R O Y A L E A G L E . N E
2005 Log -- Lake Superior
June 17: Vermilion to Leamington -- 37 nm
Finally, after two years of planning and preparation, we left on the trip north to Lake Superior. On board is an old sailing friend from Lake Ontario, Ed Finein, who will be accompanying me to Sault St. Marie. Marcy will be staying home until she comes to meet me in late August around Tobermory, and we'll bring the boat home together.
The weather yesterday and last night was cold, wet and blustery with 20-25 knot northwest winds. Lake Erie was angry looking when we got to VYC about 1400, but by this morning the winds had subsided to 10-15 knots and the seas were in the 2-3' range with an occasional four footer. With the wind on the nose when we left VYC at 0840, we motored for the day and covered the 37 NM to Leamington by 1420. Today and tomorrow we will be attending the GLCC Lake Erie Rendezvous.
June 18: Leamington
Attended the GLCC rendezvous. Attendance down some 20-30% this year, but still fun.
June 19: Leamington to Windsor -- 45 nm
Departed at 0750 in company with old friends from MHYC, Edie and Andy Jones, who have a Tartan 38 named Shazam. We both had picked up weeds in Leamington. Shazam in their engine intake and me in the water inlet for both heads. We've never had that happen before.
The winds were ENE at 6-10 knots, so once again we were motoring with light following seas. The trip via Grecian Shoal to the Detroit River was uneventful as was the trip up the river via the small boat cut-off, except for the inevitable large power boats throwing 4-5 foot wakes whose inclination was to pass within 50' and give us hard rolls. Where did these guys learn their boating skills (or not learn).
We were in Windsor's Lakeview Park Marina at 1715, and about an hour later we were joined by George and Nancy Hanna on their Halberg Rassy 42 Sorbie and Lew and Gretchen Myers on their Hunter sistership Windchaser. The Hanna's will be accompanying us to Bayfield and Lew will be accompanying me for almost all of the rest of the trip. That evening the eight of us had dinner at Lili Kazzili's restaurant at the marina.
June 20: Windsor
On Monday I spent more time working on the clogged head. The problem seems to be in the vented loop which is impossible to get at so I decided to bypass it with a new section of hose. Success! That afternoon we all taxied to Casino Windsor for a crack at the tables and then dinner at the casino's Riverview Grill. The food was great, the wine an Argentinian Malbec suggested by Ed was excellent and the conversation spirited. We were back at the boats by 2130 where we all turned in because of an early departure tomorrow.
June 21: Windsor to Port Huron -- 40.7 nm
Shazam and Royal Eagle departed at 0700 for the anticipated 8 1/2 hour run across Lake St. Clair and trip up the St. Clair river to Port Huron. Sorbie and Windchaser elected to sleep in for a later departure. We have clear skies, light winds, and the promise of a warm day. We motored all day, although in one stretch of the St. Clair River we rolled out the jib for about two hours before the wind died completely. Shazam and I missed the 1500 bridge by 5 minutes and then took the 1530 bridge...actually two bridges...up the river to the Riverside Park Marina. Windchaser and Sorbie arrived one hour later, and everyone except Gretchen, who was feeling tired, took courtesy cabs to Fog Cutters restaurant for dinner. The food was good, but the view from this 6th floor restaurant of the river and the Blue Water Bridge was excellent.
June 22: Port Huron to Bayfield -- 46 nm
A crystal clear day with stiff north winds, Shazam and I decided to leave on the 0700 bridge opening. We wanted to spend an extra day in Bayfield instead of a second day in Port Huron. It turned out to be a poor decision. We originally had 16-19 knot winds with large north swells for about 3 hours. Then the winds veered to the northeast and dropped to 6-8 knots for 2 1/2 hours before backing to the north and piping up to 22-26 knots for the last 2 1/2 hours. Overall, this turned out to be one of the roughest days I've spent on the Great Lakes. We arrived in Bayfield at 1500 and ate dinner on board after a brief tour of the town.
June 23: Bayfield
We stayed in Bayfield on Wednesday. Windchaser and Sorbie arrived about 1500. We had margaritas for all on Royal Eagle at 1730 and then headed into town for a 1900 dinner at the Red Pump; terrific food.
June 24: Bayfield to Kincardine -- 40 nm
We left Bayfield at 0700 (Shazam and Royal Eagle). Winds were 16-17 knots from the South and we motor sailed with only the main until we rounded Pt. Clark. Now we had a better point of sail, so we shut the engine down. The wind piped up to 24-25 knots and we barreled along at 7.5 knots and even hit 8.2 knots in a heavy puff of wind. We arrived in Kincardine at 1300. Ed took our laundry to the local laundromat while I checked in at the marina and cleaned up around the boat, including filling our water tanks. At 1900 we had dinner at the Lakeview Brassiere...another very good meal.
June 25: Kincardine to Cove Island - 64 nm
After checking the weather forecast at 0700, we left at 0730 for the 64 mile run to Cove Island. Another day of motor sailing in light winds from the south. About 1300 the winds veered to the northwest at 10-12 knots. At 1630, we were off the Devil Island Channel buoy and began the maneuvering into Cove Island Harbour (from 0.7 NM west of the buoy, go north 3.85 miles, then turn east toward Harbor island and follow the blue water into the outer harbor). The least water we saw under our 5' keel was 9 feet. We anchored at 1730. This is a beautiful, well-protected anchorage with good holding, but there were already 3 boats anchored so it was a little tight after we arrived. Dinner was white beans and spinach over pasta. The mosquitoes chased us below at 2130. Tomorrow we are off at 0800 for Browning Cove.
June 26: Cove Island Harbor to Covered Portage -- 50 nm
We revised our plans and departed at 0800 for Covered Portage. We retraced our course in from the west, and then turned north for Yeo Passage and the "open" waters of Georgian Bay. Despite the nice 10-12 knot sailing breeze from the west, we still ran our engines slowly as we had 50 NM to cover. At 1100 the breeze dropped below 4 knots and we struck sail. Arrived in Covered Portage at 1530. Six other sailboats were in the cove. We met a Canadian couple from Barrie on a Bayfield Sloop named Prowler who are headed to Lake Superior, but we will miss them since they won't be at the Sault until August 1. Had cocktails with the Jones on Shazam and then grilled steaks. Up at 0800 and then hiked to the top of the rocks above Covered Portage. We actually found a few ripe blueberries at the top.
Royal Eagle anchored in Covered Portage. Note new self-adjusting anchor buoy and riding sail.
June 27: Covered Portage to Little Current -- 16 nm
Left at 1030. Light east winds and we motored the 16 miles and caught the 1400 bridge at Little Current. Fueled at Wally's and then went to the town wall which was virtually deserted (what a surprise). We were able to tie up right in front of the laundromat, so doing our laundry was a snap. We also made trips to the grocery store and the LCBO.
June 27: Little Current
We stayed an extra day to accomplish some chores: cleaned the boat inside and out, defrosted the refrigerator, checked filters and removed considerable weeds from the engine intake, fixed the clog in my head water intake which was fouled in Leamington, and spent an hour on the internet at a computer store for $5.
June 29: Little Current to Eagle Island -- 21 nm
This was our first truly overcast day. We left at 0900 and sailed for 2 hours in light NE winds. With only about 20 miles to go, we were willing to take our time, but when the winds dropped to 4-5 knots, we finally turned on the engine though we only ran it at 1500 rpm to make 4.8 knots. Going down the McBean Channel we were able to see there was only one boat in the Benjamins and no one in Fox Harbor. There were no boats at Eagle as well, where we anchored at 1400, set the riding sail and then went ashore by dinghy to pick blueberries. So, in addition to mushroom tortellini and salad, we had fresh blueberry pie for desert. As night approaches, the winds remain light and we expect a comfortable night. Tomorrow we are off to Bear Drop.
June 30: Eagle Island to Gore Bay -- 26 nm
The winds came up to 12-14 overnight, but happily shifted to the ESE so we didn't need to move the boat. The forecast is for heavy winds from the west, so we elected to sail down to Gore Bay. Left at 0900 and the ESE wind which was now running 18-20 knots gave us a fast sail to Gore Bay. We arrived at 1230 and spent the rest of the day walking around town and visiting the LCBO store. During the day, the winds went west and built to 20-25 knots.
July 1: Gore Bay
At 0900 we went to the Farmers' Market and bought lettuce, bread and chutney. We made a valiant effort to leave for Meldrum Bay at 0930, but outside the bay, we found 25-35 knot northwest winds and 6-8' seas. After battling west for 1/2 hour, we turned tail and ran back into Gore Bay. Our return gave us the chance to visit the "fishman" and purchase whitefish filets for dinner. That evening, we attended the Gore Bay Summer Theatre's opening performance of the Neil Simon's comedy "I Ought to be in Pictures" which we enjoyed.
July 2: Gore Bay to Harbor Island -- 65 nm
Underway at 0730 in uncomfortable leftover seas from the NW and 14-16 knot winds which gradually dropped to 7-8 knots, we snaked our way through the channel north of Drummond Island and at 1730 we dropped anchor in the outer harbor of Harbor Island. A quiet, clear and cool night gave us a good night's rest after a long day.
July 3: Harbor Island to Sault St. Marie -- 39 nm
Anchor aweigh at 0630 as we are not sure how bad the current will be going up the St. Mary's River. As it turns out, it was slower than expected; only 0.3 knot in the lower portion of the river below Neebish Island, 0.8 knot up Neebish Island Cut, then slowly building up to 2 knots for the last 5 miles. We only had one upbound freighter pass us, so all in all, it was an easy, uneventful trip. Arrived at George Kemp Marina at 1330.
Sometime during the trip the part of the foredeck which encloses the furling drum fractured. Ed, who has been working on the foredeck, isn't sure when it happened. So I talked with the marina staff about any spare wood....located a 3" wide, 28" long piece of 3/4" oak....found another marina visitor who had a hand saw, and an hour later I had fashioned a bridge beneath the fracture which I believe resulted in a foredeck that is stronger than before. I'll come up with a permanent solution when we get home.
July 4: George Kemp Marina, Sault St. Marie
Did laundry and strolled downtown to visit the Soo Locks. Ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Portage Street and then sat back on the boat awaiting the 4th of July fireworks display over the Harbor. What a great display they put off for the 150th anniversary of the Soo Locks.
July 5: George Kemp Marina to Bondar Marina (Canadian) Sault St. Marie - 1 nm
Up early to fill water tanks, remove a propane tank for refilling and then head to the grocery store. Walked to the store and called a taxi to take me back to the boat as Ed was busy doing sheets, etc. from the v-berth. Then I bicycled with the propane tank to a store to have it filled (about a mile). Despite our use of propane last year and this year, I would guess it was still about 1/3 full.
We crossed the river about 1230 to Bondar Marina, named after the Canadian astronaut, Roberta Bondar. Bob Sanderson, an old friend from Mentor Harbor Yachting Club, will meet us here this afternoon for a crew change. He is driving Ed's car up here from Cleveland, and Ed will return to Rochester today through Canada.
Tomorrow Bob and I will lock through the Canadian lock and be on our way into Lake Superior.
July 6: Sault St. Marie to Batchawana Bay -- 41 nm
We left Bondar Marina at 0845 and at 0905 we were in the Canadian lock. The lock has cables covered in PVC that hang down the lock walls about every 10 feet. The cables are attached at the top and bottom of the lock, so tying up to the wall simply requires passing a line fore and aft between the lock wall and the cable, and the lines ride up the cable as the boat is lifted. Since the lift from the St. Mary's River to Lake Superior is only 21 feet, the lock never gets very turbulent and it is easy to hold the boat off the wall with a boat hook. We were through the lock at 0940 and off down the shipping channel to White Fish Bay.
Two other sailboats follow Royal Eagle into the Canadian Soo Lock. Note the PVC covered cables.
White Fish Bay is notorious for its boisterous conditions and rough seas, but this morning it was a millpond with only 4-5 knot variable winds. We headed north for Batchawana Bay and finally found some wind to sail for the last hour before tying up to the old government dock in the NW corner of Batchawana Bay at 1530. This is an old, rough dock so the fender board was put to use for the first time. A clear, cool, calm night was only partially spoiled for a few minutes at 0500 when some teenage revelers came down to the dock.
The dock is actually in worse shape that this picture shows.
July 7: Batchawana Bay to Sinclair Cove -- 32 nm
We departed at 0800 for Sinclair Cove on another bright, clear day with light and variable winds. Motor sailed with main up for some drive from the onshore wind which developed around 1000. On the way we had brief cell phone coverage and we were able to talk with Lew Myers. He agreed with the suggestion that we stay in Sinclair Cove tomorrow and they make the 55-60 NM passage from Sault St. Marie to catch up with us.
We arrived at Sinclair Cove at 1330. This is another beautiful, well-protected anchorage though the holding is worrisome as we can see the anchor lying on its side in the crystal clear water. I helped a fisherman beach his skiff, and he promised to drop by the boat with some whitefish tomorrow. Bob and I took the dinghy down the shore to see the Petroglyphs.
What a disappointment. Some have disappeared as the rock face has crumbled. The others are smaller and fainter than advertised, and the place was mobbed with 10-20 people. Oh well, maybe the fishing will be better. Cooked two of Marcy's blue cheese individual meatloaves tonight along with broccoli, rice and a salad. We are well fed. Looks like another cool, restful night ahead.
Entering Sinclair Cove
At anchor in Sinclair Cove as seen from the bluff to the west.
July 8: Sinclair Cove
After an 0830 breakfast of bacon and eggs, Bob and I hiked to the heights over the cove to take pictures. We also discovered lots of blueberries and we put the baggie in my backpack to good use. We returned to the boat and took all the burnable trash over to the beach and burned it in a fire pit, not leaving a trace of garbage. We then washed the boat and finished up by washing the sides and the dinghy. At 1600 I put a blueberry pie in to bake: looks great. Now the generator is running for the first time to produce hot water.
It's been another glorious day, no clouds, light wind, temps in the low 70s.
Tonight we will have fresh whitefish bought from a local fisherman. We will share that along with the pie with Lew and Ken when they arrive on Windchaser. Based on an earlier radio contact, they should be in between 1900 and 1930.
I'm having trouble with the thermostat on the freezer, which for now I am bypassing to keep it running. Losing the freezer and all the food we have in it would be a disaster.
A beautiful sunset at Sinclair Cove. One of many we were to enjoy.
July 9: Sinclair Cove to Gargantua Harbor -- 16 nm
Another day of light 5-6 knot winds. Departed at 0930. Ran out in the lake towards Leach Island and filled our forward water tank using the washdown pump. Anchored in Gargantua at 1230 in 20 feet of water in the NW corner of the harbor.
Put the dinghy down and we went ashore to look at an old shack and then walk around the harbor. The south shore is a sandy beach with 4 campsites for hikers. After coming back to the boat for our fishing gear, we went fishing. No luck. However, later in the afternoon, the fishing boat "Coranet" tied up at a small pier on the shore and we bought 2 2-lb lake trout for $10. We'll save the trout for tomorrow as Windchaser has invited us over for roast chicken tonight. A band of clouds from the west appeared at 2100, so no star viewing tonight.
The Ranger shack on the west shore of Gargantua Harbor
One of the Lake Trout we purchased.
July 10: Gargantua Harbor to Brule Harbor -- 18.7 nm
Another glorious day; not a cloud in the sky and it's the warmest morning thus far. Underway at 0930 for Brule. Initially we unfurled the jib and we were getting some drive, but as we changed course to a more northerly heading, our sail was simply hanging there. Anchored in Brule's inner harbor in 30 ft. in the northeast corner. It was the only deadhead free area with reasonable depth and swinging room we could find. Windchaser dropped an anchor off my port-bow and we pulled the boats together in a raft. Then it was dinghys down and off to fishing and sightseeing. Once again, no luck fishing. We cooked the lake trout for dinner. Clear skies and mosquitoes drove us below at 2230 before the stars were out. Just as well as everyone wants to be up early to look for the moose that supposedly visit the nearby marsh many mornings.
Narrow entrance to Brule.
Windchaser and Royal Eagle rafted.
July 11: Brule Harbor to Michipicoten River (Bucks Marina) -- 18.6 nm
Up early, but no moose appeared. Another sunny day, but warmer with more humidity. We broke raft, lifted our anchors, and were underway at 0930. We were off the Michipicoten River mouth at noon (no wind), and we called Buck's Marina about the depth in the river. Brad Buck called back to say at 5' we should be able to make it (he was partially correct). He came down to guide us. The first challenge is a 180° turn to starboard against the river current, but with his direction, we mastered that obstacle. Then we got past the supposed low spot in the river with 0.7 feet under the keel. However, 100 yards from the marina, we hit the real low spots, definitely less than 5 feet. Brad spent the next hour pulling Windchaser and then me through that spot.
Once at the marina, we refueled, did our laundry, filled our water tanks. Bob went to town with Lew and Ken and picked up beer, bread and fresh vegetables. We had margaritas on the boat at 1830 and a car from the Kinniwabi restaurant picked us up at 1945 for dinner. The restaurant is on a high bluff overlooking the river and the food was good. The service was friendly, but slow. Back at the boat shortly after 2200.
Windchaser being pulled through the shallow water by Brad Buck of Bucks Marina.
July 12: Bucks Marina to Ganley Harbor -- 35 nm
Up early to top off water. Bob washed the topsides while I vacuumed the interior. At 0930, we reversed yesterday's process and by 1115, Brad had pulled both of us through the shoal outside the marina. By 1130, we were both in the Lake (no wind once again) and we began the 35 NM motor to Ganley Harbor. It's worth noting that the river bottom is all sand, so our boats were not damaged, but I bet there is no bottom paint left on the lower portion of our keels.
July 13: Ganley Harbor
We had lobster that Bob had caught in the Florida Keys for dinner last night. It was great. We decided to stay over in Ganley to fish, and we were finally successful. At 0930, we ran east for about one mile to the mouth of the Pike River. It is supposedly filled with speckled trout, but we didn't see any. Then Bob and I went into Red Sucker Cove and paddled and poled the dinghy through the marsh into Pike Lake. It was worth the effort as we caught 10 pike, 4 perch and one 2-lb bass. Bob caught the first pike, which turned out to be the largest. We kept it and released all the others. The 2-lb bass was mine. We returned to the boats at around 1300 where Bob filleted the pike and I filleted the bass and 3 perch. Then we ran our generators to bring the battery charge up and heat water for showers. It's been another warm day with light winds and some cloud cover for a change. Winds are predicted to be from the NE tomorrow so maybe we'll be able to sail the 20 miles to Otter Cove.
The happy crews after another great dinner. From left to right Kip, Lew , Ken and Bob.
The proof of our fishing success.
July 14: Ganley Harbor to Otter Cove -- 18.7 nm
It was another cool, clear night. The mosquitoes chased us below at 2215. Underway at 0845 in light and variable winds, arrived at Otter Cove and anchored in 10-12 feet of water at 1230. The winds were funneling down the cove at 13-15 knots, so I set the riding sail and also used my kellet for the first time. Our set was good, so after lunch Bob and I were off fishing by 1400. I was skunked by Bob who caught a 3 1/2 pound pickerel and then a monstrous northern pike that was 3 feet long and pegged my 16 lb scale. We tried to release the pike, but he wasn't swimming so we towed him back to the boat in hope of reviving him. No luck. We saw our first bald eagle, undoubtedly attracted by the floating dead pike. We had Bob's pickerel for dinner. The wind is slowly dying, so we are expecting another calm, clear and cool evening. The weather our first nine days on Lake Superior has been gorgeous.
Bob Sanderson with his BIG pike and a pickerel
July 15: Otter Cove to Pulpwood Harbor -- 34.7 nm
Underway at 0745 since we have about 35 NM to go today. Light south winds on our stern built to 12 knots around 0930, so we were able to roll out the jib and back off on our rpm. The approach to Pulpwood Harbor was a disaster for both of our boats. I chose not to believe the chart plotter and wandered around for 15 minutes before piecing things together. The scale used by GLCC and Bonnie Dahl was the major factor in the confusion. Anchor finally down at 1400 in 16 feet of water in Pulpwood Harbor. We rafted with Windchaser who also had an anchor out 90 degrees from mine. Bob and I put the dinghy down, took all our garbage and visited the Pukaskwa National Park visitor center in Hattie's Cove. There were garbage containers in the parking lot for our trash. We did some exploring on the way back to the boat and saw a loon with one baby and later in the day another distant eagle. We had pan-fried perch and bass for dinner. Clouds were building as we went below at 2200 because of mosquitoes.
Looking through the narrow entrance to Pulpwood Harbor to the rafted boats.
After dinner working on my log and a cigar.
July 16: Pulpwood Harbor to Jackfish Bay -- 32.2 nm
Early clouds were clearing off as we upped anchor at 0730. The forecast is light and variable and right now (0845) we are motoring once again across a glassy lake with light swells from the SW. Filled our forward water tank and washed down the decks using the washdown pump. Arrived at Jackfish Bay at 1300 and anchored on a shallow shelf on the east side of the bay. Once again Windchaser rafted on us with his anchor down. The amazing thing about this anchorage is we are in what appears to be the wilderness yet 200 yards from us lies the main tracks of the Canadian Pacific railroad. The tracks loop around us in the Canadian equivalent of the horseshoe curve, so we can see the beginning and end of each train (7 so far today as of 2000). Put the dinghy down about 1430 and went through a culvert under the tracks into a lake. This was my day as I caught 2 small and one large pike and Bob was skunked. Steak, potatoes/onions and salad for dinner. Once again the wind is dropping with the promise of a calm night while the 4 of us sat in the cockpit playing poker until 2200.
One of the many trains that rounded the bay.
July 17: Jackfish Bay to Rossport -- 27.4 nm
Our anchors crossed during the windless night, but we sorted it out with no great difficulty and underway at 0805. No trains after 2100, except a lone engine who came by at 0530 and gave us a "friendly" toot. Light winds initially, which built to 20-24 knots on our stern as we headed up Schreiber Channel. We carried the full main all the way until just north of Rossport where we had to wind our way through several islands. Arrived at Rossport at 1230, refueled and moved to a transient slip. This is a small town with no provisions, but we made arrangements with a local to drive us to the next town (14 miles) tomorrow morning. We had dinner at the Rossport Inn. My lake trout was good, but not great. After our grocery shopping, we'll leave tomorrow for the 15 mile run to Woodbine Harbor where there is reportedly good fishing.
July 18: Rossport
A line of thunderstorms passed north of us in the night bringing periods of rain, but no wind or lightning. We awoke this morning to more rain and fog. A local volunteered to drive us to Schreiber for provisions and a visit to the LCBO store so we elected to lay over. About 1400 clear skies and 20-25 knots from the SW blew in so we are happy about our decision, especially since 5-6 foot waves are reported on the Lake and that would have been on the nose. We vacuumed the boat, cleaned the dodger glass, gave the grill a badly needed cleaning and defrosted the freezer, a first. I also checked the engine oil and water and topped off the batteries with distilled water. We had a tuna fish casserole for dinner. By the way, at 48° 50' north latitude we are the furthest north for the trip.
July 19: Rossport to Woodbine Harbor -- 12.5 nm
Last night and this morning were the coldest of the trip; around 50 degrees. We left Rossport at 1100 since we wanted to give the bright sunshine a chance to warm things up. We sailed (really) down the Wilson Channel in 10-11 knots of wind. We went between Minnie and Battle Islands where we headed by the winds. On with the engine, we went out into the lake past Simpson Island and turned into Woodbine Harbor. Anchored at 1330 in 15 feet of water in the northeast end and rafted with Windchaser. The day remained chilly at 55-60° F and we are expecting a cold night tonight. Tried our luck at fishing. No luck! Leftover tuna casserole and cauliflower salad for dinner.
July 20: Woodbine Harbor to CPR Slip -- 12.9 nm
Another cold night. We awoke to cloud cover and threatening skies, but only a few drops of rain thus far. Our original intention when we pulled our anchor at 0900 was to go down the lake about 24 NM to Otter Cove which would have left us about 25 NM from Isle Royale. However, on the lake we had no wind and yet a 4-6 foot swell from the SE and a 3-4 swell from the SW. We were rolling as badly as I have ever experienced. After an hour, we called it quits and turned for CPR slip and went in between Rave and Talbot Island, then north of Agate Island and with the help of the chart plotter as well as the swells breaking over various shoals, we made it into this tiny, but well protected place. Coming around the gravel point into the harbor, we only had 2 1/2 feet of water under us. I'm glad the lake is 10" about datum. All of us feel fortunate that the weather caused us to change our plans today. We are tied up to a dock - 30 feet of us anyway - and we found a great spot with a place to cook ashore tonight. There is also a large sauna here which we fired up and used. Haven't been this clean in years. Prior to the sauna, Bob and I hiked to several ponds looking for fish. No luck.
Royal Eagle at med moor in CPR slip.
The fire pit at CPR slip.
As the afternoon progressed, a Canadian trawler from Red Rock and a ferro-cement sloop from Thunderbay arrived. They were followed by a group of 5 kayakers who camped on the shore. We cooked hamburgers and baked potatoes over the cooking grill and then started a camp fire which was joined by everyone. Another treat was a game of horseshoes in which Royal Eagle defeated Windchaser.
What started out as a relatively miserable day ended up being a delightful one. Once again clear skies and a calm night.
July 21: CPR Slip to Rock Harbor Isle Royale -- 39 nm
Another beautiful morning. After successfully winding our way out of CPR slip, we found a calm lake with 9-11 knot winds from the north which gradually diminished all day so we shed sail and motored. Leaving at 0900, we were tied up at dock in the Rock Harbor Marina at 1510. We checked in the visitor center, paid our fees and then I did two loads of laundry. We plan to stay here tomorrow to clean the boat, wash two more loads of laundry and get ready for Bob's departure at 0800 on Saturday 7/23, and then my son, Will, and my 5-year old grandson, Brian, are scheduled to arrive about 1000 the same day. There isn't a cloud in the sky so it's another beautiful night.
While checking in at the visitor center, I saw a sign advertising a talk being presented that evening on Isle Royale orchids, and the person who was checking me in was the park ranger giving the talk. Would you believe her name was Karena Schmidt! So I went to the talk and saw slides on the 32 orchids found on Isle Royale. Karena took us outside the building when the show was over to show us a purple fringed orchid growing within 100' of the lecture hall.
Ranger III, Windchaser, Royal Eagle and other boats at Rock Harbor.
An Isle Royale Purple Fringed Orchid.
July 22: Rock Harbor Marina
A lazy day with, again, bright sunshine. Saw a gray fox investigating the marina area around 2230 last night. We washed laundry, including the v-berth linen as Bob would spend tonight at the room I have reserved at the Inn (a necessity to reserve the dock). We also cleaned the boat inside and out. After cocktails at 1700, we went over to the lodge dining room for dinner. My lake trout was very good.
July 23: Rock Harbor Marina to Chipewa Harbor -- 13.7 nm
Bob was off on Ranger III at 0900 and Will and Brian's seaplane landed just before 1030. We topped off water, loaded a bag of ice and some milk, purchased Michigan fishing licenses and by 1230 we left the dock with Windchaser for Chipewa Harbor. Anchored in the western end of the second basin in 18 feet of water and rafted Windchaser at 1530. We took the dinghys ashore and both of us walked the 1 mile portage to Lake Whittlesey with our rods. Found a good quantity of blueberries to eat, but we had no luck with fishing. Brian was a good hiker. I made spaghetti and a salad for dinner.
Will and Brian enjoyed their ride and the view of Isle Royale on the float plane from Hancock, MI.
July 24: Chipewa Harbor to Hay Bay -- 15.7 nm
Upped anchor at 1030 after I had made blueberry pancakes for all 5 people. Winds on the lake were initially light SW, but there was a big SE swell running. Our original intention was to anchor in Malone Bay, but as we neared it, the SW wind built to 20 knots so we elected to go into Hay Bay. We were lucky to find the dock empty. I tried the south side and ran aground. Lew made it into the north side, and I rafted off his port side at about 1430. After lunch, Will, Brian and I hiked across Hay Peninsula, turned east to the point and returned to the boat along the north shore. A tough 2.4 mile hike that Brian did amazingly well on. As I was making white beans and spinach over pasta for dinner, Ken spotted a bull moose in the water about 500 yards away. When his head was down grazing on underwater vegetation (with only his back visible), he looked like a rock...the highlight of the trip. We hope to spot more moose later tonight or tomorrow morning.
I'm breaking trail for Brian through some brush.
Brian still has a smile despite some tough going.
July 25: Hay Bay to Malone Bay -- 6.1 nm
Our wishes came true last night when we saw another bull moose enter the bay from the north shore and begin feeding about 2210.
We left Hay Bay about 1030. Partly cloudy skies and no wind, so we did a leisure motor up the inside passage to Malone Bay. There was just enough room on the south side of the dock for us to tie up behind a powerboat and Lew rafted to port. We hiked to Siskiwit Lake (about 0.5 mile) after lunch to see the lake and the small falls which feeds a good sized stream that runs down to Malone Bay. As the locals say, Siskiwit Lake is the largest lake on the largest island on the largest lake in the world. For the third day in a row, Will and Brian went swimming. This time without wet suits as the stream from Siskiwit Lake is warmer. That afternoon, the skies began to cloud over and a brisk N to NW wind built up. The breeze was blowing us off the dock, but nonetheless it was a rough night with the gusts to 20 knots pushing the two boats around.
July 26: Malone Bay to Eagle Harbor -- 41 nm
With the forecast for NW winds of 15-20 knots, we decided this would be a good day to sail across to the Keneewaw Peninsula. We departed at 0745. It turned out the wind was nearly north at 18-21 knots for the first 2 hours and then lightened and moved 20° off the stern. On with the Iron Jenny.
All day we had a big north swell running which was right on our stern when we made the tricky entry into Eagle Harbor. You have to hit a 100' wide opening between two stone cribs, but there is a range which was easy to spot and follow in from the buoy off the harbor. We put the dinghy down, motored across the harbor to a sand beach by the town and pulled the dinghy up on the sand. We visited the local (and only) general store for vegetables, etc., and then visited the lighthouse and local history museum. Lew and Ken left later in the afternoon to make the same trip. Unfortunately the water rose after they beached their dinghy and it floated free. By pure chance, in a binocular sweep of the harbor, I spotted it adrift and was able to rescue it. It was an hour walk back for Lew and Ken, but they were very happy to see the dinghy safe and sound.
July 27: Eagle Harbor to Upper Entry Keneewaw Waterway to Houghton County Marina -- 41 nm
Departed at 0930 from the DNR dock at Eagle Harbor (no services) for the upper entry. Clear skies with a few scattered clouds and temperatures in the 60s...a beautiful shoreline with miles of sand beaches and forested hills in the background. The light 6 knot winds from the west blew up to 14 knots and the last 1 1/2 hours we were punching thru 4' seas. Entered the waterway at 1330 and tied up at the fuel dock of the Houghton County Marina at 1500 after having waited for Ranger III to proceed before us under the lift bridge. The dockmaster gave Will a lift to the airport to pick up his car and after cocktails and hors d'oeuvres on Royal Eagle, the 5 of us squeezed into Will's car and drove across the river to a brew pub called the Library for dinner...good food, even better stout.
July 28: Houghton County Marina
Today we played like tourists. We got up late, I made blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast and then we were off to tour the Quincy Copper Mine. It's deepest shaft goes down 9,630 feet. What tough conditions the miners had to work under. In the afternoon, Will and Brian took the dinghy and checked out the fishing spots while I went to the barbershop for a much needed haircut and beard trim. I also shopped for groceries and paid a visit to the hardware store for a saucepan and new line for a flag halyard. After 12 years, my old flag halyard and one of its clips called it quits. Dinner on board.
Will and Brian standing in front of a huge slab of natural copper on display at the Quincy mine.
July 29: Houghton County Marina
Windchaser changed crew which I do tomorrow. Today its laundry, boat cleaning and reading while Will and Brian are off fishing, having bought a one-day license.
July 30: Houghton County Marina to Portage River -- 10.2 nm
Will was up with me at 0615 and Brian and he were on the road home at 0700. I washed their bed linen and towels and cleaned the inside of the boat. The day was overcast and cold and by 12 noon it was raining. Several thunderstorms moved through the area along with 20 knot winds. Dick Moore arrived at 1430 and by 1530 we cast off to join Windchaser at an anchorage on the Portage River about 2 miles from the southern entry. We arrived at 1715, anchored and rafted. Cocktails and munchies were followed by dinner at 1900. The wind is down to a whisper and we, plus two other sailboats anchored nearby, are expecting a calm night under generally clear skies.
July 31: Portage River to Big Bay Harbor -- 35.5 nm
We had rain and thunder last night, but the main cell passed south of us. During the night we reversed our positions by 180° so we had to sort out an anchor wrap when getting underway. We left at 0830, rejoined the main channel and went out the south entry. Once again light winds and some showers as we motored east past the Huron Islands into Big Bay. A boater in Big Bay confirmed that we would find 7' of water by hugging the north breakwall, so we entered Big Bay Harbor slowly but with no trouble and were pleased to find enough space for both boats along the dock wall. That night we went to dinner at the Thunderbay Inn where portions of the movie "Anatomy of a Murder" were filmed. This was probably our warmest day on Superior, except for when we were up river in Wawa. There are clouds with good vertical development around us, but for now everything is calm and quiet.
August 1: Big Bay Harbor to Marquette -- 28.3 nm
Departed at 0930 and got out through the shoal entrance without incident. Winds were very light and variable so we powered all day. The last 3 hours, while running down the shore to Marquette, we ran into our first fog or heavy mist. Visibility never dropped below 2-3 miles as the fog was not hugging the water, so it did not cause us any real difficulty. Arrived in Marquette at 1345 and tied up at the old coal dock. The big black rubber tire fenders are about 45' apart so we had no trouble going between them. Also there are power pedestals every 100' versus what is indicated by GLCC and Bonnie Dahl. Visited the grocery, liquor store and Thills fish market for lake trout which we had for dinner. Before dinner, I brewed up a couple of batches of margaritas which put everyone in good spirits. Several thunderstorms passed to the south of us during the course of the late afternoon, but all was calm overnight.
August 2: Marquette to Murray Bay Grand Island -- 34.4 nm
After Dick fixed his mammoth special omelet for all four of us, we left at 0900. There was no wind on the lake and it was a hot, hazy day with cumulus clouds building along the south shore. Anchored and rafted with Windchaser in 10' of water in the arm of Murray Bay behind Agate Island, we now have a light breeze from the NE helping to cool us down.
This was our warmest day and promises to be our warmest night. The last 3 days we have been plagued by biting flies from dawn to dusk, both while on the lake and in port and at anchor. They are much more of a problem than the flies on Lake Erie.
We plan to be off early tomorrow for Grand Marais, but before leaving we will take a look at the wreck of a 90' schooner that lies some 3-400 yards from us.
August 3: Murray Bay to Grand Marais -- 34.5 nm
We weighed anchor at 0800. Mostly cloudy sky, wind SW 6-8 knots. One very short shower last night which was our warmest night of the trip. Took lots of pictures of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the sand dunes of Grand Sable. This 30 mile stretch of lakeshore has to be the most picturesque that I've seen. The second half of the trip the wind came up to 15-25 knots from the south, so we were making 7+ knots with little or no seas. Arrived in Grand Marais at 1345. We are at the dock and well fendered as the south wind which is now gusting above 25 knots has us hard on the dock. Today is in the high 80s. Can this really be Lake Superior? A cold front is expected to come through tonight, so we are expecting a wind shift to the NW and cooler temperatures.
Grand Portal Point
The Devil's Slide on Grand Sable.
August 4: Grand Marais
We are weather bound in a NW blow. Wind NW 20-25 knots and higher gusts as well as rain showers. A Catalina 27 who left early returned claiming to have experienced 30-35 knot winds and 6' to 10' seas. We finally believed him when a 150' cruise ship came in the harbor for protection from the seas. They actually pushed the bow onto the beach in front of the town, lowered a bow ramp, and let passengers ashore. The ship stayed that way until about 1700 when she went out and anchored for the night in the harbor.
Cruise Ship Grande Caribe on the beach at Grand Marais.
About 1300 the skies cleared so the afternoon was beautiful with a breezy NW wind, bright sunshine and cool temperatures. The wind is supposed to fall somewhat tonight so we hope to be off to Whitefish Point tomorrow.
August 5: Grand Marais to Whitefish Point Harbor of Refuge -- 45 nm
A bright and breezy morning, though the winds were down into the 15 knot range. We delayed our departure until 1100 in hopes that the leftover swells would subside. They were down, but we still had 3-5 foot swells and an occasional big one to deal with.
What a contrast between the rocky, high north shore and the low, sandy shore on the southern edge of the lake. Superior is one long sandy beach from Grand Marais to Whitefish Point. We rounded infamous Whitefish Point and the lighthouse at 1700, and by 1730 we were tied up to a dock in the Harbor of Refuge. There is a shoal that extends 2/3 of the way or more across the entrance, but by hugging the starboard breakwall, we were able to stay in 10-11 foot water. Although most reports talk about no docks available in this harbor, there were still two available after we tied up.
August 6: Whitefish Point to Sault St. Marie -- 35 nm
We left promptly at 0800, and despite the forecast for SW winds, we had 15 knots from the southeast...right on our nose...as we crossed Whitefish Bay to Gros Cap Reef Light, where we crossed our outbound track and officially completed our semi-circumnavigation of Lake Superior.
We had the good luck to pass through a fleet of about 30 sailboats who were motoring out to Whitefish Point where they were going to start the trans-Superior race to Duluth, Minnesota. Our lock down through the Canadian Lock was uneventful and we tied up at the George Kemp Marina at 1430. We actually got 3 loads of laundry before cocktails and munchies at 1700. Only bad part of the day was knocking the lens off my starboard running light when the dock boy pulled the bow into a piling. We all ate dinner on board Windchaser at 1930.
August 7: George Kemp Marina Sault Saint Marie to Detour Village -- 34.7 nm
Departed at 1000 since we would be running down the river with the current. Another warm, sunny day with SW winds which started at 10 knots and then built to 25 knots. The high winds canceled our plans to anchor at Harbor Island as we had done on the trip north, and instead we went into Detour Village Marina. The trip down the river was a quick one. We used the jib occasionally and stayed ahead of the big freighter Burns Harbor until just before Detour Village. We made it into the marina at 1530. I am cooking lobster ravioli for everyone tonight.
August 8: Detour Village to Rogers City -- 34 nm
Another clear, cool evening last night followed by a virtually cloudless sky this morning. We left the marina at 0800 and are motoring with a southerly 10 knot wind on the nose. We had a smooth crossing and arrived in Rogers City at 1315. We will replenish our fresh vegetables here and do some boat cleaning. A hot day.
August 9: Rogers City
We elected to layover one day in this excellent marina. Another hot day. At 1530 a line of thunderstorms came roaring through with 40+ knot winds and heavy rain. We had plenty of warning and doubled lines and put up the cockpit enclosure. We experienced no problems, but there was one furling sail torn loose and a dinghy blown overboard in the harbor.
August 10: Rogers City to Presque Isle Harbor --- 17.1 nm
We had heavy rain and showers for 3-4 hours last night and awoke to gray skies and a light drizzle. We departed at 1000 for the short run to Presque Isle. We have a 2-foot north swell on the lake and light NW winds, so we are motoring. The day is still gray with occasional glimpses of the sun. About 1130 the skies cleared and as we arrived in Presque Isle at 1300, the winds also increased to 15 knots from the NW.
After a walk over to the old Presque Isle Lighthouse, we made a quick stop at the Portage Store just across the street from the marina for some groceries. The store is small but it has a great selection. This was the last night the four of us would be together, so I made a blueberry pie and Paul bought vanilla ice cream. It was a delicious dessert.
August 11: Presque Isle Marina to Alpena (Thunderbay Shores Marina) – 32 nm
We left at 0800 with clear skies and a sunny, though cool day. Light north winds resulted in us motoring all the way. Arrived just before 1300. Walked the city and spent some time looking at the exhibits in the shipwreck museum. There are some 40 wrecks identified in this area alone. Paul will be leaving us here and will be replaced by Lew's wife, Gretchen, for the remainder of the trip. We do not expect Gretchen and Paul's wife, who are driving up together, until 1900 or 2000. Needless to say, Lew and Paul are making frantic efforts at cleaning up.
August 12: Alpena
We planned to lay over a day for Gretchen to rest from her trip. Just as well as we had rain and strong SW winds beginning at 0400. The showers lasted until 1000 and the winds and overcast skies persisted until mid-afternoon. Dick and I did some exploring on bikes and reconnoitered a restaurant for dinner. We selected Johnny Laus. The walleye was excellent.
August 13: Alpena to East Tawas -- 60.1 nm
Made a quick visit to the farmers market at 0800 for fresh corn, and then we were off at 0810. Gretchen saw signs for some kind of show at the East Tawas Marina, so we are going there instead of Harrisville. Let's hope the extra distance is worth it. As it turned out, the extra distance was not worth it. The show had been the previous weekend. I fired Gretchen as tour director. We were able to sail the first part of the trip, but then the wind shifted from the NW and on to our nose from the SW. We arrived at the state dock in East Tawas at 1630 and refueled.
August 14: East Tawas to Port Austin -- 26.2 nm
The wind blew last night from the north, so we were expecting to be able to sail, but there was only 6-8 knots after we left at 0845. It was enough to fill the jib and help stabilize the boat somewhat from the cross swells on the lake: 3-6' from the NW and 1-3' from the NE. It was an uncomfortable day, but a short one as we arrived in Port Austin at 1230. After walking the town for a bit, checking the summer theatre, and buying a few groceries, Dick and I retired to a bar to have lunch and watch the opening holes of the final round of the PGA Tournament at Baltusrol. We spent most of the afternoon back on the boat watching the tournament until play was called at 1830 for lightning. The surge from the lake had us all rolling badly at the docks. A nice, cool, calm night.
August 15: Port Austin to Harbor Beach -- 25.2 nm
Both boats left at 1000 under clear skies and a glassy smooth lake. No sailing today! We entered Harbor Beach through the north entrance without any difficulty and then crept along the breakwall to the marina with only 1/2 to one foot of water under us. We arrived at 1345. For the first time this trip, got our bikes out and Dick and I pedaled into town on a pleasant bike path and then out Route 142 to a Foodland for groceries. Among our purchases were 5 peaches which were just enough for a peach pie. Delicious!
August 16: Harbor Beach to Lexington -- 37.2 nm
We delayed our scheduled 0900 departure to 0915 in order to let a thunderstorm pass through to the south of us. Set full sail and had a great sail for over 2 hours with 16-18 knot winds from the NW. After that the winds moved onto our stern and turned fluky, so we resorted to motor sailing. We've run into a number of boats in the last few days from Lake Erie who are headed south. It reminds me of the large flocks of geese we have also seen who are gathering together in anticipation of heading south.
For the first time since leaving Lake Superior, we started picking up biting flies today. What a nuisance they are. It's a very warm day even on the Lake, so maybe that's what causes them.
We arrived at 1515 and have two choice slips up front by the washrooms. We walked the town which is, without question, the nicest one on the American shore of Lake Huron, and then dined on perch at the Cadillac Hotel.
August 17: Lexington to Port Huron River Street Marina -- 18.8 nm
We left the dock at 0900 and waved goodbye to Lew, Gretchen and their two grandchildren. They are staying in Lexington until Friday as they have two daughters and 3 more children arriving today. It's another beautiful, sunny day with light north winds, but the leftover swell has us rocking and rolling as we motor leisurely down the lake at 6.8 knots. We flew under the Blue Water Bridge at 10.5 knots and easily made the 1200 bridge as we went up the Huron River to the Riverstreet Marina. After arriving at 1215, we ate lunch and Dick and I then cleaned topsides, the cockpit and the dodger, and side windows which were filthy.
August 18-19: Port Huron
Marcy arrived at 1430 on the 18th and we elected to stay over another day to wait for Windchaser to arrive.
August 20: Port Huron to Grosse Pointe Y.C. -- 35.7 nm
By 0910 we were through the two lift bridges and into the St. Clair River. The 8-15 knot SW wind was on the nose and we had frequent rain showers, but all-in-all it was a comfortable trip until we entered Lake St. Clair. We spent the next 1 1/2 hours slamming our way through 2-4' seas before arriving in Grosse Pointe at 1445. Thanks to the current, we averaged over 7 knots.
That afternoon we enjoyed the GPYC Commodore's review of the fleet, though I doubt the participants enjoyed it as much since a heavy thundershower moved through the area during the event. We all ate dinner in the Binnacle Room. The décor, the food and the service were top drawer.
August 21: GPYC To Boblo Island Marina -- 23.5 nm
Departed at 1315 and immediately outside the club we were greeted with 25-30 knot winds from the west and 3-4 foot waves on Lake St. Clair and the upper reaches of the Detroit River. After the Ambassador Bridge, things smoothed out thanks to the decreased fetch. As the day was Sunday, we were faced with lots of power boats and their wakes which added to the chop on the river, and took some of the enjoyment away from a sunny day.
Our destination was Boblo Island Marina, which I had heard at the GLCC Lake Erie Rally had been reopened. We arrived at 1515 and found the rumor was correct. There was power at the docks (no water) and the restaurant was open. We ate there to celebrate my birthday and then retired to the boat to enjoy the peaches and cream cake that Marcy baked after our arrival.
August 22: Boblo Island Marina to Leamington -- 28 nm
We left Boblo at 0930 under clear skies and cool weather. The wind on the Lake was WNW at 7-14 knots, so we enjoyed a sail all the way to Leamington. By noon the sky clouded over, but the wind held steady. We arrived at Leamington at 1415 to find the place almost empty. We all enjoyed a walk downtown to the A&P and the nearby Lakeside which is a combined coffee shop, deli, bakery and ice cream shop.
August 23: Leamington
It was a cool, overcast day with threatening skies, though it never rained. I laid around all day reading and finished Patrick O'Brian's Desolation Island and then started the Fortune of War. I am enjoying this series of books. We went to 13 Russell Street for a dinner of yellow perch.
August 24: Leamington to Put-in-Bay -- 24.9 nm
Departed at 0930 for Put-in-Bay. Light north winds which are supposed to veer to the NE. They did and we sailed for over 2 hours before the wind dropped to light & variable just past Pelee Island. At 1330 we rafted off Windchaser at the Municpal dock. We rented a golf cart to tour the island and to visit the Cargo Net out by the airport. It was Marcy's and my first visit to the Cargo Net since they moved from downtown. It's filled with all sorts of nautical and military paraphernalia, much of it refurbished and is a very interesting store.
August 25: Put-in-Bay
After a late brunch, we moved out to a mooring to await Don and Kerry Albanese's arrival on their Tartan 41 Excalibur. They took a mooring next to us at 1600, and we took over a bottle of wine to share while we caught up on my summer and the happenings at the club. That night we went over to Frosty's for pizza. We had a somewhat rocky night until it started drizzling and the east wind settled down.
August 26: Put-in-Bay to Vermilion -- 26.8 nm
We slipped our mooring at 0930 and motored all the way into leftover NE swells and 5-6 knot variable winds, and arrived home at The Vermilion Yacht Club at 1330. It's good to be back with our many friends at the club.
On this trip we covered 1600 NM, including almost 700 NM in Lake Superior. The 31 days we spent in the lake were not enough. Another week to two would have given us enough time to linger longer at several places like Isle Royale, Ganley, Gargantua or CPR Slip, as well as visit more places on the north coast like Otter Cove, Loon Harbor or Thunderbay, and finally, to go further west to the Apostle Islands.
I think all of us enjoyed the east/north shore with its deserted anchorages, rocky, forested venues and lack of biting flies, much more than the south shore. Of course, the Pictured Rocks and Grand Sable shoreline is not to be missed.
The GLCC Harbor reports and Bonnie Dahl's book "Superior Way" gave us more than enough information to stay out of trouble. We also had additional information from friends, Connie and Bill Bowman, which really helped, especially in finding fishing spots.
Many people warned us to expect a bureaucratic hassle on Isle Royal, especially about gray water, but we did not experience any interference. The only rangers we encountered were at Rock Harbor and Malone Bay, and they were very friendly and helpful. Either we were very lucky or the powers that be are giving them better direction.
Our provisioning held up well, the boat and all its systems performed well, and Mother Nature was kind to us. My only question now is....When can I do it again?!