Overnight, we had storms move through the area around 1:30 AM. First the lightning, then the thunder, and finally the rain for about an hour. The motorhome shook with the bands of rain and wind. Auggie hates thunder and at the first clap of thunder he wanted to join us in bed. We fell back to sleep finally when things quieted down. Once we got up, we got ready to leave for a day on Washington Island.
Washington Island sits 4.5 miles north of the tip of Door County peninsula. The 3 of us planned to take the car ferry over to the island. Auggie was excited to be going with us on our outing to Washington Island.
We drove 19 miles to the ferry dock from Bailey’s Harbor. We took Highway 42 out of the campground to downtown Bailey’s Harbor.
The highway brought us out in midtown Sister Bay. Sister Bay was busy with tourists taking pictures of the goats on the roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant.
We continued north and from the top of the bluff above Ellison Bay, we got a good view of the lake.
We got up to Gills Rock and took the shortcut to the ferry dock.
The road has lots of curves.
We got in line at 10:40 to ride the ferry, but had to wait to board. The ferry, Washington, was just pulling away from the dock. We missed that one, but the ferries leave every 20 minutes and they were running 5 ferries so it didn’t take long to load us up.
The next ferry arrived at 11:00 and we got on board the Arni J. Richter ferry.
We were literally the last vehicle to get on board. I don’t think Auggie even knew that he was on a boat.
Pulling out of the ferry dock, we saw another ferry making its approach.
On the journey through Death’s Door, we passed Plum Island Lighthouse where the Coast Guard station is located.
I went up top to the pilot house so I could get a better view and take some pictures. No, I wasn’t saluting. I was holding on to my hat!
Bob waited below with Auggie.
The seas had 1′ waves with some white caps , but the ferry ride was smooth.
We passed Kap’s Marina on our way to the ferry dock on the island.
We have stayed there in our boat over the many years that we boated in Door County. We approached the ferry dock slowly.
We docked at the island at Detroit Harbor at 11:30 and proceeded with our driving tour around the island.
We have visited Washington Island many times by boat and a couple of times by ferry with our car, but not recently. We wanted to see what had changed since our last visit. Our first stop was the Shipyard Marina and the Sailor’s Pub. We have also stayed here with our boat. The marina was not full.
We noticed that the end of the their gas dock was damaged and underwater.
Next, we checked out the Percy Johnson Memorial County Park to get a view of the lake.
It was very calm in the cove there.
Next on our list of favorite places to visit was Jackson Harbor. It is very quaint and full of commercial fishing history.
We have spent extended stays in this protected marina in our boat by ourselves and with friends in their boats.
We love this place! We spotted a lone white pelican floating in the bay near us.
The seagulls usually line up on the top of the boathouse watching us from above. There were only 4 there today.
Jackson Harbor is a big commercial fisherman’s harbor. There were many fishermen hanging out there today. I noticed the name of this boat that says it all. Auggie loved his walk around Jackson Harbor. There were lots of fish smells to savor.
From Jackson Harbor, we could see the Karfi passenger ferry loading passengers to go to Rock Island, a 10-minute ride.
We have gone to Rock Island by dingy when we were docked at Jackson Harbor. We have also stayed at the marina on Rock Island with our boat. It is a very cool island with walk-in camping sites, beaches, and hiking trails on the island. Vehicles and bicycles are not allowed on the island.
The Karfi eventually left fully loaded with passengers.
Our next stop was on the north side of the island at School House Beach.
The beach was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. Many people were enjoying the water which didn’t seem cold to me at all.
These stones cover the beach and are protected by the state because they are smooth and round and considered a part of the area’s heritage. It is one of only 5 similar sand-less beaches worldwide.
In fact, the town’s ordinance fines anyone who is caught removing the limestone rocks from the beach. The small rocks were glacier polished over thousands of years and are geological treasures. Souvenir hunters carried off so many of the rocks that they had to establish a fine for removing them.
Parking was interesting between the trees in the woods lining the beach.
Our next stop was the Stavkirke Church.
The Stavkirke reflects the Scandinavian immigrant influence on the island. A prayer path leads you through the woods to the Stavkirke. The Stavkirke was envisioned as a unique setting for small worship services, gatherings, weddings, prayer and meditation.
Rather than using stone which many European churches used to construct their buildings, the Norwegians tapped into wood and the native artisan’s ability to craft it. The architecture of the Stavkirke emerges out of the construction of Viking ships with the large “stavs” or masts, the ribs of the rafters, the techniques of tongue and groove joinery, and the dragon heads at the gable roofs. The wooden structure breathes and lives like a Viking ship.
We took Town Line Road to Main Street and back to the ferry dock passing Mann’s Store, Karly’s Bar, Nelsen’s Hall and Bitter’s Club, and the Famous Albatross Drive-in, all familiar hangouts for us over the years in downtown Washington Island. We have literally biked on 80% of all the roads on Washington Island and today we found a few new ones.
We got back to the ferry dock at 1:55 where they were already loading the ferry. We were able to drive right on. It took awhile to wait for more cars to fill up the Madonna, but it wasn’t long and we pulled away from the dock at 2:00.
The wind had died off and the flag at Kap’s Marina was hanging limp as we left the ferry dock.
The water was as smooth as glass on the ride back through Death’s Door.
On the return trip, I got a good look at Pilot Island which was abandoned. The birds eventually took over and all the trees died.
The skies were blue and clear and I got a good view of the Plum Island Lighthouse as we crossed Death’s Door.
The Madonna cruised smoothly across Death’s Door to the ferry dock on the mainland. Death’s Door is the chief navigational passage between the bay of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. It lies between the northeast end of the Door Peninsula and the rocky shores of Pilot, Plum, Detroit, and Washington Islands. It is shrouded in legend as to why it has the name Death’s Door. It owes its name to the numerous detached reefs and shoals obstructing its navigation. These conditions have been the cause of many vessel disasters. Bob and I actually ran aground on Strawberry Shoal northwest of Plum Island so we can attest to the danger of those shoals. Over 275 shipwrecks can be found in Death’s Door.
There were fewer cars waiting at the dock to go to the island when we returned.
Once we landed, we disembarked and made a stop at Gill’s Rock.
This is where the Island Clipper, a passenger ferry, departs from.
Heading back, we passed through Ellison Bay. It was pretty quiet with not too many people out and about. The Viking Grill is where the very first fish boil began in Door County.
We stopped at the Tannenbaum Holiday Shop, one of my favorite shops. I always pick up a Christmas ornament as a souvenir here. It is housed in an old church.
That was our final stop before heading back to the campground. We got back around 3:00 after a fabulous day on Washington Island. The temp was 78 degrees, the skies were clear and blue. The weather was perfect! We have enjoyed such good times on Washington Island and have wonderful lasting memories of our time spent there. We got back in time to enjoy a cocktail before dinner. Bob grilled brats, and after our walk around the campground, we relaxed away the rest of the evening. (I took a ton of pictures today. It was fun reminiscing!)