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Thread: North country dinghy cruising resources?

  1. #1
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    Default North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Iíve been cruising the charts on the C-MAP app on my iPad (itís free to just look!), searching for medium-sized puddles in the upper Midwest that could support some beginning sail camping adventures.

    I know of Lake Pepin for sure, and then the upper Great Lakes, but most of Minnesota is a mystery to me. Someone mentioned Lake Vermilion and I looked it up and stumbled around to Rainy Lake which is enormous!

    4AED4EB3-FC8B-4338-899F-754A29143B4B.jpg

    Itís one of the lakes in Voyageurs National Park which I always think of in terms of canoeing, but on the Canadian side the lake goes on forever and ever and looks like very interesting geography, judging from the shape of things on the map.

    Are there people dinghy cruising the north woods? I know of Howard Rice and Jagular and the love that North Channel gets a few hundred miles further East, but Iíd love to hear or read more if there is anyone sailing around Voyageurs NP or the rest of Rainy Lake on into Canada.
    Dreaming of sailing in Iowa, building a Carnell Nutmeg.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Or how about this thing? Lake Nipigon, Ontario, north of Thunder Bay and Lake Superior.

    6B5F750E-8672-4646-826D-DD71D3420F8A.jpg

    How big do you figure the mosquitos are in July when the snow finally melts?
    Dreaming of sailing in Iowa, building a Carnell Nutmeg.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Tom already went there, according to Small Boats: https://smallboatsmonthly.com/article/lake-nipigon/
    Dreaming of sailing in Iowa, building a Carnell Nutmeg.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    And history repeats itself every decade or so here: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...g-Lake-Nipigon
    Dreaming of sailing in Iowa, building a Carnell Nutmeg.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    When the snow finally melts in July, oy vey!. Ontario be very very hot and the black flies don’t bite at all, they’re very friendly and remarkably sing like birds. Leave your guns behind though.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilMB View Post
    Or how about this thing? Lake Nipigon, Ontario, north of Thunder Bay and Lake Superior.

    6B5F750E-8672-4646-826D-DD71D3420F8A.jpg

    How big do you figure the mosquitos are in July when the snow finally melts?
    Nipigon is great if you like remote lonely cruising. I did find the islands so thickly forested that it was very difficult to find places to camp ashore. on MY ONE NIPIGON TRIP so far, I think I slept on land 2 nights, and slept aboard for 7. It just ain't easy to get ashore even just to walk around--no trails, very few concessions to convenience. And water levels were high that year.

    Tom
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilMB View Post
    I’ve been cruising the charts on the C-MAP app on my iPad (it’s free to just look!), searching for medium-sized puddles in the upper Midwest that could support some beginning sail camping adventures.

    I know of Lake Pepin for sure, and then the upper Great Lakes...
    Buckhorn State Park in Wisconsin is another nice easy low-stress destination for a weekend trip or so, maybe a good way to get started in camp cruising.

    Buckhorn overview.jpg

    There are walk-in waterfront campsites on the eastern shore where you can beach your boat, spread way out (not in a regular car-camping campground). There's a nice island to explore just offshore to the east, and the southern tip has marshy channels. You could sail up the west side of the peninsula and explore the wetlands and channels of the Yellow River as well.

    Buckhorn close-up.jpg

    It's not too ambitious as far as cruising goes, but sometimes that's exactly what I want.

    Tom
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Thanks for that suggestion Tom. I’m hoping to do more camp-cruising next summer in WI!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    If you're inclined to head for Nipigon, you might consider Caribou Lake,just northeast of there.
    It provides water access to Wabakimi from near Armstrong Station, and there are likely many well used Crown land campsites.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Neil, what about Fish Lake Reservoir and Island Lake Reservoir in Minnesota, west of Duluth? Maybe not huge but has campsites on a few islands, it appears.

    That’s a bit far for me (6+ hour drive) so I might be tempted to head into the UP near where I grew up - Michigamme has camping on the shore of their lake (reservoir) and I’ve canoed the river farther upstream, years ago. But I also mean to check out some of WI-Tom’s suggestions here in Wisconsin next year.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Quote Originally Posted by MattMKE View Post
    Thanks for that suggestion Tom. I’m hoping to do more camp-cruising next summer in WI!
    Another good one is the Willow Flowage--similar to the Turtle-Flambeau (free island campsites w/pit toilets and tables, no fees, no reservations), but smaller, and a bit farther south and east.

    Willow Flowage overview.jpg

    It's a good size for a weekend trip or a long weekend.

    Willow Flowage close-up.jpg

    My last trip there:

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...ise&highlight=

    I like solitude, but I'd also really enjoy seeing more sail & oar type boats out on these lakes--it really is a perfect way to get in some camp cruising at a small scale.

    Tom
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Rainy lake is terrific, but parts of it are big water, so maybe start out with some campsites close to the public launch. You need to reserve the amazing campsites, which shouldn't be a problem in off-peak weeks, but might be during high season. A group of us were on Rainy Lake in mid-September 2020 and, I repeat, it was fabulous. Drive to International Falls, then back east, to get to the launch.
    Another spot is Turtle Flambeau Flowage, and almost all sites there are first-come first-serve. Sites are very nice, sailing water is good, plenty of coves for exploring, and much of the flowage is sheltered. Again our group was there in September, in 2021, this time right after Labor Day. This is a favorite of WI-Tom, whose writeups are plentiful on this and other sites and in magazines. WI-Tom really likes TF; I found it, um, stumpy. Kept hitting things with my centerboard. But otherwise, there are some nice stretches, and you're certainly out in the north woods. Use the Fisherman's Landing launch ramp. It's good access to good water, has long term parking and is also close to shopping and gas in Mercer.
    My two cents. In general, find WI-Tom's articles and what he says. (BTW, I have a Core Sound 17. Others in our group had a Sea Pearl, a Scamp, an open sailing canoe (TFF) and some sailing kayaks.)

  13. #13
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    Default Re: North country dinghy cruising resources?

    Stumpy is a good way to describe the Turtle-Flambeau after the midsummer drawdown at the reservoir.

    Edit to add: Here's a bit from an article I wrote about a Turtle-Flambeau trip:

    I followed my brother toward the foot of Big Island, dodging through a field of stumps that would have been hidden at higher water. More than once I found myself tacking within inches of a stump I’d seen too late, hoping I wasn’t about to sail right over another that I hadn’t seen at all. Worse still were the occasional angled logs still rooted in the lake bed but barely visible—or not—above the surface. At one point I felt a booming thump on the hull as I sailed right over one of them. All right, at more than one point. Apparently the warning on the Department of Natural Resources’ map I’d picked up at the boat ramp before launching—“The Turtle-Flambeau Flowage has an abundance of stumps, logs, floating driftwood, and rock bars”—wasn’t as irrelevant to a boat with a mere 7” draft as I had assumed, at least not in September.
    If you can get there in May or June, water levels are much higher. Less crowded too.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 09-03-2022 at 03:10 PM.
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