The following post is a reprint of an article of mine that was published in the July 2011 issue of SAIL Magazine. Enjoy!
Weekend Cruising Destinations
South Manitou Island, Michigan (Lake Michigan)
by Kevin Walters
South Manitou Island is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore and is the southern most island in a chain that extends all the way to the Straits of Mackinac. The western shore has high sandy bluffs while the eastern shore has a low-lying rocky beach. There’s a National Park Service ranger station on the eastern side but the island is uninhabited. Having an island to ourselves for exploration was an exciting adventure for the entire crew. The only safe overnight anchorage is in the large and deep crescent shaped bay on the eastern shore of the island. Anchoring here is only advisable if the wind is from the N/NW, which it was on the weekend we visited. We dropped the hook in about 30 feet of clear blue water and went to shore in the dinghy. The beach is almost entirely smooth, surf-pounded rocks. A trail led us inland about 1 mile to discover an abandoned farm, orchard and horse-drawn farm equipment from the 1800’s when the island had residents. We eventually made our way to the old one room schoolhouse and imagined island life in the 19th century as we peeked through the windows. On the hike back to the beach we witnessed an amazing example of camouflage. A small yellow butterfly appeared to be resting on an equally brilliant yellow flower. On closer inspection we found that the butterfly was actually ambushed by an amazing yellow spider that apparently hides out on yellow flowers waiting for its’ prey to make a landing.