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Harbor Springs, Michigan to Meldrum Bay, Ontario and a small "ops"

We must admit that getting north of Harbor Springs is always a treat. It doesn't matter how many times we travel through Gray's Reef and on to the Mackinaw Bridge, it is always exciting.

We took the time to go near a couple lighthouses that those sailing Grey's Reef see only from a far.

The Skillagalee Lighthouse has stood just off Cross Village since 1850 and is still in use. The sleek, white lighthouse is all that is left on the island as the other buildings were demolished in the 1960s. While it can be seen from land near Cross Village, from the water it is much more impressive.

The abandoned Waugoshance Lighthouse marks the western edge of the Straits of Mackinac. It was build in 1832 and used for less that 20 years. It is interesting to us that the bridge often frames the view of the lighthouse.

One of the advantages of having a blog is that people traveling often text to see if we are near and can meet up. Amber, Ryan, and their 6-month-old baby Kliffy Post met us in Mackinaw City. Ryan swam for me almost 30 years ago when I coached at Jenison High School and while we try to keep in touch - it is always hard as the years go by. Nice to meet Amber and their new and quite expressive son Kliffy.


We left Mackinaw City, passed Mackinac Island and sailed east to the Detour Passage. The lake was flat and the winds calm, so saying we "sailed" is a misnomer. We motored for the day but what a glorious day on the water.

We stopped at Detour State Marina to get diesel and pump out the boat . Once that was done, we decided to dock for a few hours and walk to the grocery store.

By then the winds had picked up and the current is strong there so we asked for help docking. As we slid in to the slip, a wind gust pushed the bow of Respite toward the dock. The dock hand instead of fending us off grabbed the lifeline and pulled the boat to the dock. The bow pulpit was crushed but no other damage was done. Temporary repairs done in Gore Bay a few days later and we'll replace it when we get home.

Meldrum Bay, Ontario

We love checking into the North Channel in Meldrum Bay. The marina has about 16 slips and the town of less than 30 full-time-residents has a general store and the Meldrum Bay Inn and Restaurant.

The General Store reopened last year and the owners Dave and Dawn have done their best to have everything the few locals and visitors need including Farquar's Icecream - which may be the best on the planet.

Bob and Sharron bought the Meldrum Bay Inn about 14 years ago and have turned it into a "must visit" destination. The Inn has 7 rooms and the restaurant 15, 4-top-tables which are almost all reserved nightly for dinner guest from May when the restaurant opens through the end of September when they close for the season.

Bob and Sharron had run restaurants in the Napa Valley in California for years and were looking to purchase their own restaurant in the Valley 2004. They were days away from closing a deal on a multi-million dollar property when the deal fell through. Bob started looking for other restaurants to purchase and the Meldrum Bay Inn came up on his search. He assumed the restaurant and inn was in California. The pictures of the small restaurant and inn and the views of the harbor, made the two fall in love with the place sight unseen.

Just as they decided to make an offer on the place they realized that is was in Ontario, not California but bought the place anyhow site unseen.

Fourteen years later the Inn is full most nights and the restaurant is in demand as well, Owner Sharron says they decided to only open from 5-8 p.m. to keep their staff at a minimum and the short window allows her and her staff of one Christina to personally treat each customer as a guest.

We said this might be one of our favorite places to eat as the food was amazing but the location even better. The view of the bay is terrific but the Inn is located at the end of the only highway that serves that part of the island so it is remarkably quiet. Sounds of birds serenading and the smell of the water are almost hypnotic.

Cindy had a smoked salmon fettuccine while I had the local caught white fish and wild rice. Simple dishes, expertly crafted in the perfect setting.

Deserts are made on site as well, by Sharron. We settled on the double chocolate, raspberry cake. A single serving is two huge pieces which topped off a great meal. With a bar bill we spent less than $60 US for the delightful evening.

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