Locking Through The Soo

Many Great Lakes sailors make the pilgrimage to Mackinac Island at the junction of lakes Michigan and Huron. But those who want real adventure head north to the St. Mary’s River, the border between the United States and Canada, and check out the twin towns of Sault St. Marie, which lie in Michigan and Ontario and are known collectively as “The Soo.”The St. Mary’s River drains Lake Superior
Author:
Publish date:
soo_int2

Many Great Lakes sailors make the pilgrimage to Mackinac Island at the junction of lakes Michigan and Huron. But those who want real adventure head north to the St. Mary’s River, the border between the United States and Canada, and check out the twin towns of Sault St. Marie, which lie in Michigan and Ontario and are known collectively as “The Soo.”

The St. Mary’s River drains Lake Superior into Lake Huron and isone of the busiest commercial shipping routes in the world.Though it has a two-knot current, it’s possible to sail uphill formuch of the trip. But be warned: you have to dodge Great Lakesfreighters carrying ore to lakes Erie and Michigan and seagoing ships, or “salties,” carrying grain to Europe. Halfway to the Soo, the up-bound and down-bound ship channels separate, and while you can go either way in either channel, it’s best to go with the flow. Turning a blind corner and encountering a steel wall with a bow wave closing at 15 knots is scary.

The American Soo has four huge locks that carry the big ships up to Lake Superior. Hike the trail to the locks—the first of which was built in 1840—and check out the restored 18th century fur trader’s houses along the way. Then drop into Maloney’s Irish Pub for a Guinness and a bowl of stew.

Sailors with more time like to take the Canadian lock (it’s free) and then run out to Whitefish Point on Lake Superior, the biggest and baddest of the Great Lakes. It’s a short walk to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which pays homage to the Edmund Fitzgerald, the 730-foot ship that sank in 1975 and was later immortalized by the Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot.

Finally the real fun: sailing downhill. With the wind and current behind you it’s easy to make 10 knots SOG going downstream. Yes, Mackinac Island is a worthy goal, but a trip up the St. Mary’s River really takes sailors to another world.

Related

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more