Manitowoc, Wisconsin – September 3rd

The trip down Lake Michigan to Manitowoc was a little rough. We waited until after lunch which allowed the lake to calm down a little before getting underway.

In Manitowoc it was rainy, so we got our umbrellas out and walked around.

There was a 28 Boat memorial walk outside the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, with the USS Cobia SS-245 submarine that you could spend the night in… Again we didn’t get to go through the museum or sub, but interesting to know that there were 28 different subs built in the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company during WWII.

Larry found this cute park and decided to do the fountain dance in the rain! We found a great concert at the Warf on the lake where a “Heart” tribute band, called Heartless was playing. They were very good and reminded us of going to the Black Jacket Symphony in Bristol, VA in the past.

We walked by Legend Larry’s buffalo wings place on our way to the best Brisket at Smokey’s BBQ. Manitowoc was also known for the ferry from Michigan to Wisconsin — one of these giant ferry’s came in as we were leaving the marina the next day.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin – September 2nd

We waited for a good weather day to cut across Lake Michigan from Michigan to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It was a 55 mile trip across the lake — this was the narrowest distance across the lake. The Harbor Club Marina in Sturgeon Bay was very nice and like most places recently they had a help wanted sign too…

Next door was the Door County Maritime Museum. We didn’t get a chance to go there, but it had a submarine you could go aboard and the night-time picture was very neat.

Door County Maritime Museum across the water

We took a walk downtown and ran into this great bar with local Wisconsin Spotted Cow on Draft, and the best Prime Rib Sandwich ever at Greystone Castle — we split it, otherwise there is no way I could have eaten it all.

Greystone Castle was a pub decorated with lots of fish and wildlife that the owners and their family had caught.

Later that day we walked around Sturgeon Bay looking for a Cherry that Paula Hare (Sarah Bailey’s aunt) had painted. It was fun looking at all the different ones, and some were so creative, like the one of wine corks on an iron wine bottle and with flattened wine bottle leaves…

Frankfort, Michigan – September 1st

On our way to Frankfort we passed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore — these were huge sand piles on the shoreline. Then we saw the lighthouse at the entrance of Frankfort harbor and canal to Betsie Bay where we were stopping for the night.

Frankfort was our Lay-up to crossing Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay on the Wisconsin side. It was a cute little town with shops and downtown area just off the boat.

After a boat wash-down, we made our way downtown to the local Brewery and stopped for some Brats and Beer before an afternoon of walking and shopping.

Then we called it an early bedtime, as we would leave at 7AM to cross Lake Michigan.

Leland Township, Michigan – August 31st

Leland Harbor was an easy day from Charlevoix. We had a very casual day on Lake Michigan — and looking forward to the crossing coming after our next stop in Frankfort.

Larry saw this red Car-Boat drive out of the water — it was cool — look closely and you can see propellers under the back of the car.

We went exploring in Leland a historic fishing village — first stop was lunch — Walleye! Yum!! The restaurant was next to this lodge with a waterfall from the lake above that flowed out to Lake Michigan. Next was a walk to the beach — they had brought in a lot of sand in for the beach, and at the waterline it was mostly small pebbles.

A quick walk around town — we found the Leland Post Office and their champion Cottonwood Tree that was over 100 years old, 100 feet tall and 76 feet across before it was cut down in 2011.

The Historic District of Leland as a commercial fishing district was the most interesting part of this small town.

Fishing has been going on over a century from this small town and the fishing livelihood has been passed down for generations

Charlevoix City, Michigan – August 30th

The trip from Mackinaw City to Charlevoix was much rougher on upper Lake Michigan than we expected. After cleaning up a bit, we headed to land to get rid of our “sea legs”. The marina was very nice, it had a play fountain and a nice sitting area, made as a tribute to the Armed Forces. Town was right off the boat, so we stopped for a snack before heading to see the Mushroom Houses!

Just 2 blocks from the boat was several of these “Mushroom Houses”. They were designed and built using indigenous materials – local stone, etc. by a self-taught builder Earl A Young. He built these houses starting in 1919 until the seventies.

The next morning, we went for a bike ride to visit some more Mushroom Houses several blocks away from the Marina.

Before leaving Charlevoix, we saw this Boat named Baboo — had to take a picture of it, as this is the name of Brevan’s late Cat. Brevan said Baboo would probably have loved boating, as he did riding in the car!

Mackinaw City August 28-29

Saturday was a nice day to go across the water from Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City. The Ferry did cause a little rocking on the short trip (7 miles) to the mainland.

Once in Mackinaw City we did a walk around and found some history about the city, an arts and crafts outdoor market, and some shops.

One very interesting place was an indoor Italian restaurant decorated with a bunch of taxidermy. They also had beer and wine tasting.

We had dinner at this great bar called the Key — there must have been 10,000 keys all over this place. We met a couple of guys at dinner from Jamaica, and Larry showed them all his bar tricks.

The next day, we took a long walk out of town to check out a nearby walking trail — well it was about 4 miles out of town so ended up being 8 miles walking round trip. On the way to the park, we ran across the Heritage Village — a historic outdoor museum town — it was very interesting and we got there just as the sky opened up and poured the rain down on us. Luckily we got under this Welcome Center and Store building and the rain didn’t last too long. There was a 1922 pickup and a 19 10 metered gas pump inside the store building.

There was one quarantine building — they called this the Pest House. Interesting how things back then seem way too familiar to what is happening today with COVID.

We continued on to the trail at the Headlands – International Dark Sky Park. It had cooled off from the rain, so we stayed on the roadway since all the trails were muddy. There was an interesting audio program that we listened to about the constellations as we walked to the stargazing building.

We were quite tired after the 8 miles so stopped to have a cold one before retiring back to the boat for the night.

Mackinac Island, Michigan August 25-27

After getting our US Customs clearance to come back into the US, we left Canada early at 5 AM in the moonlight for the US. Our first stop was Mackinac Island in Michigan.

The Marina at Mackinac Island was nice and central to town and Marquette Park where there was a live concert one night.

We saw a small version of the statue of liberty donated by the Boy Scouts of America —

Seems that there are 200 of these around that the Boy Scouts donated between 1949 – 1952.

Mackinac Island has a downtown lined with bicycles — since there are no cars allowed on the island – only horse and buggy or bikes.

We had dinner at the Pink Pony overlooking the hotel pool and marina and the Ferry back to Mackinaw City from the island.

We rented bicycles and rode around part of the island. There were a lot of hills, so it was easy to get tired.

Fort Mackinac was high above the park overlooking the Marina. We spent some time there and watched the cannon firing demonstration. There were several things to see in the fort – a school, barracks, infirmary, etc. After a long day of touring around we had docktails on the dock with a few other boats doing the great loop.

The last day on Mackinac Island was stormy, with a high of only 62 degrees and 30 MPH winds all day and night. It was probably the worst weather we have had on the Great Loop. It was too windy and the lake was reported to have 6 foot waves so we opted to stay on the island one more day and wait for good weather to head to Mackinaw City.

Georgian Bay – Wrights Marina, Little Current City Docks and Blind River Marina in Ontario August 22-24th

We left Midland early – around 7 AM and headed into the Georgian Bay. The weather for the next few days was going to be great so we opted to go into the main bay instead of through the 30 thousand islands. We ran across one of our buddy boats, Aquaholic, who was heading the same direction. We both were going 8 mph, just enjoying the calm waters. Along the way, we thought we would blow a little soot out of our turbo chargers as we had been experiencing some chugging of the engine at times — like it wasn’t getting enough fuel. After a few minutes, our engines both quit and we were adrift in the Georgian Bay. Our buddy boat was checking with us and helped us trouble shoot the problem being fuel filters that had clogged. Luckily we had a new set of fuel filters on the boat, so once we changed those, we were back in business and underway once again.

We found the day so calm that we decided to move a little farther to where another buddy boat was – “What a Day”. They had opted to stay at Wright’s Marina in Britt, Ontario, so both us and Aquaholic decided to go there too. This was fun as we all went to a burger and ice cream joint for dinner, then played dice games until looper mid-night.

We left Wright’s Marina at 7:30 AM and headed out to the Georgian Bay — we intended to go as far as Killaney — but again, it was a fairly nice day on the water.

As we had an early start, we decided to continue on to Little Current Town Docks for the night — they also had power and water and moved us a little further along.

At Little Current Town Docks, we met some very nice Canadian Loopers, who wanted to come to America to continue their Great American Loop, unfortunately, the US Border was not open to Canadians. They could fly into America, but could not boat over. Seems dumb.

Our next stop was Blind River — This was a very small marina about 1 mile from town.

We took a walk downtown. Many places were closed and it was quite a sleepy little town.

Lauderdale Resort and Marina, Sparrow Lake August 20, then Midland, Ontario August 21

We left Port of Orillia the next morning with the goal to get to Port of Trent Severn to meet up again with Don and Leslie. The first obstacle was a railroad swing bridge that only opened starting at 9 AM. We refueled before arriving at this swing bridge at around 9:20 AM, just in time for the swing bridge to open. We were behind 3 other boats also waiting for swing bridge to open. Upon arriving at the first lock (Couchiching – just a little past the swing bridge) the Lockmaster told us that Swift Rapids Lock (next lock) was closed for maintenance and that we could stay at his lock wall for free but not to go onto the next lock. We had lunch on the Couchiching lock wall then started looking for a marina before Swift Rapids lock.

We found one marina just at the entrance of Sparrow Lake called Lauderdale Resort and Marina. We decided to go there for power and water since it was early and a hot day.

After getting tied up at the marina, we spent the afternoon catching up on laundry then had a nice dinner at their on-site grill — we sat at TABLE 8!! Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Don and Leslie, but postponed our visit with them for 1 more day.

The next morning we headed out early to get to Swift Rapids lock when they opened at 9AM.

Swift Lock is the deepest single chambered lock on the Waterway at 47 feet high.

After Swift Lock and the delay from the previous day, we decided to push past Port Severn to go all the way through the final 2 locks (Big Chute Marine Railway and Port Severn) and onto Midland, Ontario across the Severn Waterway and Midland Bay. There were lost of beautiful places and sculptures to see on the waterway.

Some places had their swim slide just outside on the water, and some places were the only house on a small island…

We also went over the Big Chute — a railway lift that takes you over the roadway and drops you off in water on the other side.

Big Chute coming down with boaters from the other side
Our boat entering the Big Chute – straps ready to pick us up

After arriving at Bay Port Yachting Center in Midland, Don and Leslie picked us up for dinner at a great little woodfired pizza joint, Dillons. We learned that Leslie and Don knew alot about Midland, Leslie’s family used to own a summer cottage here and so they were quite familiar with this area and Orillia and Port Severn. We had a second great evening with them here in Midland — both parties agreed we needed to get together back in Bradenton when we are all back there.

Port of Orillia – August 19

We finally made it to Port of Orillia, Ontario. We had been working to get here for a couple of days, but due to lock issues, we were delayed. It was good to be here.

We did a quick walk around town and of course found an Irish Pub for some refreshment and snack.

That evening, we were picked up by our friends from Tara Golf and Country Club, Don McIntyre and Leslie Bailey, who took us in Leslie’s new convertible BMW to the country club in Orillia where they were members – Braestone.

They treated us to a great dinner, and we had a lot of fun talking with them!

After dinner, Larry and Mary walked to the Couchiching Beach park near the marina to see the Champlain Monument — considered the one of the finest bronze statues in North America.

Unfortunately the monument was not there…