Northeast Lake Michigan Heritage, Part 2

The clear water of Grand Traverse Bay made it seem like our 18 ton boat was floating in mid-air

We continued our journey to our most southern Lake Michigan destination for the summer, Suttons Bay in Grand Traverse Bay for two nights.

An intermediate stop was the bay by Northport, Michigan.

We left our anchorage at Lake Charlevoix’s South Arm at 8:30 am to make the 10:00 am Bascule Bridge opening in Charlevoix. We arrived at 9:55 and proceeded through at 10 to Lake Michigan.

Our progress was uneventful until we rounded the corner from Charlevoix and headed down Grand Traverse Bay.

The weather was winds from the south at 15-20 knots, generating a pretty good set of waves coming north from the long fetch from the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay.

We reduced speed and snuck along the eastern shore for a time before pointing Selkie’s bow towards Northport.

Crossing a quartering sea made life a little more comfortable with Selkie’s stabilizers. We were able to go back to our normal speed.

While crossing, I had the radar on with a chart overlay. I was happy to see some rain squalls on the radar, which helped us be better prepared for when we entered them.

It was fascinating to see the dense rain appear, shift shape and then disappear.

Two rain squalls appear here. One to Selkie’s port side stern quarter and one ahead of Selkie more to the north. A small squall appears just to Selkie’s starboard bow.
The small rain squall that was to Selkie’s starboard bow really intensified and followed us across Grand Traverse Bay. The other two had pretty much disappeared by this time.

We crossed without incident and entered the bay by the point across from Northport.

The winds that were coming from the south were supposed to intensify and swing around to come out of the north. We chose an anchorage that was suitable for that.

After dropping anchor, the weather cleared, and we relaxed. Libbie caught her second Smallmouth Bass. She also paddle boarded for a while. I just took it all in.

The next day, we headed to Suttons Bay where we had a 2 night reservation.

The trip to Suttons Bay was uneventful as we had those north winds generating a following sea.

Once we got to Suttons Bay, we realized that our place in the harbor was close to the end of the break wall, so it was a bit of a rocky berth for a while.

That evening, the winds died and we had a very comfortable berth.

The reason that we went to Suttons Bay was that we had yet another family reunion, this time on my mother’s side of the family.

It was great to catch up with some cousins I have not seen in a long time. In a couple of cases, it has been decades.

We are a bit of a prank playing family on my mom’s side, starting with my grandfather.

True to form, as the reunion wound down, I received a special door prize from a special cousin at the reunion.

My special prize at my family reunion

It was a fun time.

The next day, Lib and I rode our bikes along one of the many great Rails to Trails bike trails in Northern Michigan.

This one went from Suttons Bay to Traverse City along the old railroad line that used to service the west side of Grand Traverse Bay.

Some of the great scenery in Northern Michigan along a great paved bike trail
One can clearly see the railroad grade going through a tunnel of trees. There are many bike trails in Northern Michigan like this.

After a good night’s rest, we headed back to Charlevoix, where we had a 2 nights reservation at the marina we could not get into before.

The trip back up was in calm seas and uneventful.

Calm and following seas on Selkie

We pulled into Charlevoix and tied up.

We rode our bikes around town, including past the hospital where I were born. It was a smaller hospital. It had the same red brick color from more than 60 years ago, but the building itself had been refreshed and updated a few times since.

The next day, we hopped on our bikes again and headed to another part of town. We walked some dunes at the park on the north side, and then went back to Selkie.

That evening before dinner, we gathered with more than a dozen other Loopers and had a great evening of Docktales, making some new acquaintances.

One of the couples we met was from Maine near a town where one of Libbie’s parents best friends were from. As it turned out, the couple knew those friends. We spoke of our memories of them, and marveled about what a small world it truly can be.

The next day we traveled down Lake Charlevoix to Boyne City where some of my cousins lived. As we had not spent much time together recently, it was important to spend time together.

It was also important that we come down because we were going to a Sugar House with some of my cousins where a bunch of their friends brewed beer together regularly.

A Sugar House is a place where maple sap is boiled down into maple syrup. It sits idle in the summer usually, but this band of friends who work in the spring for 6 weeks to make syrup make beer together the rest of the time.

It’s quite the set up.

At the Sugar House they set up quite a series of beer taps. We enjoyed sampling everyone’s work all night.
The main part of the Sugar House, with the syrup making equipment on the right and the beer brewing equipment on the left. Did you know it takes 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup?

We enjoyed our time with our cousins and their friends, telling stories, sipping different brews and eating. It was a great night.

The next day was a fun day as well.

We went on another bike ride to Boyne Mountain.

Libbie in front of Boyne Mountain.

It was a reflective time for Libbie, as the last time she had come to Boyne Mountain, she was an eight year old, with her sister, mom and grandmother. It was a girls weekend and she had a wonderful memory of the trip.

Lib and I at the entrance to Boyne Mountain

We went back to the boat and got ready to meet our cousins again.

We went to a JV football game and then dinner with more cousins.

It was the first JV football game I’d been to since I played JV football.

My first 8 man JV football game ever

My cousin’s son only played the first quarter as he was also needed for the varsity team. They played 8 man football, which I had not seen in a looong time.

We then went out to dinner. Stories were told, more laughter ensued, and we resolved that next year we would spend more time together than a decade at a time. It was a great evening.

When we got back to the boat, a siren went off. It was 9:30. They still have curfew sirens in Boyne City.

Selkie at Curfew

We then headed to Harbor Springs on another calm day.

I do have to mention that not all days we traveled were calm. When we were in Boyne, the winds howled down the lake at 30 knots. It wasn’t until the day we left when they calmed down.

Harbor Springs is a pretty cool place, and one where Lib and I were to celebrate 38 trips around the sun as a married couple.

The harbor was changed from what I remembered as a young man, but it was beautiful nevertheless.

Lib and I went to dinner at a restaurant at the foot of the dock to celebrate our anniversary, and the restaurant did not disappoint.

The next day, we rode our bikes from Harbor Springs to Petoskey, another town where I had lived for a couple years.

It was a long ride on a hot windy day, but we made it there and back.

We then grabbed our swimsuits and swam at the public beach down the street from the dock. The water was cool and cleansing after our hot dry ride.

This afternoon we moved Selkie to an anchorage next to the marina where we stayed. We enjoyed the marina, but there was a lot of foot traffic next to Selkie, and we wanted a little more privacy, and we had to get ready for our trip north back to the Straits of Mackinac.

Selkie at anchorage in Harbor Springs

We dinghied around the harbor like many were doing on this Labor Day Weekend. We ate dinner on the boat and enjoyed another Great Lake Michigan sunset.

The half moon setting with another great sunset.

We will continue on Selkie for less than a week more before we put Selkie in storage next Thursday, and then return to Tahoe for the winter in Friday

We have cleaning and tidying up to get Selkie ready to be put to bed. There’s a punch list for things we need done for Selkie while she is in the yard this winter.

We expect we will be back on her for more adventures next June. But we is flexible, and time is on our side.

I’ll do one more post for Selkie this year, reflecting on what a ride it’s been.

In the meantime, I appreciate all the interest you’ve shown in our summer on Selkie, and look forward to continuing the journey next year.


By Tad Sheldon

I'm a retired Silicon Valley Technologist and Director. I teach skiing as a 4th (5th? 6th?) career for fun, and am passionate about Boating. I'm even more passionate about my family and friends. I volunteer occasionally for non-profit Boards, and currently serve as the Secretary of the Board for Western Division of the Professional Ski Instructors of America / American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

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