Monday, July 19, 2010

A Race to Mackinac

Saturday morning marked the 86th running of the Port Huron to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island sailboat race.
In preparation of the big event, the town throws a little party. A party known as Boat Night. Port Huron is located where the St.Clair River begins at the base of Lake Huron. There is also a smaller river that comes into the St.Clair right in the middle of town. This river is the Black River. It is where everyone gathers on Friday night. They set up a carnival, have street vendors and performers. There are two stages with entertainment for just about everyone. Most of the yachts are lining the Black River and it's a great opportunity to see the boats and perhaps meet some of the crews that will be sailing in the morning. There is fun to be had on both sides of the river. However, every time a taller boat goes up or down the river, they have to raise the drawbridges.

As the sailors get their much needed rest, the town goes long into the night. There are private parties for the town elite. There are sold out events at most every bar. And there is refreshments available right out on the street. Many people bring their speed boats down to show them off too and the parties know no boundaries when it comes to land or water.
The weather was amazing despite the threats from the local weatherman of severe storms.
When we had had enough of the festivities, we headed over to the park on the St.Clair River. No more than a mile away and still within range of all the noise, it was rather peaceful. We watched as freighters moved through the narrow river almost silently. The bridge lit up in blue here is the Blue Water Bridge. It has been connecting the States with Canada since 1938. It is actually two bridges as increased traffic led the addition of the second span in 1997. Just beyond the bridge, the blackness that you see is Lake Huron (where the race begins).Racers from all over the world come to speed along the waters of Lake Huron to the Straights of Mackinac. The weather was great on Saturday except the racers would have liked to see a little more wind. They raced all day and all night, finally on Sunday,
at 6:07pm, the first boat crossed the finish line at the sleepy little island that time forgot. With no cars alowed on the island, life seems a little slower there. Even with a race going on.
The winner of the 254 nautical mile race was an 80ft. sailboat from Hong Kong called the Beau Geste with a time of 28 hours 17 minutes and 49 seconds. Who gets to do it all over again this next week, racing this time from Chicago to Mackinac Island through the waters of Lake Michigan.
So, my friend that was racing didn't do so well. But fun was had by the whole crew. Every now and again, we need to stop our busy lives and take a break to enjoy the brighter side of the grave. Summer is short in Michigan!
 We now resume our regular broadcast.


PhotosbyErich said...

Beautiful pictures and a great story, Stew. 254 Nautical miles in just over 28 hours. Wow!

My wife has always, always wanted to visit Mackinac island and stay (at least one night) in the Grand Hotel on the island.

She saw the movie Somewhere in Time staring Christopher Reeve that was set in that location and has dreamed of going there ever since. Maybe someday I can surprise her with a visit.

Stew said...

The Grand is beautiful and a night or two on the island is always a good thing. Unless you are the type to drop hundreds for one night and like to dress up for the evening, I'd recommend many of the other hotels. The prices are more reasonable and you can enjoy your vacation in comfort. The town realy changes after the last boat goes back to the mainland so spending the night comes highly recommended.

Jabacue said...

Been to Mackinac Island a couple of times. Beautiful place! Great pics of the race Stew....must have been a blast.