We ended-up spending three nights in Ludington due to high winds of 20 knots and waves reaching over 9 feet in height on Lake Michigan. Larry was very productive with the down time, as he was able to identify the problem with the windshield wiper, order a replacement and install the new wiper motor. Finally, we get to move on to Grand Haven (61NM) but sadly had to forego the port of Pentwater due to the weather hold and lost days. The trip southward to Grand Haven was a little rolly at first with four foot waves and good size swells coming in sets. We enter Grand Haven harbor and proceed toward Grand Isle Marina, where, FYI if you cannot clear a 25-foot vertical clearance you must contact the bridge tender of the U.S. HWY 31 bascule bridge for an opening. Openings are once an hour on the half-hour and you can reach the bridge tender by VHF channel 16. After clearing the bridge we try to hail the marina but frustratingly, we get no response. We need to pump the head and so we move toward the fuel dock and pump station. The station slips are narrow looking and as the dock hand finally emerges we ask her if she knows the width...sadly she does not, nor does she know anything about our reservation or what our slip assignment is. I will just cut to the chase and say that the dock help at this marina is very unreliable, unknowledgeable and unapologetic about it. If you can reserve a slip at the Grand Haven Municipal Marina or secure a space on the city wall you will be better served. The town of Grand Haven is a sweet town with a great Main Street, microbreweries, and some lovely beaches.
After two nights at Grand Haven we push on to St. Joseph (67NM) in smooth water. There is bad weather coming so we had to sadly pass by Saugatuck and South Haven in order to make our reservations in Chicago. But we are so happy we stopped in St. Joseph as it is such a cute little town bustling with Labor Day weekend activity. The beaches and boardwalks are packed and the main street is jammed with people. I still can’t believe how many ice cream stores there are in Michigan. The salmon run has just started in the waters outside the ‘St. Jo’ channel and fishing boats are criss-crossing as they trawl, often with no attention given to where they are going or to whom is coming toward them. The channel and harbor were dredged from the original St. Joseph River first by private investors in the 1860’s and later by the U.S. Corps of Engineers who removed a large sandbar and placed protective piers on either side of the channel in the 1930's. St. Joseph was a shipbuilding town from the 1830’s until the late 1900’s as lumber was in great supply. Sailing and steam-powered vessels were built here for lake and river navigation. The shipbuilding and commercial fishing economies soon gave way to tourism, as is the norm for these small coastal towns.
A nice day trip to Hammond (50NM) that started a bit choppy with 2 footers and then flattened out to just a ripple. Hammond is only 14 nautical miles from Chicago so we will, hopefully, be able to get in tomorrow well before any of the big forecasted winds are set to hit. We feel so sad for the people in the beautiful Abacos Islands who have been hit so hard by hurricane Dorian and hope our Jupiter friends will be safe over the next few days to come.