Monday, June 14, 2010

A trip around Basswood Island

The weekend began with a trip up to Bayfield to see the Yonder Mountain String Band at the Big Top tent. This is not your normal Big Top Chautauqua show, with the crowd being younger and having a distinctive Grateful Dead-like 'travel with the band' ambiance. Every one stands for the entire show and the band played for three and a half hours with a short break. I also couldn't help but notice a smoky, non tobacco smelling haze over the entire tent. I'm not sure what it was but I know I needed to leave for a bratwurst at the break and several food items were sold out at the concession stand. The KingofIronwoodIsland was in attendance with a free ticket. He did some complicated electrical work for the GurneyGranny and accepted the ticket as payment. She felt it wasn't enough for the work performed so the King suggested she buy him beer at the show as well. When Pod heard about this deal, he immediately demanded that GG, "Pay him now! Pay him now!", knowing that an open ended deal like this had to potential to break the bank. Things came off just fine however, with ChrisG from Boreal Shores Kayak taking the VOR's ticket after she was tied up with familial obligations. The only downside was that the next morning found the paddling contingent whittled down significantly. There were a number of excuses but the King and I persevered and headed for Bayfield at the crack of noon. We decided that a circumnavigation of Basswood would be good since the weather was a bit shaky, about a 14 mile trip with a short two mile crossing.

We took off into a northeast breeze, 5-10 mph, with a small swell. We hit the tip of Basswood and decided that if we went clockwise we would have a lee up the western shore and then a tailwind down the eastern one. The plan worked great and as we approached the west dock we saw other kayaks in the water. As we got closer we saw they were small yellow rec boats with no bulkheads/flotation or skirts. There was a group of guys watching from the dock as a bunch of kids buzzed around in the kayaks. We found out it was a group of coworkers from Illinois that had come up for the week. They had ferried all the gear including the kayaks out from Bayfield, the identical 2 mile crossing that we had done, with a large tri hull style bass boat.

I started to talk with them a bit but it was apparent that they were sure they had things firmly under control. Check the images and let me know what you think. One guy said the crossing was a bit choppy and I asked what kind of nav equipment they had on the boat. What they may not have realized was that on the way out we could not see Madeline Island, two miles away, because of the fog. The boat was basically nicely equipped for a 500 acre inland lake. I couldn't help but think of the little girl that was lost in Lake Michigan recently, even though all these kids in the kayaks had life jackets on. Over cotton sweat shirts, of course. One little kid asked his buddy if the water was cold. I'm sure that standing there, looking at us wearing life jackets with tow belts, a marine band transceiver, gps unit, and a big knife made them think that we were a couple of yahoo wannabes that thought they were on the Shackleton expedition or something. Sensing that, I pretty much surrendered, wished them the best of luck, told them not to let the kids have candy bars in the tent or the bear would take a bite out of their asses, and paddled off. KingIronwood and I completed our circuit of the island, hit some fun and bass boat unfriendly clapotis on the northeast end, and then caught a couple nice rides as we attempted to surf back to Bayfield. The day was capped off with beer and pizza at Ethels, a fine little spot just a block up the hill from Boreal Shores in Bayfield.

It was a good weekend at the tent and a good weekend on the water. I just wish I knew how to prevent people who don't know what they are doing from venturing out on a body of water that insists that you know what you're doing. Its depressing to see, depressing for you guys to read about, and even more depressing to write about. They seemed like a great bunch of guys, taking the kids out on an adventure, but they were simply unaware. I'm 3-0 in running into that unconscious/incompetent quadrangle of the risk matrix the last three trips up there and I need to break the string. I also very sincerely hope that if Gitchee Gumee decides to give these folks a test that its a pop quiz rather than the Final Exam.

To end on a more upbeat note, here's a 10 second clip of Yonder Mountain at the Big Top. Also, I've enabled comment moderation after getting several Asian blog comments which, when you click on the name, send you directly to raunchy porn sites. It might take a bit for me to get around to checking things so be patient. I'm probably on the water! A crew is heading back up this weekend for a short inner island trip. I'm hoping that conscious competence, or heck, even conscious incompetence, is the order of the day.

1 comment: said...

Who are these people? I won't leave the shoreline with my 15.5 perception poly with a spray skirt.
I'm surprised more incidents don't occur then the one or two that happen each year.