Finally, off Lake Michigan!

September 30 & October 1

Some foggy shots leaving the marina in South Haven. We had to run with our radar and navigation lights on due to the foggy conditions. We had 2 mile visibility.


On 3 occasions on our 6400 mile journey we have run into electrical issues in marina’s. Once in St. Augustine, Florida, again in Charlevoix, Michigan and then again in South Haven, Michigan. Our boat was built in 1996 and since then there have been many updates to ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) boat building standards. One of these updates is the installation of electric power pedestals in marinas that have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFI). Essentially what that means is if your boat is leaking electricity into the water the circuit breaker on the power pedestal will kick off and not supply you with electricity. Before we left on the Loop I had suspected Whisky Business had this issue. Had it tested and sure enough, we were leaking sparks into the water, albeit a minor leak but a leak nonetheless. Spent a day with all manner of testing equipment  trying to locate the source to no avail. Was told on many older boats it’s just a fact of life. Electrical wiring on boats is different than your house due to being on water. I have an extremely limited understanding of electricity so I will not do a very good job of ‘splaining it to you. Since we have this issue in the 3 aforementioned marinas we could not use power because we kept tripping the circuit breaker. The reason this is such a REALLY BIG DEAL is Electric Shock Drowning (ESD). Especially in fresh water marinas as opposed to salt water marinas it is absolutely critical that you NEVER, EVER, EVER get in the water. Fresh water does not conduct electricity very well but salt water does. Your body is like the ocean, lots of salt. If you get in the water in a fresh water marina any stray electricity in the water is immediately attracted to you. You will not get electrocuted but the electricity paralyzes your muscles and you simply sink and drown. Ya can’t swim. Ya can’t holler for help. Total paralysis. And it doesn’t take much electricity to cause this paralysis. As the story goes, in Grand Haven, Michigan (I think) a fellow was swimming at a beach which was adjacent to a marina and he drowned due to ESD. Michigan probably leads the nation in the installation of these new power pedestals with the GFI circuitry.

While walking around South Haven we passed a shop that was closed. Had this T shirt in the window. Is that a great boat name or what? Playoff of “Depth Finder”. Like the boat name Check Magnet we saw in Gananoque, Canada. Hysterical! Just got off the phone with Jim Holland on Steal Away who just made it to South Haven yesterday. Sent him this photo and pleaded with him to go shopping for me.


The following 3 photos give you an idea how big Lake Michigan is. Totally out of sight of land. The Great Lakes are more like inland seas. At this point we were 15 – 20 miles off the eastern shore of the lake.


Getting close to Hammond, Indiana. Hammond is located between Gary, Indiana and Chicago.


Chicago in the distance.


Gary is quite the industrial area. Nuttin’ but smoke stacks.


Sunset from the Hammond marina.


And now from the “I can’t make this s*#t up” file

When we got to the Hammond marina, after fueling we were directed to the “U” dock, slip 38 with the 6 other Looper boats we had been traveling with. WB was in the next to last slip on the dock. At the end was a 28 foot boat with a number of young people playing music REALLY loud. Wasn’t long when security came down and told ’em to turn it WAY down, which they did. We had chatted with the owner of the boat and he seemed pretty ok although a little over served. At one point during the conversation the subject of swimming in the marina came up. We explained ESD to him. Used little words and hand puppets to make sure he understood in his current diminished cerebral capacity. Not 30 minutes later he and his pals are jumping off the boat. After dark there are probably 8 people on that boat, all in various stages of inebriation, and off they go for a night time cruise. Get back to the marina around 11 when I am going to bed. Lots of screaming and swearing coming from that boat. Next morning (Tuesday) I am walking to the showers and run into Katie from Pangur Ban. During all of the yelling they were walking the dock around 11:30 and they hear whimpering from the water quite a ways from the loud boat. Look down 4 feet to the water and there is a young woman in the water. They fish her out and see she has a busted lip. She was from that boat. Boyfriend punched her in the face. Oh yeah, it gets better. After getting punched, someone else pushes her off the boat. ESD anyone??? Katie and her husband Tim fish her out, call the cops and when the police officer shows up it is quite the inconvenience for him. Kept telling him to call an ambulance as she could barely walk. When the EMT’s get there the young woman can’t walk so well from her injuries or her state of inebriation so Katie requests a wheelchair or stretcher. The EMT’s don’t want to like to carry that stuff on such a long dock. Then the folks from the suspect boat show up. The situation begins to escalate. Katie begins taking pictures of the miscreants. One of ’em snatches her phone out of her hand. A cooler head in the group de-escalates and gives her phone back. Girl gets taken to the hospital after several requests. Cop voices his frustration in these instances as (in his words) 99 times out of 100, the girl goes back to the abusive relationship, refusing to press charges. Any and all of the officers efforts are for naught. Crazy stuff. Can’t make it up.

There are a series of locks on the Illinois River that are closed for maintenance at this time. The Illinois is the channel that will take us to the Mississippi River on our way home. They were supposed to be open by the 10th of October but we learned yesterday, that due to flooding, the work cannot be completed by then. Now we are looking at a middle of the month opening. So Deb and I came home yesterday. This morning (Wednesday) I learn from Looper buddies in South Haven where we just left, the water is over the docks so the marina turned off power to the docks. Since we left that marina on Monday the water has risen a foot. Man, it takes a lot of rain to raise the water level on Lake Michigan a foot!

Will post again once we get back to the boat. See ya then…

3 thoughts on “Finally, off Lake Michigan!”

  1. So you keep mentioning ESD but no one in the rowdy party was electrocuted. I don’t see why you mentioned it. Have you ever noticed that the same people who tell you about esd also have in-water hull cleaning businesses? Why aren’t the fish being electrocuted?

    If there was significant current in the water, a breaker would blow. The stray amounts that cause electrolysis won’t hurt anybody. While ESD is not impossible, it is unlikely-but it makes money for people to convince you to not do your own work.


    1. Perhaps I wasn’t clear. Electric shock drowning is a term used in the USA to describe a cause of death that occurs when swimmers are exposed to electric currents in the water. In some cases the shock itself is fatal, since the person will suffocate when their diaphragm is paralyzed, while in others it incapacitates the swimmer causing them to drown. The main cause of electric shock drownings is faulty electrical wiring on boats or piers that causes electric current to leak into the water. Electric shock drownings occur most often in fresh water, which is conductive due to dissolved minerals and impurities. The increased conductance of saltwater reduces the voltage gradient developed across a person, and so reduces the possibility of electrical injury. However, as the source voltage increases the chances of shock in saltwater also increases. Sometimes Electric Shock Drowning is referred to as ESD but this should not be used, as it can be confused with the IEC defined term for Electrostatic discharge (ESD). Electric shock drownings are most commonly caused by improper electrical connections on boats and piers. By law, all connections near water are required to have working ground fault circuit interruption technology, GFCI. These devices break the electrical circuit if any stray current fails to return to the source connection. If GFCI devices are missing or faulty, it is possible for current to leak into the water. If a system is leaking current into the water, appliances will likely function as normal without any indication of a problem. Correctly functioning GFCI and ELCI devices will instantaneously detect the problem and disconnect the power source.
      In short, the person in the water IS NOT ELECTROCUTED but paralyzed by the stray current causing them to drown. And no, I have never heard of ESD from a hull cleaning business. I hear it from every single fresh water marina employee and on signs in every single fresh water marina I have been in in over 6000 miles.


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