We woke up to a cloudy sky with traces of fog showing over the hills around Windigo.The fog wasn’t a good sign as our friend Dave had told us their was often fog on the main lake when it was clear in the harbors. We had about 40 miles to travel from Windigo to Chippewa Harbor so we knew fog wouldn’t be much fun. The other side of the equation is that once we’re outside, we won’t come back into a harbor unless visibility is good. In the case of Chippewa Harbor the entrance is a bit hard to find and once inside, good light is important to see the unmarked rocks and shoals.
We left WIndigo via Washington and Grace Harbors and rounded the Cumberland Point shoals out to the main lake. Visibility was good initially but then the fog rolled in as we had feared. We used the chart plotter to a course that kept us a minimum of one mile offshore and set the VHF and PA speaker to sound the appropriate fog signals. For the next 4 hours, visibility ranged from 200 feet to maybe 1/3 of a mile.
The lord was definitely with us as the fog lifted as we neared the entrance to Chippewa Harbor after about a 40 mile trip. The first site through the fog was Isle Royal Light at Siskiwit bay (trust me it’s there).
Isle Royal Light
We spotted the white triangular day mark as we neared Chippewa Harbor and made our way in. Navigating the narrow unmarked channel required one of us on the bow to watch for rocks while the other (Phebe) steered the boat.
Chippewa Day Mark
Start of Chippewa Entry
Heading to the Second Basin
Once inside the harbor it was like we were on a small mountain lake. It’s very narrow with excellent protection. It’s been too windy and foggy to leave the last couple of days and we’ve been confined to the boat. It’s been too windy to row the dinghy and I have a slightly tweaked back making it impossible to put the motor on the dinghy. The weather forecast looks good for tomorrow so we’ll most likely move onto Rock Harbor.
July 1st came and it was time to say goodbye to Bayfield. We had to be out of our slip to make room for the racers coming for Bayfield’s “Race Week” so that gave us the push that we needed to hit the road. We filled the fuel tanks and the jerry cans with diesel, filled up with water, and pumped the holding tanks before leaving.
At the Fuel Dock
The plan was to head to the nearby islands and wait for a good weather window to make the open water crossing to Isle Royal. We left with no wind and motored the 10 miles or so to Julian Bay on Stockton Island. This is a beautiful anchorage with a long sand beach.
Julian Bay on Stockton Island
We had planned to stay at Stockton for a couple of days but the weather forecast for the next couple of days seemed perfect for our crossing so that’s we decided to do. After a morning of sleeping in, followed by a walk on the beach, we made final preparations for our 80 mile crossing to Isle Royal. We would leave about 8:00 pm and planned to arrive at Windigo on Isle Royal at about noon the next day.
We set off as planned with no wind in sight and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.
We eventually got some wind but it was directly behind us which makes for difficult sailing so we motored through the night. Our VHF radio has AIS built in which alleviated some of the drama as we passed through the shipping lanes. At one point we had the AIS alarm go off as we were to pass within least than 0.5nm of the freighter American Spirit. Fortunately we had nearly an hour warning so we could adjust course to pass a safe 3nm behind the freighter. It was a star filled night and calm enough to see their reflections on the water. We actually had very little total darkness as there was light on the horizon until nearly midnight and it came back before 4:00. We took turns at the helm and each had a little time below to catch a small bit of sleep. Around 9:00 we go our first glimpse of Rock of Ages Light marking the SW end of Isle Royal.
Rock of Ages Light Approaching Isle Royal
We made our way into Grace Harbor and through a narrow pass into Washington Harbor where Windigo Ranger Station is located, getting a closer look at Rock of Ages in the process.
Rock of Ages Light
We made it in to the Windigo Ranger Station about 11:30 and got checked into the park for the next week or so. After that we got Noodin anchored just north of Beaver Island. We made it!