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Apostle Islands 2000 - Our First Big Adventure

by Cary Johnson and Heath Johnson

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Monday, May 29th, 2000

by Heath

The trip started with us getting everything prepared and finally hitting the road at about 7:30 in the evening. We had wanted to get going earlier but there were just so many last-minute things that we wanted to get done. The drive to Bayfield went without any problems and the boat pulled very well behind Dad's Lincoln. When we finally reached Bayfield it was around midnight. We drove towards the lake shore trying to see if we could find the public landing. As we were driving by the marina we saw a city police officer and we asked him where the public launch was. He told us to follow him and he drove us there. Then we asked where we could park the trailer and camp in the boat for the night and he informed us that there was a city ordinance against sleeping in vehicles. Dad and I both knew we were going to sleep in the boat anyways so we just listened to what he had to say, thanked him, and then drove back out of town where we both remembered seeing a large parking lot next to a supper club. We tried to go in and ask the bartender or manager if it would be OK if we park for the night but the place was closed up so we just hoped it would be OK and climbed in the boat for a few hours of sleep.

Monday dawned bright and clear and we were anxious to hit the lake. We drove back into town and got gas, stopped by the hardware store for a couple more items, and began rigging the boat. Rigging went well but since we only usually rig the boat once a year it took us a while more than we wanted. About 2 1/2 hours later we were ready to back the boat into the water. We floated it and tied up right at the launch since nobody was waiting to use it. We turned the key on the engine and nothing happened. Great, just what we needed. We checked all the connections and everything seemed fine but the engine still wasn't getting any juice. We tried raising or lowering it and nothing happened. However, all the lights inside the boat and the radio seemed to be working fine off of either the house battery or the motor battery so we figured that either the battery was just too low to start the engine and it was still fine for lights and radio, or there might be some other problem. In case the battery was low, we fired up the generator and started charging the batteries. While this was going we kept testing the engine to see it it would start. When we turned the key we got a tone from the warning signal, but still the engine wouldn't crank. I went to inspect the wiring again and Dad took a look at the wires running into the engine. Finally we tried it again and the engine started right up. We're still not sure what the problem was, but we were happy that we finally got it going and could pull away from the launching ramp. We pulled over and tied up along the dock and went to park the car and get a bite to eat before heading out.

Warning at the top of the Apostle Islands Park Service Map

We finally got under way and started out into the lake under pretty windy conditions. We immediately felt that the waves had a different character than what we were used to on Lake Mille Lacs. But we soon got used to it and we moved along at a pretty good clip. We sailed away from Bayfield towards Madeline Island as a starting point and just kept an eye on the weather to see where to go from there. The wind was out of the southwest but was supposed to be changing around the the northeast during the evening and over night. As we were nearing the Northern end of Madeline the wind tapered off to almost nothing and the sails hung limp.

Across the water to the northeast I saw there was a line of wind moving our way and I turned us and adjusted the sails. Pretty soon it hit us ad we had a nice breeze (but now cool instead of warm as it was before!) coming out the northeast. We started moving along again but not as fast as before and made our way towards Oak Island which seemed like a pretty good spot for the winds the they were predicting. As we approached the island, the wind tapered off to almost nothing and we just kind of coasted in towards the little bay before finally dropping the sails and firing up the engine. We motored to a little sheltered area on the west side of the island and started getting things organized for dinner and also inflating the raft.

For dinner, we ate grilled hamburgers and a pasta dish that I whipped up pretty quickly and then I took off in the dingy towards shore. The water was clear and clean and we could see the anchor as it bit into the sandy bottom and dug itself firmly into place. In the light wind the boat drifted around a bit and to keep from blowing into the island we set another anchor off the stern. I inspected both anchors and went in to explore on shore. As we were eating dinner we watched a deer walk along the shore and I went over to find his tracks. The island has a very nice beach on it with a little campsite with a place for a tent and a picnic table. I peered around the point to the northeast and the wind still seemed to be coming from there and from my vantage point on the beach it looked like we were anchored in a pretty good spot.

I paddled back to the boat and we got some more organizing done. By now the wind was picking up a little bit more out on the lake but still not too much in our sheltered bay. The two anchors were now holding the boat slightly sideways to the wind so I used the dinghy to move the kedge anchor out to a better position. This put us a little bit more parallel to the shore so we had the second anchor set to keep us from blowing in towards shore. We could visually verify that both were set well so we did more organizing and got ready for bed. As I'm typing this, Dad's already sleeping so I'm just going to make one more round to check that everything still looks good and then hit the hay.

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