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December 3, 2012

Lake Michigan Levels: Then & Now Edition

Filed under: boats,environment,history,Leelanau,photo,suttons bay,weather — Andrew McFarlane @ 3:27 pm

The Suttons Bay Chamber of Commerce shared this photo by Tom Kelly of the Inland Seas Education Association.

The photo shows record high water from 1986. Almost 30 years later we're looking at record low water levels on Lake Michigan that are just 2" above the all-time low from December 1948. Traverse City based AP writer John Flesher writes that As Great Lakes plummet, towns try to save harbors:

The Great Lakes, the world's biggest freshwater system, are shrinking because of drought and rising temperatures, a trend that accelerated with this year's almost snowless winter and scorching summer. Water levels have fallen to near-record lows on Lakes Michigan and Huron, while Erie, Ontario and Superior are below their historical averages.

The decline is causing heavy economic losses, with cargo freighters forced to lighten their loads, marinas too shallow for pleasure boats and weeds sprouting on exposed bottomlands, chasing away swimmers and sunbathers.

Some of the greatest suffering is in small tourist towns that lack the economic diversity of bigger port cities. Yet they are last in line for federal money to deepen channels and repair infrastructure to support the boating traffic that keeps them afloat.

Read on for more including how a federal budget crunch is making matters worse.

November 15, 2012

Wreck of the Rescue found in Glen Lake

Filed under: boats,glen lake,history,Leelanau,michigan,news — Andrew McFarlane @ 9:43 am

The Glen Arbor Sun reports that intrepid underwater explorer Ross Richardson has found the resting place of the Rescue in Big Glen Lake. Richardson is an accomplished diver from nearby Lake Ann who chronicled his discovery of the 1854 Westmoreland shipwreck in his book The Search for the Westmoreland.

Rescue owner Ralph Dorsey intentionally sank the vessel Big Glen Lake in 1914, but nobody knows why he did it. The Sun has posted some of the many theories:

"Ralph was a heavy drinker, and his passengers refused to ride with him any longer,” goes one legend. Ralph’s nephews, Jim and John Dorsey, who took a joyride on the lake during the 2003 community search, confirmed that their uncle liked to tip back the bottle, even in his latter years living in Frankfort after he brought his boating business here to an abrupt halt. “We were known to drink a little hard cider whenever the neighbors came for a visit,” recalled Jim.

"Nightmares of drowning children haunted Ralph, so he sank his boat before tragedy could strike," is another theory, introduced by Taghon, the proprietor of the Empire Area Historical Museum. “Some say he had a premonition that something bad was going to happen.” According to Barb Siepker, who owns the Cottage Book Shop in Glen Arbor, Ralph had six brothers, one of whom disappeared while boating in northern Lake Superior.

"Ralph lost the boat in a card game, but didn’t want anyone else to ride off in his mahogany-lined craft," suggested Dottie Lanham. “I heard they played a lot of cards in those days because of the idle time on their hands,” she added. “But these stories have probably been exaggerated as they were passed down through generations.”

“Business was bad, and the frustration of cruising around the lake, only to find no one on the docks waiting for him in need of a lift to Glen Arbor, finally got to Ralph,” is yet another explanation. Dr. Chuck Olsen, who initiated the 2003 search, recalls a story told to him by the late John Tobin, who claimed to be fishing where the Narrows Bridge is today when Dorsey paddled ashore in a rowboat, minutes after having chopped a hole in Rescue’s hull with an axe, muttering “If they won’t ride with me, they won’t ride with anyone else!”

Read on for more including how the boat was discovered and what shape it's in and also watch the video of the dive below!

October 16, 2012

Fishtown Benefit Brunch at the Bluebird ~ Sunday, October 28

Filed under: backgrounds,boats,calendar,dining,fishtown,Leelanau,michigan,news,photo,preservation — Andrew McFarlane @ 9:15 am

Leland MI 1950s Fishtown Docks and Commercial Fish Tug and Nets before major Tourism as the Village Mainstay  LL Cook Card 98299 112V Unsent

The Bluebird in Leland is hosting the second annual Fishtown Benefit Brunch this Sunday, October 28th. Tickets are $30/person ($10 for children 12 and under), and include a buffet brunch and your choice of beverage plus door prizes, music and fun.

Proceeds support the Fishtown Preservation Society and their vital mission to preserve and protect Fishtown. Tickets can be purchased at: The Fishtown Preservation Society Office (next to the Leland Library), The Bluebird, Reflections in Fishtown, Tampico in Leland and Case-Daniels & Rae in Suttons Bay. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.fishtownmi.org.

After the ticket is purchased, call the Bluebird at 231-256-9081 to reserve your spot between 10:00am and 2:00pm. This is a popular brunch and seating is limited, so reserve your place early!

Photo credit: Leland MI 1950s Fishtown Docks and Commercial Fish Tug and Nets before major Tourism by UpNorth Memories - Donald (Don) Harrison

More from Fishtown on Leelanau.com.

October 15, 2012

Yesterday & today with the Francisco Morazon

Filed under: boats,history,lake michigan,Leelanau,manitou islands,michigan,photo,sleepingbeardunes — Andrew McFarlane @ 7:20 am

Thanks to John McCormick of Michigan Nut Photography for this post!

"Graveyard Shoals"  Wreck of the SS Francisco Morazan, South Manitou Island Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

"Graveyard Shoals" Wreck of the SS Francisco Morazan by Michigan Nut

Wikipedia says that the Francisco Morazan was a 1,442 GRT cargo ship that was built in 1922 as Arcadia by Deutsche Werft, Hamburg, for German owners. She was sold in 1924 and renamed Elbing She was seized by the Allies in the River Elbe, Germany in May 1945, passed to the United Kingdom's Ministry of War Transport and renamed Empire Congress. In 1946, she was allocated to the Norwegian Government and renamed Brunes.

Brunes was sold into merchant service in 1947 and renamed Skuld In 1948, another sale saw her renamed Ringas. In 1958, she was sold to Liberia and renamed Los Mayas and then Francisco Morazan (for Francisco Morazán) the following year. She served until 29 November 1960 when she ran aground in Lake Michigan and was declared a total loss.

September 21, 2012

Waterspout over South Manitou Island

Waterspout Weather via Michigan in Pictures...

Waterspout moves across the Manitou Passage in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

I don’t usually blog my own photos to Michigan in Pictures, but yesterday afternoon I had the good fortune to see a waterspout above the Manitou Passage in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. If you look closely, you can see the turbulence on the water in front of South Manitou Island towards the center. There's some more shots in my You Can’t Change the Weather slideshow. I also captured three waterspouts over North Manitou Island in September of 2008. 

Meteorologist and Science and Operations Officer Bruce B. Smith of the National Weather Service in Gaylord writes the following about Waterspouts:

Persons living in northern Michigan are well aware that the Great Lakes have a profound impact on local weather patterns. Examples include heavy lake effect snows in winter, and cooling lake breezes in summer. As the end of the summer season approaches, another type of unique Great Lakes weather phenomena is possible — the waterspout.

Dr. Joseph Golden, a distinguished waterspout authority with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), defines the waterspout as a “funnel which contains an intense vortex, sometimes destructive, of small horizontal extent and which occurs over a body of water.” The belief that a waterspout is nothing more than a tornado over water is only partially true. The fact is, depending on how they form, waterspouts come in two types: tornadic and fair weather.

Tornadic waterspouts generally begin as true tornadoes over land in association with a thunderstorm, and then move out over the water. They can be large and are capable of considerable destruction. Fair weather waterspouts, on the other hand, form only over open water. They develop at the surface of the water and climb skyward in association with warm water temperatures and high humidity in the lowest several thousand feet of the atmosphere. They are usually small, relatively brief, and less dangerous. The fair weather variety of waterspout is much more common than the tornadic.

(more...)

September 10, 2012

Leland Heritage Celebration this Saturday!

Filed under: boats,calendar,fall,fishtown,history,Leelanau,leland,michigan,news,nonprofit — Andrew McFarlane @ 8:35 am

"Wood Boats on the Wall"The annual Leland Heritage Celebration takes place September 15th, 2012. This annual event is free and open to the public. Highlights include the Leelanau Historical Museum's "Wooden Boats on the Wall", Van's Garage antique car show, and the Fishtown Preservation Society offering music and festivities in Fishtown.

There will also be an exhibit titled "Windows on Leelanau; Past, Present, and Future" will be the featured for the Leelanau Community Cultural Center at the Old Art Building. Exhibit hours are 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday and 12 to 4 pm on Sunday. The exhibit will feature original works of art using the window as a view on Leelanau. Artists will use the window as a metaphor beyond its mere architectural aspect. This will be a fun and creative exhibit by Leelanau artists.

The Leland Township Library gets into the act as well with their annual Fall Used Book Sale on the lawn at the Library. They will be featuring a display of the books of Leelanau County authors and books about Leelanau County. Library Director

Library Director Sylvia Merz says, "We are always amazed at the number of authors who either currently or once upon a time called Leelanau County home. We’ve pulled as many volumes as we have and they will be featured on Saturday for visitors to browse and check out as they enjoy the events!" (more...)

July 19, 2012

Leelanau Wine Fest & ISEA Classic Boat Show on Saturday!

Filed under: boats,calendar,Leelanau,michigan,news,nonprofit,summer,suttons bay,wine — Andrew McFarlane @ 3:48 pm

via lpwines.com...

The Grand Traverse Insider reports that the Leelanau Peninsula Wine, Food and Music Festival in Suttons Bay begins at 1 PM this Saturday (July 21) and runs until 7 PM. The entrance fee is $15 per person, which includes a complimentary wine glass and two tasting tickets; additional tasting tickets will be available for $2 each. This year's entertainment showcases the blues duo, Hipps n Ricco. A nice play area is available on the beach for children to enjoy while parents take turns at the festival.

17 Leelanau wineries will be on hand: Bel Lago Vineyard and Winery, Black Star Farms, Blustone Vineyards, Brengman Brothers at Crain Hill, Chateau de Leelanau, Chateau Fontaine, Ciccone Vineyard, Forty-Five North Vineyard and Winery, French Valley Vineyard, Good Harbor Vineyards, Good Neighbor Organic Vineyard, L. Mawby Winery, Leelanau Cellars, Shady Lane Cellars, Silver Leaf Vineyard, Verterra Winery and Willow Vineyard.

They add that the Inland Seas Education Association’s Classic Boat Show returns as part of their ISEA Summer Festival on Saturday as well:

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. behind the ISEA building, in conjunction with the Leelanau Peninsula Wine, Food and Music Festival, also in Suttons Bay at the Marina Park.

“We’re pleased to bring the Classic Boat Show back to Suttons Bay,” said ISEA Executive Director Tom Kelly. “This event will bring together a diverse group of sailboats, motorboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats and prams, and will give the public a chance to meet the owners and see the boats up close.”

...The family-friendly event is free and includes sailing trips aboard the Friendship Sloop Liberty, harbor tours aboard the classic M/Y Liberty, dockside tours aboard the schooner Inland Seas, wooden canoe and pram building demonstrations, an all-day Nautical Flea Market, and a raffle featuring a 16-foot Abenaki canoe.

Raffle tickets are $10 each, and the drawing will take place at 5 p.m. on July 21. For more information, call the ISEA at 231-271-3077.

Read on for more!

February 21, 2012

The Very Lucky Kayaker (a cautionary tale)

"I like to take trips like this, to get out of the rut of ordinary life and test myself. I don't have a lot of kayaking experience, but I like getting out and seeing how far I can go."
~Steve Snyder

Hello boys and girls, today we have the story of The Very Lucky Kayaker.

Once upon a time there was a man named Steve Snyder, who paddled from Glen Haven nine miles to South Manitou Island in a brand new kayak to camp. He ran into trouble two miles into his return trip when the spray skirt came off. With no wetsuit and taking on water, he was, as Jim Stamm pointed out when he emailed it over, incredibly lucky to survive.

He was lifted off the island by a Coast Guard Helicopter, hopefully wiser. mLive closes their article:

Michigan paddlers are fortunate. There are two excellent multiday sea kayaking symposiums every year. A symposium is slated May 25-28 in Muskegon County by the West Michigan Coastal Kayakers Association. See wmcka.org for details. The other is the Great Lakes Sea Kayaking Symposium, July 18-22, in Grand Marais. See downwindsports.com/glsks for more details.

If you are new to kayaking, consider attending. You won’t be sorry — and it could save your life.

We'll close ours by sharing the words of northern Michigan's own Song of the Lakes:

These are not lakes, these are the world's eighth seas, and her bottoms are littered with the wreckage of over 8,000 ships.

Try not to join them, OK? Don't treat Lake Michigan like a lake, she's a whole lot bigger than almost any lake in the world and demands your respect.

Photo credit: Winter Swirls on Sleeping Bear Point by Mark Lindsay

December 14, 2011

Shipwrecks of the Sleeping Bear

Filed under: boats,calendar,empire,history,lake michigan,Leelanau,michigan,news,sleepingbeardunes — Andrew McFarlane @ 9:51 am

Ross Richardson documents a shipwreck in Lake Michigan The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore invites you to join them at the Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire this Saturday, December 17 at 1 PM for a shipwreck program presented by diver/historian Ross Richardson.

The shipwrecks of the Manitou Passage have attracted underwater explorers for decades. Today, the underwater photography of these explorers allows landsmen to visit the shipwrecks from the comfort of a warm, dry chair. Ross Richardson has spent the last decade searching for and documenting shipwrecks off the coast of west Michigan. He is credited with discovering the location of the legendary steamer Westmoreland, which sank south of Sleeping Bear Point in 1854.

Offshore of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore lies the Manitou Passage. Although this 36-mile long waterway offers some protection from the open waters of Lake Michigan, even the waters of the passage can be treacherous. Many ships seeking shelter sank in this passage, hitting shoals and sandbars and running aground before being destroyed by the waves of Lake Michigan. There are 16 known shipwrecks in the passage and around the Manitou Islands, but there may be as many as 45 wrecks still undiscovered on the bottom. Many wrecks are well-preserved and offer clues on how they surrendered to the strength of the big lake in the days before advanced navigation when ships relied on basic tools like a compass, clock, and chart.

For more information, please call the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore at 231-326-5134 or visit their website at www.nps.gov/slbe. Also, check out their Facebook page!

December 2, 2011

Learn about the Wreck of the Westmoreland TONIGHT!

Filed under: boats,calendar,empire,history,Leelanau,michigan,news — Andrew McFarlane @ 9:18 am

Details surrounding the history, legend and exciting 2010 discovery of one of the Great Lakes’ most sought-after shipwrecks will be disclosed during the Empire Area Heritage Group’s Dec. 2, free public program at the Empire Township Hall TONIGHT at 7 PM. Ross Richardson, a Lake Ann diver and a 10-year former board member of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, will share his extensive research on and incredible discovery of the Westmoreland. The 160-ft. passenger steamer sank more than 150 years ago in the icy waters off what is known now as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The ship, with 34 passengers and crew, was rumored to have been carrying whiskey and gold coins when she went down in December, 1854 – a tale that launched over a dozen expeditions in the ensuing years to find her and her treasures. Only 17 people were saved during the tragic event. Richardson solved the mystery of the ship’s whereabouts using history books, old newspapers and what he calls “a little bit of hard work.” He found the wreck in July, 2010 – sitting upright, bow and arches intact – in an uncharted hole. Read more about it and see photos in this Leelanau.com article on the Westmoreland's discovery!

For more information about Friday’s program, email empiremuseum@centurytel.net

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