Northern Michigan – Fudge, Ferries & Friendly Ports

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island
Grand Hotel from the water

We are now on the Northern Michigan adventure of the Great Loop.  We left Canada to head straight to Mackinac Island.   We were able to check back into the states using a video phone at the docks in the marina. It was a simple process for us. We had a Frequent Boater Card and BR Number from our previous trips to the Bahamas.   This worked for us on their check in process.   We were now in Northern Michigan, more specifically Mackinac Island, a prime tourist destination.

Growing up in Michigan you would have thought that I had been to Mackinac Island, but this was my first time and I was excited.  Grand Hotel dinnerOur stay was close to our 26th Wedding Anniversary so we planned for a special dinner at the Grand Hotel. They can seat over 1,000 people for dinner, but the quality of the food and service is above average. We got to tour the grounds and inside and tried to imagine what it must have been like years ago with people arriving with steamer trunks for the summer.   When you are on the Loop you look for these special moments and this was one of them.  Also, Mackinac is a special place when you are from Port Huron and I was delighted to see this picture on the wall at the Pink Pony.  Mackinac Race

However, must of our memories involve fudge and ferries.   Anyone who has been to Mackinac knows that fudge is everywhere. We got ours!   But, mostly it was the memories of the ferries in conjunction with bad weather and wind.   All day long numerous ferry boats arrive with tourists and they dock within the marina. Their wake slams all of the boats against the pilings and the docks. We were constantly adjusting our fenders and our lines and we were not alone.   All of the boats were rocking, including one trawler where they actually got seasick from the wave action.   We were there three days and it was a relief to be away from that turbulence. Read more

North Channel, Simply the Best

Bustards AnchorageEver since we began the Great Loop we heard that cruising the North Channel would be the highlight of our Loop. Boaters from both Canada and Michigan rave about this area.   Was it going to be something that was built up with so much anticipation that it would be anticlimactic? Not a chance!!

Gypsies Palace left Tobermory to head straight across Georgian Bay to make our way to the North Channel. We knew that there was some great cruising in Georgian Bay and we not going to be able to back track to see it all. We decided that we would find an great anchorage in the Bustard Islands. Read more

The Lone Piper of Kincardine

Jazzy on Gypsies PalaceWe had two stops to make before reaching Georgian Bay – Kincardine and Tobermory, Ontario. Yay, butter tarts, for sure!   Our plan was to only spend 1 night in each place since we were anxious to find beautiful anchorages in Georgian Bay and North Channel.

We decided to do the “go fast” pace i.e. 17 mph on Lake Huron to both destinations.   Each time the lake started out really smooth and each time we were in 3-4 seas from a variety of directions.   This was the first time that Jazzy had ever been seasick. Poor thing – it really lasted 2 days. That first night he got us up for several hours until he finally decided to use that green mat on the front of the boat. The good thing is that I know now that he knows what it is for. He just chooses not to use it!   But, when he is sick it is looking pretty darn good.  This picture was the seas were great and he was feeling good as you can tell. Read more

Blue Water, Boat Races and Back Home

Leaving Ohio we were in our first area of the country where we had not been before by boat. Steve and I had done boat deliveries from Florida through the Erie Canal through the Welland Canal to Port Clinton, Ohio. We have also done deliveries to Lake Champlain from Port Clinton and from Florida to Kemah, Texas.   Additionally, we have been as far up the Tenn-Tom Waterway as Chattanooga, Tennessee. Heading into Michigan would be entirely new to us.

Michigan has more registered boats than any other state.   People love to boat here whether it be on the Great Lakes or all of the numerous inland lakes and waterways. We are now experiencing fresh water and it is really nice even though I love the smell of salt air.   The boat is cleaner which is great. However, we have come to know many of the little spiders that now want to make their home on Gypsies Palace. What a little black mess they make on the deck!   We now are stocked up on spider spray.

We passed under the Ambassador Bridge by downtown Detroit and proceeded into Lake St. Clair. The weather was good and did not encounter many freighters. When we hit the St. Clair River it was so blue that I knew that I was getting close to home. Growing up in Port Huron is synonymous with Blue Water, including the Blue Water Bridge to Canada. I was so excited as we passed Algonac, St. Clair, Marysville and we finally got to the Black River, the entrance to downtown Port Huron.Port Huron Black River

Growing up there I was probably like most people that do not fully appreciate their hometown. It was a great place to grow up that was safe, friendly and had great access to beautiful water and beaches on Lake Huron. I finally got to experience Port Huron as other boaters would.   A bonus is that we were arriving during Rack Week.   This is the big sailboat race from Port Huron to Mackinac. Another race takes place from Chicago to Mackinac. There were over 200 boats registered for the event of all sizes and classes. Read more