Traverse Bay And Beyond

I forgot to mention, when we were entering Traverse Bay yesterday, we encountered a family of swans out in the middle of the bay about 4 miles from shore. Quite a beautiful sight to see – seven swans a swimming!

We headed into shore at Suttons Bay the next morning so that Melanie, Mary and Mike could catch the bus to Traverse City to visit doctors and chiropractors. Mary had some sort of infection and Melanie needed a chiropractor. I stayed and worked and watched over the boats. The wind came up during the day and Windsor and I bounced around quite a bit at anchor as the waves built to 2 to 3 ft, but both boats’ anchors held. A big relief since I would have had to reposition and reset the anchor myself and it’s a two-man job.

I came ashore after work and picked them up at 6:00 when the bus dropped them off at the local library. We had a light dinner and finished it off with ice cream before heading back to the boat for the night. The next day was more of the same. Melanie was feeling much better and had free range of motion and best of all, no more pain! We headed into shore around lunch time so we could go to a market that sells local and Michigan only produce and products. That and then a trip to the grocery store along with me working was pretty much it for the day.

Around the dinner hour, a Zodiac dinghy came by and it ended up being a couple with the exact same boat as us. They had anchored in front of us while we were down below and came over to chat. We ended up going into shore to meet them at a micro brewery for a few appetizers and some great conversation before coming back to the boat and hitting the pillow hard. Its always nice to swap stories with fellow sailors.

Thursday we headed into the marina early in the day and spent one night there. Mary, Mike and Melanie took off into Suttons Bay to explore all the stores and take in the sights. I took a lunch break and met them at an outdoor patio for a wonderful salad and quesadilla combo we split. After work I grilled some fish and we enjoyed a light dinner before heading into town to top the meal off with a dessert, ice cream of course! I will say, we have eaten a LOT of ice cream on this trip – mostly “Michigan Pot Hole” but we are not gaining any weight – perhaps its all the exercise we get boating 🙂

Friday morning we left Suttons Bay and made our way towards Traverse City. There were five marinas in the area and we had called all five with no luck, there were no empty slips for us for the weekend. We decided we would anchor out and enjoy the weekend anyway. We motored out of Suttons Bay and turned South toward Traverse City. During the course of the day the wind came up and gradually increased, slowing our speed to under four knots. It was directly from ahead and we wanted to make good time so we were under motor.

Someone at Suttons Bay told us that there was a wall in the harbor where you could tie up but it was first come first served and no reservations. As we approached the city, dark clouds began to gather on the horizon and soon we could see a big storm brewing and barreling towards us. Looking at the radar on our phones we saw that it was moving from Southwest to Northeast so we moved over to the west side of the bay hoping it would pass South of us. For once we got lucky. A few raindrops was all we encountered; the anger and the brunt of the storm passed to our South and the skies cleared. We motored in to the harbor and found three open spots on the wall, we had a place to tie up! We docked, tying up against the wall and then Melanie made us breakfast for dinner; sausage, eggs and pancakes. It was delicious!

Traverse Bay

After stuffing ourselves we took off into the heart of the downtown area and found the Cherry Republic store. Their headquarters are in Traverse City and we have been dying to visit that store for a long time, having ordered through their catalog for many years. It was a fabulous store, we ended up buying way too much and there were plenty of samples to try which we thoroughly enjoyed. Chocolate covered cherries were definitely a favorite. We waddled back to the boat and found a casual clothing shop on the way with very reasonable prices. Melanie found herself a great hooded t-shirt and for me other T-shirt with a map of the Great lakes, a nice addition to the sailing wardrobe.

Saturday there was an art fair in the Park right next to where we were docked; we had front row seats! We strolled around admiring the craftsmanship of the various artists, one of whom was a 17 year old young lady who had just published her first book, a novel directed at young teenagers. We were very impressed and spoke to her and her parents for quite a while. There were live bands playing music all day long, oldies and goodies we thoroughly enjoyed. The music was just loud enough to be able to hear at the boat, but not too loud to be obnoxious. I did a little bit of maintenance on the sail handling systems and then we relaxed for the rest of the day while we ran a few loads of laundry. Melanie, our gourmet chef made Chicken Alfredo for dinner and we finished that off with a walk through the bustling town for ice cream.

Sunday morning we woke to a cloudy sky, dropped our lines and headed over to the fuel dock to top off the tank before leaving the comfort of the marina and heading back out into the bay. There was a brisk wind building out of the direction we needed to go (always seems that way) but being Sunday, we decided we would sail and give our hard working motor a break for the day. We made good progress up the bay, passing near a sailboat race – they all had black sails – and dodging other sailboats out relishing in the breezy conditions. Traverse City faded into the haze and as the day wore on, the clouds dissipated and gave way to a crystal clear sky over the bay. In the late afternoon we neared the top of Mission Point and turned East to round the corner for the quick trip down to the bay.

Slogging up Traverse Bay to Mission Point

It was a full day, we anchored in about 30 ft of water off a public beach and Melanie made dinner which we took over to our friend’s boat to share. We watched the sun sink slowly behind the island before returning to our boat for bed. After an hour of TV we went topside to admire the starry night. With no light pollution, being on a boat in the middle of the water is a GREAT place for some intense stargazing.

Monday morning we woke to a Mill pond, but the wind gradually filled in so that by the time we left the Anchorage after my weekly status meeting, we had a good sailing breeze. We headed out and sailed up towards Northport on the Western tip of Traverse Bay. We made good solid progress but in the early afternoon the wind started to get a little squirrely, shifting this way and that, trying to prevent us from reaching our destination. Finally with about 2 miles to go, in frustration we started the motor, dropped the sails and motored in. We dropped anchor in about 30 ft of water and I could see it on the bottom!

It never ceases to amaze me how clear the water is in these 2 lakes. We ate a light dinner, then dropped the dinghy and headed into shore. Mary and Mike got a dock for the night so they were already there; we tied up to their boat and went ashore to hang out for a while. Then, off to the grocery store for ice and a few necessities and we headed back to the boat and dropped into bed. Each night before turning in, we have made it a habit to look up and watch the starry night for a few minutes. We were greeted this night with a line of satellites passing through our field of vision almost directly above our heads. There must have been about 40 of them in a perfect straight line, all evenly spaced. I have seen videos of this but never actually witnessed it until now. Apparently, it’s part of the Starlink satellite Network. It was quite amazing. We followed that up with two meteors in quick succession before turning in for the night.

Leaving Northport for Charlevoix

We were greeted the next morning with another beautiful cloudless sky. The water was calm, like a mirror, calm enough to use as a mirror to shave! After Mary and Mike left their dock we raised our anchor and motored out into Traverse Bay, making sure we obeyed all of the navigation marks, as they marked dangerous, shallow water. We turned towards Charlevoix with nary a breeze in sight. The trip to Charlevoix was uneventful. It was calm and we ended up motoring the entire way; the sails did nothing to help us.

There is a drawbridge that we had to wait for and pass under before entering into Round Lake which is in the heart of the town. We passed through the bridge and once in the lake, we saw numerous mansions, high-end condos and huge boats around the edge of the small body of water. We anchored in about 30 feet of water outside of the channel and enjoyed the rest of the day. After work we headed into shore and ate outside at a small pub, enjoying a great dinner of Whitefish and chips. We walked around and looked at the shops and the sights. Right in front of the docks is an outdoor auditorium, and that evening we were treated to a brass band concert and they played many favorites, mostly marching band music, what a treat!

Charlevoix draw bridge opens

We fell into bed and woke the next morning to sunny skies. During the night the wind changed direction and we were now facing the opposite way. I worked while Melanie, Mike and Mary went into shore and toured the shops and museums. After work I joined them at a small taco bar for some fish tacos and they took me afterwards to show me what is called the mushroom House. A famous local architect designed and built a number of houses in a small neighborhood. After our walk we went back to the boat because there were storms in the area and I did not want us to get caught out in the weather with the possibility of the boat’s anchor dragging. We got spritzed on but that was about it; the weather held off and we slept well. There was a day dock where you could bring in your boat for free and run some errands, so first thing in the morning we went in and got ice, head cleaner and some boat soap. Then we shoved off and waited for the bridge to lift so we could pass through and motor out into lake Michigan. Our next stop was Sturgeon Bay. Winds were very light so motoring was the word of the day.

We entered a cloudy, gloomy looking lake with high and low gray clouds covering the skies. Things looked a little foreboding and they were. Gentle rain began to fall after about 2 hours and gradually increased in intensity, then the wind picked up and the waves started to build. Working down below became quite a challenge, the boat was rocking through about 40 degrees which meant I could only type with one hand when it rolled to the right because I had to hold on with the other! Poor Melanie was stuck driving while I worked and she got soaking wet, even after we put up a few clear shower curtains to try and block the rain and wind.

Round Lake in Charlevoix

Eventually in mid-afternoon, the rain stopped. I stood watch for a few minutes so Melanie could go below and change into dry clothes and warm up. Looking at the weather and the forecast for the night, we decided it was probably worthwhile to try and head on straight to Mackinaw City. I called the marina and they did have a spot so the decision was made to head there instead of our Anchorage, which if the wind came from the predicted direction, would have been a very unpleasant night of rolling and rocking and possible anchor dragging – not fun in the middle of the night. Clouds thinned out and the sun made a weak appearance, the wind changed in our favor so that we were able to make an easy six knots. The wind from behind and the waves from behind made the ride got a lot smoother!

We were able to arrive at the marina by 7:30 and thankfully, beside a short 10 to 15 minute drizzle, we had no more rain and the sun even peeked out. We were safely tied up when the sun set and were greeted with colorful clouds and a confirmation of our decision when the wind switched to the northwest and picked up in strength to 15 – 20 mph. Our anchor spot would have been miserable had we not decided to come straight to Mackinaw City. After we tied up, we wandered around looking at stores just to get off the boat and stretch our legs and give the dog a bit of a break. Then we found a place for a quick bite to eat before returning back to the boat to turn in for the night.

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