Last Sail of the Season 10/7/2012

Brrrr . . . .

With highs in the 40’s and wind chills in the 30’s this weekend, we’re wondering if this could be a little teaser about what kind of winter the Islanders can expect!  I’m sure hoping  for them (cause they love lots of snow and deep ice on the Straits) that they have a true Mackinac winter this year.  Also – and selfishly – I’m hoping for that because I want to come back to the Island this winter for a few days, but only if there’s  lots of snow!  I’m talking piles and piles of the white stuff!

With all the blustery winds in the last few days, our beautiful trees are beginning to shed a few  leaves, but there is a lot of color left for visitors to ahhhhhhhh over – so come on!   Make sure you check those ferry schedules before heading out though – there have been changes in the last few days!

So much to talk about today – so I’ll just start writing and see how far we get in this post . . .

The big story from last week is Ted’s awesome sailing adventure on Thursday.  Steve and Orietta are year-round Island residents, and Steve asked Ted to sail with him to Cedarville (in the U.P.) to put his boat in storage for the winter.  He keeps the boat moored during the summer in Haldimand Bay, just beyond the Mackinac Island Marina.  Now Ted doesn’t know a lot about sailing, but Steve needed an extra pair of hands on board, and Orietta needed to get their car to Cedarville so Steve would have a ride home.  Consequently, Ted got a great day on Lake Huron, and Orietta and I drove, shopped a little, met the guys in Hessel for lunch, drove on to Cedarville and overall just had a fun day!

But, before we get to the sailing . . .

I was meeting Orietta at the ferry at 11 a.m., and the fog, really dense earlier in the morning, was beginning to burn off. I passed the entrance to the Grand Hotel shade garden just as this worker finished pulling up the perennials along the steps.

Fort Mackinac was still cloaked in the foggy mist . . .

. . . and from Market Street the fort looked even more ghostly.

Jill was up a lot earlier than I was that morning and had already been out and about – as had Mary McGuire, head of the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau.

The docks and marina were socked in with heavy fog . . . (Photo: Jill)

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel was barely visible from the Marina. (Photo: Mary)

It would be a little later in the morning before these private carriages began to fill with passengers. (Photo: Mary)

Jill, who was spending part of her day off dog-sitting for us, told me on Wednesday that another load of horses would be leaving the Island on Thursday at 11:00.  As I was going down the hill, I met her coming up to get some shots of the horses on Cadotte.

Here they come!  Each worker is in charge of leading groups od two, three, or four horses down from the big barns to the ferry.  The horses are excited!  I think they know when their horseshoes are taken off, and no new ones are put on, that they are leaving the Island soon for the rolling pastures of a farm in the U.P. (Photo: Jill)

As many times now as I’ve witnessed this ritual, it never fails to make my heart beat a little faster. There’s just something about 20 one-and-a-half to two-ton horses moseying down Market Street that makes me grin like a little kid.  It affects everyone the same way – walkers and bikers stop and dive into backpacks and purses for cameras, or just stand and gape.  Only on Mackinac!  (Photo: Jill)

The horses were leaving from the Arnold dock, and Orietta and I scurried to take photos of our own! (Photo: Jill)

It’s always a bittersweet moment when the men and women who take care of the horses all summer say goodbye to them for the winter.

One of the first things I learned after being here for a while is that this is more than a “job” for these workers. They all LOVE horses . . .

. . . and they take care of each and every horse as if it was their own personal companion.

The horses take it all in stride – most of them have done this for at least several years. (Photo: Jill)

They watch the people, watch as other horses arrive, and . . . . make plans.

“You know that second fence post by the road in the pasture in the U.P.? Once we’re out of the trailer, meet me there, and we’ll plan the party for this weekend. Spread the word!”

Ok – back to the sailing!  Orietta and I went over to St. Ignace on the 11:00 Arnold boat, but Ted and Steve’s morning began at 9 a.m.

Jill was at the dock to watch them pull away from the mooring.

Ted had his camera with him and captured the Island slowly receding in the background, as Steve piloted the boat out of Haldimand Bay.

The fog was still thick at nine, and this Star Line ferry, passing the Round Island Light, blended in with all the gray.

The sky didn’t look too promising for a good day on the water. There was not even a whisper of wind, and the 16-mile trip would be made using the sailboat’s diesel engine.

While they were motoring to Hessel, the first leg of the trip and where we would meet them for lunch, Orietta and I crossed to St. Ignace.

From the ferry window I captured this really eerie photo of the Mackinac Bridge. Only the top of one tower was visible above the fog.

We walked past these Burning Bushes along the boardwalk in St. Ignace to pick up Orietta and Steve’s car. So beautiful!

As we left St. Ignace, we called the guys and discovered they were just pulling into the Hessel Marina – ahead of schedule!  It took them about an hour-and-a-half to go by water, and it would take us only 20 minutes by road.

We met them at a great little restaurant in Hessel, enjoyed a very good lunch, then walked over to another little store for a Jersey Mud – Ted’s favorite dessert!

Orietta and I walked down to the boat to watch them ready the boat for the final hop to Cedarville – only a few miles.  By then the sun was shining, and the weather was perfect!

As I photographed them motoring away from Hessel . . . .

. . . Ted photographed Orietta and I waving goodbye to our “sailor boys”.

It only took about 10 minutes to make the trip by road from Hessel to the boat yard where the boat is stored for the winter. We walked out on their dock and just enjoyed the beautiful weather and the wonderful fall scenery.

What a wonderful old boathouse! I bet it has some great stories to tell . . . if it could only talk.

Nice spot for a home!

While we were enjoying the scenery, Ted was steering the boat (and taking photos), Steve was removing the sails . . .

. . . and they were soon coming into the Cedarville harbor.

We watched as they carefully tried to maneuver through the grass in the very shallow bay. The water levels in all the Great Lakes are at very low levels.

Steve piloted the boat the last few yards . . .

. . . into the spot where eventually it would be lifted out of the water.

The final task was to get the sails on dry land . . .

. . . then fold them and place them in bags. Steve will take them to a place over the winter where they’ll be checked for nicks or tiny holes and, if necessary, be repaired.

We arrived back in St. Ignace in time for the last boat of the day at 4:30.

What a great day we had with Steve and Orietta.  Thanks so much for including us, and have a wonderful winter on the Island!

I could go on and on tonight with everything else that’s happened over the weekend, but I’ll save that for Wednesday.  I think I’m going to declare the Mystery Spot and Reader Photograph features over and done for the season.  There is going to be SO MUCH to talk about in the next four weeks before we leave, and we’ll start those features up  again in the Spring.

See ya’ll on Wednesday!

16 thoughts on “Last Sail of the Season 10/7/2012

  1. Cool story Brenda! It had to be a little scary sailing in the fog..or at least I think it would of been. Love the horses leaving from the island…happy for the horses but also a little sad because it’s the end of another season. Great pictures by the way, Jill!! FOUR more weeks!! Say it isn’t so…
    Cute picture of Ted taking a picture of you taking a picture of Ted…oh you know which one I’m talking about…lol.

  2. Thanks, Brenda (and Ted) for the taking us along on that journey. When I think of an ideal day, it’s not much different than what you described and photographed in this entry. Love it.

    Missing Michigan a lot lately… and these types of wilderness adventures that abound on the lakes, in the woods, on the islands, bays… and all across the state.


  3. Loved the stories. Just out of curiosity, have you ever gone up to the farm to visit the horses winter home, or have someone take pictures of them at their winter home????

  4. More great photos! I really like the one of the horse’s behinds on Market St and the one with the bridge peeking out over the fog. Thanks for sharing the great sailing adventure-it sounds like you had a lovely day.

  5. What gorgeous pictures. What is the name of that “burning bush” …. wait, I bet I know … burning bush! Every picture brought back memories.

  6. Reading your posts is like reading a good book. Hate when it ends. The pics were awesome. Glad you had such a fun weekend!

  7. I always tear up when you post the pictures of the horses leaving. It just tugs at my heart even though I know they are going enjoy their winter vacation.

    The sailing adventure looked like a lot of fun for Ted. He seems to really enjoy boats and the water!

    Are you going to Mackinac this winter? I have already booked my trip in January to stay with Rich, Marge, & Joe-Joe at Cottage Inn. I would love to “chaffeur” you around on a snowmobile! LOL!

  8. Loved this Bree; can’t decide which the most, the horses, or the boat journey. Ted, great with camera too. The horses are just majestic — loved the conversation – the sights of the lake, sky, clouds, mist and fog… can anyone but LOVE this Earth! Safe journey home to Georgia — I know it is calling you.

  9. Loved the old boathouse pictures and always my favorite is seeing photos of the horses going off the island for the winter. Your blog posts from 2010 are still one of my very favorites!

  10. Bree,
    We’re going to miss your magical Mackinac Island blog in 2 weeks when you go back to Atlanta.
    One request: could you persuade one of your friends who is a permanent resident on the Island to provide us with a Winter Blog on Mackinac Island perhaps weekly? It sure would be interesting to read.

    • Hi Robert! You are in luck! Two friends here, Heather May and Liz Burt, already have year-round blogs, and they are both permanent residents. Heather’s blog is and Liz’s is

      Of course, my plan is to continue to do weekly updates from the Island (with the help of Island friends who send me news and photos (you can go back in the archives of Bree’s Blog and look through some of those from years past). AND, with a little help from Mother Nature, I’m planning on coming back up this year for a few days IF there is a lot of snow.

      So – I think you’ll be able to get your Mackinac Island “fix” throughout the winter!

  11. Bree, Thank you so much for this blog and all the pictures you take! Makes me miss the island so much!!!! I really wish I could have stayed longer. Love going through the pictures and spotting people I know and possibly the horses 🙂 Miss my boys so much up there, although they are probably back at the farm already for the winter.:) Thank you again for this blog!

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