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08/28/17

Permalink 07:24:56 pm, Categories: Adventures, 1980 words   English (US)

August 18-28, 2017 – Annual Isle Royale trip

We arrived at the marina late on Friday evening with preparations to make before we could get underway. There were provisions to load, water to take on, things to do. After a buzz of activity, we were finally ready for bed, excited to be off on our adventure at some point on Saturday.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. We needed to drop Bug off at the kennel for his week-long stay since dogs are not allowed on the island. We knew it would take quite a while to get there, 100 nautical miles, and decided to hold off leaving until the afternoon. This would allow us to sail through the night and arrive bright and early on Sunday. We departed the dock by 2:00 in the afternoon and threaded our way through the islands before reaching open water. The winds caused a rolling wave which resulted in the boat rolling 15-20 degrees. Though we had the jenny up to help with the roll we ended up a few miles to the each of the Rock of Ages Light. We shifted course and headed to Washington Harbor arriving at the Windigo Dock by 6:00am on Sunday. The boy surprised me by popping up in the cockpit and turning off the key to the engine as Troy and I tied off. After the long trek, we all headed back to bed to catch a little more sleep before checking in.


Sunday we all awoke refreshed and headed up to the Ranger Station to check in. We bought some books and settled on a float plan for the week. The intention was to stay at Washington for only a day or so before heading off to other destinations on the island. Dylan wanted to go for a walk so he and Troy went to the Moose Exclosure and got a chance to see the changes that the Moose had made on the island during their time there.

On the way back the boys went through the Ranger Station and picked up the Junior Ranger book so Dylan could work on getting his Badge for Isle Royale. That evening, Dylan and I worked on the book together, though he did all of the work, mostly needing to be nudged to finish it.

Monday Dylan awoke excited to bring his book up to the Ranger Valerie to show her the work he had done and get his badge. We left Troy aboard the boat and headed up to the Ranger Station. Valerie reviewed his work very carefully and solemnly walked him through his pledge. While I am a bit biased, I have to admit it was one of the cutest things I have ever seen. Dylan was so proud and immediately showed every other person he met his bright and shiny badge. He even had a Junior Ranger vest to pin it on. Good thing he remembered to pack it!

After showing Dad his badge we set up chairs to watch the eclipse. The rangers had glasses for everyone to view it. Dylan found the process a little bit boring and the day was a bit overcast but we were able to view the eclipse until it was about halfway through before the cloud cover completely obscured our view.

Next, Dylan wanted to show me the Moose Exclosure. Since he had gone with Troy the day before he was anxious to show me. We followed the exact same path the two boys had taken the day before including walking to the airplane dock first followed by the Exclosure. He showed me all they discovered the day before. The path took us past the two new camper cabins that they had added to the island, which is an awesome addition for those who want to see the island but aren't quite up for camping out.

While Dylan and I were on our walk, Troy did some maintenance on WhymC (our dinghy), replacing the drain plug since the one we had would leak on us. Since we needed to test the dinghy the boys climbed in and went for a bit of a row. After ensuring they wouldn't sink, they picked me up and we went for a row in the harbor. I had always wanted to take a look up Washington Creek, Troy headed in that direction and we went up the creek about as much as we could in the wide dinghy before turning about. It was amazingly peaceful in there with the birds singing and grass blowing lightly in the breeze. The campground flanks the river quite aways in with the camping enclosures dotting the river along the way. We returned back to the dock and talked about the rest of our stay on the island. Perhaps we would just stay in Washington Harbor. We never spend much time there since it was typically just a jumping off point to the rest of the island (and a place to check in). There were things to explore that were new to all of us after all. We grilled chicken pizza on the boat and had dinner on the dock.

Tuesday was another beautiful sunny day. The temperatures were just perfect in the mid-70s during the day dipping down in the evening. Some nights were getting cold (50s and 40s) but it was helping keep the mosquitos in check. We hoped to rent a canoe to continue our exploration of Washington Creek figuring the canoe would get father along. Unfortunately, there was too much wind and we were denied. Before we could come up with another plan, a familiar looking boat appeared at the dock. It was Bear and his Dad! We met them last year in Rock Harbor. Bear is two years older than Dylan, but they hit it off so well and both remembered each other immediately. Though there are other kids on the island, they all keep very much to themselves and their parents. The other kids we saw were staying in the camper cabins and really hung around that area.

After Bear and his dad departed, we decided to take a hike up the path along Washington Creek to see how far we might be able to canoe up the river. We explored the camping area, saw plenty of fox scat and a few moose prints along the way. Though we saw no moose, we were pretty sure one was nearby since some of the signs were on the trail on the way back that were not present when we hiked out. The boy was a bit loud so I am not surprised that anything that heard us hid.

We returned from our hike and the boys decided to set up the jenny on the dinghy and go for a sail. I stayed behind and chatted with a hiker and got some good pictures of them out there. The boy was at the helm the entire time and I was able to snap a few good pictures. It was getting late in the evening and even though Troy wanted to add the mainsail, they decided to come in and enjoy the evening.

Wednesday dawned beautiful and bright once again. We took another trek up to the Moose Exclosure. This time the three of us went. Wednesday was also a bit windy so we didn't even try and rent a canoe, instead the boys bent on the mainsail on the dinghy and headed out with Dylan at the tiller once again. Three times the boy steered back to the dock to ask me to come out with them and on the third time I relented. I joined them for an awesome sail. We went around Beaver Island under sail and touched at the dock so we could do a little exploring. I was very surprised to find three camping enclosures! We headed back to the dock for another beautiful evening. We enjoyed an awesome dinner of grilled chicken breast with roasted potatoes and carrots and another beautiful sunset.

Thursday and finally the wind was right for us to rent a canoe! We paddled up the Washington Creek as far as we could until the trees and overgrowth became too much. The creek is so very peaceful and quiet. We returned to the cock and ran into Connie and Dan, marina mates from Washburn Marina. Dylan went swimming and spent hours playing in the dinghy. He played 'man overboard' jumping from the dinghy into the water and climbed back into the dinghy. He is getting very familiar with the boat. So much so we now refer to it as 'his' boat! We enjoyed a wonderful dinner of steak, brussels sprouts and potatoes along with some wine we picked up at the store. We spent a nice evening visiting with Connie and Dan and finally saw a moose. A big bull moose was wading on the shore across from the dock and we could see him eating grass through the binoculars. It was nice to finally see a moose after a few trips without a sighting.

Friday and another day of beautiful sunshine. Three fishing boats came in loaded with kids of all ages. 18 kids total from the age of 4 to probably 18. It was pretty amazing. The boy spent the day swimming and playing in the dinghy. He spent a lot of time learning to row and while we had the dinghy tied to the dock, Dylan had enough line to allow him to row out and back over and over again. He played man overboard again and again. We were able to visit with Steve Martin, the ranger, and talked with him of the benefits of the Walker Bay dinghy. He is apparently considering picking one up for emergencies on the island as it would be a lot more stable than the canoe they have been using. We ended the relaxing day visiting with Dan, Connie and Steve. After they departed, we met a hiker named Scott who talked with us for quite a while. Eventually we were joined by the airplane pilot who was spending the evening on the island. The amount of air traffic we saw during our trip was fantastic. We had never seen that many visits. We learned that they changed their jumping off point from the airport to the Houghton area and the parking lot is full during the summer. They had so much business they expanded to two airplanes. Pretty wild.

Saturday, we departed the dock by first light with the boy still sleeping. There was a bit of a roll to the lake resulting in the need to have someone at the helm during the entire trip. We thought we would try and do the trip in an entire day instead of overnight. When we were within sight of Outer Island the rain started and continued during the entire trip back. By the time we were in the channel on the west side of Madeline, Troy had already changed clothes once, his first set having gotten soaked through and through. Though we thought about anchoring out for the evening, the forecast for Sunday was for more rain so we decided to press on for the marina. We arrived around 8:00pm on Saturday. Not bad!

Sunday would be a maintenance day in the marina. Since we could not get Bug until Monday we took the opportunity to clean the boat and offland more things that we no longer needed. It felt relaxing and a good way to get ourselves back into 'real life' once again. We ended the evening with a pizza from town with Troy and I planning our next trip to the Big Island!

Monday, we awoke early, picked up Bug and headed home. Somewhat bittersweet to be leaving especially as our drive would reveal spots of color among the trees signaling the end of the season.

05/31/16

Permalink 06:53:53 pm, Categories: Adventures, 846 words   English (US)

Memorial Day 2016

What a beautiful weeekend.

It was to be the first long weekend for the season and our first starting from Washburn Marina after years at Knife River. We had a few extra days and hoped to get out to the islands before the rest of the boating community and securing a dock for the night. We knew our radar was having issues and that the marina hadn't had a chance to look at it yet and looked with trepidation at the fog as we drove through to Washburn.

Friday morning dawned with a little fog, but enough we could see across the bay, so we decided to head out. Radar or no radar. The clouds looked amazing on the crossing to the island, coming across the sky like waves. Given the wind direction and speed, we motored out to Stockton and secured a place on the dock for the evening. The boys were excited to be back at the beach again and we spent time chasing sticks and throwing rocks into the water. I swear, the boy is planning to fill up the lake on his own. It was a little cool that evening, but no one minded. We were on the boat and on the water. Where we are meant to be.

Saturday morning and we saw that the new dinghy was full of water! Apparently the plug had popped out during our crossing. So we brought her ashore and emptied her out. While we were ashore, the other boats in the harbor left so we thought we would move to the other dock as it is more comfortable. No dice. The engine wouldn't start! Troy spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what was going on, but we were not able to get her started. Now we would need to formulate a plan to sail out of the harbor and back to the marina. It is very disheartening to have diesel problems so early in the season. It isn't like this is our first time without it, but this shouldn't be happening. We are bummed. But the boys made the best of it with playing around with the dinghy. Dylan got his first lesson as coxswain and was doing really well.

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear which is awesome given the forecast to date! The boys decided to take out the dinghy out. First Troy with the sails up and then he and Dylan. Poor Bug got left behind and was very disappointed by it. But he got over it. They had a great time sailing about the harbor and even got yelled at by the Park Rangers for 'sailing in the harbor', even though they are the ones who honked at them and sent them in! Oh well. The wind picked up during the day and we helped a few folks to dock that day and even got a chance to meet some new people which is always good. We decided to stay another day as the weather would not be right for sailing out of the harbor anyway.

Monday and the weather is grand! Others came in throughout the day yesterday and filled up the harbor but by early morning, most folks were gone and it was just us and a couple from Washburn left at the dock. We decided to turn WhimSea around on the dock, making it easier to sail out of the harbor and avoid both the big rocks at the end of the dock and the shoaling in the bay. Given we had pulled a boat off the shoal in previous years, it was a big concern. But we sailed out without issue and soon had both sails up and were heading towards the marina.

We debated about the idea of sailing into Washburn marina. Troy being of the opinion we should, me, not so much. It is a little scary to think of having no propulsion and having to stop the boat. We called Black Warrior Marina and arranged for a tow in. We were lucky to get wind the entire way back, even though we had to beat the entire distance, the sun was shining on us at least!

Black Warrior brought us in as pretty as you please and got us to the dock on the wall. There were storms predicted for Monday evening and into Tuesday so it is good that we decided to cut our vacation a little short, especially without a running diesel. Now we can only hope that the marina finds the problem soon and resolves it without a huge bill at the end!

I have to say that I am very lucky to have Troy. Not only did he bring us back without any concern, he kept everyone's spirits up, acting as if having no diesel was no big deal, even though I knew it frustrated him to no end. The boy didn't even realize anything big was happening. There was still plenty of fun on the beach, in the forepeak wrestling and in the dinghy.

03/20/16

Permalink 07:29:22 pm, Categories: Adventures, 401 words   English (US)

Dylans Birthday March 18-20, 2016

Dylans birthday weekend and we decided to make a weekend adventure of it and planned a trip to Sibley State Park to stay at a camper cabin. All week Dylan was asking if it was the weekend yet and counting down for the weekend. He was pretty excited.


We picked him up from school a little early. We had sent cookies with Dylan to school and were mobbed by the kids on the way in. All wanted to tell me what color of cookie that they got. It was great!


We arrived in time to get unpacked and watch the snow flurries from the cabin. Dylan picked out his bunk for sleeping and his bunk for his toys. We didn't arrive in time to buy any firewood from the Park so we decided on a dinner inside and played card games together before turning in for the night.


Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, though with an inch or two of snow on the ground (surprise!). From the moment Dylan was up, he was asking if it was his birthday yet and time for presents. We brought his gift and one his Aunt Theresa had sent to him, so we agreed to presents with coffee.

We ran into the Park Ranger out by the bathrooms and he told us where we could pick up firewood for a fire later in the day. We visited with him a little bit and decided to collect some firewood at the Visitors Center. After picking up the wood for our fire, we stopped at the Ranger station and visited a bit more. Dylan got himself a homemade cinnamon roll for his birthday as well as a new game for us all to play together. We checked out the campground and boat launch in case we wanted to bring the new boat for a weekend adventure some time.

We returned to the cabin and built a nice bonfire. Dylan had some adventure walks where he found more bathrooms, unoccupied campsites and tons of piles of Deer Poo! We cooked hot dogs over the bonfire (Dylans new favorite meal) and had Dylans birthday cake of hostess cupcakes and snoballs with candles.

We finished the night with family card games. I love that he is getting old enough to enjoy playing games with us.

I can't believe that he is five already. It seems to have flown by.

03/15/16

Permalink 08:00:42 pm, Categories: Adventures, 83 words   English (US)

Arrived home today to find to find the new boat in the driveway! How exciting to be starting on a new sailing adventure. Of course it's for when the WhimSea boat isn't in the water yet, so spring and fall and maybe a little in between.

We are all excited, Dylan most of all as he climbs up and down the ladder repeatedly to see inside, sit in her, sit at the helm with the tiller in hand. He is pretty excited too.

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03/09/16

Permalink 07:32:45 pm, Categories: Adventures, 58 words   English (US)

March 9, 2014 Blueberry

What an amazing thing it is to have friends in the sailing world. We asked friends of ours for an opinion on a boat type, since we were thinking of getting an offer season trailer sailord and lo and behold, we find out there's is for sale! Sounds like we will soon be the proud owners of Blueberry!

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