Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unexpected Surprise

September 2, 2011

I had not paddled for almost a month…not since rounding McNutts Island in Nova Scotia while on vacation. Too busy back in my life…sent my daughter off to college the week after getting home, preparing and getting ready for the start of the new school year here and various other things that needed catching up.

Where should I go that I hadn’t been for a while? There was a chance of severe weather in the afternoon so I was looking for a simple sweet paddle. I hadn’t been to Strawberry Creek nor to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal for years.
I launched under the Bay View Bridge and headed across the Bay.

Then followed the shore to the South passing near shore side homes, going inside the lagoon at Strawberry Estates to see what interesting boats were docked there.

Another half mile and the mouth of Strawberry Creek.
The DNR has a Salmon egg collection station up Strawberry Creek.
They capture Salmon that return to spawn, gather the eggs and release fingerlings each spring to propagate the salmon population in Lake Michigan.
Further south at the canal entrance are old cribs and pilings from long ago.
Then we get to the modern steel sided lining of the canal itself.

I had gone about a mile into the canal and heard thunder in the distance…whoa...time to turn around. Heading back, I saw a critter swimming along the steel piling. At first I thought is was a common Muskrat, but it didn’t dive like they usually do when you come near…It was a gray squirrel…I have disliked squirrels ever since they chewed a hole in my daughter’s playhouse and built a nest in the attic. I had to rip out the ceiling and insulation to clear the smell….I hate squirrels…

This one was trying to claw its way up the steel lining of the canal. That plan wasn’t working, so I stretched out the paddle, let it climb onto the blade, then set the mean little beast onto the bow of my boat. Several times it ran at me hissing with bare teeth, I used the paddle as a joust to keep it at bay until I could ferry it over to the rocks on the other side where it ran off and hid without looking back…good riddance!
Attention Squirrel on Deck!
The storm front was approaching and the wind kept increasing, so I hugged the western shore until I came to the Bay View Bridge and crossed over to the launch under a sprinkling of rain.

The wind was blowing onshore and gusting into the 20’s. No lightning or thunder, so I paddled upwind, then drifted…or really flew downwind back to the dock, just steering.
Pulled up on the downwind side of the dock and managed to get out without letting the boat blow away.
Then carried it back to the truck and lashed it down…I was under the bridge, so the wind was swirling around rather than just blowing a straight line down on me.
I drove home as the rain stopped.  The wind slowed down in an hour and after downloading photos from the camera, I invited Jeff over to look at pictures from Nova Scotia.

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