Destination: Isle Royale
by Sam Huonder

View from Windigo Dock towards Beaver Island at Isle Royale National Park. Since Jim and I got our first boat on Lake Superior in 2004 we have talked about sailing to Isle Royale. Isle Royale is a US National Park in the state of Michigan and is the largest island on Lake Superior at 45 miles long and 9 miles wide. Isle Royale is surrounded by hundreds of islands, isles, bays and harbors. While Jim and I have completed shorter passages of 60 miles or so, Isle Royale, at around 120 miles from our home cruising grounds remains to be conquered and by August of 2008 we were ready. We joined up with two other boats from our marina and made our preparations. On August 14 we were ready. Emmanuel, our 1995 Hunter Legend 40.5 was full of provisions, water and fuel. After a short skipper's meeting on Saturday with the crew and skippers of ZaBreNa and Montebelau at the Pike's Bay Clubhouse and a top off at the fuel dock we were on our way. It was 10:30 in the morning and the sky was clear and the breeze nonexistent. As we exited Pike's Bay, our home port, Jim throttled up to about 2800 rpm, a comfortable cruising speed for Emmanuel and we all settled back to enjoy the ride. By 2:30 p.m. we had cleared Outer Island and were rapidly leaving the Apostle Islands and our flotilla behind. The day was still sunny and warm and we were all comfortable in shorts and t-shirts. Our crew, Ray and Jolene Boyd had sailed with us before but not on Emmanuel so we spent some time making sure they knew were important things were like the safety gear, thru hulls, flashlights and my cinnamon babka. It was around this time that Ray presented me with a present he had bought for me. My very own head lamp!

Emmanuel at dusk-Windigo. Photo by Jolene Boyd One of the best seats on Emmanuel is the bow pulpit seat. Late in the afternoon I was comfortably ensconced there while we continued under power through a perfectly calm lake. Off in the distance I could see a freighter in the shipping lane heading to the Upper Peninsula. Looking ahead I could not see any shore line and looking behind the Apostle Islands had disappeared and I realized that now I was committed. For just a moment I quailed at the prospect of continuing. I am at best a reluctant adventurer and I wasn't sure I was up to the challenge. A burst of laughter from the cockpit and I turned to see Ray, Jim and Jolene smiling happily and I felt comforted. I turned back to the lake and watched its placid face as the distance slid by Emmanuel's hull. The bow wake chuckled happily to itself but I knew better than to let myself be lulled by its banality. The Lake is a lady of many moods and I knew this wouldn't last.

By early evening the crew is getting hungry so I got busy in the galley and within a short while everyone is tucking into steaming bowls of my homemade beef stew. By 8:00 p.m. dusk is approaching and we get set to watch a fabulous sunset and are not disappointed. It is clear to us all by this time that we are going to be making landfall in the dark since we hugely underestimated our speed under motor. By 9:00 p.m. we are less than 20 miles from the entrance to Grace Harbor and we discuss our options. We could alter course and head north to Rock Harbor but that way we miss rendezvousing with the flotilla. We could stand off until first light but that means a minimum of 5 hours close to a rocky shore. While we know it's risky we elect to make our entrance in the dark.

Rock Of Ages lighthouse as we leave Washington Harbor. Photo by Jolene Boyd By 10:00 p.m. we are under sail because the wind has now cranked up over 15 knots and the seas have increased. We are broad reaching toward Isle Royale and the Rock of Ages Light is clearly visible. Since we have such a short distance to go we are not standing watches and everyone is in the cockpit with lifejackets, harnesses and tethers on. I am sitting on the windward rail and marveling at what it's like to be crossing this lake at night. While Jim and I sailed quite often at night on White Bear Lake and we have on occasion returned to the marina late after being out in the islands all day this is different. We are lucky enough to have a full moon and it hangs there, just above the horizon, large and otherworldly looking. It lights a broad path on the dark, rushing lake. The waves build and I can hear them before I see them. The waves hit Emmanuel on her stern quarter then hissing, slide down her hull, their white foamy tops, clearly visible in the moonlight, passing just below the gunwales. I turn to glance at the rest of the crew. Ray's face is lit by the electronic glow of the chartplotter while he and Jim are telling each other stories and Jolene dozes in the companionway, with her head wedged against the halyard winch.

Emmanuel at anchor in Malone Bay. At about 11:30 p.m. CT Jim calls for the sails to be doused. He fires up the Yanmar and turns Emmanuel into the wind and Ray and I realize we are in for it. The wind is screaming through the rigging and we are now bow on to seas that are easily 6 feet. I clip on my tether and make my way forward. I say a silent thank you to Jim because I am so grateful we had our new UK Stack Pak installed this year. Wrestling a 900 square foot mainsail down the mast is never easy but having our Stack Pak makes collecting the beast a lot easier. However, tonight it means I still have to go up the mast because the wind is keeping the headboard pinned about 10 feet above the boom. Emmanuel's bow is rising and falling on the steep waves and I have a death grip on her mast. One particularly violent drop throws me backward while for one second my hands are busy trying to undo the shackle on the headboard. I grab the mast in time but my heart is pounding. In between the bucking and heaving I manage to pull the sail down the rest of the way and stuff it in the Stack pak. I climb down and make my way back to the cockpit on shaky legs. Just as I get back to the cockpit I hear a flapping noise at the same time I hear a cry from Jolene. I turn towards the bow and realize that the headsails furler line had worked its way loose and the jib is now unrolling. Ray jumps on the line and starts rolling the sail back in but because of the pressure on the sail he cannot roll the last bit in and it is enough to pull the bow over. So this time both Ray and I clip back in and make our way forward with bungees in hand. On our knees we work on securing the sail but every time the bow falls Ray and I go airborne which makes wrapping up the jib a challenge. When it is finally secure we both pause before heading back to the cockpit again and as I work my way down starboard I hear Ray whooping every time Emmanuel buries her bow again. The maniac is having a great time. Now that we are somewhat under control Jim, at the helm, has to carefully time turning Emmanuel off the wind to keep us from getting swamped. Once we have the wind behind us we fly toward the Grace Harbor entrance and by midnight central we are in the lee of Cumberland Point. We all take a deep breath and I am starting to relax when I realize that the shore around us looks really rocky. Luckily the full moon lights our way somewhat but Ray and Jim are watching the chartplotter intently. Pretty soon Jim puts Ray on the helm and heads forward with a spotlight. We are looking for the passage between Washington Island and Grace Island and it seems that we are on the right course when trying to sneak through a narrow channel we zagged when we should have zigged and we are aground. I feel the dreaded bump of hull on rock while I am on the bow starting to pull the anchor rode out of the anchor locker. I race back to the cockpit while uttering some very unladylike words. Of course I am frantic but Jim and Ray are as calm as always. I look at the depth meter and see our depth is showing as 3 ft. This causes another outburst from me. Jim instructs me firmly to sit down and be calm. We are in no danger at the moment. Bump bump. Emmanuel bobs gently on the rocks we are sitting on. Jim takes the helm from Ray and tries to drive her off but no luck. The wind is coming straight on our nose and the shallow water we are in is getting choppy. Jim continues to try to work us loose but we are firmly stuck. Even in the midst of my overwhelming feeling of impending doom I can't help but notice how awesomely beautiful this place is. The moonlight paints the entire scene with a soft silvery glow that lets me see that we are stuck on the point of either Washington or Barnum Island. The wind blows gently and the channel we are facing glitters in the moonlight. Jolene and I move as we are directed hoping our weight shift will help but it does not. Jim and Ray talk about putting the dinghy in to try to kedge off but after a bit Jim turns the helm over to Ray with instructions to "drive it like you stole it". By now the wind has picked up a bit and Emmanuel is rising and falling in the short waves. Ray finds the rhythm and throttles quickly when the waves lift the bow slightly and all of the sudden we are free. Jolene and I are whooping and hollering and jumping up and down. We run back to the cockpit and jump up and down some more and hug the boys and then we are on our way again, carefully. Within about 2 boat lengths we are back in 60 feet of water and Ray marvels aloud that it's a stupid place for a rock pile. We quickly find our way to a sheltered spot in about 16 feet of water behind Barnum Island and we get the anchor down and set. I sit on deck for a few minutes while the rest of the crew heads below. I can see that the shoreline is heavily wooded and the full moon casts its silvery light over our safe haven. When I turn and look to starboard I can see the channel opening to the lake but we are quite protected. I join the rest of the crew below and realize that it is now about 1:30 am and everyone is way too wired to sleep. I make some hot cocoa and slice up some babka and pretty soon the adrenaline wears off and everyone is sleepy enough to head for bed. I fall into a deep sleep but wake after a couple of hours because the wind has come up. I pad barefoot through the cabin and stick my head out the companionway and see Isle Royale at first light. It is an overcast morning and the wind has piped up but our anchorage is still fairly quiet so I go back to bed. A couple of hours later I wake again with another wind increase and now it's about 7 a.m. I grab a jacket and the camera on my way to the cockpit. After a few minutes Jim joins me and we talk quietly. It has started raining but we are staying dry under the bimini. We are both awestruck by the scene around us. The channel to Windigo is visible as are Grace Island and Thompson Island.

View from Siskiwit Lake Hiking trail looking toward Isle Royale Lighthouse. Pretty soon Ray and Jolene are up and we have a leisurely breakfast. By mid-morning we hear a hail from ZaBreNa and find out she is at Windigo dock along with Montebelau. Within a half hour we have the anchor up and are motoring down Windigo channel. When we arrive we find space for Emmanuel on the leeward side of the dock so Jim coaches Ray on how to land her. I throw a bowline to Bill who makes it snug on the bollard and then Ray puts her in reverse which lets her stern swing over to land her gently against the dock. We manage to pull off this impressive bit of boat handling in front of a ferry full of passengers who, I tell myself, are suitably impressed. We smile like we do this all the time. We spend the next hour or so chatting with Dick, Joe and Bill from Montebelau and with Dave, Jim, Bill and Al from ZaBreNa. We trade stories about our crossing and what happened and what we did. There is lots of laughter and while everyone is visiting I nip below and fill a platter with brownies and cookies and take it back up to the hungry crews. By lunchtime ZaBreNa and Montebelau cast off but we decide to stay the night. We spend the rest of the day exploring Windigo, picking wild raspberries and thimbleberries and checking out the visitor center which is really cool. It is a very modern place and has lots of displays of the local fauna and vegetation. There are full scale displays of moose and wolf, which I find fascinating. There is also a Fresnel lens, which came from the Rock of Ages Lighthouse. There is a large selection of books and charts and Ray buys and makes me a present of a new chart of Isle Royale since mine is at home in the basement. For dinner we have fresh Lake Superior whitefish fillets. I place the fillets on pieces of foil then drizzle them with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I top them with slices of fresh lemon. These packets go on the grill along with skewers of fresh vegetables I have marinated in olive oil and herbs. It doesn't take long for the feast to disappear. After dinner Ray takes the dinghy out for a row and I wander the dock visiting with the neighbors. It's funny but I get a lot of comments on Emmanuel since I am talking mostly to fishing boats and small power cruisers. We are easily the largest vessel at the dock and people seem fascinated by her size. Eventually I end up sitting at the end of the dock drinking coffee. The evening light is breathtakingly golden and the perfectly calm waters of Windigo Harbor gleam in the approaching dusk as nightfall comes softly.

Breakfast in Emmanuel's cabin. On Sunday morning Jim decides we need to top off the water tanks. This turns out to be quite an undertaking since it involves moving the boat, borrowing hose and running it about 100 feet up a hill. Jolene and I leave it to the men to figure it out and we head to the showers to wash our hair. By the time we get back Jim is satisfied that the tanks are full and soon we are on our way. Jim hands the helm to Ray and then they discuss our exit. Ray keeps an eye on the chartplotter and Jolene reads the paper chart. Jim and I are on bow watch and we sneak past Grace and Washington Island. I watch with trepidation as we creep through 7-9 foot depths while passing some really nasty looking boulders but we manage and soon we are out of the harbor and rounding Cumberland Point. There is a slight breeze so we hoist the main but it dies off within the hour so we are back to motoring but it is no great penance for it is a another stunner of a day. Clear blue skies, lots of sun and very pleasant temps. The lake has only a slight chop and manages to appear friendly as we motor north along Isle Royales southern shore. Our next waypoint is Houghton Point and we have it in sight by lunchtime. We round it and soon find ourselves in Siskiwit Bay. Lunch that day is my homemade chicken salad and we all eat in the cockpit and let Otto do the steering. By now the breeze has freshened and we are flying along with the wind on our quarter on the main only while the crew happily eats lunch. A couple of chicken jibes later we are beginning our approach to Malone Bay. Jim is on the helm and Jolene calls out the course from the chart. After locating and passing through the first set of channel markers we turn to starboard and head for the next set that will take us into Malone Bay. After passing through the channel we start to head to Malone Bay dock but it is already occupied so instead we make our way to Malone Island. The water is deep but we are able to creep in close to shore and get the anchor down in about 15 feet of water. Malone Island gives us excellent protection for everything but northwest but with the wind blowing pretty steady out of the southeast we are quite comfortable. Once the anchor is down Jim lowers the dinghy off the davits and we are ready to head to shore. Once we leave the protection of Malone Island we get the full force of the 12-15 knot breeze as we head for the Malone Bay dock. There is a one foot chop in the bay and Jim has his hands full not flipping the dinghy. We all get a little wet but that is the worst of it. Once ashore we are able to quickly locate the trailhead to Siskiwit Lake. The well worn path takes us along the shore and then cuts to the right. It is not a long way and soon we are climbing a small hill and when we get to the top of it, there it is. Siskiwit Lake; a lake in the middle of an island in the middle of a lake. We all stand there marveling at it. The shore is pebbly and the lake lies there, blue and peaceful, in the afternoon sun. We wander the shore and we take some pictures. A bit more exploring and we find the Siskiwit River. This little river tumbles out of Siskiwit Lake and runs cheerfully over a small waterfall. It was a strange feeling to stand at the shore of the river and look up to Siskiwit lake. The elevation difference is quite marked and is a surprise to me.

Arriving at Malone Dock in Siskiwit Bay. Eventually we wander back to the trail and make our way to the dinghy. Another harey ride across the bay and we are back aboard Emmanuel. By this time it is late afternoon so I put together some appetizers to quiet the growling stomachs. I mix up my spicy pepper jam with cream cheese and we eat it on crackers and chips. We all sit in the cockpit in the warm sun and smile smugly at each other. Other than a couple of campers ashore we have not seen another soul since we left Windigo Harbor early that morning. Everywhere we look is beauty that makes you heart hurt and your throat tighten. That is until Jim decides it's time to take a shower, right off the stern. The rest of us are too comfortable to move so we stay where we are and Ray and Jolene carefully avert their eyes. By the time Jim is done with his shower everyone is yawning so we all head for our bunks for a short nap. Dinner is late in the evening and my marinated lamb chops grilled just until done and served with a reduced glaze of honey, garlic and balsamic vinegar and fresh green beans is a perfect end to a perfect day.

Lighthouse at Rock Harbor. Photo by Jolene Boyd. Much later, after the dishes are done we dig out the charts and our cruising guide and discuss our plans for the next day. We are planning to head for Rock Harbor so Jim turns on the VHF and tunes in to NOAA to get the weather. Right about this time I decide to take a turn on deck to check our swing and anchor set. As I step out into the cockpit the scene before me is so beautiful I have to sit down for a bit. The moon is now fully up and all around me is bright as day. Tucked behind Malone Island we are sheltered from the big lake but we are just a short distance from the shore of Siskiwit Bay. With Emmanuel's bow pointing almost due west as I sit in the cockpit I can see Ross and Fisher Islands. The waters of Malone Bay gleam in this frosted light and I am happy to just sit and watch. Just then, in the midst of this reverie, a flash catches my eye. I turn my head quickly and see that the northwest sky is filled with lightning. When I go below again Jim, Ray and I discuss the forecast of expected 15-25 knot winds out of the west, to which we are a bit exposed. I update them on the weather and we bat around the idea of setting a second anchor but decide to wait and see what happens. I have a fair amount of confidence in our Bruce and we have plenty of swing room. We all head for bed shortly after. Banging thunder and a driving rain wakes me at about 2 am. We had left some hatches open for ventilation so Jim and I hurriedly shut them and I head to the cockpit to rescue the Garmin chartplotter. After stowing it below I wait out the storm and make myself some cocoa to pass the time. By 3:00 a.m. it has blown itself out and I take my cocoa and my new headlamp to the cockpit. This thing makes reading at night a breeze! The air is balmy and with the passing of the storm the skies are clear and the night is thick with stars. Pretty soon I'm yawning and I head back to bed for a few more hours of sleep.

Jim gets ready to stand his watch on our way back to Pike's Bay. Monday morning dawns bright and clear but we can see by the chop in Malone Bay that the wind has piped up again. For breakfast that morning I make Jolene my double cinnamon French toast. I soak thick slices of French bread in a rich egg, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon and butter mixture. After soaking I grill the slices on the griddle and serve with warm syrup and thick sliced bacon. When breakfast is done and the dishes are washed it's time to go. Our destination this day is Rock Harbor which is about 30 miles further up the south shore of Isle Royale. After warming up the diesel we get the anchor back on board and head for the channel out of Malone Bay. Once clear we discuss our sail plan for the day. The wind is really blowing and we already have about two feet of chop. We decide to go with a single reef in the main and part of the jib rolled out. Once hoisted we fall off to a starboard tack and because the wind is out of the southeast we don't have a lot of sea room to allow us to sail lower than a close reach so we settle in for the ride across Siskiwit Bay. It is this kind of weather that shows what a stellar performer Emmanuel is under challenging conditions. As the miles slide by under her hull, the wind and waves continue to build. By lunchtime we are in some serious 6 footers and it is a hard slog but Emmanuel simply leans into it and shoulders her way through maintaining a respectable 7 plus knots. Helm duty requires serious concentration and warm headgear. Even though the temps are easily in the 60's it is chilly in the wind. By early afternoon I head down to the galley and dish up leftover pasta salad and chicken salad for lunch. Apparently conditions have not dampened appetites since it all quickly disappears. Shortly after lunch we are approaching Chippewa Harbor and I easily spot the daymark for the entrance and we know we don't have much farther to go. An hour or so later we round Saginaw Point and are heading for Middle Island Passage, our entrance to Rock Harbor. About this time Jim fires up the diesel to help our pointing so we don't lose a lot of ground. The Yanmar is chugging happily along at cruising speed when suddenly the RPM's drop from the usual 2800 to about 1000. Jim and I look at each and I shrug my shoulders. Jim advances the throttle again and a moment later the RPM's come back up. We make it to Middle Island Passage and just as we enter Rock Harbor we spot Montebelau heading out. We chat for a few moments on the VHF and wave good bye as they head out to Chippewa Harbor. Just a few minutes later the diesel does the same thing. The RPM's fall off and then come back up. It happens twice more during the three miles we travel to Rock Harbor marina and it leaves Jim and I feeling somewhat spooked.

ZaBreeNa's Crew joins us for post cruise raft up at Presque Isle Bay. The first thing we do is stop at the gas dock to top off fuel (diesel is over $6 a gallon!!!), pump out the holding tank and arrange for an overnight slip. While the boys are taking care of these things Jolene and I hop off and head for the bathrooms. When we come back I walk a ways down to check out what slip I want. While a few of the slips have the length to accommodate Emmanuel I am worried about the depth. I finally find one with a port side tie up and I go back to tell Jim. I am happy to see that we are just two slips away from Dan on Seahawk. We had last seen Dan and his crew at Windigo on Saturday. We exchange hellos and chat for a few minutes.

Within a short while Emmanuel is tucked up safely in her slip and Ray and Jolene decide to head out to do some exploring. They take the dinghy and head over to Raspberry Island. Jim and I stay on board and spend some time relaxing. Shortly after Ray and Jolene leave we are surprised to see ZaBreNa pull into the gas dock so we head over for a quick visit. Dave and his crew are planning on spending the night in Tobin Harbor but we agree to touch base in the morning before heading out. By the time Ray and Jolene come back it is time for appetizers which we eat on shore while we enjoy the lovely evening. Finally I throw some steaks on the grill and sauté some mushrooms in butter. Along with the big, juicy strip steaks we have fresh crudités and bread warm from Emmanuel's oven. This feast requires the four of us to take a walk down to the Rock Harbor Lodge after we clean our plates. It is easy to see that all the guests must have a fabulous view. We check out the gift shop, peek in some windows and pretty soon wander back to Emmanuel. It is another beautiful evening and the tranquil basin that is Rock Harbor gleams pearl like in the early evening. The air is soft and is lightly cool against my skin. When we get back to the boat we debate the idea of showering on shore but the thought of paying $6 for a 5 minute shower leaves us all opting for wash ups on board. All the fresh air and sailing has worn Jolene out and she crawls into her bunk early. Jim, Ray and I stay up longer for coffee and dessert and we discuss the day's events, including the diesel problem. It seems reasonable to assume that the problem may be gunk in the fuel filter and decide that will be the first place we look in the morning.

Tuesday morning is warm and sunny. Since I always sleep sounder when we are in harbor it is after 8 am before I stumble out and the rest of the crew is up already. Jim and Ray are just coming back from Tobin Harbor where they hiked over to see if ZaBreNa was there. She was not so they try to raise her on the VHF but no luck. Thankfully Jolene has the coffee made and I huddle with my cup until my sleep fogged brain clears. A quick breakfast and it is time to get to work. We pull the engine cover off and with me reading the diagram out of the service manual we locate the fuel filter. Once it is removed we pour its contents into a jug and find that about half of it is sludge. Next we locate the Racor filter and clean that also and then we discover the sealing O-ring is bad. Ray and Jim exchange looks wondering where are we going to get parts. I disappear into the port aft cabin and reappear moments later with a new filter and a new O ring from the spare parts kit I laid in before we left. For a brief moment I am heralded as the best provisioner of all time. With all new parts installed Jim steps confidentially to the helm and turns the key. The Yanmar cranks hopefully but that is all and pretty soon the starter is starting to lag because the start battery is being depleted. Around this time our friend Dan from Seahawk strolls down the dock and suggests we try priming the new fuel filter. The guys grin sheepishly. Apparently this is a man thing they are supposed to know. The filter gets primed and more cranking and now the start battery is dangerously low. We take a short break and Ray heads to the bathroom where a chance conversation gives him the answer we need. Soon he is back and tells Jim that the air needs to be bled out of the fuel line. Before we can do that though Jim and I hoist one of the house batteries out of its locker and move it to the companionway where it is connected to the start battery using the battery cables Dan loaned us. The Yanmar service manual guides us through the process and once the lines are bled I turn the key and Yanmar busts into life and chugs happily away. Acheer goes up from the crew of Emmanuel which is echoed by a victory blast from Seahawk. By this time it is after 12 noon and we are anxious to be on our way. Soon we are slipping our lines and with a last wave to Seahawk and thank you call on the VHF we quickly leave Rock Harbor behind. As we exit Middle Island passage we find the winds are about 15 knots ESE with seas of 1-2 feet. We decide on a double reefed main and we roll out a small amount of jib. Pretty soon we are flying along, running down the shore of Isle Royale. Our plan, as we pass Saginaw Point again is to sail for as long as we can and keep an eye on the weather. We decide that if the winds die off by the time we get to the southern tip of the island we will duck into Washington Harbor for the night. If the wind is forecast to stay up we will sail to the islands tonight. Shortly after this we pass the entrance to Chippewa Harbor and are surprised by a hail from ZaBreNa. They are tucked into Chippewa and were hiking to the overlook when they spotted us flying past. We urge them to join us but they have decided to wait until evening before making for the islands. We plan a rendezvous at Stockton and we continue on our way. By 5:15 p.m. we are about 10 miles from Grace Harbor. Jim and Ray have been listening to NOAA and they are happy with the wind forecast so we decide we will continue on.

We alter course to a heading of 171 degrees which gives us an ETA at Outer Island at 0400. We discuss watches and Ray and I volunteer to take the 1600- 2000 and the 1200 to 0400 watch. Since we are about an hour into Jim and Jolene's break I head below and heat up some leftover stew for them before they head off watch. Pretty soon it is just Ray and I in the cockpit. Emmanuel is on Otto and the conversation ranges far and wide. The day is moving slowly towards evening and the sky is now streaked with the pink and lavender shades of a summer sunset. The wind has leveled off and our course has it placed solidly on our hip so we shake the reef out of the main and unroll the rest of the jib. The extra power is helpful because the quartering seas have increased steadily and are now over 4 feet. I find that watching the steady and powerful rhythm of the waves is deeply hypnotic. They are large impatient beasts and when they meet Emmanuel's sleek hull they surge and seem to seek a way to claim her, when they cannot they roll under her stern and rush around her bow and like grumpy old men who are interfered with, mumble bitterly to themselves as they continue on their way.

When Ray comes back on deck he rigs the radar deflector and I help him hoist it high in the rigging. After that I go below and make some hot cocoa which Ray and I share along with our dwindling supply of seasick cookies. Their abundance of ginger helps with queasiness when the seas are this rolly. Emmanuel is still sailing well and is maintaining speeds of 7-8 knots. For the next hour or so we talk in a desultory fashion and I watch as dusk approaches slowly. At about 7:50 I head below and shake Jolene and Jim out of their bunks. By the time they stumble up on deck they are happy to see the pot of fresh coffee ready for them. After shift turn over Ray and I head below and Ray disappears into his cabin. I decide a thermos of hot soup would be good for the crew on watch so I get a pot of tomato soup heating on the stove. Because of the quartering seas it is still rolly so I need the pot holders to hold the pan on the gimbaled stove. Once the soup is hot I pick it up in both hands. I have the thermos standing in the sink but now I realize I have a problem with the transfer. The soup does not pour well from the pan especially when I am aiming for an opening jus t a little larger than an inch. I know I have a funnel somewhere but I cannot set the pan down for fear of it spilling (fiddles not withstanding) while I search for it. I finally resign myself to the fact that I am going to lose some and take my best shot. After cleaning all the soup out of the sink I head to my bunk.

It's a little strange being in the Vberth while we are underway. I have never slept on Emmanuel except when we are at anchor or docked. While there is rushing past the hull it is actually a soothing sound. I wedge myself crossways into the V-berth but since we are not heeling and the rolling motion is more pronounced in the stern I am very comfortable. I read for a while and then I doze off. All too soon Jolene is waking me up for my next shift. I put all my layers of clothes back on including my harness and tether and head for the cockpit. It is a beautiful night but the wind has eased some so Jim has started the diesel to maintain our speed but the sails are still up. Jim and Jolene's watch was uneventful except for a couple of freighters that have just shown up on the screen. Again it is Ray and I and the moonlit night. We can see lights on the far north shore and we are pretty sure we are seeing the lights of Grand Marais. I keep an eye on the freighters on our screen and it soon becomes obvious they will pass well astern of us so I relax just a bit.

I have the helm by myself for a bit while Ray is below and it is a huge feeling. It is a magnificent feeling-being at the helm of a boat like Emmanuel and sailing across this lake. The full moon is still with us and lights our way. The only sounds are those of wind, water and boat. Emmanuel sails along, at home in the water and happy to be underway. I remember well all my feelings of trepidation at the start of this journey and am amazed at how different I feel now. In just 5 days we have sailed more than 300 miles, put our anchor down in new anchorages and crossed this lake twice, at night. In some ways it seems a shame that I have waited until now, my 48th summer before finding out I can do this but at least now I know. My feeling of satisfaction is immense.

By about 2 a.m. Ray and I have spotted the light from Outer Island and we start to discuss what our plan will be. We're not sure if we want to stop in the islands and get some sleep or continue on to Pike's Bay. Our ETA for arriving at Stockton is around 5 a.m. and getting back to Pike's Bay would take another 2 hours. Since we are already a day ahead of schedule we decide to stop in the islands and see if we get a chance to sail that day. We discuss various anchorages and Ray advocates for some locations that are closer to where we enter the islands but I lobby vigorously for putting the hook down in Presque Bay on Stockton. I know the bay so making our entrance in low light doesn't bother me. We postpone a decision until Jim and Jolene are back on watch. At 4:00 a.m. Ray wakes the next shift and when Jim and Jolene are on deck we discuss our options. Jim decides on Presque Isle Bay and we adjust our waypoint. I head below and curl up on the settee in the main salon since I know we are due to arrive at Stockton in about an hour. I doze for a bit and then Jim is waking me to help with the anchor. Once on deck I can see that the skies have lightened considerably and finding a place to put the hook down is easy. Once the anchor is set I head below for my bunk and am sound asleep by 5:20 a.m. We all sleep pretty sound until about 9 a.m. and then it's time for coffee.

It is a warm sunny day with clear skies and is a perfect day for just hanging out and taking it easy. Breakfast is thrown together from leftovers and Jolene does dishwashing duty afterwards. There is a general air of somnolence on board and the slightly humid day does nothing much to shake us out of our torpor. By late afternoon a craving for pasta overtakes everyone on board so I whip up a batch of Pasta Puttanesca and we all eat big platefuls of the stuff. Of course, this feast promotes more lying about in the warm drowsy afternoon. A few hours later ZaBreNa hails us on channel 16 and we find out she has just reached Outer Island. We invite her to stop by for snacks and the invitation is accepted quickly. I get busy in the galley again and pull out all the leftovers and throw them on plates and bowls. By the time I am done ZaBreNa is in sight and Jolene and I tie on fenders and ready lines. ZaBreNa comes alongside and we raft up without too much fuss. Our guests come aboard Emmanuel and we all have a chance to talk over the adventure we just had and share stories about our crossing. By early evening we know it is time to return to Pike's Bay so we haul anchor reluctantly and motor home in the fading light of a late summer day. All of us changed forever by this experience.

Sam Hounder is former Commodore of Black Bear Yacht Club and still serves on the Board of Directors as Social Czarina. She and husband Jim have been sailing together for over 15 years. They keep Emmanuel in Pike’s Bay Marina in Bayfield, WI. a certain amount of noise from the water