The Amazing Grace

Let Your Dreams Set Sail

Lake Michigan

         It is wonderful to be back on the boat.  Everything on the boat looked just like when we left.  Big thanks are in order to the Cheboygan County Marina.  While the Amazing Grace was there, two of my brothers and their families visited her.  Ed, in fact, had people ask him if the boat was for sale.  The marina also confirmed that many other people had been asking the same question.   We took a day to do laundry and get provision, thanks again to the harbor master for loaning us a vehicle.  We bought lots of thermal wear to keep us warm.  Now our biggest concern is getting out of the lake before the marinas close for the winter.

         First a short 15 mile trip to Mackinac Island.  As always the wind was right on the bow, showing us which way to go, with 2-3 foot waves.  The Grand Hotel sure was beautiful as we approached and the numerous Mac Island ferries to bring the tourists across from mainland MI.

The shot we have travelled 3,800 miles to get, Cindy’s Family on the boat. 

         Now about 30 miles and we enter the waterways in Chicago to work our way to Mobile, Alabama. 

The gorgeous clear blue water was the biggest surprise since we haven’t seen water this beautiful since The Florida Keys.  What a surprise as we docked as we could see all the rocks on the bottom in twelve feet of water.   As we pulled into the marina, we were greeted by the owners of the only other sailboat there.  Back in August, when we were looking at stopping here, there were no slips available.  No problem two months later.  Imagine!   

         We had a glorious day on Mackinac Island, sunny and a little warmer.   We pulled out our folding bikes and went for an 8.2 mile ride all the way around the island. 

With the exception of an ambulance there are no cars allowed on the island.  This is because the first cars on the island scared the horses and the City Council passed an ordinance banning cars.  It is odd having to get used to manuvering around only horses, bikes, and walkers. 

Arch Rock and Big Mac Next we headed to The Grand Hotel, most famous for the movie Somewhere in Time.

Pictured is the Grand Hotel’s entrance and the largest porch in the world. We enjoyed walking the grounds and eating at their lunch buffet in the 1,000 seat dining room. 

Two famous scenes from the movie.  Of course, we watched the movie again the first night in port, to remind us of all the movie locations we would be seeing.  Mackinac Island is the second designated National Park behind Yellowstone Park.  Historically, we were impressed with Fort Mackinac.         

It is most famous for being the first battle of the War of 1812 in which captured by the British in a sneak attack.

         The next day the Gales of November hit Michigan in October.  We were beaten pretty badly in our slip in the marina which had no protection from the howling eastern wind.  Cindy was getting seasick on board, so off we went in the cold rain for lunch and then to kill in few hours reading at the island public library.  We got back to the boat and Scott pulled out almost every line we own to secure the boat even better.  It was such a ferocious night that we wore through and broke 3 dock lines.  It was the worst day/night we have ever spent in a marina. 

         What a relief Saturday when we woke up with light winds and were able to leave.  This is the point most north that we will reach and now we are heading back south.  Yay!  

Here are the pictures we were able to take as we approached the bridge.  It is not quite the picture that they took of the Royal Ship Britania under the bridge but we are happy with them.  By about noon we were going under the bridge listening to all the cars drive over above.  It reminded Cindy of the last trip she took with her dad when they walked the bridge on Labor Day back in 1973.

         We motored the rest of the day to Beaver Island in light rains, with the cockpit enclosure keeping us dry and comfortable.   As we approached the island we saw the only other sailboat on the lake also headed for the harbor.  It was a gaff-rigged schooner called the Manitou out of Traverse City.  It seemed to be a take on passengers as crew, sailing experience, adventure.  The race was on, into the harbor, to drop anchor.  We patiently waited for them to turn up into the wind to drop sails and anchor and we motored past them to anchor in a perfect spot. 

The weather held and we spent the next day sailing on to South Manitou Island for another night at anchor in a beautiful natural harbor.  We love a good night sleep being sheltered from the winds.  The next 24 hours were spent motor sailing to Muskegon.  We enjoyed the beautiful Michigan shoreline from rock cliffs to sand dunes.  The sunrise brought building seas so we ducked into Lake Muskegon to find a protected marina. LM 18 Passing Silversides, the most decorated WWII sub.   We pulled into the slip next to a sailboat from Athens, MI, Cindy’s hometown.  Within hours the winds built to gale force, with the gusts during the night of up to 62 mph.  We sure were happy the marina sheltered us from the winds.  The next day there was so much sand washed up in peoples yards that people were giving it away for free.

         Finally we were within 2.5 hours of  Cindy’s Family. The main reason for bringing our boat on the Great Loop was to visit with family and to show them the boat.  The first week-end was spent it “on land” visiting the ole’ hometown sights.  The highlights were the Friday night Homecoming Football game at Cindy’s high school, meeting the new in-law family by engagement, and celebrating a third birthday.    Even though the state is still experiencing record breaking cold weather and rain, we were warmed with memories re-lived with each retelling by family and friends. 

         As we were turning into the channel to leave Lake Muskegon, the high temp engine alarm sounded.  Cindy turned us back into the lake as Scott went on his trouble shooting search for the cause of the alarm.  The fresh water engine coolant pump was leaking due to failed bearings.  Scott’s provisioning of spares came through again, we had a complete spare water pump on board.  We were back on the move again after just 2 hours, from engine off to engine back on.  Off we went on another round the clock motor sailing with 2-4 waves, luckily we were going with the (very cold) wind not against it.  We pulled into the Michigan City, Indiana harbor right at sunrise, in the freezing rain,  to wait for the marina to open at 8.  Eight o’clock came and no employees showed up, they all showed up an hour late!  Our Luck, not really, later we found out that IN is on central time and we hadn’t noticed the change in time on our cell phone.  We tied up and couldn’t wait to get the electricity hooked up to our heat pump central  heating.  Cindy kept looking for water to come out the discharge.  At bit later, Scott finally determined that the cooling water had frozen in the lines.  Luckily a switch to cooling mode thawed it out and the switch back to heat warmed us up very quickly.  The next two days in the cold were spent getting ready to unstep the masts and then unstepping the mast.  Having the experience once back in NY to enter the Erie Canal, sure did make the second time a lot easier.  We are now a motor boat again.  ;) 

         Finally the second week-end around the family arrived. Saturday Scott got the wires we had run back in NY hooked up to the anchor winch and generator.  Now we are able to get rid of the battery in the bow.  Good thing, the battery had gone bad and now we don’t have to buy another $150 battery.  Yeah.  We spent the afternoon being chauffeured by Cindy’s HS friends Cherry and LaVern to two boat stores, liquor store, and grocery store.  With the provisioning done, we went to the Galveston Steak House

, a nice reminder of home and then off to the casinos.  With our newly acquired skills acquired at the new casino near Battle Creek celebrating Mary Etta’s Bday and with Cherry’s guidance we spend a very enjoyable evening winning a little at the slots. 

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