Chris (who you can see piloting from behind) and I have long discussed throwing up the Kelty tarp and sailing the canoe into the sunset. But it's always been one of those things said half in jest and half in earnest. This year it happened.
It was windy on our last full day of paddling, a day where we covered 11 portages swiftly and nimbly. We'd battled the the wind for two tough days to get to Cache Bay, and as we entered the bay and our direction turned, the wind's affect on us changed. We rested for a moment. It was Chris, of course, who mentioned sailing. This was always his idea--he was the earnest one, me who took it in jest. But it was our last day, so why the hell not. I removed the tarp and handed him one corner and I held onto another. I tied off a third corner to my paddle and up it went. The wind grabbed it and we were off. Chris's smile tells the entire story of our first success.
Unfortunately, with this method we couldn't hold a straight line too easily, and Chris struggled to steer heroically one-handed. But as we rounded our last peninsula, entered Saganaga, and aimed the canoe for Hook Island (our traditional last stand in the Quetico), the wind was right at our backs. I took control of the tarp; Chris steered. I shoved most of it down into the front of the canoe and held it there with my feet. Then I opened my arms wide and the wind filled the tarp. We had a spinnaker! I couldn't see anything and my arms and shoulders quickly burned in exhaustion. This was harder than paddling. But we were moving. And I mean moving: the nose of the canoe dipped dangerously close to going under. I'd rest my arms every few minutes and each time the tarp came down the distance between us and the beach at Hook Island had closed significantly. We covered the two mile distance in no time, and the wind pushed us right into the sandy shore. Stepping out and after shaking off the pain in my shoulders, we admired the distance covered. We had just completed a two mile sail on Saganaga in a canoe. Utah, now safely on shore, turned and padded into the water. We dove in to join him. It was time to swim.