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Author Topic:   Apostle Islands
prj posted 06-05-2009 12:11 PM ET (US)   Profile for prj   Send Email to prj  
Early this spring, my graduate school buddy and I planned a get together in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore off Bayfield Wisconsin in Lake Superior.
(Thanks to jimh for this chart link)

He would trailer his newly acquired and salty little sailboat, a Halman 20 named Poet, over from Minneapolis and I’d pull my 1990 Outrage-18 with 130 HP Yamaha up from Milwaukee. We’ll meet on Monday May 25 and return to dock on Friday May 29, flexible midweek schedule due to the fact that I’m a gratefully unemployed architect and he is the dean of a graduate school he founded.

The following is a brief narrative of the trip:

On Monday May 25th, 7 hours drive from Milwaukee to Bayfield. Hot sunny and clear day with a gentle NNE at 5-10 mph, 60 degrees waterside, 37 degree waters. I meet Dan at the dock, arriving at 3 PM. We drop boats, rig and prep and ready for casting off by about 5 PM, concerned with the late hour, the long distances and the lack of familiarity.

At this point, a couple ladies walk by with dock drinks in hand and ask how our sail was. I respond that we’re just heading out and they react with mild alarm, surprising me a bit. They cite distance and temperatures as forces acting against us, but already apprised of these constraints, I smile and open a Pabst. That’s why we call these adventures.

We don’t have far to go, perhaps 3.5 miles to the first island’s lee, but the slow pace of the sailboat on a kicker towing an equal displacement Outrage surprises me a bit. Upon arrival we sit up for overnighting on a narrow lee anchorage shelf of rocky bottom on the southern shore of Basswood Island. Unmarked as an anchorage and for good reason, any shift in wind and I think we’re going to get beaten. Cold overnight, 42 degrees or so. islands&sll=37.649034,-95.712891&sspn=49.386409,72.949219&ie=UTF8&ll=46. 821325,-90.784321&spn=0.042287,0.071239&t=h&z=14

Tuesday May 26th, awake to a calm morning 50 degrees with building NNE 10-15 mph. We pile aboard the Outrage with preparations for breakfast on Basswood Island with a short hike to stave off atrophy and stretch a bit. Breakfast consists of coffee, vodka, OJ, cold sausages and hardboiled eggs. Perched aboard this wonderful flat house-sized rock, I nearly lament that I no longer smoke cigarettes. This is one of those special moments, first day in at the beginning of a long remote vacation.

Breakfast is long and pleasant and varied. Back on the sailboat, we rig to tow the Outrage and start traveling N into a NNE wind exposed channel towards Stockton Isand, the big one with the two southern sheltered bays. After pounding up the channel for better than a couple hours, making something like 2.5 mph, we realize that we won’t make it the full 10 miles into building winds and seas. At this point, we confer and decide on a detour to a Hermit Island anchorage, only the second island in the chain. Did I mention that the pace of the sailboat with tow surprised me? islands&sll=37.649034,-95.712891&sspn=49.386409,72.949219&ie=UTF8&ll=46. 864769,-90.712223&spn=0.084506,0.142479&t=h&z=13

Anchoring in a small sandy semi-bay on the northwest shore of Hermit, we slump into an afternoon nap until it got lumpy. We discuss it again over the chart, pulled anchor and hauled across wind, northwest, to the sandy point on the southwest corner of Oak Island, about an hour away. islands&sll=37.649034,-95.712891&sspn=49.386409,72.949219&ie=UTF8&ll=46. 901786,-90.714798&spn=0.042224,0.071239&t=h&z=14

Here, we anchor up on a sandy flat, boarded the Outrage and beached her for a hike along the shoreline cliffs and into the island a bit, examining odd plants, wind worn trees and animal scat, a remarkable amount belonging to bears.

Wednesday May 27th, blustery NNE morning 10-15 mph, moving toward N in the evening.
Awake at Oak Island tired and sore from hobby horsing all night long in a lumpy ground swell, we load up the Outrage for breakfast and to explore island from NPS dock along the western shore. Breakfast consists of the usual: Coffee, vodka, OJ, cold sausages and hardboiled eggs. Here, we find NPS wilderness campsites, the mossed over foundations of former logging camps and even the rusty and sizable hulk of a cast iron boiler from said camp buildings. And bear scat, lots of bear scat.

After breakfast, we decide to stretch the legs of the Outrage and lap the island clockwise, surprised by its massive scale of course, about 12 miles around.

Boarding the sailboat, we commit to and depart for Stockton’s Quarry Bay, about 7 miles away due east. This time we’ll try towing the sailboat with the Outrage.

Arrive there middle afternoon, we anchor up and promptly load the Outrage for a trip to the shoreline dock and a brisk hike along the shoreline cliffs to the red sandstone former quarry just west of the bay. Seeing this quarry up the cliff and then up a relatively steep shoreline topography, we were surprised they didn’t just harvest the shoreline rock, drop slabs onto a large barge or onto ice skids for the draft horses and haul it back to the mainland. Though perhaps they did this as well. islands&sll=37.649034,-95.712891&sspn=49.386409,72.949219&ie=UTF8&ll=46. 917119,-90.606394&spn=0.021106,0.03562&t=h&z=15

After the hike we head back to Poet for dinner and sleep just as the setting sun slips below the cloud cover and bathes the entire bay in the first direct sunlight we’ve seen to date.

We’re low on beer tonight with just enough vodka for breakfast, so we battle over the last of the Dalwhinnie 15 YO. I love the end of vacations when everyone gets a bit testy and exchanges amp up a bit due to shortages of essentials.

Up Thursday morning the 28th early to bright sunshine, calm to 5 mph winds from N shifting W. Breakfast on a beautiful sandy strand consists of, what else, coffee, vodka, OJ, cold sausages and egg. Reaching 68-70 degrees today, but when you stick your feet in the clear waters, there is no mistaking that this is Lake Superior and the water temp is 37 degrees.

We take a fast run over to Presque Isle Bay and the harbor for a look see, pause and drift while sipping a Pabst and sporadically conversing with another sailboat in the basin there. islands&sll=37.649034,-95.712891&sspn=49.386409,72.949219&ie=UTF8&ll=46. 91152,-90.550025&spn=0.010554,0.01781&t=h&z=16

Run back to Poet, pull anchor and head for Bayfield, about a 13-14 mile run. Half way back between Hermit and Basswood we split for solo work, meeting at Basswood Island’s wonderful rockdock for an hour of strategery prior to pulling into town for an overnight berth at Apostle Islands Marina.

That evening we pull into the Apostle Islands Marina, grab long hot showers and dress for public consumption, of which we intend to do a bunch. Nice town that Bayfield, enjoyed a dinner of whitefish at Maggies and then proceeded to review every establishment in town, finally settling at the Rum Line quite near the marina.

Friday morning, rise around 6 AM and make the coffee. Breakfast is a much different experience today in the marina as our “provisions” have been substantially lightened by this time. We head back to the Municipal dock and the Outrage is pulled and on her trailer by about 9 AM. Another couple hours for pulling and derigging Poet and we hit the road heading back to our respective cities.

David Pendleton posted 06-05-2009 01:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Thanks for this.

I bring my boat up to the Apostles several times each summer.

prj posted 06-05-2009 02:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
My pleasure David. In research, I gleaned quite a bit from your postings as well as Plotman's.

David Pendleton posted 06-05-2009 05:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Where was this picture taken?

It looks like Quarry Bay at Stockton.

David Pendleton posted 06-05-2009 05:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Oops. Never mind. I see that it is Quarry Bay.

Thats what I get for reading your paragraphs out of order...

Plotman posted 06-05-2009 10:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I just watched the sea grass on the south end of Madeline turn golden in the sunset.

Patrick - when you were at Presque Isle and looked across at Madeline - you were looking at our beach.

I'm sorry I missed you guys.

David Pendleton posted 06-06-2009 12:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
We need an AI get-together.

I can carry more than enough beer...

Hal Watkins posted 06-06-2009 12:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hal Watkins  Send Email to Hal Watkins     
Yes we do Dave...We have it on our "loose" schedule. With weather being the deciding factor in a 170 Montauk, we will watch the weather and make a decision on a Wednesday. We drive to Superior on Thursday eve and try to be in the water Friday early PM. Do you have a weekend you are considering?

We are also planning toward a trip to Isle Royale 28 - 31 Aug. Would like to cross from Houghton as we want to go on to MI thru labor day. Hal of Waseca

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