Roving Mail Service
For the past few years during the sailing season, our friends Mark and Jeanne have made the trek to wherever we are to bring us our mail. This goes far beyond the “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” as they usually travel hundreds of miles to catch up with us.
From their home base in Minnesota, they have travelled to Drummond Island complete with a ferry ride, headed into Canada to meet us in the North Channel on Lake Huron, and most recently, to the Michigan mitten.
The service they provide is far more complex than your average mail delivery. For starts, they never really know where we are going to be – think of playing darts when the target keeps moving or smacking a piñata. The text messages that go between the four of us can be quite entertaining as we fine-tune the negotiations.
In addition to mail, they routinely bring us provisions with pre-trip runs to Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc. In return, we send them home with an abundance of President’s Choice Chocolate Chip Cookies. Not sure if they actually eat any of them upon their return to Minnesota or whether their three boys devour them all when they are not looking.
The most recent visit had us negotiating about which side of the Mackinac Bridge to meet. They lobbied for St. Ignace while we suggested somewhere along the top of the Michigan mitten. As with all negotiations, compromise wins. We sailed further west and they crossed the bridge and met us at the Duncan Bay Boat Club in Cheboygan. Their one hour drive netted an extra day with us on the boat.
Even with heavy traffic across the Mackinac Bridge and an excursion to Mackinac Island for lunch, they arrived a few hours ahead of us and spent the afternoon hanging out in the very comfortable Duncan Bay Boat Club clubhouse and scouting out the potential hotspots in Cheboygan.
Black Fly Invasion
While they were enjoying a leisurely afternoon waiting for our arrival, Dan was at the helm getting eaten alive by black flies. From my perspective, there was no reason for both of us to donate blood, so I stayed below and readied the cabin for our guests. Selfish? YES! During this time Dan texted Mark and urged them to arrive with additional sturdy fly swatters. Now Mark never does anything in half-measures; they arrived with a couple of heavy duty fly swatters plus a professional-grade, battery-operated electric bug racket the size of a regulation tennis racket. The ultimate bug zapper!
The memo regarding the bug zapper must have gone out on the bug-net as we’ve not seen a black fly invasion since. However it does the job on everything from mosquitos to horseflies complete with sparks, pops and crackles. The sound effects include sizzling sounds and wisps of smoke on the bigger bloodsuckers. All these pyrotechnics are disturbingly satisfying and the results are efficient and sanitary. The messy clean-up associated with cruder means of execution is avoided and the tiny fried carcasses get tossed overboard.
We had not planned on going to Mackinac Island but Mark and Jeanne had rented bikes and rode around the island during their previous visit and convinced us that we should go. It was July 3rd and when I had checked on slip availability a month earlier, the marina was fully booked. We got lucky and they had one spot left!
After motoring over to the island, Mark and Jeanne trotted off to get their rental bikes and we unfolded our “little” bikes. We took off for a very enjoyable ride around the island. While most people ride counter-clockwise around the island, we opted for the other direction and found that we had very little traffic to contend with – other than dodging horse-apples on the road.
July 4th in Mackinaw City – A little bit on the long side
Checkout time at the Mackinac Island marina is 1:00 pm. We departed about 1:05pm and cruised to Mackinaw City for the fireworks. I should note that this is the first time we’ve encountered a “check-out” time at a marina but Mackinac Island is probably one of the busiest marinas in Michigan.
When making the reservation at Mackinaw City, I stated that we were a Gozzard 41 and got firmly chastised by the harbor master when he saw that we are considerably longer than 41 feet in length with our 6’ bowsprit and a dinghy hanging off the back end. We pacified him by dropping the dinghy to the water and moving it to the front. We ended up getting charged for 47 feet.
I had arranged to share a finger pier with Steele ‘n Time, owned by our friends from Batchawana Bay. Dave and Margaret love to sail to the States for the Fourth of July. Their daughter, Mik, her toddler son, Dax, had driven to Michigan from Batchawana Bay. Dave’s buddy, Moe, who accompanied Dave on our joint excursion to Michipicoten Island and Old Dave’s Harbour in 2016, was also there with his wife on their motorboat. Our crew watched the fireworks from the deck of our boat while Dave and his entourage lined up chairs on the dock to enjoy the fireworks.
Kick-ass Sailing Day
The next day we headed out from Mackinaw City going by Mackinac Island heading to Government Bay on the southside of the Michigan Upper Peninsula. Once past Mackinac we raised all three sails and had an awesome sail in 18-22 knot winds. We had a fairly good heel going but neither Mark or Jeanne seemed worried as we were all laughing and smiling. Later, after we anchored in Government Bay, Jeanne asked me if the boat could ever tip over. I explained that the size and weight of our keel prevents that from happening and asked if she was worried while we were heeling under sail. She smiled and said no because she had been reassured by the fun Dan and I were obviously having!
We realized that of all the times they had delivered our mail to us, this was the first time we had really had good winds for sailing and the first time they had seen all three sails flying.
The next day we had the choice of exploring the back channels behind Government Bay or sail back to Cheboygan. Winds were expected to be good again and our guests eagerly voted that we sail – they wanted a repeat of the prior day. So off we went and had another fabulous day sailing back to Duncan Bay.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our time spent at the DBBC was facilitated by Great Lakes Cruising Club members Missy and Amy who graciously let us use their slip in the marina. We now owe them dinners and wine!
Till the Next Time
We dined in Cheboygan that night on tapas. The next morning we all went to the local Farmer’s Market so Dan and I could stock up on local produce. Then Mark and Jeanne collected their cache of Canadian cookies and headed back to their world of work — until the next time they can figure out where to find us and bring us our mail!
July 1-7, 2018 Duncan Bay Boat Club, Cheboygan MI 45°39.012’N 84°26.451’W 248.88 Nautical Miles