August 31, 2012

August 31, 2012  Day 112      White Hall, MI          Total miles to date:  2227.3

Well this was quite a day! We had a forecast of 4-5 ft. seas for the first part of our 49 mile trip to White Hall, then it was supposed to improve to about 2 ft seas. Wrong.  We had big waves the entire trip. The boat handled it but it was so uncomfortable, and a few things were broken.  We arrived at White Hall Municipal Marina on the very pretty White Lake at 4:00. There are several marinas here but we chose the municipal one. Unfortunately neither their pump out or laundry facility was working. We are ok here for the night but would have chosen a nicer marina for a longer stay.
We relaxed with appetizers after our arrival and then walked to the nearby downtown. We came back and had a quick dinner on board.  It has been a very long and rough day, so no photos today!

Tomorrow we will go to Grand Haven and stay for two days. We are happy that old friends Jerry and Karen Mackey can stop and visit us on the boat. Joyce and Karen went to college together and were roommates in Battle Creek when they were teaching school.
It is hard to believe this is the last day of August and we are approaching the Labor Day weekend!

August 30, 2012

August 30, 2012  Day 111      Ludington, MI     Total miles to date:  2178.1

As planned, we stayed secure in port at Ludington today as Lake Michigan was showing her bad side.  We used the time to do laundry, shop, rest, plan the route for next week, and generally relax.  It is good to have a day off now and then and Ludington is a very nice place to be!

Dinner with Chuck and Becky
We went to PM Steamers for dinner and had good seafood! The restaurant rings a bell when the car ferry arrives in port - what a neat tradition every night, and we have enjoyed watching it. We topped that off with a walk down to the harbor to watch the waves crashing on the breakwall.
Chuck confirms the water is cold!

We did make some decisions about our route for the next week. We have decided to go to Whitehall tomorrow, Grand Haven on Saturday and wait to cross Lake Michigan to Racine, Wisconsin on Monday.  Most Loopers cross directly to Chicago further south in Michigan, but we have friends in Racine and we will probably make the long crossing on Monday and stay in Racine Tuesday. As always, we are watching the forecast!

August 29, 2012

August 29, 2012  Day 110      Ludington, MI     Total miles to date:  2178.1

We had a 51 mile trip today so we left Frankfort at 7:45 and traveled the six hours in fairly calm 2 ft. seas, arriving in Ludington at 1:45.  We love the high docks we have found recently in many of the ports on Lake Michigan. We can step right off the boat without a ladder.
One of many statues in the park
at the marina
We invited Loopers over who are traveling on their sailboat from Connecticut.  Then Chuck and Becky walked into town to explore the shops. Bill worked on some electrical circuits and Joyce did laundry and worked on email, blog, etc.

More fun statues

Another perfect sunset over the harbor
We had pasta for dinner and relaxed after our busy travel day.  The SS Badger car ferry came in the harbor after dinner – it was quite a sight as it is so large. It goes from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  We walked over to see it depart at 8:30pm.  We also walked around the lovely park with many statues.  The bonus was seeing the sunset over the harbor and Lake Michigan.

We will stay here in Ludington again tomorrow. The forecast is is for 20 mph winds gusting to 30 and waves at 7 to 9 feet. No brainer. Stay put.  We may rent a car and run some errands to a larger city to get some supplies we need. Bill’s prescription glasses went overboard and we need to find a Lens Crafters!

August 28, 2012

August 28, 2012  Day 109      Frankfort, MI      Total miles to date:  2126.9

Lake Michigan was a little rough this morning, so we waited until 10:00 to leave. We followed the shoreline closer but still had 3 foot waves on the beam for two hours so we rolled side to side. It got better as we turned and took the waves on the stern.  We had a 45 mile ride today but we tolerated it ok! We enoyed passing the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes on the way.
The beach at Frankfort

Entering the Frankfort Harbor
Persimmon tree next to our boat dock
We arrived in the nice little town Frankfort at 3:20 and got a pump out and then went to our slip.  We docked at the Municipal Marina next to Why Knot, another Looper boat we first saw in Charlevoix.
We took a walk through the downtown complete with little shops and restaurants. Then we walked down to the beach.  We had planned to have dinner on board, but a local church group had hotdogs etc, for sale under the pavilion by our boat. They had a Praise Band performing so we joined the local residents and had dinner there.

We had a quiet evening as we were all pretty tired from the longer ride today. Tomorrow we will go 50 miles to Ludington and stay there 2 or 3 days waiting for good weather. There are strong winds forecast so we need to stay put once we get there.


August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012  Day 108      Leland, MI                Total miles to date:  2081.5

This was a very busy, productive, and fun day. We began by going to breakfast in Northport.  Then we all walked to the hardware store to get the parts for the forward shower sump pump. 
By 9:15 we departed from Northport under a partly cloudy sky and once again calm seas!  That is two for Lake Michigan!  Once Bill backed us out of the slip he and Chuck decided the girls could take the helm so Becky and Joyce watched the autopilot for three hours of the four hour trip.
Leland Harbor
Leland Fishtown
Sun setting over Leland Harbor

Historic Fishtown
Fishtown - Historical Leland area

We arrived in Leland at 1:15 and had just docked and got everything connected when Bill announced that we had guests.  Greg and Sally Whitaker, Gold Loopers on Odyssey drove from their home in Eastern Michigan to visit us. We had traveled with them on the Rideau Canal from Ottawa to Smith Falls, Ontario.  It was wonderful to see them again!  What they thought was going to be a simple visit turned out to be a little more than that. Sally drove Joyce to a hair salon 10 miles away. While they were gone, Greg and Bill installed the new sump pump, new wiring and fixed another leak.  They were still working on it when the girls returned from the hair salon, so Joyce and Sally walked through many of the quaint shops in Leland. What a special little town with its fishing history!  After shopping we all visited a while on the sundeck then said good bye with deep gratitude to Greg and Sally for their kindness.  Our heroes of the day!  As all Loopers will say, the best part of the trip are the people you meet and the friendships you make.
We had a late dinner on board with Chuck and Becky, then walked around “Fishtown” and some of the shopping area to show Bill since he had missed it earlier. We also found an ice cream store. The remainder of the evening involved plotting the course for tomorrow to Frankfort, getting caught up on email, etc. Chuck and Becky are keeping an eye on the weather updates for Tropical Storm Isaac that is headed toward their home near Baton Rouge.


August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012  Day 107     Northport, MI     Total miles to date:  2049.1

Becky is comfortable on the
A swan parade

Welcome to Northport

We took Chuck and Becky out for their first day on the boat and headed to Northport. Grand Traverse Bay cooperated and gave us a smooth ride all the way.  We arrived at 12:05 just in time to get docked and then have lunch on board.
We decided to check out some of the shops this afternoon although some were closed on Sunday.  Becky and Joyce liked one of the gift shops in particular!  Bill will go back to the hardware store Monday morning before we depart.  The shower sump pump in the forward head quit working the day before our guests arrived!  West Marine delivered a new pump to the boat yesterday in Traverse City, but Bill still needs an adaptor to finish the project.

Joyce and Becky played cards after shopping and the guys found time to take naps.  They did fix the aft deck door locks though which was greatly needed!
Chuck on the dinghy ride
We had dinner on board and enjoyed the fabulous mountain berry pie that we brought back from the pie restaurant yesterday.  We went for a fun dinghy ride to complete the day.

Tomorrow we will leave for Leland after we run errands.

August 25, 2012

August 25, 2012  Day 106     Traverse City, MI        Total miles to date:  2021.7

Leaving Charlevoix
Busy Bay!
Today was a travel day of about 45 miles. We left our marina at Charlevoix at 7:45 to make the 8:00 bascule bridge opening and by 9:00 we were entering Grand Traverse Bay. The lake was fairly calm today with waves about 2+ feet. As we got closer to Traverse City, we were in the company of many sailboats and “go fast” boats.  It was a sunny Saturday and everyone was taking advantage of being on the water.
Chuck and Becky Craig
We arrived at Clinch Marina in Traverse City at 1:40. Before heading to our assigned slip, we went straight to the fuel dock for fuel and a pump out.  We barely got docked when Chuck and Becky arrived from the airport.  We are happy they are joining us on our way to Chicago! 

Becky testing
the water temperature
The beach was popular today

We walked down to the Traverse City Pie Company for a light dinner and of course cherry pie!  (And yes, we brought pies back to the boat.) We walked along the waterfront on the way back and watched people enjoying the beach. There was a concert in the park, beach volleyball games, picnics – lots happening!   
We sat on the sundeck and listened to the music, and discussed our plans for tomorrow.  The decision was to head to Northport! 

We were all a little tired from travel today (plane and/or boat) and called it an early evening.

August 24, 2012

August 24, 2012  Day 105     Charlevoix, MI    Total miles to date:  1975.7

This was our second day in Charlevoix. We made one trip to the grocery store together and then Joyce made a second trip while Bill cleaned the outside of the boat. Not a bad deal! You can tell we are getting ready for our company who arrive tomorrow. Joyce worked on the inside after returning from the store.
Charlevoix is a very busy harbor. There is a ferry boat and a tour boat docked here.  To leave Lake Michigan, you enter Pine River and that takes you into Round lake and then Lake Charlevoix lies just beyond this. We started talking to one guy who is a licensed captain. He delivers boats to people and also acts as captain of their boats.  He remembered delivering our boat in 1989 when it was new! Small world!

Mushroom House
Mushroom House
After the rain showers stopped we were able to get out and walk around the city.  Our main goal was to see the well known “Mushroom Houses” designed and built by Earl Young as early as 1938 and continuing into the 1970’s. His signature rooflines, chimney tops that look like frosting on a cake, cedar shake roofs, and stone fireplaces make these dwellings quite charming and are a must see when in Charlevoix.  We are sure the residents of these homes are used to having cameras pointed at them.

Beaver Island ferry leaving Charlevoix

We then walked along Lake Michigan and followed Pine River back into the entrance of the harbor. A ferry boat was just coming under the open bridge on its way to Beaver Island. We are glad we did not have to pass him yesterday in this narrow entrance.

Our marina has a nice fountain
that is usually full of children running through it
We walked along Bridge Street in the main shopping area. There are many nice shops from clothing to art galleries to specialty food shops. Charlevoix does have many tourists, but the shops are more upscale. You will not find a myriad of t-shirt shops here.  (But yes, there is fudge.) We came back to the boat and had pizza and continued with a few more boat chores.  Bill also chatted with our neighboring Looper from Sweden for a while.
We will depart early Saturday morning and travel 40 miles to Traverse City and pick up Bill’s brother, Chuck and our sister-in-law Becky. We are so happy that they will join us going down the coast of Michigan and across to Chicago. They drove from Louisiana to St. Louis to visit her family; are flying to Traverse City, and will take the train from Chicago back to St. Louis. That is quite the trip!

August 23, 2012

August 23, 2012  Day 104     Charlevoix, MI    Total miles to date:  1975.7
Passing under the Mackinac Bridge
What a difference a day makes! We woke up assuming we were staying in Mackinaw City, but then realized two other boats had left and we began to reassess the situation.  The marine forecast was for 2 to 4 foot seas so we decided to go. By 8:30 we were underway and by 9:00 we were under the Mackinac Bridge entering Lake Michigan. So far so good – calm water!  Less than two hours later we were in 4 to 5 foot seas for a couple of hours. Once we were past Gray’s Reef, it got better and we were only in 2 to 3 foot seas!  At least the waves were on the quarter beam and not the full beam. As we approached Charlevoix it calmed down again.

We even timed the bridge opening perfectly as we entered the inlet to Charlevoix. It opens on the hour and half hour.  We got into our assigned slip and in less than 15 minutes, another Looper on Why Knot stopped by to greet us.  Shortly after that a sailboat docked next to us. They are also Loopers from Sweden – and I thought we had come far! Then another gentleman stopped by to welcome us.  He was a William & Mary grad and had seen that we hailed from Williamsburg, VA. 

View from our flybridge -
we were listening to the band play.
We were tired from our almost 8 hour trip so we did not do any sightseeing, etc.  We had a quick dinner on board then sat on the flybridge and listened to a local band perform in the park next to the marina.
We will stay here again tomorrow night and see Charlevoix and get ready for our guests who are joining us Saturday!


August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012  Day 103  Mackinaw City, MI  Total miles to date:  1916.1

At 6 am we made the decision to stay in Mackinaw City after hearing the marine forecast with waves of 6’ offshore on Lake Michigan.  It was just not a good idea to be out there. The forecast is similar throughout the weekend so we will stay here for a few more days.
Shopping at the Crossings!
We went out for breakfast, then Joyce went shopping with Barb and Gay and enjoyed browsing through the fifty plus shops that are within walking distance. Many shops are here for tourists but they were still fun to see.  We spent the afternoon getting caught up on logistics –changing our ATT plan back to the original status now that we are out of Canada; getting our Dish TV system reconnected, etc.                                      

There is a boater here that deserves mentioning.  Marsha is traveling alone on her sailboat, Resolute, to Chicago. We first met her in Waterford, NY and here she is on Lake Huron.  She is an amazing resourceful woman that knows no limits. She will have her sailboat shipped to Everett, Washington and then resume her sailing.
Docktails with Irish Attitude, Down Time, Hallelujah, Viking Star, Resolute, and Mary Frances IV
We were happy to see more Loopers arrive today at our marina and the city marina nearby: Mary Frances IV and Passport (both completed their loop this week), Down Time, and Viking Star.  Several of us met at 5:30 for docktails, and then we went to dinner with Hallelujah, Resolute, and Irish Attitude.

August 21, 2012

August 21, 2012  Day 102  Mackinaw City, MI  Total miles to date:  1916.1
“It’s opener, out there, in the wide open air.”     Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

We were happy to have a bright sunny sky and calm sea as we departed at 7:30 from Drummond Island for our 60 plus mile run on Lake Huron to Mackinaw City. We had a flat sea until we were about 8 miles from our destination, then we only had waves at 1½ feet. 
One of many ferry boats
The Grand Hotel

The Mackinac Bridge coming into view

We had plenty of photo ops as we approached Mackinac Island on the right, the Mackinac Bridge in front of us, ferry boats with their rooster tail spray going in every direction, and a tow pushing a large barge that we had to increase our speed to avoid.
A fun day on the lake

We arrived at the Straits State Harbor, a very nice and fairly new marina in Mackinaw City, around 2:00 and were immediately greeted by Gold Loopers on Hallelujah.  Within an hour we met more Loopers on Irish Attitude. They just started the loop a few weeks ago. We had both couples over for Docktails on our boat at 5:30. We had such a good visit, we didn’t say goodbye until 8:30.
We plan to travel to Charlevoix tomorrow but are watching the wind forecast closely and will make the decision early in the morning.  We have another long travel day including the Straits of Mackinac.

August 20, 2012

August 20, 2012  Day 101   Drummond Island Total miles to date:  1852.1

We said goodbye to Canada and left our anchorage with the sunrise this morning and headed back out the Whalesback Channel into the North Channel then Lake Huron. We traveled over 53 miles to Drummond Island, Michigan.  The wind was 10-15 knots and the waves were about 2 feet the last three hours – so not too bad!  We kept it on autopilot the entire way and just monitored it.
Approaching Drummond Island

When we arrived at Yacht Haven Marina in Drummond, we stopped first at the fuel dock.  The customs agent came to our boat while we were fueling so that saved us some time. Everything went well and we are officially in the United States again!  We then moved to our slip near some other Loopers we had not met before– Gold Loopers WinnDecks (Charlevoix), and current loopers Outta Here (San Angelo, TX), and Chillin (Louisville).
Yacht Haven Marina
Drummond Island,MI
We rented a car from the marina ($10.00) and went to an early dinner, grocery store and hardware store – a necessary trip after being at anchor for the past five nights.  Joyce also updated the blog, email, banking, etc.  (she always misses the internet!!) 
We will leave early in the morning for another long day to a marina in Mackinaw City.   It is good to be back in the U.S. although our stay in Canada was pretty incredible!

August 19, 2012  Day 100     Turnbull Island    Total miles to date:  1798.9

This was our 100th day on the Loop and we thought it was interesting to look back at our docking choices each night.  We spent half of the time (exactly 50 nights) at a marina; 24 nights at anchor; 21 nights on a lock wall; and 5 nights on a town wall. 
We arrived at our anchorage off Turnbull Island by mid-morning and found several sailboats there already. More boats arrived after we did, so we were glad to have found space here.  It was a pretty anchorage and well protected. We appreciated the sunny sky and fairly calm sea today!

This 100th day also marked our last night in Canada. Tomorrow we will travel over 50 miles into the open water of the North Channel and enter customs at Drummond Island, Michigan. Leaving Canada was very bittersweet. The Chambly Canal, the Rideau Canal, the Trent Severn Waterway, the Georgian Bay, and the North Channel will forever be in our memories. We were in awe of the canals, lakes, inlets and rivers with their granite rocks, cottages on the shore, and thousands of little islands. We loved the undeniable cry of the loons, the charm of the small towns, the grandeur of Montreal and Ottawa, the new food we tried (Poutine, peameal bacon, and pickerel), and certainly the friendliness of the Canadian people. We found serene anchorages, busy marinas, and lock walls filled with house boats. We traveled with new friends, or at times it was just the two of us. We found both quiet waters on our bow and high waves on our beam. We rode two exciting lift locks and the Big Chute Marine Railway. It could not have been better.

At the same time we know it is time to return to our homeland and start down Lake Michigan and then the inland rivers before heading to the Gulf Coast. 

August 18, 2012  Day 99     Moiles Harbor       Total miles to date:  1782.9

We left our anchorage at Hotham Island under a bright sun and very cool temperatures this morning.  Many of the sailboats started leaving before 7:30 while we were still having coffee.  We only needed to travel 15 miles so we were not in a hurry.  We soon entered McBean Bay and only experienced a 15 knot wind with 2 ft. waves on the bow, which we were pleased to see.
Little Detroit Passage
Bald Eagle on the rocks
By 10:20, we entered the Little Detroit Passage and gave the necessary securite’ call before we reached the entrance.  As soon as we passed this point, we spotted a bald eagle resting on the high rocks along the shore.  He was kind of enough to pose for us!

Next we entered Whalesback Channel and followed it to the cutoff for John Island.  We proceeded to Moiles Harbor and set our anchor at 11:45. We were the only ones here in this protected cove, although there are an abundance of anchorages to tuck into.  We did not see many boats out today.
Who needs a chart plotter?

We had lunch then did more boat chores. Bill changed the oil in the generator and in both engines while Joyce cleaned much of the interior. 

Our sunny sky turned to clouds then rain showers by late afternoon, but we did manage to take a ride in the dinghy after the showers stopped. There are lots of wooden structures that are partially submerged on the other side of the island.
We learned there was a sawmill here at onetime!

We cooked out on the grill and had a late dinner in our peaceful setting at anchor.

August 16-17, 2012  Day 97-98    Oak Bay       Total miles to date:  1769.0

On Thursday morning, we decided to leave our anchorage on South Benjamin Island and move to a new area where we would spend two days waiting on the weather.  We took advantage of a high overcast morning with one foot seas on the North Channel, knowing that wind and storms were coming. 
We went over to Hotham Island on Oak Bay, only 10 miles away, and anchored with nine sailboats. It was protected from the south and west which is what we needed.  We arrived around 10:45 and many boaters were already off their boats and out in their dinghies and kayaks exploring the area.  There are many coves here so there were likely many more boats than we could see.

By 1:30 the rain had started but no wind yet. We have guests arriving on the 25th and Joyce worked on getting the forward cabin ready for them and finding other places to store some of the items that had found their way into that cabin!
The wind finally began around midnight and by 7 am it was at 19 knots gusting to 25 knots.  On Friday morning we confirmed our decision to stay put in our safe anchorage. We had wind here but no big waves and there were 4 ft. waves in the North Channel.  The rain had fortunately stopped during the night and the stars were bright!

We spent the day doing some small boat chores, cleaning, and maintenance, as well as watching the weather.  None of the sailboats left this anchorage either, although they would have had plenty of wind to catch their sails! Tomorrow we will move to another anchorage on the North Channel.

August 15, 2012  Day 96  S. Benjamin Island   Total miles to date:  1758.8

Carried Away at
Little Current Town Docck
We met Ron and Lisa (Outbound) at 8:00 and had breakfast in a small cafĂ© in Little Current as planned.  Then Bill went back to the boat to do engine room checks and get things ready to depart. Joyce stopped at the meat market which was closed yesterday and then made a quick trip to the local bakery. 

By 11:00 we said final goodbyes to Ron and Lisa (and dog, Gizmo) with plans to visit them in Florida next winter, and we are talking about doing the Down East Loop with them next summer. They helped us cast off our lines and then we were underway under a mostly sunny sky and calm sea for our 17 mile trip.
Trees can grow anywhere!
We planned to anchor around Croker Island but there was not enough room so we went over to South Benjamin Island at 1:45 and dropped anchor with 19 other boats that were there!  There were three other Looper boats there: Gold Loopers, Crawdad and Rangatira, both from Michigan and current Loopers Bama Belle from Alabama. They all stopped over on their dinghy to say hello.  This is a beautiful anchorage and many boaters took their dinghies to go ashore on the island.
At anchor on South Bejamin Island
Another lovely sunset
We cooked out on the grill and listened to repeated weather forecasts – winds are forecast at 20 knots tomorrow.  We will decide tomorrow whether we leave this spot or stay another day. 

August 14, 2012

August 14, 2012  Day 95        Little Current      Total miles to date:  1741.8

We left our anchorage between Beaver Island and Strawberry Island at 9:30. We need to make a bridge opening just before Little Current. The bridge opens on the hour for 10 minutes, so timing was important.  We made the 11:00 opening and by 11:15 we were docked at the marina.  Shortly after we arrived we saw another Californian 45, and ended up spending at least an hour with them as we visited each other’s boats.  As it turned out, we knew the previous owners of their boat! 

While we were visiting with them on our boat the Canadian Customs agents came by checking everyone’s customs numbers. Unfortunately when we cleared customs on June 24, we were not given a number, so the agent checked all our documents, our passports, etc. then finally issued us a customs number.  We will be out of Canada in a week but at least we now have the right documentation!

Then after the agent departed, our friends Lisa and Ron on Outbound arrived and docked right by us. We saw them a few days ago in Killarney, but will not see them again until this winter when we get to Florida. 

The next task was to go to the grocery store.  We were so fortunate that the grocery store has a policy of driving customers back to their boats!  After we put away the items, we walked through some of the small downtown shops.

Dinner with Ron and Lisa (Outbound)
We met Ron and Lisa for dinner at The Anchor Inn and then made plans to meet them again for breakfast tomorrow. 

We will depart Little Current before noon tomorrow and head to an anchorage at Croker in the Benjamin Islands.