Fog, an unexpected summer visitor, is best avoided when possibleSummer fogs around here are fairly rare but they do happen.
By: Dan Wilcox, outdoor columnist, River Falls Journal
Summer fogs around here are fairly rare but they do happen.
We recently woke up to our valley socked in with grey wool. We couldn’t see the trees in front of the house. I waited an hour for the fog to lift before heading out for work.
Last weekend Carol and I were sailing out of Washburn on Lake Superior. The weather there was a Maytag washer of changing conditions. The weather tuned fine on Saturday and we tried out a new sail rig on our old boat.
Chequamegon Bay was benign with one-foot high waves and 10 to 15 knots of wind out of the northeast. We motored out of Washburn Marina, successfully avoiding other boats, and had fun sailing around the bay. An approaching fog bank that covered the north horizon motivated us to return to the marina.
Our neighbors at the marina caught our lines and guided Sea Dragon back into the dock. After putting sails and lines to bed, we enjoyed a celebratory beer as the fog rolled into Washburn. Many of the boat people were happy to be back off the lake where fog banks had been moving around the Apostle Islands all day.
I have respect for navigators out in the fog. Many years ago, my father took my brother-in-law Rick and his friend Rusty out fishing on Lake Erie east of Cleveland, Ohio. They motored north onto the lake four or five miles off the Ohio shore. After catching a bunch of perch a fog bank rolled in.
My dad, a Navy man, had watched his compass, engine tachometer and his wristwatch as they went out. They decided to go back to the harbor in the thick fog. My dad asked Rick and Rusty which way to go. They pointed in opposite directions. Following his compass, wristwatch and the tachometer, Dad piloted a course through the fog. He stopped a minute or two short of the harbor, killed the engine and listened for the bell buoy marking the entrance. It was only a couple hundred yards away. They putted their way back into the harbor through the rock jetties.
Carol and I were vacationing on the north shore of Lake Huron on the Bustard Islands in Georgian Bay a decade ago. Georgian Bay is like the Bahamas of the Great Lakes with thousands of islands, clear water and good fishing. My sisters Dorothy and Ginny, and Carol’s brothers Buck and Gene were along on a canoe trip with us.
One day during luxurious camping on the southeast side of the Bustard Islands, we ventured south in our canoes to the edge of the bay to see the big water. We caught fish in a deep channel between islands and had a shore lunch. Then on that nice summer day a fog bank rolled in unexpectedly and we were marooned on a granite island a quarter mile long and a hundred yards wide. We couldn’t see far enough to get into the canoes, much less paddle back to our camp. During the two or three hours that we were marooned by fog, we inspected the island.
Wind-pruned white pines like giant bonsais sheltered some low blueberry and juniper bushes. Surf and rock-thrashed white pine logs were lodged on the southernmost rocks providing fine resting benches. White veins of quartz striped the pink granite and scattered lenses of mica provided underwater mirrors reflecting the moving clear water. Bright blue harebells and white potentilla flowers grew out of cracks in the rock.
Lacking any electronic gear like GPS, radar or cell phones, we weren’t bored at all or worried about where we were. The fog finally lifted and we paddled back to our camp on another fine island.
I guess the lessons about summer fog are to avoid it when you can, take care when you find yourself in it and enjoy the experience.
Please send any comments and suggestions for this column to me at email@example.com.