Monday, August 20, 2012

Mackinaw, MI

We left Drummond on a cloudy but otherwise lovely day. The seas were almost calm with only a hint of a breeze. It was a forty-three mile leg to our next destination Mackinaw City, Michigan.

Now, let’s get something out into the open. Michiganders need to get their pronunciation straight. There are two Mackinaws. The first, Mackinaw City, is where we stayed, at the Mackinaw City Marina to be exact. No problem there. The other is the resort island of Mackinac Island. That’s “MACK N NACK” according to the rules of pronunciation that I grew up with. But according to the locals on the island and other Michiganders its “MACK N NAW” also, like the city where we were. Whatever, it’s their state. That’s silly, folks. And this coming from someone from the state of Missouri, pronounced “MIZ UR EE” or “MIZ UR UH”, depending on what part of the state you’re from. (Fyi, I’m from St. Louis so it’s with the EE, though occasionally the hillbilly in me slips out and I will use the UH version.)

Mackinaw City was a great stop. The city marina was a great facility with very up to date shore side amenities. As I have said before municipal marinas are generally above average marinas and this one was, too. The washrooms were very modern and quite huge, the slips were very spacious and the marina itself was adjacent to downtown Mackinaw City where everything was within a short pleasant walking distance. It is a tourist town with a wide main street with seemingly countless tee-shirt and fudge stores. Very pleasant. There was also a chandlery and dock yard on site which came in handy as we stayed there for five days and four nights and took the opportunity to get our ship’s horn replaced as the old pneumatic horn was completely defunct. We did go exploring around Mackinaw City on several occasions and though we did not buy any souvenirs it was fun mingling with all the vacationers.
The Mackinaw Bridge

Mackinac Island

A Mackinaw to Mackinac Island Ferry

The weather during this time was good for being in a marina and for not being out on the water. It did rain a couple of times but the main downer was the wind. It was pretty windy during the entire time we were there and this caused us to extend our stay there one day. But that was ok with us because it gave us a chance to head over to Mackinac Island (That’s with an “AW”.) for a day. Ross and Laura of The Zone were there and we were looking forward to seeing them.

To get to the island from the mainland we boarded one of the many ferry boats that cross the waters at the location. The Shepler Ferry line was located at our marina. We boarded the boat about 10:00 am on Saturday the 18th and we flew to the island in just 16 minutes. The same distance took us almost an hour to cover in our boat when we were coming into the area. (Our incoming course went right by the island’s harbor.) That boat flew! It carried 200 people of so and it was packed but it managed to get up on plane and scooted across to the water like a bullet. What was even more impressive was that though it was a sunny day the waves were in the five to eight foot range due to the high winds. It was quite a ride.

Mackinac Island is a pretty cool place. The best word to describe it would be “charming”. There are no cars on the island save for a police SUV, an ambulance and a fire engine. Otherwise everything moves on horse drawn wagons or bicycles. The wagons are everywhere hauling people and freight to and from all of the tourist attractions and hotels. For instance when we got off of the boat we walked past a pier that a vehicle ferry would pull into where trucks would drive off of, the freight would be off loaded onto the wagons and off they would go. There was even a UPS horse drawn wagon delivering packages.

We first walked over to the marina and found Laura and Ross on The Zone. We walked to a lovely hotel and had lunch on a patio overlooking the water. It was all very posh. Then Lisa and I set off to explore the island. We visited the official island museum and learned about its history. Apparently Mackinac Island changed hands several times during its early days from the French, to the British, to America, back to the British again, then finally back into American hands at the conclusion of the War of 1812.
Grand Hotel

An Old Timey Baseball Game

Grand Hotel

The biggest landmark is the Grand Hotel. It is a very historic and, well, grand hotel on the west side of the island. And it is very exclusive. They even charge you 10 bucks just to be able to walk into the place. And as we weren’t in the mood to shell out that kind of money to go in and say, “Hmm. This looks like a grand hotel,” we settled on walking to it then splitting off onto a path that took us down to the waterfront. It was there that we received positive affirmation that we did not set off in our boat. The waters were very turbulent. We later learned that the Coast Guard was reporting waves were surpassing eight feet. We then went back to the marina for a glass of wine and great conversation with Ross and Laura.

Ferry boat captains are a breed apart from other boat captains. Each run means money for the company so anything short of an attacking Russian submarine, a water spout or a great white whale standing in their way is nothing more than a nuisance to them. As soon as our ferry pulled away from its pier on the island and cleared the harbor jetties he opened it up and we once again were hurtling across the high seas on our way back to Mackinaw City. My gosh it was a wild ride, but boy was it fun.

Sunday morning came and we were rewarded for our caution. The conditions were perfect for our fifty mile cruise to our next destination, Charlevoix, Michigan.