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Rhumb Line -- News from Great Lakes
July 17, 2020

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.

July 2020

New at Great Lakes Sailing

1. We're Open!!!
2. Summer Sailing 2020
3. Summer Dreaming
4. Some Environmental Good News
5. Club Status Around The Great Lakes
6. Authoritative Sites for Coronavirus Information

1. We're OPEN!!!

Finally!!!!! After months of work sourcing products, creating the retail store and setting up the purchasing and shipping processes, we are ready to launch our marine retail store.

Now that we are open, we will deal with the inevitable bugs and then begin the process of continually adding new products. From a modest base of just over 100 products, there is a great deal of room to expand.

The store can be accessed directly from the website. Just look over to the top of the navigation bar on the left of the screen until you see the button Store and click on it. You will be taken directly into the store.

Here you will find name brand products such as Mustang, First Watch, Weems and Plath, Davis and more. We have been able to secure personal protective equipment as well – specifically KN95 and general protective masks. These come with FDA (USA) and CE (European Union) certificates of approval. Our supplier is a Canadian company with inventory on hand.

As an experience, it has been interesting, fun and frustrating – from sourcing products to fixing computer code. An earlier start was shelved when a major supplier fell victim to the economic fallout from the coronavirus and abruptly ceased shipping orders. That happened about a day or so before we opened. I shudder to think of what would have happened to orders in process. The upside was we found other suppliers and made changes to our purchasing process.

My goal is to offer name brand, quality products. We are very competitively priced compared to the major retailers in North America.

We aren't interested in competing with the big box retailers - that is ultimately chasing the bottom of the barrel. At the end of the day the words "cheap" and "quality" never seem to be in the same sentence.

As mentioned above, we plan to continually add products and have so far sourced hundreds of quality items from name-brand manufacturers and suppliers.

I hope you will come in and check out the store.

2. Summer Sailing 2020

The continued presence of the COVID-19 virus has played havoc with the sailing season. As sailors, we have to navigate a major health threat as well as regulations that are national, provincial / state and in many cases local as well. These new realities also underline how different people look at the same set of circumstances.

First, the national level. The border between Canada and the United States remains closed to all but essential travel until at least August 21st. As COVID-19 infections continue to decline generally across Canada, we are seeing a major surge in infections in the United States. Until that is under control, it is unlikely the border will be opened any time soon.

In response to inquiries I have received, I want to address the matter of sailors simply slipping across the border in the more remote or northern regions of the Great Lakes. In a word, don’t.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has stepped up patrols throughout the region and have been seen boarding Canadian-flagged vessels and checking ID. There have not been (nor should there be) any US-flagged recreational vessels in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. There are steep penalties for not clearing into Canada properly.

These regulations are mirrored in the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are just as actively monitoring the border for vessels improperly crossing the border into the United States. There should be no Canadian-flagged recreational vessels in the U.S. waters of the Great Lakes. Naturally, police services of both countries as well as the U.S. Coast Guard are engaged also. Marinas in both countries will likely be part of the monitoring and reporting process.

I think the message is pretty plain here – respect the efforts being undertaken to protect lives from this epidemic. To not do so is to risk the health of you, your loved ones and everyone you come in contact with. You may also be risking your future ability to enter either country when this is over and you may even be risking the loss of your vessel.

3. Summer Dreaming

For many of us, summer sailing plans have been disrupted. We may have fewer places to sail or perhaps we didn’t launch at all. It will be a season we won’t soon forget. BUT – it doesn’t have to be a lost season!

This could be the year that we begin to plan the ‘big’ trip we have dreamed about. Hopefully, next summer, whether in Canada or the United States, we will have come to a place where the infection rate of the corona virus is at a manageable and safe level – safe enough to go out exploring again.

If you sail in the lower Great Lakes, ever thought about exploring up north? With planning, its perfectly doable. If you are on Lake Ontario, what about venturing through the Welland Canal and exploring Lake Erie (or beyond). Long Point is idyllic. Across the lake is Erie PA with its welcoming yacht clubs (I have good memories of visits to the Commodore Perry YC – first time I had ever seen a self-serve draft beer dispenser outdoors!) and a terrific state park. Maybe explore Cleveland and check out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And, if you need a berth, you couldn’t go wrong with the Forest City YC – read the Cleveland harbour report here at Cleveland OH about my experience with that outstanding club when I was in a distress situation.

What about pushing up into Lake Huron? Did you know you can go inland up the Thames River from Lake St. Clair as far as Chatham ON? Port Huron’s waterfront along the Black River usually has a pub or two featuring terrific Michigan craft beer. Caseville MI has the largest tribute festival to Jimmy Buffet in the United States and is one of Michigan’s top summer festivals. Both Southampton ON and Mackinaw City have historical sites and museums certainly worth visiting. Chicago anyone? How about the fabulous North Channel or northern Georgian Bay. Or the biggest challenge of all – Superior!

I don’t want to belabour the point but there is a huge amount to do on our fantastic Great Lakes. And this may be the time to plan that big voyage - you know – the one you always dreamed about. There is time to research and plan, there is time to deal with any maintenance issues you may have been putting off. There’s some time to put aside a few extra dollars.

None of us is getting any younger. The epidemic we are living through has made it clear we are neither immortal nor immune (pun intended) from the fickleness of chance. Let’s not see this summer as a lost season but rather as a pause as we plan for the dream voyage we always wanted to do.

Its doable. Its safe. You will see the wonders of the Great Lakes basin. You will meet delightful people – we sure have. It will be a wonderful, unforgettable adventure. To quote Nike - “Just Do It”

4. Some Environmental Good News

Over the past few years, I have written about Ontario Power Generation and its efforts to build a nuclear waste dump along the shores of Lake Huron. Ontario Power Generation Inc. is a Crown corporation wholly owned by the Government of Ontario and is responsible for approximately half of the electricity generation in the Province of Ontario. Hugely controversial, the plan was dealt a death blow by the local First Nations community whose approval to proceed was required. In an overwhelming vote, the Saugeen Ojibway Nation turned down the proposal earlier this year.

The plan was seen as a direct threat to the source of water for some 40 million people living on both sides of Lake Huron and waters south.

Another environmental issue that is being hotly debated is Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 oil pipeline. For those not aware of this, Line 5 is an aging pipeline that carries crude oil and propane. Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that travels through Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It crosses the Straits of Mackinac west of the Mackinac Bridge for a distance of 4.5 miles.

Built in 1953, there are serious concerns that a rupture would create a catastrophic oil spill into the Great Lakes. In late June, Enbridge discovered that an anchor support for the segment in the straits had shifted from its original position. The company said it shut down the line. The State of Michigan however sought and received a court order shutting the line down until a more detailed analysis can be carried out.

5. Club Status Around The Great Lakes

All yacht clubs throughout the Great Lakes basin are facing the same questions and challenges. Can we legally open? Is it safe to fully open? Should we only partially open? What precautions should we take. Some clubs are fully open, strictly adhering to public health guidelines, other clubs are completely closed – no boats launched and no facilities open to members. Still others have tread a middle ground with boats launched but on-shore facilities curtailed. Some clubs will no longer welcome visiting boats as they don’t know who the crew has mingled with or what (if any) precautions they have taken.

Naturally, everyone is expected to obey legal and public health orders. But sometimes, those are just the minimum. Considering the havoc that this disease causes, that should be the least we do. Tens of thousands of people have died. Quite possibly you know someone who has suffered from this virus and even died from it. I know I have.

Personal safety such as wearing a proper mask, maintaining a safe distance from others, frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizer can all greatly aid in not spreading this virus to someone who is older or who has a compromised health system. That person could be member of your family or a close friend.

6. Authoritative Sites for Coronavirus Information

I am again including links to authoritative websites – all either Federal / Provincial Agencies or Ministries of Health or State Departments of Health. These are authoritative. They are science-based and can be trusted. Avoid the suspect, the suspicious and the simply untrue information circulating ‘out there’ on social media and the internet. Facebook is not authoritative and as for Dr. Google? Well ....

Get your medical advice from qualified medical people. You wouldn’t take legal advice from a store clerk nor dental advice from a politician. Stay with the experts.

Yes, there are slight variations in some of the messages from these various authoritative sites but the overall message is clear - reduce physical contact as much as possible, wear a face mask and wash your hands like never ever before!

Here are the sites:

Government of Canada - Public Health Agency of Canada: PHAC
Government of the United States - Dept of Health and Human Services: HHS
Province of Ontario Ministry of Health: Ontario MoH
New York State Department of Health: New York DoH
Pennsylvania Department of Health: Pennsylvania DoH
Ohio Department of Health: Ohio DoH
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: Michigan DoHHS
Indiana State Department of Health: Indiana DoH
Illinois Department of Public Health: Illinois DoH
Wisconsin Department of Health Services: Wisconsin DoHS
Minnesota Department of Health Minnesota DoH

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.

In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you good health and everything that I would wish for myself and those I love.

Fair winds and following seas.

Michael Leahy, Publisher

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