Leaving Killarney OR Meta Fog's Excellent Motor Trip
11 August 2014 | Houghton/Hancock, MI
Leaving Killarney OR Meta Fog’s Excellent
You may want to ignore the following as it is a boring day to day summary of what is turning out to be a motor boat trip west across the UP toward Bayfield. From Lime Island near the mouth of the St. Mary’s River to Houghton/Hancock, where we are now, we can count less than four hours of actual sailing.
Having made up our minds to return to Bayfield, it was time to leave Killarney and head west. A lack of wind caused us to motor our way back to Little Current, but soon after clearing the turn-bridge, a light northerly breeze popped up presaging the forecast switch to NE later due to a passing low to our south. So we put up the sails and slowly wound our way to South Benjamin where we dropped anchor to let the low pass with full protection from the increasing NE. After a comfortable night, we thought we would head back to Bear Drop Harbor and wait there for a good wind to go further west. But by the time we got underway, the wind was north and a little NW. We were making good time, but would not be able to lay Bear Drop without a good bit of tacking. It dawned on us that we just might be able to get all the way to Meldrum Bay, tightened up the sails and started out. The wind stiffened and we found ourselves dong six knots pretty steadily with no strain. Several hours later the wind relaxed just as we passed the entrance light to Meldrum, one of the fastest sails we had ever experienced in Meta Fog, and a truly joyous one.
After two nights waiting for the NW to settle down, we motored on to Harbor Island near Drummond Island. The next a.m. as we were leaving, the engine “acted funny,” spontaneously losing revs, picking up again, and losing again. Recognizing we were going to be heading into Lake Superior where finding help would be difficult, we made the snap judgment to go to the Drummond Island Yacht Haven a short three miles away. There a mechanic diagnosed the problem as clogged fuel filters. This seemed sensible to our amateur brains so we hired him on the spot. A couple of hours later, with new filters we departed for the second time that morning.
We needed to stop at Detour, to revisit Bruce at the Detour Passage Boat Yard to pick up a new remote bilge pump as the thirty year old, original equipment pump, had died. Unfortunately, as it turned out the pump was the wrong type.
Something had misfired in the conversation when we asked Bruce to order it. Generously, he said he would simply keep it and sell it on to someone else who could use it. We accepted his offer gratefully departing immediately thereafter for Lime Island about 12 miles up the St. Mary’s River. This sail involved a lot of tacking and dodging of lakers and salties as the River had become suddenly very busy.
The next day in flat wind we motored to the Kemp Marina at the Soo in a little over seven hours, very quick for Meta Fog despite the fact that we were reduced to three knots at several points due to the strong current. The dock guys recommended the Pub where Jim had a fish sandwich and a fine dork Michigan craft beer. Ellie had a perch basket and a glass of wine.
We stayed at Kemp for two nights waiting for a troublesome NW to lay down. The forecast called for it to stop for a few hours but resuming in late afternoon. We decided to take the weather window and risk it. Most of the way to Whitefish Point we had a small following breeze. A mini-cloud line advertised the resumption of the NW when we were a couple of miles from Harbor of Refuge. Again we stayed two nights waiting for the new NW to relax. While there we walked the mile to the light house and the sunken ship museum where the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald is located. The museum seems to have adopted the theory that the ship passed too close to a reef, dropped into a wave trough, hit bottom and broke the boat. Anyway, the museum got a little spooky for us.
A spread out, weak, high pressure center was slowly sinking into the Lake. We made Grand Marais, MI, after another motor boat trip. We wanted to obtain fuel, but the harbor master never answered our phone calls, so we anchored out among the moorings in 30 feet. The night was spent in total calm, but the new breakwater would have taken away most anxiety about anchoring even if the wind was not calm.
Now the high was in complete control so the next day we motored again to Munising. All of this motoring is boring, but we have taken it as a sign that we are heading the right way. Maybe tomorrow the predicted SE will be strong enough so we can sail to Marquette. We need a couple of days off, so we have already decided to stay at least two days. If we stay longer due to weather, we may anchor out inside the breakwater.
As expected, the trip to Marquette began as a motor boat ride in flat seas. But about half way there a NE popped up at about 10 knots+/- and E could not resist the urge to sail. So we did at 3.5—4.5 kts for most of the remainder of the distance. We are staying over for a second night here. Today, I borrowed a vacuum pump from Dockside Marine and changed the engine oil and filter and increased the amount of antifreeze coolant in the heat exchanger. We did grocery shopping, rented bikes and did the 7.5 mile ride out and back to Presque Isle Park, and went out for dinner. E is positively ecstatic about her fish tacos, really! In the am before we depart for Big Bay I will install a new impeller in the engine cooling water pump. This always gives me the hebbie-jeebies as I fear dropping something in the bilge, but it needs doing.
The fearful job went surprisingly quickly with nothing dropped. I had forgotten that years ago I had added the quick open device. The only problem was that I thought the impeller key slot was the same from each side. After a couple of blows with a mallet, I thought this is not right. The slot embraces the key only from one side. When I figured that out, it was all done a minute. But again, we had a motorboat ride to Big Bay except for a half-hour of wind just before we arrived at the buoy north of the point. One false stab at anchoring, sand over rock, led us to the tombolo-like beach and good holding. (Note: Locals tell us that with the high water, the harbor is easy to get into even for deep draft boats.) While eating supper, the wind shifted into the SE as predicted. It will be a quiet night and when we awake, the wind should be South. With the approaching cold front, which will finally start to move this stubborn high away, we may have some hours of sailing tomorrow.
The south wind came eventually, but it was only a whisper so the motoring continued to the wall at Hancock where we stayed the night. After a great breakfast at Souri, the finnish style restaurant, we crossed the channel and are now tied up at the Hancock County Marina. We will head out to Lilly Pond, just inside the north entrance to the Waterway tomorrow or the next day, there to decide whether to sail to Isle Royale or Ontonagon.