August 28 to 24

August 18-Saugatuck Day 4

This morning we woke up to another beautiful day. There was a marked reduction of people, cars, and boat traffic around town today. We got up and had a leisurely breakfast and watched the weather channel. Hurricane Fay is heading for the west coast of Florida and may strike close to our home in Palmetto on south Tampa Bay. We will continue to watch as it develops in the next day or so. We have been in touch with our neighbors as they get ready for the hurricane’s arrival. We’ll know more tomorrow. Bob and I had planned to tour the Keewatin passenger steamship today. It is a living museum whose name means Blizzard of the North. We dinghied over across Kalamazoo Lake to where it sits. The Keewatin was built in Scotland in 1906. For over 50 years she served as a connection between Georgian Bay in Lake Huron and Lake Superior. She retired from service in 1965. We took the 10:30 guided tour which lasted an hour and took us everywhere throughout the ship except the engine room. It was interesting to see what a “cruise ship” in the early 20th century was like.

 
 
 
 
After our tour we had lunch at the Red Dock Bar and Grill on the waterfront deck.

 
 
We dinghied around the end of Lake Kalamazoo and into the river before returning to the boat. The wind was from the southwest and brought a nice breeze into the cockpit. We relaxed for awhile before walking up to the shops with Murphy. There was one store I wanted to check out. Murphy and Bob waited outside while I looked around. Then we walked along Water Street to the Chain Ferry. I wanted to inquire how far it was to the famous “Oval Beach” once you were on the other side of the river. It was a meer 3/4 of a mile, but it was too late in the day to go exploring and check it out. I was sorry I didn’t ask about it sooner and get a chance to see it. Oval Beach, according to what I read, is on Lake Michigan and is ranked one of the top 25 beaches in the world and one of the top 2 beaches in the USA by National Geographic Traveler. I guess the only time I’ll be able to see it is when we leave tomorrow and we pass it on our way south. Before dinner we sat on the bridge in the shade, enjoying some music and watching the people on the boardwalk.

 
 
After dinner we watched more of the Olympics and took a short walk along the boardwalk. The temps were pleasant and it was a quiet night.

August 19-Saugatuck to South Haven, MI

It was a cooler, cloudy morning. What a switch from the beautiful weather we’ve been having, but not bad. We watched the news on Hurricane Fay–Hooray, No Fay! Maybe some rain, but no strong winds or flooding. We dodged the bullet–this time, but there’s still September and October-the busiest hurricane months. It’s just a matter of time. We got a pumpout of our holding tank and prepared to leave. The winds are supposed to be 5-15 out of the ENE, so we should be blocked from the wind when we go south. We have really enjoyed our stay in Saugatuck-the “Best Dune Town”. It is one of my favorite places over here in Michigan. Dark clouds blew over us, but the sun popped out and a blue sky appeared as we untied ourselves from the dock at 9:30. We took the slow ride down the river and emerged from the entrance at 10:00. We turned south for the 18 mile ride to South Haven. I kept my eye out for Oval Beach as we drove along the coastline. Within the first mile we saw it. We couldn’t tell from this distance what made it so special. It was oval with a huge sand dune running parallel to the water, but was it the sand that ranked it so high on the list of great beaches, or what?

 
 
I’ll have to check it out on the Internet and have Bonnie and Tim come back to check it out for me sometime. The hour ride was smooth and forested hills followed the shoreline instead of the sand dunes we had seen so far. The dark clouds seemed to follow us as we entered the South Haven breakwater at 11:00.

 
 
The wind seemed to pick up as we motored down the Black River to town.

 
 
After checking with the marina, we had a choice to tie up to the wall or take slip #37 in the north marina basin. We chose to tie up to the wall because they couldn’t tell us how wide the slip was and it was close to town. (The municipal marina is separated into 2 areas by the river-the north basin and the south basin which is adjacent to town.)

 
 
This is the south side of the marina where we tried to tie up to the wall.

We couldn’t get any docking help from the marina to catch a line and I am getting too old to leap off the boat onto the pier, so I managed to lasso a piling. Bob used that as a pivot point to back down on the line and bring the stern to the wall. The wind was blowing us off the dock and the swift current in the river made it hard to tie up the boat. Once we did all that, we noticed that one of the boards on the pier was sticking out which would make it difficult to stop the side of the boat from scraping against it. So……change of plans. We would try the slip. We couldn’t get an answer from the marina on the radio as to the width of that slip so Bob left me to fend the boat off of the dock while he ran down to the office to find out. The office was understaffed and no help with undocking at all, so Bob enlisted 2 older men to help us get away from the dock. With their help, we had no problem. I rigged the lines to get into the slip. We pulled into the U-shaped basin and found slip #37. It didn’t look wide enough to fit our 16′ wide boat, but the dockhand said it was, so we approached slowly and with caution. Boy, it was a tight squeeze, but we made it without a scratch! This is the closest we’ve been to another boat in a slip. (picture to follow)

After 30 minutes of tying and retying the lines and adding fenders, we breathed a sigh of relief and settled in. There is a cute little green and red tug in a slip across from us that is doing the Great Look from Illinois.

 
 
We had some lunch, relaxed awhile and researched the town. We have never been to South Haven before so it is all new to us. Across from us in the marina was a cute little green and red tug traveling the Great Loop from Illinois. Meanwhile the sun came out, but the wind picked up a little. It’s nicer to be in this slip than on the wall, even though we are across the way from town. We discovered that South Haven is situated along 5 miles of white-washed beaches–7 of them, with 31 inland lakes nearby and the Black River that runs through it. Bikers can enjoy the Kal-Haven Bike Trail or you can walk along the historic Harborwalk. You can also cruise along the beach by car.

 
 
South Haven blossomed when steamships from Chicago brought tourists across the lake on a daily basis. At one time the area was known for its huge lumbering and timber industry. Once the trees were depleted, they discovered the climate and soil were ideal for fruit growing. Farm markets and wineries have flourished in the area. After lunch we took a slow dinghy ride down the Black River about 2 miles.

 
 
The black star at the top of the map is how far we traveled by dinghy from the entrance of the lake. Here is a map of the area that shows our marina in South Haven. We are in the upper left.

 
 
We crossed under the first bridge and passed many marinas along the river. Every slip was filled with boats of all kind. We’ve never seen so many boats.

 
 
We passed a huge riverboat called the Idler that is a floating restaurant

 
 
and a cute little waterfront bar called Captain Lou’s Bar and Grill.

 
 
We’ll have to check those out tomorrow. There were lots of cute condos and cottages along the waterfront with docks too. Attached to a piling was a sign with a sense of humor.

 
 
We passed under another highway bridge and the river became more surrounded by wilderness. We saw lots of turtles sunning themselves on logs. One turtle even had a smaller turtle sitting on top of him.

 
 
We saw lots of ducks and even a swimming weasel or otter, don’t know which. There were lots of really cool houseboats and I do mean house-boats. (picture to follow) They were literally floating houses that had boat registration numbers on the side. With that many boats around there were bound to be lots of cute boat names. So here are a few for today. Cute boat names #14, 15, 16:

 
 
 
 
 
 
After our ride we relaxed back at the boat before dinner. We went up to the marina grills to cook dinner and while we were there we talked with a man who had lots of information and stories to share. We had a nice chat and went back to the boat to have dinner. After dinner we watched some more Olympics(can’t get my fill), and then took Murphy for his evening walk. It had calmed off and was a beautiful night.

August 20-South Haven Day 2

It was breezy this morning when we got up, but the sky was sunny and the temps would supposedly hit 80 today. I worked a bit on the computer while Bob worked to fix Glitch #5. The Freedom Lift that carries the dinghy was acting up last week. It worked intermittently, sometimes going up, but not down. Without that, we couldn’t get the dinghy into the water and therefore, have no way to get to shore with Murphy or in an emergency. So….we called the company and they sent the solenoid replacement part ahead to the marina we would be going to next. It arrived yesterday, so he was able to work on replacing it today. It was a 15 minute job. No fuss, no muss, but it would have become a serious problem if we had to get to shore in an “anchoring out” situation. After he was done, we took a bike ride across the bridge and into town to check out the grocery store (aluminum can return), hardware store (flashlight bulb), and barbershop (a haircut for Bob). While he was getting a haircut, I walked down Phoenix Street to check out the shops and the Farmer’s Market. I bought some sweet corn to bring back. When Bob was done with his haircut, we rode down to Old Harbor Town-a collection of waterfront restaurants and shops and had lunch at the Idler Riverboat Restaurant. Once we got back to the boat, we unpacked our bikes and took a ride to the beach. North Beach was crowded with people and there was a nice offshore breeze blowing.

 
 
We took off our sandals and walked the beach at the water’s edge to the breakwall. The water was warm and many people were enjoying the beach. Then we walked out onto the breakwater to the lighthouse and watched the tall ship, Friends Good Will, enter the harbor.

 
 
It is a replica 19th century sloop that offers sailing trips 3 times daily. The water was warm and looked clear and so inviting that we just had to go back and get in the dinghy for a ride. We changed into our suits and hopped into the dinghy and followed the Friends Good Will ship out of the harbor on its second voyage today.

 
 
It was so calm and smooth on the lake that you could go for miles and miles-and we did. We drove a couple of mile one way with a refreshing swim in the lake

 
 
and a couple of miles the other way with Bob as “dinghy master” all the way.

 
 
(This is for you Lynelle.) The lake was warm–the warmest it’s been all summer. The temps were warm too and probably close to the forecasted high of 83 degrees. We sat in the shade in the cockpit of the boat when we got back and had a drink contemplating whether or not to skip dinner or just postpone it for awhile. We decided to wait and have a light bite later on. We played a ball game with Murphy. He likes to roll the ball down the steps of the doorway and then let us throw it to him to catch. He could do that for hours.

 
 
After dinner we sat on the bridge and watched the sun go down and the lights of the town come on. Then we watched more Olympics and called it a night.

 
 
Here are more cute boat names # 17, 18, 19 and 20:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
August 21-South Haven Day 3

Should we stay or should we go? That was the question of the day as we got up and checked the weather and the availability of slips in Benton Harbor, our next stop. We had cloudy skies and coolish temperatures this morning. (The nights have been great for sleeping because they have been cool and we can sleep with the hatches open.) The weather report looked better today than tomorrow, but we are waiting for a package from West Marine that hasn’t arrived yet. (They are sending a replacement rear wheel for one of our bikes.) It was supposed to have been “overnighted” on Tuesday, but it’s already Thursday and no sign of it yet. I guess their “overnight” is different than ours. Anyway, we finally got a call back from one of the marinas in Benton Harbor and they have a slip for us for the weekend, so I guess we’ll stay in South Haven one more day and leave for Benton Harbor on Friday. Now we can get on with the day. We rode our bikes to the Save On Foods grocery store. It wasn’t much of a store, but we were able to get a few things we needed. We came back to the boat to unload and then we rode our bikes up the road to Stephen Johnson Park with a nice view of the marina and then down North Lake Shore Dr. It was a bluff road lined with beautiful homes, resorts, and B and B’s overlooking the lake.

 
 
The clouds broke up and let the blue sky poke through. The sun came in and out and it made for a nice ride. We stopped at Captain Lou’s Bar and Grill for a beer and a snack. Back at the boat, I walked Murphy up to the nearby park, about a block away so he could run around and sniff to his heart’s delight. He had a great time and took a nap when we got back to the boat –along with his owners.

After that short break, the 3 of us took a slow dinghy ride down the Black River. Murphy liked the ride, eyeing up all the ducks and geese along the way. We passed a unique dinghy that was all decked out with a huge wind sock, colorful patio umbrella, and a stuffed monkey strapped to the pole. I wish I would have had my camera with me. Later Bob grilled dinner and we watched the news and got caught up on things. Our package arrived this afternoon so we’re good to go tomorrow to Benton Harbor/St. Joseph. This afternoon the clouds rolled in and we had a brief shower (2 minutes). The wind picked up a little and made the temps of 85 degrees today more comfortable. We relaxed after dinner and watched the Olympics and a movie. We hope to get an early start tomorrow.

A LITTLE NOTE FROM BOB

Apparently Cindy left out a little something which now I must add for your enjoyment. As we were getting on the bikes to ride to the store, Cindy had a problem with her’s. As she tried to mount hers, it threw her off and she landed in the freshly mowed dog walk area. Yep, that’s the place with all the pee and poop. I was facing the other way but heard the argument between them and turned to see her and her bike laying on the ground. After I stopped laughing, I mean tending to her needs, I got her up and cleaned off the debris. Good thing she doesn’t drive the boat much. Who knows what would happen! Bob

August 22-South Haven, MI to St.Joseph/Benton Harbor, MI

I was startled awake this morning by raindrops on the hull. I bolted out of bed to close the bathroom hatches and got Bob to close the one over the bed. We never really went back to sleep. It rained for a couple of minutes and then stopped. Another wave came, lasted about 2 minutes and then stopped. It was very HUMID! We had breakfast and got the boat ready to leave. Just as we were about to untie the lines, we heard thunder and then it started to rain. We decided to wait until the wave of rain passed. After 10 minutes, we were ready to go at 9:30. We made our way out of the channel and prepared for a little bumpier ride than we’ve had so far. The winds were out of the south, 10-15, and we would have a head sea going south. On the radar we could see bands of rain up ahead and within minutes we were in them–no thunder or lightning, just rain. As we drove further south, the winds increased and gave us 2′ seas and an occasional 3′ wave. Bob slowed our speed to 17 knots and it was a very comfortable ride–smoother than I thought it would be. The 17.8 mile ride went quickly and as we neared Benton Harbor we could see bigger and bigger homes perched on the sand dune cliffs.

 
 
We entered the breakwater at 10:45 and surfed our way into the harbor.

 
 
This is the largest city we’ve been to and the most industrial. It is boater friendly, and there are many marinas, but there seems to be fewer and fewer big boat slips available as we make our way south.

 
 
We saw a cool piece of artwork sculpture down the channel on our way to the municipal marina.

 
 
We entered the marina at 10:45 and were all tied up on the other side of the gas dock by 11:00.

 
 
The West Basin Marina is the 1st marina as you enter the harbor in St. Joseph. The other marinas are farther down the St. Joseph River, but we thought we’d check them out by dinghy later. The river depth is questionable in spots. We had an easy docking situation in the rain even with the wind blowing us away from the pier.

 
 
We settled in and had lunch after tying up and connecting to electricity. We did some wash and cleaning since more rain is expected. As Bob would say, “It’s a lay around, watch TV, and drink beer kind of day.” A few hours passed and the skies cleared , so we took a dinghy ride down the St. Joseph River.

 
 
It splits in two branches and rejoins around the other side of Marina Island. Five marinas sit on or around Marina Island. The river is laden with deadheads and shallow areas so it’s important to follow the channel markers carefully. The western branch of the river passes under a bridge with a 19′ clearance (our clearance is 18.5′) and opens on the quarter and 3/4 hour. The eastern branch passes under two bridges with a clearance of 36′. We passed a waterfront bar and Clementine’s restaurant that were both recommended to us.We’ll have to check those out tomorrow. On our way back, the turnstile railroad bridge that was usually open, was now closed to accommodate a train that was carrying coal.

 
 
We sat and waited for the train to pass and then we went back to the boat. They have the neatest looking building for the St. Joseph River Yacht Club. It looks like the old Coast Guard station that was renovated and added on to. Members only!

 
 
Across from one of the marinas was the county jailhouse which looked like a mini prison, complete with towers and barbed wire.

 
 
We cleaned up before dinner and Bob went up to the shore to grill. It had gotten extremely windy, around 15 knots, and the halyards on the sailboats were all ringing like windchimes. It was terribly HUMID! The forecast has improved for tomorrow –no rain, but still humid with a high of 90. After dinner we relaxed for the rest of the evening and saw a colorful sunset over the trees. It turned the sky orange with streaks of color.

 
 
Cute boat names # 21, 22, 23

 
 
 
 
 
 
This was a name on one of the beautiful homes sitting on a bluff above the marina.

 
 
August 23-Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, MI

It was a very restless night. The train came by 4 times and police sirens went off 3 times. Even someone’s car alarm went off. Murphy did not like the train and sat and whined until we brought him into bed with us. Then he slept like a baby. We didn’t, however. We woke up later than usual to blue skies and breezy conditions. Don’t forget the humidity. The temp. was 78 degrees when we woke up and the thermometer showed 100 degrees later in the day. The marina was a bustle of activity this morning. All the sailors were getting ready for the regatta at 11:00. Boats began leaving their slips, laden with people.

 
 
Someone told us that with the winds today, the sailors would need extra ballast and the harbor master told us they get extra points for any females on board when it comes to scoring for the race. We saw one sailboat come in with 20 people on board–most of them female. They were doing it as a fund raiser for the yacht club. We rode our bikes out to the end of the breakwater to watch the race and the boats coming and going through the channel.

 
 
The wind was blowing pretty good and it made it hard to control the boats coming through the channel. The Coast Guard went out with their 44′ Motor Lifeboat.

 
 
We headed back and decided since it was so hot and humid today, that we would postpone our exploration into town when it was cooler. There is a cold front moving in tomorrow which will make for easier riding and more pleasant day. We made our phone calls home and decided to take a dinghy ride up the river to the St. Joseph Boathouse. It’s a cute little bar and grill on the river. The bar itself is an old boat. They had music on the outer deck and people arrived by boat to enjoy the day there.

 
 
We dinghied over and had a couple of beers on the deck in the shade. It was ungodly hot and there wasn’t a breeze anywhere to be found. We dinghied back and sat in the AC trying to cool off. We met a couple who are finishing up the Great Loop and ending their trip in Green Turtle Marina, Kentucky Lake. This is where we plan on spending a couple of weeks on our way down the river. She was happy to share information about the area and she lent Bob her Skipper Bob’s Cruising Guide from Chicago to Mobile which he made a copy of. They invited us over to their boat for cocktails to share the best anchorage spots in Green Turtle. They are finishing up the Loop and selling their boat to buy something smaller and build a house on Kentucky Lake. Sounds wonderful! We relaxed in the boat and went over for drinks on Bill and Mary Anne’s boat “Our Turn”, a 44′ DeFever. We enjoyed our time on their boat, sharing stories. We returned to our boat to cook dinner on the grill and relax after the heat of the day. The evening cooled off and brought added relief.

Cool boat name # 24

 
 
August 24-Benton Harbor/St. Joseph Day 3

Again we were awakened by a train at about 4 AM. As Bob says, the train comes so close to the boat that you can see what the engineer is wearing. Then the wind also shifted directions, causing the boat to push against the fender, creating a squeaking sound on the hull–right near our heads. So, equipped with a flashlight in hand, Bob went outside to make some adjustments. He came back to bed and we slept until 8:00. We had our usual Sunday breakfast of bacon and eggs and began our chores for the morning. Bob washed the outside of the boat, while I vacuumed inside. The boat really needed a bath. The swallows do a really good job of keeping the bugs and spiders at bay around the marina, but the seagulls like to leave deposits on the boat. It’s fun to watch the swallows dart and swoop about, doing what they do best. ( Bob goes out every night on a spider hunt, armed with a flashlight and soapy water spray to kill spiders on and around the boat. He calls himself “Quick Draw with a spray bottle”. He can spray and kill those spiders before they even know what hit them.) Another sidenote, late yesterday a boat came into the marina tooting it’s horn. On board were a bride and groom and the wedding party. They were dressed in gorgeous blue dresses to match the hull of the boat which was also blue. The groomsmen wore khaki shorts and shirts of blue to match. They toured around all the marinas and then disembarked from their boat to our pier (gas dock) to drive away in a Model T Ford, Very cool! This is the third wedding we’ve witnessed this summer. Today the temps are supposed to be around 74 degrees and much less humid. After lunch we took a bike ride into downtown St. Joe’s. We crossed the bridge and watched the Coast Guard practicing a rescue with a dummy. They threw it into the water and then tried to retrieve it. Not too quickly I might add.

 
 
We parked and locked our bikes on the sidewalk and walked up and down the brick streets of the beautifully restored downtown. You can even hitch a ride on the free horse-drawn trolley to tour the shops. We spotted a cute dog wearing a sun bonnet.

 
 
Throughout the downtown area you could see carved wooden boats of 3 varieties (sailboat, speedboat, tugboat) that were hand-painted. They will be raffled off to raise money for a worthy cause.

 
 
We grabbed our bikes again to go down the bluff hill to Silver Beach where we sat on a bench in the shade and watched the waves crash against the shore. This famous beach had one of the nation’s first amusement parks. The pavilion that sits on the cliff above the beach marks where the big band pavilion once stood. It is said that people could leave Chicago by boat, spend a day at Silver Beach, and be home for dinner at night. It was THE place to go for fun.

 
 
There were daredevil jet skiers jumping waves, people flying kites and playing volleyball, and many others just enjoying the beach. Some brave boaters brought their boats onto the calm side of the breakwater and anchored there for the day.

 
 
There was lots to watch, so we sat for awhile and then were on our way. We passed “The Depot”, an old train depot that was transformed into a pizza parlor in half the building and an Amtrak station on the other half.

 
 
The dockmaster said that they had the best pizza in town so we stopped to see if we could get a slice for lunch, but no luck. So we rode back up the bluff and across the bridge to the marina. On the way back, we stopped to watch the railroad bridge turn in anticipation of a train.

 
 
We sat there waiting for the train, only to find out that the bridge tender turned the bridge in order to walk across it to receive his lunch from a little old lady. He walked back across the bridge to open it again. Who would’ve thought? Once we got back to the boat, we relaxed in the sun and cool breeze, reading up on our river trip and what to see along the way. Lots of people were touring around the marinas today in their smaller boats and dinghies. It was way too rough to go into the lake with the winds blowing a strong 15 knots from the north creating waves of 3-4′ at least. Not a day to go out. The forecast tomorrow is for stronger winds from the northeast of 10-20 knots with 3-5′ waves so we are spending another day in St. Joe. We had a later dinner and then took a walk out to the nearby beach to see the sunset with Murphy. The sky was a mixture of colors as darkness fell, but the wind still blew. We watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and then went to bed.

 
 
Cool boat name # 25 (my personal favorite)

 
 

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