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Author Topic:   Isle Royale 2005--Post Trip
jimh posted 09-07-2005 08:10 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
[I have separated the Isle Royale discussion into two parts. There were so many follow-up articles appended to the original that the length was getting a bit long and making download times excessive. To read all of the interesting articles involved with the planning of this trip, see the earlier thread.]
David Pendleton posted 09-03-2005 09:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
It looks like I am the first to post upon returning.

The return crossing was efforless--I averaged nearly 35MPH all the way back to Grand Portage. I wish the first crossing had been that easy.

If you wanted to attend, you'll wish you had. You'll have to wait for the pictures.

We had a wonderful week. I'm sure everyone will check in when they are able.


jechura posted 09-04-2005 04:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     
All boats safely crossed back.
home Aside posted 09-04-2005 10:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Glad to hear everyone had a safe trip.....I can hardly wait to hear the tales and see the photo gallery...


David Pendleton posted 09-04-2005 02:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Good to hear that, Jerry.

Has anyone heard from Peter?

home Aside posted 09-04-2005 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
On 9-2-05, Peter posted a reply to a thread on GAM "Guys on Isle Royal in for a blow". Statyed he made it back ok, I just bumped the thread to bring it back to the top on GAM page...


Buckda posted 09-04-2005 05:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
First look photos:
Cicada posted 09-04-2005 05:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Wonderful pictures, Dave.


Hi Dave,
Peter's gonna kill you when he sees those captions! I told Paul to hurry up and post photos before you did but as usual, he wouldn't listen!
Your photos are spectacular.

I miss the Island so much.


Buckda posted 09-04-2005 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
THanks guys.

We saw you on the Ranger (your boat) right as you left the SE passage near Rock Harbor Light.

I believe Jerry paused for a photo.

Keep checking the photobucket site, since I'll add more photos as I determine which are my best.

David Pendleton posted 09-04-2005 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Dave, I need your mailing address for my pictures...
home Aside posted 09-04-2005 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     

Nice Photo's looks as beautiful as I would have imagined....keep em coming


Cicada posted 09-04-2005 09:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
A few photos:

It certainly appeared smooth and stable. We had estimated the speed at about 30 at the time.

Sorry you couldn't make it.

Something about that island...


banff22 posted 09-04-2005 09:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
I am convinced there were more cameras than boats.

As I posted in that other thread "a picture is worth a 1000 words"
Some of us 'old men and the sea', who need their nap type folks, are still using old SLR's and need to have film developed.

Hang in there.

Paul, you are correct. Some day, some how, some where, I'm gonna get him back :)

home Aside posted 09-05-2005 02:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Nice photo's too, looks like they had some pretty secure dockage there.....


jechura posted 09-05-2005 09:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     
A few more Pictures


David Pendleton posted 09-05-2005 05:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Paul, great shot of you being loaded on the Ranger. What happened next? Is that it?

I'm dying to know how they secured the boat to the deck, etc.


Buckda posted 09-05-2005 09:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Plotman -

Sorry I missed you this past weekend. I was looking forward to meeting you.

Here's a synopsis of the first few days of the trip:

Isle Royale Trip
August 27 – September 3, 2005

Friday, August 26
North side of Chicago
3:00 PM CDST
I leave work (early) and get on the Illinois Tollroad headed for SW Michigan and my 1986 18’ Outrage, which I have ‘staged’ for easy pick-up in a friend’s backyard. I usually store the boat in a barn about 20 miles from the highway, but I have a long drive ahead of me tonight and want to make sure I save as much time as possible.

Traffic is heavy, but not terrible as I wind my way along the West side of Chicago and South, then East under Lake Michigan.

6:30 PM – I have the boat on the trailer and am on the highway headed back for Chicago. I plan to hit the Skyway Toll bridge after 8:00 PM to take advantage of a break of two dollars in the toll (from $6.80 for my tandem axle rig to $4.80). I stop for cheap gas in Indiana at 7:00 PM.

At 7:50 PM I cross the state line and climb the skyway bridge. If there is a traffic jam at the tollbooth I’ll be in luck. No dice – as I cruise through the I-Pass lane the attendant waves and charges my account for the full amount. I reflect that I’d rather pay two extra dollars than fight heavy traffic – it has been mercifully light this evening.

Manitowoc Wisconsin – I stop for gas (Nice billboard for Boston Whaler and Twin Cities Marine on Highway 43!) and “dinner” – a pack of beef jerky and three 20 oz. Coca-Cola bottles – regular, lime and vanilla. I get a “hey!” from a kid with a pierced eyebrow in the car next to mine at the pump. “Nice boat” he says. The kid has no fashion sense, but hey –he knows a great boat when he sees one – perhaps there is hope for the generation!

On the road again, a few sprinkles fall on the windshield, and then the heavens open. I have to say that I’ve only traveled I-43 a few times, but each time, I’ve encountered some kind of precipitation. In this case, it is rain – and very heavy. I’m slowed to 45 MPH with the wipers on the fastest setting. Thank goodness I used Rain-X earlier in the week – my visibility is excellent despite the deluge.

Rain continues into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I pass the Wal-Mart in Iron Mountain and see gas for $2.50 a gallon and stop to take 13 gallons. That’s the best price I’ve seen in a few weeks.

August 27
Copper Harbor, Michigan
At 5:00 AM EDST, I roll into Copper Harbor Michigan and quickly find the DNR ramp and facility. After a very brief walk through the area, I decide to take a “quick nap” in the truck before loading the boat and launching.

At 8:30 AM, I wake and start to prep the boat. None of my cruising companions are there yet, and my phone is not receiving a signal this far north. The sun is shining bright and the wind is picking up.

I load the boat and carefully rig the canvas. The top and shelter will likely be up the entire trip and I don’t want to have to make adjustments.

11:15 AM. Still no sign of any of the others. Paul and Suzanne had planned to stay overnight in Houghton, 45 miles south, and I don’t expect Peter and Jerry until mid afternoon.

There is a group of 4 boats in the harbor – a two over-thirty foot cruisers, including a 31 foot Betram, and a upper 20-foot Wellcraft and a 22 foot C-Dory. The party in the C-Dory departs now for Houghton, citing the forecast for building waves today and tomorrow.

The Bertram stays – and around 1 or 2 o’clock, the other two boats leave, leaving the Bertram as the only boat at the dock. I check with the harbormaster, who smiles slightly at the suggestion that there be dock space available tonight and possibly tomorrow if there is a blow. He thinks we’ll be the only boats in the marina.

Around 3 o’clock, Paul and Suzanne roll into town with his 1989 18’ Outrage in tow. We quickly finish prepping his boat and I go to launch Gambler into the cold water of Lake Superior.

The Copper Harbor State Dock is a new facility owned and operated by the state through the Department of Natural Resources. The dock is brand new, and made of concrete with wooden fender boards and steel cleats. The office shares space with a small giftshop, and there are very clean shower facilities available to boaters. There is also a very clean outhouse available for use by early morning or late arriving boaters and the hikers who use the nearby path to Hunter’s Point. It is a small facility, but is very clean and nice. A tour boat, touring the nearby Copper Harbor lighthouse also departs from this facility.

Paul launches his boat. Since he has plans to ship his boat back to Houghton on the Ranger III in a week, I follow him back to Houghton so he can have the trailer ready for then the boat arrives in a week. On the way back, we stop at the Isle Royale Park headquarters for our permits, and we do some last-minute grocery shopping.

Back in Copper Harbor, Jerry and Peter still have not arrived, so we decide to have dinner at Harbor Haus, a very nice harbor-side dining establishment in Copper Harbor. Paul and I order whitefish, and it is excellent, served with fresh vegetables and potato and a side salad. It is more than we can eat. Suzanne has a seafood sampler that she says is also prepared very well.

At the dock, we listen carefully to the weather. Today has been beautiful with light winds, however the forecast for tomorrow sounds more challenging. It calls for a small craft warning with waves 3-5 feet and winds at 15-20 knots.

Just after we hear the weather forecast, Jerry and Peter arrive with Whalers in tow. After saying our hellos, we come to realize that Peter hasn’t had a chance to do any grocery shopping. We run downtown (I use that term loosely) Copper Harbor and find the General Store. Though small, the store is well stocked with supplies necessary for an Isle Royale expedition such as ours.

Dusk falls and eventually we all fall asleep rocked gently by the breeze in our boats.

Sunday, August 28
Dockside Copper Harbor

Small craft advisory today – the sky is sunny and clear but the breeze is strong, even in the shelter of Copper Harbor.

I place a call to the Rock Harbor lodge to leave word for David Pendleton that we won’t be out there today, and to expect us to cross tomorrow.

I take a walk down the Hunters Point trail and get some good photos of a beautiful example of a Lake Superior pebble-and-stone beach. Peter naps. A duck swims by Peter’s boat, and not seeing him in the cockpit, jumps up on the gunwale. We laugh since it’s obvious that people have fed these ducks all summer long.

Later, we drive back to Houghton to look for Paul’s digital camera. Being Sunday, the park offices are closed, and his truck is locked behind a high government fence with “No Trespassing” signs all around.

We find a local Wal-Mart and Paul gets a new camera. We then cruise back the lovely stretch of highway 41 to Copper Harbor, stopping along the way at a scenic turnout with information about the annual snowfall in the county – 340 inches the winter of ’78-’79!!

Back in Copper Harbor, we stop at the general store for some ice and other provisions; then return to the dock for a dockside dinner, cooked on the camp stoves.

The weather forecast for Monday looks good. Waves calm to 2 feet and mostly cloudy skies. We make plans to depart shortly after sunrise. I set my alarm to go off at 6:30 AM.

Monday, August 29
Dockside Copper Harbor
I wake at 6:30 after a fitful night. It rained briefly just after midnight and the morning is cool with a broken overcast above, with stars and moonlight peeking through.

After my morning routine, I rouse the others and we get under way shortly after the sun rises. It is a beautiful crossing with waves less than 3 feet high with a gentle wind chop on the top. Winds are WNW. We stop with about 25 miles to go to take a break and check on how Suzanne is doing with the big crossing. The good news is that the visibility is so good that we can still see the high hills of the Keeweenau peninsula on the horizon. Isle Royale is ahead in what looks like a dark cloud bank.

I have my shelter, flying top, windshield and side curtains up for the trip. My decision to leave the side curtains up is confirmed in my mind when I look to port and see spray from the crossing on the curtain.

Back on plane, I switch to high power on the VHF and switch to channel 9 to hail Tampico. At 11.5 miles out, I try again and establish contact. It’s good to hear David again – and he sounds happy that we’re going to be there. He’s cooking breakfast and promises to keep the stove on for us.

Ahead, Isle Royale rises out of the fog and mist on the cold waters of Lake Superior. It looks both mysterious and remote.

Soon, we’re at Rock Harbor marina and saying our hellos. I stop at the gas dock ($4.335 per gallon for 87 octane) to top off the tank. 59.9 miles in the crossing (GPS) and 19.4 gallons burned. Not bad for running in 1-3 foot waves.

Everyone developed an appetite in the crossing, and we depart across the harbor for Raspberry Island, where we fix a nice brunch dockside, followed by a walk and tour of the island.

We then run down the harbor toward Edisen Fishery and the Rock Harbor lighthouse. The fishery is deserted as today is a day off for the couple who run the place, but the doors are open and a handwritten sign invites us to explore the boathouse and workshop. One of the treats awaiting us in the boathouse are antique Evinrude outboards. I mean ANTIQUE – these puppies are HUGE and from the 1930’s at the latest.

A short walk through the woods finds us at the abandoned Rock Harbor lighthouse. Built in 1855 (but only in operation for about 10 years) the National Park Service has changed this into a museum of sorts, and the staircase and tower are open to the public. No one is there to provide a tour, but the sign on the door asks that we only close the door after us – so we go in and explore. As one of the earliest lighthouses on the Great Lakes, the structure is in remarkable condition – thanks go to the NPS and private donors for the restoration.

More to come...

Plotman posted 09-05-2005 09:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
Sorry to have missed hooking up with you guys, but in the end I would probably ended up not coming over on Saturday anyway given the forecast for today.

We ended up having a fabulous time over in the Apostles - the blow out of the south wasn't a big deal on that side of the lake, and it was 85 today.

Most folks had cleared out early (it's really nice living just 90 minutes away) so it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves today.

So when is Isle Royale 2006? (Can you say mid-July?)

Buckda posted 09-05-2005 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
David -

We must have posted at nearly the same time.

I vote for late August again. I'd rather pick and choose based on weather than fight the constant problem of bugs. There were very few bugs on this trip. I have one mosquito bite from when I was deep in the woods exploring an inland lake. That's all.

David Pendleton posted 09-05-2005 10:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I'd cast my vote for August, as well. We had nearly perfect weather, in spite of the Gale on Thursday.

No bugs until Friday night, and they dissapeared after the temp dropped and wind picked up.

I'm crazy about IR now.


jechura posted 09-05-2005 11:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     
We must be on the same wave. Got to see the other 2/3 of the Island
kingfish posted 09-06-2005 01:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
OK, I can't stand it any longer - what is the Ranger and what is it doing with Paul's boat?


Buckda posted 09-06-2005 02:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
John -

Check out Paul's photos - the link is posted above.

Paul needed assurance that he would be back to the mainland on Saturday, so he made arrangements to ship his boat back on the deck of the Ranger III, the largest of the ferry's that cross to the island (and also the slowest).

There is one photo of Paul's boat being loaded onto the ferry...we're all interested in seeing more!

Yiddil posted 09-06-2005 09:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil     
Buckda, where are all the pics of your trip????????????????
jechura posted 09-06-2005 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     

Dave is probably chronologically typing up the trip but is a point where he is eloquently trying the justify his and others, actions in the speed trap.

As for pictures, I have 500+ thats in the mail for him and he will share.


Cicada posted 09-06-2005 11:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Sorry it's taken so long to post some photos on the Ranger III. Had a few things that needed some attention. Including... resetting the canvas after putting it away covered with dew.

The Ranger III was built in 1958 for the National Park Service (NPS) by Christy Corporation out of Sturgeon Bay, WI. The Ranger II is the largest piece of operating equipment in the NPS. A well maintained ferry, definitely 50's in design and decor. There is more info at the NPS Isle Royale site on the internet.

As Dave stated, I needed to have some assurance of getting off the island so we reserved space on the foredeck for a return on Saturday. A six hour trip that included a stop at Mott Island to pick up some NPS personnel. Some of the six hours can be spent having something to eat at the dining area, wandering the boat or my pasttime of preference, sleeping. The boat was loaded at the Marina in Rock Harbor and off loaded in the Harbor in Houghton.

The photos posted here:

show the loading, unloading process and a few of the ferry itself.



Quite an introduction to the National Park Service, eh? The one with the Glock was pretty cute.

jimh posted 09-07-2005 08:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am glad to hear that all participants had a good time and the boats all ran without problems. We were a bit worried by a forecast of a gale in western Lake Superior during your trip.

Dave--Please continue with the narrative!

Buckda posted 09-07-2005 01:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
...after the Rock Harbor lighthouse and Edisen Fishery, we depart across the harbor for the dock at Daisy Farm.

Daisy Farm is a stopping point for the Voyageur II, a vessel that provides ferry service to hikers - delivering them to various points around the island. This is a service that can help a hiker who is slowed by weather or conditions to "catch up" with their itinerary in order to make a flight or ferry back to the mainland, and it also is a pleasant way to cover a great deal of territory in a rather short period of time.

There are several hikers/packers at the shelters at Daisy Farm, including a nice young man named Steve, who is from Chicago. He was hiking alone, and in the evening came out on the dock to watch the sun go down. "Nice boats" he said. (this is where it pays to compliment folks on their boats - whether you like it or not).

We have a very pleasant dinner dockside, and we continue our conversation with each other and with Steve. Eventually, it is clear that Steve needs to be in Rock Harbor tomorrow morning to get some supplies. He had planned to hike it (7 or 8 miles) in the morning, but Jerry and Peter would have none of it - we'd give him a ride and that was that.

We fall asleep under bright stars (including some shooting stars) and the glow of the Northern Lights.

Tuesday, August 30
Breakfast dockside (eggs, bacon and potatoes for Jerry and Rick) and get the boats ready for the day. A very heavy dew has fallen overnight and the canvas is soaked.

(I need to step back a half step here and tell you about Rick - Jerry's friend, master chef and star/bird watcher extraordinaire. What a great guy - a welcome addition to the trip and great company. Sorry I left you out of the earlier narrative, Rick!)

Steve shows up with his gear packed and tosses it aboard Peter's boat. We all cast off and head up for Rock Harbor Marina to meet up with Paul and Suzanne, who stayed the night at the lodge.

Rock Harbor is a very large body of water. It is about 5-6 miles deep and perhaps 1/4 mile wide.

The National Park Service has provided us with maps of "Quiet - No Wake Zones" around the island. The ecosystem is fragile in some places, and there are certain habitats (loon habitats, for instance) that need calm, quiet environments for successful breeding. Armed with this information, I've made a note to keep it on the top of my console for quick reference as I tour the island.

We get on plane to make the run to Rock Harbor Marina. Somewhere along the way, a small baggie (grocery store size) flies out of Jerry's boat, and he turns around to get it, leaving David and I in the lead of the pack, running on plane at about 28 MPH. As we pass the park HQ, about 1/8 of a mile away on our starboard, we hear a comment on the radio - "He's after you guys! It's a no Wake Zone!" HUH!???

Long story short - it is a no wake zone, but is NOT marked on the map, and is adjacent to other no-wake zones so that the bouys marking the zone appear to either be marking shoals or the entrances to those adjacent zones. Mr. Park Ranger is NOT happy and cruises out in a SAFE boat with twin Honda 150's to let us know his displeasure. I pull alongside. He asks - "You headed for the marina?" I nod yes. "I'll meet you there. Have your license and registration ready" Gulp.

I often wonder about law enforcement - is a "cooling off" period between catching an offender and actually interacting with them a good thing, or does it just cause them to be more surly and upset?

We get to the Marina and he's sitting on a park bench. David and I tie up and come over. The mirrored sunglasses come off the ranger and he explains to us where the zone begins and ends. We apologize profusely, commenting that we're not sloppy boaters, and that we simply did not see the zone. He almost (not quite) admits that it could be a difficult zone to understand for first timers like us, and excercises his authority to give us a stern verbal and a written warning about the violation. (I knew we were going to be getting a warning when he started to talk about how his wife and kids did fishing the other day....)

..anyway...warning in pocket and pride slowly recovering, we set out again for Passage Island and the Passage Island light. David and I both agree that we were very lucky.

More on passage island tonight.....this was written on my lunch break!!


banff22 posted 09-07-2005 03:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
And well written it is . . . so far ;)
Buckda posted 09-07-2005 06:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
The trip to passage island is non-eventful - the waves calm to 1 foot under a glassy smooth water surface. As we approach the Island, we can see the lighthouse and then hear the foghorn. We slowly navigate into the cove, located about mid-island (and what looks like a hell of an anchorage!) and tie up alongside the metal boathouse that is obviously no longer used for its original intended purpose. The MV Sandy, a tour boat operating out of Rock Harbor, docks here twice a week, but today she will not make the trip. We dock/raft up against the boathouse and begin an expeditionary trip across the island through lush vegetation, low-lying bogs, across small streams, and through meadows. The path then winds through some rather steep switchbacks through a boreal forest, bringing us to a spectacular vista across the lower island with views of Thunder Bay, Ontario to the West. We pause for a breather - all of us look like we could spend a little more time on that stairmaster in the corner of my apartment - and Rick, saint that he is, breaks out bottled water from his backpack. Joy and relief!

The hike continues for a brief period through some more woods and emerges on a clearing where it is evident that the government has been operating here for quite some time. There is evidence of a previous beacon tower, a very well-kept helipad, a new beacon tower, and the original lighthouse, built in 1881. Unfortunately, it is in somewhat of a state of disrepair. I did read somewhere that the park service is planning to renovate the lighthouse once it has the funds to do so.

Also on the grounds are the ruins of the associated systems used over the years to service the lighthouse including a ruined tramway (and neat little "roundhouse") to cart supplies up from the rocks below, where a supply boat must have docked in an earlier era.

Back at the boathouse, we stop to have some light lunch aboard the boats (really only a snack).

We notice that the steel I-Beams supporting the boathouse have the original shipping information stenciled onto them:

For - Passage Island Boathouse"

Not sure how long that boathouse was in service, but it is clear that the service is all done via helicopter these days, and judging by the state of the pathway from the boathouse to the lighthouse, and the nearby privy, not many passengers from the MV Sandy deboard the boat for a close-up inspection.

I did get some great photographs of flowers, berries, mushrooms and even a frog along this hike - it was well worth the exertion.

Back aboard the boats, the promise of a perch dinner pushes us on toward tonight's destination: Duncan Bay. Paul and Suzanne head back to Rock Harbor Lodge for a quick nap.

We enter the bay, skirting the Palisades along Blake Point (Cool rock formations) and through Duncan Narrows. The Narrows have a very cool campsite/shelter right at the waters edge.

Duncan Bay is a no-wake bay, so nearly all of us switch to our kicker motors for a liesurely troll up the channel.

I even take this opportunity to rig a fishing rod and wash my bait. I'm marking TONS of fish, but the surface lures I brought are incapable of diving deep enough to entice whatever is down there. It's still a very nice ride in, and I really enjoy the scenery and quiet serenity of the setting.

At the base of the bay, there is a dock, with three campsites. We all raft alongside Jerry (4 boats) and just relax.

Soon, Paul and Suzanne arrive, and we have five boats lined up like Rockettes from the dock: 22, 23, 22, 18 and 18 feet.

Rick and Jerry have cooked the potatoes and are keeping them warm on a nearby grill provided by the park service (using kindling on one side to create a bit of heat), and begin to fry up the perch. Someone breaks out the beer and we begin to have a really good time, with some great food.

Paul and Suzanne decide to stay with us tonight - and secure space in a nearby shelter, while David, Peter and I decide we'd rather spend the night out in the bay "on the hook" than be rafted up with other boats all night.

As darkness falls, we break up the raft and spread out in the bay. David and I keep in touch with each other via handheld VHF. I'm jealous since he's picked a better anchorage - he can see the Passage Island light and hear the faint tone of the foghorn in the distance. Somewhere nearby a loon calls its mate, and the stars become very vivid. I drift off to sleep, and am unable to be roused on the radio by David when the Northern Lights blaze above my boat.

The next morning (Wednesday, August 31)I wake with the sunrise, my boat is covered by dewfall. I didn't put up the back curtain last night since the bugs were nonexistant, skies were clear and the temperature was great. I have a few great photos of the fog on the water that morning - what a treat to see "Whalers in the mist".

I fire up my camp stove and enjoy fried eggs, milk and buttered toast with homemade strawberry jam for breakfast. I think to myself that life is good.

Overnight, David has realized that he has cellular phone coverage from this remote bay - so we place a call to Plotman, in hopes that we'll be able to connect later in the week.

We break up the group and David and Paul and Suzanne head back to Rock Harbor while Jerry and Rick, Peter and I head to Lookout Louise - the docks are in Tobin Harbor. I experience a brief bruising of my navigational ego as I lead the group into a dead-end bay on the way into Tobin Harbor, but the shallow draft of our Whalers saves the day and I manage to cut across a 4 ft shoal to get back into the main channel.

After a bit, we're at the dock and I hear the first news about the Hurricane from a hiker who happens to walk by the path right as I'm docking. He comments on my Whaler, states that he wants to buy a Revenge. I give him the Website information. Another CW junkie is born. The news about the Hurricane is not good, and I relay the information to our fellow boaters on the VHF, then say a quick prayer for those in harms way down south. We get everyone tied up at the dock and head off along hidden lake and the path for Lookout Louise. This is only a mile-long path, however it seems much longer - perhaps our expedition on Passage Island yesterday has taken some energy out of me!

On the way, we see plenty of evidence of moose - including huge hoof-prints in the mud as we cross a bog.

Once we're at the top, and have absorbed the fantastic view, Peter and I pause to take a listen to the weather forecast on my handheld VHF. Lookout Louise is so high, all area weather stations are coming in loud and clear. This is our first indication that Thursday night and Friday are going to be as bad as they are.

We hustle back down the path and make our way to Rock Harbor Lodge to connect with the rest of the group.

Once at the marina, we call a captain's meeting to decide what to do about the weather. Peter uses the pay phone at the visitor center to check in with his folks and work back in Toronto.

It is soon apparent that Peter may need to leave soon - like tonight - to get himself home in time to take care of some business. He makes a few more phone calls while the other captains meet.

David wants to go to Belle Isle; Jerry wants to go to the other side of the island, perhaps Chippewa Harbor and then Hay Bay. A bit of friction builds.

....more to come.

(Man I wish I was selling ads...keep you guys coming back for more!!!)


David Pendleton posted 09-07-2005 07:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
You forgot to mention the Otters in Duncan Bay...

Great job so far. I mailed my pictures to you via USPS. I would imagine you'll have them tomorrow or Friday.

Buckda posted 09-07-2005 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I missed the otters - so it wasn't part of my island experience. Sorry!
jechura posted 09-07-2005 08:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     

You missed the otters, but surely you saw the Eagle soaring above our boats as we left Duncan Bay.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that the Kroger baggie blew out being the point man. It would have been tough explaining that my identification and boat registration was in Copper Harbor. You saw how sheepishly I docked the boat avoiding any contact, like Don't knew them boy's from Adam.

You should also have my pictures on Friday


Cicada posted 09-07-2005 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

Great narrative! I'd like to see some more of your photos. I'll get the photos out to you by Friday.

The boat is still trashed but unloaded.

One thing that impressed me about the island was the variety, though primitive, of accomodations available and their cleanliness. Tent sites, shelters, house keeping cabins, lodge and of course the boats. Something for everyone. I'll post a little somehing on the lodge.


Buckda posted 09-07-2005 09:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
…Jerry returns to the table and says he’s headed for Caribou Island.

While that nugget of information is still percolating, Peter returns from the phones. “It doesn’t look good,” he says. He explains that he may have to go back home tomorrow – or perhaps even tonight!

He goes back to the phone, and we go back to the map. An outboard starts in the background, and we look up to see Spouter on the way out of the marina.

The wind is building this afternoon, and we hunker down over the map with the forecast. The SW to NE orientation of the island makes it a bit more difficult to determine what docks and anchorages might provide the best shelter. I’m thinking Tobin Harbor and some of the harbors over near Belle Isle look best and offer more options, however the bay at the very bottom of Rock Harbor also looks pretty protected.

A ranger walks by and steps to the table to offer assistance. We mention Caribou Island, and learn that she has just returned from the island and it is “full” with kayakers. We radio Jerry – and he reports that there is plenty of dock space and that it is well protected from the wind. He radios back a short time later to explain that two boats have arrived and that we’ll have to raft if we all come out.

Paul and Suzanne are going to stay at the lodge again tonight, and David reports that he might just stay at the harbor. Just then Peter comes out and says he has to go tonight. He’s getting gas at the gas dock and then going to take a look at the lake.

He idles off and gets gas….and then departs, alone, for Copper Harbor. Fortunately the wind has laid down, but it is forecast to build rapidly in the morning.

Peter radios us at 5 miles out that the water is great and he’s going all the way home. We establish contact with him again when he mistakenly picks up my call to Jerry. I switch to High power and speak directly to him. He’s 18.5 miles offshore (Nothing wrong with that antenna on the top of the arch!) and doing fine.

I then depart for Caribou Island where I have a late dinner of steak and steamed fresh broccoli. I think I see those kayakers looking over hungrily at me…I’ll have to lock the zippers tonight…

Forecast is for rain overnight, then wind building after midnight to a strong 20-25 KT winds tomorrow afternoon.

Jerry, Rick and I enjoy a brief display of the Northern Lights and then turn in for the night.

The next morning, Jerry departs immediately after breakfast to Chippewa Harbor. He asks that I bring him a bag of ice when I come back with the folks from Rock Harbor.

Soon, a ranger comes along and mentions how rough it is already, and that the Voyageur II has turned around already.

I kill a bit of time at the dock talking to some other boaters, and then finally get underway to Rock Harbor to see Paul, Suzanne and David.

The wind continues to build until there are small whitecaps on the water in the harbor. Paul, Suzanne and David are preparing lunch – homemade chili! I just have to have some, so we kill a few hours having lunch. A ranger comes by and mentions how worried she is about Jerry and Rick since the waves are huge out there. The Voyageur has returned to the dock. We let her know that we’ve been in contact with Jerry and that he and Rick are okay in Chippewa Harbor. She seems really relieved.

We also run into Steve, the hiker – who had made it as far as Daisy farm while we were at Duncan Narrows, and then had been picked up by the Voyageur to get a ride to Windigo. When the ferry had to turn around, he found himself back at Rock Harbor. The ferry was not scheduled to run again until tomorrow morning, and an hour earlier than normal to avoid still-expected to be strong wind.

We talk briefly to Fritz, the captain of the Voyaguer, and he mentions that we should be okay if we run around Scoville point to Tobin Harbor. Once we’re in the harbor, there should be no problems.

We leave – Hiker Steve aboard Tampico, and the captain of Voyageur is right – the lake is rolling about 2 –3 feet of surge from the main lake around Scoville point. The wind is blowing so hard that as I round the point, the “Whaler lean” is so pronounced that my depthfinder transducer loses bottom. Once I round the point and face into the wind I can hear the flags snap smartly on the boat, and my speed drops 3 MPH fighting the wind, but there is only a light chop on the protected water.

I hear a voice on the radio and respond. It’s Jerry in Chippewa Harbor. No on else in the group can hear him, but I have him soft and clear. He’s modified his order to include a pack of cigarettes. I laugh.

Jerry asks where we are and if I’m coming. I say there’s no way we’re going to make Chippewa Harbor in the waves today. I tell him we’re in Tobin Harbor and that we’ll see him in the morning.

He affirms and we go to standby. We explore Tobin Harbor and end up back at the dock for Lookout Louise and Hidden Lake. I bring my fishing rod and try to conjure a fin out of the water. Not even a nibble.

We spend a pleasant afternoon at a picnic area near the lake with Steve and later run across the harbor to the seaplane docks behind Rock Harbor Lodge for our overnight accommodations.

Wind is really ripping, so we double up our docklines and point bows outward. The waves are merely a ripple in this well-protected harbor, but the boat wants to sail on the canvas at the dock, so I use two springlines to keep her centered and minimize movement.

David and I sit out late, enjoy the northern lights (nearly getting blown off the dock in the process) and hammer a nice bottle of Captain Morgan’s Rum. I can only speak for myself, but I slept like a rock that night, despite the howling winds.

More to come…

jimh posted 09-07-2005 10:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave--we're going to need a map with course lines to keep track of you all.
Buckda posted 09-07-2005 10:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
More photos uploaded to the photobucket site....

JimH - I'll see if I can't translate a map into a .bmp file or something to post on the photobucket site.

At this point in the narrative - Peter is home at Copper Harbor, Jerry and Rick are in Chippewa Harbor hunkered down with several park rangers and other hikers for the storm, and we're up in Tobin Harbor just over the ridge from Rock Harbor Marina. It's a short walk to the Marina from the seaplane docks.


David Pendleton posted 09-07-2005 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Looking at the updated pictures now...

I had forgotten about Peter the Butterfly slayer/murderer.

home Aside posted 09-07-2005 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Nice Job on the narrative, and great photo's too, Rendezvous Envy has set in big time.....


Buckda posted 09-08-2005 11:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Considering most people's experiences with sunglasses, I'd think that that location is the last place a delicate creature like that flutterby would want to be.

I have several photos of him, since I was trying to get him with his wings open, but alas, Peter sat on 'im before the little bugger could flutter off.

David Pendleton posted 09-08-2005 03:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Dave, use your MapSource/BlueChart to create the map, take a screen shot, then convert to jpeg.
Buckda posted 09-08-2005 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Pat -

There was space aboard Gambler...

David -

Thanks - I'll give that a try.


LHG posted 09-08-2005 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
I would like to know what it was like, and how it felt, to be crossing the 60 miles of open water on Lake Superior.
Buckda posted 09-08-2005 06:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Dockside in Tobin Harbor –

I wake the next morning and the wind has broken – it’s still blowing at about 15-20 MPH, but no where near the scream factor that was blowing last night. I have cold cereal and milk for breakfast.

Because of the wind, today will be the only day on this trip where I do not have to contend with a heavy dewfall on the canvas in the morning. My boat is situated stern inward with the engine tilted to provide adequate clearance. I say this because it’s the only time on the trip that I’ve kept the motor tilted overnight.

Soon, I see Steve down at the dock…then David emerges from the cabin of Tampico, and finally Paul and Suzanne stroll down to the dock. We commandeer a luggage wagon, used to haul luggage from the seaplane to the lodge, and make breakfast preparations in the shelter provided by the high-sided cart.

Paul plays the part of “Cookie the Chuck Wagon Cook” and turns out a pot of hot coffee and blueberry pancakes on his newly bought camp stove. The sun is out and shining and it’s going to be a beautiful day.

We get in the boat and run ‘round to Rock Harbor marina – I need to buy some ice for me, some ice and a pack of cigarettes for Jerry, and since this will be our last day on the island, David does some shopping in the nearby gift shop.

Eventually, we’re underway – Paul is alone, since Suzanne wants to take some time today to do some painting, and we run out to Chippewa Harbor. As we clear the Chippewa Harbor light, the swell from yesterday’s windstorm is still very evident. The lake is rolling between 3 and 4 feet with very little chop….just that up, down motion from a body of water that is settling down after a tempest.

Just as we’re entering Chippewa harbor, I get a brief oil warning horn – which sounds for about three seconds before shutting off. I have experienced this in the past – when running in rough conditions, the oil in the tank on the powerhead sometimes sloshes to the point that the sensor in that tank drops and gives a low oil warning, before the oil sloshes back and raises the float, shutting off the sensor and silencing the horn. I wonder quietly to myself if it doesn’t have something to do with the engine being tilted all night, since I JUST added a full gallon of oil to the remote oil tank (3 gallon capacity) two days ago, and have not done enough miles of boating to be truly low.

Just then, David mentions the water temperature – Holy Cats! It’s dropped from 59 degrees in Rock Harbor to 40 degrees out here. The hairs on the back of my neck do a little dance that sends a chill down my spine. Glad that alarm stopped sounding.

We arrive at the dock – Spouter is the only boat there and tie off. It’s a pleasant cove, Chippewa Harbor, and I can see why Jerry and Rick decided it was appropriate to spend two days here.

Soon, two fishing boats appear and are looking for dockage. There is a first-come, first served policy at docks in the park, so we’re not too concerned – we’ve got this dock pretty much filled to capacity with the four Whalers. They decide to do some more fishing when we let them know that Paul will be leaving in a few hours.

A ranger comes by in a beautiful 1970’s 26 foot Bertram (the second Bertram in the NPS fleet up there – the first is a reconditioned 31’ Moppie).

The dock is in the shape of a short, squat “T”. Spouter, Gambler and Tampico are located across the top of the “T” and Cicada is located under the left side of the “T”.

Soon, the ranger comes by and asks if he can dock across the stern of Cicada and Spouter, tieing up to the dock broadside. We say no problem and accommodate the young ranger. He’s on TP and clean-up duty, but stops to chat with us for awhile. Soon the two fishing boats are back, and the larger boat (a very early “Cruisers” brand cabin-cruiser) hails the ranger on their loudspeaker and requests permission to raft from his boat. They do so, and the second fishing boat, a small aluminum boat with brand new Suzuki 4-stroke motor takes the other side of the “T” across from Paul.

The older gentlemen (these guys are in their 80’s if they’re a day old) report a vessel in distress on the other side of the island that has been unable to hail the ranger station on Amygladoid Island. The boat has engine failure and is drifting toward the island and asked these guys (clear on the other side of the island!) for assistance. The ranger calls it in to headquarters and they begin to mount an assistance mission.

I didn’t ask what the sea state was like on that side of the island, but I’d imagine that there was some laundry to be done that night from the folks in that boat – I’m sure it was still rolling pretty good over there, and they were drifiting toward McCargo cove.

Anyway – fishermen have a good catch of trout that they literally JUST caught out there at the mouth of the harbor and they begin cleaning their catch. We continue our conversation with the ranger – he’s a very pleasant fellow – and just enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

I walk over to the guys cleaning fish and offer to let them use the rest of my fish batter mixture that I had shared with the group for our fish fry. These guys are true fishermen and welcome a new menu option happily.

Paul and I take some time to tour the local restored schoolhouse. Chippewa Harbor was the site of a fishing village at the turn of the century, and there is a very small single-room schoolhouse that still stands on the property. It and a beached wreck back in the harbor further are the only existing reminders of the harbor’s past.

Believe it or not, this cove is one of the few places on the island where people are known to have spent a winter on the island. According to park rangers, there have only been about 4 years (known) where men lived on the island year round. Today, even the rangers only visit the island briefly in the winter to do some wildlife studies, including the moose/wolf count, and a general well-being check on the park properties.

Soon, it’s time for Paul to head back to Rock Harbor. He needs to get the boat ready for shipment on the Ranger in the morning. The rest of us stay ashore and begin to prepare dinner. I have two steakburgers tonight – I’m trying to use the last of my steak.

Later, we take an expedition to a nearby lake to see if we can’t see a moose. Our moose-hunt is fruitless, however the lake is a pleasant place, and it is a nice hike to burn off the burgers. By the time we get back to the dock, it’s fully dark, the stars are out and the whole place has quieted down.

Soon, the Northern Lights go into action. Tonight, they have a spectacular display in store for us. First, there is the standard green shafts of light from the north – almost appearing as a green velvet curtain in the sky..then I notice a ring of green – almost like a hula hoop – that circles the northern sky almost directly above us. The lights in center stage begin to dance and move. Then patches of the sky inside the circle begin to flash. The lights are dancing and flashing for several hours – what a vivid and spectacular display of northern beauty! My neck aches from staring straight up, and my eyes are tired.

The forecast has confirmed that we’ll be making the crossing home “some time” tomorrow, before the wind is forecast to pick up again Sunday morning.

Reluctantly, I go back to my boat to prepare for bed.

Final day recollection to come tomorrow…..
...and I'll give you a general feeling of the crossing, Larry!

Buckda posted 09-08-2005 06:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Forgot also to recount the resolution for that boat in distress....later received radio transmission from NPS that the crew of the vessel had changed a water/gas filter/separator and the engine fired and they were underway and under their own power. THe NPS assistance vessel was standing down and returning to park HQ.


Cicada posted 09-08-2005 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

The narrative just keeps getting better. A beautiful place, isn't it.


It felt a little itimidating and daunting at first. Cold water, distance, unpredictability etc.

A purposeful quietness at the dock in the morning.
Anticipation, contemplation and determination as I prepared the boat for the crossing.

A little bit of wonder as the landscape expanded around us on the run out of Copper Harbor.
Grey crossing. Grey water, sky, horizon. The canvas and boats the most colorful part.
Rhytmic seas with a muffled resonance of the outboard pushing the boat through the waves.
Quite comfortable under the canvas, the movement of the boat was lulling the tension of the beginning of the crossing.

Mid point Dave called a stop and I noticed it was almost dead center of the crossing. The point of no return so to speak.

Island growing larger in front of the boats. The scale of the island was much larger than what I had imagined. The anticipation returned as the detail of the island's landscape came into focus.

Back to business with the watch and navigation of entering the rocky waters of the island. The beginning of the feeling that this place will works its way into your soul given enough time.

Later that night, at the lodge I looked at Suzanne and asked "Do you realize what we've just done?" It wasn't until then that the whole thing just sank in.
A delayed sense of exhiliration. Pretty cool.

I also wonder what the groups thoughts are after a little reflection.


Buckda posted 09-08-2005 10:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I tried not to think too hard on it. It was a grey morning for the first crossing, and I was just glad that visibility was good enough to see the hills of the Keeweenau peninsula right up until the point where we could begin to make out the Island on the horizon.

The clouds over the island were dark and it made it a little "imposing" as we approached. I was watching the miles tick away on my GPS and listening carefully for sounds of problems in my motor.

Paul is right - there was nervous anticipation at first, then relief that the lake seemed rather calm. I pointed the bow on the right heading, dialed up the route on the GPS and just went. I was also paying attention to the other boats in the group, making sure they were all sticking with us - in a lot of ways, it was simply like any other offshore run - it just lasted longer than usual.

I did stop the group with about 25 miles to go, because I knew that Suzanne had been apprehensive about the crossing and thought that perhaps she needed a break from the bouncing (and we had been running for about an hour and 15 minutes). Otherwise, I would have kept going just to make the crossing faster.

That night, at Daisy Farm, I reflected on the crossing, and realized that I had just basically crossed Lake Superior! I've still not had a chance to cross Lake Michigan, and wouldn't do it without the company of another boat (at least until I repower) - but essentially, I went the same distance, and it means that I'd be more comfortable to do a similar crossing in the future.

You never know until you do - and a trip like this helped expand my comfort level and understanding of what I can do with my boat.

I'll give the final days update probably tomorrow....


where2 posted 09-08-2005 10:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
Definite envy from this two whaler family... Keep up the awesome narrative.
banff22 posted 09-08-2005 10:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
Re: Cicada's statement:

Island growing larger in front of the boats. The scale of the island was much larger than what I had imagined. The anticipation returned as the detail of the island's landscape came into focus.

It was at this point I honestly thought Buckda had misled me/us and we missed the bloody island and we'd hit Thunder Bay! The island was enormous compared to what I was expecting. Spectacular. Every moment after that it just kept getting better and better too. It would take months to really see and enjoy it properly. A good reason to go back someday.

I've tried to explain to folks back here what it was like crossing the 60 miles of open water on Superior. But so far I haven't quite found the right words. I keep hoping someone around here will post the words for me to use because I'm at a loss.

The butterfly slayer

banff22 posted 09-08-2005 10:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
One more thing.
I really think Suzanne deserves kudos for putting up with all the guys, their hijinx and comments on the VHF's.
She's a trooper.


Buckda posted 09-08-2005 10:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
It was truly amazing.

As we approached the island, a rain squall enveloped the high hills of the island and descended onto the water and shrouded the rocky shoreline in mist.

We entered Rock Harbor at the NE mouth of the bay, where the group of islands that include Caribou, Mott and Rasberry Islands fall off into shoals and barren rocks jutting out of the lake. As we came closer, a small fishing boat came into view working one of the shoals.

It was incredible. As you can see from the photos - the rocks are black at the waterline and grey up higher, covered with orange and green lichens, topped by evergreen, boreal forests.

It felt Magical.

The same feeling returned on the trip back from Passage Island - the Isle Royale group of islands loomed in the distance with high hills and clouds above. Something special about that place. It is no wonder it is called a royal island.


Buckda posted 09-08-2005 11:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
More photos uploaded to the Photobucket site. That's probably it for my photos...I'll add some more when I get photos from other folks who did the trip.


jechura posted 09-08-2005 11:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     
Butterfly slayer and Identity switcher you are Mr. Dunster.

Seriously, back in Dec. of 2004 I had only one departure in mind, Keweenaw peninsula. I heard the same things you heard, " are you nuts!, in that small boat!, that's the big Lake!, the Edmund went down there, etc., etc.," With or without company that was going to be my departure point. Not only was it a bit of a challenge, but it also added to the excitement and rush of the first sight of the Island.

Now if only we could get that guy with that Mercury to buy one of those good old dependable OMC's


Cicada posted 09-08-2005 11:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
I agree about Suzanne. Thanks.

It's tough to describe this stuff. A sense of adventure and exploration.

I hate to disrupt Daves narrative with anything lengthy but I just finished this thing. A little impression of the boat and the run from Chippewa to Rock Harbor late Friday afternoon.

Saginaw Point

Out Chippewa Harbor past the orange banded rock
Faces recede with the deep waters dock
Old Village, mute, tree shrouded ghost
Prepare to make a run up the coast
Reluctantly leave with motor idling slow.

Cares of the world have but the least
Away with the wind, out to the East
To Rock Harbor travel, continue outbound
Swing out to Northeast, seas gather as hounds
Bounding and chasing a game they'll never know.

Climb their backs in a laborious squat, oh so slowly reach the top
The bow makes a curtsy then a short little hop
To a shift in momentum, slight gaining of pace
Pinch of a roll, plane down the face, moving in a slalom race
With a roiling disturbance building through the soles.

Glide through the trough with a dancer's grace
Keep your respect and remember your place
Chin up girl, nice, chin up. that a girl!
Beautiful job fussing with that curl
Chines throw out ruffled petticoats that drape across her bow.

Surge forward now with a lively prance
Helm throttle, helm throttle, continue the dance
Match the waves cadence, let the coast be ;your guide
From rocks at shore make sure you go wide
Or they're bound to take you low.

Sharp, flame shaped waves rise off to Northeast
Hidden rock, current, wind, maybe a reef, reason for such jagged teeth?
Give wide berth, wide berth over there
When course fingers beckon, don't venture, beware
A Manitou's breath courses through your soul.

A crescendo reached where the land changes course
A giant sweep that flows out to North
Smooth passage to protected water
Light and buoys lead to harbor
Coast through, coast through.


What a boat.

Plotman posted 09-08-2005 11:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
Though none have been as long as the one you guys did, I've made some crossings up to a little over 40 miles from the north shore down to the Apostles, and while I won't say that I have gotten complacent, I will say that they get much less daunting once you have done a couple.

The first one I did alone was almost spooky. As I have gained confidence in the capabilities and reliability of my boat, they begin to feel more routine. It helps that I have twins - and that I now have close to 200 hours on the boat without one mechanical hicchup, and that I know I can plane off and go faster on just one engine than I normally cruise.

It honestly also helps that I've made the run back across in some pretty snotty weather. The sort of stuff where I told myself I'd stick my nose out, see how bad it really was, and if it didn't feel safe, turn around and call someone to drive over and get me. The bottom line is that with these whalers, if you slow down, there isn't much you can't keep going through at 12 or 15 mph. Certainly at least up to 8 or 10 footers.

Kudos to you guys. It sounds like an awesome trip.

David Pendleton posted 09-09-2005 12:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Holy Cats, Paul! You're a romantic. Who woulda thunk it?

Very nicely done.

Buckda posted 09-09-2005 12:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Saturday September 3
Chippewa Harbor

I rise out of bed. The usual dew is heavy on the canvas. Emerging from the boat, I enjoy a bit of fog/mist on the water as the bright sunshine rises. I snap a few photos and begin to make a quick breakfast.

In the mouth of the harbor, a boat is inbound. The captain is dropping off a pair of hikers, and picking up two canoeists to bring them back to Rock Harbor. He ties up (the same way that the ranger did the night before) and drops off his crew. Turns out this old guy knows the two older gentlemen in the Cruisers yacht and they strike up a conversation. Apparently all three of them have been coming up here for years and years.

The wind is calm and Jerry is ready to go.

We say our goodbyes to David and fire up the motors. Jerry is going to ferry a hiker to a campsite along the way to Rock Harbor, where we both plan to stop to take on fuel before the trip home.

We depart the harbor and the lake is still rolling about 2 feet. Very little wind, so the wave action is gentle. We get on plane and my oil alarm is back. This time it’s intermittent and beeps a few times after dropping into each trough. I radio to Jerry that I have this problem and that I’ll catch up to him at Rock Harbor. My tank on the powerhead has enough oil to run at WOT for up to a half hour, so I’m confident I can make it that far.

On the way in, we pass the Ranger III departing Rock Harbor for Houghton, with Paul and Suzanne aboard. An idea flickers in my mind that if I have a major problem with this motor, I could just take the Ferry and ship my boat back to Houghton.

As I round the Rock Harbor Lighthouse and enter Rock Harbor, I notice that Jerry has stopped at Caribou Island dock, and I go in there also, horn beeping constantly now. As I come off plane and run at idle for a few moments, the horn stops. When I hit the throttle, it sounds again, and when I go back to idle it stops. I pull up to the dock and remove the cowling – leaving the engine running. The usual blue smoke is present, so I know my engine is burning enough oil to lubricate the inner workings. I check the cap to the powerhead oil reservoir. Sure enough, as I jiggle the cap, the horn sounds. When I set it back, it stops. Frustrating – especially on a day when I plan to cross 56 miles of open lake Superior. I tell Jerry that I’m going to make Rock Harbor and then think about my options from there.

As I hit that no-wake zone in front of Mott Island, I can’t take the constant beeping anymore and I open my knife and cut the power to the warning horn. A few minutes later, I’m at Rock Harbor, taking on 42 gallons of fuel. As I’m fueling I ask the dock attendant when the Ranger III will return. “Sunday night” he says, leaving back for Houghton on Monday. This is promising. I can take the Isle Royale Queen 4 back to Copper Harbor this afternoon, drive my rig to Houghton, and take the Ferry back to the Island on Sunday. Then I can load the boat on the deck of the ferry and just do what Paul and Suzanne did. Good option. Then I remember that they required Paul to have less than ¼ tank of fuel aboard. D’oh! I guess I could burn a lot of fuel running around today if I had to.

I pay for the fuel and go to a slip to wait for Jerry and Rick to get gas.

I’m thinking things through. I pull out my service manual to make sure that my memory is correct on that 30-minute supply idea that I had. I am correct – the tank has enough for a 30-minute supply under “Normal” conditions. Once the oil is there in the tank, barring a blockage (which I clearly don’t have due to the smoky exhaust signature of the engine), so long as the fuel pump is working and delivering fuel, I should have oil lubrication.

I talk it over with Jerry and we come up with the idea to get underway and go for 20 minutes. We’ll stop and I’ll check the level in the reservoir. If it is low, I have two options. I can manually fill it with the extra oil I have in the boat, and return to Rock Harbor – or we could simply complete the crossing, stopping every 15-20 minutes to add oil.

I decide that this is an acceptable solution and we depart. 25 minutes later, we call for the first stop, still in sight of the island, as we’ve only been making about 24 MPH in the lumpy lake. The tank is full (Sound familiar to you guys who boated with me this spring??!) and we continue on. The whole trip I’m preoccupied with what the problem is. I had voltage regulation issues earlier this summer and replaced the regulator. I had similar problems late last year and this spring, and had replaced the warning module. I’m wondering if my voltage problem has returned and fried my module – in fact, that may have been the problem in the first place last year. I check my meters – pinned at 16V! Hmm! I’ll have to get the multimeter out to check this problem. In the meantime, we continue on – me more confident that I have an electrical problem instead of an oil-delivery problem. I check the voltage on my GPS unit and it is fine – 12.8 V, so I’m pretty sure my battery is aborbing any excess voltage for now (if that is indeed my problem).

As we continue on, the seas build slightly and we stop again to check. No problems. I give the thumbs up and radio back that we’ll continue on. We make one more stop before I finally decide that this is for sure not an oil delivery problem and we push directly on to Copper Harbor.

Earlier this year, I had a quote on 90 HP E-TECs installed on the 18. At $8,150 each, that $16K price tag is sounding better and better out here in the middle of the lake. I look at the depth finder. 745 feet. Yeah, $16K to pay for peace of mind? Sounds good to me.

As we approach Copper Harbor we see three freighters/lake liners on the horizon – one to the north, and two rounding the peninsula, upbound for Duluth. A little in-my-head trigenometry and I’m confident we’ll pass in FRONT of these two upbound freighters. The downbound freighter is already passing well astern.

We dash into the harbor and a sense of disappointment settles in – I’m sad that this adventure is over. Jerry comes on the radio and says “the Buckalew Isle Royale Expedition of 2005 is officially over.” Just what I needed to hear to bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Do you know what we just did!? Very cool.

I pull directly to the ramp at the Copper Harbor dock and pull the boat. As we’re cleaning the boats and prepping them for the highway, I make arrangements for a shower ($2) at the marina office. Emerging with a clean pair of jeans that I saved in the truck and a fresh shirt, I feel like a million dollars. What a great trip.

Jerry and I hit the road. I’ve decided to follow him through Michigan to try to connect with JimH and LHG for the remainder of the weekend. It’s 3 PM, we’re on the road and it’s a cool, sunny Upper Peninsula day – I have the windows down and a long drive ahead…..

banff22 posted 09-09-2005 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
Your first post about this idea was on December 20th, 2004.
Since then you have not wavered.
It was wonderful.

With my hat off, I say Thank you

Peter Dunster

LHG posted 09-09-2005 02:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Dave - From the sound of your experiences, I'm not at all sure a new pair of E-tec 90's are going to be as reliable as that 1986 Merc 150. That old dog just keeps running in spite of you.
Buckda posted 09-09-2005 03:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
LOL Larry...

I agree. I've got to tip my hat to those engineers. But in my defense, I have to say "I've inherited" these problems. The motor receives more than annual maintenance from my mechanic due to these little failures.

I also have to say that while your motor is in much better condition from the previous owner, it hasn't exactly been a blue ribbon winner in terms of trouble-free operation either - and they're the same 150 HP motor. Despite the electrical gremlins though, I consider the "oil-injection" system on that motor to be far superior to the OMC version of the same era (1986).

Something tells me that a brand new E-Tec will instill a lot more confidence in nearly 800 feet of water and 25 miles from any land in the middle of cold Lake Superior than my tired old Mercury that seems to have recurrent bouts with electrical gremlins.

I can also say that the engine definitely has not received the same level of care that my own engine would normally receive (if bought new). I can tell this by comparing the 1970 Johnson 6 HP motor that I used as a kicker on this trip to the main motor. I learned how to drive a boat with that 6 HP motor, and my dad used it to teach me how to take care of an engine - both in operation, and in maintenance) and it runs quieter, cleaner and smoother than the 16 year newer motor that is the main.

Hiker posted 09-09-2005 10:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hiker    
So here is where the folks with the "real" boats hang out. I'm glad to hear everyone made it home safe.

First, I want to thank the Isle Royale guys (and girl) for a couple of rides, Paul and Suzanne's coffee, Dave's campstove grilled-to-perfection steak, and some good company.

Dave, your Trip Report is great; I really enjoyed reading it. I'll be posting mine over on the Backpacker website and will provide you guys with a link.

You already have me checking out Whalers on ebay...


Cicada posted 09-10-2005 12:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

Glad to see you made it over, and welcome, to the site. We enjoyed your company and was wondering how you fared for the rest of your trip. Make sure you post a link to the backpacker site, I'd like to see your thoughts. This site is full of information and resources for Boston Whalers. Explore and check the "Market Place"

David P.

Thanks for the kind words. Not bad for a Lemming on vacation, eh?


Again, great narrative.

I'm glad you made the decision to return under your own power. The only thing I may regret about the whole trip was the necessity to ship the boat back on the Ranger III. Although there is a sense of accomplshment with the trip it's like leaving something undone. I can only imagine the return to Copper Harbor and what that was like.

Fantastic trip and I appreciate the effort that you've put into the organization and bringing it to fruition. There are alot of headaches, concerns and frustrations that go into planning and executing one of these trips that most people don't see when reading the posts. I hope and expect that your sense of accomplishment in the Buckalew Isle Royale Expediton of 2005 is deep felt.



banff22 posted 09-10-2005 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
Trust me Paul.
On my return trip to Copper Harbour, alone, and hitting that mile+ thick fog bank a few miles off Copper I managed to set the pitter patter my heart high enough for both of us.

And people wonder how I managed to drive all night that night? I couldn't bring my bloody heart rate down ;) Who needs caffeine after that trip?

The Butterfly Slayer

prj posted 09-10-2005 10:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Thanks so much for the wonderfully descriptive narrative, Dave. It's been a fine vicarious cruise for me also.
This summer, my wife Alex, a couple of friends and I, did our first mini version of a cruise, about 70 miles round trip from Fish Creek to Rock Island and back in Door County.
Enjoyed it immensely and expect we'll do similar more often in the future.

I can relate to the bruised ego after your mild scolding by the Park Ranger in the no-wake zone. Received the same coming in a bit hot to the Rock Island Boat House while campers were boarding the ferry. Ferry Cap'n tracked down the Boston Whaler's Cap'n and delivered a stern admonishment which really put an unexpected hit on my presumed prowess for a couple hours.

Thank you also Paul, for the beautiful and fluid poetry.


banff22 posted 09-10-2005 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
Shoot. I forgot to say hello to Hiker/Steve. Good to see you around here. Sorry I had to leave early and couldn't spend more time getting to know you.
David Pendleton posted 09-10-2005 11:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Hello Steve! Glad you found your way over here.

Dave--have you gotten everyone's pictures? I'm very excited to see them. Judging by the ones I've already seen, my pictures turned out kind of crappy. You guys are much better photographers than I, I guess.

Hiker posted 09-10-2005 12:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hiker    
Thanks Peter, It was nice meeting you. I'm actually headed for Banff in a few weeks and could always use a few suggestions my email is:

stevecollins (at) ameritech (dot) net


banff22 posted 09-10-2005 12:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
I'll be back in Banff this Thurs. I'll email today to find out what you're inrterested in and hopefully bring back updated info for you.
Buckda posted 09-10-2005 09:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Steve! Glad you made it back safely.

As of this evening, I have photos from everyone - there are more than 1,700 files and I'm cataloging them and naming them.

Give me some time....I should have this done by the end of the week.

You guys took some great photos. I haven't figured out how to give everyone credit where it is due, but will do my best to make sure folks know who took which photo.

Jerry - Thought you had some video too?

I've already gone through all of the photos and deleted blurry or poor-quality ones. There may still be some dogs in there - but for the most part, we should be good to go.

Jerry included raw data discs for everyone so you guys will have two CD's - one of the amalgamation of all photographs, and the other is from Jerry and includes all of his photos (Some of which may not make the "Master" CD.

Paul even sent first-look photos of his "lemmings on vacation" interpretive dance.

Patrick -

I hope the photos help you to convince Alex to be interested in future Rendezvous' Although this one was a bit more "rustic" in terms of dining and accomodations (i.e. "facilities") than other rendezvous', it was still a great time and well worth the effort and expense - which by the way was less than I had anticipated - even with the high fuel prices.


jechura posted 09-11-2005 05:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     

Excellent narrative, I can see why they pay you six figures.

Had to work this week but, maybe today I'll get to the video.

Total trip cost, less than 1,000, mainly gas. 1240 miles on the truck and 212 on the boat, with 100 on the Island.

It may have been the blueberries or raspberries, the hidden lakes, Lookout Louise or the allure of the lighthouses, whatever it was it got everyone out of the boats exploring the beauty of Isle Royale.

With less than 1/3 of the island coverd, a return trip is needed.


Buckda posted 09-11-2005 06:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Every once in awhile I dream about six figures......

banff22 posted 09-11-2005 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
I hate repeating myself.
But . . .
It was Wonderful
Wonderful new mid-west NA Whaler friends.
I can not say more.

Even if Dave is is vertically challenged.

David Pendleton posted 09-11-2005 11:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I can't wait to see the complete photo album. My friends and family are eagerly awaiting this, as well.

Peter, I meant to tell you--after using my freshwater washdown to clean up, you left an awful lot of hair behind...

Can you get Rogaine in Canada? :)

David Pendleton posted 09-12-2005 12:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
BTW, has anyone seen this:

A really nice print of which (and more) is available here:

Buckda posted 09-12-2005 08:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
David, et. al. -

There are more than 1,100 photographs (after deleting about 120 that were just awful - blurry, etc) that will be burned to the CD.

You'd better tell your family to pull up a comfy chair.

I've organized the photographs by various locations (i.e. Passage Island, Caribou Island, Chippewa Harbor, etc...).

Jerry was also kind enough to burn an extra CD for each of us that includes his "raw photos" - so you can see the ones that were cut (Not too many of his were cut). His has a very nice color label - sorry to say, I don't have the same capability to reproduce such a fine label for my copies.

I'll put them in the mail this week.

Yiddil posted 09-13-2005 11:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Yiddil  Send Email to Yiddil an extra one I could look at..???
kingfish posted 09-13-2005 11:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
((me three?))
Buckda posted 09-13-2005 12:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
John - you going to the Inland Waterway at the end of the month? I can bring my laptop and show you guys photos there.

Henry - let's talk.

I was delayed a bit last night - was going to burn the CD's then, but decided to pull the narrative from here and put it in a Word document illustrated/accented with photos. Sorry for the delay guys.


Bulldog posted 09-13-2005 04:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bulldog  Send Email to Bulldog     
Yes Dave, talk to Henry! I'm hoping that you put another trip together next year, I'm getting the boat set up for extended cruising, and am saving two weeks vacation to run up that way, for a trip . Yiddil get that back in good shape, I'll talk to you in Chestertown.......Jack

PS Miami to Bimini, that sound good!

Cicada posted 09-13-2005 09:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

I was hoping you would do an illustrated article and am looking forward to seeing both the article and the CD. I'm assuming the article will be included on the CD. I bet it will be pretty nice with some of the outstanding photos from the trip. The anticipation returns.

Another trip would be nice. I'm still processing some of the experiences from this one. Isle Royale again?


Gep posted 09-14-2005 01:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gep  Send Email to Gep     
I think you should do a full blown Powerpoint presentation with narrative. :)
home Aside posted 09-14-2005 04:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
I think we should have been in the's one trip I'm sorry I didn't make and I'm sure you aree too....


David Pendleton posted 09-14-2005 06:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Hey, we told you guys this would happen...

Only about 357 days until the next one.

dfmcintyre posted 09-14-2005 09:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Dave -

If you are serious about a "presentation", I can reserve an LCD projector and bring it with us....


Buckda posted 09-14-2005 09:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     

Bring it.

It won't be powerpoint - but I have a program that allows full-screen photo presentations.

I'll do my best to narrate. I'll keep a chart of the island open on the background so I can go back and refer to different places for you guys.


Hiker posted 09-14-2005 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hiker    
Dave, I should have sent you my pictures from the "center" of the island! I hate to ask another favor of you (after the free steak dinner) but I would like a copy if you have an extra, I'll even pick it up from you if that's easier.


Buckda posted 09-14-2005 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Steve -

Uh uh...first we need to get you into a Whaler!

Just kidding. I'll burn an extra copy tonight for you.

Send me an e-mail and we'll coordinate a pick-up.


Cicada posted 09-14-2005 10:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

Care to burn a couple of CD's of your own? I'd like to see them. It would be nice to get more of a sense of what it's like in there.

Still thinking about a Whaler?


It's going to be nice seeing you pull this all together. Looking forward to the presentation.


Hiker posted 09-14-2005 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hiker    
I've been doing some research....maybe the next Isle Royale trip you guys have I'll be motorized instead of foot powered.

I still have not had the time to finish my trip report, first vacation in 5 years that I didn't have access to email/vmail and I'm swamped. As soon as I do I will send it to you guys with the pictures.

jechura posted 09-15-2005 07:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     

It was probably one of your best trips in 5 years not having the communication capabilities.
I wish I had snapped a picture of the UPS man Opening DHL packages


Hiker posted 09-15-2005 09:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hiker    
It was by far my best trip in 5 years. And I'm glad you don't have that picture!
jechura posted 09-16-2005 05:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for jechura  Send Email to jechura     

While caravanning with our token Canadian across the Upper Peninsula, Peter had to stop in Marquette at the Wally Mart for some oil for his boat. I stayed with the boats while Rick and Peter went shopping. Suddenly an SUV pulled up and a young man jump out, totally entranced with our two Whalers. " Yes, can I help you? “, as he was eyeballing our boats.

He stated that he lived in Marquette and was going the other way when he saw the big Whalers pass by and just had to turn around and find out why we were there. Their family boat was a mid 80’s 17 Montauk and the only Whaler in the area that grabed all the Whaler attention.

After finding out that we were on our way to Isle Royal he pulled his Think Pad out and proudly showed the pictures of their trip to the Island, just returning a few days earlier after a 4 day stay. Their departure, Copper Harbor by them selves.


David Pendleton posted 09-19-2005 11:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Holy Cats, Dave! No pictures today! What gives, I'm going crazy waiting for these things!

I sent you out a little thank-you today. See if you can figure out why I chose what I did...



Buckda posted 09-20-2005 11:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I apologize!

Paul was the only one who sent a return envelope and I've just not had any time with work to get to the post office to get them. I've scheduled a "lunch meeting" today to allow me to sneak down the road to the post office.....

David Pendleton posted 09-22-2005 06:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I've just received my CD's! I just finished the illustrated narrative and it's a beauty. The pictures are great and will get me through a long winter.

Many will end up as my Windows Desktop wallpaper.

If Dave doesn't mind, I will put the narrative out on my webspace for others to download...


Buckda posted 09-23-2005 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I only wish that I could have included more photos in the narrative, but then it would have been more of a slide-show than a narrative.

You'll notice that not all of the photos on the disk are named beyond the default filename assigned by the digital camera they were shot on, or the photo developer who put them onto CD-Rom. I apologize for this, but I simply ran out of time to name them all. I tried my best to group them by location served. Quite a task in and of itself!

I hope you enjoy.

The Narrative is simply a photo-illustrated, spell-checked version of what I posted here on CW - so you're welcome to publish it - however you should check with Jerry and Paul since I believe I included some of their photographs. I also included Paul's poem at the end.


banff22 posted 09-23-2005 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for banff22  Send Email to banff22     
You didn't have time to label 1,100 photographs?
I'm sure most us of us can find some time to label them ourselves.

Thanks for all the work Dave.
Also, I need an email with your address to return that chart I borrowed.


Buckda posted 09-23-2005 03:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Peter -

Was just going to e-mail you for your address too, but realized that you may be at the Inland Waterway rendezvous. We can both "save the postage" and just exchange there.

I just got off the phone with my mechanic re: the faulty oil warning horn. It was a sensor - missing clip on the oil line on the powerhead. There is no problem with the voltage regulation system (a good thing!). So for $200 I'm back in business for the final boating rendezvous of the season before I tear into the boat for my fall/winter projects.

I'll give it to those Mercury engineers...though the engine is noisy, oily and smokey, it just doesn't seem to want to quit. Looks like she may stick around for another year while I finish paying for the tow vehicle! Which is good considering the price of repowering....

Cicada posted 09-23-2005 08:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     

Nice job on the narrative and photos! Thanks for the compilation of all of the other photos. I agree with David P., looks like alot of desktops.

Nice work with the photo's and poem. Brings the whole thing into focus.

David P.

I certainly don't have any objections to it going out on the web. Dave's work should be out there for people to see.


Buckda posted 09-29-2005 12:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
David P -

HA!!! I just got your "thank you"!

I have to say "thank YOU" for that one. (Chart No. 1). I don't have one and it's already clarified a few questions I had on certain charts.

LOL. I presume that was a good-natured jib over the little dead-end? The solution to that isn't in the chart reading, the solution can be found by getting a chartplotter with a larger display, since I was operating on GPS at the time and zoomed in so close I couldn't see that we were doomed to the dead-end.



Hal Watkins posted 11-09-2005 10:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hal Watkins  Send Email to Hal Watkins     
Any chance pics and narrative of the Isle Royale rendezvous could be posted in the Cetacea Comments thread.
We sure wanted to go but timing was poor and the "big waters" finally spooked me out of it. Thanx, Hal of Waseca, MN
Cicada posted 11-10-2005 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Cicada  Send Email to Cicada     
Sorry you didn't make it. I think the 15 would probably be a good boat once you got to the island. I'm sure there are a few that would consider making the trip. Personally, I wouldn't do it. A good time.


Buckda posted 11-10-2005 10:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Hal -

Send me your mail address to my e-mail listed above.

I agree with Paul...that 15 would be great out there - probably worth the drive over to Houghton to put it on the ferry. Definitely worth the expense to do it that way and have a great time on the island, Hal.


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