Shipboard Science on the Denis Sullivan: From Waves to Walks, August 10, 2019

August 13, 2019
The gusty winds and high swells leveled off today, and many were grateful for flatter water.  We navigated among the Apostle Islands and bustling boat traffic and curious onlookers.  This was a day filled with valuable information about climate change, wisdom from indigenous elders, and adventures in the Apostle Island National Lakeshore.  Courtney Kowalczak from Fond du lac Tribal and Community College shared information about how the climate crisis is impacting the region and how native nations are preparing to adapt to these changes.  As we traveled into the Apostle Islands, teachers from the area shared information about data collected on the ice road to Madeline Island showing a marked decrease in the length of time that ice covered the route.  We also learned about the life cycle of manoomin (wild rice) and how the rising waters from additional heavy rains are decimating populations by pulling this critical plant from its roots when it lays across the water.
Later in the day, Anishinaabe elder Bob Danielson raised the Menominee Nation’s flag that the S/V Denis Sullivan uses to recognize the 75 feet of 150 year old White Pine that was donated in a sacred ceremony as the ship was in its early stages of construction nearly 30 years ago.  You can see this beautiful wood in the ship’s three top masts, booms, and gaffs.
As we approached Sand Island we decided to lay anchor and spend some time in a protected bay.
A day for making memories, some ventured by Zodiac to a “wet landing” on the beach, while others stayed aboard the ship to swim and swing off the yard arm line. A few adventurers swam and climbed into the sandstone sea caves, finding routes through the circuitous passageways and bouldering problems.
A short hike around the island’s forested perimeter led to a well-kept Sand Island light house, which marks the western end of the Apostles.
Today some travelers chose to take home even more permanent memories from a local artist on crew.
After a delicious dinner above deck, we manually hoisted the anchor with a traditional racheting windlass for a second time on our journey in an all-hands-on-deck effort.  As the sun dropped out of sight, we left the shining light house beacon and the glimmer of Cornucopia, Wisconsin, and sailed off into the moonlight toward our final destination of Duluth, Minnesota.