We left the protection of the Keweenaw waterway checking the weather for changes. At that time there were severe weather warnings for west of Houghton and as far north as Isle Royale. It was a massive storm but we planned to out run it.
We kept checking in as the sky behind us kept darkening. All going to plan until we hear the report that the storm is now moving a 35 mph. We are traveling at 10 mph.
As we take photos of the storm approaching, we now hear warnings for our position. We can get more speed with the sails up but know there is no chance to out run or out maneuver this storm. We drop sails and get ready for the blow.
The storm starts out with high winds from the west ripping the tops off the small waves beginning to build The ride is fast being pushed in our easterly direction. The wind shifts as the storm overtakes us and lightning surrounds.
We are just 3 miles off the south shore which is now a lee shore. Had we had room, we could have run with the wind reducing it's effect but we would have soon run out of room. Our other choice was to head into the wind which out autopilot was capable of handling but the seas where now steep and Panta Rhei would launch off the waves and crash down pounding the boat. We chose to continue east taking the full force of the wind on our beam. I realized that I need to add goggles to out equipment list as the horizontal rain stung my eyes and face unless I kept one hand up for protection. Susan was down below watching our position and progress as our visibility was a few yards. It was a rough ride for her as we climbing each wave and then slid into the troughs.
The boat was doing well. The slamming had stopped and but the ride for Susan below was tough to take so she came up in the companionway as she could see that we were making good easterly headway. My only challenge was to prevent seas from washing into the cockpit. I took my first full hit with solid water from the side partially filling the cockpit. I did not have my storm gear pants on so I was completely drenched. I kept thinking to myself
why did I purchase them and not use them. Too late now as the auto pilot could not safely steer a path with the waves breaking over the boat.
I look a Susan and wonder what she is thinking, Will the divorce papers be served soon? I find out later the song of the Edmond Fitzgerald keep repeating in her head.
Two hours later the Susan reports that we were due north of Big Bay Harbor of Refuge but it would be very unsafe to enter the harbor with the seas running behind us and no visibility as the harbor is often silted up and running aground in these seas would be the end.
We see the sky to the west lighten up and our window to enter the harbor opens. The wind begins to die viability improves to the point we can now see the harbor and plan a safe approach. We see that we can get the shelter of the break wall without entering the area where silting had been reported in the past. There is plenty of room to maneuver and the water is calm. We can relax now as we could simply anchor here if needed. We move (very slowly) into the channel following the cruising guide's suggestion but run aground softly into the silt. We back up and try again, No luck. Susan had talked the the harbor master a few days earlier and he said the channel had been dredged and we should have no trouble. So Todd, why don't you just go down the middle? Sure enough deep right down the middle. So much for my research.
We come into the small marina holding no more than 20 boats to the surprise of all the boaters there who there hiding from the storm. They had just come out to inspect for damage and adjust lines. They had seen our mast coming in and where happy to see Susan with a smile on her face safety harness on and standing on the bow ready to pas lines. Trees where knocked down causing the power to be out but all we needed was a spot on the wall.
Our boat looked like a floating clothes line as we dried our gear and many items that were wet down below as some hatches were not completely tight.
We went into town as the sun came out and had a wonderful nigh and slept through another storm that night.
The very small town was the scene of a murder and the source for a best selling novel and Jimmy Stewart movie.
Anatomy of a murder.
We set sail the next morning in winds of 30 mph with larger gusts but the sky was clear and winds favorable. It was a fast ride to Marquette where we had a wonderful diner (see photo of my steak and Susan pile of green stuff with some fish hidden under it)