Sunday, March 18, 2012

Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay, WI

March 16th, 2012
Looking North toward the Bay of Green Bay
Crazy warmth this week, 60’s even touching 70! On Monday the Coasties were out in the AIR and on the SEA after a report of two 4 wheelers abandoned on the ice near the Old Stone Quarry…it turned out to be two sunk and busted up ice shanties…chalk that run up to practice. Almost 20 fishermen have been rescued this winter because of the unstable ice conditions. Two weeks ago, after a strong 30+ mph wind from the SE blew for a few hours, an open lead started from Egg Harbor down to Dykesville, probably 30 or 40 miles long in what was solid ice…it is amazing what the wind can push.

I been watching the weather and waiting for the wind to die, but I’m almost finished planking the Trap Skiff…just the Shear Plank left and I want to finish this weekend, so what to do? Paddle; walk, or work on the boat? The weather was too perfect and the ice is melting fast so I went over to Potawatomie State Park looking for ice late Friday Afternoon…Sawyer Harbor was Ice free, but there was pack ice floating a quarter mile off shore between Potawatomi Park and Sturgeon Bay.

I launched on a cobblestone beach just North of the old boat ramp
 on the East side of Potawatomi State Park and headed toward the ice.
Red Nun #26 in ice
Warm, bright sun, the air was 60 degrees and the water 33. I pushed into a few leads, they were mostly so rotten the ice just crumbled under the hull, on some I rode up out of the water, and then sank back in. A Red nun buoy was cleaving the pack ice as the light wind moved it down upon the buoy. I Paddled about an hour, just poking around, the water was extremely clear, a lack of debris with no algae and lots of sun shining right down to the bottom …I could make out every detail on the lake floor 10, 12 feet below.

Looking toward Sturgeon Bay and the Ship Yard
That was refreshing, sometimes May isn’t this warm!
The next day...the ice was gone.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lilly Bay Boat Launch to Whitefish Dunes to Cave Point

Kayak Feb 4, 2012

Whitefish Dunes State Park
Back on Feb 4 It was supposed to be up to around 40 degrees and it was.

I had wanted to finish hanging the 4th pair of planks on the Trap Skiff before I thought of paddling. A friend stopped by to look at the skiff on Saturday, so he was a welcome helping hand as I finished off the rabbit on the bow, then glued up the surfaces, hung the plank and fixed the 50 or so clamps along the 20 foot plank.

After finishing the plank, it was lunchtime and then I checked the weather forecast. Wind about mid teens from the west and temperature in the low 40’s….If I went to the Dunes or Cave point, then I would be on the eastern lee shore of Door County…perfect, little wind and few waves…I didn’t really want to be in any waves when the water is what 33 degrees?

After rounding up the gear and getting dressed for the cold I made it into the water about 3:30. Launching at the Lilly Bay Boat Ramp a few miles S of Whitefish Dunes State Park on Lilly Bay Road.

It is about a 2.5 mile paddle along the pure sand beach, then the shore becomes rocky until Cave Point where there are a few caves to paddle in if the water is calm, otherwise you might get a headache if you enter as there is maybe 2 feet of clearance above your head.

West winds about 15. I was on the East side of the Door Peninsula and so was in the lee of the land. As long as I stayed within a quarter mile of shore, it was pretty calm.

Air, mid forties when I left at 3:30 and near freezing at 5:30 when I took out.
The Lilly Bay Boat Ramp

The boat ramp at Lilly Bay is sanded in so only hand launched boats can use it. Since the water levels of Lake Michigan fell ten years ago the ramp has been unusable for trailered boats.

Waves were less than 2 feet, some breaking waves near shore and the shallow areas.

Pretty nice for February! No shore ice at all.

So I poked along shore, did some surfing on the breaking waves occasionally as I paddled along the 2 mile sand beach toward the Dunes. I tried to go up Whitefish Dunes creek which flows from Clark’s Lake, but it just wasn’t deep enough and I grounded into the sand. The water is so much clearer in the winter…most of the summer the cladofera are pooled near the northern portion of the dunes beach and as summer progresses that part of the beach is unusable and avoided because of the smell of decaying vegetation…rip currents often form toward the northern end of the beach and swimming is prohibited in that area as several people have drowned.
Beginning of the rocky shoreline
Continuing North, the shore is increasingly rocky with the land gaining in height. The limestone Cliffs of 20 or 30 feet are rare on the east side of Door County. Lake Michigan has eroded and beaten caves into the limestone, several of which are large enough to paddle into on a Calm day…I never enter a sea cave if there is wave action…helmet or not...I love my life.

Along the cliffs of Cave Point County Park ice was dripping down the rock face,… which I had hoped to see. I don’t care for cold water, so seeing the lake in winter as a different environment from summer motivates me to paddle in the cold. Most years the weather is not conducive for winter paddles…too much shore ice and temperatures way below freezing so ice is forming on your boat and gear…that is not for me.

 I posted this 6 weeks after I paddled…I’m bad…I just want to paddle and play