Start: Drummond Island Yacht Haven, Drummond, MI, USA, 0600. I hate the morning!
End: Mackinaw City or Government bay
Total Distance: 45.8 nm
Average Speed: 5.2 kts
Alarm goes off at 0515 and I wonder why the heck are we getting up so early if we don’t have to. Rationally I know that there are very favorable conditions early today that make a run to Mackinaw City (~45 miles) possible. And so if we want to do that, we need to get up and get after it! But I also know that we can stop short at Government bay and anchor. Half the time. And we can sleep in. But it is too late now–the alarm has gone off, we are both up and time to get ready.
I walk the dog while Jan disconnects power, gets the lines ready and all the other tasks to get the boat ready to go. By 0545 we are ready, I go to fire up the engines and while they turn over, they don’t start. And for ten tense minutes we try to start the engines to no avail. I finally feed a little gas from the throttle to the engines (not choke) and they fire up. But very strange–those two babies are like little Energizer bunnies. They just keep going. I don’t know if it was the cool weather and the humidity, but something that we need to watch. At 0600 we back slowly and quietly out of our slip (so not to wake all the other boaters) and head out of the Marina. There is one other boat awake and moving this morning–Anielia. Steve and Meagan and kids are moving to Mackinaw City as well this morning and we follow them out onto the bay.
Our trip takes us around Drummond Island, south along the De Tour Passage and then we head south west across Lake Huron to Mackinaw City. First time actually out on Lake Huron proper–the rest of this portion of the trip has been in the Georgian Bay/North Channel.
We use an app called windfinder to look at winds and they came out with a beta map on the web which does a really good job of depicting the wind forecast for the next 4-5 days. It showed the winds light in the early morning, picking up and shifting to the south by 8am, and then swinging around to the West at by 11am. So if we left early, we could (if forecast held) catch favorable winds until we were close to Mackinac Island, and then push against the southwest wind until we got to the marina in Mackinaw City. So decision was to leave by 0600. Which we met; we were puttering out at 0545, the anielia with Steve, Meagan and kids, ahead of us.
And amazingly enough, the forecast was exactly right. We put our genoa up when we
headed south through De Tour Passage 1 and when we turned to the west on our heading across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, we had a 12 knot wind off our port side. We were over seven knots when we made the turn to the west, so we turned off the engines and checked out our sailing speed22 Our speed dropped to just over 5 knots under sails only. And if we were in the Chesapeake on a normal weekend, we would have sailed to our hearts content. But we wanted to maximize the good wind, so engines went back on and motorsailing we went. As we got closer to 11am, we watched the wind move from 120 degrees apparent to 90, then 60, then 45, then 30 and finally we took down the sails about an hour out of Mackinac Island. At 11am. Just as scheduled.
We went through the Mackinac channel and were beat senseless by the waves caused by the changing winds and the busy ferries that went through the channel. Got to the Mackinaw City Municipal Marina just before 3pm. Long day done.
Fuel, pump out and we moved to the T-head on their A Dock which was right beside the big ferries operating out of their marina. So every 30 minutes we got a (literal) boat load looking down into our catamaran and checking out what we were doing at the time. And at the Marina, tourists are allowed to walk down the docks, so we have a constant stream of people coming by the boat to look at where we are at and what we are doing. For those of us who prefer not to interact with other (cough JAN cough), it is a bit of an adjustment.
We explored the town a bit with the dog; lots of fudge shops, ice cream places, T-shirt shops and restaurants. And people. TONS of people and we aren’t on the island yet. AJ goes and finds Cullen and Owen and soon they are fishing off the dock, terrorizing the fish population in Mackinaw City. Meagan makes the best offer we have had on the trip–they will take AJ to dinner with them when they go get pizza and Jan and I can have a
date night! We are IN!! So AJ is off for pizza and Jan and I go to the Keyhole Bar and Grill for dinner. Dinner is ok, but the company is excellent! Pickup AJ and we go back for an Agents of SHIELD and to bed.
1: The De Tour passage is the water channel between Drummond Island and the upper peninsula of
Michigan Wisconsin. A ferry operates across this channel bringing cars/people/suppulies from the mainland to the island. And as we were coming through, the ferry pulled out in front of us and began crossing the channel. I got a text from Steve who said to watch out for the Drummond Island Ferry. It is like a honey badger: “It don’t care.” And he provided a link to the youtube video. It was hilarious and if you want to wast three minutes of your life, it is below. But if you are at work, turn down your speakers…the language (as AJ puts it) is ‘salty.’
2: Anielia sailed for hours today. They made the turn to the west, engines off and away they went. We cheated. Kept the engines on. We passed Anielia about an hour into our west run and they returned the favor two hours later and that was the last of them we saw until I drove our anchor into the fuel dock at the marina. In my defense, I’m pretty sure that piling needed an adjustment.