Bailing out of Lake Superior…

We were tired. We were tired of being cold. We were tired of the grey and fog. We were tired of the dampness that enveloped our boat much of the past month. We were tired of the weather forecasts being mostly wrong.

July is supposed to be the best month of the year for sailing Lake Superior. July is supposed to have the least number of days with fog and the most settled weather. We have cruised Lake Superior five times in our shared lives together and have always found this to be true. This past July has not been a “normal” July on the north and east shore of Lake Superior.

We had enough sun to warm our solar shower twice last month. (In truth, one of those times we actually added heated water to the bag.) Oh, we had some sun but the air was so cold that the sun didn’t have a fair advantage. And there was a LOT of fog.

When my plans changed and I wasn’t making a quick trip home in early August, we both relaxed a bit as it meant we didn’t have to rush back to the Soo. The northeastern side of Lake Superior is littered with coves and bays–ideal wilderness anchorages–but as one makes their way down the east side towards the Soo, distances become great between protected bays to duck into should conditions demand. And this month, weather conditions have not exactly meshed with the weather forecast. Our NW20 was NE20 gusting to 30. SE15 was actually NE20-25. This doesn’t make for good cruise planning!

When we left Pulpwood Harbour on the northeastern shore last weekend, our plan was to make the 32 nm jump down the coast to Otter Cove, then make another long trek to Gargantua, probably one of my favorite areas on the Lake. We passed by Fish Harbour, one of our favorite anchorages (with a beautiful sandy beach and sea caves!). We passed by Dampier Cove, an anchorage we promised ourselves we would stop on our way south. Once in Otter Cove and hearing the long-range forecast, promising strong southerlies (making it uncomfortable for our long distances south), we made a quick decision to do the 30 nm run south to Quebec Harbour on Michipicoten Island. Then it would be a 35 nm sail west to Gargantua in southerlies. But it wasn’t going to warm up. They were predicting more SE winds and the east winds seem to bring fog. And from Gargantua it was at least two more very long days to the Soo. And so we decided to bail. 

It feels surreal that one week ago, we were sitting at Michipicoten Island watching a lone caribou frolic in the shallow waters along the east and north shore of the anchorage. The harbor appeared deserted but for us and one other cruiser, anchored in the far west end of the anchorage. Early that next morning, just as the sun was rising, we motored out of Quebec Harbour in a light NW breeze, and settled in for a very long day–nearly 70 nm–motorsailing (to make tracks) south, across the lower half of Lake Superior, to Whitefish Point. We arrived before the sun set on Monday evening, and we were already less cold. It felt so good to be going “home.”

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