Saugatuck on the Kalamazoo

Saugatuck is known as Michigan’s Art Coast and is only 90 miles from Chicago. There are art galleries, specialty shops and upscale boutiques. It was once a shipbuilding hub and logging centre. The main streets are peppered with classic white wooden architecture festooned with pots full of colourful flowers and trees draped with twinkling lights. It is easy to walk around this vibrant town.

At least, it is easy today to walk around Saugatuck! Yesterday is best forgotten. The weather was appalling and I battled a migraine.

The waterfront is a hive of activity with the small hand-operated chain ferry for passengers only crossing the river, numerous eating establishments and a walkway connecting the marinas and private jetties.

There are many different styles of watercraft here from tiny houseboats, to paddle-wheelers, to vintage outboard dinghies. Something for everyone!

It has been an essential and very pleasant stop. Now we are wishing for calm sailing weather…

Such is Life!

I am the power!

I am not known to be quiet, yet I am. My modesty makes me so. I am the beating heart of Bushranger.

You have heard from those louder than me:
‘Arry, the speech himpaired hairconditioner. (He can get overheated which is not cool at all!) ;
Dinghy, who hangs over my exhaust all day. (Suck it up, girl!);
Radar, who thinks he sees everything. (Why don’t they turn you on much, mate?); and
Hanchor. Dammit, Anchor, who chooses to hide his head in the sand / mud / weed (and is difficult to hunderstand when working.)
Curiously, POOP Holden, with all his ‘onourifics – Honourifics, thanks ‘Arry, has a story to tell which I know (we are buddies in the engine room) but the rest of the boat union didn’t want it published. Suffice to say, the exploits of POOP and his colleagues on other boats are amongst the most talked about at boaters’ docktails.

But – back to me! I am celebrating my 21st which is why I have chosen to speak up. They have called me ‘Madam Yanmar’ in previous posts, but I am anything but a madam! I am hitting my prime – 2100 hours tomorrow. I have carried this little enterprise close to 15,000 miles with pride. I ask for little.

You might hear a tale of me stopping work in the St Lawrence Seaway. Ignore it! Ask the boss. He might try to hide behind the dinghy but there is no room.

So, tomorrow, with my 21st drinks comfortably in my sump, I will get on with what I do best. I will carry this crew, their hairconditioner, radar, hanchor, ‘olding tank and dinghy to the next destination.

Such is Life!

Lake hopping to Kalamazoo

Love the sunrises on Lake Michigan. On Wednesday, we left Pentwater at the crack of dawn, aiming to miss the afternoon winds and turbulent waters.

We sailed an easy 35 miles to White Lake in company with My Time Too and dropped the anchor in a delightful bay. A few homes skirt the lake. As we get closer to Chicago there are more cottages and built up areas, more boats and pleasure craft. This night we dined on board My Time Too, with Kathy and Charlie producing a fresh king salmon feast from fish caught in Pentwater.

On Thursday, we sailed a short distance to Pidgeon Lake, a small picturesque lake recommended to us by Bushranger’s previous owners. There, we met wonderful new friends who hosted us for dinner in their home. Meeting people such as Willy and Beverly, are what makes this looping experience so very special. Much hilarity and entertaining conversation ensued. A quick and total feeling of mateship was the result. We hope to see them in Australia to reciprocate their hospitality.

Whilst in Pidgeon Lake, Mark decided it was time to try the Michigan waters. He did not last long, but so entertaining watching him reboard Bushranger! I did offer lots of advice!

Today we upped anchor at the decent time of 8.00am to make the hop to Saugatuck on the Kalamazoo. Lake Michigan was like a mirror… and there were no fast boats to wake us and spoil our equilibrium.

The entrance to Saugatuck is via the Kalamazoo River. This river winds one way and then the next. It is such an interesting quite narrow access: sailing past wetlands, mansions with requisite boat, through the middle of the town, past a hand-operated chain ferry to our marina. I can not wait to explore tomorrow. We are here for a couple of nights because… inclement weather is forecast.

Such is Life!

Ludington to Pentwater

Ludington is a place of safe harbour. It is one of the many harbours dotted along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, each about 30 to 35 miles apart, providing refuge from the quick and sometimes unpredictable storms.

We were in need of this place of refuge for two nights. The wind blew, the rain fell and the lightning and thunder performed.

Ludington is a pretty town, and yes, historic with gorgeous late 19th / early 20th century architecture. Logging barons ruled the town. Most of their mansions are now converted into B&Bs.

It was quite thrilling to hear sirens and watch the Coast Guard and Sheriff race from our marina into the mouth of Ludington Harbour. Then we heard an almighty blast from a ship’s horn. We watched a huge ship – a car ferry – make its way into the narrow entrance of the harbour. No thrusters and coal-driven. Twice a day this car ferry/ship makes the crossing to Milwaukee in Wisconsin, a four-hour trip. It is an amazing sight.

Today, we headed out to Pentwater in flat calm waters. It was a short sail to cover 13 miles.

Pentwater was a logging town, but is now a fisherman’s paradise. We watched fishing boats come and go with paying customers. In this municipal park/marina there are fish filleting stations, where fish are hung to be admired and then filleted by professionals. Large king salmon were the catch of the day. Fascinating, but oh, so smelly!

The shops which line the Main Street are eclectic. I helped the local economy with purchases… and it felt good! Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Such is Life!

Glorious day for a sail – Manistee

We left Leland just after dawn for the sail to Manistee. It took 8.5 hours – a long day on the water.

We were pleased we waited for today’s weather forecast. We had perfect conditions to sail the 65 miles.

This eastern side of Lake Michigan has beautiful sandy cliffs and beaches. These are scenes we have not seen for months.

We entered the dredged channel of Manistee harbour and secured our berth at the Manistee Municipal Marina. The marina is right in the middle of downtown. On either side of the marina is a wonderful boardwalk which links the beach (on Lake Michigan) to the lake east of downtown.

It was so hot when we arrived, we did not explore the town or surrounds until today. The town is colourful with flowering baskets on the sidewalks and delightfully historic with old-style gas lamps and repurposed historic buildings. It has the requisite ice-cream shop, quaint stores and taverns within easy walking distance. Mark had success at the pub and I had success at the shoe store!

We strolled the boardwalk to the beach on Lake Michigan and sank our feet into the cool water.

This little critter ran under the boardwalk as we headed for the beach.

This town is a fisherman’s paradise. As our marina is on the river connecting Lake Michigan to Manistee Lake, there is a constant parade of boats going by.

We enjoyed a lazy lunch in the park overlooking Bushranger. We never get tired of looking at the old girl!

Such is Life!

Not moving anywhere…

The best way to explain our decision to stay put in Leland is by photos…

Taken at 9.32pm
Taken at 9.33pm
Taken at 9.39pm
Taken at 9.40pm

The sky was both stunning and terrifying. The waters were calm in Leland Marina.

Such is Life!

Fishtown – Leland

Petoskey was an absolute delight. The gaslight district lived up to its charming and historic description. A few trips were made to discover delights around every corner. I spent a couple of hours of girl-time with Cathy from United 771, walking up and down the streets enjoying the ambiance. And we ate delicious meals at bistros with sweeping views of Little Traverse Bay. The whole stay was really delightful.

That is what made the decision hard to leave and sail southwards to Leland – not knowing when we will next meet up with United 771 and missing the fun in Petoskey.

Yesterday, we left Petoskey at 8.00am in waters that were forecast to further decrease. We started off with waves of 1 to 1.5 feet. A little bit of pitching and a little bit of rolling ensued. Not very comfortable but not too bad!

Once out of the bay and heading south the action of the water was much calmer and we enjoyed the 7-hour voyage.

We sailed past the cement company on the outskirts of Charlevoix

Southwards in calm waters past sandy cliffs, which from a distance, could be back in Australia.

We entered Leland Marina, astounded at the almost neon green coloured water. Not long after we tied up, a float plane landed and taxied to a house behind us… as one does!

We were further enchanted by Fishtown which is beside the marina. It is a working fish town, with fishing shanties, smokehouses and fishing boats. The shanties have been repurposed as very appealing unique shops.

The forecasted thunderstorms arrived during the night. We had a sound and light show for about five hours. Lake Michigan threw its full weight at us. Today, the oysters would blow of the rocks (if they had any!) We give full respect to this Great Lake. Mark has decided to spend another night here, to err on the side of caution… let the waters calm down. Besides, My Time Too arrives tomorrow – what fun we will have!

Such is Life!

Yee-Haw Petoskey

What a 50-mile ride! Bucking broncos most of the way!

We left Mackinaw City at sunrise with calm seas and slight winds forecast for our trip southward down Lake Michigan.

We sailed under the mighty Mac Bridge which is the boundary between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, at this stage heading westwards. Do you hear the wind and water gods chuckling?

The winds gathered speed. The waves gathered height. NOAA and Windy were still forecasting slight winds and calm seas of only a half to one foot waves. Oooooooh, yeh – – – those wicked weather gods were chuckling.

Two hours into our trip Mark suggested we turn around, as we descended to steer from the lower helm. We hailed United 771 to ask how the waters looked further ahead. “Sporty” was the reply. As the bow dug in, our vision obliterated by spray, we reasoned that we, (humans), could tolerate the pitching – ride ‘em, cowboys. Bushranger relished the ride, performing brilliantly not missing a beat. She is such a good old girl!

Seven hours from slipping the lines at Mackinaw City we sailed into Little Traverse Bay, heading for Petoskey. The sight (and movement) which greeted us was familiar. We reminisced about sailing on Sydney Harbour.

It was a good decision to keep sailing. No casualties except two broken eggs when I opened the refrigerator door too quickly! And I can hardly wait to explore this very picturesque historic city.

Such is Life!

Mackinac Island – a little slice of unreal!

We boarded the ferry nice and early, thinking we would beat the tourists. If I was feeling a little uncomfortable with the number of people on the ferry, I sure wasn’t ready for the hoards on Mackinac Island! Unbelievable crowds, with more people pouring in every 10 minutes or so from the ferries, not to mention the cruise ship on station in the harbour.

What is special about this little slice of unreal? So much, in fact!

The views are to die for.

Fort Mackinac has been fully restored with enactments.

The extensive walking trails criss-cross the island, revealing geographic splendors and bucolic resting places. History abounds at every turn. The scenery is stunning and the surrounding waters are an amazing green.

Architecture is pleasing on the eye, ranging from French Canadian log houses to British colonial to Victorian. No cars or motorised vehicles are allowed on the island. People move around by foot, bicycles, or horse-drawn carts.

And for those who wish to splurge, a stay at The Grand is waiting.

The Main Street is like walking Main Street Disneyland, with picture-perfect streets overflowing with colourful flowers and filled with touristy stuff. There are 16 fudge shops in a little less than half a mile! The number of tourists was staggering.

This was a lovely day spent on a lovely island, but I was glad to get back to our little slice of unreal – Bushranger.

Such is Life!

Mackinaw City, Michigan

We stayed two nights in DeTour, and discovered a delightful and playful botanical garden. It helped to have a lazy day after the long sail on the previous day. As well, I needed a little down time to get over a migraine.

This morning we set sail at 6.40am to complete the 45 mile crossing to Mackinaw City. The waters were smooth. The winds were calm. We sailed away before our buddy boats departed. This greyhound of the sea was primed for a ‘quick’ passage.

It didn’t take long for United 771 to zoom past us. Followed not long after by My Time Too.

Then this big boy, going twice our speed, overtook us just as we entered the shipping lane at Mackinac Island. We pulled over and let him pass!

We sailed right by Mackinac Island. So far, so good… until we encountered Mackinac Straits with the wind funnelling up Lake Michigan combined with the wakes of the ferries that ply their trade to Mackinac Island. These ferries are like gnats – they are everywhere, speeding close to pleasure craft, carelessly zigzagging between ships, boats and lighthouses. The waters were so churned and boiling that water exploded on our windows as Bushranger’s bow dug into waves. (For Mark – just another day at the office!) It was too uncomfortable to deploy fenders and get the lines ready until we were almost in the marina. I sought an easier ride down below whilst Mark helmed from the flybridge. My life did not flash before my eyes, but the lamp did! No damage done. No cups or crockery broken.

Now we are at the Mackinaw City Municipal Marina, enjoying the delights of this city. Mark has already sampled local whiskeys and we have located wine-tasting rooms. We are determined to support the local economy! Tomorrow we will explore and support Mackinac Island.

Such is Life!