August 9 to 12 — And the windlass works too!

Grand Marais Marina, Tuesday, August 9
It blew much of the night. This morning the barometer was stuck at 998. But there was nothing in the forecast that would have kept us from moving our traveling show one more notch to the north . . .

. . . except that our main water tank, filling from the forward tank, overflowed and soaked a couple of charts (that live below my bunk and on top of the water tank). Turns out we have seals or ports leaking on both tanks (after 35 years they both failed simultaneously?). Then the computer GPS terminal had more connection problems (and there’s a RadioShack near here). Besides, the big 60-footer was still in front of the service dock. What’s worse, Jerry was nearly out of scotch.

Grand Marais, Minnesota, is a wonderful little town

We figured it’s not bad to spend another day in paradise. In the late morning and into the afternoon, when the winds really picked up with big gusts and the boats on the moorings were rocking and rolling in the other end of the harbor, we were glad to have postponed departure for a day. Instead, we figured, “Why not do the laundry, have lunch in one of the nice restaurants here, pick up a few more groceries, and enjoy the company of the other cruisers?” We did that and had a great laid-back day.

While at the Laundromat, I met a couple of women (sisters) whose family has been coming to the same rental cabin in Grand Marais since their father was in grade school, 40-some years ago. One sister was particularly interested when she learned we were in town on a sailboat. When we met the whole gang again at the restaurant at lunchtime, I invited them to come down to see our sailboat. An hour or so later the sisters’ husbands and the oldest daughter (Eva) showed up. So Eva (around 5), her dad (Mark), and Uncle Kevin had a tour of Mystic. It’s interesting to hear the questions non-sailors ask about cruising. The fact that we can keep on going overnight never ceases to amaze the uninitiated.

By then the big boat had left the fuel dock. Four Winds got over there and back to their slip in very gusty conditions and Mystic did likewise although it was a bit dicey for both.

Susie Island is closer to 35 miles from here, rather than the 45 we had in mind. And it looks as if the weather will cooperate tomorrow. As I write this log after dinner, the barometer is up to 1002 and rising rapidly. The gusts are moderating.

One side note: the Grand Marais Marina is generally a fishing boat sort of place although cruising sailors do show up. We had a good laugh over one of the fishing boats named Swedish Hooker. That one is Jerry’s favorite Grand Marais boat name. I chose Far Superior, as my favorite.

Susie Island, Thursday, August 11
What an incredible day of sailing we had yesterday! The gusty weather of the previous day remained, but the gusts were sustained and predictable, rather than rapid blasts. We scooted along at speeds in the high 6- and low 7-knot range in the gusts of perhaps 25 knots and then settled back into speeds in the mid-3s in the lulls of 5 to 7 knots. We were sailing a screaming reach with the full main and the brand-new furling 150 that gave a wonderful account of itself.

It was so cold in the gusts that, at least part of the time, we wore gloves and had the hoods of our sweatshirts pulled up tight. We weren’t complaining. We still remember the day of the blistering sun and hellish heat.

As we left Grand Marais, another boat pulled out and soon passed us, heading as it turned out to Susie Island too. It was a C&C 40 named Njord and, although we gave the race what we could, Mystic was no match for Njord’s longer waterline. Jerry’s first observation was that size really does matter. She didn’t just sail off over the horizon, however, we kept her in our sights for hours. But we never came close to catching her, although there were moments of glory — when she had the lulls and we had the gusts —that we gained lost ground. Jerry’s second astute observation was that you can be philosophical when trounced by a C&C 40. Later we paddled our kayak over to chat with owner Brian and crew Lenny at Susie Island and Brian responded to my opening comment of “Nice race” with “Oh, were we racing?” But we knew he knew.

Thunder Bay friends Brian and Joanne Novak were also in here on Cinnamon Girl, and they came over after dinner for some wine and conversation. We usually see them at least once when we’re up this way.

The second big event of the day (along with having a terrific sail) is that we anchored with the new windlass and two anchors for the first time. I feel like a new trainee all over again aboard Mystic, the furler is complicated and strange and the windlass is terrifying. But I’ll soon get the hang of it. Both worked beautifully yesterday.

This morning is still and gray. We’ll take it easy and mosey over to Thompson Island later this morning. We’re in cruising mode now: no long distances to cover from one place to the next.

Thompson Island is a great storm hole and social hotspot for Thunder Bay sailors

 

Thanks to Kevin Peters, of International Falls, for both of the photos of Thompson Island during our stay.

Thompson Island, Thursday, August 11
Our anchors came up with nary a problem. Nice.

Then it was another great sailing day. Two in a row! It started light but, once we had the batteries recharged, we rolled out the jenny (see how easily this “new language” comes to me now) and sailed downwind to Thompson Island on jib alone as the winds grew to a respectable force of 15 or so knots. We expected this Thunder Bay boaters gathering place to be fairly quiet on a weekday, but that’s not true in August, apparently. There were four Americans from International Falls, Minnesota, with an O’Day 23 and an Aloha 27 that they’d launched at the Thunder Bay Yacht Club and two Americans on a powerboat. There were just two couples representing the Thunder Bay gang on a powerboat and another Aloha. And there were the two on Mystic. Biting flies chased us inside for a while, but we’ll venture back out this evening to share a glass of wine with any who are willing.

Thunder Bay, Ontario, where all the sailors are above average

Thunder Bay, Friday, August 12
We left Thompson Island early expecting some bad weather in the mid-morning. It didn’t materialize, but it sure looks like it will storm yet this evening. We had time to find our new slip, walk to town for groceries, pump out, and fuel up. Once these BIG clouds have headed east, we’ll head that direction too (but more slowly).

The wilderness part of our adventure will begin in the morning.

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3 Responses

  1. Karen, we had a great time meeting you and Jerry, getting a tour of The Mystic, and hearing about your sailing adventures. Here are a couple of the pictures I took during the visit:

    Ava at the wheel: http://flickr.com/gp/heet_myser/Wav46J

    Ava, Jerry, and Karen on deck: http://flickr.com/gp/heet_myser/4q6N32

    We were having breakfast at the campground on Croftville Road the morning after our meeting and thought we must’ve seen you two sailing up the shore near another boat. If that was the race you mention here, rest assured we were cheering for The Mystic! Thank you again for a very nice diversion! Travel safely!

    Mark, Ava, Leah, and Uncle Kevin

    • Hello, Mark! Thanks for the note. My connection here in Rossport, Ontario, is too slow to see Ava’s photos today. But I look forward to that when we get home again. You did indeed see our “race” (such as it was). Glad to know you were cheering for us! The bigger boats usually win, so there’s no shame in losing!

    • Hooray! We’re back in the USA and caught a faster connection in Silver Bay, Minn. I had a chance to see the photos you posted. I can’t believe it was ever shorts weather in August. We’re bundled up now and waiting out a very dense (and cold) fog! Nice shots. Thanks for sharing them. We met another nice woman at the Grand Marais Laundromat on our way south while heading toward Duluth/Superior. She was from the campground near our marina and gave us a lift back to the boat with our heavy bundles of clothes. I should hang out doing the laundry more often. You meet mighty nice people there.

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