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Thread: Boating Micro-Adventures

  1. #71
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Meanwhile, back in the river delta, my narrow passage kept leading on, riddled with stumps and strainers, and plenty of sandbars--but somehow, never quite enough to stop me from maneuvering around each obstacle (often by standing up and paddling with one oar, SUP style--a trick that works really well for constricted waters).

    Oward 2.jpg

    Someone had clearly been through with a saw to keep the route open(ish), which supported my theory that, somehow, I would find a way back to the more frequently traveled waters of the main river channel.
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  2. #72
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Stopped ashore again at a nice sandbar. Starting to realize what a long row it would be if the route dead-ended and I had to turn back...

    sandbar 1.jpg

    Then again, things were starting to open up. I wasn't sure if that was meant to be promising, or if it was more likely to mean a dead-end marshy bay.

    sandbar 2.jpg

    Yep, I like this boat.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-03-2021 at 09:03 AM.
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  3. #73
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Again, it was really interesting to be back here in the delta with no map, and only the vaguest of vague memories of how things fit together.

    map 9.jpg

    I had a choice to make here--either continue up the current wide channel to the northeast, or try to find a way over the sandbars and into the next channel. Thinking it over, I thought I remembered that the boat ramp was on the edge of the delta, which suggested that traversing over to the next channel would take me closer--or that, in fact, the next channel over might even be the main river channel with the ramp.

    I did find a way over--didn't even have to hop out this time--and was left with my final call: turn left, or right? I turned right (downstream).

    A good choice, as it turned out. After another 10-yard "hop out and pull the boat behind me" sandbar stretch, I turned a bend and entered a stretch of water that was clearly the main channel, leaving the twisty delta behind:

    transom.jpg

    At the edge of the channel, just behind the transom, I passed a trio of Amish kayakers in dark clothes and broad-brimmed straw hats--an odd juxtaposition with their garishly colored plastic kayaks. But it did explain the buggies and horses at the ramp.

    And--with one more 10-yard sandbar dragover just off the ramp, my latest micro-adventure was over.

    ramp.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-07-2021 at 09:19 PM.
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  4. #74
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    A very successful outing, enlivened by plenty of low-stakes uncertainty and opportunities for discovery. Four miles, more or less, and an entire afternoon frittered away quite uselessly, an eminently insignificant (yet enjoyable) contribution to a long tradition of searching for--and finding--"adventure" close to home.

    Edit to add: I was, in fact, late for dinner!

    map 10.jpg

    Happy sailing, everyone. If you've got micro-adventures to tell us about, feel free to post 'em here. Now, back to work.

    Cheers,

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-03-2021 at 08:53 AM.
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  5. #75
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Now that's an afternoon well spent. And about those Amish guys, can't someone teach them how to build a wood boat? I know they have the tools.
    -Dave

  6. #76
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Well, this Amish cat will likely never work up the nerve to build a boat.

  7. #77
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Well, this Amish cat will likely never work up the nerve to build a boat.
    Han Solo would disagree...

    Tom
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  8. #78
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    Now that's an afternoon well spent. And about those Amish guys, can't someone teach them how to build a wood boat? I know they have the tools.
    I know very little about anything Amish, although there is a fairly large community in parts of rural Wisconsin. I suspect "Amish" is not nearly as monolithic a category as popular culture assumes. On a strictly hearsay basis, it seems there is some variety in the use of non-approved technology, vs. the ownership of such technology.

    But the thought of a culture that still maintains excellent knowledge and craftsmanship turning to boatbuilding is an interesting one. Amish quilts? Check. Furniture? Check. Boats? Why not? I bet they could build excellent ones, as you say.

    On another note, I really admire cultures like the Amish for one main reason: They are very intentional or purposeful in what technologies they choose to employ, and how to limit their exposure to other technologies that might threaten other aspects of life that they value. It's one of the very few modern examples of a society that has successfully implemented limits to the spread of technology.

    The rest of us? The Internet does wonderful things--I wouldn't enjoy giving it up. But it also does terrible things. And as far as smartphones go, it has potentially transformed every moment of our waking (and non-waking) lives into working hours. And it's a powerfully addictive distraction from being present in the moment. A hand plane or pull saw doesn't impose that kind of threat.

    But the very idea that societies CAN choose to limit their use of technology, as the Amish do? I admire that, and wish the idea were applied far more broadly than it is.

    Tom
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  9. #79
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    OK, time for another one (really really small-scale this time, maybe hardly worth reporting--but I'm kind of keeping a record of my doings on this thread just for myself if for nothing else). But first, a review of the boating year so far:

    Micro-Adventure 1: Trempealeau Mountain overnighter

    Micro-Adventrue 2: outing to the local dam

    Micro-Adventure 3: outing to local Dells Pond

    Micro-Adventure 4: outing to local(ish) lake

    And now, #5: brief evening outing to a tiny local creek near a local boat ramp.

    First, a half mile of rowing through one of the oddly suburban waterfront neighborhoods that tend to take over most shorelines around here, before continuing under a 4-lane divided highway and into a (slightly) less civilized section of the creek:

    Bridge.jpg

    And on through increasingly shallow waters--shallow enough that at least half of the oar blades were still out of water when the lower tips were dragging in the sand--and eventually past a rickety creekside dock on the creek's edge--"waterfront suburbia" giving way to "rural waterfront" as the style of choice on this stretch:

    Dock.jpg
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  10. #80
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Despite the sounds of traffic passing by on the big highway not far away, the creek (as these little waterways so often do) managed to provide that sneaky "creeping long the water's edge to find a hidden world not far away" feel to the day--exactly what I like most about these micro-adventures.

    Creek 1.jpg

    Birds everywhere--a bald eagle launching itself from a tall white pine overhead, a belted kingfisher swooping across the creek, the rattle of some sandhill cranes that I never did see.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-06-2021 at 04:46 PM.
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  11. #81
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Eventually I ground to a halt in 6" of water. Not that it mattered much--ten yards farther down the creek, further progress was blocked by a heap of deadfalls and strainers. Even if the water had been deep enough to continue, I would have been stuck. So, I got out and wandered around a bit.

    boat.jpg

    And that was that. Getting dark, with a definite chill in the air, and threatening rainclouds looming overhead. Time to head back.

    (Which I did--late for dinner again!)

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 05-06-2021 at 04:48 PM.
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  12. #82
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Quite the pictures this time! They're like woodblock prints. Appropriate for a wooden boat forum. I like them.
    Thanks for posting!

    -James

  13. #83
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Quote Originally Posted by pez_leon View Post
    Quite the pictures this time! They're like woodblock prints. Appropriate for a wooden boat forum. I like them.
    Thanks for posting!

    -James
    Thanks--I thought I'd try something a bit different. I wish I could say I drew them. But, nope. They're from a free online "convert photos to drawings" website.

    I think drawings (or things that look like drawings) make a story come to life in a different way than photos do. Kind of reminds me of the illustrations in so many of the books I read as a kid.

    Tom
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  14. #84
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Yes, nice presentation. It most definitely took me back to books I read as a kid -- any they were old books even then. Your description matches what we see in many of the club kayak trips we do in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. What's always fascinating is finding out what lies unknown to most people in the wetlands just beyond the highways and commercial lots.
    -Dave

  15. #85
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Have you read Robert Sullivan's book "Meadowlands"? It's all about that kind of exploration of the tiny unclaimed spaces in and around urban areas. From Goodreads:

    Imagine a grunge nort Jersey version of John McPhee's classic The Pine Barrens and you'll get some idea of the idiosyncratic, fact-filled, and highly original work that is Robert Sullivan's The Meadowlands. Just five miles west of New York City, this vilified, half-developed, half-untamed, much dumped-on, and sometimes odiferous tract of swampland is home to rare birds and missing bodies, tranquil marshes and a major sports arena, burning garbage dumps and corporate headquarters, the remains of the original Penn Station--and maybe, just ,maybe, of the late Jimmy Hoffa. Robert Sullivan proves himself to be this fragile yet amazingly resilient region's perfect expolorer, historian, archaeologist, and comic bard.
    He's a good writer.

    Tom
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  16. #86
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    I have not read Meadowlands. I'll put it on my list! Thanks.
    -Dave

  17. #87
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    B59AB625-9A52-49EB-B2C1-35FDB868437B.jpg

    9BA4201E-B4BA-4620-B955-53E2FB55A291.jpg

    How micro? This was our latest puddle cruise. We get this bad boy in the driveway pretty much any time it rains.

  18. #88
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    That takes me WAY back to spring sailing in the flooded swampy woods behind our house, and the muddy ponds in the fields. Hard to beat that for micro!

    Tom
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  19. #89
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Advanced Pooh Sticks, really.

  20. #90
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Advanced Pooh Sticks, really.
    Funny you mention that. Just this morning, I woke up thinking of this exchange:

    “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

    "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

    "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

    Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

    Real wisdom there. I used to think it was funny because Pooh was wrong. Now I think it's funny because I understand just how right he was.

    Tom
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  21. #91
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    I have never wanted to be anyone other than Pooh Bear. It dawns on me that I have been semi successful. I sing to myself all the time, extemporaneously, and I am not very ambitious and have very Little Brain.

    I DO love impromptu boating adventures with friends, too.

  22. #92
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Got out yesterday for a quick row on a nearby estuary. Starts as a muddy ditch in a pasture:



    Ends six miles later with the grandeur of an otherwise inaccessible beach on the Pacific. We didn't make it to the sea but instead : mucked around a bit, got tired of rowing upwind, had a delightful lunch and coffee under the bay trees:

    Last edited by pez_leon; 05-11-2021 at 05:47 PM. Reason: Picture link

  23. #93
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Then sailed home under "bare poles" - me, standing on the floorboards, making the occasional lazy swipe of an oar to steer.


  24. #94
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Looks like a perfect outing, there. Always nice to have some wind-aided propulsion on the way home!

    As for me, Micro-Adventure #6 finally involved a bit of sailing:

    Lake Menomin.jpg

    After trying repeatedly (and failing) to find a boat ramp (a ramp clearly shown on my detailed state-map gazeteer) near an intricate multi-channel island-y stretch of river (a later review of Google Earth showed that there is, in fact, no ramp on that stretch of the river), I spent an afternoon on a not-too-exciting local lake, sailing in fitful shifty breezes (and finally rowing back to the ramp). A sunny day, not too hot. Kind of pointless, really. But there was another guy out on his Montgomery 17, so I'm not the only one.

    It was a pretty nice day to convince myself I still remember how to rig up my boat, and how to launch without forgetting anything I need to do. And to get some sun, and outdoor time. I call it a good day.

    Tom
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  25. #95
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    A bump to this thread, because why not? This summer has been a hazy state of ill-defined possible opportunities for getting on the water--opportunities that all too often have faded away just as the moment arrived, with other aspects of life interfering and (especially) with COVID-19 keeping the Canadian border closed and my usual cruising grounds out of reach.

    I did manage an overnight trip to the Gile Flowage, which you can read about in the July issue of Small Boats. I had another week-long venture planned to a region of the Great Lakes that were my first keelboat cruising grounds back in the late 90s, but life intervened and that didn't happen. Yet. (Maybe in September...)

    But then last week I got away again for a couple of nights to my closest usual getaway option, the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage in northern Wisconsin. Just me and the boat, and a camp chair. Not much of a story, but maybe worth a few photos.

    I think it's about 14,000 acres, with around 200 islands and 60 campsites (no fee, no reservation, accessible only by water). The boat landing I used is circled in yellow on the map.

    map 1.jpg
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  26. #96
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Not quite 2 miles to a nice campsite I've used before--it was empty and waiting. Set up the tent, left some bags on shore so people would know the site was taken, and continued on for another mile or so to check in on some islands and campsites I hadn't used since around 2008-2009, when I first started sailing here.

    day 0.jpg

    Light-ish SW winds, but I was running and broad reaching mostly northward, so kept moving OK. Landed at a couple of campsites tucked away in a backwater in the northern central part of the flowage--nice and hidden away, so probably not too popular or crowded.

    map 2.jpg

    day 1.0.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-30-2021 at 09:22 PM.
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  27. #97
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    A nice evening sail back to camp, to windward, with the wind picking up nicely (a cold front arrived just as I got back to camp--perfect timing to miss out on the blustery winds).

    day 1.1.jpg

    A night full of rain and thunder.

    Tom
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  28. #98
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Day 2. Delightfully unencumbered by plans, expectations, or schedules of any kind, I figured I'd pack up camp and head back to the northern campsite I had landed at the evening before. I was awake before 6 a.m., and sailing before 7 (early waking is one thing I love about sleeping outdoors). Last night's storms had cleared away, leaving (again) gentle sailing breezes that were sufficient to keep me moving well downwind.

    Forgot to say--on my sail back to camp in the evening, I snuck through some shallow bits to have a visit with some geese:

    day 1.3.jpg

    They were a bit standoffish, and I bumped the rudder and board a few times, but I made it through.

    All deep water this morning, with a nice landing at the new campsite I'd decided to move into.

    map 3.jpg

    Set up my tent, unloaded my gear, and explored the island a bit.

    day 2.0.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-30-2021 at 09:50 PM.
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  29. #99
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Still a nice light(ish) SW breeze. Hmm... Seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore the far northern reaches of the flowage, something I had somehow never managed to do in 12 years of sailing and camping here. So, I set out from my new camp and headed up the dam-widened channel of the Turtle River:

    map 4.jpg

    Entry to the Turtle River involved ducking under a by-now familiar low bridge. I've always turned downstream after the bridge passage, but today I headed upstream with the wind behind me. Just a few moments to drop the sail and mast and glide under. Then a stop at the beach to re-step the mast and hoist the sail, and I was off again.

    day 2.1.jpg

    About 6 miles of mostly running downwind. A little bit more developed along the river, with cottages and docks--not the same wilderness feel of the rest of the flowage. Still nice enough. Lots of Common Loons out and about, and echoes of their various vocalizations and calls everywhere. Probably my favorite sound.

    day 2.2.jpg

    Eventually I ran out of navigable river, where there's a small county park at a small waterfall:

    day 2.3.jpg
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  30. #100
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    The nice thing about exploring small rivers and creeks is, if there's a breeze, there's a good chance you'll have the wind right behind you on one leg. Here's a brief clip from the last narrow bit of the Turtle River, about 3/4 of a mile below the falls:



    I like this kind of sailing a lot. Low stress, not real much that can go drastically wrong. And lots of wildlife: minks, herons, eagles, beavers are typical around here, and they often don't pay much attention to a boat ghosting silently by.
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  31. #101
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    I beached the boat beside a small boat ramp, then spent an hour exploring the park and having some lunch.

    day 2.4.jpg

    Some interesting history here, tied to the fur trade going back as far as the first Europeans and well behind. These little rivers were major transportation corridors for indigenous peoples, way before the dams were built:

    day 2.5.jpg

    Earlier this spring, the Giles Flowage trip I wrote about for Small Boats had introduced me to some of this history and these old trade routes. Now I was just a little further south along the same route. (Gile Flowage is marked on the map on the sign--hard to see in the photo, but it lies just north of here).
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-31-2021 at 10:54 AM.
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  32. #102
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Then it was time to head back south--and this is where having a rowing-optimized cruising boat is really nice. I figure my Alaska is about a 60/40 split as far as rowing/sailing ability goes. It's always perfectly pleasant, and usually also the most efficient method, to row directly to windward. So, I did.

    I figured I'd make a rowing detour into the Little Turtle River to the east. I headed that way, rowing about a mile mostly to windward:

    map 5.jpg

    Only to find that the causeway supporting the road into the flowage had no bridge--not even a culvert--that I could get through. With my Alaska coming in at 300 lbs or more, I wasn't going to portage into the Little Turtle River. So, back to sailing. Spent a couple of hours beating southward in ever-fiercer winds. No wave action, really, so full sail was fine for a helmsman who was paying attention:

    map 6.jpg

    Inland lake sailing, through narrow channels like this especially, involves interesting wind shifts that always seem to be headers. I've learned to tack immediately as soon as that happens, which lets you always stay on the advantageous tack. Which sure makes for a lot of tacking. Wind getting fiercer, but still low-risk, low-stakes sailing. Good stuff.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-31-2021 at 10:55 AM.
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  33. #103
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    Eventually I came to another arm of the flowage I'd never explored--Trude Lake, which branches off from the Turtle River channel to the east.

    map 7.jpg

    I figured I'd head in there for a look around on my way past. Luckily, this causeway had a bridge:

    day 2.6.jpg

    There were only a couple of islands on the map, but one of them showed a campsite I figured would be worth checking out. The "island" seemed to have become more of a peninsula, almost connected to the northern shore of the lake, so I went around to the south.

    day 2.7.jpg

    Fierce winds now, so I didn't bother to re-step the mast--just kept rowing downwind. The campsite was at the island's southern tip, anyway:

    day 2.8.jpg

    Pretty nice. I spent some time exploring on foot. Found a couple of owl pellets beneath a gnarly old white pine.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-31-2021 at 02:25 PM.
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  34. #104
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    The winds were really pretty fierce now, and I was too lazy to want to row into them, or row with them on the beam, if I didn't have to. I decided to try to sneak through the overgrown northern channel separating the island from shore. It didn't look promising:

    day 2.9.jpg

    But I did, in fact, make it through. The water was plenty deep, but it was tough rowing. I had to paddle SUP style with one oar for part of the trip. Nice and sheltered from the wind, though!

    I made my way back out of Trude Lake, and turned back to camp. Fierce headwinds, so I rowed--I'd had enough of tacking already. Funny to realize that rowing is almost always faster for windward work in this boat, even when you're rowing into some stiff winds. I hugged the margins to stay out of the worst of it, and made slow steady progress.

    At one point I cut a corner to row through a shin-deep field of stumps--a shortcut only possible under oars:

    day 2.91.jpg

    Then pulled into the lee of some islands, and raised the sail (double-reefed) for the rest of the return trip. Double-reefed was about right, with a fierce WSW wind.

    map 8.jpg

    Probably about a 15-16 mile day by the time I got back to camp. Pulled out my egregiously decadent camp chair and read for a while in the shade. Poked around on foot some more. Ate something or other. Just a generally unambitious, no-expectations evening.

    Another night of rain and thunder. Not a problem when you're safe and dry in the tent!
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-31-2021 at 11:21 AM.
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  35. #105
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    Default Re: Boating Micro-Adventures

    The next morning--my last for this trip--was rainy and cool. I actually kind of like that weather as long as I can stay dry--and my spendy splurge for this season had been a set of foul weather bibs I found on the clearance rack at West Marine. Man, are those things the bomb-diggity!

    I spent the morning rowing around the central islands, leaving the camera behind so it would be just me and no distractions. So nice to have bibs to keep me dry no matter how I moved around in the boat. When it stopped raining, I took off my rain jacket and was cool enough with the sleeveless bibs to keep them on and stay dry.

    A great morning touring around in the swampy backwaters and narrow channels that must see very little traffic other than occasional canoes or kayaks. Loons, herons, eagles, and an osprey. A few water rats. Probably my favorite part of the trip, with a very boggy northwoods feel--some floating peat bog islands, lots of low willows that I took to thinking about as "the mangroves of the north woods." Neat neat stuff. The route something like this:

    map 9.jpg

    Landed on the sandy beach for a swim, then hoisted the sail for the return trip down a broad channel exposed to the day's NW wind, which was pretty fierce by now. Hoisted up with a double reef in, and sure didn't feel like I needed any more sail.

    By the time I got to camp--early afternoon--the tent and gear was dry enough to pack and reload. And then, the last leg of the trip back to the boat ramp. Again, fierce fierce winds, but a downwind leg. With a double-reefed sail and the NW wind behind me, I was able to sail right up onto the beach at the boat ramp.

    map 9.1.jpg

    About 5 miles on the morning trip, and another 2 miles back to the ramp. And that was that--a nice low-stakes three-day outing.

    Anyone else been up to anything interesting boat-wise? Trips to share?
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 07-31-2021 at 11:43 AM.
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