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“Hotdogging” It into Hemingway Country

28 July 2011, 0928
Pos: Alongside Boyne City Docks, Lake Charlevoix, Michigan
Wx: ENE F 1, Overcast

PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II is all secure at the inland most end of Lake Charlevoix, a picturesque Northern Michigan Lake connected to Lake Michigan by a man-made improvement to the Pine River. Not quite as far inland as Duluth, where we arrived two weeks ago, but it fits well with our tour. Followers of PRIDE II’s voyages will remember Boyne City and Lake Charlevoix from last year – when they were an impromptu stop for crew R&R courtesy of long time Pride, Inc. friends the Kidds. This year we’re back to do a bit of business, based largely on how much interest PRIDE II attracted during her brief stay here last year. But that won’t keep us from having a day of it at the Kidd cottage today. PRIDE II is in a day early, having arrived last night at 1800 – so let the R&R begin.

Lake Charlevoix has a welcoming feeling. Maybe more so for me because this is my fifth trip here on two schooners, but I think even first timers to the Lake quickly feel at home in the landscape –rolling hills, crystal green water, quaint towns tucked into the hidden bays of the shoreline, what’s not to like? There is a sense of nostalgia, even for those new to the waters. Could be that the Lake is ingrained into a cultural consciousness because one of America’s most storied authors, Ernest Hemingway, spent his summers during his formative years here. Pick up a copy of his first book, IN OUR TIME, and the geography of the stories coincides with that on the chart. Horton Bay, East Jordan, Charlevoix, all these places make a backdrop for Hemingway’s young Nick Adams.

Appropriately, PRIDE II’s passage to Lake Charlevoix included some Hemingway-esque flair. From the time of our last posting, we continued sailing under Foretops’l, Fores’l, Stays’l and Jib, wareing our way down Whitefish Bay to the St. Marys River. And at Gros Cap, the river entrance, the breeze kept on, and so did we, sailing down the river toward Sault Ste. Marie a touch faster than we’d expect to motor at 1400 RPM. Even rounding Pointe Louise and going nearly closehauled, we were able to keep PRIDE II sailing. Sailing her, in fact, right into the MacArthur Lock with a crowd of onlookers in the bleachers ashore.

Engines on to slow her down.

With the Northwesterly wind on the port quarter, PRIDE II was predictably still making 2.5 knots under bare poles when we entered the lock. With careful coordination and some skillful line handling, it might be possible to bring the ship to a stop by checking the after leading lines. But there was no way to communicate what we needed to the line handlers at the lock, so we fired up for the first time in 12 hours so we could use reverse and get PRIDE II stopped!

Once secure, we locked down smoothly and motored on for a quarter mile to secure astern of our sister Privateer LYNX at the Carbide Docks for a provisioning run – special thanks to Harbormaster John Wellington for once again allowing us to secure there. The cook went shopping, the guest crew explored the VALLEY CAMP a retired Lake Freighter turned into a museum, and the crew played mini-golf or ate ice cream until we got underway again at 1600. Once off the dock, we set the same four sails again and carried on down the river without engines, this time with LYNX tagging along behind. At one narrow pass of the River near Neebish Island, we actually had to take in sail and feather the Foretops’l to SLOW DOWN for a freighter as it maneuvered through the narrow, one way traffic only passage. But once he was up to speed, we reset sail and carried on.

By the impossibly late Northern Michigan sunset, we were in the lower St Marys and still sailing. At 2340, we had the Mains’l set and passed De Tour light, hardening up on the wind and headed out into Lake Huron for the Straits of Mackinac. The breeze faded to flat calm at dawn, so we didn’t quite make the Mackinaw Bridge under sail, but got within sight of the island. With a light southerly and an overnight forecast of showers and thunderstorms for the night, we motored the rest of the way, stopping briefly to check off Lake Michigan in our swim call list between Greys Reef and Rose Shoal.

Even if the rest of our passage was under power, the crew and I are still giddy of our “hotdogging” on the St. Marys. We may be the first crew to sail a schooner down so much of the river since the days when a young Hemingway was hunting birds and rabbits in the nearby woods. We sure think he’d approve. Now its time for some hotdogging of a different nature with a picnic at the Kidd cottage.

All best,
Captain Jamie Trost and the resting, relaxing (for a day) crew of PRIDE of BALTIMORE II