Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sault Sainte Marie and Kayak Repair

Wikipedia says, “Sault Sainte-Marie translates from French as "the Rapids of Saint Mary." The Saint Mary's River runs from Lake Superior to Lake Huron, separating the twin border cities.

“No hyphens are used in the English spelling, which is otherwise identical to the French, but the pronunciations differ; Anglophones say/ˌsuː seɪnt məˈriː/ and Francophones say [so sɛ̃t maʁi]. In both languages, the name is often written Sault Ste. Marie. On both sides of the border, the towns and the general vicinity are called The Sault (usually pronounced /ˈsuː/) or The Soo.”

We arrived at the Elks Lodge in “The Soo” (on the US side) on Friday, and took one of the 4 RV sites on the spit of land behind the building that faces the St. Marys River. We had called ahead for reservations, just in case since this is a popular spot for Elks members.


There aren’t any better views along this section, and we can clearly see Canada, directly across the river from us. We’ve enjoyed watching the 1000-ft. iron ore lake freighters pass, going upriver to get ore, and coming downriver after loading. These huge boats fit in the largest of the Soo Locks, just upriver from us, in the Poe Lock which is 1200 feet long and 110 feet wide.

The Stewart J. Cort, which sailed by as we were enjoying the beautiful weather Friday afternoon, was the first 1000-ft. boat on the Great Lakes. Here’s a paragraph from Wikipedia about the boat.

“The Stewart J. Cort, which is not only the first 1000-footer to be put into service on the Lakes, but also the only one built in the traditional wheelhouse-forward Great Lakes style (although all accommodations are forward, and the stern deckhouse is occupied by self unloading equipment and the engines), is another notable vessel. The Cort started life in Mississippi, and was sailed as a much smaller vessel consisting of only the bow and stern sections (appropriately nicknamed "Stubby"), to Erie, Pennsylvania, where she was cut in half and an additional 800+ feet of hull were added.”



We also saw the Indiana Harbor.



And the Paul R. Tregurtha, the largest vessel on the Great Lakes at 1013.5 ft. long and 105 ft. wide.



And the American Spirit, measuring 1004 x 105 ft.



There are a total of 12 thousand-foot bulk freighters on the Lakes, plus the Presque Isle, the only 1000-ft. tub/barge unit, and we’ve seen at least 4 of them in 1.5 days. And I think one or two others might have come by when I wasn’t looking.

Don took advantage of the good weather to start patching the crack in his kayak. Here’s how it looked after he took out the screw holding the foot rest bracket to the body.


He found KB Weld which is intended for this type of application, in WalMart and applied a generous dose inside and out.


After drying overnight, the bond seems to be strong. So now he will sand and paint it, replace the screw and bracket, and test it to be sure it won’t leak again. It will be as good as new!

Don made his special tri-tip dinner last night, because our friends Bill & Jan Mains arrived to travel along with us for awhile.


The dinner was yummy, but none of us got a picture of the food. But there’s evidence that Jan liked it: check out her blog at:

Their Montana 5th wheel is parked beside us, positioned so they also have a great view of the river.


We laid low this morning as a thunderstorm rolled through the area. Around noon we went to the Soo Locks Visitor Center and watched a few videos about the history of the area and the building (and re-building) of the locks.


Here’s an aerial picture of the locks that hangs on a wall in the Visitor Center. The view is toward the west, with the U.S. on the left and Canada on the right, and the international bridge just beyond the locks.


We had a late lunch at the Lockview Restaurant, across the street. They have clever salt/pepper, etc. holders on the tables.


And more wooden replicas along the beams overhead.


We look forward to more good times with our friends and neighbors…


…and exploring the neighborhood.


Later…we had planned to go back to the Soo Locks around 4:30 pm to watch a boat come through. However, a strong rainstorm with thunder and lightning hit, so we decided to stay in and hope for better weather tomorrow. We could see the boat, the Cedarglen, from our vantage point. (There is mention of this boat in the Wikipedia article on freighters, with a photo captioned “Cedarglen beset in ice during a December trip until freed by two US Coast Guard icebreakers.” However, I couldn’t find out its length but it’s not one of the 1000-footers.)



The storm got really fierce immediately after the boat passed by, along with wind strong enough to create white caps on the river! This is the best picture I could get from the dry side of the windshield. Now I’m *really* glad we didn’t venture out!


Meanwhile, Don had driven to the supermarket to pick up a few things, and he had to stop by the side of the road because he couldn’t see to drive! Glad he made it home safe and sound.


  1. Wow, it looks like you guys ate lunch where I tended bar 35years ago when I was in the Air Force stationed at the base nearby (long since closed). I recognized the windows and the wooden trim on the walls and ceiling. Kincheloe Air Force Base, wow it brings back memories...8^)

    -- jc

  2. Those were some really big iron ore freighters.

    Interestingly, I had watched a TV documentary on the Paul R. Tregurtha a while ago so it was nice to see it's still floating around in those big lakes.

  3. It looks like you guys have a great sideline view of the locks. We'd like to spend some time there just lazing around and checking out the ships. Maybe next summer.

    What are your plans for the winter? Someplace warm I suppose.

    Have fun out there.

  4. Your post brings back some great memories! Those ships are really something! So long and narrow!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. If you get a chance, so over to the Canadian side and kayak through the locks there. They are the original locks and much smaller and now only allow non-commercial traffic and tour boats through.


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