Leland feels like a lifetime ago! So much time has passed and life has gotten in the way and I’m behind again. But it’s good to look back at our pictures and the fun we had in Leland. Ben and I first stopped in Leland with Molly in 2008. We had just purchased our previous boat in North Carolina and had hired a delivery captain to run it back to Chicago. We met the captain in Presque Isle, MI and hopped on board with our almost 1 year old for the rest of the trip back to Chicago. Our first long day ended in Leland, MI. It immediately became Ben’s favorite small Michigan town. It’s fishtown charm is undeniable. We made it back to Leland in August of 2015. We called for a reservation and were told they did not have any space. Ben wouldn’t take no for an answer. As we got closer he decided he was just pulling in the harbor to see what they’d say. For any of our boating friends who have been there, you’ve seen our boat, and you’ve seen that harbor. They could see us coming a mile or two away so there were a number of people waiting on the fuel dock when we pulled in. Ben had me shout over and ask if they had any room. They asked for how long. We would have been happy with being able to stay for lunch. When you just push your way in, they magically find room for you! There was a t-head available and they said we could stay the night. Yay! That time we had our good friends the Burnetts with us so we have some fun Leland memories with them.
Last fall when we were finishing our Loop we missed stopping in Leland. We came home so late in the season and had to pick our weather days and didn’t have the luxury of stopping everywhere we wanted. So it was a must do on our list for this summer.
Once again weather fouled many of our plans. After being side lined in Charlevoix for an extra WEEK, we finally left on a not great Saturday afternoon. The lake was choppy but not terrible and Leland was a short run. The Wilsons decided they’d give it a try too. It wasn’t too bad until we reached the mouth of Grand Traverse Bay. The mouth of the bay is about 9 miles across. And those were 9 really UGLY miles! We had our stabilizer running and ran pretty far off shore. Nothing about it was unsafe for us, but it sure wasn’t any fun. And boating is supposed to be fun. It just can’t all be perfect on Lake Michigan! Once we got past Grand Traverse Bay it was back to some light chop on a gray, blah day. We pulled into Leland and needed to stop at the fuel dock. There was another boat on the fuel dock and it was going to be awhile so they had us just tie up in our slip and wait. And wait. And wait. We only had this one night to spend in Leland and this was wasting a lot of our time. It was already around 5 pm. Turns out the boat at the fuel dock somehow pumped diesel into his holding tanks. Oops. Big oops. So that had to be pumped out and pumped into the correct tanks. It was finally our turn so we dropped lines and backed over to the fuel dock. The excitement continued. As the dockhand was holding our lines he managed to get his foot hooked over the edge of the dock and lost his balance. His choice was jump or fall between the boat and dock. He jumped onto our swim platform, fell and his radio went skidding across to the edge and stopped. Ben heard a big thud and just stopped all movement of the boat. I told him through the headset what happened. I took the lines back from the dock hand and told him to grab his radio. He’s apologizing all over the place for jumping on our boat. That was the least of our concern! Thank goodness he didn’t fall. He was fine.
Once we were finally settled we had very little time to see town. Most of the fishtown shops were closed up already or closing up. We poked around a bit and walked over to see the waterfall.
Then we walked up into town and found the Wilsons. We walked around together for a bit and then said yet another goodbye. Our plan was to cross the lake the next day to get to Sturgeon Bay, WI and start making our way back to Chicago. We had to get home for Labor Day for my sister’s wedding and it seemed like during the one good day forecasted we should get across the water. But our other option was Ludington, where the Wilsons were heading. So, I wasn’t too worried about the sad goodbyes! You never know where you’ll end up when boating.
We went back to the boat to eat dinner. As we were sitting down to eat the girls and Ben spotted a car in the water! There is a red amphibious car that is always parked in front of the restaurant right by the marina. We were pretty sure it was the same car. Ben and the girls ran outside to watch and take pictures as it turned right into the fairway in front of us. Four people were in the car just chatting and enjoying the sunset.
I texted Wendy and told her to look out. Before you know it Ben says, well the Wilsons are in the car getting a ride! Molly and Maddy begged to run up the dock and see. They were so bummed to not be in the car. I told them they had to wait to be asked if they wanted a ride. When the Wilsons got back from their ride Ben and the owner of the car started chatting. Ben knows a lot about those cars (who knows how?!?) and was asking a lot of questions. After quite a few minutes talking the owner offered Ben a ride and all four of us were able to go. The girls were head over heels thrilled. They were a bit worried they didn’t have life vests (love that they thought of that!) but they hopped right in. What a cool experience for all of us. It’s a very weird sensation feeling the car drive into water and then float away. He drove us around the marina, over to the waterfall, over to our boat and back to the dock. Also very cool to then drive on out of the water.
Ben and the owner chatted a bit longer. It came up that we put a Seakeeper gyro-stabilizer in our boat. This guy mentioned he knows a lot about gyroscopes and would be interested to come see the Seakeeper. So, as I was getting the girls settled in bed he stopped by our boat. He and Ben headed to the engine room for a lot of shop talk.
Needless to say Leland was again a great stop. What a fun night. We wish we could have stayed longer. It was a quick visit this time since the next day was the only day with a good forecast in 10 days! Leland will remain one of our favorite Michigan stops.