Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bugging the Good Folks of Leland, Michigan

On Tuesday morning June 24, we left South Manitou for a short cruise over to Leland. The weather was perfect - sunny, warm and no wind - and the lake was a glassy calm that we've never seen in the Leland area. We slowly motored over to take a closer look at North Manitou Island and to see if we could find a shipwreck that's off the island in about 16 feet of water.

By the time we got to the wreck site, the lake had stirred up a little - just enough to put some ripples on the surface that prevented us from seeing the wreck. Oh well.

But there was still very little wind, and the bugs soon began finding Meridian. They seemed to think, as we did, that it was a perfect day to head over to Leland. And they used us as their favored mode of transportation (the lazy little "buggers"). As word got out among the Manitou Straits bug community, more and more of them joined us until the whole boat (except for the inside which was tightly closed up) was entirely covered. Here's what it looked like from the helm on the aft deck . . .

We pulled into the Leland marina doing a rather good impersonation of the Peanuts comic strip character "Pigpen" . . . with a really impressive cloud of bugs surrounding us.

But the nice lady who runs the gas dock just smiled and said "Don't worry, this happens all the time, they'll dissapate soon". So we walked into town, hoping they'd leave before we came back.

They didn't, and we spent all afternoon clearing out the aft deck, closing it up, and cleaning out the dead ones. But the bugcloud was still buzzing around on the outside. And to make matters worse, we started getting "looks" from the poor boaters who suddenly found themselves infested with the little creatures as we shared our good fortune with them. The man in the nice shiny boat next to us seemed particularly affected. He walked around his boat relentlessly with a rag and a spray bottle, constantly fighting them off one by one, and muttering something about "transients" and "infestations".

But he was actually very helpful to us. In fact, early the next morning we awoke to a knock on our hull. There he was, standing with our dock lines in his hand . . . "Here, I thought I'd help you leave. I've got the bow and spring lines. If you can just handle the electrical cord and the aft lines, well then, off you go!"

He didn't seem so happy when we told him we were staying for another day.

On that second day though, things got better. Well, they did for us anyway. We stayed away from Meridian the entire time, so we didn't see the bugs.

Bernie went to the Leland farmer's market (part of her plan she hatched on South Manitou).

Phil went over to the Stone House Bakery and Cafe to get internet access - our AT&T card stopped working on the Leelanau Peninsula. We were later informed that it's because AT&T is upgrading the network as a result of the merger with Cingular, and aircard service is really bad at the moment. But Stone House is a very good bakery - they are at a number of the local farmers markets. Also, a recent news article reported that a black bear was spotted in Leland and, after a short chase, climbed the tree beside the bakery and stared back at all the onlookers before eventually leaving. Phil didn't want to miss seeing the "bear tree".

After that (we couldn't go back to Meridian yet!), we took a bicycle ride up to Northport. Northport is one of our favorite towns on the peninsula and we didn't expect to stop there on this trip, so it was good to have a chance to see the town. They currently have an "exhibit" at the marina park of doors painted by local students. If you have a chance this summer, it is certainly worth a visit.

And it was really worth a visit for us this time . . . we found that gasoline at the marina was selling for an unbelievable $3.90 per gallon. We made a mental note to stop at the marina for fuel on our way down into Grand Traverse Bay the next day.

On our ride back to Leland, we stopped at Omena Bay, which is eight or ten miles south of Northport. We may anchor there one day, so we wanted to see it up close. Bernie was pleasantly surprised by the herb garden across from the public beach and Phil had a difficult time getting her to leave. Or maybe she was just stalling because of the bugs back at Meridian.

But we eventually made our way back to Leland where the cloud of bugs, greatly diminished but still there, welcomed us again. But bugs or no bugs, we enjoyed another of those great Leland sunsets that evening.

Early the next morning, our "neighbor" was taking no chances. We awoke just in time to notice the coffee maker shut off in the middle of the brewing cycle. We went outside and there he was, juggling our unplugged electrical cord in one hand and all six dock lines in the other. (ok, not really . . . he had enlisted his neighbor in the next slip who was gladly helping) "Here, we've got you all set - have a safe journey!" We barely had time to start the engines as they pushed us out into the channel!

But we were safely underway. The bugs quickly left us (maybe they liked the shinier boats better!), so off we went with our next destination being an overnight anchorage in Sutton's Bay before a planned multi-day stay in Traverse City.

1 comment:

Susan Och said...

Glad you enjoyed Leland! My daughter and son-in-law worked at Stonehouse Bread this summer, including The Morning The Bear Was There, so you probably met them. We used to have the same fly problem when I was kid sailing on Lake Ontario. There's something truly impressive about a huge white sail almost completely covered with flies.