Back to Back Issues Page
Rhumb Line, Vol 4 Issue 3 -- New at
April 07, 2016

Rhumb Line

a course that keeps a constant bearing

The Rhumb Line for Great Lakes Sailing is clear: to provide a comprehensive listing of ports around the Great Lakes basin and articles that cover a broad range of topics of interest to sailors.

The purpose of Rhumb Line is to keep you up-to-date with new additions to Great Lakes Sailing and articles of interest in a brief, easy-to-scan and concise manner. I value not only your interest but also your time.

March 2016                New at Great Lakes Sailing

1. New Ports

2. Rhumb Line Archive

3. Opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway

4. Sailing Directions

5. New Site Search Capability on

6. Buffalo's Beautiful New Waterfront

7. Cruise Ships on the Great Lakes

8. Coast Guard Stations Around the Great Lakes

9. The Romance of the Sea – Traditions, Customs and Sayings

1. New Ports

(a) Cockburn Island, ON

Cockburn Island is one of Ontario's ghost towns. Drop anchor here and get a glimpse into Ontario's past. The island is the smallest incorporated municipality in Canada. According to Census Canada, the resident population in 2011 was exactly zero! Frequently referred to as a ghost town, the island in fact has a summer population of about 100-150 people. Click here to visit Cockburn Island, ON

(b) Sturgeon Bay, WI

Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin sits in the middle of Door County - considered one of the 10 most beautiful counties in the United States. It's harbor links Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The city of Sturgeon Bay is in a very unique location. It sits at the head of Sturgeon Bay, between Green Bay on the west and Lake Michigan to the east. A canal links Sturgeon Bay to Lake Michigan and this waterway bisects the beautiful Door County peninsula. Find out more about it here at Sturgeon Bay, WI.

(c) Nipigon, ON

Nipigon Ontario is the most northerly fresh-water harbour in North America. Sail north of the 49th parallel and enjoy spectacular scenery and 1,000 year old aboriginal cliff paintings along the way. The surrounding countryside is spectacular. Click here to learn more about Nipigon, ON.

2. Rhumb Line Archive

After some requests from new subscribers about possibly receiving back issues, I went back through my files and began to dig them up. The end result is a new section that archives back issues. A few early issues were only in a raw html format so they were not included. All future issues will be added to the archive. The archive page can be found here at Rhumb Line Archive

3. Opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway

A sure sign of the coming of spring on the Great Lakes is the season opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. As of March 25th, with the opening of the Soo Locks, the Seaway is now fully open. That said, there are still U.S. and Canadian icebreakers at work in some ports ensuring safe passage for the lakers.

4. Sailing Directions

SAILING DIRECTIONS or COAST PILOT guides are companions to charts. They provide additional information that is usually not shown on navigation charts.

U.S. government policy is that, as this information was paid for by the taxpayers, its is therefore available to citizens at no charge.

Canadian government policy is that the information is paid for by taxpayers but then sold to a private firm that in turn sells it to bookstores and chandlers. That way, citizens get to pay to see what they have already paid for.

The 2016 U.S. Coast Pilot for the Great Lakes is available as a pdf on the RESOURCES page here.

The 2016 Canadian Sailing Directions are only available from a re-seller. I recommend The Nautical Mind as probably the best marine book store/dealer for charts and sailing directions. Their link can be found on right side of the NAVIGATION page here.

5. Search Box

A small tweak to the website is the addition of a Search Box on the Home page. This Search Box is powered by DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo is an open-source web browser that is probably the most secure and privacy-conscious browser out there. You can search the entire site. The results are dispayed on a DuckDuckGo web page and the links then connect back to This method was chosen to eliminate ads or 3rd party content such as you would see on a Google or Yahoo search tool. We'll see how it works over the next little while.

6. Buffalo NY Waterfront

Over the past several years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into Buffalo's waterfront redevelopment plan. The changes are striking even over just this past winter. Known as Canalside, it has increased its size significantly. RiverWorks is a huge sports and entertainment complex complete with 3 restaurant/pubs. An interesting feature of RiverWorks is that it will have a craft brewery located in a refurbished grain silo – complete with a beer pipeline running directly from the beer holding tanks to the pub taps – this beer will be fresh!

The Naval and Military Park is home to 4 United States Navy warships that served with distinction in WWII and after – USS Little Rock, a cruiser, USS The Sullivans, a destroyer, USS Croaker, a GATO-class submarine and a Patrol Torpedo boat – PTF-17 that served in Vietnam There are also a number of Air Force and Army displays including a UH-1 “Huey”, the archetypical symbol of the Vietnam War. These are open to the public as is a museum and visitors center. Its well worth a visit when you are in the area.

7. Cruise Ships on the Great Lakes

Last year, Muskegon MI had an unexpected visitor – a cruise ship, Many people are surprised to learn that there are several cruise ship companies that operate on the Great Lakes. There are at least 6 companies offering small ship cruises extending from Quebec City to the far reaches of Duluth.

For non-sailors who would still love to experience the Great Lakes, it could be a viable option depending on the itinerary. We all know that there is so much to see.

8. Coast Guard Stations Around the Great Lakes

We are very fortunate that we can sail just about anywhere on the Great Lakes and be within reasonable distance of Coast Guard Search And Rescue services. Altogether, there are 58 Coast Guard stations ringing the Great Lakes – 42 in the United States and 16 in Canada. These stations are backed up with the air element of the U.S. Coast Guard in the United States and in Canada by RCAF 424 Squadron (“Tiger” Squadron), based in Trenton, ON. I have attached a list in the RESOURCES section here.

9. The Romance of the Sea – Traditions, Customs and Sayings

One of the things that I have always enjoyed about sailing is how so much of what we do today is bound up in the customs and traditions of long ago. Here are just a few. I hope to make this a regular feature in future additions.

LEND A Hand is a request for assistance: i.e “Can you lend a hand with this?“ However, BEAR A Hand is a direct order as in “Bear a hand with that line.”

The word CANVAS comes from the latin word 'canabis' An early form of canvas was made from hemp. Stories of old canvas sails being chopped up and smoked are just rumours

The nautical term AHOY is thought by some scholars to be derived from a Viking battle cry. It appears in English literature dating to the middle ages where it often was used as a form of greeting. Interestingly enough, Alexander Graham Bell suggested that Ahoy should be the preferred way to answer a telephone. I guess he was a sailor at heart.

Thanks for reading Rhumb Line. Your opinions, thoughts and comments do matter. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me here at Rhumb Line or at Great Lakes Sailing.

If you like this newsletter, please do a friend and me a big favour and "pay it forward."

If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe. You will find a subscribe button on most pages of the site.

Fair winds and following seas.

Michael Leahy, Publisher

Back to Back Issues Page