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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So this was my first charter. I've always been crew before, this was my first time as skipper. I got a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i.

Lake Superior froze hard this year. As the ice broke up north winds predominated and blew the pack ice against the south shore. I talked to people who've sailed the Apostles for 40 years and they said they've never seen this much ice this late.

Saturday morning I had a very quick check-out. Basically he just said not to hit anything big, and come back to a marina every night. The ice had been drifting around and packing up in random places, so I think they were afraid of someone anchoring in a bay and waking up to find themselves packed in.

The bay right outside the marina was clear, but pretty soon we hit the ice pack. This is what we had to pick our way through:



I alternated between idle and neutral to keep the speed low while a friend stood on the bow and pointed. We zigged and zagged and pretty soon came to more open water.

By the time we got to the cute little town of Bayfield the ice was really clearing up:



Until we ran into this big pack:



Once we were north of there the lake was pretty much open and the wind picked up, so we were finally able to sail. There were still a few oddly shaped bergs floating about:



I had a nice afternoon of low-wind sailing around Basswood Island. Our speed dropped as low as 0.5 knots, but I was in no hurry so as long as I could keep the boat going in the right direction I was happy.


That evening I pulled into Bayfield and made my first ever docking without an instructor looking over my shoulder, and in a boat about 6000lbs heavier than what I was used to. I did OK. Just OK.



Sunday there was no wind at all, the lake was just glassy. We motored out to Presque Isle Bay.

We came across lots more large chunks floating about:





Including these happy fellows:



And then later this large and solid looking berg:


So large and solid I decided to explore. After all, we needed ice for the evening margaritas! I wore a harness PFD and tied the painter of the dinghy to the harness. You know, for safety:



We anchored out for lunch and a hike on shore. It was t-shirt and short pants weather, around 80ºF, but we found snowbanks in the shady areas on Stockton Island. Here's a pic of the boat with an ice patch in the background:



That evening when we got back to Bayfield we found the the pack had migrated right in front of town:



And this straggler found its way into the marina, into my spot:


This is my first charter, so my docking knowledge is mostly theoretical. All the books I've read have covered docking in currents, docking in wind, docking on slips and ends and walls and so on. Not a one of them covered docking when there's a great honking chunk of ice in your parking spot!!!


Monday morning we woke up to the fog horn. It was quite beautiful, but I didn't get any pictures as I was mostly busy making sure we didn't run into anything. The fog was always threatening to get dangerously thick, but thankfully stayed just thick enough to be pretty, but thin enough to see safely. Once we passed the ferry traffic we got the sails up and drifted slowly through the fog and occasional ice pack. I felt like Ernest Shackleton!

We got back to the bay of the charter company, but it was still early, so we just beam reached back and forth and enjoyed the heck out of the afternoon until it was time to come in.

A successful first charter, and a sailing experience of a lifetime!
 

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And this was just last week? Or a few weeks ago?
 

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Old soul
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Great pics Minn, and congrats on the charter. I was musing that we bought our current boat in early May four years ago from La Pointe across from Bayfield. We spent a week sorting things out and then sailed her home around May 20. Not an ice cube to be seen.

We've been ice-free up here on the north shore of Superior for a couple of weeks. Thankfully (for us), all the ice blew south and stayed there.

... What a bizarre start to our season up here on Superior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
And this was just last week? Or a few weeks ago?
Memorial Day weekend for us USAers!

Yes, just this weekend. A few weeks ago the charter company told me they couldn't even get boats out and asked me to re-schedule for June. Then the wind shifted and blew the ice pack out and they started charters up again. I had originally scheduled a 33' boat (the size I'm used to) but they didn't have enough boats in the water so for the same price I ended up with a 39' boat. Awww, shucks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Great pics Minn, and congrats on the charter. I was musing that we bought our current boat in early May four years ago from La Pointe across from Bayfield. We spent a week sorting things out and then sailed her home around May 20. Not an ice cube to be seen.
That sounds nice, did you stay on Madeline Island? It's nice in May, gets a little (lot) crazy later in the year.


We've been ice-free up here on the north shore of Superior for a couple of weeks. Thankfully (for us), all the ice blew south and stayed there.
It's been terrible for the tourism on the south side, but honestly I loved it. What an experience.



Some friends walked down south of Bayfield to the Coast Guard station on Sunday and apparently they had 60' of ice pack blocking them in. Good thing nobody had an emergency! They were practicing cold water body recovery in the ice pack, so I guess they were making the most of it.
 

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Nice, love the pic on the berg. That's a keeper.

I'm not taking any more crap from the Chessy crowd that says our New England season is too short. :)
 

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That sounds nice, did you stay on Madeline Island? It's nice in May, gets a little (lot) crazy later in the year.
Yes, we stayed on Madeline for a week while we got the boat ready. It was great. The town was just waking up from the winter, so no tourist craziness yet. It was great. I'd work on the boat through the day, and then walk over to the pub right beside the yacht club, and hang out with the real locals. Fond memories indeed :).

I love that whole Bayfield peninsula, especially by motorcycle. The towns are interesting and fun, and the terrain is beautiful. Funny, but I'm not a great fan of sailing the Apostles. No offence intended, but I find it kinda boring. I do love the area though, especially outside of tourist season.

Some friends walked down south of Bayfield to the Coast Guard station on Sunday and apparently they had 60' of ice pack blocking them in. Good thing nobody had an emergency! They were practicing cold water body recovery in the ice pack, so I guess they were making the most of it.
Good thing you didn't have a Titanic moment Minnesail ;). Our CG folks have a SAR hovercraft that they can use over the ice. I watched them practice once. It was quite the thing to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yes, we stayed on Madeline for a week while we got the boat ready. It was great. The town was just waking up from the winter, so no tourist craziness yet. It was great. I'd work on the boat through the day, and then walk over to the pub right beside the yacht club, and hang out with the real locals. Fond memories indeed :).
That sounds great, Madeline Island is wonderful and calming in May and September. It's a bit crazy in July. The whole November through April thing it's hard to believe people live there.





Funny, but I'm not a great fan of sailing the Apostles. No offence intended, but I find it kinda boring.
I haven't gotten bored yet! I've been on half a dozen trips and am finding new stuff every time.

There must be something to the area. I noticed two cars from Mississippi in the owner parking area. Mississippi is on saltwater, but apparently they'd rather drive 1000 miles north to sail on a lake :)
 

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VERY nice! Once in a lifetime type of event - walking around on an iceburg.
 

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great pic's ! i haven't walked on an iceberg since 1985, when i sailed up the west coast of greenland !
 
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I felt like Ernest Shackleton!
Or Captain Edward J. Smith! :D

Great pictures and video. How cool to sail amongst all the bergy bits. Agreed as well on not having ever read about how to dock with a berg in the way.... just goes to show that book knowledge is an important start, but once you get out there, you're still sometimes going to have to make it up as you go along.

MedSailor
 

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WOW... I was on the back side of Madline Island Friday (actually North side of Long Island) and glad I didn't run across any bergs while anchored out Friday night...

Looks like the predictions of Ice on Lake Superior in June came true...
 
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