With the remote portion of Lake Superior behind us it was time to head for Sault Ste Marie and the St. Mary’s River. We made a couple of overnight stops at Batchawana Bay (46°55.2’N, 84°36.0’W) and Goulais Bay (46°43.8’N,84°30.4’W) to break the trip into reasonable distances. Both of these bays were shallow and warm and had numerous homes and cabins around them. The water was warmer but had lost much of its clarity. It was, however, a great breeding ground for insects. It was mayflies at Batchawana and caddis at Goulais. I have to say I preferred the mayflies as they were easier to get rid of.
Batchawana Bay Mayflies – The Boat was Covered with Them
From Goulais Bay it was off toward Sault Ste Marie (the Soo) and the shipping lanes. This was our first up close experience with the 1000 foot freighters that ply the Great Lakes. All went well and fortunately we only passed them going in the opposite direction. It would have been a little unsettling to be overtaken by one of these giants in the narrow channel.
A 1000 foot Freighter
We passed under the international bridge connecting Sault Ste Marie Michigan and Sault Ste Marie Ontario as we made our way into the smaller Canadian Locks that would lower us into the St. Mary’s River.
International Bridge at “the Soo”
This was our first experience going through locks and thankfully it was just us and one other boat going through. The other boat locking through with us was a tour boat. Nothing like having a large audience watching your first trip through the locks. The locks lowered us 21 feet to the river below and we were off to the Roberta Bondar Marina on the Ontario side of the river. We spent a few nights at the Bondar Marina re-provisioning and doing miscellaneous chores as well as enjoying Sault Ste Marie.
Gargantua Harbour was to be the next stop after leaving Quebec Harbour. Gargantua was once again reported to be a beautiful and well protected anchorage. Lake Superior was as flat as we had seen her since we made our crossing to Isle Royale as we motored our way back to the mainland. As we neared Gargantua the wind piped up to a rousing 15-20 knots. The northwest wind left the Gargantua anchorage protected but there really wasn’t a decent place to anchor because of the depth contours. A quick consultation of Bonnie Dahl’s book and our chart plotter had us steaming south for Beauty Cove (47°30.1’N, 84°52.8’W) which we hoped would provide our shelter for the night.
Beauty Cove – A Small Gem
It turned out that Beauty Cove was awesome. It was deserted except for us and had the clearest water that we had seen on Lake Superior. On top of that, it was finally warm enough to dive off the boat and swim. It was totally exposed to the southwest so we had to watch the weather while we were there but we managed to stay for two wonderful nights.
Noodin at Beauty Cove
We hiked to a short ways to the open lake on the west side of the cove and get to check out some of the rock formations up close. Beauty Cove was definitely a favorite stop.
We left Battle Island for the Slate Islands and again found lumpy seas and contrary winds. We had been told about “the sisters” of Lake Superior which are occasional groups of three waves that are larger than the rest. With the seas on the beam we got to know the sisters well as we rolled our way to the Slate Islands. The Slates (48°40.3’N, 87°00.5’W) are closer to “civilization” so we did see some people there. While it was a beautiful stop, we only spent one night before moving on due to some expected high winds. We did get to see our first caribou as we were leaving. He swam across the bay and went ashore just ahead of us as we passed. Sorry, no pictures.
Next up was Pic Island (48°42.3’N, 86°38.6’W). The stop at Pic was not planned but we needed shelter from the 20 knot south winds that were in the forecast. Pic was kind of a neat place and it did have a little sand beach for fires and some quick dips in the lake. Pic provided shelter from the worst of Lake Superior’s weather but there was a very uncomfortable swell that rolled in around the point. The swell was from a different direction than the wind so Noodin did a lot of pitching and rolling. There’s nothing like random 3-dimensional motion while you try to sleep. We ended up spending three nights at Pic waiting for weather suitable for travelling.
A Foggy View Towards the North at Pic Island
Dragging Anchor at Pic – This Could Explain It
From PIC Island we had a crossing back to a different Otter Cove (48°05.2’N, 86°00.0’W) on the mainland. It was another beautiful and well protected spot but the windy weather kept us from exploring the area as much we would have liked. We did see one of the most beautiful sunsets while we were there.
Entering Otter Cove
Otter Cove Sunset – One of the All Time Best
Quebec Harbor (47°42.7’N, 85°48.9’W) on Michipicoten Island was kind of a neat stop but not worthy of more than one night as long as the weather was good for traveling. Phebe’s extraordinary hearing picked up the sounds of a Caribou on shore so were able to see our second caribou. It was probably the first time that we were able to look over the expanse of Lake Superior from our anchorage. Beautiful, but if the wind changes direction…..