Cruising on Island Time

America's Great Loop here we come

Frankfort to Holland

Posted on August 19, 2019

Tuesday, August 13 – Frankfort. Spent a quiet and lazy day working on the blog and reading. We had dinner plans with Mark & Patty from Speedy Delivery. They came over to our boat for a cocktail then we headed to dinner at Dinghy’s which was a 5 minute walk from our slip. Enjoyed a nice dinner and bottle of Meiomi. (photo of Patty dining on giant turkey leg) Frankfort is a quaint little town and was originally named after a man named Frank. Frank’s neighbors chided him about the fort he built around his house to protect his doors from the snow drifts and thus calling it “Frank’s Fort”.

Wednesday, August 14 – Ludington. Departed for Ludington early in the morning and while it was a bit swelly, it wasn’t bad. We arrived at Harbor View Marina and were given a slip on a T head. As stated before, most marinas are accommodating so that we can tie our tender to our hip and leave it there while we dock the boat. After settling and checking in, we headed for lunch a couple blocks away at Jamesport Brewing Company. Bob and I took a seat at the bar to watch some baseball and enjoyed a fabulous lunch. The salad combinations with the dried local cherries, nuts, blue cheese and fat free cherry dressing is so good. I will definitely try making it if I can get the dressing. Bob asked the bartender if he could watch the Yankees play but the local stations weren’t picking it up without a cost. Can’t imagine why they prefer to watch the Michigan teams instead. Photo of boat transom. Name of boat Mai Tai complete with recipe.

Later in the day, we took a long cruise around the harbor on our tender and the timing was perfect. The SS Badger was making its way into the harbor and we were up close and personal. The Badger is the last coal fired passenger ship in the U.S. and in 2016 was designated as a National Historic Landmark. And one that moves! The 410’ Badger crosses the 60 miles to Manitowoc, WI with passengers and vehicles every day. It’s a 4 hour cruise one way and some passengers do the round trip in one day. So while staying at the marina (about 100 yards from her berth), one hears the horns announcing its departure and arrival. That evening, the Badger had a special dinner cruise to celebrate the “end of summer”. August 14th! The ship was packed for its cruise around Lake Michigan from 8pm to 11pm. And of course, we heard the ship’s horns announcing its return at 11pm.(Photos)

Thursday, August 15 – Pentwater. Departed early for the short run to Snug Harbor Marina in Pentwater. Wanted to get there early to get to the farmer’s market which was to be from 10am to 1pm. Took our cart and I headed there while Bob worked. This farmer’s market was a bit bigger than the others we have attended and I purchased some tomatoes, corn, peaches & cheese. Afterwards, I stopped by the small grocery store and bought a few more items. Mark & Patty from Speedy Delivery were on their way back from the market, as they had come in yesterday, and we agreed to hook up for drinks and dinner.

Bob and I went for our usual afternoon tour of the harbor in our tender and later caught up with Mark & Patty. We walked into town, about 2 blocks, and ate at Gull Landing. Bob and I thought the food was excellent. I had the pecan encrusted walleye over kale and a side of acorn squash and he had the meatloaf. Delicious.

Friday/ Saturday, August 16/17 – Grand Haven. Departed for Grand Haven (50 miles away) early and about 30 minutes after Speedy Delivery departed. We had a couple of other towns or safe harbors charted in case the lake was acting up but we made Grand Haven in just over 3 hours. Along the way, we made reservations at Grand Isle Marina instead of the municipal marina as it was full. There is also a town wall you can tie to for $10 overnight and it was open but the comments on Active Captain reported that the wall was very bumpy at night due to the boat traffic and the swells coming in from the lake. Later about this.

Our Garmin charts indicated that the Route 31 Bridge we would have to cross under was only 15′ high and with the high water, we were concerned we could not get under it. The bridge only opens once an hour and does not open at 12:30. Having just missed the 11:30 opening, we would have to wait for 2 hours. We hailed the bridge tender on VHF but he was not sure of the clearance because the clearance boards were under water. Our friends on Speedy Delivery, having heard the exchange on VHF, reported that their paper charts indicated the bridge height at 25′. As luck would have it, we passed under with at least 10′ to spare.

We were assigned a slip on the VIP dock which was next to Mark & Patty on Speedy Delivery. Mark & Patty rented a car in the afternoon from Enterprise and invited us to dinner in town. We enjoyed a nice meal at the Kirby Grill Room and walked about the waterfront after dinner. Grand Haven is known for their water fountain and light show on the waterfront. We got to see the fountains spraying up but the lights don’t come on until 9pm. We walked by all the boats that were tied up at the town wall and were so glad we weren’t staying there overnight. The boats were all rocking and rolling. We did spot and say hello to a few loopers on the wall.

On Saturday, Mark & Patty were heading to Costco and invited us along for a provisioning trip. Costco was about 35 miles away but it was a treat driving through the countryside of Michigan. We came back a different way which was more scenic with small agricultural farms growing a variety of crops. Bob and I loaded up on provisions (water, wine, meats, cereal, etc) and we also stopped in at Best Buy and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Later in the day, we took Mark & Patty on a tender cruise through some of the waterways of Grand Haven. Mark & Patty have a tender but have not been able to use it because their launch & retrieval system is broken. They would be staying in Grand Haven for at least a week while they made some repairs to their boat. They enjoyed the cruise and told us they had “dinghy envy”.

We bid them farewell as we would be leaving in the morning knowing that we would probably catch up with them at some point on our way south. We enjoyed a nice dinner of salmon on board.

Sunday, August 18 – Holland. The weather forecast called for winds to pick up later in the morning and for rain around noon. We departed at 7:30 am in order to try and reach Holland (20 miles) before the winds picked up. So glad we got under way early as it started to get bumpier and bumpier the closer we got to Holland. Came into the harbor, made our way to the Yacht Basin Marina, fueled and pumped out and got into our slip just before the storm hit. Storm not too bad but thunder all around, rain and definitely windy. Whew!

Our friend Brian Dekkinga has his Hinckley office here at the Yacht Basin Marina and arranged for us to stay in their reserved slip for a few days. Nice marina with pool, restaurant, laundry, ship’s store, parts store, convenience store and service facility. We have arranged to have the seals replaced on our steering ram so will be here for several days. Bob also has a big report due so timing is perfect.

We enjoyed an afternoon cruise around part of the harbor with plans to grill chicken and dine aboard. Our dear friends Brian & Sandra Dekkinga stopped by in the afternoon to drop off one of their cars (a truck) for us to use while we are here. Did I mention “dear friends”? Really. how many people lend you their cars? Anyway, we shared some wine and stories before they headed home which is 2 miles away.

Well that wraps up another week of our adventure. Stay tuned for more!

 

Harbor Springs to Frankfurt

Posted on August 13, 2019

Monday / Tuesday, August 5th/6th – Harbor Springs, MI. Wow! What a week. Better settle in as there is lots to tell. The whole week has been busy catching up with so many friends.

We ended last week’s blog having just arrived in Harbor Springs. On Monday night, Andy & Kathy Mitchell from Fort Lauderdale invited us to dinner when they heard we were in Harbor Springs. Andy & Kathy have a cottage (house) about 20 minutes away from Harbor Springs in Brutus, MI. Andy wanted to take us to Rodrigo’s, a Mexican restaurant because he said they have the “best” frozen pina colada’s anywhere. Andy explained that the best pain killers were in the British Virgin Islands (agree) and best prickly pear margaritas were in Canyon’s Fort Lauderdale (agree) and that these would be the best pina colada’s. OMG! Was he ever right. This frozen concoction is made with pineapple infused tequila and rum. Incredibly delicious and the food was, in my opinion, the best Mexican food I have ever had anywhere including Mexico. The husband and wife team are both from Mexico and lived in Florida before they moved to Harbor Springs and opened the restaurant. It stays open all year including during the brutal winters here. I wish I had taken a photo of the drink and food but I was too enamored with my meal. After dinner, Andy & Kathy drove us up to see the houses on top of the bluff overlooking the harbor and it was spectacular. The flowers here are gorgeous.

On Tuesday, we had dinner plans with Brian & Sandra Dekkinga and their girls, Allie & Piper. They came over to the boat in the afternoon and we enjoyed drinks and appetizers on board while Allie & Piper walked around town. Then we headed for the Paper Station Bistro for dinner. Brian was able to get reservations which is not easy to do. Dinner was good, company excellent.

Wednesday -Friday, August 7-9th – Bay Harbor. We departed Harbor Springs and headed across Little Traverse Bay to Bay Harbor which is only 4 miles away. Since it was a beautiful day and only a short ride, Bob took the tender over and I took the Tiara. On the way out, Bob snapped some photos of a couple of sailboats that were overturned. We weren’t sure if the sailing school was teaching the kids how to right the sailboats or they had just flipped. Since there was virtually no wind, we think it was the former.

Bay Harbor is beautiful and has an interesting history. Apparently, the area was an abandoned strip mining property and a real estate developer bought it for $2. He blasted out the area for the marina and developed spectacular mansions and the village all around the harbor. It was 80′ deep at our slip. The water is crystal clear and looked like a swimming pool. (photos) The floating docks were very nice as were the marina facilities. As soon as we settled up at the marina office, we hopped on the free trolley that takes you into the town of Petoskey. The trolley driver recommended the Palette Bistro for lunch and it did not disappoint. We had a table overlooking Little Traverse Bay and my salad was 5 stars. Blackened salmon over mixed greens with walnuts, dried cherries, blue cheese and cherry dressing. Yum.

On Thursday, we caught up with laundry and chores and then took a taxi into Petoskey later in the day for dinner. We wanted to stop at the West Marine first so we took a taxi. The free trolley only drops you in one spot at the Perry Hotel. Our taxi driver recommended the City Park Grill and it was another hit. The restaurant was established in 1875 and is one of the oldest buildings in Petoskey and visited by a young Ernest Hemingway. Beautiful old wood panels that have scorch marks where the old lanterns were used to illuminate the rooms. Dinner and the wine was very good. After dinner, Bob and I walked over to hop on the free trolley but found out that it was scheduled to make many stops and would not be to the marina for 2 hours so we opted to taxi back.

On Friday afternoon, we were invited to dinner at Brian & Sandra’s RV for burgers. They were staying at the Petoskey RV Resort which boasts tennis courts, a pool, lounge, etc and was packed. Apparently some of the RVer’s come back year after year during the same week. We had a wonderful evening and had a chance to get to know Allie and Piper a little better. We first met Allie when she was just 18 months old having just arrived from China. Bob and I drove over to Naples to meet this little bundle of joy and were the first to meet her upon her arrival. Both Allie and Piper are adopted from China. Both are very accomplished; Allie takes advanced classes and has a grade point average over 4.0 and Piper is an accomplished athlete. Piper is a swimmer and competes in the butterfly, which is truly amazing given that she was born with only one arm. She also competes in Lacrosse. Both girls are avid readers and a delight (photos).

Saturday, August 10th – Charlevoix. We departed in the morning for Charlevoix which was only 20 miles away. The weather forecast was wrong and it was a lot bumpier than we had anticipated. As we were leaving Little Traverse Bay, Brian Dekkinga whizzed by on the new 32 Hunt telling us that it would smooth out once we got around the point. Not. Brian was taking the Hunt all the way to Holland, MI which would be at least 6 hours. He ended up having to slow down as well and made Holland in about 8 hours.

The entrance to Charlevoix is tricky if the weather is rough due to the long canal and bridge you must pass through. The bridge clearance is supposed to be 16′ which is no problem for us as we need 12′. However, due to lake being 4′ above normal, we barely squeaked under the bridge. We could have waited for it to open but took a chance that we could slide under. The marinas were all full (typical in August for the marinas in Michigan) so we headed out into Lake Charlevoix to anchor out. The anchorage spot I chose wasn’t the best as it was exposed but we made the best of all the wake boarders buzzing by us all afternoon and first thing in the morning.

Once our anchor was set, we headed over to the Municipal marina and lucked out finding a spot on the day dock. There was an art festival going on and the area was crowded with tents and people. We headed to the Weather Vane restaurant and enjoyed lunch looking out over the canal leading into the harbor. Later in the afternoon, we took the tender out for a long ride exploring Lake Charlevoix. Charlevoix is another beautiful town that is known for its wealthy residents. The main street is lined with high end shops.

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Sunday, August 11th – Leland. Another windy day and bumpy day and a crossing of 35 miles. Not as bad as the day before but still not fun. When its this bumpy, we don’t want to run due to towing the tender so it took us about 4 hours to get to Leland.

Leland is a quaint little fishing village and we were given a prime slip next to the marina office (and bathrooms). We were wedged in between all the law enforcement boats and a stone’s throw from town. The fishing boats up here have some serious equipment. We counted at least 5 downriggers on a 31′ Tiara. By the way, this is Tiara country. Ever since we got into Lake Michigan it seems like at least 1/3 of the boats are Tiara’s. Makes sense given they are built in Holland, MI but its nice to be surrounded by all these Tiara’s.

Bob and I walked through the nearby shops then dined at the Cove restaurant which overlooks the falls, the river and Lake Michigan. We both opted for the white fish.

Monday, August 12th – Frankfurt. Decided to depart early (7:45am) so could cross before any winds kicked up. Beautiful day on the water! Glass conditions and a smooth ride to Frankfurt passing the scenic sand dunes along the Michigan coast. Since it was smooth, we picked up our speed to 22 mph and made the 40 miles to Frankfurt in 2 hours.

Frankfurt is another great town and once again we were given a slip close in to the marina office and walk to town. Once settled into our slip, Bob and I took off to go explore via our tender. First we explored the harbor, the municipal marina and then back out into Lake Michigan. While exploring the harbor, we spotted our looper friends, Mark & Patty, at the municipal fuel dock so we stopped into say hello. Circling and waiting for fuel was another looper from Cocoa Beach, FL. After saying hello, we headed out to Lake Michigan to see the sand dunes up close and personal and ended up beaching the tender. The sand dunes are quite pretty especially as a backdrop to the clear green water in the lake. There was a trench running down one of the dunes caused by a water fall and Bob and I took turns getting stuck in the quick sand (photo).

We had dinner plans with Tom & Phyllis Tiderington who would be picking us up at 4:30. Tom and Bob go way back to working together at Fort Lauderdale Police Department and have kept in touch over the years. Tom is the Chief of Police in Plymouth Township, outside Detroit, and he and Phyllis have a cottage in Frankfurt on Crystal Lake. Phyllis is recently retired from teaching.

Tom & Phyllis took us on a tour of the area which included several lookout points and then we headed to Arcadia Bluffs Golf Club to have a drink overlooking the course. What a beautiful course as it overlooks the sand dune bluffs and Lake Michigan. Tom says it has some dramatic holes and likens it to Pebble Beach, CA. While we didn’t get to see the bag piper that plays at sunset most nights, we did enjoy watching the golfers play up to the 18th hole and the cat calls from the peanut gallery (players already finished) (photos).

We then headed to dinner at Rocks Landing on Crystal Lake which is across the lake from their cottage. Dinner was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Bob and Tom bantering back and forth with their quick wit and dry sense of humor. Fun, fun evening and delicious dinner.

Well that wraps up the week. Told you it was a packed week. Stayed tuned for next week’s adventure and don’t forget you can click on the photos to see it displayed in full. Until next time.

 

Gore Bay, Ontario to Harbor Springs, MI

Posted on August 5, 2019

Sunday/ Monday, July 28-29th. We bid farewell to Gore Bay on Sunday morning after 3 days at the marina. Our destination was to be The Benjamin and Croker Islands in the North Channel. However, the anchorages that were favorable for the anticipated wind direction and speed were already crowded. We don’t care for crowded anchorages so we decided to head back to Hotham Island as it is a long and protected area with many places to anchor. We passed up many of the popular anchorages and selected one that we had to ourselves. Once settled, we took the tender for a long cruise to explore.

We were anchored in a fairly large area where we had seen as many as 4 boats anchored the previous week. Later in the afternoon, a sailboat approached and anchored close behind us considering he could have anchored a bit further away. We thought it a bit unusual since sail boaters and power boaters don’t generally get along. Sail boaters refer to us power boaters as “stink pots”. Anyway, we were running our generator in the late afternoon, and the sailor came over on his dinghy. Bob said hello 3 times as he was approaching with no acknowledgement. As he came up to us, he asked in a very angry tone if we were planning on running our generator all night to which Bob replied “probably”. Bob started to explain that we had passed up several anchorages so we could be by ourselves and not bother anyone but the angry sailor cut him off and yelled that he didn’t want to have anything to do with us and stormed off. Shortly thereafter, they weighed anchor and departed the anchorage. Yeah! We were relieved as it was a very warm and still night so we were delighted to run our air conditioner all night. Had this sailor’s approach been friendlier, we probably would have turned it off at night. We didn’t feel too bad considering he had many places to anchor and chose to anchor right next to a power boat!

Monday we got word from our friends Dick & Sandi on Amazing Grace that they were headed our way. You may recall that we met Dick & Sandi at a Looper Rendezvous prior to starting our loop and have been to their home twice and caught up with them last year on the Rideau Canal. They had been at the Benjamins at a crowded anchorage. We told them about the docktails at Elaine & Norms cottage so they anchored in that bay which was right around the corner from our anchorage. The weather was calling for strong thunderstorms so we headed back to our boat. Later after the rain and thunderstorms passed, we tendered over and caught up with Dick & Sandi. They were planning on staying another night and we would be moving on in the morning.

So more sail boaters entering our little secluded spot. This time when the first sailboat came by to anchor near us, Bob informed them that we would probably be running our generator all night. They didn’t seem to mind but did anchor in front of us which cuts down on the noise from the generator. Shortly after, two more sail boats came in and also anchored in front of us.

On our way back from visiting Dick & Sandi, we decided to move our boat to the spot we had anchored before so we would not disturb the 3 sailboats. We decided to tell our sail boat neighbor that we were moving so we wouldn’t disturb them and they told us it really wouldn’t bother them. Friendly sail boaters!! But we opted to move so we wouldn’t feel bad all night and enjoyed another cool evening running our air conditioner.

Tuesday, July 30th – Moiles Harbor. Weighed anchor early in the morning as the winds were supposed to pick up during the day. We headed to an anchorage called Moiles Harbor which would be protected from the prevailing winds and isn’t one of the more popular or known anchorages. When we arrived there were 4 other power boats in the anchorage but we had plenty of room. It was a beautiful and quiet anchorage with our favorite loons making their appearances. Grilled some fresh whitefish with garlic, lemon butter and capers along with yellow squash. Delicious.

Wednesday, July 31st – Meldrum Bay. In the morning, all the powerboats including us, weighed anchor and headed out. Our original destination was another anchorage called Long Port Cove but when we arrived it was small and crowded so we opted to head to Meldrum Bay marina across the bay. It was a beautiful crossing (about 20 miles) and we were secure in our slip by lunchtime. We had wanted to return to Meldrum Bay as the dining at the Inn was reported to be very good. Meldrum Bay was our last Canadian stop last year but the restaurant had closed for the season. We enjoyed a lovely dinner on the porch overlooking the marina while listening to soft music and watching the dozens of humming birds hit the feeders surrounding the porch (photo). The owner was delighted to hear that we made an effort to return to the Inn. They generally open May 1st and close the day after Labor Day so and last year we had stopped around September 22. Once again, Meldrum would be our last night in Canada.

Thursday, August 2nd – DeTour Village, MI. Back in the U.S.A! We departed Meldrum first thing in the morning and made our way to DeTour Village, Michigan. Gorgeous crossing of about 50 miles. The North Channel was like glass. Very different from our rough crossing last year. Arrived at the marina and used our Roam App to clear in to US Customs. We had been to DeTour Village several times by car while coming back and forth on the ferry from Drummond Island but this was first time by boat. While Bob worked on some cases, I headed to the grocery store a couple of blocks away with our shopping cart (photo). The marina was active as there was a fishing tournament going on for lake trout and salmon. Enjoyed watching the “Lakers” pass by the marina on their way to and from Lake Superior.

Saturday, August 3rd – Mackinaw City. Departed early for the 42 mile run to Mackinaw City. Another beautiful crossing which took us right by Mackinac Island and all the ferry traffic. We felt like we were back in New York Harbor as boats were coming at us from all directions! As stated earlier in the blog, Mackinac Island is an incredibly busy tourist destination and you can only get there by boat (well private plane for the wealthy). The ferries come from St. Ignace, Beaver Island and Mackinaw City every half hour and these guys are running fast and throwing off a massive wake and rooster tail (photo). After successfully dodging the ferries, we made our way into the tight entrance to the Straits Harbor Marina.  Some of the marinas on the Great Lakes have breakwaters to protect the boats from the wave and weather action and some of the entrances require 90 degree turns. So before entering any marina, we drift outside, bring in the tender and secure it to our boat’s hip. Made our way in, navigated the narrow fairways and safely docked at our slip.

Mackinac City was hosting a Renaissance Weekend with cannons, war reenactments, shooting of rifles, colonial times dress and furnishings (photo). We walked through the tents and watched the reenactment of the fighting between the Native Americans and soldiers. Then we made our way to lunch at the Hook Lakeside Grill overlooking Lake Huron and the harbor.

The Renaissance was all well and good during the day but at 10pm when they fired off the cannons, it jolted me off my bed! Felt sorry for any animals out there cause they fired at least 8 times.

Later in the afternoon, while Bob was up at the marina office where he could get WIFI and I was reading on the boat, I had a surprise visit from Mark on Speedy Delivery. He and Patty were also at the marina and saw us come in earlier in the day. So I walked back to their boat with Mark and shared some wine with them while we caught up on our adventures since leaving Gore Bay. Bob later joined our little soiree.

Sunday, August 4rd – Harbor Springs. We had contemplated staying another night at Mackinac City and having dinner with Mark & Patty but the weather forecast was more favorable for travelling today. So departed early for the 50 plus miles to Harbor Springs, MI and our first crossing into Lake Michigan; our 4th Great Lake! The winds were coming from the Southeast so it was bumpy leaving the marina but once we crossed under the Mackinac Bridge and had the wind behind us, we kicked up our speed to 21 mph and headed south (photo). We were concerned about getting a slip at Harbor Springs Municipal Marina but were delighted to find out they could confirm two nights for us. We were given a slip on their west wall which could accommodate our tender tied to our hip and it was only 50 yards to the Pier Restaurant and 100 yards to town. Great location!

Harbor Springs, Michigan is the summer playground for the wealthy and is a beautiful community (photos). The water here reminded us of being in the Caribbean. Clear & green and cold of course (for us). But it was 80 degrees while we cruised around the waterfront on our tender and I am sorry I hadn’t brought a bathing suit for our cruise. It was hot and I wanted to be in the water for the first time this year.

We had lunch at Bar Harbor, a sports bar, and dinner at the Pier Restaurant. Since we didn’t have dinner reservations, we were ushered into the bar where they have open seating. I had a marvelous meal of grilled tuna over parmesan & squash risotto and asparagus with an Asian style sauce. Bob had the baby back ribs. Both very good.

Later after a walk through town, our friends Brian & Sandra Dekkinga who live in Holland, MI came by on a new 32′ Hunt center console. We met Brian and Sandra in Key Largo back in 2002 when our boats were docked side by side and became fast friends. Later Brian helped get me the job at Allied Richard Bertram as he was a broker there. He is currently the Sales Director for Hinckley Yachts (they own Hunt) here in Harbor Springs. We will dine with them Tuesday night and plan to see more of them.

Well that wraps up our travels for the week. Now we begin our exploration of Michigan and Wisconsin as we head to Chicago but who knows when?

Stayed tuned!

 

 

Sault Ste. Marie to Gore Bay

Posted on July 28, 2019

Friday, July 19th- Sault Saint Marie. Bob and I flew back to The Soo from Fort Lauderdale and arrived back at the marina just after 4pm. We caught up with some of our new friends from the marina. Judy & Randy, on Tuition Free, who are locals and are building a house in Venice, FL; Jody & Norman from Fort Lauderdale, on JoJoFa, who are loopers that we met last year at Shady Harbor Marina in NY (who are also on the multi-year plan) and Don & Glynis from the U.K. who are also loopers. Sadly, when Don & Glynis arrived into the marina the day before I flew out to join Bob in Fort Lauderdale, Glynis fell off the back of the boat and was seriously injured with a broken right wrist that required surgery and a plate, a broken left elbow,  and a collapsed lung which resulted in pneumonia. Don and I were corresponding via email while I was home and Glynis spent a week in the hospital. They will most likely be at the Soo for a month while she recuperates enough to continue on their trip.

Saturday, July 20th -Portlock Island. We set off early in the morning to grocery store to provision the boat and then promptly cast off our lines and set out for Portlock Island (across from Hilton Beach) to finally anchor out. We crossed over to Canada, cleared into customs via telephone, and had a nice leisurely cruise down the St. Mary’s River to our anchorage. We selected a secluded spot away from any boats or cottages and enjoyed a quiet evening listening to the Loons. We had some exciting news today that our 7 year old grandson, James, won his breast stroke swim competition and is going to the State finals! Way to go James!

Sunday/ Monday, July 21 & 22 – Bear Drop. In the morning, we took a cruise around Portlock in our tender then weighed anchor relatively early as our next destination was approximately 65 miles away. Due to the distance we would travel today, we extended our tow harness so we could get up on plane and cruised at 21 mph. The wind started to pick up in the afternoon so we were glad to have picked up the pace. We selected a spot just west of several sailboats and the 4 power boats that were rafted off together with a stern tie to the trees & rocks (photo). Beautiful anchorage so we decided that we would stay 2 nights. We enjoyed lots of exploring via the tender, fishing (got a couple of pikes and a bass), relaxing and reading, listening to the loons and just enjoying life. On the back side of Bear Drop there were a couple of Looper boats; one a gold looper and one a platinum looper (gold has done the loop once; platinum has done the loop twice or more).

Tuesday/Wednesday, July 23 & 24. Hotham Island. Our friends, Nancy & Dan Dickerson, had told us about their favorite anchorage in the North Channel and even sent us a screen shot of the anchorage location so we headed out it. At this particular anchorage at Hotham, there is a cottager that invites all the boaters anchored in their bay over to their cottage for docktails. Elaine & Norm have lived in this cottage for 12 years and host this cocktail party every night (during the summer of course) with the caveat that the boaters bring their own drinks, an appetizer to share and a bag to haul out your garbage.

Well, when we arrived and peaked into the anchorage and saw so many boats, Bob and I decided to anchor around the corner in a spot all to ourselves. But at 5pm, we dinghied over to the cottage (with our drinks and appetizer) and joined in the fun. We arrived and announced our greetings from Nancy & Dan as Elaine seemed to be confused as she didn’t have us on her “roster” of boats anchored in their bay. Of course she & Norm welcomed us warmly and we enjoyed meeting all the boaters anchored in this cove (photo).

Turned out to be a very busy day. Earlier in the day, we met Wayne from Red Dog as he passed by on his dinghy while fishing. Found out that Wayne and Barbara were new Loopers having started a month ago from Lake Simcoe, Ontario. (We anchored out in Lake Simcoe last year). And Wayne had recently retired from a career in Corrections. Later in the day, Bob and I took a cruise around the area and stopped to say hello to a fellow Tiara owner. Max & Samara, on Lady Sam, own a 42′ Tiara Open and keep it at Sturgeon Bay, WI most of the time but live in the Chicago area.

Then even later, we were visited by Karen & Gary whom we had met last year at Baie Fine and reside in Little Current, Ontario. They recognized our boat and tender and stopped in to see us. While they were visiting, Max from Lady Sam came over so he could show us some favorite spots in Door County, Wisconsin on the charts as we had mentioned we would be crossing over to WI on our way down Lake Michigan. So by the time we arrived at the cocktail party, we knew several of the guests and felt quite at home.

On Wednesday, we enjoyed a nice relaxing day and took the tender out to cruise the bay and do some fishing. Across the bay in a secluded anchorage, we came upon another Looper from Fort Lauderdale. Turns out they use to live on Coconut Isle and next door to Charlie Bay that Bob use to work with at FLPD. Small world when you get out there and travel. The winds were starting to kick up so we headed back to the boat and decided to move Island Time for protection from the wind. Turns out the winds died down that night and it was pretty hot and buggy and not a good sleep night. We also discovered that after 6 days and 5 nights at anchor our tank was out of water which wasn’t a problem since we were headed for a marina in the morning.

Thursday, July 25-27th – Gore Bay. We headed out from Hotham Island for the 20 miles south to Gore Bay and passed the 4 boats that had left an hour before us. It was a beautiful day on the water so we kicked up our speed to 21 mph and were in our slip and fueled up by the time the 4 boats arrived. We were delighted to discover that this weekend in Gore Bay was their Harbor Days celebration with lots of activities planned throughout the weekend. And there were at least 4 or 5 other looper boats here. While introducing myself to Deborah & KT on Mountain Wave, they told me about another Gigi looper. Sure enough, that afternoon the other Gigi (who had heard about me) came down to introduce herself. Gigi and husband Mark are loopers from Gulf Shores, AL on Misadventure. Gigi told us they were headed down to the Brew Pub at 4:00 so we joined the group and ended up having dinner with a group of 12 of us at Buoy’s. Fun time with loopers and future loopers.

Friday, July 26th. Happy birthday to our daughter Colleen! We enjoyed a leisurely day of catching up on chores, going to the farmer’s market and meeting more loopers. Mark and Patty on Speedy Delivery stopped by to find out about our tender. Turns out that Mark is a retired federal judge and Patty is a retired medical examiner both out of New Mexico. During the day, a big Viking Sportfish pulled into the marina towing a 32′ inflatable tender with twin 250 hp engines. While most people we meet on our trip are envious of our tender with a 90 hp engine, Bob had a bit of tender envy seeing this monster.

In the evening, Bob and I went to dinner then to see the local play. On the way home, the deer that frequents town, crossed right in front of us. She is apparently not to bothered by cars or people.

Saturday, July 27th. Started the day with a pancake breakfast hosted by the local Rotary Club and joined in with other loopers; watched the raft races, cardboard boat races, water skiing & flyboard exhibition, and face painting. In the afternoon, our boat neighbors on a 39′ Tiara Sovran, John & Lynn, wanted to chat about boats. They had heard that I was a yacht broker. We ended up talking for several hours and shared two bottles of wine. John and Lynn live about 20 minutes away. She is the CEO of the two local hospitals and John is retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Canadian Air Force and now works for GE managing a local wind farm. Afterwards, Bob and I decided to skip going to dinner and enjoyed cheese and crackers as the sun set.

Well that wraps up our action packed week! Stayed tuned for our next adventures as we start to head south to Michigan.

 

Hilton Beach to Sault St. Marie

Posted on July 6, 2019

Monday, July 1st. Departed Hilton Beach (Ontario) in the morning and made our way to The Soo. Upon departing, we realized that our steering system needed attention so once we got out of the bumpy bay and into protected calm waters, we added hydraulic fluid and were on our way again. The route to and from The Soo and Lake Superior is a channel that is used by the big freighters (called Lakers here). Its common to see 800′ Lakers coming at you or from behind and they don’t slow down or move for the pleasure craft. But we arrived at the George Kemp Marina safely.

The marina is located next to the American locks (primarily commercial) and across the river from the Canadian locks (primarily pleasure). It is also a short walking distance to town and the observation area for the locks. Bob and I walked downtown in the afternoon to have a late lunch/ early dinner and then enjoyed watching these massive ships locking through (photo). There are several tour boats that take passengers through both the American & Canadian locks so they can experience the locking process.

As it was Canada Day and our marina is across the river from Sault Ste. Marie ONT, we were treated to fireworks that evening. Of course, since it doesn’t get dark until almost 10pm, we were struggling to stay awake until 10:30 when they began. The fireworks barge was right across the river and we were treated to a beautiful show.

Tuesday, July 2. We decided to rent a car in the afternoon in order to take a road trip on Wednesday. This was quite the process and adventure. We called Enterprise since they pick up and drop off their customers. When we called, we did not realize that Enterprise was in The Soo in Ontario. And they do not cross the border to pick up their rental guests. So we tried calling the two car rental agencies on the Michigan side. No cars available until next Monday due to the July 4th holiday. No Uber or Lyft will cross the border and a cab company wanted $80 to drive us the 5 miles.

So Bob had a great idea. I would take him over to the marina across the river into Canada via our dinghy, we would both clear into Customs (a phone call), then Enterprise would pick him up at the Bondar Marina, and I would dinghy back and clear into U.S. Customs (a phone call). No problems on my end. However, when Bob drove across the bridge back into the U.S., the Customs Agent was having a hard time understanding how Bob got over to Canada and what happened to me. So he made Bob pull over and walk upstairs to the Customs office and explain it to them. That Customs Agent quickly understood the situation and told him he was free to go. Bob picked me up at the marina and we made haste to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Women’s Semi-final round of World Cup Soccer. There was quite a group of soccer fans there and cheering the US team on. USA beat England and are in the final match on Sunday. You know where we will be.

Wednesday, July 3rd. ROAD TRIP. Headed out at 7am for the 2 hour drive to Munising, MI where we had reservations for the 10am boat tour to see the spectacular Pictured Rocks (photos). This folks is definitely worth a trip. Large & colorful rock cliffs in crystal clear water. We had wanted to do the Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour but they were sold out and after seeing the kayakers getting in so close and going through the arches, we are sorry we missed out on the kayak tour. But the tour boat was very informative and it was 2 1/2 hours well spent.

After a quick lunch in town, we headed to Oswald’s Bear Ranch which was about half way back to the marina. The ranch is situated on 240 acres and houses about 40 bears. They separate the bears by gender and age. All the males are together but separated into either adults, yearlings or cubs and same on the female side. The most interesting thing we saw, were the bears climbing the trees. In the yearling section, there were 4 bears high in the trees. One was at the top of a tree that was about 4 stories high (photo).

Thursday, July 4th. Another Road Trip. Since we didn’t have to return the rental car until after 2pm, we decided to visit Tahquamenon Falls & Whitefish Point. The Tahquamenon Falls are the largest falls in Michigan. Both interesting stops but nothing like the Pictured Rocks. Whitefish Bay is where the Edmund Fitzgerald sunk during a terrible northeaster (90 mph winds) in 1975. The ship was only about 12 miles from Whitefish Point and as the song says “had they put  in 15 more miles behind her” they would have made the point and some protection.

There is a shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point but we were short on time with having to return the rental car so we skipped the museum. So now we are in a bit of a hurry to get back to the marina so Bob can drop me off and return the car. But just as we reach the town of Paradise, the street (only one way in or out) is closed due to their July 4th Parade. (Photos). We sat patiently watching the parade and then were allowed to follow the last vehicle so we were essentially in the parade. Of course we waved!

Okay so now we have to return the car and reverse the process to pick it up. Bob drops me at marina, he heads over to Enterprise and crosses the border, I cross over the river in the dinghy where Enterprise will drop Bob. All went smoothly this time except that it takes me 2 minutes to cross over to the marina but 15 minutes on hold waiting to clear Canadian Customs.

Thursday night. Happy Independence Day! Grilled out on the boat then watched the U.S. fireworks that came on at 10:30pm. Really was quite the show (photos).

 

Friday, July 5th. We are officially “Superior Sailors”. Decided we needed to take the boat into Lake Superior as we will probably never venture up here again on Island Time. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world and is famed for thousands of ship wrecks and fog that can descend on you at anytime without warning. There are very few marinas along the 2,000 plus mile coastline and lots of wilderness.

We cast off our lines, left the dinghy on the dock and headed over to the Canadian Locks. Locked through with no problems (we were the only ones in the lock), were lifted 21′ and then crossed into Lake Superior. Gave the Tiara a really good run and opened her up to wide open throttle (35 mph). We went into Whitefish Bay but the fog was starting to appear so we turned around and headed back to the lock and our marina. Incidentally, there is no fee for transiting this lock and if you are just passing through and not planning to stay in Canada, you don’t have to clear into Customs.

We are headed home for a couple of weeks as Bob has a couple of cases to work on and I will visit the family. So will post in a few weeks when we are out on the adventure!

P.S. You can click on any photo to see it and the other photos if cut off in the blog.

Drummond to Hilton – 6/24 – 6/30

Posted on July 1, 2019

Monday, 6/24. It was a good thing that we decided to head back from the anchorage Sunday afternoon instead of Monday morning. Woke up to rain, rain and more rain. It rained all day and night. Sometimes a light drizzle, sometimes intermediate and sometimes hard. While the temperature was in the 60’s, the dampness made it feel much cooler. Bob and I were bundled up all day and night with socks and jackets. The highlight of the day was lunch at Northwood to watch the women’s  world cup soccer with USA playing Spain. USA won 2 to 1.

Tuesday, 6/25. You may wonder why we aren’t moving from this location and marina. We have been waiting to find out if Bob needs to fly to Fort Lauderdale for a trial and we have been staying put exploring our options. As next week is July 4th, the flights in the area are expensive and limited. So we hung out for another day of chores and relaxing.

Wednesday, 6/26. Road trip to Mackinac Island. We decided to rent a car and drive to St. Ignace (56 miles away) to then catch a ferry over to Mackinac Island. For years we have been hearing about a “must stop” for Loopers in Mackinac. And it certainly did not disappoint.

But first a little about our car rental experience. As you know from last week’s blog, Drummond Island is rather short on amenities. We heard that we could rent a car at Bailey’s Service for $45 a day. We called to arrange with the owner, James, and he said he would pick us up in the morning and then we could be on our way. I told James to bring his biggest car and he replied that it was his only car (at the moment). So James picked us up in our car, then we dropped him back at the shop. No paperwork, no credit card, no last names. Just see you tomorrow and we can fill the car with gas and settle the bill. While the car didn’t look like much, it did ride nice.

Mackinac Island (pronounced Mack- in- naw) is quite the summertime destination with an average of 15,000 visitors per day during peak season. Automobiles are not allowed on the island (banned 1898) and so the only way to get around is walking, biking or by horses (although snowmobiles are allowed in winter). Horse carriages serve as taxi’s to transport arriving/ departing guests with luggage to/ from the ferry dock, private airport or around the island. Note: they do have fire, ambulance & police vehicles in case of emergency but they are well hidden in big sheds.

Fun fact: there are approximately 600 horses on Mackinac basically owned by two families. The horses work about 5 days a week but only 3 to 4 hours per day. They generally work the morning or afternoon shift. In the winter time, the majority of the horses are relocated via ferry to Pickford, MI which is about 40 miles north of St. Ignace. We were told that it is easier to bring the horses to the feed instead of bringing the feed to the horses in the frozen winter time.

80% of the island of Mackinac Island is owned by the State of MI. Of the 20% of private property, the home owners there are generally quite wealthy and the island has been known as the playground of the rich. We decided to take the horse carriage tour (90 minutes) to take in the history and should you get up this way, is definitely worth it. The carriage has 7 rows with about 4-5 seats across. (photos). A team of two horses took us on the first 30 minutes of our tour. As an added bonus, it was time for our team to end their shift so we got to see the changing of the team (photo). The island is quite hilly and so half way up the island, everyone disembarks and changes over to a three-horse team in order to reach Arch Rock (photo) and make their way down the hill. Arch Rock (elevation 146′) was definitely the highlight of the tour with spectacular views of Lake Huron and the island.

The waterfront area is thriving with shops, restaurants and FUDGE shops. There are 17 fudge shops on this island that is only 3 square miles! We did not have time to visit Fort Mackinac, the Grand Hotel or tour the 8 miles of coast line on bikes. Although having seen some of the bike riders (who were in shape) huffing and puffing on those inclines, I am glad we didn’t attempt it. All in all it was a fabulous day as we topped it off at St. Mary’s Bistro / Draught house (27 different beers) with apps and drinks then ferried back across to St. Ignace. And on the drive home, we stopped at a road stand and bought fresh strawberries and asparagus.

Thursday – Sunday, 6/27 – 6/30. More hanging out waiting for Bob to hear whether he needed to be in Miami to testify. If he didn’t have to go, we were planning on flying to Pensacola to attend son Ryan’s promotion to Major. Unfortunately, we did not get word until Saturday afternoon that Bob did not have to be in Miami Monday but by then it was too late to fly out. We are in a remote part of Michigan and flights are limited and airports are not close by.

While we were waiting, we did a little fishing via trolling off the tender. Caught a Musky the first time out and a Pike the second time out. Both released but it was fun. On Saturday, I went back to the farmer’s market with Gay and bought some more fresh salmon (no walleye available) and later Gay treated us to lunch at Esther’s.

On Sunday morning we decided to make our way to Sault St. Marine (MI) with a stop at Hilton Beach, Ontario. It was a beautiful day on the water and we enjoyed finally being back out cruising. Hilton Beach is only about 20 miles from Drummond so it was a leisurely cruise. Nice protected marina with a restaurant on property but that’s about it.
We did go across the bay in our tender to check out an anchorage, we were told about, at Porklock Island and we will definitely hit it on our way back from The Soo and into the North Channel.

Monday July 1st is Canada Day which we were told is their first official day of summer. Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends! See you next week!

 

 

Drummond Island- 6/17 – 6/23

Posted on June 24, 2019

Monday, 6/17. And so our journey and blog on the Loop continues.

I landed in Sault St. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie) on Monday afternoon. I had arranged a pickup from the airport with Gay, the marina owner’s sister, and my flight was almost an hour late. The “Soo” airport is about 56 miles from the marina. Gay was kind enough to stop by the grocery store so I could pick up essentials for the boat i.e. water, wine, half & half for my coffee, and some breakfast items.

I had been a bit anxious about the boat’s condition after being stored for 8 months but found it in better condition than I imagined. The interior was clean and devoid of any dust, spiders or critter intrusion. Since Bob wouldn’t be joining me until Wednesday, I was concerned it would be a big cleaning project and I was arriving late in the afternoon. But all was good and I was so excited to see “Island Time” after so many months.

In the slip next to us was “Meant To Be” a 43 Tiara Sovran from Tennessee and also Looping. Phil & Barbara live in Atlanta but their hailing port is TN. Another Looper was on our dock, whom I briefly met, but they were leaving in the morning.

Tuesday, 6/18. Spent most the day organizing and provisioning. The marina has several courtesy cars for marina guests and all you have to do is let them know you are taking one of them. There are no taxi’s, Uber’s or Lyfts on the island. You can also rent a car.

Drummond Island is a quaint island with a population of about 1,100 which doubles and triples in the summer. The only way on or off the island is via the ferry (which runs year round), private boat or private airplane. There is a grocery store, gas station, hardware store, ice cream shop and a few restaurants. While there is a small clinic on island, most medical emergencies are taken off island via an ambulance and the ferry and taken to one of the larger towns an hour to two hours away. If you need a prescription, then your doctor calls it into a pharmacy in one of the larger towns and you either pick it up or they will mail it to you.

Tuesday evening Gay and I had dinner at Esther’s Mexican Restaurant since it was “Taco Tuesday”. The tacos were delicious and I got a chance to meet Esther and speak Spanish with her when she came out to say hello to some of the locals. Prior to going to dinner, I had docktails with Phil & Barbara on their Tiara and we spotted a beaver swimming in the marina.

Wednesday, 6/19. More provisioning, cleaning and organizing as I waited to head to “The Soo” to pick Bob up from the airport. Bob had been diverted to Tallahassee to testify in a hearing hence his delay in joining me. His flights would take him from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Detroit then to “The Soo” and it was 2 hours late. The airport (actually in the town of Kinross) is really small with gates 1 & 2, no bar and no food (vending machines) so the wait was boring. The drive back to Drummond is very rural and pretty with sightings of deer along the way. We arrived just in time for the 6:40 ferry otherwise we would have had to wait another hour. Bob was really tired after his long few days and so we opted to come back to the boat and enjoy some wine and relaxation. The Loons came out to welcome Bob which made our evening.

Thursday, 6/20. Enjoyed a relaxing day hanging around the boat then went to lunch at Esther’s. The food is really authentic and good. Did some more provisioning and inquired as to where we could go to watch the Women’s World Cup Soccer game between USA & Sweden. We checked out the bar at Northwood’s and were told they would have it on so we returned at 3pm to watch the game. USA beat Sweden 2 to 0.

Upon returning to the marina, our dinghy had been launched and so we went for a dinghy ride to explore the area. The sun rises around 5:45am and sets around 9:30pm here so plenty of daylight to explore. We headed across the bay to an anchorage area called Harbour Island and stopped to chat with some folks that were anchored there. The dinghy ran great and it was fun to be racing around on it again.

Friday, June 21. On my way out to get a haircut, I spotted a mink running down our dock. Just love the wildlife here. More relaxing, another ride on the dinghy and dinner at Northwood’s. Friday night in town! The restaurant and bar was crowded and the ice cream shop had a line the whole time we were there.

Saturday, June 22. The Farmer’s Market in De Tour Village. Gay was heading to the Farmer’s Market and invited us along. The market was rather small but we contributed to the local economy and bought some fresh Walleye & Salmon, eggs, a mixed berry pie, and fresh farm chicken. De Tour Village is across the channel so we took the ferry over and back for the market.

On Saturday afternoon, we cast off our lines and headed to an anchorage at Harbor Island across the bay. We wanted to do a shake down cruise on both boats before leaving D.I. to explore the North Channel. We anchored in a cove and had it all to ourselves. We grilled some Walleye and corn while enjoying our quiet surroundings.

Sunday, June 23. Spent most the day relaxing at the anchorage. It was still and warm. In the afternoon, the wind suddenly started to blow and our anchorage was exposed so we opted to head back to the marina since we were expecting some parts for the sound shield on our generator. Grilled some salmon & asparagus while enjoying a quiet evening tied up at the dock.

The weather has been interesting. Down in the 50’s at night and high 60’s to low 70’s during the day. The water temperature (I am told) is 55 degrees so we won’t be swimming any time soon. When the sun is out, it is really warm but in the shade or when overcast, the light jacket comes back on. The Great Lakes has been experiencing high water (flooding) due to this past winter’s ice and snow. While our area is not bad, Lake Ontario and the locks we transited last year are very effected with marina’s and lock closures. Glad we are past all that.

We also enjoy the wildlife as have seen and heard the loons and seen plenty of deer including a doe with her fawn and a few bald eagles. Well, that wraps up our first week on the boat. Stayed tuned for next week’s adventure.