Today day I am going to share my mother’s boating log. In 1970, when this log was written, my mother Doris Graham Cleage was 46 and taught reading at Duffield Elementary School. Henry was 54 and Deputy Director of Neighborhood Legal Services. They lived in a two family flat on Fairfield, near the University of Detroit. My maternal grandparents lived in the flat downstairs.
In July 1970, they bought a used sailboat. They docked it at the Memorial Park Marina, now called Erma Henderson Marina and no longer in use.
5/16 Henry sails in heavy seas with former owner Lindquist – Bell Harbor, New Baltimore to Bun (note: not clear) Sailboats, St. Clair Shores.
5/21 Henry and Hugh sailed from Bun (note: not clear) Sailboats, St. Clair Shores, to Memorial Park Marina (Spent 2 hours trying to start motor – found gas was not connected!) – Lonnie and I met – I went to meeting. – Lonnie brought Barbara (his wife) back – all had chicken and wine on boat!
5/23 Henry & Doris out alone – turned wrong way – banged around north end of marina – saved by all – tacked up American Channel – a thousand tacks – I had no gloves – hands in shreds – turned back near water Sutake (note: not clear) tower.
5/25 Henry, Doris, Hugh out – banged around marina! Doris insisted on staying in river (!) – tacked like mad – disorganized – returned to shore to organize crew – vowed to do better.
(All betimes Henry and Hugh worked on motor – fixed door – began to sand for varnishing – bought blue towels for curtains and pillows.)
5/30 Henry, Doris and Hugh – went out to try to empty head at Mobil at end of channel – water churned to froth by 50,000 cruisers bounced around – came back – no sail.
6/19 Henry, Doris and Lonnie – sailed out jib alone just over edge of lake and back.
6/20 Henry, Doris, Hugh, Ernie – sailed out – dumped – wind died – limped in – saw others wing and wing – they looked like galleons – discovered whisker pole – resolved to use it at earliest opportunity!
6/22 Henry, Doris, Hugh – out into Lake St. Clair – Doris refused rope, when leaving dock, asked where is my pole? – all small ropes still tied, on jib furler, on mainsail – captain tacked back and forth across freighter channel – Hugh almost ran down black pirate boat – had bologna sandwiches, oreos, peaches, milk, coffee, gin – mainsail stops twisted – captain had to straighten out on high seas!
6/27 – Hugh, Henry and Doris out to sail – no wind – fathometer broken – Hugh and Henry fixed – good thing because decided to motor about Peche Isle where depths are 1 – 2 ft out to 1,000 ft and 4 – 5 ft a few yards from shore – also 35 ft depths (!) near 405 ones – found nice anchorage on South side – close enough to swim – but no suits – so, ate, laid around and came back.
6/28 Ernie, Hugh, Hugh and Doris at dock to see unlimited hydroplane races – wild – Thelma and Bowman on Board later.
6/30 Very hot – 98 degrees – no wind – motored down river to Belle Isle Bridge for first time – lovely cool ride- equally cool docking and undocking – Lonnie, Barbara, Henry and Doris.
7/3 Bought dinghy at Sears – now can anchor and go into Peche – swabbed whole boat first time – also vacuumed second time – now ship-shape and shinning – and thunderstorm after thunderstorm – hard to restrain captain who insists, “Weather does not matter to a seaworthy craft and a skilled captain.” Hear! Hear! and Right on! But I was scared! So we stayed dockside. stowed well away from shallows – sailed to 82 degrees 47′ W at 20 degree angle usually – First Mate sent to galley. – sort of rocky down there altho’ not on deck – fixed sandwiches but couldn’t eat (!) recovered quickly on deck – liverwurst was delicious – turned back – near sunset – wind began to die – started across freighter channel – HUGE BARGE advancing rapidly – Captain made speeches about “right of way” – refused to start motor – barge gave us 5 short blasts (note: Five short and rapid blasts = “Danger signal, I do not understand your intentions”)– Captain capitulated – started motor – ended trip with usual perfect docking.
P. S. – at one point in voyage captain to first mate – “Take in the jib.” First Mate to Captain, “How much?” Look of complete disbelief on Captain’s face – he is at loss for words. I thought he wanted me to furl the jib – he meant winch it in tighter. Narrowly missed being keelhauled!
7/9 Note from radio: add 34″ to depths shown on chart #400 Lake St. Clair! What it mean?
7/10 Nautical catalogs arrived – Capt. was so engrossed he read them all thru dinner! First mate furious.
7/11 Henry, Hugh & Doris out on calm day – captain offered Doris sun glasses instead of rope as we left dock. Cruised happily out into lake – noted strange black, orange white can buoys – navigator almost fainted – we were crossing Grosse Pointe Dumping Grounds – never, never land with completely uncertain depths – naturally we crossed it diagonally – and made it just as the wind gave up – dragged to Peche Isle – anchored Canadian side Henry and Hugh inflated dinghy – Capt took first trip – rain began – brief shower – made it home. – First mate denied daily tot of rum because she dropped boat book in water – luckily it floated,
7/12 Henry and Doris out alone – beautiful sail to end of Belle Isle, – 5-6 mph – really lifted out of water – reaching on SW wind, – suddenly saw huge black cloud looming over Grosse Pointe – First mate screamed, “Take me home NOW!”- Captain said, “Oh, it’s nothing’ the weatherman said today would be nice.” – Then sun went out – thunder rolled- lightening zagged – First mate and captain sprang into action – furled jib – hauled down main – motored madly with seven thousand other fear crazed Sunday sailors down river – made it into dock drenched to skin – as 60 mph gusts of wind made Henry, Warren Hawking and Crawford Smith putting all muscle on boat to attach back lines – she had nosed into dock at tool chest and refused to budge – finally got her tied down – very wet inside and out- home – hot showers – lovely evening followed lovely sail.
7/26 On board – Henry and Doris. Beautiful Sunday. Captain assured first mate on long trip planned. Set out on short sail – ended in Belle River, Ontario – for the night. Fifteen miles of very close reaching in five hours – and three hours covered same distance Monday morning – docking was cool – sleep was good after young folks finally left park at 1:30 a.m. – our first overnight trip.
8/1 Brisk winds -choppy waves – tough, Captain – rough sail! – scuppers awash – First mate developed weak trembles – Captain cool!
8/2 On board, Hugh, Henry and Doris. Same weather as 8/1 – rough – but no scuppers (note: an opening in the side walls of a vessel, allows water to drain instead of pooling ) awash this time – good trip.
8/6 Out to Lake St. Clair – Henry and Doris – fussed! – back to dock!
8/7 Out again. Henry and Doris. No fuss – anchored off Riverside, Canada.
8/8 Hugh, Henry and Doris out in choppy St. Clair to Belle River – much fighting waves – found Belle River jammed with boats – docked cooly – tied with many a rope.
8/9 Awoke Sunday to brisk wind over starboard stern – very heavy seas- warped her around cooly at dock – rolled madly as soon as we left breakwater – white caps – 2-4 feet rolling waves – made 4-5 mph on jib, alone until wind died at Peche Isle – waves rolled under all the way – captain did masterful job of keeping course and running directly in front of large swells which increased our speed 1 mph when they passed under us – sort of a roller coasted ride home – with accent on the roll! Good trip!
END OF LOG
“Jilo fast asleep on our sailboat while Henry and Hugh babysit”
The only thing I remember about this visit of my daughter and myself to the boat is that we didn’t go out on the river because Jilo was too little for a life jacket. She was about a year old.
Not long after, they sold the boat. Henry had pictured solitary days of sailing, stopping here and there to enjoy the peace and quiet. Unfortunately there were always many other boats out there.
Marine Chart of the area covered in the Log.