Tuesday, September 3, everyone on-board and 6PM underway from Burnham Harbor in Chicago.

past Chicago, heading north on Lake Michigan

good night Chicago, time to settle into a routine for the next fifteen days aboard Blount Small Ship Adventure’s  Grande Mariner.

First stop, arriving by 9 AM on 4 September, was Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Why you ask? I wondered also, but now you will learn the importance of this town. There is a shipyard there, where World War II submarines were built. A relatively small town, we tied up on the pier right next to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. A fascinating first stop, even though departure was scheduled at 1 PM.

When I crossed the gangplank there was a fellow passenger looking at a page he printed out from on-line. “Which way do you think I should walk to see this?” he was asking the crew member. I stopped to chat, checked Google Maps, and found the spot to be about 3/4 of a mile, and showed him the way. Google did not say it was uphill all the way, but the benefit is it was downhill all the way back to the museum. Since I always want to share with you something unique that you have not seen, or know about, off I went on my own. And – I FOUND THE SPOT he told me about.

It was in the middle of Eighth Street, across from the local museum.

and, in the sidewalk is this marker.

Here I was, 2 days shy of the event 57 years ago. You will want to read more, either on Roadside Americana, or on Wikipedia, and from Atlas Obscura – “perhaps Manitowoc’s biggest claim to fame, and it has even been the inspiration for the annual Sputnikfest, a space-themed festival featuring the Ms. Space Debris Pageant, the Cosmic Cake competition, the Alien Drop raffle, and various other extraterrestrial oddities.” Now you can win another round of drinks somewhere with your superior knowledge of trivia. I then walked (downhill) to the museum, which may be a better claim to fame for Manitowoc, and here is why. (you can click for a larger image to read easier)


At the museum I started off on the tour of the USS Cobia (SS 245) which was launched November 28, 1943 in Groton, CT. My tour guide was on his second day, not too good, but it is not that I do not know the basics of submarines. Boarding…

and, looking aft.

crew of the Grande Mariner decided to surrender.

How do you flush while under water? Carefully, but with potentially explosive and messy results if directions are not precisely followed. You may wish to wait for the next port visit. Click images to enlarge to make sure you get the directions right.

I could have used some more time in the museum. Exhibits covered Great Lakes shipwrecks, shipbuilding, tour boats, immigration to the area, and much more. Here are a few panels I wanted to share.

Walking back to my ship, the SS Badger was pulling in. An amazing site backing into its pier without any tug assist. The Grande Mariner’s Capt. Ray explained to me how they dropped anchor for positioning and steadiness, and then back down into the slip. A ferry boat, Badger is the last coal-fired passenger vessel operating on the Great Lakes, and shuttles across Lake Michigan between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin,  It connects US 10 running between those two cities. Driving is not allowed on this 62 mile section of the lake. It was an overcast day.

Departure times for this trip were scheduled for decent arrival times for the next port visit.  We were next due in Mackinac Island at noon on 5 September. A trip up Lake Michigan, and then through the straits under the Mackinac Bridge, which was completed in 1957, you should read about. Below, the bridge as seen from the pilot house.

here are bridge views you seldom get to take – you will see many more once I take you down the Hudson River (no locks there to share)

and, looking back

before pulling into the island, we stopped at Pt. St. Ignace to take on fuel, and offload other liquids and solids. We are the green spot on the track below.

and, then it was onto Mackinac Island, and the Grand Hotel.

Ever since seeing the movie, Somewhere in Time, I have been reading and learning and yearning to visit relatively hard to get to Mackinac Island. (permanent population less than 500). It is 300 miles (and a boat trip) from Dearborn, and Greenfield Village, which I have also wanted to get back to not having had time to complete my visit when last there in February, 2015. We would be here overnight, until about 5 AM.

The small downtown, began at the foot of the pier. I had signed up for the carriage tour of the island, and off we went. I trust you know that there are no automobiles allowed on the island. There is a fire truck, ambulance, and emergency vehicle however.

here is the old fort around the bend.

and, up past the Grand Hotel

the tour stopped at the butterfly museum, and the hotel’s carriage barn and museum.

on the back side of the island, and in the park is Arch Rock bridge rising 149 feet above the Straits of Mackinac.

and then after touring through the park and past the top side of the old fort it was back to the hotel where I had booked the formal afternoon tea.

I toured the lower lever, and then headed to the lobby area for tea time, I did not want to be late, and “miss the tea.” The hostess was ready to seat me.

my tea was set, a glass of sherry, and a multi-tiered tray of dainty goodies. I wanted to dig in, but knew I should be polite and let whoever else was seated with me have an opportunity to see the tray and make a selection first.

was I shocked. Others were seated with me, and identical treat trays were brought for all attendees.

Yes, I dress for myself, and was the only one in sight wearing a jacket. Fortunately there is still a dress code here, but it starts at 6PM. Here is a gallery around the hotel you can open.

And, in its majesty, here is the 660 foot front porch, the world’s largest, impressive, and more “rocking chair studies.”

and another award winner for my “favorite foto” page that I have to get back to assembling after years.

back in town, here are some history plaques you can click to enlarge and learn from

walking back to town, here is the other end of the Main Street – tourist shops mainly.

and, back to the ship.

I am so glad I got the opportunity to easily get to Mackinac Island. A trip to here and Dearborn probably would have cost me a third of what my 15 day cruise cost. So well worth it to me. If I had come here on a separate trip I would have felt compelled to spend 2-3 nights, and, since overrun with tourists, I would have not really enjoyed my time. BUT, I MADE HERE, and can now talk about it.

Leaving at 5 AM on on 6 September, it would be all day on Lake Huron, arriving next at Wyandotte, Michigan, south of Detroit, and ten miles from Dearborn. More coming, catch you soon, yours, RAY


Part 1 – Genesis
Part 2 – Chicago – arriving aboard the Grande Mariner
Part 3 – Underway to Wisconsin and Mackinac Island
Part 4 – Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan
Part 5 – Port visits – Cleveland and Buffalo
Part 6 – Welland Canal – Canada
Part 7 – Rochester, NY and The Oswego Canal
Part 8 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 22 to 11 – Heading East
Part 9 – The Erie Canal – LOCKS 11 to 1 – Heading East

Part 10 – The Hudson River – Troy South to NYC
Part 11 – NYC – and, Amtrak along the Hudson to Albany

This entry was posted in LAKES - LOCKS - LONG RIVER -- 1-18 SEPTEMBER 2019 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Carolyn says:

    Another awesome entry. Thank you for letting us tour (vicariously to be sure) with you.

  2. Betty says:

    Great post, as always! Glad you made it to the Grand Hotel and how timely with the email of the sale of it I just sent you. Great that you got to do the tea. I remember we wanted to do the tea but got our hackles up when we realized they added on another $20 per person fee to just walk through the hotel to get to the tea. We felt they should have just increased the price of the tea by that amount and not made it so obvious. That $20 pp fee was for anyone who wanted to just walk through the hotel; no guided tour. So I have to thank you for the pictures of the interior.
    Sounds like you made out well on your visit and took it all in!

    • Ray Boas says:

      I was expecting the “fee” just to enter the grounds, having read about that in years past, but that seems to no longer be the case. Price for the “high tea” as I booked through the ship was $70 (you have to do some things, no matter what). While exploring later I saw a sign for the tea with the cost of $56, thus the $70 was in line including a tip. I AM VERY GLAD THAT I DID IT, and so glad I got to finally visit, just days before the Hotel’s sale. Anxious to see what happens next. RAY


  3. Carol Boerner says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Macinac Island!!!

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