We were off to another early start this morning. Our destination was a straight shot east for about 20 miles. The winds looked favorable and the sun was shining. We were excited for a good sail!

A good start to the day!
A good start to the day!

Once clear of the bay and into the outer edge of Lake Huron, it became very clear to us that today would not be a good day to sail. The winds were fine at around 15 knots. The waves weren’t bad either at roughly 2ft. But, the wind direction tanked us. It was dead on our nose. Bummer! We had the room to tack back and forth, which would have been fine. However, we needed to get into De Tour Village, MI to get fuel and provision for the next week and then make it another few miles north to our anchorage before night fall. If we would have sailed, our window would have been blown.

So, onward we motored through a little chop. It was a pretty boring first leg. The only real excitement came from trying to dodge all of the fishing nets we came across along our path. The sun was directly in front of us the entire way east and it severely hindered our visibility. The nets have little buoys with flags attached to them. Some were tall and some were very short. Nevertheless, we couldn’t see them until we were almost on top of them; no matter how hard we tried to scan the horizon. There were a few close calls which warranted a quick steering maneuver and a backing off of the throttle. But, we escaped unscathed and with the prop un-fouled by netting.

Upon reaching the lighthouse which signaled the start of the De Tour Passage, we were finally able to set the sails. There was still a good amount of chop in the channel and setting the sails help us stabilize the boat to a certain degree; as when under motor we just pitched and rolled with each passing wave. Oddly enough, there were a significant amount of fishing boats (small ones) out in the channel. I watched them all for a bit and wondered to myself,  “Who would want to subject themselves to this?”. Most of the boats were pitching wildly. It could not have been comfortable. But, I guess what else do you do on a Saturday morning in rural eastern/northern Michigan?

The lighthouse at the entrance of De Tour Passage.
The lighthouse at the entrance of De Tour Passage.

We only planned to get fuel, stop at the food store, and have lunch in De Tour Village, MI. However, after returning from lunch and shopping, the winds had picked up significantly. So much so that our boat was being pressed into the dock with such force that it was actually heeling a few degrees. My dad and I discussed our exit plan in detail for about 30 minutes; leaving no scenario uncovered. With no solid options, I suggested that we just sit and wait for the wind to die down to make our exit. So, we sat and waited. In the sun, which was nice. But, the wind never died. In fact, it picked up! From about 4pm onward through the night, the wind was at 25 knots consistently and gusting to around 30 knots.

The marina was pretty slow throughout the day. But, we did get some excitement when a trawler and another sailboat came in together with the wind howling. The trawler had pretty decent control; even in the wind. It’s nice to have twin props and a bow thruster 🙂 The sailboat, however, was a little more difficult. They were getting blown around quite a bit and did not have a bow thruster (not that it would have worked in this much wind though). The wife was at the wheel and was trying to come in at an angle, but the wind just pushed the boat like a toy. The bow slammed hard into the dock and there were people scrambling around everywhere trying to help get their bow further into the slip before their stern was taken by the wind out into the marina channel. I was there from the beginning trying to help them onto the dock with the marina staff lending a hand too. There was some toe-rail on wood pole action happening, but we eventually got them pulled in and secured. I even helped them rig a line from their mid-ship cleat over to the dock across from them to help elevate some pressure on the dock-side of the boat.

After the excitement died down, we fired up the grill and made a few hamburgers. The rest of the night was pretty relaxing. We watched another episode of Homeland and my dad retired early in anticipation of a long day tomorrow. I, on the other hand, was feeling a bit restless and decided to venture out into the booming metropolis of downtown De Tour Village (being facetious here) to find a little excitement.

I wandered the town for about a half and hour looking for signs of life. There was a small house party happening on one block and the rest of the town was dead calm. De Tour isn’t that big, maybe 3 blocks wide and 10 blocks long with roughly 325 residents. It’s a pretty town, right on the water. But, it has been in decline for quite some time and most property is for sale; including the food store which is a cornerstone for the town. To it’s credit, there are two or three bars, which were the object of my destination for the evening.

The first place I came across was where my dad and I have lunch earlier in the day, the Village Inn (affectionately referred to as the “VI” by the locals). I struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting on a bench outside of the establishment. It was about 9:30pm EST and I asked him when things picked up around here. I was asking him about tonight, but his answer was, “not until the 4th of July”. I laughed and thanked him and he wished me luck. Almost ready to give up and head back to the boat, I turned my course back towards the marina. As I passed the last restaurant/bar on the road back, I heard some yelling and laughing coming from inside. Maybe I had hit gold? So, I decided give it a whirl. It was early yet and there was still light in the sky.

The place was called the Mainsail Restaurant. It had a nice little bar and there were roughly 8 people inside definitely having a good time. Most of the seats at the bar were occupied, but I was able to slip into a seat at the end of the bar. It was clear that I was from out of town (everybody knows everybody here) and almost everyone in the bar also locked onto the fact that I was also the youngest one in there too. So much so that the bartender asked for my ID. It’s been a while since I’ve been carded! After a few minutes, the novelty died down and most of the patrons returned to their drinks. I was able to strike up a conversation with a man and a woman sitting next to me at the end of the bar. The man’s name was Herb and the woman’s name is escaping me (I want to say Diane or Debbie… Sorry if you’re reading this!). Both incredibly nice people and great to chat with. We sat there talking for an hour and half or so about this and that. I think that I was keeping them though, as they had told me that they usually leave around 8pm. But, I greatly appreciated the company!

Walking back to the boat around 11pm EST, the wind was still howling. It may have dropped a few knots to around 20 knots, but still quite strong. Hopefully we can shove off tomorrow and continue on our way into Canada. But for now, I’ll enjoy our little stay in De Tour Village, MI.

Government Bay, MI to De Tour Village, MI

One thought on “Government Bay, MI to De Tour Village, MI

  • July 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Also enjoyed visiting with you. Have a great trip. What a terrific opportunity for you. I’m looking forward to checking in on your travels. Nice job on the blog.

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