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Inns & Lodges: Tall Ship Malabar Floating Bed & Breakfast

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Outside magazine, August 1996

Inns & Lodges: Tall Ship Malabar Floating Bed & Breakfast

Travers City, Michigan
By Kathy Martin


In Great Lakes maritime lore, passage on a Lake Michigan steamer or yacht demanded a healthy tolerance for mischance–the lake chalked up seven of the worst 13 shipwrecks on the inland seas in the late nineteenth century. Today in placid Grand Traverse Bay, all you need is a yen for smooth, prevailing-wind cruising and maybe a few gentle undulations to rock your berth aboard
the Tall Ship Malabar.

An overnight stay on the 105-foot tall ship starts with a sunset sail–a front-row seat for watching the crew trim sheets and shimmy up into the rigging of the two-masted, gaff-rigged, topsail schooner–followed by a quiet overnight mooring at the end of a private pier. Swimming is prohibited under sail, but plan to dive into the crystal-clear water once you’re docked. On-board
entertainment includes the Beach Bards drama troupe (Tuesdays) and the Song of the Lakes chantey musicians (Wednesdays), and if you’re lucky the captain will spin a few shipwreck yarns (ask for the Legend of the Three Sisters).

The eight staterooms recall the mid-1800s in style and dimension (i.e., small but cozy), but you can also spread a sleeping bag out on deck and watch for the northern lights. If the sunrise over Old Mission Peninsula doesn’t wake you, the smell of fresh coffee will; the galley-prepared breakfast of eggs, sausage, veggies, and fruits is becoming famous. Ask the crew for local
fishing charter recommendations–the muskies are said to grow to six feet, with enormous toothy jaws–or spend a day hiking at nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Tall Ship Malabar’s floating bed-and-breakfast runs Tuesday through Saturday nights from Memorial Day through September for $95 per person or $175 per couple. Day sails are available, as are longer cruises on Malabar’s sister ship, the Manitou. Call 800-968-8800 for a brochure or 616-941-2000 for details.

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