Hydrobikes for Exercise or Fishing on Crystal Lake

Hydrobike in Crystal Lake? My friend Paul Myers offered to take me out for a hydrobike waterbike ride on Crystal Lake. Paul assured me the bikes were safe, steady and unlikely to tip. We left the pier on the water bikes with Paul’s dog as our mascot. Paul assured me I would not get wet though, as a precaution, I wore a life vest and I left my cell phone in the car.

A hydrobike looks like a conventional bicycle attached a small platform straddling two pontoons. Riders peddle to turn the propeller and drive the impulsion system. There are no engines and the morning was nearly silent so we could easily talk as we water biked around smooth as glass Crystal Lake.

Hydrobiking on Crystal Lake

Paul and his family live on Crystal Lake and enjoy regular family hydrobike outings. Paul’s puppy jumps right on the platform for these trips. Paul likes to take the hydrobike out for exercise early in the mornings. I quickly felt ease on the water bike and the only concern was when I wandered into a shallow, weedy area. A few seconds of back peddling was all it took to dislodge the thick water plants which had wrapped themselves around the propeller.

Paul Myers and his dog take the hydrobike out on Crystal Lake

Ray Buresch invented hydrobikes, the pedal powered waterbike, in 1989. He then founded Fun Watercraft. Paul told me he can easily waterbike about five miles an hour. The hydrobikes can easily be ridden in even the windiest and waviest conditions and they are almost impossible to tip over according to Fun Watercraft. You can even fish with a baitcasting reel from your hydrobike, something I didn’t have the chance to do the first time I saw this at Constitution Sportfishing San Diego. To learn more about these fun waterbikes, follow Hydrobikes on Facebook.

Milwaukee Lakeshore State Park

Lakeshore State Park is on Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee adjacent to Discovery World and Festival Park home of Summerfest. During our visit on a warm summer afternoon, the 22 acre park was bustling with bicyclists and walkers enjoying the day. Canada Goose lined the banks of the fishing area while a few walkers looked out from the fishing pier. People on kayaks and stand up paddle boards sporting the top rated water sports products and gear.

As we strolled along the paved path, we stopped to enjoy the wild flowers and native vegetation. Found a nice branch to widdle with my best bushcraft knife. Signage and markers helped us identify the specimens. A few benches are strategically placed with views of the boats and Lake Michigan.

Lakeshore Park is a sanctuary for people, birds, plants and mammals too. On our walk we saw a red fox checking us out. The park is home for both red and grey foxes, minks, woodchucks and rabbits.

I learned some interesting facts at the park:

  • The water held in the Great Lakes could cover the entire United States by 9.5 feet.
  • The Great Lakes hold nearly 20% of the Earth’s and 95% of the Untied States’ fresh surface water.
  • 30% of Wisconsin lies in the Lake Michigan drainage basin – whatever is done to the land and surface waters in this area can eventually affect the lake.

The boat slips were mostly empty on the beautiful summer day. Canoeing and kayaking are also encouraged at the park. Admission to the park is free.

Lakeshore Park in Downtown Milwaukee

Lakeshore Park in Downtown Milwaukee

Preserving Falls of Clyde the Last Iron Hulled Tall Ship Honolulu Hawaii

What does it take to preserve and restore The Falls of Clyde, the world’s last iron-hulled sailing tall ship now docked in Honolulu, Hawaii?

The “Falls of Clyde” currently berthed in Honolulu Harbor near the Aloha Tower is the only surviving iron-hulled four-masted full rigged ship and the last sail-driven oil tanker in the world. The ship has been closed to the public for several years as work continues to restore and stabilize her.

We first learned about the ships plight from Jeanette Ainlay who has worked on the ship for over 20 years. Watch our interview with Jeanette at Scottish Fest in Waikiki.

First launched in 1878, the Falls of Clyde sailed from England to India along international trade routes. According to the Friends of Falls of Clyde, the ship is 266 feet long with 1,746 net tonnage, and is one of a series of ships named for waterfalls in Scotland.

Around the turn of the century, Captain William Matson of Matson Navigation purchased the ship. Her route then began in San Francisco with a belly full of fuel and supplies destined for Hilo, Hawaii. She returned with the steel tanks full of molasses from the sugar plantations. With her four masts and sails unfurled, the ship could cross the ocean in about 10 days, depending on weather.

Falls of Clyde

Over the years, she was converted to an oil tanker and hauled fuel to Hawaii returning to San Francisco with molasses.  She was sold to Associated Petroleum in 1906 maintaining the same route and cargo.  She headed to Alaska in 1921 as a fuel bunker where her rigging was removed. Honolulu residents brought her back to the islands the 1960’s, beginning preservation efforts.

During the late 1980’s, the ship went into dry dock for extensive repair. While docked at the Aloha Tower, the ship served as an educational center as part of the Bishop Museum. Locals reminisce about attending fundraiser parties on her decks in those days. The ship was in danger of deteriorating beyond salvage. In 2008 the Museum intended to scuttle the ship when the Friends of Falls of Clyde organized. The group raised funds to purchase the ship and long-term plans were developed including fund raising strategies.

In August, the group was awarded a federal National Trust for Historic Preservation grant for pre-dry dock work. They are counting on a “Save America’s Treasures” grant to help fund dry dock and repairs. A matching funds campaign has also been organized. Plans are to raise money to move the Falls of Clyde into dry dock where the hull will be sandblasted and the ship will be reinforced to increase safety to those who work on her. She will return to her pier at Aloha Tower where the deck will be replaced, the ship repainted and rigging reinstalled. The carved wooden bowsprit or maidenhead will be replaced.

The first step in the process is to stabilize the ship to maintain its structural integrity. Once the ship is stable, she can be moved to dry dock for further maintenance and preservation. Only then will restoration efforts begin. The Falls of Clyde is listed as a National Landmark and the goal is to restore the ship to its days as an iron-hulled oil tanker.

Bruce McEwan, President of The Friends of Falls of Clyde took us on a tour of the ship where we saw her current state for ourselves.  The hull of the ship is rusty and is in need of sandblasting and painting. Once we boarded, we could not miss the crumbling and badly deteriorated teak deck in desperate need of replacement. The four masts, rigging removed long ago from, once reached 70 feet towards the sky, now lay on the deck. The rusted sections are marked to prevent injury from stepping on a weak area.

“Most of us who have lived here, we have seen it when it was first restored in all its elegance so we sort of have a mental picture of what we want to take it back to“ said Bruce EcEwan.

Below deck where there is less exposure to the elements, the ship is in better shape. The first room we entered was a sparse crew sleeping area. Four short wooden bunk beds attached to the sides of the walls made for tight quarters. Cubbyholes built into the sides and front of the room stored minimal personal belongings. Nearby was the head, a wooden box with a hole to sit on and a porthole for natural light.

As on most ships, the cramped kitchen area required good organization skills to manage meal planning, cooking and serving. The massive iron stove was the focal point in the galley.  On cold nights, this stove would make a cozy warming station for weary sailors.

Entering the Captain quarters in the stern of the ship was like walking back in time. The wood paneling and teak benches formed a rounded room which showed an air of sophistication and elegance I had not seen on other parts of the ship.  The white painted walls curved around the built in teak benches covered with burgundy velvet covered cushions. The Captain and his officers might have spent evenings in this spacious entertaining area discussing politics or business deals over a glass of port.

As we toured the ship, I thought of the 12-16 man crew sailing across the sea. In port, on a sunny Honolulu afternoon the ship was quiet. Sailing 10-14 day across the Pacific, the ship’s crew would experience wind, rain, waves, blistering heat and bitter cold. The extreme conditions, cramped living areas and long days away from family was exchanged for good wages.

For now, the teak deck is eroding and the ship is a reminder of days long ago. Her future depends on those who believe she is a valuable part of history worth saving for posterity.

Do you want to learn more about what is happening with the Falls of Clyde today? Follow Falls of Clyde on Facebook or the Captain’s Log to learn about recent updates and events.

The Friends of Falls of Clyde is a 501C non-profit organization accepting donations to save this unique part of history. Building on the Million Penny campaign begun by Honolulu Advertiser news reporter Bob Krauss in 1960, is the current Million Quarter drive. All funds collected are converted to 25¢ increments for tracking purposes and you can visit their website to follow the progress of the campaign.

Click on the image below to watch the video of our tour of the Falls of Clyde with Bruce McEwan, President of The Friends of Falls of Clyde.

For more information, visit the Friends of Falls of Clyde on the web.

Port Edward on the Fox River Algonquin McHenry County Illinois

We dined at Port Edward in Algonquin, guests of Port Edward and McHenry County Visitors Bureau. The nautical themed restaurant and seafood menu has been a fixture of Algonquin and Fox River valley since 1952. It is a favorite fine dining locale for McHenry county residents and visitors alike.

Flat Iron Steak at Port Edward

Try the Flat Iron Steak at Port Edward

Owner Ed Wolowiec is a gracious host involved in all details of the restaurant. His background includes diving the oceans for treasure, classical musician and teacher. Ed designed and supervised the building of Port Edward Restaurant doing much of the work himself. You may see him driving around town in his classic Stutz Bearcat. Ed is active in the community including the Rotary Club.

Here is Ed holding the 1st production Materra Merlot wine.

Ed Wolowiec at Port Edward Restaurant with 1st production Materra Merlot

Ed Wolowiec at Port Edward Restaurant in McHenry County with 1st production Materra Merlot wine

The Friday night international seafood buffet and Sunday champagne brunch are highlights of the week. The selection of seafood treats is like no other you will find in the area. Limited vegetarian selections are on the menu. While known for seafood delights, Ed and Chef Randy have a little secret to share with you.


Diners can customize their experience with a choice of seating options available in the spacious restaurant. The well lit main dining room offers accessibility for all and is perfect for everyone. For a romantic dinner, request a quite table in the Lobster Cove or Secret Room. The Red Room is often used for cabaret shows or special events.

For those who plan ahead, reserve a table aboard the “Porpoise” up to one year in advance. Your party can enjoy a private meal while floating in the koi pond.

Savor scenes that change with the seasons from the Salem Lounge’s over-sized windows overlooking the Fox River. Enjoy cocktails or dinner as the wood bar radiates a warm glow in the sunshine. Evening crowds range from after work business colleagues to girls night out to couples.

Summer time dining dockside on the patio is a favorite for boaters who tie up and come ashore for lunch or dinner. Even dogs have their day with Tuesday evening outside Doggie Dine Out for owners and their pets.

Chicago’s WTTW Check, Please! filmed a segment at the restaurant last year. We were there for the shoot and took video of their video taping. Our favorite was producer David Manilow pretending to dive into the huge dish of paella.

You can keep up with Port Edward on Twitter and Facebook.

PORT EDWARD RESTAURANT
The Fox River and Algonquin Rd. (Rt. 62) in McHenry County
Algonquin, IL 60102
Phone: 847.658.5441 Fax: 847.658.5690

Our visit was sponsored by Port Edward and McHenry County Visitors Bureau.

Port Edward Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Port Edward Restaurant on Foodio54

Ice Cream Boat on the Fox River

An ice cream boat sailing down the Fox River? You bet.

We are sure to see interesting sights on a trip along the Fox River. Birds, hot air balloons even a spectacular waterfall. One thing I did not expect to find is a floating ice cream and hot dog vendor. If your on the Lower Fox River above the Algonquin Dam, keep your eyes open for this boat.

Ice cream boat

Ice Cream and Hot Dog Boat on the Lower Fox River

Founders Day Ericson Marine in Algonquin Illinois McHenry County

Algonquin, Illinois hosts an annual Founders Day festival. The weekend wraps up with fireworks at Ericson Marine. Before the show starts boat owners enjoy the day with picnics on their boats and visits to neighbors along the pier.

Ice Cream at Ericson Marine in Algonquin Illinois McHenry County

Ice Cream at Ericson Marine in Algonquin Illinois McHenry County

Carmen and Don Ericson treat boat owners who rent slips in their marina to 15 gallons of ice cream as we wait for sundown and the fireworks show to begin. These guys were recruited to dish out the goods before the sun melted our desert.

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