Yep, this is the 2nd time we’ve taken Mr. Vedder on vacation with us. For some reason his “Ukelele Songs” CD just seems to fit with the Drummond Island landscape. No, we don’t play music in camp (sacrilege!) and we don’t play music while in our boats (unconscionable!) but we DO play the album while making our way deep through the (sometimes impassable) Drummond Island interior via the old logging roads (hmm….”road” might be the wrong term) and ORV (Off Road Vehicle) trails. While we don’t spend much time doing this, a day that threatened thunderstorms kept us off the water and pushed us exploring inland. So, you may ask, exactly what constituted our summer vacation? Well, a week on Drummond Island, MI of course. Drummond Island is in northern Lake Huron and offers some unique opportunities to paddle really big (REALLY big) water and test some theories as we prepare for our expedition. We have been to Drummond many times previously, and it has always been rewarding. We start by driving onto a fairy (don’t worry, he didn’t mind) [KIDDING….lighten up !] and dodging tanker ships as we crossed the 142′ deep passage between Detour Village and Drummond. Once there, we made our way to the Township Park Campground, which (even during Labor Day weekend !) had our favorite site (no I WON’T give the site #) available.
Lesson 1: Tarpology; From our good friend Wally (tarpologist PhD) we have been exposed (arghhhh) to the art of tarpology. This was a fortunate thing as we arrived just ahead of our first thunderstorm of the week. Knowing that we will likely be in the position of needing to set up camp to beat incoming weather, this was a great chance to test our skills. Jumping from the truck in a light drizzle along the edge of Potagannissing Bay, who’s white-capped waves looked like a herd of horses with white mains galloping through the mist, we quickly fixed our tarp between some cedar trees above where we planned to place the tent. Then, in the relative dryness of the tarp as the rain intensified, we deftly set up our home for the week. Cozy and dry.
Lesson 2: Wetsuits; Although our trip will be within a short distance of the bank during the early part (i.e. cold weather), we felt compelled to invest in wet suits. Both we purchased were”3/2″ (look it up) and had GBS [Glued and Blind Seams] (not Guillain-Barré Syndrome). Actually, the big cold waters off the coast of Drummond have a greater requirement for wet suits to ensure safety than will our expedition. Also, we found that they were really comfortable to paddle in. Mine was a “farmer john” style, meaning no sleeves, which is more conducive to paddling. It has a front zipper and wasn’t difficult to get on and off. LaNae’s was also a farmer john style, except hers does not have a full length zipper but rather a detachable shoulder strap. Something I was reminded I should have considered when purchasing since her ability to pee quickly and graciously has been somewhat compromised (oooops).
Lesson 3: Sponges; In LaNae’s research (I’m a lucky man) she came across an article by “Bronze” @ http://manandyak.com/gear/ that recommended we keep a sponge in front of our seat in the bottom of our boats. WOW….what a great and simple idea. Not only was it nice to mop up any water that got where it didn’t belong, but it also trapped most of the water and spray that made its way into our cockpit. Simple, cheap, effective.
Lesson 4: Tethers; An 8′ (OAL) coiled tether. For paddles, water bottles, etc., we always used a straight elasticized tether that would extend to approx. 6′. The problem was it was always getting caught on things and was too short to aid ingress/egress (if tethered to the fore deck bungees) and too short to paddle with (if tethered to the aft deck bungees). The solution: Seattle Sports makes a coiled tether that extends to 8′. The length and function are great and it also has a detach clip, allowing you to leave the tether hooked to the boat but un-clip the device (paddle, water bottle, etc…) if needed.
Lesson 5: Towels; Small, packable, micro fiber blend camp towels dedicated to a) Tent entrance; b) Cook kit; c) bathing (one each) d) each deck bag. Keep these packed according to where they will be used, and you won’t regret it.
Lesson 6: Water Storage; MSR Dromedary. Yes, the 2.5 gal Reliance collapsible water jugs work fine, however, after a demonstration from our camp neighbors Jay and Mike (thanks guys !) we were sold on the MSR Dromedary. Much more packable and durable than the Reliance, and a reverse hanging feature that allows easy water flow access if hung from a branch, etc. Two 6L versions of these are definitely on our wish list.
Lesson 7: Food; We were also able to test LaNae’s work regarding the type and amounts of food. Wow…we learn something new from almost everyone we meet and about almost every topic EXCEPT food. LaNae is certainly ahead of the curve in this area. Her research and hard work to grow, dehydrate, plan, and vacuum pack meals really paid off with some very packable, delicious, and nutritious options. See LaNae’s previous posts “What’s for Dinner-Part II”
Oh don’t feel sorry for us and think that our entire trip was lessons and homework. We met some great new friends (Barry and Robin; Jay and Mike); paddled WAY out to discover some wrecks. (Couldn’t locate the “J.C. Ford” off Little Trout Island, but we did find the Delaware. Cool !) We also had a chance to paddle our new Current Designs Vision 150 and Storm GT in big water. No spills and they worked great, however, I am needing to make different back rest or other seating arrangement, as the position causes a seriously painful tight knot in my left lat muscle.
Well…needless to say it was a great vacation. New friends, new experiences, and some much-needed time away.
Do you have any tips to share? We want to learn from you too!!!!