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07/25/15

Permalink 07:08:04 pm, Categories: Adventures, 1828 words   English (US)

Isle Royle, July 10-20, 2015

Friday … We left the marina a little after 2:30 on Friday afternoon after packing her up with ten days’ worth of provisions, clothes, and of course, toys. We were all missing Bug already but were excited to be heading out on a new adventure. Departing the marina we thought we might have a favorable wind for our trip, but it turned out to be a land breeze, we motor sailed when we could, but would end up using the diesel for most of the trip.

We motored past the outskirts of the apostles, having dinner as we passed Outer Island and shaped up our course. We would take shifts throughout the night, with Troy taking the first shift so I could get the boy to bed. I had the 1:00am-4:00am shift. The night is particularly amazing on the lake, especially in the middle like that. Before heading to bed, there was a spectacular sunset. A bright orange ball descending into a dark purple blue hue of the sky. Because of the haze the sun didn’t color the clouds like it usually does which was remarkable. When I came topside, Troy pointed out the Northern Lights, playing off Minnesota and the weather buoy to our stern. We’d never seen that before.

A few freighters passed and the moon rise was a sight to see. An orange fingernail slice that appeared over the horizon before being hidden by a fog that would envelop us bringing with it a dampness. Thankfully the boat has radar and I knew we were leaving the shipping channels.

Saturday … We arrived at the island around 8:30 in the morning, the island shrouded in the fog that had arrived the night before. As we got closer, the top of the island, the Greenstone Ridge became visible, but only briefly. We spotted the first of the buoys marking the Siskiwit entry. After passing the last buoy the fog cleared, like the Island opened her doors for us.

We had decided to spend a day or two in Hay Bay, planning to approach the dock (if it was open) and anchoring if we found it not approachable. All the books and maps indicate we should have plenty of water, but we were skeptical. As we entered the bay, two sailboats were leaving, leaving it wide open. We approached the dock and were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of water for WhimSea. Another first for WhimSea! And what a wonderfully excluded place with the only approach via boat, though there is a campsite, you need a boat to get there and no hired vessels

WhimSea at the dock in Hay Bay

Troy and I relaxed and settled in. Dylan stripped naked and pulled out his fishing pole. After a quick lunch of hot dogs and corn on the cob on the grill we convinced Dylan we all needed a nap when it’s really Troy and I that did after our night long trip.

Dylan fishing in Hay Bay

After our nap Dylan continued playing with his fishing pole practicing his casting, though we did convince him to put clothes on after a sliver in his foot made him consider what would happen if got one in his bum. Periodically we heard the moose crunching through the woods with the telltale snapping of twigs. We waited breathlessly for an appearance, but were unfortunately disappointed. Perhaps another day.

Sunday … We slept late and enjoyed our coffee and carrot bread on the dock while Dylan continues his fishing practicing. We played no music and the quiet was so amazing. We heard the birds and gulls, woodpeckers pounding away in the forest, the ducks fishing nearby. We heard the wind as it rustled the leaves in the trees and caused the water to lightly lap at the shore.

A rabbit munched his lunch nearby and butterflies alternated between playing nearby and resting and soaking the sun.

Boys on the dock

Sunday afternoon would bring a rain squall that chased us below, but we didn’t mind. Time has shifted and returned us to a place that matches the rhythm around us. I am in heaven, unplugged and disconnected with those I love most near me (though I admittedly miss Bug).

The rain extended through the night so we had a dinner of spaghetti Bolognese and garlic toast, listened to a story and put the boy to bed.

Monday … The rain continued through the night with thunder and lightning added. The morning dawned foggy and very wet, which would continue for the day. Today was destined to be an inside day. The rain would continue through the day with the wind coming up in the night increasing to 20 knots, pushing us against the dock. I could feel the boat heel against the dock, breaking my sleep.

Tuesday … Tuesday morning dawned clear but very very windy with the gusts of 20 knots continuing from the northeast, making it cold as well. We wiled away the morning practicing our casting while the wind blew itself out.

We listened to the weather, had a sandwich and decided to head for Rock Harbor intending to stay either at the Daisy Farm dock or at the marina at Rock. We figured we may arrive before they close, but could settle up in the morning. If we found the marina full, we would backtrack to the dock or anchor in Moskey Basin, another beautiful bay. We arrived at the marina and found an available slip and were surprised to find the marina still open, as well as the restaurant. What luck

We enjoyed dinner followed by our traditional walk to the America dock so we could take a picture of WhimSea in the marina. We have done that every year we’ve visited Isle Royale and stayed in the marina.

WhimSea in Rock Harbor, traditional photo

We returned to the boat and hung out in the cockpit for a short while before we were chased below by the mosquitos. It has been a wet year and they are thriving this year. After putting the boy to bed, Troy and I returned to the cockpit for some star gazing. A chill to the air meant we shared a blanket. Despite the lights from the marina and the Ranger docked nearby, the milky way was clearly very visible along with millions of stars. I spotted at least three shooting stars and wished on them all.

Wednesday … The Ranger blew her horn before departing in the morning. It was a beautiful sunny day. The breeze had a slight chill to it, which countered the strength of the sun very nicely. A lazy morning of coffee and carrot cake combined with sailing of the Endeavor, Troy’s R/C Sailboat. Troy and Dylan participated in the ranger-led nature walk while I took a call from work, the only break in our vacation routine.

That afternoon we met some fishermen that were over from Minnesota, Neil and his son Bear come to the island frequently and did some trout fishing while on their way to Rock Harbor. Bear is a couple of years older than Dylan, but they got along famously, sharing a movie and having a great time playing with the fish in Neil’s live well. Lucky for us, Neil wanted to do more fishing between Rock and their campsite, which meant we were treated to some freshly caught trout. It was pretty easy to change our plans for dinner after that. We soaked a plank and put it on the grill that night.

Dylan & Bear

Thursday … Thursday would find us taking a hike down Stoll Trail before returning back to join the ranger-led nature hike to hear about lichen. We followed it with fish sandwiches at the restaurant for lunch.

Troy picked up a game for Dylan from the Park Service on fishing that we all enjoyed playing. We spent time playing the fish game followed by a balanatined chicken on the grill. And since we had a fire going, finished with s’mores with some folks that were staying at the lodge.

Dylan at the dock in Rock

Friday … Friday would find us leaving Rock Harbor for another dock. Showers and a fuel up and despite the fog, we decided to head toward Caribou Island hoping for another new dock to visit. Troy had read about it and its proximity to Cemetery Island and thought it would be a great place for the night. Alas, we would find the dock full so we pressed on to Daisy Farm. Dylan got in more beach time and some wading before a dinner of steaks on the dock. We tried to get in some more star gazing, especially hoping to show Dylan the stars completely unobscured by the lights of the harbor or nearby boats. Though the mosquitos were quite vicious, we spent a little time above deck gazing at the Milky Way with him before the fog returned and the force of the mosquitos chased us below.

Saturday ... We were now faced with the need to return to Washburn. We had to be back on Monday to get Bug from the pet boarders but felt we had time to do some hiking before heading out. We hoped to make it to the fire tower and find that the fog would be less dense farther up, but made it about halfway before turning around, realizing not only that it wasn’t going to lift, but also that weather was heading our way. Now would be the time to depart.

We left the island shrouded in fog once more having to navigate with the radar through the harbor. The fog would stay with us much of the way, but eventually would open up showing us a lake blue and clear and storms on the Michigan shore. The wind built through the day eventually increasing to 20 knots as the night came on.

We pounded into a 20 knot headwind most of the way home. Since it was on the nose we motored the whole way with the bow rising and falling in loud thuds as she hit the building waves. They would build to 5 to 7 feet during the night, throwing things around the boat and loosening the shelf in the forepeak taking it completely off the wall.

Sunday … We navigated through the apostles and pulled into the dock at Washburn in a fair amount of wind. After arriving in the marina, we went out for pizza before doing some work aboard, packing things up for the trip home.

Monday … We headed out to get Bug almost immediately after waking. We all missed him during our vacation, but the island does not permit dogs, for good reason. The wolf population is already decimated and couldn’t take any outside contamination. It’s hard to be home among civilization again, but it was a wonderful trip. We’re already talking about how to get back out there.

06/26/15

Permalink 09:06:15 pm, Categories: Adventures, 688 words   English (US)

Fathers Day weekend 2015

It was an off day for the boat, so we decided to create an adventure closer to home. Since my Dad's birthday and Fathers Day landed on the same weekend, we thought we would combine a trip south, visit my Dad and keep driving to a state park in Waterville, MN. The Sakatah Lake State Park looked like a great place to do some camping and hiking. It boasted a great biking trail as well.

Unfortunately, we arrived at Dad's facility right before they were to serve lunch, so our visit was rather short. Dylan did get a chance to tell him about his T-ball and wish him a happy birthday. We decided to press on, though it meant we would arrive at the campsite early given our 4:00 pm check in time.

We arrived to find the previous campers still at the site, so we walked some of the trails and saw the lake, killing time. We went into town and had an ice cream cone, came back to find them still there and we were still an hour early. So, we drove around and visited the town of Faribault.

We returned to the State Park after 4:00 expecting our site to be open and ready for us to set up. But it wasn't! The previous tenants had changed the sign as if they had it rented for another night, so we went to the office and talked to the Park Rangers. They couldn't find the renters and had no other place big enough for our tent.

Was our adventure cancelled?

Lucky for us NO! The Park Rangers offered us the use of the group camp site since it wasn't in use. It was big enough for 50 people, had four tables and a bunch of grills, a pit toilet on it and water! It was away from all other campers as well so we could let Bug run free. What an awesome turnout. We set up and Dylan played in the tent. He really enjoys it.

And Bug! He had a blast. It is amazing how things can sometimes work out for the best.

We set up camp and played around, had an awesome dinner of pork chops. corn on the cob and baked potatoes followed by a campfire under the stars. The bugs were out and had definitely found us, but we made due with extra sprays of bug junk, as long as we were by the fire and under the stars I was happy. The boy crawled into my lap and fell asleep shortly afterward. It was a long day so I can understand why he was tired. Troy picked him up and we put him to bed on in his sleeping bag. Troy and I returned to the fireside and watched the fire and the lightning bugs play. The stars came out and peeked at us through the canopy of trees around us. The bugs went to sleep, as they usually do, and it could not have been a more perfect night. Troy and I didn't want it to end. But eventually, we headed to the tent and sleep very well ourselves.

The next morning Dylan was up before the rest of us, crawled into bed between us and fell back to sleep. (Given how late we stayed up, I was very grateful he went back to sleep!). We all got up and enjoyed the sunshine and coffee and homemade carrot bread before deciding to do some hiking of our own. We'd seen lots of folks go past the campsite on their bikes and were ready to check it out.

Though the day was a bit muggy and the bugs were busy in the woods, the hike was a nice one. The trails are nicely maintained and not too hard (Dylan got tired toward the end of the hike, but Bug never did). I would recommend that area to anyone, especially if you're thinking of a biking adventure since the campsite is a part of the Singing Hills Trail.

After our hike we returned to the site and packed up and headed home. An excellent adventure!

06/11/15

Permalink 07:22:14 pm, Categories: Adventures, 1119 words   English (US)

June 11-14, 2015 Apostle Islands

We arrived at the marina late on Wednesday evening after packing and driving up. We got to the marina very late and went to bed almost immediately. A late arrival means a late morning, but by noon we we had fueled up, pumped out and departed the marina. We were on our way. The weather was bright and sunny. We hoped to be able to sail about the islands as we made our way to the dock, but in the end only got in about an hour of sailing, though that hour was AWESOME!

The dog, unfortunately, might not agree with me. He had been having an issue with his back leg and unfortunately took a tumble down the companionway during a puff of wind and he was looking forward to reaching an island and a good long soak in the restoring waters of Lake Superior. Lucky for him, we arrived at the dock at Stockton in short time (around four hours) and found plenty of room for WhimSea.

We arrived in plenty of time to spend time at the beach, soaking Bug (with multiple stick throws and plenty of swimming). He was obviously feeling much better after just an hour at the beach. He was shivering with cold and ready for a break when we headed back to the cockpit to think about our plan for dinner.

We spent some time watching Troy sail his 'little boat' about the safe harbor. It always surprises folks to see it.

We retreated to the dock by the boat and pulled out the chalk. We all had a great time drawing with chalk. During the afternoon a boat from our new marina in Washburn pulled into the dock. They got settled and joined us on the dock for a drink and some good conversation and storytelling.

Here's some of our chalk drawings

After a relaxing dinner of chicken breast and vegetable couscous we retreated below decks as the evening got a little cool. Dylan and I had an early night of it, admittedly because I fell asleep putting Dylan to bed.

Friday morning and Troy awoke feeling poorly. He had been fighting a bug for most of the week and it clearly had caught up with him. Dylan and I sent him back to bed.

While Troy slept, Dylan, Bug and I spent some time at the beach. We threw sticks for Bug, rocks in the water, sand in the water. We just played. I am amazed at how easily both Dylan and Bug play in the water. I put my feet in and had to run back out, it was so very cold! But I have to say it was awesome playing with them. Being completely connected from all electronics, in the sunshine and fresh air, doing whatever our imaginations dreamt up. Dylan created a game for us to play that used his water shooters to get rid of all the sand in the cockpit. Then we got rid of all the sand on the dock. Eventually turning our attention to the chalk drawings we had made the night before. It didn't take long before we were both soaking wet from squirting each other, but the sun had come out nice and warm so the cold water was a welcome shock to our systems.

Troy got up feeling much better and the three of us had lunch and lazed about the boat. Since the campsites were all empty, we hoped to be able to have a fire and s'mores so the boys went to investigate. Unfortunately the trails were all muddy and wet, so no fire. Instead, we had a dinner of pork chops, sweet potatoes and pea pods below decks, followed by popcorn and a movie.

Saturday morning dawned beautifully. We had coffee and homemade cinnamon bread while making our plan for the day. We thought we'd try and sail-fish our way to the next dock so we put out the poles and prepared to depart the dock. We decided to head over to South Twin, the forecast being favorable for that dock and hoped it would be open. There was not enough wind to fish on so we took a straight route to the dock. Lucky for us it was open so we got settled and did some exploring on the island. We were hoping to find the air strip that used to be on the island but could not make it very far inland the fallen trees and foliage was so thick.

We enjoyed ourselves playing on the beach and throwing sticks into the water for Bug and rocks into the water just because. We decided to have a fire at the beach and have dinner there as well and set up for a relaxing dinner of grilled steak, red potatoes and broccoli. While we were getting things ready another boat pulled up and docked. Though not exactly without Troy's help. The owners strolled about a little and then did something so very weird. They grabbed a bunch of wood from the beach and walked over to the fire ring and through it on the fire. Course they apparently didn't realize that it was already LIT! I think they were trying to claim the firepit as their own, which is weird since there was another place to do a fire, they just need to turn right instead of left from the dock. We invited them to join us for a fire later, especially since they dumped wood on ours, but they didn't join us. Weird.

Regardless, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and s'mores and Dylan had his very first toasted marshmallow (without the chocolate and graham cracker).

Sunday morning and was absolutely beautiful. Our dock mates had apparently gotten up early and left (before we had even poked our heads up). So we were able to enjoy the beach, coffee and coffee cake before heading back to the marina. It was another windless day so we motored around the north side of the island (since we hadn't seen that side in a few years), and made a path for Washburn. We went to the east side of Madeline (first time), getting a good look at Big Bay and the homes on that side of the island.

We arrived at the marina and decided to run into town for pizza before we pack up the boat and drive home. We went to a local restaurant, packed up the boat and began the long drive.

It was a great weekend. We extended Sunday a little longer with the roundabout way we returned to the dock, but it was worth it to extend the time we spent on the water.

06/02/15

Permalink 07:04:09 pm, Categories: Adventures, 489 words   English (US)

May 30-31, 2015 South Twin Island

Posted by Karen A. Brown

Friday evening found us heading up to the new marina at Washburn in rain. It had been gray and dreary most of the day, but we were all looking forward to getting up to the boat and having a new adventure on Saturday night. After arriving, we packed up the boat and sat down to relax after the long day, and long drive. It didn't take very long and both the Boy and the Dog were sound asleep each on their own settee.

Saturday morning we awoke early. It was safety day at the marina and we planned to attend at least some of the talk sponsored by the Washburn Yacht Club. They offered information from the Border Patrol as well as from the Power Squadron. The best part was the information from the National Park Service where they information on the state of the islands after the long winter. It seems many of the docks were damaged with the heavy wind and waves and a number would require repair. Some were closed for the whole season including the docks on Sand Island.

Shortly after listening to the National Park Service, we departed the dock for parts unknown. As always in the Islands, the wind was not constant, but we had a pleasant sail nonetheless. The day started a little bleak and overcast, but become quite sunny as it progressed. It was one of those days when the spray from the bow jumped up and created diamonds in the sunshine. Beautiful!

We decided to spend the night at South Twin Island dock. We'd never been there before, but according to charts (and other sailors), we should have plenty of depth for WhimSea at the dock. They were right! We were docked by around 3:00 and had plenty of time to explore the island and play on the beach as is evidenced by Dylan's photo below. He had a great time burying his pirate ship and weaving a story of the adventures the ship had on the beach.

The weather promised to be a bit cold overnight with frost warnings predicted for the mainland, so we had a very short fire after dinner before retiring for the night. With all the sun and the wind (and the cold), everyone was ready to climb under a big pile of blankets relatively early. We all got a good nights' sleep that night.

Sunday morning dawned cool and clear with the sun quickly beginning to warm the air around us. We had the time for a leisurely pot of coffee and a full breakfast before we departed the dock on our way back to Washburn. A few hours later and we were pulling into the dock. While I miss the folks from Knife River desperately it is nice to enjoy our sailing adventures more, with more leisure time to return to port.

I look forward to the next adventure!

05/27/15

Permalink 10:22:58 pm, Categories: Adventures, 482 words   English (US)

May 23-25, 2015 Washburn Marina

Posted by Karen A. Brown

Memorial weekend 2015 we departed on our new adventure at Washburn Marina.

We arrived on Friday evening at Knife River after dropping a car off in Washburn. We were just in time to stop at one of our favorite restaurants in Knife, The Lighthouse, for a fish dinner, martini and a goodbye wish to our good friends who run the restaurant. It was nice to have a chance to say goodbye for now.

We headed to the marina and got a chance to visit with some good friends in the club house before boarding the boat and getting it ready for the night.

Saturday dawned sunny and bright. What a beautiful day. While we lamented our inability to sail (since the boat was in disarray), it did give us the proper motivation to get everything stowed and all of our projects complete in time for the planned departure on Sunday morning. It was a long day, but we pressed on and were actually able to finish in enough time to get out on the lake for a couple of hours, to raise the sails and make sure all was ship shape for our crossing.

We returned to the dock and the boys gathered Charlie and tied him to our stern while I finished the stowing effort. In addition to getting all the work done, we even got a chance to visit with some good friends and get in last hugs before we were to leave.

Saturday evening found us at dinner at the 'Castle', another staple while we are in the marina with our very good friends Dave and Debi from Rain or Shine. Dinner was bittersweet with the knowledge we were leaving hanging over me the whole time. It was hard not to think that our evenings out with them would be limited in the future. It was even harder not to remember the many times we enjoyed telling stories over a good meal.

Sunday morning found us ready to go and yet finding reasons to stay and chat up Dave & Debi. I had a very hard time saying goodbye and had to remind myself repeatedly that the move to the new marina would be opening up new adventures for us.

The trip across the lake was very uneventful with no wind whatsoever we were able to make a very direct trip across arriving in the new marina by 8:45 Sunday evening. Though we had planned to spend the night in the islands, the weather report predicted rain and wind with gusts up to 20 knots and we would much rather enter a new marina in a calm then 20 knots.

We are now looking forward to the next chapter in our sailing adventures. Washburn will open new areas of the lake to us and afford us more opportunity to explore the islands themselves.

As always, more to come!

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