Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sailing the Great Lakes

Map of the Great Lakes Manitoulin Island is located just north of George Bay at the top of Lake Huron. The North Channel lies just to the North of Manitoulin Island. Most people that cruise it come from southern Lake Huron, up the shore ‘til the reach the northern tip of the Bruce peninsula and lay over in Tobermory. Forged from the limestone outcroppings of the Niagara Escarpment Cliffs at Tobermory ----- A couple of miles east of Tobermory in Georgian Bay is Flowerpot Island Flowerpot Island is in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. It’s part of the Fathom 5 National Park It’s a diver’s paradise with sunken ships that provide them with interesting things underwater ----- Here’s the lighthouse at the entrance to BigTub Harbour, Tobermory, Ontario
and the ferry, Chi-Cheemaun (Big Canoe, origin Ojibwe) departing from Tobermory and aerial photograph of Tobermory. From Tobermory, the ferry goes to South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island. on the South side of Manitoulin Island. Manitoulin Island is the largest fresh water island in the world. It’s usually just the ferry that puts in to South Baymouth, most boaters cruise directly to Little Current on the North side of Manitoulin Island where the entrance to the North Channel begins. Here’s a view of where three of the lakes meet. There’s a swing bridge at Little Current, which is the entrance to the North Channel The Town of Little Current is on the left after clearing the bridge. This is where most boaters stock up for fresh groceries, supplies and sometimes top up with fuel if they need it. ----- ----- Now begins this remarkable body of water where islands are accessible by water where boaters throw their anchor in and enjoy the peace and quiet of their vacation. As long as we’ve been going there, we never tire of the grandeur of the scenery. The water is crystal clear and you can see the fish swimming when at anchor. A series of deserted islands approachable only by water are set in pristine, sparkling fresh water Here’s an overhead of the anchorage at Croker Island: A closer look at the Inner Harbour at Croker Island: Most marinas have been left behind on the mainland and ropes are often tied to trees with anchors used off the stern. The bottom is often rocky and sometimes more than one is used. ----- Many artists have been attracted to the North Channel. The Group of Seven are famous for the pictures they painted: The West Wind, by Thomson: The Red Maple by A. Y. Jackson:
North Shore by Lawrence Stewart Harris:
Inlet, Georgian Bay by Thomson Byng:
And one of my favourite artists, Emily Carr:
----- Back to the islands of the North Channel. The next anchorage is in the Benjamin Islands. Anchorage, Benjamin Islands South: Anchorage, Benjamin Islands North Skyline, Benjamin Islands in the distance Next stop: Baie Finn: Aerial view of the Baie Finn Pool:
To the best of my knowledge, it is the only inland fjord in the world. The pool at the end is approximately 7 miles long and 100-150 yards wide in the bay. The marked channel into it is very narrow, with mountains at both sides and about 8 miles long. The anchorages in the pool are breathtaking. Mountains all around and completely sheltered from storms. Most people do have either an inflatable boat or a small tender they tow behind. White granite rocks that line the channel: Sunset, Baie Finn ----- Next stop, map of the location of the Village of Killarney on the mainland of Northern Ontario This is one of our favourite villages. It’s a world of isolation and mystery. The town of Killarrney didn’t have any electricity ‘til 1951. With no road access until 1962, water was for many years the only route of travel for its citizens and visitors. The reason for the lack of roads was because of the rock formations that is known as the Canadian shield. The 44 mile road that was built that connected them cost more than:$2,500,000. Fishing resort in the background, Killarney, Ontario: We normally stop and pick up fresh perch for dinner. When you’ve been a boat for a number of days, sometimes when you get off, it’s hard to get your bearings, because you are accustomed to being on the boat where the decks move up and down. So there is a tendency to make up for it by weaving about as if it still were! :) Probably some of you who have been in the navy might be able to identify with that! Somehow, it’s much easier to adapt to a boat going up and down with the waves, than what it is to be on the land where it's still! It leads me to believe that humans really did evolve from the fish in the sea! :) The community of Killarney was once serviced regularly by steamships that carried both passengers and freight to various locations on Georgian Bay and through the North Channel area. It’s primarily a fishing, logging and trapping village. Almost all of their goods came first by sailing ships and later by steamers. They were extremely self-reliant and had to make due because the lake froze over cutting them off from supplies that arrived in the Spring. They did have telephones starting in 1936 so they did have contact with the outside world. Being in that town is a step back into history. A do not miss is the little pioneer museum that houses several original sound recording of villagers complete with background scratchy sounds that lend authenticity to them. Before it was turned into a museum, it was the jail for the village! :) It’s a very small building, so they mustn’t have had too many drunks they had to toss into it. The people who lived in that village were very independent. There were no ships, trucks or cars that delivered supplies in the winter because the lake froze over. Preserves were done up so they had fruit that lasted ‘til the next Spring. No mail was delivered over the course of the winter. Their physical separation from the mainland often produces a cultural separation as well. Islands are always a little rustic and behind the times, it seems, from the mainlander's point of view. When travel to them is difficult, the feeling of separation increases. Manitoulin may only be located a few hundred miles due north of Detroit or Toronto, but reaching it --other than by boat-- has always been difficult. That village wasn’t alone in being unaccessable. To reach Manitoulin from Mackinaw City in Michigan's lower peninusla, you must cross the Straits of Mackinac, travel 50 miles across Michigan's upper peninsula, cross the international border at Sault Ste. Marie, bridge the St. Mary's River, traverse 200 miles of Ontario mainland forest, crest the La Cloche mountains, and wind your way down the rocky hills to the Little Current passage. When you consider that many of the bridges along this route were not built until the mid 1950's, you can see the historical difficulty in reaching the island from the south via automobile. ----- Onto the next stop: One of the most pleasant places we stayed was at Sturgeon Cove. We were guests on a 55’ Wellington that Haydn designed, built and installed the swim platform we're sitting on. Drawing of Sturgeon Cove: This anchorage is looking Northwest toward the narrow opening: Prevailing winds do come from that direction and there are wonderful sandy beaches on the southeast end. The darker island in the center of the opening is High Island. Behind it are the quartzite hills of the La Cloche Mountains, the true northern coast of Lake Huron. Our host is a pilot who works for GM. He flies around the world taking GM executives to their destinations. He is very knowledgeable about the stars and it gets so dark in the North Channel there is no light pollution from nearby cities. The stars against the black velvet of the skies are brilliant and you can see the entire Milky Way without the assistance of binnoculars or telescopes. He drew our attention to satellites that go by. If you’ve never experienced a really dark sky, you won’t have any idea what I’m talking about. The whole dang thing lights up brighter than any billboard – the feeling it invokes is oneness with nature. That night sky and those stars, just makes you feel so small and yet belonging to what’s up there. We really are just part of a very big universe. The Milky Way is just one of the galaxies—the effect to see it so plainly is soothing to know we’re part of much bigger picture. Did you know there are over a 100 billion stars in our Milky Way? Big Dipper, in the Milky Way Galaxy: In the bay, we were treated to a family of Loons. Their evening song is a real treat. I hadn’t realized ‘til last summer that in Canada we only get to see them when they look their very best. Their distinctive markings aren’t apparent when they aren’t mating. They mate in the northern lakes, away from civilization. Listen to the charming Indian story of how the loon got its markings. Loon Necklace Sunset at Sturgeon Cove:
----- Just a couple of more pictures of some other anchorages: Little Detroit Passage, North Channel: Meldrum Bay, Manitoulin Island, at sunset: ----- We’ll continue to go to the North Channel because there are still hundreds of islands and anchorages to discover. I’ll make up another diary about another wonderful place to go sailing, to anchor and get in touch with nature. Here’s a marvellous picture I managed to get of my husband last summer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

2011 Trent Severn Holiday

Atherley, just before the City of Orillia.

Cooks Bay, (#16) Trent Severn 2011 Summer Holiday

Day 1Day 1 – depart Cooks Bay, Gilford, ON on Lake Simcoe for Beaverton Yacht Club—approx 30 N. Miles

Picture Beaverton Gas Docks in front of the little green building—
Took our mast down, stored it on the cabin roof.

Day 2—entered the Trent Severn Waterway off Lake Simcoe—travelling upstream toward Kirkfield, a summit, where after leaving the lock, the direction of travel becomes downstream toward Peterborough. Buoys that were formerly left to starboard are now left to port. Because the route is so well marked, it would be very difficult to get mixed up as to which side to leave the buoys.

Trent Severn Waterway Entrance from Lake Simcoe

First Lock #41 after the Lake Simcoe Entrance Gamebridge--manual Lock

We stayed overnight at Portage, Lock #39

Day 3—underway to pic of Balsover Lock, speed signage sign:

Balsover’s pic of Swing Bridge opens without having to radio the operator. Maximum speed in narrow passages is restricted to al1 at 10 Kph. Several narrow passages exist on the Trent Severn.

Picture of Kirkfield Lock at top where after that lock, starboard buoys change to being passed on the port side and vice versa when traversing in the opposite direction.

It’s difficult for a camera to capture how high the boats are lifted. Pic of boat entering the Kirkfield Lock—often there is space for six of seven boats in a lock.

Video of the Kirkfield Lift Lock which you'll have to cut and paste into your browser window in order to view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9jMT9mm-UM

One of our bumpers came off while in the Kirkfield Lock and a student employee had to really stretch himself to retrieve it.

The Trent Severn system is quite remarkable.

Lock #35 is favoured by sailboaters, but we choose to push on to a commercial marina just before Fenelon Falls, Lock #34. We didn’t equip Scorpio with a Honda generator and refrigeration meant we should have hydro. The marina where we stayed for two nights is before Lock 34.

There’s a restaurant not owned by the marina. However, we preferred making our own meals and the following day called the town taxi and stocked up on groceries, vodka poppers and rum. We met a gentleman who made his own canoe. To the right of the restaurant, a family of about four or five couples, all of who had children; entertained us by watching their parents tow them in tires with their powerboat. Noise was completely absent after 9 pm or shortly thereafter. After staying two nights, and hearing weather reports that didn’t sound conducive to having a relaxing return voyage, we elected to slowly retrace our route.

Frosty was quite content to sleep in the forward vee berth and had enough toys to keep himself amused. He’s not a water dog and at no time has he wanted to swim. He’s content as long as he’s able to keep close contact with either Haydn or myself—preferably both at the same time! L0L Interestingly enough, we hadn’t come across any marinas that sold diesel. We would need our tank topping up for the trip across Lake Simcoe—as well as a pump out.

The Lakefield Lift Lock is just as interesting going downstream as it was upstream. This time our bumper didn’t break loose thankfully. Approaching the lock, it appears the world ends and boats and their crews will fall off, never to be seen again. It's deceptive enough enough to become a believer of a flat world!

A motionless Heron caught my eye as Scorpio was traversing a narrow passage. What magnificent birds they are and totally unaffected by our presence.

Hundreds of huge cottages line the Trent …pic cottage with z gazebo.

The more idyllic and virginal the setting became, the larger the cottages grew!

Also, fishermen pepper the seaway as seen after crossing Cameron Lake where the passageway narrows again.

Next overnight stop: Scorpio with her rigging strapped to the cabin top, nestled among power boats at Sunset Cove Marina.

Unfortunately, the marina’s pump out wasn’t operational and there was no diesel fuel for sale at the marina. We did get a giggle from the 3-dimensional row boat and fisherperson wedged into the red roof above the gas pumps on the front of the building!

The following day we meandered into several, winding, shallow pools topped with frogs and lily pads before coming upon the last marina before the system ended ... Pic of Marina entrance that looked normal except once committed, it seemed very likely it would become a blind end with no room to turn Scorpio around! Wide became extremely narrow:

Watch video showing part of the entrance into the Trent Talbot Marina. It starts with two bleach bottles and ends with a clearing (not shown in the video), and not much room for turning around. Kinda reminiscent of scenes in Dueling Banjos ... scary place.


We didn't hang around after getting the pump out, nor were pictures obtained of the passage into that Marina. Success at getting the pump out and managing to get back to a normal route dominated our thoughts and we put aside that we hadn't again been able to obtain diesel fuel.

Gambridge Last Lock Exiting

Leaving the Trent Severn behind, headed once again to Beaverton Yacht Club to re-erect Scorpio's mast.

We made the Beaverton Yacht Club in time for one of the owners to drive us to a gas station outside of town to acquire a 5-gallon can of diesel fuel. Sailboats in the club buy small amounts of diesel. Power boats use regular gas. The forecast for the following day looked as though we might miss thunderstorms getting back provided we left before 8 am.

Pic of Leaving Beaverton at 8:03 am—the sky looked dark and forbidding, but the forecast looked favourable provided we could get to the turn into Cook's Bay before 3 PM when thundershowers were predicted. Lake Simcoe, similar to Lake Erie, can whip up very fast.

Since the holiday started, we gradually built our confidence again that Scorpio could handle inclement weather. The wind was on the nose for most of the journey with gradual easing of wind direction and force according to all reports that were mulled over before setting out.

Open water did appear as we neared the turn into Cooks Bay. And as we made the turn into the Bay, the storm clouds followed us. It was hard to see the entrance to the marina, the rain pelted down so hard. The canvas curtains and overhead roof kept us dry.

While motoring into the the Cooks Bay Marina, the rain stopped and after tying up, we had a well-deserved cup of tea.

A thoroughly enjoyable holiday that we’ll repeat in 2012 with the addition of going from Cooks Bay to Kingston and possibly moving the boat by water back to Grand Bend?

Frosty put the icing on the cake for the holiday. He captured a windshield reflection picture of himself by stepping on the camera in the car. L0L A fantastic picture that serendipity supplied.