Well, Mother Nature, it took you long enough.
Spring is finally here, hopefully for good. Lake Ontario has thawed out, the birds are back, the fish are starting to spawn, and it's time to get back out on the water.
We usually make the first trip of the season a short shake-down cruise, rarely more than an hour or two, just to make sure everything's running properly. At this point the engine's been sitting unused for seven months, the remaining fuel's a bit older than that, and if something does decide to break we'd rather not be out of rowing distance from the dock.
As is usually the case, everything ran just fine. The fuel (10% ethanol with a bit of stabilizer), having been in a properly sealed tank all winter, caused no problems. We replaced the cranking battery this spring and, thankfully, have had no more electrical troubles. Although they certainly can't be called clean compared to more modern designs, simple two-stroke engines like Sunset Chaser's Johnson J30 are remarkably hard to kill.
It is going to be an interesting year for navigation on the Great Lakes. Here on Lake Ontario, it's not too bad, with water levels 20 cm below the 10-year average, and 47 cm below last spring. We'll see exposed shoals where there are usually sandbars, and the propeller shops will do good business this year. Lake Huron, though, is now 40 cm below chart datum, and within 3 cm of record low water- nearly a metre below where it ought to be at this time of year, due mainly to a poorly planned and poorly executed dredging project in the St. Clair River. Many docks are high and dry, and key routes are completely unnavigable.
In other words, if you're heading for the Huron-Georgian-Michigan basin this year, you'd better test and calibrate that depth sounder.