Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beaver Island and Leland, MI

Hello all: We left St Ignace two days ago, passing under the famous Mackinac Bridge. You can see the counterweight for the bridge’s suspension cable on the right in this photo.

We’ve seen lots of freighters on the Great Lakes; to give you an idea of their size, here is a photo with our buddy boat Tom Kat beside the freighter just west of Mackinaw City. From the French, "Mackinac" Island is pronounced with an "aw" ending, which Mackinaw City has formally anglicized in its spelling.

We went to Beaver Island, the largest island in fresh water in the US. This is the Beaver Island light (photo taken from the town of St. James, opposite the entrance to the harbor, with pretty statuary of otters in the foreground). The buildings around the light are used for community activities. The light keeper’s house has been moved to another part of the island and is now a private residence.

Beaver Island is also the only place in the US that has been a kingdom; Jesse Strang, an early Mormon leader, brought his followers to Beaver island (the “Strangite” Mormons), declared himself King, and later was assassinated by these same followers. There has always been a large Irish population and several restaurants have this Irish flavor. Other interesting people have been part of the island’s history; the information booklet tells about “a priest who became a sinner, and an Estonian actor who became a saint.” We’ll definitely visit again.

Here’s a photo of downtown St. James, the major area of settlement on the island. There is a maritime museum and a another museum in the former Mormon printshop, which has general history of the island. We rode bikes all over downtown and closer outlying areas.

While biking, we saw a cool house, with a facade of natural stone.

Hank also got some time off the boat, including swimming.

Here’s a photo of the shoreline, looking towards St. James.

One of the thrills was meeting another Sundowner, Lil Toot and her owners, Don and Lori. We went to dinner and had a great visit. There were only ~50 Sundowners made between 1983 and 1989.

The trip back to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan was bumpy, with lots of spray heading into the waves. Here’s a photo of the shoreline through the front window (the pilothouse was dark because it was overcast and early morning to boot; we left at 7am). You can see the flagpole on our bowsprit and the distant shoreline in this photo.

Here’s a picture of what it looks like when we were smashing through the waves.

Here’s a closeup of the spray.

Here’s what smart puppies do when the going gets rough- they nap in a low-lying part of the boat!

We were hoping to go to Petoskey from Beaver Island, but it’s been so windy and conditions on the lake so if-fy for travel, that we aimed further south to Leland.

Leland is a “port of refuge” in Michigan, which means they don’t refuse anyone. In Leland, we were rafted at the end of another boat’s slip, and had a T-dock alongside the forward part of our boat because I begged for a short area of dock so we could get Hank off the boat! As you can see, Hank immediately made friends.

Leland is a charming fishing village with an older section commemorating its history, now various shops in “Fishtown.”

Best to you all, Kathie and Doug.

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