Bill Everitt is a professional Captain with over 90,000 nautical miles of sea service under his belt. He holds a Commercial 200 Ton Masters Certificate with both Sail & Power endorsements. He also owns and operates COSMOS Yacht Charters based in Midland on Georgian Bay (905) 715-8795 www.cosmosyachtcharters.com.
In addition, Bill does yacht deliveries with professional crew for both power and sailboats as seen on www.worldwideboatdeliveries.com.
Bill's comments are uncensored and do not necessarily represent Boating Georgian Bay's position ... but on the other hand they may very well represent our position given the right circumstances.
10 March, 2018
Volume 6, Issue 2
THE 111 YEAR OLD S.S. KEEWATIN PASSENGER STEAM SHIP IS LEAVING PORT MCNICOLL, ONTARIO
|S.S. KEEWATIN STEAMSHIP IN PORT MCNICOLL|
There is an initiative afoot to relocate the 111 year old steamship passenger liner, the S.S. Keewatin ('Kee'), from its current location in Port McNicoll, ON to the Town of Midland, ON docks. Skyline Investments Inc. had billion dollar plans to develop the Port McNicoll area with a hotel and convention center, a marina, a yacht club, retail shops, entertainment facilities and 1,400 homes.
After Skyline purchased the 334 hectares (825 acres) in 2006, their big plans had started with their purchase of the Kee, which was located in Saugatuk, Michigan for 45 years as a floating museum. Keewatin was moved back to its home port in Port McNicoll on June 23rd, 2012 at an investment by Skyline of $2.5 million dollars.
|S.S KEEWATIN HOMECOMING IN JUNE 2012|
Skyline has since shelved the project and recently sold the 334 hectares to Toronto based Milborne Real Estate, who wants nothing to do with the Keewatin. As a result, it has to be moved out of Port McNicoll and repositioned to somewhere else.
The S.S. Keewatin is the very last of 3,800 Edwardian era steamships that were built in Scotland and the UK during the Industrial Revolution. The Kee operated out of Port McNicoll from 1912 until it was retired from service in 1965. After the Kee's retirement in 1965, when it was destined to be scrapped, no Canadian Corporation or any wealthy Canadian offered to provide funding to keep the ship in Georgian Bay given its 58 years of continuous service from Owen Sound (5 years), and from Port McNicoll, (53 years) to Fort William (now called Thunder Bay).
There was, however, an American who saw the value in keeping the historic Keewatin floating as a museum to preserve its heritage. In 1967, the Kee was saved from being scrapped by an American marina owner and a Great Lakes historian who purchased her, had her towed to Saugatuk, Michigan, and established the ship as a maritime museum for 45 years in that location. Then, in 2012, Skyline International bought the ship, made her seaworthy and had the ship towed back to its original home port in Port McNicoll.
Midland is no stranger to the Keewatin. Back in the day, the Midland shipyard did many renovations and upgrades to the ship from 1912 to 1953, including the building of the ballroom on the stern and the officers' quarters. Many of the Keewatin crew members and several of its officers were from Midland. Over the decades of operation, four of its Captains are buried in Midland graveyards.
|PASSENGER STEAMSHIPS IN MIDLAND HARBOUR IN THE 1930'S
Skyline has made a comprehensive 300 page formal proposal to give the ship to Midland as a gift and provide an operating grant to ensure no financial exposure to the Town of Midland for 10 years.
In addition, they have agreed to provide one million dollars towards the construction of a new dock in Midland for the Kee, if needed. The proposal included the audited financial statements of Skyline's Foundation (who funded the ship) for five operating years (1912 - 1916). It also included a detailed 10 year pro-forma financial statement with conservative estimates showing the Kee's profitability could steadily improve over 10 years should it be relocated to Midland.
The proposal included letters from all the major Midland tourism venues, and the North Simcoe Tourism Board, saying they fully support the relocation of the Keewatin to Midand. Additionally, the proposal included letters from the mayors of Tay, Tiny and Penetanguishene who throw their full support behind the repositioning of the Kee to Midland and that everyone in the area stands to greatly benefit from the initiative over a long period of time.
The proposal points out that the expected number of paid visitors to the Kee will likely double or triple given Midland is in a far better location to attract tourists than Port McNicoll. The proposal points out that the many cruise ships visiting Midland will undoubtedly have far more passengers take part in a shore excursion package that will include taking tours of the Keewatin given its close proximity to the visiting cruise ships.
In the past 10 years, many Great Lakes Cruise Ships have been making Midland, ON a port of call. In addition, there are two new Great Lakes cruise ships currently under construction that will eventually be coming to the Midland Harbour as part of their itineraries. In fact, it is envisioned that Great Lakes cruising ships may eventually be offering ship itineraries that will start and end in Midland, Ontario. Given the unpredictable terrorism threats around the world, many travellers are now opting to choose more domestic travel and therefore avoid going overseas. The Great Lakes Cruise Ships are becoming extremely popular and are definitely one of the best domestic travel options in Ontario and Canada!
Another major advantage of having the Keewatin relocated to Midland is the large group of volunteers, known as "Friends of Keewatin", who have given literally tens of thousands of hours to help restore, maintain and run the ship as a museum, will still be able to generously donate their time to the ship. About 70 percent of the volunteers live in Midland. Should the Kee have to be located farther away, it would lose the large group of existing volunteers who love the ship and its heritage.
The President and CEO of the Friends of Keewatin, Eric Conway, gave a deputation, on behalf of Skyline, on 26 February 2018 to Midland's Town Council where he went over key aspects of the formal proposal to bring the Keewatin to Midland. As an excellent presenter, Mr. Conway was extremely well prepared but, unfortunately, only a few of the council members had read the Skyline proposal. As a result, the presentation raised many questions and concerns about Midland accepting the Kee as a gift from Skyline. One of the stumbling blocks was the fact Midland was asked to make a decision either way by March19th.
Diligent work is continuing with the Midland Town Council to hopefully get a green light to accept the ship, an historic and treasured vessel, to its town docks in an acceptable time frame so it is a win-win for all involved.
Captain Bill Everitt
11 February 2018
Volume 6, Issue 1
BOATING ROUTE OPTIONS FROM THE GREAT LAKES TO SOUTHERN WATERS – PART III
The last two articles had covered three different route options boaters can take to get from the Great Lakes to southern waters and back again. I began this article series by saying boaters have six different route options to head south in the Fall and to return North in the Spring.
This third, and last, article in this series will cover the remaining three passage route options.
Route option #4 would be for boaters located anywhere in the Great lakes to head to southern Lake Michigan (fifth largest lake in the world) and follow the waterways from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico. Boaters can exit Lake Michigan in Chicago and follow the South Branch Chicago River as it meanders southward and interconnects with the Illinois River and eventually with the Mississippi River.
Another point of entry to the inland waterways from Lake Michigan is at the mouth of the Calumet River, south of Chicago, which connects to the Illinois River and also eventually entering the Gulf of Mexico.
For boaters that want to get to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, after they reach the Gulf of Mexico, they can follow the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and/or sail across the Gulf of Mexico towards Florida. They can either pass around the southern tip of Florida at Key West and enter the North Atlantic Ocean, or cross Florida State in the Okeechobee River/Lake/Canal system and end up on the Atlantic Ocean side at Stuart, Florida. From there, they can cross the North Atlantic Gulf Steam to the Bahamas and onwards southeastern bound towards the Caribbean.
This option #4 route is typically followed by the ‘Loopers’, who are boaters that are taking the Great Loop route which usually takes 9 months to a year to complete – some boaters even take a couple of years or more to complete the infamous route. The Great Loop encompasses the eastern portion of North America - including the Gulf & Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways, the Hudson River, Erie Canal, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals and the Inland Rivers of America's heartland
For more information on the Americas Great Loop Cruisers’ Association and their routes, go HERE.
|Great Loop Boaters, ‘Loopers’, Meeting in Charleston, SC at a Spring Rendezvous|
This route option #4 does have lower fixed bridges, so sailboats do have to un-step (take down) their rig and store/secure horizontally on deck to get under the lower fixed bridges. Some larger power boats also have to do some disassembly of the bridge or gear on top of the bridge so they can safely clear the lower fixed bridges.
Route option #5 would involve heading to the Champlain Canal as a means to getting to the Hudson River and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean. For boaters anywhere in the Great Lakes, or further south on the St. Lawrence River, they can access the Champlain Canal by going to Sorel, Quebec on the St. Lawrence River. They can then head south by entering the Richelieu River at Sorel. The Richelieu leads to the beautiful and very scenic Lake Champlain. Boaters would enter the Champlain Canal heading south at the south end of Lake Champlain and would connect, after going through 11 locks, with the Hudson River. They would proceed down the Hudson River and would eventually reach Manhattan, NY and then out to the North Atlantic Ocean from there.
This route also has lower fixed bridges, so sailboats would have to un-step (take down) their rigs and some larger power boats would have to do some disassembly of the bridge or gear on the bridge if they are too high to clear the lower fixed bridges.
The previously mentioned 5 route options all involved what we refer to as a ‘through-the-water’ passage on their own bottoms. I say ‘their own bottoms’ because some yachts do travel over the water to their destination but not on their own bottoms. Instead, they are loaded onto a large ship that transports the yachts over the water. This type of service is usually done for boats crossing oceans.
Our 6th and final route option is for boats to use over-land transportation to move their boats south or north. This involves a lot of preparation to get the boats ready to be loaded onto a float trailer and transported over the land. Of course, sailboats must un-step their rigs, arches, radar poles, wind generators, and other deck hardware have to be dismantled so the sailboat can fit under roadway bridges. Sailboats sit rather high on a float trailer because of their keel, therefore, much of the items on the decks have to be removed in order to clear the roadway bridges.
|Sailboat Made Ready for Over-Land Transportation|
Many larger power boats also need some gear and bridge disassembly so they can fit under the roadway bridges during their over-land transportation. The difficulty with the disassembly process is the crew that disassemble the boat are not the same crew that put it back together again at the boat’s destination. The re-assembly can cause problems with fit and finish and possible future leaking problems.
As a matter of interest, we delivered a Marquis 50’ motor yacht through-the water from Lake Simcoe to Long Island Sound a few years ago. The yacht was only a year old and still under full warranty. If it was to be transported over-land it was too high to make it under the roadway bridges without some disassembly of the bridge and gear. The manufacturer had informed the buyer that if the yacht bridge is disassembled for over-land transportation, it would void the warranty. So the buyer decided to have the yacht delivered ‘through-the-water’ as a means to maintaining the warranty on the vessel.
|Power Boat Made Ready for Over-Land Transportation|
This over-the-land route option is sometimes used by boaters who want to get their boat down south for the winter, but they do not want to do the long passage to get there through-the-water. Some boat owners will also engage the services of professional delivery crew to move their boat down south or up north through-the-water, again to avoid having to do the passage themselves.
Soon the boaters who did head South last Fall are going to be making their passage plans to head back North to Canada or the United States.
Undoubtedly, the boaters planning to head back North this Spring will be using one of the six route options described over this article series. We wish them all fair winds and a safe passage!
Captain Bill Everitt
2 December 2017
Volume 5, Issue 5
MORE ON SAILING SOUTH ROUTES TO ESCAPE CANADIAN WINTERS
In my last article, I had mentioned there are six options for boaters to move their boat from the Great Lakes to the warmer southern climate to avoid cold and bitter Canadian Winters. By now, most all of the thousands of boaters that were heading South this 2017 Fall are well on their way to the warmer climes down South – some will have already reached their southern destination.
I covered the 'sail around' option in the last Captains Rant article (see below in the 27 August 2017 article). Great Lakes boaters can shorten the 'sail around' route distance quite a bit from the Upper Great Lakes to the New York Erie Canal by using the Parks Canada Trent Canal System and the New York Oswego Canal.
This alternative route means entering the Trent Canal system starting at Port Severn (Lock 45) in Southern Georgian Bay and ending up in Trenton, ON after clearing Lock 1. From Trenton, boaters enter Lake Ontario at the East end of the lake and then they can cross Lake Ontario to Oswego, New York where they can enter into the Oswego Canal. There are 8 locks to traverse the Oswego Canal and then boaters will join up with the Eastern end of the Erie Canal and will have another 23 locks to traverse before arriving at Waterford, NY on the Hudson River. It is 100 nautical miles from Waterford to get to New York City and then onto the North Atlantic Ocean heading South.
The advantage to taking the Trent Canal system is this route is a shorter distance than the open water 'sail around' route by about 250 nautical miles. The disadvantage is, like with the Erie Canal, there are low fixed bridges in the Trent Canal. This means sailboat rigs have to be dismantled and stored horizontally on deck to clear the low fixed bridges. Some taller power boats also have to have gear on their upper bridge dismantled and sometimes even part of the bridge has to be dismantled. Another disadvantage is the water depths in the Trent system are only guaranteed at 5 feet – which restricts the size of vessels that can transit if they draw (need) more than 5 feet of water depth.
Although taking the Trent Canal shortens the passage through the Great Lakes by 250 nautical miles, the time it takes is about the same as the 'sail around' route option which is 5-7 days. The 44 locks on the Trent System only operate during the day, so boaters have to stop at the locks, once they close in the early evening, and cannot start going through the locks again until the next morning once the locks re-open. With the 'sail around' route option, boaters can run day and night as there are no locks to transverse and therefor running day and night is possible.
As a delivery Captain, I have traversed the Trent Canal System many times over the years and always enjoyed the picturesque scenery, the many lakes and wetlands, and the many town/villages along the route. There are two hydraulic lift locks on the Trent Canal System - one at Kirkfield, ON and a larger lift lock at Peterborough, ON (see picture below).
|PETERBOROUGH HYDRAULIC LIFT LOCK - LARGEST OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD|
It is worth mentioning that the Trent-Severn Waterway is Canada's largest national historic site spanning nearly 400 kilometres and with more physical assets than any other Canadian historic site. It has 44 locks, a marine railway lock (see picture below) and approximately 160 water control structures. The Trent system joins Georgian Bay / Lake Huron to Lake Ontario as it meanders through Central/Southern Ontario
|TRENT SYSTEM MARINE RAILWAY AT BIG SHUTE - LOCK 44|
Furthermore, I should add that Parks Canada announced in 2016 that it is investing an unprecedented $3 billion dollars over the next 5 years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas all across Canada.
So, using the Trent Canal System as a viable route to heading South is option #2. Option #1 was the 'sail around' route covered in the previous Rant article. In that article, I had mentioned boaters have six route options for heading South from the Great Lakes.
Option #3 would be using the St. Lawrence Seaway as a route to entering the North Atlantic Ocean. This route involves boaters making their way to the Eastern end of Lake Ontario (either by way of the Trent Canal, or the 'sail around' route) and then entering the St. Lawrence River and begin the trek of heading down the River towards the Ocean. If boaters used the 'sail around' route to get the Eastern end of Lake Erie, instead of entering the Erie Canal in Tonawanda, NY, they would lock down the 8 locks of the Welland Canal - entering at Port Colborne, ON and exiting the Welland Canal at Port Weller, ON, at the Western end of Lake Ontario.
|The advantage to using the St. Lawrence Seaway is all of the fixed bridges on the Seaway are over 65' high so sail and power boaters do not have to dismantle or dissemble anything. For sail boaters, this saves 2 days since it typically takes a day to take the sailing rig down and secure horizontally on the decks, and another day to put the rig back up (after getting through the Erie Canal). There are 7 locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway to transverse to get to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Another advantage to heading South with Option #3 is the boater is moving with the river current as they head down the St. Lawrence River towards the ocean.|
|NAVIGATING THE WELLAND CANAL – FLIGHT LOCK #7|
Now, for the disadvantages of Option #3. It is an additional 1,300 nautical miles to sail/motor down the St. Lawrence Seaway as compared to using the Erie and/or the Oswego Canals to get to the Hudson River – and then the North Atlantic. The weather at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and the waters around Nova Scotia in the Fall can be quite treacherous. This means boaters need to depart the Great Lakes a lot sooner in order to avoid the inevitable heavy weather encountered in the Fall. Another disadvantage is boaters do have to be mindful of the ocean tides that work their way up the River to Quebec City. These tides can be very high and therefore prudent boaters will navigate the River below Quebec City when the tide is ebbing (meaning when the tide is flowing out towards the ocean). By navigating with an ebbing tide coupled with going with the river current makes for faster speed, less water turbulence, better fuel economy, and therefore a more comfortable passage.
I have now covered 3 different route options on how boaters in the Great Lakes can move their boats southward down the northeastern seaboard for the Winter months.
I will review the other 3 route options in the next Captains Rant article.
In the meantime, as we approach the new year of 2018, I look forward to my sixth year of researching and writing articles about Georgian Bay and related topics.
I want to thank the Boating Georgian Bay (BGB) readership who joins the many thousands of monthly web site visitors to discover more about the natural wonders and grandeur of the Heart of Georgian Bay.
In particular, I especially want to thank the 'Captains Rant' readership for your interest in reading the regularly published articles and appreciate the positive feedback I have received over the past five years!
As a guest writer for the popular BGB directory website, I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays with family and friends, and a Safe and Prosperous New Year for 2018!
Captain Bill Everitt
27 August 2017
Volume 5, Issue 4
HEADING SOUTH BY BOAT FROM THE GREAT LAKES TO ESCAPE NORTHERN WINTERS
Each Fall thousands of boaters, sail and power boaters alike, gear up to head South from the Upper and Lower Great Lakes to escape North American Winters. All of the five Great Lakes have shorelines that are shared with Canada and United States with the exception of Lake Michigan which does not have Canadian shorelines. Nonetheless, boaters from both Canada and the United States ply the waters of the Great Lakes each Fall to begin their voyage to warmer climes in the South and escape cold northern Winters.
Over the years, the question often posed to me is, “Just how do you get out of the Great Lakes in order to head South?” From the Upper Great Lakes (Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan) there are six options. One option, and the subject of this article, is what we call the 'sail around' route. For vessels on Georgian Bay, we sail or motor around through the Great lakes to end up at the East end of Lake Erie and can enter Lock 35 of the NY Erie Canal system at North Tonawanda, NY. Boaters from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan can also follow the same route by making their way to Sarnia, ON at the bottom of Lake Huron.
The 'sail around' route from Georgian Bay involves heading to Tobermory, ON at the North-west corner of the Bruce Peninsula. From there boaters enter Lake Huron and sail to Sarnia, ON where they enter the St. Clair River. The St. Clair River winds down to Lake St. Clair and after crossing the Lake, boaters continue their passage down the Detroit River and enter into the Western end of Lake Erie where they will pass Peele Island just before they enter into Lake Erie proper.
After traversing the length of Lake Erie to the Eastern end, boaters enter the NY Erie Canal at Lock 35. For sailboats, they have to lower their rigs and secure them horizontally to the deck so they can get under the low fixed bridges – some of lower fixed bridges only have 19 feet vertical clearance on the western section of the Erie Canal.
Larger power boats can also be too tall to get under the lower fixed Erie Canal bridges. In that case, some of the equipment on the upper bridge top has to be removed to provide adequate bridge clearance. Typically, power boats have a shorter mast that holds their anchor light and other gear which are hinged and the mast has to be lowered. We have delivered power boats using the Erie Canal and have had to not only lower the mast, but also remove navigation gear like radar and GPS antennae.
For sailboats wanting to traverse the Erie Canal with its low fixed bridges, there is a ton more work to take the sailing rig down than the less involved gear adjustments needed for larger power boats to clear the low fixed bridges.
Before entering the Erie Canal, sailboats have to go to a marina that has a crane that can lift the mast and rigging off the boat and then lower it so it can be secured horizontally on wooden stands that support the rig while it is temporarily stored on deck.
Below is a picture of what a sailboat looks like with its mast and rig secured horizontally to its deck and ready to enter the Erie Canal from the western end at Waterford, NY.
|Sailboat with the mast taken down and secured to the deck.|
Most sailboat owners in the past have used the Wardell Boat Yard located in North Tonawanda, NY to take their rig down on their way South, or to step (put their rig back up) on their way back home to the Great Lakes in the Spring.
In more recent years, the City of Port Colborne's Sugarloaf Marina (located in Port Colborne near the entrance to the Welland Canal), has acquired a telehandler portable hydraulic crane. They are now providing mast stepping (putting up the mast) and mast un-stepping (taking the mast down) services for sail boaters that are heading South in the Fall or returning from South in the springtime.
We recently used Sugarloaf Marina's mast stepping service for the first time in May, 2017. We were extremely pleased with their services. The picture below shows the mast stepping at Sugarloaf Marina in progress with their telehandler portable hydraulic crane.
|Stepping the rig at Sugarloaf Marina May 2017|
We cannot say enough good things about Sugarloaf's mast service. Their professionalism, emphasis on safety, and the skill of the crew are second to none!
Below is a picture of Chris and his team who stepped our mast this past May. Ignore the scruffy looking guy in the sweaty grey tee shirt - that's me - not part of Chris' crew, but I did help out!
|Chris (on left) and his crew at Sugarloaf Marina May 2017|
We very highly recommend Sugarloaf Marina's mast services to any sail boater looking to step or un-step their mast and rig for heading South or returning home in the Spring. Their rates are very competitive in Canadian Dollars and provide incredible service with safety as their top priority.
Sail boaters heading South from the Great Lakes have it tough if they use the Erie Canal for their passage South. As mentioned above, it means taking the mast and rig down once to enter the Erie Canal (if they go that route) and then putting the mast and rig back up once they get through the Erie Canal and are on the Hudson River.
Then, upon returning home to the Great Lakes in the Spring, it means taking the mast and rig down again on the Hudson River before entering the Erie Canal at Waterford, NY. Once clear of the Erie Canal at North Tonawanda, NY, it means once again having to put the mast and rig back up in order to proceed through the Great Lakes to their respective home ports.
On our way back from South Florida to the Great Lakes this past Spring, we took the mast and rig down using the mast services of Riverview Marine Services, Inc. located on the Catskill River, NY. We had also used their services last fall in November of 2016 on our way down South.
Below is a picture taken in April 2017, of the hydraulic crane at Riverview Marine Services on the Catskill River taking the mast and rig down in preparation for heading back to the Upper Great Lakes through the Erie Canal.
|Sailboat having the mast and rig taken down April 2017
We have used Riverview Marine Services many times over the years and are so pleased with their mast and other services. Mike and Susan run a top notch operation with a huge emphasis on safety. They also are more than willing to help boaters with any issue they may have with their boats. As Mike has always said, “We are a getting it done” type of marina which is so comforting for boaters that need help. Mike willingly goes out of his way to provide whatever assistance or advice is needed to help a boater in need. Superior service – Thank you Mike and Susan! We wouldn't use any other mast service marina on the Hudson River given our fantastic experience with Mike and Susan at their Riverview Marine Services operation!
While taking our mast and rig down again this past April, Mike had made the comment that he is always so amazed at what agony and expense sail boaters will go through just to escape winter. He commented he would never exert that kind of expense and effort to sail South by having to put the rig up twice and take it down twice for only one season.
Mike is right - for sail boaters that have had to do this agonizing process, they would undoubtedly agree with his sentiment - but they still do it!
Below is a picture of our sailboat where the rig has already been taken down (by Mike and his crew) and secured horizontally on the deck and ready to enter the Erie Canal at Waterford, NY in May 2017.
|Sailboat with mast secured to the deck ready for the Erie Canal.
The distance from Riverview Marine Services to Lock 2 of the Erie Canal in Waterford, NY is about 40 nautical Miles.
I started off by mentioning there are six options boaters can take (or hire to take) their boats South in the Fall from the Great Lakes to escape northern Winters.
I will discuss the some of the other route options in the next Captain's Rant article. Stay tuned!
Captain Bill Everitt
05 May 2017
Volume 5, Issue 3
ONTARIO PROVINCE AND NEW YORK STATE CANAL WATERWAYS
Both the Province of Ontario and the New York State have awesome canal waterways. They meander through interconnected lakes and rivers with their breathtaking scenic countrysides while passing by picturesque small, medium and large towns.
As a delivery Captain I have had the unique experience and privilege of navigating Ontario's Trent Severn Waterway Canal, the Welland Canal and New York State's Erie Canal many times over the past twenty years.
Some of the deliveries I did were my own vessel. As a matter of fact, I am currently in Waterford, NY with my sailing vessel waiting to enter into the first lock (Lock 2) of the Erie Canal.
|Lock 2, Waterford, NY
Below, a picture of where we sit waiting for the Erie Canal to open this season.
|'On Purpose' at Waterford, NY|
We spent the Winter in South Florida and are trying to head back to Georgian Bay.
We arrived at Waterford on April 28th, 2017. Typically, for years the Erie Canal would open in the Spring on the first Monday in May - which this year would have been May 1st. Unfortunately, this year the Erie Canal will not open for the general public until May 19th. The reason for this later date is a change in management of the New York State Canals.
For many years, the NY Thruway Authority managed New York's Canal Systems. As of 2017, the management of the NY Canals was transferred to the NY Power Authority.
The Power Authority had decided to wait until May 19th when the vessel traffic to enter the Erie Canal would be heavier than a May 1st opening. Perhaps they saw this as a payroll savings by not bringing back the Canal Operators until May 19th. The other change the Power Authority made was to eliminate the Canal Pass fee so using the Erie Canal for boaters is now free.
The Thruway Authority is a large organization taking on huge infrastructure projects. One of their more recent projects is their involvement in the construction of the new dual-span twin Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River. The new bridge is over the second widest section of the Hudson River and is 3 miles long. It is a 5 year mega-project that started in 2013 and will be completed in April 2018 at a cost of 3.98 Billion Dollars. Yes, that is a “B” as in Billion! Perhaps mega-projects like this one led to the decision to transfer the responsibility of the NY Canals to the NY Power Authority.
|New Tappan Zee Dual-Span Twin Bridge Under Construction|
I mentioned above that we are sitting in Waterford waiting for the Erie Canal to open. Because I am a delivery Captain holding a commercial license, I was given the opportunity to purchase a commercial pass and could enter the Canal on May 1st with commercial traffic. It was going to be a one-time opening on that day, and it would not open for the general public until May 19th. We purchased the commercial pass and also had to add the State of New York and others as additional insureds on my insurance policy. Unfortunately, once we arrived in Waterford, we were informed the May 1st date was postponed to May 8th for a variety of reasons – heavy rains being one of them. Yesterday (May 4th), we got news that the May 8th date is now postponed to May 11th so we now have to wait another week.
The New York Canals operating and maintenance expenses have always been covered by the State of New York. Unlike Parks Canada for Ontario's Canals, New York understands that subsidizing the canal operations and keeping the fees low (which are now free) goes a long way to encourage more boater traffic. That increased boater traffic brings welcomed economic activity to the towns, marinas and villages along the canals.
Parks Canada should have a close look at New York State's longstanding policy of subsidizing the canal operations to encourage more boater traffic in the canals and the subsequent huge economic benefit to the towns, marinas and cities.
Parks Canada had its budget slashed by $29.2 Million over three years under the Harper government. Slashing the budget of a department that is associated with tourism and has tremendous potential to increase economic activity it is extremely self-defeating in terms of raising more revenue.
Of course this all happened because the Harper government was going to get a balanced budget – not matter what. He insisted that all departments' budgets would be cut regardless of their potential to raise revenue and enhance the economy by increasing tourism.
Some of you may remember that Parks Canada had proposed back in January 2013 to raise the Trent Severn Waterway Canal fees by 200% to 400%. (See my Captain's Rant article archived below – Volume, Issue 1, dated 27 March 2013). The attempt was to make boaters using the Trent canal system pay more for its maintenance and operations. This is the exact opposite approach of the State of New York which realizes that forcing boaters to carry the financial burden of canal operations discourages boater traffic. Discouraging boater traffic negatively affects the economy of all the towns, marinas, and cities on the canals. Local businesses have always benefitted from boater traffic and count on the seasonal incremental income.
When Parks Canada wanted to raise the Trent Canal fees by 200% to 400% back in 2013, a season long pass with locking and mooring would have been $875.00 for a 25 foot boat. Contrast that with the Erie Canal fee for the same size boat and same service was $50.00 (which is now free).
Fortunately, there was such a ground swell of protest from the public (I wrote my share of letters) the local MP put a moratorium on Trent Cana fees and they were frozen for three years. Those three years are now up. Now is the time to let your member of parliament and the CEO of Parks Canada know that the canal fees should not continue to rise, but should be reduced or eliminated to encourage more economic activity and government revenue.
True, the Trent Canal fees will also be free for the 2017 season in celebration of Canada's 150th year birthday. Hopefully Parks Canada will recognize the enormous increase in boater traffic this year and the huge economic benefit will prompt them to take a page from New York's playbook and make all of Ontario's Canals free going forward beyond 2017.
|Leaving the Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent Severn Canal
Highest Hydraulic Lift Lock in the World|
Captain Bill Everitt
05 March 2017
Volume 5, Issue 2
CELEBRATING CANADA'S 150th BIRTHDAY WITH THE
1907 S.S. KEEWATIN STEAMSHIP
I have previously written about the infamous S.S. Keewatin Steamship that is located in Port McNicoll, Ontario – right in the Heart of Georgian Bay. An updated article is in order given the planned celebrations for Canada's 150th birthday on July 1st, 2017 at the S.S. Keewatin and its newly restored port and parkland.
As a recap, the S.S. Keewatin Steamship, operated out of Port McNicoll from 1912 to 1966, and had returned to her home Port McNicoll on June 23rd, 2012 exactly 100 years to the day and hour after she started service.
The picture above is the Keewatin on her way from Giant's Tomb Island to Port McNicoll on that memorable day and was accompanied by a flotilla of pleasure craft to mark the occasion. The Keewatin is being pulled by a tugboat because her steam engines were decommissioned about 44 years ago.
The 110 year old ship, that worked out of Port McNicoll, was sold to American owners in 1967 and on June 23 1967 she left Port McNicoll and was gone for 45 years as a museum ship in Michigan. In August of 2011 it was announced that the vessel had been sold to Skyline International Developments Inc., and was to be moved back to its home port of Port McNicoll, as noted above, for restoration and permanent display as a maritime museum and event facility.
The Keewatin and four other steamships carried the grain, wood and materials from the West to the East and immigrants and manufactured goods to the West from Eastern Canada. Back in the early 1900's there was minimal train capacity around the Great Lakes and no highways, transport trucks or airplanes. Without the ships, the West would have been forced by economics to deal with the United States and Western Canada may not have turned out as it did.
These steamships sailed from the bottom of Georgian Bay to the top of Lake Superior - now Thunder Bay - (2.5 day trip one way). In almost 60 years of service, they never lost a passenger and they never missed a season (operating from April to November).
The Keewatin and her sister ships played a major role in opening up Western Canada back in the early 1900's. To commemorate and celebrate their treasured past, the Canadian Government, in July 2015, announced a grant of $480,000 to be matched by Skyline Investments to be used to restore the 1912 dock and its facing as the beginning of a new Park. The Park will be designed to have a similar look and feel as the Park did back in the early 1900's. The black and white picture below shows what the Port McNicoll port looked like back in 1925 with the Canadian Pacific Railway station, park surroundings and the S.S. Keewatin in port. The color picture below the B&W picture shows the elaborate gardens that adorned the CPR station back in the day.
|PORT MCNICOLL IN 1925|
|PORT NCNICOLL CPR GARDENS BACK IN THE DAY|
Construction of the new port seawall and facing has already been completed and the Park landscaping will be completed in the Spring 2017. This grant is in aid of the salute to Canada for her 150th year as a country (July 1st, 2017), a country the Keewatin was involved in building as she carried immigrants, their belongings and cargo up the Great Lakes to Fort William (now Thunder Bay).
On July 7th, 2016 the Keewatin was offered as a donation to the Huronia Museum. Although the Museum's Board of Directors took the proposal/offer very seriously, on August 18th, 2016 they announced they will not be able to responsibly accept the donation of the Keewatin from Skyline Investments. The Keewatin did not fit the museum's long term mandate, however, Huronia Museum still looks forward to working closely with the SS Keewatin volunteers and management in future and will support all of her endeavours to promote and conserve marine heritage in North Simcoe.
Keewatin is operated by the Friends of Keewatin, a charitable foundation staffed by volunteers. Thousands of volunteer hours have been given to help restore and upgrade the S.S. Keewatin and to provide guided tours from May to October every year since she opened to the public in 2013. The tour guides are very well informed about the ship and its history and provide very informative tours. When you take a tour, it is easy to see the tour guides' exuberance, love, and passion for the ship!
|S.S. KEEWATIN IN PORT McNICOLL TODAY|
To find out more about the S.S. Keewatin's history, their tours, and the planned celebrations on Canada Day, July 1st, 2017, go HERE.
Captain Bill Everitt
31 January 2017
Volume 5, Issue 1
IS THE EARTH FLAT?
As a matter of history, the modern age of the Flat Earth Society dates back to the early 1800s, when it was founded by Samuel Rowbotham, an English inventor. Samuel Rowbotham's Flat Earth views were based largely on literal interpretation of Bible passages. His system, called Zetetic Astronomy, held that the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its 'southern' edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth. After Rowbotham's death in 1884, followers of his Zetetic Astronomy founded the Universal Zetetic Society.
Flat Earth theory spread to the United States, largely in the town of Zion, Illinois where Christian Catholic Apostolic Church founder John Dowie and later Wilbur Voliva promoted Flat Earth theory. Voliva died in 1942 and the church quickly disintegrated. Flat Earthism remained in Zion, gradually becoming less popular into the 1950s.
Later in the 50's, the International Flat Earth Society was formally founded in 1956 by Samuel Shenton, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society. Shenton died in 1971 and then Charles and Marjory Johnson took over and together increased the membership to 3,000. In 1995, a fire destroyed the Johnson's home as well as all of the Flat Earth Society's library, archives and membership lists. The following year, Marjory passed away and Charles died in 2001 leaving the Society's future uncertain.
After several years of inactivity, the Flat Earth Society was resurrected in 2004 and remains active today at 'theflatearthsociety.org'. The Society officially reopened to new members on 30th October 2009.
Back in the day of Tall Ships sailing on the Earth's oceans there were many paintings depicting Tall Ships falling off the edge of the Earth like the picture seen below. These paintings were seen as a satire on the notion the Earth was flat.
|TALL SHIPS DEPICTED FALLING OFF THE EDGE OF THE EARTH|
I have seen a very large version of this painting. The caption below showed one of the rowers in the life boat in the foreground yelling to his buddy, “I told you so!” as they were frantically rowing away from the edge.
It amazes me with so much undisputable scientific evidence that the Earth and all the other planets in our solar system are round that a Flat Earth Society would have any traction with believers. They actually claim that at the outer reaches of the Earth's edge is Antarctic which has huge walls of ice that help keep the oceans contained so the water would not go over the edge. The simple fact a sailor could leave a port, sail around the planet and arrive back at the same port from the opposite direction of departure proves unequivocally the planet is round.
The International Space Station (ISS) orbits the Earth 16 times in a 24 hour period. Clearly, the images from the ISS show the Earth is round and they get around it every 90 minutes. As observers on the ground, we can actually see the space station orbiting the Earth at night. The Flat Earth theorists claim that NASA cannot be trusted with its images so that the ISS images do not give a correct rendition of the shape of Earth. They also claim the reason NASA could not reach the moon was due to the flatness of the Earth - they believe the moon landings were a hoax. Although I completely disagree with the beliefs of the Flat Earth Society, on this point I tend to agree with the Society that NASA did not land humans on the moon - but NOT because the Earth is flat.
There are plenty other technical and scientific reasons NASA did not land humans on the moon. The first one is the two Van Allen radiation belts that circle the planet between Earth and the Moon. The inner belt is 1,000 km's above the Earth's surface, and the outer belt is about 60,000 km's above. It is my strong belief that NASA has yet to find a way to protect human beings with adequate shielding from the intense radiation generated in these belts. In fact, in more recent times, a NASA engineer was quoted as stating NASA was working on how to get humans safely through the belts in preparation for the human trip to Mars. I thought they had that figured out 50 years ago in the 1960's?
So based on all the research I have done over the years, I have concluded humans have never left near earth orbit (NEO) yet. Perhaps the strongest proof for me that NASA never landed humans on the moon was the serious lack of any third party evidence showing the space machinery/debris left over from the alleged 6 lunar landings.
There are allegedly 19 very large pieces of space debris left on the moon's surface due to the lunar landings. Each time the Lunar Module (LM) would land on the surface of the moon it would leave behind its decent stage (5,000 lbs) which was the base structure the LM landed on when it hit the lunar surface So there is supposed to be 6 decent stages on the lunar surface. With no atmosphere, therefore no wind, they would look today like they did almost 50 years ago.
Every time the LM would dock with the Apollo capsule after it left the lunar surface, the LM (5,000 lbs) was then jettisoned away from the capsule and crash landed on the lunar surface. That accounts for 6 more large pieces of space debris on the lunar surface – the crashed six Lunar Modules. There are also supposed to be two Lunar Rovers (buggies) on the surface. On five of the Apollo missions, they jettisoned the fourth stage Saturn V rocket booster to the lunar surface. These stages had a mass of 15 tons and should be easy to show them on the lunar surface today. You can see HERE on Wikipedia a table that shows all the space debris that humans have left on the lunar service including the 19 Apollo space pieces.
I would have no problem believing NASA landed humans on the moon if I can see credible third party evidence of any of the 19 pieces of space debris that I have mentioned above. I have researched this on the internet several times and still no third party evidence found. What I did find is the fact India and Japan both have had lunar orbiter spacecraft flying at low levels around the moon. Neither of these lunar orbiters has produced a single image of any of the 19 heavy spacecraft pieces supposedly left there as a result of the Apollo's six moon landings.
The Japanese lunar orbiter did produce a very close up image that showed an area where the normally dark grey surface of the moon dust was much lighter in color. They claimed the whitish area was likely caused by the thrust of a Lunar Module (LM) when it was blasting off to rendezvous with the Apollo capsule orbiting the moon. The big problem with the image, and the claim, is there is no descent stage (5,000 pounds) in the image. If a LM blasted off at that lunar site in their image, the descent stage would be there too.
The only images we have ever seen about possible space debris on the lunar surface is from NASA. In fact, on July 20, 2009, the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, all NASA had to commemorate on-line the occasion was a small image on their home website page. The image showed a skimpy, hard to make out, shadow which was allegedly a shadow of one of the Apollo decent stages.
Given NASA is aware that around a quarter of Americans don't believe they ever landed humans on the moon, I would expect them to make a better effort to prove it by showing the space debris they left behind. Why wouldn't they show a much bigger shadow of a 4th stage Saturn V rocket booster? Its mass is 15 Tons, so it would throw a much bigger shadow than a 5,000 lb object. No doubt NASA has great photo-shopping skills in house so it would be very easy for them to doctor any photos, images or videos.
This is precisely why I do not trust the NASA images and view them as NASA propaganda. I need credible third party validation to prove humans did land on the moon between 1969 and 1972. Why wouldn't NASA have asked India or Japan with their low flying lunar orbiters to take close up images of the Apollo space debris left behind?
If you search on the internet 'third party evidence of the human lunar landings', you will find nothing there regarding third party credible evidence of the Apollo manned lunar landings.
Speaking of NASA doctored images, NASA has a number of YouTube videos that reportedly show a Lunar Module (LM) blasting off the surface of the moon. The video camera was apparently mounted on one of the lunar buggies. The big problem with the videos is they do not show any engine thrust emanating from the bottom of the LM and there is no lunar dust being stirred up as a result of the blast off. Go HERE to see the NASA YouTube video.
Another mystery about the lunar landings is how did they control the temperature inside the Lunar Module (LM) while the two astronauts were on the surface for one to three days? They reportedly always landed on the sunny side of the moon. During the lunar day, temperatures reach plus 253 degrees F. With no Sun, or the dark side of the moon, temperatures drop to minus 243 degrees. So as the LM sat on the lunar surface, the sunny side of the LM saw plus 253 degrees F. The back side of the LM In the shade would have seen temperatures in the order of minus 240 degrees F.
I recall a NASA engineer was once asked how they controlled the temperature inside the LM when the outside temperatures were so extreme. He responded, “By the use of batteries”. Really…batteries? How were the batteries being charged? There were no solar panels back then, so they would have to be charged by a fuel operating generator. They had no such generator on board the LM.
The mega yacht industry has been trying for decades to design air conditioning and heating systems on large yachts using batteries only and have not been successful. Heating and air conditioning systems on large yachts today are still run by diesel generators as there isn't enough stored power in batteries to sustain the heavy current load of cooling and heating systems.
So one wonders, if they figured out how to heat and cool a space ship using batteries almost 50 years ago in outside temperatures that varied 500 degrees F, how come we don't have that solution on the large yachts of today?
To start summarizing, I am quite sure humanity has not put a human on the moon yet. Speaking of yet, in President Bush's second term in 2004 he stated the USA was going back to the moon in 16 years by 2020. Really? I thought we figured out how to go to the moon 35 years prior to 2004? Is it going to take 16 more years to figure out how to get through the Van Allen belts?
Here is what President Bush said, while in NASA, in 2004:
"Our third goal is to return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond. Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods. Eugene Cernan, who is with us today -- the last man to set foot on the lunar surface - said this as he left: "We leave as we came, and God willing as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." America will make those words come true.
To see President Bush's entire NASA speech, go HERE.
When President Obama took over the Whitehouse in 2008, he immediately trashed the idea of going back to the moon by 2020. He knew better.
It will be a while before we figure out how to get humans safely through the radiation belts. Although I agree the Flat Earth Society got it right stating the Apollo moon landings never happened, I DO NOT agree to their simplistic reason which was because the Earth is flat.
The technical and scientific reasons are in the content of this article. If any reader can find credible third party evidence (NOT NASA) of the Apollo space debris on the surface of the moon, I would be grateful if you could send it to me through my web addresses noted in my profile above. Thank you.
Captain Bill Everitt
10 December 2016
Volume 4, Issue 9
THE BENEFITS OF MODERN DAY TECHNOLOGY FOR NAVIGATION
Perhaps the most benefit that modern day technology has afforded any human endeavour is in the area of navigation - on the ground, at sea, in the air, and in space.
These days it is very easy to take the accuracy of the Global Position System (GPS) for granted. The GPS system was developed using satellites that orbit the Earth and the GPS satellites send signals down to navigation hardware and software that tells the user precisely where they are with amazing accuracy.
Initially, the GPS system was developed and used by the military. When the technology was initially introduced to the civilian population, the military had introduced an error factor such that the user would get their position within 300 yards of accuracy. Eventually the military eliminated the 300 yard error factor and everyone using the GPS today has accuracy up to within a foot or two.
When it comes to using GPS on the water, most all boats today have a chart plotter that has an electronic version of the nautical charts (a map of the waterway) in the software and the plotter shows where the vessel is on the electronic chart. As the boat moves through the water, its position is moved on the electronic chart that corresponds to precisely where the boat is in real time. Besides showing the precise location of the boat's position on the electronic chart, it also displays its longitude and latitude, the heading (direction) the vessel is travelling and its speed over the ground (sea bottom).
All this is accomplished by a GPS antenna mounted on the boat or these days, the GPS antenna is built inside the chart plotter, thus eliminating the need for an externally mounted antenna. The GPS antenna picks up signals from several GPS satellites (usually 6-7 satellites). Together, the satellites are able to triangulate (calculate) the exact position of the vessel. The satellites are taking many samples per second of the antenna's position and from that they can deduce what direction the boat is going (its heading), the vessel's speed over the sea bottom, its precise location (latitude and longitude), and its altitude.
Nowadays, there are other means of using GPS for the purpose of navigation while at sea without having a chart plotter. With the advent of applications on smart phones or tablets users can download a navigation software application that will act as a chart plotter. That will work adequately as long as the smart phone or tablet is within cell signal of their service provider. If the vessel ventures offshore or too far away from a cell tower, where there is weak or no signal, then the navigation app will not show the boat's position on its electronic chart. There are alternative devices that can be used in concert with the smart phone/tablet when the boat is too far away from a land based cell tower. One such device that we use is a 'Bad Elf' that links up to 7-11 satellites in the same way a chart plotter GPS antenna would operate. This device will work anywhere on the waterways or sea because it is connecting directly to several satellites and it is not depending on the land based cellular network. The 'Bad Elf' is a very small device with a lot of technology embedded in it.
|BAD ELF GPS PRO|
Speaking of technology, I started off by mentioning how much we have enormously benefitted from the recent developments in GPS functionality. Actually, when we look at the timeline, this technology has not been around for that long. It wasn't until the mid 90's that the GPS technology became available to the general public. So considering mankind's development over the past 300 years, only having this extremely helpful technology around in the past 20 years really speaks to how new and how advantaged we are today.
This same GPS technology also benefits navigation on land and in the air just as it does for boats navigating at sea. Many of the newer vehicle models have a GPS unit built into the vehicle with all the road way maps contained therein and showing the vehicle's position in real time. For vehicles that don't have a built in GPS unit, one can purchase a portable unit for about $200.00 at most stores that sell electronic equipment.
We are, indeed, very fortunate to have had this amazing technology around now for the last twenty plus years. This is especially true when we consider the sailing ships and steamers that sailed the world's oceans in the 1700, 1800, and 1900's with no such technology in existence. Besides having the benefit of the GPS technology, these days most all of the world's waterways are documented on nautical charts showing navigational hazards, buoys, inlets, channels, lighthouses, and most importantly water depths. Back in the day, ships sailed the world's seas without nautical charts and therefore didn't have the benefit of having the detailed information we have today, and of course no GPS. Without that kind of detailed information available and no lighthouses, it increased the potential for a ship running aground with the destruction of the ship and/or the loss of its crew.
A case in point is right here on Georgian Bay off the shores of the Bruce Peninsula where there are over one hundred sunken ships that periled - mostly in late fall storms. Without the benefit of nautical charts, lighthouses and GPS data, it is understandable to realize how a ship could run aground in the many treacherous rocky shoals and reefs that afflict the entire area.
Part of this area was designated in 1987 as the Fathom Five National Marine Park and covers 130 square kilometres of water, 20 islands offshore, 22 ship wrecks and several historic light stations. It was Canada's first established National Marine Park and Conservation Area.
Many of the shipwrecks that lie in this marine graveyard are only a few feet from a shoreline and others are few miles offshore. Because there are so many shipwrecks in the area, it has become known as the freshwater scuba diving capital of North America. Every year, more than 8,000 scuba divers explore the shipwrecks scattered throughout the Fathom Five National Marine Park.
The shipwrecks, mostly schooners, barges and steamers, are amongst the oldest and best-preserved wrecks in Canada, many dating back to the mid-1800s – before area lighthouses were erected and before the first complete survey of Georgian Bay was finished in 1888.
When visitors are touring the shipwrecks in the Marine Park area their first wreck too see is located in Tobermory's outer harbour. The schooner 'Sweepstakes' is a two-masted schooner built in Burlington, Ontario in 1867. In late August 1885, carrying a load of coal, she hit a rock and sank near the 2,000 acre Cove Island, a large island five miles north of Tobermory. The ship was towed by tug into Tobermory's Big Tub Harbour and sank before repairs could begin. The wreck is in remarkably good shape today. The 120 foot hull lies intact in 18 feet of water.
|The 'Sweepstakes' Bow in 18 Feet or Water|
Another well-known marine graveyard area in the North Atlantic Ocean is off the shores of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. The nautical charts of today illustrate several shipwrecks in the vicinity, many that occurred back in the day when ships did not have the navigational data of modern day technology.
Fortunately, these days we do see far fewer marine disasters in these areas and other parts of our world thanks to today's navigation technology and chartered waters.
Captain Bill Everitt
10 September 2016
Volume 4, Issue 8
KNOW THE SMALL PRINT IN YOUR MARINE INSURANCE POLICY
All experienced boaters know that being at sea can be fraught with all kinds of potential emergencies and rare, but possible, disasters. Everything from getting caught unexpectedly in severe weather, mechanical breakdown, running aground, collision with another vessel or an underwater hazard, personal injury, or a medical emergency to name a few.
All these inherent potential risks of being on the water means you cannot (or at least should not) be without a fully adequate marine insurance policy in the event something unexpected goes wrong.
More often than not, many emergencies result in the vessel needing a tow back to its home port or to the nearest dock where resources are available to fix the deficiency that caused the need for a tow.
Our tax dollars fund one of the best search and rescue (SAR) operations in the world. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton (JRCC Trenton) is a rescue coordination centre operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) – and it is based at the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) in Trenton Ontario.
They are a leader in emergency response and alerting systems for Search and Rescue operations in order to help prevent the loss of life and or injury.
They accomplish this by:
- Providing early alerting
- Maintaining and promoting the highest standard in SARSAT monitoring systems
- Supporting Air distress
- Marine Distress
- Supporting Humanitarian calls for help
- Providing access to medevac in all of Canada's sovereign territory
- Managing their resources effectively
- Working collaboratively with their colleagues in both the national and internationally communities.
|RESCUE COORDINATION COMMAND CENTER - TRENTON, ONTARIO|
It is very comforting for boaters to know there is such a world class Search and Rescue Operation based in Trenton and covers most all of Canada.
For any boaters in the Great Lakes that have an emergency, the first line of communication should be with one of the Coast Guard Stations. For Georgian Bay, our station is located in Sarnia, Ontario. For Lake Ontario, the station is in Prescott, Ontario.
They can be reached by calling them anytime on channel 16 on a VHF Radio, or by dialing *16 on a cell phone.
Once you have alerted them to your emergency, typically the Coast Guard will make a marine assistance broadcast asking if there is any vessel of opportunity in the vicinity of the distressed vessel. The reason for this is to decrease response time as much as possible in order to lessen suffering and or damage to property. In most emergency at sea situations, response time is of the essence. If there is no vessel of opportunity that responds, and no local salvage operators respond, the Coast Guard will dispatch its own resources to the scene. If the Coast Guard station is in need of air support surveillance, they will contact the RCC in Trenton for their air resources.
I recall vividly, years ago, when we were anchored in the Benjamin Islands (in the North Channel) and as we were getting ready to weigh anchor and depart, we noted a Coast Guard helicopter flying in a search pattern directly overhead that had been dispatched from Trenton. The boat next to us was missing a dinghy and crew member in the morning. The helicopter was searching for the dinghy and the crew member. They did locate the dinghy on the shoreline of a nearby island with nobody in it. They continued to search for the crew member after finding the dinghy on shore. Unfortunately, the body was discovered by divers in the water column days later in the same spot where we were anchored. I was most impressed with the resources that were dispatched from Trenton to search for one person. The Coast Guard had also dispatched a local OPP marine vessel to assist with the search. We offered our assistance, however, the OPP said it was not needed and so we departed.
I mentioned earlier about how often an emergency can mean the vessel needs a tow. This typically happens with a mechanical breakdown that prevents the vessel from moving from its own propulsion. Again the best approach is to immediately hail the Coast Guard and let them know the nature of your distress.
Some boaters choose to call 911 when they have an emergency on the water. It is highly recommended NOT to call 911 because that will inevitably introduce unnecessary delay for help on the scene. The 911 emergency system is primarily designed to help any land based emergency.For emergencies at sea, contact the Coast Guard to receive the fastest response possible, especially since they will immediately issue a marine assistance broadcast once they understand the nature of the emergency.
Calling 911 summons the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) who will take up precious time to respond to the call. Once on the scene, if they get there, they will then try to reach other resources that can help. They may try to get an independent C-Tow operator or a local salvage operator if a tow or salvage is required. The OPP does not intend to introduce delay; however, they are bound to a certain protocol that must be followed. Save precious time when in an emergency on the water and immediately call the Coast Guard - that's what they are there for! When you make that call on the VHF radio, other boaters in the area hear it too and so do salvage operators who typically monitor channel 16 around the clock.
Some boaters get sold on paying an annual membership fee to a third party towing company so that if they ever did need a tow, they would get a tow at no charge. An example of such a towing service is C-Tow, a company based in British Columbia.
They cover areas in BC, and also cover areas in Ontario (Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron/Georgian Bay and the St. Lawrence River) and Nova Scotia (Halifax area).
One way they market their service is C-Tow attends boat shows and sells their towing packages for an annual fee ranging from $100.00 to $225.00 depending on the package. They work at convincing boaters to buy their package for peace of mind when out on the water.
What many boaters do not realize is that basic emergency towing service is already covered by their existing marine insurance policy. Therefore, it is highly recommended that boaters should find out in the small print of their policy if towing is included. Reading a 10-15 page insurance policy is not anyone's favorite pastime! Simply contact your insurance broker and or underwriter and ask them if towing is included in your policy.
Do this BEFORE you ever need a tow as a preventive measure and peace of mind. Once you can confirm towing service is included in your policy, you will not waste money on a redundant towing membership because you are already paying for it through your annual marine insurance premium. A case in point - we had one of our charter boats recently mechanically disabled with charterers on board north of Hope Island. The prop shaft had disengaged from the transmission so they were without engine propulsion. The winds were far too light to sail back to the charter base, so we immediately engaged a very reputable local towing company to tow the vessel back to our charter base for mechanical repair. The insurance policy of the boat covered the towing fee back to home port in Midland. The charterers were on their way again the next morning after the repair was completed.
So buyer beware! If you want to engage in a third party towing membership, like C-Tow, be sure to read all their terms and conditions before paying for such service. Since
C-Tow is headquartered in BC, the only way they can cover the Great Lakes is by using local independent tow operators who sign up to support C-Tow members. As stated in their terms and conditions, C-Tow is not responsible for the acts or omissions of these independent operators. Furthermore, C-Tow is not liable for any loss, damage, expense, or costs for personal injury or property damage including economic loss while carrying out services to its members. If C-TOW was found to be liable to a member for any reason, the amount of the liability is limited to the sum of $500.00. Essentially this means that the paid member assumes ALL the risk and liability when engaging C-Tow services.
Any claims to C-Tow that are a result of mechanical or other failure that existed prior to obtaining C-Tow coverage are not eligible for coverage under the C-Tow membership program and the member will be billed an hourly rate of $230.00 for service.
If C-Tow was unable, for any reason, to get an independent operator to provide a member service, they are not liable. Also, the paid member shall indemnify and save harmless C-Tow for any damages, liability, suits, claims, demands, or expenses.
Tows from dock to dock are not covered. If you had a major grounding and salvage was needed, they don't cover that either because they see that as an insurable claim.
The point is that C-Tow, as a third party provider, covers what most marine insurance companies already cover in your policy. Check out your insurance policy and confirm that you have emergency towing already covered in your policy. This will save yourself an unnecessary annual fee and that you, as the paying member, will be assuming all the risk should you need their service.
Captain Bill Everitt
|Coast Guard Search and Rescue Helicopter in Training Maneuvers above the Georgian Bay Islands National Park.|
10 August 2016
Volume 4, Issue 7
GREAT LAKES WATER LEVELS GO
The water levels of the Great Lakes go up, and go down over time. It is a cycle that repeats itself over and over again as evidenced by the long term water level graphs displaying the last 97 years for the five Great Lakes seen at this link HERE
UP AND DOWN
The bold black horizontal line on the graphs represents chart datum, which is the depth of the water as seen on nautical charts. The scale on the left side of the chart is in meters and indicates how much the water level is above or below chart datum. Note, in the last 97 years, the lowest water levels were in 1984 and in 2013 when they was -0.41 meters (or 16 inches) BELOW chart datum. This meant in those two years, the actual water level for Lake Huron was 16 inches below what the nautical charts indicate.
The numbers on the right side of the graphs represent how high in meters the lake water level is above sea level. For example, the Lake Huron graph (which includes Georgian Bay) shows it to be 176 meters above sea level which also represents chart datum depths (water depths shown on charts).
A quick glance of all these Great Lakes graphs easily illustrate that, indeed, the water levels are cyclical going up and down continuously over time. For Lake Huron/Lake Michigan the water level trend from 1918 to 2000 shows a distinct trend of the water level rising and water level dropping in a cyclical pattern. You can easily see there were lower water levels in 1926, 1934, 1984, 1985, 2001, and a big drop in 2013. Since 2000, it is obvious the cyclical pattern over the previous 82 years was broken.
Since year 2000, the water levels have been hovering above and below chart datum with no big trending swings up or down. Contrast that with the water levels for Lake Huron/Lake Michigan being above chart datum for 33 years, from 1967 to 2000. During that time, it never went below chart datum. From 2000 to 2015, however, the graph shows the water level went below chart datum in 10 of those 15 years. The explanation for this might be the fact that the upper Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron) have received far less rainfall in the past 35 years than the lower Great Lakes (Ontario, Erie). Weather patterns are believed to be cause of this difference. Another cause may be attributed to the global warming trend.
As a result, you can see that in the past 97 years, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were below chart datum in only 6 and 10 years respectively. Perhaps the much higher rainfall in the lower Lakes has been a trend going far back far more than the last 35 years.
Back in 2001, all 5 Great Lakes lost one meter of water in a matter of 90 days. Rumour had it the water levels were dropped deliberately on account of lowering the seven dams on the St. Lawrence River in anticipation of a severe winter ahead. That winter was very much like last winter and there was no huge buildup of ice and flooding as had been predicted. It is interesting to note that the upper Great Lakes have only got this meter of water back now after 15 years. Lake Michigan/Huron are now 0.9 meters (35 inches) ABOVE chart datum.
A recent low point was in January, 2013 where it was 16 inches below chart datum. During that downward trend, there were many grassroots organizations preaching doom and gloom and that the water levels were going to continue to drop thus negatively affecting shorelines, shipping, farming, tourism, etc.
One such organization was "Stop The Drop". With the restoration of the water levels since then (Lake Huron/Michigan have come up 51 inches since 2013), they have gone into hibernation. The jury is still out on what causes the water level fluctuations. One theory to explain the more recent increase in water levels is the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 winters were so severe with the Great Lakes freezing almost completely over helped dramatically to bring the water levels back up. This last winter did not help because it was so mild with a lot of open water and therefore more winter evaporation of the lakes. Water levels take a lot of time to respond to changing environmental conditions. It is likely that we will not feel the water level effects of the exceptional mild last winter and the drought of this summer for another year or two.
Speaking of environmental changes, as the water had receded to its low point in 2013, shoreline plants and trees started to take hold in the ever expanding drier shorelines. Now that the water levels have come back up these plants and trees that took advantage of the expanding shorelines are now flooded and it is killing those opportunistic plants and trees as seen in the picture below.
|DYING SHORELINE TREES|
SO, higher water levels can cause some havoc to the shorelines. Beausoleil Island, in the Georgian Bay Islands National Park, has many beautiful natural sandy beaches and some of them are now flooded and no longer there. The sand is still there, but some of the beaches are under water.
This entire issue of Great Lakes water levels rising and falling over time reminds me of the global warming debate. With the global warming issue, we are still not sure to what effect human activity is having on the climate versus nature taking its own course irrespective of what humans are doing. I see the same thing with Great Lakes water levels.
We really don't know how much human activity is having on water levels (like dredging the St. Clair River) versus a natural cycle that has been going on for centuries and well-illustrated in the aforementioned graphs that show the last 97 years of Great Lakes water level history.
Another point to underline we don't fully understand the root causes of Great Lakes changing water levels is the fact the International Joint Commission (IJC) has been waffling on this issue. The International Joint Commission (IJC) is a bi-national organization established by the United States and Canada. Its purpose is to advise Canada and the United States on questions about water resources and help prevent and resolve disputes about the use and quality of all boundary waters which includes the Great Lakes. They initially did a 5 year study years ago and spent $17 million examining the Great Lakes water levels and concluded it was better to do nothing.
With a ground swell of pressure from the public and various organizations, the IJC flip-flopped and finally decided, through a press release, back in 2013 to recommend that both Canada and the USA investigate structural options (like sills) to be installed in the river bed of the St. Clair River to reduce the flow of water out of Lake Huron. It has been predicted these sills could help bring Huron and Michigan water levels up by 10 to 20 inches. There has also been a proposal for a river flap gate in the St. Clair River that would be used to reduce the river current. Of course, concerns about the effects downstream cannot be ignored.
Believe it or not, this problem was detected 59 years ago and the US Congress (in 1957) gave the US Corps of Engineers the authorization to proceed with adding sills on the St. Clair river bed. Environment Canada argued over some of the specifics, and the project died on the vine due to lack of co-operation between USA and Canada. The IJC has previously stated the water levels of Huron, Michigan, and Georgian Bay are permanently 20 inches lower than they should be because compensating structures were not implemented 59 years ago.
So the experimental concrete sill idea for the St. Clair River never did get implemented to this day and yet the Lake Huron/Lake Michigan water levels have come up a whopping 51 inches since January 2013. Looks like nature took it course once again and restored the water levels to 2000 levels.
If interested, you can see previously written articles on this subject that are archived below – see 27 May 2013, Volume 1 Issue 3, and 09 September 2014, Volume 2 issue 9. It is an intriguing topic, with lots of unanswered questions that I will continue to write about as new information and research become available.
Captain Bill Everitt
06 July 2016
Volume 4, Issue 6
PARKS CANADA GETS A HUGE FINANCIAL BOOST
Kudos to the new Federal Liberal Government who has allocated almost $270 million to restore and improve the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site
The Trent-Severn Waterway is Canada's largest National Historic Site spanning nearly 400 kilometres and with more physical assets than any other. It has 44 locks, a marine railway and approximately 160 water control structures.
|EXITING A LOCK ON THE TRENT-SEVERN WATERWAY SYSTEM|
This is fantastic news after the previous Conservative Government under Prime Minister Harper had slashed and burned the Parks Canada budget by $29 million dollars over a three year period. Harper had a plan to get a balanced budget no matter what. He essentially told all ministries and departments they were all going to have suffer budget cut-backs.
The problem we had with this 'white wash approach' to budgeting is it did not carefully look enough at what departments should not be cut back, but rather should be expanded since they bring in additional revenue to the government and the local businesses.
Parks Canada and Tourism in general are definitely departments that need to be expanded because they can generate ongoing incremental income to the government and the local economies.
Canada's national parks and historic sites belong to all Canadians. They represent the very best that Canada has to offer, and support Canada's tourism industry and local economies. The current Liberal government has got it right as demonstrated by their commitment to allocate almost $270 million dollars to the Trent-Severn Waterway System.
This funding will be used to restore and repair bridges, dams, locks and historic masonry structures, as well as improve visitor safety thanks to new lighting, handrails and signage.
The Trent-Severn Waterway is one of Canada's most visited national historic sites welcoming more than 1 million visitors every year. It is an integral piece of Canada's history, and a crucial transportation and recreational link for the region. It also operates as an integrated system that mitigates flooding to ensure ongoing public safety.
|WAITING TO BE LOWERED IN TRENT-SEVERN WATERWAY KIRKFIELD LIFT LOCK|
As we near the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the Government of Canada invites Canadians to experience and learn more about our environment and our heritage. Canada's national parks and national historic sites enable Canadians to experience their rich history and heritage in a special way and will play a big part in the celebration of Canada 150. As part of Budget 2016, the Government of Canada announced free lockage for boaters navigating the Trent system in the 2017 season.
Contrast that with the Conservative government who, only 2 years ago, had proposed a 200%-400% increase in user fees for the Trent System. The Conservative government of the day had contended that boater traffic was way down over the previous 5 years, so it is high time to jack up the rates by 200%-400% so the few boaters left that use the system can cover the actual system operating costs by a gigantic increase in user fees.
What the Conservative government failed to realize is the reason that boater traffic on the Trent-Severn Waterway was down – it was directly caused by the unrealistically high prices for marine gas and diesel fuel. The oil companies have been gouging the Canadian economy ever since the 2007-2008 recessions. A case in point is even though crude oil had dropped over 75% to a low of $22.00 / barrel, the price of fuel at gas stations and marinas had only dropped a meager 22%. As everyone is painfully aware, it is a one way street when it comes to changes in crude oil prices. The second crude oil price jumps up on the international markets, the price of fuel at the pumps jumps up too. When the price of crude oil drops, or even tumbles as we have seen recently, there is very little downward retail price movement at the gas stations and marinas.
To underline just how over-priced our fuel is in Canada, I have done a recent road trip across the USA to Nevada and Phoenix this past winter during March. We were paying HALF the price at the fuel pumps compared to what we pay here in Ontario. Canada is an exporting crude oil nation because we produce far more crude oil than we consume. So, how is it we export crude oil to the USA and Americans pay half of what we are paying back here in Canada? If we are such a great oil producing nation, then why cannot Canadians benefit more than the customers we ship to? We deserve better.
Early last October, before the Canadian Federal election, I wrote all the leaders (paper copy and by email) of the Federal parties and my local MP asking the government look into this problem and investigate the price gouging of the oil companies at the expense of Canadian citizens and businesses. To this day, I have not got a single response from any of the leaders – not even an acknowledgement of the receipt of my letter. I guess because the government doesn't care, no one else cares either.
Enough ranting about the gouging oil companies and complacent governments that let it continue. Some good news is the newly elected Liberal Government seems to get it when it comes to investing longer term in Canada's national parks, national historic sites, and tourism in general.
The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions and Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha has recently stated, "This historic infrastructure investment from the Government of Canada will protect and preserve the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site for residents and visitors alike. From First Peoples to fur traders to lumber barons and steamship traffic, the Trent Severn has linked communities across Ontario for hundreds of years. Today's investment will ensure Canadians can continue to work and play on its shores for generations to come."
In addition, under our new Liberal government, Parks Canada is investing an unprecedented $3 billion dollars over 5 years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas across Canada.
|PETERBOROUGH LIFT LOCK LARGEST HYDRAULIC DRIVEN LIFT LOCK IN THE WORLD|
Captain Bill Everitt
08 June 2016
Volume 4, Issue 5
SAILING IN SPACE
Although we typically write and talk about sailing in the Heart of Georgian Bay, the best fresh water sailing in the world, there is another type of sailing that is literally out of this world.
In a previous article I had mentioned the name of our company (COSMOS Yacht Charters) was inspired after the first solar sail spacecraft ever constructed in human history named Cosmos 1.
The project to develop spacecraft that can sail in space using the energy from a star, in this case our Sun, was developed by The Planetary Society. The Society is the largest non-profit space advocacy organization with over 40,000 members in 100 countries. NASA and other space agencies are also looking at the solar sail concept.
Although the Cosmos 1 never made it into Earth's orbit on account of a launch mishap in 2005, the Society has pushed on to a new generation of solar spacecrafts.
|LightSail 1 in Low-Earth orbit|
LightSail 1 was launched as a test space flight in May 2015. The picture above is the spacecraft taking a selfie of itself with its on board camera and transmitted back to Earth. The test flight was a success in that its objective was to ensure it would deploy properly in space and to iron out any bugs that are inherent in any new breakthrough technology experiment. It did not enter in high enough Earth's orbit to stay in orbit, so after the test, it gradually burned up in the atmosphere on re-entry.
LightSail 2, on the other hand, is going to reach a high enough low-Earth orbit to stay in orbit and will be visible from the ground. It will be the first ever controlled solar sail flight in low-Earth orbit. It is expected that LightSail 2 will be launched later this year sometime after September, 2016.
In the meantime, two weeks ago on May 23rd , engineers put LightSail 2 through its day-in-the-life test, which simulates all critical functions of the spacecraft's mission. The test took place at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on California's central coast. LightSail 2 did breeze through its major systems test demonstrating the CubeSat can successfully deploy its antenna and solar panels, communicate with the ground, and unfurl its 32-square-meter solar sails in space.
Below is a picture taken by LightSail 2's -X axis camera during the recent sail deployment test on 23rd May.
|LightSail 2 Systems Test|
It is imagined that solar sailing will one day be the answer to interstellar travel within our galaxy because huge amounts of rocket fuel will not be necessary to travel vast distances through space.
A solar sail, simply put, is a spacecraft that is pushed forward simply by light from the Sun. The mathematics and physics do predict that a solar sail in the vacuum of space will continue to increase its speed over time, eventually being able to exceed speeds far greater than any rocket fuel propelled space craft built to date. The LightSail-2 will be launched into low Earth orbit to test this theory and verify its ability to increase speed over time with the solar pressure emanating from a star, in this case, our Sun.
Just as in terrestrial 'down to Earth' sailing where we hoist or unfurl our sails and catch the wind, in space we hoist our space sails and catch the light.
Indeed, the quest for flight by light continues!
Captain Bill Everitt
08 May 2016
Volume 4, Issue 4
IN THE HEART OF GEORGIAN BAY UPDATE
I have written a few Captain's Rant articles back in January, November and December 2014 (which can be viewed in the article archives below) regarding the noble attempt to re-brand the Georgian Bay Region. Perhaps a recap is in order to summarize why there is an initiative to re-brand Georgian Bay in the first place.
Since 2010, there have been two exhaustive studies and subsequent reports and recommendations, totalling 98 pages, which point out the lack of brand identity for the Georgian Bay area.
Both reports pointed out the area suffers from far too many names that identify the area of the four municipalities that make up so called 'Huronia'. The area is known by many names - Huronia; BruceGreySimcoe; Huronia Tourism; RTO7; Tourism Simcoe County; and the names of each of the four Towns and Townships – Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny Townships.
Currently, with all these various names, the area suffers from fragmented marketing which in turn causes the area to lack a clear destination image and appeal to summon more potential visitors from outside the area.
To address this brand deficiency, an ad-hoc committee was created in September 2014 which engaged a number of local businesses, a marketing firm, and key stakeholders to develop a slogan that would hopefully better help promote the area with a unified voice and effectively address the well-known brand deficiency.
The ad-hock committee concluded their efforts in November 2014 and with the help and advice from marketing resources and local companies' contribution to the effort; they concluded the best slogan to promote the Georgian Bay Region was:
"The Heart of Georgian Bay"
The mission of "The Heart of Georgian Bay" is to brand, market and sell the area locally, provincially, nationally and globally as a premier living, leisure, and business destination to generate positive economic impact.
It has been a year and half since this effort was launched and we don't yet see or hear this slogan 'The Heart of Georgian Bay' much. I have noticed the odd business in the Midland area that has a 'Heart of Georgian Bay' oval shaped sticker on their front door.
I have never heard the slogan on local radio or television. The weather forecast for the local area still says, “GreyBruceSimcoe” and does not use the term “The Heart of Georgian Bay”. As I have pointed out before, 'BruceGreySimcoe' really does nothing to tell folks from outside the area what the area has to offer. These are names of counties and therefore people from outside the area wouldn't typically know what these names mean. County boundaries are not usually what drive visitors to a particular area of interest.
Marketing companies' campaigns tend to behave similar to the clothing fashion trends. They collectively develop trendy slogans, to sell to their clients, and they end up being scattered across a whole range of businesses with the same theme – because it is trendy. Marketing companies make their money by selling trendy slogans to their clients.
I did a road trip through western the United States last year and did note the trendy, “In the Heart Of” marketing term used in billboard advertising through the mid-west. My point is, if a business engages a marketing firm to help them promote their business, the tendency is the marketing firm/advice will be to sell the latest trendy slogan/language.
The problem with that approach is it does not give the company who is paying for the advertising/marketing advice much competitive advantage because their competitors are using the same or similar marketing slogans.
In the case of the ad-hock committee created back in September, 2014, they did have some expert marketing expertise give input into the process of developing a new brand/slogan. So, given that, it is not surprising they came up with the more trendy, “In The Heart Of” as a recommendation for the ad-hock committee.
Personally, I would prefer there be a more call to action in the brand/slogan, something like, “Explore the Beautiful Georgian Bay”.
Nonetheless, our yacht charter business has been using the slogan “In the Heart of Georgian Bay” on our website, in our monthly newsletters, and in all our correspondence with prospects and clients.
Regarding marketing the area, I have been known to sing the praises of the 30,000 Islands archipelago, here in our midst, and the fact it is a United Nations (UNESCO) World Biosphere Reserve, only 18 such reserves in Canada.
I am very pleased to see that Parks Canada at our local National Park, “Georgian Bay Islands National Park”, have been formally recognizing and promoting the fact they are located in an UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
They have published a very informative brochure promoting the “Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve”. They also mention it is the World's Largest Freshwater Archipelago. Their colorful brochure shows many pictures of the wildlife that live within the Biosphere Reserve ... and NO mention of “In the Heart of Georgian Bay”.
Visit the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve website at GBBR.CA.
Captain Bill Everitt
17 April 2016
Volume 4, Issue 3
INVASIVE MARINE AND AQUATIC SPECIES IN AND AROUND GEORGIAN BAY
An invasive specie is defined as animal, marine life, plant, fungus, or bacterium that are not indigenous (non-native) to the local area and has negative effects on a region's economy, environment, or public health Foreign plants, animals, and marine life get transported into areas where they were not present previously due mostly to human activity.
Some of that human activity is deliberately introducing invasive marine life into the Great Lakes Basin. Fortunately, it has been made illegal in Ontario to possess live Bighead, Silver, Grass or Black carp as well as other invasive fish species. People have been caught, convicted and received large fines for trying to import truckloads of live Asian carps into Ontario to sell at fish markets. Enforcement of invasive species laws is the responsibility of conservation officers who work in cooperation with other agencies, such as the federal government, to stop the illegal movement of invasive species.
Ships that travel the world and bring goods into the Great Lakes also inadvertently bring in invasive marine life that is contained in their ballast water. When that ballast water gets discharged into the fresh water of the Great lakes, the foreign marine life, not indigenous to the Lakes, gets released into the local waterways. The well-known zebra mussel, now seen throughout the Great Lakes, is a good example of an alien specie entering the Great Lakes through ship traffic.
Dozens of invasive species are infiltrating our environment in Ontario, putting native fish, plants and animals at risk. Once damaging foreign invaders get here, they are almost impossible to get rid of and they can cause damage longer term that may never be repaired. More than 180 non-native aquatic species such as plants, animals, fish and microorganisms have invaded the Great Lakes to date, and the impact of some of these can be catastrophic for native ecosystems.
Not all introduced alien species are invasive to the environment because they don't harm or threaten the native species. Invasive species, by definition, means they reproduce abundantly to the point where they threaten the native species by preying on or chocking them out. They can get choked out by affecting the cycling of essential nutrients or even remove these nutrients from the food supply altogether, dramatically altering or even destroying water quality. They can also change or destroy coastal habitat over time after they have been introduced.
An introduced species might become invasive if it can out-compete native species for resources such as nutrients, light, physical space, water, or food. If these alien species evolved under great competition or predation in their original habitat, then the new environment they invaded may host fewer able competitors, therefore allowing the alien invader to proliferate quickly.
With fewer natural predators in the new area that the invasive species populates, there is little natural control of their population and therefore they spread uncontrollably. This is why invasive species are considered one of the largest threats to the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Although there are many alien species that have invaded Ontario, this article will concentrate on some of the known harmful invasive species in and around Georgian Bay. We will start with some of the invasive marine life affecting Georgian Bay.
The sea lamprey is a large blood sucking predator. The sea lamprey is native to the North Atlantic Ocean. The invasive species got into Lake Huron and Georgian Bay when the Welland Canal was built in the early 1900's. In less than 20 years, the sea lamprey decimated the lake trout populations in the upper Great Lakes.
Sea lamprey populations vary in different areas so they try to treat those areas with lampricides (where they spawn) every three or four years to help keep those populations down. If they stop for even a year, sea lamprey populations will explode in those areas that don't get treated and devastate the fish population in those untreated areas. Experts say sea lamprey prefer deep cold water over warm shallow water and are unlikely to latch onto swimmers.
The lamprey uses its suction cup-like mouth to attach itself to the skin of a fish and rasps away tissue with its sharp, probing tongue and keratinized teeth. Secretions in the lamprey's mouth prevent the victim's blood from clotting. Victims typically die from excessive blood loss or eventual infection.
|Sea lampreys on a lake trout
Sea lampreys have had an enormous, negative impact on the Great Lakes fishery, inflicting considerable damage. Before the sea lamprey invasion, Canada and the United States harvested about 15 million pounds of lake trout in the upper Great Lakes each year. By the late 1940s, sea lamprey populations had exploded. They fed on large numbers of lake trout, lake whitefish, and ciscoes - fish that were the mainstays of a thriving Great Lakes fishery. By the early 1960s, the catch had dropped dramatically, to approximately 300,000 pounds, about 2% of the previous average. During the time of highest sea lamprey abundance, up to 85% of fish that were not killed by sea lampreys were marked with sea lamprey attack wounds. The once thriving fisheries were devastated, and along with them, the hundreds of thousands of jobs related to the region's economy.
Another noteworthy invasive marine life invader to Georgian Bay would be the Round Goby. The round goby is a small, bottom-dwelling invasive fish. Native to the Black and Caspian seas in Eastern Europe, it was first found in North America in 1990 in the St. Clair River north of Windsor, Ontario. Researchers believe the fish was brought to North America in the ballast water of ships from Europe. In less than a decade the round goby has successfully spread through all five Great Lakes and has begun to invade inland waters. In some areas the fish has reached densities of more than 100 fish per square metre.
|The Round Goby |
Round goby prefer waters with rocky and sandy bottoms. They feed aggressively on insects and other small organisms found on lake and river bottoms. Adult round goby eat large quantities of zebra and quagga mussels, and occasionally small fish and fish eggs. Their aggressive eating habits and ability to spawn several times each season have helped them multiply and spread quickly.
Outside its native range, the round goby has been found in all five Great Lakes and many of their tributaries, including the Illinois River. Round goby are also found in some inland waters in southern Ontario such as Lake Simcoe, the Trent River, Rice Lake, and parts of the Otonabee River.
The round goby's aggressive habits and rapid spread have had serious impacts on native species. The fish compete with and prey on native bottom-dwelling fish such as mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdii) and logperch (Percina caprodes). Round goby also threaten several species at risk in the Great Lakes Basin, including the northern madtom (Noturus stigmosus), the eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta pellucida), and several species of freshwater mussels.
Round goby have reduced populations of sport fish by eating their eggs and young and competing for food sources. Researchers also believe the round goby is linked to outbreaks of botulism type E in Great Lakes fish and fish-eating birds. The disease is caused by a toxin that may be passed from zebra mussels, to goby, to birds, resulting in large die-offs of fish and birds.
To prevent the spread of this invasive species, the Ontario government has banned the possession of live round goby and the use of round goby as a baitfish.
How to Identify Round Goby
Adult round goby are six to 16 centimetres long with a cylindrical body and a rounded to blunt snout. The round goby looks similar to several species of fish found in the Great Lakes, including the invasive tubenose goby and native sculpins (Myoxocephalus thompsoni and Cottus sp.). Check the chart below to identify round goby, tubenose goby and native sculpins.
|Round Goby (Invasive)|
- Prominent black spot.
- Fused scallop-shaped pelvic fin.
- Body is brownish or olive in color, with dark brown spots. Except in reproducing males, the body and fins are almost completely black.
- Nostril tubes do not reach the upper lip.
- Fully scaled body.
Tubenose Goby (Invasive)
- No black spot
- Fused scallop-shaped fin.
- Body is grey, light brown, olive or tan with black or reddish-brown mottling on the back.
- Small nostril tubes extend over the upper lip.
- Fully scaled body.
(Myoxocephalus thompsoni and Cottus sp.)
- No black spot on dorsal fin.
- Two separate pelvic fins.
- The body has a mottled color pattern with a cream colored belly.
- Nostril tubes do not reach upper lip.
- Sculpins have no scales.
What You Can Do
- Learn how to identify round goby and how to prevent the spread of this unwanted species.
- Never buy or use round goby as bait. It is against the law to use round goby as bait or to have a live round goby in your possession.
- Don't put any live fish into Ontario lakes, rivers or streams.
- If you've seen a round goby or other invasive species in the wild, please contact the toll-free Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.
Asian carps, another serious marine invasive species, were brought from Asia to North America in the 1960s and 70s. Since then they have migrated north through U.S.waterways towards the Great Lakes. Preventing Asian carps from spreading into the Great Lakes is the best way to prevent harm to Ontario's and Georgian Bay's native fish species.
|US Fish & Wildlife Service Officer with Bighead carp from Illinois River.|
For more information on identifying these harmful invasive beasts and to differentiate them from our native species, go HERE.
AQUATIC INVASIVE PLANTS:
Aquatic invasive plants around Georgian Bay can also pose similar threats, as the marine life invaders pose, to the environment and the biodiversity of coastal wetlands.
Aquatic invasive plants are plants that have been moved from their native habitat to an introduced area where they are able to reproduce quickly and crowd out native plant species. These plants impact our waterbodies resulting in economic, ecological or social disruption.
Examples of worrisome aquatic invasive species include the bamboo-like phragmites plant, and the Eurasian water milfoil, both of which are now found in the Great Lakes, including in Georgian Bay.
In 2005, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recognized Phragmites as Canada's worst invasive plant. This aggressive grass out-competes all native plants and significantly reduces the habitat value for wildlife, including species at risk. This plant also poses a significant fire hazard during the dormant season and negatively impacts recreational activities, lake views, and property values. The quicker Phragmites can be dealt with, the lower the cost and effort required. Ignoring this plant is not an option if we care about the future or our wetlands, wildlife and shorelines.
Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatu) is an invasive aquatic plant native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. Introduced to North American the 19th century, it is now one of the most widely distributed invasive aquatic plants on the continent. It may have been introduced through the aquarium trade or the ballast water of ships.
Eurasian water-milfoil prefers shallow water one to three metres deep, but can root in up to 10 metres of water. A fast-growing perennial, it forms dense underwater mats that shade other aquatic plants. When large stands begin to die off in the fall, the decaying plants can reduce oxygen levels in the water. Outside its native range, the plant has spread across every continent except Antarctica.
The plant can interbreed with native milfoils, creating a more aggressive form of the invasive species. Because tiny plant pieces can develop into new plants, Eurasian water-milfoil is easily spread when water currents, boat propellers, trailers or fishing gear carry plant fragments to new areas.
Captain Bill Everitt
19 March 2016
Volume 4, Issue 2
SAINT PATRICK'S DAY CELEBRATIONS
This past week has seen yet another March 17th day of celebrating Saint Patrick's Day.
Just like the Easter bunny and chocolates tend to take away from the real meaning of Easter, and the commercialism of Christmas tends to distract its true meaning, the legend of the snakes and the green shamrock tend to take away from Saint Patrick's real and genuine service to humanity.
History tells us that Saint Patrick was born “Patricius” in Roman Britain and lived from approximately 385 AD to 461 AD – 76 years. He allegedly died on 17 March 461 AD and so the 17th of March has been celebrated as St. Patrick's Day. He was a British Missionary, became a Patron Saint of Ireland and died an Irishman named “Patrick”.
The basis for all we know of the historical Patrick are his two brief documents he wrote, “Confession” and his “Letter to Coroticus”.
Amazingly, Patrick is literally the only individual we know from fifth-century Ireland or England. Not only do no other written records from Britain or Ireland exist from that century, but there are simply no written records at all from Ireland prior to Patrick's life.
He was not religious as a youth and, in fact, claims to have practically renounced the faith of his family. While in his teens at age 15, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raid at his parents' estate in the Roman province of Britain and sold into slavery for 6 years as a shepherd in Ireland.
He escaped and returned back to Britain where he studied in the priesthood. Through divine dreams, he believed he was called by God to return to Ireland - which he did. His mission was to convert his barbarian captors and the entire country of Ireland to Christianity. The Irish still practiced human sacrifice and warred with each other constantly. Patrick stayed in Ireland for about 30 years as he carried out his ministry. Before he died, he became a bishop of Ireland and later became a Saint. Most of Ireland had been converted to Christianity by the time of his death.
Patrick's own experience with being enslaved left him with a virulent hatred for the institution of slavery and he would later become the first human being in history to speak out unequivocally against slavery. His hatred for slavery was living proof of his belief in the wellbeing, freedom, and dignity of all human beings. Although he was the first to chastise slavery of humans, the papacy did not condemn slavery as immoral until the end of the 19th century.
In addition, no one had tried to carry the Gospel in 400 years outside of the Roman civilization. Even though Christ had told His apostles to carry the Christian message to all ends of the earth, Patrick was the first to cross the Greco-Roman borders and convert pagans to Christianity.
Many of us know him by the legendary story that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland many centuries ago. In more recent times, a teacher had told her class about this story, and a little boy put his hand up and asked, "Teacher, how did they get all the snakes in the car??" Anyway, there is no documented proof of this so it remains in the realm of a myth. The snake is a pagan symbol and perhaps this is a figurative tale explaining that he drove paganism out of Ireland.
The other commonly known tradition is to wear the color green on St. Patrick's Day and to drink green beer in the bars! This tradition stems from another myth that Patrick used the green shamrock as a symbol of the Trinity as he was preaching Christianity in Ireland, thus the green tradition.
Saint Patrick showed enormous insight and courage with a tremendous ability to suffer with other people, and to understand and empathize with what other people's suffering is like. He dedicated his entire adult life to this worthy cause. That should be the real reason of our celebration for Saint Patrick's Day!!!
|Saint Patrick's Celtic Cross |
Saint Patrick added the sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that the new symbol of Christianity would be more natural to the Irish at the time he was in Ireland.
Captain Bill Everitt
25 January 2016
Volume 4, Issue 1
THE CRUDE OIL DILEMNA AND THE SINKING CANADIAN DOLLAR
A well-known Australian economist had stated a few years ago (when crude oil as over $100 /barrel) that if we really wanted to fix the Canadian economy and get things rolling again, all we had to do was put crude oil at 30 bucks a barrel - and watch the economy boom - almost overnight. Really? Well, here we are at $25.00 for a barrel of crude oil, and the economy is NOT booming to say the least. This economist also did say the downside to the 30 buck barrel of crude would be hard on the environment on account of the increased consumption triggered by the lower crude oil price.
Undoubtedly, his prediction that a very low crude oil price would automatically translate to much lower gasoline/diesel fuel oil prices at the pumps.
The fact is, even though the price of crude oil has plummeted over the past year, the price of fuel at the gas stations has not been reduced commensurately with the falling price of crude oil.
More recently, a few weeks ago a senior economist with the Bank of Montreal had stated in a press conference his concerns that the price of fuel at the pumps is not being reduced at the same pace as the crude oil price is dropping. Oh really? This is painfully obvious by the public that when crude oil goes up slightly, the price at the pumps goes up almost instantly, and yet when crude oil prices drop, there is very little downward price movement at the pumps.
In an article I wrote back in October, 2015, I showed at that time that even though the price of crude oil had dropped by 75%, the price at the pumps had dropped 22.5%. Those numbers are even worse today since the crude oil price continues to plunge and yet we still see very little movement at the gas pumps. With crude oil at the current $25 range (and still dropping), the prices at the pump should be in the $0.50/liter range – not $0.86 to $1.00/liter.
The oil companies are gouging the Canadian economy at the expense of Canadian businesses and citizens. The Australian economist had it right, but he did not realize that the price of fuel at the pumps would NOT be part of a fair market economy wherein we would see the retail price of refined fuel drop in price in lock step with the drop in crude oil prices - so his prediction was incorrect.
This brings me to my next point. The oil companies are deliberately keeping the price of refined fuels at the pumps much higher than they should be based on collapsing crude oil prices. So why would they do this? Simple. They want to keep the prices at the pumps artificially inflated so that when crude oil prices eventually turn a corner and start rising again, the price at the pumps will conveniently be increased on top of an artificially inflated price – purposefully designed to increase oil company profits at the expense of the Canadian economy.
On another note about the design of our Canadian economy. How is it that we designed our economy to be so dependent that our dollar would track one single commodity to the exclusion of other commodity values? So when crude oil goes up, our dollar goes up in value. When crude oil price goes down, so does the value of the Canadian dollar.
How would Canadians feel if our dollar was so tied to other commodities? How about if our dollar was so dependent on the price of silver, the price of canola oil, the price of wheat, the price of tin, the price of steel? Wouldn't folks be outraged about this? Why do we roll over and play dead when the oil companies take over our dollar value?
The fact our currency has such a dependency on a volatile commodity such as crude oil sounds, to me, like a bad design for our economy and our country - and we are paying that price today.
Finally, they do say if you really want to help change things, write your members of Parliament because personal letters like that carry a lot of weight and influence.
I did write my Member of Parliament about this topic back in early October before the Federal Election.
I mailed a letter to Mr. Bruce Stanton on 02 October 2015 about the issue discussed above and also sent the same letter to Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, Thomas Mulcair, Elizabeth May, and the Globe and Mail.
To this date, I have not heard back from any of the politicians I wrote above. I have not even received an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter. The letter was sent both via regular mail and email to all recipients.
Their lack of their responses speaks volumes to this issue. It is the first time, in my life, I have written members of parliament and have not even received the courtesy of a response to acknowledge the letter received – never mind commenting on the letter. I guess everybody wants to let the oil companies do what they want, and nobody wants to talks about it, and nobody cares – what a shame for democracy.
Captain Bill Everitt
19 December 2015
Volume 3, Issue 10
SEASON'S GREETINGS AND SAYING THANKS!
As we approach the new year of 2016, I look forward to my fourth year of researching and writing more articles about Georgian Bay and related topics.
I want to thank the Boating Georgian Bay (BGB) readership who joins the many thousands of monthly site visitors to discover more about the natural wonders and grandeur of the Heart of Georgian Bay.
In particular, I especially want to thank the 'Captains Rant' readership for your interest in reading the monthly articles and appreciate the positive feedback I have received over the past three years!
As a guest writer for the popular BGB directory website, I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays with family and friends, and a Safe and Prosperous New Year for 2016!
Captain Bill Everitt
08 November 2015
Volume 3, Issue 9
CELEBRATING EINSTEIN'S 100 YEAR AGO GENIUS AND DID HUMANS REALLY GO TO THE MOON?
It is 100 years ago this month that Albert Einstein published his General Theory of Relativity and its very complex set of equations that, at that time, attempted to explain many of the unexplained phenomena in the physical universe we have observed for centuries.
|Dr. Albert Einstein|
General relativity has developed into an essential tool in modern astrophysics. It provides the foundation for the current understanding of black holes, regions of space where the gravitational effect is so strong that even light cannot escape. Their super strong gravity is thought to be responsible for the intense radiation emitted by certain types of astronomical objects (such as active galactic nuclei or micro quasars). General relativity is also part of the framework of the standard Big Bang model of cosmology which estimates the Big Bang that created the physical universe we observe occurred 13.5 billion earth years ago.
In 1917, Einstein applied his general theory of relativity to model the large-scale structure of the physical universe we observe. In that endeavour, his equations did predict the existence of black holes, although Einstein was quite puzzled by the concept of a black hole. The predictions of general relativity have been confirmed in all observations and experiments done to date, which is incredible given this work was done 100 years ago!
Today, there is a global project underway to actually see the event horizon of a black hole, thus proving its existence and the existence of the black hole itself. A black hole 'event horizon' is a boundary in space and time, around the black hole, beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. In layman's terms, it is defined as "the point of no return", i.e., the point at which the gravitational pull (of the black hole) becomes so great as to make escape impossible. It is theorized the density/mass of the black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is equivalent to the mass of 4 million Suns.
The global project involves using an array of telescopes spread out across the globe and linked together using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry, or VLBI. Larger telescopes can make sharper observations, and interferometry allows multiple telescopes to act like a single telescope as large as the separation or "baseline" between them.
Using the VLBI, the sharpest observations can be achieved by making the separation between telescopes as large as possible. The proposed array of linked telescopes across the globe will essentially make the telescope lens approximately as wide as the Earth's diameter which is 12,742 km or 7,865 miles. With a virtual telescope lens that large, known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), its resolution will be 2,000 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.
To put it into perspective, the EHT will be powerful enough to see a grapefruit on the surface of Earth's moon or if someone was holding up a quarter in Los Angeles, an observer in New York City could read the date on the quarter.
It is predicted that within 2-3 years, the VLBI will be able to show images/shadows of the event horizon at the center of our galaxy and once again proving Albert Einstein got it right 100 years ago!
One spin-off benefit from this type of technology would be the ability to finally prove or disprove whether or not NASA landed humans on the moon. The EHT, with such high resolution, should have no problem showing the location of the six crashed lunar modules, six lunar module bases (decent stages), and two lunar rovers (nick named buggies) all supposedly left on the lunar surface.
Since the moon has virtually no atmosphere, any human made objects on the surface would be left there intact and undisturbed indefinitely in the perfect vacuum of space.
So, this begs the question why hasn't any corporation, space agency or country pointed their powerful telescopes to the surface of the moon and shown us the evidence of these human made objects left over from the allegedly Apollo program with six human lunar landings?
I have been doing technical research on this subject for years now and the more I dig, the more I am convinced humans have never landed on the moon. For example, I questioned years ago why can't we point the Hubble Space Telescope to the lunar surface and give us proof, once and for all, the concrete evidence that humans did, indeed, land on the lunar surface? The answer was the Hubble Telescope's resolution (power) is insufficient to detect objects on the lunar surface. I found that very puzzling when we look at the incredible images that Hubble has provided of distant galaxies that are millions of light years from Earth!
So, how did these human made objects get there in the first place? According to Wikipedia, humans have left 413,100 pounds of material on the moon's surface. Wikipedia reports the remains of five S-IVB third stages of Saturn V rockets from the Apollo program are the heaviest single pieces sent to the lunar surface. These S-IVB third stages weighed 23,000 pounds (11.5 Tons) each - empty of fuel. So these crashed stages should be fairly easy to detect on the lunar surface given their huge size and mass.
NASA claims they landed humans on the moon six times from 1969 until 1972. With each mission, they had to descend to the moon's surface with a lunar module (the ascent stage) and a lunar base attached to the lunar module (the descent stage). After landing with the lunar module attached to its base, the lunar module would subsequently blast off and leave the lunar base (descent stage) behind. They detached the lunar module from its descent stage using explosives at 4 points where it was attached to the base. That means there should be six descent stages left behind on the lunar service.
In addition, after the two astronauts re-joined with the Apollo Command space capsule (that was orbiting the moon waiting for their return and rendezvous), the lunar module was ejected from the Apollo Command capsule and subsequently left behind to crash into the lunar surface.
That means there are supposed to be six lunar modules that are also on the surface of the moon after they crashed into the surface. To date, there have been no credible third party images showing any of these objects on the surface of the moon. With the five Saturn V third stages, the six lunar modules and the six decent stages – that leaves 17 large distinct human made objects associated with the Apollo missions that should be on the lunar surface and well preserved the same as the day they landed or crashed. Also, there are supposed to be two lunar rovers (buggies) left on the moon's surface.
Speaking of the lunar rovers, below is a picture taken from one of the lunar rovers (buggies) that was positioned near the lift off of the Lunar Module “Challenger” when it supposedly blasted off from its decent stage to then rendezvous with the Command Module orbiting the moon. As you can see, the decent stage stayed behind on the lunar surface. The Lunar module itself is also supposedly on the lunar surface because it was crash landed on the moon's surface after it rendezvoused with the Apollo 17 Command Module.
|LUNAR MODULE 'CHALLENGER' BLASTING OFF THE LUNAR SURFACE|
APOLLO 17 – 1972
(NASA Photo ID: S72-55421)
So, both these Lunar Module spacecraft (the ascent and decent stages) should still be detectable on the moon's surface. Of particular note in this NASA picture is there is no flame or exhaust showing from the bottom of the ascent stage as it is blasting off its decent stage and heading back into a lunar orbit. There are several NASA videos on the internet that depict lunar modules blasting off their decent stages and none of them show any flame or exhaust coming out of the module. The videos were allegedly taken from the nearby lunar rover that had a video camera on board.
In 2009, on the 40th anniversary of the 1969 human landing on the moon, the home page of the NASA website did show what appeared to be the shadow of an object on the lunar surface claiming it was one of the descent stages on the surface. The problem is with the power of 'photo shop' these days; anything can be recreated to look real. The other issue with this is it was not third party validation, but rather NASA tooting its own horn.
Furthermore, China, Japan and the USA have had unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon since 2008 - and some still do. They claim they have the resolution to clearly see rocks on the lunar surface that are only 2 feet in diameter. So why haven't any of these lunar orbiters taken pictures of the spacecraft debris on the surface left over from the six Apollo human lunar landings? If these orbiters can detect a rock 2 feet in diameter, surely then can get clear images of those 11.5 Ton S-IVB third stages of the Saturn V rockets that were crashed into the moon's surface??
Some other perplexing aspects of this issue is the fact President Bush had announced, not long before he ended his tenure as President, that the USA was going back to the moon …..in twenty years. This begs another question. If we had the technology to send humans to the moon over 45 years ago, why do we need another 20 years to do it again? It wasn't long after the Obama administration took over the Whitehouse that the plan to send humans again to the moon in 20 years was cancelled….. Hmmmm….I wonder why?
Another huge hurdle to overcome to send humans beyond near earth orbit (NEO) is the intense Van Allen radiation belts that are located from 1,000 - 60,000 km above the Earth's surface. There are two very intense radiation belts that are created by the solar wind interacting with the Earth's magnetic field resulting in highly charged electrons and protons. Some naysayers believe the Apollo Command Module did not have sufficient shielding to safely protect astronauts from the intense radiation in the belts. It is a little hard to believe that we had enough knowledge 50 years ago to understand these radiation belts and what it would take to adequately shield the astronauts with the technology available at that time.
In all the research I have done on this subject, it amazes me how much technical explanation (with zero physical evidence) that comes from the scientific community to counteract the conspiracists. If they wanted to convince us skeptics that we did land humans on the moon, all they have to do is show us the images (by a third party, not NASA) of all that Apollo space debris that is supposed to be on the lunar surface. I like to say, I am a “show me” man from Missouri” - show me the left-over space debris on the surface of the moon from the Apollo moon landings and I will believe we landed humans on the moon back in1969. Until then, I remain extremely skeptical.
One thing that I am definitely not skeptical about is the magical night sky beauty of the starry heavens as seen from an anchored boat in a sheltered cove in the Heart of Georgian Bay!!! This is one breath taking wonder that is indisputable because I have seen it for three decades…so I believe it!
Captain Bill Everitt
16 October 2015
Volume 3, Issue 8
ARE CANADIAN OIL COMPANIES GOUGING INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES?
I will not be supporting, nor will I be voting for, any political party in the upcoming federal election. My reason is simple. None of the parties are talking about how the oil companies are gouging individuals and businesses by keeping all fuels excessively high priced despite the fact that crude oil has plunged from a high of $146 a barrel to the recent low of $36 a barrel, which is a whopping drop by 75%.
From January 1999 until crude oil peaked in July of 2008, gas at the pumps was increased immediately as soon as the crude oil price jumped. Gasoline peaked at $1.42 a liter in August of 2014, when crude oil price was about $100 a barrel.
It is painfully obvious to most everyone that gasoline jumps up in price immediately after the crude oil price goes up - every time. However, the reverse is not so. As crude oil prices tumbled by 75%, we saw gas at the pumps dropped from its peak of $1.42 a liter to current pricing of $1.00 - $1.10 a liter which represents a 22.5% drop in the price of gasoline. According to historical data retrieved from the internet, back in November 2008 when a barrel of crude oil was $32.00, gasoline at the pumps was $0.68/liter. Similarly, in September of 2005 when crude oil was $42.00 a barrel, gasoline at the pumps was again $0.68/liter. This begs the question - why, when crude is currently hovering in the $40/barrel range, are we paying over $1.00 a liter at the gas pumps, when it ought to be in the 60 cent range?
It is very obvious the oil companies are enjoying excessive profits at the expense of Canadian citizens and businesses. The issue just isn't about gasoline prices only. All fuels sold by the oil companies - diesel fuel, natural gas, propane, jet fuel, etc., are priced far too high when crude oil sits around $40 a barrel.
Most all goods and services use some sort of fuel to bring them to market. The fact that fuel prices are not dropping commensurate with the price of crude oil is hurting the economy big time. Most everything else is costing more to consumers because the inflated price of fuel gets passed along to all product and services. Food for example, is very highly priced these days – much of the higher prices for food comes from the fact the fuel prices are kept artificially and excessively high, which increases transportation costs across all goods and services. The oil companies should be investigated for having excessive profits at the expense of the economy.
The conservative government seems to ignore this fact. Of course, the government seems to like excessively high fuel prices because the excise tax is collected on a higher number, therefore increasing excise tax revenues.
The best way for the government to increase its tax revenues is to have more Canadians working and therefore more people paying income tax. The Conservatives have been continually lowering the corporate taxes to hopefully create more jobs – but frankly, that strategy has not worked over the past 10 years. Companies don't expand and hire when consumers don't have the means to buy what companies produce. Lower corporate taxes don't inspire growth and expansion if the companies with the lower corporate tax rate don't see more demand for what they produce. Companies generally do not lead with manufacturing capacity but rather they typically lead with sales, meaning they ramp up once they see demand is increasing. Lower corporate taxes, with no increase in demand for products and services, only serves to benefit the shareholders and business owners.
We are still in recession mainly because people just don't have the financial means to spend more. Wages have been relatively flat for the past decade, while all products and services have increased dramatically over the same decade.
No political party in Canada seems to get it. None of them are even mentioning the fact Canadians, businesses, and the economy are all suffering on account of the apparent price gouging done by all the Canadian oil companies. I went on a road trip into the USA last winter and was amazed at how low gasoline was priced at $2.23 USD per US gallon, or $0.59 USD per liter. Meanwhile, Ontarians (Toronto) were paying about $1.08 CAD per liter or $4.86 CAD per CAD gallon. So while Ontarians were paying $1.08 CAD per liter, Americans were paying $0.59 USD per liter which was just over half of the price here in Ontario.
As an oil producing nation, Canada exports crude oil to the USA. So how can it be that Americans end up paying just over half of the price Canadians are paying at the pumps? Part of the reason is there is a serious lack of third party oversight of the oil industry, so when it comes to pricing they do whatever they want. For example, the price of wholesale gasoline in the USA is sold into the USA retail market at 11 cents per liter lower than the wholesale price sold into the Canadian retail market.
Furthermore, it boils my blood with all the negativity that the media has been saying about how awful it is that crude prices have dropped 75% in the last while. Given the commodity price of crude oil has dropped so much, it should be a good news story since Canadians and businesses depend on it to survive. We are not benefitting from a lower price of crude oil because the huge savings we should be seeing are not being passed along to consumers. Instead, the oil companies are getting excessively high profits.
Not only is the high price of fuel at the gas station pumps affecting consumers and all forms of transportation, it also has the same negative effect to boaters and the marine industry. Excessively high priced fuels in marinas tend to squelch boater activity. This reduces the amount they would otherwise spend if they were using their boats more often – which negatively effects tourism in general.
I did recently write my federal member of parliament about this issue and highly recommend everyone do the same – as there is strength in numbers! We need to insist there be an investigation into the oil companies regarding their pricing anomalies and to provide some third party oversight to hold them accountable for huge pricing discrepancies that negatively affect the economy overall.
Until a political party in this country has the courage and conviction to investigate the oil companies and get all fuel prices where they ought to be (based on fluctuating crude oil prices), they won't be getting my vote in the upcoming Federal election.
Captain Bill Everitt
10 September 2015
Volume 3, Issue 7
INSURANCE COMPANIES CONTROL THE WORLD!
We have all heard, from time to time, people saying in frustration that insurance companies control or rule the world. This opinion usually stems from restrictions or compulsory criteria that insurance companies levy on their clients as a condition of providing insurance coverage. These restrictions typically become a mandatory condition that must be met in order for the insurance company to assume the risk of a loss.
(A GREAT LAKES EXPERIENCE)
Essentially, insurance is the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another in exchange for money. An insurer, or insurance company/underwriter, is selling the insurance to the insured, or policyholder, who is the person or entity buying the insurance policy. The amount of money to be charged to the policyholder for a certain amount of insurance coverage is called the premium. The insurance companies are in the risk management business of appraising and controlling risk.
Since they are for-profit entities, insurance companies are in the business of mitigating (reducing) their risk as much as possible. Sometimes they go over-board with stipulations and conditions that don’t make a lot of sense which makes them appear far too controlling.
This article is about insurance coverage within the marine industry in the Great Lakes. As a professional yacht delivery Captain, a recent personal experience serves to underline why folks think insurance companies can be too controlling and entrenches their reputation of ‘controlling the world’.
Our yacht delivery services were engaged this past July by a client who wanted us to deliver his sailing vessel from Bayfield, Lake Huron to Cobourg, Lake Ontario. On the night before departure, we got an email from the client that he had noticed last minute a clause in his insurance policy that had raised a concern. The policy had stated that if the insurance policyholder was employing paid crew on board his vessel, then insurance company pre-approval is required before binding (covering) the vessel.
|Great Lakes Yacht Delivery|
Bayfield, Lake Huron to Cobourg, Lake Ontario
The owner contacted his insurance broker about this stipulation, and his broker advised him to ask me for a copy of my own insurance policy. Our yacht delivery contract with our clients clearly states the owner/client is responsible to make sure the vessel to be delivered is adequately insured for the waterways to be navigated and that the paid crew are also covered for the duration of the delivery.
The underwriter specified this issue could not be handled by the local insurance Broker in Ontario, so the request to not have to provide my own insurance policy coverage eventually went to a Senior Vice President of the insurance company based in Calgary. After providing a copy of my British Commercial 200 Ton Master’s License, they waived the need for me to provide my own insurance; however, they created more stipulations in the process.
They tripled my client’s deductible for the duration of the boat delivery, and they specifically stated that I and my crew would not be subject to the Heath/Injury insurance coverage that is already included in our client’s insurance policy. The insurance company had no problem taking my client’s premium to cover his boat, but when push came to shove, they changed the policy to reduce the coverage the owner had already paid for since there were professional delivery crew on board…..go figure?
To us, that was extremely mean spirited to triple our client’s deductible and remove the Health/Injury coverage for the duration of the delivery - especially since it was already an integral part of our client’s existing coverage in his policy. Ironically, if our client wanted to do the boat delivery himself, his underwriter would not have changed the deductible and the Health/Injury coverage would have stayed intact for him. He is a new boat owner (his first boat), but he did not feel at all qualified to safely delivery his new purchase through the Great Lakes – which is why he engaged in our professional yacht delivery services in the first place.
Our client stated to his Broker that we had 100+ times more experience than him, so why impose these added restrictive stipulations when clearly the risk of loss was far less than if he was to try and do the boat delivery himself. Since the main thrust behind insurance companies is to reduce the risk of loss, this is a classic case where their added restrictions were unreasonable, and just didn’t make good sense.
Just prior to doing this sailboat delivery, we delivered a million dollar motor yacht from Ontario to Connecticut – which was a vessel importation from Canada into the USA. The USA insurance underwriter asked for my commercial Master’s license, and subsequently the vessel and my crew were automatically covered, with no request for me to provide any additional personal insurance.
|Yacht Delivery Importation
Lake Simcoe, Ontario, Canada to Clinton, Connecticut, USA.|
In the USA, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261), also known as the Jones Act, is a United States federal statute that protects American workers injured at sea.
The Act was introduced by Senator Wesley Jones. This law allows qualifying sailors who have been involved in accidents or become sick while performing their duties to recover compensation from their employers. ‘Qualifying sailors’ means the paid crew covered do not have to be Americans, even though they are operating in USA waters provided they are covered by a USA marine insurance policy. The coverage afforded in this Jones Act is part of the Protection and Indemnity (P&I) section embedded in every marine insurance policy in the USA.
Here in Canada, we don’t have such a ‘Jones Act’ because Canadian Marine Insurance policies tend to exclude paid crew as we have workers compensation and provincial healthcare to take care of covering mariners here in Canada.
Having said that, our recent sailboat delivery referred to earlier, did have Health/Injury coverage in the owner’s policy, however the underwriter arbitrarily refused to cover professional paid crew in that instance. We agreed, in the end, to proceed with their restrictions given we are Ontarians and therefore had OHIP coverage. At any rate, the boat delivery was done successfully and our client was pleased we did not hold up the delivery on account of the added restrictions and conditions imposed by his insurance company.
Needless to say, our sailboat client was not happy with the way his insurance company handled the situation and said he plans on looking into changing his insurance underwriter.
Captain Bill Everitt
12 August 2015
Volume 3, Issue 6
THE GRANDEUR OF THE 30,000 ISLANDS
|Frying Pan Island looking Northeast
Georgian Bay 30,000 Islands|
The definition of an 'archipelago' is a chain, cluster or scattered group of islands within the same body of water and the islands are typically considered part of a larger land mass. The infamous 30,000 Islands archipelago, which stretches from Killarney in the north down to Midland in the south of Georgian Bay along its eastern shore
line, is the largest fresh water archipelago on the planet!
It is nice to see that Parks Canada is finally recognizing the significance of having the largest freshwater archipelago within the Georgian Bay Islands National Park and have been promoting it with printed brochures and on line.
Although it is designated as 30,000 Islands, it is estimated there are actually 60,000 islands in the archipelago when one considers all the un-named islands as well.
Georgian Bay's 30,000 Islands area obtained the international designation in 2004 as a UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Biosphere Reserve. Of the 16 world biosphere reserves in Canada today, 10 were designated since year 2000. Our more recent Canadian designation was the Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia which was awarded in 2011.
Obtaining a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designation requires very stringent qualifications and criteria to be honored with such recognition and distinction. I have written an extensive article on the criteria required in an earlier 'Captains Rant' article that is archived below – see the 04 April 2014 article (Volume 2 Issue 4).
We, at COSMOS Yacht Charters, provide sailing cruises for guests in the 30,000 Islands area that people find absolutely incredible and breathtaking. We did a more recent charter for a group of Europeans (Switzerland, Austria, and France) who booked with us because they understood very well what a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve meant. They had done their homework and were very knowledgeable about the area and specifically searched out a charter company that could take them sailing to this infamous archipelago.
These guests have travelled all over the world and have traveled Canada extensively as they spend two months touring Canada every summer. After finishing their sailing cruise, a comment from one guest was that, even though he has toured all over Canada, the 30,000 Islands archipelago was by far the best landscape and scenery he had ever seen in Canada! Now that is a powerful and vivid endorsement of the spectacular and unique beauty and treasure of this area.
It is unfortunate most Ontarians are not aware of the incredible beauty that is in their own backyard. Georgian Bay is often touted as 'Ontario's best kept secret'.
I mentioned earlier that Parks Canada is making a bigger effort to promote what the area has to offer. In some of their literature, they are pointing out the abundance of wildlife in the 30,000 Islands area also known as the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve.
|Common Merganser with Chicks|
Some of the wildlife are: Bald Eagle, Massasauga Rattlesnake, Eastern Wolf, Fritillary Butterfly, River Otter, Pileated Woodpecker, Lake Sturgeon, Eastern Chipmunk, Five-Lined Skink, Midland Painted Turtle, Common Merganser, Black Bear, White-Tailed Deer, Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Blanding's Turtle, Monarch Butterfly, the Tri-Coloured Bat, and the Common Tern.
The Bald Eagle was almost driven to extinction with only 10 breeding pairs left in all of Ontario back in 1970. Today there are an estimated 1,400 breeding pairs in Ontario which is testimony to the fact the environment has far less pesticides in it which were threatening the Bald Eagle. They need large areas of continuous forest cover with large trees for nesting near lakes and rivers - all well provided in the 30,000 Islands archipelago.
|Baby Bald Eagles|
For tons more information about the abundant wildlife and plant life in the Georgian Bay World Biosphere Reserve, visit website www.gbbr.ca.
With the National and Provincial park lands, along with the conservation and biosphere reserves around Georgian Bay, it makes for one of the best boating and exploring areas of the world.
It is no wonder why exploring the Heart of Georgian Bay is an exhilarating experience that brings many boaters and visitors, for generations, back time and time again throughout their entire lifetimes.
Captain Bill Everitt
04 June 2015
Volume 3, Issue 5
CELEBRATING CANADA'S 150TH BIRTHDAY
WITH THE S.S. KEEWATIN IN 2017
|The S.S. Keewatin Today in Port McNicoll, Ontario|
Last October, I wrote an article on the infamous steamship the S.S. Keewatin which is now moored in our midst in the neighboring town of Port McNicoll, Ontario. She is currently tied up at the same dock where she provided 58 years of steamship service
connecting Southern Georgian Bay to the upper Lake Superior rail heads in Thunder Bay, a two and a half day journey one way, and never missing a season.
This mighty steamship and her sister ship, the Assiniboia, were built and launched back in 1907 in Govan, Scotland, just 40 years after Confederation, for the Canadian Pacific Railway. She was built by the same culture and Edwardian tradition as the RMS Titanic and was built five years before the Titanic was launched. The Keewatin was delivered to the Great Lakes in 1907. Initially, when she arrived in the Great Lakes, her home port was Owen Sound, ON in 1908. In 1912, a new sea port terminal and CPR railway station opened up in Port McNicoll, ON, and the Keewatin then made that her home port for almost 60 years.
During her steamship service, the Keewatin, the Assiniboia and three other CPR steamships transported 1.2 million passengers, 13 million tons of freight and 18 million bushels of grain across the Upper Great Lakes over the next five decades.
I went on to tell the story that after the Keewatin's retirement in late 1965 from its Upper Great Lakes service; she was headed to the scrap yard. In 1967 the Keewatin was saved from a scrapyard end when R. J. Peterson of Douglas, Michigan, purchased the ship. As a marina owner and Great Lakes Historian, Mr. Peterson borrowed the funds and bought the ship. The S.S. Keewatin was towed by tugs to the Kalamazoo River where it empties into Lake Michigan. There, in Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan, she was established as a floating Maritime Museum and was cared for by the Petersons for 45 years.
Then, in August of 2011, with the financial assistance of Port McNicoll developer Gil Blutrich, the 'Friends of Keewatin' had the opportunity to purchase Keewatin from R. J. Peterson. It took ten months to dig her out of the Kalamazoo River because, over 45 years, the river had silted in and was not deep enough for the Keewatin to float back into Lake Michigan without serious dredging of the river.
In June of 2012, the S.S. Keewatin, also known as the “Kee”, made her triumphant return to Port McNicoll to the delight of thousands of waiting fans.
On 23rd June, 2012, at precisely 1:30 pm she was returned to her home port in Port McNicoll for restoration and permanent display again as a floating Maritime Museum and event facility. The triumphant return date to her home port on the 23rd June, 2012 was significant as it had been 45 years since the Keewatin left Port McNicoll and precisely 100 years ago, to the day and the hour, that she began working from the same port.
Since its arrival back to its home port in Port McNicoll, the S.S. Keewatin has had tens of thousands of visitors take guided tours during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. All of the proceeds from the tours are ploughed back into the restoration of the ship. The 'Friends of the Keewatin' currently have over 130 volunteers that are helping to restore the ship and they provide extremely informative tours at a very modest price. The tours are so intriguing since many parts of the ship are displayed as they were back in the early 1900's. Many guest cabins, the dining room and many other areas are set up just as passengers would have experienced them back in the day.
|THE S.S KEEWATIN JULY, 2014
The volunteer tour guides are very well informed and share many details of what it was like on the ship when she was in service which is a truly treasured piece of our Canadian history and heritage - on a ship that was once was the envy of the cruise business on the Great lakes. Taking these extraordinary tours is like stepping back into a time zone over a hundred years ago.
As the S.S. Keewatin is preparing herself for another season of visitors in 2015 to her home port, there is a major project in the works to establish a 3.2 acre Confederation Gateway Park in Port McNicoll. Since the S.S. Keewatin played a major role in moving people, who came from all over the world, to create new homes in Western Canada, it is most fitting this ship and the planned park will be an ideal venue to celebrate Canada's 150th year of Confederation! The Keewatin will be able to tell her integral part in the story of Confederation and her contribution to the subsequent development of our great nation Canada!
The Project Plan includes restoring the dock around Keewatin to its former 1912 to 1965 glory with beautiful gardens and board walk.
The 'Friends of the Keewatin' are submitting their application for funding of the proposed park to Heritage Canada on Friday, June 5th, 2015.
They are asking Heritage Canada for matching funds to rebuild the dock, construct and landscape a park and gardens, and mount an audio visual campaign on the internet and at live presentations across Canada.
Skyline is donating the Park, the Town is partnering with 'Friends of Keewatin' on the implementation, and Park management and the Province will share media costs.
This is a major undertaking and everyone has the opportunity to throw their support behind this 'CANADA 150' application. You can write a short note in the “Comments” section indicating your morale support for such a worthy project and your input will be included in the June 5th submission to Heritage Canada. You need to act NOW if you want to support the project and have your voice heard! Thank you!
For more information about this planned project, click here .
Captain Bill Everitt
29 March 2015
Volume 3, Issue 4
SUNSET DINNER CRUISES
The Captains Rant column doesn't usually focus on anything we could call advertising per say, but this month I asked Captain Bill to write a story about his COSMOS Yacht Charters sunset dinner sailing cruises. I thought our readers should know about this cruise package because it's an UNBELIEVABLE DEAL to get out sailing on Georgian Bay for 7 hours and have an anchorage stopover with dinner from $175 per person. It's about the same price a couple could go to dinner for in a good restaurant ... and there is no restaurant in Ontario that can compete with the backdrop of a Georgian Bay 30,000 Island sunset, eating a BBQ dinner while the boat swings at anchor. Bill will tell you all about it, but if you have never been out on Georgian Bay or seen one of Canada's most beautiful national parks in the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere, this is a great opportunity to go. Grab a few friends and make some memories cruising on Georgian Bay. Aside from being a commercially licensed Captain, Bill knows a lot about astronomy ... and on your way back to the marina, beneath the stars, he can give you a rundown on the COSMOS.
Our popular Sunset Dinner Cruises in the Heart of Georgian Bay are an ideal way to share and celebrate a special occasion. Our dinner cruises are private and personalized to provide cherished and lasting memories in one of Canada's National Parks. Although many of our dinner cruise guests are typically celebrating anniversaries and birthdays, they are a superb venue for relaxation and celebrating anything! They also make for a distinctive gift as we do provide COSMOS gift certificates.
|A Birthday Celebration
Our guests enjoy seven hours of afternoon/evening sailing, a gourmet dinner with appetizer/complimentary wine/dessert in the setting sun, and professional crew. Guests can choose from a wide variety of appetizers, entrees, desserts and wine for their gourmet dinner using our COSMOS Sunset Cruise Dinner Planner. There is also an "Other" section to allow for alternate selections.
| || |
We typically depart at 3:00 pm and return to the marina by 10:00 pm. We also accommodate changes to the start and end times according to our guests' preferences.
The typical itinerary has us sailing for two to three hours and then drop anchor in the tranquility of a calm and picturesque anchorage. Dinner is served over the next couple of hours and then we leave the anchorage and sail our way back to the marina.
When weather permits, we can also continue sailing while dinner is prepared and served and therefore not stop at an anchorage. Guests are encouraged to take part in sailing the vessel as much as they would like with guidance from their crew.
|Heart of Georgian Bay Sunset|
We are extremely fortunate with spectacular scenery in the vicinity where we sail on our dinner cruises! We are nestled in the south end of the infamous 30,000 Islands archipelago which is also a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve - only 16 such reserves in all of Canada.
Our dinner cruises treat our guests to sailing in the nearby Georgian Bay Islands National Park. We typically anchor in one of the many protected and scenic coves of Beausoleil Island, which is the largest of the 63 islands in the park.
|Dinner at Anchor
Our customer feedback is perhaps the best testimony on how much guests enjoy our sailing and dinner cruises which can be viewed on our website
The Heart of Georgian Bay has many national and international designations attesting to its uniqueness and special place on Earth.
Come join us for a memorable Sunset Dinner Cruise in the upcoming 2015 season in the Heart of Georgian Bay - you will be glad you did! To inquire, contact us at COSMOS Yacht Charters.
Captain Bill Everitt
10 March 2015
Volume 3, Issue 3
Sailing along on a beautiful sunny day, in a fresh breeze, in amongst the islands of Southern Georgian Bay is a blissful experience….until the next power boat happens by at full throttle - passing far too close and causing such a huge wake that everyone has to hang on as things go flying off the tables, counters and seats.
I am always amazed, and pissed off to say the least, at how disrespectful many power boaters can be as they whiz close by other boaters at full throttle. They have absolutely no regard for the large waves they create in their wakes, and what these waves do to other boaters.
If they even cared to look back behind them after passing another boat, they would easily see how much the boat they just passed got tossed side to side, often rolling as much as 30 degrees from port to starboard. The point is they don't care.
They are not doing this to aggravate only the sail boaters because they do this to other power boaters as well. After they exit their marina to head out to their favorite anchorage, they get up on a plane at full throttle and behave as if there is no one else on the water but themselves. Besides being disrespectful, it is selfish and ignorant of them to think the waterway is there only for their use.
We often say, and observe, power boaters in our area seem to have two speeds - stop and opened up at full throttle. A large part of the joy and beauty of boating is the journey to get there, not just the destination. Travelling at such high speeds means missing some of the natural surroundings and wildlife and observing other things that just get missed on account of the speed.
Moreover, if something goes wrong like running aground, the damage to the vessel is much greater the faster the speed. Navigation gets trickier because if you suddenly lost your way, you can get into much deeper trouble the faster you are travelling. The faster speed also means staying on the top of the navigation and position continuously since the benefit of having some extra time to respond in times of uncertainty is gone on account of the higher speed.
We note during every boating season that many power boats end up being hauled out at a marina to get their yachts repaired because they ran aground and wound up damaging their running gear - props, shafts, struts and transmissions in serious cases. Some of these unfortunate mishaps are caused by boaters simply travelling too fast for where they were – and boom – too late to respond because the higher speed robbed them of some extra precious time to recognize they were in trouble in the first place.
We sometimes have charter guests from the USA on our crewed charters. They inevitably comment how surprised they are on how fast and how close the power boats pass other vessels in the waterways we navigate and how close they pass to the shoreline. In their USA jurisdictions back home, there are strictly enforced defined limits on how much distance a vessel has to be when passing a shoreline and controlled distances and speeds when vessels encounter each other. Furthermore, their waterways are well policed and boaters are stopped and charged when they violate their regulations.
In comparison, our Southern Georgian Bay waterways are like the 'wild west'. There appear to be no regulations governing distances and speeds for vessels encountering or passing each other or proximity to shorelines. If there are any such regulations, they are ignored and not being enforced. Regardless of any regulations, it should be painfully obvious to any of the authorities that some boaters, power boaters in particular, are showing total disregard and respect to other boaters with their 'wild west' mentality as if they exclusively own the waterway.
Some may think I am just a crusty old sailor mad at power boaters because I can't go as fast as they can! Nothing could be further from the truth. As a professional boat delivery Captain for 13 years, most of my boat deliveries have been with power boats up to 74 feet throughout the Great Lakes, the North Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. Often boaters we encounter during deliveries call us on the VHF radio saying 'thanks' for the slow pass. It is the courteous and respectful thing to do. Before passing or encountering other boats, we routinely check the wake we are producing. We do this to judge whether or not we should slow down given the vessel we are about to encounter and the distance we are from that vessel.
True, sailors in yachts under 50 feet do have a big advantage in this regard because even at their top speed of say, 6-9 knots, they don't produce a wake big enough to bother other boaters. There are cases, though, that sail boaters need to slow down as well depending on the waterway and the vessels and shorelines they are encountering.
At any rate, by far, power boaters are the main culprits in this discussion because of the enormous wakes/waves they produce at higher speeds when encountering other vessels.
Simply put, boaters need to SLOW DOWN when near other vessels and adjust their speed while taking into account their closeness to other vessels and the size of the vessel they are encountering.
|Slow & Respctful|
Captain Bill Everitt
27 January 2015
Volume 3, Issue 2
ICE CAVES IN THE
|2014 Ice Cave off the shores of Giant Tomb's Island,|
Southern Georgian Bay
Last Winter of 2013-2014 was an exceptionally hard Winter for Ontarians. It has been noted by meteorologists as the toughest winter in Southern Ontario since 1977 when considering the amount of overall snowfall and sustained frigid temperatures.
Here in Midland, Ontario, once November 2013 rolled around, it started snowing and snowed almost every day until April. There were no midwinter thaws at all like we have been seeing this 2014-2015 Winter. In fact, it was so cold for so long, that 95% of the five Great Lakes were completely frozen over – which only happens about every 20 to 25 years. When the Great Lakes freeze over almost completely, it causes a considerable delay in the thawing of that ice in the springtime.
We typically start our Spring boat delivery service every year on May 1st, however last May in 2014 we could not depart for our first boat delivery until May 13 because Georgian Bay still had large streams of thick rotten lake ice flowing down the middle of Georgian Bay until mid-May.
When we finally did depart, there was still ice flows piled up in the southeast corner of Lake Huron - not in our intended course. We did encounter about 30 freighters anchored out at the south end of Lake Huron near Sarnia, ON. The ice in St. Mary's River and Lake Superior was still so prevalent that the freighters, which navigated up through the Great Lakes, had to sit it out waiting for more ice to melt further north. It was reported that the ice on Lake Superior was 12 feet thick in some places.
Besides being a very cold Winter, it was a protracted Spring with below normal temperatures which caused a further delay in the lake ice melt.
The upside to such a Winter as last year is great snowmobiling all Winter long, extended ice fishing season, terrific snowshoeing and skiing conditions, and the formation of incredibly beautiful naturally forming ice caves on Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes.
|Ice Cave in 2014, Giant Tomb's Island,|
Southern Georgian Bay
When I first saw some of the photos of the ice caves that had formed on the western side of Giant's Tomb Island, I was sure they were photos taken in the far away Artic Circle. Much to my surprise, these huge ice cave formations were in Midland's backyard - less than 20 miles from downtown Midland!
These ice caves form when snow and ice accumulate, creating huge ridges of ice along the shores of the lakes and other bodies of water. It takes the right conditions of sustained freezing temperatures, plenty of snow fall, and strong winds creating large waves that gradually freeze as they pile up along a shore line.
The western side of Giant's Tomb Island had ideal conditions last Winter where large waves would break as they come into shallower water along the shore and freeze as they reach higher and higher heights. Over time, the build-up of frozen waves starts to create large ice caves from the continual layering of ice and snow. Surge pressure from the icy water beneath the ice serves to help well up the ice ridges to higher heights.
Given the right conditions, as seen off the shores of Giant's Tomb Island, ice caves also developed in many other parts of the Great Lakes. Below is one spectacular ice cave that formed last Winter off the shores of Lake Superior.
|2014 Ice Cave, Lake Superior|
Below are local snowmobilers taking in the beauty of ice caves off the shores of Giant's Tomb Island.
Some snowmobilers uploaded their snowmobile trek to a YouTube video HERE using their smart phones thus giving the viewer a close-up of the many ice caves that had developed all along Giant's Tomb Island shoreline. Here is another YouTube video that combines neat cave video with music.
|Ice Cave in 2014, Giant Tomb's Island,|
It is doubtful this Winter will provide the weather conditions for the development of ice caves as plentiful and large as last year, but for many people that's OK because Spring cannot come soon enough!
Captain Bill Everitt
11 January 2015
Volume 3, Issue 1
BOATING IN THE
It looks like the boating season for 2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for boaters and new potential boaters for a number of compelling reasons.
Firstly, the water levels of Lake Huron / Georgian Bay are going in the right direction, from a boater's point of view, and the levels have not been this high in over 13 years! Currently the water level of Lake Huron/ Georgian Bay is 20 inches above chart datum (the water depths noted on nautical charters) and is forecasted by the US Army Corps of Engineers to reach 29 inches above chart datum by June of this year. Also the current water level is about 8 inches above the long term average depths - all good news!
This is also good news for those waterfront property owners who saw their beaches and shoreline levels recede in 2013 to the point where they couldn't bring their watercraft to their own docks because they were dry.
Secondly, the surprising tumble recently in crude oil prices has led to slowly falling fuel prices at the gas station pumps and should ultimately be lower for marine fuel at marinas in Ontario. For example, Bond Petroleum, who sell marine fuel to marinas in the Sarnia area are currently selling marine gas wholesale to its marina customers at $0.87 per liter. Since all the marinas are closed now, it is hard to know what the price will be at the retail level until the marinas open in the springtime.
It is reasonable to assume that, as the petroleum suppliers lower their wholesale prices to marinas, it will translate to lower marine fuel prices at the gas docks. Hopefully the marinas that operate on a 'cost plus' basis - meaning that if their wholesale fuel cost drops, so also will their retail fuel price drop. Typically, marinas will add a fixed percentage mark-up to their wholesale fuel cost to derive their retail price at their gas docks. If their wholesale fuel prices drop, then using a 'cost plus' accounting model should automatically translate to a lower retail fuel price at the gas docks.
It would be very short-sighted if they did not pass these wholesale fuel cost savings on to boaters as they occur. Failure to do so will be viewed by boaters as gouging the boater public and will not encourage more use of their boats.
Of course, we don't know how long the lower crude oil prices will last - that would be like trying to predict where the stock markets are heading! Some oil analysts are saying this trend will likely last awhile as it appears one of the reasons OPEC is deliberately lowering the crude oil price to squeeze out global high cost producers. Presumably, if they achieve the goal of squeezing out some global crude oil supply, they will in turn raise the crude oil price down the road. For the time being, at least, we can count on lower retail fuel prices. This will help put more money in everyone's pockets and hopefully help the economy, in particular the tourism sector, which has been very hard hit since 2008.
On the other hand, sticking to their 'cost plus' model will definitely translate to lower fuel prices at gas docks and will ultimately encourage boaters to use their boats a lot more - particularly true for power boaters who consume far more fuel than sail boaters. In fact the trend in recent years, with ridiculously high marine fuel prices, has seen many boaters with larger power boats leave their boats in the marinas and use them more like a cottage and take day trips with their tenders. Marinas who do drop their fuel prices at their gas docks commensurate with their lower wholesale fuel cost will get it back in spades by all the extras boaters will spend by using their boats more often!
The weakened Canadian dollar against the strengthening U.S. buck is another reality that should help encourage boating and tourism in general for Southern Georgian Bay.
American consumers can now enjoy a 15% currency exchange benefit from coming to Ontario for their vacation. In addition, the U.S. economy is picking up steam with some decent macro-economic numbers of recent, which means their consumer confidence will likely be higher and should trigger more discretionary spending for tourism. I know from personal experience how sensitive the currency exchange rate is when it comes to Americans coming to Canada for a vacation. The last 2014 season was the first season in ten years that we did not have any USA customers in our yacht charter business.
The current economic and environmental conditions are very favorable for people contemplating to enter the boating life and experience. As Ken MacDonald, Director of Marina Operations for Parkbridge Marinas wrote in their recent magazine, "A robust resale market for both power and sail alongside with dropping interest rates means there's no better time to put yourself in the driver's seat." Ken goes on to say, "Your boat is your cottage on the water and the view changes every day! Boating is affordable family fun." Perhaps there has been no better time in the last decade than now to jump in both feet to the boating world - especially on Georgian Bay!
We hope to see you in the Heart of Georgian Bay in 2015!!!
Captain Bill Everitt
13 December 2014
Volume 2, Issue 12
UPDATE ON BRANDING BEAUTIFUL GEORGIAN BAY
“THE HEART OF GEORGIAN BAY”
Last month I wrote (and ranted a bit!) about how two Southern Georgian Bay large scale studies over the past five years have indicated the dire need to address the brand awareness deficiency of this spectacular region.
I also wrote, in a previous 'Rant' article in March of this year, there are far too many names that identify the area of the four municipalities that make up so called 'Huronia'. The area is known by many names - Huronia; BruceGreySimcoe; Huronia Tourism; RTO7; Tourism Simcoe County; and the names of each of the four Towns and Townships.
With all these various names, the area has traditionally suffered from fragmented marketing efforts. This, in turn, causes the area to lack a clear destination image and appeal to attract more potential visitors from outside the area - which is the ultimate desired result from all the local studies made to date.
I went on to say we need to address the severe brand deficiency sooner rather than later. Once a unified and effectual brand name is created that vividly summons visitors to live, work and play in the region, all other marketing and promotional efforts can be in direct support of the new brand name...and that will make those efforts far more effective.
I am pleased to write a 'Rave' this month that a local ad-hock committee has taken the 'bull by the horns' so to speak and got the job done!
In September, a group of individuals and businesses that recognized the longstanding need for a strong and compelling brand name for the region got together in unison to create a new powerful brand name - namely, "The Heart of Georgian Bay". It also translates well into French as: “Au Coeur de la Baie Georgian”
This ad-hock branding committee was co-chaired by Eric Conroy, 'Captain' of the S.S. Keewatin, and Ken MacDonald, Regional Manager of the Parkbridge Marinas.
Many of the stakeholders in the Tourism business within the boundaries of Midland, Penetanguishene, Tiny and Tay Townships gave valuable input to the branding committee which grew rapidly by word of mouth.
Joining them in this noble endeavour was:
Michael Scherloski, from BrookLea Golf Club; Frank Papadopoulos, Balm Beach Business association; Barb Rowlandson, Butter Tart Festival; Wayne Coombs, Keewatin Marketing; Dave Wark, Bike Week; Nahanni Born, Huronia Museum; and CEO Jan Grey and marketing manager Gary Molnar, St. Marie among the Hurons. In addition, input was also received from the Martyrs' Shrine, the Wye Marsh, the Huronia Museum, Beausoleil First Nations, the Midland Cultural Centre, Discovery Harbour, Midland Tours, and the Boat House Eatery. The Committee also had input from the Province, the County and many operators from the area.
Skyline International Development, funder of the S.S. Keewatin project, donated the logo design and graphic work. Local Shop Midland secured the URL's. St. Marie among the Hurons provided the research. The many generous contributions of the volunteer stakeholders involved meant the re-branding project was completed at zero cost to Ontario tax payers!
As mentioned above, the Branding Committee grew from word of mouth and, after being approached by the newly formed Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe, they were well on their way to "getting the job done"! The Committee also met with Georgian College and several local radio stations. The committee had professional branding advice and many community meetings with universal support from everyone involved. Their sense of urgency was well demonstrated by the fact the Committee started their work in September and was concluded in November, 2014.
The consortium feel with this new brand concept, "The Heart of Georgian Bay", the area can compete well with other tourism destinations like Muskoka, Blue Mountain, Parry Sound and Wasaga Beach since it provides a unifying banner for four neighbouring municipal locations and their attractions and tourism offerings. It is also envisioned the new brand/slogan will help attract people to live in the area as well as attracting new start-up businesses. Having the words, "Georgian Bay" in the brand name is crucial because it is the Bay that makes the region such an extraordinary and distinctive place in Southern Ontario.
The Branding Committee/Group has just disbanded and is now putting together an Implementation Group to go out and knock on doors to sell it to every retailer and business in the area.
The plan is to have a major presentation of "The Heart of Georgian Bay" to the business and tourism community at large on January 21, 2015 at 10:00 am at the Midland Cultural Centre. They are creating a one hour presentation that will feature a 3 minute video plus a special song and jingle written by local popular singer-songwriter Noni Crete. The plan is for the presentation to be MC'd by media personalities. Each of the Mayors will be asked to speak and also someone from Tourism at the County level and from the Province. Coffee and snacks will be provided.
For a unique area that saw the first European settlements, became the gateway for building Western Canada and ultimately Confederation, this place blessed with natural resources, fertile land, sparkling waters and abounding activities is ready to take its place as "The Heart of Georgian Bay" and the playground of central Ontario.
The mission of "The Heart of Georgian Bay" is to brand, market and sell the area locally, provincially, nationally and globally as a premier living, leisure, and business destination to generate positive economic impact.
Being the "HEART" is the key since everyone wants to visit the "Heart" of any destination and now the Committee has claimed and trade marked the name and the URL's which are:
Everyone and every business in the area is invited and encouraged to join the movement and promote
as its new unifying and powerful brand/slogan!
Captain Bill Everitt
03 November 2014
Volume 2, Issue 11
BRANDING BEAUTIFUL SOUTHERN GEORGIAN BAY
There have been several initiatives over the past five years in the Southern Georgian Bay area to encourage and promote tourism to the area which in turn will lead to sustainable economic development, investment and prosperity. Goals have been established to increase the number of visitors to the area and also increase the length of time and money they spend during their visits.
There are 118 hospitality and tourism establishments as of December 2012 in Huronia – nearly half the amount of establishments present in 2008. The story is true for both Simcoe county and the province as well. The decrease in establishments can be attributed in large part to the impact of the economic recession in 2008-2009. Visitation to the Georgian Bay region did not drastically decrease, however, the length of stay in the region dropped from an average of 4-7 nights to 1-3 nights from 2008 to 2012.
For many years, Grey County Tourism (GCT) had been guided by an annual marketing plan, which includes setting annual goals, undertaking analysis of visitor markets and creating strategies to reach those markets. In 2008, The Grey County Tourism Committee determined that an Action Plan is needed to set quantifiable goals with measurable results and to take a broader and longer term view of Grey County's strategic roles in tourism. GCT hired a consulting firm, the Resource Management Group, to do an exhaustive study and provided a Destination Development Action Plan 2010. A 28 page report was completed in May, 2010.
In that report, the marketing section clearly identified there is a brand awareness problem for the region (Huronia and Simcoe County). They identified there are too many marketing brands for the area and are confusing for residents and visitors. The Grey County logo provides too much detail since an effective logo/brand needs to be simple, striking and memorable. The report goes on to recommend an updating of the County brand and develop marketing campaigns that promote the new brand. It recommended continuing to develop initiatives to recognize the Niagara Escarpment, Georgian Bay and the natural environment. The report states on page 15, “Grey County needs a common marketing voice.” The key benefit is a core message; One Brand = Strong, Simple, Forceful.”
Three years later, another 70 page exhaustive report was completed in late 2013 to advance economic development programming in the region. The report was commissioned by the Huronia Economic Alliance (HEA) which is comprised of four municipalities - Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay, and Tiny. HEA is focused on driving economic growth and investment in the region. They engaged a consulting firm, 'The Tourism Company', to complete the study of the region and produce the report. This report echoed very similar recommendations to the 28 page report of 2010 regarding the branding of the area\region. This report contained an elaborate SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities) analysis. In that analysis, there were two notable weaknesses of the region, that being “no brand identity” and “not a tourist destination”.
The report was not just a study of economic development for the region, but also contained an Economic Development Strategic Action Plan.
The report clearly stated that one of the key considerations in the delivery of a forward looking action plan for economic development in the Huronia region will be the capacity to deliver on an implementation plan. At the time the report was written (late 2013), there was no organizational structure with a mandate for economic development in the Huronia region that could act as a central resource or repository for an economic development program.
To that end, the Huronia Economic Alliance (HEA), based on the report's recommendations, did create a new Huronia Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) in order to provide the needed economic development services for the region and ensure a high level of accountability and transparency in the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan. A new Economic Development Officer was recently hired in August.
Hopefully, with the new Development Officer in place and the new Development Corporation, a priority will be given to establishing the 'Implementation Committee'. The Committee's mandate will be to ensure accountability to the implementation plan.
Their mandate will eventually include an exhaustive review of the lack of brand identity for the area which has been identified as a shortcoming five years ago in 2010, and underlined again in the 70 page report in 2013. I do worry about a top heavy bureaucracy that is caught up in 'analysis paralysis' to the point where we keep studying the subject ad infinitum and suffer from not 'getting it done!'.
One of the key recommendations of the Huronia Area Tourism Study was to:
“Complete the Huronia Touism Strategy initiative and establish an Implementation Committee to oversee the timely implementation of the strategy's recommendations.”
Invitation to sit on the Implementation Committee was made at the Tourism Summit that was held in Midland back in February of this year. The author (who owns a tourism business in the area) volunteered to sit on that committee and has not yet been contacted to attend any committee meetings.
As I wrote in a previous article in March of this year, there are far too many names that identify the area of the four municipalities that make up so called 'Huronia'. The area is known by many names - Huronia; BruceGreySimcoe; Huronia Tourism; RTO7; Tourism Simcoe County; and the names of each of the four Towns and Townships.
Currently, with all these various names, the area suffers from fragmented marketing efforts which in turn cause the area to lack a clear destination image and appeal to attract more potential visitors from outside the area – which is the ultimate desired result from all the studies made to date.
Let's face it, 'BruceGreySimcoe' really does nothing to tell folks from outside the area what the area has to offer. These are names of counties and therefore people from outside the area wouldn't typically know what these names mean. County boundaries are not usually what drive visitors to a particular area of interest.
The term, 'Huronia' has its own set of problems because of a derogatory meaning from the past having to do with the French labelling the native people back in the 1600's. At any rate, 'Huronia' really doesn't inspire outside visitors to come see what the area really offers either. None of these terms come close to describing the incredible natural beauty and grandeur of Georgian Bay.
It is envisioned the region will eventually be recognized provincially and nationally for its thriving tourism and cultural industries, with communities that offer a diverse range of rural, recreational and cultural experiences. Until we establish a unified and consistent branding of the area that resonates well with the public at large, this noble goal will be more difficult to achieve! We need to address the severe brand deficiency sooner rather than later. Urgency is imperative. Once a unified brand is created that summons visitors to the region, all other marketing and promotional efforts can be in direct support of the new brand and those efforts will be more effective. After analyzing this issue to death for five years, it is time to stop cutting bait ... and fish!
As the last consultant report stated, “The plan must not only reflect the uniqueness of the opportunities that exist in Huronia, but resonate with the communities at large.”
The fractious branding efforts currently in place do little to inspire and encourage new visitors to come to Georgian Bay.
It has been said many times, and by many people, that Georgian Bay is Ontario's best kept secret. The people who say this are typically folks who eventually visit Beautiful Georgian Bay and cannot believe what they have been missing!
The 2010 report, referenced above, did mention so called “Demand Generators”. The term is referring to venues in the area that will attract visitors. I know of no other "Demand Generator" better than 'Discover Beautiful Georgian Bay - Always in Season!”
Captain Bill Everitt
04 October 2014
Volume 2, Issue 10
THE LAST EDWARDIAN BUILT PASSENGER LINER STEAMSHIP IN THE WORLD
The S.S. Keewatin steamship was built and launched back in 1907 for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Glasgow, Scotland. She was built by the same culture and Edwardian tradition as the RMS Titanic and was built five years before the Titanic was launched. The Keewatin was delivered to the Great Lakes in 1907 and because it was so large, it passed through the Welland Canal in two parts (see pic below) and was later joined together in Buffalo, Lake Erie.
For 58 years, this incredible steamer served as the "railway" connecting Southern Georgian Bay to the upper Lake Superior rail heads in Thunder Bay, a two and a half day journey one way, and never missing a season. Initially, when she arrived in the Great Lakes, her home port was Owen Sound, ON in 1908. In 1912, a new sea port terminal opened up in Port McNicoll, ON, and the Keewatin then made that her home port for almost 60 years.
Port McNicoll was then known as the 'Chicago of the North' until the trains to Port McNicoll and the ships were discontinued in 1965, the year the Keewatin was retired from service in late 1965. Back in the day, the Keewatin service was the only way immigrants to Canada, equipment, and supplies could make their way to western Canada. Back then, the roadway and railway networks established by the 1950's did not exist, so the only way to get from Southern Ontario to the north was by way of steamship. Millions of tons of grain were also carried to market in the east on the downward trips.
With improvements in shipping technology throughout the 1950's, companies opted to ship their goods via train, plane and truck rather than relying upon ships for transport. At that time, the Keewatin (with her sister ship Assiniboia) began to focus more on tourist passenger transport as well as still carrying substantial grain loads at 1,600 tons per each downward trip from Thunder Bay back to Port McNicoll.
Port McNicoll had 60 cement grain elevators, each one about 40 feet across, to store the grain which would then be shipped via railway to markets in eastern Canada and the USA. These grain elevators were built in the early 1900's using gravel barged from the nearby Beausoleil Island, now a Canadian National Park since 1929. The pit where the gravel was taken can be seen today on the east side of Beausoleil near to what is now called 'Cedar Springs'.
The grain elevators today, sit again as another pile of gravel where they once stood high and mighty. They were demolished and retuned back to gravel and concrete dust in 2009 to make room for future development of Port McNicoll. Skyline Developments have plans to build a hotel and conference centre on the site where the 60 grain elevators once stood tall and seemingly indestructible.
When the S.S. Keewatin was retired from service in November, 1965, she was headed for the scrap yard. In 1967 the Keewatin was saved from a dishonourable end when R. J. Peterson of Douglas, Michigan, purchased the ship. As a marina owner and Great Lakes Historian, Mr. Peterson borrowed the funds (paid a bit more than the scrap value), bought the ship and the S.S. Keewatin was towed by tugs to the Kalamazoo River where it empties into Lake Michigan. There, in Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan, she was established as a floating Maritime Museum and was cared for by the Petersons for 45 years.
In August of 2011, with the financial assistance of Port McNicoll developer Gil Blutrich, the 'Friends of Keewatin' had the opportunity to purchase Keewatin from an aging Peterson. It took ten months to dig her out of the Kalamazoo River because, over 45 years, the river had silted in and was not deep enough for the Keewatin to float back into Lake Michigan without serious dredging of the river. In fact there were grave concerns at one point, when taking her down the river; the ship may fall over on her side when she ran aground as shown in the picture below.
In June of 2012, the S.S. Keewatin, also known as the “Kee”, made her triumphant return to Port McNicoll to the delight of thousands of waiting fans.
On 23rd June, 2012, at 1:30 pm she was returned to her home port in Port McNicoll for restoration and permanent display again as a floating Maritime Museum and event facility. The triumphant return date to her home port on the 23rd June, 2012 was significant as it had been 45 years since the Keewatin left Port McNicoll and precisely 100 years ago, to the day and the hour, that she began working from the same port.
The Keewatin now stands not only as the last remaining Great Lakes Steamship Passenger liner, but also the last of the Edwardian built passenger liner steamships anywhere in the world! Thanks to the new owner and the 'Friends of the Keewatin', the S.S. Keewatin tours take visitors on a remarkable experience of a bygone era - a truly treasured piece of our Canadian history - on a ship that was once was the envy of the cruise business on the Great lakes. Taking these extraordinary tours is like stepping back into a time zone over a hundred years ago.
The 'Friends of the Keewatin' is a non-profit organization of volunteers who willingly donate their time restoring the ship and providing the daily tours seven days a week from May to October. To date, approximately 150 volunteers have donated over 10,000 hours of work restoring the ship. They are doing a remarkable job in the ship's restoration both in terms of setting up the guest staterooms and other major rooms as they were in 1908, and continuing to restore mechanical functions of the ship. The latest
mechanical restoration project is getting the ship's steam whistle to blow again (using compressed air as opposed to steam). Thanks to the generosity of the new owner of the Keewatin, all of the monies raised from the guided tour revenues are used for the ongoing restoration and preservation of the ship.
A visit of the "Kee" is comprised of two tours. An upper deck tour takes about 90 minutes under the guidance of well trained and dedicated tour guides who take visitors through the two main decks where they see the dining room, kitchens, ladies smoking lounge, the crew quarters, state rooms, Flower Pot Lounge, bar and ballroom. It will be followed by visits to the Captain's Quarters and a radio museum featuring a working wireless and all-weather radar, which will open in 2015.
The second tour is optional and takes 30 minutes and is comprised of the grain holds, coal bunkers, Scotch Boilers and a working 3,200 horsepower quadruple expansion steam engine similar to what was on the Titanic and the last one in the world in existence.
The author highly recommends the Keewatin tours at only $15.00 per adult for the upper decks, and $7.00 for the engine room tour - $20.00 per adult for both tours combined. Students are $7.50 for the upper decks tour and $4.00 for the engine room tour. Children under 15 years are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
TAKE A GHOST TOUR
The Keewatin is known as the most haunted ship in the entire western hemisphere. Her stories of paranormal experiences were reported as early as 1910 when passengers began to account for strange sensations, odd sounds, and visions of people dressed as if it were centuries before. Paranormal experts have documented extremely high levels of spirit activity all over the ship. Visitors to the ship can feel drops in temperature and rapid shifts in the energy field between rooms and within the labyrinth of chambers.
You can visit the Keewatin and witness the energy wands with the guidance of their experts to see for yourself the phenomena. Some of you may cross paths with the famous ship spirit 'Rosie' who might just grace you with a dance if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
This October 10th and 24th, the "Kee" will open her doors in the evening for Ghost Tours. 'Friends of the Keewatin' are offering 50 individuals per night the opportunity to walk the ships decks once the sun has set. These lantern guided tours will show off the glory and beauty of this vessel while stirring up the night energies! Tickets are $10.00 (same for children and seniors).
Tickets can be purchased on the ship or by calling (705) 302-6162.
Captain Bill Everitt
09 September 2014
Volume 2, Issue 9
UPPER GREAT LAKES WATER LEVELS UPDATE
I last wrote an article on the water levels of the Upper Great Lakes back in May of last year. At that time, we had just seen the lowest recorded water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron in January, 2013 when it was 0.42 meters (16 inches) below Chart Datum. Chart Datum is the water depths shown on nautical charts. Units of measure can be in feet, meters or fathoms – depending on the chart. This meant that the actual water depths were 16 inches lower than what the nautical chart indicated. Boaters had to stay very mindful of this fact as they navigated through shallower waters, recognizing they did not have the water depths indicated on the charts.
Today, Lakes Michigan/Huron are at 0.53 meters (21 inches) ABOVE Chart Datum. That is a 0.95 meter (37 inches) increase in water depths for Michigan/Huron from January 2013 to the present time. So how did we get such an increase in water depths in only twenty months? The answer appears to be nature looking after this problem without human intervention.
The International Joint Commission ( IJC) is a bi-national organization established by the United States and Canada over a hundred years ago. Its purpose is to advise Canada and the United States on questions about water resources and help prevent and resolve disputes about the use and quality of boundary waters which includes the five Great Lakes. Although the IJC issued a press release early last year recommending that both Canada and the USA investigate structural options (like concrete sills) to be installed in the river bed of the St. Clair River to slow down the flow of water out of Lake Huron, that has yet to happen. The IJC recommended it because they believed these sills placed in the riverbed could help bring Huron and Michigan water levels up by 10 to 20 inches.
So, we didn't get the sills installed, and yet we got a water level rise of 37 inches as mentioned above. Part of the natural explanation is the severe winter of 2013-2014 wherein 95% of all five Great Lakes had frozen over – which typically only happens every 20-25 years. By having all the lakes frozen over, there is less water loss due to evaporation. Also, there were record snow fall amounts producing huge snow packs on the ice covered lakes and the land.
The consistent freezing temperatures meant no winter thaws, so all the snow that fell through the winter had accumulated on land and over the lakes. This meant for a huge Spring melt run-off from all the rivers, lakes and streams that feed into Lakes Michigan and Lake Huron/Georgian Bay. In addition, the melting of the ice/snow covered lakes contributed to adding more water, thus raising levels. It was a very cold protracted Spring in southern Ontario which was a big help in preventing worse flooding situations.
I typically do boat deliveries in the Spring and our first one usually starts no later than May 1st. Not this year! Georgian Bay was not cleared of huge streams of rotten thick lake ice until the middle of May. Lake Superior is said to have places where the ice was 12 feet thick. Just in the Tiffin Basin, here in Midland, the ice was over 42 inches thick.
Another thing that helped raise the water levels is the wet weather pattern that has been with us for most of the past year which continued through August and into the first week of September. As a result Lakes Michigan/Huron water levels haven`t experienced their historic cyclical drop in August. In fact, levels are up two inches over the past month.
Lake Huron/Georgian Bay water levels are now 18 inches higher than this time last year and 21 inches above Chart Datum. Of course it has to be said that Michigan and Huron continue to lag the other Great Lakes on water levels based on long term averages – so we are not 'out of the woods' yet. Some of this can be explained by the fact the lower Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie, have received more precipitation over the past three decades than the upper lakes - Michigan, Huron and Superior. Weather patterns over the last 30 years have simply caused more rainfall over Lakes Ontario and Erie.
On the Great Lakes, the average annual evaporation from the lake surface is almost equivalent to the average annual precipitation onto the lake surface. More evaporation tends to happen in the Fall and early Winter when the air above the lakes is cold and dry and the lakes are relatively warm. The onset of our harsh Winter early last November meant less lake evaporation taking place, and more water being stored on the surface in the form of ice and snow pack. The protracted melting of the ice in the Spring also helped reduce lake evaporation since it took much longer than normal for the ice flows to melt away. On May 15th last year, there were over 25 freighters anchored out at the bottom of Lake Huron (just north of Sarnia) because they could not head up into the St. Mary's River and onto Lake Superior on account of too much ice still present in the upper waterways.
Although nature seems to be doing a fine job this year in restoring our water levels, I believe the IJC is on the right track in advising Canada and the USA to consider the structural option for the sea bed of the St. Clair River. There is also been a proposal for a river flap gate that would be used to reduce the river current. Concerns about the effects downstream cannot be ignored. We also cannot ignore the fact human activity has indeed been a contributor to the historic low water levels for Michigan and Huron/Georgian Bay.
Human made factors known include the manipulation of the St. Clair River over the past 100 years. In the early 1900's there was gravel and sand mining done along its shores. Furthermore, there has been dredging done on the river since the 1930's to make it deeper for freighter traffic. There has been shoreline hardening (vertical seawalls established) along the USA side of the river. All of these activities have led to erosion in the St. Clair River, especially the river bed. This continual erosion causes the flow of water to increase dramatically, thus draining more water out of Lakes Huron and Michigan.
Ironically, it is only in recent times that flow meters were placed on the USA side of the St. Clair River to monitor water flow rates. Canada needs to do the same on its side to have a more accurate picture of water flow. I strongly believe the need to continually monitor water flows is imperative so that we could ascertain the benefit of any human intervention (like installing sills) before and after. The other thing to point out is the St. Clair River was dredged again in 1999. The long range graph of water levels for Michigan and Huron shows a steady decline after 1999. In addition, all five Great Lakes lost a meter of water in the Fall of 2001. We have never got that water back yet.
What has been troubling is when we look at the long rage graph of Michigan/Huron water levels back to 1918, we do see a consistent cyclical pattern of higher water and lower water levels over time. In the last 15 years (since 1999), we do not see the past pattern of where the water starts to come back up – and therein lies the rub. Enough time has now gone by that we should have already been seeing the water level trending higher – but it isn't – at least not until this year. What is somewhat encouraging is the fact the current Michigan/Huron water levels are the highest they have been in the past 15 years. So, does this mean we are headed back to higher water levels that pre-date 1962? Who knows?
What we do know is a huge single contributor to declining water levels is changing climate patterns, which researchers estimate took nine to 17 centimetres out of Huron and Michigan between 1963 and 2007, in part because a trend toward shorter winters and hotter, drier summers has contributed to greater evaporation from the Great Lakes.
Since Lakes Ontario and Erie get more precipitation (over the past 30 years) than the Upper Lakes, their water levels are not as low.
Perhaps we will get another year ahead, like this past year, with a ton of snow, ice and rain that will continue to help the water levels rise for the Upper Great Lakes. What if that doesn't happen? That's why the human intervention idea should still be on the table and efforts should be made to at least try something to curb the flow of water in the St. Clair River - and, of course, measure before and after so the after effects are well known and understood.
Captain Bill Everitt
03 August 2014
Volume 2, Issue 8
The Southern Georgian Bay region played host to a vast array of events, activities and projects from 2013 through this year to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The focus has been on our region's rich military and marine heritage. The highlight for 2013 was the return of Tall Ships® to the Southern Georgian Bay region as part of the TALL SHIPS® 1812 Tour. This year Discovery Harbour's highlight is a spectacular “Festival of Peace” special event August 9-10, offering an exciting weekend family experience with music, loads of activities on the historic site, and much more.
"FESTIVAL OF PEACE"
The southern Georgian Bay region had a huge impact on the outcome of the war of 1812 and indeed helped shape Canadian history. Discovery Harbour, which played a strategic role in the war, is a naval base established in Penetanguishene. A major settlement road to the area and the naval base were key aspects in helping defend southern Ontario (Upper Canada at the time). Although history shows both sides claim victory in this war, it was pivotal in the later formation of the Confederation of Canada in 1867.
The "Festival of Peace" activities start, on Friday August 8, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. the public is welcome to attend an Ontario Heritage Trust provincial plaque unveiling commemorating the Naval and Military Establishment on Lake Huron and a Peace Garden dedication at the main entrance to Discovery Harbour. The weekend "Festival of Peace" August 9-10 then has a great line-up of live music on the historic site. The picturesque shoreline will be filled with music from performances by Tamarack, The Nonie Thompson Band, Doug Feaver, Celtic Harpist Ruth Sutherland, Lefaive family bands ARIKO and Les Coureurs de Bois, and Discovery Harbour's own Salty Sailor Singers.
Visitors can also see the fabulous work of over 300 regional volunteer knitters/crocheters who contributed to the woolly “Yarn Bombing” project, making Discovery Harbour the first historic site “Yarn Bombed” from one end to the other in Canada.
Discovery Harbour will present a spectacular Saturday evening outdoor concert with award winning Canadian artists "Masters of the Fiddle" NATALIE MACMASTER AND DONNELL LEAHY, plus the opening act will be The Devin Cuddy Band. Tickets are only $20 per person and still available by calling (705) 526-7838 or purchase directly atDiscovery Harbour and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. The evening will be celebrated with a spectacular fireworks show at 10:30 p.m. lighting up the August sky over Georgian Bay.
|Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy|
The daytime events will feature hands-on activities for children and many demonstrations as well historic dockyard activities. Pioneer baking, historic clothing demonstrations, and displays/activities from local community groups will be part of the festivities. A food and beer tent operated by the Rotary Club of Penetanguishene will also be on-site throughout the weekend and during the evening concert. As part of the celebrations, free daytime admission will be offered to past and present Canadian Military personnel on August 8 through 10. Free shuttle buses will be available throughout the event from parking lots generously provided by Techform Products Limited on Centennial Drive, Penetanguishene.
|"FESTIVAL OF PEACE" - Children Activities
Come and celebrate with others the 200 Years of Peace during Penetanguishene's special bicentennial anniversary year!
For more information about the War of 1812, go here.
Captain Bill Everitt
01 July 2014
Volume 2, Issue 7
One of my all time favourite anchorages is the Wingfield Basin anchorage on the northeast corner of the Bruce Peninsula, which is also a Provincial Nature Reserve and very close to Canada's Bruce Peninsula National Park just west of the Reserve. It is also known as the Cabot Head where there is a large lighthouse (Cabot Head Lighthouse) which is also a museum open during the summer months for visitors to tour and enjoy. The museum harbours the original kerosene light that once was on top of the lighthouse in the last century as well as many other ancient artefacts and some incredible pictures of an era gone by. On the top of the museum, there is a spectacular lookout that gives the observer a breathtaking panoramic view of Georgian Bay and the many limestone bluffs in the area. If you need to make or receive cell phone calls, this is the place to do it! Cell coverage in this anchorage itself is very poor due to the 100+ meter limestone bluffs that surround the anchorage - which create cell phone tower interference ... but makes for incredible natural scenery second to none!
The lighthouse is well managed by a non-profit organization dedicated to preserve this unique area of the Bruce Peninsula not well known by Ontarians. One can reach this locations by car on a remote gravel road. The lighthouse keepers residence is staffed by various people who book a week at a time during the summer months who care for the grounds and supervise the museum visitations. Donations are encouraged and appreciated in the museum entrance.
This anchorage is a natural basin providing excellent protection for winds and waves from any direction. It is well marked with red lit range markers, and three sets of red and green buoys. The depths entering with current Georgian Bay water levels is 12 feet minimum. The rocky bottom entrance was dredged in the 1890's to allow larger vessels to enter this natural harbour. The author has entered this anchorage, in the past, at night in a major storm and had little difficulty navigating into the anchorage. The anchorage itself has a very good holding with a mud and clay bottom and between 8 and 12 feet of water throughout the basin. The best spots to anchor are to the west side of the anchorage as one enters the basin – do not venture towards the east side of the basin as that is too shallow for anchoring, but fine to go by dinghy. Wingfield Basin can be seen on chart # 2282 - the inset on the chart has a large scale view of the basin and its entrance.
The location of this anchorage provides an excellent refuge in heavy weather for boaters travelling from Southern Georgian Bay and headed to Lake Huron or the North Channel. Alternatively, it provides the same refuge for boaters coming the other way travelling from Lake Huron or the North Channel and headed to anywhere in Southern Georgian Bay.
There is lots to see and do at this anchorage. There is an old wooden steamer called the “Gargantua” that is sunk and tucked away in the northwest corner of the basin. Back in the late 1800's it had caught fire and was laid to rest in the Wingfield Basin. Today, the vessel provides a home for numerous barn swallows, a family of beavers, lots of other wildlife, and a great fish habitat. Some boats in the anchorage will actually raft (tie up) to the “Gargantua” on its south side.
In the Basin, there is the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory that does have open house tours at varying times of the season – schedule can be seen here: There are scores of hiking trails in the area. As a matter of fact, there is a hiking trail (not well marked) that hikers can climb to the top of the 'Middle Bluff' which is over a 100 meters high with an unbelievable view of the basin itself and Georgian Bay.
Captain Bill Everitt
09 June 2014
Volume 2, Issue 6
GEORGIAN BAY AND THE LIMESTONE CLIFFS
Did you know the 300+ foot limestone cliffs on the northern shores of the Bruce Peninsula in Georgian Bay are actually made of bone? Yes, that's right, limestone rock is actually compressed primordial squid known as cephalopods as well as other marine creatures.
|GEORGIAN BAY LIMESTONE CLIFFS|
Trillions of these cephalopods were in the primordial sea 400 million years ago. Over the eons of time, their bodies settled to the bottom of the sea and with time and pressure, they were compressed and produced the limestone rock we see today.
If you have ever had the chance to smash a piece of limestone rock on another rock, you probably noticed the rock is chalky and produces a whitish powder on impact. That's because the rock is actually made of bone of those compressed primordial squid and marine creatures. How could it be that the gigantic limestone cliffs we observe today came from a salt water primordial sea?
Earlier in the last century, it was discovered that the earth's continents are slowly moving over its surface. This phenomenon is known as "plate tectonics," and through its study we have determined that since these limestone rocks were formed, our continent has drifted quite a distance over the earth's surface.
Way back then, the land around here on Georgian Bay was down near the equator – very hard to imagine! The land mass has moved north and now we're about halfway between the equator and the North Pole.
Back in those days, 400 million years ago, there were great coral reefs here. The shells of those countless marine creatures, made largely of calcium, built up for millions of years. As the sea slowly dried up, magnesium in the water infiltrated the calcareous ooze, causing it to eventually turn into dolomite, which is similar to limestone but harder.
These rocks formed in a warm, shallow sea much like the Gulf of Mexico today, at a time when fish with backbones were the latest thing, and the first primitive land plants were appearing.
Many years ago, the waters of Georgian Bay were much higher than today's levels. Over eons of time as the water receded, wind, rain and wave action eroded the limestone rock along the shores of the Bruce Peninsula. As the softer limestone eroded, the harder dolomite was more resistant to erosion, thus causing pillars of rock to form creating the infamous 'Flower Pots' on the eastern shores of Flower Pot Island.
|FLOWER POT' ON FLOWER POT ISLAND
In addition, there are many large hollowed out sea caves in the middle of Flower Pot Island that are living proof the water was much higher in the past and as it receded over thousands of years) it created the huge sea caves we witness today.
|FROM INSIDE A LARGE SEA CAVE ON FLOWER POT ISLAND
On many of the limestone cliffs along the northern shore of the Bruce Peninsula, there are several places where more 'Flower Pot' like structures have been formed and are easily seen when viewed from the water.
Many of them are not completely self-standing like the two flower pots seen on Flower Pot Island. They appear as tall circular limestone structures and are attached to the cliff from which they prominently jut out making for spectacular viewing when passing by on a boat. The water is very deep along this rugged shoreline and the depth carries very close to the shore, thus permitting boaters to follow the shoreline close up and take in the incredible natural beauty of these 400 million year old limestone cliffs.
Captain Bill Everitt
05 May 2014
Volume 2, Issue 5
GEORGIAN BAY AND THE STARS
One of the best things about Georgian Bay is there is very little ambient light pollution in much of its territory which makes it an ideal location for star gazing, planet watching, observing meteor showers and constellations as well as observing 'Aurora Borealis' also known as the Northern Lights in the North and 'Aurora Australis' in the South
In more populated centers like towns and cities, there is a lot of ambient light pollution which comes from such things as street lamps, buildings lit up at night, residences, businesses and the like. This ambient light tends to obscure our view of the night sky as the photons of light emanate upwards into the sky and make it much harder to see fainter objects in the night sky. Essentially our vision of the night sky is impaired in accordance with how much light is present outdoors at the Earth's surface.
We have all witnessed a good example of how light pollution can obscure our view at night. If you are inside your home at night and are trying to peer out a window to see something outside, recall how much harder it is to observe something outside when you have your inside light on in the room where you are making the observation. The brighter the lights are inside, the more your view outside is hampered. When you make the room pitch black with no lights on at all, your view of the outside becomes much greater with better clarity.
So it goes with Georgian Bay. Many of the places all around Georgian Bay are in their natural state without any human activity present, and therefore no ambient light pollution is being generated. In such places, it is ideal conditions to observe the clear night sky. Many of the anchorages that boaters visit on Georgian Bay have access only by water. This means no towns or roads are nearby, and therefore no street lights present and no other human generated light is present. Since Georgian Bay has 3 National Parks, 16 Provincial Parks, numerous conservation areas, many native reserves and two UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves, it means there is plenty of land and islands that have little or no human activity.
When at anchor on a clear night, looking up to the sky reveals a spectacular panorama of our Milky Way and the billions of stars contained therein. It is an incredibly different view of the night sky when observed from inside a town or city as compared to viewing the heavens in and around Georgian Bay.
All we need to do is…..remember to look up at night! This reminds of a time back in the late 1970's when I would visit the Astronomical Observatory on the top of Mount Mégantic (not far from the town of Lac Mégantic) in southeastern Quebec where I used to live. It has the second largest telescope in Eastern Canada - second to the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill. It always amazed me that while we would be waiting in a long line outside to enter the Observatory to view celestial objects through its 1.6 meter mirror, the biggest show and excitement was outside in the long lineup. With absolutely no ambient light pollution on the top of Mount Mégantic, which is at elevation 3,520 feet, the view of the pitch black night sky was absolutely breath taking ... for those who cared to look up!
What I had noticed is that many of the folks waiting in this long line-up to peer through the large telescope had not been looking up into the night sky UNTIL they got in this long line-up and didn't have much else to do - might as well look-up - since others seem to be doing that!. Of course, since they had already driven up this steep mountain to peer through a large telescope, they were showing some interest in observing the night sky. Based on people's reactions, what they were saying, and their sheer excitement about the night sky, I could tell this was their first time they had ever looked up at the night sky!
So don't be like those folks that were waiting in line to peer through a telescope and never took the opportunity to gaze up into a clear night sky - which can be really done from anywhere. Of course, a huge part of Georgian Bay has that same observation advantage as the top of Mount Mégantic given the absence of human created light pollution.
|MOUNT MÉGANTIC OBSERVATORY
So, the next time you are out on Georgian Bay, whether boating, hiking, camping or at the cottage, and it is a clear night – don't forget to look up and gaze for a while at the crystal clear and brilliant night sky! The best observations are made when the moon is not visible, just like ambient light pollution on the ground, moonlight tends to obscure the view somewhat.
When the moon is not visible, and it is a clear night, there still seems to be light coming from the sky. Many people think this light comes from the billions of stars that we see in the sky – the star light. In actual fact, the light from the distant stars we see in the galaxy is not bringing us the apparent light we observe. The star light is too far away and therefore too weak to cause the apparent light we observe from the ground. Instead, it is the scattered sun light bouncing off dust particles in the Earth's atmosphere that brings us most of the light emanating from the night sky on a clear night with no moon light.
Speaking of light in the night sky, it is actually possible to see the orbiting international space station (ISS) at night on a clear night when one knows where and when to look for it. I have seen it on a number of occasions and it resembles a lot like what an orbiting satellite looks like. The ISS and the satellites are high enough in the Earth orbit to have sunlight reflecting off them even though we are observing them at nighttime. It is the same principle that gives us reflected sunlight off the moon at night and the reflected sunlight we see from the other planets orbiting the Sun.
There will soon be another human-made spacecraft orbiting Earth that we will also be able to see travelling across the night sky showing reflected sunlight.
The name of our charter company, COSMOS Yacht Charters that started in 2006, was inspired after the first solar sail spacecraft ever constructed in human history named COSMOS 1.
The Planetary Society, the largest non-profit space advocacy organization with over 40,000 members in 100 countries, initiated the solar sail spacecraft idea. The author has been a longstanding member for 30 years.
Built in Russia, COSMOS 1 was designed to soar into space at the tip of a submarine-launched rocket. There it was to spread its giant wings, and fly/sail on the power of sunlight pressure alone. In July 2005, a mishap during launch with a failed first stage rocket, the spacecraft did not enter into Earth orbit. Despite the first solar sail COSMOS 1 setback, more solar sail space crafts will be launched in the near future. The more recent Planetary Society project for the solar sail spacecraft is LightSail-1.
It is imagined that solar sailing will one day be the answer to interstellar travel within our galaxy because huge amounts of rocket fuel will not be necessary to travel vast distances through space. A solar sail, simply put, is a spacecraft that is pushed forward simply by photons of light from a star like our Sun. Energy is transferred to the solar space sail as the photon first hits the sail surface. There is a second, albeit tiny, force exerted on the sail as the photon particle bounces off the space sail.
The mathematics and physics do indicate that a solar sail in space will continue to increase its speed over time, eventually being able to exceed speeds far greater than any rocket fuel or nuclear propelled space craft built to date, and ten times faster than the Voyager space crafts that are now travelling outside our solar system at 35,000 miles an hour.
The LightSail-1, to be launched high into Earth's orbit, will test this theory and verify its ability to increase speed with the solar pressure emanating from a star, in this case, our Sun. Just as in terrestrial 'down to Earth' sailing where you hoist or unfurl your sails and catch the wind, in space you hoist your solar space sails and catch the light.
|SPACE SOLAR SAIL
So one day, as you don't forget to look up while observing the brilliant night sky on Georgian Bay, you will eventually be able to see the first solar space sail literally solar sailing across the clear night sky! We will cover where and when to observe LightSail-1 in the night sky in a future Captain's Rant article once the solar sail is launched and in Earth's orbit.
Captain Bill Everitt
04 April 2014
Volume 2, Issue 4
EXPLORE 'BEAUTIFUL GEORGIAN BAY'
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL DESIGNATIONS
Living testimony that Georgian Bay is a unique and special place on the planet is the fact it has been granted over the many years several prestigious national and international designations - which frankly do not happen by accident.
Every one of these designations requires stringent qualifications to be honored with such recognition. Georgian Bay's 30,000 Islands archipelago and the Niagara Escarpment of the Bruce Peninsula are both designated as United Nations (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserves. There are only 16 of these Biosphere Reserve designations in all of Canada.
Perhaps describing what is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and just how an area qualifies would help underline the uniqueness and treasure of Georgian Bay.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), is a specialised agency of the United Nations system. UNESCO is also well known as the "intellectual" agency of the United Nations.
The organization was created more than a half century ago, with the mission to build the defences of peace in the minds of men and women. Its Constitution states that:
“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”, its more gender inclusive slogan today is, “Building peace in the minds of men and women" – a very noble pursuit for sure given all the wars on Earth that are being waged today. I could rant about mankind's forever raging wars, but would rather concentrate on UNESCO's longstanding efforts to promote world peace among all humans on earth.
The UNESCO Constitution was adopted by the London Conference in November 1945, and entered into effect on the 4th of November 1946 when 20 states had deposited instruments of acceptance, Canada being one of those 20 states that signed on at that time.
Launched in 1971, UNESCO's “Man and the Biosphere Programme” (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments. It proposes interdisciplinary research, demonstration and training in natural resources management.
The MAB Programme develops the basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational and sustainable use and conservation of the resources of the earth's biosphere and for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and their environment. It predicts the consequences of today's actions on tomorrow's world and thereby increases people's ability to efficiently manage natural resources for the sustained well-being of both human populations and the environment.
The MAB Programme aims to set a scientific basis for the improvement of the relationships between people and environment on a global basis.
To that end, MAB now has a World Network of Biosphere Reserves that currently counts 621 biosphere reserves in 117 countries all over the world. The first biosphere reserve designations started in 1976 when the first sites of excellence were recognized.
|UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Global Locations|
There is a formal application process for any nation state that would like to have an area designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
General criteria for an area to be qualified for designation as a biosphere reserve:
1. It should encompass a mosaic of ecological systems representative of major biogeographic regions, including a gradation of human interventions.
2. It should be of significance for biological diversity conservation.
3. It should provide an opportunity to explore and demonstrate approaches to sustainable development on a regional scale.
4. It should have an appropriate size to serve the three functions of biosphere reserves,
namely: conservation, development, and logistical support.
5. It should include these functions, through appropriate zonation, recognizing:
(a) a legally constituted core area or areas devoted to long-term protection, according to the conservation objectives of the biosphere reserve, and of sufficient size to meet these objectives;
(b) a buffer zone or zones clearly identified and surrounding or contiguous to the core area or areas, where only activities compatible with the conservation objectives can take place;
(c) an outer transition area where sustainable resource management practices are promoted and developed.
6. Organizational arrangements should be provided for the involvement and participation of a suitable range of public authorities, local communities and private interests in the design and carrying out the functions of a biosphere reserve.
In addition, provisions should be made for:
(a) mechanisms to manage human use and activities in the buffer zone or zones;
(b) a management policy or plan for the area as a biosphere reserve;
(c) a designated authority or mechanism to implement this policy or plan;
(d) programs for research, monitoring, education and training.
Georgian Bay's 30,000 island archipelago and the Niagara Escarpment had to meet all these criteria. Areas that already have some protective classifications before being granted the world biosphere reserve designation certainly help to meet the general criteria. For example, the 30,000 islands area has within its boundaries one National Park, five Provincial Parks, and numerous Provincial Conservation Reserves. This already shows a deep and longstanding commitment to preserve and protect natural habitat for wildlife and for human participation and benefit.
So, it is easy to see that gaining a UNESCO world biosphere reserve designation is testimony to a very unique and special place on the planet. It is a place that is committed to biological diversity, conservation, and sustainable development of resources where humans can live and play in harmony with the environment which sustains us.
The 30,000 islands area obtained the designation in 2004 and the Niagara Escarpment in 1990. Of the 16 biosphere reserves in Canada, 10 were designated since year 2000. Our more recent Canadian designation was the Bras d'Or Lake on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia which was awarded in 2011.
There is an international monitoring program in place. It provides quality control oversight as each biosphere reserve must be periodically reviewed every 10 years to ensure ongoing effectiveness, compliance to the criteria, to correct any deficiencies, to recognize good conformance, and promote best practices. Any biosphere reserve that does not conform to the criteria during the review is given reasonable time to correct any deficiencies. If they are still non-conforming after that, the area will lose its designation.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves is the largest network of protected areas in the world, with a surface area of over five million square kilometres.
Biosphere Reserves demonstrate an intelligent balance between conservation and development given a reserve must have one or more protected core areas that conserve significant ecological features for future generations.
In addition to the biosphere reserves, Georgian Bay boasts two out of 44 Canadian National Parks in its midst - The Georgian Bay Islands National Park and the Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Moreover, Canada's first National Marine Park and Marine Conservation Area - 'Fathom Five' - is on Georgian Bay. The criterion for becoming a National or Provincial Park involves meeting certain minimum standards of compliance, many having to do with the natural and cultural heritage preservation. Some of the criteria are similar to biosphere reserve criteria.
The Georgian Bay Islands National Park was created in 1929, and the Bruce Peninsula National Park was created in 1987.
Canada is no stranger to the creation of National Parks. Canada celebrated, in 2011, the hundred year anniversary of the establishment of a national parks service which was established in 1911. In fact, Canada was the first country on earth to create a national parks service and, fortunately, many countries since then have followed our lead.
The fact there is very little industry activity on Georgian Bay means the waters are clean and crystal clear with a naturally sustained fishery habitat. The limestone topography of the Bruce Peninsula on Georgian Bay helps keep the water more basic (less acid) and therefore more eco-friendly to marine life. It also helps give it the crystal clear clarity and amazing colours often imitating tropical water colors in and around the Bruce Peninsula and beyond.
All of these National and Provincial park lands, along with the conservation and biosphere reserves around Georgian Bay, make for one of the best boating and exploring areas of the world.
It is no wonder why exploring Georgian Bay is an exhilarating experience that brings many boaters and visitors, for generations, back time and time again throughout their entire lifetimes.
Be sure you have this exceptional area of Ontario on your 'Bucket List', as you will undoubtedly be very glad you did!
|Georgian Bay 30,000 Islands Archipelago
Captain Bill Everitt
03 March 2014
Volume 2, Issue 3
SOUTHERN GEORGIAN BAY REGION
Fortunately the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport together with the Huronia Economic Alliance are working in concert to encourage far more tourism activity to the Southern Georgian Bay region over the next five to ten years.
The Huronia Economic Alliance (formerly the North Simcoe Economic Action Initiative), formed in 2011, is comprised of the four municipalities of Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay, and Tiny in their collective efforts to encourage and increase economic development. It is strongly believed that increased tourism to the area will serve as a major contributor to the region's sustained economic future strength and growth. The Huronia Economic Alliance has identified tourism as one of four important pillars of the local economy. This article is dealing with the 'Tourism Pillar'.
The Tourism Company was engaged as consultants by the Huronia Economic Alliance to assist the towns of Midland, Penetanguishene and the townships of Tay and Tiny to create an enhanced model for destination planning and tourism management of the area. The purpose is to help move the local tourism industry to much higher levels of success both in terms of increased visitors to the area, developing new key and unique visitor experiences, and enhanced economic impact over the longer term.
In September 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport provided funding in the amount of $40,000 from its Tourism Development Fund to help develop the Huronia Area 'Tourism Action Plan'. The Huronia Area Tourism study was completed by the Tourism Company in late 2013. The study involved months of stakeholder consultations, workshops and visioning sessions attended by local tourism industry professionals. The study culminated in a 'Tourism Action Plan' that will be presented to the four municipalities for review and approval during March and April, 2014.
The author attended the Huronia Tourism Summit held recently in February wherein the 'Tourism Action Plan' was presented to the community. It was a very informative and well presented. There were two main key points in the Summit that were clearly echoed by all the presenters.
Point one was stressing the importance of collaboration among local and regional tourism operators to create new visitor experiences and innovative attractive tourism packages.
A great example of this is the collaboration effort between the SS Keewatin Ship in Port McNicoll and the 'Boathouse eatery' in Midland. Together, they worked out a win-win collaborative effort that encourages more tourism to the area and benefits both tourism operators as well as the local economy.
The second key point made in the Tourism Summit was the need for improved marketing of the area and, more specifically, the need to create a strong unified brand for the area.
The challenge has always been to organize, brand and attract investment and visitors to the many Region's tourism offerings.
Frankly, there are far too many names that identify the area of the four municipalities that make up so called 'Huronia'. The area is known by many names – Huronia; BruceGreySimcoe; Huronia Tourism; RTO7; Tourism Simcoe County; and the names of each of the Towns and Townships.
Currently, with all these various names, the area suffers from fragmented marketing which in turn causes the area to lack a clear destination image and appeal to attract more potential visitors from outside the area.
Let's face it, 'BruceGreySimcoe' really does nothing to tell folks from outside the area what the area has to offer. These are names of counties and therefore people from outside the area wouldn't typically know what these names mean. County boundaries are not usually what drive visitors to a particular area of interest.
The term, 'Huronia' has its own set of problems because of a derogatory meaning from the past having to do with the French labelling the native people back in the 1600's. At any rate, 'Huronia' really doesn't inspire outside visitors to come see what the area really offers either.
RTO7 – gosh what's that? Actually RTO7 is a good news tourism story. It stands for Regional Tourism Organization 7. The Ontario provincial government has divided the province into 13 distinct regions for the purposes of encouraging and developing tourism unique to each area and they are providing funding to each region. This is a progressive initiative from the Ontario provincial government to invest in tourism – why?... because it comes back in 'spades' down the road. Unlike our Federal government who slashed the tourism Parks Canada budget by $29 Million, the Ontario provincial government is showing foresight and leadership by taking the long term view to tourism investment.
In fact, it was the RTO7 that provided regional leadership and encouraged a more coordinated and collaborative approach to the 'Huronia Economic Alliance' to result in stronger marketing with a much better reach.
This area of Southern Georgian Bay has an abundance of significant and outstanding tourism assets across the region – unquestionably all centered on Georgian Bay as the champion attraction to the area. In addition to having one of Canada's 44 National Parks in the area, the 30,000 Islands (the largest freshwater archipelago on the planet), is also one of only 15 United Nations (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserves in all of Canada. Shouldn't we be promoting these facts and what it takes to become a National Park or a Biosphere Reserve?
We have all heard the refrain, “Georgian Bay is one of the best-kept secrets in Ontario”.
How could it be that someplace that is so remarkable is still kept a secret from Ontarians for all this time? Trying to promote the area with 'BruceGreySimcoe' or 'RTO7' or 'Huronia' might just be part of the reason the secret goes on!
With the spectacular scenery and tourism opportunities of the 'Beautiful Georgian Bay', the actual level of tourism to the area has unlimited potential to increase exponentially. The area needs to be effectively promoted under one unified voice and one brand name – a name that will need to, and eventually, resonate well with all communities at large.
It is a long term project for sure. To that end, the author will be sitting on the Implementation Committee of the 'Tourism Action Plan' and hopes to influence the branding of the region so it more accurately reflects what the Southern Georgian Bay area really has to offer!
Rather than 'BruceGreySimcoe' or 'RTO7' or 'Huronia' to promote and brand the area, as a suggestion, how about:
'Explore Beautiful Georgian Bay – Always in Season'
I am not suggesting we eliminate all the various names and organizations that are committed to encouraging tourism in the area. What we desperately need is every tourism organization and agency using the same brand name that reflects the area extremely well and resonates large with the general population.
|GEORGIAN BAY ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK|
Captain Bill Everitt
06 February 2014
Volume 2, Issue 2
THE ORIGINS OF NAUTICAL TERMS 'PORT' AND 'STARBOARD'
Did you know that the nautical terms 'Port' and 'Starboard' came from a long ago Old Norse term?
'Starboard' is the nautical term that refers to the right side of a vessel as perceived by a person on board a vessel and facing the bow (front). The equivalent for the left hand side is called 'Port'.
Long before ships had rudders on their center lines, they were steered by use of a specialized steering oar. A steering oar, which was held by an 'oarsman', was used at the stern (back) on the right side of the ship way back in the earlier days of boating.
The term 'Starboard' comes from the Old English "sterobord" literally meaning the side on which the ship is steered. "Steroboard" is a descendant term taken from the Old Norse words 'styri' meaning "rudder" and 'bord' meaning "board" - then meaning the "side of a ship".
An early version of 'port' is 'larboard', which itself derives from Middle-English 'ladebord'.
The origin of 'lade' is thought to be connected to the verb 'lade' (to load), referring to the side on which cargo was loaded onto the ships in the olden days.
This 'larboard' term for the left side of the ship is derived from the old practice of sailors docking on the left side of the ship to prevent the steering board/oar from being crushed (which was always on the right side of the ancient ships).
The words 'starboard' and 'larboard' sounded too similar when shouting out commands on deck, particularly in windy conditions. Because of this problem in understanding, the term 'larboard' was eventually changed to 'port'. 'Port' was decided upon since the older ships were always docking the left side of the ship while in the port - in order to avoid damaging or crushing the steering oar.
|'PORT' side view of the SS Keewatin |
in Port McNicoll, Georgian Bay
Captain Bill Everitt
05 January 2014
Volume 2, Issue 1
BOAT DELIVERIES ON THE GREAT LAKES
As a commercially licensed yacht Captain, I have been doing sail and power boat deliveries professionally since 2002. When people ask me what I do for a living, their reaction when I mention 'delivering boats on the water' is often, "Wow, are you ever lucky".
Such a response immediately tells me they had never done a boat delivery because, if they had, they would not use the word 'lucky', but perhaps, "you poor guy".
WHAT IS A BOAT DELIVERY?
Before getting into the challenges and perils of doing boat deliveries, perhaps a description is in order for what a boat delivery is and why they are done.
Boat or yacht delivery activity is an industry engaged in moving sail or power boats from A to B, typically for a boat owner, yacht broker, or a boat manufacturer. There are two basic types of boat deliveries – 'overland' and 'through-the-water'. The 'overland' method is, as it implies, transporting boats by truck or rail by qualified service providers with specialized trucks or railcars specifically designed for that purpose. There is a great deal of preparation to make a boat ready to be transported over land. For example, sailboats must have their rig (mast, boom, arch, rigging, etc.) dismantled and packaged for shipment in order that the vessel is low enough to get under the bridges during transport. Larger power boats also typically need some upper deck disassembly so they too can make it under the roadway bridges.
The 'through-the-water' delivery service involves moving the boat through the waterways from A to B, and therefore typically eliminates any disassembly of the vessel. An exception to this would be if the boat being delivered 'through-the-water' is going to pass through canal systems that have lower bridges. In that case, sailboats and some power boats will require some disassembly prior to entering a canal system that has bridges too low to allow passage without the disassembly.
Typically, moving a power or sailing vessel through-the-water places far less stress on the vessel. The boat to be delivered through-the-water does not need to be hauled out in order to prepare for shipping, and also avoids the re-launch of the boat at the destination – thus saving clients added expenses. Vessel hulls are better kept in the water where they are more 'relaxed' and keep their true designed hull shape.
There is one other unique 'through-the-water' service that larger yachts do use in transporting from A to B and is most often seen used in tropical parts of the world. For example, Dockwise Yacht Transport (www.yacht-transport.com) (DYT) is a company that has several large freighters which have been designed to transport yachts anywhere in the world. The yachts are still moved through the water, but they are placed aboard these specialized shipping freighters. In this case, the term used in the industry is the vessels are transported through-the-water, but 'not on their own bottom'.
For some larger yachts, this method of transportation is necessary for much longer deliveries since the vessel would not have sufficient fuel to do the delivery 'on its own bottom'. A good example of this is when larger yachts are being moved across the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean or from the Mediterranean back to the Caribbean Sea.
WHY BOAT DELIVERY?
The most common reasons why a client would want/need to have a boat/yacht moved from one location to another are:
1. Owner purchases a yacht that needs to be relocated from the sellers location to the buyers home port;
2. Owner wants their boat relocated to a new location and does not want to endure a long delivery passage, or does not have the time or the skills to do so;
3. Boat deliveries arranged by manufacturers to move a new boat sold to the buyer's location.
With some of our deliveries, the owner(s) will come accompany us. This is particularly helpful on a new purchase as it gives the owner some hands on experience and familiarity with their new boat before it arrives at home port.
Boat deliveries are very tough challenging work! Many of our Great Lakes deliveries are done on a non-stop round the clock operation. This means shift work for the crew. During the day, we usually run on 6 hour shifts, and then 2-4 hour shifts during the night.
Exceptions to delivering a boat on a non-stop basis are when navigating at night is neither practical nor possible on account of a number of factors which are: boat lacks night navigating gear, traversing locks, navigating inter-coastal waterways, or extreme weather considerations.
Other important considerations are: avoiding sea sickness and dehydration, good nutrition planning, adequate rest to minimize the effects of sleep deprivation and being dressed for the occasion! Early/Late season weather, with wind chill effects, is very cold on the water – and so is the water!
GREAT LAKES PASSAGE ROUTES:
People often ask us how we move a boat from Georgian Bay to Toronto through the water. Essentially there are two passage routes possible. The open water route involves traversing Georgian Bay to Lake Huron, down Lake Huron to Sarnia, down the St. Clair River, cross Lake St. Clair, down the Detroit River into Lake Erie. Traverse the length of Lake Erie to the Welland Canal – lock down 8 locks to Lake Ontario, and finally cross Lake Ontario to Toronto. The advantage to this route is there are no low bridges, so no need to do any disassembly on the boats. On a non-stop delivery basis, it takes 3-5 days to move a boat from Southern Georgian Bay to Toronto – 640 nautical miles.
The alternative route is to take the Trent Canal system starting at Port Severn (Lock 45) in Southern Georgian Bay and ending up in Trenton, ON after passing Lock 1. From Trenton, we pass though the Murray Canal onto Lake Ontario and then onto Toronto.
The advantage to this route is it a shorter distance than the open water route mentioned above. The disadvantage is there are low bridges, so sailboat rigs have to be un-stepped (see picture below) and the water depths in the Trent system are only guaranteed at 5 feet – which restricts the size of vessels that can transit. Although the distance is shorter, the time it takes on this route can be longer than the open water route because the Trent System locks only operate during the day so a non-stop continuous passage is not possible while in the canal system.
|Sailboat Delivery on the Trent Canal System|
|Peterborough Lift Lock on the Trent Canal System|
Largest Lift Lock in the World
BOAT DELIVERY VARIABLES:
No two boat deliveries are the same which makes every job unique, interesting, and a valuable learning experience. The boat delivery variables are many, namely:
Duration of the delivery; the passage route plan; the time of year (fuel & weather); the equipment on board; the number of crew needed; owner participation; and the age/seaworthiness of the boat.
The 'time of year' variable can have a huge effect on a boat delivery. For example, many boat deliveries through the Great Lakes occur early Spring and/or late Fall. Difficult access to fuel at marinas and heavy weather conditions are two factors that require very careful planning to avoid serious problems. We have had deliveries early and late in the season wherein we had to make pre-arrangements with marinas to bring in fuel trucks to fill our boats. This is because we are so early in the Spring, the marinas have not yet filled their gas dock fuel tanks. In the case of the late Fall deliveries, marinas have shut down their fuel docks so bringing in a fuel truck is needed. We also carry up to 50 gallons of spare fuel to extend our range and help make sure we don't run out of fuel.
Early/late season weather considerations are huge as well. It is not uncommon to encounter gale force winds with huge seas (3 to 5 meters) in the early or late season – particularly in the Fall as the November gales start rolling into the Great Lakes.
A critical aspect of delivery preparedness is SAFETY. We rely heavily on weather forecasts from a variety of sources to help ascertain what to expect in terms of wind and sea conditions. Besides making sure the vessel has all the required safety equipment, we also carry a certified life raft and an EPIRB (emergency beacon) when delivering offshore through the Great Lakes and/or on the ocean. The life raft and EPRIB are like an insurance policy – we hope we never need to use them – but if we ever did, we would be darn happy they are there for deployment.
The two main issues, outside of the crew's control, that can cause a boat delivery delay are weather considerations and mechanical breakdown. It is important to make sure the critical spare parts and an adequate compliment of tools are on board before departure. There are no marine supply stores or marinas in the middle of the Great Lakes or the Ocean!
I have previously emphasized that diligent pre-delivery planning and preparations are critical in order to minimize the effect of the many variables that can cause unforeseen and difficult circumstances. Despite these diligent efforts, 'stuff' can still happen!
For example, when delivering a motor yacht from New Jersey, USA to Lake Huron, after traversing the length of Lake Erie towards the Detroit River, the winds picked up at sunset and by the time we got to Point Peele the seas were 2 meters with 25+ knot winds. As we rounded Point Peele after 10:30 PM to head into the Leamington marina, we encountered a search and rescue underway with Coast Guard and volunteer vessels running search patterns for a victim who fell off his small sailboat. So, we had to meander in amongst all the search vessels as we headed for the marina entrance. The digital fuel gauges failed right after we departed NJ, so we knew we were running low in fuel, but not how low, as we docked in the marina near midnight. It turns out we only had 5 gallons of fuel left in the starboard fuel tank! We classify this as a fortunate 'just making it experience'!
Another time, we set out to cross Lake Ontario from Oswego, NY to Trenton, ON departing at 9:00 PM with a favorable overnight weather forecast. We were delivering a sailboat which had its rig dismantled and lashed horizontally on the deck. As weather goes, despite the favorable forecast, the winds started to pick up just after 2:00 AM out of the West which ended up producing 2 to 3 meter swells. It meant for a 'white knuckle' crossing to say the least. Sailboats are very unstable when their rig is lying horizontally and lashed to the boat. We always want to avoid any waves more than 1-2 feet in such a situation. Needless to say, it was a very long night and we were incredibly relieved once we rounded Presqu'ile Point lighthouse with everything intact ... except our nerves!
Years ago, on a Lake Superior to Southern Georgian Bay (Midland) sailboat delivery, we were on Lake Superior in the middle of the night heading for Sault Ste. Marie. We were about 10 miles off shore in 640 feet of water. Suddenly, the depth sounder started showing depths of 500 feet, then suddenly dropped to 158 feet, then dropped to 53 feet, then further dropped to 10 feet and eventually was reading only 5 feet water depth. We were sailing downwind at the time in 30 kts of wind (with the headsail only). We had to assume the depth sounder gauge was working properly, so we immediately turned the boat around, and headed up wind to stall the boat. We used two million candle power spot lights looking overboard to see what might have been in the water to cause such shallow water reading on the depth sounder. Our concern was is there a submerged shipping container in the water or some other obstruction. Given we were in 640 feet of water, the water color under the spot lights was as jet black as the night was. We were still concerned there was something in the water column that the depth sounder was picking up. Once we had determined there was nothing there, and doubled checked our position to confirm we were indeed in 640 feet of water, we turned the boat around and continued our passage towards Sault Ste. Marie. It turned out the depth sounder was faulty with a software glitch that caused the unit to give erroneous readings in deeper water. We had the unit replaced during the delivery once we made landfall.
These are few examples of unforeseen circumstances that can happen in boat deliveries despite diligent preparations and solid advance planning. The old Boy/Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared” is very appropriate for a boat delivery crew! Delivery crews always have to be ready for unexpected events on account of the fact there are so many variables in play simultaneously. What we do know for sure is the more prepared we are in advance, the more it dramatically lessens the effects that unforeseen events can have on the boat delivery operation. It also increases the safety of the crew and the vessel, which is always our paramount consideration above all else.
|Making ready for a delivery passage from Georgian Bay|
(Midland, ON) to Lake Ontario (Port Credit, ON) - Late October 2013
Captain Bill Everitt
27 November 2013
Volume 1, Issue 7
THE GREAT LAKES 100 YEAR STORM
One hundred years ago this month, on November 9th, 1913, a wicked winter storm (two storm systems colliding) ripped through Southern Ontario causing the greatest maritime disaster of record on the Great Lakes. In particular, Lake Huron suffered the greatest loss of life and ships with the sinking of eight ships of which two freighters have never been found – the 'Argus' and the 'James Carruthers'. Eleven more ships on Lake Huron were deemed to be constructive losses from the treacherous seas and winds. The unfound freighters lay on the Lake Huron sea bed along with an estimated 16,000 shipwrecks on the bottoms of all the five Great Lakes.
This blizzard was known at the time as the 'White Hurricane', which packed hurricane-force wind gusts of 145 km/hr (80 knots), dropped over two feet of snow and ice, and waves were believed to be over 40 feet. The seas and winds were so strong that some freighters weighing several thousand tons, some full of cargo, were washed up onto the shoreline.
These two storm systems that started late on November 8th, and didn't end until November 10th, played severe havoc with commercial vessel traffic and the movement of goods and people. Back then, Ontario and neighbouring States were very dependent on shipping traffic as the waterways were the most used mode of transportation for goods and people. In 1913, there were 18,000 to 20,000 commercial freighters plying the waters of the Great Lakes. Today, that number is dramatically reduced to only 90 Canadian registered Great Lake operators and 65 in the United States.
Back in 1913, weather forecasting was certainly not like the service we have today. Although many ships took refuge on the first wave of this tropical storm, their Captains and crew thought the lull meant the worst of the storm was over. Unfortunately, with the lack of valuable weather forecasting, they headed out back to sea and got caught on that fateful day of November 9th when the second wave was even fiercer, thus causing the dreadful marine disaster on that day.
The closest tropical storm that would be comparable to the 'White Hurricane' over the past hundred years is Hurricane Sandy that made landfall last October, on the north eastern seaboard, wherein 253 lives were lost. The 'White Hurricane' claimed at least 256 lives and the maritime losses alone were in the millions of 1913 dollars – would be billions today.
Similar to Hurricane Sandy, the 'White Hurricane' of 1913 resulted from the collision of two massive storm systems – one raging from the south (from the Gulf side of Florida) and a second one pushing southward from the colder artic regions of northern Canada.
Recall, in more recent memory, a similar devastating effect of multiple storms colliding back in October, 1991 with the 'Perfect Storm'. In that instance, there were three powerful storms that collided and sank the Andrea Gail fishing vessel and took the lives of all her crew on the North Atlantic Ocean. Although the 'Perfect Storm' movie depicted huge waves of 100 feet, data from a series of weather buoys in the vicinity of the Andrea Gail did record waves exceeding 18m (60 ft) – not a good day to be at sea to say the least.
The majority of the marine wreckage on Lake Huron from the 1913 storm was cast upon the shores of Huron County. As a result, a 100th year memorial monument was erected this year in Goderich, Ontario, honouring the lives and ships lost. The monument is at the site where the Lake Carrier's Association Committee conducted the official coroner's inquest after the 1913 storm had passed.
In the final storm report of the Lake Carriers Association, it read: “No Lake Master can recall in all his experience a storm of such unprecedented violence with such rapid changes in the direction of the wind and its gusts of such fearful speed! Storms ordinarily of that velocity do not last over 4 or 5 hours, but this storm raged for 16 hours continuously at an average velocity of 60 miles per hour, with frequent spurts of 70 and over…. the waves were at least 35 feet high and followed each other in quick succession, three waves ordinarily coming one right after the other. They were considerably shorter than the waves that are formed by an ordinary gale. Being of such height and hurled with such force and rapid succession, the ships must have been subjected to incredible punishment.”
The tragedy of the 'White Hurricane' storm of 1913 deeply affected and disrupted the lives of hundreds of mariners, widows, families and friends around the Upper Great Lakes including many of the towns on Georgian Bay.
The rescue workers, local farmers and citizens all had a horrendous task of claiming bodies along the eastern shores of Lake Huron that had washed ashore with their life jackets adorned. Bodies were recovered over the following year. Many perished sailors were never found and there is a tomb dedicated to the unknown sailors laid to rest at the Maitland Cemetery in Goderich, ON. The bodies of other 'un-named' sailors that perished are buried at unmarked locations along the Lake Huron shore, and in unmarked locations in cemeteries, such as one at Kintail, ON and also at Grand Bend, ON.
There is a website dedicated to the memory of the 1913 maritime disaster and more information can be found at www.1913storm.ca.
Captain Bill Everitt
09 October 2013
Volume 1, Issue 6
THE TALL SHIPS GRACED THE WATERS
OF SOUTHERN GEORGIAN BAY
'Tall Ships America' is a not-for-profit organization focused on youth education, leadership development and the preservation of the maritime heritage of North America. In addition to organizing the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Series, Tall Ships America manages scholarship programs to make sail training experiences more affordable for young people, grant programs to assist crew of member vessels with the costs of professional development courses and licensing requirements and publishes SAIL TALL SHIPS! - A Directory of Sail Training and Adventure at Sea.
Every year they organize the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Race which is a series of sailing races, cruises, crew rallies and maritime festivals organized by Tall Ships America in conjunction with USA and Canadian ports on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts of North America and in the Great Lakes. Tall Ships America and the host ports are striving to increase both activities aboard and ashore for public interaction with the ships, and social, educational and cultural opportunities to augment the rich offshore experience of the sail trainees.
This year, the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® 2013 sailed all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the major military events of the War of 1812 that took place in the Great Lakes. The series was also dedicated to promoting awareness of the Lakes' ecosystems and fresh water conservation. There were point-to-point races, visitation at 15 Ontario ports, provided wonderful hospitality, and greeted thousands of visitors.
The Southern Georgian Bay region will play host to a vast array of events, activities and projects from 2013 to 2014 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The focus will be on our region's rich military and marine heritage.
The highlight for 2013 was the return of TALL SHIPS® to the Southern Georgian Bay region. The Port of Penetanguishene, Discovery Harbour, and the Port of Midland hosted as many as 10 TALL SHIPS® on August 24th and 25th as part of a Pan Provincial event that travelled throughout Ontario during the summer of 2013.
On August 26th, the author was fortunate to have been sailing along side some of these magnificent ships, some under full sail, as they began their journey back to the Atlantic Ocean. The pictures seen in this article were taken that day on the waterway between Beausoleil Island and Giants Tomb Island. Sailing in the vicinity of these mighty ships as they gracefully and silently ply the waters is an unforgettable experience that tends to soothe ones soul!
It was very fitting that the Tall Ships graced our waters as the Midland, Ontario area played a strategic role in the war of 1812. For example, a naval base in Penatanguishene and a major settlement road to the area were key aspects in helping defend southern Ontario (Upper Canada at the time). United States declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812. Although history shows both sides claim victory in this war, it was pivotal in the later formation of the Confederation of Canada in 1867.
COSMOS Yacht Charters supports commemoration of this war in memory of the lives lost to secure Upper Canada, and to celebrate the ensuing 200 years of peace and shared heritage between Canada and the United States.
Captain Bill Everitt
02 August 2013
Volume 1, Issue 5
MACKINAC ISLAND - Michigan State Park
Did you know that Mackinac Island, situated where Great Lakes Huron and Michigan meet, is the most heavily visited tourist destination in the State of Michigan with 10 million population? Mackinac Island boasts about a million visitors per year - 15,000 per day in peak season with tons of things to do.
The incredible natural beauty and geology of Mackinac Island has made it become a State Park and honoured by National Geographic as one of the ten finest in America. Prior to becoming Michigan's first State Park, much of the Federal land of Mackinac Island was declared the second USA National Park in 1875.
The most notable feature of Mackinac Island is the fact internal combustion engines were outlawed on the island in 1898, and so the only way to travel is on foot, by horse-drawn vehicles, by horseback, or on bicycle. There are NO motor driven vehicles on this Island! As a result, everyone arrives by boat, most arriving by commercial ferries that bring visitors from Mackinaw City or St. Ignace, Michigan.
It is unique for visitors to arrive by private yacht. When you set foot on to the Island, you will be stepping back in time into a living Victorian village - as it will feel and look like the hustle and bustle of the early 1800's.
There are many historic buildings to see like Fort Mackinac constructed by British soldiers during the American Revolution. Today the original restored fort is a National Historic Landmark. A visit to this historic place allows visitors to trace the foot-steps of British and American troops as you explore the historic buildings, enjoy the exhibits, and watch lively demonstrations of an era gone by.
There are many other attractions on the island. A favorite activity for visitors is to rent a bicycle and tour the 8.2-mile paved bicycle perimeter path that follows the shoreline of the entire island. Horse-drawn tour carriages and horse-drawn taxis can be taken on tours on the island including a visit to the infamous Grand Hotel ... and yes, even the street cleaning machines are horse-drawn! Visitors can also rent horses and ride horseback among the many trails on the island. There are several fudge shops in the downtown area and the sweet aromas of baking fudge are always in the air as you leisurely walk the main streets.
The author has visited this island by private yacht on two occasions and once there, found it very hard to leave! COSMOS Yacht Charters provides unique sailing cruises to Mackinac Island.
Captain Bill Everitt
04 July 2013
Volume 1, Issue 4
TWO CANADIAN NATIONAL PARKS ON GEORGIAN BAY
Did you know that Georgian Bay is graced with two of Canada's 44 National Parks? Georgian Bay Islands National Park, established in 1929, is composed of 63 islands and all are only accessible by water.
Our charter base is located only 7 miles from Beausoleil Island, the largest island in the park. Beausoleil island boasts several miles of well marked hiking trails, natural sandy beaches, and its own inland lake (Fairy Lake).
It also has spectacular well protected anchorages for overnight stays on the water. Because it is a National Park, there are no cottages on the island. The island supports a rich mosaic of forest, wetlands, and rocky habitat types with associated biodiversity that supports a wide variety of wildlife.
This park is nestled in the infamous 30,000 Islands archipelago which also has the coveted United Nations (UNESCO) World Biosphere Reserve designation - of which there are only 15 such designations in all of Canada. Biosphere Reserves are globally considered as sites of excellence where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated for long term sustainably and preservation.
The second Canadian National Park on Georgian Bay is the Bruce Peninsula National Park, located on the northern shore of the Bruce Peninsula.
Sailing along the north shore is an exhilarating experience to witness 300 foot tall limestone cliffs and caves. Our charters, which start and end in Tobermory, Ontario include visits to the Cabot Head anchorage (lighthouse museum, bird observatory and research station); the Grotto Sea Caves, Flowerpot Island; and Cove Island. In addition, the Niagara Escarpment, of which the Bruce Peninsula National Park is part of, also has a UNESCO World Bioshpere Reserve designation.
All these stunning landmarks in both Parks have contributed to Georgian Bay being voted the #1 spot on Canada's Top Ten Hidden Travel Gems in 2009.
Captain Bill Everitt
27 May 2013
Volume 1, Issue 3
MIDDLE GREAT LAKES WATER LEVELS
Did you know that Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay water levels are 20 inches below their long term averages? Over the past 100 years, Great Lakes
water levels have been fluctuating above and below their historic average depths.
This cyclical trend has many causes. Weather, precipitation, climate change, the isostatic adjustment (gradual rising of the sea bed), and human made factors all play a role in changing water depths over time. For example, the lower Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie, have been getting far more precipitation over the past few decades as compared to the upper Great Lakes. Similar to the climate change dilemma, it is very difficult to discern what part is caused by the natural cycle and what part is caused by human activity.
Human made factors known include the manipulation of the St. Clair River over the past 100 years. In the early 1900's there was gravel and sand mining done along its shores. Furthermore, there has been dredging done on the river since the 1930's to make it deeper for freighter traffic. In fact, in places where they wanted to obtain depths of 27 feet, has now eroded to over 60 feet deep. There has been shoreline hardening (vertical seawalls established) along the USA side of the river.
All of these activities have led to erosion in the St. Clair River, especially the river bed. This continual erosion causes the flow of water to increase dramatically, thus draining more water out of Lakes Huron and Michigan. It is only recently that flow meters were placed on the USA side of the river to monitor water flow rates. Canada needs to do the same on its side to have a more accurate picture of water flow. Currently, they just extrapolate the US measurements to estimate the flow on the Canadian side of the river.
Except for Michigan and Huron, all the other Great Lakes have water flow monitoring done by the hour. Since there is no system of dams and locks on the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, it is even more critical to have water flow measurements being made to better understand the effect of human activity on that waterway.
It is very ironic the Great Lakes that do have control dams and locks in place are also the ones that have hourly flow measurements, and yet the two Great Lakes that have no such controls, also don't have any flow measurements (until very recently). What were they thinking – just hope for the best??
I started off by saying the Great Lakes water levels have been cyclical. Back in the Fall of 2001, many of you may remember we lost a full meter of water on all the Great Lakes suddenly within a few months. Seismic tremors were detected on the bottom of the great lakes on account of the loss of so much weight over a short period.
The explanation given back then was they lowered the dams on the St. Lawrence River in anticipation of a wicked winter with a ton of snow and ice. The problem was…that Winter was very mild with below average precipitation.
The more disturbing fact is we never got that water back. In fact the lakes' water levels have been slowly dropping since then and there are no signs of the levels coming back. In other words, for the past 13 years, there has been no cyclical trend where we can see the water levels starting to go back up. This is a major concern on account of the devastating ecological and economic impacts if this disturbing trend does not turn around.
The International Joint Commission (IJC) is a bi-national organization established by the United States and Canada. Its purpose is to advise Canada and the United States on questions about water resources and help prevent and resolve disputes about the use and quality of boundary waters which includes the Great Lakes. They initially did a 5 year study and spent $17 million examining the Great Lakes water levels and concluded it was better to do nothing.
Fortunately, with such a ground swell of pressure from the public and various organizations, the IJC has finally decided recently to recommend that both Canada and the USA investigate structural options (like sills) to be installed in the river bed of the St. Clair River to reduce the flow of water out of Lake Huron. It is predicted these sills could help bring Huron and Michigan water levels up by 10 to 20 inches.
Believe it or not, this problem was detected over 50 years ago and the US Congress (in 1957) gave the US Corps of Engineers the authorization to proceed with adding sills on the river bed. Environment Canada argued over some of the specifics, and the project died on the vine. The IJC has stated the water levels of Huron, Michigan, and Georgian Bay are permanently 20 inches lower today because compensating structures were not implemented 50 years ago.
Let's hope the two governments will proceed promptly with approving the funding necessary to get the project started forthwith. If you wanted to join an on-line petition to let the IJC and governments know of your concerns and support to get a project like this underway please visit: http://www.restoreourwater.com.
We, here at COSMOS Yacht Charters, do not have low water problems with our charter yachts since we are located in a deep water marina and they did some dredging this past Winter. In addition, Lake Huron/Georgian Bay water levels have recently come back to chart datum levels with the heavy Spring rains and winter run off.
Captain Bill Everitt
27 April 2013
Volume 1, Issue 2
THE SINKING OF THE TALL SHIP HMS BOUNTY
The sinking of the HMS Bounty in October 2012 was a totally preventable event on account of a serious error in judgement. Because there were two deaths in this tragic event, the U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held hearings in February on the sinking of the Bounty.
The final outcome of the inquiry won't be known until the end of this year when they release their final report. Testimony at the hearings and interviews of the 14 survivors has revealed some shocking facts about the ship, its Captain and crew.
It is incomprehensible why a supposedly seasoned Captain would decide to head out to sea to face a major hurricane on a crippled wooden ship with largely inexperienced crew. Ten of the 15 crew members were less than a year on board the Bounty - two of them much less than that. For the Engineer and Cook it was their maiden voyage. None of the crew had any training in the deployment of life rafts.
The days before departure with the news Hurricane Sandy was gaining strength and headed their way, the crew members were receiving text messages and phone calls from their concerned family and friends about leaving port with the imminent approach of the hurricane. In fact, the First Mate urged Captain Walbridge to delay the trip to let the hurricane pass. Walbridge disagreed. Despite the fact Walbridge gave his crew members permission to jump ship, none of them agreed to leave. Maybe there should have been another modern day "Mutiny on the Bounty"? Could have saved two lives perhaps.
Competency of a sea Captain isn't just his or her skill while being out at sea, but also includes knowing WHEN NOT to go to sea.
Weeks prior to departure, the ship had some boat yard work done wherein heavy rotting planks had to be replaced forward on both and port and starboard sides. The shipyard manager did tell Captain Walbridge that the vessel also had some rotting ribs (or stringers) in the bow area of the hull and needed to be replaced. Walbridge ignored the advice and decided he would fix the rotting structural ribs later.
The Engineer did point out there was far too much sawdust and wood chips on the engine room floor. When the ship was finally thrashing about in 30 foot seas and taking on water, the bilge pumps had to be constantly shut off to clean their strainers on account of the chips and sawdust were clogging the pumps. This meant the pumps could not keep up with the water coming into the engine room which eventually flooded and shut down the engines and generators.
Walbridge had originally decided to sail East and get in behind the hurricane, but suddenly changed his mind, altered course and sailed right into the path of Sandy.
When the ship was in the worst of the storm, rolling severely in high seas before it sank, some crew members were seriously injured. In fact, Walbridge sustained a back injury as he was slammed into a table which may have contributed to why he did not survive.
This ship was operating a volunteer program with no pressing agenda; therefore one wonders what the urgency was to leave at that particular time? At the owner's request, it was licensed as an uninspected vessel and therefore was not subject to rigorous inspections by the US Coast Guard.
The details of what happened to the crew when they abandoned ship are absolutely horrific. Every crew member was sure they were going to die as they bobbed about in 30 foot seas waiting for helicopter rescue.
It is nothing but a sheer miracle that 14 out of the 15 crew members were saved in 30-40' seas with 60-70 knot winds due to the heroic bravery of the Coast Guard rescue crew. It was an act of abject irresponsibility that Walbridge decided to put the lives of his crew, the ship, and all the lives of the Coast Guard rescue crew at perilous risk unnecessarily. He paid dearly for that decision with his own life.
Maritime disasters are rarely caused by one single event or issue, but usually a string of compounding critical factors, each playing a key role in causing the tragedy. It will be the job of the NTSB to identify and report on those critical factors to help prevent future disasters as sea. For more information about the NTSB hearings see "Life and Death on the Bounty".
Fortunately, the sinking of a Tall Ship sailing in the path of a major hurricane is an extremely rare event. As a result there are still many Tall Ships sailing the world's oceans.
In fact, this year, the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® 2013 will be sailing all five Great Lakes and Georgian Bay to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the major military events of the War of 1812 that took place in the Great Lakes.
The highlight for 2013 will be the return of TALL SHIPSÂ® to the Southern Georgian Bay region. Penetanguishene and Midland, Ontario will be hosting up to as many as 10 TALL SHIPS® on August 24th and 25th this summer!
Captain Bill Everitt
27 March 2013
Volume 1, Issue 1
THE TRENT WATERWAY SYSTEM USER FEES
The Trent Canal System is an incredibly picturesque waterway of interconnected lakes and rivers stretching through central Ontario. Thousands of boaters use the waterway each season and bring much needed tourism economic stimulus to many towns, villages and marinas along the route. There are boat tour operators on the system as well.
While it is true Parks Canada has not raised the waterway fees in a long while, that is not just cause to suddenly play 'catch-up' thereby driving away boaters and businesses to cheaper venues.
Two months ago, Parks Canada announced increases in user fees for the Trent Canal system amounting to some 200% to 400%. They also announced cutbacks in service (shorter hours) and staff as well as a cumbersome coupon system. Fortunately, there has been such a backlash of complaints from businesses and boaters alike, they have abandoned the coupon system and will retain the day, week, & season passes. Parks Canada has looked at reducing the proposed increases to more reasonable levels, but they are still unreasonably too high given the current economic climate.
As Conservative MP Gord Brown stated, "If you make it too expensive, people won't use it, and it'll be self-defeating in terms of raising more revenue."
Mark Coles, of Boating Georgian Bay, makes the point, "Unfortunately the [new] model negates the logic that tourism dollars will be lost from boats that cruise and have alternative lower cost routes to enjoy."
The root cause of this entire fee structuring debate stems from a very short-sighted Federal government when it comes to promoting tourism. The Harper government has slashed the Parks Canada budget across the country by $29.2 million dollars and 600 jobs will be lost over the next 3 years. Ordinary Canadians can clearly see that slashing services, reducing park's staff, and excessively raising fees will reduce overall tourism activity and therefore reduce revenues too.
The Feds don't seem to recognize the main reason the boating traffic has been declining through the waterway systems over the past few years is on account of the excessively high fuel costs. Most people feel the fuel prices are much higher than they ought to be given the global glut of supply of crude oil. Although a barrel of crude oil is in the 90 dollar range today, why is it we are still paying at the pump for fuel the same price as when crude oil was $145 a barrel?? It is painfully obvious Canadian citizens are being gouged by the oil companies. This reminds me of the same issue with our five big Canadian banks making 7 billion dollars of profit in 90 days (Q4 2012). Do they really need to make 7 thousand million dollars of profit in 90 days? Are the big banks paying their fair share of taxes on this profit? No wonder our economy is having so much trouble trying to completely recover from a on-again, off-again recession cycle that started 4 years ago.
If the Canadian Federal government would spend as much energy and attention in dealing with the oil companies, who are gouging the public, the increased boating traffic would well take care of the Parks Canada operating costs in spades! The Feds also ought to be creating incentives and spending money to grow tourism and help boaters financially cope with the excessively high fuel costs rather than throwing much higher user fees at them and further eroding tourism revenues by driving down boater activity.
Perhaps the Canadian government should have a close look at New York State and how well they promote their canal waterways to encourage boater participation and tourism revenues. For example, an Erie Canal season pass for a 25' boat which includes free moorings at all the 35 locks stretching 584 km is $50.00 (See www.canals.ny.gov/boating/tolls.html).
Contrast that with the proposed Trent-Waterway season pass (for lockage and moorings) for a 25' boat at $875.00. In addition, the hours of service on the Erie Canal are much greater. On weekends, the Erie Canal hours are 7 AM to 10 PM. The Trent-Waterway hours on weekends are now cut back to 9 AM to 6 PM. That is six hours open more per weekend day on the Erie Canal than the Trent Canal system.
Obviously the New York State government has no problem subsidizing their canal fees to encourage boater traffic and tourism spending - something our Federal government cannot seem to grasp.
As a professional yacht delivery Captain who has used both canal systems extensively, is it any wonder why my clients prefer I use the Erie Canal whenever possible when they see the huge difference in their boat delivery expenses compared to using the Trent System?
Captain Bill Everitt