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Georgian Bay and North Channel

Georgian Bay and the North Channel (together they are sometimes referred to as the 6th Great Lake) considered by many loopers to be the most spectacular scenery one the loop.

July 11 Midland, ON Nancy was unable to get a rental car, which surprised her that a small town would have such demand, but then again made sense since in such a small town, they would have less vehicles. Nancy was going to try to get a hair cut and get Radar groomed and go to the grocery store.

A nice couple named Fred and Alice, who had an all electric sailboat a couple slips away, heard Nancy trying to get the rental car while walking in circles around the parking lot and docks looking for better cell service. They were from Toronto, but spent long weekends on their boat. They offered to drive Nancy to the grocery store the next morning, saying they were paying forward from the rides they received when they sailed the East Coast down to the Bahamas a few years prior.

Jason and Nancy were both fried and frazzled from the stressful trip from Big Chute and had an early night.

July 12 The next morning, Fred and Alex took Nancy in their Tesla to the grocery store, dropping her off for a hour while they returned some items they had bought elsewhere. An hour in a non-familiar grocery store with foreign brands to sort through, wasn’t quite enough time, but Nancy got the essentials including lots of heavy bottles of water and drinks since we had a car and a slip next to the parking lot. On the way back they asked if they could make one quick stop at Canada Tire which is a huge box store with an unique combination of Walmart, an auto store and Cost Co. While in line, George and Tracy from the Looper boat “Done Savin’” spotted us in line. Nancy can’t find Jason when shopping in the same store, but was able to meet loopers in the check out line!

On the way back to the marina, Fred turned the auto drive feature on in the car. It sped up and slowed down in traffic and stopped at a red light and made a left hand turn all by itself. Nancy was half amazed and half freaked out. The driver does have to touch the wheel every couple of minutes. Turns out Fred had had a career in sustainable energy.

That afternoon, Nancy and Jason took out their e-scooters and took the paved waterfront path over to a beach. They passed by a long row of town houses with every dock having different colored Adirondack chairs. They then took the path back to the marina and into town.

The path had a ton of Queen Anne’s lace along it (Nancy’s favorite flower). Walking through the town, they stopped at a local chocolatier’s shop, who also sold coffee and ice cream. He said his business model was based on sugar and caffeine. Nancy is his target market! Jason was also happy that day because he managed to hire someone to clean the boat.

The town had a lot of wall murals, even the waterside of a factory had a huge mural. We stopped to take photos of a large statue that looked like a giant reindeer. Some one driving by told us that the bottom was mirrored and to walk over to it. Turns out the artist used 5 beams to represent the 5 local bays and the reindeer Antlers were a tree coming out of a seed pod. It was titled “Sown” and was supposed to represent unnamed community heros.

Thank god for interpretive signage! That evening a large red historic canoe type vessel rowed by. When we asked our slip mates about it, they said they had never seen it before.

July 13. The battery arrived around 10 am (160 pounds, Jason was thankful that they had 20 somethings carry it down to the VIP stateroom. Installation went quickly.

The technician agreed with Jason about the c-zone system not understanding there were 4 batteries instead of 2. That evening we tested the batteries and we still only had 3 and a half hours of power. Replacing the battery was not the solution. We needed to have the Master Volt guy look at our system through a laptop connection. Had a nice meal at a local steakhouse. The town did not have Uber but they did have taxis. The driver who took us to dinner was a nice but strange man into conspiracies.

Fri. July 14 Midland to Honey Harbor

We decided to follow the recommendations by the looper guide book, which so far had prioritized places accurately. This area of Georgian Bay is aptly called the 30,000 Islands and Nancy found choosing an itinerary challenging. However, she did have prescription medication sent to a marina at Honey Harbor as was Jason’s new credit card (his current one got compromised), so we started there and we were glad we did.

The dock hands who met us at the very nice floating docks, greeted us with our mail. The marina was mostly locals with a few transients. It had a very nice restaurant overlooking the marina.

We met a very nice local couple. They said I wasn’t alone in being overwhelmed and that they helped a lot of loopers and captains choose a route. We invited them on board and using our ipad, they marked various anchorages for us. Many of them were suggested in our book but several of them were alternatives. It was a lot of information. Nancy taking quickly scribbled notes in the margin of the loopers guide. Then the mosquitos descended on us and we quickly said goodby to each return to our bugfree boats.

We left the next morning for their first suggestion, which was not named on the charts. They called it Wannibe Bay. It was very pretty but crowded and we had to anchor between a sailboat and a rock. An hour later a boat anchored between us and the rock, then they fit in a second boat. Canadians must have more faith in their anchors and their ability to anchor precisely.

We had a very fun dinghy gunkhole through lots of rocky islands. We got off and let Radar explore two of them. Nancy took pics on her phone of the charts, but it got confusing zooming in and out and switching photos. We agreed we needed to take the handheld GPS Doug had given us next time. We decided to spend a second night there to relax. The sun glowed neon at sunset and for once the camera captured it.

June 17 Wannibe Bay to Parry Sound

Parry Sound was a nice town, but the grocery store was very far away and the natural food grocery store was disappointing for its lack of practical products. They had two bookstores, one used with 300,000 books. Nancy was on the hunt for a book on the geology of Georgian Bay. Neither store carried anything like it. All the coffee table books showed pretty pictures, and others talked about the wildlife, but she couldn’t find any about all the different rock formations and layers they had been seeing while cruising. Nancy gave up on her hunt and sat down with a cup of iced coffee and looked out over the harbor.

We stayed a second night for maintenance and cleaning. Jason managed to get a e-appointment with the master volt guy at 1pm. Two hours after checkout, but the marina said the next boat wasn’t coming until tomorrow and we were welcome to stay the rest of the afternoon free of charge.

Jason connected his laptop to the C-Zone master control system and the master volt guy was able to connect remotely to Jason’s laptop and change a lot of the settings, including letting the C-Zone system know we had four batteries. We left the town that afternoon hopeful that we had solved the issue and could anchor in peace and quiet without having to run the generator constantly.

June 19 Had a beautiful passage across Parry Sound, named in honor of the famous explorer. to Kilcoursie, which was locally famous because it had beaches, very rare amongst all these thousands of granite islands. No idea why this island was made of softer stone. The bay, we anchored at for a midday stop was a Canadian park and camp ground. We took the dinghy to shore with Radar and went for a walk half way around the Bay.

The rocks on each one of these islands is slightly different (although in ways hard to explain. Some the veins of different stones were very straight, some rippled, some were very smooth and others angular, but each island group has its own rock signature that made it beautiful in an unique way. The smoothness and red and orange coloration set this island apart.

We came to secluded stone beach and let Radar off the leash for a while which he enjoyed. Nancy not as much since Radar only listened to commands if she was close to him. We had lunch and left for a nearby anchorage by Snug Harbour, where we tucked behind an island with just enough swing room for the boat. We took the dinghy over to Gilly's, an excellent fish restaurant, where we dined outside with Radar.

The batteries still only last 3 and a half hours. It makes no sense. Somehow, we either have a mystery power drain that is not recorded on the C-zone system. Or the C-zone system is only allowing the batteries to charge to a certain point and no further. Frustrating to be in such a gorgeous setting with cool weather but still have to run the generator to keep our refrigerator going.

June 20 It was a raining on and off, so Nancy started the day (Before coffee) taking Radar to an island while there was a break in the weather. It was a difficult start. Radar slipped off a rock about a minute after landing and fell in. Then he went on a goose feather feeding frenzy, with Nancy fighting him on slippery rocks to yank the feathers out of his mouth. Then it started to pour and Radar had not gone either one or two with a long day in front of us. The below picture makes the outing look fun and relaxing when it was anything but!

The grey skies made the pine trees pop more and you could see the patterns of the stone bluffs better. However, the weather forecast suddenly predicted severe (up to 100km/hr) winds from thunderstorms. We decided to duck into Bayfield harbor, which was super cool, with tons of rock islands. The scale was not as expected and the many anchorages we could see on the chart turned out to be 50 ft wide, plus rocks with no trees do not offer much wind protection.

We ended up going four miles up before finally finding a harbour that was protected on all sides but West. The thunderstorms went well to the south of us thankfully and it was a lovely harbour with nice islands for Radar to play on. The camera did not capture how alien/fun the many rocky islands felt.

June 21-- We took the outside passage to the Bustard Islands, which had come highly recommended and did not disappoint. We came early and anchored in a pocket pool at the end of the inlet and for a few hours had the place to ourselves until another looper in a Grand Banks, somehow managed to squeeze in with us. He did have to anchor twice but his precision was impressive. Once he anchored he politely asked us if we were comfortable with his proximity.

We took Radar though a little key hole passage between two inlets to explore some of the islands. The first island had lots of blueberries which Nancy found yummy and regretted not having a ziplock bag with her. We poked way up some narrow (10 feet wide) inlets which carried 10 to 20 feet of water to their ends. We then took Radar to one of the outer islands that had more rock and less trees hoping to let him off the leash but turns out that there were way to many bird feathers for that! When we returned the two people from a catamaran (which was another looper) had kayaked into our cove and was talking with the Grand Banks people, so we dinghy's over and introduced ourselves. We finally saw loons and in the clear water you can see them swimming underwater.

June 22-Went to Killarney by way of a narrow passage with tall pinkish granite bluffs called Collin's Inlet. Killarney was hosting some boat rendevous and both the Lodge and the Sportsman had no room. Piglet arrived while we were in Collin's inlet and said they had plenty of empty slips, so Nancy called again and managed to get a slip.

The only available reservation at the fancy steakhouse was for 9 pm, so we ate at the Sportsman pub. We were docked on the other side of the inlet, so took the pontoon marina shuttle across. Beth from Piglet and Nancy went to the bakery and ice cream store to get Jason a vanilla shake. While Nancy was walking the dog, she turned around after finally yanking a feather free from Radar's jaws, only to be confronted by an entire dead goose. By some miracle, Nancy prevented Radar from seeing the goose and the marina staff took care of it.

June 23-Went to Baie Fine, a fjord like 12 mile long inlet that leads to an anchorage called the pool, where you can anchor and dinghy to hike up to Topaz lake which is very blue. The pool was crowded but still room for us. We hiked up to the lake, which was very blue but more in the sapphire family than Topaz.

Waded a little bit and cooled Radar off, which he did not seem to appreciate. He absolutely loved the hike back down though. Unfortunately, we realized that of all the nights not to have cell service, the night we had our call with Colin and the night before Sydney and Teddy flew out to Utah with the lodging arrangements unclear, was not a good night for it. So we picked up anchor and went back about 7 miles until we got signal again.

Everyone in the recommended anchorage were mediterean style moored, meaning they were anchored and the back of the boat tied off to a tree. We were too tired to attempt it. We scouted a few more sites but the shallow areas weren't wide enough to allow us to swing 360. We finally found one and anchored, but it seemed alarmingly close to a shallow rock shelf. We took the dinghy to investigate and it was a weird optical illusion. It seemed like the boat would be mere feet from the ledge where in reality it was more like 100 feet from the ledge.

We had the place to ourselves and it was spectacularly beautiful in a way that camera's can't capture. That evening, Nancy enjoyed some generator off nature time out on the bow, watching muskrats swim and listening to loons. The bugs found Jason too yummy for him to join her outside.

June 24 Little Current We had a nice flybridge day. Little Current is in the passage way between Georgian Bay to the east and North Channel to the west. Before Little Current, which had a LOT of current, there is a swing bridge. We were second in line with two other boats behind us and had been waiting around 10 minutes for the timed opening. A 45 ft power cruiser came up along side us and then passed as to get to the bridge first. Nancy had called ahead to the marina to let them know we would be there in 5 minutes.

When we got to the marina, the boat who passed us asked to dock and the dock master made him wait until us and the two boats behind us docked. It is nice when Karma is on your side. Little Current had was a one street town. It had a great store that was part book store, part, visitor center, part copier and part gallery that had been in business since . The grocery was only 4 blocks away, unfortunately 2 of the blocks were up a steep hill. Nancy also hit a blast of the past seeing Bell pay phone booth!

Jason spent the evening tracking a leak under the forward bed. Turns out there was a crack in the hose that drains the anchor pulpit and where water splashes in when going through waves. Nancy went up around 7:30 to the only restaurant open. Found out there was a 45 minute wait and sure enough 45 minutes later Nancy left with two pieces of lasagna. There was a pregnant couple, who were due the next day in line, who left. Poor things they probably only wanted one last meal together before the chaos began.

June 25 Kagawong We headed to Mudge Bay to the settlement of Kagawong, which had come highly recommended by the couple back in Honey Harbour. We might have gone 2 nm into the bay next door before realizing our mistake. As my father would say, we were not lost, we always knew exactly where we were (just not in relationship to our destination).

The wind had picked up a bit and we tried to anchor on the west side of the Bay but the deep water went too close to shore for us to anchor. We then carefully gunkholed just outside the marina breakwater and anchored in 19 feet of water. We were very close to shore and a stone shelf along the shore, plus a jagged steel capped jetty. The depth sounder started reading one to two feet as we swung on the anchor. Nancy checked with the boat hook and we were in well more than 6 feet of water. It was just stupid grasses scaring us. A sailboat came in a few minutes later. They asked us where our anchor was before finding the one other shallow spot. The third sailboat must have been anchored in 30 ft of water.

We dinghied in to where the local maritime museum was located (which weirdly didn't have a dinghy dock but a local told us what slip to use. The museum may have been little but it was packed with interesting pictures and very detailed craft artwork. The gallery was closed but we walked about 10 minutes up to Bridal Veil waterfall, which was weirdly very crowded for a weekday. Looks like there was at least 2 summer camps there.

Jason was nice enough to hold Radar's leash while Nancy swam over the the waterfall (I'm sure the common watersnake that had slithered about 10 ft from him had no bearing on his helpfulness). Nancy made her way to the outside edge of the waterfall and carefully ducked under the edge of the fall and then ducked back out about 1 second and half later, a little freaked out by how powerful the waterfall was.

Nancy talked to the people from the sailboat next to us, who were from Traverse City, Michigan who gave her the must see sights near there. We walked back to town. Jason stopped at the outdoor chess and checkers board with Radar while Nancy went into "Chocolate World". She came out with chocolate bear claws for Jason, fudge for Nancy and sparkling raspberry apple cider for both of them. Dined on steak that Jason cooked on the boat bbq. The cider was very good. We should have gotten multiple bottles.

June 26 McBean Inlet near Benjamin Islands The next morning, Nancy took Radar for his morning walk and visited the stone maze/labyrinth that she had spotted just off the hiking trail. There was a very large craft fair (30 stands at least). Unfortunately, people only took cash and she only had a credit card. Some tasty looking treats got left behind. Jason and Nancy were excited to see the Benjamin Islands that had been recommended by multiple people.

The weather report was for strong SW winds clocking around the NE winds. There were only a couple of anchorages fully protected and they were already taken. We scouted four or five different anchorages, but all the shallow water was occupied. At one place, there was space to tie Mediterranean style (where you anchor and tie the stern off to a tree). However, we would have had a dozen boats watching our first attempt (which we were sure would probably not go well) so we passed.

The north channel is rugged and gorgeous and majestic. It was strange to be in 150ft of water and have a rock sticking up out of the water 2 boat lengths away. Jason wanted to try out McBean Harbour. McBean Inlet was mentioned in the book as passable but was not a recommended anchorage by any book or person. We wove our way through granite islands to the harbour, which was 10 feet deep, There were some houses that did not make it ideal, although just off "Anchor Point" was a nice spot.

We decided to go up the inlet a little first and if we had to, we would turn back. The houses dropped away after two turns and it was very private and really majestic, but narrow. We found a little cove with just enough swing room for us and set the anchor. Once again, it seems from the boat that you are very close to rock shoals, but once in the dinghy where you can see the boat fully, you are clearly not in danger of swinging into a granite bluff.

June 27 Thessalon Spent the morning slowly winding through the spectacular islands of the North Channel, going through the tight "Detroit Channel." There was a lot of "look at that" and "isn't it so beautiful" back and forth. In the afternoon, we we picked up the pace to 14 knots for an hour or so.

We pulled into Thessalon. We were the only non-working boat there and they had very large slips. After an hour, a marina staff person, let us know that the Canadian Coast guard wanted to talk with us. Turns out that there was a 32 ft Ranger Tug, also blue and also called Time & Tide that was overdue its float plan and their daughter was deeply concerned. Jason had to convince them that we weren't these Tracey's. We then were called by the US coast guard for the same reason.

Jason explained to both to look at Little Current where there was recently a rendezvous for Ranger Tugs. He was able to id from a photo the US deputy sent, that their last port of call was The Lodge at Killarney and explained to him about the NEBO tracking system. We contacted one of the Loopers who was at the rendevous and put out the word to all to keep a look out. We know we had not seen a ranger tug in any of the anchorages we poked into. They are very distinctive. While Thessalon was so small, it didn't even have a coffee place, it did have an excellent gift shop and Nancy picked up gifts for Karin's kids in Sweden and got some items from the grocery store.

June 28 Sault St Marie (pronounced Soo) We took St. Joseph's inlet on the Canadian side up. There were several scenic light houses and a lot more beaches. The water was turquoise, not quite Florida turquoise but definitely close. We turned into St. Mary's river, which if we had been cruising anywhere else would have been a photo worthy river, but after the North Channel seemed average. On the way into George Kemp Marina, we fueled up and got into our somewhat small inside slip.

Sault St. Marie is an easy town to e-scooter. Nancy went and got a pedicure for the wedding and Jason went to the Hardware store to fix the washdown hose for the 3rd time, but now he feels he had the right parts. There were nice cafes and book stores. Volunteers were painting a large brightly colored fish at an intersection.

One evening, we went into town for dinner and afterwards went and watched a thousand foot ship leave the lock. It was 109 feet wide, leaving it a whopping 2.5 ft one each side of the lock. We didn't see any tugs nearby. That is some precision docking!

We spent a day cleaning the boat and dinghy, putting on covers, dropping Radar off a Sault St. Marie animal hospital for boarding and stocking up on heavy non-perishable items. Jason does not want to leave the boat alone for two weeks.

So far, we have traveled over 1,400 nautical miles since leaving Annapolis.


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