So we went sailing in the Apostle Islands. On our second day of sailing, the weather cooperated for a wonderful adventure to the beautiful Devil’s Island sea caves. The wind was down and the sun was up, a perfect combination for rowing the dingy out to some of the most spectacular natural formations I’ve ever seen. The colors of the stone were matched by the colors of the water, shadow and light played perfectly together for an experience we won’t soon forget.
Our adventure started in Bayfield, WI aboard a 36′ sailing vessel, which seemed the perfect platform for exploring the worlds largest lake, Lake Superior. Our first night found us anchored off of Quarry Bay on Stockton Island, which by the way, has the largest bear population of all the islands. We enjoyed a beach party, complete with musicians and appetizers. There were also a great number of mosquitoes playing a tune in our ears as well. In the morning we cast off and headed for Devil’s Island, which with favorable winds, allowed us to sail a most direct route. Within a couple of hours, we reached our destination.
Devil’s Island is the outermost of the 22 islands and is located on the northern end of the archipelago know as the Apostle Islands. The National Park Service manages 21 of the islands within their jurisdiction. Only Madeline Island is outside of the park. You can find more information about the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at their site. The northwest end of the island is carved into spectacular sea caves by eons of waves crashing against the stone face of the island. The different layers of stone are the source of the colors and were laid down during the late Precambrian era, about one billion years ago. Interestingly, you can also see the differing water levels by shelf cuts in the stone formations.
One must be aware of the incoming waves at all times to prevent getting into trouble, so pick a calm day to investigate these amazing features. There have been tragedies of people becoming trapped in the caves during rough seas, so be mindful of your surroundings as any good sailor should.
Four of us set off in our inflatable and rowed around the sea caves, exploring as much as we could, snapping pictures of every interesting nook we could find. We set off from the mother ship on the up wind end of the sea caves and as a result the rowing was quite easy. The caves are spectacular to say the least! We spent a good hour exploring, rowing in and out of the caves as we could. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the view from outside the caves more or looking out at beautiful Lake Superior from within the caves themselves.
Devil’s Island is also the location of one of the nine lighthouses that rest amongst the isles of the Apostles. It is a plain tube style lighthouse, built in 1891. Looking at it, I would have guessed it was built much more recently. The last time the lens was replaced was in 1992, 101 years after going into service. The lighthouse is still in service and providing a beacon to mariners plying the waters of the great lake. The light keepers house is a red-brick home which more closely reflects the age of the lighthouse. From our dingy, we could only see the top half of the tower and the roof of the light keepers home. Perhaps next time we’ll take a hiking tour of the island and light.
Alas, it was time to start making our way to our next anchorage for the night. We chose to anchor by Rocky Island and South Twin Island as it afforded a wonderful anchorage, sheltered form any rolling seas or wind. The lake is very deep, so one can nestle your sailboat very close to shore and with the sand bottoms on the south ends of the islands, anchoring is a breeze. We had a very comfortable night as a result, surrounded by beautiful scenery on the largest lake in the world. We can’t wait to return again to explore more of this natural wonder.
Happy Sailing and hope to see you in the Apostle Islands!