Next morning we were blessed with blue skies and temps in the upper 50s! Who would guess that in the middle of summer we’d have to wear jackets to stay warm. We filled the water tanks, ate breakfast and prepped the boat for departure. There was a gentle breeze, unfortunately out of the exact direction we were headed. We sucked down a good cup of coffee, filled up our water tanks and then shoved off.
Melanie was dressed like it was winter. I set up shop down below and worked and was cozy warm because I took the engine cover off so it would heat the cabin. A little loud but well worth it! We zigzagged up the coast of Michigan (because we cannot sail directly into the wind) using the motor to help propel us along and made steady progress until we passed around the northern tip of Thunder Bay. Late in the afternoon we rounded the point and set a course for Presque Isle. There were many sailboats, trawlers and other vessels on the water; more than we have seen in a while. We also saw another boat from Sandusky headed south! It’s been amazing how many people we have met that are sailing up here that are from either Cleveland, Sandusky or Gibraltar which is over near Grosse Isle, Detroit. The wind slowly died during the afternoon but stayed strong enough to give us good forward movement along with the engine. The waves did decrease and this allowed us to go a little faster.
We pulled into Presque Isle Bay around 8:45pm just in time to drop the anchor and watch the sun set. Glorious colors from reds to pale purple painted the sky. We watched the show for a while before sneaking below for a cup of hot tea and then a glorious warm bed where we slept hard. I was wakened by the sun streaming down through the hatch and into our V-berth in the front – blinding light woke me from a pleasant dream and off we went.
Coffee, then breakfast and we raised our anchor out of the crystal clear water and motored out into Lake Huron, raising the sails and setting course for Hammond Bay, some 30 odd miles away. There was a gentle breeze from the South West, so we took advantage of that, setting our sails for only the 2nd time this trip WITHOUT the motor. Blissful quiet as we slipped along around 5 to 6 knots – actually faster than we can motor – and relished in the beauty of the day. A few hours in, the wind pooped and we started the motor to continue to make decent time. We wanted to reach our destination before sunset; its always awkward going into an unfamiliar place to anchor in the dark.
Then the wind switched to the north West, directly where we were heading and piped up to 20 to 25 knots! This led to the waves gradually building until they started to break over the boat and with 8 miles to go, we decided that it was not worth the slow, painful slog. We could fight the weather and take 4 hours to go 8 Miles OR look at the charts and find a place behind us to take shelter. We found a marina at Rogers City that was behind us about 8 Miles, so we turned and with the waves and wind now pushing us, our four hour slog became a calm, quick hour and a half. We pulled into the marina, tied up and unwound after being beaten up just a little.
Based on the recommendation of a fellow sailor, we took a walk and found a restaurant called “Up North 23” and had dinner there. It had a beautiful view of the angry lake. The next day while I worked, Melanie, Mike and Mary walked around town, going to museums and shops and enjoying a full day while the wind took its anger out on the lake. That evening was the final super moon of the year, called a Sturgeon Moon. Around 9:00 p.m. it rose above the horizon, a buttery yellow ball that was just beautiful. Despite my efforts I was unable to get a decent picture of it. We fell into bed soon thereafter while the wind blew itself out during the night.
We left Rogers City on a dying breeze in the morning and as the day progressed it got hotter and the wind disappeared completely. We entered our anchorage point at Cheboygan Bay right around the dinner hour after an uneventful day, dropped anchor and lowered the dinghy and headed into shore to see what we could find. Cheboygan is actually a small port on a river, so it was bustling with activity. We found a nice dog friendly restaurant and ate dinner before heading back to the boat to enjoy the sunset.
Saturday morning Melanie had a very sore hip. She had either thrown out her SI joint or pulled a muscle and we needed to see a chiropractor. We raised the anchor and motored into the river. The drawbridge opened and we found a dock close to where we had eaten the previous evening. Two chiropractors that advertised as open were however closed so we disappointingly walked back to the boat, passing by a farmers market on the way. We stopped, browsed and bought a few fresh veggies and then headed back to the boat, untied and headed out through the drawbridge again into Lake Huron. To our left side the two towers of the Mackinac bridge appeared on the horizon 12 miles away. We waited for Mary and Mike to raise their anchor and join us, then headed off towards the looming bridge.
As we got closer, Mackinac Island slowly came into view with its historic Grand hotel showing as a fat white stripe across the middle of the island. Clouds peppered the sky hiding the sun, making it raw and chilly. The bridge rose out of the water, getting higher and higher as we passed Bois Blanc Island to our right.
The wind came and died number of times and it gradually became overcast. Around 2:30 p.m. we passed under the bridge and entered Lake Michigan. We have now sailed Southern Cross in four out of the five Great lakes. Only Lake Superior remains. The wind continued its downward spiral, slowly fading away as the clouds covered the sky. We arrived around 3:45 at Trailhead Bay on the other side of the peninsula from Mackinaw city. We dropped anchor in 17 ft of water and I watched the anchor hit the sand! The water is very very clear! Not quite used to it, Lake Erie is so shallow it’s always brown from the mud and sand that gets stirred up by the waves and the freighters’ propellers. We rarely see clear water there.
After we dropped the anchor, I lowered the dingy and went to pick up Mary and Mike, practicing my rowing skills. Melanie made a delicious dinner of bangers, mash and sauerkraut along with a tomato and cucumber salad. We finished the day with this delicious dinner before falling into bed. The night was calm and serene. The boat barely moved on the flat waters. I woke the next morning with the sun streaming in the window and went up to survey the land. The water was calm and so clear that you could see rocks and stones on the bottom! 17 ft! I don’t think I have ever anchored in fresh water this clear before. After a delicious breakfast we hauled anchor and tried to sail.
The morning breezes were very light and we started off moving only around 1-2 knots, not a good speed when you need to make 30 miles before sunset. But, as the day progressed it gradually increased until we were doing almost three knots which was palatable for a while at least. It’s just nice to not hear the engine and hear the water gently lapping against the hull as we pass through it. Our persistence paid off though, and by 11 AM we were doing between 5 and 6 knots with a good 10-15 knot breeze pushing us along with the waves. We sailed the entire distance to Beaver Island and only turned the motor on to take the sails down and come into the harbor. Now that’s how a day’s sailing should be!
We docked the boat, took Windsor for a walk and then went to the local grocery store. It was closed but we had a nice walk along the shore of the crescent shaped harbor. We came back and bought a breakfast burrito at a local mini mart and enjoyed a good meal before heading back to the boat. We dropped Windsor off for a nap and borrowed the marina bikes to take a bike ride, riding around the harbor to the point where the lighthouse was located.
Beautiful homes, museums and a very picturesque view greeted us. Around sunset we returned, closed up for the night and hit the hay.
It was quite chilly when we woke up the next morning. We had a lot to do. Mary, one of our companion travelers had some sort of infection so we needed to get to a doctor. The closest one that could write a prescription was on the mainland at Sutton’s Bay, a small offshoot of Traverse Bay. It was a long distance and we had a late start. Leaving the dock, pumping out the holding tank and getting on our way took a while and there was no wind to boot.
We set the sails in the hope that they would help us and motored out of the harbor. Eventually in the late afternoon we entered Traverse Bay and the wind came up a little and helped us toward our destination. We arrived around 8:00 p.m. with daylight still helping us find our anchor spot. The last half hour of the journey, Melanie made a light dinner for us which we then took over to our companion boat. We enjoyed some food and fellowship before collapsing into bed, exhausted after a long day.