We were kicked out of the Mackinac Island Marina due to the 200+ boats arriving from the Port Huron Mac race. We were going to anchor in the harbor, but it’s exposed to the south, which is the direction the wind was forecast to be coming from. Not only wind, but a thunderstorm overnight. We had two options:
1. Head for Mackinaw City in the lower peninsula. It’s fairly large with a grocery, hardware store, etc. No protected anchorage though.
2. Head for St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. Protected from all directions except the east, which the wind in Michigan rarely blows out of. Smaller town, but a “real” town (verses tourist) again with a grocery store, hardware, marina.
LeeAnn said “let’s go to the upper peninsula, it’s more adventurous, plus we can anchor and save money.” It’s logic like this that makes me I love her.
I anchored us near shore, behind the St. Ignace Marina where I was very pleased to discover we could pick up the marina wifi! The drawback to our location was that the Mackinaw Island Ferry’s passed by every hour throwing up enormous waves. The sweet and the sour.
As I sat daydreaming about the shows we would be watching on Netflix after we put the boys to bed, it started to rain. Then the wind started to blow. Guess what direction?! From the EAST! Damn it!
Suddenly…. the shore looked a lot closer than it did a few moments ago. Oh, yes, we were definitely dragging anchor. Drifting might be a better way to describe it. Drifting toward shore.
I jumped out into the rain to fire up the engines. Port engine, no problem. Starboard engine, nothing. Nothing at all. shit. shit! SHIT!
I put the port engine into forward hoping to counter the drift any way I could. Unfortunately going from stopped to moving on only one engine, a catamaran has to go in a few circles to pick up speed for steering. I put it back into neutral.
I quickly fired up the generator and turned on the battery charger. Then I sat. Sat there watching the boat drift closer and closer to shore while the starting battery for the starboard engine charged up.
200 feet from shore.
I’m going to get one shot, if I try too early it will drain the battery with out starting the engine and I’ll have to start back at zero, so I wait.
150 feet from shore.
Resist the urge to turn the key and watch the depth sounder. Still good with 15 feet under the boat
100 feet from shore.
I can’t wait anymore. Cross my fingers, say a prayer to whoever might be listening, and turn the key. She sputters, she coughs, she comes to life!
I yelled to LeeAnn: “I’m going to need you’re help. I need you to steer the boat!”
She quickly put the kids down in our bedroom and went to the helm. I went to the bow and gave her direction on where to steer while I pulled up the anchor. As soon as I could see the anchor I told her to head for the middle of the bay.
Whew! That was a CLOSE ONE!
I anchored us close to the ferry docks where they would be going slow while docking. I knew they wouldn’t like it, but to hell with them. If they would have some common courtesy about their wake, I would have anchored further away.
The new spot was excellent! Except no wifi :(
The next day we went to the fuel dock where we ran into a really cool race boat, "Far Cry" from the Port Huron Mac Race. They were heading south to Chicago. Fairly drunk and rowdy. They were super excited to see our kids on the boat. And even complimented LeeAnn for doing cloth diapers which were hanging up to dry on the life lines. (At first they thought the diapers were bikinis.)
One of their crew came over and put some bait on Hobie’s fishing pole and tried to help him catch a fish. We got a tour of their boat, and they toured ours. With the race boat distraction, It took forever for us to get water, gas, and a pump out. We then got a day dock and walked a mile to the grocery store.
The next day we got up early and sailed back to Mackinac Island for Charlie’s birthday. We had planned a party with some local kids at the children’s horse riding academy. Hobie got to ride a horse again. Everyone sang happy birthday and shared cake. Doud’s Grocery didn’t have a candle so we used clean piece of straw instead.
We stayed anchored at the island that night. The next day we walked around, settled on what souvenirs we wanted to buy, and slowly admitted that tomorrow we should leave.
We sailed to Beaver Island and stayed for a day to wait out stormy weather. A large schooner, the Appledore 4, came into the harbor to wait out the weather. With nothing better to do, we decided to create pirate costumes and go visit the tall ship.
I had a pirate hat, because... I just did. We made a bandanna for Hobie out of the bottom of a dress that was too long for LeeAnn. Charlie has a pirate hat. LeeAnn put feathers in her hair. We grabbed our Styrofoam pirate swords and prepared to board the pirate ship!
Unfortunately they were having some major difficulty anchoring, and we were unable to come aboard. Being all dressed up with no where to go, we went ashore and walked around the island. We got some strange looks from people, but Beaver Island is a strange place, and many people showed a complete lack of surprise at seeing a swashbuckling band of pirates walking down the street.
When I got strange looks I said "didn't you hear it's Pirate Day on the Beaver Island?" Again, Beaver Island is a strange place, and several tourists asked me for me details about the event. I'm hoping Pirate Day organically catches on as an annual event.
We left for Leland the following day.
I love Leland Harbor. It’s a little fishing village on a little river that is so uniquely authentic. It feels like you've accidentally stumbled into a Mark Twain novel, or Fried Green Tomatoes. It's familiar, and make believe. A story
based on true events. A place you want to believe exists but know it shouldn't in reality.
The clear river is small, but deep enough for the old fishing boats. I think the boats must be props, put there for tourists, but no, they have radar and other equipment that wouldn't be invested in a boat that isn't actually used for fishing.
The first time we ever went to Leland another boater brought us to the village. He walked with confidence, but as we followed him I got the sense that we were going to get yelled at for being in a place we shouldn’t be. Then suddenly we turned a corner, and there were all these adorable
little wooden shops. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve loved the place ever since.
The fish shop that reeks of gutted fish sells the MOST DELICIOUS beef jerky I’ve ever had. There is also a sweet candy store. Hobie and I bought jerky and candy, then when to “Rick’s Cafe” on the river. They have a big deck where you can sit next to the water roaring over the river damn.
I bought a beer and we sat next to the rushing water and ate our beef jerky and candy while LeeAnn explored the girly trinket shops that would have bored Hobie and I. Once the sugar buzz kicked in, Hobie practiced hopping on one foot.