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. 

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