Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sliding through "The Snows" (Les Cheneaux Islands)

Well after the wild ride to St. Ignace, a good breeze was making us nervous. However, we "sailored up", fueled up, pumped out, and sailed off for the "real" start of our cruise. (Like the stuff we'd been doing so far was just practice?!?) We left under intermittently overcast and sunny skies for the 25 nm trip. The seas were somewhat kind to us. Bernie didn't notice anything as she has decided to spend her cruising time practicing different knots. She was so intently working on the clove hitch with two half-hitches that she didn't notice any of the 4 foot waves. She started spouting off about the zen of knots and Phil just kinda tuned her out as he was focusing on the zen of waves.

But soon enough the entrance to "The Snows", the abbreviated name of Les Cheneaux Islands, was in sight and we started our trip. There are several interesting aspects of Les Cheneaux Islands. The constant flow of small boat activity (the residents' mode of transportation); the little islands (like Dollar island, pictured here) and the boat houses with old, but exceptionally maintained, wooden boats; the narrow channel and the constant chirp of our depth sounder alerting us to the shallowness of the area. We used both GPS and the charts to make sure we wouldn't miss a critical turn - especially knowing Meridian's propensity for exploring reeds and cattails ;)

Oh and the wildlife is abounding as well. We saw our first moose. It seemed a little stiff but it was probably still trying to thaw out after the long cold winter.

There are two small towns in the area: Hessel and Cedarville. Hessel has a big wooden boat show festival in August and is, by all accounts, a great little stopping point. We chose Cedarville, also a great stopping point, because our cruising guides hinted that we might be too long for Hessel's Marina. The Cedarville Marina was a tight fit for us as well but they have knowledgeable and helpful dockhands to help. They also have very economical rates: $28! That's almost as cheap as anchoring!

We had dinner at Pammi's Restaurant, yummy sweet treats at the Hightop Bakery and visited the Cedarville Maritime Museum. The Cedarville Maritime Museum has some nice displays of the nautical history of the area.

Early wooden racing boats (the first jet-skis?)

Every year at Hessel's Wooden Boat Show, they auction off a cedar strip canoe. Here is the builder working on this year's prize.

The Cedarville Maritime Museum has a collection of the Wooden Boat Show Posters

We're off to Detour Village, Michigan now. Maybe Detour Village is where the cruise really starts.

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