The brig Niagara, with you as a sail trainee, and part of the crew, will be sailing from her home port, Erie, Pennsylvania, west and north into Lake Huron, and across Lake Superior to Duluth, Minnesota.
Erie is situated at the heart of the Rust Belt in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, on Lake Erie's southern shore. The popular tourist destination of Presque Isle State Park occupies land on a peninsula nearby where the French built a fort in 1753. During the War of 1812, President James Madison ordered the construction of a naval fleet at Erie, resulting in four schooner-rigged gunboats and two brigs and Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's victory in the Battle of Lake Erie. The Erie Maritime Museum, home to the replica Brig Niagara, is located downtown in Presque Isle Bay.
Lake Erie passage
Sail the 200 mile length of Lake Erie, from the Welland Canal at the eastern end of the lake to the Detroit River at the western end.
Lake Erie is the fourth largest lake of the Great Lakes, and the thirteenth largest in the world. It is the shallowest and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes. The lake is named after the Erie tribe of Native Americans who lived along its southern shore.
The Detroit river is technically a Strait connecting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. At its narrowest near Windsor the river is walled in by two cities and full of boating traffic.
At its widest near Amherstburg, the river is littered with both natural and artificial Islands. Once heavily polluted now relatively clean with the return of Carp and other marine life.
Lake St. Clair
Lake Saint Clair lies between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario, and between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. It is 26 miles from north to south and 24 miles from east to west. It is a shallow lake for its size with an average depth of about 11 feet, a maximum natural depth of 21 feet, but is 27 feet deep in the navigation channel which has been dredged for ships. Lake Saint Clair is fed with fresh water flowing south from Lake Huron through the St. Clair River
St. Clair River
The St. Clair River is a 40.5-mile-long river in central North America which drains Lake Huron into Lake St Clair, forming part of the international boundary between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Michigan. The river is a significant component in the Great Lakes Waterway, with shipping channels permitting cargo vessels to travel between the upper and lower Great Lakes.
Lake Huron, sailing
Lake Huron is the second-largest of the Great Lakes, and the third largest fresh water lake on the planet. It's surface area is nearly as large as West Virginia. With a shoreline length of 3,827 miles, maximum and average depths of 750 and 195 feet, respectively, Lake Huron has a length or 206 miles, and breadth of 183 miles, and is almost 600 feet above sea level, statistics that tell you nothing of the joy of sailing her clear waters. Manitoulin Island, separating the North Channel and Georgian Bay from Lake Huron's main body of water, is the world's largest lake island.
Bay City, Michigan
Bay City is a port city on the southeast shore of Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay, straddling the Saginaw River. Early Bay City residents had little choice but to travel by water as they were surrounded by forests and marshlands, with no roads out. The first shipyard was established here in 1856, the start of a burgeoning industry, with some of the biggest shipyards on the Great Lakes. The first ships were schooners carrying hardwood lumber from the area to other Great Lakes ports.
A Bay City shipyard founded by Harry Defoe won a U.S. Navy commission to supply torpedo chasers and mine planters. Defoe was inspired to develop a revolutionary method of constructing ships. The “Roll-Over” method allowed welders to work easily on a ship’s hull before it was rolled over on its attached frame. Defoe spent the time between the two wars building ships that hauled cargo, soldiers, and the wealthy, including one that carried three American presidents, the yacht Honey Fitz.
The land around Bay City has long since been cleared of hardwood, and is for the most part farmland now. Still long lake ore ships transit the Saginaw River through the center of Bay City to load limestone gravel to ship out. Bay City, mindful of its heritage in sailing ships, has hosted the American Sail Training Association's Tall Ships Challenge series on numerous occasions.
Lake Huron is bounded on the east by Ontario, Canada and on the west by Michigan, USA. The lake was named by early French explorers after the Huron people, indigenous to the region.
Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes, with a surface area of 23,010 square miles, making it the third largest fresh water lake on earth, with a shoreline length of 3,827 miles. The lake is 577 ft above sea level. and has an average depth of 195 feet, a maximum depth of 750 feet, a length of 206 miles, and a breadth of 183 miles.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
"Soo Saint Marie" is on the St. Marys River in Ontario, Canada. Sault means "rapids" in French, so the full name translates to "Saint Mary's Rapids". With a mission established by French Jesuits in 1668, and fur trading posts soon after, this was one of the earliest European settlements in Canada.
Sault St. Marie, Michigan
Sault St. Marie, Michigan, is located at the easternmost end of Lake Superior. Sault St. Marie is home to the Soo Locks, an integral component of the St. Lawrence Seaway, connecting Lake Superior with the lower Great Lakes. Shipping traffic bypasses the St. Marys Rapids at the American Soo Locks, the world's busiest canal in terms of tonnage that passes through it.
The area was originally called Baawitigong, meaning "place of the rapids," by the Ojibwa, who used it as a meeting place during whitefish season. It is also one of the oldest European settlements in Canada. French Jesuits established a mission there in 1668, claiming the area for Louis XVI, and fur traders soon followed. The city name originates from Saults de Sainte-Marie, archaic French for St. Mary's Falls. Residents of Sault St. Maries, Ontario, just across the river via the International Bridge, are called Saultites.
Lake Superior is the largest of the five Great Lakes. Bounded on the north by the province of Ontario and the state of Minnesota, and on the south by the states of Wisconsin and Michigan, it is the largest freshwater lake in the world in surface area, and third largest freshwater lake in volume. empties into Lake Huron via the St. Marys River and the Sio Locks at Sioux Saint Marie. The lake has a surface area of 31,820 square miles, approximately the area of South Carolina. It has a length of 350 miles and breadth of 160 miles, an average depth of 482 feet and a maximum depth of 1,332 feet. There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover the entire land mass of North and South America with a foot of water. The shoreline of the lake stretches 2,726 miles.
The fourth largest city in Minnesota, Duluth is at the westernmost point of the Great Lakes on the north shore of Lake Superior. The the Atlantic Ocean's westernmost deep-water port is linked to the Atlantic Ocean 2,300 miles away through the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway. Duluth, with Superior, Wisconsin, called the Twin Ports, share the Duluth-Superior Harbor, the world's largest inland port. This is one of the most important ports on the Great Lakes, shipping coal, iron ore, and grain.