One day I was sitting on my Sittin’ Rock looking out on the bay, and it suddenly came to me that if I had a boat big enough, I could shove off from our dock, go around the bend to the shipping channel, follow it into Lake Huron and then head down through the St. Clair River, across Lake St. Clair, down the Detroit River to Lake Erie, onward east into Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River and finally float into the Atlantic Ocean. From there I could sail the world’s seas to parts so exotic even the National Geographic would marvel at the stories I would have to tell.
I could do that—though, sincerely? I never really would. Still, it’s pretty thrilling to think that the seemingly placid waters in front of our cabin could, in fact, carry us to the far reaches of the entire planet.
From our island ferry dock and all along the St. Mary’s River system we see Salties from all over the world passing upbound to go through the Soo Locks into
They ply these waters alongside our own Lakers and sometimes it’s a toss-up over which of them is more wondrous. Our
(I’ll stop here for a bit of trivia: 1. Ocean-going vessels (Salties) are called “ships”, while
We can’t see the channel from our cabin, so we can’t watch the boats from here, but sometimes in the fog we hear their urgent horns. The first time I heard them, I felt a little heart-tug, remembering the huge fog horn on the Coast Guard Station at Five Mile Point on
The boats have a language of their own—a series of boat whistles that is a form of talking to each other. We landlubbers love hearing them, and we keep a horn blast glossary so that we know what’s going on. One long and two short means they’re greeting (or saluting) one another. One long at two minute intervals or less means they’re moving in fog or snow. One short, one long, one short means they’ve anchored in reduced visibility, and five or more quick short blasts means the threat of imminent danger.
For the past couple of years, there has been a lottery to win a trip on one of the Lakers, and twice now I’ve bought tickets hoping to get my husband on one of those boats. That’s his dream—to ride along with those crews and experience the wonder of those massive carriers. But he’s not alone there. How can anybody watch those beautiful boats silently glide by and not want to be on board?