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ContinuousWave: Trips and Rendezvous
L a k e N i p i g o n
|Author||Topic: L a k e N i p i g o n|
posted 09-13-2007 10:04 PM ET (US)
I propose a trip to Lake Nipigon, Ontario for June 2008. This would be a wilderness trip, with long stretches between fuel and shore stops.
Lake Nipigon is situated above Lake Superior in Ontario, Canada. I expect it to take approximately 10 to drive to Macdairmid, the proposed launch point on the SE shore (It is nearly 400 miles).
I have never been to this area before, but it is a sizeable body of water – nearly 70 miles long and 50 miles wide.
I expect a significant portion of time to be spent fishing, gunkholing and exploring. Insect repellent, hardiness and a sense of adventure are a must.
This qualifies as a Boston Whaler Northern Expeditionary Force expedition….and you should have a fuel range of approximately 150 miles or more before embarking on this expedition.
posted 09-14-2007 12:18 AM ET (US)
Guy and Rhonda, my in-laws you met, where up there on their goldwing last year. The photos I am sure did not do it justice but, it looked amazing. I have always wondered what Lake Winnepeg would be like.
posted 09-14-2007 09:02 AM ET (US)
That's 10 hours from the Sault.
The Ontario Parks page I read mentioned that the drive between the town of Nipigon, on the Nipigon river and Lake Superior and Lake Nipigon is one of the most scenic in Northern Ontario.
I think a week of cruising in the area would be a great adventure.
posted 09-14-2007 03:02 PM ET (US)
There is very little about this lake available online. It appears that there are at least two fishing camps where one could rent a cabin, get fuel or supplies, etc. I think I may investigate making one of these into a “Base-Camp”. For a fee, these establishments would likely be a source of fresh groceries (if ordered in advance), a safe place to store a trailer and tow vehicle, and a good place to file a float plan and leave emergency contact information.
They may also have a limited availability of fuel, etc. It is likely dependent on their customer load at the time.
Additionally – there appear to be few charts available for the lake. I’m checking on three (suspiciously titled “Plans for Lake Nipigon”) to find out if they are suitable for navigation. If so, they run around $18 each.
Additionally, I was wondering if anyone has used Google Earth to identify GPS coordinates in advance of a trip and repeated the accuracy on their chartplotter aboard the boat? Garmin does not have charts for the lake, and I’d still like to use my chartplotter for navigation.
I can see a few shoals from “space” on Google Earth, and I’d like to also note GPS coordinates on the hard copy chart and enter them in my chartplotter to give me general reference points. For instance, there is a large island in the central southern portion of the lake. This island has a big, deep bay that looks like it might be fun to explore. I’d like to mark the 4 sides of this island with GPS coordinates so I can have a good idea of where I am by referencing my own chartplotter (likely with just a base-map) against a hard-copy. I’d also enter the mouth of that bay (and others) so that they could be found directly rather than completely dead rekoning the whole trip.
Any insight on that would be appreciated. My guess is that the range of a Whaler will get us farther out and to less-fished areas for some trophy fishing and good times.
posted 09-16-2007 11:54 PM ET (US)
About a year ago I called the marina up there on the telephone to chat about their facilities and what the boating was like. I can't find my notes, but I do remember the guy told me about their season. It starts in mid-June and then everyone is out by September 1st.
posted 09-17-2007 09:14 AM ET (US)
Sounds like an interesting area for cruising, sightseeing, & fishing....by the look of a couple of charter cruising/fishing operations they have there are some sizable vessels on the lake. I would have to imagine fuel should be easily available, here are a couple of links
posted 09-17-2007 10:18 AM ET (US)
I've got some info on Nipigon I can dig up - have been up there lake trout fishing. Huge fish.
My only comment on your proposed trip is timing - Black flies tend to be much worse in June than they are later in the summer, and they can be brutal when they are out in force. I wouldn't want to be up there before the very end of the month.
I'd also get some local knowledge on ice-out. I know that in the northern part of Minnesota, it isn't that unusual to still have to deal with ice on the fishing opener third weekend in May. I'd think that some of the Nipigon bays may hold ice into June.
Try the North of Superior Travel Association, (800) 265-3951.
posted 09-17-2007 05:59 PM ET (US)
Good thoughts on the black flies. We usually go fishing in Canada (Nagagami Lake, about 100 miles East of Lake Nipigon) around Father’s Day and the black flies aren’t yet out.
Of course, the deeper water of Lake Nipigon may mean colder water and a later start for the fish and the flies.
The other common experience that I expect is wind. Nagagami Lake is only about 10 miles wide, yet it can kick up nasty 2-4 foot chop when that summer wind starts to blow off the tundra of Northern Ontario! I expect that on Lake Nipigon, it gets dialed up a notch. Judging by the size and construction of many of the charter boats up there, it appears that afternoons will be best left for fishing in protected waters, or going for a swim at anchor.
When you were up there, did you take your Outrage?
Right now I’m looking for some basic information:
These are all basic logistics (and safety information) for now. Once I have a better understanding of the area, what’s available and get a real good “look” at the lake, I can work on other logistics.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
posted 09-17-2007 07:59 PM ET (US)
The fellow I use for pension plans, and a friend, grew up in Nipigon and his family still lives there. He visits the relatives frequently so I'm sure he's able to help with your quest. I'll send your inquiries to Dave and see what he has to say.
posted 09-18-2007 06:56 PM ET (US)
Thanks for that.
The public land-use plan for Lake Nipigon (and other areas of Ontario) is quite impressive. They plan to preserve 80% of the lake’s shoreline as wilderness. This seems to be a pattern in Northern Ontario. Of course, two facts about Canada make this possible: They have a LOT of land; and they do not have a lot of people. In 100 years, when the population of Canada expands to 200 million or more, those people will be very grateful to the this generation of lawmakers for planning land use in advance. Home values on this lake should be sky high with such a guarantee of unspoiled wilderness at your doorstep.
Some of the very best information about the lake has come from fishing resources – so my guess is that the heaviest use of this lake is likely from that industry (Sport fishing and fishing camps). This is no surprise, given that it is a strong industry throughout northern Ontario.
Pat – I don’t think that fuel is readily available along the lake shore. First, there are few towns. My guess is that those large charter boats have tank capacity to run for several days or the duration of the charter between fuel stops. I may be mistaken, but from everything I’ve read so far, it is largely a wilderness lake. I’m not sure if fuel is available at the various fishing lodges; my guess is that they’ll sell some of their fuel at a premium, but fueling 120 gallons or even 90 gallons may be a bit much to ask from them given the logistics they likely face in bringing the fuel in for their fleet boats.
Since the town of Nipigon is only about 30 miles from McDairmid, it is quite possible that making a fuel run into town (or perhaps even for groceries in Nipigon) is not out of the question if necessary. The way I usually pack, we’ll have enough food to supply General Sherman and his army.
posted 09-18-2007 09:01 PM ET (US)
There is gas available in Beardmore (at least was 3 years ago), about five miles east of the lake, halfway up.
Canadian Hydrographic service doesn't have a full Map of Nipigon. I'd call an outfitter and see what they suggest. When we were up there, the GPS we had was loaded with a topo map - not a navigational chart. In other words it had no depth info. The guy whose boat I was on knew the lake and I was just along for the ride.
posted 09-18-2007 09:02 PM ET (US)
Have I mentioned that you need to get out of Chicago and move up here. I have a couple of friends at a growing PR firm. I'll email you the link.
posted 09-18-2007 10:15 PM ET (US)
It would certainly save Buckda a lot of wear & tear on his vehicles Plotman.
posted 09-19-2007 01:53 AM ET (US)
I was looking at the area on GOOGLE EARTH and wondering why in the world there was a town at Beardmore. I think it is an artifact of a gold mining operating near by. That explains that town in the middle of nowhere.
The most important item has to be a launch ramp. The satellite map detail is too fuzzy in some places to show a ramp. There has to be one somewhere up there.
posted 09-19-2007 12:42 PM ET (US)
Yes, there are ramps on the lake near Beardmore.
Interesting description of the town here: http://www.embargo.ca/highway11/ThunderBay/TB-06-Beardmore.htm
posted 09-19-2007 02:51 PM ET (US)
This looks like a ramp in Beardmore:
posted 09-19-2007 04:23 PM ET (US)
And if that is not, this DEFINITELY is...a little south along the Eastern Shore...
You can even see a fairly sizable white boat being towed out of the ramp launch area going east in that image.
My guess is that there is fuel at this facility. Looks like dirt roads as well...going to have to rig something to protect the gelcoat from rocks on the trailer.
posted 09-20-2007 04:55 PM ET (US)
With the Canadian dollar now worth more than the U.S. dollar, this could be a very expensive trip. I wouldn't be surprised if gasoline in that area costs well over $5 U.S. per gallon.
posted 09-20-2007 04:56 PM ET (US)
Dave, as an aside, you are banned from daydreaming about new trips until you finish the report on your Isle Royale trip.
posted 09-20-2007 07:00 PM ET (US)
Crap! You weren't supposed to point that out!
I usually write those in the evenings, but have been working late and traveling a lot lately....and the weekends are busy with me finishing the restoration of a small fishing boat that I bought for my brother and "gave" to him last Christmas...I figure it is only fair that I deliver the restored product to him in time for Christmas this year...I pretty much avoided all work on it all summer so I could go Whalering.
Meantime, Gambler sits in the barn and pouts because I won't come out to play while feverishly finishing Mike's boat.
Anyway - vacations are expensive...but I can tow in about 120 gallons of fuel, which should provide about 350 miles of exploring on the lake before I need to buy gas...My guess is that it will be worth it. When it comes time to do this trip again later in life, gas will only be more expensive.
posted 09-20-2007 09:12 PM ET (US)
Speaking of gas prices, I was in Toronto this past weekend and it was $0.97 a litre at the Land Gas Stations, and the exchange was $0.98 U.S. for $1.00 Canadian.....haven't seen that in quite some time...
posted 09-21-2007 09:34 AM ET (US)
The US dollar traded BELOW the Canadian dollar yesterday. This is an enormous shift in value. In 2003 I got $1.56-Canadian for each $1.00-US.
Now Canadian money costs more than US money. Amazing.
It does not bode well for travel to Canada.
posted 09-21-2007 10:24 AM ET (US)
But it bodes well if you're a Canadian in the process of purchasing Whaler and motor parts the U.S.
Now where did I put Lockmans telephone number....
I've not heard from my friend who's from Nipigon so no help from me yet.
posted 09-21-2007 12:32 PM ET (US)
Where the Canadian dollar is valued against the US Dollar is not a signficant factor in my determination to do this trip- rather, it may merely change my logistics a little.
The dollar will continue to fall if we Americans continue to spend ourselves into a fiscal hole...and inflation is knocking at the door. These factors will impact how much LOCAL, US Boating I do next year, because I'll be saving my pennies for the big trips such as this one - but the change in valuation is really only affecting a few things on this trip: the food I buy in Canada (likely to be perhaps $100 worth), the fuel I buy in Canada (probably about 100 gallons - so $500 bucks or so spread between the tow vehicle and the boat) and any souvinirs or perhaps lodging that I use on the trip up or back. I don't know about you, but when spending $2,500 on a trip, an additioanl $600 isn't goign to break me for the week's vacation. I will pack my lunch to work or adjust somehwere else to still have my vacation.
I will say that I'll likely adjust things such as bringing more fuel across the border (in the boat - full tanks) and probably adjust where I buy my groceries and perhaps if I pack a separate cooler with ice that will remain sealed until the second half of the week so I'll have fresh ice....some things to think about/consider.
posted 09-21-2007 04:57 PM ET (US)
…So I’ve been studying the lake via Google Earth – primarily to try to identify public or private lake access points, but also to see if I can begin to develop a database of GPS waypoints to load into my chart plotter to mark significant headlands, islands and other features of this lake that will help me navigate without the use of a proper navigational chart (i.e. no depth or underwater obstruction information), and I found that with a proper boat and tow vehicle (i.e. 4-wheel drive vehicle and small, aluminum boat) there are a number of very remote access points on the lake.
Unfortunately, as part of the Ecological Land Use and Resource Management Strategy of the Province of Ontario, the provincial government is attempting to further limit the already limited access to this lake.
According to a 2004 document I found online at https://ozone.scholarsportal.info/bitstream/1873/3329/1/243404.pdf , access to Lake Nipigon will be consolidated to a fewer number of good quality access points in locations that can “support human use”.
No new access points to the lake will be allowed north of Mungo Park Point on the east shore or north of Nazoteka Point on the west shore; thereby limiting future local access to the northern portion of the lake (although it is already restricted due to geography and the availability of road access.
Access points at Ombabika Bay (in the far Northeast portion of the lake and visible via Google Earth) and Humboldt Bay (slightly south of Ombabika bay on the NE portion of the lake) will be allowed to naturally deteriorate. It is important to note that this is perhaps the most remote portion of the lake. There are no “roads” that circumnavigate the lake, and these two access sites represent points that are furthest from any established roads (dirt fire-trails appear to wind their way toward these, however).
They will improve facilities in the Gull Bay Enhanced Management Area (a term that as far as I can tell, is a euphemism for the province’s attempt at balancing wilderness with public use) – this will include washroom facilities, garbage facilities, a boat launch and dock facilities. (This EMA is located on the West shore of the lake, about halfway up.)
Most importantly for the purposes of this trip planning, existing access facilities at Poplar Point, High Hill Harbour, Orient Bay, Pijitawabik Bay and the new South Bay access location will be “promoted”.
posted 09-30-2007 09:31 PM ET (US)
Anyone interested ?
posted 10-01-2007 10:23 AM ET (US)
Dave, I'm always interested in something like this, but with 3 kids 10 and under and rather limited vacation (I have it, just can't take it all until we hire another person or two) its not really in the cards for me to take a week for something like this.
posted 10-08-2007 08:40 PM ET (US)
Having spent some time on northern MN lakes...I have developed a healthy respect for "rocks". Some things that concerns me about Lake Nipigon are remoteness/lack of services, if needed and of course "rocks". Now, I am not concerned about sinking, just significant damage to hull, skeg and propsss.
I am familiar with all the lakes around Voyaguer National Park...Namakan, Kabetogama, Sandy, Crane and Rainey. Fuel, food, adult beverages, camp sites and even a remote boat access only hotel at Kettle Falls,w/restaurant. My son and I boated 140 miles one way from Crane Lake, Mn to International Falls, MN. The main channel is marked but there are vast areas to get off the track and explore/explore/explore. One unique feature is the ability to portage your boat at Kettle Falls from Namakan to Rainey lake. Sometimes your in Canada sometimes your in the US.
With more info about Lake Nipigon, I could be interested. If the "bugs" get any worse going North that will be a real consideration. And forget about enjoying the darkenss of the wilderness...you can't stay up that late or get up that early. No doubt there would be lots pof Loons to serinade.
Hal of Waseca, MN
posted 10-08-2007 09:09 PM ET (US)
Believe me, I have a healthy respect for rocks too.
One of the reasons I have twin engines...
and why I want to go on this trip with at least one other boater - who can render assistance or go and get help for the other if needed.
posted 10-09-2007 11:03 AM ET (US)
Hal's remark "And forget about enjoying the darkness of the wilderness...you can't stay up that late or get up that early."
was one of my biggest surprises when my guys and I started going to Lake of The Woods for weeklong fishing trips.
posted 10-09-2007 12:08 PM ET (US)
Jeepers guys. It's not that far north. Try boating in Yellowknife or Inuvik where when you come out of a bar at 3:00am you need sunglasses.
posted 10-09-2007 12:42 PM ET (US)
Usually, when fishing at that latitude, I cannot get up early enough to beat the sun, but I can usually stay out late enough to catch the darkness. The mosquitoes usually drive you indoors or under shelter long before it’s fully dark though. The nice thing about the canvas is that window in front to do your stargazing through! You can catch the stars late at night during a head call as well.
PRJ – are you interested in this as a potential rendezvous/excursion? I’m thinking about it as an early/mid June outing. I’m planning to do the North Channel in August.
This trip is definitely an “aluminum propeller” trip; as you mentioned. The good news is that the lake is open enough that there should be sufficient wave action to reveal shoals and dangerous rocks. I’m also still working on finding charts for at least portions of the lake (perhaps these would give an indication of the bottom for the remainder of the lake – i.e. are there numerous dangerous rocks like MacGregor Bay or is it generally open water?
My guess is that there is significant open water judging by the overall depth of the lake and the size of the boats that are being used as charters. I could be totally off base.
Anyone have a source for charts of this lake? I can get topo maps, which I will order around Christmas, but I’d like to get something that at least gives a rough estimation of bottom contour for the lake if that’s possible.
Peter – tell me about it! A few years ago I was in Stockholm on business for a half week. I took the rest of the week as vacation time to enjoy the city. Go into a club in the twilight, come out at 3 AM in bright sunshine.
posted 10-09-2007 12:43 PM ET (US)
So what do you do then? Go back in for a few more?
posted 10-09-2007 12:49 PM ET (US)
Interested, but unable Dave. I missed what would have been our 8th consecutive LOTW fishing trip this year due to schedule conflicts and vacation constraints. I am hoping to get up to LOTW for fishing next summer, and, without intending to derail the Nipigon, could highly recommend it as a less remote cruising destination.
This holiday season, my small family and I are dragging the Outrage through Chesapeake Bay for my first huge Striped Bass and on down to the Keys for whatever. That should be adventure aplenty.
posted 11-19-2007 05:42 PM ET (US)
Well, I’ve done some more digging for this trip, and have uncovered the chart for Lake Nipigon – the official chart is available from the Canadian Hydrographic Service and is chart #6050 “Plans in Lake Nipigon”. I’ve ordered it special from West Marine (along with a couple of other charts of remote lakes in Canada).
Additionally, I put in a call this afternoon to a local charter boat operation. I was waiting until I was certain their season had ended before placing a call like this – these guys are making a living in the summer and working hard to make ends meet, and out of respect for that hard work, I wanted to wait until their paying customer season was surely over.
There is a locally-produced chart that is available from a retail outlet in Thunder Bay. I will be ordering a copy tomorrow. The gentleman I spoke with said it has all the reefs marked really well for the southern portion of the lake, and offered to provide me with some GPS points, if needed.
I’m still planning to order some topographical maps around Christmas, and will begin additional research (perhaps via an interview of a couple of resort owners) for local information beginning in January or February.
Also of note, the gentleman I spoke with commented that “you don’t want to launch in MacDarimid” when I mentioned that and Beardmore as a possible launch point. Seems it is a really long run up to the main lake from there and not much going on.
posted 11-19-2007 07:07 PM ET (US)
Dave, too far for me again, but the question I have to ask is are you going to have a Whaler then?..........Jack
posted 11-19-2007 08:19 PM ET (US)
Oh Jack. Don't be like that, man!
If the Whaler sells by then, I have a backup plan.
posted 11-19-2007 09:41 PM ET (US)
Good to see that you are still planning. It looks to be a 500 mile drive for me from southern MN. I will keep watching this thread as I have some interest in this type cruise. I have just purchsed a 26 gal tank for my '06 Montauk. With a couple 6's, I should have 200+ mile range. I will probably solo as camping is not my wifes bag. Now if there were lodges/motels? How many days on the water would you allocate for this trip? I am in MI about every other month so if this developes into a real thing we could do some face to face planning as well. I look forward to some of the first hand info you glean from the "locals". Hal of Waseca, MN
posted 11-19-2007 10:49 PM ET (US)
Ok Dave, maybe it isn't "too far", I'll start looking into it!.....Jack
posted 11-20-2007 01:41 AM ET (US)
Remember, this is just the shakedown cruise ahead of the real expedition to Great Slave Lake or Great Bear Lake.
Dave--Good work on those charts. I look forward to seeing them. Keep them in the back of the truck so next time we get together I can take a peek.
posted 11-20-2007 09:00 AM ET (US)
Those other charts I ordered? Great Slave and Great Bear.
Hal - there are several lodges on this lake so that is an option however - they are likely just fishing camps. Also, the scale of this lake is huge - think LOTW or Lake St. Clair. The scale may make it difficult to reconnect in the mornings. But I like the way you're thinking.
In the next month or so, let's begin to really discuss timing. I'd like to have it on the work calendar by February.
posted 11-26-2007 05:38 PM ET (US)
Some additional information:
CHS Chart #6050 “Plans in Lake Nipigon” is available from the Canadian Hydrographic Service and can be ordered for $20 USD from West Marine (1-800-262-8464). You will need to go to their special orders section and ask to talk to Cliff in charts (ext. 6864).
There is a locally-produced chart available form Chaltrek in Thunder Bay (1-807-577-8848, OR 1-807-473-4499). Ask to speak with Josh who can hook you up with a Nipigon Basin map for $14.99 CDN that shows the entire lake and marks shoals, etc. This chart does not provide true navigational information such as depths, etc; however, armed with this chart and a topographical map set to provide bearings (available from Wabakimi (1-807-767-2022) I’ll order this set soon), I believe that a reasonably safe expedition into the waters of this vast lake can be undertaken with some confidence in not becoming lost and, unless navigating true backwaters, I believe that most shoals and obstacles can be avoided with prudent navigation.
I have it on good authority that local information can be obtained by calling The Hook Shop at 1-807-875-2527. They should be able to provide information on fishing as well as other important local knowledge about the lake. I intend to call them in the coming weeks to jaw a little about their thoughts on an expedition such as this (including details on if/how/where I can camp on shore, fishing regulations, live bait purchases, etc.).
Special thanks to captain Larry and his wife at McCollum’s Resort, which features a nice charter service on the lake. More information about his business can be found online at www.mccollumsresort.com/ .
Now that the challenge of finding the best charts/maps available has been tackled, it is time to address some of the other logistics for planning this trip.
Captain Larry suggested the ramp at Beardmore as the best possible launching point for such a trip. [url]http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&t=k&om=1&ll=49.605913,-88.122904& spn=0.002559,0.006759&z=17[/url]
I am inclined to agree, and will make future plans based on this as a launching point. According to my mapping software, that ramp is approximately 450 miles from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario – which will likely be my entry point into Canada.
I will post additional information as it is developed or comes available.
Who wants to go?
posted 11-26-2007 05:43 PM ET (US)
For those of you reading this who may have or know of an older canoe that I may buy inexpensively, please contact me via e-mail. I'm looking for a smaller canoe (12 feet or so) that can be lashed to the arch and my bow rail alongside the boat and can be used in skinny water on this lake and for access to shore. I am willing to travel in the Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin area.
posted 11-26-2007 07:17 PM ET (US)
use the money for gas, I'll lend you mine....
posted 11-27-2007 10:45 AM ET (US)
Great job finding all this information and charts! I'm impressed.
posted 11-28-2007 06:44 PM ET (US)
I received my charts from the CHS today, direct from Ottawa.
The chart contains three zones:
The next zone that is charted is the south portion of Ombibaka Bay, located in the Northeastern Portion of the lake. See http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=50.113754,-88.16803&spn=0. 102155,0.218697&t=h&z=12&om=1 for a satellite view of the approximate area of this chart.
The final zone that is charted is Humboldt Bay, which is located on the east-central portion of the lake. See http://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&ll=49.968668,-88.116188&spn=0. 102464,0.218697&t=h&z=12&om=1 for a satellite view of the approximate area of this chart.
The other two charts (Great Slave and Great Bear Lakes) are complete charts...makes you wonder how much boat traffic there is on those two lakes to warrant a much more comprehensive cartographic record!
As soon as I recieve my locally produced map, I will give you an update on what it contains and if it appears to be reliable enough for navigation when compared to the areas where there is an offical chart.
posted 11-28-2007 06:45 PM ET (US)
Thanks! Your contact's information about fuel opportunities on the lake would be most welcome - has he contacted you since you reached out to him a couple months ago?
posted 11-28-2007 08:58 PM ET (US)
It bears mentioning that the areas for which you've found "official charts"
represents perhaps 10% of this massive body of water, Dave. I find that remarkable. One would presume that the CHS would have directed you to all available charts, with the apparent exception of this local map you reference.
Can anyone make a knowledgeable comparison between Lake of the Woods and Lake Nipigon? Geology, lake typology (LOTW appears mesotrophic in my limited limnological experience), depth, fish species present, etc...
(As a general aside, it always strikes me as odd to ask questions that I could readily answer using this same keyboard, but where would discussions be if we didn't share our experiences on occasion?)
posted 11-28-2007 10:08 PM ET (US)
So now that I’ve had some time to review these charts, I’m pretty shocked because both Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake, in much more remote locations have both more recent and more comprehensive data. In fact, Great Slave lake has many charts associated with it, detailing bays and river mouths – and there are quite a few navigational aids (light houses, lighted and unlighted bouys, etc).
As for CHS Chart #6050, it was previously available in editions from 1940, 1961 and 1971. This current chart was issued August 1, 1986 and relies on a survey that was conducted by the CHS in 1939. In the areas contained in this chart, there are 4 lighted navigational aids on shore. There are no marker bouys indicated, and shoreline features are few and far between.
The good news, if it can be somewhat extrapolated to the rest of the lake, is that there aren’t a great deal of awash or uncovered rocks indicated in the open waters of the bays (unlike McGregor Bay in the North Channel).
As for the CHS directing me to all available charts, according to the research I’ve conducted on their Website, there are no other official charts available. Likewise, chart #6050 makes no reference to another chart (as do the charts for Great Slave and Great Bear lakes).
I truly believe that for the present, this chart, combined with the locally-produced map and topographical maps, I will have the best information available for this lake.
posted 11-28-2007 10:21 PM ET (US)
Great point about the charts making reference to other charts. If they existed, they would be referenced. On the LOTW charts, a small scale map of the area lays out in graphic puzzle all of the available and overlapping charts with their numbers in each region.
Also of interest is the fact that Dave's chart, #6050, contains hydrographic info from 3 relatively remote areas of the much larger lake. One might assume that these would be the areas of heavy population (and I use that phrase in a relative sense), but the NE and mideast areas charted look to be logged, not populated, while the SE corner bay does have the town of McDairmid.
posted 11-29-2007 12:39 AM ET (US)
I will have to research when the Nipigon river was dammed for hydro power. If it post-dates 1939, we might have a theory. The Virgins are at the head of that river, and there is a sizeable river at both other bays. There may have been a need for the logging industry?
At this point in history, I see little benefit to Ontario or Canada to chart this lake, given the intention alluded to above about keeping this a wilderness and limited use land. Good charts bring more boats.
Incidentally, many of the mid-lake soundings on the more northern lakes are from through-ice spot soundings done in the 1970s. Makes for some interesting linear shapes in the sounding numbers on the chart.
posted 11-29-2007 08:09 AM ET (US)
I've not heard from him Dave but I'll be seeing him at Christmas function tomorrow and I'll ask again.
posted 11-29-2007 03:03 PM ET (US)
Thanks Peter, I really appreciate it.
Regarding where the CHS chose to conduct charting operations in this particular area, it is interesting to note that NONE of the few towns located alongside or near this lake are included in the chart survey. There are 5 man-made objects appearing on this chart: 4 lighted shore-based navigational aids and one unlighted tower at the top of Humboldt Bay.
Of course, that was from 1939, but was updated as of 1986.
In most of the area, shoreline details (i.e. cliffs, etc) are only noted right at shore – there are few shoreline details showing terrain, peaks, etc. as there are on most charts. Again, this document was probably intended, even in 1940, to be a draft of a more comprehensive document to follow. Perhaps with WWII getting into full swing, the governmental project was put aside and never really picked back up at the end of the war.
The river into Humboldt Bay (the name escapes me and the chart is not available to me right now) appears navigable for some ways and has a sizeable, commercial-looking access point right before the rapids. This definitely bears investigation if there is time while I am there. Check it out: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=& q=Lake+Nipigon&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=44.692132,360&ie=UTF8&ll=49. 971097,-87.914658&spn=0.042397,0.218697&t=h&z=12&om=1 . Zoom into the eastern side of that image where the river takes a sharp turn northward.
Whatever is/was there may have been a reason for the Humboldt Bay chart (mining/timber operation?) What is interesting is that the chart does not reference a chart for the river itself.
Likewise the Ombabika River seems to lead to a rather long chain of somewhat sizeable lakes going northeastward.
And of course, the Virgins are at the beginning of the Nipigon River (also, sadly, chartless) – but it is very easy to see how this particular river could have been very important, pre-hydro damming, to float timber from the interior down to mills and ships on Lake Superior.
It will be interesting to see if any communication towers or other man-made structures appear on the topographical or locally-produced documents. I’m guessing that some of the towns nearby and along the lake have at least one communication (radio) tower, which should be a lighted mast that can act as a landmark on a clear day or night. I would expect such a structure at the towns of McDairmid, and Gull Bay, and possibly, a visible tower from Beardmore.
The chart is no help, due to the remote nature of the areas detailed, in the effort to figure out where fuel or lodges are located on the lake. This is important information: for any necessary assistance and even for navigational purposes (landmarks); and so I am interested to see what information is available on the locally-produced chart…otherwise, I may have to pencil in using information from what I can see via Google Earth.
posted 11-29-2007 03:36 PM ET (US)
All this talk of timber operations has me thinking to ask the locals about the existence of floating logs and debris in this lake....and putting an extra anchor on my packing list.
posted 11-30-2007 08:25 PM ET (US)
The river flowing out into Humboldt Bay is the Onaman river. I also need to add two additional man-made objects found on the chart...near the entrance to this river, there are two piles marked. My guess is that at one time, this was to tie log booms.
Has anyone had any experience buying topographic maps from Maptech? You can order customized maps from them for 14.95 each. It appears that it will cost about $150 to cover the whole lake at that price, but will provide me with lat/longitude information which will be invaluable in navigating around some of the islands.
posted 11-30-2007 11:46 PM ET (US)
Well, we can throw out the logging post-1939 idea. The Cameron Falls power generating station on the Nipigon River started operation in the 1920's.
I briefly forgot that this area of North America was once one of the most heavily settled and commercially active places West of the Appalachian mountains. It must have been another operation that was generating interest from the Government of Canada to spend the money to commission a chart of the area.
There are now three stations in operation on the Nipigon River (Ontario relies heavily on Hydro-power). One at Cameron Falls, and the another at Alexander Falls. The final station is at Pine Portage.
I also recently read an interesting blog from a woman who kayaked around the lake a few years ago. She saw so many bear on shore that she chose to sleep only on islands slightly off shore. At Ombabika Island (at the mouth of Ombabika Bay), she saw the ruins of someones campsite with bear scat and claw marks on trees, and a ripped, deserted tent. Whoa.
PRJ - to answer some of your questions regarding comparisons with LOTW, Nipigon is comprised of 1,800 sq miles, compared to LOTW's 1,200 sq miles.
Geologically, the mafic rock present indicate that it was formed during the mid-continental rift about 1,100 million years ago. So it's classified as a RIFT lake.
Rift lake: A lake which forms as a result of subsidence along a geological fault in the Earth's tectonic plates. Examples include the Rift Valley lakes of eastern Africa and Lake Baikal in Siberia.
In contrast, Lake of The Woods is a remnant of ancient glacial lake Agassiz (the pre-historic lake that pretty much covered all of the province of Manitoba and was larger than all of the current Great Lakes combined. Geologically LOTW has much more in common with Lake Winnipeg than Lake Nipigon.
From what I understand, much of the shoreline of Nipigon is comprised of cliffs and green-black sand beaches. An example of one of these cliffs is seen here (in winter) http://homepage.mac.com/puggiq/V3N3/V3N3Nipigon.html
What I find quite amazing is the dearth of good photos of this lake on the Internet. Perhaps we can change that with a future trip report and photos here on this site.
posted 12-04-2007 01:21 AM ET (US)
Are those Maptech topo maps loadable into a GPS?
Also, it would be a lot of work, but you can make your own
posted 12-06-2007 07:32 PM ET (US)
Good questions -- I do not know. Thanks for that other information as well. I'll explore this a little more before ordering paper topographic maps, in the hope that I may be able to get them loaded into the .mps files for the data cartridge on my Garmin.
posted 12-06-2007 07:43 PM ET (US)
One other thing I noticed on Monday before I left town: CHS chart #6050 was originally printed by the Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources. I suspect it may have been mining that brought boats which required navigation information which lead to this chart. This has been pretty interesting....
...can someone please speed up our air traffic control system!??
posted 12-08-2007 11:03 AM ET (US)
The map was "Printed by Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources".
The other possibility, given the number of hydro power stations on the Nipigon River, is that in the 30's, they were doing research to fully understand the flow of the dammed Nipigon River. Both the Onaman and Ombabika Rivers are fairly large flow, and are attached to other lakes in the region...and the Virgins are at the head of the Nipigon River. It makes sense that they would want to have an idea of the flow rates of these major tributaries to lake Nipigon. Perhaps they were surveying/evaluating if it made sense to put separate hydro stations on these rivers as well?
Also, I've deduced the location of certain navigation aids on the charts using the information on the chart and GoogleEarth. These coordinates are approximations, but should be somewhat helpful...I'll be adding them to my GPS waypoint database for use on this trip:
The Virgins Light (Located on Lighthouse Island just North of Big Virgin Island) 49 deg 29'02".20 , 88 deg 13'13".00 W
Also, note the rustic access point directly NE across the bay from the mouth of the Onaman River on Google Earth. That is Graveyard Point. I wonder if that wouldn't make a better access point to the N. Half of the Lake. I wouldn't necessarily want to launch the Outrage from there without the presence of another truck to help pull if the ramp conditions are ugly. My plan is to inspect this facility from the water for possible future use.
posted 12-08-2007 03:20 PM ET (US)
Is this rendezvous open for anyone who wants to go?
posted 12-08-2007 03:56 PM ET (US)
Of course. However, given the location and remote nature of the trip, I would prefer to have an opportunity to meet folks first if geography allows.
In your case, I'm nearby nearly every weekend in SW Michigan. We could certainly make arrangements to check in and meet first, ahead of the trip.
This past summer, I checked in with a guy out in LA from this site for a trip out in the Pacific in the Long Beach, CA area. In that situation, it turned out that both he and I were taking some precautions - I had seen photos of his boat and wrote down the CF (registration) numbers and shared them with friends, and gave them a "return by" time. It turns out his wife had insisted on similar precautions - so we met for breakfast with the general understanding that if either was weirded out, the trip was off. We had a great time.
You and anyone else is welcome to join this trip. I will caution again that this is more along the lines of "adventure boating" than comfortable cruising. I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun.
What kind of Whaler are you running out of Holland?
posted 12-08-2007 04:02 PM ET (US)
I discovered that Garmin has a topographical mapset for all of Canada that would be compatible with my GPS chartplotter. I believe I will end up going that route to make things simple. The cost is somewhat less than the software you recommended above.
Does anyone use the Garmin software (for topographic maps)?
posted 12-08-2007 06:21 PM ET (US)
Currently how many people are planning on this trip? Any Idea? If I end up doing this I might have a friend along but it is also possible that I end up on a solo trip. I too am cautious and would want to meet some or most of the people involved if possible to make sure that every thing is cool.
To answer your question, I have a Montauk 17 up here in Holland. I actually hung out a little with Jimh and some other people from this site over Labor day on Lake Macatawa in Holland. That was a fun day.
posted 12-08-2007 06:53 PM ET (US)
It looks like potentially five boats so far have owners who are considering this trip. In my experience with planning these types of trips, that means that there will be two boats.
I hope that by the time spring fever kicks in in early 2008, we'll have a few more guys who are interested and begin to plan to attend.
Ideally, I'd like for there to be two boats or more.
posted 12-08-2007 07:14 PM ET (US)
I'm going to say at this point - very interested.
posted 12-08-2007 07:39 PM ET (US)
I think we will need passports for this trip. Something else to consider. They can take a while to get sometimes.
posted 12-08-2007 10:52 PM ET (US)
Dave, "ideally I'd like for there to be two boats or more". Dave, from what I've been reading here it is almost mandatory that you have a second boat along, pretty remote place, almost enough to cancel if no second boat. You are doing a bang up job researching this trip though....Jack
posted 12-09-2007 11:32 AM ET (US)
If your marking things on Google earth you can be off by hundreds of feet according to my charting software. I will check the actual GPS over Christmas and see. I am trying this in an area that has good chart coverage.
Also be careful up there, web searches revealed sightings of Big Foot like creatures in the area.
posted 12-09-2007 03:47 PM ET (US)
Thanks for the sentiment. The light positions given above are from the charts, with the exception of the McKellar Island and Russell Island lights, and the mouth of the Onaman River for which no position is indicated on the official chart.
Additionally, I think I mentioned that the other coordinates are approximations - meaning that they should be used to give a navigator "a good idea" of where to look for these features when in the area.
In the case of the mouth of the Onaman River, there is fairly high resolution images available on GoogleEarth, so I think that coordinate is relatively accurate, as I zoomed in as close as I could to pinpoint the location.
It also pleases me to see that even members from the East Coast are reading this thread with some interest! If folks can't go along, I hope that the planning and trip report at least present interesting reading to others here. It seems that is already the case.
posted 12-09-2007 04:01 PM ET (US)
Regarding crossing into Canada, as mentioned in previous threads on this site, the rules are changing.
My strong recommendation is to get a passport. I've been using my passport to re-enter the US for the past three summers, and it just seems to make it that much easier.
Going into Canada always seems easier, however, one of my Canadian friends laughs at that sentiment and says as a Canadian, entering the US is easier than getting BACK into Canada.
In any event, given enough money, you can get your passport within a few days, or even within 24 hours. I know, a colleague of mine did it a few months ago.
Because of these new rules, there IS currently a backlog at the US passport service, so if you're interested in doing this trip, and do not have a valid passport, I recommend you start that process shortly, and certainly by March.
Anyone who is interested in this trip is welcome - and I would never leave another boater stranded, but I want to make sure that anyone who is interested has a complete understanding of the remote nature of this location. Your gear should be in order, working well, and tested-true before embarking.
...that includes your camera, camping and fishing gear!
posted 12-09-2007 08:49 PM ET (US)
I would love to go and I am less daunted by the 1200 mile one way drive than I am by the prospect of camping. My idea of roughing it these days is staying at a 3 star hotel. I am sure you and whoever goes along will have a fantastic time and I know the photo's will make me wish I had been there.
posted 12-10-2007 09:29 AM ET (US)
I have been doing a lot of reading about Lake Nipigon and the nearby towns. The more I get to know about this place the more I want to go on this trip!
Has a date been narrowed down yet? It looks like the fishing season really starts in mid June according to this site: http://www.thefishinguide.com/nipigon.shtml
The site suggests using down riggers about 65 feet down to catch lake trout. Do you have any big lake gear that you are planning to take? I have a set of down riggers on my boat and I will see if I can come up with any additional gear to use for the week. Lead core and planner boards are always good things to take along and could be used instead of down riggers. Lead core is also much easier to set up for the average person.
Let me know if you have made any commitments with the date on this trip so I can get the time off of work.
posted 12-10-2007 03:32 PM ET (US)
What good is an adventure with a concierge?! :-)
I knew a little reading would get the “adventuresome spirit” going.
No date has been set. I’d like to solidify a date by February so I can also make the request on my work calendar.
I’m going to throw out a date for discussion: June 28-July 6. This includes the 4th of July Holiday, which allows for most people to take only 3 or 4 vacation days instead of 5.
I have downriggers and the appropriate fishing gear; however, fishing will be a secondary endpoint for me. I’m interested in exploring and relaxing. That will likely mean doing some fishing (including pike and walleye fishing), but it will also mean some lazy days at anchor in a nice anchorage/cove and exploring streams and rivers via canoe, kayak or dingy. Additionally, given the fishing regulations and how loaded my boat will be, I will likely only bring one downrigger, as the other gunwale rod holder will be occupied with an as yet to be determined mounting apparatus for a canoe or kayak, and a limited supply of rods and reels.
Since I have the charts/maps under control now (I’ll continue to provide updates on what I find and what seems to work well), I’m moving on to another big question: What precautions should I take regarding food preparation and storage in bear country?
Reading some of the online accounts from kayakers in the area, it seems like bear sightings are a commonplace occurrence.
One of my concerns about fishing is that I want to sleep on the boat, and I’d rather not sleep with the fishy smell, and I’d rather not have my boat smell like a northern-lakes buffet to any passing bear.
To those of you who have boated/camped in bear country:
I have also been making some rough estimates of distances traveled in an attempt to become more familiar with how far various islands, points of interest, etc are from the ramp near Beardmore. Some of these estimates may change upon learning of available on-water gasoline sources, however, I have a feeling that these opportunities will be very few (Orient Bay may have a marina, it appears…and there may be one in McDairmid or Gull Bay…I’m working on gathering this information). If there is a town where fuel can be obtained within walking distance, I will also research that, as a few trips with two jerry cans can get me enough fuel to go across the lake and back to my truck (i.e. get “home” from anywhere on the lake).
If there are no on-water or near-water fuel sources, it appears that we may need to return to the ramp at least once for the purposes of re-fueling the boat. In the case of a Montauk, this may need to be done on more than one occasion.
posted 12-10-2007 06:37 PM ET (US)
concierge, who needs one of them, I am more thinking about a nice bed with no flies or mosquitoes. Not that worried about the bears either although here are some answers to your questions.
To those of you who have boated/camped in bear country:
2. Minimum of 12 feet off the ground and no closer than 10 foot from the trunk of the tree.
posted 12-12-2007 02:20 PM ET (US)
Thanks for that link to a very helpful brochure on camping in bear country. I’ve bookmarked it and will begin to make plans accordingly.
If you consider yourself a “seriously interested” person for this trip, this is a good use of your money to have a copy shipped to you from the company I mentioned above, Chaltrek (call them at 807-577-8848).
This chart includes local launch ramp information, including availability of fuel, ice, restrooms, etc. Additionally, it provides information on anchorages on the islands of the lake, campsites on shore, and rocks, shoals, etc. It also has information on some of the resorts on the lake and what facilities are available. For instance, at the ramp at High Hill Harbour (the second launch point I identified above) there are concrete ramps, showers, camping facilities, fuel and pump out facilities. Additionally, it has good information on where and when camping is allowed, and important information for a non-resident like me (i.e. a camping permit is required).
This is a veritable treasure-trove of information that more than makes up for what it lacks (namely, depth information and GPS coordinates).
Finally, it includes local area businesses and phone numbers, which I am certain will prove useful in the coming weeks as we continue to plan this trip. Wow. I feel like a major puzzle piece has just fallen into place, and planning can move forward at a much faster pace now.
posted 12-13-2007 12:10 AM ET (US)
Consider me in on this trip. I will order these charts tomorrow. If you would like to meet sometime let me know; I would be glad to find a place half way. June 28 sounds good as far as a time to go; I should'nt have any issues getting that time off work.
posted 12-13-2007 05:33 PM ET (US)
Don’t forget to drum up on your glacial geology and natural history before the trip: The lake’s shoreline is famous for the following features:
-Diabase sills nearly 500 feet high
-Moraine deposits, eskers, drumlins (from my experience on Nagagami Lake to the East, these features can provide dangerous shoals, but wonderful dropoffs for fishing)
-The unusual black-green sand beaches on the east side of the lake.
What is a diabase sill? Good question – basically, it is an igneous (volcanic) rock intrusion. Diabase sills in the Lake Nipigon area are present because of the geologic formation of the lake as a RIFT lake. The sills and sheer cliffs along its shores are remnants of that event.
Moraine deposits, eskers and drumlins are the result of glacial activity. Moraines are formed by the “bow wake” of a glacial advance. When the glacier retreats, the mound of debris remains. http://www.swisseduc.ch/glaciers/glossary/icons/terminal-moraine.jpg An esker is a ridge of sand or gravel deposited by glacial meltwaters (i.e. an “upside down riverbed”) left by the glacier. Here is an example: http://z.about.com/d/geology/1/0/E/L/esker.jpg . When they are underwater, they can form interesting shoals. Finally, a drumlin is a smooth hill formed from deposits of glacial till. The long access parallels the direction of flow of the glacier. Here is an example: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/acolvil/glaciers/drumlin.jpg
Also, your binoculars are a must-pack item. Expect to see some “unusual” wildlife not generally observed further south. We’ve already mentioned the presence of black bears, but the area is also known for:
Do your interests lie more in the way of history? The Ombabika River was once part of a fur-trading route between Hudson Bay and Lake Superior. In the mid-1600’s the area was flush with European fur traders, and Father Allouez explored the area from Sault Ste. Marie to Lake Nipigon in the mid 1600’s. In fact, there were so many otter, beaver, fox and muskrat present that several forts and trading posts developed along the shoreline; one at the mouth of the Ombabika River, where a campsite currently exists. Lake Nipigon was one of the most profitable fur bearing districts in the north shore region of Lake Superior.
The area even played an important role in the trading economy of early indigenous peoples and was the hub of a trading network that extended from the eastern seaboard of the United States as far west as the Rocky Mountains.
It’s prominence on the North American commercial scene has diminished somewhat since the 1700’s, but I’m still interested in visiting. Perhaps there are some remains of these old outposts along the shoreline, ready to be explored.
posted 12-14-2007 02:46 PM ET (US)
...and Kamie -
Cabela's makes a nice air matress that would fit well in the bow of your 18 on a small platform (which I could give to you - it was given to me and works great).
They also make a nice inflator that could easily be used . A little mosquito netting and a mosquito coil under your forward shelter and you're good to go!
The mosquito net can be rigged from the shepherd's crook down to the lifting eye in the bow. Put your head toward the console and your feet at the bow, and the cooler goes in the stern. The mosquito coil burns on top of a non-flammable platform on one of the bow "steps". When no rain, the forward window is open and you leave the aft curtain completely down for ventilation. With the sound of the water lapping the hull, it is much better than a 3-star hotel.
posted 12-15-2007 06:05 PM ET (US)
I was just wandering around the internet and saw your thread about Lake Nipigon..... then I saw that I got written about in that thread!...suddenly feeling important.
Anyhow, I sea kayaked around Lake Nipigon a couple of years ago. I trip both with groups from the Great Lakes Sea Kayaking Association(where the trip report is posted), and solo every summer. Here's me 2 cents on issues/concerns raised from the thread. Feel free to email me with further questions, if I can answer them. I seem to gather this forum is more for the sailling/power boat group.
- I parked just west of Beardmore at the end of that small road, that goes out of the main town. There is a trailler park/tent park there. Most of the liscence plates on trucks/cars there were from the USA. I can't remembr the name of it, but it is named after the point it is on. The road going there is fully paved, and goes through part of the forest fire area. I am pretty sure I remember a very user-friendly, concrete boat launch ramp there, but I only used the sand beach, being in a kayak. I paid $7/day parking there in a wide open field. I thought there might be decent parking before this along the highway, as my maps indicated another campground. In actuality, that burned down in a terrible forest fire quite a few years ago. Aim for Beardmore, or Gull Bay unless you drive one heck of a big 4-drive off-road dirt-loving-buggy and you don't care what condition your boat is in when you finally make it to the lake. What looks like a decent launch through google earth is likely the end of an overgrown logging road. Sorry!
-I drove from our family camp outside of Sault Ste. Marie on Lake Superior. The drive was the most sceneic part of the trip for me, taking about 7 hours non-stop. You would easily be able to re-fuel in SSMarie, Wawa, White River, Schriber, Terrace Bay, Nipigon. However, be warned, the price of fuel tends to be higher in the north.
-I saw no floating logs, dead heads etc.. There were some very shallow sections/shoals though and they were NOT flagged, probably because it isn't economical to pay a government worker to go and do so- the place sees few travellers.
- I look for cultural artifacts from the past- logging town ruins, ghost towns, boom jams etc... this was not a feature of the lake disappointingly.
- Sandy landings for dinghies/glass canoes/kayaks are extremly few. Be ready to pull up on boulders.
- Those picturesque rock cliffs are in the south end of the lake, and I did not find them to be very abundant. I love to paddle Superior, beneath the cliffs and was disappointed in the very lower elevation of this lake. It just didn't have that 'awe' factor for me as a result.
-fishing was great
-bear sightings were ridiculous, and yes they were the real deal, not just scratches and scatt. I had a visitor at my tent one night, snort/grunting. I didn't move an inch, and didn't sleep either. The footprints the next morning confirmed it. This has never happened to me before. I made certain that there was NO FOOD/ODOURS near my tent. I paddled into the next bay over to hang my food nightly. I camped on both the mainland and the islands. I was told that summer was very bad for bears, due to a bumper crop of berries the former summer.
-the wind can kick up there. However, the lake itself is shallower than Superior. So, the waves were more like big chop, as opposed to the great dead-man rollers of Superior.
-I use topos. I ordered all form www.maptown.com
-wildlife= too many bears, 5 moose, 1 pelican and no caribou
- the area was rich in the fur trading industry in it's hay day. Try checking out some of the routes for the Hudson Bay Fur Trading Company for further info on this. The train still goes up along there. Prospecting for diamonds has been going on to the east of the lake. Mining of iron ore has historically been common in the area. Some logging happened in the area. A forest fire ripped through about 5-10 years ago in is very evident from the shoreline for about 50km, just outside of beardmore.
-minor detail. I drive a diesel car. I parked my car FULL. I returned to my car with the 'gas low' alarm indicator ON! Yup, it was siphoned, as much as they could suck out of the tank. I figured no problem, I drove a small locally owned independent gas station in Beardmare that had diesel on their sign- the only one between there and Nipigon. When I got to the station, the pump had been smashed completly. I thought I'd ask the attendant if they had ANY extra diesel anywhere. This sign on the sho indicated 'closed', however, there was still a person inside, so I knocked on the window somewhat desperately now. and well.... I was chased off the property by the attendant yelling profanities about having me charged, and swinging at me. So, I got in my car and started to drive back to Nipigon- gas up the hills, pop the clutch to coast down all the way. I got to about 5km outside of Nipigon and ran out of fuel, hiked the rest of the way in and got a ride back! So, stash some exta fuel just in case!
-I got HVHF weather reception all over the lake decently.
posted 12-17-2007 12:25 PM ET (US)
Thanks for your post, and welcome to the Continuous Wave web site! I am very happy you contributed this information as it is most helpful.
The campsite you describe is Poplar Point Park, and it is administered by the city of Beardmore. About 3 KM south of this site is a public access point with parking (fees), fuel, restrooms, etc, which is where I currently plan to launch (it’s too bad you didn’t park there, you could likely have enticed the attendant to sell you some diesel fuel from the marine pumps).
Speaking of siphoned fuel tanks, I guess I’ll plan to have some remaining fuel aboard in case the fuel dock is closed when I’m trying to leave.
Thanks for the tips on stopping points along the highway. I plan to stop at Young’s General Store in Wawa (a favorite of U.S. fishermen and hunters), to buy bait, fishing license and any last minute supplies (fuel as well). I was planning to top off the tank in Nipigon, but given your story, I think I’ll do a little more pencil sharpening and planning on fuel management in the tow vehicle so I don’t give away a precious commodity to thieves while I’m enjoying my vacation.
The information about unmarked shoals and other navigation hazards is very welcome, and as I suspected. Besides the topo maps, were you using the locally-produced Lake Nipigon Basin Recreation map? It includes information about known (unmarked) shoals. From reports on the ‘Net, the water of Lake Nipigon is clear – is this true? If so, it should help in the location of these shoals. If it is tannin-stained, we’ll have to be even more vigilant.
It’s a disappointment that there aren’t more artifacts of previous settlement around the lake shore – I’m going to begin to search the net for old maps of where these outposts may have been, so a more thorough on-shore investigation can be undertaken. There must be evidence somewhere, and while I’d never dream of removing artifacts or disturbing things of that nature, it sure is exciting to explore and find them!
Your report of wave steepness confirms a suspicion I had. Given my experience on Nagagami Lake to the east, I know that afternoons can be a “bear” in terms of tough 2-4 foot, fast moving “chop”. When the fishing rods start singing in the wind, you know you’re in for some serious stuff on the way back to the lodge. I expect the same on Lake Nipigon. Glad I installed trim tabs last spring.
I’m pleased to hear that the weather radio reception is strong in the area. On Isle Royale, it can be spotty, dependent on where you are on or around the island. I imagine you were picking up the Thunder Bay signal pretty clearly. I believe they also have reports for Geraldton – so getting a forecast for both towns would give you a pretty good idea of what is coming.
How were the insects?
posted 12-18-2007 01:47 PM ET (US)
Insects- I had so much wind the whole time, that there were no issues. However, if it calms I'd deffinitely want a bug jacket based on the land forms.
Radio- forecasts were recieved for Gull Bay, Beardmore adn Geraldton. Each were separate, and often quite different. It was broadcast out of Thunder Bay.
Water- the water was clear, but not as clear as Superior. There was a handful of locations that had clay sediments in the water that looked like they had just been turned up.
posted 01-14-2008 10:41 PM ET (US)
Today I met a gentleman who was in his mid 60's who had been up to Lake Nipigon when he was my age— 25. He said that the fishing up there was outstanding back then and from what I have read it is still hard to beat. He also said that Lake Nipigon is "Big water" and that we should anticipate some decent waves (nothing a Boston Whaler can't handle).
He was very knowledgeable about the history of this area of Canada and told me about several Indian settlements that once existed in the area. He also just happened to be a fellow Boston Whaler owner and that made for even more conversation.
In prepping for this trip I have been looking at several chart plotters from Garmin. Does anyone know if there are any charts available for this lake yet?
posted 01-15-2008 10:41 AM ET (US)
None that I've found (see all of my research above). The "official" chart from CHS is woefully lacking in terms of coverage, and the locally produced recreation map is selling for $15CDN ($5 less than an official CHS Chart). That tells me there is nothing that is much better out there. In areas where there are good charts available from NOAA, the local charts sell for much less or are given away. Given the number of advertisers on the back side of this locally produced map, my guess is that it would be a freebie in an area with good "official" cartography.
Your best bet is going to be to get a good topographic map of the area. Garmin does sell a topographic mapset of Canada that is available on CD ROM for abotu $130US. It is compatible many Garmin chartplotters. That will be the route I go for this summer.
posted 01-15-2008 07:11 PM ET (US)
The guy that I am buying my outboard from has been going to Lake Nipigon for 15 years and said he would gladly help us with fishing tips and attractions.
From the looks of the marina walls he has about 50 huge fish mounted. This could be a hot lead.
He confirmed the threat of rocks in the Lake Nipigon river and lake system and recommended a aluminum prop set up.
posted 02-11-2008 06:22 PM ET (US)
Okay - I've just confirmed that we will need to conduct this trip in June if it is to happen this summer. It cannot be June 2-7.
My brother in-law will be attending aboard my 18' Outrage, so that makes three persons so far.
Anyone else want to throw out dates. Later in June is probably better - say the 21 - 28?
posted 02-11-2008 06:53 PM ET (US)
Those dates sound good to me. I was hoping to be home for the 4th of July so that should be perfect. Let me know as soon as you can so I can steal those dates on the work calender.
I also might have a friend from Colorado who might join us. Now that we have a date narrowed down a little more I can see if he can work something out.
Also you should look at my Summer Rendezvous post...
posted 02-26-2008 08:24 PM ET (US)
Update: the dates are coming into focus now. It looks like June 15-22.
Matt and I both plan to have passengers aboard. Other boats are welcomed and encouraged to respond here so that we can plan accordingly.
posted 02-27-2008 04:51 PM ET (US)
Correction - June 14-22.
I expect the 14th and 15th to be travel days, with arrival and launch on the 15th.
For now, we will tentatively plan on overnighting at Bucks Marina in Wawa, Ontario the night of the 14th, which is about 10-11 hours from where I keep my boat. We will also plan to provision fishing licenses, last-minute supplies at Young's General Store in Wawa. A final stop at The Hook Shop in Nipigon before arrival will supply us with bait and important local knowledge about the fishing.
I would think that with a reasonable departure time on the 15th from Wawa, we could be launched and ready to go by early afternoon.
Anyone coming from the West should arrange to rendezvous with us on the 15th at the launch ramp in Beardmore.
posted 03-04-2008 04:56 PM ET (US)
I’m doing some numbers crunching for budgeting purposes. Right now, my assumption is that fuel in Canada will be about 1.50 CAD/Liter and that the exchange rate will be a factor of 1.2 USD to the CAD. It also assumes a companion aboard GAMBLER who will fund 50% of the costs.
Additionally, with reports of US fuel prices hitting 4 USD/Gallon, I’m figuring on the real number to be around $3.75/Gallon here in the Midwest.
The round trip for me is about 1,860 miles towing, with 800 in the US and 1,060 in Canada.
Fuel management in Canada will be an important budget parameter, however, I’m figuring on about $950 in fuel for the truck, round trip.
I will top off the boat tanks in Michigan before crossing the border, (about 88 gallons) and expect to need to buy as much as 63 gallons of fuel up on the lake….which I calculate to cost me about $520 USD (after exchange rate).
Food is going to be about $250, plus meals on the way up and back (packed, with occasional restaurant food=$80).
Bait ($80), License ($80) and extras ($100) put the cost at $2,020 USD on the conservative side, total cost.
Divide by two people to arrive at an estimate of about $1,000 per person for a wilderness fishing trip, transportation, food and a week of vacation.
That is pretty reasonable all things considered.
Matt – We can discuss details, but right now I have a “tentative cruise pattern” that is of course, weather dependent, which puts us in Beardmore again on Thursday morning for fuel (after about 200 miles of cruising) and back at the ramp in Beardmore on Saturday, making a long-run from Ombabika Bay that morning.
Let’s work this spring to get some accurate fuel consumption figures for your new rig fully weighted to adjust for likely load of two guys and gear. Note that for first 10 hours, your economy will be artificially depressed due to break-in. I’m hoping that you can see 6 MPG plus with the new motor, but if you carry 2 jerry cans of fuel, combined with two more on my boat (I can tank these for you if needed), we should be fine with this itinerary.
posted 03-04-2008 04:57 PM ET (US)
CAD should be CDN above.
posted 03-04-2008 10:09 PM ET (US)
I have been working non stop on my boat for the last three days (happy spring break to me). It is almost completely done and ready for the trip across state to Lockeman's for the engine start up and prop testing.
The reality of how much a complete restoration like this costs has all but set in as today alone I dropped several hundred more on parts. It is looking good though. You will like what you see!!!
As of now it is just me coming on my Montauk with my dog Italy. My friend from Colorado has school commitments and will not be able to make it. I think going solo on my boat is a good call anyways as space is already very limited.
I know that fuel costs are one of the biggest factors in this trip and would love to find a more efficient towing vehicle before summer. I have been considering selling the Silverado in hopes of finding something that gets in the mid teens to low twenties for mileage. My truck is around 10 MPG and even worse with the boat behind. In other words, it sucks.
As soon as I get out to Lockeman's for the initial start up we can rendezvous in SW Mich and do some fuel consumption testing and do a little Steelhead trolling while we are at it.
Talk to you soon.
posted 04-07-2008 12:00 PM ET (US)
According to my calender, the Lake Nipigon trip is 67 days away and counting.
I have already began my packing list as I have dug through my closets in search of camping gear and fishing equipment. I put all the essentials I find into my old Army foot locker. It still has an Iraqi address written on it. Good times. The hard part now is deciding what to take along and what to leave home.
As of now I have a crew of 2, a dog, and two boats to carry along. My Montauk and a eight foot inflatable with 2.5 HP outboard.
I am concerned that the black flies might be ruthless at the time of our trip so plenty of bug netting is a must. Many military surplus stores carry netting as well as camping outfitters. I will have enough to completely cover my center console after it is draped over the sun topper.
There is still plenty of room for anyone else who wants to come along.
posted 04-07-2008 06:45 PM ET (US)
Yesterday, I emptied both boats out of the barn and cleaned house a bit. I also took the time to take stock of my gear and the condition I found it in. My list has also grown; but progress was made. I do have quite an extensive bit of mosquito netting, but I need to do some sewing to make it all fit how I want it to. Bottom line: bug juice is going to be important...mosquitos in the barn already - I suffered my first bite of the year yesterday.
I cooked off a batch of West Epoxy yesterday too...that stuff is too expensive to waste like that! Will need to re-drill and re-load in layers; but I hope to have the railing back on the bow by the 19th; and be in the water on the 27th...and in Detroit for engine checkup (300 hours!) and new wheels on the 3rd or 10th of May.
I'm getting excited. I broke out the camp stove and lantern yesterday and made sure all was in working order. I'll need a new generator this year on the coleman stove, I think (Hello Cabelas!) and I already have most of my lindy rigs tied for drift fishing for Walleye and Pike...need to work on downrigger techniques for the Lake Trout.
You got an inflatable on that Montauk! You're gonna be LOADED dude! Give Pat H a call regarding packing suggestions - as far as I am concerned, he is the king of packing a Montauk. After that 600 mile ++ trip with him in Georgian Bay - he was packed to the gills, and he was solo.
Did you check with Customs re: the dog?
Does anyone else want to come on this trip?
posted 04-07-2008 07:15 PM ET (US)
A few more questions:
Did you build a sleeping deck/platform for the boat, or are you planning to camp ashore? I am planning to bring my tent (4-person Eureka! Timberline Outfitter), but let's discuss redundancies in packing so we're not toting a lot of the same crap up there and back, and only using one guys stuff.
Do you want to discuss sharing food/cooler space? I'm thinking we could save on space if we combined some stuff. My thinking is that each boat has its own bait/beer cooler, but meals/food could be consolidated into a nice 129QT Igloo with some dry ice for long-lasting coolness and greater efficiency. Let's discuss.
Bear tips? Again; let's discuss. We need to determine the need to bring all food to shore at night and hang it, or if we can get away with leaving food offshore in the boats. My guess is that it may depend on the way the wind is blowing! Seriously though; we need to talk through this. They're not grizzlies, but black bear claws probably leave unsightly scratches in gelcoat.
Your dingy - with one dingy, if we promise cooperation, we can probably get by with only one. Let me know if you are amenable to this, as I'm happy to carry part of the load *i.e. the Rollup bag with the dingy or fuel for the 2 hp, or both*
posted 04-14-2008 10:50 PM ET (US)
It was nice to have a mini rendezvous down in St. Joe this weekend. I enjoyed the laid back pace of the country life and the perch! Thanks again.
Tonight I have been doing a little financial planning and have allocated the appropriate funds for the upcoming trips to Lockeman's and Canada. If all goes as planned, the "lil whaler" will be up and running on the 6th and ready for some serious action.
My dad and I went over a few more items on the packing list tonight and I think we have a pretty good plan in place for what gear to take. There is a lot to go over and it is always good to think things through carefully as we have but, all in all, we need a passport and a Boston Whaler and we will make a heck of a trip of this. The rest is luxury.
Tomorrow I plan to reinstall my bow rails and continue the wet sanding project. I will also give Worm a call and ask him for more specifics on his inflatable boat. I think having two inflatables along could prove to be a cost effective solution to gas price and also give us access to water that the Whalers will not be able to navigate through. Let me know if you buy the West Marine boat you showed me.
Well, back to my homework. I have killed an hour already on CW, got to go.
posted 04-15-2008 11:23 AM ET (US)
Great to spend time with you and Andrea on Sunday as well.
We're at 59 days till vacation and counting.
I'm actually quite suprised that we're the only two boats going at this point...and that we're nearing 100 posts just talking to ourselves!
As it stands now, we have 4 persons, a dog, and two Whalers...both with Evinrude E-TEC engines...are there no Mercury or Yamaha equipped boats interested in attending? Do we need to call BRP Public Relations and see if they'll send a photographer?
Come on guys - this is going to be a great trip!
posted 04-21-2008 09:10 PM ET (US)
Just out of curiousity, Dave, is this your one "big trip" of the year?
Are you planning any others?
I can't do this one, for a number of reasons, but Isle Royale or the North Channel is not out of the question.
posted 04-22-2008 12:19 PM ET (US)
North Channel is likely later in the summer.
posted 05-13-2008 07:26 PM ET (US)
We are one long month away from this trip (31 days). Things are falling into place. I’m preparing to call to make reservations at Buck’s Marina in Wawa for the first overnight, and am also going to call to find out who manages the High Hill Harbour launch facility (I think it is administered by the town of Beardmore)…so we can make sure we have parking permission for the week while we’re there.
The E-TEC engines go in for their 300 hour service and perhaps even some new wheels the weekend before this trip so things are falling into place.
Anyone who is interested in attending should speak up now so we can include you in the plans.
posted 05-27-2008 04:54 PM ET (US)
I have begun packing for this trip. Well, not exactly, but with just over three weeks to go, I have begun to purchase some of the items we will need and to organize my gear.
I have also called the Ontario Provincial Park system to get information about camping on the lake and fishing and of course, to get information about bears. My brother-in-law, an avid outdoorsman, mentioned bringing a small shotgun for bear protection; however in my conversation with the parks system employee, we worked out a much simpler and safer system: I’m going to buy an extra air horn to keep in the tent. That should be enough to startle the animal enough to allow me to back off or retreat to safety (get out of whatever situation I find myself). A great idea.
Anyway, some additional information:
As non-residents of Canada, we will need to apply for a Crown Land Camping Permit (unless we sleep on the hook all the time), for nights spent in a tent. Crown Land Camping regulations also mean that the only type of fishing license we should buy is a conservation license.
Camping permits are $10/person/day (CAD), and are available to us at the Ministry of Natural Resources regional office in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan – right along our route through town – so stopping should not be a problem…I’ll need to check their hours.
An 8 day conservation fishing license is $24.55 (CAD), again, this is a non-resident rate.
Both permits/licenses are available at Young’s General Store in Wawa.
Though I plan to sleep aboard the boat, it is my hope that the mosquitoes will relent one day and allow us to sleep out under the stars (weather permitting)…more days, if possible. Anyway – I think it’s worth it to buy the camping permit just to be covered.
At this point, I guess I’ve given up on the thought that we’re adding more boats to this little excursion; but since the Continuous Wave site is so well indexed on the Web, I hope this information will be helpful to others planning a similar trip.
Of course, more boats are welcome – just let me know to expect you!
posted 05-28-2008 12:03 PM ET (US)
What happens when you enccounter a deaf bear?
The very miniumum I would bring with me is bear spray.
Remember, you can always distinguish Grizzly Bear scat from other animals becuause it has whistles in it and smells like pepper spray...
posted 05-28-2008 12:53 PM ET (US)
Good one Dave, good to hear from you....another thing to keep in mind in Bear country is finding the right tree to camp near, so you have an escape....find a tree that is too small for the bear to climb and too big for him to rip out of the ground....I would recommend Bear Spray also....Wish I was joining you guys...
posted 05-28-2008 03:39 PM ET (US)
if camping on shore, I just need time enough to get to the dingy. I know bears can swim, but not as fast as a skeered camper can paddle.
If one is trying to board the boat, I have the advantage. If the air horn doesn't scare him away, a paddle blow to the face should help...and I can always fire the engines and run in circles around the anchor until he tires out and swims back to shore.
posted 05-31-2008 01:44 AM ET (US)
The only bears you would possibly encounter are black bears. There are no Brown (Griz) anywhere near.
In the Quetico, all anyone I know uses for bear repellent is banging a cooking pot and shouting shoo bear. erhaps throing an occasional rock. Seriously.
You are probably at far greater risk from lightening than you are from a Black Bear. We have them in our yard here in the city from time to time, and see them at the cabin all the time. Black bear attacks are exceedingly rare, and almost always involve such rocket-scientist behavior as putting yur kid on the wild bear's back to take a picture, deciding to hand feed it marshmellows, or my personal fave, the guys who decided to wrestle the bear so his buddy could film him.
Just hang your food and trash or leave it offshore in the boat.
posted 05-31-2008 04:11 PM ET (US)
And Mothers with Cubs....see a Cub vacate the area....
posted 06-02-2008 07:19 PM ET (US)
I know...which is why I think the air horn idea is a great one. Inexpensive, non-lethal and it buys you the time you are looking for to remove yourself from the situation. Win-win-win.
posted 06-10-2008 11:27 AM ET (US)
Looks like we're in for some cool weather. This type of situation is where Mills Canvas really comes into play as a major comfort factor.
Mills is great...but the portable propane heater I bought this spring will be even better!
posted 06-10-2008 02:04 PM ET (US)
Mid June, 32 degrees, ouch!
Was that you towing a Whaler westbound on I-94 near Kalamazoo last Sunday about noon?
Have a good trip, looking forward to the recap and photos.
posted 06-10-2008 02:13 PM ET (US)
Ayup! That was me! I was wondering if you were a fellow CWer giving me the thumbs up as you cruised on past me. Your wife must think you (we) are crazy.
I was returning from getting the engines their 300 hour check-up/service in Detroit.
Regarding the temperature thing; I hope it doesn't shut down the fishing. Even if it does, there are some nice rivers to explore (and fish) with the tender. Perhaps some additional warmth as well from being "inland" off the lake.
posted 06-11-2008 12:04 AM ET (US)
This was a near-record year for late ice-out in NE Minnesota.
The MN fishing opener was 4 weeks ago, and in the northern part of the state, it was a complete bust for many resort operators, as the ice wasn't out. Along the gunflint trail, it has only been 3 weeks since the last of the lakes cleared.
A business partner was up on Lac Seul (second largest lake entirely within Ontario, same latitude as northern Nipigon) over Memorial Day weekend, and there was still a lot of ice on the lake - 2 feet in places - though it was mixed with open water. They actually drilled holes through 18" of ice on some bays and ice-fished for giggles.
Everything is out by now, but you know the lake hasn't warmed up all that much if there was ice on it 2-3 weeks ago. Bring your long undies.
posted 06-11-2008 02:40 AM ET (US)
My serious fishing friend was on Lake of the Woods two weeks ago. When he left from Bemidji they de-iced the plane!!! I grew up in Minnesota, but this is ridiculous. Hope you stay warm, and wish I was there. Dave
posted 06-11-2008 10:11 AM ET (US)
Hmm. Well, the good news is that the mosquitos are less likely to be very active in the cool overnights (and black flies sleep at night) so sleeping should not be a problem.
I bought a small propane heater so we will be able to get warm if necessary, especially in the mornings.
The fish are likely to be in the rivers or near the river mouths (at least the walleye) if the water is that cold. So they should be relatively easy to find.
I guess I can leave the snorkel and fins behind!
Despite the cool forecasted temperatures, the days should be mostly clear, meaning some beautiful boating. My spirits remain undaunted. You expect the weather to be hit or miss all season long that far north. It could be in the 50s or the 90s, depending on the year.
As for this spring: so much for global warming! Jk
posted 06-22-2008 01:25 PM ET (US)
Excellent trip. Both boats are back safely, if not unscathed.
Trip report to follow.
posted 06-22-2008 01:46 PM ET (US)
Brief Scorecard Summary:
Lake Nipigon: 1 bent prop (Outrage), 1 hole in fiberglass (Montauk), 2 rod tips (Outrage), 2 Dipsy Divers (Outrage) several lures and 1 auxillary anchor (Outrage)
Whalers: Fantastic scenery, wildlife galore (mink, beaver, otter, fox, 1 wolf sighting on shore, caribou, 2 bull moose and numerous cows, white pelicans, bald eagles, loons, etc and a single black bear), 42 inch Northern Pike, 37 inch Lake Trout and numerous other fishes, a brief display of the northern lights, and a trip full of memories and great times.
posted 06-22-2008 01:59 PM ET (US)
Let me just also add; with 37 degree water temperatures in mid-lake, we were glad to have newer motors aboard both boats. Both were equipped with E-TEC motors, which provided exceptional fuel economy to see a lot of lake in the 454 miles we traveled in the Outrage, but they also provided nice peace of mind when camping in the most remote northern bays of the lake when you knew your motor needed to start in the morning after soaking in 39 degree water and cool, damp, 42 degree air outside. The motors started and ran flawlessly all week, and I didn't even have to add oil. This trip is the strongest confirmation I've had yet that I made the right decision on repower for these types of trips, which I hope to continue to do.
I'm sure Matt will chime in on how his boat performed...but one thing is certain, these Whalers can handle a very heavy load. Both Whalers were very loaded with gear and people - and ran well with excellent economy.
On the economy note, and for those of you with 18' Outrages: I was able to use 228 liters (about 60 gallons) of fuel in the 63 gallon tank before one of the motors died from fuel starvation. We ran out of fuel at 245 miles, which is just over 4 MPG with mixed running, canvas up in the heavily loaded Outrage with twin 90 HP motors.
posted 06-22-2008 07:35 PM ET (US)
Dave--Glad you are back and had a great trip. I look forward to hearing more and seeing a lot of pictures.
Maybe the "E" in E-TEC stands for Expedition.
posted 06-22-2008 09:08 PM ET (US)
and I look forward to your well written trip report.
Photographs of heavily laden expeditionary Whalers in a Northern setting are going to be great.
posted 06-23-2008 12:34 PM ET (US)
Please let me know if this link is viewable:
posted 06-23-2008 01:27 PM ET (US)
Well, I'm through Wednesday The rest to ollow:
Friday, June 13 2008
I am able to leave the office around 1:00 PM CST, and run the relatively light traffic on Chicago’s I-294 beltway pretty quickly. I’m in SW Michigan, where I keep my boat, by just after 4 PM local time (EST). I stop for an oil change and to fully fuel the truck, as I want to have both the boat and the truck start at full so my brother-in-law Matt and I can split the costs of the trip evenly. Starting on full and finishing the trip with a full tank ensures we capture the true costs of the trip to split between us.
Matt and I have been in touch and he is on the way. I head on to the barn to begin our packing for the trip. I’ve set out a tarp the week before and put basics on it, but Matt is bringing a considerable amount of gear, and I want to make sure we get the needed items aboard. We will be making difficult packing decisions and there are a lot of things that will need to stay behind – the boat is going to be very full for this trip. We triage – important items for a northern Canadian lake expedition such as fishing gear, insect repellent and barriers, warm clothes and canvas are given higher priority than things like extra fenders, certain “nice to have” fishing gear, etc.
By midnight, we have eaten, gone shopping for food and last minute essential gear, and packed the truck and the boat full with gear for the trip. We’re ready to go!
Saturday, June 14
8:00 AM – We’re under way and have joined up with Matt Bosch mateobosch (hereafter “Mateo”, to distinguish him from my brother-in-law) and his father with his 1974 Montauk with 2008 E-TEC 115 outboard and a red kayak. Both trucks are running very well with the trailers at 63-65 MPH and we’re making progress up the lower peninsula towards the Mackinac Bridge.
We stop for fuel at Gaylord, cross the Mackinac Bridge and stop again for fuel at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan – our last stop before more expensive fuel in Canada. At the Soo, we check the trailer hubs again, and although they are still running cool, we note that the gear oil is low on two hubs…we add more oil and continue on.
At the border, we are stopped briefly because we have brought a .20 ga shotgun for protection against aggressive wildlife when we’re camping in the remote corners of the lake. Matt has done his homework and done the paperwork in advance, so we simply need to step inside the border patrol office and finalize the paperwork and pay the CDN$25 fee. Once through the security checkpoint, we exchange some currency and press onward. The afternoon is getting long, and we have more than half the trip ahead of us.
7:30 PM – we stop at Young’s General Store in Wawa to secure fishing licenses and Crown Land Camping permits so that we can legally operate in the backcountry that is Lake Nipigon Provincial Park. (CDN$24 for an 8-day conservation license, and CDN$9 per day for the camping permits)
Pressing onward, we stop briefly for fuel (CDN $1.42/Liter) at the Esso station in White River. We also take advantage of their picnic tables for some dinner and to discuss how much farther we will go on this travel day. Matt and I are thinking to just press onward to Nipigon, but Mateo and his father are more inclined to stop sooner than that. We agree to stop sooner. Afterall, I reason, the best scenery is ahead of us, and it would be a shame to miss it in a nighttime passage.
We hit the road as the sun is getting lower in the sky (it sets around 10:30, as we are near the summer solstice, on the far western side of the time zone, and we are closer to the North Pole than we are to the equator.
Around 10:45, as the sky is getting dark, we come to Neys Provincial Park, nestled on the shores of Lake Superior. We turn into the park and reserve a lakeside campsite for CDN$24.95 for two tents and a truck. Mateo pays an additional CDN$7.95 for his truck and some extra for dry firewood for a fire tonight.
We set up camp and grab a shower and enjoy the cool, bug-free nighttime air. Sleep comes easily after a long day on the road. We have set a call-time of 6:30 the next morning to hit the road again and wink off to sleep.
Sunday, June 15
7:15 AM - We’re back on the road and making fairly good time up and down the steep hills along the northern shore of Lake Superior. According to my GPS, we have three and a half hours to Beardmore.
Soon, we begin to wind our way down towards Rossport and Nipigon. We stop in Nipigon for a few minutes, because Mateo has forgotten his map of the lake, and we want to ensure we have an extra. We are unsuccessful in finding a place of business that is open on this Father’s Day Sunday morning…so we press on to Beardmore.
The road to Beardmore is perhaps one of the prettiest drives in all of Northern Ontario. Almost immediately, the road winds along the shores of Lake Helen and then reveals beautiful palisades of dark granite as you come closer to Lake Nipigon.
The town of beardmore is not much more than a slow spot in the road, but we do stop at The Hook Shop (mentioned further up in this thread) for some additional gear, including some lures, maps of the lake, and local information about the fishing, regulations on hooks (only one hook per lure, all barbs need to be bent or clipped off) and have a nice conversation with the shopkeeper. The Hook Shop is a hole-in-the-wall local establishment that has just about everything from some kind of automotive service in one bay, to bait, ice lures, coffee and even looks like they may serve some food. The walls, when not jammed with fishing gear for sale, are stocked with taxidermy mounts and photos of record catches. It also features a photo of the 1999 forest fire that almost burned the town down (and DID burn the marina down).
We unload the trucks, load the boats and launch them. After securing the trucks and paying the CDN$6 launch/recovery fee at a very nice concrete ramp, we are finally on the lake and on the way to our Lake Nipigon adventure. Our destination tonight: a campsite on Assef Island, which is near the northeast shore of Shakespeare Island about 15 miles out. As we cross in the misty day, I note that the clouds look a bit darker in 300 feet of water that is 37 degrees as indicated on my depthfinder. Matt and I are very happy to have the canvas up, and we still have gloves and knit hats on standby at the ready on the console.
As we search for the campsite (they are generally indicated on the maps, but not specifically pointed out – you either have to know where you should look, or know where it is…otherwise these sites can be hard to find – a lesson which was repeated several times during the trip), Mateo finds bottom – not an hour on the water, and already the gods of the Lake are exacting tolls from us! Mateo and his father begin looking farther north.
Matt and I are using binoculars to search coves for the site, and eventually, we find it. We call Mateo on the radio to let them know we’ve found the site and we make our way towards a small river that a local at the marina mentioned might be productive for walleye and pike.
The “river” that leads to a small lake on Shakespeare Island is narrow, but deep enough to navigate. Matt is casting flies with a flyrod for pike and catches a nice 30’ pike on his flyrod. Soon after, the river narrows further and I stop fishing to focus on piloting the boat. There is a small deadfall across the left side of the creek that I coast the boat over. The wind is strong and it catches the canvas and begins to push to boat. I think I’m clear of the log, and kick one motor into gear. CLUNK! It stalls and I’ve bent yet another aluminum prop. Yikes. Let’s hope this rate of damage doesn’t continue.
Soon Matt and I are in the lake and fishing. Mateo and his dad (and dog, Italy) are in the river and catching pike on nearly every cast as they make their way into the lake to join us.
Later, on the way out of this lake, we both stop the boats and enjoy fast and furious activity on the pike. Mateo and his father eventually continue on to look for the campsite. I give them GPS Coordinates for where I was when we spotted the site from the lake and they go on to search for it.
Matt and I continue to fish and soon we have a call on the radio from Mateo with a damage report from his encounter with the rock earlier: it is a major crack that is to the foam, and will require repairs in the morning.
We’re soon on our way to the campsite for a meal of steak and fresh asparagus and to evaluate the damage to the Montauk and to change the prop on my motor. It’s been another long day, but we soon have tight bellies and plans to make repairs to the Montauk in the morning. Matt and I motor out into the cove to sleep aboard the boat. We prep the boat for sleeping and then sit out on the back and enjoy a cold beer and a cigar. What a way to start the trip!
Monday, June 16
After about an hour, Mateo calls on the radio to say he’s ready to go – so we run back up to the campsite and accompany the Montauk back to the dock in town. We haul the boat onto the trailer and inspect the damage from a better vantage point. It is clear that this needs more than just Marine-Tex to repair properly, and that at 45 degrees and damp, it is too cold to work with epoxy outside. Mateo heads to town to seek assistance, and Matt and I run to the island to let Mateo’s dad know what is going on. We then run to do some fishing/exploring, with the promise to be back at High Hill Harbour by 9:00 PM for a check-in with progress on the Montauk repairs.
Matt and I do some trolling off of Lucky Island, which had the unlucky fortune to have a careless camper a few years ago which burned all the vegetation from it. The landscape is not barren anymore, but it is clear that the forest fire burned the entire island.
We are unable to find water temperatures warm enough to produce active fish, so we circumnavigate Shakespeare Island and head for the Virgins, at the head of the Nipigon River. The scenery in this area is beautiful, and we enjoy the afternoon exploring. Around 3:00 (I don’t wear a watch when on vacation!), we head over (West) one bay to see if we can get the boat into Bonner Lake. We are successful, and begin fishing in the small lake for walleye or perch or anything that will bite. Eventually, we have lunch in the lake and hear Mateo call us on the radio from the harbor. We return the radio call, but are unable to connect. So…we pull up lines and make our way back onto Nipigon. About halfway to the harbor, we hear Mateo again on the radio and are able to connect. He has made a temporary repair to his boat and is ready to re-launch it and head out. It is after 10 before we get the boat in the water and ready to go, and the sun has set by the time we return to the campsite for a late dinner and relaxation. Matt and I take the Outrage down to another nearby harbor in complete darkness in an effort to at least see more of the lake..we’ve been “sequestered” in this corner of the lake an extra day, and we are itching to go West.
We pull into an anchorage next to a charter boat and shut down for the night.
Tuesday, June 17.
The Montauk doesn’t have such an easy passage. More on that in a minute.
Matt and I run down to the bottom of Chief Bay to explore a river that a local told us might have some walleye in it. Unfortunately, there is a pelican colony at the mouth of the river, and local rules state no operation within 500 meters of one…so we return to Chief Bay right as the rain and wind return. The weather abates a few moments later, and we are able to have some lunch on a small island. While we’re paddling around the island in our inflatable, I hear a call from Mateo on the radio. I can’t make it out, but we paddle quickly to the boat so we can communicate. Mateo is having trouble receiving our radio transmissions, and his repeated calls to us are causing some concern with other local boaters (the passage for the Montauk has been rough, and the crew is cold, wet and ready to make landfall. They are requesting that we start a campfire for them). Matt and I immediately fire the motors and make a run to a nearby shore to seek out a campsite.
Remember when I told you the campsites are difficult to find? This one was impossible, and all the while, we’re getting very broken information from Mateo about the crossing, how wet they are, cold, etc. With the water temperature as cold as it is, Matt and I are concerned about hypothermia and Matt sheds his warm jacket and leaves it aboard the boat as he jumps in the inflatable and heads to the campsite that we FINALLY found hiding behind an island to get a campfire started. Meantime, several other boaters are attempting to get hold of Mateo to find his location and the disposition of the crew, with no answers. Finally, we establish radio contact and I run out into the bay to meet them, offer them warm clothes and bring them back to the campfire and hail the other boat on the radio to thank them for their assistance and let them know that everyone is okay.
Mateo can fill in details about the crossing, but essentially, they had some scary moments with extra water in the heavily loaded boat, and ended up losing some gear overboard to the cold, swirling waters of the lake. Fortunately, Mateo installed a new 115 HP E-TEC this spring, which provided the necessary low-end torque to grunt through the seas and power out the water that accumulated in the boat.
Note to Montauk owners: Antenna position is a difficult thing on a Montauk hull, but if you want an 8’ fiberglass antenna, you should consider mounting it on the bow rail or the stern railing, so that your bimini doesn’t interfere with it. Mateo installed his on the console, meaning that the antenna was in a slanted position with the bimini up, which reduced his ability to receive transmissions by about half of what his ability is with the antenna straight up. I believe that in this installation, a SS whip antenna which can be mounted vertically underneath the top may be a better option for reception in all boat configurations.
Matt and I made sure that the fire was going strong with enough firewood to keep it going, and that Mateo and his dad had enough gear on shore to set up camp, and then we went back out to finally get some lines in the water. It was 7 or 8 PM before we had lines in, but shortly, we had caught a 37 inch, 25 lb Lake Trout, which we promptly took back, cleaned and ate (well, half of him at least) for dinner. The skies cleared long enough to provide a spectacular sunset while we were cooking, and we ate a late dinner before turning in for the night.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Running out again into the lake, the weather changes again – the wind lays down and the lake goes flat calm as the rain begins to fall. Nearing Gross Cap, my starboard engine dies from fuel starvation. Switching to my auxiliary tank, we take a moment’s break while I get the motor primed and started again. It’s onward to the dock. When we arrive, we enjoy a big lunch at the dock and then I drive the truck to a nearby campground to see if we can get gas. It is 4:25 and the manager says “See you down there at 5:00”.
Okay! We’ll be cutting it close, but I think we have time to run into Beardmore to restock our ice and to buy a few extra lures. We make a mad dash for town.
When we get back at 5:15 PM, the Montauk is fueled and they’re waiting for me to make it over to the dock to take on fuel. I fire up the Outrage and get it over to the fuel dock, where we take on a full tank of 60 gallons of fuel at CDN$1.459 per liter.
At this point, the Montauk heads south for the Virgins, and the Matt and I in the Outrage make a run all the way to the northeast corner of the lake to Ombabika Bay. On the way, Matt and I open the boat up and run smartly at 4,000 RPM and 38 MPH up to the bay, enjoying some fantastic scenery and a really nicely calm lake. We do have our knit caps and gloves on as the air temperature is still cool, and the wind off the very cold lake water is quite cool.
Once inside Ombabika Bay, we drop lines and troll some bluffs for lake trout. After a bit of fishing, we realize we have quite a few more miles to our destination tonight: at the top of the bay. We pull lines and run up the bay past Locomotive Island and get to the top of the bay in time to do some more fishing as the sun sets. After dark, we motor in close to shore in the lee of a small peninsula and anchor for the night, cooking “Breakfast for dinner” aboard the boat – sausage, eggs and potatoes.
|Casco Bay Outrage||
posted 06-23-2008 02:07 PM ET (US)
Photos are great.
Looking forward to the second part of the trip report!!!
posted 06-23-2008 02:25 PM ET (US)
Thanks Dave, the photos are indeed visible and the narrative is a great read. I get these waters, though a bit more remote than our typical Lake of the Woods trip. You write a nice blend of adventure, conquest and anxiety into the description.
I like to follow the narrative along with a map. For this location, I'm using LINK
maps.google and and maps.live seem to have the same aerial resolution for this area.
These aerials do NOT have much in the way of island and bay names though, so I've struggled with some, like Grand Bay and Chief Bay and Gross Cap. Larger features are noted, such as Shakespeare Island, and I do believe I found your initial campsite area with the small river and inland lake on the ENE side of Shakespeare. Is a link to a scan of your chart possible? I'd guess that the size will prevent it.
If you could, consider adding some more location identifiers in the next installment, either directional with distance, or even shape based references. It helps us follow your progress.
posted 06-23-2008 04:00 PM ET (US)
Okay...I will attempt to get everyone caught up with some Lat/Lon coordinates that can provide an idea via google earth:
All coordinates are 49 degrees North Latitude and 88 degrees West longitude
High Hill Harbour (our launch Point): 36.365N/07.437W
posted 06-23-2008 04:17 PM ET (US)
The Montauk ran into trouble when they attempted to transit to Chief Bay OUTSIDE (north) of Gross Cap, ad down nto the open waters of Grand Bay. With a nNW Wind, this was a difficult crossing.
posted 06-24-2008 07:59 AM ET (US)
Enjoy hearing about your trip.
I've been following along with this map.
posted 06-24-2008 03:05 PM ET (US)
It sounds like it was certainly an exciting trip! You have taken "cruising" to the next level...the exploits of the GLBWCC pale by comparison! Glad to hear everyone survived. Excellent narration and beautiful photos. Anxious to read the final installment.
posted 06-27-2008 02:54 PM ET (US)
great photos, good narrative..thanks for sharing!
posted 06-28-2008 11:17 AM ET (US)
Dave, one word AWESOME!.........Jack
posted 06-28-2008 07:51 PM ET (US)
Great start to the story and beautiful photo's. Can't wait to hear the end of the tale.
posted 06-29-2008 12:56 PM ET (US)
Great Trip! The photos are spectacular!That Montaulk looked way over loaded for this trip and although you all ccame through fine, I was a little suprized by the amount of gear on her. In rough seas, thats a dangerous combination.
Im glad it all worked out so nicely. Give my eye teeth for a trip like that:)
posted 06-30-2008 06:52 AM ET (US)
What an adventure Dave. Can't wait to here the rest of the story. Btw, nice pike man! Congrats.
posted 06-30-2008 02:22 PM ET (US)
Thursday June 19
We get up just as the fog is lifting off the water. Already the temperature is in the mid 60’s…we’re finally going to have a warm day. After breakfast, Matt does a little fly-fishing from the dingy and I catch up on some reading and some basic boat chores (some cleaning, and some re-organizing. We’re in one of the most remote sections of the lake, and the shotgun came out last night for protection; so we also take care of that maintenance. The windows are fogged with morning mist, so we’re in no huge hurry to get the day started.
Later that morning, we head across the bay again to try to catch some of those fish that eluded us on the rock wall. Still no luck. We pull lines and head for the mouth of the little Jackfish River (the river on the very top of Ombabika Bay) and soon are marking fish. A little past the mouth, we encounter yet another pelican colony and our progress is thwarted.
Not having much luck in the sandy mouth of the river, we pull lines and head for the Ombabika River at the southern portion of Ombabika Bay. We want to head south toward Humboldt Bay today anyway, and this puts us closer. Also, with the heat of the day comes a fresh wind – I want to be closer to Humboldt Bay this afternoon in case we have a tough sea state build – it is a rather large open-water crossing with exposed water that could get dicey if the waves really build.
On the way down past the Ombabika Narrows (where the bay opens into the main lake) we pass another boat – the first boat we’ve seen since we left the dock yesterday. He is a 20-something Starcraft Islander cabin cruiser model, but he’s really off in the distance and heading north. We wave as we go by, but we’re really so far off that unless they are using binoculars, they likely won’t see the salute.
The south arm of Ombabika Bay is shallow – average depth seems to be about 12-14 feet. Later in the summer, it seems to have the potential for being a great Pike spot if the weeds grow up in the area. We slow to a trudge and keep a sharp watch on the depth finder, but the bottom is clean and stable – in retrospect, I wish I had stopped and thrown an anchor overboard to see if the bottom was sand or clay.
A few miles of slow going and we’re in the mouth of the Ombabika River, with a nice 12-18’ deep channel and wide open, albeit murky, water. We troll up the river, passing a rustic cabin/homestead on the south shores on the way. The river soon is closed to us by the presence of a rather large rapid and we anchor at the base of the rapids to fish and have lunch to enjoy what has turned into a beautiful day with low 70 degree temperatures.
After Lunch and several lost lures, we decide to run to Humboldt Bay and find an anchorage so we can drop the dingy and do some serious fishing. At the mouth of the river, we take a risk that the whole bay (which now is flat calm) will maintain the smooth bottom at 13-14 feet and we open the boat up and head for the narrow mouth of the bay.
Once in the main lake, the cold water has air conditioned the breeze enough that we slow down and re-install the windshield for warmth. The seas have laid down and we make the run south toward Humboldt Bay with ease. Just north of Smoothrock Point, on the north side of Humboldt Bay, we see something in the water. A Caribou! We slow down and keep our distance so as not to disturb or frighten the animal that has apparently made a 3+ mile crossing in 40 degree water from one of the islands in the main part of the lake. This cow is a prodigious swimmer and is soon at the shore, hauling herself up on the rock and bounding into the woods without so much as a “howdy do” to us. Matt and I look at each other and say “cool” at the same time. I hope he captured it on the camera (he did).
Still on a momentary high from seeing the caribou (an animal which neither of us had seen in the wild before this day), we rounded the tip of Smoothrock Point and entered Humboldt Bay. Soon, we spot a blue aluminum, dual console boat headed our way. Very soon, it is apparent that this is the Ministry of Natural Resources boat and they are coming over to talk to us. I idle the engines and they pull alongside. A pleasant, but thorough exchange takes place next, with one officer boarding the boat, inspecting our coolers and checking our hooks for barbs, and inspecting the firearm we have aboard (we stowed it this morning with both an action lock and trigger lock, so they are very comfortable about it). They give us a few pointers on where to catch fish in the bay and ask if we saw any other boats up in Ombabika Bay (we tell them about the Starcraft). Soon we’re on our way to Peninsula Harbor (on the southward descending peninsula from Ombabika Bay) and find an appropriate anchorage. We drop the dingy and head on out across the top of Humboldt Bay on our way to the Onaman River.
Just south of Gravelly Point, I spot an animal on shore and slow the boat down. “Is that a WOLF?” I ask. Matt reaches for the binoculars. “I think so!”
We work our way closer, but soon Mr. Wolf has spotted us and darts into the woods. A few hundred feet later, we see him on shore again and resume our slow pursuit. He’s warily eyeing us, and soon is back into the woods and we see him climbing a section of bare rock above the initial tree line along shore, and then he disappears into the woods.
We turn to each other again and say “COOL!” with smiles on our faces.
We continue to the mouth of the Onaman River. There is a fishing boat present, which gives us a good vibe. We enter the river and begin fishing. Matt works the grass along the sides of the river with his flyrod, and I am casting lures trying to attract a fish out of the shallows. Soon, Matt realizes something is wrong – his reel has dropped into the lake! We take a few moments to retrieve the reel, and untangle some fly fishing floater line from the prop of the motor which was off, but windmilling in the current. Matt has a big mess to figure out and so I have some time to do some fishing with no “competition”.
Earlier in this thread, I had mentioned that perhaps some of the rivers were used for logging operations…well, the Onaman River provided some evidence of that – we passed a gigantic log underwater that still had chain attached to it – evidence of a past log-boom in the area. The river is wide and deep – perfect for floating logs down it, and it is quite straight for a river. We were able to run up the river to the rapids, about 3-4 miles inland.
As we exit the river on the way back into the bay, the light is beginning to fade. We go to Humboldt Creek, and see an otter and then while fishing the weeds at the base of this small “sub-bay”, we see two cow moose and a bull moose. We explore the creek a little bit – it is reminiscent of the creek where we caught a lot of pike the first day – and enjoy the settling sun and deepening evening. I shut the motors down and we enjoy nature for awhile as we fish.
As evening continues to progress, we make a run out to the south shore of Humboldt Bay (Iron Range Bluff) to see if we can catch a lake trout or two in the fading light. Instead, we catch one of the prettiest sunsets in the Northwoods and as the sun winks over the horizon, we pull up lines and head for our anchorage. We have steaks, green beans and potatoes in the cooler and ready to be cooked. We run back to the harbor to retrieve the dingy and since the wind has shifted, I want to move to a different location. We attempt to pull up the anchor but are unable to get it off the bottom. It is stuck fast and even tying it off to the cleat on the Outrage and powering it with both engines produces no joy. Reluctantly, I cut the anchor line, and leave a small dingy anchor on the bottom of the lake. Soon, our spirits are rising as we begin to cook steak, potatoes and beans on the fire. We’ve made a shore-landing for the evening and are cooking under the moonlight tonight. The loons and frogs are our tableside musical entertainment and just as we pull the steaks off the grill, the Northern Lights come out and provide dinner and a show. This is Matt’s first observation of the Aurora Borealis, despite a brief rotation in medical school done in Alaska (during which he proposed to my sister). I’m pleased that although a brief display, he now has had a chance to see three things today that he’s never seen before (Caribou, Wolf and Northern lights). While I’ve seen the Northern Lights before, the wolf and Caribou were new noches on my belt, so on the whole, we’re having a great day!
We regretfully clean up camp, douse the campfire and row out to the anchored boat and crawl under the canvas just after 2 AM, with the first part of the journey home scheduled to begin tomorrow.
Friday, June 20
We arrive at Shakespeare Island with an hour available for fishing and we drop lines and soon are catching fish. With about 15 minutes left in the session, I cast a lure out into the lake and retrieve it slowly. I see a dark shape intercept the lure about 25 feet from the boat and the line goes taught. I set the hook and soon am losing line while a very large fish takes it from my Penn spinning reel. I adjust the drag to control the flow of monofilament and begin to reel the fish in. Soon, I’m playing the largest pike I’ve ever caught into the waiting net and have my trophy fish for the week. We pull lines and head for the harbor, and try to raise Mateo on the radio. Soon we reach him, and they invite us to a fishing spot that a local recommended for speckled trout. We spend about a ½ hour fishing for trout unsuccessfully and remind Mateo and his dad that we still need to break down the boat. The Montauk is mostly unloaded at this point, and if we’re going to get on the road together this afternoon, Matt and I need to do some major work.
We pull lines and head to the harbor. Turning back to the lake as we pull into the dock, we say our goodbyes and “until the next time” to Lake Nipigon.
The task to break down the boat is long – we’re breaking down rods/reels, packing away gear and dismantling the inflatable dingy (and cleaning it out). We have three pike which need to be cleaned, but for now, we’ve put them in a cooler while we focus on the boat.
Mateo and his dad are soon back at the dock, and we’re only ½ way through our work on the Outrage. They begin to help us out and eventually, finally, we get on the road (we haven’t cleaned the fish, but we plan to stop at a provincial park to do so this evening.
As we pull onto the gravel road that leads to the harbor, Matt comments: we didn’t see a bear…that would cap the trip.
In a couple miles, we turn on the paved but rarely traveled hwy 581 which leads from Beardmore to the lake, and BAM! There’s Yogi on the side of the road. He looks at us, we look at him (and take a few photos) and he ambles into the woods.
I turn to Matt and just say “there you go”. It’s a good cap to a great trip.
We stop in Beardmore for more ice on the way out of town and to try (unsuccessfully) to secure additional maps (we’ve nearly destroyed ours during the week of rain).
Soon we are running south towards Lake Superior and home. We stop in Nipigon for lunch and gas and Wawa to try to get some more summer sausage that we’ve enjoyed the entire week. As we pass a construction zone, I hear one worker exclaim “That’s the kind of boat I want to get” to a co-worker as the two Whalers pass by.
Shortly after Wawa, Matt and I pull off the highway for the night at a provincial park – we need to clean the fish and get a shower since we’ve become pretty ripe during the course of the week. We find a campsite, throw out a tent, clean the fish and take a shower and are in bed by midnight.
The Journey Home to be posted soon…
posted 06-30-2008 02:41 PM ET (US)
This weekend, while cleaning up the boat and doing some general maintenance on the boat and trailer after this trip, I had evidence of just how hard I was making those E-TEC engines work - we were loaded, for sure, but in the past, when doing the old "is your engine lugging?" trick of putting your finger on the inside of the prop hub, for the first time, my finger came out with black carbon on it. I think that I will buy a separate set of props for this type of trip in the future (aluminum). I would think that 17" pitch would be appropriate when this fully loaded.
I was impressed by the overall performance of the rig nonetheless. This was clearly the most heavily loaded I have ever run the boat.
posted 07-02-2008 02:00 PM ET (US)
Wow, what a trip. I've always dreamed of doing something like that. Those poor guys in the Montauk getting caught in the rain, lol.
And to think, you were trying to sell the boat a while ago.
posted 07-02-2008 10:30 PM ET (US)
Matt is planning to drive to Syracuse tonight, so we get an early start and are at the border by 8:00 AM, and met by a MNR task force, who stop us to inspect the coolers for fish. After about 10 minutes we're on our way and cross the US border with no problems or delay. We have fuel left in the truck, so we press onward, fueling at St. Ignace. After St. Ignace, we are able to push all the way home to St. Joseph before topping off the boat and the truck to reset the fuel count to zero. We're in the barn by 2:30 and Matt is on the way to Syracuse by 3:45. I stay after to clean up the gear and do some maintenance (adding oil, etc) to the boat. Around 5:30, I head home to Chicago and arrive home at 7:00 CT,in time to have dinner, relax and go to bed early after a long day on the road. What a trip, what a boat and what fun!
Looking forward to the next trip!
posted 07-09-2008 12:35 PM ET (US)
Did mateobosch get eaten by a bear up there? I sure would like to read his report about the trip, but I haven't seen any posts from him in a long while.
posted 08-21-2008 09:04 AM ET (US)
I've refrained from commenting on Matt's behalf, but at last weekend's rendezvous, several CW readers mentioned it to me and asked about his take on the trip.
First - Matt is a fine guy, and he's got a lot going on - he's been working long hours, and until a few days ago, was making a major decision about entering the workforce or completing college. At the same time, a young guy living in a beach town in summer...well, there are young women to chase, beaches to walk and fish to be caught...He's been busy. I'm also happy to report that he has decided to complete college and will be leaving the area in a few days (with his Whaler in tow) for the Rocky Mountains (It will be interesting to read about the performance loss of the E-TEC 115 at high altitude lakes) for college.
This is from my perspective, and what he told me after the trip.
Early in the trip, there were comments about costs, this being a "once-in-a-lifetime" trip, etc. After the weather, etc. My brother-in-law and I thought that Matt would definitely be interested in similar trips, but perhaps a bit farther south with some more civilization.
Quite the contrary. Matt helped me move some things a few weeks ago, after which he and I had a chance to do some Whalering together. I mentioned the trip to him. He said that he had a great time and that he and his dad were looking forward to another similar trip in the future.
I hope he'll log on to tell you that himself!
So there you have it - they survived, and I think they had a good time as well.
The key takeaway from this trip is to ensure you have the proper gear but more importantly, the proper mindset before embarking on such an expedition! I had a great time and am looking forward to another excursion to the NE shore of Lake Superior and Michipicoten Island next summer. I'll post more on that in another thread in October or November when the leaves are turning and the weather turns foul....I'll need something to look forward to to get me through the long winter months.
posted 08-21-2008 10:02 AM ET (US)
Dave, thanks for some (limited) sense of closure on this thread. I still hope that mateobosch will post some type of report some day.
Now you just need to finish off your 2007 Isle Royale trip report: http://continuouswave.com/ubb/Forum7/HTML/000884.html . I live vicariously through your trip reports, and for the past year I've felt that I had some unfinished business.
posted 08-21-2008 10:31 AM ET (US)
You guys are a tough crowd!
posted 08-25-2008 08:46 AM ET (US)
Check this fish out - taken on Nipigon.
posted 08-26-2008 07:47 PM ET (US)
Dave, tough crowd? No, we are just jealous, great reading, thanks for posting it!........Jack
posted 09-05-2008 12:45 PM ET (US)
OK. I'm settled in here in Ft. Collins, Colorado and after many months of putting off my report of Lake Nipigon I am finally working on it.
A quick overview of my current situation follows. I moved to Colorado last week with the Whaler, Italy, and a truck load of skis, a wakeboard, and a few cloths. The plan is to attend Colorado State University this winter to finish college with a Bachelor's in Science.
Without going into all the details, I will say that my father and I had a very good time up at Lake Nipigon. My dad speaks of the trip often and we sit back and laugh about all the crazy things that happened. My Montauk performed very well despite a few complications.
I can officially say that My dad, Italy and myself are alive today because of a Boston Whaler. I have held off on posting about this becuase I feel like a lot of things went wrong that I could have prevented but I learned some important lessons and will gladly share some of my thoughts with you on it shortly.
Thanks to everyone for thier continued interest in this.
posted 09-05-2008 01:13 PM ET (US)
good luck out there, I heard your were leaving us and meant to give you a call before you did. Any lakes around you out there? Terry Lake & Long Pond look like candidates for running the Montauk.
Let us know how everything is going and give a call when you're back here in Michigan for visits, you can go out with me on the Revenge....
posted 10-18-2008 03:49 PM ET (US)
posted 10-18-2008 03:51 PM ET (US)
After stressing for much of the summer about funding the trip due to many unexpected expenses, it was time to get on the road. I was set up well for fishing with plenty of gear and with my brand new E-TEC, boat reliability wasn’t a concern. My truck on the other hand had several things go wrong over the summer and I spent several grand within the month prior to the trip getting that ready to go. This was my funding for my Lake Nipigon trip and it basically vanished. Although I had considered many times buying canvas for my little Montauk, it never worked out because school was and is a higher priority for me right now. The little things that I didn’t buy previous to the trip like a reliable chart plotter and canvas were not by choice.So the big day finally came and Dave gave me a text letting me know he was near by at a rest area. My dad, Italy and I packed in and we were off. My truck was running very well and both vehicles and trailers made the trip with no issues. The drive up was awesome. The twisting highway follows the contour of Lake Superior for hundreds of miles. As anxious as we all were to begin our Nipigon adventure, I was tempted to slow down a bit to see all the nature already around us. Waterfalls poured out in several different cliff faces along the roads and to the other side of the road was the gorgeous shore of Lake Superior. We arrived in Beardmore and made some last minute stops before heading up to the launch area 20 minutes farther away. The launch site was very nice and had a base camp set up for the local fishermen and charter captains. Launching my Montauk took about 5 minutes as my boat was basically ready to go when I left home in Michigan. Dave’s boat on the other hand was set up a little more intricately because his boat acted as a home for two/fishing boat/cruising vessel. Day one started with a bang, literally. After a 10 mile cruise across the first major bay of Nipigon we were looking for our first camp site and the river mouth of Rea Lake. Both boats ended up in a treacherous shoal area so speeds were cut to idle. I had my dad watch from the bow area for rocks while I attempted to navigate safely though the rocks. You might not think it, but hitting an under water boulder at 2.5 MPH will rock your boat and leave a nasty cut on the hull. We hit hard! My first concern was my engine but I soon realized that a 6x1x1 deep wound had been afflicted to the starboard half of the bow. Thankful that the boat wasn’t taking on any water we headed to camp to access the damage and make a plan for day 2.The next morning Dave, Matt and I headed back across the lake to the launch ramp. My dad stayed at our camp on the island with Italy and spent the day exploring and relaxing by a fire. After setting up a communication plan, Dave and I parted ways and I headed into Beardmore. I walked in the local hardware/food mart/tire center/ hair salon and found a fiberglass repair kit. I asked around for a local mechanic or body shop and the store owner suggested a place to try. I drove down 30 miles to the next town over and found the garage. I negotiated with the owner and used a grinder to get the worst of the split gel coat and fiberglass cleaned away. After paying him 10 dollars for using a grinder for 1 minute, I headed back to the dock to begin my repair. I took the glass and added a little extra resin as it was 40 degrees out and I needed a quick cure. I slapped on some duck tape over the curing glass to hold it in place. Within the hour I was all set to get back in the water. Dave and Matt met me and we drove back to the island at about 6 PM and told my dad all the happenings of the day.With the Montauk back in action we were able to get back at the fun parts of the trip like exploring and fishing as planned. We found a river system near Rea Lake that was stocked FULL of ravenous pike. It was the kind of pike fishing that you hear about but rarely experience. EVERY CAST attracted a response in some way, a follow, strike, or a catch. My dad and I had doubles on many different occasions and I believe there was a time when both boats had simultaneous doubles. I figure we harmed 1/20 fish because they swallowed the hook, so after about 4 dead ones nearby we called it quits.Dave and Matt had a very ambitious travel schedule for points of interest they wanted to see on the lake. I don’t blame them at all for that. I would have loved to explore more but weather was just not cooperating. Besides, a typical morning for me on vacation involves sleeping in and a good breakfast. I take my time in the morning. I am from Michigan and lived in Holland, so I fished all the time for Salmon and just wasn’t as exited to get up early as Dave and Matt to fish. I understand their desire to do more on the trip because they live in city and rarely get the same opportunities to fish that I do. The weather was constantly cold and wet, and in these conditions, it could get old quick. My dad and I were content to chill out and relax on dry land instead of trying to always keep up with Gambler. I did have a makeshift tarp shelter to keep the boat dry at anchor but it was not practical while underway. It worked really well because I custom fitted tarp sections together to match the design of the boat. The down side of it was that it was a pain to set up and you couldn’t see though it at all. One of the places Dave wanted to visit was Black Sturgeon Bay in the southwest corner of Lake Nipigon. Since Dave and Matt were on a little more aggressive schedule than my dad and I and we had camp to set up and tear down every day, we told them to go ahead and we would meet them on the other side. Mind you, this is 50 miles across unfamiliar territory. Dave and I discussed coordinates and I recorded grids on my map and plotter, then they took off. My dad and I took a few hours to tear down camp and prepared for the long journey ahead of us. From the start of the trip I felt like I packed light but not light enough. With a weeks worth of gear and food for 2 people and a dog aboard, a full size kayak, fishing equipment, and my tarp shelter, the boat was certainly at capacity. In calm waters it floated fine but that changed in an instant.We departed camp and began heading south on the lake. We decided that to start slow and tow the kayak for a while since we had all day to get there and it would give us a little more space on the boat. As soon as we rounded corner by the Eagle Nest Islands to begin heading west, it started pouring rain and blowing like a SOB. Waves built up to 4 feet and it was freezing cold wind. Italy was shivering and soaked so I pulled out my Gortex bivy and sleeping bag and bundled her up. The next thing I noticed was that I forgot to get the kayak in before making my west turn and it was full of water and dragging behind the boat. With the boat in neutral, I got in the stern area behind my down riggers and began pulling in the flooded kayak. I estimate 200 pounds of water were inside it and I started to work it onto the boat. My weight combined with the flooded kayak in the back corner of the boat was more than enough to cause problems. Within seconds, several waves crashed over the back of the boat causing gear to shift and float all over the place. I estimate I was standing in a foot of water and it was still coming in fast. My dad, having never been in a situation like this before didn’t know what to do and was almost in a panic. The water was cold, 39 degrees, and we were more than a mile from the closest shoal island. We were in huge trouble. At this point my survival instincts kicked in my reaction was to tell my dad to drive. He didn’t really know what to do but I told him to trust me. Another cold wave crashed in and then I yelled, DRIVE! NOW! He threw the throttle down and the awesome power of the 115-HP E-TEC pushed the heavy boat up and out of the water out of harm’s way. A rush of water crashed over the stern and a significant amount of gear went with it. A stained 2x6 sits on the railing across the back of my Montauk for downriggers and several items were stored underneath it. I had to get down low and dive under water to pull the drain plug out. I then cleared a path for water to drain as much debris was flowing towards the drain. We slowed to a safe cruise speed of around 15 MPH and waited more than 10 minuets for all of the water to get out. At this point we were both soaked to the core and 40 plus miles from Dave and Matt. We drove into calm water and took some time to gather ourselves. Next, we rearranged the boat a bit and I assessed the situation. I noticed several items missing but nothing largely important. Anything vital was secure or tied down, although some lucky camper might find 2 t-bone steaks and few Red Bulls in a red cooler someday. I knew that we had to keep moving along because Dave and I set up a flawed travel plan that didn’t allow for error and had we had no communication. Had we not continued to our rendezvous location as scheduled, Dave would have thought the worst and would have come looking for us. The frequent radio traffic and words like cold, water, and the, already caused many other boats a bit of concern. I didn’t want a search team looking for us so we continued. I knew that if we were careful and smart that we could easily handle 3 to 4 footers without any other issues. I have been out in storms on Lake Michigan in 6 to 8 footers and my Montauk does very well for its size in rough water. I knew we could make it. The main concern was the water temperature so I made sure to get some survival gear packed in my bag and ready just in case. I threw a hand held VHF, lighter, polypro, flashlight, food, and various other items into a bag and secured a floatation seat to it. Not a perfect list of gear but they were things I thought could help in a worst case scenario. We decided to stay as close to shore as possible without getting too close to shoals. Far worse would be a situation of hitting bottom and losing the engine than to carefully drive around waves and deal with the wind. A long and punishing journey followed as we headed into the nasty. We set up my tarp shelter as best we could to partially shield us from the elements but it was little help. To make this portion of the trip even better, my chart plotter lost fix at the absolute worst time. I reset it and checked wiring but still no position was shown. It would come on intermittently and then shut off again. I wanted to break it into a million pieces and throw it into the water. It was time for good old plan B, old school navigation. I was trained well and experienced as a navigator from years in OIF so I felt comfortable using a map and compass to complete our mission of crossing the lake. I shot azimuths at land features and just took it step by step. I kept track of time and approx speed to gauge our progress and I felt more and more confident every mile we got down. I saw my dad’s concerns fade a little when he saw me drawing out our grids to follow. He knew that I would get us there.Within approximately 10 miles to Gambler I made a radio call out. I could hear static but had negative communication at this point. Part of the problem was that we rigged up the tarp over the sun topper and tied it down in so many places that I could not get the antenna up all the way. This certainly affected my ability to reach Dave as we had talked clearly more than 10 miles apart before hand. I knew that hearing Dave’s radio squelches meant we were getting close, so in a few more miles I moved up the antenna and made another call. We were now in clear communication and able to relay our position to Dave. I told him that we were beat up and soaked to the bone and asked if someone could get a fire going before coming out. We continued on along the middle portion of Grand Bay for about 8 more miles and then I got out my binoculars. I made visual contact of Gambler’s blue canvas and we linked up with Dave. Matt, being the responsible doctor type was concerned for us to be hypothermic so he prepared a hot fire and some soup for us. That was the best soup I have ever eaten. I took off most of my wet clothes and warmed up by the fire for the rest of the night. What a day.Looking back at that makes my dad and I laugh a little because we knew the extent of trouble we were in and were able to walk away. Thankfully we were able to learn a lot without any serious consequences.The rest of trip was less dramatic and much more enjoyable for us. Weather improved and we got some nice warm sunshine and calm waters to explore in true Montauk style. Dave and Matt split off for much of the rest of the trip and headed north while my dad and I explored the southeast portion. We found an old logging town on an island and headed in to investigate. We found cabins appearing to be 100 years old and crumbing into the ground. A few buildings remained standing but smelled like rotten wood and mildew. We found a large stone fireplace with a 30 foot chimney still standing where a cabin once was. We set up camp, built a fire and discussed the plan for the remaining few days left.We went back to base camp about 10 miles north of the logging town and offloaded all unnecessary gear. The plan was to live around base camp and just do day trips for the last few days so we headed up to the Namewaminkan River near Poplar Point. We fished and did some sightseeing as we traveled. The river was one of the trip highlights for me; it was such a nice day. The sun was out and we cruised at a nice 10 MPH pace on the way up keeping record of depths and debris in the water. The entire river was clear and the sky was reflecting the wood line on it like a picture frame. We saw a lot of wildlife on the river including: beaver, wood ducks, deer, and many other birds. After a few hours cruising up the river we decided to turn around. I threw the throttle down and cruised at fast plane around the sharp turns of the river. Having the 115-HP on the back makes hitting the throttle exiting and lets you feel like you are flying through the air. The water was smooth as glass so pushing the boat into steep banks around the twisting shoreline felt almost natural. Think Porsche meets curvy autobahn, that’s what it felt like.We spent the last few days fishing along Poplar Point and getting ready to travel home. I took a much needed shower and shaved for the first time in a week. Since Dave and Matt were still north about 50 miles at this point, we decided to head back up north to intersect them on their drive back. Before we left shore I threw away the massive tarp shelter and we put up all our overnight gear. I removed the down riggers and kayak. We had some lunch and then headed to Poplar Point to rendezvous with Dave and Matt. The water was calm and it was warm day out. I wondered to myself why this weather couldn’t have been there all week. I was thankful for a positive ending to the trip and really didn’t want to leave. Since Dave had a lot of travel prep to do, he went in and we continued to fish an extra hour. Then the time came to say farewell to Lake Nipigon.The ride home was nice as well and we saw the other half of the scenery we missed on the way up. Several more water falls and we also a lot of moose. Dave and Matt camped early at a Provincial park and my dad and I kept moving through the night. I turned on my super bight spotlights on my truck and pointed them slightly to the right to scan for moose. This worked perfectly and we were able to slow down way in advance for potential road kill. We ended up making it all the way to Mackinaw Island at about 2 AM and then we stopped. The next morning I launched my boat and met a friend who was up there on vacation for lunch. I also took a cruise under the Mackinac Bridge, something I wanted to do since I was young, and then met back for the rest of the journey home. We departed at 3 PM and made it home by 8 PM. Good times. Lake Nipigon was one of the most exiting and expensive trips I have ever been on but I would certainly do it again. The drive along highway 17 is some of the most beautiful scenery that my dad (Roger) and I have ever experienced. This trip was a very good bonding experience for us as father and son as we don’t get to do things like this together often. I am grateful that I could spend time with him and get to know him better. I would certainly consider going back up there in years to come and I know my dad would love another shot at it. I would certainly recommend this trip to families or anyone who wants a scenic and fun trip.Things to consider for Lake Nipigon outings of the future:1. Lake Nipigon deserves upmost respect.2. CANVAS IS A MUST!3. Always travel in pairs! If changes need to schedules need to be made to accommodate a smaller boat, then they just need to be made.4. Bring a good repair kit for shoal damage.5. Always stay within radio contact with the other parties involved.6. Things can happen in an instant. Be prepared for the unexpected at all times.Pictures will soon be posted.
I hope this gives you all a better idea of how my trip went. Sorry it took six months.
posted 10-18-2008 04:14 PM ET (US)
After stressing for much of the summer about funding the trip due to many unexpected expenses, it was time to get on the road. I was set up well for fishing with plenty of gear and with my brand new E-TEC, boat reliability wasn’t a concern. My truck on the other hand had several things go wrong over the summer and I spent several grand within the month prior to the trip getting that ready to go. This was my funding for my Lake Nipigon trip and it basically vanished. Although I had considered many times buying canvas for my little Montauk, it never worked out because school was and is a higher priority for me right now. The little things that I didn’t buy previous to the trip like a reliable chart plotter and canvas were not by choice.
So the big day finally came and Dave gave me a text letting me know he was near by at a rest area. My dad, Italy and I packed in and we were off. My truck was running very well and both vehicles and trailers made the trip with no issues. The drive up was awesome. The twisting highway follows the contour of Lake Superior for hundreds of miles. As anxious as we all were to begin our Nipigon adventure, I was tempted to slow down a bit to see all the nature already around us. Waterfalls poured out in several different cliff faces along the roads and to the other side of the road was the gorgeous shore of Lake Superior.
We arrived in Beardmore and made some last minute stops before heading up to the launch area 20 minutes farther away. The launch site was very nice and had a base camp set up for the local fishermen and charter captains. Launching my Montauk took about 5 minutes as my boat was basically ready to go when I left home in Michigan. Dave’s boat on the other hand was set up a little more intricately because his boat acted as a home for two/fishing boat/cruising vessel.
Day one started with a bang, literally. After a 10 mile cruise across the first major bay of Nipigon we were looking for our first camp site and the river mouth of Rea Lake. Both boats ended up in a treacherous shoal area so speeds were cut to idle. I had my dad watch from the bow area for rocks while I attempted to navigate safely though the rocks. You might not think it, but hitting an under water boulder at 2.5 MPH will rock your boat and leave a nasty cut on the hull. We hit hard! My first concern was my engine but I soon realized that a 6x1x1 deep wound had been afflicted to the starboard half of the bow. Thankful that the boat wasn’t taking on any water we headed to camp to access the damage and make a plan for day 2.
The next morning Dave, Matt and I headed back across the lake to the launch ramp. My dad stayed at our camp on the island with Italy and spent the day exploring and relaxing by a fire. After setting up a communication plan, Dave and I parted ways and I headed into Beardmore. I walked in the local hardware/food mart/tire center/ hair salon and found a fiberglass repair kit. I asked around for a local mechanic or body shop and the store owner suggested a place to try. I drove down 30 miles to the next town over and found the garage. I negotiated with the owner and used a grinder to get the worst of the split gel coat and fiberglass cleaned away. After paying him 10 dollars for using a grinder for 1 minute, I headed back to the dock to begin my repair. I took the glass and added a little extra resin as it was 40 degrees out and I needed a quick cure. I slapped on some duck tape over the curing glass to hold it in place. Within the hour I was all set to get back in the water. Dave and Matt met me and we drove back to the island at about 6 PM and told my dad all the happenings of the day.
posted 10-18-2008 04:16 PM ET (US)
With the Montauk back in action we were able to get back at the fun parts of the trip like exploring and fishing as planned. We found a river system near Rea Lake that was stocked FULL of ravenous pike. It was the kind of pike fishing that you hear about but rarely experience. EVERY CAST attracted a response in some way, a follow, strike, or a catch. My dad and I had doubles on many different occasions and I believe there was a time when both boats had simultaneous doubles. I figure we harmed 1/20 fish because they swallowed the hook, so after about 4 dead ones nearby we called it quits.
Dave and Matt had a very ambitious travel schedule for points of interest they wanted to see on the lake. I don’t blame them at all for that. I would have loved to explore more but weather was just not cooperating. Besides, a typical morning for me on vacation involves sleeping in and a good breakfast. I take my time in the morning. I am from Michigan and lived in Holland, so I fished all the time for Salmon and just wasn’t as exited to get up early as Dave and Matt to fish. I understand their desire to do more on the trip because they live in city and rarely get the same opportunities to fish that I do. The weather was constantly cold and wet, and in these conditions, it could get old quick. My dad and I were content to chill out and relax on dry land instead of trying to always keep up with Gambler. I did have a makeshift tarp shelter to keep the boat dry at anchor but it was not practical while underway. It worked really well because I custom fitted tarp sections together to match the design of the boat. The down side of it was that it was a pain to set up and you couldn’t see though it at all.
One of the places Dave wanted to visit was Black Sturgeon Bay in the southwest corner of Lake Nipigon. Since Dave and Matt were on a little more aggressive schedule than my dad and I and we had camp to set up and tear down every day, we told them to go ahead and we would meet them on the other side. Mind you, this is 50 miles across unfamiliar territory. Dave and I discussed coordinates and I recorded grids on my map and plotter, then they took off. My dad and I took a few hours to tear down camp and prepared for the long journey ahead of us. From the start of the trip I felt like I packed light but not light enough. With a weeks worth of gear and food for 2 people and a dog aboard, a full size kayak, fishing equipment, and my tarp shelter, the boat was certainly at capacity. In calm waters it floated fine but that changed in an instant.
We departed camp and began heading south on the lake. We decided that to start slow and tow the kayak for a while since we had all day to get there and it would give us a little more space on the boat. As soon as we rounded corner by the Eagle Nest Islands to begin heading west, it started pouring rain and blowing like a SOB. Waves built up to 4 feet and it was freezing cold wind. Italy was shivering and soaked so I pulled out my Gortex bivy and sleeping bag and bundled her up.
The next thing I noticed was that I forgot to get the kayak in before making my west turn and it was full of water and dragging behind the boat. With the boat in neutral, I got in the stern area behind my down riggers and began pulling in the flooded kayak. I estimate 200 pounds of water were inside it and I started to work it onto the boat. My weight combined with the flooded kayak in the back corner of the boat was more than enough to cause problems. Within seconds, several waves crashed over the back of the boat causing gear to shift and float all over the place. I estimate I was standing in a foot of water and it was still coming in fast. My dad, having never been in a situation like this before didn’t know what to do and was almost in a panic. The water was cold, 39 degrees, and we were more than a mile from the closest shoal island. We were in huge trouble.
posted 10-18-2008 04:18 PM ET (US)
At this point my survival instincts kicked in my reaction was to tell my dad to drive. He didn’t really know what to do but I told him to trust me. Another cold wave crashed in and then I yelled, DRIVE! NOW! He threw the throttle down and the awesome power of the 115-HP E-TEC pushed the heavy boat up and out of the water out of harm’s way. A rush of water crashed over the stern and a significant amount of gear went with it. A stained 2x6 sits on the railing across the back of my Montauk for downriggers and several items were stored underneath it. I had to get down low and dive under water to pull the drain plug out. I then cleared a path for water to drain as much debris was flowing towards the drain.
We slowed to a safe cruise speed of around 15 MPH and waited more than 10 minuets for all of the water to get out. At this point we were both soaked to the core and 40 plus miles from Dave and Matt. We drove into calm water and took some time to gather ourselves. Next, we rearranged the boat a bit and I assessed the situation. I noticed several items missing but nothing largely important. Anything vital was secure or tied down, although some lucky camper might find 2 t-bone steaks and few Red Bulls in a red cooler someday.
I knew that we had to keep moving along because Dave and I set up a flawed travel plan that didn’t allow for error and had we had no communication. Had we not continued to our rendezvous location as scheduled, Dave would have thought the worst and would have come looking for us. The frequent radio traffic and words like cold, water, and the, already caused many other boats a bit of concern. I didn’t want a search team looking for us so we continued. I knew that if we were careful and smart that we could easily handle 3 to 4 footers without any other issues.
I have been out in storms on Lake Michigan in 6 to 8 footers and my Montauk does very well for its size in rough water. I knew we could make it. The main concern was the water temperature so I made sure to get some survival gear packed in my bag and ready just in case. I threw a hand held VHF, lighter, polypro, flashlight, food, and various other items into a bag and secured a floatation seat to it. Not a perfect list of gear but they were things I thought could help in a worst case scenario. We decided to stay as close to shore as possible without getting too close to shoals. Far worse would be a situation of hitting bottom and losing the engine than to carefully drive around waves and deal with the wind.
A long and punishing journey followed as we headed into the nasty. We set up my tarp shelter as best we could to partially shield us from the elements but it was little help. To make this portion of the trip even better, my chart plotter lost fix at the absolute worst time. I reset it and checked wiring but still no position was shown. It would come on intermittently and then shut off again. I wanted to break it into a million pieces and throw it into the water. It was time for good old plan B, old school navigation. I was trained well and experienced as a navigator from years in OIF so I felt comfortable using a map and compass to complete our mission of crossing the lake. I shot azimuths at land features and just took it step by step. I kept track of time and approx speed to gauge our progress and I felt more and more confident every mile we got down. I saw my dad’s concerns fade a little when he saw me drawing out our grids to follow. He knew that I would get us there.
posted 10-18-2008 04:19 PM ET (US)
Within approximately 10 miles to Gambler I made a radio call out. I could hear static but had negative communication at this point. Part of the problem was that we rigged up the tarp over the sun topper and tied it down in so many places that I could not get the antenna up all the way. This certainly affected my ability to reach Dave as we had talked clearly more than 10 miles apart before hand. I knew that hearing Dave’s radio squelches meant we were getting close, so in a few more miles I moved up the antenna and made another call. We were now in clear communication and able to relay our position to Dave. I told him that we were beat up and soaked to the bone and asked if someone could get a fire going before coming out. We continued on along the middle portion of Grand Bay for about 8 more miles and then I got out my binoculars. I made visual contact of Gambler’s blue canvas and we linked up with Dave. Matt, being the responsible doctor type was concerned for us to be hypothermic so he prepared a hot fire and some soup for us. That was the best soup I have ever eaten. I took off most of my wet clothes and warmed up by the fire for the rest of the night. What a day.
Looking back at that makes my dad and I laugh a little because we knew the extent of trouble we were in and were able to walk away. Thankfully we were able to learn a lot without any serious consequences.
The rest of trip was less dramatic and much more enjoyable for us. Weather improved and we got some nice warm sunshine and calm waters to explore in true Montauk style. Dave and Matt split off for much of the rest of the trip and headed north while my dad and I explored the southeast portion. We found an old logging town on an island and headed in to investigate. We found cabins appearing to be 100 years old and crumbing into the ground. A few buildings remained standing but smelled like rotten wood and mildew. We found a large stone fireplace with a 30 foot chimney still standing where a cabin once was. We set up camp, built a fire and discussed the plan for the remaining few days left.
We went back to base camp about 10 miles north of the logging town and offloaded all unnecessary gear. The plan was to live around base camp and just do day trips for the last few days so we headed up to the Namewaminkan River near Poplar Point. We fished and did some sightseeing as we traveled. The river was one of the trip highlights for me; it was such a nice day. The sun was out and we cruised at a nice 10 MPH pace on the way up keeping record of depths and debris in the water. The entire river was clear and the sky was reflecting the wood line on it like a picture frame. We saw a lot of wildlife on the river including: beaver, wood ducks, deer, and many other birds. After a few hours cruising up the river we decided to turn around. I threw the throttle down and cruised at fast plane around the sharp turns of the river. Having the 115-HP on the back makes hitting the throttle exiting and lets you feel like you are flying through the air. The water was smooth as glass so pushing the boat into steep banks around the twisting shoreline felt almost natural. Think Porsche meets curvy autobahn, that’s what it felt like.
posted 10-18-2008 04:20 PM ET (US)
We spent the last few days fishing along Poplar Point and getting ready to travel home. I took a much needed shower and shaved for the first time in a week. Since Dave and Matt were still north about 50 miles at this point, we decided to head back up north to intersect them on their drive back. Before we left shore I threw away the massive tarp shelter and we put up all our overnight gear. I removed the down riggers and kayak. We had some lunch and then headed to Poplar Point to rendezvous with Dave and Matt. The water was calm and it was warm day out. I wondered to myself why this weather couldn’t have been there all week. I was thankful for a positive ending to the trip and really didn’t want to leave. Since Dave had a lot of travel prep to do, he went in and we continued to fish an extra hour. Then the time came to say farewell to Lake Nipigon.
Lake Nipigon was one of the most exiting and expensive trips I have ever been on but I would certainly do it again. The drive along highway 17 is some of the most beautiful scenery that my dad (Roger) and I have ever experienced. This trip was a very good bonding experience for us as father and son as we don’t get to do things like this together often. I am grateful that I could spend time with him and get to know him better. I would certainly consider going back up there in years to come and I know my dad would love another shot at it. I would certainly recommend this trip to families or anyone who wants a scenic and fun trip.
Things to consider for Lake Nipigon outings of the future:
posted 10-20-2008 05:14 PM ET (US)
Thanks for circling back and posting about the trip from your perspective. I’d like to see some of your photos, if you have them!
I agree on some of your key takeaways, so I’ll support and add my own:
That last one is not a criticism of Matt, because the place where he and his father encountered the roughest seas was in open water, but their passage would have been eased by taking lee waters through the channel south of Gross Cap and also between the islands near Two Mountain Island/Harbor. That is the route that GAMBLER took, and we were able to duck out of the seas into sheltered passage for the majority of the trip. Accurate cartography (topographic maps loaded into the chartplotter and an additional surface map we found locally before launch, combined with the CHS chart and recreational basin maps referenced far above in the trip planning stages in mid December 2007) will help guide you – although I’m impressed with Matt’s ability to dead reckon since his electronics went out.
That said – I should have hung back at Gross Cap and waited for Matt (hindsight is 20/20). My brother in-law and I could have done some fishing in the side channels along the islands there and still enjoyed the day/week; and we may have still made it over to Chief Bay. I was dead set on reaching Chief Bay by early afternoon…which brings me to another learning:
Additional note, and I also make note of my March 4 posting above:
Finally, I think a trip like this illustrates some key differences between the Montauk and Outrage hulls – where the capabilities of the Montauk are stretched thin and the small Outrage still has some margin for error.
In any event, I look back on the trip with fond memories.
posted 10-20-2008 10:32 PM ET (US)
I got an estimate at a custom canvas maker here in CO for a full setup. Winter project?
posted 10-30-2009 01:47 PM ET (US)
Long delay, but for readers who are interested in following along on googlemaps, I've loaded it in.
posted 10-30-2009 03:43 PM ET (US)
Now you just need to complete your 2007 Isle Royale trip report.
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