Friday, September 21, 2012

Dinghy Races as Columbia Yacht Club

Dinghy Races as Columbia Yacht Club

Three days of races by the World Airlines Sailing Competition (WASC) brought sailors from around the world to Chicago and the Columbia Yacht Club. 

Racers have breakfast before the first race. 

Support boats fly team flags.  

 Sailors watch a race from Speakeasy. 

At the end of the day, the 420 dinghies were back on the dock. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Clapperton Island to Gore Bay

Clapperton Island to Gore Bay

It was my turn to make breakfast so a fired up the oven and baked refrigerator sweet rolls. Unfortunately, I burned some of the bottoms, which was our first error in the oven.

There was almost no wind at all this morning and motoring through Clapperton Channel was easy. Along the way we saw Loons grouping for a migration. I'd never seen loons in groups before. We made Gore Bay about noon to discover that Canadian Yacht Charter was closed due to an illness. We made for the marina to fill the fuel tank and empty the holding tank. All of the gear we brought was taken from Air Play and stowed in the car for our trip home. It was sad that we couldn't say goodbye to our hosts face-to-face, but we need to get to Manistique, MI.

Bridal Veil Falls

First, we wanted to stop at Bridal Veil Falls in Kagawong. This falls had been stopped for some time to create power for Kagawong, but was freely flowing again. Not only was the falls beautiful, but we could see salmon in the pool below them. Judging from the state of one of the salmon (dead and white), the salmon had come to spawn.

Farqhar's ice cream

Next was a stop in Little Current for Farqhar's famous ice cream. I had blackberry and white chocolate and Corkey had rum raisin. Betty and Beth had chocolatey dishes of ice cream. YUM!


 We got to Manistique at sundown and took rooms near the light, which was beautiful in the sunset. Thanks to our mobile devices, we found a summer club with a fish fry a couple miles away and felt like we were home again.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Little Current to Clapperton Island

Little Current to Clapperton Island

This morning the air was light and the water was flat. There was a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon carrying 15 kts from NNW. We wanted to get to our anchorage at Clapperton Island before the weather turned. However, we needed a slow morning because Beth'a injury was painful and we were tired. Corkey made French toast and we ate like kings.

Motoring through the buoys in Little Current was peaceful and beautiful. In a couple hours we were entering the Clapperton Channel, which is also marked with buoys because of the many submerged rocks surrounding the island's bay.

We headed north to Clappertton bay rounding Meredith rock, which has a large marker and light. We kept Betsey Island to port and Burbidge Island to starboard and followed the chart into the anchorage.

Our first anchor setting assumed we could set a second anchor to stern but I learned that the oar lock was broken and the dinghy seat was too so we hauled anchor and moved further from the shore so we could swing freely. Even further from shore, this was a picturesque spot with a head-on view of the decrepit Harbour Island Club main building that has not be occupied for decades.

At this point the wind was 5 kts but we could see weather approaching. We closed the cockpit curtains and waited for the weather to come and go, which it did in a couple of hours. We took the opportunity to rest and have another delicious dinner aboard Air Play.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Croker Island to little Current

Croker Island to Little Current 

Beautiful morning with a light breeze from the South that was forecast to pick up to 10-15 kts later in the day. I expected a pleasant trip to Little Current for a quick stop and then to a nearby anchorage.

Corkey was sent to untie the stern line from the cedar tree ashore. He couldn't depend on Beth to row this time, so he pulled himself in the dinghy by the line and was very careful getting ashore so he wouldn't slip again. Once untied, he pulled the dinghy back to Air Play and tied it close.

The anchor came up easily and we were on our way out of the bay at Croker Island, which we'd done 2 days prior to get to Benjamin Island on our first day.

I was adjusting the chart and looking for the rocks that must be rounded in order to get to deeper water. We had to pass between Croker Island and Secretary Island. I also knew that there was a shoal to the West but while I was adjusting the view on the plotter, we ran aground on a flat rock in 4 ft of water. I didn't throw us into reverse for a couple of seconds. Had I been faster we may have gotten off immediately but as it was we were fast atop a rock. No amount of backing was helping.

The crew inspected the ground around the boat. I checked the instruments, power, and bilge. We had lost no systems as were not taking in water. Whew!

We raised our charter company, Canadian Yacht Charter, on the radio but they couldn't hear us so we switched to the telephone, which worked in this area. They advised us to call back back 10 minutes while they considered our options. At the same time, Beth had the Coast Guard on the radio who took our particulars--crew, location, lat-long, and so forth.

During the 10 minutes, we prepared the second anchor to kedge us off the rock into deeper water behind us. The anchor rode was horribly tangled so it took 20 minutes to feed off the dinghy.

I called CYC who suggested dumping water, getting in the dinghy, and backing down. This did not work by itself even though the small but building waves were pushing the bow. With each blast of reverse the bow would swing and seem to move us slightly in the correct direction.

Eventually Corkey was able to drop the anchor 150 ft off the stern. After a few minutes of cranking the rode on a winch, Air Play slid off the shoal and I could pick up the crew and the anchor.

We called off the charter company and the Coat Guard and checked the chart very carefully. I was still puzzled about how I got atop a shoal that I knew was there but we got past it on the next attempt and rounded the rocks toward Secretary Island as we should.

We were exhausted and decided to sail to spend the night in Little Current, get a shower, and a restaurant meal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Croker Island

Croker Island


The best spot on Croker Island was available for us today and we headed directly for our first onshore tie-up. In plenty of water nearly to shore on two sides we backed into the perfect spot. We tested the ground and found we could get 20 ft from shore before the depth changed from 12 ft to 9 ft. We set the anchor in 12 ft of water, 60 ft from shore.

Corkey and Beth volunteered to take the stern line ashore. Fortunately, Beth enjoys rowing and took Corkey ashore while he played out the shore line. Corkey found an excellent tree to secure our stern.

On their return to the dinghy, Beth slipped and fell on her butt and howled in pain. Betty and I watched helplessly from Air Play watching Beth writhe and walk into the lake rather then toward the dinghy. Thinking she was delirious, I shouted to her to return to the dinghy and get in it, which she did. I could see that she could walk and climb over the dinghy sides. I had more hope that her pain was from a minor injury.

Meanwhile Corky slipped and slid onto the water on his butt but without harm except to get wet. Obviously, we had not gauged the slipperiness of algae-covered rocks near shore.

Betty was in charge of dinner, which was an amazing pork tip roast on a bed of sauerkraut with wine and sherries. Now we knew we could light the stove top and oven and make a gourmet meal.

Due to the beauty of this anchorage and Beth's injury, we decided to stay at this best anchorage on Croker Island and sail to Little Current in the morning for pump-out, water, and milk.


We had a great sleep and prepared for a picnic ashore. We found a perfect picnic spot on the near shore that gave us a view of Air Play and many pictures were taken. After lunch we climbed to the SW side of the island for the view and, as it turn out, data access so I sent a picture to friends.

Beth and I took a swim and bath while Betty and Corley showered. Then we basked in the afternoon sun reading. The reading material varied from genealogy to biography to The Atlantic.

For dinner, Betty created a lovely and delicious salad nicoise. After another beautiful day in paradise, we retired for another good night of sleep.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gore Bay to Benjamin Island

Gore Bay to Benjamin Island

We left Gore bay in the afternoon having taken all morning to get prepared. Wind began at 8 kts but quickly became 14 kts and we had to reef. Reefing the foresail was easy as we had much experience on Speakeasy but we had never reefed an in-mast main before. After our reef attempt very little sail was reduced but we were nearly at Secretary Island where we dropped sails to enter Croker Island.

The preferred spot at Croker Island was occupied so we sailed close to her to ask about the spot on the other side of the little island in the bay. We were assured in was fine but we discovered it was for experienced gunkholers, not for us. I think we would have had to take a forward and aft line ashore in order to stay behind the little island.

We set Air Play between the rocky island and the main island in less the 10 ft of water. However we could get the anchor to hold. Corkey was learning it's personality. After a couple of attempts, I agreed with Beth that we should leave before we got stuck.

After our failed attempt to anchor at Croker Island, even though the conditions were ideal, we motored to Benjamin Island where we could do a simple free swing anchorage. The wind switched over night to put us within inches of submerged rocks that we did not see when we anchored. Obviously, we had more to learn.

Corkey made a great breakfast of Swedish pancakes with Kickapoo syrup the next morning. After breakfast we took the dinghy ashore and climbed to the summit of North Benjamin Island where we got good pictures of the rocks and islands to the West.

While on the shore I could see the excellent shore ties that sailors have marked with trunks and cairns. Some of these were within a few feet of shore and between submerged boulders. That's gunkholing!

We explored what we thought was a government dock and explored house and trails nearby. Back at Air Play for reading, naps, and lunch.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Marinette to Gore Bay

Marinette to Gore Bay

Breakfast was grattus at the Comfort Inn where we could get cereal, waffles, eggs, and pastries. We drove 5 hours to get to the border at Sault Ste Marie where we were asked questions about our supplies and last trip to Canada. The border guard appeared satisfied but he also was viewing screens showing views of our car including the license plate. He may also have been investigating other data supplied through our passports. It was quick and painless.

Five hours later we we on the island of Manitoulin. Just shy of Manitoulin, in Espanola, we stopped at a good grocer, Winkels, and the OLCB for more beer and wine. We needn't have brought so much with us from Madison because Winkels had everything we needed. The OLCB even had the cordial that Betty had fallen in love with in South Africa.

Our excitement mounted as we weaved along the waters of the North Channel through Little Current and Kagawong. Once we arrived in Gore Bay, we found a note on the CYC door for us to board Air Play and stay the night. We met Ken, a sailor and friend of Ken Blodgett of CYC. he showed us good anchorages and told a great fish story about a three gilled ancient fish. This may have been a fish tale, but Ken told it with many fine details. Perhaps Ken hooked a Lake Sturgeon. I gave Ken a boat card and told him to send pictures if his Aloha sloop, which is for sale.

We had a fine meal at the octagonal building overlooking the harbor, which has changed owners and names since the reports that I had read. The trout was flavorful with good texture and not sauced. Beth and Betty had fine whitefish and Corkey ate lamb. Side vegetable were simple but delicious.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Smalltalk, Our Port-A-Bote Dinghy

Port-a-Bote just assembled
Speakeasy with Smalltalk lashed to starboard stanchions. 
The old inflatable dinghy.