This narrative is a bit shorter than my others. Perhaps the brevity will be an improvement. Our trip begins on the highway, hauling the boat up north to meet Lake Michigan's waters.
|Date:||Tuesday, July 3, 2001|
|Weather:||Cloudy and scattered showers|
|Departure:||Beverly Hills, Michigan|
|Distance:||275 miles by highway|
[Text in this style type is from contemporaneous notes taken during the cruise--JWH.] 0700 Still packing gear and supplies 0820 On the road at last 1200 Wrong turn S. of Cadillac, oops... 1330 Rolling up the highway north from Traverse City 1415 Arrive Northport 1430 Launch boat at municipal marina ramp (Fee $1)
The highway trip is about 275 miles, which takes about six hours when you are hauling a trailer and contrained to a maximum of 55 MPH most of the way. The launching facility at Northport is excellent, a nice paved ramp into the protected water inside the breakwall. As we plan to leave the car for several days, the harbormaster asks us to haul our trailer to a storage lot a mile up the road, then return and park our truck in an auxillary lot near the ramp. This leaves trailer parking space in the local lot for boaters coming just for the day.
The boat slides off the trailer without a hitch--this is always the easier part of trailer boating. The engines start up, and we are pleased to see that some repairs done over the winter by my trusted mechanics appear to be accomplished in good order. We idle over to the seawall and tie up in one of the last remaining spaces. The harbor is filled to capacity by 2 p.m. on a Tuesday!
|Marina:||Northport Municipal Marina|
|Mooring:||Along seawall. Flat rate = $19|
|Dock height:||At least 5 feet above water. Difficult to get on or off boat|
|Bathroom:||4 urinals + 3 stalls|
|Showers:||3 showers. Shower heads have ultra-fine, skin-piercing spray nozzles|
|Winds:||Light from SW|
|Waves:||One foot or less|
1500 Tied to seawall inside marina. We got the next to last space in the marina 1600 Short cruise into Northport Bay. Tachs working(!)
Once we have covered all the other details with the marina ofice, moved the trailer, and parked the truck (as close as possible to the dock), we settle onto the boat. The weather is perfect, a sunny day with a gentle breeze. Everything is in order, so why not go for a boat ride? We cast off and head out into Northport Bay, whose waters are calm in the lee of the peninsula from the southwest breeze. We cruise around the bay for thirty minutes, letting the engines warm up and running some fuel through the system, which I overhauled this spring. Both tachometers are finally working. After ten months of ownership, two repairs, and about $600 invested, I can now read the crankcase speed of both engines. If I had only known what a chore this repair was going to be, I would driven a harder bargain when buying the boat last August.
In late afternoon we return to the marina, where I reclaim our precious space along the seawall. The next pair of Whalers should be arriving soon, the team of Larry (LHG) and Larry (LCG) Goltz, father and son, driving up from Illinois with a pair of beautiful Boston Whalers, one 18-feet and the other 25-feet in length.
1800 LHG due to arrive. 2130 Call LHG on cellular telephone. Still almost an hour away 2145 We go to late dinner
We must be the last cruising boaters on earth to not have a cellular telephone with us. We borrow one from a friendly neighbor and connect with Larry on the road. He is still an hour away! We have to go to dinner without them. Up the road we walk, into the charming little village of Northport for dinner at a local tavern. We arrive just in time. The kitchen has just closed, but they'll take our order (if it's for a burger and fries) as the last one. A cold LABATT BLUE smoothes out the rough spots of the day.
|Restaurant:||Woody's Settlin' Inn|
|Setting:||Small town tavern|
|Ambience:||Northern resort bar|
|Meal:||Beer and burgers|
|Price:||1/2-pound Burger ($7), huge basket of Fries ($3), Labatts on tap ($3)|
2230 Goltz's arrive 2245 WHALE LURE and T/T WHALE LURE in the water [T/T means "Tender To" as in a larger ship] 2300 Raft along seawall
Finshed with our late meal by ten-thirty, we get back to the ramp just as the Goltz's arrive. Two twin Whalers pulled by twin Cadillac sedans occupy the ramp area for about five minutes--this is all the time it takes for these experienced boaters to get their two boats off the trailers, into the water, and started up and running. It is quite a sight and a marvel of efficiency compared to some of the usual ramp and boat trailer antics that go on.
With the marina office long closed, we make our own arrangements on the sea wall, with the smaller of the new boats snuggling in on the wall with us and Larry (LHG) moving the larger WHALE LURE into an empty slip at the now closed gas dock.
The six-day narrative continues in Day Two.
Copyright © 2001 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared June 2002.