Crossing Lake Michigan

On Monday, May 7, we took off from Fish Creek, Wisconsin for South Manitou Island on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. We debated about crossing to a Summer Island anchorage which would follow a northerly route on the Lake but the winds weren’t quite right and the reviews of the anchorage wasn’t great.

The winds were perfect to sail southerly across the Lake and we decided a few years ago, it is best to go where the winds take you – its way more fun!

Fish Creek to Washington Island was 12nm and Washington Island to South Manitou Island was 48nm. The photo below is the last light at Washington Island – every tree on the island looked like a gigantic stick. We weren’t sure if it was wind or a fire that caused the damage. The light is brick…

leaving washington island

We really expected that we’d sail into the anchorage close to dark, but again, the new sailboat surprised us by its speed! Below are photos of the sand dunes on the western shore of South Manitou Island as we approached in the late afternoon. The photos do not do justice for how tall they are – they create their own winds and we blew through the channel to the anchorage hitting 8 knots – the hull was humming happily and Chuck was again saying, what a great boat!

We made it in time to the anchorage to enjoy a happy hour and Chuck got to chat with Jeremy for a few minutes! Hi Jeremy!!

south manitou

We really enjoy sitting in the cockpit for happy hour with the dodger closed. The solar warmth from it is great when its been so cold on the open water. We shared a fabulous Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and some great Door County cheeses for dinner.

Unfortunately that night was tough at our first anchor. The wind came up around 1:30 a.m. from the west and it blew up and over the big sand dunes on the western side of the island. We had an anchor alarm on in case we moved but it was the first time using it as well. By sunrise, we had not moved an inch and I barely slept a wink…not good. Give me coffee!

In the morning, when we sailed out and we took the photo below of the South Manitou light and visitor’s center. The second lighthouse was off North Manitou island on a rock like Rock of Ages and was being repainted.

We crossed the Manitou Passage channel to the town of Leland, Michigan to stop for lunch. We were really jonesing for some Dockside-type food – chowder and fish and chips. The Harbormaster recommended the Cove for lunch and it was beautiful.

We sat outside next to the river where the steelheads from the lake were trying to jump over the damn. I didn’t know this, but steelhead are actually rainbow trout. It just depends where they are living is what they get called. Steelhead in the big water, rainbow trout in a lake.

The photo below is taken on Leland’s river where the fisherman used to live and dock their boats. It is still in use as shops and restaurants.

leland dock 2

After lunch we headed towards Beaver Island in Northern Lake Michigan, another 40 plus nm crossing. No wind after we got into the middle of the lake so we happily motored along and arrived at Beaver Island’s municipal marina at 10 p.m. Again, we were the only sailboat in the marina and it wasn’t open for business yet.

We planned to stay in Beaver Island for two nights because the weather was supposed to be rainy with a chance of thunderstorms. It only rained and was cold from the NW winds blowing in. We really enjoyed the island – only locals around with lots of stories. We spent some time watching the ferry unload. Four forklifts to unload all of the supplies and in record time too!

The green tugs below are part of the lighthouse display on the island.

Sidenote…took my first shower onboard crossing the Lake because the engine makes hot water. It wasn’t too bad either. It was nice to be able to wash my hair!

2 thoughts on “Crossing Lake Michigan

  1. Wow! What voyageurs you are! I love your write-up and glad to hear you know when to go dockside and get some food and warmth from the Islanders! Take care and bon voyage!!


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