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Local Foods Set Sail in Traverse City

by Lisa Diggs

It wouldn’t be summertime in Traverse City without the majestic sight of the Tall Ship Manitou sailing through the bay. The ship begins sailing Memorial Day Weekend and doesn’t complete the season until September 30. 

A favorite among tourists as well as locals, the ship offers 2-hour cruises, three times a day, as well as bed and breakfast packages. During September there are 4 and 5-day windjammer cruises available for up to 24 passengers.
At the helm is Captain Dave McGinnis, who has been sailing for 28 years.  “I first stepped aboard a tall ship as a passenger back in 1983, said McGinnis.  “After a week cruising the coast of Maine I was hooked.  I managed to get a job aboard the same vessel a couple of years later and never looked back.”
One of the great advantages of sailing around Michigan, however, is the abundance of high-quality local foods and beverages that can be served on board.
TC favorite, Moomers Ice Cream, once voted the #1 scoop on Good Morning America, is doled out during every afternoon sail. Guests are served up two delicious flavors, including the prize-winning “Cherries Moobilee.”
Wine Tasting Cruises feature wines from Leelanau Cellars and Left Foot Charley paired with savory cuisine from Silver Swan Homemade Foods, and are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evening sails.
Sunday evenings mean the Microbrew & Pizza Cruise, featuring beer from Short’s Brewery and tasty Crusted Creations Pizza.
Specially-catered picnic meals are included during each evening sail, throughout the summer. Served up by local deli “Dockside,” the meals include a delicious turkey or vegetarian wrap, pasta salad, cookie for dessert and a beverage.
Cooking aboard Manitou is a unique experience. The galley boasts an authentic 1926 wood-burning stove and old school ice box.  Veteran schooner chef Laura Cavender serves up a variety of fresh homemade meals for bed and breakfast and Windjammer guests, who sit in wooden booth-style tables. Later those tables are used for card and board games by overnight guests.
During the “Floating Bed & Breakfast” (offered Tuesday thru Saturday, June to August) a full breakfast cooked from scratch, is served, featuring fresh baked goods. Lucky guests awaken to a fresh mug of coffee as the sun rises over Old Mission Peninsula.
There is a new, smaller vessel available for private day charters too.  She’s called Scout, a beautiful 38' yacht that can welcome up to 6 passengers.  Local foods are also part of her repertoire, most notably through a collaboration with Silver Swan Homemade Foods. 
McGinnis sites three reasons for featuring local foods. “A) We strongly believe in local small businesses patronizing and supporting each other. Everyone benefits when we work together.  B) We are proud of the high quality products produced in this region, and we want to showcase them when possible, and C) Folks on vacation want to experience all that their travel destination has to offer, including locally made products.”
If this has you as ready to set sail as I am, visit for details and scheduling.


Photos courtesy of Capt. Dave McGinnis. Top photo of Manitou taken by Cindy Ratowski.

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