Like most of you, Cindy, Duncan, and I spent last summer sailing around our home port near Muskegon, Michigan. While we sailed a often, we didn't do even the shortest of trips in 2020 so heading out this week felt like our first real adventure in a long, long time.
It feels good to be back on the boat and back on Lake Michigan. While we had hoped to return to the North Channel in Canada this summer, at this writing, Canada's border is still closed so we have chosen to head to the west side of Lake Michigan for the summer.
Thanks for traveling with us. Cindy, Duncan and I hope you enjoy the trip aboard our 1996 34MKII Catalina.
Muskegon to Port Washington June 20, 2021
Like any trip Cindy and I take, she had meticulously planned each step of the 8-week-sail. Cindy had us headed to Port Washington, Wisconsin the first week in June and planned to spend the next several weeks heading north, going port to port along the west coast of Lake Michigan to Sturgeon Bay and then on to Green Bay.
An engine problem that required parts that normally are readily available but due to Covid-19 not, took several weeks to acquire and have the mechanic install.
Our 8-week-sail is now a 5-week-trip to start but still we got underway on June 20.
We have crossed Lake Michigan at least six times and each crossing has been unique. This one was no exception as the winds the day before we headed out, churned up the lake, causing the waves to come from several directions. The 71-mile trip takes about 10.5 hours if we motor and we did. The first four hours were rough to say the least but once we reached the center of the lake, it smoothed out and the rest of the trip was uneventful.
If you haven’t been to Port Washington, the marina was upgraded a few years ago with
floating docks. The downtown district is a five-minute-walk from the marina. The town is a delight to explore with a combination of locally owned shops and restaurants. Several of the restaurants have outdoor patios that overlook the marina.
The Dockside Deli is next to the marina and has great deli food and home-made baked goods. Further in town the Daily Bakery, which is only open weekend at this time, has a unique mix of fresh baked good and a variety of coffee.
The mix of restaurants in the downtown area offer everything from bar food to unique dishes only found in Wisconsin.
If you are up to the hike, the 1860’s Lighthouse and St. Mary’s Church are less than a quarter mile from the marina but – and here's the catch – the two are on the bluff 85 steps above the marina. The climb is worth the effort at dawn as the sun rises over the “new” lighthouse located on the break wall at the mouth of the marina.
The 1860’s lighthouse has been restored and is open weekends. St. Mary’s Church is a towering structure that can be seen from anywhere in downtown. Built in 1886, the church sits proudly on top of the bluff, its clock tower bells ringing both morning and night, welcoming parishioners to mass.
If you are fortunate enough to have the time, residents of the city are more than willing to talk about the “Port”, as well as sh
are their opinions of where to get the best food in town, the best meats and where to track down a craft beer or just a cold glass of a national brand beverage. There appears to be one bar for every church in town.
One resident told me “a place to sin on Saturday and a place to ask forgiveness on Sunday!”
If you need your hair cut, The Port Barber seems to be the place. Barber-stylist, owner Linda has been cutting hair at her small, single-chair shop on Main Street for more than 35 years.
Linda is the first to say that she hadn’t started out to be a barber when she graduated from high school, she wanted to be an artist.
After graduating from art school, she worked as a illustrator for newspapers and other customers for years. She also taught local students the fundamentals of art. Working at an easel for hours a day was fun, she said, but caused the already shy artist to become even shyer.
Cutting hair, she thought, would put her out in the public, force her to be more outgoing and allow her at the same time to do art as well.
Watching her work, Linda’s art-trained eye, allows her to transform even the wildest mop of untamed hair, into a hair cut for any occasion. Her eyes dance with each snip, as if painting a picture only she can see, until the customer turns to look in the mirror.
Each customer is special, she said, and each gets her undivided attention for the half hour they're in her chair. Regular customers are treated like old friends with conversations that seemed to have started years ago and just continued each time the customer returns to Linda’s chair. Younger customers are treated as old friends just waiting to happen.
The shop is a combination antique shop, art gallery, which intersect a barber shop. Kitsch and art are everywhere but the shop is not crowned. Two bench seats allow waiting customers to wait and watch, and be part of the conversation.
After watching her work for several hours, it is apparent that while Linda has set to illustrating on the back burner, she is still an artist, cutting the perfect hair to frame each face and at the same dispensing wisdom and friendship as needed.
We met this couple out walking the north pier. They had dated years ago, married others, had kids and grand kids and now find themselves both single again. By accident they met again recently and are giving the relationship another try, I do hope things work out for them.