NLSC Trip Report

Apostle Islands—Fourth of July 

By Leota Spalla

Trip Chair

Sixteen intrepid NLSC’ers braved the cold and blustery winds of Lake Superior for three days of sailing in early July.

Oops – this wasn’t the usual October Applefest trip, so we didn’t have cold and blustery conditions. Instead we had sunny skies, warm temperatures (in the high 80s) and light to brisk winds for three wonderful days of sailing in the Apostles. 

It was a typical three day trip to the Apostles – one day with lots of wind, one with so-so winds, and one with no wind. The only thing we did not get was the usual day of rain. Instead we had lots of sun, with some overcast clouds, for the whole trip. Our sunscreens got a workout! 

We had three Hunters chartered from Port Superior – 34-foot Endeavor, captained by Bob Whitley with Karne and Julie Johnson, Larry Johnsrud, Betty Lamb and Dee Hartley; 34-footNorthern Harmony captained by Leota Spalla with Connie Dove, Sarah Ellgen, Jackie Carlson, Joan Patterson and Fred Stenman; 29-foot BlueBelle, captained by Rod Martenson with Shirley Martenson, Bonnie Black and Chuck Gribble. All three boats were in good shape and sailed well in the variable wind conditions we encountered. 

Our first day, Friday July 4, was sunny with brisk 15-20K S-SW winds. Most of the boats were out of the marina by late morning, heading for a rendezvous that evening in Raspberry Bay. Northern Harmony was slightly delayed as she had to return to the marina due to a jammed roller furling main. Dawn Nixon did like a deck monkey and climbed up on the boom to work the jammed sail free. When roller furling mains work, they are great, but when they have problems, they are a royal pain! Other than that initial problem, everything worked fine. It was a glorious day of sailing for all three boats. 

We had hoped to anchor overnight at Stockton in order to view fireworks that night, but because SW winds were forecast for the evening, we decided it would be best to stay at Raspberry Bay on the mainland, which meant we wouldn’t be able to see any of the fireworks. Instead each boat did their own 4th of July celebrating. 

Winds on Saturday morning were light to non-existent. The Northern Harmony crew elected to go hiking on Raspberry Island to see the lighthouse; BlueBelle headed out to Devil’s (with a motor assist); while Endeavorsailed out looking for whatever wind they could find. By mid afternoon, the winds were in the 10-15K range, making for a delightful sail under sunny skies. Winds were still forecast to be from the SW overnight, although a front was moving through with NE winds forecast for Sunday. We again elected to anchor overnight in Raspberry Bay as it gave the best three-sided protection from southerly winds.

 While in the bay, we were all treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets (and later a sunrise) that I have ever seen. Clouds were overhead, but parted just above the horizon line to let the orange glow blaze through. It was gorgeous!

The bay was relatively crowded, so our three boats ended up scattered across the Bay. Our boat, Northern Harmony, was in the center of the bay, while BlueBelle was on the east side and Endeavor on the west side. Because the wind was so variable during the night, boats in the center of the bay were more subject to it’s vagaries. We ended up doing a 360 degree turn around the anchor point, making it a very restless night for the captain and crew. Luckily the winds remained light, so the anchor was still holding in the morning. 

Because a storm system was heading through northern Minnesota, we elected to head back a little early to Port Superior so we could be on the road by 4 pm. Due to lack of wind, we all mostly motored the whole way back. We got the boats cleaned up and bid goodbye to our crewmates, sad to see the end of the trip so soon.