Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Leslie and Russ went to Minocqa, WI, July 27

TROUT LAKE in upper WI...near Minocqua
Leslie and I went to Minocqua, Wisconsin for a few days in the last week of July. The rain was promised to hold off for at least a few days which I hoped would afford a quick trip to the north woods for a paddle in Northern Highland State Forest where Gerry and my paddling adventures began back in around 1974...I think? Anyway, Les and I launched at about 11:15 AM from the north Trout Lake campground beach and paddled at 245 degrees toward the number 6 canoe campsite about one mile to the west on the opposite shore. The wind was from the SW at about 8-12 mph with occasional gusts to around 15. Despite Leslie's joint problems she did quite well. I had intended to put on a tow line when we launched but she paddled nearly all the way across into the breeze before she needed the assistance. We discovered that site six had a beautiful and apparently quite popular sandy beach. After we lingered a few minutes we noticed a boat and two jet skis barreling down on the beach. We decided to leave before it got crowded. I think that even if you claimed the campsite you would have to share the beach with whomever shows up to use it. Site number 5 was my favorite, located at the mouth of a small bay off the lake and where a family of Loons welcomed and tolerated us as we passed by them. We stopped and had lunch at the site as it too was unoccupied. While we dined on our pbj's, a kayaker came by and we visited with him for a little while. He was a local who said that he paddled the lake 2-3 times a week. He also said that these campsites get very little use even in the summer. What a waste! We did check out all six sites and visited a few small islands before heading back to the truck. We paddled around 4.5 to 5 miles in total and had a great time. Leslie was a trooper even though I know she was uncomfortable at times. I kept the tow line on for the rest of the trip even though she paddled most of the time. But if she needed a little rest once in a while we were still able to keep going with the tow. I think it took the pressure off both of us and I still like towing better than paddling (and car-topping)a double. We got back around 2:30 PM after paddling about three hours. I think maybe we might try Moonlight Bay next. We don't set any speed records but at least we can paddle together. It must be love.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 23, CANA ISLAND, Paddle

9 miles, big waves, crashing surf and warm, calm shallows.


It has been raining again for the past two days, but cleared this afternoon.

I headed up to the mouth of Reibolds Creek off County Q a few miles N of Baileys Harbor. A young guy and his daughter were fishing in the creek catching?? What?...I didn’t see any fish and she was just catching plants.
Reibolt's Creek Launch

The winds around here can be so fickle and unpredictable…the NOAA weather or local weather is just a generalized version of what’s happening. All the land points and varying water temperature create their own local weather, so what you see is what you get, keeping in mind the passage of large predicted weather fronts or storms. I left Sturgeon Bay with a light sw wind and noticed while driving the trees swaying more and more as I drove the 20 miles NE to Bailey’s Harbor.

At the launch I could see and hear the breaking waves about a mile into Moonlight Bay. Waves or swells roll up the lake (we had a southerly wind) and they curve around Toft’s Point at the southern end of Moonlight Bay and into the bay. The mid-lake buoy was reporting the water temp at 70, so great; I’ll wear dry pants and a light top, so I don’t get too hot, but bring a splash jacket along.

So I paddled down the creek and into Moonlight Bay…the water was cool from the creek flow…the air was hazy and somewhat foggy near Toft’s Point, but I was staying near the North shore and following it around to Cana Island. There were 2 foot waves…finally some waves.   Arrgh,I thought, I didn’t have my Go Pro Camera, as I just mailed it back to the factory before I traveled here to have the USB port replaced…hope they have a fast turnaround time…
an O'Day 22 up the creek
I passed a few anchored boats and went around the reefs to avoid the breaking waves. At the Northern end of Moonlight Bay, the shallows jut out close to a mile from shore near every point…there are several along the way. Bues Point is the main one, but there are several small points with shallow areas. Today because of the southerly wind, I headed out into Lake Michigan a mile or so to avoid the breaking waves, which were fairly large, crashing breakers.

CANA Island, beyond the swells

The lake had large swells, pushing 4 feet or so with an occasional crest. I’m thinking, haven’t been in waves this large for a while… as I approached Cana Island, I could either go out further into the Lake, go around the breakers and land on the protected, leeward side of the island or land on the closer, windward side in a calmer area. There were a few places the waves weren’t breaking and I could sneak in. I chose the latter, paddled through some minor breakers, ripped the skirt off and jumped out before the next wave. I carried the Sirius into the shallows, pumped out a gallon of water, and had some granola and a drink, while watching the breaking waves to see where the best place to launch was….where I landed was not a good place to leave from…the water was surging in and out a significant amount.

While eating and thinking, there was a dead cormorant with a tag, so I took a picture of the tag for the DNR.

Photos always make the waves look smaller...really
Cana Island South Shore

The water was surging in here and was too rough and unstable to get the skirt locked down between waves. I got back out, carried the boat a hundred feet or so down the shore to calmer seas and launched there. The only reason I landed was to put on the splash jacket because the waves were building and breaking more. I knew I would be getting wet or possibly dump in one of the breaking wave crests, the water was getting colder, and thought it would be smart to wear it. So with the skirt locked down, I pushed off and waited until a large set of breakers came in then sped out through the smaller (2’) white frothy stuff.

Leaving Cana Island, the haze was gone

I had been onshore, maybe 25 minutes, but with that steady 15 mph southerly wind, the swells were now over 6 feet…I was looking up and over most waves…I figure they are getting large when the front half of the boat is hanging in the air while topping a crest…so where is the video camera when the action is on!!!, in the shop! I stayed well out to sea avoiding the breakers while rounding the two points and adjoining shallows on the way back to Moonlight Bay.

Cabin on warm, sunny, calm, Toft's Point
I decided to paddle over to the southern side (Toft’s Point) and follow that shore back. What a change…on the southern side, it was warm, calm, the haze lifted. Ten minutes earlier, the lake had been chilly, harsh, and dangerous. You could feel the power of the swells as they moved under the boat when out in Lake Michigan. Green Bay on the other hand, even though the waves can be steep and strong, has a different feeling to the water…the waves that roll 200 hundred miles up Lake Michigan contain more hidden power, which can build up into large crashing waves as they touch the shallows. When you put your boat in the ocean, those swells feel more powerful yet. Even though our lakes can get nasty with strong waves, the ocean waves step it up another notch, maybe several. I know water is water and big waves are big waves, but they do feel different from a kayak….but then maybe it has to do with being able to look out at a landless horizon. There is nothing but water and your tiny boat… when in some of the Great Lakes or the Ocean. You can always see land or and an object when in Green Bay, or Lake Erie.

Looking up Reibolt's Creek

Reibolt's Creek, CTY Q, N of Bailey's Harbor
so quiet and calm...looks are deceiving

JULY 21, Sail and Paddle

I Launched at Sunset Park about 5:30 with the intent of heading North along the Bay of Sturgeon Bay, to several other kayakers who were launching from their homes.

The launch was late as someone stopped by the dock to talk about the Blue Jay as I was getting her ready, so I was delayed a while. When I left the dock, the main sheet hooked on the dock cleat, so I spent 5 minutes pulling the boat around the dock to get the wind out of the sail, unhook off the cleat and get going.

Met DD, Tim, Laurel and Jane along the way as we headed North, staying pretty close to shore, so close I eventually had to leave them and find some water deeper than a foot, as my centerboard, as I high it was raised, kept bumping bottom.

The wind was OK, less than 10, more or less. It was stronger away from shore and after the paddlers turned in, I headed back out to the mouth of the Bay, then in…back to the dock about 9 PM. Had a great sunset with smooth sailing on rippled waters.
Sailing along with the centerboard half up

John Hansen, the person I was talking with at the dock has a large (A) scow (38’), he was waiting for his crew to show up and launched after me. We sailed near each other with the scow being backlit by the sun when I was headed back in…the scow has a large sail area and is fast…is about 37 years old and had been in his family 20 years. John was a retired Laker captain, so he was still having fun on the water.
an A Scow

JULY 17th, Paddle,...Night Paddle

Launched on the North side of Sunset Park about 8:45 PM for a night paddle up the East shore. Went about 2 miles or so out, saw several beach goers putting on fireworks, and was home about 10. Light winds, warm water, saw no boats within a mile in the dark….they usually stay out of the shallow shore areas after dusk.

What do I bring to paddle in the dark?

All this is attached to the lifejacket…that I wear. I figure, if I ever have to bail out of the boat, the equipment is going to be of better use if I have it with me instead of in a boat, which may be drifting away in the wind.


Strobe Light


Solid Light



Sometimes I’ll carry a radio and or cell if I’m going offshore.

During the past month, I’ve sold 4 older Kayaks…two Selkies, a Umiak, that my kids used when younger, and a Salom boat that was built in Green Bay by Ray McClain about 1982.
Beat up old Hyperform C-2...1972

I’m in the process of sanding and painting my old C-2 and a 16’ glued lapstrake, rowboat I built 24 years ago…a design called Whisp…nice looking and rows great. It will be for SALE soon….I need the space for new boats.
A Pintale, a Romany and Whisp
Whisp was designed by Steve Redmond in the 80’s.


I built another of Steve’s designs…TETRA a 9’ flat iron skiff, out of Doug Fir planking, with a Black Walnut transom and trim…it is hanging in the lobby of the John and Helen Collins Learning Center here in Sturgeon Bay http://www.crossroadsatbigcreek.org/collins.htm
Tetra...Riveted Lapstake

JULY 17, 2010 Sailing

The Whistling Swan...aground near the boat ramp
Sailed the Blue Jay from the Sawyer Harbor Launch, in Potawatomie Park, and headed out toward the Bay of Sturgeon Bay. The wind was still Westerly, but the hills of the Park caused it to be fickle and swirling from many directions. The waters of Sawyer Harbor are very shallow, especially in the area near the boat launch, so it was surprising to see a 30’ sailboat ( the Whistling Swan) trying to come in to the launch area…I guess to tie up at the dock…just as I was close enough to warn the skipper…in fact I did get out the words “it was too shallow…he yells to his wife that they were aground”…stuck hard…their engine could not pull them off, but about 10 minutes later a powerboat stopped by, set them free and towed them out of the shallows. Only needing 6” is an advantage, even my larger sailboat, the Watkins 23, only draws 18” with the board up, so I could launch her in the park. After getting some decent wind away from the Islands, I headed over to the Red Bell Buoy at the mouth of Sturgeon Bay, rounded her, then headed back in…I had to be in by 6 PM in order to make it home for dinner. On the west side of the two Islands in Sawyer Harbor is a pair of swans with young; saw them a few weeks ago too. Dropped the sails while in the shallows west of the launch, and then used the electric trolling motor to finish the run to the launch.
Buoy at the mouth of Sturgeon Bay

Sailed about 6-8 miles.

JULY 16th, Sailing

Launched the Blue Jay at Sunset Park about 7:30 PM.

The wind had been west all day and still was a great West wind…so what if it is west??

The body of Sturgeon Bay roughly runs South to North, so a West wind means you can sail from one end to the other without tacking…the perfect wind direction…someone could sail from Sturgeon Bay over to Marinete, Michigan…20 miles, without having to change direction…one of these days, if I have time and the wind if right, that is on my Ta Do list

I Sailed until 10:30 pm. Went out to Sawyer Harbor, turned around, and headed back South to the Michigan Street Bridge. At 10 PM headed back to the launch.
The sky was clear with a long twilight and a quarter moon….warm winds about 10 to 15 pushed us along at about 6 knts…A perfect sail to celebrate the Blue Jay’s 50th birthday.

JULY 13, Paddle Sturgeon Bay

Met Tim and Laurel at SS Park about 5:30.

We paddled North toward the mouth of Sturgeon Bay and Quarry Park.

AGAIN…the wind is LIGHT and the water warm. I enjoy the warm water, but a few waves would be nice.

Tim and Laurel

A nice sloop, designed by Joel White

The Round Trip was about 10 miles.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


JULY 11,


My oldest daughter had the day off work, so we headed up North to Rock Island for a day trip….a long day trip.

Northport, the tip of the Door.  Usually launch our kayaks from the beach East of the Ferry.

We caught the 10AM ferry to Washington Island, which actually left about 10:30. It was about a 20 minute trip to WI. The price was about $40 round trip.
Along the way we passed by Plum Island and could see lonely Pilot Island in the distance. After leaving the feryy we drove down Main Street to Jackson Harbor Road to…well, Jackson Harbor on Washington Island.  The dock of the Karfi.

One of the Washington island Ferries

Pilot Island

Some of the Western Door County Shoreline
Plum Island with Detroit Island in the background
Washington Island Dock

The Island Clipper, a passenger ferry from Gill's Rock

Take the KARFI, to and from Rock Island
The Karfi, which is the passenger ferry to Rock Island leaves Washington Island on the hour and leaves from Rock Island at quarter past…roughly…this is Island time remember…it will never leave early, but could be late. ("Karfi" means "seaworthy boat" in Icelandic).

Rock Island Map

It is always entertaining watching the “campers” come and go to the Rock. When I’m not car camping, my stuff list is pared down to the minimum of what I can carry on my back or in a boat with one trip. It is somewhat comical to see people carrying wheelbarrows and wagons full of stuff to camp on an island…laptops, TVs, big Grills, etc. The island has 5 nice back country sites that can either be walked to (2 miles) or accessed by kayak. There are 34 sites grouped near the ferry landing…accessible with wheelbarrows or wagons.
The Karfi, with Rock Island in the background

Leaving Jackson Harbor, WI. Going to the Rock

Jackson Harbor, WI

Rock Island Boathouse
Notice the mountain of gear on the dock for six or seven people

This is the first time since 1997 that I have taken the Karfi to the Rock, otherwise have paddled, sometimes from Northport going around the East side of Washington Island to the one of the backpack sites on Rock, sometimes just paddling over from Jackson Harbor, which is maybe 2 miles to the dock on Rock Island. That is a short paddle, but be wary…in the fall a Northeaster can whip up 30+ mile an hour winds which build waves over a 50 mile stretch and they roll right to the bottom of the reef between Jackson Harbor and Rock Island…nasty 8 footers, worst wind and waves I’ve been in.

Touring the light

In the Light Tower

Inside the Fresnel lense

The Lighthouse
The boathouse and hall

Interior of the Boathouse

The gate to the Interior of Rock Island...don't lose the key!

Mag and I got off the Karfi at 12:30, picked up a map and did the 1.5 mile hike to the lighthouse, hoping to catch a tour and some scenery from the light tower. We picked up the 1:30 tour and learned about habitation in the Potawatomie Light circa 1910….the same year my home was built. The lighthouse was restored several years ago and is in nice condition. Docents can stay there for a week or two at a stretch, living in the house, and then putting away anything modern when tours begin. Spent some time at the top of the light where you can see the chain of Grand Traverse Islands running up North to the Garden Peninsula. Two white specks…one straight North is the abandoned Poverty Island lighthouse, the other to the NW is Minneapolis Shoals. Back in the 70’s a friend of mine rented a house from a guy who had been a keeper on that light…he had lost one of his fingers there when his hand was slammed between the dock and a boat gunnel.

After the tour Mag and I pumped the handle of the well 22 times before water ran from the spigot to fill our bottles, then we took the steps a hundred feet down or so to the cobblestone beach to look at the water close up and to fight flies…Any time the temp is near 80 or above on any of Lake Michigan’s Islands…the flies come out in force…they love DEET, I think they land on skin just to lick it off before taking a bite. What works best is some kind of greasy sun screen, they land on the skin, don’t like the sticky feet and take off... Several years ago some of us watched a mass of flies devour a large marshmallow in less than an hour…at least it kept them away from us for a while.

Fly bait

The best camping is in the fall…less people and less or no flies.

Check out the DNR’s info about Rock.


nice campsite
We hiked back to the ferry landing, toured the large stone boathouse, found the best campsite on the Island…it is between one and 34. We caught the 3:15 ferry back to Washington Island, and drove to the Washington Island Ferry dock to wait for the about 4:30 ferry.

Shortly after the ferry left…we were on the Arni Rictor, sitting in the rear under an overhang… a huge storm, which you couldn’t see until leaving the harbor, bore down on us, 40+ mph winds, driving rain, less than a quarter mile visibility. A small powerboat was trying to make the Washington Island dock behind us.  Even going slow it was popping completely out of the water while climbing over each wave. Of course, the only time I don’t have the camera, we have this nasty storm…left it in the car.

Well we made it, but the storm lasted most of the way over…would not have been fun in a kayak or small boat…the ferry didn’t notice there was a storm, just plowed along, spray flying from one end to the other.

After stopping in Fish Creek at Malibu Moo’s for Hawaiian Shaved Ice, we arrived home about 6:30

Visiting Rock reminded Mag and I that 13 months ago we were on vacation bumming around Nova Scotia for two weeks...that was a good time and place too.

Good thing it rained all day so I could post this...Later

Additions to Pre July 11 paddles

I'm trying to catch here on some posting...some of these are actually earlier that the last posting.
Hope this is not confusing...

JUNE 20,

Launched at SunSet Park and paddled the warm, still, waters past Bay Ship and the City docks, to the Oregon Street Bridge, and return. Stopped to take photos of the Tug “Bay Ship”

When I worked there in the late 70’s that little Yard Tug had a habit of sinking at the dock.

Workers would come in, see it missing, but notice the lights under water from the cabin.

Happened several times. When I was at PBI, several times an old tug they had sank at the dock too….Guess it wasn’t a big deal to pull it up with the crane and drain the water out, if it ran, it ran, if not they fixed it…all it did was push small barges and such around the yard.

JUNE 29,

Launching in Sunset Park, Sturgeon Bay, WI
Met Tim and Laurel at Sunset Park about 5:45.

Light winds from the south, water flat, water temp 60’s.

Went South past Bay Ship Building INC. The MV Buffalo was still tied up…a self unloader built here in 1978…about 700+ feet long. At that time I was working with Glen Krueger setting hull sections.

The Buffalo's Lifeboat
The ore carrier Buffalo

Jack Tarr
The wooden sailboat Jack Tar out of Chicago was sitting at the Great Lakes Yacht Service dock…a handsome boat.

Keweenaw Star
Passed the Keweenaw Star…a small cruise ship, spoke with the passengers. They were on a 5 day cruise to the lighthouses of lower Lake Michigan…staying on-shore each night.

Tim and Laurel near another cruise boat

Launched at Sawyer Harbor and Paddled to the Sherwood Point Lighthouse.

Put in about 7:30, wind SW about 10.

Headed out across Sawyer Harbor, past Cabot’s Point, then toward Sherwood Point, which is about 2 miles away.

A few people were fishing, and had to watch out for high speed boat traffic hugging the shore as they rounded some of the points.

Sherwood Point Lighthouse

The cruise vessel Harbor Lady joined me in viewing a beautiful orange sunset before I paddled back to the launch.

The Harbor Lady, out of Sturgeon Bay, WI

Sherwood Point

Boat Launch in Sawyer Harbor
There was a family of Swans near the largest Island in Sawyer Harbor, but it was too dark to take a decent picture.

JULY 5th,

Last night, several of us had plans to watch fireworks from the water, but rain interrupted most. DD and friends paddled from her house…the timing was right between rain showers; the fireworks show and paddle a success.

This morning I left Sunset Park headed south toward town. Was calm…what else??!!, cloudy with a chance of rain. Stopped for some photo ops in the shipyard, rounded the supports for the Oregon Street Bridge, then past the Selvik Tug dock and through the Skipper Bud Marina.

Pelicans were settled down on Dunlap’s Reef, so my course diverted that way. Several dozen of them seem to call the reef home, but I don’t think any are nesting there.
It rained for a while this morning, but was a warm, misting summer rain...didn't matter if it rained, I was dressed for immersion anyway...it felt good.