July 21- day #3 in Charlevoix
Screeching gulls woke us at 6:30 as the Beaver Island Ferry geared up for its first trip to the island. (It’s been cool enough to sleep with the hatches open…hence the morning noise.) Before our trip began, we were wondering how the current gas prices would affect boating this summer. From what we can tell, the larger boats seem to be moving around as much as ever and do not seem to be affected. We have seen so many 75′-150′ yachts here it is amazing! Tomorrow we leave for Northport, MI. The weather has been great for traveling with light winds and no rain. This morning we will spend some time doing business and laundry on the boat. (Yes, we have a washer and dryer on board.) It’s a quiet, cloudy day with a chance of showers this morning. The weekend boaters have all gone home and left the harbor to the rest of us. While at the grocery store today, we saw a flyer for a WWII Flying Fortress B-17 at the Charlevoix Airport open for viewing today.
(We had seen it fly overhead the last 2 days but did not know where it was based.) We rode the 3 easy miles on our bikes to the airport and took a tour. This is only 1 of 13 B-17 planes still flying from the original 13,000 that were built. Bob got an inside tour of the plane.
They were giving rides for $425 (the cost of fuel) but that was a little too rich for our blood. From here they will eventually fly to Oshkosh, WI for the EAA at the end of the month. It was a sight to see and very informative talking to the pilot. Later that afternoon the sun came out, so Murphy, Bob, and I took a walk on the boardwalk along the channel out to the lighthouse and beach.
We hung out there for awhile watching the fishermen and the boating action. A sailboat traveling down the channel became disabled when its motor wouldn’t start (those sailboaters!) A small powerboat tried to come to the rescue to tow it into the harbor as the bridge opened, when through the opening, the Beaver Island Ferry appreared! (Oh no!) People gasped….people ran to help. Amazingly, everything turned out ok. (What boater in their right mind would enter a narrow channel with a current and a closed bridge at the end and not check their engine first?) I shall say no more. It was good entertainment for awhile to say the least. We had our afternoon cocktail hour (right, Dad?) and relaxed on the bridge of the boat. I walked into town and did a little shopping later in the day while Bob napped. We grilled lambchops for dinner, watched some TV, and went to bed. About 4:30 AM, Bob bolted out of bed to close the hatches and cover up the bikes as it started to rain. It was a light, steady rain that lulled us back to sleep. During the early morning it rained harder and the wind blew, bouncing us around in our slip for awhile. We slept on.
Same day-Bob’s manly no frills version for the guys!
Got up. Had a sh– and a shave. Bought beer. Went to the airport. Saw a plane. Drank beer. Went for a walk. Watched an idiot. Cooked dinner and watched TV. Drank more beer. Went to bed.
July 22-Harbor Springs, MI
We got up at 9:00 after a less-than-restful night. It was later than planned because we wanted to make the 10:00 bridge so we rushed around getting everything ready to leave. Overnight 4 sailboaters from the Chicago to Mackinaw Race pulled in around us and kind of wedged us in. They had given up the race early due to lack of wind (one had engine trouble) and were drying their clothes and their sleeping bags from the rain. They came over to lend us a hand in getting away from the wall. It was a piece of cake! We did it just like we did in our old slip at the Alibi in Fish Creek and were under the bridge at 10:00. It was a cloudy day with storms lurking on the horizon and rain in the forecast. The winds were 5-10 mph with waves 1-2′. It was an easy 30 mile ride and we arrived in Northport at 11:00. We took a spot on the inside of the breakwall.
We settled in and took a leisurely walk into town to discover our favorite place for nachos was closed. We had lunch at the brat stand and ate in the park. Northport is a sleepy, little town of about 600 residents in Grand Traverse Bay. The population has only grown 10% since 1970 and has just recently acquired city sewer. The city is trying to make a comeback though, and wants to become the bustling town it once was. Bob tried to get on the Internet at the boat, but it was awful slow, so we walked up to the library to use their WiFi. It was strong and lightning fast. We spent an hour there reading and answering emails. After showering, we sat in the cockpit watching the swallows dart back and forth chasing insects.
Speaking of insects, we have seen very few spiders around the docks and no mosquitoes to speak of. WI must have them all. For those of you that may be wondering why we haven’t been anchoring out (something we love to do), it’s because the slip prices have been so cheap (less than a motel room) and that includes cable and power. It’s been around $1 a foot, much cheaper than back in WI, and at these prices it doesn’t pay to anchor out (with the price of running the generator, invertor, and outboard to shore for Murphy). We had garlic and herb chicken on the grill for dinner and watched a DVD from our large collection of movies on board. It finally sprinkled a little and made for a cooler night. Cool boat name #4.
One of the locals put up some cute little signs on his dock: Happy hour is all damn day! The liver is evil, it must be punished. (Just ignore the PRIVATE sign.)
July 23-Northport to Frankfort
Blue skies and sunshine greeted us today. We set our course for Leland, MI and left by 8:30. We needed to arrive early in Leland in hopes of getting a slip before all the Mac racers arrived. (Leland is a “harbor of refuge” which means they have to find a spot for you. This also means that you may have to “raft off” the end of a pier, another boat, or have people raft off of you. “Rafting” means they tie your boat, side-to-side, to another boat, and another, and so on. It makes it a little hairy getting to shore and finding power.) The wind had picked up and once we came out of Traverse Bay we found ourselves in waves of 2-4′ on the bow. A few waves came over the bow and gave her a good washing. It makes for an exciting “white knuckle” ride (for me). We had an hour of that when we changed our course to head south in waves of 2-4′ on the beam. This usually gives you a feeling of wallowing back and forth or “surfing” on a wave which can give you a queezy feeling (for Bob). He took some seasickness medication and it helped…a little. We got close to Leland and radioed them and were informed that we would, indeed, have to raft off with the possibility of other boats rafting off of us. Because of the rafting situation and the fact of getting into Leland with the seas running as big as they were, we decided to skip Leland and go right to Frankfort. Once we got behind the Manitou Islands, the waves were blocked by the land and we could increase our speed from 18-21 knots. The seas calmed down a little and we were able to enjoy the scenery. We passed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a hilly region fringed with massive shoreline sand dunes.
The last few miles were beautiful….the sparkling, blue water in contrast to the sand dune hills. (I think MI got all the sand and WI got all the rocks. You don’t see this kind of thing on the WI side.) We were relieved when we entered the breakwater entrance at the lighthouse.
We arrived in Frankfort at 11:30 and got a slip at the city dock. After getting all tied up, we were sitting down to eat lunch by 12:30. Bob took a nap (side effect from seasickness meds) while Murphy and I took a walk. Here in slip #55 it is peaceful and calm. There is a flock of about 30 swans that live on the lake here. That is the largest flock of swams we’ve ever seen.
Later in the day, Bob and I took a walk through town to look for our friends who might be here at the other marina, but they were already gone. We saw a cool boat called Mitch Mate III that had a small car on top of it. Quite impressive!
We worked on the Internet and just hung out from a hard day on the water. We grilled swordfish for dinner and relaxed in the cockpit until dark.
Note: Sometimes you see some bad things that happen to other boaters and it makes you stop and think. Just thought we’d pass them along.
Case#1: Don’t go underneath bridges that are too low for your boat. If you look closely you can see that his bridge enclosure was totally ripped down with poor judgement.
July 24-Day #2 in Frankfort
Today we are celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary. Here we are in our party clothes.
We woke to blue skies and warm temps of 74 degrees. After breakfast, Bob washed the boat while I did some house cleaning. After lunch we took a bike ride around Lake Betsie on the Betsie Valley Trail which took us to the neighboring city of Elberta, a small town across the lake from Frankfort. It was an easy 3 mile round trip along a paved trail around the lake. We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to pick up a few items. We hopped on the bikes again and rode down to the beach where many people were enjoying the water.
We stopped in town on our way back to make dinner reservations for tonight. The day continued to be sunny, with a slight breeze off of the lake. Murphy, Bob, and I took a dinghy ride out the channel, past the breakwall and lighthouse, and up the shore. There is a huge sandy beach on both sides of the breakwater which was filled with vacationers enjoying the day. We drove about 1/2 mile up the coast, looking up at the tall, sandy cliffs rising above the water.
The water is crystal clear and you can see all the way to the sandy bottom. We took a slow ride back to the boat to clean up for dinner. We were amazed at how glassy calm the lake was today. Bob took Murphy up the the park to play a little frisbee. Murphy loves to catch his frisbee and he’s very good at it.
We walked up to town to the Coho Cafe for a delicious dinner and strolled back to the boat to relax on the bridge as the sun went down. We watched a continuous stream of sailboats enter the harbor as evening fell….most of them returning from the Mac race. Murphy and I took a walk along the waterfront to check out the boats rafted up along the seawall. I counted about 42 boats in all with more coming all the time.
We retired to the boat. It was a perfect day all around.
July 25-Day #3 in Frankfort
The wind had picked up overnight and rocked us awake. It was a partly sunny day with a chance of rain. The winds were 10-15 mph. Most power boaters were staying put in the marina today, while the sailors left and took advantage of a great sailing day. We decided to wax the bow of the boat. It started out as a two person job—one to wax on and one to wax off, but it soon became a one person job with the power waxer/buffer. So..needless to say, I was out of a job. I took Murphy for a short walk and then went to the nearby library to check up on the news. I took a bike ride to town to look around in some of the stores. When I got back Bob was done (4 hours later) and the bow looked fantastic! After lunch we took a bike ride to the beach and walked out on the breakwall to the lighthouse. The waves were crashing over the breakwall on the south, so we could walk without getting wet on the north wall.
We stood out there for awhile watching some boats enter the marina with great care to avoid being overturned in the waves.
There were some surfers taking advantage of the waves and others playing in the surf. We took a slow ride back through town to look at the huge lumber baron houses on the hillsides. The skies clouded up and the wind increased becoming very gusty. Boats arrived from the lake in a hurry to find shelter. We watched all the action from the bridge until dinner. Bob grilled out as it started to rain and continued throughout the night. The boat bounced around in the slip as night fell. We watched a DVD and went to bed. We will make plans to move on, or not, to Arcadia tomorrow.
July 26-Frankfort to Arcadia
We got up, dried off the boat from last night’s rain, and decided to leave Frankfort. The wind was still blowing 10-15 mph out of the northwest, but boats of all sizes were leaving, so we left too. We pulled lines and drove a very short distance to the gas dock to get pumped out. If we were going to be at anchor for 4 days, we needed an empty holding tank. Leaving the breakwater we found the waves were 3-4′ on the beam again. We knew it would only be a short 9 miles to Arcadia, but it would be a little touchy going through their narrow harbor opening into Arcadia Lake. This is by far the narrowest channel entrance with the shortest breakwaters on Lake Michigan. We reached the opening at 9:30 and made the final turn quickly. We “surfed” our way into the harbor on plane without a problem.
Arcadia is located on a small lake with a good holding area for anchoring according to the charts. The anchorage is directly across from town…convenient to everything, but still quiet. The dockmaster, Dee, was very helpful about where to anchor, but after 2 attempts we were ready to give up. Apparently the bottom here is covered in very deep silt making it near impossible to anchor except in calm winds. Dee (feeling sorry for us) finally told us we could have a slip at the gas dock. That was their only slip big enough and it was EMPTY. As we pulled up close, we weren’t sure it was wide enough for us, so we all took a deep breath and eased our way in. There were only inches to spare. Everyone was so nice and helpful….”Can I get you this?….Do you need that?” We were lucky to get this spot. (I’ve never seen a marina bathroom with an exercise bike, bathroom scale, magazines, extra toiletries for women who forget something, and a breast self-exam card hanging in the shower. They really aim to please. It was just like home.) Once in our slip, I recognized the woman on the boat next to ours. It was JoAnn Verbraken and her husband, John from Waterford. She and I taught together at St. Thomas Aquinas School in 1982-85. What a small world! They used to have a sailboat, but recently switched to a 46′ Jefferson Motoryacht. (Incidentally, the boat they have is the same one that belonged to a man that we knew in our marina in Fish Creek, WI. It was called Melodeeana and they had 2 golden retrievers on board.) Who would have thought? We met 2 other nice couples from Alton, IL, Chuck and Donna Westhoff and Dave and Rhonda Vercellino in a boat called The Honeymooners, who are doing the Great Loop and are on their final leg for home. Alton is one of the towns we have to stop at for fuel on our river trip south. They gave us their phone numbers and offered to let us use their car if we need it when we are in Alton. What neighborly people! After settling in, we were told we were here at the perfect time….Arcadia Daze-a festival that has been going on for 30 years and draws people from all over the area. We took a walk into town for lunch at the brat stand and wandered around the car show. There were about 80 cars from Model T’s to Vipers including 2 brand new Challengers. It was a huge turnout for such a small town.
We were told that most of the residents go south for the winter, but it is a sea of activity in the summer. Next, we hit the 2 blocks of craft fair booths-very nice quality items. They even had an authentic Indian Trading Encampment set up.
We walked down to end of the road to discover a popular beach area with a lookout. Many people were enjoying the sunshine and waves on the beach. Back at the boat, I got more info from Mary, a local liveaboard, who had done the Great Loop trip in ’05-06 and was willing to share her knowledge about places to go and things to see. Everyone at this little town marina is so welcoming! We enjoyed the day relaxing and watching the activities around the marina. (Bob said it reminded him of Mayberry, USA. They even have their own version of Barney Fife, Jack the dockman, who has a great sense of humor.)
We walked into town to eat the Lion’s Club chicken dinner complete with 1/2 a chicken, cole slaw, roll, corn on the cob, lemonade, and dessert for $10. We returned to the boat after a long walk to work off the chicken dinner and took Murphy for his evening walk around the marina. We felt stuffed and sleepy and wouldn’t be awake to go back for the music at 9:30. We sat together and worked on the computer before turning in for the evening.
July 27-Arcadia, MI
We slept in, this morning, with the sound of the wind howling outside. We had our usual Sunday breakfast of bacon and eggs and then went about doing some of our chores. Bob did some on-line business while I did some wash. We both made some weekly phone calls to our parents. The excitement of the day was helping boaters dock and undock at the end of our pier which was also the gas dock. It was quite a task with the winds. They even wanted to hire Bob as a dockhand. More boats pulled off the lake to anchor in the bay for shelter from the winds. At 1:30, the town was having the Arcadia Daze Gala Parade, which happened to start right at the marina, so we had a front row seat. The highlights of the parade were the Plymouth, MI Fife and Drum Corps who were dressed in colonial uniforms and a mini-steam locomotive (now electric).
There were lots of floats, horses (my favorite), and a lot of people walking in the parade who were running for office in the next local election. Everyone in the parade was throwing candy and beads. We came back with a ton of “loot”. Later, Bob and I took a bike ride in the new subdivision adjacent to town, along the main highway to see “downtown” Arcadia, and finally stopped at the festival grounds to listen to the 6 piece Salt City Dixie Land Jazz Band. Afterwards, we rode down to the lookout at the beach to check on the water conditions. The waves had started to lay down and the weather report is for east winds, 10 mph with waves of 1′ or less for Monday. We like that!
Back at the boat, we cooked dinner and relaxed. Jo came over and we said our goodbyes. She promised to say hello to everyone back in Waterford for me.
The harbormaster told us that when Arcadia Daze weekend is over, the place turns into a ghosttown. We were lucky enough to be here for this fun weekend! We retired for the night as the sun set and placed amazing colors in the sky.