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Author Topic:   Lake Superior NE Shore
Buckda posted 04-17-2007 10:26 PM ET (US)   Profile for Buckda   Send Email to Buckda  
The Northern Half o Lake Superior’s East Shore is one of the most remote and challenging areas of the lake to cruise. It is remote because of its distance from urban centers and because there are few roads that come down to the lake – or even close to it.

It is challenging because there are no amenities available and no fuel stops for more than 130 miles. Even at Marathon, fuel must be trucked in or carried in gas cans, and marine services (such as mechanical or repair facilities) are not available. Additionally, unlike the East Shore of Georgian Bay, there is no barrier of protective islands to keep the fury of the lake from dashing your boat against the sheer cliffs and igneous rocks that comprise the shoreline.

Because of it’s location, the boater may be exposed to significant seas from the long Westerly fetch and the distances between anchorages may require long, grueling runs in the exposed waters. Additionally, in May through July, there is often cold fog on this portion of the lake.

It is, however, reported to be some of the most spectacular remote boating in the Great Lakes region, which is why I’m interested to visit the area.

The biggest problem, by my way of thinking, for the Boston Whaler boat is fuel range. I believe that, at least for the modern 2-stroke and 4-stroke motors, the remedy for this problem is speed.

It is approximately 132 miles from Wawa to Marathon (the next available fuel). Taking two or three days to traverse this distance at idle speeds should extend the range significantly, and provide an intimate look at the scenery and remote anchorages – and a chance to reap the lake’s bounty while trolling the reefs just off the coast.

I do not have a timeline for this trip, nor do I have an expected departure date.

To best avoid fog and insects, my thinking is currently to take an extended Labor Day week.

Your thoughts, comments, etc are welcome – and I welcome anyone who may be interested in this trip to chime in.

Dave

Plotman posted 04-18-2007 06:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
Dave,

A suggestion about timing, if I may, from having lived on this lake for a number of years. I'm often surprised by how much rougher the lake is in August than in July. I have seen and experienced some decent, sutained blows in August, but can't remember any in July. By mid July, the blackflies are generally gone. Fog can hit any time, but is much less common as the lake warms up. It really isn't much of an issue in July.

If you prefer some hard data instead of my memories, NOAA published some decent histories from the weather bouys. August is rougher than July by a good bit, and September rougher still. http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/data/climatic/45001.pdf gives the data from the mid-Superior bouy. 45004 is over closer to Michipicoten. For each weather observation, there are two colums of data for each month. The first is the number of readings that macth that value (a given wind speed or wave height) and the next is the cumulative percentage that the number is below that. For example, in July, significant wave heights are 1 meter or less 98.3% of the time, compared to 94.3% in August and just 76% of the time in September (and 48% of the time in November). Wave heights are about half way down the file.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I would suggest a trip between mid-July and mid-August. Labor day will certainly give you a much better chance of being by yourself, but also a much greater liklihood that you get a sustained blow that will keep you ashore for a day or two. It is now fun having to slog 40 miles through 3-4 footers when you thought you were going to have 1-2 when you started out. I had a real long afternoon back to Grand Marais from Roch Harbor once, and I've had some "interesting" crossings from the Apostles back to the north shore.

Keep me posted - I want to get back up to Isle Royal and it is only a couple hour trip from the Passage Island end to the slates if the weather is right.

Cheers,

David

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