On the Hunt for Beer, Brats & Bears
By now, we've seen four of the Apostles' six lighthouses, and we figure, what the heck, why not hunt down the other two? Besides, it'll be easy: They're right smack next to each other on Michigan Island and along our route to Madeline Island, where we plan to spend the night in civilization. All week, we'd been hearing about the two lights. Accounts vary, but the one I like the best holds that the first light built, the shorter of the two, was supposed to be constructed in nearby La Pointe, but someone screwed up and put it on the wrong island. The second one was built several years later because the first was hard to see.
We have a maddening motorsail to what we're now calling Screw-up Point. Mayflies cover the sails and the transom, and in the cockpit, small black flies biting my ankles have me dancing an inelegant Watusi. We reach the lights just as lunch is served, and all agree it's not worth anchoring to pay a visit. By now, we're looking forward to La Pointe and a nice walk into town.
It's late afternoon when we tie up in a slip at the Madeline Island Yacht Club, and the humidity has increased considerably. We walk to the town beach for a swim, then race a minor thunderstorm back to the boat. Before dinner, we visit Tom's Burned Down Café, a truly one-of-kind watering hole and music venue housed in a tent in the middle of town.
On Friday morning, we linger in La Pointe. I walk into town in search of a replacement lid for the basket of the percolator, which was lost overboard. I find a coffee shop with outstanding rhubarb muffins, and though they have all sorts of gadgets for sale, no lid. The kid at the counter suggests I'd probably find one at the dump, but it's closed this morning.
Finally, we cast off. We can see Port Superior Marina directly across the bay, but the breeze is blowing, and no one's in a hurry for our trip to end. We reach back and forth until Mike spots dark clouds and rain in the channel north of Bayfield. It was time to head for the barn. Inside the breakwater, we pull to the gas dock and pump out and fuel up. The rain and wind hold off until just the moment I turn Twilight into her slip.
That's when all hell breaks loose, and the fury of a Great Lakes thunderstorm is square upon us. And then, just as quickly, it's gone. Like the eagles, the caves, the brats, the Miller, the Leinies, and, of course, the islands themselves, I wouldn't have missed the squall for the world.
Mark Pillsbury is Cruising World's senior editor.