August 15-17, 2012
We left Charlevoix intending to dock that evening in Leland. There was another storm forecast for the following day or two and we knew that wherever we docked that night, we might be there for another 2 or 3 days, because we had no interest in dealing with more heavy seas on Lake Michigan. When we got out onto the lake, we were happy to find it smooth as glass. It was a really pleasant cruising day.
As we neared Leland, we decided to take advantage of the good weather and go another 40 miles to Frankfort. We were sorry to skip Leland, but with storms coming, we decided that if we were going to be held up somewhere for up to three days, we would be happier if we at least had made a little more progress down the coast while we had the chance. Mark’s Ark had stayed in Leland the night before and were also on their way to Frankfort. They called to tell us there was fog ahead of us, but that it wasn’t too bad. So on we went.
Just past Leland we started passing the huge sand dunes that line Michigan’s western coast. Over the next few days we would be amazed to see how the dunes stretch on for literally hundreds of miles.
The famous Sleeping Bear dune was mostly hidden by fog as we cruised by.
I read somewhere that Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state. And the Pt. Betsie lighthouse is supposed to be the most photographed one in Michigan. We were happy that the fog lifted in time for us to see it.
When we arrived in Frankfort, Mark’s Ark was already docked at Jacobson’s marina and helped us with our lines. After getting settled, Craig and I walked through the town and out to the huge and very pretty beach.
Frankfort is an attractive town with a lot of nice shops. It also has several ice cream stores, including this one that won “Best Scoop” from Good Morning America. Of course we had to try it. Actually we tried it a few times over the three days we stayed in Frankfort. We found it interesting that each time we visited they had several new flavors. They know how to keep you coming back!
The best thing about Frankfort was that our good friends Steve and Renee Locker came to visit us. They had long-standing plans to visit other friends who have a summer home in the area, and they left Cincinnati a day early to spend a night with us. It was so great to see them! Renee drove Michele and me to the grocery store, and afterwards the six of us had wine time on our boat. We had a good dinner at a restaurant called Coco’s right behind the marina.
If the Lockers’ visit was the best thing about Frankfort, the worst thing was that the predicted storm did come and unfortunately, Steve and Renee got to experience the most turbulent night we have had on the boat, ever! Even in the very secure harbor, we started getting rocked pretty severely. At about 1:30 in the morning, Craig and I woke to the sound of a loud bang and jumped up to find out what it was. One of our stern lines had snapped due to the intense rocking. So there we were in the middle of the night, trying to re-tie all our lines while the boat was tossed about. The very odd thing was that the sky was clear and full of stars, the trees were showing little sign of wind, and the water in the harbor was relatively calm. And yet we were surging forward and back, forward and back, relentlessly through the night and into the morning.
The next day we learned that a surge was exactly what it was, and that while not uncommon in Frankfort, this one had been exceptionally strong. Apparently what happens is that when the waves are high on the lake, and come rolling into the narrow harbor entrance between the two long breakwaters, the waves bounce back and forth and gain momentum. When they arrive in the inner harbor, there aren’t necessarily waves per se, but the whole harbor rises and falls, shifting from one side to the other and bouncing back again. That’s not a very clear description of the phenomenon, but trust me, it’s something you really don’t want to experience!
Steve and Renee were remarkably good sports about the whole thing despite a miserable night of very little sleep. After breakfast at a little coffee shop, we walked down to the beach to see what the lake was doing. The sun was out and the lake was beautiful, but the surf was rough and we were glad to be staying in port another day.
After we said good-bye to Steve and Renee, we went to an outdoor restaurant on the harbor for lunch with Marc and Michele. And like the good Loopers we are, we immediately starting discussing plans for dinner! Jacobson’s marina has a catering service and they will bring a full meal to your boat. Their specialty is grilled lobster tail. We decided that after the horrible night before, we deserved it! The four of us ate at the picnic table on the dock and enjoyed a wonderful meal of lobster tail, baked beans and really good local corn on the cob. After dinner, the marina staff came and took the trash away. What a treat!
One of the popular activities on the western shore of Michigan is watching sunsets over Lake Michigan. Even though we had some spots of rough weather in Frankfort, every night we went to the beach and saw a beautiful sunset. There are lots of park benches at the beach, and they fill up quickly as sunset approaches.
Michele gave the Day 3 sunset a thumbs up!
After three days in Frankfort, we were ready to move on. The forecast for the next day was beautiful, so we made plans to head for Pentwater.
Next, Pentwater, Grand Haven and South Haven, Michigan.