July 27 to August 2
July 27-Oops! I forgot what day it was and put the log for the 27th on the last page. Check there please.
July 28- Arcadia to Portage Lake, MI
We woke to glassy calm waters. The winds were 5 mph out of the north. People began departing for their new destinations early. We said our goodbyes and left the friendly town of Arcadia at 9:30. Leaving through the narrow channel entrance still made us nervous, but the flat seas helped to calm our nerves.
By 10:30 we had gone the 10 miles to Portage Lake and were anchored near the boat landing (for Murphy) in the northwest corner of the lake out of the wind.
Glitch #4: A dredge was sitting in the center of the entrance channel to Portage Lake with orange balls floating all around (hard to see the balls in the picture but they were there). He wouldn’t answer any of the hailing channels on the radio. He wouldn’t answer when Bob hailed him over the PA and we couldn’t get any information from the Coast Guard. We pulled up as close as we could safely get and I got on the bow. Finally, he came out and directed us (with a few hand signals) where to go. Bob had a few hand signals of his own for the guy. We got by safely and entered the lake. That was about 20 minutes of frustration.
Across from where we are anchored is the stately Portage Point Inn and Yacht Club built in 1903. It has the only marina on the Great Lakes that provides room service to your vessel!
We took a dinghy ride into Onekama (Oh-neck-ah-ma) to get fishing licenses and bait. (Onekama is the Indian word for portage, meaning to cross over land from water to water.) We had to tie up to a rickety old dock in a defunct marina in town. It required quite a balancing act to walk across the piers.
The bait store and marina were closed for lunch between 12 and 1:00 as were some of the other businesses in town, so we walked down main street and stopped for an ice cream. I was on a mission for a friend to locate an old gift store that existed 30 years ago when she came to spend her family vacation in Onekama. It was gone, but had turned into a wine and gift shop. A local man in the Century 21 office helped fill me in on all the details. I felt like a quite a detective. The ride back was wet and rougher than when we left because the wind had picked up. We relaxed in the cockpit after taking Murphy to shore at the boat landing. It was a sunny, blue sky day with temps around 78. We spent the afternoon watching the many people who were out on the lake windsurfing, swimming, boating, water skiing, fishing, and just having a good time. It seemed like we were on display as people came by, circling the boat closely (sometimes too closely) to get a better look.
(Maybe we were sitting in the middle of their playground or they hadn’t seen such a big boat for awhile.)
Bob was tired of grilling, so I made stuffed green peppers for dinner. We were able to pick up some of the local TV channels, so we relaxed as the sun set. As the skies darkened, the stars came out and filled the sky. (This is my favorite part of anchoring out.) It was our first night at anchor and everything was just right.
July 29-Portage Lake, MI
We were rocked awake at 5:30 by the 6-8 fishing boats leaving to participate in the fishing tournament in nearby Manistee. It was just getting light, but I could see them streaming out into the lake to be the lucky winner for the day. We went back to bed after the rocking stopped and slept later today than usual. When we got up at 8:00, there was mist blowing across the lake like steam coming off of a hot kettle. The sky cleared and the sun came out to make for a warm day. I worked on the computer awhile, while Bob took Murphy to shore. We took a dinghy ride along the south shore of Portage Lake today. There are much bigger homes and properties on this side of the lake. We drove through the Onekama Marina #2 to look at some of the boats there. We scouted out a new place to anchor for tonight to accommodate the change in winds expected and drove out of the channel to Lake Michigan and down the coast for about a mile. It was calm and there were a lot of people on the beach. They have such nice, sandy beaches on this side and the water seems to be warmer. The skies started to cloud up, so we went back to the boat to change our anchorage. Bob drove the boat and I hauled anchor. (We have an automatic windless which pulls up the anchor with the touch of a button.) The hard part was taking off the 10 pounds of weeds on the anchor. Once it was clean, we slowly motored over to the south shore and found a nice protected spot for the night. At times, it looked like rain, but it just blew by. I worked some crossword puzzles while Bob did some fishing. He caught 5 or 6, 4 inch perch from the boat, but he kept trying for bigger ones. When he would catch one, Murphy would come out to sniff it and then, as if to say, “You call that a fish?”, he would turn around and run back inside.
I put on my swimsuit for the first time this summer (up north) and sat out on the swim platform to enjoy the water. I tried fishing for a little while and caught a few more small ones. The most amazing thing was catching 2 small perch on one hook at the same time. Unbelievable!!
We grilled hamburgers for dinner and watched the sky darken with approaching rain clouds. The forecast is for storms tonight.
July 30-Portage Lake, MI
Late last night the storms rolled into the area before we went to bed. The continuous flashes of orange lightning bolts and the deep rumbling of thunder over Lake Michigan told us the storm would soon be here. Just as the weatherman predicted, and with eerie accuracy, it began to rain at 11:30. It continued to rain heavily for about 30 minutes and then lightly until we fell asleep. This morning when we woke up , there were blue skies over Lake Michigan and a dark foggy bank of clouds drifting quickly over Portage Lake. The sun peeked out occasionally when the fog cleared to create the picture we took below.
A lone water skier ruffled the surface of the glassy, calm water as we rocked with his wake. Overnight the winds had changed direction and so had the boat. We’ll have to change the location of our anchorage again later today. We completed our morning routine as the air heated up to a humid 79 degrees. We moved back across the lake to the north side, close to where we were before, but tucked in more closely to shore. This time I drove and Bob did the anchor with more weeds. Later we took a dinghy ride just to cool off. We tried to go out of the channel to Lake Michigan, but the winds were blowing strong, creating white caps on the lake, so we decided against it. Instead we dinghied over to Portage Point Inn to look around. It is reminiscent of summer retreat resorts in the Poconos or other similar places (like in the movie Dirty Dancing). The main hotel is on the Register of Historic Places and includes 30 rooms. There are condominium rooms, cottages, and doll houses (small cottages with one bedroom and one bath. It boasts of a beautiful beach, indoor pool, and marina and activities for young and old. They rent jet skies, bikes, pontoon boats, and speed boats. It would make a great destination spot for a family reunion, wedding, or vacation. (Bob thinks I should be their marketing director.) Back at the boat, we did some swimming off the swim platform.
The water has warmed up to 71 degrees and is quite refreshing. Murphy even decided to walk in and swim around at the boat ramp. He was hot too! He actually loves the water when he can walk in and swim. (He never liked to jump into the water.)
We wasted the afternoon away drinking rum and cokes, listening to tunes, and enjoying the day. It was the best kind of afternoon!
July 31-Portage Lake, MI to Manistee, MI
The wind calmed off last night but never changed direction. Even so, we had a very restful night. We woke up with the sound of bird feet on the boat above our heads , so we got up and found they left us a nice gift on the bow. Yuck! We got ready to leave and pulled anchor at 9:30 (Bob’s turn again and more weeds).
The dredger was still working in the opening, but caused no problems for us as we left. The wind was from the west at 5 knots and the waves were 1-2′. We set our course for Manistee. After a short, easy ride of 9 miles, we were pulling into the channel at 10:30 only to find another dredger working there. The channel here is much wider so we had no problems.
We got all settled in and then went in search of some Nachos Supreme at the Riverside Restaurant. On the way back, we took the Riverwalk. Downtown, Manistee’s Riverwalk has a unique view of the city and its shops and water’s-edge cafes. Manistee is a port city, and during the lumbering boom, had more millionaires, per capita, than anywhere else in the country. There are many turn-of-the-century buildings and lumber barons’ homes along the streets. More than a dozen are located very near here and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We will take the walking tour of these homes tomorrow. We spent the afternoon in the shade doing some reading while we did some wash. It was kind of a lazy day. We skipped dinner and took a walk with Murphy down the Riverwalk to listen to the Thursday night music concert on the river at 7:00. It was very hot, humid and sunny today. Just another day in paradise.
August 1-Manistee-Day 2
It was a cooler, partly cloudy morning. It began to heat up quickly when the sun broke through the clouds. Bob and I took a short bike ride to the grocery store, armed with a backpack and beachbag to carry the groceries home in. We felt like a couple of pack mules. Once we got back, Bob worked on repairing our step stool which we use to get in and out of the boat. Before it got too hot, we took a bike ride to view the historic homes and buildings in town. We made one stop at the hardware store to get a new hose for our water system on the boat. Bob continued to head back to the boat with his purchase, while I continued in my quest for historic homes with a brochure they provide. Many of the homes I viewed were designed by nationally known “Chicago Style Architects” and built in the late 18th and early 19th century. They were built in the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and Greek Revival styles. These are typical of the homes that Manistee’s wealthy built during the town’s lumbering era. I love the history in this town.
There is a really cool fire hall in town that has not undergone any alterations in usage or design and is the oldest continuously operating fire hall in Michigan. Cool!
The main highway (31) that runs through town is lined on both sides with petunias of bright colors for about 3 miles. It is absolutely beautiful. That’s a lot of petunias!
(Bob said I had to put this in the blog.) I had a fight with a “Yard Sale” sign on our way to the hardware store today, when I cut the corner on my bike too closely. Yard Sale sign 1, Cindy 0. Needless to say, it was on a very busy street corner and totally embarrassing, but Bob was there with the camera. He also wanted me to tell you about how I lost the bike lock, but that’s a story for another time.
We drove along the Riverwalk and out into the lake where the S.S. Milwaukee sits. This passenger train ferry is the last of its kind and a floating piece of history designed in the 1920’s. It took trips across Lake Michigan year-round through ice and snowstorms. Now it is open for tours.
We dinghied through a very narrow, shallow channel of the river about a mile to see what we could see. The ride cooled us off from the hot, humid day. We took Murphy out and sat on the hill under a tree in the shade. People wandered by and stopped to talk. We met a couple from Fairhope, Alabama who were finishing up a trip on the Great Loop. Their names are Ron and Karen Brown in their boat called Livin’ Large. We exchanged boat cards so that we could look them up as we pass that way on our river trip to Florida. Fairhope is just down the gulf from Mobile, AL where we will come out on the Gulf. They shared information about their favorite spots along the East Coast, which we hope to visit in the near future. The clouds started to roll in and threaten stormy weather so we headed back to the boat to start dinner. As Bob was about to grill our chicken, the sky opened up and dropped some huge raindrops so we cooked inside. The sun came out during the shower and brought us a rainbow. The dark clouds moved away and the rain held off for the rest of the night. After dinner we took a walk in the direction of some music that we heard coming from a waterfront cafe called the Boathouse Grill. We listened to the Jimmy Buffet-style of music awhile and then wandered over to a really interesting corner bar that was in the basement of the old Ramsdell Inn built in 1891. We had a beer and some popcorn while we watched the Rays (Tampa Bay) and Tigers (Detriot) play baseball on TV. We left there and wandered back to the boat to watch the news before going to bed….while “Jimmy Buffet” played on.
Cool boat name #5. (Every boater’s wish.)
August 2 -Day #3 Manistee
We went to sleep with the sound of “Jimmy Buffet” from the local bar and awoke to the “eeeek, eeeek” sound of someone swinging on the rusty, old swing in the park above the boat at 6 AM this morning. Then the stream of fishing boats began their morning trek out to the lake and we could feel the boat rock. We finally gave up trying to sleep and got up at 8AM to begin the day. Bob gave the boat a good washing and I washed the dinghy.
The skies were sunny and the temps were in the high 70’s. It was less humid today, so it was a good morning to do some chores. We made some phone calls home to family and got caught up on all the latest news. Bob made us lunch and then we took a dinghy ride out to Lake Michigan. It’s was kind of breezy today with winds 10-15 mph out of the NW creating some big waves at the entrance to the channel. I wanted to get a picture of the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater so we took it slow. (I love lighthouses.)
Then we rode back to the boat, picked up our aluminum cans, and rode across the river to redeem them (10 cents a can) at Oleson’s Supermarket. We rode on to 5th Ave. Beach and through another condo development there along the lake. Back at the boat, we had cocktails on the grass in the shade with Murphy (he didn’t drink though) and relaxed the afternoon away watching the salmon fishermen return from an afternoon of fishing.
A trip to Manistee wouldn’t be complete without a freighter coming down the river. Around 5:00 we heard a long blast, then a short blast, and the bridge opened to reveal the Calumet Freighter from Columbus, OH.
We watched in awe as it manuvered its way down the narrow river using its bow and stern thrusters to make the turns. People turned out on both sides of the river to watch the action.
The huge wall of steel moved slowly past us as it barely cleared the banks of the river. Boats on the river ducked into slips in the marinas to get out of the way.
It took about 30 minutes for it to pass and move down the river to Lake Michigan. It was quite an amazing sight!
We sat on the boat and listened to music as the sun got lower in the sky. We grilled steaks for dinner and prepared things to leave tomorrow for Ludington. Some people we met a few years ago from Grand Haven, MI, Steve and Tami, who happen to own the same boat as ours (only an ’84) , gave us a call. They sold everything in MI and are moving to Stuart, FL, leaving Aug. 8, taking their boat through the Erie Canal and down the East Coast. What a coincidence! Too bad they aren’t going the same way. We hope to meet up again with them in FL this winter. There were a lot of people walking along the Riverwalk tonight, although the marina had quite a few empty slips for a Friday and Saturday night. We wonder where all the boaters are. Is it the weather that kept them away or gas prices? Tomorrow we move on. We really enjoyed our time in Manistee!
August 3-Manistee, MI to Ludington, MI
There was a chill in the air this morning. The temp. was 64, but the sun was out and would soon warm things up quickly. We wiped down the boat and pulled out of our slip at 9:00 for Ludington. The ride was about 22 miles over calm waters and we entered the breakwater at 10:30.
At the end of the breakwater stands a lighthouse that was built in 1920 and has a beam that is visible for 19 miles.
The marina had emptied out from the salmon fishing tournament on Saturday in Ludington and we had no problems getting a slip.
The ride here took us past many fishing boats who were fishing about 2-3 miles offshore at the 100 fathom line (it drops off from 30-250 ft). Ludington is home to the largest charter fishing fleet on the Great Lakes. The day was sunny and in the high 70’s with light winds. It was a perfect day to travel. Once we got all tied up we took a short 2 block walk to a restaurant/bar called The Grand for lunch. It came with a recommendation from some boaters from Arcadia who said it was a corner dive bar with good food. No luck today….it was closed on Sunday, so we ate lunch in the park at a “mom and pop” hot dog stand, Don’s Dogs, and watched the boats come and go from the lake. Both of us were tired from getting up early to leave this morning, so it was a lazy day. We read, relaxed, and one of us even took a nap for awhile (Guess who?). While we were watching TV with the door open, a purple martin flew in and quickly flew out. What a freaky thing! Later, we visited with a couple, Fred and Geri Nelson in a boat called Purr-fect, who were next to us in Manistee and ended up next to us here in Ludington. They live between Bradenton and Sarasota, FL for 7 months a year and in Sturgeon Bay, WI the rest of the year. We exchanged boat cards and hope to meet up with them in FL this winter. What a small world! (I think I will be saying that quite a lot this trip.) Around 6:00, we walked over to the harbor to watch the Badger ferry arrive.
Many passengers stood on the decks waving to people as they dropped the anchor and pivoted the boat to the dock. They let out a long-short blast upon arrival. They will unload and reload, ready to cross the lake again to Manitowoc at 8:00. It makes the 120 mile round trip 500 times a season.
We ordered a pizza for dinner and were able to watch some local TV with a cable hookup. It had been sunny all day, but clouds started rolling in from the west. Scattered showers were in the forecast for tonight. It started to rain lightly as darkness fell. Right before I went to bed, a white bolt of lightning and deep booming thunder struck nearby. It had started to rain as I took Murphy for his last walk. After drying both of us off, we went to bed.
Note: There continues to be very few spiders and no mosquitoes. It’s been great!