Meeting new people, Boat Chores and sailing races
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!