Archive for May, 2010

Beaver Island

Monday, May 31st, 2010

An interesting thing happens when ones starts casting about for a 3 day trip to do. Here is the chart section that caught my eye (click on it for a larger view):

Beaver Island and surrounding area from Chart 14902

Even better it is a two hour drive from Marquette. Driving to the launch site on the beach, it is another one of those off the beaten track UP places. Little did I know…

The crossing was long enough and the land low enough to require paddling by compass for 90 minutes.

Launching and heading out the conditions were perfect, little wind any day in the forecast except for sunday night when a front was to move through. A long crossing like this needs conditions like these to avoid becoming an ‘adventure’.

Navigation is always challenging in a new place. I couldn’t see significant land features for the first ninety minutes so it was paddling by compass till visually I could lock onto a landmark.

Landing at Squaw Island I was tempted to leave right away due to the loud hum of many insects wings. Amazingly the gnats (sometimes called muffleheads) were in many large groups flying about. Fortunately they are non biting and there were few mosquitoes or blackflies about. The positive is they indicate good water quality and are a bounty to fish and birds. The negative is they were out on the water where they flew into my ears, eyes and generally made a pest of themselves when the wind died.

The other feature of this trip was the heat, it was hot and humid. Most Memorial Day trips are cool due to the water temperature, not this year, most of the water felt at summer temperature. This I assume also accounts for the algae seen along the shorelines and in the shallows. This algae also made swimming in some areas unappealing.

Algae was seen in the shallows everywhere.

But there were highlights. The biggest being this abandoned lighthouse (below) that someone is maintaining. It is unlocked so one is able to go up the tower! Wandering around inside of it exploring was an unexpected bonus as many of these structures are either boarded up or in such poor condition that you don’t want to go inside.

Found this abandoned lighthouse, that someone is maintaining and leaving unlocked.

And then finally, except for Beaver, these islands are wilderness. A few boats were about and few people. It is a good place to get away, when the conditions allow it…

A Merganser swims past the setting sun


The Busy Season

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Well, it is busy once again. Two weekends and two instructor workshops. The photo at right is Nancy teaching at the one in Big Bay. We had a small but geographically diverse group there who represented outfitters and schools from around the region. The previous weekend was at Rutabaga where a larger group of enthusiastic paddlers attended. There I also got to work with two instructor trainer candidates. Fun was had at both workshops. Of course, had to try out chariot races as seen below.

Click on the photos to see a larger view. Note there are leaves on the trees, a rarity this time of year. And the busy season will last until they come off sometime in early to mid october.


Where the Wind Blows…

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

A somewhat daunting title for a book about weather in the area I am about to go paddling!  Atlantic Canada is known for it’s “fickle” weather (I am quoting from the back cover of the book) and this book offers insights into local weather conditions we may encounter on our journey along the south coast of Newfoundland.  It also provides an excellent overview of marine weather, in general.  Great illustrations, clear and easy to understand descriptions (OK, there are still plenty I don’t understand about marine weather…though I imagine meteorologists will also say they are still learning.)

But, it’s been a great book to read in prep for our trip this summer!  I purchased it from

“Whatever the weather, it is my weather and I must do my best to enjoy it.”  Tori McClure, A Pearl in the Storm (book about rowing across the Atlantic)


Surf City

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Marquette is a small city – but sometimes has Big Surf!  I was out in the small stuff with Sam a couple days ago.  Sam was out in the big stuff yesterday.  We were playing with pictures and video cams both days.  Too much fun.

Check out my new helmet!

I tested out my new helmet, from Shred Ready (though, I don’t really feel ready to get shredded).  Very well constructed, super comfortable and easy to size.  Sam needed to put on his sunglasses – said it was a little bright.  I figure I want to be visible… especially if other surfers are out there – on boards or boats.  Or, in the unfortunate event the coast guard ever comes searching.  But, I don’t expect that to happen – just want to be prepared if it does.  I didn’t test it in the true sense – no head bumps (thankfully).

Got a second helmet – a Super Scrappy.  This is a little smaller – easier to carry on a trip, as in going to Newfoundland, but less coverage, so likely to use the Standard Full Cut helmet most of the time.

Click on the titles of the images below to  link to video of Sam and I!

Surf Jive with Nancy

Middle Bay Mayhem -Sam