Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

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Capt Don
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Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Capt Don » Mon Sep 08, 2014 3:10 pm

A story of some visitors to the island in a sailboat this past week was told to me by a friend of mine who happens to be the resident at Fisherman's Home. A group of friends that assist with labor and materials needed for the maintenance of the buildings and grounds took the traditional "last trip" to the island. The commercial herring fishing season forces them to end island visits earlier than they would like as they are all commercial fishermen.
A sailboat came into the cove and informed one of the boats on the dock that it needed to move, they wanted to put the sailboat at the dock. This seemed rather strange, and somewhat demanding to the people in the boat, but, rather than causing any commotion they deferred them to the resident. As it was nearly dark, he made room for them instead of telling them no or to anchor out. Shortly after the were situated one of the party asked the owner if it was alright to pitch a tent in the yard. The resident, in an effort to be accommodating despite being somewhat astounded by intrusive nature of the visitors, told them no, not in the yard but over there on the edge of the woods. No sooner than he returned to his table and conversations with his friends another of the visitors appeared and informed him that they were going to use the gas grill in the yard. In nearly complete disbelief of what he was hearing, he told them no, that camping and dock use was it with an analogy of him traveling through their town of residence and assuming it would be alright to park in their yard, camp there and use the facilities as if they were there for public use. The visitor informed him that they had been there two years before when no one was there, (evidently overlooking the sign on the dock that says "private dock, use by owner's permission only") and that they were taxpayers and taxpayer dollars are used to maintain this place, therefore they have the right to use it.
As nice as the resident is, he could hold back no longer. He quickly informed them that, in fact, not one dime of taxpayer money has ever found it's way to fisherman's home. Rather, it has been privately funded since the early 1900's by his family of commercial fisherman and more recently by family friends from Michigan, Minnesota and points further. At that point he rescinded his hospitality and asked them to leave the dock and anchor out in the cove if they wish or go back onto the lake.
This story got me thinking about the perception of Isle Royale to the average visitor. As a national park, it is not unheard of to have private areas within the park, but one does not automatically associate that with Isle Royale. I don't think (or at least hope) these people were purposely trying to take advantage of someone's personal belongings, but rather assumed that everything in the park is public. Granted, if the people would have carefully read the printed info given to them upon registering they would have realized this is not the case, but nobody reads everything that carefully
What do you and those you know who visit the island perceive of the remaining private areas within the park?


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Sides » Mon Sep 08, 2014 6:07 pm

To me a priviate area is off limits.

Some people with sailboats think they own the water. I have had a sailboat try and have me move my boat off a dock. They think because they have the right of way on the water, you have to get out of their way all the time. They forget they have to be under sail. Some can be quite arrogant about it, that attitude doesn't surprise me.


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Donk_67 » Mon Sep 08, 2014 7:07 pm

Wow! ... being limited to where I can walk once I arrive on the island, I didn't know anything about Fishermen's home. However, I would consider such intrusion the same as hanging out on the lodge's front porch while in Rock Harbor or wandering around the employee residence area at either RH or Windigo; you just don't do it. Reasonable people intuitively understand private areas and don't tread there...especially when there's posted notice such as "private dock". Clearly there are unreasonable people to be found everywhere.

I wonder whether those "taxpayers" even bothered to pay their usage fees.

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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Lucky Chicken » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:31 am

I wonder if they go into a store and demand to go in the back room to shop...

You don't intrude on someone elses campsite uninvited, why would you demand to park at their dock.

Yes sail boats have the right of way under sail and only when under sail and on a true course they cannot turn into your path just because they want to. Some people need to be taught respect!


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by tree rattt » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:59 am

I am a sailor, backpacker, and a kayaker. That being said, it is my experience with most sailors that the bigger the boat the bigger the attitude!!! I have been at docks and at anchor and have been "ordered" to move my boat .Just because their boat is bigger and more valuable they tend to think they own the water, the dock and anything else that makes their life easier. This story does not even slightly surprise me.I am a sailor ....but I am embarrassed to call myself on most of the time. I don't believe when docked,we own the dock or any other public area ......as many do. To me common sense dictates that ANY structure should be considered private . When we do get to use these facilities they should be treated with the Maximum respect! Keeping an open mind and being respectful of others can never be wrong.As pointed out there are areas on the island that are private. I believe there are enough oppertunities to discover this info....to assume that just paying taxes gives you free run is quite arrogant!


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by treeplanter » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:49 am

People are surprised that parts of the park are private. Many assume, that since it's a national park, all the land is publicly owned.

20 years back, we kayaked around Blake Point, from Duncan Bay, into Tobin Harbor. We were astonished at the number of summer cottages you see when paddling SW into the bay. We paddled by several, remarked "boy, I wished I owned that place" and moved on. Nice to look at, yes, but they were private so we respected their privacy. As for the sailboaters in your story, just a bunch of arrogant cretins.


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Damon S » Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:12 pm

Interesting. Well we encountered that "resident" at Fisherman's home some years back. My wife and I have had the pleasure to paddle around the island several times and we've ducked into and poked our nose into some very cool private areas, however, we've always remained respectful. At Fisherman's home in particular,,I remembered telling my wife how much I wanted to explore the area based on the history and what I've read about the fishing industry. One late afternoon on our way to Malone Bay from Long Point, we paddled into the cove and noticed boats at the dock and people sitting there. I also noticed the area was, in fact, private (although I already knew this from the research I did on the island). Upon seeing those people, we were a bit uncomfortable and felt like we were intruding so I told her my wife we would just paddle in and continue on quickly. As much as I would have liked to ask the "resident" to explore his HOME, I wouldn't have had the nerve to ask or disrupt their evening.

Keeping my distance, it was the "resident" who initiated the contact with me and the conversation....a conversation that lasted the evening. That "resident," in my experience, was a perfect gentleman. A person that I learned a lot about Isle Royale,,more than what I read in books.

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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Tampico » Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:59 am

I've encountered many people who didn't realize there are parcels of private property within both (MN) state parks and many national parks.

I used to think it was a generational thing, but I've witnessed the "entitlement mentality" from people of all ages. Some folks just think they're special.

My favorite was being asked (by a customer) to surrender a table at a popular Bayfield restaurant because this person's party was larger than mine, and they "had just driven all the way up from Chicago."


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Midwest Ed » Sat Sep 13, 2014 11:03 am

This issue has so many tentacles. It begins with private property rights which is one of the foundational principles of freedom in the U.S. Eminent Domain as proscribed in the Constitution allowed the park to take over control of these properties.

The original contracts, I believe, allowed for either the owners to sell out right or be grandfathered and pass the property to any heir living at the time of the deal. In not too many years they (the grandfathered heirs) will all be gone; many have already passed. This is a point of struggle and contention between the present non-grandfathered families and the government. Does the government force out the heirs without grandfather rights and then place the costs to maintain the structures on the Park or do they come up with a different arrangement allowing the heirs to remain in some form or another (there are threads in this forum discussing this). But I digress. I only bring this up because this knowledge does color my personal attitudes, just a bit at least. But these are still personal properties and should be respected. But it's my observation that these people are very friendly and if their privacy is respected they will typically respond with reasonable hospitality.

There are people everywhere that have trouble respecting personal privacy and property rights. I think we generally like to think these types of people are the ones that don't bother traveling all the way across Lake Superior to vacation. Of course private boating makes this easier. Having spent quite a bit of time in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary I have been around many boaters. I find them to be some of nicest people I know and very laid back; so much so that sometime it takes forever to get even simple tasks accomplished, but I digress again. But my experience has been almost exclusively with power boaters, not so many sail boaters. Even in the boating community, sail boaters have a reputation. All of this opinion is based on the assumption that no alcohol is involved.

There is also a category of people that are generally good-natured but thy seem to have a propensity to not being very aware of their surroundings, allowing them to miss things like posted signs or not properly preparing by avoiding such things as reading published or handout materials. They can usually be spotted as they aren't listening when you talk to them. Having said that I would bet the majority of visitors (first time ones anyway) have no idea about the history of private property on The Island or even its existence. Once they learn (assuming they do) there is a somewhat understandable initial confusion factor, but I think most overcome their confusion (or at least err on the side of privacy).

I respect the way the residents of Fisherman's Home handled the situation.
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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by zims » Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:35 am

I think it is horrible that people think they can bully for what they want whenever they want it. How do you deal with these select few that carry these big attitudes with their big boats. I have been in dock areas on the island and been sitting on the dock sunset watching, and totally gotten snubbed when saying good evening, or how are you folks. I have also seen them peer out of their cabins watching for us to leave the docks.


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Midwest Ed » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:37 am

zims wrote:I have been in dock areas on the island and been sitting on the dock sunset watching, and totally gotten snubbed when saying good evening, or how are you folks. I have also seen them peer out of their cabins watching for us to leave the docks.
There is a flip side to the public dock areas that many hikers (including myself) often overlook. When boaters are over-nighting in their boat, the dock is their designated campsite. They can and sometimes do anchor out, but the dock is there for them. Going out on a dock, sitting down and striking up a conversation is not all that different from someone walking into your campsite, sitting down at the picnic table and waiting for you to come out of your shelter or tent.
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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by tree rattt » Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:16 pm

Sorry, as a sailor I strongly dissagree with the dock being there only for the boat being tied to it. The dock is public space, the boat is private space thats it end of story as far as I am concerned IMHO.If I want privacy then I anchor out by myself.I also have these cool devices called curtains,when deployed they offer total privacy ......even when using the kamode :)

Now I know this issue has been out before, but If I am tied out to a dock all are welcome .....I would even offer a cold one if I had any available! :)
Keep an open mind and be tollerant.It is the park services dock ALL others are guests there hikers and boaters alike.Thats the way I see it.Or in this case the dock is private .....common courtesy should have been used by the sailor.


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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Midwest Ed » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:34 pm

tree rattt wrote:Sorry, as a sailor I strongly dissagree with the dock being there only for the boat being tied to it. The dock is public space, the boat is private space thats it end of story as far as I am concerned IMHO.If I want privacy then I anchor out by myself.I also have these cool devices called curtains,when deployed they offer total privacy ......even when using the kamode :)

Now I know this issue has been out before, but If I am tied out to a dock all are welcome .....I would even offer a cold one if I had any available! :)
Keep an open mind and be tollerant.It is the park services dock ALL others are guests there hikers and boaters alike.Thats the way I see it.Or in this case the dock is private .....common courtesy should have been used by the sailor.
Since you strongly disagree I'll try to clarify what I was trying to say. :oops: My comments about privacy were in the context of over-nighting at a dock, after bedtime. As I stated, I said the dock was public and as such it is not wrong for anyone to go out on a dock when a boat is moored. It is indeed a public space. At the same time if a boater is looking for a little privacy, then that should be respected. The boaters obviously don't own the dock but often it is the only logical place to be. It is often the only place a boat can moor for the evening. Anchoring out is sometimes not a very good option, especially due to weather.

The vast majority of boaters are indeed friendly and they almost always welcome company, but for the ones that are looking for privacy and solitude they should not be forced to deal with hikers that stand right next to boat, even leaning over the gunwales, waiting for the people to come out so they can be talked to. I have seen this happen. It's not identical but there is an analogous situation to approaching someone else's shelter. All I'm really saying when you see a boater that does not welcome you into a conversation then keep your distance, keeping in mind that you are just a few feet from their sleeping area and don't begrudge them for their preference. It's one thing to maybe fish off a dock during daylight hours when a boat is moored, but quite another to sit and talk with friends on a dock after bedtime. I agree that tolerance and respect of others is key.
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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by drobarge » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 pm

Who does own the dock? every American boater! Every American hiker! Every American citizen ;) It is NOTthe Park Service's dock.
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Re: Visitor perception of "private" areas on Isle Royale?

Post by Sides » Thu Sep 18, 2014 2:39 pm

I agree with Tree Ratt. I am a boater, but never on Isle Royale. I don't really view a dock as public or private. I see it more as a common area. If you were camped close to an outhouse, it's not your outhouse is it? If someone needs it in the middle of the night can they use it? If I wanted privacy, I wouldn't camp close to an outhouse. Different structure, same principal.

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