July 2008

The Start

July 20, 2008

Our great friend Mike has agreed to drive us to Parry Sound, a five hour drive from Ottawa. He is a little nervous when he sees the van he has rented for us and how much stuff we have piled into it and on top of it. Will he be able to get it out of the drive way before a tire pops? The neighbours are taking bets of how far we will get before it topples over.

We are a little nervous because this is the 4th truck load of stuff that we have moved onto the boat. Where are we going to put it? Well we will worry about that later.

The six of us manage to squeeze in but what is that? Mike brought an overnight bag, that was not in the plans. We manage to fit it on Christine's lap and off we go. Our neighbours gave us a great morning send off. The party keeps going from the night before! We miss you guys!!!

Getting our last brunch in with our fabulous neighbours

All packed and ready to go

July 21, 2008

Our first boat purchase is a new anchor. Chris decides on the Rocna- it is waiting for us at Sound Boat Works. No time like the present to install it.

We did a quick hop over to Huckleberry Island for the night, we wanted to get away from the dock and the mosquitoes. Motored as there wasn't much wind. We were the only boat in the anchorage and it was beautiful. We even saw 2 rainbows. How cool is that? Chris found a place for all 5 bikes for now while we are in fresh water.

July 22, 2008 - Ditching the dock lines for the last time!

Motored back to Sound Boat Works to drop Mike off. There was a boat in our regular slip so we had to reverse into another slip but did it with no problem. Did a few last minute errands while we still had a vehicle. Mike drove Chris around to Canadian Tire etc. Said bye bye to Mike!!!

Decided to leave this afternoon, the time had finally come! so at 1630 we threw the dock lines and departed Sound Boat Works for the last time. We motored to Kilcoursie Bay. Plan to stay here for a few days and unpack, stow and relax. There is a great sand beach, we are right at Killbear Point Provincial Park, there are lots of people on the beach. Chris has taken the dingy out and taken the kids tubing. One great thing about having little people with little hands aboard is when you need something retrieved from a very small hole there is always someone around very willing to help out.

July 25, 2008 Kilcoursie Bay to Killarney, ON 80 nm

After a few days of stowing our stuff, we decided it was time to leave and move on. We left at 0630. The ride was very very rough. The girls were seasick. We motored into Killarney at 1800 hours. Killarney lies on the north shore of Georgian Bay, it was once a busy commercial fishing village and not until 1962 was the village accessible by road. It is the gateway to the North Channel and a lovely, peaceful location. We tied up to a mooring ball in Bayfield Bluff, an anchorage across from the Killarney Mountain Lounge. The kids swam in the heated swimming pool, used the games room, we had pizza out for dinner, and had our first internet connection since we left home. We also saw a live show with a guy playing the guitar singing Northern Ontario songs. Just what the doctor ordered after a sail like that!

We met Tom Morkin and Liz Tosoni (s/v Feel Free) who were the dock masters at Killarney Mountain Lodge for the summer. They have been cruising for 35 years and have a blog at www.boatus.com/cruising. Check it out.

View from Killarney Mountain Lodge

July 27, 2008 Killarney, ON to The Pools 30nm

Our guide book suggested that no visit to the North Channel is complete without visiting The Pools. So off we went. We motored across the Lansdowne Channel which was very shallow in certain areas. We saw freighters being loaded at Unimin Canada Ltd where it has a quarry and is dismantling the mountain to mine the silica and ship it to Midland, ON. We sailed across Frazer Bay – absolutely beautiful. Frazer Bay is large and open and since it has no navigational hazards it’s a great place to sail. We saw a PDQ 36 sailing towards us.

We motored 9 nm down Baie Fine --white quartz mountains stretch for miles down the narrow bay, which is often called a fiord. Baie Fine and The Pools in our guide book was described as one of the North Channel’s prime attractions. It says to take a number and fall into line with the traffic. However we did not have this experience. The guide book said this about many anchorages in the North Channel and we did not experience this at all. Every anchorage we went into was not busy. We spoke to a few people about this and they concluded it is gas prices, as well with the US economy the way it is – recreational boating isn’t happening this summer in the North Channel.

The Pool is at the eastern end of Baie Fine. It is in the boundaries of Killarney Provincial Park, which is a wilderness park. We had to go through a very narrow shallow entrance but we stayed in the centre and everything was fine.

We motored by the Evinrude Cottage (Yes it is the same people that make the outboard engines. ) There were 4 other boats anchored here, in a very, very weedy bottom. We met some regulars who come here all the time and we asked where are all the boats? They said it was because of the weedy bottom, since the zebra mussels, the bottom has become so weedy that people do not anchor here anymore. And I can see why, I have never seen an anchor so weedy, thank goodness for the windlass or we would still be there. Our guide book is 10 years old so there are some discrepancies!!

We hiked to Topaz Lake, and jumped off the rocks into the clear lake for a quick swim.

What a great Northern Ontario summer experience! We saw a few campers and guess what? They were from Ottawa. We picked blueberries. Andrea and Ryan started the dingy motor for the first time.

Baie Fine North Channel

Evinrude Cottage

One of the dingy captains

At anchor

Hiking to Topaz Lake

weedy bottom

July 28, 2008 The Pools to Bell Cove via Little Current 29nm

We motored out of the 9nm channel of Baie Fine. We washed the boat inside and out, the kids all helped while we we motored along in the warm sun. We decided to pay them for this, kind of like cutting the grass. Another new feature that we didn’t have before on our other boats is a deck wash, which is a hose that you hook up on the deck which takes the water out of the body of water that you are sailing on, no more lifting bucket after bucket of water.! My back is thankful.

Around noon we motored under the Little Current swing bridge. Little Current called Baiwejewung, “where the water begins to flow”, by the natives. The water of the North Channel is funnelled into a passage only 100 yards wide, creating stiff currents as they empty into Georgian Bay. Little Current in the largest community on Manitoulin Island. We stopped at the town dock which is actually a sea wall for lunch at the Anchor Bar and Grill. Met a power PDQ 36 owner who tied up in front of us at the town dock. They were on a 4 week vacation. We also met people who recognized the boat and thought we were the previous owners, Don’s relatives. Our guide book suggested that no trip to Little Current was complete without going to Farquhar’s Dairy for a hawberry ice cream, however when we got there we were quite disappointed that they don’t make it anymore, we realized using a guidebook from 1997 might not be giving us the most updated information but what the heck it came with the boat.

Farquhar Dairy

Little Current Swing Bridge

On the dock

We left Little Current at 1615. Raised the main and jib and fixed the two reefing lines while we were sailing as it was a steady breeze. We had trouble anchoring in Bell Cove, we moved to a different location in the anchorage, second time was okay, it set. We found water in the starboard bilge, we vacuumed it out. Chris and Ryan put foil tape in the starboard engine locker. Ryan got paid for doing this. Andrea has been taking a hairdryer to the lettering at the stern and removing it all except for STRAY KITTY so we had to find a job for Ryan too!

July 29, 2008 Bell Cove to South Benjamin Island 32nm

Again our ancient cruising guide said that "the area is busy and the more busier it gets the more ingenuity cruisers show in finding places to tie up, if you want your pick of coves it is best to arrive in the later morning, you may feel like a vulture as you hover around waiting for the boat that has your spot to leave." When we arrived at 1430 there was only one other boat in the anchorage. We anchored stern to rock, Chris wanted to try it out and the only other boat in the anchorage was anchored this way. We noticed that our starboard alternator is not charging.

The Benjamin Islands are composed of pink granite, as opposed to the white quartz of the mountains to the north and the limestone of the lower surrounding island. South Benjamin was declared a National Beauty Spot and may not be quarried. We explored in the dingy and picked blueberries, the kids just love this activity and could do it for hours.

July 30, 2008 South Benjamin Island to Gore Bay 14nm

Chartered a course directly to Gore Bay and motored the whole way We took the bikes out, it took two trips in the dingy and was very awkward, we made the decision to buy folding bikes at this time! On our second trip in, the bikes were already locked on shore and we were all in the dingy with our bike helmets and life jackets on. Some people later told us that they saw us and thought that we were just ultra safety concious folks!!! We biked the 1.5 miles along West Bluff Road to the Janet Head park and lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses on the island.

Gore Bay is an inlet set into to the north shore of Manitoulin Island. We visited the Gore Bay Museum, it was once the old jailhouse and home of the jail keeper. It had a good collection of turn of the century artifacts from the days when Gore Bay was a logging farming and fishing community. The museum also contained relics of a ship believed to be Lasalle’s Griffon lost in 1670 off the shores of Manitoulin Island.

July 31, 2008 Gore Bay to Meldrum Bay 36nm

Cari was seasick on this trip as we were heading into the wind and it was quite rocky. Starboard engine is not charging. We tied up to the fuel dock but all they had was fuel, no water or pump-out. They were nice enough to call the owners husband for us who happened to be a diesel mechanic and he gave us some tips on our engines. After a few hours Chris figured out that we need a new alternator.

Meldrum Bay is on the north shore of the western tip of Manitoulin Island. The village is reminiscent of an old commercial fishing hamlet at a time when Great Lakes fishing was thriving.