Salmon and Wawa

Before I say anything else, we finally left Wawa this morning!

Being in one place for a week was giving both Dan and me a bad case of cabin fever. When we were told that the alternator had a bearing going out and it would be prudent to get it fixed we reached out to our “new” best buddy Dave (from Steelen Time) who said he knew a guy. I think Dave knows everyone between the Soo and Wawa.

The alternator guy was in the Soo which meant we needed to get the alternator south. Now we could have had someone shuttle it down there but spending another day in the marina vs. a road trip–the ROAD TRIP won!

After a stop at Tim Horton’s, we headed south along Highway 17, which is absolutely gorgeous. And we got to see the area we had just sailed by from the land perspective. There always seems to be one place, the one place where you have to stop whether it’s because you need a bio-break, snacks, or whatever. Driving north from Minneapolis on Highway 10 requires that you stop at Treasure City – now that’s not the real name of the town but that’s what everyone calls it. Besides the normal gas, restrooms, there is also a “store” that has something for everyone. All advertised to be authentic, local, etc. Until you look at the tag on the bottom.

Well along Highway 17 there is the Canadian Carver/Agawa Crafts store (or stores). There is a convenience store, a LCBO, ice cream stand, and a massive gift shop with numerous out buildings with what appeared to be the northwoods version of Elvis painted on black velvet. And since we live on a boat with no room for anything more, Dan bought a coke and an ice cream bar. On the road again.

Not only did we get the alternator fixed but we also stopped by Pino’s for a few more grocery items. I have real questions about the freshness of the produce from the smaller towns, especially when green beans started growing fur two days after purchase! Pino’s , however, is more like the upscale Lunds/Byerlys stores in the Twin Cities – aren’t all grocery stores supposed to have chandeliers?

The trip home was uneventful – still very pretty – but no sightings of the elusive moose.

On Friday, the activity at Buck’s Marina started to pick up as the fisherman started to arrive for the Salmon Derby. This is an annual event and apparently was much larger in years past when the salmon were more plentiful. They still had close to 90 entrants and I can’t imagine the marina basin handling much more than that. The official start time for the Derby was scheduled for 5:00pm and by 4:45pm there was a steady drone of outboards firing up. With over $6K in prizes for the biggest salmon, there were more than a few of these fisherman that took this game seriously. And like a crowd waiting for a major retailer to open up on Black Friday, the chaos that ensued was remarkable. Each boat was aside a plastic tag that they had to pick up just outside the marina basin and each boat was jockeying for the best position.

Anxious fisherman waiting for the official start
Anxious fisherman waiting for the official start

Now Dan and I had thought we were going to watch the excitement from our front row seat at the end of T-dock closest to the marina entrance. Dan was armed with his camera and was snapping pictures. As one boat got a little too close, I grabbed the boat hook and gave them a shove off the bow where one of the fisherman had to grab his precious fishing rod to prevent it from being pulled out of the boat by our bowsprit. Did I say a little close? Within short order Dan had to abandon the camera and grab the other boat hook to fend off wayward fishing boats. At one point I was pushing a boat away from the bow, Dan was pushing a boat away from the aft side and our dinghy, which was in the water off the stern, was serving as a giant fender keeping another boat from nailing the backend.

The start of the pile up
The start of the pile up
The bottleneck - before it got completely chaotic
The bottleneck – before Dan had to put the camera down to man a boat hook

Apparently Buck’s has never had a transient boat at the end of the pier when the Salmon Derby started. They usually put the OPP boat (Ontario Provincial Police) at the end and I guess it doesn’t matter if it gets hit or the fact that it’s an OPP boat, keeps the fisherman in line. For us, what started as a fun event soon turned into a major CF. We were just glad that we were on the boat and able to fend off.

With our new knowledge of the Salmon Derby, we decided that we needed to get the hell out of Dodge. Unfortunately, the Saturday start time for the derby was 5:30am so Dan and I got up at O-Dark Thirty, flipped on the deck lights and stood armed with boat hooks. And this is how we left Wawa at an early hour to make it to Old Dave’s Harbour on Otter Island 56 nautical miles away in lumpy water.

August 22    48°06.810’N   86°03.748’W     860 Nautical Miles

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