Running Under the Bridge
26 July 2011 | Straits of Mackinac
Wiley and Cold
We left the dock at Beaver Island Marina at 0645 on July 25, and cleared the harbor sailing southwest to clear all the shoals, and then steered north under sail for Grays Reef Passage; it was cool, with seas of 1-2 feet. The lighthouse at Gray's Reef is one of humanity's most forlorn- looking objects; Merry got a picture of it as we passed. One of the boats in the Mac came to grief here, and was abandoned, but we don't see the wreck. Unlike that sailboat, we safely navigate the infamous passage and then turn due east for the run to Mackinaw Bridge. We can see the bridge from 18 miles away. "Running" is the point of sail wherein the wind is behind the boat pushing it. Since we do not have a "whisker pole" or a spinnaker this is not usually a good point of sail for us but on this day we found ourselves doing an incredible 6.2 knots. At 1300 we pass under the bridge with all colors flying including a huge American flag that once flew over the U.S. Capitol. Although we did this once before with the kids in 1993 it is still a huge thrill. However, unlike 1993 we are not able to get a slip at the harbor at Mackinaw Island so we go into Mackinaw City. Ever since we left our home port we have been sailing in the wrong direction - north! Our charts seem to show that the Bahamas are in fact to the east and south after clearing the bridge for the very first time we turn SOUTH. After 300 miles in the wrong direction our passage under the giant bridge marks the start of going in the right direction.