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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.

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