2006 - A Cruise to the Western Part of

the North Channel with a new Crewmember


Ocean Explorer News – August 23, 2006, 2030 EDST – Arcadia, Michigan

  We have finally had a second day of inclement weather and, thus, there is a bit of time available to catch up.  We have been fortunate to have many days of good weather on this trip.

   We ended up not leaving Hilton Beach, Ontario until August 15.  We were pinned down by very high winds.  The marina at Hilton Beach is a bit tight-spaced and we were in a slip that made maneuvering out a bit tricky.  The high winds made it more than a little risky to attempt a departure.  Sailboats are hampered by lots of windage and poor steering when attempting to go in reverse.  Since Tristan was content playing with his new friends, we were quite content with staying put.

   We decided to start our return home when we left Hilton Beach on August 15.  I suppose we were influenced by the weather we had just experienced and we decided to move a little closer to home where we would have more flexibility in travel with regard to the weather.  We sailed down to Drummond Island on the US side of the border and checked in with Immigration authorities there.  The immigration officer is actually a man who runs the Drummond Island Yacht Haven.  Other than running aground in mud as we were directed to the fuel dock, entry went smoothly.  Since we had Tristan with us we were concerned about both Canadian and US authorities and how they would react to us bringing a grandchild in and out of the country.  In addition to his birth certificate, we were equipped with a letter from his parents to show to the authorities, but this was never necessary.  Following clearance by Immigration, we moved over to an anchorage in Harbor Island and spent the afternoon swimming and exploring by dinghy.

   On August 16 we pulled up the anchor and sailed and then, when the wind died, motored to Mackinaw City where we stayed two nights.  We did the laundry and explored the town.  Mackinaw City is very much a tourist town and is somewhat reminiscent of Wisconsin Dells.  While it is supportive of Mackinac Island, I would wonder if it doesn’t actually have a larger economy than the Island itself.  The highlight of our stay in Mackinaw City was touring the recently decommissioned USCG Cutter/Icebreaker Mackinaw.  The ship had been stationed at Cheboygan, Michigan when active, but has been moved to Mackinaw City where it will become a museum.  The ship was decommissioned only two months ago, having been replaced by a new Mackinaw built by a shipyard on the west side of Green Bay.

   We left Mackinaw City on the 18th.  Initially we sailed, and we had a pretty good, downwind sail west through the Straits of Mackinac.  A front approached as we entered the Grays Reef Passage and since there was a special marine weather warning out we took down all sail and proceeded under power.  Some of these fronts can be pretty nasty with 60-knot winds or better.  This one, however, was pretty puny.  As soon as it passed, the wind went northwest at about 20-25 knots.  We unrolled the jib alone and proceeded south at near hull speed for the rest of the trip down to Harbor Springs, Michigan.

   Harbor Springs is a Mecca of wealth.  REAL YACHTS are there in abundance.  The residential area is opulent.  It is also a party town and there was a loud, sixtieth birthday, private party with a big name professional entertainment group the first night we were there.  Even though we were anchored on the far side of the harbor, their presence was audibly apparent even at 0130.  We turned our fans on for white noise and that helped considerably.  The next day we dinghied in for showers, then Donna browsed the shops and Tristan and I went swimming at the public beach.

   Harbor Springs has a deep harbor and we used almost all of our 250 feet of anchor chain.  It was a long process hauling up and hosing off all of that chain on the morning of departure.  We proceeded to Round Lake at Charlevoix, Michigan where we again anchored in deep water.

   We left Round Lake on August 22 and had some very good sailing.  We might have stopped at Leland again, or anchored off South Manitou Island, but we decided to keep going in the good winds and headed for Frankfort, Michigan.  We entered Betsie Lake off Frankfort at about 0130 this morning and picked our way among several other anchored boats and anchored for the night.  We like Frankfort just because this can be done no matter what time of day or night it is.

   We slept late this morning and then, after breakfast, motorsailed in rain and mist to our present location of Arcadia, Michigan.  We tied up at the marina, as we were eager to have some serious showers after several days on the hook.  Arcadia is a very quiet community, the antithesis of Harbor Springs.  Not much goes on here.  The most activity we have seen is a white swan cruising the little lake in which this marina is located.  It is one of our favorite destinations.

   Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will go to Manistee.  We will likely cross the lake to Manitowoc from there.  The forecast is for a lot of unsettled weather over the next couple of days, so it is a bit uncertain as to when we will actually cross.


Early Morning Mist in the North Channel


Hiking on Harbor Island


Early Morning Boat Watching at Mackinaw City


Recently Decommissioned USCG Icebreaker Mackinaw


Exploring the Mackinaw


Ocean Explorer's Newest Helmsman Standing His Watch


A Quiet Morning at Harbor Springs


Nice Little Float Plane at Harbor Springs


Final Burst of Light Before Dark


Arcadia, Michigan Street Scene


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