Mackinac Island And Back To Home

Friday I worked while Melanie, Mary and Mike walked around and explored Mackinaw City. Later in the day, Mary and Steve came to visit. They are our dock neighbors from home and they live in Ann Arbor. We enjoyed hanging out with them and that evening went to dinner with them at a very interesting place. It had a log cabin feel to it and it was obvious the owners were hunters; it was filled with taxidermy from all parts of the world.

We walked around after dinner and window shopped before returning to the boat for an early night. We were up bright and early and ready to tackle Mackinac island. We caught the 9:00 am ferry which takes a slightly longer route and talks a bit about the history of the island and the bridge. It was good that we arrived early, it wasn’t too crowded but that would change later in the day. We disembarked and exited the ferry terminal to a horse drawn wagon standing right in front of us. Windsor started barking, he has never seen horses and probably thought they were really big dogs! The island has no mechanical vehicles, only horse drawn carriages and bicycles, so it changes the whole balance of the island. They have 1 doctor and 5 veterinarians living on the island!

Riding the ferry to Mackinac Island

We walked up to the Grand hotel and then followed the route the tourist wagons take around through the state park to the fort and then walked back and forth along the main Street. We had a very interesting day seeing the sights and just people watching. In case you did not know, the movie “Somewhere In Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was filmed here using the hotel as a backdrop. There were a few spots on the island marked as places where scenes were filmed. The pictures below are from one of those stores. And, if you like chick-flicks, this is a must see!

Street sweeper

We stopped for a bite to eat at an outdoor patio in the back of one of the hotels and then returned to the ferry for the quick trip home. We were exhausted from all of the walking and pretty much just sat and did nothing for a few hours before taking the dog for a short walk. Right when we did that a parade of Corvettes passed by. There was a Corvette meetup in town that weekend and there must have been 200 or more cars in the parade. We watched that and then headed back to the boat for the night.

Sunday morning came with sunshine and promising winds. The forecast was for southerly winds which were favorable, so we filled up the water tanks, unhooked the electric and headed out into the lake. We started off sailing with a reefed jib and full mainsail and even with that we were making six to seven knots! It was a great sailing day.

Sailing to Hammond Bay

The wind fizzled later in the day and then clocked to the southeast which made our destination directly into the wind!. With 10 miles to go the wind piped up from the New direction and soon we were galloping over waves to our destination. When we arrived we tried to drop anchor and picked up so many weeds that the anchor would not bite into the lake bed. We tried twice then decided to leave the harbor and anchor behind the break wall in the shelter of and out of the waves. I dropped the anchor into clear sand in about 8 ft of water and it bit in immediately,and Melanie headed below to cook us a quick dinner while we relaxed from the crazy ride.

We lowered the dinghy after finishing our dinner and rode into shore to walk the dog on the beach. It was like being at the ocean, hard to believe that it is a fresh water lake. Around sunset we headed back to the boat and closed up for the night. We were expecting storms so we prepared for them but all we got was a light drizzle later in the evening.

Hammond Bay Beach

Next morning we raised anchor and turned for Presque Isle. The wind was out of the South between 15 and 20 knots but because we were relatively close to shore, there weren’t very many large waves so we moved very fast. 34 miles later we arrived before 2:30 having started after 9:00 a.m. . Melanie said she saw 8 knots a few times on the speedometer! That is pretty fast for our boat. We spent most of the morning over 6 so while it was quite a bouncy ride for me down below, at 2:30 I was sitting upright and safely at anchor in Presque Isle.

After work I lowered the dinghy and went over to pick up Mike and Mary for dinner. We had decided to make this a two day stay as the weather forecast called for bad winds the following day. Melanie made a delicious hot meal of chicken with a lemon sauce over noodles – it always feels good to warm your belly after  a good sail. We dropped Mary and Mike off after dinner and went ashore to a small park to walk the dog. There was not much there so we headed over to the rocky shore at the entrance of the bay. It was remote and beautiful. We enjoyed the sights until the flies started biting, then hopped into the dinghy and headed back to the boat for the night. We were prepared the next day to wait the weather out, but while sitting in the cockpit enjoying breakfast, a fellow sailor from Sandusky sailed by – Island Dancer – he said the wind was great and we should leave now. I tried to start working and to my surprise, I could not get an internet connection. The previous day was great, yet nothing today. So that, along with the “forecast” from Bruce led to us raising anchor and heading towards Harrisville.

The first half of the trip was fine and within a few miles, I had reception again as we were close to Alpena. The second half of the trip was not so nice. Crossing Thunder Bay the wind piped up to over 30 knots and while we were moving fast, waves were crashing over the boat and working below was like trying to sit in a dryer and work while its on the spin cycle! I was down on the floor as low as I could go while the boat was getting flung about mercilessly. Melanie put up a clear shower curtain to help keep the wind and water out of the cockpit and that was quite effective for her. I was down below, getting flung about but nevertheless dry. There were squalls rolling through the area, but thankfully they passed either behind or ahead of us and we did not get rained on.

After a long hard day we arrived in Harrisville, all beat up and thankful for the shelter and calm of the harbor. Melanie made a quick Spaghetti and egg dinner which we wolfed down and then she made it clear that ice cream was in order for dessert. After her long day at the helm, I couldn’t say no🙂 We dropped the dinghy and headed into shore where we ran into a little concert in the park! Open mike night. We stopped to listen to some music; I had looked at the store times on line and it said they closed at 10pm, so we had plenty of time.

An older lady came over to pet Windsor and we started chatting and in the course of the conversation, ice cream came up. “No”, she said, “I think the store closes at 8pm”. It was 8:10. “Let me ask the owner” she said. She walked over to a young couple and started talking to them. She motioned for us to come over – she was taking to the store owner who said it was closed, but after hearing our story of the windy day on the water she drove us to the store and served us herself! We got our ice cream after all and sat outside in the fading light stuffing our faces. I LOVE small towns! We strolled back and as we arrived at the marina, the impromptu concert was packing up – the lady we had spoken to, along with a friend were the only two people left.  We spoke to her for quite a while , thanking her for doing what she did. Then back to the boat and off to bed. The boat never moved all night.

Heading to Tawas

We woke to brilliant sunshine and clear skies. After checking the forecast we took the puppy ashore for his walk and headed out into Lake Huron, destination Tawas. As usual, the predicted North West wind (highly favorable to our direction of travel) was actually a South West wind – almost directly where we were headed! I guess weather forecasting is the only job you can have where you can be wrong 100% of the time and still get paid! We set sail, motoring as well to keep up our speed. The wind was blowing from the shore so the waves were small and the ride was relatively smooth. As we approached Tawas point, the wind switched to the North West and nice rolling 5 footers came roaring out of the bay, smashing into the waves blowing up the lake, turning the area we were in to a large washing machine. We fought and struggled the last 3 miles to port – taking almost 2 hours to go those three miles into the pounding waves before we arrived at the harbor where we tied up without incident.

After a delicious dinner we went ashore and walked the town. Next day Melanie, Mike and Mary explored the town while I worked and after work I joined them and we went out to dinner at a restaurant in the hotel right next to the marina. Next day, we gassed up, pumped out and departed for Port Austin. The wind direction was such that waves were pounding us as we left and that lasted for about a third of the trip. Once we had crossed about half way over Saginaw Bay, the wind moderated and the waves decreased and the trip was a little smoother. We arrived at weedy Port Austin in the early afternoon and once finished with work, I met the others at “The Bank 1884”, a local bank building converted to a dining establishment. We enjoyed a nice fish dinner and a celebratory glass of Champagne for my birthday.

Sailing To Port Austin

Saturday saw a farmers market in town, so we wandered around buying fruit and veggies and enjoying the sunshine. Early in the afternoon we dropped the dinghy and rode over to Turnip Rock. The ride was over shallow water and the motor hit bottom a few times, but we made it safely there without damaging the propeller. Once there we pulled the dinghy up on a small beach at the bottom of a cave cliff and spent some time admiring the view.

Being a weather hound, I noticed that high clouds were starting to cover the sky in the North and moving towards us, indicating that thunderstorms were on the way. The cliff obscured views of the Northern and Western skies, so we decided to head back and we were right, a line of thunderstorms was headed our way. We motored back to the harbor, avoiding the numerous shallow spots on the way back. We raised the dinghy back into the davits and then Melanie went below and made dinner; pork chops, salad and sweet potatoes.

Turnip Rock

We stayed in Port Austin an extra day because the waves out on the lake the next day were eight to ten feet! It was cloudy and gray but no rain. We walked around and found that there was an art festival in town so we went to that and wandered around and found some wonderful clothes for Melanie to buy. We headed back to the boat where we met up with Mike and Mary for breakfast and then took them back over to the festival. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it helped to pass away the day. Besides, getting away from the lake and the furious winds made us a lot warmer.

Angry Lake Huron

We were up early and left around 9:00 the following day. Although the winds had died down a lot the seas we’re still quite angry and we had a rough but short ride to Harbor Beach where we anchored behind the break wall. Melanie made a wonderful recipe for dinner, cheesy chard. I went over to pick up Mike and Mary for dinner and ended up swimming. Normally when Melanie climbs out of the dinghy, she takes the line and ties it to the boat. Mike and Mary climbed out of the boat and I stepped out, forgetting that Melanie was not in the dinghy and had not tied it to the boat! I turned around and watched our dinghy drifting quickly away from the boat! I tore off my sweatshirt and without thinking dived in to retrieve it.

After retrieving the dinghy and changing out of my wet clothes, we wolfed down dinner and went to shore to look for ice cream, forgetting that it was Labor Day and everything was closed! We returned to the boats and after a short night of TV, fell into bed. We awoke at 6:30 the following morning to a glorious blue sky. We planned to make Port Huron which was 55 miles away and that required an early start if we were to make it before sundown. We headed out after pulling up the anchor and finding it absolutely covered in Weeds. It took me a good 15 minutes to clean it off before it was light enough for me to raise and stow for travel. My workout for the day.

We motor sailed the entire way, the sun gave way to clouds and then after a few hours the skies cleared and we warmed up. The wind gradually decreased and switched so that it became more northerly as opposed to northeasterly. We arrived around 5:00 and scooted into the river doing close to 10 knots! There is quite a strong current and it really pushed the boat along. We tied up at Port Huron yacht club without incident and after I finished work we headed out for a dinner, our last dinner ashore before home. We found a wings and beer place to enjoy dinner and then began our search for ice cream – we had been denied the day before and this day wasn’t much better. We arrived at the store 20 minutes AFTER they closed. No more Michigan Pothole…..

An early night was in order because we had 70 miles to go the next day. We cast off right around 7 am and motored out into the river bathed in glorious sunshine and zero wind. The current pushed us at a steady 7 to 8 knots and by noon we were entering Lake Saint Clair. The wind never showed up – there were short promises of help from the wind, so we kept the sails out, but most of the time we were dependent on the river current to speed us along.

Leaving Port Huron

We entered the Detroit River and motored down to the spot we had anchored on the first night and dropped anchor. After dinner, we decided to head into shore. A passing boat told us there was a nice restaurant at the marina right next to where we anchored. We had no idea there was even a marina there! We headed in on the dinghy and found a huge marina hidden behind the houses lining the shore. We ordered lunch for the following day and enjoyed a drink while we waited for our food.

September 8 was the last day of the trip. Glorious sunshine once again woke us up and we raised anchor in a calm, windless river, heading into the shipping channel and turning South towards Lake Erie. Mike once again had an engine overheating problem; weeds blocking the water intake. We dropped anchor outside the channel and tried to unblock it to no avail.

We raised anchor and decided to motor slowly enough to not overheat the engine. After an hour of that, we realized that it would take ten to twelve hours to make it home so we gave them our hose blaster and he jury rigged a hose to the kitchen faucet and was able to blow the obstruction out using their galley faucet.

That said we were on our way again at normal speeds and after a long day of motoring across a calm lake, our islands came into view and we arrived safely home at our dock. A celebration at our local favorite restaurant finished off our adventure. 1140 miles later we were back at home port and talking about our next adventure; this one was in the books!

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