Section III Georgian Bay: Byng Inlet to Little
Saturday, July 20, 2002:
It's Saturday morning, that means we have our
1,000 minutes of cell phone time for this weekend. Pearce sends off
the Log for this past week, and Kay calls the kids and friends.
We've decided that we won't go too far today, about 25 miles to the
Bustard Islands. They are many piles of granite rocks that lay about
a mile or so off the coast of Ontario. They are also along the outer
Small Boat Channel that we have been following. The guide book calls
the Bustard Islands a "tightly clustered archipelago" that
"covers an area four miles long by two miles wide." We have begun to
make the turn toward the North Channel and will now be heading west when
we leave tomorrow.
From Byng Inlet the channel included the usual
miles of very tight twisting and turning through thousands of rocks
left by the glaciers, most only a foot or two above the water and many
more just below the surface. The books all say use extreme caution
here. And did we ever! We came into the islands and are anchored between
Tie Island (visible astern of the boat... in fact, our stern is tied off
to a tree on Tie Island) and Strawberry Island, one of two
must be a really good spot -- there are 4 sailboats and 5 power boats spending
the weekend here with us. Hey, Long Islanders, tell Gilgo Beach that this is
a much more beautiful spot and no one will throw us out at 8 pm! It's now 9:15 and I just turned on the cabin lights. The sun set
about 20 minutes ago. Have I said this before? It is truly
delightful to have daylight extend so long. Of course, the same
thing goes for the morning hours -- the sun comes up early, but I
(Kay) am not awake at that time -- so I can only marvel at the length of
the end of the day!
Sunday, July 21, 2002:
A rainy day in paradise... cool, blustery; Canada weather radio says wind is
gusting 35 to 40 kilometers and waves are up to 2 meters out on the bay...
With a 25 mile open bay leg ahead, we've opted to sit right here in our
Bustard's cove securely anchored in front and tied to a tree well rooted in Tie
Island astern. Elton John and Billy Joel are filling the boat with cool rock
interspersed with occasional weather reports from the FM station in Sudbury that
promise better conditions tomorrow.
Suddenly, some Sunday morning excitement enters
our cove... three boats from Ohio come in from the bay. They all look new;
a fifty foot and a forty-five foot Sea Ray and a forty foot Tiara.
they are each beautiful seaworthy boats, but the crews -- families of
parents, grandparents and kids of all sizes -- look relieved to be off the
bay. The next half-hour is entertaining. The captains all seem to know
what they are doing, but anchoring, sending kids out in dinghies to tie
off to trees and rafting all three up to each other is a "fire
drill" enjoyed by all of us onlookers. Wonder how they got here? Did
they come from Lake Erie, through Lake St. Clair and across Lake Huron?
Did they go through the Welland Canal, across Lake Ontario and through the
Trent Severn -- are they Loopers, like us? Or maybe -- one is from
Cincinnati -- did he come through the Ohio River, Mississippi and the Lake
Michigan back door? Rainy Sunday afternoons are great for speculating,
ain't they? Maybe we should dinghy over and ask?
Monday, July 22,2002
Never got around to dinghying over... woke up this morning thinking it was still
night. Day had come, but the sun was missing. A fog like we've hardly ever seen
on Great South Bay had closed in
the cove. Visibility was down to less than a hundred yards. Pearce said,
"Great, let's go navigate..." Kay said, "Breakfast!" Canada
Weather Radio warned of all kinds of dire weather all over Lake Huron...
possible thunder storms, scattered showers, sunny in the west, stormy in the
east... but nothing about fog in Georgian Bay. So it must be just a local phenomenon,
right? Let's get going before the fog lifts, the wind rises and the waves get
too rough for our open bay crossing to Killarney. Good plan, right? Wrong! We
cleared the lee of the Bustards, went about a mile into the Bay with the waves
building on our bow every minute; and found out why they call these the GREAT
lakes. Unlike Atlantic Ocean swells that roll in like big rocking chairs on a
summer porch. These Georgian Bay spine-jerkers come short and steep -- rattling
the crockery in the cabinets and making Kay, who never likes to heel more than
two degrees, rush below to keep Lucky, our parakeet, from tumbling. Too rough!
We headed in to Bad River Inlet, which turned out to be not so bad because it
was inside and protected.
Lunch, a few hours rest and a Bloody Mary helped soothe the storm. But
then a new problem... the generator stopped. Just stopped -- in the midst of
making ice, heating water, powering the TV and VCR, running the microwave,
warming the cabin on a cool Canadian morning -- those necessary things that
boaters in the wilderness need and expect... (are we getting spoiled, or what?).
Pearce checked all the obvious generator systems to no avail. The thing just
wouldn't run. Time to call in an expert... so we decided to push on toward
Killarney where - maybe - we might find a mechanic who knows something about
Kohler generators. Luckily, the wind and waves had let up so we headed out into
the bay again.
miles of easing seas got us up Beaverton Bay and into Collins Inlet. This is a
deep water cleft in the high rocks that average only about 100 yards wide
between towering pink granite walls that dwarf anything passing under. Thirteen
miles of canyon... another fantastic scene!
And then, Killarney, a short channel between mountains that has marinas, shops,
restaurants and boats, boats. boats stuffed into every cranny. Killarney was
settled in in 1820 and had remained accessible only by water until 1962 when the
first highway was cut through the woods and hills to the north and connected the
village with the rest of mainland Ontario. We picked the Killarney
Mountain Lodge to dock, and what a lucky pick! This place could have been the
setting for the B'way musical "Wish You Were Here" or the movie
"Dirty Dancing." It's a summer lodge with all the trimmings. What a
place to land!
But first, a few phone calls: To Staten Island
Boat Sales in Freeport, NY, to report the broken generator. The nice guys
there referred me to the Kohler generator company -- even gave me the
phone number! Too late to call today. Contacted Mike at Auto & Marine
Service here in Killarney to make an appointment for him to look at it
tomorrow morning. Not much can happen 'til then, so we went to the Lodge
for dinner; had Slake, a local fish, something of a cross between a Brown
Trout and a Lake Trout. Delicious. Seems like every time something breaks,
we try to compensate by eating well!
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Mike arrived at 8:30, dived into the generator and diagnosed. The problem: a
failed fuel pump. The Carter electric pump was receiving electricity, but
producing no fuel. (Funny how these new things can go bad so soon... 250 hours
on the meter and kaput already. Maybe that's more hours in a shorter time than
the designers had in mind). Of course, Mike does not have the part, but he says
he certainly will be stocking it in the future... he says, "Where there is
demand, I want to have supply..." He suggests I call Stan Ferguson at Harbor Vue
Marina in Little Current (about twenty miles further along on our path). Also
called Barry the Kohler rep in Freeport... the AT&T Card is starting to
melt. A flurry of calls, transfer of serial, model and spec numbers, and great
help from Leigh Natalie at Harbor Vue, who contacted Barry directly and -- I'm
told -- a new fuel pump is on the way from Freeport to Little Current. Two or
three days, Leigh says. We sure hope this repair stopover is a lot shorter than
the windlass saga in Orillia!
We decided to pack up and continue on. But first, since it was almost
lunchtime, we wanted to try the fish and chips at Mister Perch, a takeout
restaurant housed in a bus right on the town dock. We motored down the
channel only to discover that there was no room at the dock, but the LCBO (state
liquor store) was right next door and there was space at their dock. Pearce went in to buy a bottle of Smirnoff and Kay went next door for the fish
and chips. By the way, liquor is price-fixed here, with only a few name
brands available. Smirnoff is $46.95 for a two liter bottle (that's equal
to $31.52 US). Canada adds a lot of taxes. (It's that wonderful health
program they have.) Absolute is one dollar
more and the no name is one dollar less. The boxed wine is terrible, and
there are no bottled wines that look familiar. We've had to rely on the
We had heard that Baie Fine was a beautiful place to anchor, swim, and
explore. We headed down Killarney bay and around two corners to Baie
Fine. This 10 mile long bay has been called a fjord. We carefully
entered the shallow and narrow entrance and followed the buoys along a path
between the submerged and visible rocks. The scenery is fantastic.
Almost all the trees are now evergreen, but there are also some birches visible
along the water. As we were approaching the hills and mountains along the
North Channel from many miles
away, it looked as if there was snow on the mountain. When we got closer
we could see that the white patches are really granite. There are also
grains of pink granite visible along the sides of the bays. I'm not sure why
Baie Fin has been called a fjord because,
although it is somewhat deep (70 to 80 feet) and has a shallow entrance, it does
not have the sheer walls and cliffs of a classic fjord. Nevertheless, it
We arrived at the head of the bay, jogged around the
corner, and anchored among sail and motor boats. Because the water was
deep close to shore, Pearce unhooked the dinghy and floated ashore
with a long line to tie our stern to a tree. We discovered that
we were anchored next to another couple doing the Loop -- Jane and
Howard Burdick, out of Newport, RI. After comparing notes,
Jane and Pearce agreed that there were no fish here either.
spite of no fish, Baie Fine was very pretty. Kibon looked contented anchored
in the famous pool. The Pool, as the head of the bay is called, is
completely protected from winds. The water is several degrees warmer than
anywhere outside the fiord, but there was a gentle breeze to keep us cool in
the evening. It was so still in the morning that it did not feel like
we were on a boat. Since we had no electric power, Pearce fired up the barbecue,
and we cooked dinner on it. It was like deja vue all over again on
many older and smaller boats! The challenge was to provide coffee for
breakfast the next morning. A tea kettle on the barbecue provided hot
water, but the only instant coffee we had was Swiss Mocha -- it tasted more
like hot chocolate.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Breakfast accomplished, Pearce unwrapped us from the tree, pulled the anchor
up, and headed back down the bay. As we came out into the North
Passage again, Pearce saw a long freighter tied up at a dock, behind which
were huge piles of white -- probably rock that was being quarried in the
surrounding islands. We had passed several places that were being
mined. The freighter was so long that Kay insisted is was two separate
boats both tied up at a gray dock. Pearce said, "Yes, dear"
and waited until we got closer. Amazingly, the gray dock was the hull
that connected the two boats, the stern and the bow!
We continued across the North Channel and approached Manitoulin
Island. We headed down the easternmost bay to Manitowaning, the oldest
settlement on the island. In 1836, the government tried to establish a
community that would gather the native people into a settlement.
Although this was not successful, the village developed into one of the
Island's commercial centers. It is a deep water port that began to
decline when a road and bridge was opened to Manitoulin after WWII.
Now its main industry is tourism and fishing. We spent the afternoon
visiting the Assiginack Museum, the S.S. Norisle, the Lighthouse, St. Paul's
Church -- the oldest Anglican church in North America-- and several old mills along the wharf. Assiginack is the name of the "county"
whose government maintains the attractions. The S.S. Norisle was the
last steam powered passenger ship on the Great Lakes. It has a long
history, but its final voyages were as a ferry which carried people and cars
from Southern Ontario to Manitoulin Island.
After our exercise, which included a hike up and down a cliff -- four levels
of 20 steps each -- Pearce hooked up the Direct TV line and we enjoyed some
movies after dinner. A full moon was shining over Manitowaning Bay as
we rocked to sleep.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Pearce had been watching the fishermen return with their catch
yesterday. One boat had caught three nice sized salmon. Although
the fisherman didn't reveal just where he had caught them, he did give some
advice on how to catch them. So, we went out into the Bay, headed for
deep water, Pearce put on his Orange Rappala lure, and a half pound weight. Guess
what? Same old story. Those fish just don't want to eat Pearce's
Back across to the North Channel we came and into Harbor Vue Marina at
Little Current, Ontario.
The fuel pump for the generator has arrived! Many, many thanks to Stan
Ferguson, President of Harbor Vue and and the intervention of Leigh Natalie, his
Service Coordinator and number
one expediter it made the trip from Long Island in record time. Craig installed
it, waved a magic wand and the thing purred to life. The old fuel pump had
failed after only 250 hours... but thanks to Darren Matthews at SIBS,
Barry the Kohler parts dealer at MTS Power Systems in Freeport and several UPS
and Canadian Customs officials along the way, we're
back in the electricity business. Let's only hope that, since we had to pay
for all this in advance, the Kohler Generator Company will see fit to reimburse
us fairly soon... there are a few more ice cream stands ahead.
Here we are in Little Current... already
into the North Channel. This Lighthouse at Strawberry Island marks the entrance
to Little Current. This section was supposed to end at Killarney, but it
just kept growing, didn't it? Tomorrow we'll start a new section that will take
us through The North Channel and eventually back into the US. One of the high
points will happen next week when we rendezvous with other "Loopers"
at Kagawong... but that's the next chapter.
Back to Log Index page
to Section IV: North Channel - Little Current,
Ontario to Mackinac Island, Michigan