burgeetree.jpg (15266 bytes) The Adventures of Lynn and Les on "Cottonwood"

   Lake Michigan
wheel.gif (3486 bytes)9/5/2004 to 9/25/2004

As we prepare to leave Canada, we are of couple of miles from the town of De Tours, Michigan and about 40 miles from Mackinac Island, Michigan, our destination for tomorrow.

Lakes Ontario, Huron, and Michigan are vast bodies of water and other than the spray being fresh water, it is hard when sailing on them, to distinguish them from the oceans where we have been.

Sept. 5th, we left the anchorage at St. Joseph Is. in Ontario. It is an early Sunday morning as we made our way to Mackinac Island, Michigan. All we had to do was call US Customs and give them our info over the phone and that was that. They didn’t even ask if we had anything to declare. Mackinac Is. was quite scenic with no autos allowed on the island. Horse drawn carriages  and bicycles were the only mode of transportation. It was very busy with tourists and charter boats arriving and leaving frequently. We found a couple of good restaurants, and many fudge and candy stores to avoid. There were beautiful flowers everywhere and a picturesque white stone Fort up on a hill. That night as we were just about to fall asleep we heard a trumpeter play Taps. It was quite a nice cozy feeling to hear that as we drifted back to sleep. We stayed 2 nites on the Island, then headed down the west coast of Michigan on the Lake.

The state of Michigan operates many marinas and what they call Harbors of Refuge along the western shore. This provides quick shelter if the weather changes suddenly, which apparently is often the case. The harbors are rather interesting in their configuration. The ones we visited were all man-made cuts from the Lake through a short stretch of beach consisting of sand dunes to a natural lake on the other side, and a small town. All the harbor entrances from the Lake had short breakwaters on each side of the channel, a Coast Guard station and a small Lighthouse. Since the weather was warm, sunny, and breezy we saw many people on the beaches as we entered the channel, as well a number of wind surfers and kite boarders, and small boats actually beached on the shoreline.

Our first anchorage was off the town of Charlevoix, which turned out to be the most picturesque that we visited. We had not planned to go into town, but just as we were to leave the next morning. Well, the best laid plans of boaters……… As we were headed out of the channel back to the Lake we had to wait for a bridge to open, and in the process of hovering the starboard engine lost power.  Does this sound all too familiar? Well, needless to say we had an unscheduled 7 days in Charlesvoix Marina.  At first we thought it was the whole transmission, but luckily it turned out to be a coupling that we had to have replaced. Les frequented the WiFi Internet cafes with his laptop and I went in every single shop in town, and got a pedicure one day. 

We read every piece of literature printed about Charlevoix and are now knowledgeable about every festival all year round…in case anyone wants to know. The petunia planting festival was just before we arrived and every street is lined with the colorful flowers. I imagine it would be quite beautiful in the wintertime with the gorgeous trees and houses and churches overlooking the harbor and lake all covered with snow.

Sept. 14th we left Charlevoix and found a good spot to drop the hook for the nite in a bay named Good Harbor, no town or harbor there.  The next two days we anchored off the town of Frankfort  and just stayed aboard to wait for the winds to die down before returning to the big Lake.  In Ludington we fueled up with about 500 gals, at the tune of 1.92/gal, the cheapest diesel around, stayed at a free dock for 2 hours and walked into town for dinner, and then went to anchor out for the nite.  The next day we anchored off Muskegon, and then just off St. Joseph.

Les’ birthday, Sept. 21st, we crossed the bottom  end of Lake Michigan from St. Joseph to Chicago. It started out a bit bumpy, but calmed down after a couple of hours and we had a nice crossing. I was able to hang out clothes and get a few chores and meals fixed without too much difficulty. I still love washing clothes by hand and hanging them out to dry, go figure. It’s kind of a Zen thing, wax on, wax off.  They dry quickly on a breezy day.

Chicago became visible when I was on watch. It looked like a bar graph off in the haze miles out from shore.  As we approached, the skyline was gorgeous as it was the clear sunny weather. We pulled into Burnam Park Harbor Marina around 3:30 pm, checked in and then took a cab ride into town. I took Les out for a birthday dinner and we toured the beautiful new park named Millennium Park.  It had an outdoor concert arena in the grass, shops and restaurants, a huge bean shaped sculpture reflecting the sky and buildings of Chicago off the tiny silver mirrored finish which you could walk under and touch, and an unusual fountain made up of two large tiled rectangular pillars facing each other about  200 feet apart.  The pillars had a thin layer of water streaming off of them into a shallow 1/8th in. pool. On the sides of the pillars that faced each other, there were two projected images of faces of Chicago residents. The two faces smiled, blinked, and generally just looked straight ahead at each other. Then one would begin to purse its lips and a stream of water would shoot out of its mouth area.  We discovered that it wasn’t that far back to the boat, so we walked back and enjoyed the balmy twilight, more beautiful parks and the spectacular nitetime skyline of Chicago.

I can’t say enough about Chicago. What a great city! The weather was perfect, about 75 degrees, sunny, clear, a little breeze off the pretty green Lake. The skyline, day or nite, was spectacular from our vantage point in the harbor. The architecture is a great blend of old and new, and the building balance of shapes is perfect. There are many grand old hotels and other public buildings made with brick, limestone, or terra cotta, all very ornate. Some buildings have the street name elaborately carved onto the sidewall. Many of the newer high-rises are mirror finished in a variety of geometrically angled and rounded shapes. The effect is very pleasing to the eye.  Then there are the parks, with beautiful flowers, fountains, and many paths for bike riding and walking around the city and along the waterfront.  The transportation system is also excellent with busses and trains running frequently and inexpensively to all destinations in and around the city. And I couldn’t get over how clean it was, not a scrap of paper on the sidewalks! The day we took our usual trolley tour, which we try to do in all big cities, we learned that the streets and sidewalks are swept daily. No wonder everything is so clean!

We were in Chicago for a total of 4 days, but I, for once, could have stayed a week or more. Sept. 25th, we left Chicago and got another view of the city as we passed thru the heart of town on the Chicago River. It was another beautiful sight looking up at all the buildings and going under the 35  (yes, 35) bridges in the city. The one with the lowest clearance was 17 feet, but with our mast and antennae down we squeaked thru.

Next, the trip down the Rivers, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee, and Tombigbee, to Mobile, Alabama...

Bridges over the Chicago River

The Center of Chicago

35 Bridges!

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~ Clic on Pics to Enlarge ~

Mackinac Island Harbor, Fort Mackinac


Gardens on Mackinac

Charlesvoix Harbor

Charlevoix home

Time to get off the Lake!

Chicago from Lake Michigan

Chicago's Millennium Park

Sculpture in the Park

Unusual projection fountain-- people from Chicago

Heading through Chicago


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