big old nasty boat shop looking at hundreds of belts hanging randomly from the wall. I am in belt heaven. I pick a couple that I think will work and Mike gives me a ride back to the boat. Turns out that one worked and the other not so back to the shop to pay up and maybe find another like the one that fits. In the belt graveyard I did find another. This is sweet. I now have 3 belts! I find the lady to pay up and she says, "Hey, those are all used belts. Just help yourself." Cruising is full of surprises. Friendly people are everywhere and mostly people are interested helping once you tell them what you are up to. Downtown Detroit is no different. So, if you find yourself in trouble in Detroit (boat trouble that is) look for help at Shipwreck Boat Works and Harbor Hill Marina.