A damp and rolling ride to Frankfort (35NM) with 3-foot swells quite close together. As we clear the channel and enter the turning basin in Betsie Bay we begin to see fish jumping from the water. Actually, not just jumping but literally breeching and slamming themselves onto the waters’ surface. After we tie-up I ask the dock managers what kind of fish they are. Kim and Corey (Frankfort Municipal Marina) tell us they are salmon. Most likely females on their way up to the Betsie River to spawn. These females are laden with eggs and they body-slam themselves against the water to loosen the eggs in preparation to lay them. If this is factual or not, I am not sure but it was an amazing sight to see these huge fish popping out of the water as we came into port. I later read that this county has a very modern fish rearing facility ‘The Michigan Platte River Fish Hatchery’ which produces Coho, Chinook and Steelhead. Frankfort became a township in 1859 and the early economy was based on the lumber industry, commercial fishing and fruit farming. Fruit farming (cherries) remains an industry but primarily, tourism now provides the main economy in Frankfort. We walk out to the beach and around town and of course have to sample the local ales at the Stormcloud Brewing Company.
So our trip to Ludington (56NM) was quite intense. The winds were up and the waves were reported to be 4 feet. We were trying to decide if we should stay or go when we hear that the following day is reported to be even worse, so we decide to make a run for it. It turns out to be a bit more hairy then what was reported. The waves were at least 7 feet, one coming after another crashing over the bow…for five hours. Larry did a great job grinding away without a break until right before we enter the harbor. He would vary the throttle speed to keep the boat from crashing down off the peaks of the bigger waves, however he had to do this visually impaired as the windshield wiper in front of the captain’s helm station quit less than an hour into the trip. So, needless to say, we were all very happy to see the multi-colored waters of Ludington Harbor. The tannin-filled river water mixes with beach sand and blue lake water and looks quite strange as you approach. The Pere Marquette Lake is blissfully smooth with only a light breeze. We fill up on diesel, as Owen has done his research of this area and found fuel here is 10 cents less than any other marina. That makes a bit of difference when you are purchasing 1,000 gallons. Finally, we are safely in our slip where it looks like we will be for an additional day (or two) until the winds and water calm.