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Thread: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

  1. #1
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    Default A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Didn't get much sailing in this summer, but LAST summer (having just completed an overseas teaching contract) I snuck off for a long trip into Ontario with my brother's Phoenix III, designed by Ross Lillistone. With a lot of time available, I figured I could pre-extend my planned Georgian Bay cruise (A Phoenix III in Georgian Bay) with a side trip to Lake Nipigon, a large lake (60 miles x 40 miles or so) just north of Lake Superior.

    An article about my Lake Nipigon cruise was published in the Feb 2015 digital issue of Small Boats Monthly and, with their kind permission, I'm posting a thread about the trip now in case anyone's interested.

    Here's an overview of the lake to orient those not familiar with the area:



    My Google Earth exploration showed lots of islands, fairly remote, and very little development--just my kind of cruising ground (I hoped). The northern edge of the lake was just above 50 degrees of latitude, which would make this the farthest north I'd ever sailed (translation: I packed a head net and planned to use it).

    I turned off the main highway just west of the town of Nipigon, and headed in to the south end of the lake where my map showed a couple of boat ramps (I purchased the map at Chaltrek in Thunder Bay, a shop that sells a strange mix of paddling gear, mining supplies, and prospecting equipment--but it was about the only map of the lake I could find anywhere; there are no official charts except a few to detail small harbors).

    Forty miles or so of secondary roads:



    and I was at the south end of the lake. The first ramp near dam didn't allow camping, so I drove 10 miles farther to the South Bay boat ramp to launch:



    (A busy place, Lake Nipigon...)

    Edit to add: that land visible across the lake is not the opposite shore; those are only the nearest of many, many uninhabited islands scattered around the lake. It's a big lake, especially in a little boat).

    More to come.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 03:13 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    A sign at the South Bay ramp (a weedy dirt parking lot with a dock and a pit toilet) explained that camping at the ramp was allowed, and that permits for non-residents were $10 per night, and were available "from numerous fish and wildlife licence issuers and from the Ministry of Natural Resources district offices in northern Ontario.” But I was about 90 miles from the nearest town and didn't have the money anyway. Instead, I chose to interpret "camping" as "camping on land," and launched the boat and rigged a tarp over the cockpit to sleep aboard so I could launch the next morning.

    This was a VERY improvised approach to a boat tent, using just an 8' x 10' backpacking tarp, but it worked far better than expected, despite being a bit saggy:



    and wide open at the bow:



    This turned out to be a crucial piece of gear for this trip--I usually camp ashore in a tent, but that would have been impractical to impossible for much of Lake Nipigon. So if you cruise here, be prepared to sleep aboard!

    Even this little improvised tarp gave me good sitting headroom and kept me dry in heavy rains if I stayed on the centerline...

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 03:16 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Tom, Thanks for posting this. I recall the article you wrote, and enjoyed it, but it is nice to be able to share the adventure with a wider audience. Looking forward to more. It sounds like a remarkable place and a very cool trip for boats like this.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    I was hoping you would post on this trip. looking forward to it. I spent a week+ on the lake about 9 years ago.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Quote Originally Posted by John hartmann View Post
    Tom, Thanks for posting this. I recall the article you wrote, and enjoyed it, but it is nice to be able to share the adventure with a wider audience. Looking forward to more. It sounds like a remarkable place and a very cool trip for boats like this.
    Thanks--it is a unique cruising ground for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by gilberj View Post
    I was hoping you would post on this trip. looking forward to it. I spent a week+ on the lake about 9 years ago.
    Yep--and your comments on your Nipigon venture helped inspire this trip, so thanks for that. Now, on with the trip!

    The first day started out with a fog so thick you couldn't see the lake from the dock. It gradually burned away, and around 11:00 a.m., just after a fishing boat launched, I set out. Winds were southerly, which fit my plan to sail generally northward across the lake very well. I headed out into the fog on a series of compass headings that, in theory, would take me around the southern tip of some islands and to a narrow passage beneath a tall bluff called Otter Head. I must have done something right, because eventually, there it was:



    A little spooky being out there in the fog, but I liked it. And the fog gradually cleared:



    so I kept on sailing northwest, paralleling a long rocky peninsula. The winds picked up in the afternoon--still southerly--so I pulled in behind another tall bluff and put in a double reef, then re-hoisted the sail. And the wind died. Waited a few minutes, then unreefed. And the wind kicked up fierce. Put in a single reef this time and kept sailing--could have used a double reef after a while. Nowhere to land or anchor that looked decent, so I headed up to the end of the peninsula, where the map showed an almost completely landlocked bay called Charlie's Harbor.

    Here's the route from day one, about 25-26 miles of sailing (fast sailing, on a broad reach to a run all day--left around 11:30 and was anchoring by late afternoon):

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 03:21 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Dropped the sail and rowed through the narrow entrance to Charlie's Harbor, glad to find shelter after a long stretch at the tiller with the winds still building. My Chaltrek map showed a bunch of official campsites scattered around the lake on various islands, and one of them was supposed to be here, right at the entrance. I landed to check it out:



    But the water was high this year, and the beach was almost submerged. And the forest beyond the beach was a tangled mass of fallen timber and blowdowns--looked like a big fire had gone through the entire peninsula some years back. Nowhere to go ashore and camp--no permit, anyway, so I rowed around the landlocked bay looking for other options--finally anchored in a reed bed on the windward side and slept aboard:



    Luckily it was windy all night, so no mosquitoes. A great day of sailing, with some interesting dead reckoning in fog, and windy enough to be a bit nervy. And very, very remote--I saw one empty cottage early in the day on an island just off the mainland, and nothing else. No boats, no people, nothing at all but the lake and the islands and me in my (well, my brother's) little boat. Pretty cool.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 03:23 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Woke early the next day (one thing I love about sleeping aboard) and got underway in a flat calm, a nice change of pace from yesterday's boisterous winds. My goal for day two was to make the jump northward to the next set of islands, about a 10-mile open water crossing--on a windless day like this, it'd be the "oar" side of "sail and oar."



    But after a couple of hours, a light southerly breeze came in and I hoisted the sail and kept on going (slower than rowing, but who's in a hurry?):



    The islands got slowly closer and closer. Finally I got there, after about 16 miles--4 or 5 rowing, and the rest sailing. Here's the route:



    Again, the shoreline was densely wooded and rocky everywhere I looked, making landing almost impossible. There was a campsite marked on the map on nearby Dawson Island, though, so I ghosted around, slowly working my way there, thinking it'd be nice to at least set foot ashore. But this time, there was a beach! And a (somewhat) cleared campsite at the edge of the water, enough room to set up a tent, at least:



    I wandered around a bit, but the forest was so thick that it was difficult (and not all that pleasant) to get anywhere. Felt like a real wilderness (inconvenient and uncomfortable, with no concession to human interests) rarely visited by people. Spent the evening sailing around Dawson Island's little bay and the neighboring islands:



    then set up a tent ashore to camp. Sunset--MOSQUITOES! Bazillions of them, everywhere, buzzing so loudly that it was like sleeping under a high-voltage power line. I was glad to have the tent...

    Day three rained all day, making me even MORE glad to have the tent. Stayed ashore and read books, then went out for a brief sail in the evening when it cleared. Anchored the boat for a while, hastily put up the tent when it rained some more, then partly rolled up the tent when it cleared again:



    Finally gave up and retreated again to the tent for the rest of the night.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 07:48 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Day four came with clear skies and another light southerly breeze, so I set out northwards again--nice and relaxed sailing on a broad reach, past a group of islands marked on my map as "The Rabbits":



    I was roughly halfway to the lake's northern edge by now, and thinking that soon I'd be at the much-anticipated 50 degrees north latitude--not that it mattered all that much. Again, shorelines were densely wooded and inhospitable to landing:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 07:52 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    The wind had started light, but slowly picked up for some nice sailing--easy to make lots of northward progress:



    Finally sailed into a nice sheltered bay on the west side of Logan Island, way up near Windigo Bay at the north end of the lake. Again, nowhere to go ashore, so I just anchored and set up the tent:



    and enjoyed a quiet night--again:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-06-2017 at 07:55 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Here's the route from day 4--about 22 miles:



    I wasn't sure of my plans from here--frankly, I think it may be stretching it to call what I do on these trips "planning"--but traveling solo, that doesn't matter; you're free to make decisions on a whim. Four days and I hadn't seen a single person or boat or building or road since that lone empty cottage on day one. For now, I just kicked back to enjoy another night at anchor:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:14 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Day 5 brought a northerly breeze--the first northerly of the trip. And just like that, I abandoned my vague notions of sailing up into the very farthest northern reaches of the lake, pulled up the anchor, and hoisted the sail--heading south:



    Swept past some islands marked as caribou calving grounds on my map--access restricted seasonally, but they were open now. I thought about landing to stretch my legs again, but decided to just keep moving instead. Up ahead there was another island group clustered around Murchison Island, one of the bigger islands on the lake.

    Hard to believe caribou are good enough swimmers to routinely come out this far to their calving grounds, but I guess they are.

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:15 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Be back with more later--happy sailing, everyone.

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Thanks for posting about your trip,Tom. I am looking forward to more.

    Kevin
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Looks like paradise, thanks for the view of it.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Thanks for the write-up.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Thanks, everyone--on with day 5. I kept sailing southward, not sure where I'd end up. I worked my way through a series of smaller islands before getting in close and running down Murchison Island's west side. And there--I wasn't sure--but I thought I saw a glimmer on the shore that might be a beach. A beach! And a way to get ashore (which I hadn't been able to do since leaving Dawson Island two days ago):



    I'd only come 10 miles, but I didn't hesitate--went right in to shore to check it out. It was, indeed, a beach; I anchored the boat just offshore to poke around for a little while:



    but let sloth and inertia have their way, evolving "a little while" into "overnight" and emptied the boat and rolled it up out of the waves on a couple of plastic fenders. I don't think I'd want to move a heavier boat than the Phoenix III by myself, but I got it up without too much trouble and set up a camp. The beach was pretty narrow, but what the heck--no tides to worry about, after all. I figured it'd be ok.


    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:18 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    The next step was to do a bit of exploring--possible here because the forest was a bit more open, and threaded with copious moose trails. Mooses, apparently, also like the beach, as I discovered when I found fresh tracks between my tent and the water the next morning. I wandered around through the forest following the trails, wondering how in the world moose ever managed to fit their antlers between the closely-spaced trees:



    Obviously they did, though, since I was following their trails. An eerie place, Nipigon--no trails, no compromise for human access, just pure inconvenient thickly overgrown forest. And I still hadn't seen a single person or boat since launching five days ago. As far as I could tell, I was the only human around for hundreds of miles. A bit spooky, really. I hadn't felt this remote, maybe, on any of my other trips, whether sailing or climbing or hiking. There was just NO. ONE. AROUND. A pretty rare experience to have these days. And probably what sets Nipigon apart from the other cruising I'd done--sheltered enough to not be particularly dangerous, but remote, remote, remote. Cool.

    About the only company I had was the loons, and the mosquitoes...



    Here's the route from day 5, a short 10 miles of downwind sailing:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:21 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Day six started, again, with a pleasant southerly breeze that kept me moving down the west side of Murchison Island, albeit in a slow and inefficient series of tacks that ended up being much slower than rowing:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-03-2015 at 10:52 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    This trip was turning out to involve LOTS of time aboard, just sailing, and very little time ashore exploring compared to my usual cruising style. Luckily, it seems I never get tired of being aboard a small boat. But I did experiment with some ways to stretch and move around underway:

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    The day dragged on, and my destination--Harbor Island, I decided (just from the name, I knew it would be good)--wasn't getting closer any too quickly. Not only was the wind stubbornly holding from the south, making it a dead beat to windward, but the winds were light. And lighter. And then I was rowing. And then sailing again, pointlessly--except that at least I wasn't rowing. And slowly, so slowly, Harbor Island and its near neighbor, Bison Island (which, in profile, looks pretty much like a two-mile-long bison swimming slowly southwest across the lake), came closer, until finally there were no islands left between us and it was only a couple of miles of open water to cross.

    At which point, the winds picked up in full force, still southerly, and strong enough that a reef wouldn't have been out of the question. But I kept on, hoping the longer leading edge of the unreefed sail would help me make windward progress. Closer. Windier. Closer. Windier. Finally it was too windy to make any kind of windward progress at all. And by the way, the sun had set an hour or two ago, getting darker. And windier yet. So, plan B.

    Dawson Island was off to the northwest, a much friendlier heading in these conditions. So I gave up on Harbor Island (whose harbor opened to the south, anyway, which wouldn't have given much protection) and turned downwind to run down to Dawson Island again. I made sure to get a bearing with my hand compass because I knew it'd be dark before I got there...



    Here's the route from day 6, my failed attempt to get to Harbor Island--probably a 30-mile day:


    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:22 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    The run was a bit scary--too dark to see much, and then all at once a cold (cold!) wave would break into the cockpit, and a big fetch (30 miles?) and dark--but the boat handled it fine (have I said already what a great cruising boat Ross Lillistone's Phoenix III is?). And then suddenly there was the sound of breaking waves just ahead--like, just a few yards ahead (it was a dark night). So I jumped up to drop the rig, at which point the wind just stopped. I was about ten yards off the southern tip of Dawson Island, and rowed around the corner and back into the sheltered bay where I had spent the second night. It was well after midnight when I dropped an anchor, set up the boat tent, and crawled into my sleeping bag.

    Day 7, I woke up to an all-day rain:



    and spent almost the whole day curled up under the improvised (but oh-so-appreciated!) boat tent, reading a bunch of Thoreau.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:31 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Day 8. The next step in my vague non-plan for this cruise was to make the big hop south to Shakespeare Island, an open-water crossing of maybe 15 miles from Dawson. I got up early (again, sleeping aboard makes that easy) and rowed out of the anchorage to find a strong northerly blowing. Perfect!

    Or maybe not quite. I suspected the wind would get stronger, and it was already strong enough that I hoisted the sail with a reef in:



    Shakespeare Island is (barely) visible in the photo--the tall bluff of Kings Head on its northeastern tip is right of center, off the starboard bow. I knew all I had to do was sail a run down to the bluff and turn behind it, and I'd be in the lee and out of the worst of it.

    So, a strong northerly, getting stronger--if I was going, I should go now and get it over with before conditions got out of hand. It could be a bit dicey, but I decided to give it a shot. There was a small cluster of islands about halfway across where I should be able to tuck into shelter if things got too bad.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:32 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    I have always wanted to do a trip like this. Impressive. I have done bike tours this way but never sail.
    Re-naming straits as necessary.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Quote Originally Posted by davebrown View Post
    I have always wanted to do a trip like this. Impressive. I have done bike tours this way but never sail.
    Never too late to hoist a sail and get underway! Really, it's a cheap way to see the world once you have a decent boat--time is the main requirement.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Here's the route to Shakespeare Island, about 15 miles until I'd be able to turn the corner at the Kings Head bluff and get into the lee of the island and out of the wind and waves:



    It started off fine--a fast broad reach to a run. Very fast. The waves kept building, but the Phoenix III just kept right on sailing along. Me, though--I was getting a bit nervous. Still, the boat showed absolutely no tendency to broach as the waves got bigger and bigger. About three-quarters of the way across, it was bad enough that I wouldn't have set out had I known it would be that bad. But the boat just kept flying along, doing everything it was supposed to be doing, even as the tops of the waves behind me climbed higher and higher above my head.

    It's always easy to over-estimate the size of waves from the cockpit of a small boat, but these looked like about the biggest I've sailed in--maybe, by the end of the hop, about 6 feet from trough to crest? They were well over my head where I was seated at the tiller, and occasionally the crests would break into the cockpit. More than a bit scary... Still, we were on a good heading to take the waves, and the boat held its course perfectly, with no heavy loads on the rudder or tiller. A great boat, that Phoenix III--I think anything I'd be brave enough to try in a boat, I'd try in this one. And I knew from some pretty extensive capsize testing that I'd be able to recover if I had to.

    Finally, though, I turned the corner, staying well off the headland to avoid breaking waves, and sailed out of the waves. Still windy--one reason I like balance lug rigs is that even in these conditions, the gybe over to starboard tack after turning the corner was simple and gentle--and I kept on down the east side of Shakespeare Island, looking for a place to get out of the wind and take a break. It had been, for me, a nervy crossing. Nothing the boat couldn't handle, but for sure being out there all alone made it feel a bit dicier.

    After a while I found a quiet, cliff-sheltered inlet where a small river ran into the lake from the interior of the island, and I pulled in close to the rocks and anchored out of the wind:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:29 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    This trip was turning out to involve LOTS of time aboard, just sailing, and very little time ashore exploring compared to my usual cruising style. Luckily, it seems I never get tired of being aboard a small boat. But I did experiment with some ways to stretch and move around underway:
    Sailing a small boat while standing up makes me feel like a boss, especially if I'm running down wind with a little surfing.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Quote Originally Posted by cracked lid View Post
    Sailing a small boat while standing up makes me feel like a boss, especially if I'm running down wind with a little surfing.
    Yep, I liked the standing-up sailing--a great way to stretch and move a bit, too. Not sure I'd be brave enough to do it while surfing...

    Anyway, after my lunch break tucked out of the wind, I decided to explore a little way up the river into the interior of Shakespeare Island. (Shakespeare Island seems to be well-known among boaters at the South Bay ramp; the one fishing boat that launched before I did asked where I was going.

    "Probably up to Windigo Bay," I said (that's the far northwest corner of the lake according to my Lake Nipigon map, about 60 miles as the crow flies from South Bay ramp).

    "Is that around Shakespeare Island?" they asked, in a kind of disbelieving tone of voice that anyone would dare to go so far (the southern tip of Shakespeare Island is about 15 miles from the South Bay ramp; I think most fishermen on Nipigon don't tend to go very far afield...)

    Anyway, the trip up the tiny river was fun--sheltered from the waves, but the wind pouring down strong enough to make it a real pull to row upriver to explore:



    This is one of my favorite parts about boats like this--the ability to get into tiny narrow channels and sneak through the thin ribbons of undeveloped land hidden away along just about every river and creek you find. I kept on upstream until the river got too narrow to take my oars, and turned around just below the lake/pond that was the river's source. The ride back downstream was fun:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:28 PM.
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    From Shakespeare Island I continued on south and east among a scattering of islands. With Shakespeare Island to windward, it was a nice calm sheltered passage down through here--just what I needed after the long open water crossing earlier. And as evening came on, the winds tamed down even more. Even so, I just left the sail reefed and kept on easing along, heading for what looked like a pretty good little sheltered bay on the map:

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    And sure enough, there it was, a little bay open to the south, but sheltered by a cluster of rocky wooded islands--a perfect place to spend what would probably be my last night on Nipigon this trip. The South Bay ramp was about 16 or 17 miles farther south from here, and nothing much in between.

    Here's the route from day 8:



    There was (allegedly) an official crown land campsite on a nearby island, but by this time I had grown to really really like sleeping aboard instead. I didn't even bother looking for it:



    Just kicked back and listened to some loons calling back and forth. Sat up for a long time that night watching the stars and enjoying the solitude. A great trip; Nipigon had definitely lived up to expectations. I hadn't had much idea what to expect, but found it was about perfect for a sail-and-oar trip, as long as you don't mind sleeping aboard and having loooooong days sailing with not much time on land.



    A couple of corrections on the video: this anchorage is east of Shakespeare Island, not west; and it's about 16 or 17 miles back to the ramp from here.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:37 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  30. #30
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Day 9--again, got moving early with a nice-ish northerly pushing me back toward the ramp, my car, and my waiting trip to Georgian Bay. Sailed out, knowing I had about 15 miles to go. As I got to the northern edge of South Bay (which is about as far as most fishing boats get from what I've seen), the winds were really starting to pick up. Tied in a reef and kept on going.

    I had made sure to get a good look at the entrance to the South Bay ramp--I had rowed out into the lake the night before setting out, so I saw it without the fog--and knew there was a white daymark to steer for, or it would have been almost impossible to find in the endless forests. It got really windy and pretty boisterous, but nothing like the run to Shakespeare Island. Felt pretty casual, actually. Sailed up into the tiny harbor at the ramp, which was open to the northerly wind, and saw the dock was busy with outboard-powered fishing boats pulling out of the water--too bumpy for them. So I dropped the sail at the mouth of the harbor and rowed around all the waiting boats to land on a tiny beach. Then I walked up, drove the car down, and started unloading gear from the boat.

    A few loads into the process, a couple of fishermen walked down to the dock to look at the lake, which was really getting pretty wavy--too wavy to even pull boats out on the ramp.

    "Is that your little boat?" one of them asked me, eyeing the Phoenix III nestled in between all the aluminum fishing boats waiting for their turn at the dock.

    "My brother's boat," I said.

    "Well, you don't want to go out on a day like this," he told me sternly, thinking I was loading gear instead of unloading it. "No one launches from here in a north wind."

    "Yep, it's pretty windy," I said. "I wasn't planning on going out." I didn't bother mentioning that I'd already sailed 16 or 17 miles that day...

    A fun trip--loaded up the boat that evening when the wind died down, then drove on around the east side of Lake Superior, on to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, where I went on THIS TRIP a few days later. A great summer--was in Ontario about 40 days, and aboard the Phoenix III for more than 30 days. You could go a loooooong way in a boat like that...

    That's about it, I guess--here's a final look at the entire 9-day, 140-mile trip:



    I'd say, not as user-friendly as the North Channel or Georgian Bay, but a much more remote feel. Definitely worth a trip up there if you're looking for somewhere to get away from the crowds and do a lot of sailing. Perfect for small boats with skippers who are ready to be out there with no one else.

    Happy sailing! (And where are all the other cool cruising threads? Seems like there's not enough of them--you people must be too busy building boats. Don't forget why you build 'em).

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-26-2017 at 12:39 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  31. #31
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Great reports Tom.....so have you ever put P-iii over.....if so, how careless or unlucky does one have to be to do so?
    And how much did you have to deploy the head net?????

    Best, David
    Live and let live

  32. #32
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Quote Originally Posted by David Geiss View Post
    Great reports Tom.....so have you ever put P-iii over.....if so, how careless or unlucky does one have to be to do so?
    And how much did you have to deploy the head net?????

    Best, David
    Good questions--

    I did some pretty extensive capsize testing of the Phoenix III with my brother back when I reviewed it for WoodenBoat's annual Small Boats issue a few years ago. We went out in pretty windy/gusty conditions (20 kts+), though it was a small lake so not much in the way of waves. Still, it was almost impossible for us to get it to go over--in the end it took both of us (400 pounds+) leaning as far to leeward as we could, and holding that position for a long time (5-6 seconds?). It really doesn't want to go over--it fights hard to round up instead, and gives the helmsman lots of time to react. I talked to the designer about how impressed I was by these handling characteristics, and he said it was a careful and conscious manipulation of rocker and hull shape during the design process to get it to act like that. But while big waves can capsize any unballasted dinghy, I think you'd have to be very very unlucky, or perhaps more than ordinarily incompetent, to capsize this boat by accident without big waves to contend with.

    Recovery was dead simple, too--just a one-hand pull down on the gunwale or centerboard and it rolls right up. The wooden spars of the lug rig keep it from turtling. We also tested what would happen if you pulled the mast and rig out before righting it. In that case, the boat rolled slowly up on its own with no input whatsoever from the crew (no sign of turtling then either). That might be a good way to scoop up an injured sailor, too. Again, all of this would be mucho complicated in big waves, but I haven't seen a boat that's easier to recover. It's fairly easy to climb in over the side, and then exactly 100 scoops with the bailing bucket cleared the water out. Because of the shape of the centerboard case (the forward end is much taller than the aft end), the water level stays well below the top of the centerboard after righting.

    As for the head net, I used it pretty much whenever I was ashore--lots of skeeters. Luckily, though, I was never bothered by them while anchored, even when I was within 50 yards of shore.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-05-2015 at 03:25 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  33. #33
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Another wonderful trip, and trip log.

    I've always wondered about Nipigon. I've flown over it a thousand times, looked down, and thought, "I wonder if that's as wild as it looks?"

    Thanks! And indeed, you should look at Reindeer Lake next.

    Dave

  34. #34
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    How about an Isle Royale circumnavigation? A dream of mine....

  35. #35
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    Default Re: A Phoenix III on Lake Nipigon

    Great trip and write up. Thanks for sharing.

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