No Turning Back

Washington Bay Travel Blog

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Preparing to leave Gladstone

The  Apres Ski purred out of the Gladstone marina and into Little Bay de Noc. Once her throttles were eased forward the sleek boat seemed to skim effortlessly across the blue waters but wide white wake defined the massive power of her twin diesel engines. A moving map GPS showed our progress passing Escanaba as we continued onto Lake Michigan. Bruce and Margie's craft was equipped with state-of-the-art controls and electronics. Another large screen displayed a colored radar picture of our surroundings including terrain, other boats, and buoys. That screen could even be tuned to detect birds and fish. My red and black Klepper kayak rode nicely tied across a white leather seat-back and the dinghy that was secured to the stern.

No turning back

There was no turning back. The hour-long high-speed cruise to Washington Island would drop me about a hundred miles from home. I figured six days for the island-hopping paddle, spending nights in hotels and camping where there were none. Other than studying a nautical chart titled Northern Lake Michigan at the Gladstone Yacht Club, I did no research and made no specific planning for the stunt.

We hurled past the Minneapolis Shoal Light eleven miles offshore. The string of islands that I had followed to Washington Island two years ago appeared in the distance stretching from Michigan's Garden Peninsula to Door County (Wisconsin's 'thumb'): Little Summer, Big Summer, Poverty, Saint Martin, Rock, and finally Washington.

Passing the Minneapolis Shoal Light
That 72-mile paddle spanned four days and this trip will continue from where that one left off.

Bruce dropped anchor off Schoolhouse Beach. He unlashed the dinghy and slid it aft to make room for the Klepper to lay flat on the deck. It took about twenty-five minutes to load the kayak (fully loaded, it would be too heavy and awkward to lift on and off the Apres Ski.) Bruce, Margie, and their daughter Debbie weren't flustered by the delay to their holiday trip, instead seemed amused, entertained, and sometimes bewildered by the process.

Loose items were emptied from bulky bags then crammed deep into the front and back halves of the kayak. Each item had its place by order of need, importance, and size. A rolled-up sleeping mat squeezed between the rudder pedals to stow far up front. Two plastic containers of equal size followed, then smaller items to fill the nooks and crannies.

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The same with the back - food and clothes bags in first then small stuff. Articles that I might require in an emergency were placed directly behind the life jacket which also served as the seatback. I would be treading water to need those: cell phone, flare pistol, an airline life vest, and a small survival kit.

Water; snacks; my shoulder bag with the camera; a pocket watch; a towel and sponge; and a plastic  water-tight container with map, signal mirror, whistle, and compass all tucked into the cockpit beside me and under my knees. The tent and sleeping bag rode piggy-back in a yellow, waterproof plastic sea bag. Though I may have loaded seventy pounds of gear, the Klepper is capable of supporting me and four hundred pounds. We finally slid the kayak into Washington Bay and I wrestled in. I expressed my gratitude to the crew of Apres Ski for making the adventure possible and we traded salutations and well wishes.

TRE69 says:
Wow...this is sounds like an adventure!
Posted on: Jun 09, 2009
busbumb says:
You da man helicopter Dan. We are going to have to start calling you kayaker Dan.
Posted on: Sep 22, 2008
shirlan says:
WhhoooooHHoooooooooooooo! Have another beer or 2. You deserve it. Congratulations on being featured!
Posted on: Sep 12, 2008
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Preparing to leave Gladstone
Preparing to leave Gladstone
No turning back
No turning back
Passing the Minneapolis Shoal Light
Passing the Minneapolis Shoal Light
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Washington Bay
photo by: rotorhead85