We were so enamored with Houghton-Hancock Michigan on our 2015 cruise that I included a few extra days in our 2016 float plan to explore the Keweenaw peninsula by car.
But first – our trek from Bayfield WI to the Upper Entry (west side) on the Keweenaw Waterway was uneventful with calm water and not enough wind to sail or even motor sail. We opted to skip the Lily Pond which is the first protected area once inside the waterway. The mosquitos last year were the size of fighter jets and equally dangerous. Instead we went to an undesignated anchorage further down the canal that was noted in the Great Lakes Cruising Club Harbor Report – the description indicated it was a wide spot in the waterway by Green Can 55. It turned out to be a very comfortable bay – we dropped anchor at 9pm, 16 hours after leaving Pikes Bay and just over 100nm for the day.
After a lazy morning enjoying the sunny peacefulness of the bay, we continued down the waterway to the Houghton County Marina. The waterway itself is beautiful, dotted with cottages along the way. We hailed the lift bridge for an opening expecting a lengthy wait. The bridge opens on the hour but the bridge operator responded that he would raise the bridge as soon as the pedestrians cleared off. Ten minutes later we passed under the bridge with a wave to the accommodating bridge operator. This helpful and easy-going attitude is prevalent throughout the Keweenaw and is one of its many charms.
On Thursday June 23 we got a rent-a-wreck (no exaggeration here – rock hard seats, awful smell, dents, etc.) and retrieved the SUV and trailer from Bayfield. With our support vehicle in hand, we were free to explore the peninsula. On our first day exploring we ditched our own vehicle and were taken on a personalized tour with local residents and fellow sailors Sherie and Dennis who we met in Houghton last year.
Sherie is a member of Women Who Sail and responded to my plea for aid last year when our buddy boat had catastrophic engine failure. We’ve stayed in touch and this time we were able to connect under less stressful conditions. We had a great adventure that included a beautiful hike on the Bare Bluffs Trail overlooking Lake Superior, dipping our toes in the water at Bete Gris, and ending with a wonderful dinner at Fitzgerald’s in Eagle River. A perfect sunny day of exploring, hiking, and eating way too much!
Saturday was a monsoon day and it poured buckets. We stayed hunkered down watching the weather reports/radar as successive storms pummeled the area. The rain was most unfortunate as we had planned on attending the PastyFest in Calumet – Damn! By evening there were reports of approaching 60mph winds, hail, and even heavier rains. Being prudent, we added a few more lines and fenders. At one point Dan asked if I wanted to get off the boat and go into the Marina building. My response – Hell No! I felt safer on Gaviidae than on the shore.
The worst of storm tracked south but our two basil plants that had patiently been waiting for planting in our hanging shoebag garden opted to go swimming instead. At 11pm Dan and I were combing the marina trying to find our wayward basil. He found one in the rocks at water’s edge. The poor little plant had lost its plastic container and its root ball was naked to the elements. The second plant disappeared into the watery depths. Maybe some fishes will enjoy a little basil with their evening meal.
Sunday morning brought sunny skies and we set off to explore Copper Harbor and find a replacement basil plant. Copper Harbor is a unique little town, clearly a tourist destination but adamant and proud that they have no internet/cell service. We ended the day having a wonderful dinner with Bill and Linda, another couple we met last year during our stay in Houghton-Hancock who also happen to be avid sailors.
We left the Keweenaw on Tuesday heading for Marquette – beautiful skies, flat water and no wind. I’m thinking we’re really on a trawler!
June 22 – June 27, 2016 47° 7.507’N 88° 34.288’W