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Best Day On The Water: My Personal Symphonic Light Show

Northen Lights illustration

Illustration: Gary Hovland

On a clear September afternoon with a 7-knot southwest breeze, I solo sailed our Cape Dory on a broad reach up the west channel of the Apostle Islands, on the south shore of Lake Superior. I called my wife to say that I'd be out of cellphone range for a few days, then rounded Red Cliff Point to find a strange greenish-yellow sky across the open lake to the north. If a storm was brewing, it looked nothing like I'd ever seen.

I anchored in Frog Bay along the shoreline of the Indian reservation and started preparing dinner. As the sun set, the sky turned into huge green spikes of light, spurting and swirling up from the horizon thousands of feet into the sky. Astonishingly, I was witness to an eruption of the legendary Northern Lights. While not a rare sight for the area, it was the first time I had seen such a wild display in more than 30 years!

I sat eating my dinner in the cockpit, overwhelmed by this surreal vision, when suddenly from the shore came the distinct song of a Native American flute. I couldn't see the player, but the melodies arrived clear and comforting across the water. Ten minutes later, a solitary loon joined the concert.

Listening and watching, finally I could no longer stay awake, went below, and fell asleep to the murmur of the flute, the cry of the loon, and the lapping of water against the hull.

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David Dorlé

BoatUS Member

Award-winning BoatUS Magazine is the official publication of Boat Owners Association of The United States. The magazine provides boating skills, DIY maintenance, safety, news and more from top experts.