In Transit to Lake Superior
16 July 2012
So let me catch you up.
Our trip up Lake Michigan was boring until..... we were just south of Beaver Island in the Manitou Passage. All afternoon and evening I was listening to the weather on the VHF radio. They forecast a warm front passage sometime in the early morning hours, you know, winds, rain and thunderstorms. Well it was Alice's watch and I laid down in our cockpit for a little rest. It was 23:30, no wind and we were powering along at about 7 knots heading for Gray's Reef about some 25 to 30 miles away. I had just fallen asleep when I hear a voice. “ Bob is the wind really 21 knots?” UH? I looked up at the wind indicator and sure enough 21 knots on our nose, oh crap!! Then it went to 24, then 26 and finally at 30 knots our autopilot lost it and Alice commanded me to take the wheel. Picture this, total darkness, wind at 30 knots, rain horizontal and now what was a flat calm Manitou Passage was pretty riled up with the spray from waves breaking over the top of our enclosure. But wait... we were dry and comfortable. Lucky Bird though was having a hard time finding her way or more correctly I was having a really hard time steering. Wow, from 320 mag all the way over to 90 mag in a few seconds. The effect of the wind was brutal and even being such a great captain I had to admit I was doing a rather poor job of getting our boat settled down.. Then to add just a little more drama I noticed on our chart plotter that there was an AIS target, a large lake transport freighter, heading right for us. Here's another “oh crap” because as I turned to look to see the on-coming ship I couldn't see our stern light. No light for the ship to see us as it approached so I decided to get out of its way. Hang a quick right and head for Little Traverse Bay some 18 miles away. A place to bail out and get some rest. The turning worked, we were out of the ships path and worry, yet now we were sailing in the trough. Sailors understand what the trough means. The waves are now broad-side and we rolled. I mean we rolled more than during our Mona Passage. Everything below broke loose. We had pots and pans, water jugs, glasses, wine bottles, and lots of stuff rolling back and forth. Now I'm stuck on the wheel so Alice has to go below and sort it all out. God bless my lady. After awhile the noises from below stopped and she returned to the cockpit. By now were we closer to the bay and the storm was passing. The lightening was as spectacular as our passage on Lake Erie. Cloud to cloud and cloud to ground all around us, so bright I lost my night vision, so close I could count only to one thousand and three.
So enough said of that fun. Now were are anchored in Goulais Bay, Ontario having run up the St. Mary's River, checked in the Canadian customs, passed through the Canadian Lock at Sault St. Marie and sailed into the notorious Whitefish Bay. So much nautical history surrounds this bay and here we were finally sailing. The winds were 10 knots and Lucky Bird was enjoying here new head sail. It was a long day having started at 07:00 and now at 21:00 we were anchoring and settling in for the night. Chicken-catchitori and wine. Yummm!
Just before I close down I need to make a comment about the daylight hours up here. I mean come on, how awesome. First light at 5:00 and by 22:00 there is still sufficient light to navigate. That's almost 17 hours of daylight. Fantastic; so we will take full advantage of these long days and head counter-clockwise around this huge lake. We've plotted a course for the next 10 or so days and with some help from the weather we'll make some truly wonderful landfalls.