Day 33

July 15th, 2006

Eric here.  Met up with my dad and Krys at Point Betsie Light House, a beautiful camp site and view of the water.

From there we went to Arcadia Marina.  Perfect kayaking- conditions, wind on our backs and we cruised.  At Arcadia we installed my dad’s new seat (thank you all that helped with transport).  Continued on to a mile north of Orchard Bay Park.  

Orchard Bay Park was a tent city/RV hell. Just spent a night there and ate lots of ice cream.  My dad seems disenchanted by modern civilization.  He is having trouble sitting in cars and driving (non-human powered).  All he seems to want is a campground near to the lake…away from those gas guzzling RVs. 

He’s on his way to stealth camp in the National Forest and than to Ludington State Park.  He seems pretty positive that he’s gonna make it and is already 2/3 done. 

And so I write a short poem that I composed while observing him this last week:

Legs like tree trunks

Forearms strong and sunburnt

Disenchanted by Modern Civilization

Looking for primitive camping

Fueled by sausage and cheese

He has gotten no where in “the Heart of the Buddha’s Path”

But has gotten 2/3rd done.

The End

Day 29 Leelanau State Park to Leland

July 9th, 2006

This is Tom back on a computer at the Lelanau Historical Museum (after hours) courtesy of Laura Quackenbush, the  curator and helping hand for my stay in Leland.

The paddle today was 19.1 miles, avg speed 3.1 mph.  Nancy Thornton paddled with me today.  We paddled into the wind all day and faced 2-3 foot waves from the SW…  After yesterday’s harrowing crossing of the Grand Traverse Bay (emphasis GRAND traverse), today was fun. 

Nancy was good company, an awesome paddler and brings really great lunch food (tuna salad with lots of salad). 

Nancy and I had dinner at the Blue Bird restaurant with Laura Quackenbush and Dave Dickerson.   Dave used to work at Rutabaga and is working with Scott at Rutabaga to rush a reaplcement seat for the Nordkapp.  The quick fix in Harbor Springs didn’t survive the grand traverse…   the plastic completley cracked.  I now have a boat with a lopsided seat that makes it a little more tippy than it’s ususal tippy self.

Denny Thorley accompanied me yesterday on the 15 mile trip from Fisherman Island State Park to Leelanau State Park.  The crossing part was 8  miles.   The first three were relatively easy…  then the winds kicked up from the South…  probably 15 - 20 mph winds…  later they changed directions and came in from the west with a contant 20mph force with gusts much higher…  wave height was 3-4 ft or so, but the waves were confused and the wind was relentless.  We were probably averaging 2 mph for those last 5 miles…   we had to paddled into the SW winds directly into the waves in order to not get blown to the U.P.  It was the most difficult crossing of the trip so far.  What would have been a terrifying crossing alone, turned out to be only a “crossing from Hell” since Denny was with me.  Denny is one of the strongest paddlers I ahve ever paddled with.

Tomorrow (Monday) I will go to DH Day Campground in Sleeping Bear Dunes National  Park.  The next day will travel from there to Betsie Bay Lighthouse where I will meet up with my son Eric and Krys Schneider who will be joining me for a couple days of paddling.

The coast today was beautiful…   huge sand dune bluffs and blue green water in the shallows and dark blue waters in the deep… 

The trip is going really well and I am gaining lots of weight since everyone feels obligated to feed me and give me food.  No wonder the seat broke.  :-)



The End

Saturday, July 8th update

July 8th, 2006

On behalf of Tom I’d like to let everyone know that today, with the company of Denny Thorley, he completed a grueling crossing of Grand Traverse Bay. A group of my paddling friends and I were in the area and joined them for dinner in Northport. He is camping at Leelanau State Park and tomorrow he will continue to Leland.

Nancy Thornton

The End

Day 27 Today I will do Harbor Springs to Fisherman Is.

July 7th, 2006

I am at Bentley Whitman’s house in Harbor Springs getting ready to take off…

Bentley helped me take apart my Nordkapp seat which had broken at the attachment to the deck… we discovered that the holes drilled in the seat had been drilled twice leaving a weak spot (two holes next to each other) and it gave way yesterday while on the water… we reinforced this with wood and added foam under the seat and it appears good to go. You’d think that if someone needed to re-drill the seat because of a miss-drill on the first try they would start with a new seat… Valley will hear from me. Other than that the boat is holding up well given the number of rocky launches and landings I have done.

Harbor Springs has beautiful water… clear as water can be. Beautiful vintage summer homes.

The straits lived up to their reputation on the 4th of July. We had to bale out 1.5 miles west of the bridge due to stiff winds out of the West funneling thru the straits.  The straits was like a wind tunnel… Could hardly keep my boat going straight, much less make any progress… see Nancy’s posting below… thanks Nancy…

I feared my tent would be destroyed by the high winds, but it did fine.  It’s a Kelty Vortex and I guess with a name like that it’s supposed to survive big winds…

If I haven’t called someone it’s because I have had spotty cell phone coverage… spotty weather reporting from NOAA as well… Hard to call on the water and off the water no coverage half the time. Don’t worry if you don’t hear from me!

My dragonfly stove acted up yesterday but Bentley knew how to deal with the carboned up part and we was abe to get it functioning… he had had the same problem with his.

Had a great steak dinner bbqed by Bentley that was excellent. The hospitality on this trip has been overwhelming. He and his wife Chris and daughter Taylor have welcomed me into their home. As did the harbor master Larry Wyse and his wife in Naubingway, and the Baxter family who let me camp in their front space ny Mackinac Bridge. I even got to see fireworks in Mackinac City!

Nancy Thornton and Arron were great company on the crossing of the straits…

I am two days behind the orgininal schedule. I should be at Leelanau State Park on Saturday and Leland on Sunday.

I am starting to feel strong and not so beat at the ned of the day. However my hands and feet are showing signs of wear.

More later…

thanks to all who have supported the expedition… it has been great.

The End

Tom has crossed to Lower Michigan

July 4th, 2006

I’m posting this on behalf of Tom - we joined him this morning at a campground 2 miles west of the bridge with plans to cross the Straits and continue west to Wilderness Park. We had a terrific crossing, didn’t have to play dodge the freighter, and stopped for lunch upon arriving at the opposite shore.

As we know, weather often changes - and today that was the case. We launched after lunch into breaking waves from a rocky beach and in fairly short order the decision was made to return to shore and discuss our plan of attack.

During our paddling day a small craft advisory came into effect. Wind increased to 15 - 25 mph from NW, primarily on our noses, and waves were building to 3 - 5 feet. There were 7 - 10 miles left to go, but slogging through those conditions would have been grueling and, in Tom’s opinion, was entirely unnecessary. 

This evening he is enjoying the hospitality of a family at waterfront home about 1.5 miles of the bridge. Tomorrow morning, weather permitting, he’ll continue towards Wilderness Park before making the turn south towards Cross Village.

It was truly a pleasure to have been able to join Tom for the day! We’re keeping an eye on him and I know we’ll connect again as he makes his way past our NW Michigan shoreline.

Nancy Thornton
Kingsley, MI

The End

Update, Saturday July 1st

July 3rd, 2006


On Saturday, Tom was in Naubingway about 40+ miles from the bridge and he’s sidetracked by weather.  He’s indicated that he will probably do the corssing on Tuesday, and camp as near as possible to the bridge on the U.P. side on Monday night if the weather cooperates…currently alot of storm warnings.  ~~Krys

The End

Update Friday 6/30

July 1st, 2006

Tom is on track, staying at Big Knob Campground Friday evening.  He’s doing well and the weather’s been cooperating.  He said going through parts of the UP were very desolate but also very beautiful!  ~~Krys

The End

Tuesday 6/27 Update, Escanaba River Campground

June 27th, 2006


Tom made it to Escanaba River Campground today where he’ll be staying for the evening.  ~~ Krys

The End

Don’t listen to me — I don’t know what day it is!

June 26th, 2006

It is Monday and I am at Mary Rasmussen and Dan Sandin’s home near Fairport, Michigan.   I did the crossing to the U.P today, which I have indeed confirmed with Mary and Dan is Monday, June 26.   I was in a bit of a panic on Saturday when I realized my cell phone didn’t work on Rock Island and the pay phone decided I had made to many calls with my Visa card.  I was tired and concerned about notifying folks in the U.P. that I was going to wait until Monday when the weather was more favorable.  However when I was leaving messages I told folks the wrong day.   When I showed up at Mary and Dan’s at 11:15 AM on Monday they were quite surpirsed!        

To set the record straight my intinerary is now shifted 1 day behind the original schedule.   

Here is a recap of the last few days. 

Day 12 (Thursday 6/22/06) GPS miles 21.0 avg speed 3.9 mph. 

Spent the evening camped at Flentye’s property 10 miles north of Algoma.  Peggy (my wife) helped me load my boat and bid me farewell until mid July when she returns from a seminar in Idaho.  I paddled a line from Flentye’s to Portage Point (7 mile crossing) just past the lighthouse for Sturgeon Bay.  Then I paddled point to point to Jacksonport where Erik Matrejek paddled out to greet me. 

On shore was his wife Lisa and a photographer from the local press.  I had done a phone interview the day before with a local reporter and she was there to photograph my finish.  The photgrapher’s mother had actually seen me stop at one of the points (Whitefish or Cave Point) —  I wonder what she saw me doing?  :-)

Shortly after landing there was one of those wind shifts to the Northeast and whitecaps formed within minutes.  Lake Michigan was reminding us that conditions can change in minutes.  Most of the day the wind was oput of the southwest.

Lisa and Erik welcomed me to Jacksonport and we drove to Lisa’s dad’s place on Kangaroo Lake where we camped.  Lisa made BBQ’d chicken and we had a mini feast.  Her dad spends the summer on this property and lives in a very cool converted stone boat house that has been in the family for quite some time.  Her dad was an interesting fellow and was very entertaining and opened his house to us…  he had a wrap around deck over the water that was a deck to die for. 

Day 13 Friday 6/23/06    GPS miles 20.0  Moving Avergae 3.9 mph.  Erik and Lisa Matrejek joined me for the next two days of paddling.  Today we paddled from Jacksonport to Rowley Bay.   Again the paddling route took us point to point.  We stopped at the point just North of Bailey’s Harbor, paddled past Cana Lighthouse and then stopped again at the point just north of North Bay.  The lake was relatively calm.  We saw white geese near North Bay as well as a couple pelicans.

We arrived in Rowely Bay at the Wagon Wheel resort boat launch around 3PM.  I called Rick Isaacson who had reserved a campsite at the Wagon Wheel campground (perhaps the nicest and classiest campground in the world) and he said he would be there to pick us up in an hour.  He and his friend Jennifer were canoeing on Kangaroo Lake. 

In the meantime, Erik and I siwtched boats and I got to try his new P&H Capella and he got to try my Nordkapp.  The water was warmed enough for me to try a few rolls in his new boat.  The Capella is a Birtish style boat like the Nordkapp, but handled very differently…  a very deep “V” hull that had a totally different feel than the Nordkapp with a more “rounded” “V” and much more rocker than the Capella. 

Rick and Jennifer came by and we were shuttled to the campsite.  We set up camp and then Rick made a phenomenal dinner —   steak and shrimp and aspargus.  Rick is quite the chef!

After dinner we went to Wilson’s in Sister Bay and had ice cream.  Then to bed.

Day 14 Saturday 6/24/06 GPS miles 19.9 moving average 3.7 mph.  Rick joined me and Erik and Lisa for the trip from Rowely Bay to Rock Island.  Dark clouds had formed in the North and the forecast had a possibility of thunderstorms.  We paddled around Newport Bay and then around Europe Bay and past Gravel Island.  Lots of shoals to contend with.  We saw a large flock of pelicans as well as snow geese.  Both very interesting birds.

We watched the sky for lightning and saw none but thought we heard thunder.  It was raining on and off and a little cold out.  We waited a while and then decided to do a crossing from a point just south of Northport to the tip of Detroit Island.  Our route would take us slightly north of Pilot Island and it would be about 4 miles across Death’s Door passage (Porte des Morts Passage).  You got to love doing crossings that have names like that.  We started out with a slight southerly breeze and got about 2 miles into the uneventfull crossing and then the winds changed thru the passage.  The wind was whipping around PLum Island from the northeast at about 15-20 mph with about 2 foot waves and quite a current going south.  Of course the rest of Lake Michigan thought the winds were out of the south making for some interesting conflicting waves.  We paddled to the shoal at the southern tip of Detroit Island…  all of us successfully negotiating the challenging conditions. 

After we got around the shoal we headed for South Point on the southeast corner of Washington Island.  We now had following seas with a wind from the south to push us along to South Point.  We enjoyed the surf and push, but it was still raining and cold.  We stopped along the shore and several of us put on dry clothes since we were feeling the cold and rain.  I was really cold and wet. 

As we passed the shoal by Hog Island we saw lots of very large fish (Carp?) racing thru the shallows.  Their fins broke the surface.

When we got near Rock Island, Rick peeled off for Jackson Harbor (Washington Island) and the rest of us headed for Rock Island State Park.  

We got a campsite.  I joined the ”Friends of Rock Island” so I could use their carts to haul  gear the mile or so to the campsite.  We set up camp and dealt with the on and off rain.    

I listened to the forecast for Sunday and decided to postpone my crossing to the U.P. until Monday. 

Side note:   Lisa and Erik are quite expereinced adventurer’s - ice climbers, mountain climbers and dessert canyon hikers in addition to being sea kayakers.  Lisa has climbed to the summit of Mt. McKinley!  I was thrilled to have their company for two days and Rick’s company for one day.  Always fun to have some paddlers along.  thanks! 

Day 15 - Sunday June 25, 2006.   I paddled with Erik and Lisa to Jackson Harbor on Washington Island where they were to be picked up by Lisa’s dad.  There I met Russ Johnson who had just arrived on his way back from Rock Island.  Somehow we had failed to connect on Saturday or Sunday morning.  He gave me a lift to the nearest hardware store to see if they had any small stoves since my Dragonfly has partially self-destructed where a weld had broken.  They didn’t.  The stove can be used, but only if I have a very flat surface. 

When I was about to depart back to Rock Island to camp, Pat Lutsch showed up at the Ferry launch site and offered me a place to stay on Washington Island at the summer home of Cathy and Mike O’Hara’s.   Given the rain and all the wet gear and my big crossing on Monday, I agreed to break camp on Rock and move indoors.  What a welcome break!  Pat helped me eat some of my remianing food before my resupply in the U.P. and I was able to dry all my gear, do laundry and organize my stuff.  After taking an inventory of everything, I discovered that I had lost my spare hatch covers…  oh well.  At least i hadn’t lost the real covers!

Day 16 Monday 6/26/06 Jackson Harbor, Washington Island to Fairport, Michigan  GPS miles 19.1 moving average 3.6 mph.

The crossing went well.   With Pat lutsch’s help I launched at 5:40AM.   7 miles later I was standing on St. Martin’s Island.   12 miles after that I was on shore at Mary and Dan’s lovely U.P. wood home.  I landed at about 11:15AM.  The crossing started out against about 10mph northeast wind as I headed for St, Martin.  I kept a close watch for the large ships that I had seen going thru St. Martin’s Passage the day before, but there were none today.  With about about 6 miles left the wind died down and the paddle was relatively easy.  The view of Poverty Island, Gull Island, Big Summer and Little Summer was spectacular.

Lots of people are coming tonight to Mary and Dan’s for a BBQ including Jane Blameuser and hopefully John Schubert and Lesley if they get the message that I have arrived.   Tomorrow I head for Portage Bay campground.     

The End

Sunday, 6/25 Update

June 25th, 2006

Tom will be taking a rest day on MONDAY on Rock Island and will attempt the crossing TUESDAY.   ~~Krys

The End