Yesterday morning we shot out early in order to beat the ferry traffic. Did we mention that ferries suck? Unless you want to go over to the other side, of course, in which case they’re quite helpful. Passing under the famous Mackinaw Bridge put us into Lake Michigan. At 5 miles, Mighty Mac supposedly is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. We can’t confirm that through personal knowledge, of course, but do know it’s pretty hard to get the whole thing in one photo.
Counting our distant view of Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior from the International Bridge—which obviously shouldn’t really be counted—Lake Michigan is our 4th Great Lake. Across the lake we got some morning sun through a porthole window. No wind, blue skies. Beautiful day for cruising.
The goal of every Looper is to chase 75° highs. Warm enough to pilot from the flybridge, cool enough to explore outside and to sleep with open hatches and no AC at night. The east coast part of the Loop we spent trying to stay one step ahead of the hot stuff. With a few big exceptions, we were successful. Now we’re trying to stay ahead of the cold stuff. Mackinaw City, for example, is getting cooler by the minute. If we stay much longer we’ll regret putting the fleece sheets in storage.
Getting out of these lakes before winter isn’t just a comfort thing. We passed over wrecks of a bunch of ships which sank in many cases because of ice or fierce winter gales. As one example, the brig Sandusky sank in 1871. All 7 aboard died.
Dottie probably thinks it was a conspiracy created by the dead sailors’ families to get insurance money, but either way we’re turning south none too soon. We don’t want to become a summer dive spot.
We’ve now spent time in dozens of small towns that nobody from Texas or Tennessee ever heard of. Most of them have a certain charm, but a few really stand out as spectacularly cool. Clayton, New York, is one of those. Harbor Springs, Michigan—where we’ve spent the last two days—is another one. Part of that is the Walstrom Marina, which although buried behind a crowd of moored boats, kayakers, wind-surfers and the like, is quite accommodating. Plus the vintage sign says they cater to high-class clientele and those with hay fever. We don’t have hay fever, so figure that makes us high-class.
They even loaned us the marina GEM car (which was just 2 seats shorter than Pearl from Rock Hall, Maryland.) Unfortunately, the car broke down 20 minutes and a couple of miles into the trip around town. The marina guy who came and rescued us from under the tree later said it was a bad battery, but Brent was driving so nobody really knows for sure.
Our dear friend Deb Sydenham strongly recommended a visit to Tom’s Mom’s Cookies, so the one of us who likes cookies stopped by during our stroll through town. Apparently the cookies are delicious, and in fact they ship them around the world so the claim of being “world famous” is closer to being true than the same claim by, say, Harold’s Fish & Chips in Killarney. Although Deb is married to our good friend Tom, we assume her suggestion was based on the cookies rather than on some undisclosed in-law relationship with Tom’s Mom.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the water up here in general and Harbor Springs in particular is the clarity. It’s just about like water in The Bahamas, if water in The Bahamas was 60°. We easily can see 20 feet or more to the bottom. We just can’t figure out where the fish hide. We looked alongside the docks. Nothing. We took a long ride around the harbor in Second Wave’s dinghy—which we helpfully suggested they name Micro Wave—but still nothing. The money people around here paid for expensive fishing boats seems foolishly spent. In fact, when said boats are usable less than half the year, buying any kind of boat seems questionable.
Today we did some quick math. We’ve travelled 1,510 nm in 80 days. That’s about 22 statute miles per day on average. The Donner Party probably made better time while pulling wagons uphill through the snow, at least until they stopped to eat Old Man Graves and little Lemuel. (You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but it seems kind of grisly to call it a “party.”) Anyway, we’re right on the pace we anticipated. If nothing unexpected happens, we should be through Chicago by around Labor Day, give or take a week.