Summer 2008 Lake Superior Cruise
14 August 2008 | Marquette, MI
At first light, we left the indent and headed out the lower Keewanaw entry into a beautiful sunrise. Soon, I was calling for the spinnaker as it was a beautiful south wind of about 7-10 kts and since our initial course was southeast, this would put us on a nice broad reach.. In these conditions, many boats would be using their engine in order to be able to average 5 kts of boatspeed, but Charrette will easily average 5 kts under these conditions with a spinnaker. Once around Point Abbaye, I knew we would likely be on a beam reach which would require dousing the kite, so I was looking forward to using the spinnaker while it lasted.
We rounded the point and the wind clocked and increased a bit allowing us to continue to carry the spinnaker. We sailed very close to the Huron Islands with their bold, rocky topography and the spectacular lighthouse complex high up above. These islands reminded us a lot of the Canadian north shore and we would have loved to stop and explore them but unfortunately, there isn't any sort of protected anchorage and the holding is reported to be difficult due to a rocky bottom.
As we continued toward Marquette, the wind continued to clock and thus we were able to carry the kite past Big Bay. I was beginning to think that we must really be living "right" and that the idyllic all day sail was about to occur when suddenly, the wind became really light and the kite collapsed. At the time, Stefan was driving and I was asleep on the bow. Stefan being the "sailor's sailor" that he is yelled, "Dad, windshift". I looked up and sure enough, there was a wind line coming straight at us. Over the years, I've experienced a number of 180 deg. wind shifts and they've always fascinated me but at the moment, I really didn't have time to contemplate this one as the spinnaker needed to come down quickly. With a tall masthead rig such as ours, the spinnaker can quickly develop a wrap around the forestay making it extremely difficult to come down and one does not want a 1,200 ft2 flag whipping about from the mast. Soon we were tacking upwind in the gusty, shifty breeze but after 30 minutes or so the "get there itis" kicked in and I succumbed to using the motor once again.
We pulled into Marquette just in time to see several schooners sailing out of the harbor with their crew up in the "crowsnest" and otherwise hanging off the sides dressed in pirate garb. We went to the old coal dock "wharf" to tie up where there were literally hundreds of local townspeople eating, drinking, yelling and cheering for the pirates to return. As it turns out, we were arriving right during the town's pirate festival so lacking a "jolly roger", we strung up signal flags and ran them up and down the mast. Within a few hours, most of the throngs of people dissipated but the teenage crowd remained well into the evening. Thankfully, the rain came around 2330 and they finally scattered.