August 11-Grand Haven, MI to Holland, MI
We woke to a cool 59 degrees with sunshine. After breakfast we wiped down the boat and got ready to leave at 10:00. The channel out to Lake Michigan was peppered with fishermen making it hard to avoid them as we left. The lighthouse was swarming with fishermen as well, as we pulled out into the lake and turned south. There was a small craft advisory out to the north this morning with 3-5′ waves on the lake. The temperature of the water changed a few days ago, according to a fisherman we talked to, causing the alewives to come inshore, causing the salmon to follow. Supposedly fishermen spend the night on the breakwater just to save their fishing spot. Cold lake water meeting the warmer channel water caused steam on the lake. It was eerie looking. Going south to Holland, the wind was NE 10-15 mph with small swells and a light ripple on the surface. The ride was smooth. Skies were blue with just a band of fluffy clouds on the horizon. At 11:00 we pulled into the channel and passed the lighthouse.
We stopped at the Eldean Marina for a pumpout before we took a slow ride down to the end of Lake Macatawa to the city of Holland. We got stopped by a Michigan sheriff who wanted to see our registration sticker on the boat. After we showed him, he was off and we were on our way.
We meandered into Big Bay and picked out a prime spot to anchor.
After making sure the anchor was set, we had lunch and got the dinghy ready for a ride to shore with Murphy and to get some outboard gas. When we got back we sat in the cockpit listening to tunes and watching the traffic at the local boat launch. Soon we noticed two sailors who seemed to be in distress. They were paddling their sailboat-one on the bow and one on the stern, getting nowhere. So….Bob came to the rescue. He took the dinghy over and tied the sailboat to the dinghy to give them a tow to shore. My hero! (They didn’t really know how to sail and the captain left his motor at home. He didn’t think he would need it.) Wrongo!
We had dinner and relaxed watching the Olympics on TV. We finally got a channel that was carrying the Olympics! The sun set and put a glow on the houses along the shore. The winds were starting to calm off and it should be a peaceful night.
Cute boat name #12
August 12-Holland, MI Day 2
We woke up to blue skies, sunshine, and no wind, but cooler temps in the 50’s. Overnight there must have been an algae bloom because Lake Manatawa was green like pea soup. Yuck! Yesterday when we entered the channel from Lake Michigan we saw what had to be about 30 small fishing boats fishing for perch just outside the entrance. So this morning we threw our fishing gear into the dinghy and in our fleece jackets and sweatpants, made a mad dash out there to join all the fishermen. There was a thin fog bank along the shoreline due to the difference in water and air temperature. That looked really cool. Just outside the entrance, there were 42 boats (I counted them), so we got right in among them and started fishing. Everybody around us was pulling in perch one after the other, but us……we got nothing. Not even a bite. From what we could figure out, everyone fishes in this particular spot, not because of structure, but because of the change in depth and water temperature. That’s where the fish are. Also we had the wrong bait. We were using nightcrawlers (the WI bait of choice for perch) and they were using minnows. Glitch #5: Everyone on the lake was sold out of minnows and we had no minnow bucket anyway. Very frustrating! We headed back to the boat, but stopped at a drop off to try our luck. I finally got a bite and caught a small panfish. So much for fishing today. We’ll try again tomorrow a little earlier and hope to find some bait in town this afternoon. Whispy clouds took over the sky as it approached noon and the temps warmed up quite a bit. Later on, we took a dinghy ride down Lake Macatawa (about 5 miles long) and tried to look for bait. No luck! So we took a slow ride around the lake and took in the scenery. The houses on this lake are huge as are some of the boats.
This is an example of one of the “smaller” ones. We passed one house whose owner had a sense of humor. He had two towers on his roof-one green and one red-like port and starboard channel markers. Quite unique.
Back at the boat we sat on the bridge and watched the boat launch traffic while listening to tunes. People were waiting in line to launch their boats to go fishing. It was going to be a busy night. After supper, we watched the Olympics again and later took Murphy to shore for his last visit. There’s a possibility of showers tonight, but the light winds calmed off and it was going to be another peaceful night. It was a really laid-back kind of day!
August 13-Holland, MI Day 3
We woke to cloudy skies with a slight chance of rain. It was the first cloudy day that we’ve had since we left in July. I guess we can’t complain. A freighter came through early this morning from the ore plant at the end of Lake Macatawa. It must have come in late last night.
We took it easy this morning, watching the Olympics (sand volleyball) on TV. We then decided to clean the bridge inside and out and clean out the dinghy. There was a slight breeze, but it was a muggy day. The sun was trying to peak out. Lots of fishermen were coming and going from the boat ramp. It was a busy place. We were thinking that we had been to Holland before about 10 years ago for a SeaRay Rendezvous when we had our 39′ SeaRay Sportfish. We remembered a little about being here before, but a lot of it was new to us. I wish the lake would be clear enough to go swimming. What a bummer! After lunch, Bob hauled the bikes to shore in the dinghy and we biked along the wooded streeets that lined the water. The quiet streets took us past lush, wooded yards and huge waterfront homes. We biked about 10 miles total to find the huge mansion that I took a picture of yesterday. We found it behind a forbidden metal gate and iron fence. We returned on the bike path that ran along the main highway and stopped for an ice cream at a nearby convenience store on the way back. Then we went back to the boat with the bikes and ourselves in the dinghy. We rested in the shade of the cockpit and had a cocktail before dinner. The sky cleared up and the sun came out with light whispy clouds blown around in the breeze. We noticed that a lot of sailboats were leaving the marina . Wednesday is “Regatta Night” and at least 40 sailboats were participating.
It turned out to be a very nice day and it will be a calm night. This has been a great anchorage–very peaceful and yet convenient to the boat ramp for Murphy and for us to get to our shore activities. We watched the Olympics tonight again and waited for the sun to set and a 3/4 moon to rise.
August 14-Holland Day 4
Sunny skies again this morning with a slight breeze and temps of 64 degrees. It was a great start to the day. Bob took Murphy to shore while I made breakfast.
We worked on the computer and cleaned the hull of the boat at the water line. This green water in the lake really left a slime line on the boat so we got out in the dinghy and scrubbed around the boat. This lake water, as it enters Lake Michigan, creates a visible line of slime. You can really see it at the entrance to the channel. It is a weird phenomenon.
After we finished the boat, we took the bikes to shore and rode the bike path the other direction toward the beach.
It was an easy ride past cute lakeside cottages to the lakefront and Holland State Park. Today was a busy beach day with lots of people making use of the beautiful weather. The beach was dotted with colorful beach umbrellas and people flying kites.
We sat for awhile and watched the boats coming and going in the channel and then began our 2 mile ride back.
The lake was a lot more active today than yesterday with jet skiers, tubers, water skiers, sailors, and powerboaters. We stopped at the Ottawa Beach Inn, a cute little nautical place, for a cold beer and a snack. It hit the spot! We dinghied the bikes back to the boat and checked the weather report on the Internet. The clouds were building up in the north and we wanted to be ready for whatever nature had in store for us. The wind had picked up to the forecasted 10-20 mph and it was quite breezy. That lasted for a couple of hours and then the sky cleared and the wind calmed off. We had dinner and watched more Olympics. The sunset was pretty on the opposite shore as it gave everything an orange glow. There continued to be a lot of people using the boat launch today and into the evening, but the fishermen were having trouble locating the fish. The moon tonight is almost full and the stars will be out with the clear skies.Tomorrow the weather looks good for traveling, so we are planning to leave for Saugatuck in the morning.
August 15-Holland, MI to Saugatuck, MI
Happy 80th Birthday, Dad! We enjoyed our anchorage in Holland, but before we leave we wanted you to know that Holland is a city influenced by the Dutch culture. In 1860, determined Hollanders took picks and shovels and dug the channel connecting Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa. Amazing! And yes, they have a Tulip Festival in the spring where 550,000 tulips erupt into bloom celebrating the town’s rich Dutch heritage. As of today, we have officially been living on the boat for 1 month. It doesn’t really seem that long-most days. August has sure flown by. So today we leave for Saugatuck. We ate breakfast, cleaned up, and went for a pumpout at the marina across the way at 10:00. By 10:45 we had pulled out of the Holland channel and had turned south. That “green phenomenon” was still present at the entrance to the channel. We had clear, blue skies with a pleasant 75 degrees. There were light winds out of the north. We slowed down to trawler speed -8 knots since
we didn’t have far to go and it also saved on fuel. With following seas we were sure to have a relaxing, smooth ride. With this slower speed, we got to view the towering sand dune hills with steep, wooden staircases that lead to invisible homes somewhere on the other side.
We made the Saugatuck channel entrance at 11:20. From harbor entrance to harbor entrance we went a total of 5.8 miles. We entered the channel and traveled down the Kalamazoo River for about 2 miles to the Singapore Yacht Club Marina where we had reservations at slip #3.
The dockmaster here is quite intense. He insists on helping you get all tied up, hooked up to electricity, and settled in to your liking. He wants everyone to be happy.
Saugatuck is an artists’ community that is connected to Lake Michigan by the Kalamazoo Lake and River. It has great restaurants, shops, galleries, and bars with music on the weekends. Bob calls it “Fish Creek on steroids.” The streets are abuzz with activity by noon on Friday and the town empties out by dinner time on Sunday. Once we had lunch, we started to get things ready for our guests, Bob’s brother Tim and his wife, Bonnie who would be staying with us for the weekend. We had to do some wash and get the second stateroom ready for their arrival. Then we tidied up the inside and filled the water tanks. I even baked some banana bread for breakfast tomorrow. (This was the first time I used my oven since we’ve owned the boat.) We cleaned up ourselves and had a cocktail while we waited. The boat traffic in this lake is constant. They offer a narrated cruise on an old fashioned sternwheeler and a water taxi that looks like one of the “Ducks” at the Dells.
I even saw a name that I thought was perfect for Bob. Cute boat names #13 and 14:
Tim and Bonnie called to say they got delayed with construction in Chicago. No surprise on a Friday night. They arrived a little later than planned, but we relaxed with a drink on the boat and then went to dinner at Coral Gables, a local restaurant that was built in 1958 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. On the weekend they have live music on the waterfront deck.
We had a drink in the retro lounge and had a nice dinner. Then we walked uptown to a place called the Sand Bar Saloon where we heard great music eminating out of the front door. To our surprise, they had a fantastic rock/jazz quartet with a “mean” guitar player. They rocked! We left there after an hour or so and came back to the boat to watch some TV and then call it a night. It was a beautiful day with sunny skies and warm temps. When the sun went down, you could feel a marked difference in temperature and it was cool enough to wear a jacket. The wind calmed off and it was a quiet night.
August 16-Saugatuck Day 2
We woke to a sunny, warm day. We sat in the cockpit with coffee and the quiet solitude the morning offers before anyone begins to stir. After breakfast we took a leisurely stroll down the boardwalk along the water, waiting for the shops to open at 10:00. The town was empty and the only people around were walking their dogs. We wandered down Water Street popping in and out of selected shops while the boys waited on the benches outside the stores.
Around noon we stopped to visit with a friend of Bonnie’s who worked at an English pub called Chequers. We had bloody marys at the bar and then went to have lunch at an outdoor restaurant with a water view called the Butler Pub and Grill.
After a nice lunch, we went back to the boat for some fun on the water. Back at the boat, the four of us, equipped with sunscreen and beverages, took a slow dinghy ride down the Kalamazoo River to the channel and Lake Michigan. There was a steady stream of boats constantly on the move. It was quite a busy “water highway”.
We passed the Saugatuck Chain Ferry going across the river. It is one of the oldest hand cranked chain ferries in America. It takes visitors across the Kalamazoo River by an operator hand cranking it along a chain that stretches across the river. It has been in operation since 1938 and is the last of its kind on the Great Lakes.
The waves on Lake Michigan were rolling in the entrance to the channel, so we didn’t go out to the big lake “Gitche Gumee”. We beached the dinghy for awhile and stood in the water, which felt warm, watching the parade of boats going up and down the river.
The paddlewheeler “Star of Saugatuck” that shuttles people on tours of the river and along the shoreline, came down the river with a boatload of tourists on its way out to Lake Michigan.
After awhile we got back in the dinghy and motored back to the boat. We sat in the cockpit watching the amazing array of boats entering our harbor.
Once we had enough sun, we cleaned up and got ready to go to dinner. Dinner tonight would be a casual affair at Wally’s Pub and Grill, advertised as a place for danger, romance, and adventure. We put in our names and had to wait awhile for a table outside. Komo, an Akita whose name means “bear” in Japanese (because they were bred to kill bears), kept us company while his owner went inside to have dinner. He was quite an attention getter and people passing by stopped to ask us about him. Finally, we were called for a table and had a great perch fry dinner. After dinner, we had some leads on some local bars to check out. The first one we passed was Phil’s, but there was a wedding going on in there, so we passed on that one. Our next stop was for an ice cream at Kilwin’s-THE place for chocolate and ice cream. Then we checked out a place called the White House Bistro and Winery. It was an open air bar with music and dancing. It was a cool place, but the music left something to be desired so we went back to the Sand Bar Saloon which had a different rock/jazz band tonight. The lead singer had quite a collection of harmonicas and could play them well, but the band was way too loud, so we left after one set and went back to the boat to watch Michael Phelps win his 7th gold medal. We went to bed after a busy day.
August 17-Saugatuck Day 3
It was a sunny, breezy day, but a warmer morning than yesterday. After breakfast Bonnie, Tim, and I walked uptown to check out a boutique that was recommended to us by that friend of Bonnie’s. Tim waited on the bench outside while Bonnie and I shopped inside. Bob stayed at the boat and got caught up on phone calls back home. Bob and I took Tim’s truck to the grocery store to pick up a few items and return our aluminum cans. We got back to the boat and Bonnie and Tim packed up and got ready to leave. They wanted to make better time on their ride home around Chicago. We said our goodbyes and Bob and I went back to the boat. We did some boat chores and got caught up on emails. The boat traffic today was outrageous! An African Queen-style steamboat came by and tooted his steam whistle. It was quite unique.
The Party Barge came by with party goers eating, drinking, and having a good time.
Later that afternoon, we took a dinghy ride to the Red Dock Bar that was located near the Keewatin Steamship at the end of Kalamazoo Lake. (Tim would have like this bar.) It is a unique outdoor bar on the water that has music every Sunday afternoon. It is quite a hangout for the locals and draws an ecclectic group of people-to say the least. The band was good so we stayed and had a couple of “rum runners” and listened to the music for awhile.
It’s a wild and crazy place as you can see by the signs around the bar.
(Another picture to follow)
We got back in the dinghy and finished our dinghy tour around the lake. Back at the boat, we cleaned up before dinner and cooked on the boat. We relaxed as the sun set and watched more of the Olympics. We really enjoyed our visit with Bonnie and Tim and our weekend together.
As Tim would say, “What happens in Saugatuck, stays in Saugatuck.”