To Charlevoix (Day 16)

Boats approach the lift bridge in Pine River Channel.

“We’re not in Pequaming any more!” So said Jeff as we maneuvered through heavy boat traffic for the 2nd day in a row. We traveled only 15 miles today — from Harbor Springs to Charlevoix (in the northeastern corner of Lake Michigan) – but we were rocked by boat wakes continuously.

In Lake Superior, boat wakes are pretty rare. It’s another reminder that we’re hundreds of miles from home. About 400 nautical miles, actually.

Today’s memorable event was navigating the short but exciting Pine River Channel. It connects Lake Michigan to Round Lake and Lake Charlevoix and is intersected by a lift bridge. On this sunny Saturday, the channel is full of boats. They line up on either side of the bridge waiting for the green light. We line up with them. Because we’re early and the channel is narrow, we hug the concrete wall while waiting. Tourists watch. It’s like the Soo Locks and St. Mary’s River in one. (See posts for Day #10 and #11.) But this time, fishing lines are dropped right next to us. We don’t snag any.

We hug the wall while waiting for the bridge to rise.

We had called ahead to secure the last slip at the Northwest Marine Yacht Club. It’s a private club but rents out its slips when they’re vacated by members. We were lucky to find a slip at all, in these lakes, in mid-August. It’s our first time at a yacht club and it’s weird to see the “members only” signs on the dock. I guess we’re members for a day. This is no “hoity-toity” yacht club, though — no bar or restaurant. Or fuel dock. The dock fee is still $65/night. This is the cost of boating in mid-summer.

We take the bikes out again and tour the busy harbor town of Charlevoix, including the famed Mushroom Houses. I take out my paddle board around sunset, when the water is normally calmest, but boat wakes rattle the board. I give it up after 15 minutes. As Scarlet O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day.

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