We are still assembling our cruising mates in Northport.
|Date:||Wednesday, July 4, 2001|
|Weather:||Fair but Cold front approaching|
|Waves:||[We're in the harbor]|
|Distance:||15 miles round trip|
0200 Rain showers during night. 0800 First night sleeping aboard. Berth was comfortable.
We awaken from out first night of sleeping in the cabin of our comparatively small boat. The accommodations were excellent, thanks to some modifications we made to the berths which have turned the space under the forward deck into one large vee-shaped bed. The spring has been spent preparing the boat and this cabin for overnighting. One thing we've learned from our Whaler cruising mentor LHG, it is a great advantage to able to sleep on the boat: you don't have to worry about lodging. With marinas, they always have room for one more boat, especially one as small as ours, so your travel itinerary can be rather spontaneous, no advance reservations needed in most cases. You carry your motel room with you.
After turning out, some breakfast, and a shower at the marina bathhouse, we are ready for some more boating. Larry has to vacate his slip, so he brings WHALE LURE over and we raft up the three boats on the seawall.
Space was at a premium along the sea wall. I hold our four engines a proper distance apart while LCG secures the lines to T/T WHALE LURE
Photo Credit: LHG
1300 Short cruise south to Suttons Bay. 1530 Return to Northport.
After lunch/late breakfast, we cast off and take a cruise southward in Grand Traverse Bay. Between Omena and Suttons Bay we find a newly built marina belonging to the Grand Traverse Band of Indians. Much controversy over their fishing activities in the local waters has occured in the past decades. Well-funded by income from their gaming casino at Peshawbistown, the Indian tribe finally bought their way down to the water by acquiring land contiguous to their original reservation. The last several hundred feet needed for access to the beach necessitated buying a 26-mile-long railroad right-of-way at a cost of multiple millions of dollars.
We motor slowly into the marina, whose depths are a bit shallow due to the comparatively low water in the lake. Inside the breakwall only tribal fishing boats appear. We get a wary glance from some of the fellows ashore, conveying the feeling that visits by cruising yachtmen are somewhat out of the ordinary. Our curiosity satisfied, we retreat to the open waters of the bay.
Further south we similarly cruise through a private marina associated with a shoreside condominium. Chris likes the notion of condo living with the boat at a dock. It's a nice way to go, but such luxury is expensive.
Grand Traverse Bay
Here are two Whalers cruising along on plane on a nicely calm stretch of the bay. (Technical note: in the inset I have compared the trim angles of the two boats.)
Photo Credit: LHG
This afternoon we limit our progress to the waters of Suttons Bay, then head back north. The Farnsworth's should be arriving soon by highway from Ohio trailering a fourth Boston Whaler to join our fleet.
1600 Farnsworth's arrive with BACKLASH. 1630 Four boats rafted along seawall. 1700 Depart for Northport Point in BACKLASH and WHALE LURE. T/T WHALE LURE and CONTINUOUSWAVE remain on seawall.
About 4 p.m. the last of our cruising companions arrives and launches their boat. By now the marina is completely jammed, and we are forced into a three-deep raft of boats along the seawall. Fortunately, there is not much boat traffic in the marina, and our protrusion into the fairway does not cause a problem.
There is something undeniably "cool" about twin engines. Here are three pairs, 70's, 115's, and 200's, on the transom of our Boston Whalers. That totals 770 horsepower.
Photo Credit: LHG
|Waves:||One foot or less, going to NW, were from SW|
Steve and Caroline are itching to go boating, so we unraft the two outer boats, and embark on a cruise to survey the lake conditions. We speed eastward around the tip of Northport Point and northward into the open water of Grand Traverse Bay. The weather has been moderating all afternoon, and the breeze is down to a zephyr. Several miles offshore the lake is as smooth as glass.
We caucus while drifting in the beautiful deep blue fresh water of Lake Michigan. Should we go now, rather late in the day, and strike out for Charlevoix, our next port of call? The conditions on the lake are perfect for the trip, but other matters suggest we stay put.
The marina fees have already been paid for the night in Northport, and there is no guarantee of space for four boats in Charlevoix if we arrive so late, particularly on the eve of the holiday. Besides, I argue, we have a ringside seat for the big fireworks display tonight, a local attraction of some reknown.
Although there seems to be an urge to start the real cruising portion of our trip, I succeed in convincing everyone to stay put for the night. We head back to Northport for more marina bound idling, and then a cruise out to dinner to Suttons Bay.
1745 Lake Michigan off Northport Point We debate about leaving for Charlevoix tonight. Slip fees here already paid. Some concern about crowd coming for fireworks display. Conditions excellent for crossing Lake. Decide to stay. Quick run back to Northport
|Waves:||Less than one foot|
1900 Depart Dinner Cruise to Suttons Bay in WHALE LURE 1945 Arrive Suttons Bay. Tie to "Day Use" dock. (Fee $1)
In order to combine more boating with going out to dinner, we all pile aboard WHALE LURE and head south in search of a meal. The large cockpit of this 25-foot boat has ample room for all seven of us. The bay waters are nearly calm and the ride on the big boat is fast and stable. We enter the municipal harbor at Suttons Bay and make fast to a public dock. On foot, we head out to find a suitable restaurant in the little town.
|Location:||Suttons Bay, Michigan|
|Setting:||Small town restaurant|
|Ambience:||Light woods and field stones|
|Meal:||Salad, breaded perch, fresh broiled whitefish, cottage fries.|
|Price:||Dinner entrees $15|
Dinner turns out to be decent, although not memorable. We pile into the boat and head back. Dusk is approaching and there is quite a bit of boat traffic heading to Northport, all we presume intent on seeing the fireworks.
2130 Depart Suttons Bay Very nice run back to Northport at dusk. Encounter vessel crossing our track. Vessel ignores rules of the road and stands on while crossing our path from our port to our starboard. We have to slow and turn to avoid him. Clueless boater! 2200 Arrive Northport. Flotilla of boats anchored for fireworks display 2215 Fireworks begins. Initially not too impressive. Ultimately quite a show! Very good for local fireworks. Very close range to us.
By the time we enter the harbor it is nearly dark. A large number of boats are anchored off the marina in the bay to observe the fireworks, which will be launched from the beach just a few hundred feet south of our boat. We have a ringside seat.
The pyrotechnics begin slowly, but they steadily build into quite a crescendo, enough noise and aerial display to satisfy the most skeptical of us. Ash from the overhead explosions drifts down on us and our boats.
Having spent all day outside and mostly on the water, sleep comes without hesitation after we retire following the end of the celebration.
The six-day narrative continues in Day Three.
Copyright © 2001 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared June 2002.