Mackinac Bridge Is Lighting Up

Wednesday August 15, 2012

Having another early morning and leaving South Manitou Island departing around 6:30 am just before the sun rose we knew our next stop would be Mackinac Island having read in a charter guide for Northern Michigan that there was a decent spot to anchor there. Free is always good and it’s a beautiful place to spend a day even if it is made up mostly for tourist. We were expecting it to be a 24 hour sail which meant one more overnight passage on Lake Michigan. Surviving the first one just fine I wasn’t as worried and just wanted to make up time. Motoring into the straights we had a lot of wind at our back and as soon as we were on course we unfurled the headsail. Right on cue the wind died out and we were forced to turn on the motor. This continued until early afternoon where there was finally decent wind behind us and we could raise the spinnaker. Only one twist in it this time which was much easier to fix than the last time and let the autopilot take over while we tackled a few small projects like measuring and cutting for our new Amsteel lifelines. (Ok, Matt did that while I kept watch to make sure he didn’t fall overboard)

 Getting up to Beaver Island we changed course after hugging the coast all day to start heading out into more open water and picked up some speed at 5-6 knots which I was hoping would put us through Gray’s Reef before dark. Making some rice and adding it to our Jackie meal we spend the evening soaking up the last bit of sun the sky had to offer until it clouded up just before sunset. This was also around the time that the wind shifted to right on our nose and mostly died out. On the motor goes again. Just as the sky was getting dark we could begin to make out the markers for Gray’s Reef and I decided to delay my first shift 9:00 bedtime until we got through it. Once the sky was completely black we could see red and green flashes on the horizon and tried to match them up with what we could see on the charts. For some reason this reef was made out to be a big deal and I’m sure it is for the big tankers that pass through the area, but in all actuality for us there was no way we’d run aground because the shallowest spot was about 16 feet and that’s actually the deepest part of Lake St. Clair that we’ll be passing through in a few days.  Either way we positioned ourselves to pass through the blinking path and were out of it within 30 minutes.  Bed time for me!

While trying to get some sleep below I could tell the wind was picking up and Matt was fiddling with lines, letting out the headsail.  Right away I could tell we picked up a lot of speed, probably 6 knots, and was a little worried about him handling that alone in the dark.  He was harnessed in as we always do on night shifts and knew not to leave the cockpit without having me up there to ‘supervise’ and I think he also quickly realized it was too much sail because a few minutes later I could hear it being rolled in again.  Somehow I drifted off quickly after that and didn’t wake again until it was time for my shift.

By this time the bridge was less than 20 miles away and we were in full view of it, completely up.  Since we were also now in the straights and I knew a lot of traffic passed through there I had visions of dodging tankers all night but the water was empty.  There was only on tanker that passed by on my shift and it was on the opposite side and no last minute maneuvers were necessary.  There were a few shipwrecks listed on the charts which I’d be passing over but they were all listed as submerged and non dangerous.  By the time my shift was over only five miles separated us from the bridge and I knew I’d be asleep when we went under it so I had Matt promise me he’d wake me up in time.

An hour later I was called out of bed and rushed to get my heavy jacket on to brave the 50 degree temperatures while I went out to see the bridge.  Since we still had some champagne left from our departure I pulled that out as well and as soon as Serendipity was under we toasted our victory for having made it this far since some people (ahem, Rod) had bets we wouldn’t even make it this far. All kidding of course.  At least we think so.  Once the champagne bottle was empty and some blurry photos were taken I went back to the warmth of my bed until my next shift started in 90 minutes.

Being woken up the next time, around 5:30 am, there was a grayish light in the sky and we were less than a mile from the harbor at Mackinac Island.  Not wanting to anchor in anything but full light I was instructed to circle the area for the next hour and wake Matt up at that point and we’d finally be able to go into the harbor.  Keeping a watch for traffic which there was still none except for one little fishing boat I tried not to fall back asleep on watch until my hour was up.  As soon as it was, and I made sure we were very close to the island at the time I woke Matt up and we navigated in and through all the boats out on mooring to drop our anchor in the only open spot in the harbor which happened to be right next to the rocky breakers and our butt almost swinging in the channel.  As soon as we saw that the bottom was rocky and would not hold our anchor well I called the marina to see if any mooring balls were available for the night.  I was told they were all privately owned but there were slips available and for only $44 a night for us.  Not shabby at all!  We jumped right on that deal and as soon as we were tied off and paid for the night we both passed out in a happy bliss, ready to wake up in a few hours and play the eager tourists.

Not enough wind to fill these sails.

Just about to pass under.


Lighthouse at Round Island, just as we were entering Mackinac Bay.



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