Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Section III Georgian Bay: Byng Inlet to Little Current

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 anchorages.  This 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.
Twenty 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 locals' recommendations.
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 is beautiful.
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. 
In 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 lures.

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