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ContinuousWave: Trips and Rendezvous
Isle Royale 2013 Cruise
|Author||Topic: Isle Royale 2013 Cruise|
posted 09-03-2013 10:19 AM ET (US)
We just returned from our second visit to Isle Royale National Park, located in northern Lake Superior. Like our last visit, we planned the cruise to take place in the last week of August, concluding on the Labor Day weekend. We chose this time period for several reasons:
--the three-day weekend at the end gives an extra day to travel home or to unwind at home before going back to work;
--the late Summer visit reduces the black fly nuisance to a minimum. Based on an account we received from an extremely experienced Isle Royale visitor--they've been living on the island in the summer for decades--the black flies are so bad in early Summer you have to wear meshed hoods when outdoors to keep them at bay;
--the cooler evening temperatures make for great sleeping; and,
--the number of other boats visiting at this time seems to be low. Until the Friday prior to Labor Day, we did not encounter another private boat cruising the park. At every campsite and dock, we had the docks to ourselves.
--a later Summer visit makes the chance of being able to swim much better. We enjoyed two or three swims in Lake Superior, with a water temperature in the mid-60's. I don't think the water would be quite that warm in the early days of Summer;
--a later Summer visit gives everyone a chance to work out the kinks in their boats. In our case, the IRNP cruise was the fourth long cruise of the season for us. In the three prior cruises we had already overcome the usual problems of things we forgot to bring or problems on the boat we forgot to fix.
We had a fleet of five boats, and all boats were able to circumnavigate the island. Four of us came across from Copper Harbor. On the inbound trip to the island, we had to delay one day due to wind and waves. A 15 to 20-knot northwesterly blew all night and produced waves of 4 to 7-feet right on our nose. On Sunday morning we ventured into those seas for about 2-miles before deciding our best option would be to wait for better conditions. The next morning, Monday, we found the seas much lower, initially near shore about 3-feet but then reducing as we got away from shoreline effects to 2-feet or less, and made the 55-mile passage to Chippewa Harbor without any especially great discomfort from the sea state. We did encounter about 25-miles of fog bank in the middle of the run. Between RADAR and AIS, we felt comfortable staying on plane all the time in the fog, but we could not quite run at our optimum fuel efficiency speed at any time. (One of great advantages of the Boston Whaler 22-foot hull and Whaler Drive is the ability to run on plane at lower speeds with decent fuel efficiency. We could run at 20-MPH and still keep our MPG in a good range.)
Once on the island, the weather was quite pleasant. It was warm during the days and no rain fell until after 5 p.m., by which time we were always at our destination. Most of the rain fell during the night, when we were snug in our cabins. We did have one morning fog which at times reduced visibility to only one-hundred feet. The practice at Isle Royale is for all vessels underway in fog conditions to announce themselves, their position, and their course in frequent SECURITY calls on Channel 16. By this method we knew of opposing traffic, in addition to aids like RADAR and AIS, as well as sounding of fog signals.
Our day trips from campsite to campsite were made in mostly calm conditions. A long run on the north side, from McCargoe Cove to Washington Harbor, was made in seas of 3 to 4 feet, but we were going downwind and not particularly encumbered.
Sightings of wild animals were plentiful. One boat crew even had the very special delight of seeing a wolf.
We prepared all our own meals on our grills. The food was delicious, probably enhanced by the setting and fine weather. We had steaks, kabobs, and pork chops, along with grilled vegetables, and rice. We ate very well. No boats ran out of alcoholic beverages during the cruise, thanks to good planning and provisioning.
The return passage to Copper Harbor departed from Washington Harbor, making for a longer run, about 79-miles. We faced the remnants of the prior day's big seas in the form of a three-foot swell with a long wavelength. An early departure, about 7:30 a.m. kept the wind waves down to mostly insignificant height.
Of the five boats, three were twin-engine powered and two were single-engine. There were no engine problems. One boat's outboard engine skeg did touch the bottom very gently, but no real damage occurred.
Fuel on the island was being sold at $5.61-per-gallon. At one time that would have seemed an outrageous cost, but, having become inured to high fuel prices in remote areas, it was not a concern. We bought 38.7-gallons while on the island. When back at Copper Harbor we had only 18.6-gallons remaining. That is about the least margin I would allow for a 79-mile crossing in variable sea conditions.
Among us only one boat angled for fish, producing one beautiful catch whose species is still a subject of some debate. Was it a Splake or a Coaster?
The boats involved were all cabin boats:
--30 DEFIANCE with twin E-TEC 300-HP
--23 WALKAROUND with Whaler Drive; twin Yamaha 200-HP two-stroke-cycle
--23 WALKAROUND with notched transom; twin Yamaha F150
--22 REVENGE with Whaler Drive; E-TEC 225
--23 PURSUIT Offshore Cuddy with Yamaha F250
For those counting, that is five Yamaha engines and three E-TEC engines. They all started beautifully every morning and ran flawlessly all day.
My total trip was 228.6-miles, accomplished in 16-hours and 3-minutes of running, making for an average speed of 14.2-MPH. We consumed 83.4-gallons of fuel, for an average of 2.74-MPG
A visit to Isle Royale National Park in your own boat is quite an undertaking, and at times during the preparations both Chris and I wondered if we would find this second cruise as rewarding as the first, given all the work that has to be done to get there. The highway drive itself, some 650-miles, is a major undertaking. Our concerns were unfounded: we enjoyed this visit to Isle Royale as much as our first one. It is a delightful and remote cruising ground.
Over the Fall and Winter I will be working up a more complete cruise report.
posted 09-03-2013 06:03 PM ET (US)
Just a quick set of pictures from the trip.
posted 09-03-2013 08:20 PM ET (US)
I am interested to hear how the 23 Worked out for David and to have a compare / contrast between the Standard notched Transom and the WhalerDrive Models.
posted 09-04-2013 09:22 AM ET (US)
Dave's new 23 Walkaround with twin Yamaha F150 engines seemed to run wonderfully. I had a chance to drive it for a short test. It came up on plane with very little bow rise. On one day's run we were in sloppy conditions, heading downwind. Waves of 2 to 4 feet were coming in from the NW, hitting the shoreline, and bouncing back, creating very confused seas. To remain comfortable in my Revenge 22 I had to slow down. Dave plowed on, able to run about 5-MPH faster in the 23 Walkaround. It was impressive. I though the boat looked great running on plane. It has a nice, low bow rise, planing angle.
I also think Dave was the only boat to not take on fuel while on IRNP. He was getting good fuel economy and had a large tank.
posted 09-04-2013 04:26 PM ET (US)
The two 23s ran great together.
In the following sea Jim mentioned above
I was running about 26mph (I had a little better ride at about 28-29mph) to stay fairly close to Jim when Dave dropped off plane to adjust something. If he had been in his 21 Walkaround I would have dropped off and waited for him. But I knew his 23 walkaround had a lot more speed he had not been using so I left him. I was pleasantly surprised to see him back on my stern on a very short period of time. We all love Dave but he is not known for his speed, so it was pretty impressive that he caught up to me in those seas and did not beat himself to death doing it.
It will be fun to put your boat next to Dave's. With 300 horse on the back of both boats it might be a better comparison, then the 400hp to 300hp comparison we had.
Kevin has some great pictures of the two 23s running together back from passage Island Hopefully he will post a couple of them here.
posted 09-04-2013 07:54 PM ET (US)
Jeff--When you are ready, you must join the 23 Walkaround fleet. It would be a real hoot to go cruising with three 23 Walkaround boats.
posted 09-04-2013 11:28 PM ET (US)
It's tough making both the financial and time commitment in my stage of life. I hope in the not too distant future I will be able to one of these trips. I think the North Channel will be the most realistic...
posted 09-06-2013 09:48 AM ET (US)
Regarding the performance of the 23 Walkaround with its twin 2010 Yamaha F150 engines: I got 1.8 to 2.2 MPG, even at 26 MPH. I had my fuel monitor set to show the vessel's performance. Showing each engine, along with all the other data I had on my screen would have been too much clutter. I did not need to take on fuel because I have a 180 gallon tank which gave me incredible range when coupled with the 2 MPG average.
This was my first experience with a boat that has twin engines and trim tabs. To say I was a novice is a gross understatement. It really showed during some docking "adventures"...
posted 09-06-2013 12:03 PM ET (US)
David, The 23 is a tough boat to dock. even with twins. My father who have run many twin boats has a tough time. The deep keep on it makes it not want to tractor steer with the motors. Throw a Whaler Drive in the mix and it becomes even more difficult. I have gotten it down pretty well but I am also using a lot more throttle than most.
Your fuel burn numbers are very good. I still contend the new Mercury 150 Fourstrokes would be a great repower option for our 23 Walkaournd Whaler Drive. The problem is, even with 1900+ hours on the Yamaha's they are showing no sign of giving up..
posted 09-07-2013 08:25 AM ET (US)
Sounds like it was a great trip.
I'm also interested in Craig's comparison of engines. I believe he used to have twin EFI 2-stroke Mercs on the back of that Defiance.
First, what made you repower, and second, do you have some preliminary data on fuel savings, etc....perhaps you can start a separate thread.
Looks like you guys had MUCH better weather than last time we were up there - and got to see more of the sights around the Island.
What I'm craving: some action shots of you guys running the boats! C'mon, I'm living vicariously through you guys!
posted 09-07-2013 09:42 AM ET (US)
Dave--The weather was quite interesting. There were several nights spent at the dock with some rather serious rain, lightning, and thunder going on. While in Copper Harbor, there was a late night storm with almost continuous lightning for more than an hour. The sky was kept bright by cloud-to-cloud lightning, and it was quite a show. We also had some very heavy rain.
Another night, in McCargoe Cove, the moon had not risen yet, and there were low, dark clouds. That night was so dark that you literally could not see your hand in front of your face.
We also had two days of lengthy navigation in fog, first on the inbound trip to Isle Royale from Copper Harbor, and then a day later while moving from Chippewa Harbor to Tobin Harbor. The fog was produced when warm and moist air from the land to the South was carried out onto the much colder lake. The fog bank on the inbound trip dissipated several miles offshore. On the next day, we had an East wind, and the fog blew in from the lake all day. It really did not burn off until after 4 p.m.
The only rain during daylight came late in the afternoon at McCargoe Cove. A light rain started about 5 p.m., disrupting our dock cocktail and appetizer hour. The rain only lasted about an hour, and we were able to get back outside for the grilling of dinner.
We also had the great fortune to visit the Bangsund cottage while the Petersen's were there. As a result, we got a wonderful guided tour of the moose exhibits from Mrs. Peterson, and we also had a chance to talk to Professor Peterson about the wolf population crisis.
While we were at Tobin Harbor, Craig arranged a tour of the RANGER III for us. The master of the ship gave us a wonderful tour, from the bridge down to the engine room. It was very interesting for me, a closet boat-nerd.
We did a lot of hiking on this trip. I am proud to say I made it up to Lookout Louise--and back. I did not go with the group to Passage Island. They reported that the trail from the boat house to the lighthouse was very over-grown, and it was difficult hiking. Apparently not too many people have visited Passage Island or perhaps trail grooming has suffered due to cut-backs with the Park Service.
The trip really wore me out. Here it is, now a week later, and I am still feeling a bit tired from the exertion of the trip.
posted 09-07-2013 10:00 AM ET (US)
Jeff, after my experience with the Suzuki DF-175 on my 21 WA, I'd vote for 2 of those on a 23 WA WD.
posted 09-07-2013 12:03 PM ET (US)
So David, do you want those 150's then? : P
posted 09-08-2013 09:31 AM ET (US)
I came across this interesting anecdotal remark in some reading about Isle Royale: while IRNP is well-known as the least-visited of the National Parks, it is simultaneously the most re-visisted park. I take that to mean that the people who do visit IRNP tend to go back for another visit.
Also, I read that visitors who rent a lodge room at Rock Harbor are also accorded a free half-day canoe rental. This would account for the very high number of people we noticed taking out a rental canoe from Tobin Harbor. At one point, all of the rental canoes were in service.
posted 09-08-2013 10:24 PM ET (US)
Like Jim said earlier this trip was a lot of work and we are still busy trying to get back to normal. There is a large price to pay for being off the grid for 7 days but it was well worth the effort. We could not have asked for a better group to go wilderness cruising with. I hope we are able to meet up with you, Pat and Dave P. on another trip in the near future.
As for the Defiance re-power I will try to post better data as I become more familiar with the systems in the future. Jim helped me calibrate the fuel system on this trip to pull some usage information off the ICOM system but it is by no means perfect.
I did not calculate total mileage but using Jim’s total of 228 miles plus my additional trip to Passage Island I estimate my total mileage at 240 and I burned approximately 167 gallons of fuel for an estimated 1.43 MPG. The Mercury 250 EFIs averaged around .9 MPG. I would guess our cruising weight was approximately 12,500 lbs on this trip so I was very happy with the fuel burn.
I decided to re-power to retain consistent reliability of the Defiance. This boat is our primary transportation to our island cottage 7 miles offshore and is used weekly in season to haul everything from people to building supplies. The Mercury outboards were very reliable but were 14 years old with 1200 hours on them and used a considerable amount of oil compared to direct injected units of the same vintage.
posted 09-09-2013 10:35 AM ET (US)
I just powered up my HDS-7 here on my desk and it shows the trip as having been 219.4 miles, Copper Harbor to Copper Harbor. Now i have to figure out how to transfer the track to Google Earth.
posted 09-11-2013 01:41 PM ET (US)
The attributes of Isle Royale include:
--no poison ivy
--no bears, racoons, porcupines, deer, or skunks
--only a few wolves, and you are very unlikely to see one (even though the crew of HOLLY MARIE did see a wolf)
--plenty of moose, but they typically do not represent any sort of problem or threat to a hiker and are interesting to watch
--no poisonous snakes; I think there are only two snake species on the island, the garter snake, and the less commonly seen northern red-bellied snake
As a result of the above, Isle Royale is a good place for the novice hiker. The trails are rugged and require a lot of care in foot placement, but you are not going to come face-to-face with a bear or wander into a patch of poison ivy.
There were four good hikes:
--Chippewa Harbor dock to Lake Mason
--Tobin Harbor dock to Monument Rock and Lookout Louise
--Passage Island boathouse and anchorage to Passage Island Lighthouse
--McCargoe Cove dock to Minong Mine
The hike to Lookout Louise is a 1.1 mile uphill climb from lake level (601-feet ASL) to 880-feet ASL, a climb of about 280 feet elevation in a distance of about 5,800 feet, or a grade of about five-percent. That was enough to get my 63-year-old out-of-shape legs tired.
The hike on Passage Island was done that same day. Having already visited that spot, I skipped that one.
posted 09-11-2013 01:55 PM ET (US)
Some of us also "hiked" the Windigo Nature Trail, a one-mile loop over easy-to-moderate terrain, with an accompanying National Park Service brochure pointing out some of the varied geological and ecological attributes of the island.
posted 09-11-2013 09:51 PM ET (US)
We had a great time on this cruise. This was the first time that my wife, Debbie Kearney, ever spent the night on a boat. She adapted quickly to the routine, despite numerous rain storms, and is looking forward to the next trip.
Let's get right to the pictures.
Most of the fleet assembled at Copper Harbor, Michigan before crossing over to Isle Royale.
Defiance, a 30-foot Boston Whaler Defiance - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ Defiance_zps7afc7750.jpg
Manic Moment, a Boston Whaler 23 Walkaround with notched transom - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ ManicMoment_zpsa77b80de.jpg
Continuous Wave, a Boston Whaler 22 Revenge Walkthrough with Whalerdrive - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ ContinuousWave_zpsb6c8c4a4.jpg
And Outlier (my boat), a Pursuit 235 Offshore - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ Outlier_zps5788a65d.jpg
As Jim mentioned above, we were held up one day in Copper Harbor due to wind and waves. Jim failed to mention, however, that within about an hour after we aborted our crossing a big thunderstorm ripped through the area. It was a good thing that we turned back.
Our first stop at Isle Royale was Chippewa Harbor, where Holly Marie, a Boston Whaler 23 Walkaround with Whalerdrive, met up with us while Chris and Debbie took a swim in the brisk waters of Lake Superior - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ HollyMarieArrives_zps80e939ae.jpg
In the meantime, Continuous Wave attempted to send some type of signal to passing boats - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ ContinuousWaveHaningOuttheLaundry_zpsd7d81514.jpg
The next morning we awoke to thick fog. We cleared the dock just before 10:00 a.m. for the arrival of the Voyageur II, a boat that ferries hikers around the island.
Defiance and Manic Moment in the fog - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ DefianceandManicMoment_zps9788e93e.jpg
We decided to follow Voyageur II out the narrow entrance of Chippewa Harbor, with Continuous Wave leading the way for our group - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ ContinuousWaveandVoyaguerII_zps206fa26c.jpg
Next stop, the Edisen Fishery - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ EdisenFishery_zps82302964.jpg
Jim really liked the old Evinrudes on display at the fishery - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ JimH-EdisenFishery_zpsff07703b.jpg
After meeting the Petersens and checking out the moose relics at Bangsund Cabin, we proceeded to Rock Harbor for fuel and ice, and then on to Tobin Harbor, where we docked for the night. Tobin Harbor - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ TheFleetatTobinHarbor_zpsf58eeaa6.jpg
While we were at Rock Harbor, Craig had met the Master of the Ranger III and arranged a tour for our group. We were treated to a private, hands-on tour of the entire ship including the bridge - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ RangerIIIBridge_zps0009b9c4.jpg
The next morning we hiked to Lookout Louise for some magnificent views of the island and Lake Superior. http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ LookoutLouise2_zps222de3d3.jpg
We returned to Tobin Harbor for lunch, and then proceeded to Passage Island, where we hiked to the lighthouse. When leaving Passage Island, I was the one that momentarily touched bottom with my boat. I wasn't paying attention, and I strayed off the path that we had taken into the harbor. I ended up with a small gouge on my skeg, but no damage to my prop.
From Passage Island we proceed to Belle Isle. This sequence of shots shows Holly Marie, Manic Moment, and Defiance falling into line behind Outlier on that run.
The next day it was on to McCargoe Cove - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ McCargoeCove_zps09863059.jpg
We spent the last night at Windigo, with four of the boats at the small boat dock and Defiance tied up to the main pier. I call this photo "The Lonely Evinrude" - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ TheLonelyEvinrude_zps6e51e9e9.jpg
Here, John shows us his homemade block ice that was still solid after nine days in the cooler - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ SuperIce_zpsfa6ea48c.jpg
As always, it's the people that make or break the trip. Our little group gets along very well, and it was a pleasure spending another week with them.
Craig (ECTR) and Karen of Defiance - http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t329/kalbus/Isle%20Royale%202013/ CraigandKaren_zpse19de157.jpg
I have hundreds more pictures, but I've got to leave something for Jim and the others to share in their trip reports.
posted 09-12-2013 09:59 AM ET (US)
Excellent recap all, and thanks for the photo narrative Kevin. Very good job capturing a photo of each of the couples / families that go on this adventure, I love seeing those For-The-Record shots.
The Edisen Fishery photos remind me, not surprisingly I guess, of the preserved fisheries in the Apostle Islands, also operated by the NPS. I don't know what Conservators call this method of preservation/presentation. Its not quite a living museum, and its certainly not a rigorous preservation of originals as I see that they add newly constructed and painted buoys and other miscellany on occasion. I enjoy the informal arrangement of materials strewn about, coffee cups on a table next to a deck of cards, that sort of thing. It seems an appropriate presentation for these relatively remote and low intensity displays.
posted 09-12-2013 10:00 AM ET (US)
Did Defiance get a paint job along with the repower? She's looking quite recreational at this point!
posted 09-12-2013 12:57 PM ET (US)
There were two interesting situations related to fog and other boats. In both cases our fleet was tied to a dock and there was an incoming boat from the Park Service heading for the dock, while fog limited visibility. Both times we handled the arrival of the incoming boat by clearing the dock, and standing close by for the incoming boat to appear in the fog. In this way, we could avoid meeting the other boat somewhere along our collective routes in the fog. Once we met the incoming boat near the dock, we could then continue on our route in the fog, knowing that we did not have that boat approaching us.
In the meet at Chippewa dock, the Park Service boat was only staying for a few minutes to discharge or pick up passengers, so we waited for her to leave. Also, following her out of the harbor, with her much deeper draft, made for an easy way to navigate among the shoals.
posted 09-12-2013 10:16 PM ET (US)
Great pictures Kevin. Thanks for posting them.
I love the three boats with the black bottom paint all running together.
They look like a fleet of government boats.
posted 10-31-2013 08:17 PM ET (US)
I don't think I have mentioned this before in writing, nor in conversation with any of my fellow IRNP 2013 cruisers, and I wanted to pass on this anecdote about the cruise.
As were were heading back to Copper Harbor from Washington Harbor on Isle Royale, a run of about 80 miles across Lake Superior, we were not maintaining a fleet formation. The four boats making the crossing all left at staggered times, and ran at various speeds, each adjusting their speed for the waves as best suited them. This approach seemed reasonable, as in the rather rough conditions it was clear there could not be one speed that would fit all the boats. Also, we were all aiming for the launch ramp at Copper Harbor to haul out, so it made no sense for all four boats to arrive simultaneously to a one-lane ramp. We were a few miles apart, in radio range, and at times in visual range.
When our boat was about two hours into the trip, and we were quite by ourselves in the middle of the crossing, I was at the helm, running through the head seas on the Port bow at a speed of about 17 to 18-MPH. When I saw a larger wave coming, I often turned slightly down sea to take the wave at a less head-on angle. It was during one of these situations that we had a very close call.
I had just bore off slightly to starboard to climb a large wave face when I saw it: a very large piece of floating debris. It was the trunk of a large tree, floating with just a bit of the bark above the surface. Upon seeing it, I was frozen for an instant. Then I realized we were going to miss it--not by much, perhaps two feet--but we were going to miss it. I held course and in an instant watched the big tree pass harmlessly to Starboard, disappearing from my view as the boat flew past it.
I could not help but think: what are the chances? Thousands of square miles of Lake Superior, and I make a minor course change that almost brings me into a collision with a big floating object in the waves. It was a scary moment.
I turned around to look for the tree trunk astern, but it was already gone. I thought about putting out a radio alert, but it seemed pointless. At that time there was only one boat behind me in the fleet, and the chances he would also cross paths with the floating tree trunk had to be infinitesimal.
If we had hit that tree trunk at 18-MPH, I am sure there would have been damage to the boat and engine. It would have been a sorry end to an otherwise extremely safe trip. We said our thanks, and continued on.
posted 10-31-2013 11:11 PM ET (US)
So you were able to keep the barque off of the bark? Good move.
posted 11-01-2013 08:41 AM ET (US)
I bet Jim's first thought was "look a moose"
I cannot print his second thought.
Glad you guys missed the tree, it might have been a long tow to copper harbor.
posted 11-01-2013 02:31 PM ET (US)
There is no way to tell for certain where that tree came from, but perhaps it was part of the flood debris that was washed into Lake Superior in 2012 from Duluth. See
posted 11-03-2013 10:37 AM ET (US)
On another topic related to the 2013 Cruise of Isle Royale, I want to mention a bit about the Keweenaw Peninsula and some of its history. I have not really made any serious study of that topic, and I just have a few anecdotal observations to pass on.
When we went to Isle Royale National Park in 2010, we stopped to take on some fuel for the boat while on the highway in the town of Laurium. I was impressed with Laurium, if not for its evocative name but for the fine homes preserved there. For me, the name Laurium seemed to suggest wealth or gold. It is actually the name of an ancient mining region in Greece. Well, I knew it was an old-sounding name. The main road through Laurium takes you past several blocks of well-preserved period homes. Laurium is the close neighbor of Calumet.
Calumet is an interesting name. I recently learned it is a North American Indian word for a peace pipe. That the town of Calumet would be associated with a peace pipe seems quite ironic.
In the strange ways in which one acquires information, sometime early in 2013, in the depths of the winter, and long before embarking on this trip to Isle Royale, I came across a mention of a book about a infamous incident in Calumet, written by a Michigan author. Attorney, writer, and professor Steve Lehto has written a detailed and revealing account of the Calumet Italian Hall disaster.
I borrowed a copy of the book from our local library, and set out to read a bit of Michigan history. I thought it would be good to learn more about the Keweenaw Peninsula and what went on there in the heyday of copper mining in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Mr. Lehto has written a stunningly detailed account of the events surrounding the tragedy of the Christmas Eve disaster that killed almost 100 men, women, and children.
I am afraid that Mr. Lehto's account is so well done, is so detailed, and so accurately describes the conditions of c.1913 life in Calumet, that I could not finish it. The one-third of it I read was very depressing--I had to stop. It was agonizing reading, page after page, laying out the exploitation of workers, the collusion of the mining company with the newspapers, the law enforcement, and the government, and the shameful behavior of person after person in any sort of position of authority to fail to help people who needed some help.
Maybe it was because I was reading it in winter, and I was prone to depression from lack of sunshine and getting outdoors. I just had to put down the book, before my faith in my fellow man was completely destroyed by this historical account.
As I was reading the first few pages, I had some thoughts of taking a detour on our way to Copper Harbor to visit Calumet, to see the memorial to those who died at the Italian Hall. By the time I had to stop reading, I was of a different mind. I wanted to be sure not to stop, to not take in any more of the tragedy, to not let it into my conscious.
Perhaps writing this is a way to for me deal with my reaction to what I read, to get over the horror of a mass murder. If so, forgive me for bringing it up. I just had to get this off my chest.
posted 11-11-2013 02:43 PM ET (US)
I have a great friend who lives in Laurium who is Michigan's Northern Most Outdoor Writer, Jim Juntilla - former advertising exec, Chicago. I always thought if I had the boat to make the crossing and the trip, I'd take Jim along. Great fisherman, writer, grew up in that area, knows it well.
posted 11-11-2013 02:48 PM ET (US)
There's a NPS conference coming up in Chelsea on the 14th
Not sure if you guys know about this.
posted 11-11-2013 04:10 PM ET (US)
Related to a minor sidebar I recalled from an account of this year's trip, I came across this article while waiting in line at Gander Mountain. Its a discussion of the declining wolf population on Isle Royale, the reasons for the decline and the options facing the NPS.
posted 12-11-2013 12:37 PM ET (US)
For some reason this morning I was thinking about Copper Harbor. The temperature in Copper Harbor this morning was 3-degrees-F. The harbor web camera seems to show the water is still liquid in parts of the harbor:
posted 12-12-2013 03:44 PM ET (US)
Looks solid now
posted 01-14-2014 02:55 PM ET (US)
On the last two trips to Isle Royale which were organized on these pages, most of the participants have been able to encounter a Moose in the wilds of Isle Royale, and, this year, a fortunate few also ran into a Wolf. To keep tabs on the Wolf and Moose interplay, you may find Rolf Petersen's website
to be of interest. Many of us had the pleasure (once or twice) of meeting Rolf and his equally scholarly wife, Candy, at their summer encampment at the former Bangsund fishing cottage on the island.
The website has a section or blog for the just-starting 2014 Winter Study at
posted 02-07-2014 10:45 AM ET (US)
My illustrated trip narrative is now available at
posted 02-09-2014 09:40 AM ET (US)
As always nice story.
Nice way to forget about the winter.
posted 03-01-2014 12:33 PM ET (US)
The open water distances of some notable recreational boat crossings:
Miami to Bimini = 53 miles
England to Ireland via the Irish Sea = 62-miles
Copper Harbor to Washington Harbor = 69-miles
posted 03-03-2014 09:42 PM ET (US)
Grand Haven to Milwaukee = 83 miles
posted 11-06-2014 11:07 PM ET (US)
It's too early in the season for cabin fever, but this is surprising:
Copper Harbor to Sunday Harbor (Slate Islands) = 90-miles.
Since I was at the Slate Islands last July, and I also did the Grand Haven to Milwaukee run, I would not have thought they were comparable. To me, the Slates are at the other side of the world.
posted 11-07-2014 03:39 AM ET (US)
The big difference in running 90-miles to the Slate Islands from Copper Harbor: there is no fuel available when you get there.
posted 11-07-2014 10:01 AM ET (US)
Yeah, even adding the 10 or so miles to get to Terrace Bay, there's still no fuel at the ramp. I think the nearest fuel is at Rossport, about 28 miles from Sunday Harbor.
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