Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Around 10:00 PM last night the wind picked up and lightening began flashing across the sky.  At midnight it began to blow harder and rained for several hours.  We awoke this morning to cooler temperatures and drier air.

There is a regular program every morning at 9:00 AM on VHF channel 71 called Cruiser Net, specifically for cruisers in the North Channel hosted by Roy Eaton of Little Current.  Roy is very personable and gives tips about where to go and what to see in the North Channel area.  He encourages everyone to call in reporting their location and to give their comments or ask questions.  He makes a point of telling anyone who has a boating need, to just contact him and he'll be most happy to help them out.  Yesterday Ralph called him asking if it were possible he  could take him to Harbour Vue marina to pick up another shift cable to keep on the boat as a spare.  Of course Roy said yes.  

They met this morning  at the second floor of the Anchor Inn where Roy broadcasts his radio show,.  After the show Roy drove Ralph to Harbour Vue then came back to see our boat.  He's a lot of fun and presented us with a canvas tote bag chock full of information about things to do and see in North Channel.  Thank you, Roy.  How thoughtful of you.

Ralph did some touch up painting this afternoon while I watched some of the Summer Olympics via the internet.  I was able to get the medal count and some other information on television, but the the NBC affiliate in Canada has blocked out the programming to anyone not living in the USA or US possessions so we can't see the events live.  Go! USA!!!  Go Michael Phelps!!  Break that record!!!

In the afternoon we walked to G.G.'s Foodland and bought milk and sticky buns right out of the oven. We were looking for hawberry jelly, particular to this area, but decided not to buy it after all.  We asked several of the locals what hawberries taste like and four different people said they never tasted it.  Not a good sign.   We've still got that daily bakery run going!!   A lot of our Looper friends are here in Little Current so we chatted with them and met some new friends as well.  Ricki and Carl on Quest invited us, Bev and Bruce Freese from Paddy Wagon and Joe and Edie Rubin from Seaquel to come by for Happy Hour.  

We had a lot of laughs and stories to share about our adventures.  We got a kick out of Bev's synopsis of our trip.  She said at first we were a bit tired of locks and now we're a bit tired of rocks so it's time to move on.  I guess we're all just about ready to leave Canada and go back to our beloved USA.  There really is no place like home, Dorothy!

We had dinner with the Rubins at the Anchor Inn on the main street --one of the Anchor Inn's specialties is bison burgers which were delicious.  It seems everyone congregates on the town dock near the ice cream bar in the evenings.  Tonight we met Dean and Beth from Kismet, John and Mary from Passport who we met previously at Fenelon Falls and Ricki and Carl who we met at Ste. Anne de Bellevue.  We're blessed to have made such wonderful friends.  It's hard to believe today is the last day of July already.  Mary and John live in Mackinaw, MI and this adventure has been the delivery trip of their boat and they're almost home. 

Beth and Dean are traveling with an African Grey parrot and described their adventures with her -- and the intricacies of bringing an exotic bird through Customs. 

Roy Eaton host of the North Channel Cruiser Net
Joe, Edie and Ricki

Edie, Carl and Ricki

Bruce and Joe

Bev and Ralph

Joe, Edie, Carl and Ricki

Monday, July 30, 2012

At 8:15 AM we weighed anchor and left Covered Portage Cove.  En route Ralph called Harbour Vue Marina in Little Current – about 20 miles away – and was very happy to learn that they had the shifter rod we need in stock.  Hooray!   We picked up the part, then waited for the swing bridge into the Port of Little Current.  It only opens on the hour and we were glad to be through at noon. 

We picked up a slip at the Port of Little Current City Dock which is very clean and has beautiful new docks with electricity, water, wifi and is right in the heart of town and convenient to banks, the post office, grocery stores, gift shops, a laundromat, restaurants, and last but certainly not least in our book:  an ice cream bar. 

While Captain Wonderful replaced the fly bridge shift rod, I was left to my own devices and decided to go to the laundromat a few blocks away and wash a load of towels and to check out the grocery stores, Valu-Mart and G.G.’s Foodland – across the street from each other.  I went to Valu-Mart because I was on their side of the street and found the produce to be fresh and reasonably priced, the bakery had a nice assortment and, as usual, the dairy products are ridiculously high, as is the meat. Nevertheless, I bought a few things on my list.  I may try G.G.’s Foodland for milk tomorrow.  

By the time I was finished with my stuff, the shift rod was replaced and both helms were working in sync. A fellow Looper we didn't know came by to introduce himself, then offered a hand to help "fish" the rod through which was awfully thoughtful of him when you need an extra pair of hands.   I'm grateful Mr. W. knows how to do myriad things – it’s very helpful in my world.  Broken things make me crazy.  And it is very, very good not to have any broken things on a boat.

I made dinner and then we walked up to the Dock Ice Cream Bar that just so happens to be at the end of our dock.  They sell the creamiest most delicious ice cream on earth, Farquhar’s, made right here on Manitoulin Island.  We each had butterscotch sundaes – no hot fudge – can you believe it??  But the butterscotch sundaes were delicious.  So good in fact, that I didn’t even have a chance to take a photo before we ate every wonderful bite.  The 3 Cows and a Cone Dairy Bar by the bridge also sells Farquhar’s ice cream...maybe we will try that tomorrow.  We met some sailboaters there and after chatting a while, invited them back to take a look at Say Good-Bye and told them that when they grow up, like all other sailors, they’ll probably get a trawler, too.

The forecast is for strong winds, possible thunderstorms and even hail overnight so we are staying here another day.  Ralph has connected with Roy Eaton, who has a morning radio program all about cruising in this area and he offers assistance to any boater for any purpose.   Ralph would like a ride back to Harbour Vue Marina tomorrow to pick up another shift rod to keep on-board as a spare.  And to our friend, Charles Culotta, who advised the Captain to buy a spare before we started this adventure, we say...hindsight is 20/20 and we thank you!!

Downtown Little Current

The local newspaper office

Steering from lower helm
Approaching Port of Little Current

The Port of Little Current Swing Bridge

Shift rod replaced and both helms in sync

Lower helm apart
The broken pieces
Approaching Harbour Vue Marina -- they had the part we needed in stock.  :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At 9:30 this morning we weighed anchor and left Mill Lake.  Again, we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day.  The water was clear and an emerald green/turquoise color.  The scenery is changing somewhat in that there are many high cliffs, some with sparse vegetation, others lush and green with the tall pines of this area.  Following the small craft route through Collins Inlet, at 11:30 AM we entered the Village of Killarney, passing the Killarney East Light at Red Rock Point.  We passed through Killarney Channel and continued to the inside portion of Covered Portage Cove, a beautiful sheltered anchorage.  
As we were in the process of anchoring, the shift rod on the fly bridge helm broke and we had no forward gear.  The Captain sprinted to the inside lower helm while I removed the canvas windshield cover and we anchored safely from the lower helm.  After lunch, Ralph took the upper shifting mechanism apart and found the broken rod.  A local sailboater named Glenn, also anchored, came by in his dinghy to chat and when he found out what happened gave us good information about where we could get parts in nearby Little Current and offered assistance if we need it. Everyone has been so gracious and friendly in our travels. 

We’re fortunate that we have two steering stations and also fortunate that the Captain is very smart and can troubleshoot and then fix things.  Further, Little Current is only 20 miles from us, and Glenn recommended we try Harbour Vue Marina first, as they may have the part in stock.  We’ll call them tomorrow morning. 

Glenn pointed out an observation deck on the top of one of the cliffs surrounding the anchorage.  He gave us directions to the start of the trail and off we went with Striper. The trail is rugged and took about 45 minutes to get to the top of the 800 foot elevation where we were surprised to find a well-built deck complete with Adirondack chairs and a small fire grate for trekkers like us to enjoy this amazing view and sit and relax a bit before heading back down.  According to my pedometer, it was 4.2 miles round trip -- uphill both ways!!  We all needed the exercise, including Striper who was on the alert for any forest creatures we might come across.  We saw only a few chipmunks and one yellow and black striped snake that quickly slithered off our path and into the grass. 
View from the summit
Hiking through the woods to the top of one of the cliffs at Covered Portage Cove

We dropped Striper back at the boat, got bottles of cold water, and dinghied into Killarney to Herbert’s Fisheries, the “world famous” fish-and-chips takeout restaurant housed in a red bus at the public dock.  The catch of the day was whitefish and we shared a picnic table with some other diners.   “The red bus” does  a non-stop business and although there was a continual line, the service was fast and efficient.  The fare was delicious and so plentiful, we could have easily shared one dinner.   Striper enjoyed a piece of the leftovers and I froze the rest for another day.  At this juncture, we’re rather fished out!”   Striper immediately went to her bed, Ralph took a shower and I took a nice bath and read a while, finishing “Wild” – a book about a single woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.  Her experience made our trek up the cliffs today seem like a walk in the park.  We all slept soundly.

Herbert's Fisheries Big Red Bus, Killarney

This sign on the door of Pitfield's General Store, Killarney

Beautiful Collins Inlet on the way to Killarney

Killarney East Light at Red Rock Point

Pitfield's General Store, Killarney

The big red bus is a bustling fish and chips business

The west entrance to Killarney

A different landscape from Collins Inlet

Pulled the dinghy ashore in Covered Portage Cove to climb one of the cliffs

Almost to the summit

800 foot elevation on top of the cliff overlooking Covered Portage Cove note the Adirondack chairs and fireplace on the deck

A view of Say Good-Bye from the observation deck

Saturday, July 28, 2012

We filled our water tanks and left Amant’s Marina, Britt, Ontario via Byng Inlet at 8:20 AM.  It was a beautiful day.  Our course took us through narrow rocky passagesin Beaverstone Bay next to Sheep Island that on a “not so good day” would have been hazardous.  The Canadian waterways are very well marked, including these passages.  The rock formations are amazing here as you will see by the photographs.  

Around 11:30 AM we arrived at Bustards, a very popular anchorage. Some of our Looper friends we’ve encountered in our travels were anchored there:  Quest, Marc’s Ark and Blue Heron, and we passed Rickshaw coming out as we were coming in.  We poked our nose in and decided to continue on.  Around 1:00 PM we were traveling downwind and were plagued with flies, gnats and all other manner of annoying bugs.  Thank the Lord for the bug zappers.  The Captain is getting quite adept at bug annihilation.  I got the dust buster and sucked up the carnage.  We were certainly happy when the wind direction changed and we were bug-less once again. 

At 3:45 PM we arrived at Mill Lake off Green Island.  It’s a beautiful anchorage, but until we found good holding, it took us three tries at anchoring in three different locations.  It was reedy and had a sort of clay bottom, and we finally found a comfortable spot and settled in at about 4:30 PM.  Easy 3, fellow Loopers we had met in Montreal were also anchored there in a different section.  It was nice to see them again.  At anchor we had good tv reception and caught up on the news, watched some Andy Griffith reruns, and went to bed early. It was very good sleeping weather.  Total mileage today 47 miles.

The emerald green/turquoise water of the Georgian Bay

Beaverstone Bay next to Sheep Island

One of many cottages on the rocks in Beaverstone Bay

Rogers Gut on the way to Bustards

Beaverstone Bay on the way to Bustards

Mill Lake off Green Island

Mill Lake

Mill Lake

Friday, July 27, 2012


Today we're celebrating my 65th birthday.  Instead of a rainy day, it was a sunny day and a beautiful travel day on the Georgian Bay.  About an hour away from Stairs Island the Bay turned a sort of emerald/turquoise color -- my photos don't do it justice.   The water here is very clean and so clear you can see down about 10 feet.

We're in the town of Britt, Ontario at St. Amant's, a family-owned marina complex that includes hotel rooms, a summer resident mobile home park, and a marina with a restaurant, grocery store, laundromat, and gas/diesel fuel. Included in the reasonably priced slip charges are electricity, water and wifi and we have a good tv connection here, too.

We had  lunch at the restaurant, which was quite good and we enjoyed yet another pickerel dinner this evening  which we both enjoyed immensely.  I got to do a load of laundry -- and you know how I like that -- and we both caught up on banking, email, the blog, and Facebook.  Sometimes you need a day like this -- a very happy birthday for me!  Thank you, Captain Wonderful!  Here are some photos of our travels today

The photo doesn't do justice to the color of the water -- it was emerald/turquoise and beautiful.

One of the "cottages" along the Georgian Bay

Different rock formations in this area of the Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay

This is a very odd style cottage (as they're all called) for this area

A comparison of two cottages on the Georgian Bay

St.Amant's Marina

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We weighed anchor at 8:30 AM leaving Echo Bay.  There was a fine mist and gray skies as we traveled across Georgian Bay.  Around 1:30 PM we reached Stairs Island which was recommended by Gerry and Linda Etzhold.  There are no depths marked on either the paper or electronic charts and we were reluctant to venture in because  the lack of winter snow and sparse spring rains  have lowered the water levels everywhere here in Canada.  The lower water level is quite pronounced on the rocks in this area.

Jay and Debbie are still traveling with us and went in ahead of us and found the depths to be adequate.  Once inside, the passage opened out into a well-protected anchorage.  The forecast for overnight is strong winds with a chance of thunderstorms so we decided to drop the hook and stay.

Anchored there already was “Queen Kathleen.”  This name was familiar to me, but I didn’t know why.  After we got situated, I remembered it was Elle Lassman who commented that Mike and Kathy McMahon on “Queen Kathleen” were somewhere near us in the Georgian Bay doing the Loop also.  Mike and Kathy came by to say hello and came aboard to chat.  It was nice to meet them.  Thanks, Elle! 

We took a dinghy ride through narrow picturesque channels that, surprisingly, in some spots were as deep as 14’.  The rock formations are colorful and swirly -- almost looking like lava that poured out of a volcano and solidified.

As I write this at 6:00 PM, there are three sailboats and three trawlers anchored in this safe haven.  The sun has just come out and the sky is blue.  Perhaps the forecast is changing.  Below are pictures of these magnificent rock formations, some of the prettiest we've seen in the Georgian Bay.

Stairs Island

Checking the depths in the narrow channels Stairs Island

Stairs Island

Stairs Island

Stairs Island

Stairs Island

Stairs Island