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Friday, August 23, 2013

Lake Michigan Sailing - Summer Vacation Part 4

 Charlevoix to Suttons Bay:

Back out on the lake we found another hot, placid day with no wind at all - so we set the auto pilot and found a good book and a comfortable place to sit and motored southwest towards the opening of west bay
One of the neat things we found on our journey was this loon that we passed about an hour and a half out of Charlevoix.  I've never actually seen one before but only heard a lot about them.  This was a very cool thing to see!


 On the way to Suttons Bay the temperature continued to climb and what little wind we had completely vanished.  The water started to look VERY inviting!  We shut off the engine, did a couple of hard turns to slow the boat down and left the wheel hard over.  We let out the dingy, dropped down the swimming ladder and double checked the kids life jackets and in we went!
 Of course Andrew wanted to row around in the dingy while the rest of us swam.  The water was incredibly warm!  Before we let him back in the boat we made sure to get him in the water to cool down.  It didn't take long and he was having a blast in the water too!  Elizabeth did great too swimming between the boat and the dingy.


  This was one of the highlights for the kids!


 The funny thing about sailing on Lake Michigan is that when you just pull over and jump in, you can be startled to find just how far away from you the bottom of the lake really is.  In this case, it was nearly 400ft away! 
 We arrived in Suttons Bay and some of the hottest temperatures we have experienced on our trip.  Once we got the boat all situated we headed into town for some dinner and Air Conditioning!  Dinner was fantastic! Kate and I both had Prime Rib and Lake Perch at the North Country Grill, just a couple blocks from the marina.  After dinner we headed to the beach for the kids to swim - where else!
 The next morning we were awaken not by the sunlight but instead the heat!  It started to get very hot in the boat and we decided it was time to get back out on the lake.  The breeze was picking up a big so we took the kids for a quick swim, got the boat ready to go and set sail for Northport once again.  We had a fantastic sail up, found a nice spot in the marina on the wall for the night and headed into town for dinner at the Garage Bar and Grill - if you go, you won't be disappointed!
 
 It turned out to be a Wednesday which meant Hugh Willey was playing once again!  The kids had fun dancing and listening to him play.  They especially liked his rendition of Barney Google with his goo goo googley eyes...  It was so much fun!





 It was nearing the end of our trip and the winds were going to start building out of the south so we headed back towards Traverse City so that we wouldn't have to beat into the weather very far to get the boat back.
 Elizabeth dicovered that she loves Michigan cherries almost as much as her father.

Elizabeth discovered   that she loves Michigan cherries almost as much as her father.We headed into Bowers Harbor to anchor out for the evening off of the old mission peninsula.  We enjoyed a nice swim with my parents and had a great dinner with Casey, Jennifer and Adelyn however as we sat there at anchor the wind and the waves continued to build. While 95% of the time Bowers Harbor is the best anchorage to be in today was not the case.  Fortunately the sun stays up a long time in Michigan and we had plenty of time to make the run down to Traverse City.  We gave them a call and found out they had room for us.  Up with the Anchor and off to TC it was.  By the time we left for TC the wind had built to 18 knots true right on the nose.  I was nervous about docking in this much wind with a boat that wasn't mine in a marina I didn't know... but fortunately we made it just fine.    





 After an evening in TC it was time to take the boat back.  Elizabeth decided that for our very short last leg she would dress the part of the pirate. 
Here is the boat, all cleaned up!  Thanks for the great adventure!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lake Michigan Sailing - Summer Vacation Part 3

Beaver Island to Charlevoix:

We left early in the morning to get ahead of the winds that were forecasted to be on our nose for our crossing over to Charlevoix.  The plan was to first motor south in the lee of the beaver island and then with a better wind angle head across the lake over to Charlevoix.  It was a great idea, and one that I would certainly use again if there was actually any wind.  In our case, there wasn't any, barely blowing  5 knots true - so we motored the entire way across the lake.
 We had very calm crossing - barely a wave at all.  The kids took some good naps and played a bit in the cockpit as well as below.


 We also spotted the front runners of the Chicago-Mackinac race on the horizon off the southern tip of Beaver Island who were somehow able to fly a spinnaker and make some real headway in the light air.  The super-light thoroughbred racers seemed to do ok but the big cruisers (floating Winnebago like ours) were surely struggling.  



After a mad dash to make the draw bridge which opens every half an hour we made it into the very busy Round Lake.  There were boats everywhere and all enjoying the warm summer weather.  Fortunately we had made a reservation the day before so we knew we would be able to get a slip for the night.
 Right at the end of the dock was a fun little splash park that the kids loved.  It was so hot here that we all got a little wet to cool off!
 Aunt Carla stopped by to visit us in Charlevoix!  It was great to see her!

 
 One thing that truly makes Michigan Michigan are all of the lighthouse and pier that so many of the lakeside towns have.  On the Lake Michigan side of the state you get fantastic sunsets on the pier making for a wonderful place for an evening walk with an ice cream cone!

 Elizabeth and Andrew had a blast playing on the beach at the end of the pier.  They were having so much fun it was nearly impossible to get them to look at the camera at the same time.  Somehow I managed to get this shot - probably my favorite photo from the trip.

 Of course the sun stays up until after 10 pm in the summer in Michigan so getting the kids to bed presented a challenge.  Eventually we just gave up on the clock and just went by the sun.  We went to bed when it got dark and we got up when it started to get too hot inside the boat.  The kids actually started sleeping in until 9:30!  Unbelievable!
 Andrew was having so much fun and was so laid back that he actually let me take some photos of him where he wasn't making a silly face.






 After two days in Charlevoix it was time to move on.  We packed up the boat, topped off the water, and moved out into round lake to wait for the bridge to open up.  Once the bridge opened we were off to Grand Traverse Bay, headed towards Suttons Bay.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lake Michigan Sailing - Summer Vacation Part 2

This year we debated where we wanted to go sailing and the more we thought about it the more we knew we needed to take the kids with us this time around.  We decided to go where my passion for sailing all began - Lake Michigan.  We chartered a boat out of Traverse City and headed north for a 10 day adventure.
Our first day we loaded up the boat and took the kids for their first sail.  The wind was blowing around 15 knots out of WNW making for a fantastic sail up to Northport, one of my favorite places that we used to sail to when I was a kid.

We  had an amazing sail up to Northport making it almost the entire way on a single tack.

The kids weren't quite sure at first what the whole sailing thing was all about, they kept wanting to play and brought a bunch of toys into the cockpit and wanted to run around and play.  Eventually they get it figured out and had a great time.

Of course the highlight of every stop along the way was the beach.  Every marina we visited had a beach, some literally right at the end of the dock.

On our first night I was elated to find one of my old friends from my youth was still playing the paino and loving life!  This is Hugh Willey and about 20 years ago he asked me to play bass for him in a little jazz group for some performances up in Northport.  I was in high school then, and he offered me my first paying gig as a bassist which I think amounted to enough money for gas and cheese burger, which for a kid in highschool was pretty darn cool and we sure had fun!  Now he is 85 years old and has a regular Wednesday night gig at one of the four restaurants in the town.  Watching and listening to Hugh play is sure to put a smile on your face - rarely do you find someone with so much talent, regardless of age, that finds so much joy in performing and sharing his gift.  It was so much fun to see him again!



Our second day we decided to really get into vacation mode and sleep in, go nowhere, and just hang out in Northport.  One of the many memories I had of Northport as a kid was walking from the marina in the morning up to the bakery to get cinnamon twists.  Its been 20 years since I last sailed here but sure enough the bakery is still there and the Cinnamon twists were awesome!


Grandma and Grandpa joined us for dinner on the boat that evening and we set out for some ice cream

Grandma took some great pics of the family on our trip - nice work!
The next morning we got up early and with the wind behind us we pointed the bow north and set sail for St James harbor on Beaver Island.
It was a nice trip up on a crisp clear morning.  The air was so clear that we could see the Manitou Islands, the Fox islands, the tip of the Leelenau Peninsula, and Beaver Island all at the same time.
On the way into the harbor we saw an old familiar friend out on the lake, the Beaver Islander!  This is the Car and People Ferry between Beaver Island and Charlevoix, 32 miles away on the mainland.

One of my vivid memories from my visits to Beaver Island as a kid was the Toy Museum which sits around 3/4 of a mile from the marina.  Once we got the boat all secured in the marina we set out to explore the town.
We walked around the harbor and made our way to out to the Toy Museum and later out the the lighthouse marking the entrance to the harbor.  The Toy Museum is marked by the sign above - if it wasn't for that sign all you would see is an greatly overgrown entrance - and yes, this IS the entrance to an actual Museum/store.
Once you make your way through the jungle and enter the Museum you find a store with a rather strong musky odor with old antique toys hanging high on the wall and at kid level, the store is packed with an unbelievable number of fun little toys, trinkets, and nick knacks all of which were priced such that any kid who visits should be able to take home a prize simply by robbing their piggy bank of a few coins.
Andrew and Elizabeth were a bit overwhelmed at first but jumped right in and somehow landed on the same thing - a recorder!

The beach on Beaver Island was our first taste of warm water - the kids loved it - nice warm water and a fun playground.
Beaver Island has some very interesting Irish roots and and you just gotta love the Irish pride of this awesome ride!  Kate just had to have a picture of this car!
While we had been eating pretty well on our trip we took the opportunity to treat ourselves at the Beaver Island Lodge - the only fine dining establishment on the island.  

Before we left we had to take an opportunity to take a family picture with the fantastic view.




Beaver Island is one of those places where when you get there you wonder what in the world there is to do there... but after you spend a couple of days there, you never want to leave.  After 2 days on Beaver Island it was unfortunately time to set out on the next leg of our journey.  Hopefully, we will be able to come back soon!
Early the next morning we set out for Charlevoix.