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Monday, August 8, 2011

Washington Island, Wisconsin

 Arrival and Kap's Marina
Kap's Marina
We traveled to Washington Island by our own boat, rather than the ferry. We had planned to anchor in the harbor, as we had done a few years earlier; however, after a great ride across Lake Michigan, it started raining, and then the wind picked up. We made an uncommitted effort to set the anchor before deciding to stay at Kap's marina for the night. 

Kap's restaurant & gas dock
Our main reason for stopping at Washington Island was that we needed fuel before continuing to Fayette. Since the water was becoming rough, and Kap didn't want to explain the fuel dock entrance in the wind that was blowing when we arrived, we decided not to continue that day. The fuel dock at Kap's is a bit tricky to pull into. It's not well marked, and you need to make a loop around from the channel to avoid the shallow water. The channel into the Detroit Harbor anchorage is also shallow in spots and not very wide. There were several sailboats anchored when we were there in 2009, so they did not have any trouble navigating the channel. Ferry boats frequent the beginning of the channel, so this area is plenty deep and wide until you get past the ferry docks. We usually prefer to get fuel when we arrive so that we can depart at any time; however, it worked out fine the next morning.

We thought the slip cost of $2 a foot was pretty steep, since it did not include much except a basic dock with electricity. There were flush toilets and a shower in both the Men's and Women's side of the bathhouse. We opted to shower on the boat since the facilities didn't look that great. There was a restaurant and bar on site, which we would have visited, if the slip rent had not been so high. The person checking us in, had to check with Kap to see how much to charge us for the night (after filling out the slip with our boat size and details). This made us feel like he did not have a set rate, and charged whatever he deemed appropriate at the time. We had not asked before this, and I wish we had. I suggest inquiring about the rate beforehand in case it's negotiable.

After this visit, two acquaintances asked us if used Kap's cadillac to tour the island while we were there. We did not know this was an option before we visited, so we did not inquire about this during our stay. That would have made the high priced slip rent a better value. Kap did not offer the use of his car or anything else. In fact, after I saw Internet service was available after turning my computer on, I had to go find someone to ask about the password for use. Fortunately, there was not an extra charge to use the Internet.

Viking Train Tour                              
Since the weather was lousy, and my husband wanted to see the island, we decided to check into the Viking Train tour of the island. Transportation was not actually on a train--it was aboard a covered trailer/wagon, pulled by a motor vehicle. We liked the fact that it was covered--in case the rain continued--and the cost was reasonable ($12 per person), so we made a reservation on the telephone, and then walked the few blocks to the Island Clipper dock to board the train. There were only four of us on the tour, so the service was great! Our guide provided excellent narration and a wonderful ride. She was friendly, upbeat, and personable. We thought this outing was a great value--including the tip we gave at the end. 

The stops we made were slightly different than what was posted online. We stopped at the Ostrich Farm, which was amusing and cost us each an additional dollar. I observed a higher price posted on a sign when we entered, so I assume it costs more for walk-ins, who are not on the train tour. This stop was basically just a farm tour, which we could have done without. We did purchase an Ostrich meat jerky/stick to try, which had good flavor. The second stop was Mann's Mercantile and Uptown Den Norske Grenda. There were a couple stores at this stop, and a nice restroom open to the public. We were not planning to shop, so we spent our time taking photos of the grass covered log buildings from Norway. We did not observe any goats on the roof (or even nearby), as touted on some of the Washington Island ads. The third stop online said that it would be at the Farm Museum, which we were interested in; however, we stopped at a church instead. This was a nice stop, although I do not recall the name of the church. The last stop was Schoolhouse Beach, which we thought was worth a visit. The bay was perfectly calm--quite different than Detroit Harbor on the other side of the island where we had tried to anchor.
 Our guide made the trip worthwhile by pointing out many additional facts and points of interest along the way.