Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bon Voyage

I promise you this is our last vacation of this year. For some reason we ended up with all of our vacations grouped together this year. We went out west for a couple of days, biked from Pittsburgh to Washington DC and now we were headed back to the Mitten to do some sailing on Lake Michigan.

When we were in Michigan last summer we had found a brochure about sailing Lake Michigan on a tall ship. In the summer The Traverse Tall Ship Co. does three two-hour trips every day with some of those sailings themed such as wine and ice cream tastings. They also do four 4-day cruises in the fall which are also themed. We had chosen the music cruise. We would be enjoying the music of folk singer Lee Murdock. He would be entertaining us every night with songs and stories of the Great Lakes.

We would be sailing on the Manitou, a schooner. She is one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes. The Manitou is constructed of modern materials and is a replica of an 1800's "coasting" cargo schooner. The boat is a traditional two-masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner. The Manitou is 114 feet in length with over 3000 square feet of sail and displaces (weighs) over one hundred tons. For day sails she can accommodate 62 passengers and for the overnight sailings she can carry 24 guests. In short, she is a beauty.


We boarded in Traverse City on Thursday night so we would be ready to set sail Friday morning. After a great breakfast prepared by the cook, Wendy, and her helper, D, we were ready to set sail.

Neither the crew or the passengers know what the day's destination will be until that particular morning. It all depends on the weather and wind. On this morning it didn't look good. By mid-morning it was decided we would be staying in Northport for the night. There were gale warnings out on Lake Michigan which meant we wouldn't be venturing out of Grand Traverse Bay that day. Northport was a good option. With Grand Traverse Bay at 32 miles long and 10 miles wide we certainly had room to roam. Those gale warnings meant we had good winds in the bay and in fact reached Northport three hours early. Like any good captain, Captain Dave turned her around and went back and forth a couple of times. He felt that we paid to sail on the water not sit at a dock. He was right. We all preferred sailing to docking.


The winds also brought in wind and cold. We may have reached fifty degrees that day and we saw plenty of rain. This is where Dave and I parked ourselves for the afternoon. It was a bit sheltered but there was no getting away from the rain. We spent the entire afternoon standing there watching the rain fall. I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.


While we were standing mid deck the crew and other passengers opted to stand at the stern of the boat. I don't think they were any drier than we were. That's Brendan, one of the crew, at the wheel while keeping his eyes on the sails.


It looks like one of the lines needed to be tightened.


While Brendan and Dave were working two of the other deck hands decided to use the deck as a slip and slide. It actually worked quite well. You have to make your own fun on a boat.

cheyenne, ann, manitou, 10.02.09

Eventually it was time to dock at Northport. That could only mean one thing. The sails we had put up that morning now had to come down.

brendan & dave, manitou, 10.02.09

manitou, 10.02.09

Even Captain Dave helped with the sails.

captain dave, manitou,10.02.09

Docked at Northport.

northport, 10.02.09

This would be the only night we would be tied off on a dock at a marina. In short this would be the only night with heated bathrooms and hot water. We all took advantage of the heat and the showers. In fact the bathrooms were so warm that one of the guys bought a clothesline and clothes pins so we could hang our clothes up overnight. I can't tell you how nice it was to walk in those bathrooms the next morning and find nice warm, dry clothes.

We also enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Wendy and D.

wendy, captain dave, d, manitou,10.02.09

What is really amazing is all of the cooking is done on a wood stove in a very small galley. Her food was incredible.

galley, manitou, 10.02.09

We enjoyed some folk music by Lee and everyone crawled into their cozy bunks and listened to the wind and rain.

3 comments....porters always have something to say!:

curlz said...

Please tell us more.

carriegel said...

Don't you worry. I hope that wasn't said with sarcasm.

megawatt miler said...

cozy bunk on a boat sounds great to me!

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