Sailing across Lake Superior to Grand Marais, Minnesota

We are fortunate to have friends who invite us up to Bayfield, Wisconsin, to sail on their boat. Usually we spend that time sailing within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, visiting the islands or hanging out in La Pointe or Bayfield.

This year we decide to do something different and leave the islands on a jaunt across the lake to Grand Marais, Minnesota

It is hot and humid when we arrive in Bayfield. Our friends are still working on projects on the boat. (There are always projects on a boat, but this is an older boat and is still being renovated. Besides, it hasn’t been out of the marina yet this season and we are planning to take it across Lake Superior, so there are more projects than usual this time.) We have our own tasks, as we are in charge of food, so we begin by loading the boat with food and our gear.

sailing in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands - ExplorationVacation

Once this is accomplished, we join our friends in completing various other projects before heading into Bayfield for dinner.

Bayfield Wisconsin - ExplorationVacation.net

Bayfield Wisconsin - ExplorationVacation.net

The next morning we awake to another hot, humid day. There are remaining boat chores and then a final (quick) run into town for a few more groceries and supplies. Finally we cast off . . . and make the short trip to the fuel dock.

But soon we really are headed out of the marina.

There isn’t a lot of wind, but we enjoy it while we can.

sailing in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands - ExplorationVacation

sailing in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands - ExplorationVacation

sailing in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands - ExplorationVacation

(The dogs don’t seem to mind.)

Unfortunately, the wind vanishes as we get farther into the islands and we motor the rest of the way to Rocky Island.

sailing in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands - ExplorationVacation

At Rocky we tie up at the dock for the evening. Our friends and their dogs take a quick dip in the lake (it was that hot) while I stay on board and relax with a pre-happy hour drink before dinner preparation begins (steaks on the grill).

sailing in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands - ExplorationVacation

It’s already dawn when the alarm goes off at 5 am the next morning.

sunrise from the dock on Rocky Island in Wisconsin's Apostle Isl

We cast off as the sun rises in a molten red ball above the hazy horizon. The water is as smooth as glass.

sunrise from the dock on Rocky Island in Wisconsin's Apostle Isl

Soon we leave the islands behind and head out into open water. With no land in sight, we are on auto pilot, making good speed (for a sailboat) as the sails supplement the rumbling motor in the light breeze.

crossing Lake Superior - ExplorationVacation

crossing Lake Superior - ExplorationVacation

By lunchtime we can see land in the hazy distance.

sailing into Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Our concerns about navigational accuracy (none of our navigational devices precisely agree, which has left us to wonder which is correct) come to an end as we identify Grand Marais directly ahead. Our captain’s navigation was perfect!

sailing into Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Grand Marais lighthouse in Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Grand Marais lighthouse in Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

We end up tie up along the seawall at the forest service dock.

grand Marais harbor in Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

The seawall turns out to be a great spot to stay: It’s an easy step to shore (vs using a dinghy to get to shore from an anchorage or mooring ball) and it’s close to downtown. Of course, the view of the harbor is pretty great here too.

sailing dogs - ExplorationVacation

We take a quick walk along Artist Point as the sun goes down.

evening at Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

evening at Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

evening at Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

evening at Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

And then watch the sun vanish for the day.

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

While I should sleep late the next morning, I instead set the alarm for 4:30 a.m. There is a lovely little beach on the other side of this spit of land and it looks like the perfect place to watch the sunrise.

sunrise along the beach in Grand Marias - ExplorationVacation

sunrise along the beach in Grand Marias - ExplorationVacation

Of course, a good sunrise needs to be followed by a visit to Artist Point.

Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

We chose this weekend to visit Grand Marais because the Grand Marais Art Colony is hosting their summer arts festival. I love seeing all the art on display (a few artists are even demonstrating their technique) and appreciate the chance to catch up with an old friend who has his work on display. (It’s been far too long since we have visited here.)

Art show in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Art show in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

I’m busy enough going through the art that I don’t notice right away that the harbor is slowly developing a hazy layer of fog.

foggy day in Grand Marais harbor Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

foggy day in Grand Marais harbor Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Hmm. . . fog might be interesting out on Artist Point.

evening at Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

We end the day watching the fog settle into the harbor as the sun sets.

foggy evening in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

foggy evening in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVacation

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

Is there a better place to be?

Unfortunately our time here is coming to an end.

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. (I didn’t make plans to go to the beach for sunrise because I knew there wouldn’t be time.) The weather station has been warning of storms moving into the area – and into Bayfield – late in the day, so we again head back out onto the lake as the sun is rising.

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

Sailing_to_Grand_ Marais_20150712-DSC_4809

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

sunset over the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota - ExplorationVa

sunrise in Grand Marias harbor - ExplorationVacation

Good-bye, Grand Marais!

sunrise in Grand Marias harbor - ExplorationVacation

There is even less wind on the lake today than when we arrived – the water is like glass.

crossing lake superior - explorationvacation

We are again “sailing” (motoring) on auto-pilot, but this time we spot a laker as we cross the shipping lanes just outside the islands.

crossing lake superior - explorationvacation

(That’s the Carson J. Calloway crossing well behind us.)

Usually we would return to the islands for the night in anticipation of a day of sailing, but with storms on the way, we continue on to the marina for the night instead.

After a long day on the water it feels good just to relax. There are leftovers to eat and games to play. (Despite the wonderful name, Fact or Crap would be a lot more fun if it provided some info about the answers.) The storm doesn’t arrive until midnight, but the whining wind and the lighting seen through he rigging are impressive. Still it is easy enough to fall asleep to the sound of the pounding rain.

The morning dawns calm, with blue sky in one direction and threatening clouds in the the other.

Port Superior Wisconsin - ExplorationVacation

That’s the optimistic direction.

Despite the sun, there is no wind.

And thus we end this little sailing adventure.

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