Pancake Ice

Pancake Ice by Julie

Pancake Ice by Julie

This is one of the best shots I’ve seen showing how the structure of pancake ice is basically “round iceberg”. The Weather Channel explains the science behind pancake ice:

The circular slabs you see can range anywhere from one to 10 feet in diameter and up to four inches thick, typically forming in areas with at least some wave action and air temperatures just below freezing.

Pancake ice can begin as a thin ice layer (known as grease ice) or slush on the water surface, which accumulates into quasi-circular disks. The “lily pad,” or raised-edge appearance of pancake ice, can form when each disk bumps up against one another, or when slush splashes onto and then freezes on the slab’s edge.

Julie caught this picture last week in Charlevoix’s channel to Lake Michigan. See more in her Coronavirus Times 2021 gallery on Flickr.

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Surf’s Up in Michigan!

Surfs Up by Julie

Surfs Up by Julie

While it seems crazy, winter, particularly November & December, are Michigan’s best surfing season. If you take a look through our photos of Michigan surfing, you’ll see that the biggest waves are the ones that come with snow & cold.

Julie took this on Sunday in Charlevoix when the temperature was a balmy 37 degrees. Head over to her Flickr for a shot of all five surfers who were out and see lots more in her Lighthouses gallery on Flickr. 

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Looking Over Charlevoix

Charlevoix Michigan by Laurent Fady

Charlevoix, Michigan by Laurent Fady

Visit Charlevoix says that the Charlevoix area was part of what was called Michilimackinac formed in the Treaty of Washington in 1836:

French explorer Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix is said to have stayed on nearby Fisherman Island and the area was named after him in 1836.

…Exclusive hotels, the Inn and the Beach, were the summer destination for people from around the Midwest. Two depots served summer guests, one at Belvedere and the Pere Marquette Railway depot. Guests also arrived in the late 1800s on steamships including the Manitou, Alabama, North American, South American, Milwaukee Clipper, and Illinois.

During the Prohibition, Chicago area gang members moved their operations to Charlevoix. The Colonial Club became a gambling joint for some of the Midwest’s most powerful. A barge-turned-speakeasy traveled from Charlevoix to Boyne City carrying passengers in style during the summer months.

Lots more at Visit Charlevoix. Laurent took this sweet aerial photo of Charlevoix back in June. See many more views from above in his Aerial Photos of Northern MI gallery!

More Michigan aerial photos & more from Charlevoix on Michigan in Pictures.

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Today is not the Earth’s Longest Day

Untitled, photo by Jim Schoensee

The summer solstice arrives at 12:24 AM tomorrow when sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator, making today the longest day of  2017. Vox’s article on the summer solstice has some interesting info about the solstice including a look at whether or not today is the longest day in Earth’s history:

Ever since the Earth has had liquid oceans and a moon, its rotation has been gradually slowing over time due to tidal friction. That means — over very, very long periods of time — the days have been getting steadily longer. About 4.5 billion years ago, it took the Earth just six hours to complete one rotation. About 350 million years ago, it took 23 hours. Today, of course, it takes about 24 hours. And the days will gradually get longer still.

Given that, you’d think 2017 would be the longest day in all of history. But while it’s certainly up there, it doesn’t quite take top honors.

That’s because tidal friction isn’t the only thing affecting Earth’s rotation — there are a few countervailing factors. The melting of glacial ice, which has been occurring since the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago (and is now ramping up because of global warming), is actually speeding up Earth’s rotation very slightly, shortening the days by a few fractions of a millisecond. Likewise, geologic activity in the planet’s core, earthquakes, ocean currents, and seasonal wind changes can also speed up or slow down Earth’s rotation.

When you put all these factors together, scientists have estimated that the longest day in Earth’s history (so far) likely occurred back in 1912. That year’s summer solstice was the longest period of daylight the Northern Hemisphere has ever seen (and, conversely, the 1912 winter solstice was the longest night we’ve ever seen).

Eventually, the effects of tidal friction should overcome all those other factors, and Earth’s days will get longer and longer as its rotation keeps slowing (forcing timekeepers to add leap seconds to the calendar periodically). Which means that in the future, there will be plenty of summer solstices that set new records as the “longest day in Earth’s history.”

View Jim’s photo of the Charlevoix Lighthouse on the summer solstice in 2010 bigger and see more in his Charlevoix Lighthouse slideshow.

Lake Charlevoix Fall Colors

lake-charlevoix-fall-colors-by-frank-wulfers

Lake Charlevoix Fall Colors, photo by frank wulfers

Frank took this shot on Wednesday from the Avalanche Mountain Scenic Overlook in Boyne City. As you can see, this will be the weekend for fall color across much of Michigan, so check out some great fall scenes on Michigan in Pictures and make your plans for a getaway!

View Frank’s photo bigger and see more in his Michigan – Northwest slideshow.

Headed into Lake Charlevoix

foggy-harbor

Foggy Harbor, photo by Julie

Julie says that yesterday they had thick fog in Charlevoix and she spotted this boat heading out into Lake Charlevoix.

View her photo bigger and see more in Julie’s massive Charlevoix slideshow.

The Oldest Ship on the Great Lakes: The St. Mary’s Challenger

Departing........

Departing…….., photo by smiles7

7 years ago I shared the story of the Southdown Challenger on Michigan in Pictures. I was happy to see that the oldest operational freighter on the Great Lakes is still in action. The feature on the St. Marys Challenger on Boatnerd.com begins:

Currently holding the honors of being the oldest lake boat still trading on the Great Lakes, the self unloading cement carrier St. Marys Challenger was built as a traditional Great Lakes bulk carrier as hull #17 by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse (Detroit), MI in 1906. This veteran of the lakes was launched February 7, 1906 as the William P. Snyder for Shenango Steamship & Transportation Co. (subsidiary of Shenango Furnace Co.), Cleveland, OH. Retaining her original overall dimensions, the St. Marys Challenger is now powered by a Skinner Marine Unaflow 4 cylinder reciprocating steam engine burning heavy fuel oil rated at 3,500 i.h.p. (2,611 kW) with 2 water tube boilers. The power is fed to a single fixed pitch propeller and the vessel is equipped with a bow thruster. The vessel is capable of carrying 10,250 tons (10,415 mt) in 8 holds at mid summer draft of 21’09” (6.63m). Cargoes of bulk or powdered cement can be unloaded by a fully automated system including air slides, conveyor equipment and bucket elevators feeding a forward mounted 48’ (14.63m) discharge boom.

Of note, the St. Marys Challenger is one of only two remaining U.S. flagged vessels still active on the Great Lakes to be powered by the classic Skinner Marine Unaflow steam engine. The other vessel is the car ferry Badger (2) which is powered by two of these engines and, in turn, remains as the only coal fired vessel still in active service on the Great Lakes. The only remaining Canadian-flagged steamer powered by a Canadian-built (Vickers) Skinner Unaflow engine is the James Norris.

Read on for more and also check out this set of photos by Wade Bryant, who served aboard the Challenger.

Julie took this shot as the St. Marys Challenger steamed out of Charlevoix last week. Check it out bigger and see more in her boat slideshow.

Many more Michigan ships & boats on Michigan in Pictures!

Charlevoix, the Beautiful

Charlevoix the Beautiful

Charlevoix the Beautiful, photo by GLASman1

Wikipedia entry for Charlevoix (pronounced shar-le-voy) says:

The city is situated between Lake Michigan and the western end of Lake Charlevoix, which drains into Lake Michigan through the short Round Lake/Pine River complex in the heart of downtown Charlevoix. Charlevoix’s Round Lake has been called the best natural harbor on Lake Michigan.

Charlevoix is named after Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, a French explorer who travelled the Great Lakes and was said to have stayed the night on Fisherman’s Island one night during a harsh storm. It was during this time that Native Americans were thought to have lived in the Pine River valley.

The City of Charlevoix website adds that Charlevoix first became a village in 1871 and was later established as a city in 1905. The city has a year round population of roughly 3,000 people. FYI, Round Lake is the little lake right off Lake Michigan whick opens into the much larger Lake Charlevoix – here’s a map of Charlevoix!

View Mark’s gorgeous aerial photo bigger and see more in his Aerials slideshow.

There’s more aerial photography and more about Charlevoix on Michigan in Pictures!

Weird Wednesday: South Arm Nessie

South Arm Nessie

South Arm Nessie, photo by Cvx_Wx

Absolute Michigan has been known to hold Weird Wednesdays on the last Wednesday of every month. Our Michigan Sea Monsters post featured two denizens of the deep courtesy Linda Godfrey’s Weird Michigan, the Sea Monster of the Straits and the Lake Leelanau Monster:

The story of an early 20th Century sea monster sighting was sent to The Shadowlands Web site by a reader whose great-grandfather was the witness. The boy was fishing for perch one day in 1910 in the shallows of Lake Leelanau in Leelanau County. The lake had been dammed in the late 1800’s to provide water power for the local mill and to enable logging. The dam also flooded much surrounding area, turning it into swamps and bogs punctuated by dead, standing trees.

On that particular day, the young great-grandfather, William Gauthier, rowed out to a new fishing spot near the town of Lake Leelanau. Looking for good perch habitat, he paddled up close to a tree that he estimated to stand about five feet tall above the water, with a six-inch trunk. He was in about seven feet of water, and after deciding this would be a good place to stop and cast a line, began tying the boat to the tree.

That’s when young William discovered the tree had eyes. They were staring him dead in the face at about four feet above water level. The boy and serpent exchanged a long gaze, then the creature went, “Bloop” into the water. Gauthier said later that the creature’s head passed one end of the boat while the tail was still at the other end, though it was undulating very quickly through the water. The writer noted that Gauthier always admitted to having been thoroughly frightened by his encounter, and that the event caused him to stay off that lake for many years.

The writer added that his great-grandfather came from a prominent area family and was very well-educated, and that he knew others who would admit privately but not publicly that they, too, had seen the creature. No sightings have been reported in recent times, but who knows how many people have believed they were passing by a rotting old cedar when in fact they had just grazed the Leelanau lake monster?

Could the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix hold similar creatures? Check this out big as a beastie and see more in Ed’s My Neighborhood slideshow.

More weird Michigan on Michigan in Pictures!

Ice Boating on Lake Charlevoix

Gordon in his Nite- Lake Charlevoix, Boyne City, Michigan

Gordon in his Nite- Lake Charlevoix, Boyne City, Michigan, photo by rickrjw.

Yesterday we took a trip under the ice of Lake Charlevoix, so it was very fitting that this morning Rick shared a photo from the other side of the ice on Lake Charlevoix! Our recent warm spell has cleared the snow and smoothed the ice on many lakes in Michigan, and that has brought ice boaters out in force.

Sail Michigan’s Michigan iceboating page explains

There are some peculiarities to ice boating (ice yachting) which are not seen with “soft water” sailing. First, most iceboats carry a single individual (so the need for crew is removed), however two or more person boats do exist. Second, because of the speeds involved (iceboats in general can travel 5-10x wind speed), ice sailors wear protective gear, including helmets. Third, iceboats do not require standard ramps for launching. And lastly, an intimate knowledge of ice conditions and lake topography is essential for a safer experience (although ice boating cannot be made 100% “safe”).

The iceboating season can’t start until snow-free hard ice is established on the lakes, usually after Christmas.

Check this photo out background big in in Ricks Iceboating 2012 slideshow!

Here’s one of our favorite iceboating videos: Ice boat vs Chevy on Lake St. Clair!