This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Lake Superior - Otter Cove

The final two hours of the trip to Otter Cove was in fog with no visibility of the shore.  The beauty of the shore was missed and no land marks were visible for navigation.  Jagged shore line with numerous islands close to shore mask inlets that might lead to harbors suitable for anchoring.  Fortunately, as the GPS and chartplotter were indicating that Last Dance was approaching the skinny entrance to Otter Cove, the fog began to lift, revealing a small opening.

Through the entrance, down a narrow cut between Otter Island and a mainland point, the cove appeared - a quite large cove.  Water was deep across the cove from shore to shore, mostly at 40 feet or more.  In the background, Last Dance can be seen at anchor.  The structure in the foreground is a helicopter landing pad for the park service.   This area is part of a national park, reachable in the winter only by plane.  Natural forest came right down to the water around the cove, except at this rock point with the helipad.

A closer view of the vertical ridge on the north side of the cove.  Rock formations and natural forest define the landscape of Lake Superior - undisturbed beauty.

Along the point where the lake can lash when it is angry, the shore had a few beaches, again colorful, rock beaches.  Beach combing ensued.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pilot Harbor

A direct route was taken from Brule Harbor to Pilot Harbor, cutting the northeast corner of the lake.  The rocky and wooded shore was visible from over 25 miles away due to the high altitude of the terrain.

As the shore became closer, a clearer view of the rocky and wooded terrain became evident.  A small white spot could be seen.

The rocky shore has coves all along the shore, only a few of which provide the space, depth, and protection needed to be a good anchorage.  Someone decided that Pilot Harbor needed a marker so that it could be found.  An enormous carin, which has been painted white, can be seen back in the trees and a large, pyramidal, wooden day marker closer to the water.

Again, a stern tie worked well in keeping the boat in one place rather than swinging in a large circle and it kept the bow of the boat pointed out toward the lake to better take rough waters in case the winds picked up.  The cut straight ahead is rocky and not navigable.  To the right of the cut is another entrance island with the cut to enter just in front of the rock face.

A view out the entrance to Pilot giving a better view of the narrow cut.  Out on the point a line of rocks is visible extending off the point.  That line continues under the water, also.  The entrance is not only narrow, but far from a straight shot in off the lake.  The hidden entrance prompted someone to place the markers to aid navigation to this harbor.

The coast of Lake Superior is rock lined with a variety of types and shapes of rocks.   Those that can be seen, such as these, and those just under the water.  It is best to travel at least one half mile off shore to avoid finding any of those under-water rocks.

As Last Dance left Pilot Harbor, heading farther north, a wall of fog lay about a mile and a half off shore.  Clear skies above, but thick fog on the water.  The peaks on Michipicoten Island can be seen peaking over the fog.

Brule Harbor

Brule Harbor is actually two harbors - an outer large bay with some protection and 45 -50 deep water in the areas where one could anchor.  Then, through a small cut, there is another harbor that is like a lake.  Only one small cut could allow winds and waves into the inner harbor.  Then, there is a tiny cove in the inner harbor, which was waiting unoccupied for Last Dance.

Waters in this little cove were only 33 feet deep, although quite deep for cruisers who's experience is anchoring in the Bahamas and the Southeast US in depths of 8 - 12 feet.  The deeper the water, the longer the required anchor line that must be deployed to maintain the proper ratio (scope) so that the anchor line is pulling on the anchor sideways, causing it to dig deeper, rather than pulling up, causing it to pull out.

With proper scope this cove is much too narrow to swing on the anchor, so two stern lines were run to shore.  This arrangement holds the boat in one spot rather than allowing it to swing.

A beautiful day on Lake Superior.  This image was made on the island in the cut leading to the inner harbor.  In the distance is Lake Superior.  The far point on the left is Entrance Island.  The two closer points are the inside of the outer harbor, forming the opening to the channel leading to the lake-like inner harbor.  The water is much to shallow to pass on the right, looking out, leaving a very narrow cut on the left.  The narrowness and the large rocks underwater keep many a boat in the outer harbor.

A ride in the dinghy give a better perspective of the protection afforded by the cove.  It is to the left, in front of the high ridge around the corner from the dark conifer tree in mid shot.

Around that tree and the little rock point, Last Dance can be seen tucked deeply into the cove.  In the south this would be called a hurricane hole as it provides great protection from all winds.  There are few such places along the eastern shore of Lake Superior.

This view of the chart plotter provides an image of the outer and inner harbors.  You can see the blue shoal water that must be crossed to enter the inner harbor, waters that have no depth readings on the chart.  The island in the middle of the narrow spot is missing.  You can also see that the chart plotter has great inaccuracies, having the boat anchored on top of the rock ridge.  Just one of the challenges of traveling on Lake Superior.

The beaches on the mainland and islands that face Lake Superior had a few beaches, again, rock beaches.

There is another area of round rocks on the mainland, south of Brule Harbor.  It appears to be a river of rocks running down that is terraced.  At the top of the first terrace, a line of driftwood can be seen.  This is the height that the waves have pushed the driftwood.  How did these round rocks, obviously polished by rough waters become located on high ground appearing to flow like a river?

That is one question for which there is no answer.  At the top of this terraced flow of rocks are some pits, obviously dug and rock arranged by humans.  First Nation lore has it that the pits were there when the first natives arrived.  What humans could have been here before the First Nation People?  A walk up the rock river was planned to see the pits, but the rocks are loosely stacked and many moved unexpectedly as they were attempted for footholds.  It was decided that the potential for falls and injuries was too high to attempt this journey.

A hike over Entrance Island was more successful.  Many types of plant life and rock formations were observed.  This shot is looking from the island out into Lake Superior.  The lake that can become so angry that it can sink 600 foot freighters like the Edmund Fitzgerald can also be very gentle.

A little fog bank moves into Brule Harbor, another lesson in fog.  It is unpredictable and can arrive at any time.  The cold waters of the lake (48 degrees was recorded on the chart plotter) cools the air and condenses the water vapor into fog.  A small wind shift can create a fog situation.  Fortunately, the Last Dance crew had practice navigating in the fog during cruises to Maine.  It would be needed.

Indian Harbor

From Sinclair Bay north, the possible anchorages increase in number and are separated by fewer miles.  The next stop on the journey was Indian Harbor, an area off the big lake with multiple little coves, protected from at least a few wind directions.  One of the benefits of cruising in an area where few cruisers ever venture is the best spots you choose for anchoring are available when you get there.  No one was at Indian Harbor, so Last Dance was anchored in the cove with the protection from all winds.  She can be seen in the background in the above image.  This stop began a two-week period where only two other boats were seen.

The cove itself was treed with thick forest right down to the water line, leaving little access for shore exploration.  This is partly due to the fact that Lake Superior was 2 feet higher than normal, bringing the water line much higher along the shore.  However, some of the islands inside the large Bay are more prone to thrashing by the waves and had beaches still above the water line.  Rock beaches.

On the side of the islands facing the big lake, the beaches took more of a thrashing and were even larger.  Another great day for the beachcombers.

The rocks on the beaches had been tumbled for centuries, rounding and polishing them.  The ones still underwater show their true colors.  So many different colors of granite that must have come from many different places, ground away by the glacier ice and later polished by the lake waters.

Indian Harbor also began the lessons of the Lake Superior fog.  It is unpredictable and follows no pattern.  This image is from the boat looking north and toward the opening to the big lake.  The fog arrived at 6 pm and was gone at 7 pm.  It becomes eerie quiet, more so the thicker it becomes.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Lake Superior - Sinclair Bay

Sinclair Bay was the second stop along Lake Superior.  A cove surrounded by granite ridges, Sinclair provides good protection and a quiet anchorage, except for NW winds.  Fortunately, none were in the forecast.

Again, a white sand beach provided a nice dinghy landing and Rubber Duck can be seen on the beach behind Last Dance.  Sinclair Bay is part of the Ontario Provincial Lake Superior Park, which has a trail along the shore giving opportunity for extended exploration.  A side trail led up to the top of the ridge between the cove and Lake Superior.  The above image was made from that ridge.  Interesting perspective for two Florida flat landers.

A walk to the western side of the ridge provided a view of Lake Superior.  The winds were making picturesque designs on the water.

Then, looking to the northwest, the opening which creates a funneling effect of NW winds into the cove can be observed.  Yes, the rock islands will break up the waves, but they work their way around the rocks to form a rolling surge, which can make for an uncomfortable ride at anchor.  Not only are there few possible anchorages along the eastern shore of the lake, in some winds, some of the anchorages are not where one would want to be.  The smooth waters in this image and the small wrinkles in the above image of Lake Superior were the result of light winds over the land, from the east.  A good day.

Sinclair, like many of the coves and harbors along the big lake, cannot be seen from the lake.  Charts and guidebooks can lead you there, but there still can be difficulty finding a way in and, in particular, finding a way in without winding up on the rocks.  In this case, the best route is to head forward, almost to the large rock island ahead, then a 180 degree sweeping turn back to the east and south.

The cove is at the middle of the coastal trail - 14 kilometers either direction.

The trail to the north was taken.  It provided many views of the landscape of this area of Canada - beautiful back woods landscape of trees, rocks, mosses, and understory plants.  Yes, it had some challenging points and steep inclines, but taken at a moderate pace, it was more interesting than difficult, as suggested by the sign.

The trail, which is not always obvious, is sometimes marked with blue blazes on trees and sometimes by carins, a stack of rocks.  A carin might mean the trail is "this way" or it might mean "turn here."

In this case, the carin at the bottom of the big rock means "trun right here," which was not the first option explored.

A stack of rocks made to resemble a man is known as an Inukshuk, a symbol used by the First Nation People for centuries.  An Inukshuk is sometimes designed to point the correct way to proceed.  The Sinclair trail had the most creative Inukshuk ever encountered.  Rather than pointing the way, he is scratching his head - "I'm lost and confused, also."

On another trip to the beach, three young people were walking down from the north trail and three walking up from the south trail.  From their attire it was obvious that they were not park visitors hiking.  They were college kids working a summer job.  Parks Canada has a wonderful program of hiring college students to fill the greatly-increased personnel needs in the summer.  They had just worked on the trail, one group dropped at the north end and the other group at the south end.  They worked the trail, hiking toward the center and arrived about the same time.  You will note that two of the students have full-sized chain saws in their back pack - the young man 3rd from left and the young woman 2nd from right.  It is always a wonderful experience to be able to interact with enthusiastic young folks.

The period of light winds and smooth waters provided an opportunity to take a trip out into the lake to explore close up by dinghy.

Rock formations along the lake are always an interesting part of the beauty of the lake.  This rock is at the southern entrance to Sinclair Bay.  It has a fractured face that appears like a trigger fish.

Rock formations are constantly changing.  Not far from the smooth rock face entering the harbor, this jagged and flat sloping rock looked over Lake Superior.

The inner side of the larger island at the bay entrance again had different rock make up and surface.  It did provide a good dinghy landing for Bonnie walks.

One dinghy trip was to the Painted Rocks, which face out onto Lake Superior.  There were a couple large ropes hanging down the sloping face of the rock.  Thought it nice that the park service provided ropes for dinghy mooring, but learned later that they were for another purpose.

The rock next to the water and in front of the paintings has a steep slope toward the water.  It is slippery and even more so when wet.  Many a park visitor has slipped off the rocks into the water.  The purpose of the ropes leading down to the water is to aid people who have fallen into the water to get out of the water.  Something one would want to do quickly as the lake waters are cold and hypothermia would come quickly.

The Painted Rocks are off the southern coastal trail, which is the way most visitors access this spot.  Up  a way on the trail there is a sign explaining the history of the painted rocks.  It also has a photo of the rock from the same perspective as the photo above - on a day with a little more wind.  Not a day to walk the ledge and view the pictographs.  The reason the park service is so careful here is that people have slipped off the slanted rock, some injured and two have died.

The other side of the sign illustrates the different pictographs, which include explanations of their meanings.  All signs in Canada, and all merchandise containers and tags, are in two languages - English and French in recognition that Canada is a bilingual country.  In Lake Superior Park, the signs were in three languages, including the language of the First Nation People.

(Click on the image above to enlarge, making it easier to read.)

Sinclair Bay also had great waters and islands for kayak exploration.  Sinclair offers many avenues for interacting with nature and history of this area of Canada.