Saturday, September 02, 2006

...of kings and beans and 6 foot waves.

We left Mackinac Island on Thursday and made the 42 mile crossing to Beaver Island. We sailed under the Mackinac Straits Bridge. The morning was glorious, and we sailed with the wind at our backs until we reached a spot on the chart marked Grey's Reef. We had to make a sharp turn to port to get through the narrow passage in the reef. This put the wind on our beam just as the wind speed picked up and the waves started to build. It was a very uncomfortable ride until we got out of the reef and made our turn back to starboard for the last 15 miles into Beaver. Then it got really ugly. The wind had picked up again and we now had 6 foot seas at our backs. If you've never done it, sailing with big seas behind you is a trip. As each wave approaches it lifts the boat up and you surf for a few yards, just like a surfboard. Then the wave gets ahead of you and you drop suddenly into the trough. On the way down the wave, the water pulls on the rudder making steering very difficult and tiring. We ended up taking down the mainsail and going on with mizzen and the engine, just so I could keep the boat on course.
We made it into Beaver Island around 5:00 PM, tired, damp, but all in one piece. The cabin got a bit jumbled as stuff flew off every available surface as we rolled and rolled in the rough water. We decided to stay two nights just to rest up.
Beaver Island has an interesting history. It is the only place in the US ever to have a king. In the 1800's a group of Mormons split from Brigham Young's group and started their own colony on Beaver. A man named Strang appointed himself king. When the US government sent a warship into the harbor to protest the crowning of the king, several of his followers assassinated him. After that, the Mormon community faded away, replaced by dispossessed Irish immigrants. Today, the island is refered to as the Emerald Isle, due to the presence of so many Irish.
On Friday night, we went to a little club called the Shamrock and were treated to a CD release party. The artist is a guy named Michael Beans. Imagine a cross between Jimmy Buffett and early Bob Dylan, spiced up with a bit of whimsical audience participation. It was a blast! I ended up buying his CD so I could learn a couple of his songs.
Today, we made the 28 mile crossing to Charlevoix, a really pretty town on the Lower Penninsula. We were lucky to get a spot at the marina as this is one of the busiest harbors on the Great Lakes. But we're here and will probably stay through Labor Day. There's lots to do and see here, and the remnants of Earnesto are due here soon, so we'll wait here till it all blows over.

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