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Apostle Islands 2000 - Our First Big Adventure

by Cary Johnson and Heath Johnson

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Saturday, June 3rd, 2000

by Heath

We got up at about 7:00 and decided to get going right away. There wasn't that much wind and we motored over towards Quarry Bay on Stockton Island to see what that looked like. As we were getting close to the bay the motor stopped as we ran out of gas in the first tank. That was about 6 gallons that we used in the first five days of sailing. I switched tanks and had the motor going again in just a few seconds. There were a couple of sailboats anchored and a cabin cruiser moored at the dock. Then the wind picked up a little bit so we decided to raise the sails. We started heading south towards the east side of Madeline Island. We sailed a couple of hours in really light wind just making it around the eastern tip of Madeline island. The shoreline there is really interesting with lots of rock caves and big boulders. We started seeing the first houses on Madeline. The wind was dropping down to nothing so we fired up the motor and slowly cruised southwest along the island. To conserve gas we decided to drain the ballast and lighten up the boat. We cruised for about 45 minutes to an hour to Big Bay and Big Bay state park as we thought we might anchor there for the night.

Big Bay has a huge sandy beach and since there is a ferry taking people across to Madeline from the mainland there were a lot of people in the park on the beach. This was the first time we had seen lots of people in many days and it was interesting just to sit back and watch them play on the each in the icy waters. We anchored in shallow sandy water about 200 feet off shore. Since it was bright and sunny we put up the bimini for the first time. We were getting pretty hungry since we hadn't had breakfast so we cooked up a rice and chicken dish on the grill and I made blueberry muffins in the bakepacker. We had a leisurely lunch and then I took the dingy in to shore to explore a bit while Dad took a nap. As I was walking down a road in the park a couple of deer came out into the road and wanted to get past me but they were scared to see me so the one just took off running at full speed passing about 15 feet from me while the other stayed back and decided to go through the woods while the first waited about a block down for the other.

After a while I went back to the boat and the wind had picked up and had shifted to the northeast blowing us right towards the beach. Once again we were happy to have two anchors set as this held us nicely in place. We got ready to sail off and started motoring away when the dinghy came loose and we had to circle back for it. In the confusion of dealing with two anchor ropes we had forgotten to tie it up. As we circled back for it we started getting into some pretty shallow water and it was nice to be able to raise the rudders using the new quick-release cleats and motor away from shore.

As soon as we got out of the bay the wind died and we had to motor again. The lake was almost smooth as glass except for some underlying rollers. We were getting nervous about the amount of gas we had left so we motored relatively slowly trying to guess the most efficient speed. We motored for at least an hour and made it down to South Channel between Madeline and Long Island and we finally had a bit of tail wind so with a sigh of relief we raised the sails and sailed into the main Madeline island bay on the Southwest side. The lake bottom here was nice and sandy and we pulled up to the shore and anchored a little ways off, again setting both anchors. There was a light breeze from the Northeast as was predicted on the weather forecast. We cooked some chili and sweet corn wrapped in foil on the grill and settled down for the last night on the lake.

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