Mackinaw City – Part 1

Ben was nervous to get the boat out of the Manistique marina.  He spent a long time the day before in the dinghy charting a new path that was all in deep enough water.  It was the same path we took in, but we had used the dinghy so much while there that he wanted clear and easy lines for me to follow!  We got up early Wednesday morning and Ben took one more quick jaunt out in the dinghy to test his track and make sure it was still all good. Then we got lines untied and I hopped in the dinghy to lead us out.  We made it out with no issues and traveled about a mile out past the lighthouse before we stopped to hoist the dinghy.  This meant I was able to take pictures of our boat underway!  That doesn’t happen very often.  We usually have to rely on someone else taking the pictures for us.  So it was fun to be able to snap a few of my own of all sides of the boat.  Ben stopped and didn’t even have to anchor to hoist the dinghy.  Nice and calm water, just the way we like it.

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Once the dinghy was all secured we made our way to Mackinaw City.  I honestly had never given Mackinaw City a thought.  I just assumed it was where you parked your car and got on the ferry to go to Mackinac Island.  Yes, they are spelled different.  No, I do not know why.  But like their brochure said, whichever way it is spelled it’s pronounced “awe”.  It turns out Mackinaw City is a whole vacation mecca with restaurants, a million shops, a ton of fudge, a lovely bike path through a nature preserve, beaches, two big marinas, a lot of hotels, and more.

While we were underway we started talking about schedule and route yet again.  It is part of the fun of traveling but also kind of exhausting.  We knew we had great water Wednesday and Thursday so we planned to get to Mackinaw City Wednesday and keep on going Thursday to set up for our crossing of Lake Huron.  The more we thought about it, we realized that we’d end up in some tiny town with nothing to do for FOUR days if we moved on Thursday.  Maybe we should have spent another day with friends at the beach and just come to Mackinaw City Thursday.  But…we had to determine whether or not we had propeller damage and we didn’t want to chance the weather window.  So, Mackinaw City it was.  I’m happy and relieved to report that we do not think there is any damage!  We don’t feel any sort of a vibration at either low or high speeds.  Phew.  (Next challenge…Canada)  On our way to Mackinaw City, we got to pass under the Mighty Mac again.  It’s always beautiful!  We pulled into the marina mid afternoon and got settled.  The girls were super excited to ride bikes so Ben got those down right away.

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The Mighty Mac

Ben had a couple of Yacht Devices orders to ship so we walked and biked to the post office.  Right outside the marina parking lot were endless ice cream and fudge shops along with the Mackinaw Crossings mall.  We love all of the cute little towns we boat to, and are not big fans of the touristy hubs, but to be weathered in somewhere, it’s always good to be somewhere with lots to do.  Mixed in with all of the consumerism is a lot of history as well.

After the post office we took the bikes back to the marina and headed to Mickey’s for ice cream right across from the marina.  We walked around the outdoor mall a bit, grabbed a quick dinner, and bought our first round of fudge and peanut brittle.  I’ve debated disclosing what we spent on fudge, peanut brittle and sea foam while in Mackinaw City.  We cook and eat most meals on the boat, which in this case was good because during our 5 nights in Mackinaw City we spent more $$ than a meal out on sweets  That isn’t counting ice cream.  We may have issues!  But we were told that it’s precisely 17% cheaper in Mackinaw City than on the island.  See, we saved money.

As long as we weren’t moving, Ben needed to work Thursday and Friday.  The girls and I found the bike path trail head and rode bikes about 7.5 miles or so Thursday, riding the trail, then down to the beach and then to a playground.  After lunch we took a walk to a hand made doll clothes shop and then the girls got more ice cream.  Friday we did it all again.  Molly had a 10 mile goal Friday.  The wind had really picked up so 10 miles was either great or very difficult depending on which way we were headed.  I’m so proud of Maddy for hanging with us!  She wasn’t interested in the full 10 miles but she did it.

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Friday afternoon Ben was ready for a break and we all went to the Mackinac Bridge Museum.  The only access to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan was by car ferry until 1957 when the bridge opened.  The museum has an old movie about the construction of the bridge.  For someone scared of heights (me), I could hardly watch parts of it.  It took 3 and a half years to build the bridge and it spans 5 miles across the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Mackinaw City to St. Ignace.  Watching the video about the construction was incredible.  First the sinking of the very large supports.  Then watching the men walk out to work on the cabling on what looked like a rolled out chain link fence.  There were no tethers.  No harnesses.  Nothing!  They just stood there in the wind and elements so far above ground on nothing!  It made my stomach turn.  The movie also showed the spinning wheel they used to string all of the cabling.  The Mighty Mac is the longest suspension bridge in North America.

The museum is small but housed hard hats and tools from workers from EVERY state in the United States.  I was moved by that.  It also contained memorials to the five men that died during the construction.  Three and a half years, serious weather conditions, no safety harnesses, and only FIVE men lost their lives.  It’s still five too many, but pretty incredible.  One diver, one welder, and 3 deaths from falling.  One man drowned and two fell from the temporary catwalk (that I was so scared of in the movie).  The museum also houses the original spinning wheel used to string the cables.

All in all it was a great stop for a little history in this tourist town!  Next up tomorrow is to visit the USCG Icebreaker Mackinaw.

Just a quick snap of the girls below.  They are the best of friends (almost all of the time) and Ben and I love watching how close they have grown.  We absolutely believe that living on the boat and traveling as a family has fostered this relationship.

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