Start: Charlevoix Municipal Marina, 0800
Turn around: 1000
Maintenance Stop: 1126: Irish Marina (10.2 miles)
Start (Part II): 1200
End: Northport MI, 1554
Total Distance: 23.6 nm
Average Speed: 5.3 kts
When we woke up on Thursday morning a nice layer of fog covered the marina. Fortunately it quickly burned off and by 8am it was a gorgeous sunny day. Winds were from the North East at 10mph, waves were forecasted for 1-2 feet pushing us along. The plan was to head 30ish miles to the Manitou Islands to anchor and explore the Sleeping Bear Dunes park. So we pushed off the dock, did a quick trip over to the fuel dock to top off and made the 0830 bridge and went out into Lake Michigan. The wind was fresh and we headed out to the red marker, turned south and put out the genoa. And when we did a wire at the bottom of the furler popped out and started waving at us from the front of the boat.
We had no idea what that thing was. We had broken the furler down when we put the mast back up to change out the furling line and this wire was not something we saw. I moved forward, saw where the wire came from and pushed it back in place. But we didn’t know what it was, how important it was and if it would cause us problems. And we use the heck out of our foresail, so I made a phone call to the Irish Marina back in Charlevoix and they could get us in to take a look as long as we could get back. So we turned around and headed back. We were in the yard by 1130 and within 30 minutes were on the way back out. The wire is part of the system to assist in guiding the sail up the track when we are raising the sail. We do it manually–I guide it in while Jan pulls it up so it wasn’t a show stopper to have it flopping around if it did again. We paid them $20 for their time and our piece of mind<sup>1</sup>.
So back out we go and now we need to adjust our plans for the day. By the time we got back onto Lake Michigan it was after the 1230 bridge and the 30 mile trip to Manitou island was not in the cards for the day. Quick look at thump and we decide to head to Northport MI. It was tucked on the Northwest side of the Grand Traverse bay and while it was not one of our destinations that we had plotted when we were planning, it got us moving down the road.
The wind is good, the waves are 2 feet(ish) and we spend the trip surfing down the little waves. We arrive at about 4pm and anchor just outside the local marina.<sup>2</sup> We head into town but by the time we got there, all the stores were closing down at 5pm. The town is small; couple of blocks up front the marina and a couple of blocks either way. We were not (initially) too impressed. EXCEPT for the fact that it has my next house for sale right next to the water. An old train station WITH A CABOOSE are for sale right by the water. I figure it meets Jan’s requirements for ‘house by the water’ and gets really close to my desire to live in a house that has a turret (if we count the caboose top as a ‘turret.’ I was voted down but will keep my eye on the property.
Back to the boat and to look at forecast for tomorrow. It is not good. The winds are very favorable for a run down to the Manitou Islands–winds from the NE at 10-15 mph, which means we would have to run against the wind for 7 miles before turning to the SW. But the wave forecast was for 2-3 foot waves with some bigger. Like eight feet. Seriously. Our original plan was to get to the Manitou Island and then potentially go across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin on Saturday, weather dependent. But banging around in 2-3 foot waves (with occasional eight footers) didn’t sound appealing. So we decided to stay a day and wait for better conditions…we aren’t in a hurry.
Friday morning is gorgeous. Not a lick of wind or waves in our little bay. I took Lucky in for his morning constitutional and saw that a farmer’s market was setup in the park by the marina. So back to the boat to pickup Jan and AJ so we can head into town to explore.
Once back at the boat we found our selves surrounded by a bunch of small sailboats. There was a camp for kids and we were anchored in their training area and we got to watch young kids (less than 10 years old) sailing around a course and squirting each other with water guns they brought on their boat.
We got in our dinghy, swung wide around the class and went to town and what a difference a day makes. The farmer’s market is setup and it is one of the best that we have seen to date on the trip. Lots of fresh fruit and veg as well as plants, meats, cheese and live musicians. We watched an old couple who were walking with canes start to dance to one of the street musicians. We scored some fresh cherries that absolutely had to be eaten all at once before they got overripe!
We left the farmer’s market and headed up into town and it was now bustling with activity. The stores were all cute and Barb’s bakery was open and we had to try her cinnamon sticks which were AWESOME! After a couple of hours of walking around we headed back to the boat for lunch and school for AJ.
Then eventually we get back into town for one more pass through Northport and the place was HOPPING! The entire town, and perhaps county, was in the park watching three old dudes playing bluegrass at a free concert. And we mean everyone. We walked to get ice cream and the only people that weren’t at the park were serving us ice cream or walking to the park. And it wasn’t just the ‘grey haired’ set; kids, parents, dogs, cats, fish, uncles, aunts, as well as the grandparents were rocking to the fiddle, bass and guitar. The weather was good–why not!
Our bluegrass bucket filled for the year, we puttered back out to the boat. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we were crossing over to the motherland: Wisconsin. Cheese beckoned. But it was a 70+ mile trip and it would take 12+ hours so we were going to bed early to rise before dawn to make our trip. North port was a great way to leave Michigan–on another high note.
<sup>1</sup> Irish Marine is fantastic. They got us in, they looked at the problem and charged us a pittance. We have been to other places where they charge you a flat fee to walk onto your boat and it ain’t cheap. It was also the cleanest shop I have seen anywhere. Now getting into the marina to get our boat looked at was exciting. It was not designed for wide bodied catamarans and so we got to pick our way through boats to get to the tie up and then reverse out picking our way through the boats.
<sup>2</sup> When you anchor you take your dinghy into the town and land it at the local dinghy dock. Some are provided by the towns for free; they want you to spend money. Some are in marinas and you usually have to pay a nominal fee. Usually we know before we get into town where they are at, but the Northport description was unclear on where the town provided dinghy docks were at specifically. So we went into the municipal marina (run by the town, mind you. Thus ‘municipal’) and asked the teen-ager at the dock where the dinghy dock was located. He asked us “Do you need it or do you just want to know?”
Let’s paint the picture. We are in a dinghy. We just landed at the fuel dock in our dinghy (as opposed to in our BOAT WHICH WAS AT ANCHOR RIGHT OUTSIDE THE MARINA). There are three people and a dog who obviously needs to pee (and it turns out, poop). I would have thought it was obvious that we ‘need it.’ There were muttered curses emanating from our dinghy as he went to ask but he did give us the information and we made it to their dinghy dock and into town. Anyone can be an ambassador to a town. Even the ick-day at the ock-day.