As we look around us at our summer’s end, the maple leaves are turning, the golden rod is brilliant, the monarch butterflies are beginning their amazing journey south, and the teenage mergansers are gathered in groups of 15-20 to do their lovely diving – blip-blip-blip, they all disappear and bloop, bloop, bloop they’re back again!  It is with these sights all around us that we are ready to make our final voyages of the season.

Sun / 8-24 / 10 se -> calm / sunny / Covered Portage Cove / Left Thomas Bay bright and early and put up full main and genoa.  Sailed wing on wing in a light breeze but it died off before we got to Killarney so we motored in the rest of the way.  Stopped for a couple of items at the grocery store dock in a real tight docking that went a little poorly as the breeze came up just as we tried to squeeze in between a dingy and a barge platform.  Bumped on both ends to our dismay but no damage other than to our nerves.  Then went over to Sportsman’s Inn to get a pump our and post our latest pictures and stories.  As always, this took longer than planned so we walked over for final fish & chips for lunch.  Then motored over to Covered Portage.  Passed Evinrude’s beautiful yacht Chanticleer, a manificently beautiful and large power yacht anchored at the entrance to the cove.  In contrast to the dwindling number of boats at our most previous anchorages, we found this one to be quite full of boats but we anchored in a nice spot, Barbie took a swim while Andy relaxed, and then we went for a dingy ride to get some pictures and stopped to say hi to our friends on Whisper.  Got some great shots of Chanticleer and of an image of an Indian Head in one of the cliffs – see our gallery for these.  Then joined Bill and Judy for happy hour on Whisper.  It was a very pleasant afternoon.

Mon / 8-25 / 10-15 sw / fair / Heywood – Browning Cove / We left Covered Portage to the southwest on a close haul with full main and genoa and sailed around Badgeley Point, turning westerly.  Sailed wing on wing in the very light wind that allowed Andy to leave Barbie to the sailing as he took off in Little Dipper to get pictures.  As we continued to sail, to Andy’s delight, the 110 foot sailing yacht Sea Quell passed us nearby under motor power.  Check out this photos.  Several boats were already anchored at Browning Cove but we found a nice spot near the channel to the east and anchored there.  Because of the wind direction, we had a nice view of the channel off the stern.  We took Jennifer for a longer dingy ride because there wasn’t a good rock for her to climb on.  She didn’t quite care for this although she was interested in looking into the woods as we motored by.  Got to bed early so we could do lots of closing up activities the next day before leaving.

Tue / 8-26 / 15-20 gusting to 30 nw / sunny / Little Current – Harbor Vue Marina/ On our final day at anchor we awoke to a beautiful sunny day with a nice light breeze and a forecast of winds to about 15.  So we decided to pack up quite a bit while there, do some cleaning, and measure all the things on our list for Andy to work on over the winter.  As the day passed we commented on how nice it was to do this while still on the water rather than on the hard in the Harbor Vue yard.  Around 2:30 or so it was getting to be time to leave and we looked out to sea beyond the cove to a sea of raging white caps and noticed that the wind had actually picked up in our cove as well.  Checked the readings and saw gusts to 30.  Since this was going to be a trip into the wind, we hesitated and  talked about possibly waiting until morning.  But the predictions said it should come down so we decided to haul up anchor and get into a more protected area as the white caps were starting to appear in the cove.  This turned into a fairly hairy maneuver as Barbie needed to steer with the engine in gear for Andy to get the anchor up and the wind was now blowing quite hard.  We managed though and got parked in the lee where we relaxed for about an hour and then decided to give it a go.  We donned our life jackets with tethers, closed up the cabin, motored out into the breaking waves, and unfurled our staysail.  Andy steered nicely to quarter the waves, Barbie handled what little was needed for the staysail, and because this time there was only a 3-mile fetch, the waves were tolerable, nicely spaced, and fairly even.  We’ll take “round” waves over “square” waves any day.  As we drew closer to Strawberry Island and the light house, the waves diminished and so did the wind.  We tacked a couple times with carefully orchestrated furling in, switching tethers to the new high-side, steering across the wind, and unfurling to the new tack.  Arrived around 6 pm and docked easily at the marina.  Unloaded clothes and kitties and headed to our Red Lodge Resort to the kitties delight.  Had a nice dinner and early to bed.

Wed-Fri / 8-27, 28, 29 / light wind / sunny / Little Current / Got up early Wednesday for haul out, etc. and learned that the procedure is to get the winterizing done while still afloat.  So the day went slowly as we worked in between our Harbor Vue folks, got our essential laundry done, and got most things unloaded.  To our delight, we were able to reconnect with John and Angela of Suffolk Punch and we had a nice fresh corn on the cob and burger dinner with them at their little cottage just outside Little Current.  John showed Barbie how to use her sextant so she hopefully will be able to work it next summer.  We had a very nice evening with them as a wonderful closeout to our summer.  On Thursday Andy did his polishing, etc., Barbie did her final cleaning inside, and we wrapped her up in her nice winter coat (see pictures), said goodbye to everyone at Harbor Vue, drove to Blind River, and had another wonderful fine dining experience at Monique’s Bistro.  Drove home Friday and happily landed our kitties and ourselves in our nice home, where everything looked great.  Just had a bit of a shock when we opened the car door to 85 degrees, as the highest we had seen for weeks was about 65.  Well, it’s good to be back, and it’s time to go watch the Badgers knock off LSU tonight (Saturday).  Looking forward to seeing all our friends in Madison and to renewing our friendships in the North Channel and Georgian Bay next summer.