Start: 5:30 AM - Caseville, MI (Sleeper State Park)
Finish 3:15 PM - Au Sable Point (Between East Tawas and Oscoda)
Time: 8:45 hours
Daily dist: 35 miles
Total dist: 4200+
Weather: Mixed weather everything from windy and grey to fog to calm and rain to sunshine.
Notes: Almost scrubbed crossing attempt because of early winds but they diminished and I made great time all day.
Even though I had to move all my gear from camp, across the highway, down to the beach, and into the hatches of the Ikkuma it was still an early 5:30 AM when I pushed off from the beach at Sleeper State Park this morning. The morning calm I had hoped (and was predicted) was not to be. Instead a brisk 10-15mph NW wind was already licking up one foot waves that were tumbling onto the beach. One of the rules I adhere to for crossings is no winds over 15 mph especially starting out. For a long while I considered scrubbing my crossing attempt for today. Yet, when I checked the weather radio it still predicted winds of only 5-10 mph. As I launched into that wind I realized that a cloud bank was passing overhead replacing the partly cloudy skies with grey overcast. There was a chance that once that front passed over head the winds could diminish. Also, because Charity Island sits only 10 miles from shore a bit more than half way across the 17 mile crossing, I had a safety stop if things should get worse. With a safety stop and a favorable prediction, I decided to at least give it a go. Thankfully I did.
After bouncing along in choppy seas for about two hours I was sliding into the lea of the island about three miles out when the wind started to drop. By the time I reached Charity Island the lake had calmed to a moderate chop and I could see no threat of thunderstorms on the horizon. At that the decision was easy to press on the next seven miles toward the other side putting Saginaw Bay behind me. An hour further still the lake became flat calm. It was great. For the rest of the day the lake remained calm and the paddling great as the weather changed from overcast, to foggy, to foggy and drizzly, to light rain, and back to just overcast.
What a difference a day of rest can make. It was a great day of paddling and I felt better both physically and mentally than I have in the last several days. It certainly does feel good to have Saginaw Bay behind me. Now Mackinaw is clearly on my radar.