Just as we were about to ease into a quiet evening at anchor in Presque Isle Bay, on the south side of Wisconsin’s Stockton Island, the crowd rushed in. The procession of cruising sailboats resembled a busy airport with planes lined up miles to leeward of the main runway. We watched as the cruisers came from all over the Apostle Islands and dropped into formation, motoring one by one into the protected anchorage. The evening air was warm, the northeast wind soft. At 65 degrees, the clear fresh water was considered toasty for western Lake Superior in August. This was the place to be, and apparently every sailor in the Apostles knew it.
In a matter of minutes Presque Isle Bay’s boat population would triple. One at a time the keelboats maneuvered along the bay’s shoreline. With minimal conversation on board about where to drop anchor, each boat picked its spot, lowered the hook, backed down hard to sink the anchor deep into the sandy bottom, and cut the engine. All of this was done swiftly and in an order that later, in the dark of night, would appear choreographed; two rows of masthead lights lined up evenly like opposing streetlamps. Then our fellow cruisers swam in the lake, handed out rounds of sundowners, and fired up their barbeques.
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