APOSTLE ISLANDS OF LAKE SUPERIOR FLOTILLA CRUISE
HOSTED BY COLGATE SAILING ADVENTURES©
ENJOY THIS UNIQUE HISTORICAL ECO-CRUISE ON LAKE SUPERIOR
This delightful cruise takes you to The Apostle Islands – a group of 22 islands, covering more than 720 square miles on the southern shore of Lake Superior – 21 of which are managed by the U.S. National Park Service. Voted “the most pristine national park in the United States” by National Geographic Traveler magazine, the islands were sculpted from 600-million-year old sandstone by a series of glaciers more than two million years ago. Unlike many of our cruises which take you to busy inhabited towns and ports, these islands are a very special wilderness attraction, with crystal clear, deep water sailing between anchorages, and serene hiking trails ashore.
Those of you who have sailed with Nate and Heather Atwater on many other Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruises, know how caring and organized these two special sailors are. “This is a bucket list for cruise for me,” said Nate when discussing where to go next. Lifetime sailors, the Atwaters will again lead this Lake Superior cruise and make sure you see all the highlights. Many possible itinerary stops are noted on this page. The Atwaters, as always, will come up with the most interesting and viable plan when they meet with the charter company before you arrive.
Native American oral history indicates the Chippewa migrated to the Apostles from the east, with other Indian tribes, around the same time Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain. French fur traders arrived, control went to the British during the French/Indian War, then the United States after the War of 1812. Apparently named “the Apostles” by missionaries who thought there were only 12 islands, Northern Europe immigrants brought commercial fishing and lumbering to the area, quarrying of high-quality brownstone helped build many Midwestern cities, and iron ore and coal were mined until, finally, the area became a national park on September 26, 1970.
Distances each day vary. Anchoring is fairly easy, as there are many comfortable sites in remote nooks and large bays with sandy bottoms. Park Service docks are available on some islands, where you can tie up your dinghy and hike on over 50 miles of maintained trails, walk sandy beaches, explore caves, and enjoy the natural beauty of these islands. Bald eagles nest here, great blue herons live in marshy areas. There is an abundance of white-tailed deer, red fox and, you might see a black bear.
MAJESTIC ARRAYS IN THE NIGHT SKY
Although the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) appear mostly in the fall and winter, they can show up on the lake any time of year. When you are anchored away from city light loom, on a moonless clear night, turn off your boat lights, look toward the north and wait for nature’s most amazing sight. Whether you see the northern lights or not, in the evenings as you prepare dinner or sip a cocktail you are entertained with incredible sunsets, then a spectacular array of stars and planets appear in the dark sky.
Bayfield is easy to get to and a fun place to start this summer cruise – with lots of quaint shops selling jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more; local wines, and homemade jams from nearby orchards and berry farms. If you are flying, Duluth International Airport (DLH) is serviced by American, Delta and United. You may want to arrive a few days early to explore The Bayfield Maritime Museum, then enjoy lunch at the Bayfield Winery where you can pair wines with a delicious locally sourced food menu. Or visit the Washburn Cultural Center in a very old brownstone home, with antique, gift and art shops and the Washburn Area Historical Museum. Or check out the Adventure Club Brewing brewery and taproom, and explore Bayfield’s several boat yards filled with sail and power boats.
The yachts for this cruise are four Jeanneau monohulls located at Port Superior Marina, ranging in size from 40’ to 49’ with three or four cabins and 2 or 4 heads depending on the yacht’s overall length. Crews will be assigned to each boat by Nate Atwater, based on resumes provided by each participant, with a designated “skipper” and “navigator” chosen by Nate for each. The cruise starts with your first evening aboard in the marina Saturday, July 11 and ends at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 17. You may board any time after 7 p.m. on July 11, which should give you plenty of time to fly or drive to this location. Plan to arrive in time for the 7 p.m. Meet and Greet, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant on Saturday. The group chart briefing will be held Sunday morning before you set sail.
The north end of the lake’s shoreline has many caves cutting into rocky red bluffs topped with evergreen trees lining the shore. southern areas provide excellent anchorages along sandy spits. Winds are variable, 10-16 knots, though they can go from relaxing to exciting in little time. July weather averages 75 degrees during the day and upper 50’s at night. Water temperatures are 65-75 degrees. Pack sailing gear you can layer including rain gear, warm jacket, walking/hiking shoes, non-marking boat shoes, swimsuit and light attire. Here are some of the places you might visit.
At 1081’ above sea level, Oak is the highest of the Apostle Islands, with great beach combing and hiking trails. In the mid-nineteenth century Benjamin Armstrong who lived on Oak, learned the Ojibwa language and traveled with Chief Buffalo to Washington, DC to convince President Fillmore to rescind the government’s order to remove the Ojibwa to reservations.
Frog Bay on the Mainland
This is a lovely spot for a campfire on the beach. Located in Frog Bay Tribal National Park – the first U.S. tribal national park, its trails, interpretive signs, bridges, and the comfort station were developed by tribal staff.
The beach here is considered the most beautiful in the islands. Swallow Point sea caves on the western end of the bay are a special photo op. The Sand Island lighthouse on the northern tip, built of local stone, is one of the most beautiful in the islands.
On the National Register of Historic Places, Rocky Island has interesting fishing camps used by hardy Norwegian fishermen struggling to make a living on Lake Superior during 1931-1958. There are great photo ops here if you hike to the high cliffs on the northwest shore or west to an overlook on the western shore.
The only Apostle Island without deer, its Raspberry Island Lighthouse is considered one of the most beautiful in the islands. Originally constructed in 1863, replaced in 1906 and renovated from 2002-2006, some of its original foundation still exists. There is a small fee to take the lighthouse guided tour and ascend the light tower, but well worth it. If you swim or wade in East Bay, be sure to place a rock in the Wishing Tree on the beach.
Presque Isle Bay Stockton Island
The second largest of the Apostle Islands is Stockton, known for its large bear population, unique plants and birds, protected bays and beautiful beaches. At Presque Isle Bay there are signs of brownstone quarry operations near the southwest shore. There is also a unique tombolo (a sand bar joining island to mainland) connecting Presque Isle Point to the rest of the island. A 1905 wreck popular with SCUBA divers (permit required) lies in 10-15 feet of water.
This bay is known for “singing sand” – a sound emission possibly caused by wind passing over dunes or by walking on the sand. Swim or wade and hear the sand squeak under your feet. You can also see sea caves from the water and enjoy hiking to the visitor’s day center and ranger station.
La Pointe on Madeline Island
The only Apostle Island open to commercial development and private ownership, Madeline Island is last on the cruise before heading back to Bayfield. La Pointe is a lovely village with shops, bars and restaurants, where you can rent bicycles and mopeds. Visit the Madeline Island Historical Museum operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society and learn more about Chief Buffalo whose history is preserved in the museum. The La Pointe Indian Cemetery, is next to the Madeline Island Yacht Club where you will enjoy the end-of-cruise party and dinner.
- Single in private cabin – $3,250
- Two people sharing a cabin – $2,750 per person
$300 Discount for Sailors with US Sailing Bareboat Cruising Certification
- Single in private cabin – $2,950
- Two people sharing a cabin – $ 2,450
If one person in your party has US Sailing Bareboat Cruising Certification and the other doesn’t, the person without that certification does not get the discount and pays the regular price listed in the first paragraph above.
Sign up online or call one of Offshore Sailing School’s sailing advisors, but don’t wait! There are only 12 cabins available on this Apostle Islands bareboat charter. 30% deposit of the total package is due when you sign up. The final or full payment is due April 13, 2020, with a $300 refundable security deposit. No refunds are allowed after April 13, 2020. Please purchase travel insurance.
- A single or private cabin or a shared cabin for you and your mate on one of the reserved Jeanneau yachts
- Provisions aboard for all breakfasts, lunches, snacks and five dinners
- Meet and Greet party and dinner the first night
- End of Cruise party and dinner the night before returning to base
- Cruising tax, yacht damage fee
- “Clean Sweep” fee – instead of participants having to clean the yachts on return
- Dinghy rentals for each boat
- Linen package for each boat (not normally provided)
- Ice, water and fuel provided before setting sail
- Signature Apostle Islands cruise shirt and hat
- Comprehensive confirmation guide electronically sent well in advance of trip
- Nate and Heather Atwater with you throughout the trip, sailing on a lead boat
- Roundtrip travel from home to Bayfield, WI and to and from the boats
- Beverages you wish to have aboard during the cruise
- Any other meals, beverages or provisions purchased before, during or after the cruise
- Tours, watersports, bicycle, moped or other rentals
- Mooring balls, docking fees if they occur (most nights you will anchor)
On Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruises, each boat sets up a kitty to cover shared costs during the cruise like beverages, moorings and docking fees (if any), usually starting with $100 per person. It is anticipated most nights the fleet will anchor at no cost. The $300 refundable security deposit required with final payment is refundable after the cruise ends if there has been no damage or loss to any of the yachts in the fleet. If there is an assessment by the charter company, all on the cruise share in that cost.
The boats are in Port Superior Marina. There are several motels, hotels and B&Bs nearby ranging in price from $95 to over $400 per night. The closest is Brookside Hideaways (condominiums a short walk from marina). A good listing of everything available can be found on the Bayfield Chamber site.
Sailing Adventures in the Apostle Islands by Lawrence Newman, where a lot of the foregoing information was gathered – available on Amazon.
Many of the photos on this page were taken several years ago on a previous cruise in the Apostle Islands organized by Offshore Sailing School for its graduates.