Santuary Gold Flag with S and T

Sanctuary is Back at her home port – Our loop completed

What an awesome surprise awaited us as Sanctuary was happily greeted along the channel in Muskegon by marina friends and family.   A group of looper boats followed us into the channel  and back to our home marina to help celebrate our completion of the Great Loop and return home.  We had a wonderful time sharing our home port with our Looper friends who had not visited Muskegon or Michigan before. Feeling filled to the brim with a sense of overwhelming love and outpouring of shared joy over crossing our wake as we return home. A great ending to a great adventure!  It is sad to see our fellow Loopers leave to continue their own great adventure. We wish them blessings and travel mercies as they travel closer to crossing their wakes too.

 

Loopers lined up on Muskegon Lake

 

 

Sanctuary Returns to Muskegon

 


OUR FLAG

We left one year ago with a crisp, new white AGLCA flag on the bow of Sanctuary. Now that same flag looks faded, soiled, tattered and worn, but that is to be expected after a year of sun, rain, wind, and storms.  Our flag has led us over 5778 miles of water ways, 16 states and two countries.   It has stood guard on the bow of Sanctuary day and night and never asked for a break.   The flag has protected us in calm anchorages and others that were rough, but it never went off duty.  One night during strong winds, it was almost swept off the deck when one of its tethers broke loose. Yet, our flag survived by clinging to the remaining attachment.  A little rest indoors out of the sun and elements will be in order when the new gold flag takes its place.

In every port and anchorage, our AGLCA flag announced:

“Loopers are Here!”

 The flag helped the crew of Sanctuary meet many wonderful people.  We think those announcements were one of our flag’s most important jobs—leading us to priceless friendships and memories, and a collection of over 210 boat cards.  We are blessed and extremely thankful to have shared Loop sights, sounds, and memories with family, longtime friends and new friends.  Each of you contributed in your own way, including those back at home who encouraged, prayed, read and commented on our posts.  All y’all helped make our adventure a most remarkable journey. We give credit to God for bringing us through from beginning to end.

This same flag escorted us to sunny shores, through severe down pours, warm and humid temperatures, but never icy or snowy.  Our flag has been part of many sunrise and sunset photos along the way.   It has shown us remote mangroves, deserted shores, crowded waterways and tall sky scrapers. A few of the trip highlights it led us to: Boot Key Harbor, Baie Fine, dolphin escorts, Egmont Key, manatee sightings, rainbows, the Statue of Liberty, Today Show appearance, Washington DC, and numerous parades and celebrations.

When we return to Muskegon Michigan, our Great Loop adventure will be complete.  When someone completes the loop, they graduate and are entitled to a Gold Flag and are now identified as a Gold Looper. Some might say to throw out that old tattered and torn flag. Not so—we plan to place our precious flag in a proper display, honoring it for leading us around the loop safely.

So now when you see Sanctuary with her shiny, crisp new Gold Flag, remember the Gold Flag receives the honor for completion, but the faded, soiled, tattered and worn flag braved the entire loop with us.

To our flag we say;

Thank you for this Great Adventure!


Lake Michigan – Heading South and Home

Back in our home territory and ports we have visited many times, but this time we are travelling with Southern Cross who has never been to this area.  It is interesting to see and hear their reactions to the sights of the lake that we have grown accustomed to.   For example, all the sand on the beach at Leland, “Did they haul this in to make this beach?”

While on Beaver Island, we docked with 5 other looper boats; one we had not met before. All six were lined up along the docks proudly displaying their Great Loop flag.

Looper boats in a row on Beaver Island

 

 

Beaver Island Dalwhinne breakfast

 

Beaver Island, Fish Town, Point Betsie, the light houses, the color/clearness of the water and much more–things we take for granted, but re-appreciated when viewed through the eyes of someone who has not seen them before. Thank you, Southern Cross! When you visit Beaver Island, you must visit Dalwhinnie’s Bakery & Deli. On the way out of the harbor, we paused long enough to enjoy a delightful breakfast there. Love walking the town of Leland (Fish Town) taking in the dam, buying fresh fish and whitefish pate from Carlson Fisheries fresh off the fishing boats, shopping and walking. Sunsets are spectacular from the marina.

 

Leland – Fish Town

 

 

Sleeping Bear Dunes

 

 

We took some extra time and steered our boats nearer the shoreline to witness and share with our Oklahoma friends aboard Southern Cross the vastness of Sleeping Bear Dunes. From there we could see people going up and down the 450’ high face of the dune.   Again, witnessing this beauty through new eyes doubled our pleasure as well. When we arrived in Frankfort, we thought it might be a few days before we could continue traveling south based on the weather report.  This time the weather report was right, big wind and waves, so we get to hang out in one of our favorite marinas (Jacobson’s, owned by John & Lori) for a while longer. There happened to be an Arts & Craft fair going on in Frankfort: Score! The rolls and swells are so pronounced even at the dock, that we chose to spend the majority of the day off the boat either at the boater’s lounge with our laptop, in town, or walking the beach to watch wild waves and heavy winds.

 

 

Big waves at Frankfort Harbor

 

Light Houses along the way

 

We plan to head south, stop in Pentwater, and then home to Muskegon.  It is with mixed emotions we approach home turf. Part of me longs for home, and another part wishes to enjoy every last minute of the trip savoring sights and remaining precious Looper friendship time.  Arriving in Muskegon will complete our Great Loop adventure aboard Sanctuary of almost one year. This is called: Crossing Our Wake.

 

From Frankfort we stopped in Ludington where our daughter Amanda visited us.

Amanda in Ludington

 

Badger Leaving Ludington

 

Badger in channel leaving Ludington

 

 

The next BLOG update will complete our trip down Lake Michigan and arrival back home, which is expected to be Friday August 25, 2017.

Back in the USA

We re-entered the USA at Drummond Island and cleared customs there staying at Drummond Island Yacht Haven.   Soon after we docked, part of the Amway fleet began to arrive. Their 85’ yacht SunQuest was first, and then Dick and Betsy’s 163’ SeaQuest arrived, followed by a 70’ Hatteras yacht and a couple of large tenders.   We were told the family was having an event there.   They even had a large party tent set up for the gathering.  We left before the affair was under way.

 

Devos Family Yachts (Of Amway Fame)

 

 

Leaving Drummond, we passed through Detour Passage and by the Detour Light house.  Moon Shadow rejoined the group there and planned to go all the way to the Mackinaw bridge to complete their wake crossing.   The wake crossing is a big deal for Loopers, because it is the location where you started the loop and finish the loop. It is usually the culmination of a year of travel and about 6000 miles via boat.

We were so excited to help them celebrate earning their Gold Flag for completing the loop while docked at St. Ignace.   We did the happy dance with them and Steve played the Moon Shadow song on his trumpet as a special tribute. However, the next day it was very sad because that meant they would be heading back to Lake Superior toward their home base.

We did have a couple nice surprises while in St Ignace.   One our good friends, Bob and Vicki, stopped by for a visit.   We had talked about the possibility, but the last we knew it was not going to be able to happen.  We were TOTALLY surprised and HAPPY when they knocked on our door.  The next day our nephew Jeremy brought Teresa’s sister and two of her sister’s grandkids for a brief visit.  We visited on the boat, went to dinner with them, had ice cream (of course), waded in the cool waters of Lake Michigan. We even found a few rock treasures. Caiden even found a piece of white sea glass. Score!

St Ignace

We were excited to discover Henk & Thressa from Marco Polo at the St. Ignace Municipal Marina. So, them and us and Bob & Vicki and Dan B. enjoyed each other’s company aboard Marco Polo. While in the UP (Upper Peninsula) you must try their signature food: the Pastie. The UPers usually serve gravy with the pasties, but ketchup tastes good too.

From St Ignace, we traveled under the Big Mac bridge and re-entered Lake Michigan.  We left Lake Michigan early last September. We saw two freighters which we haven’t seen in a while.

Mackinaw Bridge

 

 

Light Houses along the way

 

 

The next BLOG update will be about our trip down Lake Michigan heading for home.

Our Visit to The North Channel

Baie Fine Shoreline Panorama

 

From Killarney, we traveled to Baie Fine which is a spectacular bay to visit.  We anchored in the pool at the end of the bay.  From the anchorage, you can explore Artists Creek, climb the mountain to see Lake Topaz, and much more.   Steve climbed down to the lake for a swim.  We were able to build a camp fire on shore and cook s’mores over the open flame.  Swimming, kayaking, hiking, and dinghy exploring are just a few of the possibilities available. Be forewarned: the mosquitoes and black flies are active both night and day!

Leaving Baie Fine, we traveled to Little Current.  The swing bridge at Little Current only opens on the hour.   Getting through there with the current pushing the boat and lots of other boats crowding in was not the most fun experience.   While in Little Current, we visited the studio/conference room where the North Channel Cruisers net is broadcast from.  We met Roy in person who is the narrator for the cruisers net.  Every day in July and August, Roy transmits the weather and news updates on VHF radio channel 71 which is followed up by cruisers calling in from the area with their location.   Since that day was our 42nd anniversary, Roy announced over the net that we were there in person celebrating our anniversary.

While in Little Current, Gary Harkins/Cygnus (a friend of our friends, Bob & Vicki) met with us to share some of the local knowledge of the area. He has been sailing the North Channel for years now and proved a valuable resource for must-see spots.

We left Little Current for Clapperton Island where we were treated by a Loon family (two babies and a pair of adult Loons) swimming and feeding.  The adults kept catching small fish and bringing them to the babies.  We love hearing the Loons call, but it was even better seeing the Loon family up close.   Dave and Collen were there from Minnesota which has the Loon as its state bird.   What a treat for us all to watch them in the bay! We did some exploring in the dinghy around Harbor Island where we saw from shore the dilapidation of what was once an exclusive resort. So sad to see the resort in its current state of neglect.

Kagawong has two special landmarks: a chocolate factory and Bridal Veil Falls.  We hiked to the water falls and swam in the pool and under the falls.  On the way back to town, we stopped at the chocolate factory for a treat.  We stayed at the Kagawong Marina in Mudge Bay.

Eagle Island was our next anchorage; followed by Bear Drop Anchorage.  Bear Drop was the more spectacular of the two.   It has tall rock hills, blueberries for picking, and lots of little islands to explore.  We spotted two snakes while on the rocks and reaching down for blueberries. Most of us were not so happy about this sighting and glad the snakes kept their distance for the most part!

 

Thesssalon Marina – Sanctuary Moon Shadow Southern Cross – Last time all three on same dock……..

 

Thessalon Post office with Teresa, Colleen, and Cathy

Our last stop in Canada was Thessalon City Marina.  We tried to spend the last of our Canadian cash there, but it was a holiday and most things were closed. The girls had exactly 21 minutes before the gift shop closed—hardly enough time to do much damage. A spectacular sunset was our reward in the evening highlighted by a orange moon. Sanctuary performed a 360 degree turn in the water when we hit the USA. Steve played the Star Spangled Banner and all of us were doing a Happy Dance!!! So good to be back home again! A pair of sandhill cranes flew right in front of us soon after entry back in to the US as if to welcome us home again.

Back in the USA track on plotter

We were privileged to travel with Moon Shadow and Southern Cross most of the time through Canada.  Collen compiled the list below, which matches our visit, so I borrowed it from their blog.

Thank you, Canada, for a wonderful and memorable six weeks!

  • June 27- We entered Canada at Prinyers Cove/ Picton area.
  • Celebrated Canada’s 150th in Trenton,
  • Entered the Trent Severn Water way. (44 locks)
  • We have completed about 110 locks on the loop
  • We enjoyed the fourth of July in Campbellford with red white and blue cupcakes
  • Enjoyed the hospitality of lock walls
  • Attended Rib Fest in Peterborough and Scottish festival in Orillia
  • Traversed the world’s highest lift lock, and rode the only chute railroad lift.
  • July 20th began exploring Georgian Bay.
  • July 28th entered Killarney gateway to the North Channel
  • August 8th crossed to Drummond Island to check back in to the United States Customs.
  • We traversed over 650 miles in Canada Waters

Baie Fine Canada North Channel

 

Kagawong

Little Current

 

Loons in Clapperton Bay

 

 

Eagle Island Anchorage sun rise

 

Georgian Bay – what a beautiful area

From Midland, Ontario we traveled the small boat canal through Georgian Bay.   We visited a few of the many anchorages available in the area.  Each time we came to a new anchorage, we thought it must be the most beautiful one. Then we visited the next one and thought the same thing.  Mike, Manager and Harbor host in Midland at Port of Midland Yachting Center, gave the loopers at the marina a virtual tour of Georgian Bay via slides and charts.   This allowed us to have our charts marked up and planned destinations reviewed in advance.  He pointed out the best locations and routes to follow.  If you are in the area, be sure to stay at Port of Midland Yachting Center which is a very nice facility.  Leaving Midland, we are back with our looper group of Moon Shadow (Dave and Colleen), Southern Cross (Pat and Cathy), and us on Sanctuary.

While at anchorage in Longuissa Bay, we toured the area up the river looking for a water fall.  The river was very high and fast due to all the recent rain. After running up the first rapids, we decided to skip the water fall and take a break on shore.  The girls spent time looking for interesting granite, quartz, and fool’s gold rocks on shore.  Longuissa is a pretty bay. There were 12 boats in the bay and still room for a few more.  We had fun swimming in the bay and fishing.

From Longuissa, we traveled to 12 Mile Bay and stayed at the Wani Wani Anchorage.  We used the Med Mooring style of anchoring in that bay.  For Med Mooring style, you drop your anchor and take a line from the stern of your boat to shore and tie it to a tree.  This allows you to get close to shore and not swing around the anchor, providing more usable space for other boats to anchor.  There are lots of islands and bays to explore in 12 Mile Bay.  We discovered a number of beautiful flowers growing along the shore lines.

Snug Harbor/Snug Haven is an anchorage just off the small boat canal waterway near Gilly’s Restaurant—a great place to go for fish.   The other advertised place in the area is Henry’s Fish Restaurant, but it was closed since the staff all walked out (don’t go there; go to Gilly’s).

The Bad River Anchorage is found at the end of a long narrow rocky route.   It is truly worth the trip traveling back to the anchorage.   From the anchorage, you can explore many other rivers, rapids, and waterways.  It stormed the second day we were there, so we did not get to explore as much as we would have like to. We did pick blueberries and used the blueberries to make a cobbler and put them on cereal.   The wild blueberries are small, but they make up for their size in extra bold flavor.

From Bad River, we passed through Collins Inlet on the way to Killarney.   The route is extremely picturesque and well worth the extra mile to take that course.

After a few days at anchor, we arrived in Killarney and stayed at the Sportsman Inn Marina.   It is a very nice facility split by the water way going through Killarney.  To get to the main lodge and facilities, they provide a water taxi called TinkerBell.  Many times in a day you will see float planes going by the marina and stopping in town.   The marina has a movie screen on the hill over the docks, and we watched a movie from the upper deck on Moon Shadow.   The sound for the movie is broadcast over the FM radio, so it is a like a drive-in movie for boats.

Light Houses of Georgian Bay

 

 

Georgian Bay Crossing

 

 

 

Gilley’s at Snug Harbor

 

 

Collins Inlet

 

Georgian Bay Anchorages

 

Killarney

 

Sometimes you look at the chart, sometimes it looks at you……..

 

Killarney begins the North Channel and the next blog will provide details about our experiences there……..