After our relaxed anchoring out in the Les Cheneaux islands, we headed back to St Ignace to drop off Camille so she could head back to Minneapolis. It was a windy day to head back and it was rather nerve racking to approach the marina and dock in 20 knot winds. But Mark did fabulous, as usual, and no dock or gelcoat was harmed in any way. We had some dinner across the street from the marina at a place called the Gangplank, really good food. The next day the shuttle van came to pick up Camille as we hugged and said our goodbyes.
After Camille left it was time for us to do a bit of route planning. We had planned quite a bit for our stops in Lake Michigan but hadn’t yet really considered where we were going to stop along the way in Lake Huron. Route planning involves looking at the charts for the area, looking at our guidebooks to tell us what sounds like an interesting town to visit, looking online for marina reservations or places to anchor. Michigan has made marina reservations a pretty simple process. Virtually all marinas in Michigan are owned and run by the Michigan DNR. They have a centralized website that you can go online to make reservations, see availability and even select the slip you want. Generally, unless is a very population spot like Mackinac Island, we are only reserving docks 2 – 3 days in advance. They are also pretty flexible in terms of weather changes too, since you can’t predict the weather. There have been several times we got somewhere and intended to stay only one night but added a second night at the last minute due to weather conditions and they have always been very accommodating.
We also look at several weather sources on a daily basis to determine which days are better for traveling and which days are better for staying at the dock. For wind forecasts, we look at Predict Wind and Windy, both apps for this purpose. We also look at weather radar for the local area we are in. We look at local weather forecasts from NOAA and we also look at the offshore weather forecasts for the Great Lake we happen to be on. They also have weather marine buoys in the middle of lake that gather weather data like wave heights, air temp, water temp, wind conditions, etc. You can actually text a specific buoy in the lake and it will text you back with the conditions at that buoy.
We also had to stock up on some groceries. The main grocery store in St Ignace is about a mile away. Before we left, we bought this great little cart made by Burley that can be used as a hand cart or attached to a bike. This is the first time we got it out and decided to bring it along for a grocery store run. We walked the mile or so to the grocery store, shopped, checked out and loaded up our little cart. We got some interesting looks from locals in the grocery store who were intrigued by our cart. But it was great! We were able to get a 12 pack of beer in the bottom and what would otherwise have been 3 bags of groceries all without a problem. And then we walked and wheeled our cart the mile or so back to the boat.
After we got back and put all our groceries away. We ran into this couple on the dock who owned this beautiful 44 foot Gozzard, which is a brand of sailboat. This is what a Gozzard looks like.
We walked by and complimented them on their beautiful boat, which turned into a rather lengthy conversation to learn that they are originally from Minnesota and the husband when to St Olaf College just as Mark did. Turns out they had the same major in college and some of the same professors. This conversation turned into happy hour which later turned into dinner at one of the places across the street from the marina.
This is exactly one of the reasons we love cruising is meeting new people and everyone we have met along the way have been so nice, friendly and helpful.
Given our rough timeframe to get through the Great Lakes this summer, we feel the need to put on some miles while the weather is good. It appears we will have great weather for the next 3 days, but it is looking like very little wind. One of the other considerations on Lake Huron is the upcoming annual Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race. The race starts on July 24th in Port Huron, which is the very southern end of Lake Huron and they race non-stop for several days to reach Mackinac Island. Although the racers are going non-stop, there are always a fleet of other sailors and support people that travel along the race course and stop at the various marinas along the route. This means all the marinas along the route will be fairly booked during race time. We are hoping to get south of Port Huron prior to the start of the race so that we don’t have to compete for available marina slips.
There is also similar race called the Chicago – Mack race that runs on Lake Michigan from Chicago to Mackinac Island. That race just started yesterday and we have been watching the racers make their way north to Mackinac Island. We can watch the race on this cool racing app to see who is ahead. You can click on each little boat to see all the information about that boat.
Next up, cruising Lake Huron!
First, let’s start with how to pronounce these beautiful islands that are about 30 miles north of Mackinac Island. It’s pronounced Lay-Shen-O. They are a grouping of about 36 islands, some inhabited but most are very rustic wilderness and unspoiled natural beauty. It is in the northern most portion of Lake Huron in the upper peninsula of Michigan. This is as far north in our travels as we will go without the Canadian border being open to proceed further north in this area.
On the morning of July 12th we departed Mackinac Island and headed the 13 nm to Marquette Island and dropped our anchor in Wilderness Bay. Here are some of the photos from our approach into Wilderness Bay. There was this one compound/house? Not sure what it was but it was large and sprawling.
Anchoring here was straightforward. Lots of room. Good holding in mud and very peaceful Once we anchored, we were the only boat to be seen for miles. No one here. No internet. No cell service. Here’s Mark and I with the anchor down, getting the Mantus anchor bridle in place.
Our entertainment at anchor was the large eagles nest that had an adolescent eagle in it. Mom and offspring would be out flying and hunting. You could hear the young eagle crying for mom occasionally. It was like, “Hey, are you going to come back and feed me? It’s getting dark you know”. Spent a lot of time watching the nest and waiting to get some good photos. I think my patience paid off. Here is the nest with just the telephoto lens.
Here’s the same photo, zoomed in a bit:
I never got a photo of mom, but she was huge compared to the young one.
We also spent our time doing a bit of boat cleaning that Camille was extremely helpful with and pitched right in. We cleaned all the port hole windows, applied metal wax, applied silicon grease to the gaskets and cleaned all the screens. Had a nice relaxing dinner aboard and of course played some Mexican train.
The sunset this evening was particularly spectacular. The sunset’s and sunrise’s have been particularly colorful due to wildfires in Canada.
The next day, we woke up to the peace and serenity that being alone at anchor affords. We knew we had some rain showers coming this morning and it rained for several hours starting mid-morning and into early afternoon. It wasn’t a storm front but a long passing shower. We spent the day inventorying the pantry to see what groceries we have used in the last month and what things we now need from the grocery store.
Mark also had time to make Camille a paracord bracelet as a bit of a birthday gift.
We made Walnut Shrimp for dinner. A dish that the 3 of us enjoy when we are together.
Then we had a bit of a sing along to the Eagles (no not the birds, the musical group). Mark and I broke out our guitar and uke to try to play along. Camille didn’t jump overboard at our attempt.
We played some more Mexican train and then just as we were about to head to bed. I peeked my head out in the cockpit one last time hoping to see the stars. As I entered the cockpit, I called below. “Woah! You guys have to see this!” We were enveloped in fog! You literally could not see past the confines of the cockpit and could not see the bow of the boat. We had the hatches open in the main area of the boat and we noticed that the fog started to fall through the hatch opening as if someone placed a fog machine right there. It was cool, creepy, awesome and weird all at the same time. Too bad you can’t really capture a photo of what this was like.
The next morning the fog had cleared to a beautiful sunny day with increasing winds. Today we would leave our secluded anchorage and head back to St Ignace as Camille will be departing us the next day to head home.
Yes, just in case you are confused Mackinac is spelled two different ways. The island is spelled Mackinac, while everything else, the city of Mackinaw, the straits of Mackinaw and the Mackinaw bridge is spelled Mackinaw. Don’t ask me why.
From St Ignace to Mackinac Island is just a short 1 hour sail. If going by ferry you could be there in about 15 minutes. They are very fast and there are a lot of them! They ferry people between St Ignace to Mackinac Island and from Mackinaw City to Mackinac Island.
Once we dodged all the ferries on the way over to the island and got settled into our slip, we spent the afternoon walking around town. We had a great lunch at the Great Turtle Brewstillery.
There are so many beautiful homes, buildings and historic shops in Mackinac that are picture worthy. One beautiful home in particular that is just ashore from the marina and currently sits right behind our boat is a bit of a sad tale. This 120 year old private summer cottage, had a house fire in May of this year due to a faulty chimney. They had to call fire crews from St Ignace and Mackinaw City to help extinguish the blaze. Unfortunately, the house has over $1 million dollars in damage. The good news is the private owners plan to completely restore the house.
Here are some additional cool historic buildings!
In case you are unfamiliar with Mackinac Island, the entire island is free of motorized vehicles. No cars, no golf carts (except on the golf course), not even electric bicycles are allowed. They only way options for getting around the island is 1) by foot, 2) by bicycle, 3) by horse. Yes, that’s right, lots of horse options. Horse taxi’s, carriages, horse back, wagon, etc. There are just a couple of motorized vehicles on the island. There is an ambulance, a fire truck and a police car. Here’s how to get around:
After exploring around town, we came back to the boat and had a light dinner and made a charcuterie platter and of course some happy hour drinks.
Mackinac Island marina had no wi-fi and there is very limited cell service in the area, so we entertained ourselves in between trips to town, eating and relaxing by playing cribbage.
The next day our agenda included a walk and tour of the Grand Hotel. This hotel is 134 years old and was opened on the same day that we visited in 1887. The views from the front porch of the hotel are spectacular! The Grand Hotel porch by the way is the longest porch in the world and is 660 feet long.
Today is also Camille’s birthday! Happy Birthday Camille!!! We had a great time making the day special for her.
The inside of the hotel is just as spectacular as the outside.
But nothing beats how awesome the porch is:
Well, except maybe the views from the porch!
We treated ourselves to a special lunch at the Carriage House after leaving the Grand Hotel. The Carriage House sits overlooking the harbor and is very upscale. It’s a birthday lunch for Camille.
We rounded out the day by hiring a private horse carriage ride to take us on a tour around the island. More spectacular homes and views! Our horses were Duke, that’s him on the left and Topper, on the right. They were great!
That’s our boat down there, photo taken from high on the hill during our carriage ride.
After all that activity, we had a quiet evening aboard the boat, some dinner and some home made brownies for Camille’s birthday!
The next day would be our last day on Mackinac Island before heading out again. Camille and I decided to do some shopping in town while Mark stayed back at the boat and filled our water tanks and did some general cleaning up. We really didn’t find anything that was worthwhile in the shops and came back to the boat empty handed.
Today was a really calm day on the water and since the carriage tour didn’t get to taking us to see the arch rock, we decided to hop in the dinghy and take a dinghy ride around the island to see arch rock.
That evening we ate dinner at Winchester Whiskey & Bourbon Room. It was great food. Camille had the whitefish sandwich which was about as big as the plate and Mark and I split a burger. Camille and I got a great drink called a B&B smash. It was gin, basil, blackberries, lemon and honey. It was delicious.
Tomorrow morning we are departing Mackinac island. It was a beautiful 3 day stay!
We left off at Beaver Island, so on Tuesday July 6th we set an alarm (I know, I know….) and got up at 5 am so we could leave Beaver Island and head to St Ignace. This is about a 40 mile passage and will take us about 8 hours. We are heading to St Ignace to meet our friend Camille who will be joining us aboard Painkiller for about a week before we returns home again.
This is the beautiful sunrise that we were treated to as we left Beaver Island this morning. Some things are worth getting up for.
It was a beautiful wind day today with winds directly behind us at about 10 knots. It is days like today that we wish we had a spinnaker sail. The other highlight of this passage was crossing under the Mackinaw Bridge and entering Lake Huron, our second Great Lake.
We pulled into St Ignace around 1:30 pm and got settled and walked across the street from the marina to a great little restaurant called the Gangplank. It was great food and we were already exhausted and ready for a nap. We went to St Ignace a day earlier than we had originally planned because we knew there was a weather front coming in bringing rain and thunderstorms. The entire next day and the day after that ushered in the storm front and kept us aboard the boat. We literally didn’t leave the boat for about 48 hours. It was 55 degrees, raining, windy and not fit for human consumption outside.
We spent our days organizing, blog writing, reading, relaxing, made a pot of chili and some corn bread and did some laundry.
Thursday July 8th – Camille has arrived! She flew into Chippewa County International airport in Sault Ste Marie. She was able to find a shuttle to take her the 30 miles or so from the airport and drop her off at the marina in St Ignace. We are happy she has arrived! Let the fun begin! Camille has also brought with her some nicer weather! The clouds began to break up when she arrived!
After Camille arrived we headed out to eat at the Mackinac Grill right on the water just down the street from the marina. Then we headed back to Painkiller for cocktails and some Mexican train dominos.
Next up – Mackinac Island!
Beaver Island has a permanent resident population of about 550 people. Certainly in the summer the population grows considerably. Of course, being an island, everything must be brought over from the mainland via the ferries that run multiple times a day from Charlevoix. There are 2 ferries that run – The Emerald Isle and the Beaver Islander.
Today is the Beaver Island 4th of July parade! Right down main street with everyone in attendance. Don’t expect fancy floats or huge animal balloons, everything here came from the creative ingenuity of the locals who use the resources they have at hand to put together a festive event. Otherwise it would have to come over on the ferries.
We scoped out our spot on the curbside of the main street directly across from the community center which had the local radio station, WVBI, broadcasting the commentary of the parade as it progressed down the street.
Here is an indication of the crowd gathered for the parade:
As we waited for the parade to start, the radio station was playing patriotic music, such as God Bless the USA. I went over to grab a hotdog, chips and a soda for Mark and I inside the community center across the street for lunch as we waited for the parade.
The parade kicked off with veteran color guard carrying the American flag. My faith in humanity was restored as we witness a family sitting near us with a mom, dad and 2 pre-teen boys. As the veterans approached the dad said “Stand up boys and take your hats off” I love the respect for our veterans, respect for our flag being taught by this dad to his young sons!
The parade consisted of homemade floats, cars decorated to represent groups, businesses or people, fire trucks, etc. It seemed that everyone who was a permanent resident of the town was represented in the parade. The community center had put together small gift bags with candy, treats and small toys for every kid in town and were handing them out to all the kids. Most of the kids were in the parade with their families so as cars or floats went by the treat bags were handed to the kids.
Here’s a sampling from the parade:
The guy on the top of that RV is none other than Michael Beans! We were shocked, what is Michael Beans doing in Beaver Island? Who is Michael Beans you ask? He is a singer/entertainer/pirate who we have heard several times in our travels to the British Virgin Islands. Most anyone who has sailed in the BVI has likely heard of, or been entertained by Michael Beans. But what the heck is he doing in Beaver Island? Turns out Michael is from Michigan and got his start some 40 years ago playing gigs in Beaver Island for friends around a campfire. Small world.
Later after the parade and into the evening, we headed down to the Shamrock bar and grill to sit on the patio and listen to Michael Beans! It was an awesome evening. It was a pretty windy evening with a front coming through and as we were enjoying the music of Michael Beans, they announced at the bar that a boat was dragging across the anchorage. So, glad it wasn’t us and we decided to bring the boat to the dock!
The fireworks were actually on July 5th, not sure why. But it was an awesome display!
We left Petoskey on July 2nd heading for Beaver Island. We will spend the 4th of July at Beaver Island and we are told they have a parade as well.
First let me tell you a little history about Beaver Island. Did you know that Beaver Island once was the only kingdom with a crowned king that has ever existed in the United States? James Jesse Strang was the Mormon king of Beaver Island. You are likely all familiar with Brigham Young who was a Mormon leader who led his people to Salt Lake City, Utah. James Jesse Strang was competing with Brigham Young as the declared leader of the Mormon church. James led his people to Beaver Island. In 1850 James was crowned king at a coronation held by his followers. It turns out that declaring yourself king can draw unwanted attention from the federal government. James was arrested and taken to Detroit to stand trial for treason. However, he was acquitted and returned to Beaver Island and celebrated by his followers. In June of 1856, just 6 years after he was crowned king, the USS Michigan – the same naval warship that took Strang to trial in Detroit – was again docked in the harbor at St. James.
The story goes that Strang was invited to join the captain on the ship for dinner. And as he walked down the dock, two men shot him in the back and the head.
It’s not clear just how involved the U.S. government was in the attack on Strang. But the two assailants and their families were whisked away on the USS Michigan.
They were never charged with a crime. Strang later died of his injuries a few weeks after the attack.
We made it to the kingdom of Beaver Island around 2 pm after leaving Petoskey around 8 am.
We found a spot in the anchorage to drop our anchor and settle in for the evening. Now one of the questions you might ask is, “How do you know where to anchor?” Well, we use various resources, one of which is an app/website called “Active Captain”. Think of this as the trip advisor for the boating world. Others who have stayed in anchorages or marinas leave their reviews and comments about the spot. What they liked, what they didn’t like, what to see, what to do, etc.
Now some of the reviews on Active Captain said that the anchorage at Beaver Island can be weedy and as a result some have experienced poor holding due to the weeds. We picked what we hoped would be a good spot and set our anchor alarm and kept a sharp eye on items on shore to ensure we were not moving. An anchor alarm is another app that we have where you can mark the spot where you dropped your anchor and then set a radius that would depend on how much anchor chain you have used. If your boat moves outside of that defined radius or circle then an alarm will sound so that you can do something if your boat is moving too much. All seemed well into the evening and night.
As we slept we felt and heard the wind pick up around 3 am. I am not sure I slept much after 3 am with all the noise of the rigging banging, the anchor and chain banging and the wind howling. The wind was up to about 20 knots by around 6 am. Mark was actually awake and out of bed around 6 am watching the situation and our anchor alarm. All of a sudden around 7:30 am I hear Mark say, “We need to move now!” “We are dragging anchor!” I got up as quickly as I could and threw on whatever clothes were nearby. Before I even really had my eyes open, I was at the helm maneuvering the boat as Mark was pulling the anchor up. Once we got the anchor off the bottom, it was readily apparent why we were moving with the increased wind and the huge ball of weeds that engulfed our anchor. You literally couldn’t even see the anchor, just a ball of weeds. Our anchor was stuck in the weeds but not stuck to the bottom of the lake as it should be.
It took Mark about 20 minutes to pull off all the weeds from the anchor with a boat hook while I was motoring us around the harbor waiting for this task to be completed. Once we were able to free the anchor from it’s weedy casing, we could set about the task of finding a new spot to drop it in the water again and hopefully have it hold to the bottom in sand or mud rather than weeds.
We dropped the anchor one more time, watched and waited, set the anchor alarm and hoped for the best. The wind was starting to die down and the rest of the day the winds were very quiet and calm. So we stayed exactly where we wanted to. However, we looked at the forecast for the winds for the next couple of days and the winds were only going to pick up both on the 4th and 5th. Wind speeds were looking to be 20 – 30 knots. We called the Beaver Island marina and even though we didn’t have reservations they were able to squeeze us in at the dock so we could have a good night sleep without having to worry about the anchor alarm.
When it was calm we did manage to take the dinghy into the small town here and explore and have some lunch. Here is our dinghy, her name is Nutmeg!
Here is the great little place we had lunch at. Sat on the porch with views of the water/marina.
The anchorage was beautiful and we certainly enjoyed it when it was calm and we weren’t worrying about our anchor. We enjoyed the sunset and sitting on the bow on the evening of July 3rd.
The people in that boat pictured in the sunset, got in their dinghy shortly after we took these photos, so we waved them over to let them know we took some cool shots of their boat with the sunset and we could send the photos to them. As they pull up in their dinghy, flashes of recognition happen with both of us. This is Jordan and Mary Beth. We met them a year ago on Mackinac Island during our stay there and here they are anchored in front of us. Reconnecting, questions and answers ensued which then led to a sunset dinghy ride and concluded with rum aboard Painkiller. Fun night!
Once we left Lake Charlevoix it was a quick 3 hour motor to Petoskey. There was little to no wind today hence the need to motor. When the wind is calm, unfortunately that often means the flies will descend. This passage did not disappoint in that regard. By the time we got to Petoskey the first order of business was to wash the boat. We spent about 2 hours giving her a good scrub to get off all the bug remnants. Then we headed to the showers to clean up ourselves.
We walked around town to check out the shops and had a late lunch/early dinner at Duffy’s Garage which had fabulous brick oven pizza that was amazing. Then we headed back to the boat for our nightly round of cribbage and watching the sunset.
The next day brought spotty showers. We seem to be in the weather pattern of showers and fronts coming through and have yet to experience the high pressure systems that typically bring warm and sunny summer weather. When you live on a boat there are tasks associated with just living that one must accomplish, today it was laundry day. The marina has washers and dryers in their lounge building to make this an easy task. $2 to wash and $2 to dry.
We also spent some time talking with our boat neighbors aboard Wind Dance – Mike and Cheryl who are from the Detroit area and have brought their boat around to Lake Michigan from Lake Huron. We sat and reviewed the charts together and they were able to share with us a wealth of information about Lake Huron. Where to go, where not to go, where to eat, where to dock, etc. It is awesome meeting new people and getting local knowledge from people who have been there before.
The rest of the day was spend doing I don’t know. Sort of falls into the category of “I don’t know what I did today, but it took all day”
The next day was socked in with fog…the entire day. Today is shopping day in town to gather some items that are on our shopping list.
Here are some of the foggy pics:
The fog seemed to have settled in the marina and near the water however, when we headed up the hill and into town it seemed less foggy here. One of our stops was the local hardware store to buy a new hose for washing the boat. Even the hardware store has a cute store front.
We stopped in a variety of other stores and shops along the way and took some photos of the park that runs through the center of town.
That my friends is Ernest Hemingway, who liked to spend time in Petoskey, MI. Where hasn’t Hemingway spent time?
We also spent some time with another couple that we met here in Petoskey last year. Kevin and Joanne who own an Island Packet 350. Last year when we met they had just purchased their boat that very week and have now enjoyed a full year of owning Wild flower. They are a few years behind us in terms of timeline but they are hoping to leave the dock and depart for southern shores and perhaps the Bahamas. The cruising community on the water seems to be very small and most people we meet, it isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later! Based on conversations we expect to run into a lot of people we have met previously in the Bahamas.
In town we found this amazing little general store, Symon’s general store. It’s a bit of a deli, specialty foods and wine kind of place. I prefer to think of it as the happy hour store. They literally have everything you need there for a proper happy hour. Meats, cheeses, snacks, spreads, etc. And wine! The entire basement of the store is this really cool wine cellar that feels like you are in Italy some where. They have some white linen draped tables with a small kitchen that they can host small private dinners. And you feel like you are eating in the wine cellar. The wine selection here was outstanding.
On our last day in Petoskey, the weather finally cleared enough for a proper sunset!
We really have no idea anymore what day it is, so we gave up and now call everyday Blursday. After we left the Charlevoix marina we headed east into Lake Charlevoix to anchor for several days in Oyster Bay. It’s a very protected area with nice lake homes dotting the shores and wooded with pine trees. It feels like being up north somewhere in Minnesota. In this area of the lake there is no place to go ashore since it is all private homes.
While we were here on anchor, it quite literally rained for 3 days solid, or so it seemed.
It started out with just a cloudy, foggy sort of day as we made our way into Lake Charlevoix and into Oyster Bay. Here are some photos from along the way.
We spent 3 days looking for things to keep us busy on the boat in the rain. I must say we very much appreciate the enclosure for the cockpit as it really gives us a whole additional room in the boat and allows us to sit in the cockpit even while it is raining. Otherwise we would have to sit down below in the boat and really can’t see what is happening outside.
I did some yoga on the front deck when it wasn’t raining, we spent some time doing fill it in books and puzzles. We also do “normal stuff” that you all do everyday such as make the bed, pick up the “house”, do some cooking, etc. However we probably do some stuff that you all don’t do everyday such as watch our anchor alarm to make sure we aren’t moving and we are staying where we intend to. Zip up the enclosure, unzip the enclosure, open the hatches, close the hatches, etc.
One of the things that is a bit different is how we store things and how we have to play “Jenga” to move things to get to other things. As a result, anything we do on the boat takes twice as long. As an example, Mark thought he would make me a bracelet out of paracord to pass the time. The items he needed to do this are stored under our bed. This requires moving all the things from under the bed, opening the compartment, finding the container that the paracord is stored in and getting it out and then reversing all these steps to put it back. It looks something like this:
Here’s Mark hard at work making me a bracelet. Thanks honey! And a picture of the final product!
One evening we were grilling up some hamburgers and sitting in the cockpit and saw what appeared to be a person moving quickly across the water while standing up. This looked really weird, like how was he doing that? There was no sail like a wind surfer, there was no motorized sound, he wasn’t being towed by something. This is something we have never seen before. As he came closer to our boat we were able to get some photos of him. It looks like a motorized surf board but perhaps with an electric motor since it was virtually silent. Here’s what he looked like and our hamburgers, yum!
The next day was more rain and laying around. We have had quite a cribbage tournament going over several days. I have been kicking Mark’s butt at cribbage.
With all the rain and no sunshine our solar panels are not producing much electricity to put back into our battery bank. We have 600 amp hours of battery bank (6 group 27 AGM batteries) for the house bank. We can use about 300 amp hours of the battery bank and we are have currently used about 160 amp hours from our battery bank, so we like to get them recharged and back to a more full state. In order to charge our batteries, we can do that in a number of ways. 1) run the engine 2) run the generator 3) solar panels 4) wind generator. Right now due to the weather 3 & 4 are not options, no wind and no sunshine. We decided to run the generator for bit and recharge our batteries.
Running the generator snowballed into checking it out and then changing the oil since Mark was already in there. Again, we play boat “Jenga” since everything that we store in our cockpit lockers (lazarettes) has to be removed to get underneath the cockpit where our generator lives. The cockpit lockers are rather large and here are all our worldly possessions removed to change the generator oil.
Literally no one can move until everything is put back in it’s place.
Most of the time, I am sure all you dear readers think that this is what we are doing on this sailing trip:
But, here is what we are really doing:
I also made some chocolate chip cookies one afternoon. I was hoping the dry heat from the oven would help get rid of the dampness that has over taken the boat and everything we own. The cookies were delicious!
Finally on the morning that we left Oyster Bay, it was nice enough to show you what a beautiful anchorage this is:
Charlevoix was one of our favorite stops last year as we made our way around Lake Michigan, so it was high on the list for a repeat visit this time around. We spent 3 days in the Charlevoix City Marina mostly due to some high winds and weather that was predicted to head our way and with high winds, we would prefer to be at a dock rather than on anchor.
After our excitement with the water spouts we pulled into Charlevoix around 5 pm and got settled at the dock and then made our way into town to seek out some dinner. We stopped at one of our favorites, the Bridge Street Tap Room. It was a bit chilly, so we ate inside and they had some awesome smoked brisket. I had the smoked brisket sandwich and Mark has the smoked brisket nachos. It was delicious!! We walked back to the boat and we were in bed pretty early since we have been up since 4:30 am.
The next day we took a long walk around town to see some of the sights. We were told that the Charlevoix library was a place to stop and see. In 2006 the new Charlevoix public library was opened to the public. The building was a previous middle school that was built in 1927 and was completely renovated to the tune of $2 million dollars. It is quite an elaborate library for a town of just over 2,000 people. Here are some highlights:
Next, we walked to a well known historical district of the town to see the Mushroom Houses. Builder Earl Young built houses of local materials such as limestone, field stone and boulders to fit within the natural landscape of the building site. The key features of his designs include wide wavy eaves, exposed rafter tails, cedar-shake roofs or thatched roofs. Because of their whimsical design they are often referred to as Gnome homes, mushrooms houses or Hobbit houses. There are several examples of his housing designs within a block or two area of downtown Charlevoix. Here are the ones, we captured:
We walked back to the main street and had lunch at the Village cafe right on the sidewalk and then got a few necessities at the local grocery store. The rest of the day was spent hanging on the boat, watching other boats come in and having some dinner aboard.
The next day there was a farmer’s market in Charlevoix that we went to go check out. They had quite a variety of farm fresh items and crafts to choose from. We settled on some fresh strawberries and some homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, YUM!
The weather we were expecting arrived today and it rained for much of the afternoon. So, we made the best of our time and organized the aft cabin in the boat, we will be having guests aboard in the next couple of weeks. We also tackled a project on our to do list. We replaced the carpet on our stair treads that go down into the boat. To say they were worn and gross was an understatement. I am not certain you could vacuum the dirt out of them any more. Now they look awesome and brand new.
Here is where our stairs normally go. We have removed them to change out the carpet.
The stairs all complete and back in place!
We had a great final dinner in town at the East Park Tavern and called it a night. Tomorrow we plan to move out into Lake Charlevoix and anchor for several days.
The day started well enough…We got up at about 5 am to make the passage from Frankfort, MI to Charlevoix, MI which is about 64 nautical miles. This is a long day for us and will take us about 12 hours to complete, which is why we are starting at 5 am.
We are bundled up since it was only 46 degrees when we left the dock this morning! We are going to need some hot coffee! Thanks Mark for making coffee!
The first part of our journey was spent watching the beautiful sunrise over the sandy dunes of the Michigan shoreline.
After the sun rose, we were better able to view the sand dunes that are part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Around about 11 am we started to see clouds building into the west. We knew before we left that there was a chance of showers today, but no one said anything about thunderstorms. We were watching the weather radar on our phones and we were able to see that at first it looked to be just some passing showers. We decided it was time to bring in some of our sail in case the winds picked up ahead of the showers. So, we reefed the mainsail and the jib to better handle any wind gusts we might experience.
This is what the sky looked like as the rain approached. It was still sunny to the north, south and east of this so it looked like an isolated front and on radar it was all green and a very thin line of a front. We hoped a passing shower.
Just as I finished reefing the main sail, I turned back to Mark who was at the helm and then I saw this:
Are you seeing what I am seeing? Yes, folks that a water spout behind the boat. I think I said, “Uh-oh! I don’t like the looks of that!” Which made Mark turn around and look and he exclaimed “That’s a water spout!”
We quickly decided that if there is enough wind in this storm to produce a water spout, there is likely be too much wind to have any amount of sail out. We rapidly took down both the main sail and the jib. I don’t think we have ever done that task so fast before. And since this was behind us, we decided to see how fast our motor would actually go. Let’s floor it!
Keep in mind at this point the water spout was a safe distance behind us, however we still didn’t care for the dark clouds that are continuing to creep toward us from the west that are not quite here yet. We still see clearing to the north and with the increased speed of our motor we are hoping to get to the northern clearing before we are over taken by the dark clouds from the west.
This is what the radar looked like with us being the blue dot on the map.
What was a thin line of green on the radar, erupted into a yellow/orangish blob that you see in the picture.
We were being followed by the “Maria G”, a 656 foot freighter that was about 3 – 4 miles to our stern. She would be right in the way of the worst part of the storm. As we are watching her both on the water and on our AIS, we see that she makes a sharp turn toward the east as if to avoid something. Then looking closely, we see what she was turning to avoid. Water spout #2
Not soon after her turn toward the east that water spout quickly dissipated. As suddenly as it disappeared, water spout #3 reappeared on the other side of the Maria G with a much more organized looking funnel coming down the the clouds.
All this activity lasted for about 20 mins and all of the water spouts were even before the rain or anything ever came. You could see the rain coming and we watched as the rain engulfed the Maria G and she was no longer visible to us. Then we saw the lightening and heard the thunder clap! Storms may be scary enough on a boat, however lightening is the one thing that strikes fear in any sailor. That big tall mast up in the air is like an invitation for lightening to come find you. We temporarily turned off all our navigation and VHF and get out the hand held VHF. Any electrical antennas we have at the top of our mast will also attract lightening.
When the front did get to us, it was thankfully underwhelming. Very little wind and just a bit of rain, one or two more lightening/thunder claps and the whole thing was over. We were very happy we were on the north side of the storm and continuing to head north as quickly as we could. Had we been even a mile or two south of our position back with the Maria G we might have had a different story to tell.
It took us awhile to calm our nerves, recount the story of what had just happened to each other and our family and by that time the sun was shining and we were back to sailing on the remainder of our way to Charlevoix.