From Sault Sainte Marie we travelled down the main shipping channel of the Saint Mary’s River to return to Lake Huron near its western end, a distance of about 50 miles. It was then a turn to the west, and roughly another 50 miles to Mackinac (pronounced mac-in-aw) Island, which is located in the Straits of Mackinac, where Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.
This island has a long and interesting history as a fur trading centre, military fortification and tourist destination. Most noticable among its unique features is the lack of motorized transportation of any kind – horse drawn carriages, bicycles, and foot power rule (pretty much in that order). Suffice it to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this interesting historical place.
When we left Canada at Sault Sainte Marie we also left behind the warm and mostly sunny weather we had so far enjoyed. During the first two weeks of August the state of Michigan experienced unseasonably cool (and sometimes record low) temperatures for summertime. This often meant we wore layers of clothing while on the bridge, sometimes with a blanket added for good measure, especially if it was a particularly windy day. Why don’t we go below to use the comfortable and completely suitable lower helm, you ask? The better to see and experience the sights and environment around us, we say! (Unless it’s raining, then discretion becomes the better part of valour).
Despite the often cool and occasionally blustery conditions while cruising on the big lakes, our anchorages were usually calm and pleasantly warm, with good protection and holding (and sometimes, swimming). Only when a very serious set of thunderstorms ripped through northern Michigan in the middle of the night did we get up to ensure our security (there were 40-50 knot gusts for a while, but the anchor held fine). And what a light show we saw!
We admit to preconceived notions about much of Lake Michigan being somewhat industrial and perhaps a bit dreary. Boy, were we wrong! Although the very lower end becomes heavily populated and industrialized, the majority of the lake’s east coast is not. And although they have industrial roots going back to the 1800’s, most of the towns we visited – Harbour Springs, Charlevoix, Frankfort, Manistee, Pentwater, Grand Haven, Saugatuck – are neat and tidy, green and clean, and bursting with flowers. A definite resort flavour now rules the day (at least in summer). We were also extremely impressed with the clarity and cleanliness of Lake Michigan, which is generally a beautiful shade of turquoise blue. This is especially true close to shore, because of the very sandy (not rocky) conditions that extend for most of the east coast shoreline. Who knew it would look so much like the ocean, and a somewhat tropical one at that.
As always, pictures can say more than words, so here they are…….
PS In order to make it easier for some of our viewers to see the pictures without have to scroll from side to side, we have reduced their size. We’re not sure if this will enhance (more convenient) or detract (less scope to the pictures) from the site, and we would appreciate your feedback on this question. Thanks!
Here is a simple map of Lake Michigan showing some of the places we visited along lake’s the east coast.
We’ll be taking a break from cruising for the next few weeks while we visit Vancouver for the wedding of our son, Ryan, and his fiance, Joanne. When we return in September we’ll leave Lake Michigan and begin our journey down the inland rivers, eventually all the way to the Gulf Coast. Look for our next post, which will include pictures of our Chicago adventures, sometime around mid-September.