Great Lakes Sailing

Vessel Name: Charrette
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau First 38
Hailing Port: Sister Bay, WI
About: We are an experienced Great Lakes cruising family of 4 (boys 16 and 12) who live aboard during the summer months. In addition to cruising, we also enjoy JAM racing as well as Flying Scot one design racing at the Ephraim Yacht Club where both boys are accomplished racers.
Extra:
Charrette is a 1983 Beneteau First 38 auxilary sloop with a fast modern hull shape, a deep fin keel and spade rudder configuration. She is fast, stable, roomy and does not look dated despite being over 25 years old. She is a sister ship to the S/V Bagheera, a First 38 that circumnavigated the [...]
19 August 2008 | Sault Ste. Marie, MI
19 August 2008 | Sault Ste. Marie, MI
19 August 2008 | Whitefish Point, MI
19 August 2008 | Grand Marais, MI
14 August 2008 | Murray Bay, Grand Island (Munising)
14 August 2008 | Marquette, MI
14 August 2008 | Marquette, MI
09 August 2008 | Lower Keewanaw Waterway Indent
09 August 2008 | Lower Keewanaw Waterway Indent
06 August 2008 | Lilly Pond Kewaunaw Waterway Upper Entry
06 August 2008 | Black River, MI
06 August 2008 | Black River, MI
06 August 2008 | La Pointe Harbor
06 August 2008 | La Pointe Harbor Via Bayfield
01 August 2008 | Raspberry Island Sand Spit
01 August 2008 | Rocky Island
01 August 2008 | Rocky Island Via Devils Island
01 August 2008 | Stockton Island
01 August 2008 | Village of La Point, Madeline Island, WI
01 August 2008 | Bayfield WI
Recent Blog Posts
19 August 2008 | Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

8/14/08

19 August 2008 | Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

8/13/08

19 August 2008 | Whitefish Point, MI

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

8/12/08

19 August 2008 | Grand Marais, MI

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

8/11/08

14 August 2008 | Murray Bay, Grand Island (Munising)

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

8/10/08

14 August 2008 | Marquette, MI

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

8/9/08

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

19 August 2008 | Sault Ste. Marie, MI
John
8/14/08

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Today was crew change day and I must say that at various times I was quite emotional about seeing our wonderful family cruise come to an end. Sure we all had our moments, but all in all it had been an incredible adventure and it was now drawing to a close. Late in the afternoon, my sailing friend from Door County arrived in our van and I sped off to buy groceries and refill the propane cylinder. Then in an instant, mom and the kids were off to suburbia and our time together had drawn to a close.

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

19 August 2008 | Sault Ste. Marie, MI
John
8/13/08

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

After the last of the blueberry pancakes had been consumed, we got underway towards "The Soo". Once again, we flew our spinnaker for the 5th time in 7 days until we encountered a large upbound freighter making his way towards Whitefish Point. When the AIS reported closest point of approach at 30 yards, Deanna picked up the mike and worked out a passing arrangement which basically involved us gybing and ultimately dousing the kite. The wind turned even lighter until we reached Gros Cap Light and then turned fairly strong out of the west. We continued up the channel under sail while the kids steered and we navigated. A coast guard cutter came up behind us and then called us on the VHF, advised us of their intention to pass on our port and then wished us a good day. Since we were already well to the right hand side of the channel and were watching the cutter closely, we believe that they might have seen the kids operating the boat themselves and were just checking to see if the was actually an adult on board.

Locking down proved to be quite an adventure as we shared the lock with one of the Soo lock tour boats and a large powerboat. The lockmaster gave us very specific instructions to allow the tour boat to enter the lock first despite the fact that we had to wait almost 20 minutes for his arrival. Upon exiting the lock, a squall line came through complete with 24 kt winds and rain but it all passed within 5 minutes or so after arriving at the Kemp Marina.

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

19 August 2008 | Whitefish Point, MI
John
8/12/08

Whitefish Point, MI

Although it had previously seemed prudent to avoid Whitefish Point based on the description in the GLCC publications, we decided to give it a try after several other sailors who we met along the south shore had mentioned that it had just been dredged. Just in case we had to make alternate plans upon our arrival, we got underway at 0800. Soon, we were ghosting along under spinnaker at 4-5 knots under light westerly winds but that didn't last long and soon we were powering again. We arrived at "the point" around 1530 and were surprised to find a least depth of 11' (LWD) until we were completely into one of the transient slips one of which was being repaired as we arrived. Least depth in the outer slips were 8' at LWD and that depth was read towards the bow close to the dock. We quickly made our way to the Shipwreck museum which to our surprise was open until 1800. We found the museum to be a real unexpected treat with several components including a 20 minute feature film on the recovery of the bell from the Edmond Fitzgerald as well as various displays and artifacts from the many shipwrecks that have occurred off of Whitefish Point. We also were able to tour the restored lightkeepers quarters at the Whitefish Point Light. On the way back to the boat, we picked wild blueberries along the road before the mosquitoes chased us away.

We returned to the boat to find 3 other boats had arrived one of which was an Alberg 35, a sistership to by parents boat that I had spent many summers of my youth on. The owner took great pride in showing me the interior of the vessel.

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

19 August 2008 | Grand Marais, MI
John
8/11/08

Grand Marais, MI

We departed a little later than normal for a "moving day" because I wanted to do some brief exploration of Grand Island since we weren't able to do so the day before. Although the wind was now quite calm, one could still hear the rollers crashing onto the beach in the adjacent bay that faces north. We got into the dinghy to go over to the north end of the bay where we could see the dock that the GLCC information said was available to use to pick up the trails to the over side of the island. Unfortunately, the dock was posted so landfall eluded us, but we were able to see the schooner shipwreck nearby to our anchorage. After a "cleansing swim", we got underway under sail but soon realized that the wind was local only to the bay we weren't going to be able to sail much anyway so we furled everything so that we could motor by the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for a closer look. This viewing turned out to be more difficult that we had first imagined as there were numerous shoals and sandbars close in. This is one case where taking a commercial sight seeing tour might be worth the while, however, we have seen the pictured rocks from land several years ago so we quickly moved on. Soon, we were moving along nicely under spinnaker and later in the afternoon, we were passed by our sailing friends who we met in Marquette who were powersailing. Just after we cleared Au Sable Point, we encountered the Drummond Islander II ferry boat pulling a barge, which was being pushed by a tug, which was towing a large pipe about 1/4mile long towards Ontonagon (per AIS info). It was difficult to stay out of his way under spinnaker but somehow we managed.

We anchored next to our sailing friend's boat in about 30' of water over sand as the shore is very steep to. After we were settled, our sailor friends stopped by for a brief visit. Apparently, they too had departed just behind us from Marquette yesterday but had quickly turned around due to the rough conditions. In fact, they were quite surprised that we had chosen to continue on.

Grand Marais is a small town with everything easily accessible from the beach which was a short dinghy ride in. We purchased essentials from the small grocery while Deanna made her way over to the coin operated showers near the local campground. Grand Marais does have a municipal dock, but it consists of a wall that is quite exposed to the east and there are no showers or other services besides water and electricity there. For that, you get to pay the full Michigan marina price.

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

14 August 2008 | Murray Bay, Grand Island (Munising)
John
8/10/08

Murray Bay, Grand Island

We were off the wharf by 0745 and as we were departing, our sailor friend came out and bid us farewell. I replied that we were getting an early start because I had just listened to NOAA and it sounded like the winds would steadily decline throughout the day and we just wanted to get out there before we had to power all day. I knew that there would be a lot of leftover slop from the day before, so we hoisted sail prior to exiting the breakwall. Soon, we were doing a steady 6.5-7kts and Isak was doing a nice job driving so I went down below to get "harnessed up" just in case I needed to go up on the bow later. While I was down there, Isak yelled that the wind was now blowing 22kts so I knew I needed to get up there fast in order to pull a reef in. I quickly went up and did that while still wearing my sweats. By this time, we had cleared the point and the waves were now 3-5'. I briefly looked back towards the breakwall that was now quickly getting smaller as we sped away and saw another sailboat heading out. Assuming it to be the our sailor friends, I wondered how long it would take them to turn around and I briefly thought ot this myself but the boat was responding well and I knew that if the wind held, we'd be in to the Munising area by lunch time so I went down below to continue to suit up. As I was doing this, a particularly rogue wave must have come out of nowhere as I heard the rest of the crew scream a loud "oohhh" and then the boat heeled way over. For a brief moment, it got very dark down in the cabin as the wave passed over the port holes in the cabin top. Then the coffee pot still full of water came careening across the cabin at me along with the quart of blueberries that we had purchased at the farmers market. After a brief moment, the boat righted itself and light began to come through the port holes once again. After discovering much to my relief that the boat had retained the crew in the cockpit, my attention turned to cleaning up the mess down below. The coffee pot had a huge dent in it where the handle is but was otherwise no worse for the wear so I began to crawl around on my hands and knees scooping the blueberries off of the cabin sole with a spatula into a plastic bag. My thoughts began to turn to NOAA and how that particular organization had betrayed me once again but I was thankful that we were in a solid, secure vessel that could withstand way more than the crew could.

With all that now behind us, I crawled back into the cockpit realizing that we didn't need to be careening along at 8 kts so we rolled in the jib which reduced our speed to a more manageable 5-6kts. Unfortunately, this caused the boat to roll back and forth even more and soon those of the crew who have a propensity for seasickness were clutching the blue bucket.

Being one of the crew who doesn't have a propensity for seasickness won me the task of steering virtually the whole rest of the trip. I managed to steer clear of any more rogue waves but I dodged many. The wind briefly receded to 15-18kts and we redeployed the jib but an hour later, the wind was back up to 20-22kts. We finally made the turn downwind into the channel west of Grand Island and soon the waves began to recede as we entered the protected waters. Needless to say, this made the crew very happy and they soon began discussing what was for lunch.

We anchored just south of the shipwreck of an old schooner in Murray Bay. The wind blew like stink all afternoon, so it was hard to get the crew motivated to go ashore although the kids did get the kite out as it was perfect weather for that. Later in the evening, the wind began to calm and we watched the bald eagles soar once again above our anchorage.

Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise

14 August 2008 | Marquette, MI
John
8/9/08

Marquette

Our original plan for today was to download email, pick up our snail mail at the post office and be on our way to Munising by 1200 but downloading the email took longer than we thought and then there was a brief downpour and then we needed to pick up some things at the local farmers market and some fish at the fish shanty and then the kids wanted to play soccer for awhile while we looked over the mail and paid bills and before we knew it, it was 1400. The decision seemed even more justifiable as the wind had built in excess of 25kts out of the north and large whitecaps were now evident beyond the breakwater. We visited with some sailors from another boat that had arrived just prior to us who were from Grand Marais, MI and were also trying to head that way. We chatted about the weather for awhile and it seemed to both of us that tomorrow's forecast of winds diminishing to 10-15 kts sounded much better.
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