Archive for the ‘Adventures’ Category

07/13/2021 – Ephemeris – Virgin Galactic had a successful full crew flight to the edge of space

July 13, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:10. The Moon, halfway from new to first quarter, will set at 11:59 this evening.

This past Sunday was Virgin Galactic’s first test passenger flight to what the United States calls space, past 50 miles altitude, in their VSS Unity spaceship. The four passengers for this test flight were all basically Virgin Galactic employees, including its founder, Richard Branson. The international definition of where space begins is 100 kilometers or 62 miles altitude. At either altitude, a suborbital spacecraft at its peak altitude would be traveling so slowly that the atmospheric effects are negligible. However, if a spacecraft were to pass through that altitude on reentry at over 17 thousand miles an hour, that’s an entirely different story. On July 20th Jeff Bezos will ride his New Shepard rocket up past 62 miles.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.


VSS Unity launch

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship VSS Unity ignites its hybrid rocket engine after being dropped from its carrier aircraft Eve on a prior test flight to the edge of space. Credit Sky News.

VSS Unity under power

VSS Unity under power with its hybrid rocket motor. The fuel is a solid rubbery compound, with a nitrous oxide as the oxidizer. Powered flight lasts only 60 seconds to reach 56 miles in altitude. This is from a prior flight. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit: Virgin Galactic.

Floating in zero G in VSS Unity 22

Floating in zero G in VSS Unity 22. I can imagine the announcement: “The seat belt sign has been turned off. You may float about the cabin.” At least for 5 minutes. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit: Virgin Galactic video.

06/24/2021 – Ephemeris – SpaceX Inspiration 4 mission

June 24, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, June 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, at full today, will rise at 9:59 this evening.

If all goes as planned, SpaceX will send four civilians, two men and two women, into orbit for a three-day mission aboard the Crew Dragon “Resilience” spacecraft, sent up by a Falcon 9 rocket in mid-September. It’s called the Inspiration 4 Mission to raise awareness and funds for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Their orbit will be higher, at 340 miles (540 kilometers) altitude, than that of the International Space Station. The mission commander will be Jared Isaacman, who is paying for the whole thing. Dr. Sian Proctor will be the pilot. Also, on the crew will be Hayley Arceneaux, a St. Jude childhood cancer survivor and now a Physician’s Assistant at St. Jude, and Christopher Sembroski. The crew has been in training since their selection in early April.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4). They may be different for your location.


Inspiration 4 Crew

The Inspiration 4 Crew. Left to right: Jared Isaacman, Commander who financed the mission, and flies military jets for fun; Dr Sian Proctor, Pilot who is an entrepreneur, educator and trained pilot; Hayley Arceneaux, who is a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Christopher Sembroski. Credit: Inspration4 Photos.


03/08/2021 – Ephemeris – 45 years ago today I saw and photographed Comet West!

March 8, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for International Women’s Day, Monday, March 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 6:40, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:05. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:34 tomorrow morning.

On this day 45 years ago, in 1976, during the first year of these Ephemeris programs I was able to report on, observe and photograph the brightest comet I had seen up till that time: Comet West. It was not supposed to be a bright comet, but as it rounded the Sun, it began to brighten spectacularly. Later I found out that it’s nucleus broke into several fragments, liberating a great quantity of gas and dust. It turned out to be a very dusty comet which ended up in a broad and bright tail. It was going to be visible before sunrise, and this was the first morning in a while it was clear. Even before the head of the comet rose, the tail could be seen rising in the east. I was able to get several photographs of this wonderful comet!

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Comet West at 6 am, March 8, 1976

Comet West, C/1975 V1, as photographed by me at about 6 am, March 8, 1976. The wide, curved dust tail is most prominent with the narrow blue ion tail pointed more directly at the rising Sun. The small summer constellation of Delphinus the dolphin is to the upper right. The diamond shape of stars at the front of the dolphin’s body is an asterism called Job’s Coffin.

In the image above is tilted about 45 degrees to the horizon in the lower left due to the fact that it was on an equatorial mount, where up and down is north and south in the sky, horizontally is east and west. It’s cocked 45 degrees to the horizon because we are at 45 degrees latitude. Actually the angle is 90 – your latitude which around here is 90 – 45 = 45.

I got up early in the morning of March 8th 1976. I had my telescope mount outside because it takes awhile to set it up to true north and everything. The telescope and camera that mounts on it were taken inside. I just left it there covered with a tarp and wasn’t observing too much that winter. When I got up in wee hours of the morning of the eighth I found out that my telescope mount was buried in the middle of a snowdrift, so I had to dig it out. As I was digging it out I looked to the east and saw the tail of the comet rising before the head did. I then redoubled my efforts and got everything set up so I could take photographs of the comet.

I had built a small telescope a few years before for a solar eclipse as a kind of contingency camera in case my automatic cameras I had built didn’t work. It was a 108 mm f/6 reflecting telescope that I attached a camera back to and took some minute or two long exposures that way. I then realized that the sky was getting brighter, so I quickly switched, and took a couple of wide angle pictures with the 50 mm lens with tracking. That’s one of them above that shows the lovely comet with the long tail.

Comet West 108mm f/6

Comet West taken through the 108 mm f/6 telescope around 5:30 am, March 8, 1976 by a much younger me.

04/28/2020 – Ephemeris – My life with the pandemic so far (A rare personal program)

April 28, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 8:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:34. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 2:20 tomorrow morning.

The stay at home order from the Governor issued last week to stay home until at least May 15th was not a surprise to me. I’m at the vulnerable age group… old. Most of what I do is done at home anyway, though will I miss being an instructor for the Inland Seas Educational Association. I am usually on the schooner Manitou in the spring. My stroke in January would have precluded me sailing this spring anyway even if there was no virus to shut things down. Maybe this fall? I’m getting my garden ready. What’s an astronomer doing with all this earth bound stuff? Well it just happens that the Earth’s a planet too. I tend to think of it as spaceship Earth, hurtling around the Sun at 67,000 miles per hour (107,000 kph).

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


My 9/27/2015 lunar eclipse experience

September 28, 2015 Comments off

This is an elaboration of an email sent to a fellow amateur astronomer who was completely clouded out and asked how we did.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society decided to split our forces for the eclipse.  Some of us would be stationed at the Rogers Observatory, south of Traverse City; while the other would participate in an eclipse watch at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore about 30 miles to the northwest of Traverse City. For most of the week before, the weather forecast was for clear weather.  Well, it was not to be.  All day we were under low clouds streaming up from the southwest.
I headed the contingent that would join a park ranger at the spot in the park called the Dune Climb.  There was a mix-up in the location of the watch.  I had it at a location 20 miles to the south.  So I went to that location and posted a sign about the change in venue and headed north to the Dune Climb.  On my way, I ran into some misty rain.  Not exactly encouraging.  On the satellite images I was tracking all day Sunday, the western edge of this big cloud system was over Lake Michigan.  I was hoping a weather system approaching from the northwest would push this cloud system out of the way.  It didn’t quite.
At the Dune Climb, we had reports from one of the visitors that they had seen the Moon from the town of Empire, about 5 miles south of there.  That was before the eclipse started.  At about 9:15 the park ranger Peggy welcomed everyone and soon turned the mic over to me.  Two other members of the GTAS had arrived before me:  Don Flegel and Emmett Holmes.  Don would use the park’s 4-inch refractor.  Emmett brought his wonderful wooden 13 inch telescope on a Dobsonian mount on a Poncet platform.  Both telescopes would be deployed if the skies cleared.  I brought my telescope, but it turned out that I was spending too much time yakking to actually set it up.  With no Moon visible, I ended up talking all about lunar eclipses, and what to expect if the Moon ever popped out of the clouds.  I talked about lunar eclipses, then turned to the solar eclipses I’ve seen and other topics in response to questions, for about an hour and a half.  At about 10:30 we noticed we could see stars to the low southwest over the dunes.  It took 15 minutes, but the hole in the clouds expanded and finally uncovered the Moon at about the mid-eclipse point.

From mid-eclipse, about 10:45, to the end of totality it was almost perfectly clear,  We had light clouds after that to the end of the partial phase.  Then it clouded up again.  My impressions of the eclipse brightness at totality was that it was a bit darker than usual, but I may be wrong.  However, I have had wretched luck in being able to view lunar eclipses.  We were virtually wiped out by clouds with the two lunar eclipses last year, and we’ve had the same luck for the many eclipses occurring before.  I may be out of practice.

The folks stationed at the Rogers observatory were indeed clouded out.  To paraphrase the crusader in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:  “We chose wisely.”  Or it was plain dumb luck.

Satellite cloud image

From the animation of the satellite images from Sunday night. The red circle points to the hole, really a notch in the clouds that allowed us to see the last part of the lunar eclipse.  Our low clouds were warm in the infrared, so show as a very light gray. Credit NOAA/Environment Canada.

12/25/2014 – Ephemeris – My recollections of spotting the Southern Cross for the first time.

December 25, 2014 Comments off

Merry Christmas.  This is Ephemeris for Christmas Day, Thursday, December 25th.  The sun will rise at 8:17.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:07.   The moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 9:50 this evening.

My one and only sighting of the constellation the Southern Cross came two and a half years ago from a cruise ship traveling between the Hawaiian island of Maui and Hilo on the Big Island.  I had plotted it out before the trip.  Our ship would be traveling in a south-southeasterly direction and at 3 a.m., the Southern Cross would be low above the southern horizon from our latitude which I surmised would be about 20 degrees north. The southern cross would be visible from the bow of the ship.  The only really dark location to view it was on Deck 14 with an unobstructed view with some subdued lights behind me.  I easily found it, and verified it with the fifth star of the cross.  Nearby was Alpha Centauri the closest star to the sun.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


Southern Cross

The approximate sky that I saw from the bow of the ship at 3:15 a.m. HST February 14, 2012. The moon was a slight gibbous phase. Recreated using Stellarium.

Southern Cross Annotated

The approximate sky that I saw from the bow of the ship at 3:15 a.m. HST February 14, 2012, annotated. The moon was a slight gibbous phase. Recreated using Stellarium.

Note that the star named Rigil Kent is truncated.  It’s Rigil Kentaurus, better known by its catalog name Alpha Centauri.  The fifth star of the cross, my check star, is on the right side of the cross, just below the crosspiece.  The Southern Cross’s real name is Crux, which simply means cross.  The Northern Cross is not an official constellation.  It’s part of Cygnus the swan.

I’ve heard folks say the Beta Centauri is Alpha Centauri’s companion star.  That is not true.  Beta Centauri is Hadar, seen near Alpha in the sky, but is much farther away.  There are three stars in the Alpha Centauri system:  Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, and Proxima Centauri, a telescopic red dwarf, a bit away from the other two.  Alpha Centauri A & B are a wide double, visible in a telescope.  I saw and photographed them when on Key Largo in April 1986 for Halley’s Comet’s closest approach to the Earth.  Note it wasn’t all that close, some 40 million miles, and it had a tail disconnection that week. Bummer.

10/09/2014 – Ephemeris – The next lunar eclipses and recollections of what happened with yesterday’s eclipse

October 9, 2014 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 9th.  The sun will rise at 7:50.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 7:08.   The moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 8:01 this evening.

With the two total lunar eclipses done for this year, we can look forward to two more next year.  The April 4th, 2015 eclipse won’t appear total here because the moon will set before totality.  However the September 28th, 2015 lunar eclipse will be an evening eclipse.  These 4 eclipses make a rare tetrad of total lunar eclipses that won’t be repeated until 2032 and 2033.  After September 28th the next total lunar eclipse visible from northern Michigan will be in 2021.  On the solar eclipse side there’s one on the 23rd of this month, a partial eclipse at sunset.  I’ll have more on that later.  After that is the big event, the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.  The path of totality will run from coast to coast, running just south of St. Louis Missouri, and just north of Nashville Tennessee.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


What follows is my recollection of the October 8th lunar eclipse.   Originally relayed in an email to Pat Stinson, freelance writer and author of the wonderful article in the Grand Traverse Insider about the activities of Space Week and the astronomical events in October:

The skies were trending clearer at midnight and again at 2:30 a.m. when I took a shower to prepare for the eclipse.  After that it got slowly worse. That afternoon Ranger Marie Scott of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore said she’d go to our site, Platte River Point, clouds or not, and I was willing.  In setting up the eclipse observing sites,earlier in the year, this site was the one place that if it were clear, we could see either the moon or the sun set onto the Lake Michigan horizon for the three eclipses this year.  I loaded my van with my two telescopes, the C8 and an 11″ Dobsonian and lots of coffee.

I got to the site at 4:30 and began to set up.  Marie arrived a few minutes later and another Grand Traverse Astronomical Society member Don Flegel arrived shortly after that.  They had some rain in Kingsley, where he lived that morning.  We had a strong, cold northwest wind.  When we’re at the Point we commandeer the small parking lot to the north of the road that’s up against a hill.  That hill and my van offered some protection from the wind.  I got the C8 set up just in time to spot the moon emerging from the clouds a few minutes after first contact.  We were able to follow the eclipse intermittently until about 5:45 when a large cloud covered the moon big time.  We could see the glint of the moon off the water until after totality.

This was our situation until about 7:30 when the clouds began to break up,  By then the moon was so low that the foreshortened breaks weren’t all that open.  Then about 10 minutes before moon set it did peek out at intervals.  Unlike the Cheshire Cat’s smile, the moon (cat) had a frown because the upper edge of the moon was coming back into sunlight.  5 minutes later the moon finally disappeared for good in a cloud bank as the puffy clouds overhead caught the sun’s golden sunrise rays.

Marie Scott counted 18 folks that at one time or another came out to witness the event.  Marie also posted some pictures she took of the eclipse on the park’s Facebook page.

Our May 20th, 2012 solar eclipse experiences

May 21, 2012 1 comment

We knew seeing the eclipse would be a close thing.  We members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society had a full day of events.  It started with a full day at Northwestern Michigan College at their annual fund raising Barbecue.  Gary and Eileen Carlisle, Ron and Jan Uthe, Richard Kuschell, and myself had telescopes aimed at the sun.  Joe Brooks our meteor man was holding forth in one of the classrooms with his meteorite collection.  This went from 10 a.m. setup to 5 p.m. take down.

I immediately headed 30 miles westward to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and the Lake Michigan Overlook and our planned eclipse viewing party with the park rangers.  The rest of our group except Joe followed a bit later.  The sky was milky all day, and we had puffy clouds in Traverse City at the barbecue.  Watching the cloud animations on gave me some hope that the cloud bank we knew was over Wisconsin might just hold off so we could get the major part of what we projected would be the first 50 minutes of the eclipse before sunset.  There was also a spear of thunderstorms coming northward up the lake from the south.  The sky was so milky that we had no idea how high the cloud bank we knew was there actually was.

When I arrived at the entrance to the scenic drive the rangers told me that they may change our location due to blowing sand.  When I got to the overlook the sand was indeed being blown by gusts of wind coming from the southwest.

Lake Michigan Overlook Looking South

Lake Michigan Overlook Looking South

The above picture is from my scouting trip the week before.  We set up near that dune, which sheltered us pretty well from the wind.  However when I got home, I was full of sand, especially my hair.

It wasn’t until about 10 minutes before the start of the eclipse that the cloud bank was revealed.  It then was a race between the moon and the cloud bank.  The moon won by about 5 minutes.  My old friend John Russell, a professional photographer, was there and has posted an eclipse image on his Facebook page.

About 10 minutes later we found that the clouds were getting ugly, and approaching rapidly.

Looking in vain for the sun.

Looking in vain for the sun.  Isn’t that a thunderhead on the left?

That was it for the eclipse.  The rangers counted about 200 people who attended.

Gary Carlisle with binoculars and Richard Kuschel look for Venus above the cloud bank.

Gary Carlisle with binoculars and Richard Kuschell look for Venus above the cloud bank.

Gary Carlisle, who has a knack for finding planets in twilight, spotted Venus above the cloud bank and pointed his Celestron 8 telescope toward it.  Richard Kuschell located it too with his 4″ refractor to give the folks remaining a bonus view of the thin crescent of Venus.

We then packed up and headed back home with lightning to the south and a smattering of rain.

Astronomy Cruise – Day 2

November 2, 2010 1 comment

I slept well last night and got up about 6 a.m. It was cold and dark.  Another passenger was up and we looked at the constellations along with Jupiter sinking into the clouds to the west.  The moon was high overhead like it was the first morning, only a bit thinner, being a day after last quarter.

Since posting the first day’s report I’ve received an email from Jim Newton one of our numbers from Colorado.  He posted images on the Internet and generously allowed us to use them.  I will use some of them because, frankly, it turned out to be a rough day on the bay., and I spent a lot of time eyes locked on the horizon trying, and successfully so, keeping  my breakfast down.

Morning rainbow at Old Mission

Morning rainbow at Old Mission

As the sun rose we did have another rainbow in the sky.  While there were showers all around, I didn’t feel any rain until we got back on land that afternoon, and that was just spritzing.  In the morning briefing Captain Dave said that the forecast was for small craft warnings.

The Zodiac cruising around

The Zodiac cruising around

As you can see he was dressed for rough and wet weather.   It soon came time to weigh anchor.

Raising the Anchor. Photo by Jim Newton.

Raising the Anchor. Photo by Jim Newton.

Electric winch?  Nope.  The anchor is raised by this hand winch that’s powered like an old railroad hand car.  One complete up-down cycle raised the anchor  a whole 3 inches, near as I could tell.  I think I recognize my back side on the left with Cheyenne,  Ann is on the right with another passenger, whose name escapes me.  If you recognize yourself add a comment so I can identify you.  Keeping tension on the chain is Matt, while Neil arranges the chain in the box.   That’s quite a workout for me, even though I was taking the first turn, and just taking up the slack.  The range of the up and down motion of the handle was a bit much after a short time.  Quite a few of us took turns with it.

Cheyenne goes over the rail to guide the anchor

Cheyenne goes over the rail to guide the anchor up. Photo by Jim Newton.

Getting the anchor up, keeping it from scraping the hull,  and lashing it to the rail was quite an undertaking.  Soon we were heading out of the harbor and into East Bay into the brunt of the wind and waves.

Heeling to port in the wind. Photo by Jim Newton

Heeling to port in the wind. Photo by Jim Newton

It was a very rough time.  With a north wind, what took an hour to pass the Old Mission Light and sail into Old Mission Harbor, took half the day to get back around the light, tacking against the wind.  Captain Dave said that the boat could only head 60 degrees into the wind.   On top of that the wind seemed to be pushing us back.  We’d start to tack toward the light with it to the port side of the bow, and before long the light had drifted to the starboard side.

Captain Dave at the helm with Cheyenne at his side

Captain Dave at the helm with Cheyenne at his side

While it seemed we were bouncing all over the bay Lulu and Brent were below preparing lunch.

Lulu is dishing up macaroni and cheese for lunch.  Photo by Jin Newton

Lulu is dishing up macaroni and cheese for lunch. Photo by Jim Newton

I don’t know how they did it.  Unfortunately my stomach wasn’t up to lunch that day.   I did get some movie snippets.  You will have to download them to view them.. They are standard AVI files.  Here is a panorama (49MB) looking off the port side of the boat.  Here is another showing the deck crew switching the staysails on a tack (59MB) to starboard.  Check back later.  I’ll try to make smaller versions.

Omena ahead.  Photo by Jim Newton

Omena ahead. Photo by Jim Newton

Captain Dave put into Omena Harbor as soon as he could in the early afternoon, having pity on us land lubbers.  Tacking this time against a much diminished north wind into the harbor.  Omena is a small town on M22 (not the globular star cluster, but the Michigan highway.)  Sorry, an old astronomer’s joke. We dropped anchor close to the sailboat on the right of the picture.  The large gray building houses Leelanau Cellars Wine tasting Room and a restaurant.  The other building house an art gallery, post office and a general store.  many of us went ashore to wine taste and walk around.

I told you it was a wine tasting place. Photo by Jim Newton.

I told you it was a wine tasting place. Photo by Jim Newton.

Time to head back for dinner.

The Manitou at anchor in Omena

The Manitou at anchor in Omena

Lulu and Brent always fed us well, and breakfasts and dinners were always special.  We all were able to squeeze into the galley for those meals.

Lulu sharing a story before the meal with some passengers.

Lulu sharing a story before the meal with some passengers.

That night was cloudy too so I gathered those interested to finish  my one power point on the universe and ran another about the black hole in the center of the galaxy.  So far the weather has been exactly as forecast.  If it holds, tomorrow night promises to be clear, with a great day of sailing beforehand.


Categories: Adventures

Astronomy Cruise – Day 1

October 14, 2010 2 comments

October 1st.

I got up about 6 a.m. and got on deck.  Orion was shining in the south, with the nearly last quarter moon high above.  Fellow passenger Chris, who is another amateur astronomer from Dayton, Ohio was also up drinking in the winter sky preview.



Daybreak from the deck of the Manitou at 6:56 a.m.


The twilight showed a line of clouds just above the eastern horizon. It looked like the day was going to be great for sailing.  At 7 a.m. Brent of the galley crew brought out coffee and scones.


A passenger looking at the sun through the Questar


Not knowing how long it was going to be brfore we sailed, I brought out the Questar with it’s solar filter and set it up on a bench on the dock.  There was one good sunspot visible.

8 a.m. was breakfast. All 20 plus passengers squeezed into the galley.  Chief cook Lulu fed us some wonderful meals during the trip, including this breakfast.

Captain Dave came aboard before breakfast and after breakfast gave us our morning briefing.  We would cast off at 10 a.m. so some of us could go ashore to get some last minute items.

We had a deck crew of 4 headed by Cheyenne who was also a certified captain.  She captained by earlier 2 hour cruise Labor Day weekend that I was on.  Also in the crew were Neil, who grew up in Suttons Bay, Matt who really looked like a old fashoned deck hand with his beard, and Ann a crewman from a prior year who volunteered for the cruise.


The moon through the rigging

The moon through the rigging


Besides 6 sails, the Manitou has a diesel engine and we motored away from the dock.  After a bit Captain Dave headed the Manitou into the wind to begin the process of raising the sails.  The crew got at least 6 of us passengers lined on either side of the deck forward of the main mast to raise the mainsail.  The Manitou is a gaff-rigged schooner in that its main and fore sails are trapezoidal in shape being stretched between the boom on the bottom and the gaff at the top.  The port line raised the throat of the gaff next to the mast, while the line on the starboard side raised the peak of the gaff.  I was on the port side when the time cane our side shouted to the captain “Ready on the throat!” The other side shouted “Ready on the peak!”  At the signal we hauled away.  As we were raising more and more canvas the task grew harder.  Near the end we end we gave some mighty pulls with commands of 2-6-Heave.


The crew unfurls the staysails

The crew unfurls the staysails


The foresail was easier taking only three on a side and pulling vertically.  The crew then unfurled the three stay sails  attached between the foremast and the bowsprit.


Matt unfurls the topsail

Matt unfurls the topsail


Last to go up was the topsail.  Matt climbed up to set that sail.


The Manitou under full sail

The Manitou under full sail (From the Traverse Tall Ship Co. Website)


We headed northward from the southwest shore of the west arm of Grand Traverse bay under a light westerly breeze.  That breeze died just as we tacked to the west to clear the shoals off Power Island.  The map below shows it as Marion Island.  I recall that it was even named Ford Island being once owned by Henry Ford, but I can’t find anything on the Internet about it.

Captain Dave resorted to starting the diesel engine to make up some time.  The wind came up in the early afternoon, but this time from the north which put Omena and Northport out of range for the day.  Also it was becoming overcast.  Lulu fixed us lunch including French onion soup.  It was delicious!

We tacked back and forth in West Bay (the west arm of the Grand Traverse Bay) in order to clear the Old Mission Light and so to enter East Bay and head south with the wind to anchor in Old Mission Harbor.  Along the way we saw rain showers in the distance.  I may be wrong but I’d say they were lake effect showers from the cold air blowing over the warm waters of Lake Michigan.


We're passing Old Mission Light to enter East Bay

We're passing Old Mission Light to enter East Bay



Rainbow spotted in the late afternoon

Rainbow spotted in the late afternoon


Toward the end of our sail that day we saw a rainbow in the distance.  It was truncated because it was in the distance and the clouds were low.  After we anchored in Old Mission Bay we had dinner and the Zodiac boat was lowered from the davits at the stern of the Manitou to let those who wanted to go ashore.


The Manitou in Old Mission Harbor with the Zodiac returning for more passengers

The Manitou in Old Mission Harbor with the Zodiac returning for more passengers


Old Mission was actually the oldest continuous settlement in the Grand Traverse Bay area, even older than Traverse City.  It was founded in 1839 by the Rev. Dougherty who started a mission there to convert the local Native Americans.  Some of headed to the Old Mission General Store for ice cream.  That place is all decked out as a depression era store.  It is run by a cranky old guy who forbids the taking of photographs inside.  But the Moomers ice cream was worth the visit.  After this we headed back to the dock in the dark, and our warm beds aboard the Manitou..

Map of Grand Traverse Bay

Map of Grand Traverse Bay from Wiki Mini Atlas

Categories: Adventures