Trailer Sailing the Slate Islands
by Sue and Alan Frisch
After years of talking ourselves out of
sailing across Lake Superior from Bayfield to the Slate Islands in our Tartan
31, we finally did it. And, we did it our way - we hitched up our 17’ WindRider
to our Volkswagen camper bus on August 31 and drove there, humming Woody Guthrie
songs all the way. Well, maybe a few Frank Sinatra for variety. (Does anyone
know the entire words to a song?) We think the journey is as important as the
destination - maybe more.
|Sue Frisch sailing on the WindRider 17 to the Slate
Our first night found us at a Cajun festival in Grand Portage, MN. This was a
delightful start to our sailing adventure. We made our next stop at old Fort
William near Thunder Bay, Ontario. This is an easy four hour layover and well
worth the visit. It is a working fort with staff, in period dress, engaging us
in conversation and somehow bridging their world with ours. We arrived just days
before the Fort closed for the season. We would have liked to have had lunch in
the ‘officers mess’ but we were too late in the season. From there, we journeyed
to Terrace Bay and the Slates.
Terrace Bay has a lovely boat ramp and two docks that you get to by driving via
the golf course road. The launch is located at the foot of a picturesque
waterfall with a hiking trail to the top. We were slightly nervous about the
fourteen mile round-trip across open water to reach the access to the Islands
and return. After sailing on Lake Superior for many years, one can imagine
anything. I did not want to have to sleep in the WindRider, Al thought it would
be kind of fun. I laid out our sailing plans to the motel owners and later
started to do the same with some local men fishing on the docks. They already
knew. The WindRider is unique and word gets out in a small town. Mind at rest,
we sailed out for the day. It was spectacular! The Islands are split down the
middle with Caribou herds inhabiting them. Much to my relief, there are free
cabins available for use. Kayakers love this destination. It is sheltered and
shallow with many inlets between the two Islands. The wind was light so we
motored here and there, with lunch and a nap on a beach. However, with the wind
in the right direction it would be a wind tunnel and a fun sail right down the
|The picturesque village of Rossport, Ontario from sea.
Upon our return, we hitched up the WindRider and went to Rossport. We had
reservations at the Rossport Inn and well worth a stay. It is a renovated
railway hotel with Hansel and Gretel cabins available. The food is awesome,
fresh fish prepared in ways you have never tasted before. Dinners were very
social with emails and invitations changing hands.
Reservations are necessary to obtain lodging.
The islands out from Rossport are similar to the Apostles only bigger and
breathtakingly beautiful. We were the only WindRider among kayakers. Kind of the
same thing without all the work and sails to boot. The sailing was perfect, good
steady winds and lots of fun places to explore. We topped off our stay at
Rossport with a day hike to Rainbow Falls. The trail is well marked but hiking
boots are a good idea. Binoculars and a camera are a must.
|Al Frisch at the cabin.
Rossport is a lovely little town. There is a selection of B&B’s and restaurants,
all within walking distance from the marina. For myself (a light sleeper), the
only drawback was the Canadian Pacific trains that come roaring through town,
with whistle blasting, several times a day and night.
|“The Hat,” Al Frisch taking a nap in the WindRider 17 at
Try it - you will like it. Rossport & Terrace Bay are an easy, eight hour drive
from the Twin Cities. A great destination for kayaks and Trailor Sailors.
Sue and Alan Frisch live in Plymouth, MN. They keep their WindRider 17 and
Tartan 31 in Bayfield, WI.