Saturday, August 25, 2007

Northport to Traverse City

On Tuesday (August 23) we cruised down from Northport to Traverse City. Grand Traverse Bay was a bit windy, with two foot waves when we started, but it gradually calmed down until the water was flat at the southern end of the bay.

Grand Traverse Bay is an interesting body of water. In places it's as deep as any part of Lake Michigan we've crossed, yet within a few hundred feet it can become dangerously shallow. In fact, as we were leaving Northport Harbor, they radioed to warn us about the shoals out by Bellow's Island. You really have to pay attention to the charts. We just plotted a route on the GPS that kept us in the deep water and paid close attention to it as well as the paper charts.

It was very cloudy that day, so the water was the gray-silver color we've grown used to during our times out on the water.

Leaving Northport to the south, you pass Bellow's Island (also known as Gull Island). It has an old abandoned structure where someone lived years ago. As the story goes, all the birds squawking drove the poor man away. It's known for it's stark appearance, especially on a gray day, and all the cormorants and gulls that hang out there.

We took it slow, enjoying the scenery along "La Grande Traverse", and arrived at Duncan Clinch Marina in Traverse City around noon. This is an excellent marina, in a great location close to everything, with some of the best facilities (showers, laundry, boater's lounge, and park) of any we've seen thus far.

The Traverse City waterfront reminded us somewhat of Chicago's. They've set aside all the land along the water in this area for public use, with parks and beaches everywhere. There are no commercial buildings between the highway and the water. There are nice recreational paths here as well, and people use them.

The Marina is in a park located right beside a zoo which, unfortunately, has been permanently closed. However, a small train still runs around the zoo. Hearing the train whistle, and seeing the kids on the train (they really love it) provides some great atmosphere at the marina.

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