Saturday June 20th – We left Frankfort, Michigan and are headed for Leland, Michigan. We have about 36 nautical miles to go today, so we got going early this morning. There are lots of sights to see along the coast today as we will pass by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Shoreline, Point Betsie Lighthouse and South Manitou Island.
First up on our journey is Point Betsie LIghthouse. This lighthouse is said to be one of America’s most photographed lighthouses and was the last manned lighthouse on Lake Michigan before it was automated in 1983. It is still a fully operational lighthouse and fog signal that marks the entrance to the Manitou passage on the lake.
Next up was the sand dunes. I am not sure we got to see and appreciate the full beauty of the sand dunes from the water. There really isn’t anywhere to access the sand dunes via the water when you are in a large sailboat. You could likely do it in a smaller powerboat however. And hey, we have a lot of miles to cover today, so we get to appreciate what we can from the boat as we pass by.
After all the excitement, yes it is exciting when you have something on shore to look at, work with me people….we spotted a big freighter on our AIS. He is heading right toward us. This one is going to get close. At first we were on a collision course and heading right for each other, head to head. Mark altered our course to the right of the Manitou passage and the large freighter altered his course to the left of the Manitou passage. The ship is named “Beatrix” and she is 515 feet long. Our biggest freighter yet and the closest yet. We passed by her within about 1/2 nautical mile. She was steaming along at about 11 knots of speed.
Imagine people standing up looking out those windows at the top to give you an idea of the scale of this ship.
We got into Leland just in time for happy hour and a nice steak dinner aboard the boat. We plan to be in Leland for several days since we are expecting a cold front to come through which will bring storms, rain and high winds. Also it’s nice to be in one spot for several days as we are getting a bit travel weary.
Leland is the first harbor we have been in that it feels more like people are traveling on the lake rather than just local boaters. Everyone here in the marina seems to have traveled from somewhere else, most are coming from Frankfort like us since it’s the logic next port. A sailboat pulled in next to us and it’s a couple with their 2 teenage sons. They sailed the last 36 hours straight from Holland, Michigan. If you look at a map Holland, Michigan is in the southern part of Lake Michigan and Leland is fairly far north.
Sunday June 21st – We woke up this morning to a beautiful fog in the marina. Fog is always beautiful when you are in a marina and scary when you are out in it. Remember those big freighters?
I made some scones this morning to have with our coffee while we watched the fog since it’s Father’s day and wanted to give Mark a treat today. After our morning coffee ritual, the fog was lifting and we decided to explore the town of Leland.
Leland has it’s roots as a fishing village and it’s one of the last remaining commercial fishing villages in the state of Michigan. As a nod to Leland’s past there is a section of town along the waterfront called Fishtown. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and the buildings were once early 1900’s fish shanties. Most of the buildings now have boutique shops and stores that have replaced the smokehouses and net storage.
One of the shops that has a bit of fascinating history behind it is the “Dam Candy Store”. The obvious origin of the name is its location right next to the dam, however kids over the years have reveled in the fact that asking to go to the “Dam Candy Store” allowed them to swear in front of their parents and not get in trouble. So, you can image how many times this was repeated.
We wandered around the cute village, the population of Leland is only 377, however there is a lot going on in this tourist town in the summer months.
We stopped for lunch at a great restaurant called The Cove. It overlooks the dam in Fishtown.
After an afternoon of shopping and wandering, we headed back for some eventual dinner of grilled pork chops and salad aboard the boat. Relaxing, chatting with boat neighbors and the sunset rounded out our evening. This is really the first place we have been that we have been able to see the sunset over Lake Michigan. Leland harbor is only separated from Lake Michigan by a rock break wall.
Monday June 22nd – We awoke this morning to the arrival of the cold front that we knew was heading our way. The sky looked pretty ominous as the front was ushered in and brought sustained winds of 30 knots with higher gusts and some rain. When looking at the radar, this is a large low pressure system that is heading over us and this is just the leading edge of the low. A steady stream of boats were coming in all day today to get out of the weather and tied to a dock. Today was spent doing lots of maintenance and upkeep items that we haven’t gotten around to yet. It was laundry day, run to the grocery store day, blog writing, boat cleaning, reading and otherwise generally relaxing.
Tuesday June 23rd – Today is an all out gully gushing rain as the back side of the low pressure system is over us.
We were without internet for about half the day today, so not wanting to go out in the rain to the marina office to tell them about the Wi-fi, I tried to call them. However, we found out that their phones are not working either. So, I put on all my rain gear and walk to the marina office cuz there is nothing else to do and I can find out what is going on. I find out that the marina has 3 large electrical trunk lines that supply electricity to the marina. One of the lines is down as well as the transformer where that line comes from. This means that half the town is without electricity, no internet, no working phones in the marina and their toilets in the marina are not operating since they run on an electric water pump to flush. I guess we should be grateful that we have electricity on the boat and the docks. So, I head back in the rain to tell Mark what’s going on. No sooner do I get back to the boat and we lose electricity on the boat and docks. I guess the electric company was working on the transformer and brought stuff down to ultimately turn everything back on, as our outage was short lived.
To pass the time today with the storms and no internet, we made chocolate chip cookies and played cribbage.
The rain lifted enough in the afternoon that people started to mill about the docks. One of the commercial fishing boat has just come in and they are loaded with a huge catch of Lake Michigan whitefish. The boat’s name is “Stormin’ Norman” which seems appropriate for the weather today.
They had at least 40 of these bins filled with fish!
I was talking with the fisherman about where they take their fish and where they are sold. There is a small fish market ashore that buys a large portion of their catch. The fish literally goes from the lake, to the boat, to 50 yards ashore to the fish market. So, we headed to the fish market to buy us some fresh catch.
Here’s the pound and a half filet of whitefish just caught hours earlier.
It made for a delicious dinner!