Lake Charlevoix to Grand Traverse Bay

Charlevoix (Horton Bay) to Suttons Bay: 38NM - July 20

Next on our cruise itinerary was a short 4 day side trip to Grand Traverse Bay. Grand Traverse Bay is another place I’ve visited often from land. I have always longingly looked out at the open blue water imagining myself sailing. I can now attest that the big bay is an excellent sailing location and a cruiser’s paradise. We left Lake Charlevoix in the morning and motored in the very light air direct to Suttons Bay. While there was plenty of room at the marina we decided to stay on the hook in the south end of Sutton’s Bay and use the dinghy for shore side adventures. After anchoring we all quickly put on bathing suits and jumped into the clear, 25 foot deep water to deal with the building humidity. I snorkeled around the anchorage and saw sunken old docks, lost mooring equipment and lots of other unidentifiable pieces of lumber. On shore we met up with my mom and dad (Grammy and Poppa), who just happened to be visiting with some friends in the area. They treated us to ice cream cones as we caught up on happenings. Even though we’ve only been cruising since the beginning of June (~50 days), you can’t beat the feeling of seeing and hugging loved ones back on shore!

Suttons Bay to Bowers Harbor: 14NM - July 21

The next morning we went ashore again and shopped in many unique shops lining the main street of Suttons Bay. Then it was off to the public beach for some swimming, playground time and a game of tag before getting back to Island Bound and weighing anchor. Our destination for the day was Bowers Harbor on Old Mission Peninsula jutting out into the center of Grand Traverse Bay. We found a cozy (but deep!) anchorage in Bowers Harbor and never left the boat, except for a couple of swims to cool off. The dinghy outboard started acting up and I wasn’t up to a long row to shore and besides, there’s not much onshore in pretty Bowers Harbor.

Bowers Harbor to Northport: 18NM - July 22

The morning broke with a light south wind. Our goal was Northport on the northern end of the west bay of Grand Traverse. A light wind and a very reasonable 18 nautical mile jaunt were the perfect combination for a downwind run using our big symmetrical spinnaker. Erin and I have been pining for another chance to use the colorful sail because we haven’t flown it since the run from the Les Cheneauxs to Drummond Island. The spinnaker is a fun sail, but it takes some work. First we repacked the big sail in it’s bag. Then we placed the snatch blocks on the stern corners and ran the sheet and guy lines from the bag. Lastly, we attached the spinnaker halyard and lashed the bag to the bow. Then we hoisted the sail and watched as the light wind helped lift and fill the kite. We took our time setting and trimming the sail so we could enjoy the long downwind run. Otto dutifully maintained a steady course as we sailed peacefully downwind with the spinnaker for 6 hours. The wind freshened just as we doused the spinnaker and rounded into the marina at Northport. As evening approached heavy rain fell. We all walked into town in our raincoats and umbrellas and had dinner at Stub’s.

Northport to Charlevoix (Horton Bay): 30NM - July 23

Is there such a thing as a perfect day of sailing? I tend to think any day sailing is perfect, but today was a particularly perfect day for sailing. We had a gusty breeze off our port stern with quartering waves as we sailed and surfed our way back to Lake Charlevoix. We were wing-and-wing down Lake Charlevoix to Horton Bay where we once again picked up a mooring. From here we’re taking about 10 days to drive a car back to Grand Rapids. Then we’ll come back and resume our cruise south along Lake Michigan’s eastern shore.

Loon afloat on Grand Traverse Bay


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