Sept 21, 2016
Adamant 1 is finally in Chicago! We took almost three weeks to explore the east side of Lake Michigan. After we checked in at Drummond Island…..that experience is worth a blog of its own….we headed for Mackinac Island. We had been to the island twice before, so we knew what to expect, but the third visit was just as magical as the first one. We did all the tourist things, visited the fort, explored the village,and biked the perimeter of the island, but this time we actually got inside the Grand Hotel for a peek at the magnificent lobbies. That was the highlight of this visit to the island! What an luxurious hotel!
The next morning we sailed the 45 miles to Beaver Island. It is the largest island in Lake Michigan, colonized in 1634 by the French who were in search of beaver pelts. Today it is home to 600 permanent and 1500 seasonal residents. Most of the business buildings and some homes are from the late 1800’s and have been kept pristine. They love tourists and have even dredged a harbour for visiting boats. It is a lovely, laid back place to visit and we plan to return some day. There was a gale in the forecast for the weekend so we hauled anchor and sailed to Charlevoix, on the mainland, to shelter in their enclosed harbour. And blow it did! Gusts were up to 45 knots which translates to over 75 km per hour. We stayed four days while we waited for seas to die down and spent the time there as tourists. As soon as we were able, we headed out to Leland.
Leland, a very small community, was once a fishing port. Many of the original buildings on the main wharf are still standing, but are now used as boutiques. If you disregard the merchandise, you can easily imagine the boats coming in, drying their nets, hauling their catch into the cleaning stations and loading up the trucks to ship out the catch. There is a waterfall at the head of the wharf which only adds to the peaceful setting.
From Leland it was a day sail to Arcadia, a small community that has as its only draw, a terrific harbour to spend the night. We went for a walk after supper and found immaculate small homes with perfect gardens, but not a single person in sight….anywhere. No noise, no movement…anywhere! It was like the entire population was removed for the night. It was actually spooky and the next morning we had no qualms about hauling the anchor early and getting out onto the lake! We sailed that day to Pentwater where they must have taken the residents of Arcadia because the town was really busy, with every home along the shoreline lit up and people everywhere.
Sunday found us dropping anchor in White Lake, a gorgeous place that invited us to linger an extra day. The shopping and amenities were just what we needed and the lake was quiet. Last time we were there we saw lots of swans, but there weren’t any to be found this time. Tuesday and Wednesday found us anchored in Muskegon, a huge lake, bustling with commercial shipping, cruise ships and scores of fishermen. That is the most interesting thing about Lake Michigan. I am sure every family owns at least 5 fishing rods and every other family owns a fishing boat. They fish 24/7 and we had to put out extra lights at night to make sure they didn’t run into us in the dark. The town was a long way from our anchorage, so we spent the time swimming, and walking the long walls that make up the sides of the canal.
Our next stop was Holland, another lake where the town was miles from the anchorage. It was a somber time for the area as two young boys had drowned at the beach near the entrance to the lake and they were searching for the bodies. When we left on Friday night to cross to Chicago, they had only found one of them. So sad.
Our night crossing to Chicago was a very lumpy crossing. I am very glad we weren’t able to see the waves rolling at us as I am sure it would have been nasty. We did however see Northern Lights! There was not enough wind to sail, though it was from the right direction for a change, so we motor sailed most of it and we were able to see the Chicago skyline from 26 miles away. It was a lovely sight to behold at 8 am after being up all night rolling around. So we are here in Chicago, it is 4 days later and we all have our masts down, laundry done and fresh groceries put away. We spent a day touring around downtown, hitting all the highlights and now we are ready to head for the river. The temperature has been over 90F since we arrived, so it will be nice to be on the move again. Until next time………..