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.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Lake Superior - Old Dave's Harbor


Tucked in close to shore creating a protected anchorage in preparation for a forecast storm.  Stern tie was used again to hold the boat close to shore in the slight curve of the cove.  The anchor is set in 37 feet of water which would create a swing circle greater than 240 feet if the boat was allowed to swing on the anchor.  Much better to be held in one spot.  Eventually, Last Dance was secured with two anchors forward and two stern lines aft.  A very worthwhile effort in gaining a protected mooring for the storm and to have access to the island and experience the nature and history of this area.

The buildings to the left are the assistant lighthouse keeper's house and boathouse.  One of the interesting aspects of Old Dave's is the history of the Otter Island lighthouse and the fishing camp on Old Dave's Island.

Otter Cove is at the east end of Otter Island, a harbor carved out of the mainland with Otter Island protecting the opening.  Old Dave's Harbor is at the western end of Otter Island, a cove protected by a small island, Old Dave's.  The chart plotter has Last Dance properly placed along the shore of Otter Island.  It can be seen that there are no depths or charted rocks in Old Dave's Harbor.  The entrance to the right, off Otter Bay, is much narrower than indicated with rocks lying off both points.  The entrance to the left, off Lake Superior, is impossible to navigate with shallows and rocks not charted.  One of the challenges of cruising Lake Superior is the lack of accurate navigational information.



The deep water makes for a long anchor line to achieve proper scope but, on the other hand, allows a boat to be moored very close to shore for greater protection.  As can be seen on the chart plotter screen above, while Last Dance is less than a boat length from shore, she is in over 14 feet of water.  (The depth sounder is set to read the depth of the water under the keel.  Since Last Dance has about a 4.5 foot draft, the draft has to be added to the reading to calculate depth.)





From anchor, looking to the south, the opening to Lake Superior can be seen.  On the shore of Old Dave's Island the remains of the abandoned fishing village are slowly deteriorating.











Looking north, the opening to Otter Bay with the mainland on the northern shore.














The fishing village was home to multiple fishing boats for many decades.  The depleted fishery of Lake Superior made commercial fishing from this outpost economically unfeasible and the village was abandoned.  A close look at the water reveals rocks and logs that were once part of crib structures providing docking wharfs for the fishing boats and now making this shore impossible for anchoring.





The houses have seemed to survived the ravages of rough weather but the storage and workshop buildings are quite deteriorated.  Some remnants of the habitation lay along the shore - an old bathtub and a washing machine.










The concrete wharf at the assistant lighthouse keeper's house is still in good repair, providing an easy and secure landing for trips ashore.












Trips ashore are greatly appreciated by Bonnie, the boat dog, for exercise walks and to explore the various smells.  Different and unknown smells reside here due to a herd of caribou which live on the island.

Otter Island is a part of Pukaskwa National Park, which has decided to allow all park property to return to its natural state.  This policy is allowing the lighthouse keeper's building to deteriorate and rot, erasing evidence of an important part of history.












While rare for visitors to land here, the park service does expect a few and provides information about Otter Island.  The lack of communications in this area is noted by the statement: "In case of emergency contact by satellite phone . . . "












The Otter Island Lighthouse is at a high point of the island, a good distance from the house on the cove.  A long trail leads from the assistant lighthouse keeper's house to the ridge.











While the trail was built for utilitarian purposes, it makes for a good hiking trail through the rock formations and the woods.  It also leads to the buildings and history of the only lighthouse on this coast of Lake Superior.













The lighthouse is no longer operational and the trail no longer maintained.  The lack of maintenance is obvious as the trial is becoming overgrown and structures, such as this staircase, are deteriorating.



















Over the top of the ridge and down the lake side, the Otter Island Light sits. With the elevation provided by the island, the lighthouse did not need to be a tall structure.  Interesting cutout of a beaver serving as a wind vane.

















Multiple ridges of granite make up this part of the path, creating difficult walking.  Long elevated walkways and bridges were constructed to support travel between the buildings, of which there are three - the lighthouse, the lighthouse keeper's house, and the generator building, in this image.







A helicopter landing pad sits adjacent to the generator building, providing access in winter months when the lake is frozen.  Four, large speakers in front of the building served as a very loud fog horn.











A concrete walkway leads from the generator building across a bridge over an interesting cut.   Looks like someone, quite large, chiseled a groove through the rock, leaving some of the broken rock in the bottom of the groove.   The rock islands lie outside Old Dave's Harbor's lakeside entrance, providing some protection from rough water coming in from the lake.











The walkway leads to a larger cut in the rock, one deep enough to allow vessels to enter.  Supplies and diesel fuel were delivered to the lighthouse by tying to the wall of this deep cut, then using a power-operated crane to lift the supplies.  The cuts through the rock in this area are most interesting.











History of power at the lighthouse can be seen behind the generator building.  The concrete saddles once held diesel fuel tanks which powered generators for power to the light and the lighthouse keepers houses.  A concrete wall around the tank field is a safety catch for fuel if a tank developed a leak.  Later, the tanks were removed and a serious structure was installed to hold solar panels to power the light and buildings.  Now, the solar panels are gone and the light is dark.







Otter Island light viewed from the water gives a view of the three buildings - generator building, lighthouse keeper's house, and the lighthouse.  The ridge in the background is on the mainland, on the north side of the bay.  These are the only buildings on the shore of Lake Superior for over 60 miles in either direction.






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