Adventure Bound Around Superior
Father Daughter Duo Circumnavigates Lake Superior
Songwriter, Carl Behrend, of Munising, MI, and his daughter Naomi, an 18 year old high school senior took an incredible journey the Summer of ‘99.
16’ Prindle Catamaran on the Canadian shoreline.
They were able to circumnavigate Lake Superior on their 16 ft. Prindle Catamaran sailboat. “Naomi went in search of adventure. I went in search of inspiration for new songs. I felt that the best way to get in touch with the lake would be on a smaller boat, so we could get into places where bigger boats couldn’t stop,” Behrend said.
“The whole trip was fantastic,” Behrend said. “My daughter was the perfect candidate to take with me on the trip. Not a word of complaint from her the whole trip.”
Unafraid of the lake that has taken the lives of so many sailors, the pair sailed from Munising Bay toward Grand Marais, then on to Whitefish Point. There they crossed Lake Superior. “It was a bit foggy when we crossed. Out of the fog a large freighter appeared, too close for comfort. It was a close encounter of the wrong kind,” Behrend recalls.
The Canadian shoreline is a very remote and rocky wilderness. “With our open boat, we had to camp each night in a small tent. We packed very light, like back packers, at times, living off fish and wild berries. Every place we camped seemed to beckon us to stay, but on we went along Lake Superior Provincial Park, the Pukisaw Peninsula, and on to Otterhead Island, where we heard we could stay in the keeper’s quarters. Arriving late that evening, we found a party of 14 kayackers inhabiting the building, so we pitched our tent for the night. They did feed us a nice breakfast in the morning, though,” Behrend said.
A couple of days later they were near Rossport, Ontario, when a cloud that looked like a giant tidal wave was bearing down on them. With no time to get the sails down, Carl turned the boat downwind. “When it hit us, we were catapulted ahead at incredible speed. It was like we were on ice skates,” Behrend said. Luckily, there were two small islands just ahead where we were able to pull in on the leeward side and wait out the storm.
Later a storm was threatening as we approached Sheganash Island. The thunder sounded like a giant freight train. Setting up camp near the lighthouse, we planned to seek shelter inside if the full fury of the storm should hit. Fortunatly, the storm missed us. We learned afterward that the storm had leveled many square miles of forest in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
One of the most memorable days of the trip was spent at a little town called Silver Islet. The town site was the richest silver strike in North America back in the 1800’s.
As we approached, the wind and waves were building against us. We pulled in and waited it out. The town had no power, other than a few generators, no gas stations, and only one store. “We ran into a Canadian couple we had met earlier at a camp along the way. They had converted an old fish tug into their cruising boat,” Carl said. They spent the day together relaxing and sightseeing. They rescued a couple of sailors that had capsized in the strong winds.
Silver Islet’s only store.
From Silver Islet it was on to Thunder Bay, Pit Island, then back into the U.S. waters of Minnesota, where they stopped and spent a day in Grand Marais visiting a childhood chum.
The Minnesota shoreline was the worst part of the trip. Strong westerly winds built waves against us. We were forced to wait until evening when the winds would die down. The water there was very cold, making travel uncomfortable. When the winds calmed, we set out and motored all night long, taking turns steering. Although it was a cold night, it was beautiful with a full moon and our own northern lights to shine the way. By morning we had reached Split Rock Light House. We then headed out across Lake Superior for Wisconsin. “We were so happy as we reached the Wisconsin shore. With warmer waters and winds behind us we felt like we were in the Bahamas,” Carl said.
Carl playing at Sand Island, Apostle Islands.
The next day we sailed through the Apostle Islands, stopping for supplies in Bayfield, WI, the sailboat capital of Lake Superior. “While at Bayfield, a couple of young ladies talked to us about our trip. They were amazed when they asked us when our support team was to meet us, and we answered. There is no support team,” Carl said.
From Bayfield we sailed for Michigan, past the porcupine mountains and on to Houghton-Hancock. We stayed with friends that evening, We arrived at the boat in the morning to find a T.V. reporter interested in our story. As we left, strong following winds pushed us down the canal and into Keweenaw Bay. “We were sailing with a reefed mainsail and no jib,” Behrend said. “We surfed down 4 to 5 ft. waves right around Pt. Abby. Then looming up before us were the Huron Islands, one of the most beautiful places of the whole trip.”
After exploring the island and the lighthouse, we were off to Big Bay. “As we approached Big Bay, a storm was overtaking us. We were moving so fast when it hit that it dropped us, boat and all, right up on the beach,” Naomi said.
After hitching a ride into Big Bay, we stayed at the Thunderbay Inn for the evening. The next day we set sail for Munising, with a brief stop at Marquette for a small concert at the Maritime Museum. “I carried a backpacker’s guitar that is very compact and lightweight,” Carl said. “We had to be back home by August 9th for my parent’s 50th wedding anniverary. We arrived in Munising on August 8th at 1:00 a.m.”
Carl and Naomi shared just a few of the high lights of their trip for this story. They are writing a book about their adventure and hope to have it completed soon. They are also planning on sailing around another of the Great Lakes this summer.
For more information on “Legends of the Great Lakes” call 906-387-2331 or www.greatlakeslegends.com.