Thursday, August 28, 2008

Charlevoix - Frankfort - Ludington - Grand Haven

We left Charlevoix on Monday, 8/25 and ran 65 nautical miles to Frankfort. This was the longest day in quite a while. The seas were still rolling Monday morning, left from the wind over the weekend. Shelly was not feeling well but about midmorning it settled down and the rest of the ride was quite plesant. We moved on the next morning to Ludington which was another interesting town. They are still served by some large ferry boats which used to carry railroad cars from Ludington across the Lake to Wisconsin. They now carry only trucks and automobiles and passengers. These ferries are still coal fired and they are the size of small ships. On the way to Ludington, Sunshine stopped off in Manestee for lunch and a quick tour through the town and then continued on to Ludington.
On Wednesday we ran from Ludington to Grand Harbor, Mi. with plans to possibly spent the holiday weekend. Now we are considering moving along on Saturday because the marina is full for the weekend and Friday is forecast for unfavorable weather with Saturday becoming a good day to travel again. Muriel contacted her Uncle and Aunt, her mother's borther, who live in Holland, about 15 miles south of here. They drove here this morning and we rode with them around the area and had lunch with them.
Tomorrow we have a car rented because we have to drive to Muskeegon to pick-up parts. We are sharing the cost with Southern Comfort because they also have to go there to get parts.
The shore of Lake Michigan has been quite suprising to us. It has been lined with tall, sometimes over 400 feet, sand dunes. The water is much clearer than I ever imagined. The salmon are running and every inlet is crowded with local fishermen and charter fishing boats.

We are trying to plan for our arrival in Chicago but several of the marinas there are booked for the weekend of 9/4 so we may have do kill some time or go to other marinas.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Petoskey to Charlevoix, Mi

The first photo shows the clear water along the white stone breakwater wall in St. Ignes, Mi. The second photo is Muriel riding her bike in St. Ignes. The third photo was taken at the lunch buffet at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The fourth photo is looking along one half the front porch of the Grand Hotel. The last photo is a natural arch on the north end of the island looking down into Lake Huron.

We fueled up and left Petoskey on Thursday. We had a nice but short trip along the coast line to Charlevoix, 18 miles to the southwest. This is another affluent community with a brand new marina. We got the dingy down and explored around the area and out into Lake Charlevoix. There are some very large boats here. One, Cracker Bay, is 162 feet and belongs to the man who owns Cracker Barrel Resturants. Last night Muriel and I went for an evening walk with Carlie and wound up walking out the breakwater to the light house. We noticed a lot of light out on the lake. It turned out to be another large boat called CV9. This boat came in through the canal into Charlevoix. It passeded only a few feet from where we walked along the break water. There were guards on either side of the boat and a smaller boat following with a guard in it.
Yesterday a group of loopers went to an oriental restaurant for a buffet lunch. We walked about a mile to the restaurant and along the way we passed a community ride vehicle so Muriel and Dianne walked over to talk to the driver and he said that he hauls senior citizens around the community and he would pick us up if we would call. So we got a ride back to the marina in the rain. We are not moving today because there is 100% chance of thunder storms and gusty winds. We have already had several T-storms and heavy rains move through the area. This afternoon we will either walk around an area where the houses are called mushroom houses because they have only smooth curves, no corners or peaked roofs, or we will go to a show if the rain continues.

Sunday morning we are still in Charlevoix. The wind was questionable so we elected to stay put. I think we would have been OK to have traveled today but no one else was ready to go.

Yesterday Muriel, Dianne Wade, and I went for a walk to see the mushroom houses. We also stopped to see the new municipal library. This was an unbelievable library for such a small town. There are 2,000 full time residents, 20,000 in summer. We spent the day shopping and roaming around town. Today we will clean the boat and defrost the refrigerator.

There are more mega-yachts here than we have seen anywhere along the way. Last night there were four boats in the 150 foot range. One has security guards and a chase boat with a guard in it. There was a wedding at the marina last night. The bride and groom and later the entire wedding party had pictures taken standing on the bow of one of the boats.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blind River to Petoskey, Mi

We left Blind River and crossed back into the US, entering at Drummond Island, Mi. There was a strong temptation to turn back and spend another week or so in the North Channel. It was so much fun it must be illegal! Upon arrival at Drummond Island Marina we cleared customs with no problems and our five boats borrowed a vehicle from the marina and drove into town for a dinner to celebrate Jim Benjamin's birthday, (he is Golden Lily). The next day we left to run to St Ignes Marina, just north of the Straights of Mackinac. It was quite windy but on the nose so we ran well. The marina at St Ignes is only two years old. It is beautiful, surrounded by a break water made of white rocks, most of them larger than our boat. The water is the clearest we have seen. We enjoyed a day of rest and ate breakfast out with the group. There was a hardware store close by so I was able to get repair parts for the galley faucet which has dripped for the past week. I also got a new ground fault outlet to replace the one which went bad about a week ago. Muriel and Carlie and I took a long walk the last night in St Ignes and got to see some of the residential portion of the town. On Monday we crossed to Mackinac Island and went to the Grand Hotel for the lunch buffet. The food was great. Five courses with everything imaginable. The deserts were outstanding. I ate so much I was uncomfortable the rest of the day. After lunch we took a horse drawn carrage tour of the Island. This took the rest of the day. We stopped to see the butterfly conservatory. Their butterflies were magnificant! All were alive and we went into the room with them to see and photo them. Muriel was in awe of the gardens everywhere in the island. We got back to the boat at dinner time but no one felt like eating so the ladies went back to town, about a block away, to shop for gifts for friends. Later I met them for a slice of pizza for dinner. During the night Monday the wind backed to the south and the boat began to roll. There is no protection from the south at the marina on the island. Tuesday morning we planned to leave for Petoskey but the water looked so rough outside the marina we had second thoughts about running the Straights of Mackinac with the wind blowing against the current. Several locals advised us to go ahead. They said that the next night would be much worse in the marina and the straights would not be a problem. Southern Comfort went ahead and left. We watch as they turned out from the marina and we decided to go too. As we left three other looper boats decided to follow suit. It was a bit rough but overall it was not a bad ride. We would do it again. By the time we got through the straights and turned south the wind was from the east and we had some shelter from the land. Petoskey is an affluent little town with many magnificant summer homes along the coast. Chip from Ithaka calls it the "Naples of the North." He says many of the people from Naples spend summers at Petoskey. Muriel got up early today and got the laundry done. After breakfast we walked the downtown with Chip and Michelle and topped it off with lunch about 2:00pm. One of the boats rented a car so Muriel plans to ride to a WalMart about five miles away with them.
We will leave here tomorrow to go to Charlevox about 18 miles down the west coast of Michigan. This begins our run down to Chicago, about 390 miles away. We plan to spend a couple of nights there before we move on again. I am not attaching any pictures because I am using the old computer again until I can get the software on the new computer to run our Alltel internet card.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Littlle Current to Blind River

The first photo is the bow of a boat which wrecked at Kagawong. The bow is now the pulpit for the mariner's church. The second photo is the women from three of our boats standing near the base of Bridal Veil Falls near Kagawnog.
The third photo is Sunshine anchored with stern tied to the rocks at Benjamin Islands. The fourth photo shows some of the neat anchorage possibilities at the Benjamin Islands. This sail boat is tucked back into its own little nook in the rocks. The channel through here ranged from 10 to 30 feet deep. Right across from this boat were two sail boats anchored. The last photo is some of our group making smoores at the Benjamin Islands. Each time we make a blog entry we have from 100 to 150 photos to choose from. It is impossible to get enough good photos entered when the blog will only allow five each time.
The weather cleared on Monday and we left Little Current for Kagawong. It was a short run and we arrived about mid-morning so we decided to hike to the Bridal Veil Falls and eat lunch at the little hamburger stand near the falls and then back to the boat to leave. Oh! I forgot the stop at the chocholate factory before we left. We went on to the Benjamin Islands to anchor for the night. There were four other looper boats we knew so we got to visit with them again. The men from those boats built a fire on shore that night so I went ashore and had a drink with them. We enjoyed the anchorage so much we decided to spend another day there. Muriel and I and Southern Comfort took our dingies and circumnavigated the south island. There must be about a dozen anchorages in the Benjamin Islands. Chip on Ithaka started catching small mouth bass late in the afternoon right under his boat. He caught about 10 nice size fish in a few minutes. Later that evening we all went ashore where Bill from Blue Max had set-up a nice fire pit and gathered wood. We all enjoyed smoores complements of Peggy on Southern Comfort. The next morning before we left Chip and I cleaned his catch from the night before and he invited us to a fish fry that night.

We made a very short day, about six miles, to a nice anchorage at Hotham Island. We had a small cove in the rocks to ourselves, just the four boats in our group. We dingied around the island in the afternoon and all three of us had a nice swim. A little cool initially but very pleasant when you are in for a few seconds. Muriel made a peach cobbler for the fish fry. Southern Comfort brought the salad, Blue Max brought the snacks, and Ithaks provided the fish and macaroni. The meal was great, fresh fish is hard to beat! Today we left Hotham and traveled McBean Channel and Whalesback Channel to Blind River Marina. About 32 miles, this is a fairly short day but seems like a long day after all the very short days we have enjoyed. This will be our last night in Canada if the weather is good tomorrow we will cross the tip of Lake Huron to Drummond Island and re-enter the US. We hate to leave the beautiful and pleasant waters of Canada. We are having thunder showers this afternoon. We have come to expect afternoon showers and thunderstorms. The locals say this is not their normal weather pattern. They say their weather is not normally this unsettled.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Byng Inlet to Little Current

I am not including photos this time because our WiFi connection seems to be so slow that it times out before the photos are uploaded. They were great photos too!!!!
Our first night out of Byng Inlet was at the Bustard Islands where we anchored at the end of Gun Barrell. This was an interesting anchorage. Several of us anchored the bow and tied the stern to the shore which was a first for us. We were very close to shore which was a bit uncomfortable at first. We all fished and dingyed around the anchorage. The next day we entered Beaverstone Bay and went on into Mill Lake to anchor for the night. We began to see the white granite mountains in the distance to the north. In Mill Lake we met two looper boats we had not met before. One of the boats was from Wilmington, NC and they know Ron and Connie.

The next morning we traveled the Collins Inlet on into Killarney. The inlet is very narrow and lined with steep walls of granite. Barbara and Jim on Golden Lily saw a bear along the way. We had expected to have WiFi at Killarney but it was not available. We had mail sent to Killarney but it did not arrive before we left. Muriel loved Killarney, she said it made her feel like she was in the TV program Northern Exposure. It is that kind of town. We ate fish and chips at the red bus. They clean the fish on a fishing tug behind the bus and cook and serve the fish right from the boat. Our group took our dingys out to a popular anchorage called Covered Portage just to see the area and view the Indian head in the rocks. This is a place where the rocks look like the profile of a head when viewed from the correct place. There were 11 looper boats in Killarney before we left so we all got toghther for cocktails on the dock across the channel from town, 24 loopers. The party carried on into the night.

We left the next day about 11:30 am and ran to Baie Fine. This is one of the few fijords in North America. We ran to the end of the bay and passed through a narrow and shollow pass and then continued about another mile or two to the end of the bay, called the pool. This was a very protected anchorage. In the morning we all dingyed ashore and hiked up the mountain to Topaz Lake. This is a small lake in the granite near the top of the mountain. The water is topaz blue and very pretty. We found plentiful blue berries and together picked a ziploc bag full of berries. We were also able to take pictures looking down from the top into the pool where the boads were anchored. We did not get away until about 11:30 am again and ran into Little Current where the channel has a low bridge which opens on the hour for 15 minutes. We got there just as the bridge was closing so we had to wait for 45 minutes. Finally got into town and into the Spider Bay Marina which does have WiFi. We had an e-mail from the boat from Wilmington. They said the post master in Killarney got our mail on Friday and gave it to them to bring to us in Little Current. They will be here today, Saturday. Where else can you be for two days and the post master knows you well enough to find your mail and trust someone else to bring it to you. We love this place. Got to go, Carlie needs to go for her morning walk.

We got our mail yesterday. We walked into town to go to the farmer's market and ETC had arrived and was at the town dock, our mail in hand. Muriel bought some produce while I bought sweet rolls for a snack. Shelly finally found some moccasins which she has looked for since we got to Canada. It rained off and on all day and thunderstorms moved in during the late afternoon. We were in town again when it became evident the storms were coming. Shelly took off for the boat about 3/8 mile away (she was nearly running to beat the thunderstorm) and Muriel and I joined Peggy and Guy for a visit with Dianne and Lewis on Bella Luna. Afterward Muriel and Peggy walked to the grocery store while Guy and I hung out with Bella Luna. They finally returned with a person from the store driving them. We all rode back to the marina. We found Shelly lying on Blue Max. She had stubbed her toe on a cleat as she got to the boat. The toe looks bad. She said when she pulled her shoe off the toe was on top the toe next to it and then popped back into place. It is lacerated below the toe where it meets her foot. Looks painful.

It rained all night and is still raining today. Temperature in the high 50's wind to 30 knots and rain. This is the first day we have been held up for weather in some time. The forecast is for better weather for the next few days. We will probably be back in the US in about o week.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Penetangushene to Byng Inlet

The Blue Max coming around the rock where Muriel thought we could not go. The second is Muriel swimming at Port Rawson Bay. The thire is "you mean we came through that narrow channel!!!" The fourth is our "Drink on the Rocks" party. The last photo is Shelly and Chip from Ithaka with the carin the built at the "Drink on the Rocks" site.

Seems like a lot of time and water has passed since we last were able to blog. We have been in areas so remote that cell service was not available. The cookout we shared in Penetanguishene with the other loopers was a great time. There was a happy and a sad side to the evening. Our first cruising friends on Bella Luna came into the marina in the afternoon. It was great to see them again, we had not seen them since New Jersey because they went on up through Lake Champlain to Montreal. The sad part was that Buddy, thier super sweet Black Lab, was in very bad health and had to be put down that evening. We all cried a little for them and for Buddy.

We left the next morning after having breakfast with Southern Comfort and Bella Luna on Bella Luna. Our group of four boats made the short trip to Frying Pan Bay on Beausoleil Island. This was our first anchorage in a long time. It was beautiful to be anchored in such surroundings.

On Monday we made another short trip to Twelve Mile Bay and anchored in the first cove to starboard after entering the Bay. Another beautiful anchorage. This was the first time we all went swimming since our evening dip in the port at Orilla. The next day we went on to Port Rawson Bay. This is a small bay at the end of about six miles of winding channel through breath taking scenery. At one place the channel got so obscure that Muriel looked across a small amount of water which probably was not six inches deep and exclaimed "We can't get through there!" We could see a 50 foot Sea Ray coming toward us on the other side. When he disappeared behind some rocks we knew we could make it too. We all swam again and fished and really enjoyed Port Rawson Bay. We took a dingy ride around some of the islands in the area and did some exploring on shore.

The next day we ran back down the channel and went to Killbear Marina. We met the boat Golden Lilly again at Killbear. We had seen them several times along the way and now there are five of us. We all left the next morning and went to Hopewell Bay and anchored for the night. There was another looper boat already in the anchorage when we arrived. Adagio was also a boat we had seen several times along the way so we invited them to join all of us for a drink "on the rocks" at five o'clock. We all dingyed over to the rocks on the shore to enjoy some conversation and beverage on the rocks. We were all very proud of Elieen on Blue Max when she got off the boat and into the dingy for the trip to shore. (She would not miss the social hour!) She had knee replacement shortly before their departure and has come a long way in manuvering on the boat. We all fished hard all afternoon and Chip on Ithaka was the only one to catch any thing.

On Friday we traveled on to Byng Inlet and Wright's Marina at Britt for two nights to fuel up with the most reasonable fuel in Georgian Bay and have WiFi. The women borrowed the marina's van and got into the general store for a little grocery shopping, they even have fresh baked goods. We will leave in the morning for the Bustard Islands and then the French River and on to Killarney. It will be a few days before we will be able to access the internet again. Everyone here says this is where the Bay is most beautiful. We are only making 1o to 20 miles each day, but we can not by pass all the beautiful anchorages.