Arriving to and Leaving from the Island

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: Bois Blanc Island Dinners

Coming on the ferry to Bois Blanc Island has an unofficial ceremony to it.

A member of the Plaunt family that runs the ferry backs my rented car onboard and I walk on.

As the ferry pulls away from the dock I watch the bridge opening in front of us over the Cheboygan River.

The ferry pulls out past the icebreaker that keeps the Straits of Mackinac open during the winter.

This boat is named the USCGC Mackinaw.
This boat is named the USCGC Mackinaw.

I watch the approach of Bois Blanc Island in the distance for a bit before returning to the car to read, chat, or sleep.

Once the ferry gets closer everyone becomes antsy and crowds to the front.

The ferry was pretty busy because people were coming for a tour of all the neat cottages on the Island.
The ferry was pretty busy because people were coming for a tour of all the neat cottages on the Island.

My relatives wave from the sea wall protecting the ferry dock on Bois Blanc.

When we dock we shout, “Hello!” before driving the car off.

We park the car and exchange hugs and greetings with the relatives. Then we drive to the cottages to take out our groceries and luggage.

Leaving is pretty much the same thing.

The relatives come to wave goodbye. They hug, say what a good time they had, and promise to see us again.

The ferry pulls out and I walk down to the end of the sea wall to wave goodbye one more time.

Bye bye, Ferry!
Bye bye, Ferry!

Until next year!

-Mister Ed

This is the last of my posts about my trip to Bois Blanc Island this year. Hope you enjoyed them!

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Round Island

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: The Three Cottages

Round Island as seen from the West End beach on Bois Blanc.
Round Island as seen from the West End beach on Bois Blanc.

Round Island is just offshore of the West End on Bois Blanc Island.

From my family’s cottages, the national park is only 0.6 miles away.

My wife and I like kayaking over there when we come to Bois Blanc.

Paddle left! Paddle right! Stormy weather starts tonight!
Paddle left! Paddle right! Stormy weather starts tonight!

There is a current towards the west that will sweep you away if you don’t constantly correct your course on the kayak.

My wife and I capsized our kayak halfway to Round Island once and almost got taken away by the current.

We couldn’t right the kayak, so we ended up kicking with our feet to push the kayak the rest of the way to Round Island.

My grandpa is always in an overwatch position with a telescope on the porch of the New Cottage.

When we capsized my grandpa was ready to call the Coast Guard to rescue us if we went past Round Island into the open part of Lake Huron.

We landed on the westernmost tip of Round Island and saved ourselves a lot of trouble.

Round Island itself is empty and there isn’t much to do there. You can’t go inland because the forest is too deep. There’s an old lighthouse, but it closed when radar became the standard method for preventing ships from running aground.

My family spends our time on Round Island looking for cool rocks, beach glass, or the occasional piece of coal that fell off a freighter and washed ashore.

We do all that stuff, but mostly my wife and I go to Round Island because there is no one else on it.

Bois Blanc is isolated, but there are still happy relatives all around you.

On Round Island there is literally no other person within half a mile of you.

And sometimes solitude is all you want.

-Mister Ed

We made it! No capsizing this time.
We made it! No capsizing this time.

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: Mackinac Island

The Three Cottages

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: The Island Ferry

My family owns three cottages on Bois Blanc Island.

The oldest is in the Pointe Aux Pins or Pines neighborhood near the ferry dock. That cottages is called the Pines Cottage by my family.

Ye olde hundred yeare olde building.
Ye olde hundred yeare olde building.

The Pines Cottage was built when the Island first started being a vacation spot in the late 1800s.

Originally it only had a living room and a porch.

Later on a bedroom was added, then a bathroom and kitchen, and after that a second story with two more bedrooms.

The house is old and a little janky from all the additions. One of the walls in the downstairs bedroom was clearly an exterior wall at one time.

Nearly every board in the house creaks and a few of the walls have knotholes in them that you can peer through.

We suspect that rats, mice, owls, and bats live in the closets of the house. Racoons have gotten in a few times for sure.

My aunts and uncles avoid staying in the Pines Cottage because of all these problems.

My family has a rotating pick order for spots in the cottages between my dad and his five siblings. This year my dad (I used his pick) was fifth in the order and we got stuck with the Pines Cottage.

The other two cottages are the Brown Cottage and the New Cottage, both located on the same plotĀ  of land.

These two cottages are located in a “creatively named” neighborhood, the West End.

The Brown and New Cottages feel more like modern houses.

No critters get into them. You can hear, but not understand people’s conversations in the next room. There’s a dishwasher in both cottages! The damp of the lakeshore doesn’t invade the house.

Why isn't it called the White Cottage? I don't know.
Why isn’t it called the White Cottage? I don’t know.

The New Cottage has two bedrooms. One is a master bedroom for my grandparents and the other has two twin beds.

The second bedroom is often avoided to give my grandparents some privacy.

My aunties stayed here.
My aunties stayed here.

Most of my relatives end up staying in the Brown Cottage which has three bedrooms.

One bedroom is a master bedroom, one has two twin beds, and the third has a bunk bed and a full bed for two people.

The pick order dictates who chooses first for what rooms and when they get them.

My aunts and uncles got all the rooms in the Brown Cottage, but I still wanted to come when they were there. My wife and I stayed in the Pines Cottage and endured the old house so we could see my relatives.

It was a little cold, but blankets and a space heater fixed that.

-Mister Ed

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: Round Island

The Island Ferry

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: Getting to the Island

The Kristen D. as it arrives in the Cheboygan dock.
The Kristen D. as it arrives in the Cheboygan dock.

There are four ways to get to Bois Blanc Island, ferry, boat, plane, or snowmobile.

The ferry is the most common and cheapest.

Taking you own boat requires having your own boat. My family has a small dinghy, but its not nearly big enough to transport people, groceries, and luggage to the Island.

Chartering a private plane to get to the Island is expensive and gives people the heebie-jeebies because, “Does the pilot really know how to fly this thing?”

Snowmobiles are only used by the Island’s year-round residents to go over the Lake when it freezes.

All the Summer vacationers like me take the ferry.

The ferry is named the Kristen D. When I was a kid I thought it was named after Kirsten Dunst, the female lead in the first series of Spiderman movies.

The family that runs the ferry are called the Plaunts. They’ve been carrying people back and forth to Bois Blanc since 1932.

The Kristen D. holds 15 cars and dozens of people.

The Plaunts also deliver the weekly mail to everyone’s mailboxes.

This is where my grandparents go to get their mail in the summer.
This is where my grandparents go to get their mail in the summer.

The Plaunts will deliver almost anything to the Island. Packages, groceries, lumber, construction equipment, gasoline, etc. All you have to do is call them up and they’ll charge a fee for bringing it over.

Since the Plaunts control almost all transit to and from the Island they act as an unofficial governing body.

They’re also a form of law enforcement. If someone steals a TV from another person there’s only one way to get the TV off the Island. All the victim has to do is tell the Plaunts what type of TV is missing. If they see it on the ferry, they call the police.

The Plaunts provide a little bit of order in the wilds of Lake Huron.

-Mister Ed

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: The Three Cottages