07-31-09 Baie Fine Fjord

[Rick] Yesterday, in our haste to get from Killarney to Little Current, we bypassed a recommended side trip to Baie Fine (Bay Fin) fjord. This is a natural fjord, with quartz and limestone, rather than granite. So, today, we ate lunch, got some gas in the boat, and headed out for Baie Fine.

It turns out that because of the way you have to go, the end of Baie Fine is EAST of Killarney and while Killarney is 22 miles from Little Current, Baie Fine is a round trip of 54 miles. It is basically a canyon, hills on both sides, and rock islands in the middle. The sides of the hills are tree covered. At the end, where there is a “pool”, there were about 14 boats anchored enjoying the scenery. Several boats were anchored on the way in, off in various coves and hideaways.

There are several cottages in the fjord, and we saw one that had a rope bridge to the next island.

In the areas we thought to be shallow, Betsy rode up front and watched for problem areas, rocks. (We just heard this morning of another looper that had to go back to Penetanguishene after hitting a rock). We had none. Most of the depths were 25 or more feet. But, you never know when a rock will jump into your path and cause problems. It turns out that while in Baie Fine Fjord on 07-31-09, we attained the northernmost point of our trip. The first time over 46 degrees North at 46 03.009N and 81 28.667W.

We were a little disappointed in the scenery…maybe we were expecting too much, but we think that if one does Collins Inlet, it is not necessary to do Baie Fine as well. They are very similar. In fact, they both look a lot like many places in Alaska. At any rate, we came, we saw, we recorded. Enjoy.

07-30-09 Little Current, ON

[Rick] Thursday found us making our way from Killarney to Little Current, a distance of 20 miles. It is a very easily navigated stretch and very little stress. We thought we needed to be here by Thursday as they have their annual Haweater Festival this weekend. Haweater is local term for anyone that eats the Hawthorn Berry, locally very plentiful. We were told that if we waited until Friday, the locals would get all the spaces and the marina, run by the town of Little Current, does not take reservations. First come, first served. The festival will include fireworks, parades, barbeques, boat races, and a whole page more. We later find that we could have come Friday and gotten a space.

Little Current is on Manitoulin Island, the largest inland island in the world. The island was relatively undiscovered until the late 1960s when an old railroad bridge was converted to a one lane car bridge. This bridge is the only one to the island and opens for boat traffic for 15 minutes at the top of the hour. The normal height is 16 feet.

During the trip, we meet a tall ship in full sail. Looks like the 1700s all over again. She was not going very fast, but she was pretty.

We arrived early, around 1100 and docked at the town dock, the Port of Little Current. Pookie II and Perfect Remedy were close behind. We are docked just in front of the ice cream store. We did some exploring, to find that this town has most anything you need. They have a huge laundry, grocery, LCBO, bank, etc. The marina staff is very helpful and they have over 200 slips

Little Current Lighthouse...

Ice Cream Shop...Very busy...

07-29-09 Killarney, ON

[Rick] July 26, 09 was spent in Britt as were the prior two days. Since we had “unofficially” hooked up with Pookie II and Perfect Remedy to go to Killarney and Little Current, we stayed in port as the winds blew in excess of 20 knots and create waves between 1 and 2 meters. That is 3-6 feet. Pookie II is a 25 ft Ranger tug that goes about 8 miles per hour and we had about 20 miles in open water to navigate. So we stayed until we at least had a chance of a good day. The marina was pretty nice. They had decent facilities, and supplied the gas for the grills. They had lots of picnic tables and chairs for us to spend our time. We were well inside a sheltered inlet (4 miles in). The locals said the wind never blew in there, but it blew the whole time we were there! Just more of the weather woes we’ve had.

So, on July 30, 09, we lit out for Killarney. Betsy and I decided to take the Small Craft Channel mainly to enjoy more of the beautiful scenery, and this route also gave us protection from the worst of the waves. This is a route behind some islands and avoids the worst of the open water. Pookie II and Perfect Remedy (47 feet) went outside and had a tough day. Not miserable, but pounding. On the Small Craft Channel, we once again found very narrow passages and some areas where the markers let you know not to get out of the channel. We weaved our way north of the Bustard Islands, and had to go outside for about 6 miles until we entered Beaverstone Bay on the way to Collins Inlet. Our outside run was very pleasant, and we sped past Pookie II and Perfect Remedy, who had left an hour before us, just before heading inland.

Collins Inlet is really a fjord, carved by the moving glaciers 30,000 years ago. It is narrow. It is beautiful. There are few houses or structures. It is about 20 miles long. The inlet is also a haven for boats that want to anchor out and not go to town. It is quiet, peaceful, and I am told that loons make beautiful sounds.

We arrived in Killarney, 65 miles from Britt, about 1430. Killarney lies on the western end of Georgian Bay. So we have completed our journey of Georgian Bay. It has been quite a trip, rocks and all. We tied up at the Sportsman Inn and proceeded to walk around this quaint town. One lady had a bedspread of stuff out in her front yard with a sign that said “Free”. Betsy was thrilled to pick up a thumb piano, a little instrument we’ve seen in the Appalachian Mountains, for free! It needed some tuning, but she was able to do that with no problem, so now she has another noisemaker!

This town is really built on the water. The grocery store has a dock. The Post Office has a dock. The LCBO (liquor store) has a dock. But, the most amazing thing we noticed saw was the flowers. We have seen beautiful and plentiful flowers everywhere in Canada. But, here in Killarney, they are spectacular. Shasta Daisies are 4 feet high. Many of the flowers are annuals, and must be replanted every year.

The waterfront is very busy and they even dock boats across the channel on the island. When we arrived, we had to wait for several boats ahead of us to dock before we could pull in. It is really a bottleneck. A water taxi runs back and forth to take people to and from the town and the overflow docks on the other side of the channel. Fortunately we were on the town side. This is us with Perfect Remedy and Pookie II.

<---West End of Georgian Bay

07-26 & 27-09 Killbear to Pointe au Baril to Byng Inlet

Betsy is writing today’s Blog because she has nothing else to do! We stayed at Killbear Marina an extra night (Saturday) because of weather, and it looked like we might have to stay again. But we were anxious to leave because even though it was a pretty setting, the restaurant was way too expensive and the food was not to our liking anyway, we had no TV (which we’ve pretty much lived without throughout the trip) and no internet, even with our air card. So when the clouds started to clear mid-morning on Sunday, we decided to make a run for it. Our destination was Pointe au Baril, approximately 30 miles away, all inside amongst the rocks.

Here’s a picture of Beamer, depressed after days without sun. (Remember, her full name is "Sunbeam Chaser!"

And here’s a picture of Rick, depressed being stuck here with nothing to do.

Once we pulled out, the sky did clear for a while, and we carefully worked our way through what is called “Canoe Channel.” Could that name be because it is so narrow nothing but a canoe should pass through it? But it is the marked preferred route, so we had no choice. This red and green combination lets you know you are heading in the right direction! Look at the tiny channel ahead...that break in the trees (remember you can click on the image to make it larger, but that does not make the actual channel any larger for us!)

The next image is as we approach the entrance, and then a picture while we are actually in the channel. I was sitting on the bow at this point, and was glad that the water is so clear you can see that the rocks go straight down on both sides. The charted depth is about 8 feet, but it is the narrowness that is scary. And our 8.5 foot beam is much smaller than most boats that do this!!!

This picture attempts to show how clear the water is. At the waterline, what you see underneath is the actual underwater rocks, not a reflection. It is hard to describe or believe how clear the water is!

Right after making it through Canoe Channel, the rains came in torrents but visibility was still fairly good and we do stay dry in our cabin so we continued on. The rain lasted about 15 minutes or so, and then the clearing began again. Right before reaching our intended destination we passed this marker that we had been told to look for: it is the boiler of a large boat that hit a rock here years ago and sank. The marker is now right on the boiler as a reminder of how careful you have to be!

Around the next bend was the marina that we had been told was now accepting transients, and that we wouldn’t have any trouble getting in to because it was a well kept secret. Well, it wasn’t a secret this weekend! There were hundreds of people on the bank leading up to a grand hotel, and the docks were jammed full of “cottagers,” the term for people that own these cottages on these islands. There must have been some kind of festival going on, and the marina wouldn’t even answer our call on the VHF radio. By now, approximately 1300 hours, the sky was sunny and the wind was calm.

So now we had a choice to make. We could go farther up a channel inland and hope to find a place to stay (there were several options), or make the outside run to Byng Inlet, about 17 miles total. We decided to make the outside run, and it was a good decision. The sky was sunny the whole way and the seas were very comfortable swells at a most favorable angle.

In spite of the nearly continuous bad weather, when we are able to travel we see nothing but beauty. We are still amazed by the houses built on rocks, or the single house on an island by itself. I spoke to one of the “cottagers” yesterday (she was doing her laundry here at the marina). Her house is on an island by itself that her husband’s grandfather bought in the early 1900s from the Canadian Railroad Company for pennies an acre. Hers has no power other than solar panels and propane. Like those of us that knew the old Topsail Beach style of living with no telephone, no video games, no TV, she is glad her children enjoy coming to the island in the summertime, getting away from those things and enjoying the basics of nature and wildlife. She says most of the islands that are privately owned have been in the same family for generations, and that it is extremely hard to buy an island today. She said that the vast majority of those that don’t have structures on them belong “to the crown,” and as such are part of the Canadian Parks System.

Still, we marvel at the lone cottage with all the “toys”…note the boat, the floatplane, etc. in this picture.

Going out the Pointe au Baril inlet we saw where the name came from! There is a barrel on a rock. Nearby is a sign explaining that before the days of reds and greens like we have today, the channel was marked with barrels, and this is a picture of what that would have looked like right at the entrance to the channel. There is also a lighthouse here now, but apparently these barrels marked the channel even before the days of lighthouses.

We arrived at Byng Inlet, which takes you into the tiny town of Britt, about mid afternoon. The channel leading to Wright’s Marina in Britt is narrow and beautiful, and the sun was still shining. I have to mention this because we are seeing so little sun!

Last night we went with two other loop boats that are here to a local restaurant…they were nice enough to pick us up, even though it took two trips with the six of us. We were impressed by the candles on the tables…made out of old propellers! The food and the service were not that impressive! But we had fun and it is really the only place in town.

After returning to our boat, the bugs last night were as bad as any we’ve seen. It seems that every night there are more and larger mosquitoes. I think that Rick swatting them with the fly swatter is making them procreate all the more!

Our plan was to leave this morning, go outside again for a 20+ mile run to Collins Inlet which would take us through another fjord like channel to Killarney. But again, the weather is not cooperating. We are bundled up against the cold, rain threatens constantly, and not only are the winds blowing, they are blowing out of the worst direction. Weather reports make it look just as bad for tomorrow. Earlier I showed pictures of Rick and Beamer being depressed individually. Now they are depressed together…this is not a staged picture! It is real boredom setting in. Maybe leaving Sneads Ferry on May 18 in the rain and cold was an omen. Even the Canadians are complaining about what a lousy summer it has been…they are very apologetic, as if they could do something about it!

Look on the bright side: We haven’t hit a rock hard enough to do any damage...which reminds me...let me backtrack a bit. Way back in Trenton, at the very beginning of the Trent-Severn Waterway, we met the boat "Whiskers," a power catamaran even smaller than we are. You may remember the picture of them and Maurice's boat "Quotidian" along with us, and we were so proud to be the biggest boat in the marina for a change. Well, Whiskers (not members of the official looper association) went on ahead of us, and ended up getting to Killbear a week before us. As they were leaving Killbear, moving at about 10 MPH, they hit a rock and ruined the lower units of both of their outboards. They have been at Killbear for a week, and expect to be there another week waiting for parts and insurance settlement. Remember, Killbear is where there is no phone, no internet, no TV, one very expensive restaurant, and nowhere to go. Needless to say, Linda and Deke on Whiskers are bordering on deep depression. She is barely speaking, he prattles on non-stop about that stupid uncharted rock that he came 2,000 miles to find. And remember, they're on a boat smaller than ours and its been raining a lot!

SOOOO, we have much to be thankful for. We are still enjoying ourselves for the most part. I’m getting a lot of reading done (right now I’m in the middle of re-reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which I had read in high school).

Don’t look for any more blogs until the skies clear and the winds calm!!

07-25-09 Killbear Marina II

We began the day thinking we would leave Killbear and go up to Parry Sound. This would be about 12 miles one way. Parry Sound is the largest town in the bay and has most everything as far as supplies goes. We also know that one of our friends, Jimmy Tant on Riff Raff, is there, waiting for his wife to join him for a couple of weeks.

We were told earlier that Will, the owner of Killbear, has a nose for and knowledge of weather in this area, and whatever he says, do it. So, before leaving, we talked to Will, the oracle, and asked if we should go to Parry Sound. He said “No, it is going to be raining in 30 minutes with thunderstorms later in the day”. So, we did not go. In about 30 minutes, it was raining and in two hours, it was raining cats and dogs. Score another one for Will.

So, we waited out the rain in the boat, reading (Betsy finished yet another John Grisham book), writing blogs, playing Sudoku, dozing, and whatever to pass the time. It would lighten every now and then, but went back to raining hard until about 1800. Then the sky lightened and we had a perfectly beautiful sunset.
There are several weekend boats here today and the children on these boats run around on the dinghies as if they were bikes. They are very skilled in the operation and all wear life jackets. Up here in Canada, a license is required to run any motorized boat, so a 10 year old will have a license.

All in all, a pretty lousy day, but we got through and plan to leave tomorrow for Pointe Au Baril, assuming Will gives the OK.

Here are a couple of interesting shots:

07-24-09 Killbear Marina

[Rick] We were expecting some bad weather, so we made no attempt to get going early in the day. As the morning progressed, the weather got much better and at 1145 we left Bay Moorings in Penetangishene for the fabled Georgian Bay. This is, by all accounts and stories, the place you have to go on the loop. When we first started talking about the loop, we were going to go the entire length of the Erie Canal, and not go into Canada. But, so many who had done the loop told us we just had to see Georgian Bay and the North Channel. So, we changed our plan and came on this route.

It really is the land of 30,000 islands. Legend has it that an Indian giant, spurned by the love of his life, grabbed up a handful of earth and tossed it onto Lake Ontario, creating the 30,000 islands. Today the Georgian Bay adventure begins.

Along the way, we witnessed hundreds of islands, many with homes built on them. Most of these are weekend homes, but several looked to be permanent dwellings. There are many submerged rocks, and hence lies the problem. If you see the rock, you can avoid it. However, many have ledges, under the water, much like icebergs. So, the captain and the lookout must he attentive at all times.

We motored behind, in front of, beside hundreds of islands on our way to our first stop, the town of Sans Souci, on Frying Pan Island, arriving at 1445. This is the home of the “world famous” Henry’s Restaurant, home of the “the world’s best customers”. Since it is on an island, the “parking lot” is the floating docks where boats and floatplanes motor in and tie up. When we tied up, I inquired as to where to go to settle our bill, and was told that they would take care of that later, just go on inside and have lunch. So we did. While certainly edible and plentiful, it was not spectacular. After lunch, we found the restrooms, but did not find the showers. I mentioned to Paul, the head honcho, the reason we used marinas instead of anchoring was for the shower/restrooms. He said nothing. Then, about 1800, a young man came around to collect for dockage. I told him we had found the restrooms, but not the showers. He indicated that they no longer have showers since “some people had been abusing them”. I told him that we would not have even considered overnight if we had known there were no showers. We talked it over and decided that $1.50 per foot and no showers was a bad deal, and since the next place to stop was only 15 miles away, we were outta there. I do not think the person at Henry’s lied to us, but they were certainly not forthcoming, especially since the young man indicated they knew the guidebooks said they have showers. So, our recommendation for Henry’s Fish Camp is that it is a day stop, eat some fried fish, and move on to Parry Sound. Except for a walking trail to a monument to Champlain, there is absolutely nothing else to do on the island.

So, at 1815, we depart Henry’s heading to Killbear Marina in Killbear. Our original plan was to take an inside route to Parry Sound, explore there some, and then end up in Killbear. Since we ended up leaving late in the day instead of the next morning, we bypassed Parry Sound by using a more direct route. In just over an hour, we arrived at Killbear Marina, docked on the wall and had a wonderful evening. The only problem at Killbear is that your cell phone will not work, and more importantly, your air card will not work and there is no internet of any type. There is a PAYPHONE in the lobby of the restaurant. Tomorrow’s blog listing will give more details about the marina.

Someone wrote to ask if we Twitter. The answer is NO. Between the blog, the log, posting pictures, charting tomorrow’s route, and playing captain, we do not have time, even if we had the internet connectivity.
Rick is too busy to Twitter.......

07-23-09 Penetangishene, ON III

[Rick] Today is Thursday and this entry will catch everyone up for Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was basically a chill day. We read, chatted with our boating neighbors, and generally did nothing productive. In the corporate world, we recharged our batteries. Wednesday evening gave rise to the cookout provided by the Bay Moorings Marina. The fine feast of hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, and salad was enjoyed by all. The best part was a presentation by Ken MacDonald about our upcoming trek into Georgian Bay. Ken is knowledgeable, funny, enthusiastic, and gave a great talk. He was also doing a little selling, but it was very subtle.

Thursday, many of the boats moved on to Georgian Bay. It was raining very hard when we got up, and rained off and on, hard and sprinkle, for the most part of the day. We may get caught in the rain, but we are not going out into the rain, the first thing in the morning. Makes no sense. So, we read, chatted with our boating neighbors, and generally did nothing productive. In the corporate world, we recharged our batteries. By late afternoon, it cleared up and we were able to get off the boat and walk around. We had dinner with Maurice, of the Quotidian, and Terry of Frankly Terrific. Her husband’s name is Frank, her name is Terry, get it!!!!!. After supper, we went aboard the Frankly Terrific and had a chart marking session. We planned the route for the first 6 days of Georgian Bay, marking the charts in highlighter. We planned where we wanted to stay, when to leave, etc. All of this is subject to weather.

We plan to leave tomorrow, Friday the 24th, and be in Little Current around next Friday. We will see. Sans Souci, Parry Sound, Bad River, Byng Inlet, and Kilarney await our arrival. Come back and see how we do.

07-21-09 Penetangishene II

Today was a very enjoyable day in Penetangishene. The sun came out and we had he second straight day of warm weather. It has been really cold and overcast for the most part here in Canada. Since it was so nice, we decided to clean the cockpit of the boat. It has been 9 weeks, and it needed it badly. So, we started by removing everything in the cockpit, washing it down, drying it, and putting back most of what went out. Yes, we did have some trash.

After noon, we untied the boat and motored to the town dock, a couple of miles toward town, so that we could go to the grocery store. The Grocery store, Foodland, is open 24 hours. However, the catch is that you must walk up a huge hill, and with your stuff, come back down to the city dock.

Along the way, we saw this mural on a store front and visited the huge church. There was no sign, but, we are sure it is Catholic. The church was built in 1897 and is the largest structure to be seen in the area.

Penetangishene is the home of the Curling World Champion. It is also the home of the famous individual curling champion, Russ Howard. There is a monument to Russ and his accomplishments.

From 1900-2100, Bay Moorings hosted a wine and cheese party for the loopers. Had about 50 people there, including the staff. It was very nice and a lot of stories (true and not so true) were exchanged. Ken MacDonald, the regional manager of the Parkbridge Marinas, was our host.

07-20-09 Penetanguishene, ON

[Rick] Well, it was a big day. We traversed the Railroad Lift at Big Chute. It was very thrilling. We got up a little early and were second on the Blue Line for entry to the chute. At 0830, the loudspeaker called the first boat, Meander, into the carriage and we were the second boat into the chute. The lockmaster said that they had a Glacier Bay last week and did not use any of the straps, just let it sit on the bottom. I told him that was fine with me, and so, that is what we did. The carriage started to move and up we went. Here are several pictures of the event.

The chute in the water and ready for entry.

We load up, easing gently onto the carriage of the chute. We just sit on the bottom. No Straps.

Looking Up before we start.

Going up and crossing the road.

At the top.

Meander in front of us. Note the straps.

View from the bottom, before we descend.

Once over the Big Chute, we went to the town of Port Severn, and the last lock on the Trent Severn Waterway. We have now done 44 locks on the waterway and a total of 72. Leaving the lock, we encountered some of the narrowest channels we have ever seen. Also, the channel marker reversed themselves, now Red on the right and Green on the left. We literally snaked our way through very narrow channels until we could get out into open water and head for the town of Penetanguishene, ON, and the Bay Moorings Marina.

Bay Moorings is one of three very large marinas as well as a town dock in a very busy boating community. Bay Moorings has over 400 slips and most were full. This is one of the nicest marinas we have seen. The restrooms/showers are fabulous and earn our highest rating so far. They are clean, private, secure, drain well, have hooks, a heater, and anything else on the list. The docks are fixed, not floating, but they stagger the finger piers, a high one then a lower one, so that they can accommodate most any boat need for getting off and on the boat. There is only one boat per slip, so, you can back in, forward in, and have no fear of hitting anyone or anyone hitting you. There is a ships store, a motel, restaurant, pool, exercise room, and most everything you could ask for.

We are here for a gathering of loopers before heading for Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Bay Moorings is having a wine and cheese party for us on Tuesday and a Barbeque cookout on Wednesday. We plan to leave on Friday for the two week jaunt into Georgian Bay.

Also, we have talked about the Canadian obsession with recycling. In Canada, beer is purchased in The Beer Store, a separate entity, run by the government. Since every can and bottle of beer has a 10 cent deposit, people bring their empty cans and bottles back to the Beer Store for refund. The sign says that everything purchased in The Beer Store is recyclable and on average, they reclaim 96% of the bottles and cans sold. Quite a record. This explains why we see people taking cans and bottles out of any trash. They are taking it back for refund.