Locking Through The Soo - Sail Magazine

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:
Updated:
Original:

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

PICTON CASTLE under sail with stunsls WV7 compressed

Picton Castle Seeks Crew

The Picton Castle is set to begin its eighth circumnavigation this spring under the command of Captain Daniel Moreland. A professional crew of 12 will guide up to 40 trainees at a time as they learn about all aspects of sailing the bark, from steering to lookout, ...read more

DSC_0013

Ask Sail: Keel Attachments

Q: I have an early ‘70s Catalina 27. The keel bolts look pretty good. My question is, why not glass over the keel to bond to the hull rather than changing the bolts if, or when the bolts are too far gone? I haven’t seen anything on this, so could you discuss? Full-keels are ...read more

04-GOPR0511

Book Review: Sailing Into Oblivion

Sailing Into Oblivion by Jerome Rand $15.99, available through Amazon As refreshing and inspiring as Jerome Rand’s 2017-18 solo-circumnavigation may have been, his account of the voyage in the book Sailing Into Oblivion: The Solo Non-Stop Voyage of the Mighty Sparrow may be even ...read more

01-1970-Dec

50 Years of SAIL

Back in early 1970, Bernie Goldhirsh and the recently founded “Institute for the Advancement of Sailing,” publisher of an annual sailboat and gear guide, launched something called SAIL. A half-century later, a look back at the magazine’s first few years provides a glimpse into a ...read more

Photo-by-Adobe-Stockpics721-2048x

Webinar: Navigating Post-Dorian Abaco

On Thursday, October 22 at 6 pm ET, Navigare Yachting presents a webinar on what to expect from Abaco post-Dorian. The event will feature the authors of The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Steve Dodge and his sons Jon and Jeff.Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco in early September of 2019 and ...read more

LunaRossaBoat2

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Christens “Boat 2”

Hot on the heels of the UK’s Britannia and the United States’ Patriot, Italy’s new AC75 Luna Rossa, formerly known as Boat 2, was christened in Auckland, New Zealand, this morning. As the moniker suggests, it was Team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s second design. In his christening ...read more

m7803_DSCF6698-1

Challengers Christen Britannia and Patriot

October 16 proved an exciting day for America’s Cup fans with the christening of both the UK’s Britannia and America’s Patriot. Britannia will be helmed by four-time Olympic gold medalist and America’s Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie. Olympic Gold medalist Giles Scott will serve as ...read more

HookPromo

Defender Product Spotlight: Lowrance Hook Reveal

Defender product expert Alex Lyons explains the benefits of HOOK Reveal’s new FishReveal technology: “DownScan sonar uses high frequencies to provide a picture-like image of the sea floor. The traditional sonar’s lower frequencies are best suited for locating fish in the water ...read more