The 114-foot-long Manitou sails three times a day out of Traverse City: noon, afternoon and evening, with picnic meals available during the noon and evening sails. Call the Tall Ship Company (13390 S.W. Bay Shore Dr., 231-941-2000, tallshipsailing.com) to make reservations, and half an hour before the scheduled sail, meet the ship’s other guests onshore across from the dock. Pack a sweatshirt to prepare for cool, windy gusts, and don’t forget to grab a few bucks to tip the crew on your way off the ship.
Some cruises in July and August are specialty cruises: Monday afternoons, local ice cream emporium Moomers brings five flavors for families to enjoy. Wednesday is entertainment night featuring local band Song of the Lakes. Tuesday evenings are tastings of Leelanau Cellars’ wines and catered cuisine. Please call for dates and prices.
A long plank decorated with intertwined lights overhead leads out to the boarding area. Board carefully down the wooden plank, then take a seat on this mighty ship. A sapphire blue bay, turquoise sky and cotton-ball clouds create the perfect backdrop for the simple red cedar and pine details onboard.
Join the crew in the onboard duties—grab a line and, hand over hand, raise those heavy sails. Kids can make friends with the captain and take a turn steering the ship. Before you know it, a boxed meal is served—a sandwich, pasta salad and cookie, perhaps—which you can enjoy while the boat cuts across the smooth waters of West Bay. Snuggle into your sweatshirt, the cool wind gusting, the warm sun on your face. Listen to the sound of heavy sails flapping in the breeze and let the lazy rocking of the ship send you into a peaceful state of mind.
QUICK BITE: As no meal is served on board for the 3 p.m. sail, afternoon sailors may want to head downtown for a slow and easy lunch at Patisserie Amie before embarking. Chef Eric Fritch whips up European-style delectables in this tiny French cafe: creamy oeufs brouillés (scrambled eggs), lattes with puffs of fresh whipped cream, and pastries heavy with almond flour and chocolate. (237 Lake Ave., 231-922-9645)