We keep feeling the effects of the current running counter clockwise in Lake Superior and thank goodness that is the direction we are going. At our normal speed of 1700 RPM, we are now getting 9 MPH instead of 8 MPH.
A little more than six hours from Superior, WI and we arrived in Cornucopia. What is there not to like about Cornucopia? It is a small village with the best general store ever. The store is sectioned off in departments with the typical departments such as painting, fasteners, electrical, plumbing. There is also a grocery section, a meat section, a deli section and a pizza making station on Wed-Sun nights. There is a coffee shop that serves a very decent latte. Along the waterfront is a group of weather beaten buildings that offer gifts, pottery and other curiosities. The marina is small and is lovingly maintained by a husband and wife team.
The weather kicked up so we stayed two days. Rusty took the opportunity to paint part of the engine room walls with paint purchased at the general store. Memphis ribs (from Superior Meats) for dinner. Excellent.
It was a leisurely departure (10:15 am) to the Apostle Islands. On the way we cruised by the sea caves, a local tourist attraction that has spawned a kayaking business in Cornucopia. The past winter the water froze in the caves bringing tourists even in the cold weather.
Our destination was Raspberry Island to see the lighthouse and stay on the dock overnight. However it was too rolly and we then headed for Stockton. Stockton is one of the most popular islands and we were prepared to anchor but we lucked out. There was space on the dock. The ranger was welcoming and even helped us with our lines as we moved into a more secure spot on the wall. That evening we attended the “Ranger Talk” along with 10-15 campers. It was on the Web of Life. We will never forget how important all the pieces of nature fit together and how things do not work well when some of the pieces are missing.
Again the weather kicked up and we ended spending two days. There was no cellular or wifi but TV reception was excellent. We took a very nice walk along one of the trails. Rusty is getting antsy about getting out of Lake Superior by Labor Day. We counted the days and the distances we could travel each day and there was not enough time to do more touring of the Apostles.
It was only a 5 hour cruise but the waves were kicking up at times and it seemed like the wind and the waves were going in different directions. We were going slower than 8 MPH. Our destination was Black River Harbor. There were no reviews on Active Captain and some of the other information we had was contradictory. No one answered our VHF calls. Finally we were at the mouth of the harbor and a fishing boat came out. They confirmed we would have no problems with depths and told us where the transient dock was located.
The dock is owned by the National Parks Service. There is a small concession stand (ice, ice cream, unhealthy and healthy snacks (her words)). The fee was a reasonable $10 because Rusty has a Senior’s Pass with the Parks Service. And that included power! We took an amazing walk across the suspension bridge, along a beautiful trail in the woods to the Rainbow Falls.
That night, after midnight, the storm of storms erupted. Rain blasted straight down. Our rain meter registered 8 inches but town maintenance workers thought only 5 inches fell during the night. At times the boat rocked side to side as if it was being rolled. The lightning kept flashing it seemed for a couple hours. Gigi snuggled up in my arms the entire time. Rusty worried about rising waters.
The next morning it was peaceful and the only evidence of the storm was the runoff. The water was brown.
August 25 -26
We couldn’t decide whether or not to stay an extra day in Black River or continue on to Ontonagon. Neither of us had slept well. By the time we had breakfast and had taken a walk, we felt better.
Again the winds and waves were with us and we made good time. We contacted the harbormaster by phone and he told us the visitor slips were marked with white poles. The entrance to the marina is narrow but we had no problems.
The town is across the river so we tucked Gigi into her stroller and went off to explore. It was a long walk, and we saw at least five churches to match the five bars, and the five cafes.
The harbormaster welcomed us later that day with a hospitality bag put together by his wife. It was full of foodie products from Wisconsin, anchored by a bottle of champagne. WOW!
Cellular is good here and we found out that some nasty waves (3-6 feet) were expected tomorrow so we are staying an extra day. There is an On Tran service here. It is like a private taxi service funded by some government organization. You call, they come in about 15 min., you pay $1.50 (or $.75 if you are a senior)
We are now feeling we need to be off the Lake. Not because the weather is lousy but that it could get lousy and then we would be stuck for a while.
The runs each day are dictated by the distance to the next harbor. There are no intermediate stops and it is either a 40-50 mile trip each day or a stretch of 80-90 miles
Houghton is located on the 25 mile Keweenaw Waterway also referred to as Portage River. We stayed on the town wall located next to the downtown. While there were no amenities the only other option would have been the marina across the river necessitating a long walk across the bridge. We could have stayed an extra day to enjoy the town and hope we get another chance to do so.
It was a pleasant run to the mouth of the lower Portage River and we took note of the areas that one could anchor or stop. Today we were on the water for seven hours arriving at the Big Bay municipal wall at 2:15. We decided this stop would be ok if one needed a harbor of refuge.
It was only 4.5 hours to Marquette. What a great place! It is a college town so has all the requisite foodie and artsy shops. We had an excellent meal at a fairly new German restaurant, Aus Steinhaus. It rained off and on for the two days we were there.
August 31-Sept 1
We stayed two days in Munising Cinder Pond marina. The trip took 5.5 hours. The marina is well run. Rusty took the opportunity to clean the decks and to throw out the plants. No geraniums in the future as the petals stain the deck. Great laundry in town.
Five hours and we were in Grand Marais. This is another harbor of refuge places only. Not much going on in town. It was Rusty’s birthday and we went to the top rated restaurant per trip advisor (there are only four). Rusty has started not to feel well again . It was a rather modest celebration both in the choice and quality of dinner.
Long, long day today. Started at 7:15 am and reached Sault Ste Marie at 6:30 pm. We were concerned that we might get stuck on Whitefish Point if we made an intermediary stop. The radar showed some weather coming overnight and increased wave heights the following day. Recreational boats generally use the Canadian lock in the Soo and they closed at 4:30. And we would not make it. We called the American lockmaster and were warmly invited to go through whenever we got there. We put on a show for the spectators (in a good way, meaning no probems). The George Kemp marina is next to the lock and there we stayed the night.
We were tired from the previous day but with a weather window of six hours opening up we decided to make a run to De Tour at 9:45 am. We made it by 3 pm and an hour later a storm blew through with wind gusts of 40 MPH. It blew much of the night. We heard later that a 1000 ft. freighter was blown off course near the Straits of Mackinaw and grounded.
We stayed two days because of weather. De Tour is a small village with a few local type restaurants, a great gift shop, a reasonable grocery store, a hardware store, post office, and a coffee shop that has been closed for some years (in case anyone reading is wanting to start up a café in Detour). The marina was beautiful.
Five and a half hours, with 3-4 ft. (predictions were 2) waves brought us to Mackinaw City Straits State Marina, a beautiful facility. There were only four boats. No explanation why the older next door municipal marina was full. Mackinaw City has 20 fudge and popcorn shops, 20 sweatshirt shops, 20 restaurants, and 20 souvenir shops. Enough said. Done that. No need to return.
Today was the worse cruising day of the entire trip. Eight hours of waves starting at 2 ft and increasing to 3-4 to 4-6. Predictions were 2-3 ft. We had to change our heading a few times to get a more comfortable ride. The auto-pilot stopped working underway so Rusty really had a workout with the steering. We reached Charlevoix, MI about 3 pm. It was sunny and rather pleasant. We actually felt ourselves warming up for the first time in over two months.
Sept 8 -10
Although exhausted we headed for our final destination, Northport, MI, a 3 hour run. Rusty asked me to pilot. He is not feeling well at all.
We are readying the boat for haul-out next Monday.
We decided to head home this Friday and should be there by Sunday, The boatyard will collect the boat at the marina on Monday, a service they regularly provide so we are ok on it. It is always nice to be able to inspect the bottom of the boat but that will not happen this year at least not by us.
Health issue aside, the boating has been wonderful. Three distinct areas (26 days on Trent-Severn waterway, 25 days on Georgian Bay/North Channel/St. Mary’s River, 54 days on Lake Superior) and we enjoyed them all.