Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 7: The Road to Canada!

Mackinac Bridge - going over it this time instead of under it!
Thursday, August 1st: Our road to Canada started around 3:30pm in Petoskey. We called the Spanish Marina to check on what time they close, and figured we'd be safe to arrive by 9pm. Our directions said that it should be a 4 hour drive. We hit a few "bumps in the road" though, with a bit of a wait at the border, and quite a few spots of road construction on the Trans-Canada Highway! As the drive time got longer and longer, we were now just hoping to arrive in Spanish by the time they closed for the night, or we weren't sure what we would do.

View of Mackinac Island from the Mackinac Bridge
First sign for Canada!
International Bridge Sault St. Marie

View from inside the International Bridge

We were a little nervous to cross the International Bridge in Sault St. Marie, both because it's a pretty intimidating bridge, and because we weren't sure if border control would want to search our boat or anything. In reality, there was a bit of a wait on the bridge due to construction, but crossing into Canada was not really a big deal. We handed over our passports and were asked a few questions about where we were going, what we were planning on doing, and whether we had a firearm, but I think so many boaters cross into Canada to go to the North Channel that it's probably just business as usual for border control.

Reaching the Canadian border on the International Bridge
View of the locks from the International Bridge
Bienvenue Sault Ste. Marie

Waiting in line for Canadian Border Control
Once through Border Control, we followed the truck route to 17 toward Sudbury (Trans-Canada Highway). It was pretty easy to follow the truck route, and we didn't need to use any special maps to stay on the route. We decided to follow the truck route on a tip from a boating friend (thanks!), since the regular route weaves through neighborhoods.

Just one of the many signs we followed
Driving... and driving...
and it's getting later... and later
We were still quite a ways away from Spanish as the sun began to cast a yellowish hue over the road. We called Spanish again to check in and let them know that we'd be cutting it VERY close. They didn't seem to concerned though, and gave us a slip assignment over to phone just to ease my nerves. It was pretty cool to pass signs for all the towns we've read about in the GLCC Harbor Reports and in our favorite North Channel book Well-Favored Passage by Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom.

A Spanish Marina sign... finally!
Pulling into the parking lot in Spanish
We finally arrived at the Spanish Marina at 8:50pm, after a 5 hour and 20 minute drive from Petoskey. With 10 minutes to spare, we went straight to the dock to check-in and pay for our slip and the deposit for the bathroom key. The staff was very friendly and polite, and they quickly got us checked in, while assuring us that our late arrival was no problem at all! :-)

Preparing the boat for launch in Spanish
Sunset launch at Spanish Marina, Ontario
We prepared the boat for launch as the sun was setting, and were greeted by hordes of hungry mosquitoes. I have never seen anything quite like it, not even last year in the North Channel. Needless to say, we learned our lesson about cutting it close and having to launch in the dark. It was horrible!

BUT... at least we had arrived, and were able to enjoy a night safely at dock with a nice shower facility, grocery store, poutine!, and LCBO nearby. We tried to get to bed early so that we could get an early start, but we were so excited I'm not sure either of us got much sleep! 

On to the North Channel Adventure tomorrow!