The Superior Rocket Experience!
For those of you who prefer to go VERY fast and too see more of the Lake Superior scenery, this is for you. There are endless options available for those who want to explore the landscape surrounding Thunder Bay. With Sail Superior you can hike the Giant! cruise out to the historical Porphyry Island Lighthouse, or tour up the Kaministiqua River. Regardless of the journey and weather, you will be in for a comfortable and thrilling experience!
What to Expect
Even on the gloomiest of days, you will have fun. I am talking from my personal experience. As a captain (in training) for Sail Superior, I spend the majority of my day on the water or preparing the vessels for our daily tours.
Our first excursion on the Superior Rocket was a foggy and chilly May afternoon. We left from Prince Arthurs Landing and arrived at the Sleeping Giant 40 minutes later! This would normally take 3-4 hours by sailboat. Now I know you’re thinking, that must be a cold ride. WRONG. Sail Superior provides full-length Mustang™ floater suits, gloves, and googles for its passengers. So you stay warm and dry!
For those of you that are familiar with the always changing water conditions of Lake Superior might be concerned with how the Rocket will handle in big waves. There is no need to worry! The 30foot RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) Superior Rocket, equipped with twin 250 Evinrude engines, is designed for planing over the surface of the waves. Making the voyage across Lake Superior comfortable and fast! Even in rough water conditions!
Also, our Superior Rocket tours are Pet-Friendly! Share your boating and hiking experience with your canine buddy!
What NOT to Expect
If you are anticipating a relaxing, calm and quiet day on the water, you will be disappointed. The captains will do their best to keep everyone happy and comfortable, however, this experience is meant to be thrilling and fast moving. If you are looking for a relaxing and peaceful day on the water, we recommend exploring our Lake Superior Sailing Tours.
Sail Superior does not recommend Zodiac travel for expectant mothers, people in frail health, or those with neck or back concerns. Instead, we recommend one of our unique and scenic Harbour Sailing Tours or our Big Lake Adventures by sailboat.
Hang on and Enjoy your Sail Superior Experience!
Bring your pet along for a boat ride and hike on some of the most remote Islands on Lake Superior.
Share the experience with your best friend!
Visit The Thunder Cape Bird Conservatory!
Take a Sailboat or a Zodiac Rocket ride to the Thunder Cape Bird Constervatory. Hike 6.5 km from Tee Harbor to the Conservatory at the feet of the Giant. Enjoy the view from the point and learn about the local bird species. Then sail back to the Thunder Bay Marina.
Sail and Hike with Sail Superior
Sail to the remote Islands of Lake Superior.
Check out the pristine forest and crystal clear water.
Share your afternoon with amazing wildlife while hiking through Ontario’s Boreal Forest.
Hike to the top of 1000 foot cliffs.
View Thunder Bay from the highest points!
Don’t forget about our Pet-friendly Options! Spoil your dog with a hike up the Giant!
Visiting the Thunder Cape Bird ObservatoryMay 1, 2018
Are you an avid birder? Do you have a keen interest in nature and science? Do you want to learn?
The Thunder Cape Bird Observatory is a great place to visit!
Visiting The Thunder Cape Bird Observatory
Located at the tip of the Sleeping Giant, the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory has served as a bird monitoring station since 1991. The Sibley Peninsula (Sleeping Giant) is bounded by the highest cliffs in Ontario. These cliffs create a natural migration trap. Especially good for waterfowl, raptors, and passerines. The Thunder Cape Bird Observatory sees hundreds of bird species every year!
The Thunder Cape Bird Observatory associates with The Ontario Bird Banding Association. It is also part of The Canadian Migration Monitoring Network. The Observatory runs from late April and until the end of October. Peak bird migration occurs in the spring and fall. There are lots of activities at the Observatory. Volunteers identify, age, sex, weigh and band caught birds with an ID number. Also, visual monitoring, and Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) take place.
At the site, there is a cabin with a bird banding station, a sauna, and further back a watchtower. In the clearings around the banding station, mist nets are set up. A heligoland trap is used to catch birds for banding. In the fall, mist-netting is used at night to catch Northern Saw-whet and Boreal Owls.
Depending on how busy it is for staff and volunteers, you can sometimes get a great site tour and banding/identification lesson when you arrive. The staff and volunteers are very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. If it is too busy for a tour and learning, the Thunder Cape is still a really interesting place to visit!
Getting to the Thunder Cape
Getting to the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory can be a trek! Hiking is the most popular way of getting to the Observatory. The hike to the observatory is about 12 km from the trailhead at backcountry parking lot. The hike roughly traces the shoreline through the dense forest. The trails are fairly wide with rocky and sandy or muddy bottom for the most part. To start the hike, follow the Kabeyun Trail 6 km, past the turnoff to the Sea Lion, to Tee Harbour.
Continue from Tee Harbour and hike another 5 km, past the Talus Lake Trail and Lehtinen’s Bay campsites. Before you complete the 5 km you will encounter a boulder field. Take your time in this section, especially if it is wet out. After the boulder field, the trail climbs over the tip of the Sleeping Giant’s Feet. This section is steep and can also be treacherous in wet conditions.
Once you are over the tip of the feet it is a short 1.5 km hike to the Observatory. Look for the wooden observation tower to the east. The whole hike to the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory and back is about 24 km. For most people, this is a full day or two days with an overnight at the Tee Harbour or Lehtinen’s Bay campsites. Make sure to pack according to the conditions.
Bike and Hike
This is a good option if you want to save some time and have some fun biking the trails. You can bike from the trailhead at the parking lot right to the beginning of the boulder field. You could probably do it on any bike in most conditions but a mountain bike makes it way easier, especially if it is muddy. The terrain is bumpy and some of the hills are steep. Lock your bike up and continue on foot. Depending on where you lock up, the whole bike and hike to the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory is 16 – 18 km of biking and 6 – 8 km of hiking. For most people, this is a half day to a full day. It is also fun to camp and make a weekend of it. There are many other trails to explore by bike.Make sure to pack according to the conditions.
By far the quickest and most thrilling way to get to the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory. Sail Superior is now offering trips and shuttles on the Superior Rocket, a Zodiac powerboat, to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The Rocket trip directly to the Thunder Cape takes about 1 hour. If you would like to hike from Tee Harbour the Rocket trip is just over 1 hour.
Experience the crystal clear waters and magnificent vistas of the world’s largest freshwater lake. Ride out past the Welcome Islands. Cruise by Pie Island and back towards the Sleeping Giant. Spot the resident Bald Eagle on Hare Island. Follow the shoreline under the 1000 foot cliffs. This trip is really incredible!
Call 807-628-3333 to book a Rocket trip to the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory
Introduction to Sailing in the Salty Waters of New Zealand
The transition from sailing on Lake Superior’s fresh water to the salty waters of the South Pacific took a little bit of adapting. There are many factors that come into play when sailing on the ocean. Salt corrosion, tides, swells and currents are examples of the most common differences between salt and fresh water boating. These variables are especially important when anchoring. The rule of thumb for anchoring is to let out at least 4-5 times the water depth in anchor line at high tide. Throughout the day, the water depth can vary greatly in ocean conditions. Therefore boaters must be informed of local tides, time of day and weather changes.
All the new variables associated with ocean sailing was very new and exciting to me. The majority of my sailing experience had always been on fresh water lakes, specifically Lake Superior. Which in many ways can display the same types of weather changes and waves that you would expect from an ocean.
Waiting out Cyclone Hola
When I arrived in New Zealand in March, Auckland had already been hit by two cyclones: Fehi and Gita. Cyclone Fehi plummeted local temperatures in some regions by 20 degrees and created massive storm swells. Less then a month later, Cyclone Gita hit sections of both the South and North Island, resulting in flooding. A state of emergency was declared for various parts of New Zealand. As the South Island continued to repairing their infrastructural damage from cyclone Gita, the North Island was preparing for Cyclone Hola.
Not only had I never experienced a cyclone before but I was going face cyclone Hola while anchored on a sailboat. However, Cyclone Hola only lasted a day and wind gusts didn’t reach over 90km/h. Luckily enough no-one got sea sick and the only belongings lost were my bathing suit bottoms. The remainder of my trip was sunny and filled with long days of 5-30km/h winds that carried our 37 foot sailboat up and down the coast of New Zealand.
Overall my experience in New Zealand allowed me learn more about boat safety and how to read weather conditions. Which will come in handy, on Lake Superior, with my new position as Captain for Sail Superior. So make sure you check out the variety of breathtaking tours provided by Sail Superior this summer.
Photo: The stern of Landfall a 37foot Shanon in the harbour Waiheke Island, New Zealand.
Winter Hiking in the Sleeping Giant Provincial ParkApril 12, 2018
Hiking the head of the Giant in the Winter
Hiking, sailing, and rock climbing are all part of a long list of exciting outdoor activities that are easily accessible in Thunder Bay. Within 20 minutes you can be down at the marina jumping on a boat for an afternoon excursion on Lake Superior or fishing at your friend’s inland cabin. But that’s summer. Winters in Northwestern Ontario can be long and cold if you don’t take advantage of the snowy conditions.
My girlfriends and I plan weekly adventures and heart pounding activities to motivate us to go outside during the winter. Our most recent excursion involved hiking the snow packed trails of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We decided to make the challenging hike to the top of the head.
It takes approximately six hours to hike from the parking lot to the head and back. And approximately eight hours, round trip, to hike to the knees of the Giant. The trail to the head is fairly flat for the first 7 km and becomes very steep for the last 2km. There are many useful signs along the way but the trail can split and some routes can turn out to be longer than expected.
Hiking the trails can be very challenging in the winter and therefore the following precautions should be taken:
- Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back
- Bring sufficient water
- Bring a flashlight
- Have Nordic Trail Crampons
- Bring extra clothes (it can be very windy at the top)
- View a Map ahead of time and know your route
- Bring a cellphone (service is variable)
Hiking in the Summer
In the summer this amazing lookout is easily accessible by hiking, mountian biking, and even sailing. Sail Superior has also introduced a 30 foot Zodiac to its fleet this season. This will allow hikers to cruise over from the marina to the trail head in under 70 minutes. From the drop off point in Sawyers Bay, the head of the Giant trek is approximately a two hour return trip.
The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is open year round and is a highly recommended hotspot for any outdoor enthusiast. Not only does it have the most spectacular view of Thunder Bay, but it is also home to many native species. This includes wildlife species such as deer, red fox, grey wolf and black bears. Additionally, over 200 bird species have been identified within the park through the help of the Thunder Cape Bird Conservatory. The Conservatory occupies the tip of the Sibley peninsula and is accessible through the hiking trails provided by The Sleeping Giant Provincial park. A map of the hiking trails are available at the entrance to the park.