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Old 25-09-2011, 21:37   #1
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Question Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

Hello:

Summer is just over and I am already thinking of the next one.

We are contemplating visiting Sault Ste Marie next summer and thought it might be interesting to go a bit further and dip our keel into Lake Superior. Specifically, we would only go as far as Batchawana Island in White Fish bay which appears to be a 40Nm detour.

Recognizing we will see more Rocks and Trees (or is it Trees and Rocks) of the Great Canadian Shield I wondered if there are points of interest to consider and any comments on this area?

We would be looking for good anchorages, with reasonable access to shore for our dog (IE public land). It looks like there are no services in that area, is that the case? And then there is the fierce Superior reputation to consider. We would likely be traveling in early August so I expect the weather would be similar to what we get in Georgian Bay (dead calm with a chance of gales ). Are there typically many (any) other cruisers in that area? What about freighter traffic?

Oh, also, any Guide book recommendations (I only found http://www.amazon.ca/Bonnie-Dahls-Superior-Way-Cruising/dp/0942235924)?

Thanks.
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Old 01-10-2011, 15:22   #2
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Re: Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

Hi ADMPRTR, we are based in Thunder Bay and have cruised Superior's northern shore quite extensively. If you are looking for solitude, stunning scenery and sometimes challenging sailing, then Superior's north shore is for you. If you desire urban distractions, or are uncomfortable being days or weeks away from assistance (should it be needed), then it should be avoided.

Now, to answer your specific question, I would say White Fish Bay up past Batchawana is really our least favourite section of the east shore. There are a few interesting anchorages (depending on your draft), but for me, the fun really starts once you get further north, up around Sinclair Cove. From here the anchorages become more numerous, and more interesting. The shoreline is stunning, and the cruising traffic is very light. If you can extend your sail I'd highly recommend exploring the shore up to Old Woman Bay. A trip over to Michipocoten Island is always fascinating.

Early to mid-August Weather is pretty much the same as Georgian Bay; mostly light airs with the occasional blowin' like stink day thrown in. Arguably the stormy days might be a bit worse, but most of the time you're working with light winds. The winds do tend to get a bit squirrelly in late August, but then often settle out again for a few weeks in September before turning into the ugly fall weather we all know about from Gordon Lightfoot's musical poetry.

Bonnie Dahl's book is the cruising bible. Members of the Great Lake Cruising Club (The Great Lakes Cruising Club) also have access to very good anchorage info, and the nice thing here is that it is online so can be constantly updated.
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Old 01-10-2011, 17:02   #3
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Re: Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

Though locking through is a kick, there's really not a great deal to see on or around Whitefish Bay. If you want to make a real cruise of it, going North as Mike OReilly says is well worth it...especiallty if you like Wilderness and critters. The biggest challenge you'll find is the capacity of your holding tank. We're in Bayfield, the Apostle Islands, and that is well worth the two/three day cruise west to get there. Taking the Keewanaw channel with a stop in Houghton is an interesting shortcut and the Apostles are about 75 miles west of there. You might want to consider leaving your boat there for a few weeks and traveling back to it. Plenty of slip space available. There's a lot to see. I also recommend Bonnie Dahl's book. Good sailing
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:46   #4
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Re: Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Hi ADMPRTR, we are based in Thunder Bay and have cruised Superior's northern shore quite extensively. If you are looking for solitude, stunning scenery and sometimes challenging sailing, then Superior's north shore is for you. If you desire urban distractions, or are uncomfortable being days or weeks away from assistance (should it be needed), then it should be avoided.
Mike: Thank you very much for your detailed response and the link to the GLCC!

I would like to do the north shore and ultimately visit your locale but that likely won't happen this this year due to time and resources however I will pickup Bonnie Dahl's book as a starting point.

Old Woman Bay and Michipocoten Island looks interesting but it would be a fairly long haul that would push our schedule. And it sounds one would need a fair bit of contingency to make use of weather windows.

Typically, in the past we have enjoyed more of the social scene in a new town but there is also appeal to being the only boat in an anchorage. I have to admit, however that I am a bit timid when it comes to gunk holing. We have a deep draft boat (6'3") so we have to be careful were we go. How reliable are the charts for that area?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
would say White Fish Bay up past Batchawana is really our least favourite section of the east shore.
By least favorite is it just because it is uninteresting? The pictures I have seen indicate a fairly flat terrain and what looks like rocky beaches. Is that representative of what we might find? Is there crown land or cottages?

Regards, Andrew
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:11   #5
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Re: Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

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Originally Posted by sailstoo View Post
Though locking through is a kick, there's really not a great deal to see on or around Whitefish Bay. If you want to make a real cruise of it, going North as Mike OReilly says is well worth it...especiallty if you like Wilderness and critters. The biggest challenge you'll find is the capacity of your holding tank. We're in Bayfield, the Apostle Islands, and that is well worth the two/three day cruise west to get there.
Thank you sailstoo for your comments. The apostle Island look wonderful and definitely worth planning for, although not this year.

I understand there is quite a current at the locks. My electronic chart doesn't indicate it but it looks significant in the photo. Do you know what we can expect?
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Regards, Andrew
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Old 07-10-2011, 14:19   #6
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Re: Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ADMPRTR View Post
Typically, in the past we have enjoyed more of the social scene in a new town but there is also appeal to being the only boat in an anchorage. I have to admit, however that I am a bit timid when it comes to gunk holing. We have a deep draft boat (6'3") so we have to be careful were we go. How reliable are the charts for that area?
The Canadian shore of Lake Superior is very lightly populated. Once you pass through Sault Ste. Marie you won't hit another real town until Wawa. Batchawana Bay does have a very small village area, but not much in the way of land-based socializing. Fellow cruisers -- when you run into them -- will be happy to connect, although most people who travel this area are searching for solitude, so the socializing may be limited.

Your draft is fine Andrew. Our Rafiki 37 draws 6'. This means there are a few places we can't get into, such as up the Michipocoten River or into Maimanse Harbour, but that's always the case no matter how much one draws. The nice thing about Lake Superior is that it's mostly deep water -- until it's not .

The charts are quite good as a rule. There is the occasional unmarked shoal, but mostly they are quite accurate. If you are using a digital chart plotter you will notice that some charts are shifted over by as much as 1/4 mile. It's not uncommon for our chart plotter to show us on land when we get in close (while anchored, for example). As always, your eyes and your ears are your primary navigation tool. That and a good depth sounder will keep you safe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ADMPRTR View Post
By least favorite is it just because it is uninteresting? The pictures I have seen indicate a fairly flat terrain and what looks like rocky beaches. Is that representative of what we might find? Is there crown land or cottages?
I guess it's not really uninteresting ... more like less interesting. It's still very beautiful, but the terrain become much more rugged and (to my eye) beautiful once you get a bit further north. Past Sinclair Cove, and all the way up around the Pukaskwa coast, you'll find ancient mountains, lots of neat little (and not so little) places to tuck in, with sandy beach after sandy beach; and most will be completely deserted.

For those who sail for solitude and a bit of adventure, I really think there are few places that can compete with the eastern and northern shores of Superior. It's a bit of an undiscovered country.
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:54   #7
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Re: Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior - Worth Visiting ?

Thank you Mike for the detailed information. As mentioned, due to scheduling constraints we may not be able to go further than Batchawana Bay but I think it sounds like a worthwhile goal, at least initially. Then in future years we can extend our range a bit further and see the real Superior.
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