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

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