Last time we updated the blog, Sea Change had just left the dock at Barker’s Island Marina (Thursday, May 23), and we had arrived in Knife River, MN for the first way point of the voyage. Since then, we’ve made a lot of progress!
Friday, May 24 – We left Knife River early in the morning – about 4:30 AM. Temperatures had dipped to about 28 degrees (F) overnight, so it was chilly. As we left, Lake Superior had a fresh coat of skim ice on her surface. We continued to see the ice layer until about noon. Friday was a long day of part motoring, part sailing. We made landfall in Bayfield, Wisconsin around 7:00 PM that evening. When we reached Bayfield, we were honored to have Mel Whiteside as a dinner guest. Mel is a fellow sailor, who now keeps a home base in Bayfield. He used to own a Pacific Seacraft 34 like ours, and he’s made the trip from Superior to New Zealand, which is almost the same trip we’re on. Mel generously gifted us with his charts for the South Pacific, and indulged our questions about the trip. Mel is a wealth of knowledge, and we truly appreciated his time. Thanks, Mel!
Saturday, May 25 – After a walk around Bayfield, we headed to Stockton Island, part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. We anchored in Presque Isle Bay. It was our first night at anchor of this trip/season, and it was a pleasure. I really enjoy the gentle rocking of the boat in a nice, calm anchorage. I tried out the oven for the first time since the recent fixing, and made home made coconut-date granola, which we’ve been enjoying since.
Sunday, May 25 - The weather was warm and sunny, and we enjoyed a day at the beach and a hike through the forest on Stockton Island. We were also fortunate enough to meet a member of the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, who gave us a free safety inspection. Sea Change passed with flying colors, and earned a 2013 safety sticker!
Monday, May 26 – We left Stockton Island about 4:30 AM, bound for the entrance to the Keweenaw Waterway. It was an 80 mile stretch, with no known hospitable anchorages along the way. We considered a marina in Ontanogan, Michigan, but other sailors had warned us that it might get too shallow for Sea Change’s 5 foot draft. Our Monday was another one of those memorable Lake Superior days. Cold, windy. It was a long day, beating into the wind. We didn’t see any other boats all day. Even with the help of our trusty Yanmar Engine, It was after 11:00 PM when we arrived at our destination. Entering the waterway at night was a challenge, and we were grateful for the technology of the GPS and chartplotter, which were great aids to navigation in that situation. We tied up at Lilly Pond, the Harbor of Refuge just inside the entrance.
Wednesday, May 27 - We had an easy and quick quick trip into Houghton, MI. We also experienced another sailing milestone. We received our first visit (boarding) from the U.S. Coast Guard! For our landlubber friends, what this means is we were effectively “pulled over” by USCG officers. They boarded our vessel and conducted an inspection. The officers checked our IDs and registration, inspected all of our safety equipment, and also checked our waste management/sanitation system. We’re happy to report that we received no violations/citations. We’ve worked hard to dot all our “i”s and cross all of our “t”s, and our successful passing of this spot check is a validation of our efforts. The officers were friendly, and they even indulged me by allowing a snapshot! At the end, they asked survey questions about what boating safety courses we may have had. (Shane and I have each taken four American Sailing Association courses, as well as the Minnesota Boater Education Course). I recently read in the Cruising Woman’s Advisor that 84% of all boating accidents involve an operator who has never taken a boater safety education course. Following the inspection, the officers gave us a carbon copy of our Boarding Report. They told us that the most frequent violations they cite are life jacket violations and lack of stern mounted throwable PFD.
Since our arrival in Michigan, we’ve had some great experiences, and another milestone. The Houghton/Hancock area has been wonderful, and the folks at the Houghton County Marina have been phenomenal. Stay tuned for more on our adventures in Hougton County. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to blog again tomorrow.