Lake Superior's Apostle Islands - A Unique Cruising Opportunity
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore includes 21 of the 22 islands and 12 miles of mainland shoreline. Madeline Island, the only year round inhabited island, is also the only island which is not part of the park. The remaining islands are essentially "remote", there are no marina facilities harbors once you've departed Port Superior and the Bayfield area. Fortunately, the islands are in close proximity to each other to provide a sailor's paradise, often referred to as the Caribbean of the North.
The crystal clear, deep water between the islands, generally more than 100 feet, separates the islands from each other by approximately two miles. The shoreline topography is often rugged and steep on the north end of the island, littered with caves and sandstone bluffs created by Lake Superior. The southern ends of many of the islands are gentle sand spits, which require a wide passage but offer excellent anchorages.
Anchoring in and among the Apostle Islands is a pleasure. With many comfortable sites for many various wind conditions, you can find a cozy, remote nook to drop anchor or a large secure bay with sailing company. A welcomed sandy bottom is easily visible due to the clarity of the water and makes for excellent holding ground.
Over the past 30 years the Park Service has constructed and maintains several docks on various islands. Sailors are welcome to use these docks to off board for a day hike or to sun bath on the beach. These docks offer little or no protection from the often rapidly changing elements. They are not recommended for overnight usage, you are better off at anchor.
Sailing amongst the shelter of the Apostle Islands provides both a challenge and comfort. Lake Superior can whip up a steady breeze, which winds and twists as it moves through the maze of islands. A beat upwind into brisk air and seas can easily be made into a comfortable cruise by tucking into the lee of a nearby island. This region offers some the world's best sailing for novice to expert seaman.