Monday, July 27, 2009

Tall Ship Manitou offers Sweet Sail Focused on Artisan Chocolate and Storytelling

Four uniquely different windjammer cruises are planned for fall of 2009 aboard the Tall Ship Manitou in Traverse City, including the mouth-watering Artisan Chocolate & Story Telling Cruise, September 25-28. If you love world-class chocolate and a great story -- not to mention good company -- this is definitely the trip for you.

Chocolatier Mimi Wheeler, owner of The Grocer’s Daughter ( guides passengers through daily tastings of her mouthwatering chocolates, along with enlightening discussions of the many dimensions of chocolate; its history, health benefits, production and her trip to Ecuador to study the journey of the cacao bean from rain forest to market. Mimi is passionate about sustainable agriculture and organic practices and she brings this to her artful chocolate creations.

“My love for rich, dark chocolate and a deep connection to my garden inspired my truffles and other chocolate creations,” says Mimi. “I use fruits, edible flowers and herbs from my summer garden and from the soils and the natural beauty of northern Michigan. Travels and studies of chocolate in France and Scandinavia also helped give birth to this production. I hope you will enjoy these handcrafted, artisan chocolates for their quality and their uniqueness.”

Paired with the chocolate, come amazing stories to be shared. Norm Wheeler, well-known member of the local storytelling and poetry troupe “The Beach Bards” (and also Mimi’s husband) regales the group with a host of enchanting myths, legends and poems under the stars each evening.

The cost for the Artisan Chocolate & Storytelling Cruise s $685 per person and is limited to 22 passengers. Packages include all meals, overnight accommodations in 12 double bunk-style cabins, all educational activities and entertainment, as well as unlimited rest and relaxation.

Captain Dave McGinnis, owner of the Traverse Tall Ship Company LLC, said the extended sailing excursions provide a unique experience for those looking for a different type of Northern Michigan adventure.

“Life aboard the Manitou is fun and informal,” said Captain Dave. “The object here is to slow down and take things as they come. Many folks have told us that this is the best stress reliever they have ever found.”

Manitou is a replica of an 1800s “coasting” cargo schooner and is one of the largest sailing ships on the Great Lakes. A traditional two-masted, gaff rigged, topsail schooner, Manitou measures 114 feet in length with more than 3000 square feet of sail.

“All of the cabins and entries have plenty of headroom and windows which can be opened for ventilation,” said Captain Dave. “Passengers look after their own cabins and keep them ‘shipshape.’”

The wind is your guide during these multi-day excursions, as you travel to the islands, bays and coastal villages of Northern Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. The four day extended cruise allows guests the time to really get in to the rhythm of life aboard the ship.

“The wind and weather conditions help determine our course,” Captain Dave said. “After a good day of sailing we drop anchor at one of a variety of possible destinations including Beaver Island, the Manitou Islands, Petoskey or in and around Grand Traverse Bay.”

While aboard the Manitou, guests are free to leave the sailing to the experienced crew or lend a hand and learn the arts of the sailor. After the ship tucks into a snug anchorage for the evening, guests can take out the sea kayaks for a little exploration. Beach combing is special fun for those who would like to further enjoy the beauty of many of Northwest Michigan destinations. A wealth of islands, bays and coastal villages are within your reach aboard the Manitou.

An excursion aboard the Manitou allows you to remove yourself from the trappings of modern life: no TV, phone (cell phones are discouraged), beeper, email and definitely no itinerary.

Dining aboard the Manitou is an experience in and of itself. A team of cooks – including those guests who wish to help with the preparation – will delight you with bountiful home cooked meals turned out of the ship’s galley on a wood-fired stove named Cleo. Meals are served family-style in the main cabin or as a buffet on deck.

“Our healthy menus will satisfy the heartiest of seagoing appetites, with emphasis on Manitou specialties, fresh fruits and produce of the region,” said Captain Dave. “With three meals a day, and a variety of snacks, guests do not go hungry on the Manitou.”

To make reservations for one of the 2009 Windjammer cruises, call toll free 800-678-0383. For additional information about the Manitou, including the popular Floating B&B, day sails and charter services, log on to

Step back in time, relax, make new friends and enjoy outstanding food aboard Manitou!


Sept. 11-14 (4 days, Friday to Monday)

Sept. 18-21 (4 days, Friday to Monday)

Sept. 25-28 (4 days, Friday to Monday)

Oct. 2-5 (4 days, Friday to Monday)

Prices are $685 per person, double occupancy; please add 6% Michigan sales tax

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