For the most part the weather has been fine, we did have one day of 30 knot winds and 4-6 foot seas on Lake Michigan, but we spent that day happily attached to a dock in Pentwater. Today's weather event was fog. We are in Whitehall, which is a town at the upper end of the 4 mile long White Lake, about half way down Michigan's west coast. When we woke up this morning, the town and marina were shrouded in fog. About 10:00 AM it looked like the fog was lifting, so we left and headed for Lake Michigan. We didn't even get halfway down White Lake before deciding to go back. The fog just kept getting thicker the closer we got to Lake Michigan. We're getting smarter. We were planning to go to Muskegon, which is only 10 miles away. A couple of years ago, we probably would have continued, telling ourselves that the fog would lift. This morning we acknowledged that we weren't in any hurry, turned around and went back to our slip in the municipal marina.
In Ludington, MI, we stopped long enough to ride the last coal-fired steamship car ferry crossing Lake Michigan. The Badger was once part of a fleet of nine steamships that shuttled passengers, cars and railroad cars from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI. In their busiest year, the ships moved 141,000 rail cars from Michigan to Wisconsin. The ferries were actually built and owned by the railroad companies. Before the ferries were built, they would unload the train car's cargo onto boats, ferry the cargo across the lake, then reload the cargo to train cars at the other end. Which, of course, begs the question why didn't they just build their rails to go south of the lake through Chicago? Jim thinks he heard that the rails in the Chicago area were owned by other companies and it was actually cheaper to build ferries that could move the loaded rail cars. Of course, they don't ferry rail cars any more, so who knows what the real story is.
|Jim and the windmill|
We watched the parts being loaded in Manitowoc. It was quite a feat. The truck had two large trailer pieces with the windmill part suspended between them. It appeared that the windmill part could be raised or lowered by the two trailer pieces. The windmill parts barely fit (by height) on the ship, so they had been lowered to nearly dragging on the ground. They would have been much to close to the ground if they were being driven down the road. To back the parts onto the ship, one man from the shipping company controlled the rear trailer with a hand held control, while the driver backed onto the ship. This clearly wasn't the first rodeo for any of the guys who worked for the trucking company. It was fascinating to watch.
|Backing onto the ship|
|Maneuvering from the front|
Whitehall, where we are today, is considered the first town "up north" in Michigan. From Muskegon south we will be in much larger cities and more populated resort towns. Stay tuned for posts from the southern half of lower Michigan.