That’s  the light tower on Michigan Island in the Apostle archipelago on Lake Superior.  This National Seashore area holds the highest concentration of light towers in North America.  They take a variety of forms and shapes, are in good condition, and all quite picturesque.  The day after this visit we sailed to Devil’s Island, the northernmost.  We’d hoped to go ashore there to, but the winds were shifting so we listened to the NOAA weather report.  Big storm coming.  Strong winds from the south.

   Change of plans. Checked the chart and made for a bay approximately fifteen miles away that opened only to the north and set anchor.  Did then ‘batten down the hatches’, had a great chicken curry dinner, and slid into our sleeping bags to get what rest we could before the sound and fury.  It arrived at about 10:30PM.   We were obviously protected from the worst of the wind, but were still violently rocked by the waves.  They rolled us so severely that the mast nearly slapped the water repeatedly on both sides.

  Fortunately, it wore out before did we and a fitfull sleep ensued until about 8:00 AM.  It was our last day and we were anxious to set sail for our last stop – Madeline Island – the only inhabited one of the group.   We’d heard it was a neat/funky sort of place and a fine spot to celebrate my birthday.   After brewing the coffee I went forward to raise the anchor.  “Better hold off on that” said wife from the cockpit.  “Engine won’t start.”

  Thing turned over ruling out electrical issues.  We figured that the storm had either shaken up sediment in a fuel filter overdue for change or somehow introduced air into the system.  Having no spare filters or tools we going to have to do everything the old fashioned way.  Which we knew was going to be brutal because we were a long way from home and the wind was a steady twenty-five to thirty nm/h blow directly down our course.

  Wife at helm I pulled out the headsail a bit while son took anchor just off bottom ready to reset if necessary.  Breeze took the jib and bow with it around and to a downwind course.  Pulled the sail the rest off the way out and stowed the anchor.  Raised the main and into the channel we made it.   Unfortunately another problem soon presented itself.

   Sailing upwind requires one to beat back and forth as far toward the direction of the wind as sail design will allow, in this case about fifty degrees off.  In strong winds it is important that the main swing fully from one side to the other  so that some of its force is allowed to spill off and you’re not overpowered.  On the Marcie however, the apparatus that positions the boom (“traveler”) would be moved only with great difficulty.  Fearful of it getting stuck in the middle during a change of course we decided to furl the jib so that problems couldn’t compound during a tack.  This made the helm a bit heavier and forward progress slower.

  Though, as son pointed out, we were up there to sail and that we surely did.  The island’s rich red cliffs and dense green forest salved the chafe of the elements.  Wind seemed to calm a bit and we raised the jib.  Quite better progress until the problem we foresaw above did manifest.   Son put his considerable back into the traveler and we furled the jib for the rest of the day.

  Some ten hours later we were sunburned, wind whipped, exhausted, but portside.  We furled the sails, cleaned up, hosed off, and enjoyed a very fine birthday spaghetti dinner with billowing pink cumulus providing the pyrotechnics.  Drank a bit of wine and sat around philosophizing.


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