There was a knock on my door as I was mentally preparing for an afternoon lighthouse cruise out to Manitou Island Lighthouse and Gull Rock. (No charter fishing on this one)
“Come on in!” I shouted, over the din of Andy playing on the keyboard. He’s just learning how to sound out songs and was practicing between the morning and afternoon charters.
A couple of nice ladies let themselves in and introduced themselves as Rhonda and Sharon. “We are part of the group that will be coming on the cruise this afternoon and we just came to let you know we are running a little late… a couple ladies on their way here from Copper Harbor broke down, so they’ll be here about 1/2 hour late.”
“That’s ok,” I said, “We’ll have the boat ready when you are.”
The first ones to show up introduced themselves as Nan and Kelly. After I greeted Nan, thinking she was Rhonda, who had knocked at my door just 45 minutes before, Nan laughs and says, “Everyone who doesn’t know us, thinks we are sisters, but we are only related by marriage. We’re just sister-in-laws.”
“Yeah,” I said in surprise, “I thought you were Rhonda.”
Soon the others arrived and we pushed off on the calm waters of Lac La Belle with 6 mature women, a happy captain (not because of the women aboard, but yet another chance to be on the lake) and young Andy, my deck hand.
After the usual narration of the Mendota Chanel and the Mendota Lighthouse, we were “hammering down” to cover the 16 miles of Bete Gris past Bare Bluff, Montreal River and Keystone Bay, before rounding the Keweenaw Point. After 9 minutes of cruising at 25 knots, the lake got a little “BUMPY” and I heard comments: “I had no idea we were going out this far.” “Yeah, I thought we were just going to go on a slow, 3 hour ride.” “Are you doing OK, Linda?” (The only one who took seasickness precautions by wearing bracelets.) “Yeah, but I’ll be doing better when we get back,” she says between clenched teeth as she rolls her eyes.
Over the noise of rushing wind and the 350 chevy engines whining at 3000 rpm’s I hollered, “This will only be for another 15 minutes or so, until we round the buoy on Keweenaw Point.” I hear one lady suggest “You could slow down a little.” Another one, realizing it would take longer, says, “then we wouldn’t get back in time for dinner.”
Jokingly, (I think)… “Are we going to make it back alive from this trip, Captain?”
“Yes, at least that’s MY plan,” I say as confidently as I can. “By the way,” (a little concerned now) are you ladies really ok, or not?”
“Yeah, we’re doing fine, as long as we are still joking around… If we get serious, then you’ll know we’re scared.”
The forecast was for calm to 2 feet and we were seeing some 3 foot waves, which was still nice, since we are still able to go almost at full cruising speed, but it was just a little more than they anticipated. Minutes later, they were all taking pictures of Gull Rock Lighthouse, then, protected from the breezes by Manitou Island, we cruised on the see 162 year old Manitou light.
As we rode back, going in the same direction as the waves, I asked the ladies if they still wanted to see the Montreal River and Bare Bluff up close. “What does that mean, as far as time and distance?” Nan asked. “Oh, just a little dog-leg that adds another mile or two,” I reply. Linda can’t wait to get on flat land, and she just looks at me sideways and stays quiet, not wanting to spoil the other’s fun.
We coast to an idle near the Montreal falls, and as we approach, Rhonda snaps pictures on her smartphone. I spin the boat around and with the stearn shoreward, I offer to take their picture with the falls as a backdrop. The boat is rocking a little, but with my sea-legs, it’s not a problem to walk around without holding on… not so easy for the women – Linda falls on her hind end as she tries to snap a picture. She looks ok to me, but as politely as I can muster (I’m laughing inside,) “Are you ok?” I ask. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he assures me.
A few minutes later we move along the shore at Bare Bluff, and look up at its 200 feet of sheer rock cliffs that drop off to the deep Lake Superior waters below. The ladies chatter among each other as I pass my dock and one of them finally notices that I’m not going in. “Isn’t that your place over there?” she asks. “Yes, but I thought you’d like to see Lac La Belle a little too.” So we go slowly along the shore and I point out a few notes of interest.
In the end, they all are happy, Linda, for being on solid ground again.