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Lake Michigan - A new boating experience for us!

Lake freighter ship in the distance
4 Sept -We left Sault Ste Marie - the Canadian side - to cross over to Sault Ste Marie on the Michigan side and prepared to clear customs with the CBP (who we called before leaving the dock in Ont.). We knew our cruising license letter was ready, but we had no idea what to expect regarding the whole clearing into the States by boat would be. I don't know if we were lucky or if it's always like this, but it was a good experience. When they arrived at our dock, we invited them on board, gave them our passports, they gave us the cruising license and asked us if we had any fire arms (we advised them we had our flare gun as required safety equipment) and if we had any unauthorized fruit or veggies. Turns out, they had to confiscate our tomato and green pepper! Not a big deal - we joked that they just want us to go grocery shopping when we cross over.  The two agents were very nice and answered many of our questions regarding the reporting obligations we now have with the cruising license.  (I will be posting a separate page/link with what we learned for future reference.)

Kemp Marina 

We stayed two days because of the weather (lots of rain and wind - mostly lots of wind).

6 Sept - We came down St Mary's River on the States side. This is the same route the huge lake freighters take. Our timing must have been great because we didn't encounter any and only saw them from afar. We stayed at the De Tour Harbour Marina, a State of Michigan (DNR) managed marina. It was a really nice marina - exceptionally well maintained and really clean! And the staff was nice and helpful too.  We are a bit late in the boating season, we know this, however - we were the only boaters there! There were only a total of 6 boats at the marina (and none of the owners).

7 - 9 Sept - We left De Tour to head to Mackinaw Island, a must stop if you have never been. The island banned motor vehicles years ago and today, people travel the island by foot, bikes or horse drawn carriages. The islands caters to tourist - it is really something to experience.

Our only complaint is that due to the winds, we had to stay there longer than planned and the marina was not well protected from the east winds while we where there.  Our boat got tossed around like a cork in the ocean! We had to secure the boat on both sides and we still snapped two lines!!! It was the worst conditions/stay ever in all our boating years. We should have gone to the main land and took the ferry over - you know what they say, hind sight 20/20.

While we were there, we met up with fellow loppers we had first met at the Spring RendezVous in Norfolk (M.V. Bella Blue). It was great to catch up on how their trip has gone so far and hang out with them.  We joked and said we should get T-shirts made with "We survived Mackinaw Island in September".

10 Sept - Monday morning, the winds were a not as intense so we decided to leave and head to our next destination, Charlevoix Michigan. It was a stressful passage to say the least. The straight of Mackinak and at the height of Little Travers Bay - we had a few intense moments... But as they say, the boat can handle much more than we can. We faced waves of at least 4 to 5 feet at times... Stressful!  We were very happy to make it to the Charlevoix marina and calm waters!

We are due for an oil change on the boat, and Irish Marine was recommended as a good place to have it done. We biked over when we arrived here, and they ordered the filters and will come to our boat tomorrow to do it! And if the weather forecast doesn't change, we will be heading out after having spend 3 very pleasant days here.

Charlevoix is known for it's Mushroom Houses. It's hard to explain, but a very eccentric gentleman built them. We met up with Bella Blue here again and did a guided tour of the Mushroom houses.  It was a very interesting (and fun) experience.

Lake Michigan is the biggest lake we have boated on to date.  Because we are going down the "east" side of the lake, we have to be very careful when it comes to wind and the direction it is coming from. If possible, we will try to avoid traveling on days they forecast waves of more than two feet in height.

Charlevoix Harbor Marina
We've rested, our boat will have it's check up - we are ready to continue! Can't wait to see what's next.

Tina & Papi

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with" 

– Charles Schultz