Storm Approaches


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Winter Storm Approaches

The Harbor Journal.

"...when we don't live with birds or weather or waves we lose the opportunity to think hard about ourselves, to discover from nature important facts about human nature."
(excerpted from Nancy Lord's, Fishcamp)

A Sail Around Keweenaw

September 15, 1998.The plan was to depart at dawn for Isle Royale. It takes about eight to ten hours to sail over there, depending on wind and sea conditions, so an early start is necessary to get safely tucked in an anchorage before dusk. A little margin for the unexpected is a good idea. At dawn, however, the wind was NNW (right on the nose) at 20 knots and building and seas were running 4 to 6 feet and forecasted at 5 to 7. Not a good day for single-handing to the Isle of moose. Soooo, it's a day for adding to the woodpile. There will be another day.

Labor Day weekend was a chance to sail around the Keweenaw Peninsula, a cruise of about 120 miles. On Sunday the wind backed to the NW at about 15 knots so after cleaning out Patti's block ice supply at the store, I set sail for Copper Harbor. A sunny day with a little white frosting on the deep blue sea. Peregrine loves a breeze off the aft quarter and by mid-day we were at the Copper Harbor entry buoy. The wind was building, adding to our speed, so we headed for Keweenaw Point and an exciting beat through 25-knot gusts down Bete Gris to the Lac la Belle entry. Dropped the hook off Lac la Belle Resort as darkness settled in and took the dinghy to The Landing for dinner. Sandy greeted me with the big smile of a resort/restaurant owner who that day received her long sought liquor license. We celebrated with a little wine. I returned to Peregrine in the bright light of a full moon and tucked in for the night to the wail of a loon.

The wind was howling from the NW on Labor Day morn, but I thought the lee of the peninsula would provide some protection for the run down to the Keweenaw Portage lower entry and on up through the Portage Canal and Portage Lake to the Houghton County Marina next to the Portage bridge. Wrong! What a wild sail this turned out to be. A steady 25 knots of wind with gusts to 35 challenged Peregrine and its skipper's mettle for the next several hours and the broad reach to the lower entry averaged 7 & knots, which for a sailboat is FAST! Darn exhilarating, and at times scary, but a sail to nourish my soul over the long winter to come. I arrived at the marina as evening closed in, popped a pasty in the oven, and "decompressed".

Tuesday brought small craft warnings, so wisdom prevailed over valor and the day was spent at the dock repairing some damage of the day before and kibitzing with other weather bound sailors. Wednesday brought some relief in the wind and sea conditions and after a leisurely motor up to the Upper Entry along the Canal, Peregrine's sail went up and the last leg back to the Harbor was underway. A shorts only day and while the Autohelm did its thing, I finished the repairs, scrubbed the deck and caught up on the news from Wall Street in a stack of old Journals I brought along to mop up an oil change I never had time to do. (Depressing - should have used them for the oil!) The northern slopes of the Keweenaw Ridge showed some signs of color at the higher elevations and by the time Peregrine pulled alongside the Harbor Marina dock about dinner time there was a real feeling of fall in the air. I tucked Peregrine in for the night, walked around the Harbor to home - wondering how many more such wonderful sails this year would offer.

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