Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Michigan -- St. Ignace & Petosky

Michigan began a large change in cruising philosophy and strategies.  The Georgian Bay and North Channel have thousands of natural, beautiful, peaceful, serene spots to anchor.  Michigan has many small towns with harbors, safe harbors that become most welcome, and maybe even required, when Lake Michigan becomes angry.  The small towns are quaint and interesting.  The State of Michigan has constructed marinas in these harbors, often managed by the local town, charging reasonable rates.  So, Michigan became a series of stops of towns along the western part of the state.

St. Ignace

The town of St. Ignace is located at the southern end of the Michigan Northern Peninsula, directly across from Mackinac Island.  The crew of Last Dance chose to stay at the St. Ignace marina and travel by ferry to Mackinac Island, since the marina is more protected (not so rolly from ferry wakes as the harbor at Mackinac Island) and the town had many services needed after months away from retail establishments.  Mackinac Island must have engrossed the crew greatly, as photographs of St. Ignace are few.  The crew was happy that St. Ignace did have a supermarket, the first one encountered in months, and the management was kind enough to name it after the captain.

The destination chosen for the next stop was Beaver Island, a large island in the north end of Lake Michigan.  Leaving St. Ignace, the route takes one through the Mackinac Straits, where Lake Huron meets Lake Michigan.  The Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula of Michigan are connected across the Straits by an amazing bridge.

After crossing under the Mackinac Straits Bridge, a narrow passage must be navigated in what seems like the middle of an ocean.  Grey's Reef passage does have a lighthouse to help guide the way.  Note, that as with all lighthouses in Lake Michigan, it is built on a tall and large concrete base to withstand the massive waves that are all too common on the lake.

After passing the light, the waves seemed to instantaneously build to 2 to 3 footers.  A storm to the north was producing 56 knot winds and hail.  Seemed prudent to select a destination on the mainland with a well-protected harbor.  The course was reset for Charlevoix.  The waves continued to build and changed to more on the beam of the boat, creating a rolly ride. If the destination was changed to Petoskey, the waves would be on the stern.  An easy decision.


Petoskey is often missed by cruising boaters.  It is located at the end of a long bay, Little Traverse Bay, about 2 hours travel, requiring an additional 2 hours for the journey to the next safe harbor.  It was a town that should not be missed -- alive, quaint, interesting without a touristy feel.

A downtown church has been recycled as an art center, creating a wonderful venue for local artists and a great benefit for the community.  Old, grand architecture saved for new uses.

A bike trail has been constructed all along the bay.  A series of parks line the water, scattered among various sections of neighborhoods and retail establishments, connected by the trail.

A view from the bike trail

One of the neighborhoods along the bike path is Bay View, a community developed by the Methodist Church in the late 1800's.  The community still thrives with the Victorian Homes in detailed and beautiful condition.

The large claim to fame for the town of Petoskey is the Petoskey Stone, fossilized coral formed when Michigan was at the bottom of the ocean.  Jill's continued search for treasures along the shoreline did produce a couple Petoskey Stones.  However, to bring out the beauty of the stone, polishing is required.  And, since it was her birthday, a pair of Petoskey Stone earrings became part of her collection.

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