Lake Superior: Return to Loon Harbour

Prior to attending the Red Rock folk festival Julie and I had kicked around the idea of attending the Great Lakes Cruising Club Lake Superior rally. It was scheduled to begin August 17 and jointly hosted by Pikes Bay Marina and Port Superior Marina. Pikes Bay was our de facto port of call for a season after we left Duluth. It shares Pikes Bay with Port Superior a few miles south of Bayfield, WI. To get to Bayfield in time for the rally and also hit Loon Harbour and Thompson Island on our way, we had to depart from Red Rock on the second day of the three-day festival.

Late Departure

Despite crashing early after the storm Friday night, we did not get underway until after noon Saturday. Between people coming to visit us and our attempt to retrieve an aluminum griddle pan from the floor of the harbor–it had flipped from our grill in the storm and I could see it on the bottom, initially– the morning got away from us. So did the griddle which now resides buried in the mud in Red Rock.

MOTORing along

With winds ranging from nil across our beam, then 12 knot winds on our nose, we motored the entire 34nm to Loon Harbor.

Government marker near the hidden sauna

Six hours after we pulled away from the dock at Red Rock we dropped anchor in the quiet water of Loon Harbour. We anchored in the mouth of the channel that lead to one of those illicit saunas Canadians like to build and maintain on remote and discrete sites on Queen’s land. This sauna seemed to

2015 – The hidden sauna

be tolerated by the government. On our visit in 2015, official-looking tags on posts marked the trails leading to the camouflage-draped shed that housed the sauna. We had intended to go fire up the sauna, but that never happened. We were too tired to sweat after the cruise from Red Rock.

There were two other sailing vessels in Loon Harbour. The bigger of the two boats was the HMS Loon, a boat we used to see in the Apostle Islands. Edina, MN was emblazoned across its transom. We shared friendly waves as they watched us drop our hook and wondered whether they knew Gaviidae is Latin for the loon family. We never caught a name on the other vessel and the cockpit was covered by a large weather tarp. That boat was flagged Canadian, so we presumed it hailed out of Thunder Bay.

Changing of the Boats

The next day the other sailboats weighed anchors and sailed out. Later, s/v Nokomis showed up. We had seen Nokomis and visited briefly with her crew, Jim and Cathie, at Red Rock a few days before. Jim and Cathie are from Bemidji, MN and we knew them through mutual friends and the Great Lakes Cruising Club. Shortly after they arrived, their buddy boat, s/v Mirage, also entered the anchorage and dropped a hook. A third boat we did not know and did not record in our ship’s log also parked in the harbor.

Happy Hour Plus

That afternoon, as I rowed the dinghy along the shoreline Julie and I discussed what to have for dinner before heading to the sauna. Julie spotted Cathie aboard Nokomis and waved; Cathie summoned us over. She and Jim invited us to join them for happy hour and they were quite explicit that it would be “no more than an hour”.

A Loon in Loon Harbour

We rowed back to Gaviidae, put together a nosh to share and adult beverages for us—as per Boat Rules protocol for such engagements. As we returned to Nokomis we were soon joined by Judy and Bill from Mirage. We had a great time on Nokomis swapping sailing stories and eating enough appetizers to undermine our appetites for dinner. The “hour” came and went. We also drank enough alcohol to lose our enthusiasm for heading off to the sauna. It would’ve meant another half mile of rowing, for which I had no eagerness that evening. Lowering the motor onto the dinghy to motor to the sauna was another option. Equally beyond my rum-soaked capabilities. Our third option was to call it a night. We gratefully tumbled into bed a second night in a row. Sans sauna.


August 11 – 12, 2018 Loon Harbour     48°31.321’N   88°21.400’W  723.6 Nautical Miles



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