Author Topic: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16  (Read 2317 times)

Offline Jason

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Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« on: August 09, 2015, 02:59:43 PM »
Hi Everyone!

This year my tale of exploration comes from the shores of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee, where my brother and I, in the goodship Lillyanna, a 1981 Compac 16, saw the beautiful Pictured Rocks cliffs and waterfalls.   Lake Superior is a pristine lake, and at 350 miles long by 160 miles wide, it is the largest lake in the world by surface area.   The water is chilly, still in the 50's in summer, and storms and waves can get serious fast.  The scenery is quite breathtaking, we drank the water right from the lake, and one can find secluded spots with nothing but your self and nature around.  Safety notice:  if you plan to be on a boat in this area, please take all safety precautions as the weather can turn quickly and large waves develop.  Hypothermia is a year round threat, a brisk jump in the lake is so refreshing, but you wouldn't want to fall overboard and spend time in the lake.  There are good resources on this forum and elsewhere regarding great lakes sailing.  Please check the weather before you head out.  Many of us know the tragic story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a 729foot iron ore freighter that sank not too far from the Pictured Rocks cliffs.  As for our trip last month, we had 3 days and 3 nights of mostly calm seas and lovely weather!  

We launched from the dock at Munising Michigan at midnight, we were tired so we rowed out a little way, anchored and settled in for some sleep.  Overnight parking is allowed; please note that they asked that we put a note on the dashboard advising when we'd be back.   On that topic, we also filed a float plan with the family back home.


Mornings consisted of fresh french-press coffee, hard tack, and a warm meal.  The next day we sailed north east, clockwise, around Grand Island.  We found a great place, pictured below, to anchor and sleep on the west shore of the island.



None of the food we brought needed to be refrigerated; we had coffee, hard tack, noodles, confit meats, salt cod, carrots, potatoes, rum, limes, oranges, and......spam.   We brought Tang which we mixed with the lake water to drink.  We cooked on a two burner propane stove which we set up in the cockpit.


We sailed north and continued clockwise around Grand Island.  Pictures below are of the rock cliffs at the north end of the island, and of our little ship running before the wind using the whisker pole on the 110 jib.  You can see in the photo's how many boats we came across; very very few.   There are tour boats that run out of Munising, and which take visitors up to Spray falls and back to town.



The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a 42 mile long stretch of coastline on the southern shore of Lake Superior.  Sandstone cliffs rise 200feet above the lake, and rivers fall into the lake as waterfalls over the cliffs.  There are sand-dunes, and rock formations such as columns and arches.  Minerals staining the cliffs over the years led to the name "pictured rocks".  It is a long foreboding shoreline with no good shelters, so if the wind comes all the way across Lake Superior from any northerly direction, you will be blown towards the rocky shore.   There is a twelve mile stretch of beach, that would be better to be blown up on than it would be to be blown into a sea-cliff.  We had beautiful weather and were able to anchor and swim up to the waterfalls.  Wee bit of a shock jumping into the cold water but it's refreshing.

Rock Arch at Grand Portal Point,  and Spray Falls







Sailing the Compac 16 on Lake Superior:  You'll notice the sweater in the middle of summer; it is nice and crisp out on the lake, I don't like the heat, so I love the crisp summer evenings on the lake.




The night sky was truly amazing and though we eschewed communication with civilization during our voyage, we did use a fascinating app on my brothers phone that could identify all constellations in the sky just by pointing the lens of the phone around the stars.  We had a great time with that.

Idyllic. Pristine. Wilderness.  Crystal waters.  Beautiful sunrises and sunsets................twas then that they came for us.  One by one, they rose up from the still waters surrounding us, till there were millions of them dragging, biting.  Us two, and the ship too, were besieged and hopelessly outnumbered.   They were the biting flies, we gave them the name "The Flies of Sauroman" for surely they could only have been conjured from some dark magik.  Our bright ship turned to black as they covered it, and the sails too.   And thus, we beat a hasty retreat, because seriously if you are ever on Lake Superior in a biting fly hatch (different than the non-biting-fly hatches that also occur), I would recommend getting the heck out of there.  I won't get into the comic detail of our efforts to avoid and overcome them, but they won the day, and luckily it was near the end of the trip so we headed home on the fourth day after having another great and memorable trip.

I would recommend visiting this lake and this place, though next time I will go in late August or early September to try to avoid the biting flies.  I look forward to going back.

Sunset as we sailed towards our anchorage on the pictured rocks lakeshore.


Happy Sailing Everyone,

Jason Talbot
Wisconsin

1981 Compac 16, "Lillyanna"
« Last Edit: August 10, 2015, 07:22:42 AM by Jason »
1981 Compac 16 "Lillyanna"
Currently building SCAMP #349 "Argo"
Build log at www.argobuilder.com

Offline hoddinr

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2015, 03:49:09 PM »
Nice story and photos Jason!  I toured the entire Lake Superior shoreline (Circle Tour) last summer by RV.  It is indeed a majestic, and cold, lake.  We got out to the Pictured Rocks from Munising by tour boat.  So glad you had good weather!

Ron Hoddinott

Offline Bob23

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2015, 08:09:34 PM »
Wonderful story and photos Jason. Contributions like yours is what makes our site the best one in the universe! Thank you!!!!
Bob23

Offline ChuckO

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2015, 08:59:43 PM »
Beautiful scenery and your pics were great

Thanks for sharing your voyage; sure makes all your Com-Pac brethern envious!

Fair Thee Well !

ChuckO
Charleston, SC

Offline fried fish

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2015, 10:13:42 PM »
Sounds like a wonderful adventure. Cheers!
But you drank the lake water?
Brave man.
Fred

Offline Nezz

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2015, 12:26:46 PM »
Great pictures of a beautiful location. What a grand adventure.  I wish I was 30 years younger and had more courage. I have a condo on Lake Superior in Two Harbors, MN. The water is always very cold. I am content to watch the boats on the big lake.

Nesbitt
Annandale, MN
Nezz

Offline nreamer

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2015, 02:59:35 PM »
Jason,

I had no idea the Great Lakes were so beautiful!  Thank you!  More and more ideas for future adventures!  Great job on the photos, sounds like you had a great trip, except for the biting flies!

neil
~ 2010 Suncat ~
    ~  Frisky  ~

Offline wolverine 00 xj

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2015, 09:31:49 AM »
Jason:  Thanks for sharing!  Looks like a great trip.  I've sailed a bit in Lake Michigan, but never Superior.  You seem very safety conscious, and I was wondering what that plan was if a storm had come up with all that rock around and few safe harbors.

Offline Jason

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2015, 08:56:57 PM »
Hi,

I do try to be safety conscious, considering the boat is so small and water is so big!  I take every safety precaution I can think of given the space restrictions on the boat.  Even then, after all that focus on safety, it is still pretty dangerous to go out on big water especially for multiple days in a row.   I'd say that I would be committing an act of hubris if I thought that I alone was able to guarantee my 100% safety on the water, so I have to thank Neptune and my lucky stars for the safe returns that I have had so far, and I will continue to try to be thankful and smart about preparing for each launch.   I like sailing and exploring these waters, but it is a risk. So, all that said, I will provide my thoughts regarding your question.

1st:  We check the forecast very carefully and we have rain-dates for the trip, and if the weather is forecast to be bad, we don't go.  We make a final call before departing the house.
2. We file a float plan with the people back home, so they'll at least know if we are not back on time and they will know roughly where to look for us.  We do not hold to a strict schedule with destination points.  We have goals, but we try to have weather and safety determine the course for the day.
3. We check the forecast a couple times a day, to try to understand potential wind speed and direction.  This has proven to be of limited use on the great lakes.  But we still try.  The forecast has proven to be better regarding wind speed, than wind direction.  We make a call on where we will sail after taking the forecast into consideration.  On the last trip we anchored in a location that was exposed to the north, but the wind was not supposed to be from the north overnight, so we anchored there as there were no harbors, and wouldn't you know, we woke up in the night to a 19 mph wind blowing towards us, towards the lee shore.  Still, we check the forecast on the internet if available, or as it was on lake superior, we check it on the marine radio.
4. We would sail or motor, if needed, to safety if we saw a storm, including going ashore if possible.
5. If an unforecasted storm came and caught us during the day when we were sailing, we would clip on our tethers to our life jackets.  We typically wear life jackets anyway, but we clip in if it gets dicey.  We would have the mainsail reefed and would switch to the storm jib; we have had to do this many times, and I do this early, in fact I think I'm a bit of a wus when it comes to sail area....I go easy.  If the storm was beyond the ability to sail in, we would go with bare poles, and given the size of a Compac 16, we might just ride it out in the cockpit.  I have a pretty good rainsuit.  I have never been in seas that were to the point where I had to ride it out with no sails up, but the cabin of the Compac 16 is very small and it is easy to get thrown into the ceiling, so I think one might have to ride it out in the cockpit.  Also, would be sure to have the hatchboards in place, and I plug up the airvent/cowling in that is in the deck.  I installed hinges and a latch on the lazarette, with foam seal, so it is water proof.  I have a good sturdy bucket for bailing.  When there's water in the boat, they say there's no pump that is as good as a motivated man with a bucket....
6.  We would evaluate using the motor to get to safety ahead of the storm.  We would use the motor in a storm if needed, to keep us pointing in the direction of the coming waves or quartering the coming waves.
7.  If we were in shallow enough water, we could throw the anchor, the boat has a 11lb Lewmar claw anchor as a primary anchor and a 10lb danforth with 200' rope as a secondary anchor.  The night we wound up anchored being blown towards shore, we had both anchors our and held well.
8.  If the motor dies, we have oars to help in an emergency, but those would be tough to use in a storm.
9.  If we were anchored at night and the storm hit us we would go through similar decisions, but up at pictured rocks the long straight rocky shore is daunting.  We anchored in front of a small pebble beach area just east of Grand Portal point.  At least if there was no harbor we wanted to be able to try to swim ashore should the worst happen to the boat.  If you wound up in the water it would be a bad situation.  If the waves were going towards the rocks instead of the beach you'd really have to swim.   We were probably 40' from the pebble beach.
10.  If we were in a dire situation I would radio the coast guard and any surrounding boats for assistance
11.  If we wound up in the water near a safe shore, I would try to make it to shore but I am a bad swimmer, so I usually have a life vest on, especially sailing, and especially on the Great Lakes.  If I was out in Lake Michigan or Superior, away from shore, and wound up ditching the boat and going overboard, I would activate the PLB.  In 50-60 degree water I have read that you will be incapacitated or unconscious in about an hour, and you will called up to the pearly gates in 1-6 hours.
12. A map of the lakeshore is below.  There are many good safe harbors around Grand Island, as you can see, and the Munising harbor / South Bay is very protected.   Its when you want to head out to see the pictured rocks shoreline that you start to get a long distance from safe harbors or bays.  We wound up anchoring off of Chapel Beach just east of Grand Portal Point.   It would have been best to make it back to the harbor on the east shore of Grand Island, but it was about 10 miles away so we chose to anchor at the beach.

Those are my thoughts on it.  I'll close by again thanking the heavens for bringing me back safe so far!

Jason


« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 12:42:09 PM by Jason »
1981 Compac 16 "Lillyanna"
Currently building SCAMP #349 "Argo"
Build log at www.argobuilder.com

Offline Duckie

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2015, 06:56:09 AM »
I bought a drysuit this year in order to sail in very cold water.  It added at least two months to my sailing season.  They are not cheap, but are very effective.  In April when it first arrived, I went swimming in Lake Superior at the safe harbor near my home.  There was still some ice clinging to the rocks on the breakwater, so I knew that the water was very cold.  I was able to swim around for about 20 minutes without feeling any cold at all except for my unprotected hands and feet.  They can take up some room to store, but if used instead of rain gear, it could work out without too much fuss. 

Just a thought,

Al

Offline wolverine 00 xj

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2015, 10:17:43 AM »
Jason:
Thanks for your thoughtful reply.  I'm also interested in doing some exploring in the Great Lakes, and want to do it safely, while recognizing that there is no way to make it risk free.  I guess if it were risk free, that would take some of the fun out of it.  I just got back from sailing with a friend out to South Manitou Island off Sleeping Bear Dunes in NW Michigan in my CP 16.  We did the same trip in 2013.  The longest stretch across the open lake is 8 miles (straight shot).  It was pretty windy on Sunday crossing back from S. Manitou to Glen Arbor.  The waves were 4-6 feet.  We occasionally lost sight of the horizon in the troughs.  We had one white cap hit us abeam and douse the cockpit pretty good with water, and we dunked the rail at least twice.  I kept the cabin hatchboards in and the cabin top latched.  We had talked to the USPS ranger on South Manitou and let him know that we were going to cross that day.  He said there was a small craft advisory and that there would be Coast Guard choppers patrolling on and off.  Your suggestions are good, and I like how you have your CP 16 set up.  I have a 22 lb Lewmar claw anchor, which is greatly oversized for the boat, but it served us well on a couple of occasions.  When we got back to the Michigan shore, we were having trouble tacking against the waves, and we were near a rocky shore.  So we decided to take down the sails and motor back to the dock, about 3 miles away.  I threw out the anchor, and that kept us in place to douse the sails and fire up the outboard.  The trip really increased my confidence in what the boat can handle.

Offline wordnut

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2015, 07:47:46 PM »
Hi Jason.  So did you drink lake water the whole time? With or without a filtration system?

Randy
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Offline Jason

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2015, 09:01:17 PM »
Hi Randy,

We did drink the water straight from the lake the whole time.  Of course, do so at your own risk.  It was boiled coffee in the morning.  In Lake Michigan or any other inland lake or stream I wouldn't do it.  Our sterilizer failed the first morning and we had read that the water could be drank straight from the lake so we just went for it.  No side effects......yet.  

Jason
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 09:09:30 PM by Jason »
1981 Compac 16 "Lillyanna"
Currently building SCAMP #349 "Argo"
Build log at www.argobuilder.com

Offline Epic1969

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2015, 02:16:17 AM »
Jason I enjoyed reading your adventures. I am a relatively new sailor with a CP-16 also. I have surfed
 In Lake Superior in the winter with a 6mm wetsuit and was toasty warm at least for an hour or so. I have been sailing on protected waters in northeast Ohio this summer and would like to sail across Lake Erie next summer. If you could give some detailed about how you sealed up your Lazzerette Id appreciate it! Also how does boat do in 6 footers? Did you surf it?

Erik

Offline Jason

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Re: Sailing Lake Superior Pictured Rocks in our CP 16
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2015, 07:07:54 AM »
Hi Erik,

Information on my lazarette hatch can be found on the following post:
http://cpyoa.geekworkshosting.com/forum/index.php?topic=6225.0

Regarding sailing in 6' waves , I haven't done it and would probably be quite on edge if I did.  I have sailed and motored through some big waves probably 4 footers, but nothing as big as 6'.  Others on the site have sailed in bigger waves than me, and might have some tips.

In my humble opinion, I think the boat is meant for coastal cruising in good weather and that's what I try to keep my trips to.  I have got got caught in some +20mph winds and waves that came over the boat , and the boat is quite sturdy as most people on this site would say. 

I've thought about sailing across Lake Michigan, but I would only do it in a bigger boat than my 16.

Happy Sailing!

Jason
1981 Compac 16 "Lillyanna"
Currently building SCAMP #349 "Argo"
Build log at www.argobuilder.com