Frankfort, Michigan

We left Leland early this morning before the wind started and we have 42 miles to navigate from Leland, Michigan to Frankfort, Michigan.

IMG_8544One good thing about leaving this early is the beautiful sunrise glistening on Lake Michigan.  I just love to look out the back of boat and see the sun shining on the water and our boat wake spreading out across the water.

IMG_8559We started seeing the Sleeping Bear Dunes as old as continental ice sheets located along the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  The most prominent features and those for which the park is named are the Perched Dunes above Lake Michigan.  These immense sand dunes are “perched atop the already towering headlands that are glacial moraines.  The dunes overlook the Sleeping Bear empire and Pyramid Point bluffs and are 450′ above Lake Michigan, with a scenic shoreline and untouched forests.   They were on our port (left) side all the way to Frankfort.  Sometimes we would see homes on the top of them and other times we could see trails.  The view would be great living on top of the dunes but I bet when the wind blows it would be like sand blasting coming at you.  The lake was really calm as we navigated to Frankfort, Michigan.

IMG_8560Ten miles northwest is North Manitou Island with no transient facilities, but ferry service from Leland.  The 15,000 acre island is popular for camping, backpacking, swimming, fishing and deer hunting.   South Manitou Island is 13 miles from Leland and like North Manitou there are no transient facilities except for the ferry from Leland.  South Manitou Island has a crescent-shaped bay on the east side of this island that was for many years a favorite of the lumber schooners who used the bay as a Harbor of Refuge.  You can hike the 5,000 acres and see the abandoned 1871 lighthouse and partially submerged wreck of the Francisco Morazon a Liberian freighter that ran aground in 1960.

These are more pictures of the sand dunes as we navigated from Leland to Frankfort past the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  They were amazing to see the different shapes that the westerly winds have created over the years.


This is the Betsie Lighthouse 37 feet high located on the northeast shore of Lake Michigan, at the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage.  Construction began in 1854 and completed in 1858 with a visible range for 23.9 nautical miles because of the high placement of the tower.  Prior to being automated in 1983, the ‘wickies’ operated the light for 106 years.  This was the last manned lighthouse on Lake Michigan and the last Michigan lighthouse to lose its keeper.  The Fresnel Lens was removed in 1996 and stored for years.  It has since been returned to the lighthouse non operational where visitors can see it’s glass combination of engineering and artistry.   Wish we could have gotten closer for a better picture and once we docked the marina was to far away to walk to the lighthouse.

When we approached beautiful Betsie Bay we have the sister towns of Frankfort to our starboard(right) and Elberta to port (left) that offer sandy beaches.  The harbor at Frankfort was first dredged in 1859 at the mouth of the Betsie River which leads to Lake Betsie, tucked behind Frankfort breakwaters.   The port was opened in 1867 after a channel was dredged to allow better access, with piers completed in 1873.  The name Betsie is a corruption of the  French expression Australia bec skies which means “sawed break.”   Frankfort was supposedly named after one Frank Martin who arrived in 1855 and promptly built a log stacked around his home to keep the drifting snow from his door, neighbors called it “Frank’s Fort and the name stuck.  The original Frankfort North Breakwater lighthouse was built-in 1873 at the end of this long wooden pier and elevated catwalk which led to shore with John H. King serving as its first keeper.  As we entered the north break water to our starboard (right) is the second Frankfort light 72 foot tall tower constructed in 1912 and electrified in 1919.  In 1920 a pair of concrete breakwaters at the harbor entrance were constructed and complete in 1930.  The 1912 lighthouse was relocated at the head of the north breakwater were it stands today.  On our Port (left) is the 46 foot flashing red Elberta pier lighthouse which marked the entrance on the south side.

This is the great view we have were we are docked at the beautiful Frankfort Marina in Lake Betsie.

After we docked at Frankfort Marina, Kent and I walked downtown and had lunch at Village Marine Bar.   On our way back to the boat Kent had to check out the ice-cream at one of the four ice-cream shops downtown.

Wednesday evening we walked to the beach and then walked out on the pier to the Frankfort lighthouse.  There were kids jumping off the pier and people fishing.  The first part of the pier was wide and then we turned the corner heading towards the light house and it became narrow.  I don’t like narrow walk ways of any kind but Kent held my hand and I made it to the lighthouse and back.


Thursday was a lazy day with storms predicted and it rained on and off during the day.  We really didn’t get bad weather until after 6:00.  Then the big storm hit with strong winds, rain, thunder, and lighting.  I am sure glad we are tied up in the slip.  This is what it looked like in the marina when the wind came causing white caps.  Two sailboats that were anchored in the grassy bottom of Lake Betsie let loose due to the very strong winds.  One drifted just short of the pier while they were in town at dinner.  What a surprise that would be come back and your boat is gone.  Kent said this is why I like being in a slip and not on an anchor.


This is what the sky looked like after the storm.

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