On a recent Friday evening, my husband, some friends and I strolled down the pier in the Sister Bay marina. The sun was still high in the sky, and the clouds were few. Upbeat pop music floated out of the tour boat to our left, and, caught up in the festive mood of my surroundings, I busted a move. “We’re going to get along just fine!” the bartender from the tour boat called. My husband laughed sheepishly. We had just purchased tickets to board the “Sunset Live Music Cruise” with Door County Scenic Boat Tours, and I was confident we were going to have a good time.
Our group of six boarded the broad double-decker boat minutes later and made our way to the upper deck to claim a perfect viewing space for the gorgeous sunset. Soon the crew was pushing us off from the dock, and we were motoring slowly out of the harbor. Some of our group ventured down to the on-board bar and returned with old-fashioneds and sangria. Sipping and talking, we took in the shrinking view of Sister Bay. The boat sailed south, past Little Sister Bay, and in the distance we could make out a tiny fleet of sailboats racing in Eagle Harbor. Passing Eagle Bluff was spectacular, and the captain cruised right past Horseshoe Island, which I had never seen up close. Ahead, small green patches that I knew to be the Strawberry Islands came into focus. On the left we spied first the tiny tower and then the entire structure of the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. Our boat glided between Adventure Island and Strawberry Island, with Chambers Island still in the distance. We were able to see a quaint cottage and a flock of pelicans perched on Strawberry Island.
It was about here that the sun began to throw dusky colors over the water. Some mountainous clouds rolled in around the horizon, creating dramatic shapes and intensifying the colors of the ribbons of light that peaked above and below them. I swayed and sang along to the Paul Simon song the guitarist was singing. A friend and I descended to the main deck to greet the musician and request a song. Ben Larsen, a Door County native and professional musician, talked with us a little while about our mutual appreciation of Gordon Lightfoot, then treated the cruise to one of his songs.
Time flew, and before we knew it, Sister Bay was drawing into view, now bathed in the orangy-pink light of early sunset. We disembarked at about 9 pm, bidding farewell to our fellow cruisers with whom we’d shared a brief nautical camaraderie. The sunset cruise with Sister Bay Scenic Boat Tours (Door County Boats) was the perfect start to a weekend with our visiting friends. The company also offers special nighttime cruises to see various fireworks displays throughout the season, and runs a second tour boat out of Fish Creek’s harbor.
Distance from the Blacksmith Inn: the Sister Bay location is driveable in 12 minutes (9.1 miles)
Pre-registration required: Strongly recommended to reserve at least a week in advance
Cost: $24-42 for adults, seniors receive a $3 discount
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller, Door County Boats also rents pontoons, jet skis and speed boats for personal use. You might say it’s not possible to get the full Door County experience unless you see her from the water. After a gorgeous cruise or full day of boating, rest your sun-kissed self in one of the Blacksmith Inn’s four-poster beds to prepare for tomorrow’s adventure.