Crossing the border in Lake Huron, with the wind at our back
Contrary to our beautiful evening at anchor in Turnbull Island, North Channel, we woke to rain and wind the morning of September 6th…up to 20 MPH gusts. Fortunately, we were headed west, and the winds were behind us, so we essentially surfed to Drummond Island, MI.!
Drummond Island Yacht Haven
We spent two nights at Drummond Island Yacht Haven, largely to get our act together. We had cleaning, laundry and provisioning to do, and once we cleared customs, we got to it. As with Clayton, NY, there is no customs agent in Drummond Island. Rather, you log into an iPad and chat with a customs agent who can see you, but you can’t see them (a bit weird!). After a friendly chat, we signed off and were good to go….back in the USA!
U.S. Customs check in, Drummond Island, MI
There were a number of other Looper boats in port, and Ed and Kathy/Vitamin Sea, invited everyone over for docktails that first evening. We had a fun evening with them, along with Dick and Louise/Nine Lives and Linda/Time Takes 2, who was prepping to start the Loop in a couple of days!
Ed and Kathy/Vitamin Sea, Ed being secret agent silly on the dock
Since it was a rainy dreary day when we came into port here, we couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the water. We were stunned when the sun broke out the next day and we saw the gorgeous aqua water! We had been told that the waters in northern Michigan rival the Bahamas and Caribbean, but were still amazed. Spectacular!
Lake Huron, Drummond Island, MI
Nancy used the marina car (a $12 charge to drive a mile into town…whatever!), a beat up old Cadillac Escalade, to the only store in town for a mediocre provisioning experience. Produce is the one thing we always need, and the hardest thing to find. This definitely wasn’t the stop for that. Sigh.
There was a beautiful schooner docked across from us that took tours out on the lake several times a day. She was a beauty, and she made for a great foreground for the sunsets!
September 8th was a beautiful sunny, calm day, with the winds at our back as we cruised west towards Mackinac Island. Ahhhh….we have wanted to visit Mackinac for a very long time! We have to say, that it was everything we expected and more!
Approaching Mackinac Harbor
We got settled in Mackinac Island City Dock around 1:30 pm, and went for a walk around town. The island is somewhat surreal in it’s beauty, and a number of the boaters in the marina commented that it feels a bit like being at Disney. While we didn’t initially seek out the Grand Hotel, it is a natural, logical destination. But we first walked through town, then along the water, before heading up the hill to the hotel.
Beautiful downtown Mackinac
Along the waterfront, just outside of town
The gardens at The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel, and oh, that porch…the world’s longest!
Grand Hotel Interiors
We had reservations for three nights at the Mackinac Island City Docks, which is perfectly located right in town, across the street from the Fort (lots of canon fire!) and some spectacular homes.
Views from the Marina
There are no cars on the island. Bicycles and horses are the only means of transportation here, with an occasional golf cart thrown in for good measure.
Mackinac Island’s fragrant transportion
The downside to that is there is such a thing as bad bicycle drivers, and accidents happen (we saw two). The really big downside is that horses poop. A lot. And it smells. A lot. Rob even commented on our first morning how the air smelled of bacon and horse poop! Surprisingly, there are no “baskets” on the horses to catch it, but instead there are people who are employed for just that purpose. Ick.
Yup, the poop picker-uppers!
There were a number of other Loopers in port: Saltaire, Adagio, Valentine & No Schedule. Everyone was gathered on the dock at dusk, and it was fun to finally meet people that we had only seen on Nebo, our boat locator app!
Mackinac Harbor with largely Looper boats: No Schedule, Misty, Adagio, Valentine and Saltaire
On Monday morning, Nancy took the ferry over to St. Ignace. Now that we’re back in the US, it was time to get to a pharmacy for refills! After a hearty breakfast at Ryda’s in town (pancakes and cinnamon French toast, yum!), she caught the 10 am ferry and was there and back by noon! The ferry is super fast, and makes the trip in 15 minutes. St. Ignace, was an unfortunately sad little town.
We spent the afternoon exploring the island, with a fun horse drawn carriage tour. We were fortunate enough to get a tour guide that spends winters doing stand-up in Chicago, so it was pretty entertaining.
Mackinac Island Horse Drawn Carriage Tour
Nancy and her new horsey friends
The carriage tour lets you out at the Butterfly House, which was pretty amazing.
Mackinac Butterfly House
The walk down the hill to the marina ran along the Fort and overlooked the harbor. Not bad!
After our tour, we were back to the boat to get ourselves cleaned up for dinner. We were headed to the Grand Hotel’s main dining room. We went with open minds, largely going for the experience, as opposed to the food. It’s a price fixed 5 course meal that you pay for before being seated. Any extras (i.e. wine) are added at the end. There is no tipping anywhere at the hotel, and there are signs in several places around the hotel to as a reminder.
Dinner at the Grand Hotel is a splurge, and while we have most definitely had better meals, but it was better than expected, and the venue does not disappoint!
Dinner at the Grand Hotel
There was a lot of wind and rain overnight, and the next morning remained cloudy. Regardless, we were determined to get out on our bikes and explore the island beyond town. There are a number of beautiful homes, inns, hotels and churches just past the harbor.
We continued towards Mission Point, where there is a lovely resort, mini putting course, beaches and spectacular gardens.
Mission Point Resort
Mission Point Resort Gardens
Beyond the resort, the bike path runs along the water in the Mackinac Island State Park, and encircles the entire island for an 8.5 mile ride. There’s nothing but the water, trees, rocks and spectacular views.
Not far into the ride, you’ll come to the viewing area for Arch Rock. We had been there the day before on our carriage tour, but we now had the opportunity to view it from below. There’s a stairway (a big one!) up to the top of the rock, but having been there, we opted not to make the climb.
We continued on a bit before turning around, as we wanted to explore the other side of town as well.
The other side of town is more wooded, with less access to the rocky beaches.
It was still gorgeous despite the stormy weather, and yes, the water is incredibly clear! We have heard tell that the invasive Zebra Mussels, who filter vast quantities of water, are responsible for that clear, aquamarine water.
Submerged rock with a message from us!
Mackinac is known for their fudge, and there are numerous shops along the Main Street, and the smell of chocolate here does compete somewhat with the horse smells. So, of course, we made a stop in the famed Murdick’s Fudge before heading back to the boat to grab lunch.
After lunch, we took the long, steep hike up the ramp to Fort Mackinac overlooking the harbor. The fort is beautifully restored and maintained, and offers spectacular views of town and the harbor.
The morning of September 11 was cloudy, but warm (57, going up to the mid 60’s), with some wind (up to 13 mph), but they were out of the north, so once again, we had the wind behind us as we were headed to Petosky, MI, 57 miles south. Leaving Mackinac was sad, but it was time to move on. So, we headed out the Straights of Mackinac, under “Big Mac” (the nickname for the Mackinac Bridge) and continued our journey south.