Thursday, December 24, 2015


Con McDonald, Hoyt Purinton and Joel Gunnlaugsson rehang
a tire where a mooring pipe (foreground) gave way earlier
this morning.  

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

The 'Santa's Sleigh' carrying a timely shipment of UPS and FEDEX and U. S. Mail will make its appearance today, after all.

High winds during the night of the 23rd and into Christmas Eve day caused cancellation of the two morning ferries, and with it, passengers and freight anticipated to be ferried to the Island Thursday morning.

That delay in festivities will be resolved soon, when the afternoon ferries bring in the mail and freight packages delivered daily by UPS and FEDEX,  and more importantly, groceries and staples for Mann's Store.

I returned from a run to the grocery store for some salad greens. They were not to be found, because most such items were no longer in stock, purchased by those who plan ahead!   However, Jeff Mann suggested I come back around 3:30, after their grocery truck arrives and their shelves are once again stocked.  The Mann's Store truck is one of a number of vehicles backlogged from the morning's trip cancellations, until wind and seas settle down, allowing for resumed ferry crossing.

Swells from the WSW were strong, created by winds in excess of 40 mph reported during the night. A wicked sea found its way into Detroit Harbor, snapping ferry mooning lines and breaking off three mooring pipes.  The Washington, moored against the south side of the main dock, was the most vulnerable.    By 11:30, when the photo above was taken, most repairs had already been made, and the Washington was moved around to the end, ready for loading for a1:00pm departure.

Travelers waiting for a ferry to the Island were asked to be patient and to wait a bit on the Northport side of the crossing until trips resumed.  According to Janet Hanlin, who answered innumerable calls at the front desk of the Ferry Office, communications with the mainland weren't good, as the power was out for a period of time in certain peninsula locations.  

Joseph Block, rounding the sea buoy east of Pilot Island,
heading south against the lake seas.  The southern tip
of Detroit Island is at right, and view is looking across the
East Channel from the Sand Dunes Park, around noon today.

Earlier, around 10:00am, we watched from home with binoculars the white, breaking seas of the East Channel.  Several miles out in the lake, two vessels inched their way south through lake swells,  toward Porte des Morts and the relatively easier going to be encountered in the Bay of Green Bay.  The conning tower and mast of a tug could be seen, rolling its way toward the passage, seas breaking occasionally along its port side.

By 11:45, the ore carrier Joseph Block, which had been anchored, loaded, in the shelter of Washington Harbor, was observed heading eastbound through the Door toward a down-lake destination.  The Block reported dragging anchor as the wind came around westerly, prompting it to get underway.
Toward evening at our home, we're expecting a house full of relatives, young and old, and a few of whom we expect to arrive on one of the afternoon ferries.  Although we have no snow, a disappointment for some, air temperatures are still in the 30s, fine for most folks.  By nightfall, Christmas Eve will be observed once again across the land, as anticipated.

-   Dick Purinton

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