Sunday: Tracy should get discharged from the hospital (All is perfectly well!- tc) today as more loopers head out of Leland to move south. Around noontime, I get a call from her that she’s being discharged. We agree that she’ll use her cell phone and get an Uber ride back to Leland and I’ll meet her in the parking lot in about 45 minutes.
While I’m waiting in the parking lot, I get a call that Tracy’s back in town in front of the Haystack store. I tell her to wait right there and I’ll be there in 2 minutes. At the top of the street, I’m looking right at the store and I can’t see Tracy, so I call her back and she says she’s right in front of Haystack, across from the water and right next to the cinema. I ask “what cinema, Leland doesn’t have a cinema?” So we surmise that she’s been dropped off in Leelanau and not Leland. She looks on her phone and sees that it’s fifteen minutes away and she wants to start walking and meet halfway, while I tell her that after just being discharged from the hospital, she should sit right down on the nearest bench and I’ll walk the fifteen minutes to meet her. Oh yeah, my phone is also dead, so I have to shut it off now. Then I start walking towards Leelanau.
Soon, I’ve walked more than 20 minutes and haven’t even reached the cut-off road for Leelanau. However, I do run across a couple walking the other way and the gentlemen says, ‘either your going the wrong way or we’re going the wrong way!’ I tell him what I’m trying to accomplish and he lets me know there isn’t a cinema or a Haystack in Leelanau, but there is is Suttons Bay! Also, he tells me that if I keep walking I might make it there by dark. So this very nice couple who has come across my predicament very Kindly offer to take me back to their house where we’ll get into their car and go pick up Tracy! More kindness on the loop. Once we find Tracy in Sutton Bay, she realizes that when she checked Google Maps it said that it was 15 minutes by car for this 123 mile jaunt! We sure are fortunate that the Lindner’s walked by me today.
They take us all the way back to Leland Marina and refuse anything for helping us out. The only thing they ask is that we continue our adventure and stay safe the rest of the way.
Once back aboard Kailani, Tracy just spends the rest of the day relaxing and catching up on the sleep that she didn’t get in the hospital, knowing that we will return to looping tomorrow because weather looks good for cruising.
Monday: We untie the dock lines at 9:20am for our planned 9:30 am departure and soon Kailani and Sea Cottage are cruising out the breakwall into Lake Michigan for our 36 nautical mile cruise to Frankfort. I had called earlier this morning and secured two slips for us at Frankfort Municipal Marina.
Our cruise today will take us past Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where sand dunes rise nearly 500 feet above the water surface right on the coast of the lake. The views are spectacular. Many people drive up to the top of the dunes to a designated parking lot, then climb down the dunes only to lose steam and realize that they’ve sapped their strength and need to be rescued to get back to the top. Maybe they should come up with a way to have the parking lot at the bottom of the dunes, then the sand hikers would be going downhill when they’re tired.
The other sight to see is the Point Betsie Lighthouse. This is a still functioning lighthouse that has become fully automated after being tended by a lighthouse keeper since 1858 when it opened. This lighthouse marks the hazards of the Manitou Islands Channel. Today the Lighthouse Keeper’s house has been restored and you can actually rent it and live like a lighthouse keeper for an extended period of time, Neat!
Once we pass the Point Betsie Light we only have 4 more miles to get to the entrance to the Frankfort Seawall Channel. As we enter the channel, we call the marina on VHF 09 and get our slip assignment and how to prepare our fenders. Tracy preps the lines and fenders and I bring Kailani into our slip as Tracy hands our dock lines to the two dock hands awaiting our arrival. By 1:30pm we are all secured and connected to shore power. This is a nice big harbor so we will take down the dinghy so Tracy can explore these waters for trout and salmon. I also bring down my bike so I can take a ride exploring the land based attractions here.
We coordinate a community dinner with Sea Cottage and Almost There and at 7:30pm we’re feasting on bacon wrapped pork tenderloins, barbecued chicken filets, whitefish, vegetables, breads and applesauce. A great meal for all nine of us and nobody leaves the table hungry. Tomorrow will be another good day for cruising and we will prepare our plan for tomorrow before turning in.
Tuesday: The morning check of the weather shows that the seas will get gnarly by mid-day and Frankfort Municipal Marina offered us three nights stay for payment of two nights, so Sea Cottage and Kailani decide to stay in port today and tomorrow since winds and waves are forecasted to be stronger on Wednesday. So we make the commitment to stay here for two more days and out come the bikes.
Tracy has gotten some information that here in Frankfort, we might be the recipients of a northern lights show this evening. So she goes into research mode and learns that there’s a very good chance that in the northern sky we should be able to see the effects of the Aurora Borealis, but we’ll have to find a good spot that has a clear view of the northern sky and does not have a lot of white light. Tracy and I ride our bikes to the lake shoreline and when you walk out on the concrete break wall for the harbor entrance, you can get far enough out to get a clear view of the northern sky unobstructed by sand dune hills. While we’re out there on the jetty wall, we spot a large Salmon cruising the crystal clear waters of Lake Michigan and it’s just more proof that there’s tons of Salmon in these waters, they just aren’t that hungry. We ride back to the marina and let the crew of Sea Cottage know that tonight might be spectacular and they will be prepared to walk down to the beach with us at 11:00pm.
While the bikes are out, Tracy and I take a ride the other way in town towards the Frankfort Tackle Box and Tracy gets a lot of feedback about how to fish these waters. The clerk also tells us about the smoked fish store just a bit further down the street and we go to check it out.
The Port City Smokehouse has a great selection of fresh freshwater fish filets and some meat items also. They also carry a selection of pate spreads and fruit jams. So we buy some great tasting stuff (they offer samples of all their pates and jam spreads) and bring it up to the cashier to pay. As she is ringing up our purchase, I mention the sticker that’s on the register that says “this register cash & credit only”. I hand her my credit card, I ask if after she rings up the credit sale, do I have to give her the same amount in cash? She just replies without looking up from the register, “sure, the credit slip goes in the drawer and the cash goes in my pocket”, to which I respond “did you know that I’m a retired IRS agent?” And she replies “did you know that my Mom and my Dad are retired snipers from the Marines?”. I guess I can’t win every conversation, huh!!
Back to the boat and Tracy whips up some nice hot chicken soup for dinner and while eating our soup, Natalie and Brianna call on FaceTime to say hi and ask when we’ll be home. It’s nice to touch base with family back home, it makes the distance and time away a bit easier.
I speak with my friend Gregg Baker down at Belhaven Marina in Belhaven, North Carolina and my sister, Lisa who’s near Raleigh, North Carolina. They both are making preparations for getting smacked by Hurricane Florence later in the week. The present forecasts are for the eye to make landfall fight between Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach, so Belhaven might get hit pretty hard. Gregg says that the mayor is calling for a voluntary evacuation of the entire town except emergency personnel and that they are expecting to get hit with 9’ storm surge waves when it hits. That could end up being very problematic for this very friendly and favorite town of ours on the Atlantic ICW. We have some great memories from staying in Belhaven. We can only hope that Mother Nature is kind to the southeast coast.
It’s about 10:00 pm and we start getting ready to walk down to the beach with the crew of Sea Cottage. Tracy’s plan is to walk half way out on the concrete jetty wall and that should give us a sufficient view of the northern sky with the least amount of white light. We walk down there with chairs, blankets, flashlights and a thermos of tea. When we get there there’s a few fishermen out further on the jetty wall but they soon return to shore because they haven’t caught any fish. We monitor the sky for a few hours and after watching some commercial nets, some satellites and some shooting stars we decide to call it a night. Tonight wasn’t our night for spotting the northern lights. Tracy will continue to monitor future opportunities for viewings.
Wednesday: The weather today turns out just as predicted and the winds are blowing fairly high even here in the protected Betsie River, so we’re glad we decided to stay the extra day. Besides tonight is our free night at the docks, so what could be better. I monitor the cruises of Journey and Rejoice and they both get kicked around quite a bit out on the lake today, so it further attests to our decision to stay put.
Tracy and I walk into town for breakfast and end up at the Crescent Bakery. It’s a very small sitting area in this bakery and all the tables are full, so we buy coffees and pastries to go and go out and sit in the park adjacent to the City Hall building. After breakfast, we walk down the shopping district and go into Hull’s Glass Blowing. We have a splendid time talking with the second generation of Hulls to run the store and his clerk. We finally select some nice pieces for Christmas presents and move on. Next store is the Sunbeams of Promise store that has Petoskey jewelry and other types of gem jewelry on display for purchase. Tracy buys a few more gifts and a Petoskey Stone polishing kit for the Petosky stones that were given to her back at the Petoskey Marina last week.
Its a beautiful day in mid September, so I take a nice walk in the afternoon, then we go to dinner with the Strasels to Dinghy’s Restaurant and Bar. Almost all of us have the barbecued ribs and they’re delicious, served with Cole slaw, cornbread and choice of potato. The service is rather slow, but the food is tasty once it’s served. After a pleasant walk back to the marina, we say our goodnights as Sea Cottage will cruise to Ludington tomorrow and we will cruise to Manistee. Then three days from now, we’ll meet back up in Pentwater at Snug Harbor Marina. Flirty car!
Thursday: The early morning check of the weather confirms yesterday’s forecasting that today will be a spectacular day for a cruise. I walk Frankie and upon return to Kailani,
Tracy and I help Sea Cottage off the dock for their 40 mile trip to Ludington, where they’ll spend two days and meet us in Pentwater.
Then we prepare Kailani for departure. We have to load and store the bikes and load and store the dinghy, then we’re ready for shove off and at 10:00am we’re backing out of the slip for our twenty five mile cruise to Manistee. Once out of the slip and headed out Betsie River, there are at least eight boats fishing all around us and we have to maneuver around them to not tangle their lines. This is hard for Tracy because she still hasn’t caught that elusive Salmon yet and to see all those fisherman, it just verifies that the fish are still biting.
Anyway, soon we’re out of the harbor and turning due south for our destination. The ride is relatively calm with rolling waves coming at us right off our starboard bow, so we have a gentle roll most of the way. When we’re about five miles from the entrance to the harbor, Tracy lays on the throttles and takes care of some blow-by which we hadn’t done in a while. The fuel gauges move faster than the temperature gauges when we do this, but it’s necessary and we’re planning on re-fueling once we get to Manistee because they have the least expensive fuel price on the Michigan coast at $3.05 per gallon.
So by 12:45pm we’re looking at the entrance to the harbor between the breakwater walls and also three Coast Guard vessels in the water. Manistee is a large Coast Guard station and we had heard that there was a ‘pan-pan’ on the radio south of us with two people and a dog in the water. I don’t know if that was the reason, but we had to maneuver around them nonetheless. I called the Dock Hand, Dennis while we were in the channel and he was waiting on the fuel dock for us and we took on 120 gallons of fuel and Tracy did a great job of cleaning out the black water holding tanks. Thee tanks had not been pumped out since August 31st, so we got a full two weeks out of them which is probably a new record for us. Ten minutes later, we were all secured on the sea wall and we told Dennis that we wanted to stay here for two nights rather than only the one when we had made the reservation. He said that wasn’t a problem.
Around dark Tracy’s northern lights app started bleeping with signs of a potentially good viewing tonight, so off we went at 9:10pm towards the coast to look for a light show. All we got was darkness and more darkness, no northern lights. Oh well, it was a great weather evening and we got in a nice long walk for exercise.
Friday: Three looper vessels depart this morning with a slight hazy fog hanging over the channel out to the lake. By the time Wild Goose leaves the fog is nearly burned off and they should all have a nice day cruising south.
The bikes come out for a trip to Walgreens Pharmacy which Google Maps says is 2.3 miles away. Well it was just like my Dad’s old school because it was uphill both ways!!! When we got back I was exhausted to say the least. But it was nice spending the extra day here in Manistee.
In the late afternoon while Tracy and I are fishing off the boat and dock, a coast guard vessel pulls up to the seawall; behind us and five guardsmen get out and walk up the stairs to the street level in town. We’re not sure where they went, but when they returned, I offered to be their designated driver if they were at a bar and had one too many. Just offering is all. They sorta laughed at it, but the Captain was mostly serious and said the keys were staying in his pocket. Dinner tonight is pizza delivered to the marina and it’s a delicious pizza but of course, we can’t finish the order and I put away the left-overs. Then we relax for a few hours and turn in for tomorrow’s cruise.
Saturday: There’s no fog to deal with today, so I get the lines and electricity ready for departure, then give Frankie his morning walk. He really likes these morning walks, but anytime he doesn’t get one, he still is good about using the grass pad aboard Kailani. As we are idling out the channel into the lake, I see Careb coming into port. He’s stopping at the Manistee Municipal Marina for fuel, then heading back out into the lake to resume cruising. The diesel prices at this marina are the lowest in the area at $3.05 per gallon so he’s maximizing his dollars. It’s good to see him back in the water. The last time we saw him he was on the hard getting his transmission rebuilt at Shepler’s Marina in Mackinaw City.
The cruise today is spectacular in terms of sea conditions. We get one of the prettiest early fall days for upper Lake Michigan and we take advantage cruising 33 nautical miles to Pentwater. The lake is jammed with fishing vessels, so that’s a sure sign of how calm the conditions are. Here we will meet up with Sea Cottage and resume cruising together for a while longer. We have a reservation at AGLCA Sponsor marina, Snug Harbor and once we get there, we see that Wild Goose is docked here also and Miss Norma is here too. We haven’t seen them since Campbellford on the Trent Severn Waterway. Trisha is also here and they are a brand new looper vessel that hasn’t even started the loop yet, but they plan to start next year and were looking for experiences to put into their memory banks for when they shove off. We met them walking the riverwalk in Manistee, and now they’re here with their vessel Trisha.
This marina is really gorgeous. Jack Witt, the Owner, has done a spectacular job with the property. With Kailani docked on the sea wall, it’s like docking in a park.
There’s oak trees, picnic tables, grills, green lawns and the largest laundromat I’ve ever seen on the loop or elsewhere!