July 8, 2014

Day 297 - July 8, 2014: Traverse City, MI

Morning in Petoskey brought a mix of dark clouds interspersed with patches of lighter sky, and the view out over the water showed haze and a dense fog bank in the distance. And, with our good experience using radar yesterday, I was fully prepared to move along despite the uncooperative weather. We expected some rain and it started and stopped fitfully during the day.

Early rainy morning over the Petoskey Marina
As we moved up Little Traverse Bay, we passed Charlevoix, a must-see port for any looper. But since we have been there by boat twice before, we decided to pass on by. Along this west exposure, we were now experiencing 20 mph winds and solid 3 ft and occasional 4 ft frothy-topped waves on the beam. This required Anne to do a quick check of anything loose that would soon be taking flight across the interior. On occasion, several large consecutive waves timed just right would initiate some pretty exciting rolls, but Great Laker always damped them back and righted herself to a steady path.

High winds and waves on the beam
Finally, we were able to make the turn south into Grand Traverse Bay, and that put the wind and waves to our stern. We would climb a wave and then surf down the other side, causing our speed to vary greatly. All in all, it was kind of a fun change from the otherwise steady heartbeat of cruising on level seas. As the chart plotter reveals, we headed into the West Arm along the Leelanau Peninsula and continued to Traverse City located at the southern tip.

Chart plotter view of Grand Traverse Bay
Traverse City is the largest city in a 21-county northern region of lower Michigan. Its population, including surrounding areas, is close to 150,000. The city got its name from the French settlers who had made the grande traverse or "the long crossing" across the mouth of the Grand Traverse Bay.

Today this area, including the Leelanau Peninsula, is the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S., and the annual one-week Cherry Festival, which attracts over 500,000 people each year, is currently in full swing. The surrounding land also produces wine grapes, making this one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest. There are numerous golf courses of repute here, and in the winter there are several ski areas that draw enthusiasts from across the state. In addition, nearby and along Lake Michigan lie the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes.

While Anne and I have been here by car, the chance to take a side-trip to see Traverse City by water was irresistible. Plus, as a bonus, it just so happens Anne's sister and her family will be in this area tomorrow as well. We found the only slip available in the area for tonight at the Elmwood Township Marina, about 2 miles north of downtown Traverse City. This marina is populated primarily with locally owned smaller fishing or sailing vessels, and I have yet to see another person on the docks. No loopers or docktails tonight!

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