It was August 2017, and we motored the sixteen-foot Lillyanna north from Manitowoc along the unforgiving Western shoreline of Lake Michigan, to the small town of Algoma...
The lake was nice at times, and during the days of this trip, more of the time it was angry at us, but as we were not out in the deep middle of the lake we avoided the worst and were able to keep our itinerary as we motored from Manitowoc to the little town of Algoma that was once a fishing town. This is an open unforgiving shoreline of the great lakes with no natural shelters to anchor in, so one must pilot the ship into one of the river harbors to find protection from the open waves from Lake Michigan. My brother, Justin, and I stayed aboard the 16 foot Lillyanna and motored her along the shoreline and into harbors of this area: Manitowoc, Two Rivers, Kewaunee, and Algoma, over these fine days in the summer of 2017. We had set out to learn the shoreline, and also to catch salmon. We learned the shoreline, and as regards the fishing, we like the other fishermen in those parts on those days caught as many fish in number as the number of icicles that a Bedouin would find on his tent at noon in the desert.
We launched the Lillyanna from Manitowoc and we slept onboard tied up to the dock that night in Manitowoc. The old malt building, 126 feet tall, built in the late 1800's by Rahr Brewing is in the background. During the day we explored the harbor and river, in which is located the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. The museum explores Wisconsin's nautical history and shipbuilding history, including the building of submarines such as the one in this picture which we toured on this day. We tied the Lillyanna to the dock at the Maritime museum and explored the whole thing. One can walk through the sub and learn about World War II submarining, including that they had the best food in the military and that one had to request to be on a sub, not be ordered to do so. It was obviously dangerous work, but the food was better. You can understand what hot-bunking means after a stroll through this sub. We got back aboard the Lillyanna and slept well through a storm that rocked the marina, and that would have made a mess of us had we been anchored out in the lake.
4 miles off from shore, all set for catching Salmon but they have moved deeper than we are going today, a happy Captain on a happy boat. Justin gave me this Meerschaum pipe today. The net is blowing in the breeze, crying out for the fish that would never come; it has been dipped in the water for good luck, but even that will not bring the stubborn salmon over from the deep.
We motored north and by midday the waves were crashing over the bow of the Lillyanna and spraying over the roof of the cabin into the cockpit. We motored north past Two Rivers, past the the Nuclear Power Plant and Kewaunee and all the way to Algoma by sunset.
We piloted the Lillyanna into the Algoma harbor and spoke with the Harbormaster to find a slip to spend the night in. As it happened, the night we were there, the world famous Algoma Shanty Days celebration was underway in town, so we walked up from the marina into town to see what that was all about. Beyond the fact that everyone was friendly and there was fine beer to be had, there were two unique reasons to attend Algoma Shanty Days: Booyah and Trippe. Booyah is a hearty meat and vegetable stew cooked over multiple days in huge quantities in order to feed the masses, and Trippe is a local sausage that according to the locals, is of Belgian origin. We enjoyed both these delicacies very much and returned for a nice nights sleep aboard the Lillyanna in the fine marina at Algoma.
We awoke the next morning with a determination to catch fish. Early in the morning, before sunrise, we woke and motored into very high seas that we would have been more afraid of if we could have seen how big they were and how much the boat was pitching. In retrospect, the futility of this effort is obvious, as we caught nothing, but in the moment, the motion of the boat, and the effort needed by him who steered it, and the effort needed by he who was setting the lines, prevented either of the two from thinking about anything other than what he was doing; it was a wonderful time as a result.
During that morning of high seas (over 10 feet further in the lake but plenty big even near shore) we had a good adventure setting up the lines without falling overboard. By sunrise the lines had been in for a while and we could take this picture which still shows the little ship going up and down the waves.
By late afternoon we had made it to the harbortown of Kewaunee, Wisconsin on the Western Shore of the great Lake Michigan. Pictured, is the Kewaunee Lighthouse, established in 1931 and one of 70 lighthouses in the USA still utilizing a Fifth Order Fresnel Lens which came from the previous range lights located at this site in the 1800s.
We spoke with the Harbormaster in Kewaukee and were given a sludgedump slip to dock in that ranks as the most cesspool-like place I have ever made my boat stay in, and that I have ever spent a night aboard in. The water was shallow and unmoving which is good for a nice steady spot to moor one’s boat. The water was alive in that corner of the marina and was in the process of turning into a new type of solid, starting at the surface, but it was not the kind of water I wanted my boat in. Again, on the positive side, there were no waves, or even the possibility of any motion of the ship in that sludge, unless I engaged the motor or pushed strongly with an oar away from the sludge dock. All this said, I would promote visiting this harbor and this town. So I got a nasty slip; there were nicer ones also, and the fresh water voyage the next day washed the hull. Visit Kewaunee; do it.
This tugboat struck me as a monument to the hardworking, strong, purposeful, well built things, that are so appreciated so many times by those needing them and using them. This is the Tug Ludington, a World War II tugboat built in 1943 in Oyster Bank, New York. The ship sailed to England under its own power and participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. This is a real boat. After the war this ship had a long history as a working boat building the harbors of the Great Lakes. Our dock was off to the right of this photograph.
We tied up to our dock in Kewaunee. It had been a long day on the water, high seas before daybreak and so on. It was the end of the day, but it was not night, and it was the time of day when hardworking people fall asleep. My brother Justin is the best sleeper I have ever seen sleep on a boat. I am not a good sleeper on land. I require exhaustion to fall asleep easily. It was not yet dark and there was Justin, already sawing logs in his coffin-bunk in our sludge slip in Kewaunee harbor. The summer sun finally set, and I, still awake, and having decided to go explore town, opened the companionway of the Lillyanna, climbed out, and walked over the big bridge that spans the river. An occasional car rushed by in the dark as I walked over the bridge which isn’t really big but which seemed big, as I walked alone into Kewaunee. I enjoyed the time I spent conversing with the patrons of the Blue Door, who that night were stragglers from a class reunion. Stories of those that left home and of those that stayed. I liked Kewaunee. Somehow it became a long night, and I got some very good food from itinerant Ethiopians that were selling it from a moveable stall outside , and somehow I made it back over the bridge alone, and back to the Lillyanna and my coffin-bunk, where I slept well, and where Justin was still soundly sleeping. There it is, and now ask me no more of Old Kewaunee Town, for I know no more.
In the short distance between Two Rivers and Manitowoc, we saw the steamship Badger, which was very large and rightly looked like a ship from the mid 1900s because it was, and it still burned coal and made steam. We motored south towards Manitowoc from Two Rivers.
We made it back to Manitowoc and motored into the harbor. Here is a photo of the Manitowoc lighthouse built in 1918. It originally had a fourth order fresnel lens but I don't know what it has now. We walked out to it on the last day of our trip, after docking our boat, and on the low walkway out to the lighthouse our feet were dry, as opposed to a couple days earlier , when on the same walkway the waves had broken over the rocks and over the walkway and over our feet as we walked to this lighthouse.
Another fine voyage and excellent time had with my brother.