Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Fourth Day . . .

The Great Circumnavigation Adventure!

With each sunrise we start anew!

Day four finds us rising to a beautiful sunrise and fog floating across the water, blocking even the Lighthouse from our view. We discuss the possibility of heading out using the emergency strobe lights I brought along for both of us - "just in case".

Just as we are discussing Plan B, the sun burns the fog off the lake and we are able to shove off.

With a stiff wind out of the west, southwest we decide to play! Heading out into the big water we are able to ride the waves all the way to the south shore of Espanore Island.

But kayaker BEWARE! Very few of Drummond's satellite islands are State owned. The majority - including Espanore - are privately owned. Meaning not accessible. Period.

And let's face it - would you want someone camping out in your front yard? I think not! So please, do be mindful of the rights of private property owners when exploring not only the waterways of Drummond Island, but Drummond itself.

We head back out into the big water and ride the waves once more to Gravel Island on the outskirts of Huron Bay. Ducking into a tiny bay we beach our kayaks on State owned land.

According to our original plan, this was to be the location for Camp #5. A full two days ahead of schedule due to amazing weather and winds we discover we can see our launch site off in the distance from here!
We are now faced with the toughest decision of our journey. Set-up camp or ride the winds home?

We opt for an extended break to enjoy the sun, scenery and serenity of this inlet just west of Warners Cove.

Lunch, exploring and making sure we continue to *Leave No Trace* fill our time on this beautiful, rocky shoreline.
With the wind and waves still calling we shove off and paddle out into the big water south of Traverse Point. If we go off shore far enough we know we can ride the surf all the way home.

Back at square one it is difficult to comprehend that we did it. That we circumnavigated the entire island. That we did it two full days ahead of schedule BUT never felt rushed. Never felt as though we were in a competition trying to prove our mettle.

The statistics:
Total time on the water paddling: 23 hours 35 minutes 03 seconds
Total time spent on voyage: 79 hours (3.5 days)
Total distance covered: 51 miles
Total time spent grinning ear-to-ear: On-going!

There is no rushing when paddling.
When you paddle you go at the pace of the water and that pace ties you into a flow that is older than life itself on this planet.
Acceptance of that pace, even for a day, changes us, reminds us of other rhythms beyond the sound of our own heartbeats.
- Candis L. Collick

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Reward . . .

The Great Circumnavigation Adventure!

OMG! Who knew we were playing a Reward Challenge today!?

If you watch "Survivor" you know exactly what I am talking about. If you don't just know that my reference comes from the long running reality show called "Survivor". In Reward Challenges, the contestants compete for luxuries that are not essential for survival but make their lives easier and/or more enjoyable. Examples of rewards have included food, flint, matches, rain gear, and even short trips away from camp.

Our *reward* came in the form of a very unexpected, very exciting visit from Sturgeon Bay Charters Capt. Meade Gable -sent on a mission by David and Paula Bardsley of the DeTour Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society.

His task? To locate our camp, pick us up and whisk us off to the Light for our reward - which was to include a private tour, use of the modern *facilities* and a glass of wine to be sipped leisurely at the top of this impressive beacon.

To say we were GEEKED would be an understatement!

Not only were we treated to an amazing ride out to the Light BUT Capt. Meade had a cell phone fully charged and I was able to share this experience with my husband Barry! A conversation that did not have to be limited in its length for battery conservation. That, in and of itself, was a HUGE reward for me.

If you have never been to the Light PLEASE put it on your shortlist of *Must Dos*. Each time I go out I am overwhelmed. Majestically rising above the waters of the Saint Mary's the Light is an architectual wonder.

My previous trips have all been as a volunteer - either cleaning or serving cookies to visitors. Today we are the visitors being treated. Do you see the grin on my face that I can't wipe off?!

Rising 83' above water with its 63' tall Classic-Revival-style architecture, this Lighthouse has been a fixture in Michigan's Upper Peninsula since 1931. In January 1998, civic leaders from DeTour Village and Drummond Island, Michigan, met to form the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS), a non-profit volunteer (501C3) organization. In 2003-2004 the Society restored the Light to its 1931 appearance and now offer day tours along with weekend stays. 

We sip our wine. Goof for pictures - "Where have your Keens been"? And marvel at the Light in its present restored state. All too soon our reward comes to a close.

And we head back to our campsite - restored, renewed and REWARDED!

Back at camp I relax in my jammies on the beach to reflect on the events of the day. Settling in for the evening. Settling down from the events of the day.

"Happiness is excitement that has
found a settling down place.
But there is always a little corner that
keeps flapping around". 
~E.L. Konigsburg

Want to learn more about the DeTour Reef Lighthouse?
Simply go to their website found at

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Third Day . . .

The Great Circumnavigation Adventure!

Red sky at night, sailor's delight.
Red sky at morning, sailor take warning!

The common phrase "Red sky at morning" is a line from an ancient rhyme often repeated by seamen. The rhyme is a rule of thumb for weather forecasting, dating back over 2,000 years, based on the reddish glow of the morning or evening sky, caused by haze or clouds related to storms in the region.

We woke to the most the most amazingly beautiful red sky the morning of the 17th. We didn't need to hear the official forecast to know we were going to be in for a wee bit of a rough paddle in our attempt to get from Mare Island back to the Drummond shoreline.

We prepared a hearty breakfast, stacked rocks to form a cairn - letting others know there was *safe passage* in this location - and shoved off into gusting winds and waves cresting at 1 to 2 feet. Our first destination - Bow Island.

This was our toughest paddle of the trip - complicated by my "stupid" left arm deciding to show its true colors. Lupus is an insidious disease, attacking tissues randomly. Two years ago the large head of my left bicep unexplainably deteriorated rapidly. The diagnosis - inoperable, unrepairable damage. A completely severed tendon. Physical therapy has taught me to compensate for this injury by relying on the delt muscles in that arm. But the cold and hard paddle of the morning meant a left arm that was simply "angry".

Making Bow gave me time to work through the pain while exploring the Island's shoreline. There is a Geocache located here and hunting it helped me get mentally/physically prepared for our next leg of the trip - Bow Island to Dix Point.

With the storm clouds gathering we head to Dix and a chance to refit spray skirts, make sure everything is carabinered to our kayaks and prepare for the rain that is starting to fall. Our run through the DeTour Passage not only means plying the cresting waves brought by the storm but also rolling with freighter wakes as we cross into their territory. We are in for a fun ride!

Adventure is nothing more than bad planning. Despite all my planning there were two things I completely overlooked - checking the condition of my 6 year old rudder cables and packing a repair kit. Heading into the Passage my right rudder cable heaved a huge sigh and resigned its position as co-stabilizer against the wind and waves.

I head to shore, beach on private property - thank you whoever looked out and saw me attempting to rectify this inconvenience! With no tools aboard to make the necessary repair I make the decision to tie the rudder up and head back out. I will be paddling a *canoe* for the rest of our voyage!

Bright, shining rays of hope come in many forms. Today they took the form of Paul Strom standing on the ferry dock snapping photos as we approached. There was no time to stop and chit-chat BUT it was comforting to know he could get a message to my granddaughter letting her know we were spotted and safe. Just knowing my husband, Barry, would be reassured by Meagan meant the world to me at that moment. Thank you Paul.

The worst of the storm passes and we head to Barbed Point. It is 1:45pm and we are still one day ahead of schedule. We decide to call it a day.

We spread our gear out to dry, set-up camp and pump much needed water for our lunch/dinner.

Cooking potato soup, watching the freighters float by and recounting our day's adventures we have NO idea of the treat that is in store. It will be an OMG! sort of afternoon!

"When you come to the end of your rope,
tie a knot and hang on"
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Second Day . . .

The Great Circumnavigation Adventure!

"The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls".
- John Muir

We wake to the most amazing sunrise and begin what would become a daily morning routine. Boil water, start breakfast, drink coffee, and leisurely go about our morning hygiene regimen. Each of us caught up in our own thoughts breaking the shared silence only to express the obvious  - words like "stunning", "amazing", "blessed" and "content" punctuating our comments.

There is no need or desire to rush. A lone Loon floats by, her haunting call completing the scene.

Loons are unique and beautiful birds, yet sometimes they are tricky to identify. They hold their bodies lower in the water than most ducks, but one group of ducks—mergansers—swim low and are even shaped like loons. Cormorants also have a similar profile in the water - we often mistook nasty Cormorants for Loons on our voyage until right on top of them.

After making sure we had left *No Trace* we headed out, plotting a course close to the shore and heading north, northwest towards Fossil Ledges open to any and all possibilites for the day.

We were both surprised to discover the *Ledges* actually start miles before the State identified *Fossil Ledges* and dominate the shoreline, rising from dramatic drop offs easily visible from our low riding cockpits. The feeling of floating in mid-air was hard to dismiss and we purposely paddled the grey area between ledge and drop-off until reaching the official *Ledges*.

Our original plan called for making the Ledges our second campsite of the voyage. But the weather and wind have combined to bring us here just in time for lunch on our second day. We beach our kayaks, break out our lunch, wander the shoreline and SWIM! The water has never been warmer thanks to unusually high temps for most of the summer.

There is even time to goof for a portrait photo shoot!

Not wanting to waste such awesome paddling conditions we make the decision to continue further  west. Thinking we will camp on State owned land in the area of Chippewa Point we set out to enjoy the sun and calm waters.

As we close on the Point we are greeted by an omen in the sky. My name clearly written out by the clouds. You can just make out the *C-a-n* here - we sat watching these fluffy alphabet letters float by without thinking to photograph them until they had almost disappeared! Coincidence or blessing from my father? My eyes stuing with tears and we decide to take a break on a small shoal to regroup.

Again we decide to travel further than planned. Who could resist the call of the water under these conditions?!

On entering Potagannissing Bay we find ourselves back in the hustle and bustle of boating society. The traffic coming and going to the North Channel is fierce on such a beautiful day. We are quickly and rudely awaken to the fact that not all vessel captains understand or honor the pecking order in the *Overtaken Vessel* rule as a southbound trawler not only cuts us off - threatening to swamp our cockpits - BUT sounds its horn and greets us with a single-finger wave as they pass under full throttle. WHOA!

We decide, after this experience, to get as far away from other humans as possible and push on to Mare Island.

We set up camp and enjoy appetizers while sitting on rocks in our tiny cove. Triscuits, cheese and wine have never tasted so good!

Later that night we sat and watched our campfire until each separate, dying ember wrought its ghost upon the island floor. The perfect end to a perfect day.