Ron Smallbone  S/V Epiphany Trans Superior 2017 Sailing Log/Journal

 

This is the big one, one of the longest solo fresh water races in the world.  This race starts outside  Sault Ste Marie, Michigan and finishes at Duluth, Minnesota, a rum line distance of 326 nautical miles.   This  is their 25th anniversary, a biennial race held every other year with fully crewed boats with  a smaller single handed division.    In total there are 37 competitors for this years  trans Superior race and down to nine single handed boats.   The Duluth Yacht Club is the organizing authority for this event.   

Lake Superior,  the lyrics immortalized by Canadian singer, song writer Gordon Lightfoot, in his 1976 hit song ‘the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’, the big lake they call Gitche gumee.   

 

My good friend, long time single handed sailor Jan Steyn who sails out of Youngstown, NY gave me some frank, simple advice, ‘Mast up, keel down always’. *

*Jan should know, he lost his boat ‘ Solid Air’, a Columbia 32 carbon  when he lost steerage during the June  2013 Newport to Bermuda, ‘one - two’.    This was during the single handed portion of the race.     Fortunately for him he was rescued by a fellow competitor, Wyoming resident Dan Alonso, skippering a Hallberg-Rassy 49, ‘Halcyon’.     This occurred about 200 nautical miles from the finish line at Bermuda.   Jan's abandoned boat has never been found, and presumed to have sank, sometime after this rescue.   

 

Come to think about it , many of my single handed friends, including myself, have lost gear , or donated aluminium into the Great Lakes. ( George Minarik, Carolyn Archibald on Lake Ontario and Lease Schock, on Lake Erie  lost their rigs, that readily come to mind).  I also had my rudder snap off during the 2016 Lake Erie solo challenge.    Equipment failures and losses are going to occur if you are out there long enough.   The risks today are somewhat mitigated by our  safety, technology, and qualifier requirements.   

I personally, am of the opinion, that the most dangerous endeavour we will ever do, is to drive a motor vehicle to our Yacht Club.   Or even worse, engage in a sedentary life style sitting comfortably in front of our laptops and television screens.    

 

On Monday July 31st, at 1pm, I caught the northbound Greyhound bus from Toronto’s downtown bus terminal.     This was quite the circuitous route stopping at the Yorkdale mall, then Parry Sound (for a rest stop) before finally arriving at the Sudbury bus terminal.    About an hour lay over later and a different driver we headed west on a packed bus towards Sault Ste Marie, with stops in some of the smaller communities along the way.  It was after midnight when  I finally arrived at the Howard Johnson hotel/ bus terminal in Sault Ste Marie.   At this time I tried to use my cell phone but it started to make symptoms discovered earlier relating to a faulty operating system (according to the Apple technician at Sherway Gardens).   The technician  reinstalled a new operating system and I thought my cell phone troubles were behind me.     I used a pay phone to call a cab,  and sometime after 1am I arrived back at the Bellevue Marina.    I noticed Worthy Pearl (Mac McKenzie from Etobicoke Yacht Club) had moved onto the same dock.    The next day I met Mac and learned he will also be going to the George Kemp Downtown Marina on the US side of the Sault this Thursday, August 3rd.

 

I did some major provisioning and used a cab to shuttle my groceries back to the boat.    The heat and humidity today is stifling and the Dometic cooler blue a fuse and melted the connector.     I then  hard wired the cooler into an existing circuit that I had previously wired, but never used,  for refrigeration.    When I was packing the cereal I usually remove the outer box to save space.    Big mistake, the bottom of the rice crispy bag split open  spilling the contents inside the port side shelf.   I ended up turning in early.   During the night there were lots of lightning and rain showers.     

 

On Wednesday August 2nd, I was up early and met my boat neighbour Raymond on his 25 foot, California built C.Dory, called ‘Drifter’.        Raymond said the fishing this year has been pretty poor.  He usually goes out to the rapids near the St Mary's locks where there is lots of fish, but they are  just  not biting.     He said the water temperature is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about normal for this time of the year.    

I walked to the nearest Fido outlet located at the Station Mall in downtown Sault Ste Marie, (293 Bay Street.)    I bought a new i phone SE32, a  required piece of gear (a working Cell phone) for the trans Superior.    I'm sure this phone will be obsolete in a years time.   This set me back almost $300 after service, warranty and transaction fees.     Once back at the marina I installed a new starter push switch which I had brought with me.    I topped up the water tank, and potable plastic jugs.     

 

I  paid on line for my skipper meeting dinner, being held on a tour boat near the George Kemp downtown marina.

 

That evening Mac and I were picked up at the marina by his son Ian and daughter in law Amy, who live and work in the Sault.   We had a nice Italian dinner at Giovanni's.     

 

On Thursday August 3rd, just after 12 noon Mac and I departed the Bellevue marina and took a short hop across the river to the George Kemp downtown marina.   The east side of the marina is moored a historic freighter, the 550 foot, 1917 Valley Camp which is also a 20,000 square foot indoor marine museum , which includes life boats off of the ill fated Edmund Fitzgerald.  

 

At 1218pm, I checked into US Customs, (Reporting number: SSM1708031214) and then the marina staff assigned me into slip B17.

 

There was a mega yacht called Denali, a N/M 67 docked next to me straddling the outer end docks.  They had a real nice stereo system and played lots of my favourite Bruce Springsteen tunes.   It was drizzling light rain when we pulled in and the rain continued for most of that afternoon.  

 

There are some serious mega race yachts here, some with paid professional crews on board.   Five of the mega yachts have negative PHRF handicap ratings, namely: Arete’-240, an Orma 60,  Earth Voyager -222,  a Formula 60 trimaran, Il Mostro -174, a Volvo 70, Ocean -123, an Andrews 77, Dinali -66, a N/M 67 and MC ^2 -42, a R/P 50.     These are fast ,expensive, light carbon fibre sleds.     

 

My good friends, fellow GLSS members Dick Lappin from Rogers City (Ginger Kay, a C&C 27) and Dan Pavlat (Coconut Telegraph , a J 33) from Detroit arrived shortly after I had tied up.    Joey Baker from Detroit on his Mumm/Farr 30 snuck in later.  

 

At 530pm, after a short walk from the marina,  Dan Pavlat, his cousin Michele and her husband Chris (Delridge), Mac McKenzie, Dick Lappin, Mike Spence and I attended Flannigan’s Goat Pub (107 East Portage, Sault Ste Marie, Michigan) for dinner.     It's a quaint family run pub and cafe inside, as well as an Adventure Bird’s Eye outfitters store.    Their speciality is homemade BBQ that Is slowly smoked in house.       The rain has stopped and it is considerably cooler now.      

There was heavy rain and lightning throughout the evening and early hours.    

 

During the morning of Friday August 4th the skies were overcast with periodic rain showers.      Mac McKenzie, Dan Pavlat and I attended Franks family restaurant for breakfast.   At about 9am we returned to the marina and checked into the race committee tent.  At this time I received my yellow brick tracker and sailing bag containing two ball caps, sail ties, sailing instructions from the Duluth Yacht Club and assorted sponsor materials.    

I spoke to GLSS member Mike Spence (C&C 44, Voyager)  from Bayfield, Wisconsin who gave me lots of tips regarding sailing back from Duluth, Minnesota through the Apostle islands and east across the Keweenaw  (peninsula) cut.

 

   I  met GLSS members Doug Milroy owner of a Sabre 34 MkII, the SS George Bailey (based on the movie George Bailey), my good friend, Joey Baker from Detroit, Michigan on his rocket sled  Farr/ Mumm 30, and Dallas Johnson from Bayfield, Wisconsin on his Schock 35, Texana.   I spoke to Single Hander Richard Lett , originally from South Hampton,England, Velocity Girl, a VQ32.    Richard competed this year in June during the Bermuda One- Two.    (Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda single handed then double handed back to Newport.)    

Most of the skippers  were doing last minute gear and boat  preparations.   I helped Dan Pavlat by hoisting him up to his port spreaders of his J33 to effect an adjustment. I then was hoisted up the mast of Jim Hodson (and his crew Chuck) on a C&C 29 ( Radio Flyer) out of the North Star boating club,( Lake St.Clair) to attach the head of a baby stay.  

 

At 2Pm Mike Spence held an informal meeting for the nine GLSS single handed skippers near the George Kemp marina office.   Everyone introduced themselves, their boat and their home port.  He then went over the radio check in times on channel 72, Central time,   0400,1200, & 2000, every 8 hours.   We learned that both Joey Baker (Peace) and Richard Lett (Velocity Girl) are equipped with satellite phones.   Their satellite telephone numbers were provided to the race committee.  Mike asked us to take a photo of our radio logs and e mail it to him at the end of the race.  

 

Kris Henry from the Race Committee (RC) supplied the main RC telephone 218-461-6206 and e mail address:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  (Especially in the event of with drawing from the race.)    Dick Lappin supplied me with a map of the Duluth entrance and harbour and a suggestion to stay at the Lakehead boat basin.     Kris then took a group photo using Mike Spence's cell phone.

 

At 5pm I attended the Soo Harbour tour boat for the trans Superior skippers meeting.  Kris Henry from the RC emceed the event,  followed by a buffet dinner.     I sat with Dan Pavlat, Mac McKenzie and the skippers of Galatea, David Herring (an Islander 36) and Eric Thomas, Red Herring ( C&C 38 MK II) both from Duluth, Minnesota.   Tomorrow, barring any freighter traffic, we plan on making the 0800 (EDT) United States McGregor lock.      The start is approximately 18 nautical miles away, starting at the Gros Cap reef light tower.   The single handed start is scheduled at 110pm , eastern day light time.      

 

Saturday August 5th, race day.  I left the dock at about 745am (EDT).   We got word from our race official (Kris Henry), that we better make the 8am lock opening as there are lots of freighters and one down bound cruise ship which was prepared to wait for us.   All of the single handed boats made this lock opening and most of the double handed boats as well.  I rafted on to a double handed boat, Tom Chrisfield on Venus from Duluth, Minnesota, a Pretorien 35, Joey Baker on his Mumm 30 rafted next to me and Mac McKenzie on his C&C 37 completed the outside of the raft.  Then the SS George Bailey, Doug Milroy, who was by himself at the front of the lock  got turned around backwards inside when it started to fill.  Doug is a single hander, so no problem,  he just backed out of the lock at the end.    Upon exiting the lock we were cheered on by Dan Pavlat's cousins.  (Chris and Michele Delridge)  

It was a bit of a jaunt to the starting area at Gros Cap reef light.      After a very short delay our start went off at 115pm (EDT) without incident.  One of the Soo tour spectator boats positioned themselves near the start to witness the event.      

 

Saturday turned into a beautiful day.  Unfortunately the winds completely died at around 8pm and now I was barely moving.  At this time I was located about 4 nautical miles south of White Fish point.     That evening  I witnessed a beautiful sunset and  full moon but absolutely no wind.    It continued very light into the next morning.  On advice from Dick Lappin I gave this point lots of room, to avoid any negative current.   

 

On Sunday morning, veteran single hander Dick Lappin (Ginger Kay) had enough, with the lack of wind, and called it quits.  Single hander Richard Lett on Velocity girl, a VQ 32 was having auto helm issues and also decided to retire from the race.

 

  By Sunday noon (CDT) the wind increased nicely and I started to close reach towards my next waypoint on the northern tip of the Keewenaw peninsula, north of Copper Harbour. Unfortunately this didn't last long and the wind died again.  The wet fog rolled in during the afternoon and continued into most of the evening.  It felt like rain with so much condensation dripping off the sails, deck and rigging.  The nights here are very cool and I am dressed for winter attire.    The freighter traffic on Lake Superior is unbelievably busy compared to the other Great Lakes.    There has been a ‘general notice to mariners’, broad cast regarding the running of the trans Superior race.  The freighter captains/ radio operators are very cooperative and have communicated with some of the competitors.  They even agreed by consensus to steer around Worthy Pearl ( Mac Mackenzie) at one point.

 Mike Spence, (Voyager, C&C 44) had been coordinating the single handed radio position reports.  Mac later took over this role and did an excellent job.   

 

On Sunday afternoon, one of the fully crewed boats, skippered by Mark Gross, Wylie Coyote (a Wylie 40) had a crew member with a medical issue ( kidney stones) and he had to be removed with the help and coordination of the US Coast guard.  The crew reported he was in stable condition, but in a lot of pain.    He was removed off the boat with the aid of a Parks Service boat.    Wylie Coyote continued racing after this medical evacuation and will no doubt request redress from the RC.        

 

Monday morning looks sunny, clear  and cool but so far very little wind.    The wind eventually did come and I could do only about 4.5 knots towards my waypoint.   At about 1115am (CDT), 40 nautical miles east of the Keewenaw peninsula I was visited by a few red breasted  nut hatches.  They came inside the cabin pecking for insects.  I tried feeding them bread crumbs but they were not interested in that.    I took some pictures of these bold birds who didn't appear to be afraid of me.    I'll take this as a good luck omen!

 

   At my 12 noon (CDT)  my radio position check in, I could barely hear Mike Spence.  It looks like my competitors have gotten way ahead of me and are now out of radio range.  

The wind has also died with swells and current are against me.  I'm lucky to make 2 knots towards my next waypoint just north of the Apostle Islands.  This is something I usually have to deal with, being the smaller and slower boat.   You have to have a certain mind set and enjoy the weather and solitude.  At least there are very few bugs.    

 

Looks like Mike Spence (Voyager) is also retiring from the race.  He had numerous equipment failures.  

 

Late Monday evening the winds increased so  I double reefed the main and reduced down to my number 3 head sail.   I headed north west to keep away from the current on the tip of the Keewenaw peninsula.  My auto helm is acting up, not sure why, but tried changing the response levels.  This seemed to help.     The wind is now steady out of the west, and of course right on the nose.   

 

On Tuesday August 8th, just after 5am (CDT) the wind died and I am back up to full sail,  but the wind is still  right on the nose.    This is going to be a long race.     It's a grey overcast day with lots of rain showers.  Doug Milroy (the SS George Bailey) has also retired from the race.    Doug is from Bayfield, Wisconsin.   He later told me he was having auto helm issues and the lack of wind factored into his decision to retire.   That  leaves just Mac and I in the second, single handed division B.    We are now down to only 5 single handed competitors, from the original 9.   These conditions could test anybody's patience, (Insanity), but I didn't come this far to call it quits.    Most of the day I sat totally becalmed.  At one point I even took down the head sail.  There were sporadic rain showers but no wind that accompanied these showers.  Finally around 430pm (CDT) there was just a hint of wind out of the west and I could ghost along under 2 knots on a north, north west course of 293T.      Well that didn't last!  This is so frustrating.  Who would have thought such benign conditions on such a big lake.  These little sun showers with absolutely no wind.   The auto helm cannot even hold a course.   

 

At 1817 (CDT) the US Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste Marie, hailed me on  VHF channel 16.   Apparently my ‘yellow brick’  tracker had stopped working according to the Coast Guard, who received this information from the trans Superior race committee .  I gave the Coast Guard my updated GPS position coordinates and advised them that everything was fine.  As a precaution I decided to turn off, then turn back on, my Spot tracker.  The single handed boats are using both trackers.   The older model Spot trackers required this to be done daily, however, I have the newer Generation 3 model that does not require this.   

 

Finally by early evening I picked up a hint of a favourable wind and started to make small speeds of 1.5, then 2 and later 3 to 4 plus knots, broad reaching towards my next way point,  outside  the Apostle Islands.   This continued into Wednesday morning August 9th.   Mac must be some distance ahead of me as he is now out of VHF radio contact range.   I am definitely going to miss any trans Superior awards presentation and  the planned luau party, which is scheduled for this Thursday evening on August 10th, at the Duluth Yacht Club.   

 

On Wednesday August 9th I did make contact with Mac for the 0400 (CDT) radio position check in.  We exchanged position reports.    He was becalmed, but did have some great speeds registered earlier with the spinnaker set.    The wind held for me, albeit lightly, throughout the night with some morning rain showers.   Thankfully there was no lightning associated with these showers.  The seas have been calm all night.   The wind died again at 930am (CDT) and there I was, barely moving, sails clanging and banging.   Speed 0.0.

 

At 1055am (CDT) I radioed the heavily laden freighter, the Stewart J Cort, who was doing 12.7 knots on a course over the ground of  79 degrees true.  I just wanted to make sure he saw me.  He responded after switching to VHF channel 8, advising me, he did see me and that he would pass well to the south of my location.  

 

Looks like I am starting to sail again, (1130am. CDT), less than 2 knots , 241 true,  62 nautical miles east of the Apostle Islands.   No that was just a teaser, I am now back down to 0 knots!    

 

I did manage to contact Mac at 1200 noon CDT and exchange our GPS coordinates.   We had to keep it brief as he had the freighter ‘Spruce glen’ bearing down on him.   The Spruce glen’s radio operator spoke poor english but was courteous and asked Mac for his final destination.  Looks like Mac is about 15 nautical miles to my south west.     He is sounding as frustrated as me, with the lack of wind,  but we both will hang in there.     It's really hot and humid today and the flies are starting to bite.    

 

It's 1230pm (CDT), Ok, I am moving again 3.5 to 4 plus knots, 285 True, nice flat seas, but an hour later I am back to zero.   At 150pm it picks up ever so slightly just over 1 knot then back to 0 , then at 250pm (CDT) now it's 1.8, very slow progress.   This is a typical day.  I also would charge my two deep cycle batteries, two to three times in a 24 hour period for one hour  at 2000 rpm’s.   When I am charging I would flip on the refrigerator Dometic cooler.   

 

The freighter Paul R Tregurtha  just passed me less than a nautical mile away, going down bound in the opposite direction.    Even with AIS (Automated Identification System) they can sneak up on you.   

 

At about 1630 (CDT) I set the spinnaker and was making about 4.6 knots on a broad reach.  About an hour later I could see a storm approaching and heard an ominous thunder.  I doused the spinnaker and no sooner did the pouring rain start.  It was heavy but very little wind.  

 

I checked in for my 2000 (CDT) position report and traded GPS coordinates with Mac.  I learned Joey Baker on his Mumm 30 (Peace) had finished yesterday and that Dan Pavlat on his J33 ( Coconut Telegraph) finished this morning.   Dallas on Texana should finish Thursday morning.  After talking to Mac I set my spinnaker and set the final waypoint to the finish line at the entrance to Duluth, Minnesota.  The distance to go now for me is now 85 nautical miles.  I had to douse the spinnaker at around 2130 (CDT) replaced it with my number one jib.   

On Thursday August 10th at 0150am (CDT) I had to drop down the number one jib and just go with the full main.  The rain is steady.  The boat was starting to round up.   I am now steering a course of  252 True,  at 4.8 knots with 62 nautical miles to go.   I was starting to get sleep deprivation and wanted to reduce  sail to a manageable level so I could get some shut eye.    There are no freighters on the AIS and I am on a course outside of the Apostle Islands.  

At about 0300am (CDT) I double reefed the main sail.   

 

At 0400 (CDT) I tried calling Worthy Pearl and Radio Flyer for my GPS coordinates without any response.  I expect they are out of radio range and quite a bit ahead of me.  I now have 52 nautical miles to the finish line.  The winds have subsided to 20 plus knots.  At its peak it was gusting over 30.  The rain has also stopped and daylight should be breaking soon.  

The wind, rain, fog and huge waves continued into the next day.     This is the Lake Superior I thought I would be sailing.  The waves are huge but different than that of the other Great Lakes.  They seemed to have a far greater fetch and are much more like ocean waves.  I was surfing down these waves and recorded a record speed (albeit, very briefly) for Epiphany.  At one point I registered 12.3 knots!

 

In fog, rain and waves, after 394 nautical miles I finally crossed the finish line at 1532 (CDT) , located just outside the entrance to Duluth, Minnesota .  I was shocked to receive a finishing horn.   I thought nobody from the race committee would still be on station.  I fully expected I would be taking my own time.    There were lots of spectators cheering me on as I entered the harbour.  One sweet lady, (Dorthy) had been tracking my progress from the beginning and took the time to take some pictures.   She even contacted the Coast Guard when my tracker went off.    

 

Dave Johnson, from the race committee, helped me tie up, in Canal park and he mentioned that the awards presentation and Luau party starts in a half hour and that I was expected to attend.    I didn't even change, shower or shave.  The Luau party theme and food was fantastic.  There were free leis, kegs of beer,  rum cocktails,  soft drinks, music and a Hawaiian themed buffet dinner with tropical fruits for desert.

 

Joey Baker won the Presidents trophy for placing first place in the single handed Division A, and I received a first place flag in the single handed Division B.    Joey got pretty emotional when he received his trophy.    Mac received a second place in the single handed Division B, having sailed 417 nautical miles, so we  are all going home with trans Superior race flags.   I also was awarded the ‘sweeper’ plaque.  It's like the Lake Ontario 300 perseverance trophy, the last person sweeps up and makes sure everyone else is safe, is the basic premise of this award.   

 

I gave Dave Johnson our PCYC burgee for the Duluth Yacht Club.  The Duluth Yacht Club is in its infancy and is now just a tent on rented land, but it sure has potential and the right people like Dave and Kris Henry and many others to be a great club.       Once they do have a more permanent facility, our club burgee will be proudly and prominently displayed as one of their many club burgee flags received.   Dave also helped me relocate my boat inside a facility known as the Minnesota slips, located in the downtown restaurant and arts and entertainment district of Duluth.   Access is gained through an ‘on demand’ lifting walking bridge. The Minnesota slip bridge). This marina is flanked by the permanently moored, historic freighter, the William A. Irvin (Duluth). The proud flagship of US Steel’s Great Lakes Fleet and now the SS William R. Irvin ore museum.   Duluth, is also the birth place of singer, song writer Bob Dylan.

 

 That night I collapsed on the boat and had a great nights sleep.

   

On Friday August 11th, the next morning after breakfast, I moved the boat to the Lakehead Boat basin located at 1000 Minnesota Avenue where Mac, on Worthy Pearl, was docked.   I fuelled up  (4.5 gallons)  and filled the water tank.   Later that afternoon Mac and I went to a very popular restaurant, called Grandmas bar and Saloon located in the canal park district, for a late lunch.   They were numerous historic photographs and antiques inside this restaurant, depicting Duluth in the early years of late 1800 to early 1900’s.       Tomorrow Mac and I plan to leave at 7am (CDT) , to make the bridge opening and head to the Apostle Islands marina in Bayfield, Wisconsin.   Mac made reservations for us for two nights.    This is Mike Spence’s (Voyager) home port.  

 

I really appreciated all the kind words via e mail, and face book after finishing the trans Superior solo race. The accolades and congratulations came from many friends and family including Mark Searle, Brent Hughes,Tom Hughes, Tom Eagles, John Ball, David Courtney, Jan Steyn, Brad Basarab, Don Manns, Chris Turner, Walter Grassi, Gord Martin, Trish McCarthy, John Muise, Noel and Luke Brockman, my fellow trans Superior single handed competitors and sailors, Mac McKenzie, Dick Lappin, Joey Baker, Dan Pavlat, Dallas Johnson, Mike Spence, Doug Milroy, and the Toronto Queen City Yacht Club single handers, Wayne Lilley, Bill Eckersley, Peter Ashby, Peter Broecker and of course my children.      I would also like to thank the entire trans Superior race committee including Dave Johnson, Monica, and Kris Henry, what a fantastic job you guys did.     A heart felt, Thank you!!!!

 

On Saturday August 12th, Mac and I departed the Lakehead Boat Basin, in Duluth and made the 0700 (CDT) aerial bridge, outbound opening.  I set a course of 77T and motor sailed at just over 5 knots.  It's a beautiful sunny day with calm seas.    I set a waypoint mark towards the outside of Sand Island shoals, near Sand Island in the Apostle Islands group.  (About 56 nautical miles).  

 

I counted seven boats anchored on the south east bay of Sand Island. (1521CDT).  It looks beautiful here in the Apostle Islands.   At 1648 I rounded the red buoy (2) marking the edge of Sand Island shoals.   There is another five boats anchored on the north east side of York Island.      I will make a lazy right and go south west towards Raspberry bay, then past Frog Bay, down the west channel past Red Cliff then on to my final destination for today, Bayfield, Wisconsin.    

 

At about 1930(CDT) I arrived at the Apostle Islands Marina.  Mac had already received the information on our boat slips.   I was booked to moor on the wall at E6.

 

    We met single hander Dallas Johnson, (Texana) who moors his Schock 35 here, but lives in the Minneapolis area. ( about a four hour drive away)   We then walked a couple of blocks to Maggie's Restaurant for a bite to eat. ( 257 Manypenny Avenue).     This is a real beautiful , clean, picturesque tourist town.    

 

Dallas give me lots of tips for cruising the Apostles, especially mentioned Stockton Island  for an anchorage and Grand Marie's, Michigan, the Port Sable National Park to be visited after exiting the Keewenaw cut.     

 

On Sunday August 13th I fuelled up (2.9 gallons) and relocated and installed the anchor and rode on to my bow roller.  I said my goodbyes to Dallas Johnson who was heading back to his home in Minneapolis.   I then spent some time texting Trish, Jeffrey, Don Manns and Walter Grassi.

 

Later Mac and I went to Andy’s Foods ( Andy’s IGA)  for groceries.    

 

On Monday August 14th at 0650 (CDT) I departed the Apostle Islands marina, on a course of 59T at 5 knots.   The plan now is to boot it down the lake all the way to the Sault.   Trish could not get a flight to Houghton until much later, so a change of plans.  I will meet her in the Sault on August 16th.  

 

The weather today is overcast, with light rain and the seas are calm.    I have kept my Spot tracker activated so Trish can track my progress.

 

Mac must of slept in.  (I found out later he had a severe migraine and didn't get away until about noon.)    There is no movement on his AIS as of 9am. (CDT)

 

At 915am (CDT) I set a waypoint for the tip of the Keewenaw peninsula, (106 nautical miles), and set the main sail.  I am now doing 5.5 knots on a course of 69True.     

 

On Tuesday August 15th, at about 0100 (CDT) my AIS CPA ( closest point of approach) alarm went off.  The freighter Paul A. Tregurtha  was on a course 257T, speed of 13.1 knots.  We will pass safely port to port.  I am on a heading of  70T at a speed of 5.4 knots.    

 

At 0800 (CDT) I rounded the Keewenaw peninsula and set a new waypoint to Whitefish Point, 110T , 5.2 knots,  wind is out of the north east, and its cold and overcast.  The auto helm is having difficulty steering so I had to hand steer quite a bit.  (120 nautical miles to White Fish Point).  I also topped up the  fuel tank on the go.   I should have enough fuel now to make Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.    The seas are a little rollie.     At 1730 (CDT) it is now sunny and clear and the seas are calm.  (69 nautical miles to go to White Fish Point.)

 

At 2237 (CDT) my AIS CPA alarm went off (1.56nm) for an undefined approaching vessel, MMSI number 316009457, bearing 301T at a speed of 12.6knots.     This ship was later identified as the freighter Kaministiqua .  The colour icon on the AIS changed from yellow ( unidentifiable) to black.( a freighter).   We should pass port to port.  I am on a course of 110T, at a speed of 5.3knots, and we did in fact pass safely port to port.  

 

At  2304pm (CDT) I am 39.78 nautical miles to my next waypoint at Whitefish Point.   

 

On Wednesday August 16th my CPA alarm went off at 1238am but I could not see any AIS target.   The alarm did stop after a short while.   I can see no ships in the area that I am heading.   

 

There is a crescent moon  with a reddish hue,  just starting to rise above the horizon.  It's a clear star lite night.   

 

At 0217am (CDT) my CPA AIS alarm went off regarding my proximity to the freighter Algoma Harvester.  I can see him on the AIS so I adjusted  my course 10 degrees to my north to stay out of his lane.  He is presently behind me at a speed of 13.5 knots on a course of 119 T.  I am now steering a course of about 119 T but north of his track.  I am now 21.14 nautical miles from Whitefish Point.

 

At 0555am (EDT) I noticed Worthy Pearl on the AIS just to my south west.  I hailed Mac and we switched to VHF channel 72.  It looks like we'll be going through the locks rafted together.  That way I can board his boat and give him a hand on the lock wall.  I still have just over 10 nautical miles to go to Whitefish Point and have the freighter Algoma Harvester bearing down on me where we make the turn here.  

 

At 0743am  (EDT) I made the turn at Whitefish Point with the Algoma Harvester just ahead and Worthy Pearl beside me.  I set my next waypoint at Gros cap reef tower, about 24 nautical miles away.  Now there is another freighter coming up the channel, the H Lee White, that I will have to keep an eye on.     At about 0800am (EDT)  I dumped four more gallons of diesel fuel into the tank.   At 914am the freighter H Lee White passed well to the west of me.   

 

At about 10am (EDT) I took down the main sail.  The wind and waves are right on the nose.  I can only motor about 4.4 knots in these conditions.  Mac can motor considerably faster so he has got some distance ahead of me.  I'll put the lines and sheets away, in preparation for the down bound St. Mary's McGregor lock.    

 

At about 300pm I entered the US McGregor lock with Mac.  I rafted up to Macs boat Worthy Pearl.  The lock process, down bound, went smoothly.  It was just before 400pm when we exited the lock and went to the Bellevue marina on the Canadian side of Sault Ste Marie.  I then called in to Customs border Service  agency ( CBSA) to report my arrival  back in Canada ( Reporting number 2017-2280417.)    I then fuelled up with diesel including the two Gerry cans that I carry in the lazaret, pumped out and filled the water tanks.     

 

I called Trish who was already at Pearson International airport, to catch the 1940 flight to Sault Ste Marie.    

At about 9pm Trish arrived back at the Bellevue marina.   The weather forecast for the next two days is not looking good, calling for heavy rain and strong winds.    

 

On Thursday August 17th  just after 8am, sure enough it started to rain steady and heavy as predicted, with a howling wind.     

Later that afternoon, after a break in the rain,  we walked to the nearby Metro grocery store at Churchill plaza and bought provisions for our next leg of the trip.  The plan is to go south on the St Mary's river, then east into the north channel, and anchor inside the protected bay inside Harbour Island.  

 

Ron Smallbone Trans Superior 2017