Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Monday, July 29, through Thursday, August 1, 2002 
America's Great Loop Cruiser Association Rendezvous at Kagawong, Ontario

How do we describe an almost week of camaraderie with our fellow Loopers?...  Entertaining? Informative? Educational? Loopy? All of the above...  

Although the rendezvous was not scheduled to begin until Monday afternoon, most of us had arrived by Sunday, so we gathered together on the dock of Northern Marina on Monday morning.  Coffee cups in hand, the skippers and the first mates were ready to exchange stories about their journeys.  Luckily for us Eastern sailors there were sailors from the mid-west and southern waters.  We could all exchange stories to help others through the "unknown" waters.

Pearce and Kay began this trip when they read an article in Newsday. Written by Eva and Ron Stob, the article described the trip along the inland waterway which they called the Loop.  It was very exciting to not only join a group of boaters who were traveling on the same waterway but to also talk with Eva and Rob.  The morning coffee group allowed the boaters to exchange information about what they knew and what they needed to know.

One of the tours arranged for us was a walking tour of the village of Kagawong.  We climbed a gentle path to the Bridal Veil Falls.  There were several other trails which lead to the Falls, but most of the group chose the easy, gentle path.  When we arrived at the falls, it was difficult to not jump into the water or follow the path behind the falls.  It was easier to have our picture taken.

The walk then directed us along a path that took us from the top of the village along the various businesses and ended at the waterfront.  We stopped at several businesses along the way -- antique dealers, builders of furniture, provisioners of canoes and kayaks. Jean and Garrett Mulder had organized the walk, they called it a "poker walk",  which was built around the idea of building a poker hand by collecting sealed cards at each of five places along the way. The hands were opened at our final dinner party where prizes were awarded.

Right down on the waterfront, a few feet from the marina is St. John The Evangelist Anglican Church, "The Sailor's Church", that has an unique interior featuring a marine  related theme. Most of the articles which reflect this theme were donated by parishioners and friends, many of whom are sailors. The pulpit, for instance, is the wrecked bow of a boat that was caught in a sudden and tragic storm between Manitoulin and Clapperton Islands. As potluck dinnertime at the Pavillion approached, we were serenaded by a piper-on-the-dock who played the seas to calm and winds abate.

Nothing was calm about the 'Loopers' Great Dinghy Race." Jean made the rules... Captains are blindfolded, First Mates navigate. This picture was taken shortly after the start when the navigators were still unconfused...A little later, when the blind captains had done their erratic thing, despite their navigators wishes, the scene was even more confused. But thirty years of driving Navy Destroyers paid off for Howard Burdick as he and Jane led the fleet to victory!
We were in the second heat.  Dave offered us his dinghy, "It came in second for us."  He said the only  problem was that the oars were a little short.  Pearce tried them out and decided he could manage, but when he put on the blindfold he kept asking Kay to turn the oars so they were vertical to the water.  She said he had to put more of the oar in the water.  Since the race hadn't started yet, Pearce took off the blindfold and discovered that with a twist and a pull, the oars grew to normal lengths.  The whistle blew, we had a great start, Pearce gave a mighty pull on the oars, and out popped one of the oar locks!  There was no safety line on it, and after sailing through the air in a mighty arc, it disappeared into the water.  We had just slipped the oar under a hand hold and were engaging in some bumper action around one of the marks when the other oar lock followed its partner.  At this point the rules called for rowing backwards -- oh, El Toro sailors, you know Pearce excels at this.  We paddled and rowed, did circles around the marks, and came in 4th.  Disappointing, but all in fun.  We told Dave the good news -- compressing oars -- he already knew the bad news.  Several sailors then donned goggles and flippers, and the hunt began.  It was Al Dunn of "Al a Patricia" who found both oar locks.  By that time almost everyone had decided that a swim was a great ending to a fun afternoon.
A special word of thanks goes to Wendy and Bob Ellen, owners of Northern Marina where all this took place. They were the greatest hosts who were able to stuff all our boats into the marina, take care of all our docking needs as well as run a marine store, boat rental shop and ice cream stand, in addition to lending us a car to drive into Little Current to get the computer fixed. And they're Loopers, too! We all got together for a group photo... what a handsome bunch of loopers we are. Right?

Kagawong calls itself "The Prettiest Little Village on Manitoulin Island."  It's name in Ojibwe means "where the mists rise from falling waters."  Most of the towns here on Manitoulin were settled in the middle of the 19th century.  Only the First Nation (Canadian for Native Americans) settlements are older.  St. Paul's Church on the Hill is the oldest structure, built in 1881.  Therefore, all of Kagawong's buildings are newer than our old house in Amityville!  The Manitoulin Pulp Company used the water power from the falls to produce wet pulp that was then shipped to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where it was made into paper for the Sears Roebuck catalogues.  That building, the Old Mill, is the home of the Edwards Studios and Art Gallery.  Island artists not only have a showcase for their work, but they also conduct demonstrations and classes.  Pearce enjoyed the watercolors of Richard Edwards -- they have a luminosity the captures the clear colors of water, sky, layers of stone, and woods.  He was ready in invest in one of the paintings until Kay pointed out that it would block the view from the port side of the boat.  Kay has come away with many ideas for stained glass and quilts.

The last rendezvous gathering was dinner in Needles' Stonehouse Restaurant, where the chef offered the very best deep fried whitefish available.  There were other choices, but the whitefish was the most popular.  Jean Mulder awarded the prizes for the Dinghy Race and the Poker Run.  A local musician sang original ballads of Manitoulin.  Just as we were leaving the restaurant, the lights went out, thunder boomed, lightning flashed, and the rain began to fall.  The forecast for the next day was more of the same, so we enjoyed each other's company for another day.

Friday, August 2, 2002
We left early (for us) at 8:15 and headed toward Gore Bay.  The ride was choppy -- there were some whitecaps when we were out of the lee of Clapperton Island.  We arrived in plenty of time to take the laundry to the laundromat.  Pearce dried and folded while Kay went to the Medical Center for her appointment to get some happy pills.  The doctor diagnosed her anxiety disorder after asking, "Why are you on a boat if the bouncing and rocking give you a panic attack?"  A trip to the pharmacy netted twelve little pills.  "Take half a pill at first."  So we have 24 days to finish Lake Huron and to go down Lake Michigan.

A trip to the grocery store and a stop for lunch, and we were again underway.  Howard and Jane of "Seaburds" were traveling in the same direction.  Although we both had intended to go to Meldrum Bay for the night, but with the wind and waves building, we decided to stop halfway there. We anchored in 12 feet of water close to the shore of the First Nation village of Sheshegwaning.  We spent a nice hour on Seaburds having cocktails and chatting. 

Saturday, August 3, 2002
We awoke to the sunrise shining brilliantly  in the cabin door; opted to start early and have breakfast underway.  The seas were flat, there was no wind to speak of, and we were able to put into harbor on Drummond Island, USA,  by 11:30 am, a fifty-five mile run. (And not one happy pill for Kay, today!)  US Customs was a breeze. There were many wild stories being told about how difficult US Customs have become since 9/11. There were supposed to be some mystery forms that had to be attained prior to leaving the country, fingerprints, nose prints, etc... All we have are our boat receipts and our passports, and we surely expected to be arrested at the least. Instead, it seems that all the US of A wants is twenty-five dollars. A signature on a credit card voucher gets anyone in! Makes you wonder a bit, doesn't it?

After Customs and fueling, we moved on about ten more miles to DeTour Village, Michigan, the jumping-off place for the rest of Lake Huron, the Straits of Mackinaw and then Lake Michigan. There are several of our fellow Loopers docked alongside and some bad weather brewing to the west where we are all headed, so we may be holed up here for a while. Not a bad part of the world to hang out, is it?
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