We cast off the mooring lines at Roberta Bondar Marina in the Sault at 8:30 am on Monday July 3 to make the first opening of the Canadian Sault locks along with Gabe’s Ghost (a 48’ Hughes sailboat). All went very smoothly after some hovering outside in the current waiting for the lock keepers came to work for the day. One of our better lock experiences, in fact – wrapped cables to hold our mooring lines around for a gentle, slow rise and pretty view of historic lock buildings on the pleasant sunny day – the first in weeks. And then we were heading out into the largest, coldest, most awe-inspiring, fresh water lake in the world!
We motor-sailed out the long channel and then put out our genoa and followed Gabe’s Ghost tacking off our rhum line to make use of what wind we had until in dropped off completely and we motored the last few miles to our anchorage at Ile Parisienne for the night. In the lee of a well treed, beach rimmed but flattish island, this is not a good secure anchorage in typical Whitefish Bay wind and waves, but with light winds from the North West, it served us well: good, calm en-route overnight stop. So calm in fact that we had to work at imagining the conditions in November 1975 which led to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in this “graveyard of the Great Lakes”.
We left early the next day (calm, smooth seas, sunny skies) as did Gabe’s Ghost, getting coffee and breakfast underway for the longish 46 nm motoring day to pretty Sinclair Cove where we dropped the hook beneath some dramatic bluffs, part of Superior Provincial Park. A small trawler was anchored near the sand beach in the cove, and Gabe’s Ghost beside us. Our crew (Paul and Mary as well as Liz and Steve) were ready for a shore excursion so we all hopped in the dinghy for a ride out of the mouth of the cove and along the shore to see the Ojibwe pictographs near the water line on the cliffs – painted with red ochre, the paintings tell of a four-day canoe trip from the Carp River to Agawa Rock, a distance of 215 nautical miles, which is quite a feat. The expedition leader was the great chief Myeegun who led his 5 canoes safely over that huge distance. There were several tourists who had taken the tricky (and at times dangerous) hike to the water’s edge to see the paintings, including some visiting professors from Columbia, and 2 crew from Gabe’s Ghost, who had found the hike more strenuous than anticipated and were grateful for the dinghy ride back to the bay.
Back in Sinclair Cove, we took the dinghy to the beach and hiked up on the coastal trail to the top of the bluffs for an amazing view of the shoreline and anchorage, before returning to the boat for baths and showers….the lads opting for a quick “breathtaking” (literally) dip in the lake while the smarter sex chose solar showers.
We hosted five lovely people – the captain and crew from Gabes’ Ghost – for sundowners aboard Tai Chi, and enjoyed their company as we celebrated getting this far. The first two days of Gitche Gumee (from Ojibway “Gitchegami” for Lake Superior), known for storms, wind gusts and high waves, have treated us kindly and for that we are grateful!
(Longfellow: Song of Hiawatha, 1855)