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Rhumb Line -- News from Great Lakes
October 31, 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.

October 2020

New at Great Lakes Sailing

1. The Store
2. Asian Carp
3. Ontario Research on Plastics in the Great Lakes
4. Happy 50th Birthday Greetings
5. Straits of Mackinac
6. Paddle to the Sea
7. Scary Happenings on the Great Lakes

1. The Store

Don’t forget to check out our online store. Great products at competitive prices. New items are added regularly.

The store can be accessed directly from the website. You can also access it here at The Store . I hope you will drop by and check us out. We have added some new items, particularly in the gift section – interesting, unique and definitely high quality. Some great gift ideas for Christmas.

2. Asian Carp

Asian carp are an absolute threat to the Great Lakes. “Asian carps threaten our fisheries, recreation and nature around the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. Grass Carp could have a significant impact to Great Lakes anglers, boaters and other recreational water users,” explained Sarah Rang, Executive Director at the Invasive Species Centre. “Grass Carp are big eaters and fast growers and have the ability to alter our lakes and rivers.”

To give a sense of their impact, consider this – these carp can grow up to 100 pounds / 45 kilos. They consume up to 1/3 their body weight daily. That’s 33 pounds / 15 kilos of trout, pickerel ete etc per fish per day. Imagine 1 million of them in our lakes. For reference, the estimated population of lake trout in Lake Superior alone is 100 million.

Uncontrolled, our grandchildren will be only fishing for trout at the local boating show kids pond.

One Great Lakes Commissioner from Illinois has an innovative idea. “Can We Eat Our Way Out of the Looming Asian Carp Eco-Disaster? It’s worth a try", says Josina Morita. “Put it in a taco, grill it like a burger, or add it to a stir-fry. Just eat it. Please. It almost tasted like turkey,” Morita claimed of the smoked Asian carp burger. Her battle cry is “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em” But, all good humour aside, this is an existential threat to the Great Lakes and we all need to take it very very seriously.

3. Ontario Research on Plastics in Great Lake Waters

The Province of Ontario is launching an initiative to collect plastic waste at a dozen marinas on the Great Lake. The provincial government announced that it is providing Pollution Probe, a non-profit group, with $375,000 to collect plastic waste using two types of devices. One device, called a Seabin, collects objects as small as microplastics from the water. The other device, Littatraps, collect litter inside storm drains before it enters waterways. The devices will be installed at sites on Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Lake St. Clair. The province said an estimated 22 million pounds of plastic pollution end up in the Great Lakes every year. Plastic has made up more than 80% of the litter collected along Great Lakes shorelines during volunteer cleanups.

4. Happy 50th Birthday to Sleeping Bear Dunes

On the east coast of Lake Michigan lie the largest fresh water sand dunes in the world. Sleeping Bear Dunes are a spectacular natural phenomenon and, in 2011, were named The Most Beautiful Place in America by Good Morning America. October 21st officially marked the 50th anniversary of this iconic part of the Great Lakes. We are so fortunate to have them as well as the many other treasures that make up our Great Lakes.

5. Straits of Mackinac

A number of things have happened this month regarding the Straits of Mackinac and the Line 5 oil pipeline that crosses it. The State of Michigan has proposed legislation that would make it illegal for large ships to anchor in the Strait. The concern of course is the potential for catastrophic damage to the pipeline from heavy anchors that could snag or hit the exposed pipeline. Another proposed change is to add a requirement that commercial vessels transiting the Strait would be required to carry a pilot.

And, adding to the complexities of the Strait, researchers believe they have identified a potential archaeological formation pointing to settlement as far back as 10,000 years. First Nations groups are calling for a halt to any proposed tunnel being considered for the Line 5 pipeline.

6. Paddle To The Sea

Any Canadian child who went to school between 1967 and the early 1980s should likely remember the tale. This beautiful story by Holling C. Holling tells of a young First Nations boy at Lake Nipigon in Northern Ontario who carves a man in a canoe and launches it in the spring runoff. He hopes the wooden figure will reach the Atlantic Ocean. The boy carves on the canoe: “ Please put me back in the water. I am Paddle-to-the-Sea.”

Placed in the headwaters of the Great Lakes, Paddle-to-the-Sea travels through all the Great Lakes and eventually the St. Lawrence Seaway. Readers learn about the history, industry, geography, seasons, tides, currents, locks, inhabitants, animals and more of this fascinating region. For a young reader, it is a magical introduction to our magical Great Lakes.

In October of this year, a little wooden boat washed up onto a remote beach on the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. It too carried a message “I am traveling to the ocean. Please put me back in the water”. After some sleuthing, its origins have been discovered. Along with the message was a request to let the Lakewood Elementary School in Duluth know about its whereabouts. Turns out that 2 creative teachers, Bonnie Fritch and Brenda Schell taught their students about the original story and as a project the children launched their own boats – 27 years ago! What a great way for children to learn about the wonder of the Great Lakes. And, thank goodness we have creative teachers.

7. Scary Happenings on the Great Lake

Storms and bad weather events are not the only scary things that happen out on the lakes. Quick action by Toronto photographer Malcolm Bryston caught this coven of witches silently making their way across an orange sea surface - presumably seeking a place to work their magic. Of course, we could have told them that everywhere on the Great Lakes is magical.


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.

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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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