By Lois Anderson
Sun, islands, live-aboard sailing with a friendly crew and a great skipper, explorations of hidden trails with a swim at the end: this may sound like the Carribean but it was Wisconsin - the Apostle Islands, July 19-22, 2007 for the crews of Fandango (38 foot Hunter) and Dilly Dally (Morgan 462) with skippers Capt. Joan Gilmore and Dale Broom.
Lisa Broom, Barbara Hunter, Lois Anderson, Jake Smith, and Mary and Bill Carter were on Fandango; Jackie Carlson, Deb and Scott Woolfrey, and John Lane were on Dilly Dally.
We departed Port Superior Marina Friday morning heading to Stockton Island. Winds were light to nonexistent so we motored more than sailed, enjoying blue skies and tropical weather. We anchored at Julian Bay and took the dinghy ashore (after vigorous pumping by Jake). The long sweep of sandy beach backed by pines and dunes seemed remote and lovely, with crystal clear waves lapping the shore. We waded along the beach, ate blueberries, and went on a "short" five mile walk past bogs, pitcher plants, wintergreen and pines. We later enjoyed wintergreen tea from leaves that Joan and Jake collected. We managed to avoid the lagoon that had "BEWARE" printed in stones on the sand. (Beware of what? Pirates? Leeches? We never did know.) Two of us braved a swim in the shallows of Lake Superior at the end of the hike, a refreshing, even frigid, experience. That evening the crew of Fandango enjoyed shish kabobs and did a learning styles inventory, something Joan has been studying. That night while the rest of us snoozed below, Barbara slept topside and was treated to shooting stars and a chorus of loons.
Saturday we raised anchor and headed to Raspberry Island; Fandango was impatient and ended up motoring but Dilly Dally never turned on the motor and finally got some good wind in the afternoon. The Fandango crew went ashore at Raspberry Island and took a short hike to the lighthouse, with a bit of a botany lesson on the way. We had an interesting tour from an enthusiastic guide and a great view from the top of the lighthouse, built in 1863. We did, however, envy Dilly Dally, which we could see sailing in the distance now that the wind was finally up. Back at the beach two of us had another quick swim while Jake did rowing duty. (I think he got some good exercise that weekend!)
We motored to Raspberry Bay on the mainland, another pretty sandy bay, where we anchored for the night. Fandango invited Dilly Dally for cocktails and requested ice and rum. Dilly Dally's response was to send a pirate boarding party, complete with "yo ho ho", pirate scarves with skull and crossbones, and a bottle of rum. Several rounds of Joan's excellent homemade sushi later, the Coast Guard arrived, surprising us and making the departing Dilly Dally crew grab desperately for Fandango's life vests. But the Coast Guard wasn't there to arrest them, or us, for our merry making or breaches of safety rules. They were checking up on a report of a sinking ship with a similar name. The only things in danger of sinking were our two leaking dinghies, but not our vessels. We thanked them for their offer of assistance and explained we were not the boat in question. We never did learn the source of the call for help, but it might have been a child's mistaken idea of entertainment. After the Coast Guard's courteous departure, we enjoyed the sunset, a wonderful shrimp pasta, and Joan's original routine to "Hey Big Spender."
The next morning Dilly Dally left early under sail and Fandango leisurely surveyed the cloudy skies and waited until a brief shower was over before we headed out. We finally hit good wind and started tacking down the channel towards Bayfield, raingear on, heeled over, and sometimes running at 8 knots in 25 mph winds. The experienced sailors loved it, but I found myself hanging on for dear life on the high side, trying desperately and foolishly to counterbalance the boat (it's hard to get over the small, wet boat experience.) Lisa sacrificed some skin to a traveler cleat but otherwise we survived intact, although the aft cabin looked "as though it had been stirred" after all those tacks. We made it successfully to port just as a party of kayakers stuck their noses past the breakwater and made a rapid and strategic retreat.
Kudos to Joan for her instruction and patience, to Jake for his unflagging energy, to Barb for her trash compacting and dishwashing, and to Lisa , Bill and Mary for their constant good humor and ability to get things done. This trip had great people, wonderful food, sunshine, and even some intense sailing. Who has to go to the Caribbean to sail sunny islands and swim in sandlined bays?