Monthly Archives: August 2015

Summer in Michigan

It has been a very busy week and we have moved the boat about 140 miles. With Claire on board we have now enjoyed the villages of Leland, Frankfort, Pentwater, and Grand Haven, Michigan. Here is what has been going on:

Monday (8/17)Frankfort, MI– We left Leland following our friends on TiKa and headed to Frankfort. Several of the other looper boats were contemplating leaving, but had not finalized their decision before we left. So, we wished them well and moved on.

We cruised the 36 miles in slightly bumpy water, but it was tolerable.

Claire enjoying the cruise!

Claire enjoying the cruise!

We arrived into Jacobson’s marina and pulling in we realized we were definitely in a high rent area. Mark successfully navigated around a 125 foot yacht to put us in the slip without issue. Once again TiKa was in a slip not far from us and we made plans to do a cookout together. The marina itself is very nice and offered first class facilities; what a difference between a municipal and a private marina!ent place.

Jacobson Marina

Jacobson Marina

Mega yacht at Jacobson's

Mega yacht at Jacobson’s

IO at Jacobsons Marina

IO at Jacobsons Marina

We did a quick walk around the town and discovered places that would be good to dine at, but we were only staying one day and had already made plans for diner. Afterwards, Claire went to the marina pool (which was 80 degrees) while Denise worked on the last blog posting and Mark took a nap.

Later that evening we had docktails aboard TiKa and where they brought out a cheese spread we now have become addicted to. We jokingly call it “crack” as it is delicious and you can’t stop eating it; with or without crackers.

Crack Dip

Crack Dip

The guys cooked hamburgers on the grill and Karen made a delicious Cesar Salad to share. After several hours of great conversation and discussion of future plans said good night and went back to our Island Office.

Tuesday (8/18)Pentwater, MI– We were up early and under way by 8:00 am as we had a long way to go today and we wanted to beat the wind which was expected to pick up throughout the day. We cruised over 57 nm, but not before stopping to get fuel in Ludington and missing the rainstorm that doused the fuel dock before we arrived. We had decided not to stay at this popular harbor as the weather for the next 3 days did not look favorable to movement and we needed to get further down the Michigan coast. Therefore we pressed on and arrived into Pentwater just after 1pm.

Leaving Frankfort

Leaving Frankfort

 

Underway to Pentwater

Underway to Pentwater

Originally when we pulled into the Snug Harbor marina they were not sure where to put us so they had us pull up to the fuel dock. We noticed tied to the wall near the fuel dock was the boat “Gypsea”; Platinum Loopers (2 or more loops) Dick & Pat Danly whom we last saw in Petoskey.

Snug Harbor Marina Fuel Dock

Snug Harbor Marina Fuel Dock

Very soon thereafter we got a slip assignment and pulled in next to a big Viking Sport fishing boat (named “Bottom Line”).  Once we got the boat settled in, Mark checked us in and Denise & Claire found shirts to buy in the marina office. We ate a quick lunch aboard the boat, then Claire and Denise went for a walk in the town and did a restaurant reconnaissance for dinner.

Snug Harbor Marina office

Snug Harbor Marina office

IO at Snug Harbor

IO at Snug Harbor

Even though Pentwater is a small beach village, there are lots of little shops to see and there is a lot of boating history here with historical markers depicting key events. They have a very nice municipal marina (for boats under 35 feet) with a terrific fish cleaning station. There is a members-only yacht club and a terrific chandlery, as well as a bait & tackle shop right nearby. They definitely cater to the fisherman and all things nautical, making it a very interesting place.   But there are also several art galleries, ice cream stores, coffee shops, a kitchen store, and a very fun kid’s toy shop.

We walked past the village park and noticed the sidewalk was full of chalk drawings and sayings. On one there were instructions to jot down your favorite saying and there sat a tub of sidewalk chalk. Naturally, Denise had to pick up a piece and make her contribution.

Sidewalk Art

Sidewalk Art

Once back at the boat Mark was informed that there are really only a handful of places to eat dinner in town. We had solicited the advice of all the townspeople we had met throughout the day, and overwhelmingly they suggested Gull Landing. So, that is what we decided and we were not disappointed. We had considered another place (Village Café) as they were going to have a comedy show at 8:00, but we decided against it when we learned there was a $9 per person cover. After all, we probably would fall asleep half way through the show and thought our own humor was better than anything we have heard in a long time.

Gull Landing

Gull Landing

Claire - Gull Landing

Claire – Gull Landing

After dinner we walked down to one of the ice cream shops we had discovered during the day. It is really the town candy store that also sells ice cream and they have the most unique seats; old ski lift chairs.

Ice Cream Decisions

Ice Cream Decisions

Seats in Ice Cream place

Seats in Ice Cream place

Walking back to the boat we were serenaded by the music coming from the park. On Tuesday nights, any musicians in town get together and entertain anyone who decides to show up. Welcome to small-town America!

We went back to the boat and discussed our plans for the next day; one that would keep us in Pentwater due to bad weather.

Wednesday (8/19)Pentwater, MI– The day started with Claire and Denise completing 4 loads of laundry before Mark got out of bed. No, it was not because of early rising, it was because the laundry facilities are at the marina office across the parking lot from our boat slip. With 4 loads in washing and drying cycles and no one else around, it was easy to utilize all the machines and get the job done.

After breakfast Claire & Denise took a glass fusion class from a local artist named Jilly. She has an amazing glass sculpture on the wall in her gallery that one second prize in an art show in 2014. You can check it out as well as more about her here. We enjoyed learning about how to score and cut the glass pieces and how to glue them together before they are fired in the kiln. Our own creative pieces will be ready on Thursday morning which works out great as we are staying in Pentwater until Friday due to windy weather. Mark had some work to do and stayed on the boat to get it done.

Jilly's Gallery

Jilly’s Gallery

Tools for glass class

Tools for glass class

Claire Creating

Claire Creating

Before:

Sailboat before

Claire’s Sailboat before

Runner girl before

Runner girl before

And after:

Glass creations after

Glass creations after

After the art class, we all walked the 1.1 miles to the harbor entrance to see what waves the wind had kicked up as it was really blowing hard. On one side of the harbor it was really rough with white caps on Lake Michigan, but on the other (beach) side it was pretty calm. There were even people in the water swimming, despite a forecast of high winds, rip currents and “longshore currents” (a lake current that moves parallel to shore and can prevent swimmers from being able to keep their feet on the bottom, making it difficult to return to shore). However, these were not forecasted to really develop until late in the day, so they were probably enjoying their “summer” weather.

Walk along Pentwater Channel

Walk along Pentwater Channel

Pentwater Channel Walk

Pentwater Channel Walk

Sisters at Pentwater Channel Walk

Sisters at Pentwater Channel Walk

Pentwater Beach

Pentwater Beach

On the way back to the boat we stopped by Pentwater Outfitters to investigate the possibility of renting kayaks. After talking with owner Gregg about where we could go in such windy conditions, we were still undecided whether we should go or not. We went back to the boat for lunch and decided to go up the North branch of the Pentwater River and called back to the store to inform them. At 2:00 Gregg & his associate/girlfriend Bonny came by to pick us up at the marina and drop us at the entrance to the river branch. This would allow us to kayak downstream and enjoy the protection of tall trees and high grasses. Presumably this would protect us from the winds which were continuing to build.

We all launched successfully and made arrangements for a pickup at the end of the branch, but before the tributary dumped into the River and exposing us to the strongest of the wind. We had been underway just a short time when Claire got twisted around in the narrow channel, then rolled her kayak and dumped her into the cold water. She was startled and not injured in the shallow water, but her kayak was filled with water and she was unable to get it out. So, Denise (who was leading) paddled back to help her and Mark. When doing so she ran into some dead tree limbs and came within a foot or two of a snake lying camouflaged on the branches. She backed out and yelled “snake” which startled Claire (who was standing in the water) even more. Eventually working together we got a lot of the water out of the kayak, Claire was able to get back in, and we headed downstream.

The rest of the journey passed without incident and we were treated to some terrific wildlife. We saw several immature bald eagles and came incredibly close to a loon that had been acting like our tour guide for about ½ mile downriver. The sun came out and the clouds disappeared, making for a beautiful day, albeit still windy. Because of this we intentionally passed our meeting spot to explore further down river, knowing the wind was in our favor to paddle back upstream against the current. So we continued another 15 minutes or so until we came to where the wind was blocked and would no longer help us. Then we turned around to go back. When there was a big gust of wind, instead of paddling Mark would hold up his paddle and use it as a sail. The wind was strong enough it would push him against the current. Eventually we got back to the meeting point and called for our pickup. Gregg and Bonny were there in 10 minutes, with a towel for Claire who was now freezing in the cold wind. They were terrific and we had such a great day!

Pictures from our kayaking adventure:

Launching the Kayaks

Launching the Kayaks

Emptying Claire's Kayak of water

Emptying Claire’s Kayak of water

Claire drying out

Claire drying out

Claire in kayak

Claire in kayak

Mark resting

Mark resting

My kayak

Denise’s kayak

Kayak Selfie

Kayak Selfie

Gregg & Bonny

Gregg & Bonny

After we got back, we got showers and went to dinner at the only pizza joint in town. It was good and so filling that we skipped the ice cream stop for the evening. We meandered back to the boat and spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

Pizza for dinner

Pizza for dinner

Thursday (8/20)Pentwater, MI– We woke up to pouring rain and heavy winds that were rocking the boat. Claire & Denise planned to go for a walk, but were unable to get out the door as every time they got ready to go the rain would kick up again. By the time Mark woke up the rain had stopped and they convinced him to walk back to the beach and check out the roughness of Lake Michigan. The wind was clearly blowing 20 – 25 knots with higher gusts, so we expected to see some rough water.

Of course along the way it began to sprinkle a bit and we all got a little wet, but not too badly. Mark eventually stopped under a shelter while Claire and Denise walked back out to the breakwater to take pictures. No one was on the beach today and only one person was out walking his dog, which enable us to get some pictures of us together.

Angry Pentwater Beach

Angry Pentwater Beach

Windy Lake Michigan

Windy Lake Michigan

Denise & Claire

Denise & Claire

PYC

PYC

We didn’t hang around long even though the rain stopped. We picked up Mark who was hanging out in the shelter area of the nearby park, and we headed back to the boat. By this time the weekly Farmer’s market was open so Claire & Denise went to check it out while Mark continued back to the marina. We purchased a few items, including some fresh flowers to make the boat look cheery in the gloomy weather.

Flowers from Pentwater FMKts

Flowers from Pentwater Farmer’s Market

Back at the boat we had lunch and decided to stay in the marina for the rest of the afternoon due to the on & off rain and howling wind. Claire watched a few more episodes of the NetFlix series “Bloodline”, while Mark worked and Denise cataloged pictures. After a while the rain stopped so we walked up the street to “The Brown Bear” for one of their terrific hamburgers for dinner.

Entry Door - The Brown Bear

Entry Door – The Brown Bear

Dinner at the Brown Bear

Dinner at the Brown Bear

It was a fun and lively place that was quite crowded despite the inclement weather.

Other Pictures from Pentwater:

Loaner bikes in town

Loaner bikes in town

Sign in town

Sign in town

Park in Pentwater

Park in Pentwater

Meeting notice & cancellation

Meeting notice & cancellation

Fog Horn Instructions

Fog Horn Instructions

IMG_5081c

Historical Marker on lost ships

Memorial Marker

Memorial Marker on Veterans Day storm

Pentwater home

Pentwater home

Pentwater Yacht Club

Pentwater Yacht Club

Sign near channel in yard

Sign near channel in yard

Friday (8/21)Grand Haven, MI – What a difference a day makes. We left Pentwater around 8:30 to a morning with temperatures in the low 50’s and a very slight breeze blowing. The skies were mostly clear and the waves had calmed, but still around 2 -3 feet. Luckily things calmed down even more as the day progressed and it ended up being a beautiful day. We cruised nearly 50 miles into Grand Haven municipal marina where our buddies on TiKa were waiting for us.

Grand Haven entrance

Grand Haven entrance

This marina is about 2 miles up the Grand River and faces north. There is no breakwater between the River and the marina, creating quite a swell in the marina when other boats pass by, or when the wind kicks up off Lake Michigan to its West. To its south is the town of Grand Haven with restaurants and shops within walking distance. There is also a 2-mile river walk that goes from east of the marina all the way to the breakwater and lighthouse on the far western shore.

Sailboat sculpture and Riverwalk

Sailboat sculpture and Riverwalk

Grand Haven is home to a Coast Guard sector office that is designated as a heavy weather station and an ice rescue capable unit. It has been distinguished as “Coast Guard City USA” and every year in early August they have a “Coast Guard Festival” with festivities throughout the weeklong event. As part of these celebrations, there are sculptures created by groups and organizations as a tribute to the CG. These are on display all throughout town.

Coast Guard Station

Coast Guard Station

CG Tribute Sculpture

CG Tribute Sculpture

CG Tribute sculpture

CG Tribute sculpture

Grand Haven is also home to the famous “Musical Fountain”; a water show that is put on every single night during the summer, and weekends during spring and fall. This amazing display of water performing to the musical tunes of all genres occurs on the land on the opposite side of the river, right in front of the marina. There is grand-stand seating immediately adjacent to the marina, and the event is broadcast over loudspeakers so it can be heard quite a distance. Although the show only lasts about 20 minutes, people come early to set up chairs in the nearby park or to claim seats in the grandstands. You can learn more about this very cool event here.

Music Fountain

Music Fountain

Grandstands for Music Fountain

Grandstands for Music Fountain

When we arrived our boat was assigned to the very first slip in the marina; adjacent to the grandstands. Needless to say, lots of people were looking at our boat and we received many positive comments about it and the name. But because it was first in line, it also took the brunt of the eastbound swell coming in from Lake Michigan, and we were bouncing. However, we did have great seats to watch the show!

First Slip in Grand Haven

First Slip in Grand Haven

After getting checked in and settling the boat, Claire & Denise went walking in the downtown area. This (naturally) involved going through the shops on the main street and up a few of the side streets. We came to the conclusion that all of these little towns along the Michigan shoreline have many of the same shops and are all starting to look alike. Yet, each has something unique and different; this one has the CG and the Musical Fountain. In the meantime, Mark went and got the rental car for tomorrow’s drive into Grand Rapids to take Claire to the airport.

We arrived back in time to have Docktails aboard TiKa. Karen & Tim were hosting Tim’s sister (Pam) and her husband (Butch), so there was quite a group of us chit-chatting away.

Pam (Tim's sister), Butch, Karen & Tim

Pam (Tim’s sister), Butch, Karen & Tim

We decided to all go to dinner at Porto Bello, an Italian restaurant right across the street from the marina. It was pretty good and we had a great time answering all of Tim’s (“I hate small talk”) probing questions.

After dinner we went back to the marina and couldn’t believe how crazy busy things had become. There were tons of people in the park by the marina, and the grandstands were full. The River walk free wall was filled with boats who were tied up for the night, many of whom were rafted together; some up to 3 deep. The river was full of boats and all were jockeying for positions to watch the Musical Fountain. It is summer and a nice night, so everyone was out near or on the water.

We went for a walk down the river walk to see all the people, and to see if any Looper boats were tied up to the free wall. We saw one boat that had been in our marina earlier, but they were not on their boat when we walked by.

Free dock at Riverwalk

Free dock at Riverwalk

Claire & Mark - Riverwalk

Claire & Mark – Riverwalk

After we finished walking this area, we continued on the eastern part, passing the charter fishing boats and coming to another park. Here they have an old train and steam engine the town has restored, and is now a play area for kids. This is a very cool and family-friendly area. It was getting dark so we headed back to the boat.

Fishing charters at dock

Fishing charters at dock

Chinook Pier at muni marina

Chinook Pier at muni marina

Pere Marquette Steam Engine

Pere Marquette Steam Engine

As the show on Friday starts later (9:50) it was a push for us to stay up to see it, but since it is only 20 minutes long we did; our boat-guest Claire however, bailed just before it was over. It was a great ending to a great day.

Crazy boaters

Crazy boaters

Saturday (8/22)Grand Haven, MI – It was a nice morning for a walk, so Claire and Denise put on their shoes and started with a hike down to the lighthouse on the South Pier. There were many people out walking or running, so we were in good company. We walked past the Coast Guard station and memorial they have along the water that pays tribute to all who have served and lost their lives on the water.

US CG Cutter Memorial

US CG Cutter Memorial

Claire & Denise at breakwater

Claire & Denise at breakwater

When we were done walking we went to the Farmers Market that they have every Saturday right near the marina. This was a really good market with various produce stands, bread makers, and several with fresh cut flowers, as well as vendors with other products as well. We purchased some bread and veggies then headed back to the boat for showers. There wasn’t much time before we would have to be leaving for the Grand Rapids airport.

Claire at Farmers Market

Claire at Farmers Market

We had decided to find a place for lunch along the way to the airport, so Mark took us to a Panera he had visited before. This area was familiar to him as we have an old client in the Muskegon area and Grand Rapids was a frequent airport stop. It just so happens that in the same shopping plaza there was a Penzy’s Spices and a Supercuts. Mark who was desperate for a cut, got seated right away, and in the meantime Claire and Denise went to Penzy’s where Claire was able to replenish a spice she uses all the time.

Too soon it was time to drop Claire at the airport and say goodbye. We have had a terrific week with her and we will miss having her aboard.

Saying goodbye at the airport

Saying goodbye at the airport

After we left the airport, we took advantage of the rental car to re-provision Island Office. We had already located the Costco and a Wal-Mart near the airport, and were able to stock up on everything from wine and granola bars to Frito Scoops (Mark) and Propel water (Denise). It was like making a mortgage payment! It took us nearly all afternoon to get these items, and we still managed to forget a few things!

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart

After we returned from the shopping adventure we started looking at the weather and making plans to leave GH and go to Saugatuck tomorrow. We thought we might go to evening mass so that we would have options to leave early in the morning if the weather allowed. We knew TiKa was preparing to leave but the conditions were iffy for us.

We were standing around talking when Sid & Evelyn came up and we all began talking about our next moves. We decided we would stay on Sunday, secured a different slip in the marina for Sunday Night, and then ended up gathering on TiKa for impromptu docktails. An hour later we all decided to go get Pizza (TiKa, Something Special & us), then we watched the Music Fountain show – now shifted to 9:30 for the rest of the month.

Sid & Evelyn

Sid & Evelyn

Karen & Tim

Karen & Tim

Mark the Younger - Sat dinner

Mark the Younger – Sat dinner

Butch & Pam

Butch & Pam

Denise & Mark

Denise & Mark

Sunday (8/23)Grand Haven, MI – We took advantage of the rental car and drove the 1 mile to St. Patrick & St. Anthony church for 8:00 am mass. We drove mainly because it was threatening to rain and we didn’t want to get wet.

St Patrick & St. Anthony Parish

St Patrick & St. Anthony Parish

By the time mass was over the rain had disappeared, but the wind had started to pick up. We went out for breakfast and when we returned to the marina, we saw that TiKa had left for Saugatuck. We later learned they arrived safely in under 2 hours and were happy to be tied up at a marina.

Sunday Forecast - Bad Weather!

Sunday Forecast – Bad Weather!

Back in Grand Harbor, we waited for the other slip to open up so we could move the boat. A severe thunderstorm came through with horrendous lightening and lots of wind, so no one was moving anytime fast.

Rainy sunday on the boat

Rainy sunday on the boat

Finally right at noon there was a break in the rainstorms and we were able to move to the other slip. This put us right next to Loopers AJ & Amy on “Gimme Time”, who had told us about the swell in this harbor. They said that the storms earlier in the week brought such rough swells that 3 boats broke lines, so we put out a few extra ones to ensure protection.

New Slip Assignment

New Slip Assignment

Shortly after getting tied up and having lunch, our credit union called about possible fraud charges on our (newly replaced in July) visa card. Kudos to our credit union for their proactive stance on this, but this is the second time on our Loop adventure we have had to do this (see Brewerton, New York). So now we would have to wait on new cards to be delivered to the marina before we could leave.

Normally, this would not be a problem, but the wind was really rough with waves in Lake Michigan reported at 5-8’ and the surge in the marina was awful! Our boats were rocking as if we were offshore in 2 foot seas. Mark added even more lines and re-tied a few others for added protection, and to try and hold us in place as much as possible.

We thought for sure they would cancel the Music Fountain show for the evening, but they did not. There were a lot less crowds then Friday & Saturday nights, but still many people came out to watch. These Michigan people are hearty!

That evening we went to a restaurant called the Dee Lite Bar and Grill with Sid & Evelyn (“Something Special”). It was mostly bar type food, but was good enough for us to enjoy sandwiches and great company with another Looper couple. While there we ran into another Looper from Canada (John) who was there with his son (Lee) and his girlfriend (Rhonda). They too were enduring the rolling in the Municipal marina. All of us talked about the bad weather and how it was messing with everyone’s plans. John was trying to get to Chicago so Rhonda could fly home next weekend, and they were considering making a direct crossing of Lake Michigan when the weather broke. This is a scary proposition as it was 90 miles and the weather on Lake Michigan can be unpredictable in August. We prefer running down the coast and around the bottom at Indiana.

Dee Lite Bar & Grill

Dee Lite Bar & Grill

After dinner with Sid & Evelyn

After dinner with Sid & Evelyn

All night long the boat rocked and the slapping of water against the hull, coupled with the strain on the lines made for difficult sleeping for Denise. Naturally, Mark slept well, but Denise had to move to the main salon settee, and still ended up watching a movie just to keep her mind off of her churning stomach. It is a horrible feeling to get seasick when the boat is tied up to the dock. Eventually sleep came, but only for a few hours.

Monday (8/24)Grand Haven, MI – Unfortunately, morning did not bring any calm waters; in fact the wind was as strong as ever making the surge in the harbor even worse.

Denise decided to do two loads of laundry at the marina, mainly because she could get off the boat, but also because it was free. During that time she was able to talk with family members on the phone, while Mark was able to do some work on the boat. After a while she went for a walk, and in fact did anything that would allow her to stay off the boat. This worked ok until the late afternoon when it started to get cool and cloudy again.

Mark attempted to get us into another marina, but with no luck. They either didn’t call him back or they were already booked out as no one was leaving given the ugly weather conditions. Additionally, we knew we had to stay at least until the next morning when the new credit cards would be arriving via UPS-overnight service.

When it was time for dinner we asked Sid & Evelyn (“Something Special”) to join us, but they had planned to eat aboard their boat. So, we decided to go back to Porto Bello again as we liked their food and they were a close walk from the marina. We had another good meal and managed to have some leftovers to take back to the boat.

Porto Bello

Porto Bello

Afterwards we walked around downtown even though most shops were closed; anything just to stay off the boat. It was still quite windy and overcast, and it was getting colder.

Of all the marinas we have been in, this is the worst to have gotten stuck. The marina is unprotected from a west wind, and there is no cruisers lounge to offer reprieve. The only great thing going for it is the location to town, the Musical Fountain and the free laundry.

We opted to watch a movie on the boat where it was warm and dry. We interrupted it for the Music Fountain, but rejoined it soon afterward hoping it would help Denise fall asleep. It was a restless night again, with slightly better sleeping, but still waking to nausea.

Tuesday (8/25)Grand Haven, MI – It is probably hard for our FL friends and family to imagine, but it was a freezing cold day today. The temperature was in the low 50’s again, with rain and winds howling. This was not a summer day, but more like a windy cold Florida winter day. Although the weather forecast for Tuesday looked much better, today was still awful.

Mark was able to get us a slip in the North Shore marina, located across the river and nearer the harbor entrance, but behind a breakwater. So, once the credit cards came we untiled from the Grand Haven Municipal marina and said goodbye to Sid & Evelyn (“Something Special”).

By lunch time we had moved the boat and tied up at North Shore; it made all the difference in the world. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat either working or writing this blog. We didn’t care that there was nothing but a marina and it was far away from town. We had plenty of food and didn’t need anything – plus this marina had cable tv and we were able to watch it for the first time in ages.

North Shore Marina

North Shore Marina

IO at North Shore

Island Office at North Shores

We ate leftovers for dinner and reviewed the weather for the next day. It looked good to make a run down to South Haven, so we planned for an early departure and went to bed with no boat movement at all. Yeah!

Here are some other pictures from Grand Haven:

Chalk board in dowtown

Chalk board in dowtown

Bird with fish

Bird with fish

FL Jeep with Daytona tag

FL Jeep with Daytona tag

Sculpture along riverwalk

Sculpture along riverwalk

Summer in GHaven

Summer in Grand Haven

IMG_5180c

Relaxing in park near river walk

Stay tuned for more adventures!

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Pure Michigan!

Back in the USA and we are happy to be here.  Not that we did not like Canada; in fact we really enjoyed all the places we went, and the Canadian people were wonderful to us.  However, working with limited communications was a bit of a challenge, and we got sick of seeing the Customs people.  Here is what we have been up to:

Wednesday (8/5) – De Tour Village, MI – Back in the USA – We left Meldrum Bay in what was supposed to be 2’ seas, but they seemed to grow up to 3 -4’ in no time at all.  The wind was blowing out of the west (on our nose) so it was a very bumpy ride and it started to make Denise seasick. We considered turning around and called back to TiKa who was following us. They suggested that we tuck in behind them for a smoother run and see how that would work, which we did.  Fortunately, it was much more tolerable and Denise was grateful that we had made friends with a bigger boat (yacht).  After the first hour or so, the seas died down and it was much more comfortable. We were able to really enjoy the emerald green water of the North Channel.

We entered into US waters and were anxiously awaiting the ATT&T signal on our cell phones.  Shortly after it appeared and we got to turn on cellular services, we had several voice mails and emails that we had not been able to retrieve previously.  If any of you called us and didn’t get a response, we apologize as we were not aware of your call.

Within 3.5 hours of leaving Meldrum Bay we pulled into Drummond Island, MI.  In addition to TiKa were several other looper boats pulling in all at once, including friends on “Ariel” whom we met in Solomon’s, MD, and had not seen since St. Michaels, MD.

Loopers coming into Drummond Island

Loopers coming into Drummond Island

As we were not staying overnight here, we pulled in behind TiKa to the temporary dock they have for customs clearance only. They were first greeted by a US Customs agent and received their clearance within 15 minutes.  When the agent approached us she mentioned she had a phone call to make and she would be with us shortly.  After about 15 minutes she returned, barely asked us our boat documentation #, looked at our passports and gave us our clearance number.  It took less than 5 minutes with no other questions asked (nothing to declare, etc.). What a refreshing change from the Canadians who seemed to have followed us everywhere.

We left Drummond Island right away and crossed into the waters of Sturgeon Bay and then De Tour Passage Inlet (a major shipping channel).  The water was emerald green and crystal clear. Something we had not expected. It turned out to be a beautiful day and we were happy to be enjoying the US waters.

We pulled into De Tour Village Municipal Marina after completing 43 nm; one of our longest days in a while.  After getting our boats settled, we both did some work and replied to emails; Denise finalized and then posted our last blog.  Mark had some phone calls to make, so Denise took the bike and rode all around the village, stopping at the Outfitters store and buying a magnet, as well as a stop at the IGA for a few grocery items that we have not been able to get.

Outfitters store and lone traffic light

Outfitters store and lone traffic light

IGA Market

IGA Market

She also went by the ferry dock that takes people and cars back and forth to Drummond Island, and rode through a few neighborhoods that look right out onto Lake Huron.

Ferry to Drummond Island

Ferry to Drummond Island

That evening we had TiKa over for docktails, then we all walked into the small village and ate dinner at a restaurant called Mainsail. There were only three to choose from and we chose the one that was closest to the marina. The food was ok and the service was slow, especially considering there were only 2 other parties in the restaurant.  But, it was no big deal as there was nothing we were in a hurry to go do.   We spent most of the time discussing our plans for the next day.  The weather looked great for a crossing of Lake Huron, past Mackinac Island, and going directly into Mackinaw City.

We also heard from friends on “Snug Tug” today, and learned we had missed them by 8 hours in De Tour Village. They had left this morning for Cheboygan where they would be leaving the boat for a week to enjoy the family reunion.  We agreed to keep in touch and hopefully meet up again down the coast of Lake Michigan.

The marina here is right off the major shipping channel but is buffered by a very long breakwater which offers protection from the passing ships and that you can walk out on. There is a park that surrounds the marina and offers some pretty spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  It is one of many that are run by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where you can go online and make reservations for any of the affiliated DNR marinas; for an $8 registration fee.

Here are some other pictures from DeTour Village:

Marina at De Tour Village

Marina at DeTour Village

DeTour Village Marina at sunrise

DeTour Village Marina at sunrise

DeTour Village, MI

DeTour Village, MI

Morning Breaking

Morning Breaking

Thursday (8/6) – Mackinaw City – We left De Tour Village Marina just before 8:00 and cruised the 40 nm to Mackinaw City on a very pancake-flat Lake Huron.

DeTour Reef Light

DeTour Reef Light

It was sunny and beautiful, with no wind to kick up a sea.  We passed by Mackinac Island and stopped with TiKa to take pictures of our boats with the Island in the background.

 IO near Mackinac Island

Island Office near Mackinac Island

Island Office near Mackinac Island

Island Office near Mackinac Island

We would have liked to have stayed here, but the reservations in the marina were full for the days in our travel window, so we will be coming back to visit via the ferry next week.

Mackinaw Straits

Mackinaw Straits

We arrived in Mackinaw City, staying at the Strait’s State marina instead of the municipal marina right in downtown.  This marina is also part of the DNR system, so it has good accommodations at reasonable rates.  While it is a little further away from the downtown, it is not too far to walk and we were very happy we did not have to deal with the rolling wakes created by the ferry boats.

At the entrance to the marina is berthed the US Coast Guard Icebreaker “MACKINAW WAGB-83”.  It is the largest ice breaker class ship that was known as the “Queen of the Great Lakes”. Decommissioned in 2006, it is now set up as a museum that you can tour, but we did not have time to do this. You can learn more about it here.

USCG Mackinaw

USCG Mackinaw

After we settled our boats, we went for a bike ride.  First we rode along the water as there is a beautiful park with a bike path leading along the edge of Lake Huron, almost all the way to the Mackinaw Bridge.  We stopped along the bike path long enough to take some pictures then continued on. We passed by the old Mackinaw Lighthouse, and we rode out to the fort and Welcome Center, but chose not to go in as it was getting late in the day and would not have been able to see much.

Bike ride stop

Bike ride stop

Mackinaw Bridge

Mackinaw Bridge

Bike Ride Stop

Bike Ride Stop

We rode back into the down town area and decided the place was way too touristy for us.  Most all the stores are fudge shops (which we don’t eat), ticky-tacky souvenir shops, or t-shirt shops. None of this interested us so we made our way back to the boat.  Along the way back we stopped at a fish market near the marina and purchased a few things we could take with us on the boat, including some smoked salmon which we had for dinner that night.

TiKa invited us to watch the early debates on FoxNews as they have satellite TV onboard and were finally able to get US stations again. We had docktails for a while and then went back to our boat for dinner on board.  Later we tried to stream the debates via the internet, but there was too much demand and our signal strength was not that great; it would constantly crash.  Finally we gave up and went to bed.

Friday (8/7) – Petoskey, MI – We woke up to a cool morning (53 degrees) and headed west, and eventually South, – a direction that will eventually take us home.  Again buddy-boating with TiKa, we left the marina and within a half hour we went under the Mackinaw Bridge and entered Lake Michigan; cross off another “bucket list” item!  The waves were a little bumpy throughout the morning, and the wind blew a bit, (10 – 15 kts), but it was tolerable for Denise who had taken a small piece of Dramamine as a precautionary measure.

We cruised another long day of almost 50 nm down the Michigan coast until we came to Little Traverse Bay and the town of Petoskey.  We entered the city marina only to find several other looper boats, including “Gypsea” whom we first met in Coinjock, VA, and two others who would be completing their “loop” in the next few days as they are from Michigan ports.

Upon checking into the marina office we learned there was a farmer’s market in town that would be ending within the hour.  Quickly Denise got Karen on TiKa and the two of them went up the hill to town and got some fresh vegetables. Up until now most of the farmers markets we have seen have been a bit disappointing as they have been small.  This one was different and offered lots of choices of vendors as well as everything from fresh organic turkey, honey, jams, sauces and the usual fruits & veggies.

Karen at Petoskey Farmers Market

Karen at Petoskey Farmers Market

Once back on the boat we researched locations for dinner (via Yelp) and chose to go to “Whitecaps”; a place right near the marina that overlooked the bay.  The food was very good and we enjoyed our meal; probably the best one we have had in a long time.  After we got back to the boat we realized how tired we were. Three days of being on the move was tiring work and we were beat.

Petoskey is a very cute town with lots of unique shops, restaurants and parks.  There is a bike path that runs the entire perimeter of Little Traverse Bay – some 17 miles, with public restroom and water fountains that are well maintained.  There are lots of things to do here and we decided we would stay at least two nights and enjoy as much as we could.

Saturday (8/8) – Petoskey, MI – The day started for Denise with a morning run along the previously mentioned bike path where she encountered several other runners as well as walkers.  Along the way she snapped some pictures of the sights, and hoped to get in at least 3 miles before it began to rain; which it was threatening to do.  Well, the rain never really came and she finished up in town at a local coffee shop after getting in a terrific hill workout.  Once back at the boat, we went back to the coffee shop for one of their terrific cinnamon buns (which Mark cannot resist) and a bagel.

Bike Trail

Bike Trail

Dog friendly fountain

Dog friendly fountain

Facilities for the public

Facilities for the public

Downtown in morning

Downtown in morning

There were boat chores to do in the morning, including cleaning the head & galley, vacuuming, washing sheets & towels, and then making travel arrangements for Claire (Denise’s sister) to come for a visit.  Mark, Tim & Mark – the younger (from TiKa) all decided to go to the movies and see MI-5.  As Denise wanted time to do some exploring in town and a little alone time, she passed on the movie and handed Mark the Wal-Mart shopping list – the chore he had to do since he was getting a cab to the movies. Denise managed to do a little shopping in a local kitchen store (for a few galley gadgets), and getting a souvenir t-shirt before returning back to the boat.

In the evening Tim & Karen came over for drinks and we discussed the plans for the next few days. We would like to explore one of the other towns along this bay before moving along, so we agreed to try and get into Harbor Springs for Sunday night.  Mark called and they were full up, but agreed to put us both on the waiting list; we would have to call to confirm in the morning.

We then walked through town and went to a restaurant called “City Park Grill” which is one of the oldest establishments in town. It is known as being a hang-out of Ernest Hemmingway when he lived in Michigan.  The bar (still held over from the original restaurant’s heyday of the 1920’s) has a burn mark in it near the seat where Hemingway would actually put out his cigar.

City Park Grill

City Park Grill

Plaque at City Park Grill

Plaque at City Park Grill

Hemingway picture at bar

Hemingway picture at bar

After dinner, we meandered over to a microbrewery (“Beards Brewery”) that Mark – the younger had discovered earlier in the day. It was definitely off the beaten path, but was an interesting place.  We had a sampling of one of their home-grown beers then went back to our boats to call it a night.

Beards Brewery

Beards Brewery

This evening the sunset over Lake Michigan was spectacular and the sky stayed colorful for a long time.

Harbor at sunset

Harbor at sunset

Other sights from Petoskey:

IO at Petoskey Marina

IO at Petoskey Marina

Little Traverse Bay

Little Traverse Bay

Sunday (8/9) – Harbor Springs, MI – We got up in time to make the 8:00 mass at St. Francis Xavier’s Catholic Church which was a short walk up the hill from the marina.

St. Francis Catholic Church

St. Francis Catholic Church

On the way back we decided to find a place for breakfast and discovered “American Spoon”; a little restaurant we had walked past the night before.  Here we had a delicious breakfast that was super fresh and made from locally grown items, including the different jellies offered.  Mark said it definitely tasted different!  Afterwards we walked back to the marina via a different path and discovered the Hotel Perry. (Not to be confused with the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michael’s, MD).  This is an old hotel that has a spectacular view of the bay and a pub that is supposed to be quite good.

Hotel Perry

Hotel Perry

From here we took the path back through a neighborhood with townhomes and then back to the park at the marina. As we arrived in the park they were having a non-denominational Christian service complete with choir/band and about 100+ people in attendance.   It was a beautiful morning and we certainly had much to be thankful for.

Other pictures from Petoskey:

War Memorial

War Memorial

War Memorial

War Memorial

Once back at the boat we called and got confirmation that Harbor Springs Marina could take us, so we made the short 3-mile trip with TiKa across the bay and on to explore a new town.

Entering Harbor Springs

Entering Harbor Springs

We arrived at Harbor Springs to find a very busy marina with lots of boaters coming and going.  Shortly after we arrived another looper boat (‘Sea Venture”) pulled in near us and we introduced ourselves.  Ron & Bev Copeland were telling us of their stay in Little Current when we discovered they had been traveling with “Renegade” who had lost a prop as they were leaving the harbor.  All is fine now and they are supposedly in Mackinaw City.  We are hoping they will catch up to us and we will get to see them again.

TiKa & us -side by side

TiKa & us -side by side

Later we had drinks aboard TiKa where we discussed the upcoming weather, and made the decision to leave for Charlevoix the next day.  We had a good weather window and the trip would take us back out on to Lake Michigan, so we took the conservative approach to move when it was going to be calm.

We also decided to collectively order pizzas from a local spot that was known for being delicious.  After being told our wait to have it delivered to the marina would be over 1.5 hours, the guys took the 10 minute walk to town and found the pizzas were already done when they arrived. When they returned, we all ate to our hearts content and agreed that they were very good pizza’s.

Later we went for a long walk around the bay and to see a little bit of this small affluent resort town.  It is really pretty and the houses are very nice; definitely a playground for the rich!

Downtown Harbor Springs

Downtown Harbor Springs

Church and green downtown Harbor Springs

Church and green downtown Harbor Springs

Park at Harbor Springs

Park at Harbor Springs

Here are some other pictures from Harbor Springs:

Marina office

Marina office

Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce

 

Remote Control Tug

Remote Control Tug

Little Traverse Light

Little Traverse Light

Monday (8/10) – Charlevoix – We woke up to the aft deck being totally covered by these pesky little bugs and spiders.  They seem to be in all the marinas in Michigan, but this was the worse yet. They had come out in the afternoon the day before, but now they covered everything.  We couldn’t go out the door without some coming inside, so we ended up vacuuming the boat several times just to keep them at bay.  We never want to hear about the bugs in FL again!

We left Harbor Springs at 10:30 and headed to Charlevoix.  It was a calm sail with no wind and a little fog, which didn’t last long.  Cruising with TiKa we had to speed up in order to make the bridge opening at noon and then we entered the harbor.

Waiting on bridge

Waiting on bridge

Entering Charlevoix Harbor

Entering Charlevoix Harbor

We both decided to put some fuel on the boat and pulled into Wards Marina first, and then made our way to the Charlevoix Municipal Marina.

The marina is in the heart of this downtown area which is a lot like Winter Park.  It has one major avenue with shops and restaurants, and a big park with a band shell (like Lake Eola). There are gorgeous homes all around the harbor and there is an entrance to the lake (Lake Charlevoix) which we may or may not explore with the dinghy while we are here.

Homes on North Shore

Homes on North Shore

After settling our boats and checking in, Mark washed the boat to get rid of the bugs, while Denise cleaned the inside.  Afterwards we did a little bit of work on board, and got to know the lay of the land.

Tim & Karen (“TiKa”) decided on a land-stay and checked into a local hotel that overlooked the harbor for a two-night’s visit, leaving Mark – the younger on the boat alone.  We met all three of them for dinner at one of the local microbreweries (Bridge Street Tap Room) where we had sandwiches. The food was good and the view was terrific.

Bridge Street Tap Room

Bridge Street Tap Room

We got to watch the boats in the harbor and discussed all the things to do in this area.  Karen mentioned they found a good grocery store and were able to get a few products we had both been missing. So after we said our ‘good nights’ we walked through town to the grocery store and purchased a few things we wanted, and then went back to the boat for the night.

Tuesday (8/11) – Charlevoix – The day started with emails and watching some news (via internet streaming which was not very good).  At 8:05 we walked up to marina office to put our name on the “Extend” list so we could stay at the marina another night.  If we had made reservations online (and paid the $8 service fee) we would have a guaranteed spot. However, since we were already here the procedure is you put your name on the Extend list, and then once all the (paid) reservations have been filled, boats in the marina are approved for an extension of their stay on a first-come, first-serve basis.  As this harbor has several other marinas we could go to, and because we were watching the number of slips available via the website, we were not too worried about getting in for another night.  We were, however #7 on the list and agreed that we needed to get there earlier tomorrow.

Charlevoix City Marina docks

Charlevoix City Marina docks

After procrastinating Denise went for a run through Charlevoix, out to the airport and back, and then through some of the neighborhood streets.  Although it was cool at the start, it warmed up quickly and she regretted forgetting to put anti-chafe on her inner thighs. My how easy it is to get out of the habit when you haven’t been running in the Florida heat.

Mark spent a lot of time on the phone with clients and our subs to ensure certain projects were on track.  Denise got a couple of loads of laundry done, while also working on the blog and cataloging pictures.  This is a very time-consuming task, but it is easier to do when the pictures are fresh in mind and you can remember names of places (and people).

In the afternoon, we walked through all the little shops in town and managed to escape without spending too much money.  Mark purchased a t-shirt and we bought a few items at “American Spoon”; a store that makes jams, jellies and sauces from Michigan-grown farms and it is really good.  We had had breakfast at their café in Petoskey and really liked their products. Now we have some on the boat to enjoy.

We ate an early dinner that night at the East Park Tavern, a place right on the main street of town that offered an affordable meal that was quite good.  Denise wanted some ice cream and heard that “The French Place” served “Rum Chata” Ice Cream and she just had to try it.  We were first treated to “Rum Chata” by our friends on “Patriyachtik” when we were in Brewerton, NY awaiting the reopening of the Eerie Canal.  There we learned to pair it with Fireball Whiskey for a delicious, but kick-in-the-behind drink.  Even without the whiskey, the ice cream was delicious and creamy and was worth the 10 million calories!

As we headed back to the boat we noticed there was a concert going on in the park.  Although we knew about the one on Thursday night, this one was a surprise to us. Come to find out it is a Community Band – residents from Charlevoix who get together and play every Tuesday night during the summer months. As we could hear the music (lightly) from our boat, we went back home to enjoy it while reading our books.

Concert in park

Concert in park

A little while later Tim & Karen came by and we talked about our planned itineraries and dates for being in which ports on Lake Michigan.  Both of us are meeting up with people in the coming days and we will soon have to separate.

Wednesday (8/12) – Charlevoix – Taking advantage of the low-cost washer and dryers, Denise completed two loads of laundry and was able to put TiKa and us in the first two slots of the Extend list at the marina; all before 7:45 am.  (Yes, we cheated and were in the dock master’s office early as he was printing out the list). It wasn’t long before we received confirmation that we were good to stay for another night.

Pat & Gloria - harbor staff

Pat & Gloria – harbor staff

To date we have put over 250 hours on the boat motor, so it was due for an oil change. Normally Mark would have done it himself, but we have no way of disposing of the old oil.  So, following in TiKa’s footsteps we secured a technician (Brian) who was able to do it for us at a very reasonable cost, and he took away the old oil.

Brian - oil change tech

Brian – oil change tech

Once the oil change was finished, we went for a long bike ride through town.  Denise had wanted to go see the Mushroom houses that are unique to this area.  These are a series of homes that were built by builder Earl Young in the early 1900’s using stone and cedar shake roofs.  They look as if they were built to house Smurfs or gnomes, and range in size from very tiny to very large. You can learn more about them here.  These are very unique and can only be found in Charlevoix.

Mushroom homes

Mushroom homes

Renovating mushroom homes

Renovating mushroom homes

After visiting the area where most of these houses are located, we rode down the street to the local hospital where patients there have a multimillion dollar view.  This health-care facility sits on top a hill that overlooks Lake Michigan and the entrance to Charlevoix Harbor. Not a bad place to recover!

We left there and went down the hill to the beach and the entrance channel to the harbor before the bascule bridge.  There we were able to take some pictures the lighthouse and surrounding areas.

Charlevoix Light

Charlevoix Light

We also saw the boats coming into the channel and noticed one of them was fellow looper “Marquesa” whom we had met in Baie Finn, Ontario.  We took their picture too and will email it to them shortly.

We carried our bikes up the hill and back onto the main street (Bridge Street) and crossed the bridge to the other side.  We then rode for another 45 minutes or so through the neighborhoods and along the northern shore of the harbor.  This area was definitely the high-rent district and the homes were large and beautiful.

Exhausted from our morning ride, we headed back to the boat for lunch.  We spent the rest of the day doing work for our business; mostly bookkeeping tasks and answering emails and returning phone calls.

That evening we were invited to dinner aboard TiKa as a final farewell before we would separate; they would be heading out tomorrow and we will stay while awaiting the arrival of Claire (Denise’s sister) tomorrow night.

After dinner we walked across the dock to Charlevoix Brewing Company to play team-trivia.  There were small door prizes for the winners; but that was not us. We didn’t care as it was a lot of fun and a great way to spend one last evening with our friends on TiKa.

Trivia Night

Trivia Night

Trivia night

Trivia night

Trivia night

Trivia night with TiKa Karen, Tim & Mark – the younger

Tomorrow they will leave us and we will try to reconnect with them sometime down the Lake Michigan coast.

Thursday (8/13) – Charlevoix – Today we planned for a low key day as we readied for the arrival of Denise’s sister Claire. There was a farmer’s market in the morning that took up the whole main street in Charlevoix. It was by far one of the best farmer’s markets we have seen to date.  We walked up and down and purchased a few items that were locally made, including fresh baked bread and some mustard – highly recommended by Dock Master Hal.

Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market

We also secured our place in the marina with Hal for Friday night, as we are planning to leave on Friday before the marina office opens to drive to Mackinac Island with Claire.

In the afternoon Mark was able to get a ride to Hertz for the rental car, and Denise cleaned the boat and worked on this blog post. Then we got on the road to Pellston Regional Airport, which is about 50 minutes from Charlevoix on a road that would take us right through Petoskey.  Claire’s flight was scheduled to come in at 6:30 pm, and we planned on eating dinner with her after her arrival. Since we knew there was a Wal-Mart in Petoskey, we planned a stop on the way to get her and then continue north.

We hit a bit of traffic in Petoskey, but were able to get in and out of Wal-Mart pretty quickly so it was not that big of a deal.  Just north of Petoskey we learned her flight would be delayed until 8:30, so we decided to find a place to eat dinner.  Seeing nothing that interested us on the mostly rural two-lane road, we decided to go back to Petoskey and chose to eat at the Palette Bistro restaurant.  They had a happy hour special until 7:00 that included 40% off of small plates, so we ordered 4 different ones and found them all to be quite delicious.

During our meal we received notice that the flight was further delayed and now it was not going to be 11:15 before the flight would be coming in.  So we drove the 15 miles back to Charlevoix and rested before leaving again at 10:30 to go get Claire.  Fortunately, the flight arrived on time, her baggage came through ok, and we headed back to Charlevoix. Unfortunately, we missed the 2nd concert in the park in town. It was almost 1:00 am before we got to bed, but we were happy to be safely back in our floating home.

Other Pictures of Charlevoix:

Charlevoix Marina office & boater facilities

Charlevoix Marina office & boater facilities

The Weathervane

The Weathervane

Near Bridge

Near Bridge

Historical marker

Historical marker

Marina - storm building

Marina – storm building

Friday (8/14) – Charlevoix – Mackinac Island side trip – Despite being tired from the late night, we stuck to our plans to use the rental car to go to Mackinac Island.  Of course the road to get there was the very same highway we had already traveled four times the previous day. Although we didn’t get off as early as we had wanted to, we were able to leave by 9:30, giving us sufficient time to get to Mackinaw City, park the car, and get on the 11:00 am ferry to Mackinac Island.

The ferry ride was uneventful as it is a short 16 minutes and we could not have asked for more perfect weather.  Once we arrived at the ferry dock we walked quickly through town and went immediately to the fort.

Downtown Mackinac Island

Downtown Mackinac Island

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac

It is one of the coolest forts we have seen with spectacular views of the harbor.  We ate lunch at the Tea Room in the fort; a restaurant that overlooks Mackinac Island Harbor and is run by The Grand Hotel.  The food was delicious and reasonably priced, but the view was priceless.

Ft Mackinac

Ft Mackinac

Tea Room for Lunch

Tea Room for Lunch

After lunch we finished touring the fort, then walked along the harbor to the bike rental shop Mark had determined was the best value (there are at least 20 to choose from in the downtown area).  We secured mountain bikes for the three of us and headed out for an adventure.

Bike Rental place

Bike Rental place

As there are no cars allowed on the island, getting around is by foot, horse-drawn carriage, or bike. Therefore there are bike paths all around and throughout the island, with many interesting places to stop and see, or to cross to other inland trails. It is a dream vacation spot for a cyclist.

We rode the 8.2 perimeter path around the island, stopping along the way in a few key areas.  One such place was the 207-step climb up to “The Arch”; a whole in the rock where you can look out onto water.  It was beautiful and a great workout to climb up all those stairs.

Arch Rock on Bike Trail

Arch Rock on Bike Trail

207 steps

207 steps

 

At The Arch - Denise & Claire

At The Arch – Denise & Claire

View from Top of Arch Rock

View from Top of Arch Rock

Once back on the bikes we passed the beautiful clear waters of Lake Huron on the Eastern shore.

Claire averting the storm

Claire averting the storm

We dodged a thunderstorm that roared past us and stayed mostly over the water, getting us only slightly wet.  Because it was so hot, the sprinkles actually felt good, but we didn’t like the muddy mess it made of the pathway.  Eventually we realized that the bikes were kicking that mess up our backs and we had very dirty bottoms. No we do not have pictures of this!  The only reason we were not too embarrassed about this was that every other person on the island had the very same streak up their backsides as well.

On the Northern and Western shores of the island we had terrific views of the Mackinaw Bridge and the Northern shores of Lake Huron.  The bicycle traffic was much heavier at this point and there were several close-call collisions with other cyclists.  Eventually we ended up back in the downtown area which had become quite crowded.  We were anxious to return our bikes and get back on foot as it was just too congested to be on bikes and negotiating with the carriages and pedestrians.

After the bike rides we walked through the downtown for a few souvenirs but found most of the area did not interest us.  It was late afternoon and we decided we wanted to eat dinner in Charlevoix, not Mackinac Island. So, we took the ferry back to the mainland and once in the car drove Michigan Highway 31 one more time back to Charlevoix.  We returned the rental car, got a cab from Hertz back to the marina and walked to Bridge Street Tap Room for a second dinner there.

It had been a very fun day and we were happy that Claire was along to share it with us.

Other pictures from our adventures on Mackinac Island:

St Anne's Church

St Anne’s Church

Stations of cross at St. Anne's

Stations of cross at St. Anne’s

D&M at Fort Mackinac

D&M at Fort Mackinac

Miniature Golf Course

Miniature Golf Course

Saturday (8/15)Leland, MI – Today we said good bye to the very cool town of Charlevoix and moved the boat 30 miles south to Leland, MI.  Along the way we encountered very thick fog and had to use radar for navigating most of the way.

Foged in

Foged in

At one point we had to slow the boat down considerably as there were other boats in the area and we did not want to hit any of them.  By the time we got near the entrance to Leland harbor the fog had lifted. Along the way we had contacted TiKa and learned they were planning on staying in Leland another night, so we would see them for docktails

We pulled into the fuel dock for some diesel and then settled into our slip. Afterwards Mark washed the boat and Claire and Denise went for a walk to scope out “Fishtown” and the rest of the places in downtown Leland.

Fishtown is a collection of weathered fishing shanties, smokehouses, overhanging docks, fish tugs and charter boats along the Leland River in Leland, Michigan. There is Carlson’s Fishery, a fish market right along the river that buys the fresh fish right off the boats, and there is the “Cheese Shop” which has the best sandwiches for $6.95. There are efforts to preserve the shanties and the fishing activities and you can learn more about Fishtown here.

Fishtown

Fishtown

Also near Fishtown and as part of the harbor is the ferry boat that can take you to both North and South Manitou Islands – located 10 -12 miles off the mainland coast.  Both Islands are part of the Sleeping Bear National Park and offer camping, hiking, birding trails as well as an anchorage. Had the weather been more perfect we would have considered taking our boat there and anchoring out for a night.

However, the weather for the next day was not looking great; high winds were anticipated and it was supposed to blow hard. We did not have a reservation for another night, and we didn’t want to be forced to leave.  Leland Harbor is a “Safe Refuge” harbor and they have to take any boat that comes in during a storm.  This can result in boats being shifted around or rafted up in order to accommodate any who come in and we didn’t want to be ones that got kicked out once the winds died down (which they can do).  So we went ahead and paid for the second night, hoping we wouldn’t regret making that call so early on.

Also during the day other looper friends on “Ivory Lady” (Jann & Bill) and “Next Chapter” (Caryn & Willie) came into the marina, so together with TiKa we made plans for docktails in the nice cruisers lounge this city offers.

Ivory Lady & Next Chapter

Ivory Lady & Next Chapter

In the meantime we decided to cook dinner on the boat. Originally we were thinking we could get some whitefish or walleye at the fish store, but they were sold out of the fresh stuff by the time we got there (you have to get there early).  Therefore, we opted for some ribeye steaks we had seen at “The Mercantile” (grocery store) earlier in the day. So Claire and Denise walked back up the hill to the store, to get the steaks and some potatoes to roast along with it.

At 5:30 we had docktails with all the Loopers and another non-looper couple Chris & Karen (on “Good Grief” – a 1974 Chris Craft motor yacht that had been fully restored).  They own a few marinas on the Michigan coastline south of where we were and they were full of information to share.  Afterwards we went back to the boat and cooked our steaks and potatoes.  Of course we had to top the evening off with an ice cream. So, we walked up to the only shop still remaining open in town – and there is a reason they were still open – they served “Moomers” Ice Cream. A Michigan-made ice cream that is really good and was voted America’s “Best Scoop” on ABC’s Good Morning America in May 2008.  The servings were definitely not as big as “Lone Oak” in New Hampshire, but it was delicious and was the perfect ending to a fun day

Sunday (8/16)Leland, MI– Our first order of business was getting to mass.  This was a bit of a challenge as the closest Catholic Church was 5 miles away in Lake Leelanau, but we had secured a ride thanks to the Harbor Master.  He introduced us to an older couple (Bob and Boots on “BobbnBoots”) who were from Wisconsin, but had been at the marina 3 weeks already and allowed them to take his SUV the past few weeks. Fortunately, they were able to take us as well and so we all went to St. Mary’s for 9:15 mass.

Bob & Boots

Bob & Boots

St Mary's Catholic Church

St Mary’s Catholic Church

When we returned to the marina we decided to get sandwiches for lunch from The Cheese Shop, based on the positive feedback from Karen (on TiKa). So Claire and Denise went early and picked them up. We were not there more than 5 minutes when the line grew out the door with 15 people behind us. Clearly, we timed it well, and yes, the sandwiches were terrific!

The Cheese Shop

The Cheese Shop

We then planned the rest of the day, including a dinner outing with all the Loopers.  Mark had some work to do, so he took his computer and went up to the cruiser’s lounge where he had a better Wi-Fi signal.  Denise worked a little on the blog and Claire read her book.  Afterwards the girls dragged Mark back to Fishtown and the Leland downtown area to show him some of the things in town.  In the meantime, the wind had picked up and it was really howling and a small craft advisory had been issued.

Late that afternoon everyone was discussing plans for the next day as the wind was supposed to die down in the morning.  More boats had come into the marina, including Loopers Betsy & Dave Frye (“FryDaze”) and Gold Loopers Evelyn & Sid (“Something Special”).

Evelyn & Sid "Something Special"

Evelyn & Sid “Something Special”

So now our dinner party grew to 14 and we all met at Bluebird restaurant where they squeezed us into a corner booth + tables in the bar area.  It wasn’t the greatest accommodations, but the food was good and the company of other Loopers made it so great.  Then the entire group meandered back to the ice cream store for dessert and we said good night to all.  Tomorrow we would be moving on and most likely will run into each other again soon.

Other pictures from Leland:

Leland Marina

Leland Marina

Fishtown Shanties

Fishtown Shanties

Amphibious Car

Amphibious Car

Trailor hitch on SUV

Trailer hitch on SUV

Sunset at Leland

Sunset at Leland

 

Stay tuned for more adventures from Island Office!

Unplugged in the North Channel

Imagine if you will life without your cell phone, email, internet access, or tv.  That has been our life since we first left Killarney and headed into the North Channel.  Yes, we have had withdrawal and felt a little vulnerable not being able to communicate with family.  But what fantastic places we have seen and we have enjoyed every minute of it.  Here is what we have been up to:

Wednesday (7/29) – Killarney – We left the anchorage on Beaverton Bay (Burnt Island) around 9:00 am and headed toward Killarney, a very small town that has a population of less than 500 people. It really is the place that divides the Georgian Bay from the North Channel and is a big boating town.  There are only a handful of marinas, but only two that can handle bigger boats; The Killarney Mountain Lodge & Marina (aka “The Lodge” – where we stayed), and the Sportsman’s Inn (aka “the Inn” – a place that is over 100 years old and caters to the sport fishing crowd.

Our journey from the anchorage to the town was one filled with spectacular beauty.  The route took us through the “Collins Inlet” which is a channel cut through the quartz rock that is so prevalent in this area.  There are a few fish and hunting camps along the way, but mostly it is pristine water that is surrounded by high cliffs of rock and trees. It really is amazing that anything can grow in these rocks, but the trees that do seem to thrive. Along the way we were followed by TiKa and we were able to stop and take pictures of our mutual boats in a few spots.  Snug Tug had left the anchorage about 30 minutes ahead of us as they wanted to cruise at a different speed and wanted to get into town to do some work on their boat.

Approach to enter Collins Inlet

Approach to enter Collins Inlet

Cliffs on sides of Collins Inlet

Cliffs on sides of Collins Inlet

Collins Inlet narrows

Collins Inlet narrows

Sheer cliffs in Collins Inlet

Sheer cliffs in Collins Inlet

At Collins Inlet - taken by TiKa

At Collins Inlet – taken by TiKa

Ruscomb Hunt Club on Collins Inlet

Ruscomb Hunt Club on Collins Inlet

Red Rock Point - Killarney

Red Rock Point – Entrance to Killarney

We arrived in Killarney just before lunch and were tied up on an end dock on the western-most part of the marina.  After a fuel up and pump-out TiKa docked right in front of us and it helped to block all the waves from the boats in the harbor.  We had reservations for two nights and decided to check out the weather before checking in.  Transient slips in marinas are a pay in advance arrangements, so before we paid we wanted to make sure we would stay the second night.  Once we confirmed that the wind was really going to blow on Thursday and we wanted to be tied to a dock, we went ahead and committed to just that.

Boat Slip at Killarney Mtn Lodge -TiKa in front

Boat Slip at Killarney Mtn Lodge -TiKa in front

After lunch aboard our boat, we went exploring the town. It didn’t take very long, but we did discover one of the small marinas had a ships store that included some locally made jams, sauces, pickles and beef jerky.  We purchased a jar of pickles and a dipping sauce and scoped out their ice cream for later that night.

Channel Marina - ships store

Channel Marina – ships store

Walking further down the street we visited the Sportsman’s Inn and discovered a huge Yacht Club from Michigan (Grosse Point) was having a big rendezvous there over the weekend.

Sportsman's Inn - harbor view

Sportsman’s Inn – harbor side

Back of Sportsman's Inn

Back of Sportsman’s Inn

As a result, there were dozens of sport fishing boats in the marina and the dining room would be closed to the public on Friday night.  We were kind of disappointed as we had wanted to eat there, and we had already made plans to dine at our marina (The Lodge) with TiKa and Snug Tug for tonight.

Next we walked back to our marina stopping at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) to purchase some gin for Mark.  Unfortunately, the store’s shelves were really empty and their truck was delayed in Toronto; it would be tomorrow before they had more.  We agreed to wait and come back tomorrow.

LCBO - sold out gin

LCBO – sold out gin

After we got back to the boat and got our showers, it was time for dinner. We joined TiKa and Snug Tug for a nice meal at The Lodge dining room. The food was good, but not great and afterwards we went into the lounge area and continued our conversations. There was a local music artist who came in and played songs and we enjoyed the music until way past our usual bedtime.

Dinner at Killarney Mountain Lodge

Dinner at Killarney Mountain Lodge

Thursday (7/30) – Killarney – The day began with an early morning run by Denise who was anxious to get back on the roads.  It had been a while and she wanted to run more than the little town of Killarney could offer; after two loops up and back to the highway and through town and back, she had to quit at 3.10 miles.

All the weather predictions for the day were on target, and by 9:00 the wind started to pick up. By lunch time it was really blowing and at 5:00 pm it was blowing 25 knots with gusts to 35 knots.  We were so thankful we were at the dock and not spinning on an anchor somewhere.

In the morning we took advantage of the internet connection we had and tried to get some email and work done. However, with the wind, the coverage out to our end of the dock was spotty and we kept losing the connection. Denise finally decided to take her computer up the lodge and sit in a chair to get the last blog post done.

While she was gone, Mark decided to wash the boat as it was quite filthy from all the bugs we have encountered. Once he finished, all the boys (Mark, Bruce, Tim and Tim’s son – the other Mark) went and played tennis on the courts at the Lodge.  Bruce is a huge tennis player, and Mark the younger played on his high school team, so they split up allowing the four guys to play doubles with neither side having too big an advantage.  Despite the wind, they played successfully and had a good time.

For lunch we decided to visit Herbert Fisheries and have their fish and chips. This is an institution in Killarney where the fisherman drop their fresh catch and it is processed right before your eyes.  It used to be housed in an old converted bus, but this past year they built and moved into a building and now can serve more people. It was the freshest and most delicious fish & chips we have had in the area.

Herbert Fisheries

Herbert Fisheries

Herbert Fisheries lunch

Herbert Fisheries lunch

We were joined by Tim and Karen and there we ran into our looper friends on Ivory Lady and Next Chapter. They had arrived in our marina that morning and were there for two nights. We discussed plans for looper docktails that night, but we were not sure where to hold it as the wind would keep everyone inside and off the dock.  We agreed to check out the game room at The Lodge and planned for a 5:30 start.

After that, we went back to the LCBO so Mark could buy that needed bottle of gin.

Mark buyin gin at LCBO

Mark buyin gin at LCBO

In the afternoon we started to plan what our next day’s journey would be. The wind was going to die down a bit, but pick up again in the afternoon, and we thought we might try to stay one more day. The dock master “Red” advised that they were very full up for the holiday weekend (Monday is a provincial holiday in Ontario) but was willing to let us stay if the 85-footer coming in cancelled.  So, we were hopeful but also started to consider options for if we couldn’t stay.  Eventually we want to get to Little Current, but after a few phone calls we learned their marinas were also booked up for the weekend.  We really wanted to stop at a few places before Little Current, so we decided to put a contingency in place that would take us to one of these such spots, in case we would not be able to stay in Killarney.

That evening we had docktails in the game room with all the loopers (AGLCA members). In addition to TiKa, Snug Tug, Ivory Lady, and Next Chapter, there were two other boats “Melodee” (Mark & Becca) and another boat. As they didn’t have boat cards and we don’t remember names (of people or boats), we cannot name them here…..and of course alcohol was involved. It was quite fun and we really enjoyed getting to know everyone.

Docktails at the Lodge Gameroom

Docktails at the Lodge Game room

Docktails at the Lodge Gameroom

Docktails at the Lodge Game room

The Three Marks

The Three Marks

Afterwards we went with the folks from Snug Tug and TiKa to the lounge and ordered appetizers for dinner.  The service was really slow, but the food was good and we enjoyed the company of each other.  We left just as the evening entertainer was setting up for another night of singing.

The Killarney Mountain Lodge & Marina reminds us of the place in the movie Dirty Dancing. It is a great vacation spot visited by Canadians as well as Americans, mostly from Michigan.  They have beautiful grounds with an outdoor fire pit and grill as well as sport venues (tennis courts, horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet, etc.)   In addition to the marina there are cabins to rent, a (warm) pool, restaurant, lounge, kayaks and canoes.  You could see families come here for a whole week and enjoy the area and all it has to offer.

Lounge at The Lodge

Restaurant, lounge and pool at The Lodge

Other sights from Killarney:

Site on highway - from run

Sign on highway into town – from morning run

St Bonaventure Catholic

St Bonaventure Catholic

 

Marina Boathouse - Killarney Mtn Lodge

Marina Boathouse – Killarney Mtn Lodge

Boat-in Theater - Sportsman's Inn

Boat-in Theater – Sportsman’s Inn

Mark putting water on boat

Mark putting water on boat

Moon rise over Killarney Harbor

Moon rise over Killarney Harbor

Friday (7/31) – Baie Fine – This morning the wind had died down a lot compared to last night, but we knew we were in store for more wind today.  We had visions of the Cape May 5-day storm, but realized this was not such a bad place to get stuck if you have to be stuck somewhere.

Unfortunately, we were quick to learn that we were not going to be able to stay as the 85-footer (“Lady O”) would be coming in after all.  “Red” advised that the owner gave him some grief about challenging his reservation, and as he was coming up from “Okeechobee” he expected to have his reserved slip available. He was going to have to ask us to leave. This was not a problem as we had already planned for this eventuality and decided to make the 20+ mile trek up to Baie Fine (pronounced Bay Fin) where there was a very protective “pool” we could anchor in. We had discussed also going to Covered Portage Cove, about 5 miles away, but Red told us he came from there last night and there were already 15 boats at the anchorage. Therefore we ruled it out as a destination for today.

Of course this only affected us and TiKa; Snug Tug was ok to stay another night.  As they are really trying to make it to Michigan for the family reunion starting on the 8th, they were also hoping to move further west and decided not to join us.  However, as we left the dock they were undecided if they would stay or leave Killarney altogether.  Once off the dock and into the open Georgian Bay, we called back to them to let them know of the conditions; time was of the essence as the waves and wind were already building.  We got their voice mail and left our message and don’t know what they decided to do.

On the way to Baie Fine we passed through the Lansdowne Channel a long stretch of water surrounded by islands on both sides. In some areas here the channel can get narrow and boaters usually yield to the smaller craft, many (unlike in the ICW) do not slow down and their wake can send your boat rocking. When we came around the point and headed in the Small Craft Channel toward Frazer Bay whom did we encounter but “Lady O”, the 85-footer that was headed into Killarney. Of course he did not slow down and his wake rocked our world a bit!

We made our way through Frazer Bay and up into the long channel that takes you in to Baie Fine.  Around the very first point we encountered “Okeechobee Lake Yacht Club” – a private club that is not on any waterway guide or Active Captain posting.  Obviously, the comments from Red at Killarney Mountain Lodge and Marina made a lot more sense to us now.

Okeechobee Lodge

Okeechobee Lodge

We arrived at Baie Fine and were able to anchor in a very weedy, but spectacularly beautiful place.

Island Office at The Pool

Island Office at The Pool

There were some boats already in the anchorage, including loopers Gail & Jeff Dunham (“YOLO”) whom we met in Parry Sound and talked with again at the anchorage in The Bustards.  They came by our boat to let us know there would be a concert in the anchorage tonight.  They have guests on board and the woman is going to serenade us on her cello later this evening.

Jeff & Gail ("YOLO") at The Pool

Jeff & Gail (“YOLO”) at The Pool

As per the guide book and what we learned from the speaker at the AGLCA rendezvous, we wanted to take a hike up the hill to Lake Topaz; it is a turquoise colored fresh water lake that has a high concentration of Sulphur, and therefore no fish live in it. However, many people go there for swimming and love the way their skin feels afterwards.  We contemplated going, but storm clouds were building and by the time we got in the dinghy to go, it was a very dark and threatening sky.  So we just rode around in the dinghy for bit until Denise saw lightening; that ended the adventure and we headed back to the boat.  Since we had already decided to stay here for two days, we made plans to go to the lake in the morning.

Storm brewing over The Pool

Storm brewing over The Pool

Well the storm came in and rained for about 5 minutes, the wind blew a bit and our boat swung on the anchor, but held us well. Within 45 minutes everything cleared up and the sky turned gorgeous once again. TiKa invited us over for a game called “Cross – cribbage” – a form of cribbage you play with 4 people and a “board” of 5×5 squares. It was quite fun, but since we were novices at this form they beat the pants off of us.

Cross Cribbage board

Cross Cribbage board

We went back to our boat to prepare for dinner when the concert on “YOLO” began.  What a treat for all those in the anchorage as she was quite good and played popularly-known songs.  All the while, Denise made fajitas for dinner and Mark vacuumed, then made chocolate chip cookies. These are the things you do when the generator is running as you want to max out the load on the generator when you can.

After dinner we saw Tim & Karen out fishing in their dinghy so we invited them over to share our cookies.  We discussed future stops in the North Channel, if we could get reservations in Little Current for Sunday, and what if we could not.  There were several options on the table, but without communications we would not know any more until Sunday when we were to leave.

Saturday (8/1) – Baie Fine – The wind had totally died down overnight and the anchorage was incredibly still and beautiful. Last night the moon had been a “blue moon” and provided lots of light over all the boats. It was a spectacular sight.

Setting Blue Moon at The Pool

Setting Blue Moon at The Pool

After breakfast we embarked on the adventure to Lake Topaz. We had to take our dinghy across the “Pool” and tie it up on shore.  We then hiked up the hill about two miles to the lake, stopping along the way to take pictures and talk to others.

Hiking to Lake Topaz

Hiking to Lake Topaz

The hike was about 1000 feet in elevation on a well-marked trail over rocky (granite & quartz) terrain that could be slippery if you didn’t plant your feet properly.  Along the way we met a group who had been camping and canoeing all the surrounding lakes; they were carrying their canoes down the trail when we were climbing up.

Coming down the hill

Coming down the hill

On the way to the lake we found the rocky ledge that overlooked the anchorage that Jeff & Gail (“YOLO”) had told us about the day before.  We were able to take some pictures of our boat at anchor, as well as the other boats in the “Pool”.  We then climbed all the way to the lake and stuck our feet in the clear water that really was turquoise as advertised.  It was a bit chilly for these Floridians, so we did not go in the water.

Lake Topaz view from outlook

Lake Topaz view from outlook

Mark at Lake Topaz

Mark at Lake Topaz

Denise at Lake Topaz

Denise at Lake Topaz

On the way down we met Karen, Tim & Mark the younger, who were about 15 minutes behind us.  We took Tim & Mark up to the ledge for more pictures with all of us and our boats in the background.

At Overlook to The Pool

At Overlook to The Pool

Tim was able to get a slight cell signal on his phone; just enough to get a few emails downloaded. However, since we had not brought our phones up the hill, we couldn’t do the same.

After that it was a quick trip down the hill, back in the dinghies, and back to our boats in time for lunch.  What a spectacular morning.

That afternoon we went back to TiKa for another round of Cross-Cribbage with Karen & Tim.  They (once again) annihilated us in a short time so we switched to a new game that was like a cross between Spades, Hearts & UNO.  We were more successful on this game, and enjoyed our conversations.

We also discussed our plans for leaving the next day. We had been unsuccessful at getting a marina reservation for Little Current, our next planned destination, as there was a big festival of some kind going on.  As we had no cell phone or internet signals in The Pool, we decided to try again after we got under way in the morning.

So it was back to our boat for a pasta dinner, reading our books, and then turned-in for an early morning hoisting of the anchor.

Other sights from Baie Fine:

Morning Stillness at The Pool

Morning Stillness at The Pool

Morning sky at The Pool

Morning sky at The Pool

Denise at Lake Topaz

Denise at Lake Topaz

The Pool anchorage at dusk

The Pool anchorage at dusk

Sunday (8/2) – Gore Bay. We planned to begin pulling up our anchors at 8:00 as we wanted to stay ahead of inevitable building winds on the North Channel.  We knew it would take a while to clean all the weeds off the anchor chain, so Tim and Mark – the younger, got in their dinghy and helped us with ours.  It took only 15 minutes (not the predicted 30 minutes) to do this, so we were underway by 8:15 and headed out the 10 mile channel of Baie Fine.  During the freeing of our anchor, we noticed that Mark – the younger had shaved his beard that morning and we enjoyed teasing him of his youthful appearance.

Pulling weeds off the anchor

Pulling weeds off the anchor

The run up to Little Current was not far, but we did have to cross a large open bay and the winds were building.  The passage ended up being a little squirrely, but not bad. Our boat performed great and we were happy that the fuel vacuum pressure continues to hold in the “good” range.

Before entering Little Current Harbor there is a swing bridge that we could easily clear, but TiKa had to wait for the on-the-hour opening.  While TiKa waited for this, we called all the marinas in Little Current on the VHF & Cell phone, but were still unable to get us both in anywhere. This was the first time we have ever not been able to get into a place we have wanted to stop at for at least for one night during this whole trip.

Therefore we pressed on to Gore Bay; a small town that was further west on the island called “Manitoulin”.  Just as we got passed the last channel mark leaving Little Current we could see a squall and thunderstorm on the water. So we made the decision to seek shelter in a little anchorage off Picnic Island – just west of the town.  We called TiKa and advised them and they joined us in the anchorage.  No sooner had they put their anchor down then the wind kicked up and the storm blew through with winds gusting to 46 knots.  We were grateful we were not out on the bay!

Picnic Island - Squall approaching

Picnic Island – Squall approaching

We sat at the anchorage for about 1.5 hours, having lunch in the process until the storm passed.  Then we had a window of time to cruise the remaining miles into Gore Bay.  This passage was uneventful and we ran the boat pretty fast (about 17.5 knots) so that we could get in before another storm could hit us.  We arrived at the fuel dock for some diesel and a pump out and were in our slip by 4 pm.

After settling our boats we had docktails aboard TiKa to discuss our plans for the next day and then went on to dinner.  Because it is a holiday weekend in Ontario, our choices were limited to the only open restaurant in town. “Buoys” is a very small place located just north of the last dock at the marina.  The place has seating for about 25 inside, and another 25 or so outside; which is where they also will put you until a seat inside becomes available.  The owner Rich was terrific and his chef David provided us a delicious meal.  They had a singer who was going to perform at 8:00, but had pushed it back to 8:30 due to weather.  We were successful at getting inside the restaurant before the rain hit, and before the entertainer started. With a $10 per person cover we decided we would clear out and we did before she started.

Dinner at Bouys

Dinner at Buoys

Bouys at Gore Bay

Buoys at Gore Bay

Buoys Owner Rich

Buoys Owner Rich

In order to have options of future destinations and time for leaving, we thought we should do a couple of quick loads of laundry one last time in Canada (hopefully).  We had wanted to do it earlier but the only two washer/dryers in the marina were occupied.  Denise put two loads in the washer and went back to the boat. When she and Mark returned to put clothes in the dryer they noticed the washers were foaming.  Long story short, despite following the limited detergent guide, there was way too much soap in the machine and we had to re-wash both loads.  When we went back, only one of the loads was free of soap and the other had to be hand-rinsed in the sink and wrung out manually before we could dry them.

In the meantime, we had used up all our Canadian Quarters and only had enough for about 25 minutes of drying.  Remember, it is Sunday evening and it is now way past PJ time.  Our only option was to walk back to “Buoys” where (fortunately) they were still open.  Owner Rich exchanged some money for us and we were back at the marina in a flash.  It was well past double-digits when we finished and way past our bedtime when we finally turned in.

Monday (8/3) – Gore Bay- We woke up this morning with a cold breeze blowing and that meant it was back to long sleeves and long pants (of course not for Mark). We know our FL family and friends will not believe it when we say we have hardly used our air conditioning; in fact the heat is used more than the air.

We have been undecided about where to go next and keep discussing and mulling this over with TiKa.  Part of us wants to explore more of the North Channel including Blind River and Thessalon. Other parts of us would like to get back to the US waters where we can at least get cell coverage to talk more easily with family and conduct business.  So, we decided that we would take advantage of the grocery store which had limited hours due to the holiday and get a few provisions in case we went off to anchor again. Denise, Tim & Karen all headed there while Mark conducted some business, taking advantage of the marina WiFi.

Once back from the grocery store, the discussion resumed on the dock about whether or not to go to Blind River. The winds were picking up and we really needed to go if we were going to make the 30 mile run to get there.  While we were in contemplation, a looper boat pulled in and said they got pretty beat up on the North Channel coming from Little Current, and they saw 2 boats leave our marina and turn back in once they got out of the bay and headed into the North Channel.  Then our friends on YOLO showed up and told us they too had it pretty rough and they had broken a lamp on the boat while in route.  So, that made our decision easy and we opted to stay another night in Gore Bay.  We also made plans to go back to Buoys for dinner as it was the only restaurant open due to the holiday. So we ate lunch aboard the boat, then settled in for some work, cataloging of pictures and updating for the blog posting.

In the evening we entertained Tim, Karen & Mark – the younger for docktails and had invited other Loopers to join in for dinner, but they already had plans.  So once again the 5 of us walked to Buoys and sat at the patio waiting for an inside table.  Once the table became available we were able to enjoy another fine meal at this small but delightful establishment.  We left the restaurant with plans to leave Gore Bay in the morning before the wind could build and make our way to Meldrum Bay. This would set us up for a landing at Drummond Island on Wednesday, putting us back in the USA.

Other sights from our travels to and events in Gore Bay:

Strawberry Island Light

Strawberry Island Light – just before Little Current

Manitoulin Island Wind Farm

Manitoulin Island Wind Farm on way to Little Current

After dinner chat - Mark - the elder, Mark - the younger, and Tim

After dinner chat – Mark – the elder, Mark – the younger, and Tim

Sunset reflection on boat doors

Sunset reflection on boat doors – Gore Bay

Tuesday (8/4) – Meldrum Bay – We got up early in order to get a few things done on the boat before we left this nice marina and pretty area.  We pulled away from the dock at 8:15 to cruise the 30+ miles to Meldrum Bay with TiKa and had an uneventful passage.  Our boat performed wonderfully and we are so grateful for the safe passage and for no reoccurrences of fuel/engine issues.

As soon as we arrived in Meldrum Bay, we were approached by Canadian Customs (again).  This is an entry port for people coming from the USA, so it is natural for them to be here.  However, once again we were boarded, asked to present passports and boat documentation, and were asked a million questions.  We informed the agents that we have been approached now 4 times since arriving on July 9th, despite the CANPASS.  The officer gave us a receipt and instructed us to post it in the window; he was surprised that previous agents had not provided us with the same.  They left our boat and stopped on the dock to briefly talk to TiKa, but they did not have to provide any of the documentation we did.  Go Figure!

We checked in at the marina office and then took a brief stroll to the Meldrum Inn to confirm dinner reservations and see if we could use their Wi-Fi; the marina does not have one and we cannot get our Canadian hot spot to work as we are pretty remote.  We walked further down the road to see the museum and encountered some people from Wisconsin who were here on their boat and had just entered Canada. They too were boarded by the Customs agents, but that was expected as it was their entry point.

Meldrum Bay Marina office  & Customs vehicle

Meldrum Bay Marina office & Customs vehicle

Road in town of Meldrum Bay

Road in town of Meldrum Bay

Shortly after lunch our friends Gail & Jeff Dunham (YOLO) entered into the marina. We had seen them in route here and talked to them on the radio about half way through the voyage.  They cruise in a trawler (Carver) and so they move slower than us.  We advised them of our dinner plans and asked them to join us at the Inn, which they agreed to.

Afterwards Mark gave the boat a good scrubbing while Denise worked on the blog, more cataloging of pictures and some inside boat chores.  Then after showers we joined the Dunham’s aboard TiKa for the requisite docktails.  We then took the 5 minute walk up the hill to the Meldrum Bay Inn for our 7:15 reservations.

Jeff & Gail Dunham ("YOLO")

Jeff & Gail Dunham (“YOLO”)

Dinner at the Inn

Dinner at the Inn

The Inn is owned by a couple who were from California and purchased it 9 years ago – sight unseen.  The Inn is now booked out almost every evening in the summer and people drive for miles to have dinner at the restaurant (which only serves Lunch and Dinner to outsiders).

Meldrum Bay Inn

Meldrum Bay Inn

We learned from the owners that their daughter used to run the LCBO/grocery store that recently closed. She is expecting her first child and there are complications that forced her to take a leave; she intends to reopen it for next season (2016).

Closed LCBO & Grocery

Closed LCBO & Grocery

After dinner we returned to the docks where our mutual boats were parked.  When we arrived, TiKa noticed their power cord been unplugged by a sailboat that came into the slip across the dock while we were at dinner. TiKa was using the pedestal across the dock in order to get the 50 amp service they needed and was told by the dock master that it was ok to do so.   The sailboat first gave a story that the dock master told them to park in that spot, but then later changed their story and said they arrived after the office had closed.  As there was plenty of open spaces in the marina, we assisted in moving to another spot where they could get power.  Afterwards we discussed that this was probably a “dock pirate” – someone who comes in after the marina closes and leaves before it opens so they can have free dockage.

This very remote and small hamlet is quite beautiful and to top it all off, we were dazzled by a bazillion stars.  It truly was spectacular as there were no clouds or light pollution.  A perfect ending to a perfect day!

Other sights from Meldrum Bay:

Meldrum Bay boat slip

Meldrum Bay boat slip

Museum at Meldrum Bay

Museum at Meldrum Bay

Meldrum Bay Marina

Meldrum Bay Marina

Clear water of Meldrum Bay

Clear water of Meldrum Bay

Morning sunrise at Meldrum Bay

Morning sunrise at Meldrum Bay

Stay tuned for more adventures to come