First, I have to apologize for not keeping you up-to-date on our adventures. There has not been time to write, because we’ve been too busy having the time of our lives at our new favorite port. That’s right. We were hesitant to leave Frankfort, because we couldn’t imagine anywhere being better. Yet there we were. Everyday in Manistee was an adventure, of the very, very fun sort. We have decided that we absolutely love the middle of the Michigan side of this lake. It’s got the post-industrial, mixed with nature, look of the Huron side, but it also has the art scene of Northern Lake Michigan. Add in the people, who are more friendly than anyone we’ve ever met (everyday is a party in these towns!), and you have the perfect vacation destination.
So, without further adieu, let me launch into my series of stories from Manistee…
The best part about staying at the municipal dock was that it was on the Riverwalk. This is a boardwalk along the river, that fills up with both locals and tourists first thing in the morning and after dinner. These were friendly people who loved that fact that we were living aboard such an old, well-loved boat, and were eager to hear our story. We walked down the Riverwalk many times, to take Beanie to the beach, to get ice cream, or just to enjoy the scenery.
The Quest for Real Food
Grocery shopping in upper Lake Michigan, Michigan side, is tough. Everything is Spartan. I have been stopping at Kroger on our trips into Midland, but I have been greatly missing my food co-op and the Amish stores.
So, imagine my delight when, on a bike trip through Manistee, I saw a sign on a building across the road, that said “Real Food Market.” “Real Food” could only mean one thing, in my book..
And I was correct! We arrived at Port City Organics, a very reasonably-priced, independently-owned (all right, BOATER-owned!) whole food store. Their meats, especially, were much better in price than what we were used to. We picked up some necessities and, of course, some locally-brewed mead beer. (It’s wonderful–it tastes like summer!).
Going there was delightful, and we loved talking to the owner, Joe Dumas. If you’re ever in Manistee (and you really NEED to go to Manistee; it’s Michigan’s best kept secret…), be sure to pay this store a visit!
Beanie Gets the Town Dancing
I love my daughter.
I always love her, but sometimes I just glow with pride, because of her. Last night was one of those times.
We heard that there would be a block party Friday night, so we weren’t too bummed when we were weathered in. (All right, we probably could have left, but we might have stayed, because of the block party). There was a live band. The night before, we had rowed our dinghy to a jazz concert in the park. Beanie tried to dance in the boat, which didn’t work well. So I climbed the rocks, up to shore, with her. She definitely grooved, but we had to go off to the side, because that crowd wasn’t really into the whole Beanie-dancing thing. The racers who were tied up on the wall next to us welcomed her, but we pretty much got dirty looks from everyone else (except for the band, who loved her!). Well, she danced anyway…
So, we heard the band on Friday and, after the rain quit, decided to check it out. There were tents set up at the end of Main Street. Rob and I had to pay a cover charge, because it was assumed we would enjoy a complementary glass of a local brew. We splurged and got the tourist glasses! It turns out that this event was in support of the Vogue Theater, which, when it re-opens, will show independent films. We were happy to help out!
As soon as we got in, Beanie, of course, made a bee-line for the front of the stage. She is never content to dance in the back. But this was not the concert from the night before. As soon as they saw Beanie’s moves, another couple jumped in right away, imitating her. Then, the MC (also a boater) jumped in front of her and asked her for a dance. Soon the entire crowd was on the floor, dancing in a circle around the Bean! She changed the spirit of the event, and they were very happy to have her there. For awhile, another girl danced with Beanie, but Beanie kept going until she was laying down on the floor and we knew it was time to leave. The next day, people from the event recognized us as they boated down the river.
Beanie has a gift, to be sure. And the song, “I Hope You Dance” will always, always make me cry (although I usually don’t cry over such things…).
The Other “Us-es” (and Our First Distress Call…)
We had been in Manistee for awhile, and we were actually at a dock, so yesterday I did the laundry. I even dried it, since it was raining!
Unfortunately, I needed quarters to use the machines, and all I had were dimes. So off to the dockhouse I went.
Talking to strangers is a part of marina life, especially in middle-Lake Michigan, so my transaction ended with the harbormaster ribbing the dockhand about her success in college. It turns out she’s a psychology major, so we had a lot to talk about.
Then a boat crashed into the dock. Oops.
What I saw, right away, was the bow of Moonraker. Why was Rob at the dock? Then I saw that it was slightly different than our boat. I walked to the cockpit, to have a look. Sure enough, it said “I29” on the floor. I immediately asked them what year it was. 1965. It was Moonraker, but two years older. I got excited about this, so of course the harbormaster (who was already a Moonraker fan, by that time) assigned them to the slip next to ours.
We talked to the two men on the boat (one is buying it from the other), and it turns out their struggles have been similar to our own. We gave them our spare ignition coil, because they needed one. And we found out that they would be going to Ludington the next day. Great! We would race…I mean cruise…together!
Well, we started out, and it became clear that our Atomic 4 was doing a bit better. Then a LOT better. They raised some canvas, as did we. We were going nowhere, so we motor sailed. But they were quickly fading on the horizon. It finally occurred to us that their engine had failed (familiar to us!), so we came about and checked it out.
It turns out that they had run out of gas (they didn’t have a working gas gauge). They threw us a line, and we towed them back to Manistee.
When you tow into a channel, you get to make a distress call. This was the lowest level, “Security,” but it was exciting, because we will get to put it to put it in our log book. The dockhand at the marina laughed at us, and everyone was amused to see an I20 pulling an identical I29. Our engine managed it fine, and I made sure to quarter any wakes we encountered, because I29’s don’t deal well with waves taken to the side.
We dropped them off at the gas dock, tied up, and got some coffee and fresh water. Then we both were ready to try again.
This time, again, we started our ahead. They raised their jib (their main was in the shop for repairs). We raised our main and killed the engine. As we raised the genoa, they pulled ahead of us. We were skeptical, and we saw steam coming off of the back of their boat. We continued under sail (doing a beam reach, downwind–where we tried the spinnaker but failed—, broad reach, them downwind again) while they lost us.
Everyone was motor sailing, but we didn’t want to waste gas. We made it, without a chart (since our current charts end at Manistee–and the nearest West Marine is in Ludington). We entered the river, then the lake. Right by the yacht club, we found the other Islander moored. They smiled at us and pointed the the mooring next the them. We tied up, and now we’re enjoying a nice night here.
We’ll go ashore tomorrow, but Beanie enjoyed swimming tonight. Rob’s currently out on the dinghy, exploring, and there’s a good live band nearby.
I think we’re gonna like it here…