Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Apostle Islands to the Soo Locks

Menominee, MI is located on the Green Bay area of Lake Michigan and is a beautiful town. They are rightfully proud of their position on the lake and this park area, complete with old anchors, attests to this.

The marina is beautiful! There were many large cruising yachts, both power and sail, housed here with quite a few getting ready to cruise on this great day. The levee area Rick is standing on is about 10 feet above the water -- and last winter, ice from the lake actually came OVER this level! Yikes -- when we saw pictures of that in a local restaurant, we were glad we spent the winter in Florida.

Driving from the Menominee area north to the Sault Ste. Marie area we traveled along the lake for much of the trip. We had a great lunch at this roadside area that overlooked the lake which was wonderful.

The good weather held for us, but it was still cool when we visited the Soo Locks area in Sault Ste Marie, MI. These locks are located between Lake Superior and Lake Huron on the St. Mary's river. Because Superior is 21' higher than Lake Huron, the locks are required to allow ships to pass between the lakes. The locks are operated by the Corps of Engineers who have a beautiful viewing area available for the public.

We visited the locks many years ago and in the meantime, the Corps built this great viewing platform that gives a great view of ships transiting the locks. We are about 20' above the lock level here.

Sure enough, as we arrived at the platform, we saw this ship entering the lock from Lake Superior. The ship is using the Poe lock which is the largest lock available and is slightly over 1,000' long.

This is the Hon. James L. Oberstar a bit closer up as she moves into the lock. The Oberstar is about 806' long with a beam of 75' -- one large ship! This was remarkable to watch the captain ease this ship into the narrow lock. Quickly, the doors were closed on the lock and the water released to lower the ship 21'.

Wow -- here is the Oberstar as she is ready to enter Lake Huron. This gives a great visual of how far the ship is lowered by the lock. The entire process took about 20 minutes, which is remarkable. We saw quite a few more ships enter the lock during the few hours we were there and it is a fascinating process to watch.

This gives a view of the east or Lake Huron side of the lock. As you can see, even with these large locks, there is not a large amount of room for the ship. In fact, with the largest lake freighters, there is only 2.5' on each side between the ship and the lock wall! This makes for some very exact sailing!

1 comment:

squawmama said...

We were there a few years back and really enjoyed staying there. We stayed at a campgound very close to the locks.
Have fun & Travel safe