Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 2: GLCC in Elk Rapids and boating Grand Traverse Bay

GLCC members enjoying morning fellowship at the Lake Michigan Rally
On our second day in Elk Rapids, Michigan, we were fortunate that the Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC) Lake Michigan Rally was still ongoing through breakfast.  Although we didn't make it for the whole rally, we hoped that no one would mind if we dropped by to say hello!  We walked down to the pavilion at Edward C. Grace Marina where the Elk Rapids Port Captains were holding a continental breakfast.  We were happy to meet quite a few GLCC members that we had not met before, plus a couple that we had met at the Southwest Lake Michigan Regional Dinner during the Strictly Sail / Chicago Boat Show!  We had a lovely morning talking boating, traveling, and our beloved North Channel.  While I was happy to see everyone so excited for their summer plans (and many midway through their summer cruise), I was still a little wistful for the North Channel and our plans that we had given up this year.  Although cruising with our baby boy next summer is an adventure we're looking forward to even more!

Tour of Joan and Richard's boat
Happy mama-to-be FINALLY getting some breakfast at Harbor Cafe
After a tour of Joan and Richard's beautiful trawler, Ben finally took his pregnant wifey (me) to breakfast (brunch by this time) at the Harbor Cafe in Elk Rapids.  It was a cute little hometown breakfast spot.  Nothing fancy, but AMAZING breakfast and packed!  I could have eaten everything on the menu, but settled for a breakfast skillet and an order of biscuits and gravy to share with Ben.  We were very impressed with this little cafe.

Little beach next to Elk Rapids Marina
Local hangout outside Pedebego Pond on Grand Traverse Bay
Ben diving for treasure in the crystal clear water of Grand Traverse Bay
Ben's "treasure"
After brunch we walked over to a small beach next to the marina, that we were told was the local spot.  It was small, but very pretty, and we enjoyed just relaxing and reading on the beach.  We only actually took the boat out once during our visit, and that was south to the shallow area outside Pedebego Pond on Grand Traverse Bay.  We heard this was the local gathering spot for boaters, and we anchored by a handful of boats in about 7 feet of water.  The water was a bit chilly for swimming, but we both got in for a little bit, and Ben even dove down repeatedly to uncover an anchor that was buried in the sand!

We met up for dinner at the Town Club in Elk Rapids with the remaining GLCC members who had not yet left for the GLCC Rendezvous in Roger's City.  From the outside, we never would have walked into the Town Club if not invited, but inside was a cute, rustic pub with a simple, but good menu.  We enjoyed some more boater fellowship and travel talk, and look forward to seeing everyone again out on the water!

Entering Elk Rapids harbor from Grand Traverse Bay
Since we can't travel anywhere without stopping for ice cream, we walked to the Ice Cream Peddlers again before dinner and enjoyed a mint chocolate sunday and other homemade treats.  We're really loving the port town of Elk Rapids!  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Trailer Boating trip to Northern Michigan (Elk Rapids)

Looking out at Grand Traverse Bay, with the marina pavilion to right
Last week, Ben and I were both feeling great so we decided to jump on the opportunity to get away for a long weekend.  Looking at our options for good launch ramps and marina availability, we decided on a port we had not yet visited with Seapickle - Elk Rapids, Michigan.  Elk Rapids is located on the East arm of Grand Traverse Bay, just 30 miles south of Charlevoix and less than 20 miles (by car) to downtown Traverse City.  It's about a 5 hour drive from our home port in Portage, IN, so we planned on leaving early Wednesday morning so we could arrive by the afternoon.

Finally arriving!
Launch Ramps at Elk Rapids Marina
We made reservations a few days in advance at the Edward C. Grace Memorial Harbor, which seemed to be a beautiful, relaxing port in the small, but tourist-friendly town of Elk Rapids.  When we arrived, we were not disappointed!  We were checked in by Jim, who was as friendly as could be, and a crew member promptly joined us at the launch ramp to help us launch.  As we finished, she radioed two other crew members to be at the dock for us when we were ready to tie up.  This was definitely the best and most enthusiastic service we've ever had at a marina.  The launch ramp, docks, and facilities were all top notch, but it really was the staff that made this marina stand out.

View from the swim platform
After tying Seapickle up in Slip 89, another crew member had us follow her to the locked trailer storage parking a few blocks away.  We dropped off the trailer and brought back the truck, since we wanted to do a little exploring by car during our stay. (Although the marina also offered shuttle service) Unfortunately, by the time we were all settled, we had just missed the Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC) Lake Michigan Rally deck party at Port Captains Tom & Barb Lyons home on the bay.

Wednesday Night "Evening on River Street" Elk Rapids
Dana, Baby Bump, and River Walk Grille
River Walk Grille- overlooking Elk Lake

We decided to head to town for the Wednesday night "Evening on River Street," which featured live music, outdoor dining, and activities for the kids.  There were a lot of people in attendance and it turned out to be a beautiful evening!  Hungry for perch (and pregnant, so getting my way), we walked over to the Riverwalk Grille for dinner on the terrace overlooking Elk Lake.  The perch was just as good as I remembered from a previous visit years ago (before the old building burnt down), and we loved the atmosphere.  

A Ben and a Seapickle

Ice Cream Peddlers, downtown Elk Rapids, MI
After dinner we relaxed on the boat until sunset, then walked back to town for some late night ice cream from the Ice Cream Peddlers shop - homemade frozen yogurt for me, and something cherry and chocolately for Ben.  
Sunset at Edward C. Grace Memorial Harbor - Elk Rapids, MI
All in all a wonderful first day in Elk Rapids!!  We would highly recommend a stay at this lovely little port. Part 2 coming soon...