I thought I was wrong; when I was actually (nearly) right. I’ll never make that mistake again!
Maggie & I were motoring “Auspicious” along the inside channel, between the Northern Shore of Lake Superior
and the Barrier Islands (from W. Otter Cove to Shaganash Light) . We departed Otter Cove in light fog
, which thickened considerably within the hour.
Though probably under 25 miles, the route
is tricky, with several important waypoints. Though Lake Superior
is mostly deep water
, with steep shorelines; this passage
is a little twisty, closely bordered with lots of rock.
Now, at this time, “Auspicious” was still a pretty ‘bare bones’ boat
- we had a magnetic compass
, and a depth sounder
that worked fairly well in shallow water
. No Knot-Log, Loran
, and GPS
was just a pipedream. We piloted by dead reckoning, with Maggie rock-steady on the helm
(she can hold a strait compass
course for hours, whereas I cannot steer effectively by compass alone), and I doing constant speed/distance calculations (throw a stick overboard
and count seconds for 26 Ft. from stem to stern).
So after several hours, blind except for a couple of shadowy glimpses of nearby Island (Lasher, Swede); I am expecting to come upon “The” (un-named) rock between Swede & Shaganash. The fairly high - steep rock should appear about 50 yards to port, and we’‘ll pass close to maintaining a single
compass heading Shaganash Light (and an ‘easy’ anchorage). A couple hundred yards to the North-West of us (Starboard) lies a terrible nest of rocks (not shown on the linked chartlet). Piece of cake - I’ve continually calculated dozens of E.P.’s, there’s no wind
to introduce leeway, and Maggie unfailingly lays the course I command. Our charts
are FULLY & copiously annotated with headings, distances, & etc. from previous fair-weather transits, and we KNOW this passage
I’m so confident, that I’m counting down the SECONDS until the rock appears 50 yards of our Port Bow!
The rock appears at exactly my predicted time - but off the Starboard beam. OOPS! It appears that I’ve miscalculated our track (by maybe a couple of degrees), and we’re actually 150 yards South of my E.P. Still no problem - just gooseneck slightly back & right to clear the rock, then reestablish our known heading to Shaganash Light.
Now the ‘sounder’ starts telling us unexpected things (here’s an axiom - unexpected things are seldom good things). The bottom is quickly coming up from the expected 40 feet to less than 10 - then 6 (we draw 5.5'). Oops again! Where in hell are we?
We’re ‘somewhere’ in that previously mentioned ‘nest of rocks’. We spent the next 2 ˝ hours, very slowly sounding our way out of this unfamiliar reef. We were very fortunate in that we caught propitious sightings of several (unknown) rocks & islets, and finally a few glimpses of Shaganash Light, which allowed some rough bearing calculations. I couldn’t begin to describe our track through, and eventually out of, this reef strewn hell - it was a blind meander, accomplished through shear dumb luck, as much as any kind of competence (on my part).
So what happened?
Upon unexpectedly sighting “A” rock to Starboard (expecting to see ‘The” rock to Port), I (mistakenly) concluded that I was South of ‘The’ rock - when, in fact, it turns out that we were slightly North of “The” Rock (& South of “Another” Rk.) - but still within our intended Channel. Had we ‘jogged’ left a little (to Port), we’d have repositioned ourselves “on track” and carried on, without incident, to Shaganash.
Why did I assume that we were completely out of the channel, when it was just a likely that we were merely a little off-centre within the channel? I suspect that, in my heart of hearts, I knew that I was being cavalier, arrogant, and supremely overconfident in my dead reckoning. When I proved (very slightly) wrong, I panicked and totally abandoned my previous assumptions! I then compounded my error by totally abandoning my D.R. assumptions, and attempting radical corrective action.
My (over) confidence was not totally unfounded, so I should have assumed the smallest error, and made the smallest (of two) possible corrections. After all, if you cannot have some measure of unshakable self-confidence in what you are doing (whatever it may be), you shouldn’t be doing it.
I thought I was wrong, when I was (nearly) right - I’ll (try to) never make that mistake again!
For "Chartlet" Go to:
Offroute - Map Preview
Lattitude 48 25 56 N
Longitude 88 21 43 W
Then zoom to 10 mi map width - then click "printable:
With (uncharactersitic) humility,