Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Signs of life

Today's Sault Star brings word that the famed Soo locks, which connect Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes, opened to shipping yesterday.

It was a snowy start to the navigation season, to be sure, but apparently a dozen or so big lakers are set to bump their way through the ice, heading south toward the St. Mary's River and points beyond.

But if this news has you hungrily eyeing your own dust-covered vessel, you'd better hold up a bit (unless you've got a survival suit). A long winter in the Great Lakes region has led to a longer wait (at least compared to recent years) for ice-out. Up at the Sault, the Canadian lock, meant for pleasure boaters, won't budge until May 15.

For the full Sault Star story, click here.

To read about the closing of the locks, which only happened a couple months back, click here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Life preserver

The State of Michigan has come up with an innovative way to preserve its Great Lakes maritime heritage.

According to a report last week from the University of Michigan's Capital News Service, the state began selling special "Save Our Lights" license plates back in 2001. Since then, 14,337 of the plates have been sold, generating US$215,800 in revenue, all of which will be doled out to lights around the state in the form of grants.

Given that most historic lighthouses rely on volunteer labour to keep going, this is a significant amount of cash, indeed. And the need is certainly there; according to the Capital News Service, Michigan has more lights than any other state in the U.S.

One of the lights in line for a grant is Michigan's Grand Traverse lighthouse, which runs an innovative program that allows volunteers to sign on as keeper for short stints during the summer months. You can read more about this light here.

Read the story from the Capital News Service here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Over the page

Well, for the 26th and hopefully final time, I'm done. I've just spent the last three days going over the final proofs for the Lake Erie manuscript. This round of changes is it for me, then it's off to the printer. Then the market (meaning you good people, hopefully) can be the judge. I look forward to hearing what you think, and learning what worked and what didn't, starting in May.

Hopefully you won't be shy about telling me.

My friend Hadley, who has writing cred to spare (click here for more on her first novel) often compares this process to giving birth. And it's true. Except, based on my admittedly very limited knowledge of giving birth, I'd say it could be even more painful and nerve-racking.

In any case, after four years' work, that's pretty much that. Meantime, much has happened around these parts. On February 20, a terrible fire took out a number of historical buildings just north of here on Queen Street, putting a number of unfortunate residents and small businesses quite literally out of house and home. I could both see and smell it from my office.

There has also been the story of record snowfalls in southwest Ontario this year, which should be a boon for lake levels this summer after some rather scary drops last year that made parts of the Great Lakes look more like the Great Wetlands (click here for more on last year's levels).

It's definitely a cue to start thinking about the rapidly approaching paddling season. And with no other big projects on the horizon, I can hardly wait.