Sunday, 2 September 2012

Final Leg

September 1: It's always the familiar that catches you up. We didn't pay enough attention to the wind forecast and woke at two to waves slapping at the stern in the NE breeze. After some fiddling around we decided to move out to a mooring, but maybe didn't get ourselves awake enough first. Laura was able to recover both of the boat hooks, but her glasses are on the bottom, somewhere near the northernmost mooring.

Greg and Perry had arrived on Sukha some time before all this happened and taken the southern mooring ball. They said hello this morning then headed on down to the islands.

This afternoon the dock filled up with Compulsion, Offliction, and Happy Puppy. Dan made an heroic effort diving for Laura's glasses with fins and mask. Unfortunately they seem to be gone for good.

September 2: Spinnaker run before a light east wind lasted until about the spectacles at noonish. By one the thermal had broken through and we were beating towards KYC, where there were plenty of people around to welcome us back and regale us with the events of the Shark Worlds.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Trenton to Jemmett's Landing

August 29: The winds were rather fickle today. Although we had replaced the cocktail jib with the number 1, it was still hard to find enough to keep us moving, so we motored much of the way to Picton.

The yacht club looked full, so we decided to try the cruising club and pulled into one of the slips that wasn't marked "reserved". It turns out the process for docking at the cruising club is a little more complicated than it says in the Ports guide, and you really need to call Ted in advance. Any how, having talked to Ted he assured us that the slip we were in should be fine overnight, although slip 2 was the usual guest slip, and we went up to the top of the hill and paid at the spa.

Slip number 7 belongs to John and Carol Carruthers and Kaihuna. They returned early from the islands to beat the next day's wind (foreshadowing) and found us in their spot. They graciously pulled in to number 2 and we spoke at length about appropriate ways to get even with Ted ;-) Next morning they gave us a much appreciated ride to and from the grocery store, allowing us to stock up on heavy things so we remain very well supplied for the final leg.

August 30: With groceries stowed we motored just long enough to clear the harbour, then unrolled the #1 to take advantage of the forecast breeze. We made good time down the reach with the wind almost dead behind us at 10 to 15. Things heated up a little in the gap at the end of the county and Laura and I took turns having the fun of steering. After clearing the Brothers we were able to come up a little, but the confused sea state took the fun out of it for about half an hour, as we transitioned from the channel to the lake waves.

By Carruthers Point everything was predictable again and the wind was over 20. Our speed picked up and we started getting blasé about 8 knot surfs. We peaked at 8.8 multiple times and managed to sustain 8 for over a minute down by Oak Point. Not bad at all while dragging a dinghy! By the time we rounded the corner towards Jemmett's Landing, the wind was 25 to 30, but our peak speeds had come down with the smaller waves. We pulled into the dock about 1730 making it about 7 hours from Picton, averaging well over 6. The Masons were there on Dancing Spirits to catch our lines and share some snacks.

Truly a glorious and exhausting day, and a great welcome back to Kingston wind!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Niagara on the Lake to Trenton

August 27: We headed out about 0800 and went quite quickly until we ran out of river current. Then it was motor sailing, or just plain motoring, and a lot of rain. We got into Coburg about 1900 and tied up on the reciprocal wall, which is really set up for much higher water. (0.39 m above datum right now)

August 28: A great sail in 15 NW took us up the coast at speed and then motored through the Murray. We came through with a young guy from Picton alone in a J/24. He was greeted by a bunch of people on the shore as he continued on back to Picton. He was almost done a solo, non-stop circumnavigation of Lake Ontario to raise money for the Cancer Society. Maybe we'll find out more when we get to Picton.

We anchored on the north shore of the bay, half way between Trenton and Belleville.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Port Colborne to Niagara on the Lake

August 25: I checked in with Seaway Welland at 7 AM. They told me to get some breakfast and listen to channel 14. 20 minutes later they told the guy in the power boat it probably wouldn't be until noon. So we had breakfast and watched the shipping go past us into the canal. By noon they had run out of ships and we got to follow Garganey (Hong Kong) into lock 8. They had a fair head start on us, but we caught up and passed them just above lock 7 where we ducked into an inlet and tied up. Garganey kept "sliding the wall" at a crawl while the Algo Steel came out of lock 7 and went past us all upbound. Garganey continued and we waited for an upbound power cruiser then followed. We waited our turn behind them all the way down, going in circles waiting for the locks to turn back for us. We had a little excitement with a cross current in one of the flight locks, apparently because only half the valves were working, minor scratch on the starboard side...

It was about 2115 by the time we cleared lock 1, so we headed for Port Dalhousie. It was packed, so we tied to the wall on the DYC side, BBQ'd and went to sleep.

August 26: We motored, then sailed over to Niagara on the Lake where we took a mooring at the Sailing Club. It's good to be back in the land of reciprocal moorings ;-)

It was stinking hot in town today and we strolled slowly, staying as much in the shade as possible. Niagara on the Lake is packed with very international tourists and is a little overwhelming after he likes of Little Current. We had lunch at the Prince of Wales Hotel, then retreated to the shade of the residential areas, then the breeze on the mooring. Traffic in the river was equally hectic, with many heading out and back for a Sunday afternoon sail and jet boats full of tourists "Saute Moutons XX" departing for the whirlpools up river. Things got much quieter as the sun went down.

Tomorrow towards Coburg bright and early. The forecast suggests maybe spinnakering...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 24 August 2012

Scudder to Port Colborne

August 23: Although we had thought of staying an extra day on Pelee Island, there didn't seem to be much to hold us there. The name "Dragon III"was still on the dock where Adam carved it in 2005, but there were no bicycles to rent, we'd already had the perch dinner, and .... So we cleared harbour at 1000 and pointed the boat at the tip of Long Point.

From Pelee Island you can steer an almost straight course towards the other end of the lake, as long as you deke a little to stay the right side of the hazards around Pelee Passage. The shipping has to go about 5 miles further south to clear the shoals below Point Pelee, so the straight line course keeps you north of the traffic as well.

By 1100 I had hoisted the main purely for shade and rigged a preventer to keep us shaded even when the shore breeze dropped to nothing. By mid afternoon we had enough lake breeze (and no shade) to justify unrolling the jib, then rolled it back up a few hours later when the breeze died to absolute millpond calm. The wind came back at sunset with about 7 from the SE and we could finally turn off the engine. After dinner we watched a movie in the cockpit as the Algoma Guardian slowly passed us 3 miles to the south, watched carefully on AIS and visual.

2300: Now Laura has gone to bed and I'm standing watch out here on my own. I love sailing at night! By morning Long Point should be in sight.

2358: Just saw an amazing shooting star! The half moon set bright orange in the west, just like the sun. The sky is clear, dark and starry overhead, with a little haze on the horizons. The blooms of lights from cities around the lake are visible on the haze and there's a little island of light at the masthead from our nav signals. The rest of the sky is full of stars, sharper and clearer than my eyes can resolve. I just saw another shooting star, not as bright as the first. Truly awesome out here!

August 24, 0715: We changed watch at 0300 with the wind clocking at about 8 knots, then changed back a little while ago as the wind died and the engine went on. At least we both got a sleep shift with no engine. I didn't see any more shooting stars, but it was still a great night.

There was a power boat / sail boat collision somewhere on the lake in the wee hours. Laura heard it on the radio. It wasn't us, although we did take evasive action to avoid a few freighters. The AIS means we can start doing that before we can even see their lights, so the evasive action can be a pretty small change in direction. We're now approaching the tip of Long Point where I will take evasive action to avoid meeting the bottom. I know from last trip that the shallows go out further than charted ;-)

0926: Long Point successfully evaded, Nanticoke generating station just visible off the beam.

1430: stopped for a final swim in Lake Erie, then in for fuel, pump out and a rest. Tied up at the town dock about 1600.

2030: The CSL Atlantic Erie just came through the final bridge and pulled over to the side right in front of us. Two big tank trucks have been there for a while and more are rolling up now, plus a big Beatrice dairy truck and a collection of others to load them up so they can carry on. We're going to get a good night's sleep before we tell the seaway people we are here. We don't want to go right now... And they definitely run a 24 hour show!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Windsor YC to Scudder

August 22: North American industry seems to be alive and kicking, at least judging by the stink and smog over downtown Windsor/Detroit. I'm doubly glad we're moving quickly!

The skies are a little bluer downstream at US Steel.

Forgot to mention, yesterday the knot log turned over 10000 miles, which averages about 1000 a year. More some years than others ;-)

Motor sailed from the mouth of the Detroit River to Scudder on the north end of Pelee Island in winds starting at 5 knots and tapering off to zero by the time we got in at 1730. This end of the island isn't as busy as it was last time we were here, but the locally caught perch dinner at the pub is still good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Stag Island to Windsor Yacht Club

August 21: With the wind shift this morning we swung across the 2 knot current and into the water ski course, so we headed downstream before fixing breakfast. The river seems much more interesting at 8 knots than it did at 4 on the trip up. No sailing today, even once we reached Lake St Clair. We fueled at Belle River, then headed back out into the lake to avoid the thunder storms on shore.

WYC answered our radio call and guided us in to their wall with just less than 6 feet of water, so we are sort of floating. The club is celebrating 75 years in 2012. Tuesdays appear to be bridge night, the card game.

Laura has added a Black Crowned Night Heron to her bird list, having been surprised by one at 4 AM, looking in the head window from its perch on the side deck. Tough call who was more startled, but the heron squawked loudest.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Gully Creek to Stag Island

August 20: Gully Creek is the labelled shore feature closest to where we anchored last night, but we didn't actually see a gully or a creek. We set out about 730 and sailed in what remained of the shore breeze until about 930 when I invoked the three knot rule. Now it's 1030 and the wind is filling in from the west in a complete reversal.

We seem to have a hitchhiker today, a little sparrow who pops into view now and then, even though we're 10 miles offshore. I don't know how long it's been aboard, but I'm sure there's enough bugs to last. Maybe it eats spiders!

The west wind swung north, then faded out as we went under the Bluewater Bridge at Sarnia and into the St. Clair River. We anchored in the side channel behind Stag Island. There's a water ski slalom course laid out at the south end of the island, so we got to watch some wake boarding tricks while enjoying our supper.

I haven't seen the sparrow since early afternoon, so I think he must have abandoned ship.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 20 August 2012

Killarney to Kincardine

August 15: The weather window was closing, so we headed out between George and Badgely Islands and motored most of the way to Tobermory, getting in around 1930. The Aloha 34 Silver Darling out of Goderich was motoring just a touch faster and wound up on the dock a couple of slips down.

August 16: Awesome breakfast at Craigie's! Met Don Currie at the cash. Bagatelle had just come in for crew change and was headed back out to beat for Sarnia to keep schedule. The wind honked out of the south and the rest of us stayed put for showers, laundry, provisions, etc.

August 17: Wind honked harder from the WNW. We could have gone, but it wold have been a really wild ride, with no turning back. We toured the national park visitor centre and took the short walk out to Dunk's Bay. When we got back the crew of Silver Darling let us know we'd had visitors, so we went looking further down the dock. Right at the end of the harbour we found Jim and Bonnie on Aqualibrium. They had crossed from Killarney that day and were wet and tired despite the relative shelter of the islands. We shared our last smoked fish and other goodies in heir cockpit because it was less bouncy than ours up near the entrance.

August 18: We hit the gas dock shortly after they opened and cleared the harbour before 8. The wind was forecast to back, so we sailed high of the rhumb line to Kincardine and managed a long offshore arc that avoided tacking. We got in about 1930, but Jim didn't make it 'till midnight, since he had to wait for crew and had to beat.

August 19: We had a great brunch downtown with Jim & Carol and Bonnie & Manny, who then took us for a tour and groceries (Thanks!). It was really strange to be in a car! Then we headed down the Huron shore and dropped our anchor about half way between Goderich and Bayfield. Laura made awesome pasta along the way, with lots of garlic, and the sage she picked in McGregor Bay.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Croker to Killarney to Tobermory

August 14: We carried the spinnaker as far as we could, which got us down behind Amerdoz Island where the wind backed, then died to nothing. We motored down through Little Current and were right on time for the 3 PM bridge swing when I saw Bagatelle tied to the dock just east of Wally's. Didn't have time to stop and chat.

The wind filled back in courtesy of a little storm cell that was not quite on our path, so we sailed on down Lansdowne Channel and anchored in Killarney Bay, just east of Covered Portage Cove.

August 15: A look at the forecast said we should either go to Tobermory, or wait three days for the next chance, so we skipped the fish and chips in Killarney and made an uneventful passage straight out between Badgely and George Islands, then between Club and Lonely Islands, then in past the Flower Pots just as the sun was getting low. Most of the way was motoring weather, with sun-tanning on the foredeck away from the noise.

We got into Tobermory about 1900 and the wait for fish and chips was over 30 minutes, so we went back to the boat for sausages. Chips and groceries will have to wait for morning.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Gore Bay to Croker Island

August 13: we picked up some frozen trout at the dock, then hoisted the chute for a nice reach down the channel in a light breeze. After investigating the Benjamins and Croker west side harbour, we wound up with a lot more privacy in the bay on the east side of Croker Island.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Oak Bay to Gore Bay

August 11: Our anchor held just fine in the cove, although it wasn't much of a challenge. We had a nice run down to Gore Bay, where we found a lot of other cruisers still hunkered down on the docks waiting.

The voice on the marina radio directed us to F dock, but we came to a definite stop in the mud on our way there. When I looked around, there were Alison and Rod standing on the end of D dock to give us better directions, and a dinner invitation. The Coq au Vin was great!

Ralph, Mary and Marj joined us for coffee the next morning, a tour of the CYC flotilla, lunch and dinner before continuing on their Northern Tour. Dinner at the Cafe by the Bay was excellent (reservations recommended, it was packed). Ralph had the steak, I had the fish, our waiter was amused.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Mosquito Harbour to Oak Bay

August 9: Mosquito Harbour lived up to its name last night. And then it rained... This morning there was a crisp breeze from the NE, so we reached NW to the islands along the north shore. We didn't quite make Eastern Island (where there are huge heads carved of Farquhar Butter from Manitoulin) but cut through the islands all the way over to the north shore. We then zigged and zagged back and forth between the rocks, down past Hogg Island then back out into the main channel at McTavish. We followed the north shore of Fox Island then ducked into Oak Bay.

It seems the weather forecast had a lot of people doing the same thing, so we were way up at the far end before we could find some shelter from the NE and avoid the mobs in some of the side inlets. The wind is forecast to rise to just short of a gale in the North Channel with gale warnings on all the adjacent bodies of water. We should see the strongest winds tomorrow morning. The little cove we picked provides great shelter and the holding seems good after getting the anchor through the weeds on the second try. We'll know for sure tomorrow.

From here we'll head towards Gore Bay to meet up with Ralph and Mary and Marjorie.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

McGregor Bay to Mosquito Harbour

August 8: After 5 lovely nights in McGregor Bay we rejoined the cruising throngs today. Last night our nearest neighbours were barely in sight and tonight they are yacking about who's anchoring to close to whom.

We followed Meander, a Hunter 36, all the way out today, then wound up tied beside them in Little Current. Approaching LC there were more than half a dozen sailboats in close proximity and headed in the same direction to make the noon bridge swing. That definitely fits the definition of a race, but cruising etiquette doesn't permit rolling the other guy and stealing his wind and it's hard to power through the other guy's lee with just a cocktail jib ;-). In LC Laura did laundry (Killarney is a much better deal) while I provisioned (LC is best since Tobermory) then tea and on our way. We followed a couple of power boats out, then round the corner north to Mosquito Island and the harbour behind it. We're hoping the name refers to the shape of the island, not the insect population.

T-Bones were the order of the day at the Foodland, so we had pork T-Bones for dinner tonight, with gorgeous lamb and beef T-Bones in the fridge for later in the week. The anchorage is filling up even further now, mostly with people Laura met while doing laundry. I guess that's to be expected when we pick for proximity to LC. Tomorrow's NE winds should be just the thing for getting us further west into more interesting territory.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

With the Whittons in McGregor Bay

August 4: We had a lazy morning swimming and taking it easy, knowing that we weren't going far, then headed back out into the main bay to meet our local guide.

John Whitton was a fine fellow and my great uncle. He passed away last February at 91. He and his family have always enjoyed their time with the community at McGregor Bay, so a second memorial service was planned for August 5.

John's son Ian met us in the middle of the bay and guided us in through the "Old Channel" near Harrison Rock. The chart was not encouraging, but we never saw less than 8 feet in the tight passage through the narrows and anchored safely in front of their cottage on West Sampson Island. It had been a long time, so there was a lot of catching up to do over a delicious rib dinner. The weather was light over night, but blew up to over 30 knots from the west for the service the next afternoon. Laura kept watch over Dragon III hanging to two anchors in the very sticky clay while we remembered John in the small Anglican church around the corner and up the bay. Lots of people arrived quite wet after the boat ride through the wind and waves.

August 6: We bid the Whittons farewell this morning and managed to find our way back out without incident, thanks to a large collection of waypoint breadcrumbs I had scattered behind us on the way in. Rather than buck up into the westerly that was pushing 20 again, we turned east and wound up back in almost exactly the same spot as on our first night in the Bay. This time, we covered almost all of the distance under sail, and I had more time to enjoy the beautiful views as the navigational details were familiar.

August 7: So nice we stayed another day and explored a little by dinghy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Rous to McGregor Bay

August 3: The wind clocked as predicted overnight, and the whole anchorage turned 180 degrees without incident. We made a fairly early departure to hit Little Current before things got too crazy. The August long weekend is "Haw Eater Weekend" in LC and by Friday night it will be in full swing with no dock space available. We managed to fill and empty all the tanks and stock up with groceries by just after 11, so we caught the noon bridge swing with ease.

What little wind there was evaporated so we motored the rest of the way around and into McGregor Bay. Our path narrowed and narrowed as we followed the pencil line laid out on the paper chart by June and Richard. McGregor was uncharted until recently, so we didn't even attempt it in 2005. Although the details vanish from my iPad charts just inside the Bay, the full #2206 chart was viewable with the new chip on the chart plotter, but only at the high magnification setting.

Much of McGregor Bay is cottage speckled, but the channel we worked our way into is in Killarney Provincial Park. Surrounded by mainland again, we're wondering if we'll hear wolves tonight like we did in Beardrop. The loons may drown them out, but we will be sure to take up the ladder as a precaution.

The country is much more typical of what we would expect on a canoe trip, rather than by cruising boat. We have this anchorage almost completely to ourselves, a rare treat. There are a couple of boats in the next little pool, but they're only visible half the time, depending on how we're swinging on our anchors.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Turnbull Island to Rous Islands

August 2: We set off before 9, despite the squall watch, in order to work our way back towards Little Current. The west wind filled in behind us as we motor sailed, then just sailed, until it was up over 20 by mid afternoon. We backtracked above John and Aird Islands, through Little Detroit, then out into the channel and south of Eagle, Hook and the Benjamins. We went up for a look at McTavish Island on the north side and it would make a great stop some other time, but it's exposed from West round to NE, which is where the wind's predicted to be.

We sailed down between Amedroz and Bedford, then up into the very well protected harbour between East and West Rous Islands. It's not so inspiring, but it will be fine for tonight.

Today was a really good bird day! It started with a bald eagle, white head very obvious this time, swooping down past the boat with a fish in his talons, then flying over to a rock for a good breakfast. It finished with a pair of loons swimming quite close to us in the harbour as we made dinner. It's dark now, but there are geese out there somewhere honking at the full moon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Beardrop to Turnbull Island

August 1: It took quite some doing to get the anchor up, but we were able to drive it out. Laura said she knew when it let go because the bow popped up about a foot. The harbour was down to four boats by the time we left.

We had an uneventful sail to Turnbull Island, falling in behind Allison and Rod so they could lead us in from the NW side of the island. We followed their path, even when they went on the south side of the rock pile where the Ports Guide showed a path on the north. We never saw less than 16 feet and made it out the same way the next day.

After anchoring we saw a pair of eagles soaring over the harbour and landing in behind one of the other little islands. Unfortunately, we didn't find them or any traces when we dinghied around to the other side of the island as part of our explorations. The Ports mentions bald eagles, but these ones didn't have the signature white heads.

We also landed on a small island in the bay and claimed it for Her Majesty, although she may not be paying much attention, what with the Olympics and all. Rod and Allison also went dinghy exploring, fortunately to windward, and discovered the limits of the battery capacity for their electric motor.

After our adventures we got together for a delicious mixed grill dinner in the cockpit of Leading Edge. We brought lamb chops and Greek salad that blended well with the steak and grilled veg. It turns out Rod likes lamb after all!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Quiet Day in Beardrop

July 31: We just left the anchor where it was, quite sure it would hold through anything today brought. The OPP were around to check on people and take collision reports after last night.

The guy in this little Grampian 23 stayed as well. He has been up the Welland and into all 5 Great Lakes since leaving Toronto in early June. I don't think we're going to pull that one off.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Beardrop Harbour Mayhem

July 30: The sun has set not long ago, but we have not gone below. We are watching for squalls in Beardrop Harbour. There's a nasty looking line that has swept through the Soo and is headed our way. Coast Guard warns to expect torrential rains, winds to 45 knots, hail, lightning, fire and brimstone. I'm hoping at least some of that doesn't materialize. Modern connectivity allows me to watch live radar feed for the area on my phone. I'm not sure if that's better than the old fashioned version where we just watched the sky.

Today we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast and shared a little with Rod and Allison while looking over the charts. We both set out westward around 1030. We took an inside route direct to Little Detroit, then along the north shores of Aird and John Islands. We sailed all the way in winds that oscillated quite a bit in speed and direction between 0 and 15 from the south to the west. It was a beautiful sail in beautiful country. We saw lots of other places we could easily have picked, then settled on Beardrop Harbour at about 1500. Once in, it was clear we weren't the only ones with that idea and we shared the large harbour with 20 or 25 other boats.

Dinner was T-Bone Steaks as big as our heads. We planned for leftovers, but somehow there were none ;-)

I didn't want to post this until I knew how it ended. The squall rolled in about 2240 after being visibly violent on the horizon for quite a while. Laura says it peaked at 2257 and we were back to moderate winds and still raining heavily by 2330. At peak I saw gusts of 44 knots, with sustained winds in the high 30s. There was some carnage in the harbour. Many boats dragged and radio traffic indicates at least one collision. I think I saw it happening, a sailboat dragging sideways downwind at about 3 knots. Most of the power cruisers were in motion by the end of it, but they seem to have upped anchor and powered to more or less hold station. One of the sailboats that dragged has his running lights reversed, with red on the starboard side, making it difficult to figure out his motions. In our running commentary we referred to him as "the moron".

We held rock solid. So did the boats right around us, so it wasn't as exciting as it might have been. Also, there was next to no fetch so the waves were minor. I had the engine running just in case, but found no use for it. The light show was really intense! I enjoyed it a lot more once the lightning was behind us, lighting up the whole harbour and making it clear where everybody wound up.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Little Current to Eagle Island

Quote of the Day July 28: "Not a cloud in the sky, horizon to horizon, sunset will be dreary!"

And it was like that all day too, which meant pretty limited wind. Still, we managed to sail much of the way from Covered Portage Cove, down the Lansdowne Channel, and around to Little Current in a hint of breeze from the East. We had to hang around a while before the 3 o'clock swing allowed us past the bridge, into the channel, and on to downtown Little Current. The bridge is celebrating its centennial this year and somebody said he thought it was the oldest swing bridge in North America.

Since I was last here, the Port of Little Current has dramatically expanded and improved the transient docking facilities. The whitefish is still delicious at the Anchor Inn, and they still have free wireless, but so does the whole harbour now. We had a finger dock fairly close to shore on A dock at the west end of town. A little farther out would have been good, since we brushed the bottom on our way back out.

We made phone contact with Allison and Rod in Gore Bay and agreed on a general direction and radio contact for the next day. Then we walked the length of the wall, noticed some enormous power yachts from Grosse Pointe, and picked up some smoked fish at Wally's on the pier.

Ice cream for dessert is always good!

July 29: The wall, or the docks at the east end would have put us closer to the grocery stores for provisioning this morning, but the load was still manageable. The fridge is packed with meat and vegetables again. We did most of our shopping at the Valumart then rounded it out with some lamb from the Foodland. Definitely a good provisioning stop. There's also a butcher at the bottom of the hill, unfortunately closed on Sundays.

Although the forecast called for SW, the wind was persistently on the nose as we motored out of LC, up and around Clapperton Island, and past the Benjamins. We were still motoring when we saw Leading Edge appear from behind Hook Island under sail. At that point we were able to bear off for the only half hour of sailing we got today, down to the east end of Eagle Island. We followed them up the back of the island to anchor in the bay.

The sailboat symbol in the lower middle of the chart shot is the famous Benjamins anchorage, the must see of North Channel cruising.

After getting the boat settled we went over to Leading Edge for the rest of the afternoon to compare notes on our adventures, with cool drinks and fresh cherries. We only adjourned for dinner, fresh whitefish on their boat and ours. Ours was certainly delicious, with Greek salad and potatoes, and fresh strawberries for dessert. Grocery days are really good.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 27 July 2012

Bad River to Killarney Bay

July 26: It's always easier getting out, no angst just following the plotter track we came in on. Motored until there was room, then reached off uneventfully under NE breeze almost all the way into Killarney.

We stopped at Killarney Mountain Lodge for a fill and empty on the way into the channel, then on to the brand new docks at Pittfield's General Store. We got some groceries, did laundry, and heard from Richard and June on their way in through Lansdowne Channel. We took advantage of the fish and chips fresh off the boat while the dryers spun.

We docked next to June and Richard at the Lodge. The grocery selection in Killarney is limited, but we managed steaks and mushrooms for six between two BBQs, with fresh salad and beans imported by Will and Sandra. It was great to see some familiar faces and enjoy dinner on First Light III. After dinner we enjoyed live entertainment in the Lodge bar, with the added plus that we were indoors through the mosquito hour. Probably the most time we have spent indoors so far this month ;-)

July 27: Patched the head tank up this morning, as the old patch had slipped a little in the pounding on the way to Bad River.

Then off down the channel and barely out of site of town to Powderhouse Bay. Repeated tries found only weed and chocolate pudding with the anchor, so we moved up to Covered Portage Cove where we found much better holding, halfway out into Killarney Bay with a nice breeze from the NE. Even the outer part of the Cove is well populated today.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Richard's Island to Bad River

We stayed another day at the Richard's Island anchorage and it was a busy place. In addition to the usual boat traffic, the same seaplane landed and took off right beside us enough times we got kinda blasé about it. But it started out exciting, so there are pictures. The little lodge in the background is a step up from most of the local cottages, but there's plenty of posh real estate.

July 24: We headed out about 0815, but it was well after nine by the time we cleared the rocks of Point au Baril Channel. It was a beat into messy waves, but with a bonus wind shift at about 1400 that let us tack through about 40 degrees so we were at anchor in Bad River well before dinner time. These rocky entries and exits are a little nerve wracking, but the sights once you get in make it worth it!

There is rock all around us, with some Group of Seven trees and a family of vultures soaring on the thermals from the sun soaked rocks. We are sharing the anchorage with 4 other boats, 3 of them sail and there's almost a quarter moon showing as the sun sets amidst high, wispy, fair weather clouds.

Tonight is our sixth night at anchor since leaving Tobermory, so we are scraping the bottom of the barrel for sustenance. Tonight was Fusili Alfredo with Crab. Obviously we need to rush to Killarney for supplies. And for connectivity, as there's only a hint of a signal down here amidst the rocks. And to meet up with June and Richard if we are going to see them before they head south.

July 25: Supplies will have to wait! Spent a gorgeous morning doing nothing much at anchor, then took the dinghy up the Devils Door Rapids. With low water it's just a fast moving bit of water between the rocks. Once up I switched to oars. Last time I was here I hit a rock and broke the shear pin less than 50 metres further up. This is part of the lower reaches of the French River, a fissured coastline almost like a delta of granite, with water and marshy clay caught in the cracks. Much of the marsh is now high and dry, and marsh plants are moving out onto the exposed surfaces. Except for the granite. There's about three feet along the granite waterlines that's missing the long term growth of lichen.

The anchorage is filling up today, with another half dozen power boats in by lunch time, probably to shelter from the southerlies that could make it to 20 this afternoon. Speaking of lunch time...

After lunch the weather "dis-improved" to persistent rain and occasional strong winds. It's the first day so far to get me thinking that one of those full cockpit enclosures might be nice, as we sit below eating our dinner (tomato and wild rice casserole with corned beef and cheese). The wind has gotten lighter and moved around to the north east, which should be good for tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 23 July 2012

Franklin Island to Richard's Island

July 22: One should really know enough to avoid any place named Shoal Narrows. True to its name, it was really narrow, and shallower than indicated on the chart.

We started the day with pancakes at Franklin Island, then motored upwind out the channel to the Bay. Turning up Shawanaga Inlet let us unroll the genoa for an extended reach down to Turning Island, where we took the inland turning up around Tonches Island, almost to Point au Baril Station. These tight turns and occasional shallows negotiated successfully, we rounded the lighthouse and decided to give Nares Inlet a try.

The entry is tricky and exposed, but well marked on the water and the plotter. There's one shallow spot that could be a problem if the Bay waves were bigger, but the day had been fairly light. Once in, there's a nice little bay, then a couple of turns, then the narrows (marked with a fish because a pushpin or a house seemed wrong).

We approached slowly and were doing well until the tightest part, where there's about 20 feet between the buoys. The thump was gentle, but brought us to a halt and the little bit of current turned us sideways. There was deeper water just ahead of us, so Laura took the anchor out forward. Rotating the boat got us about four feet further, but we weren't getting any more, so it was time to kedge out the way we came in. The people in the cottage overlooking the narrows came out in their outboard and offered help. We thanked them, and said we would try it slowly and gently on our own for now. With the anchor out in deep water behind us, I was able to pull us back out by hand and we hung there for a little while tidying up.

Remember the nice little bay? We went back there and anchored, snacked a little and made dinner plans. We would have been good for the night, but the 1830 forecast had a wind warning for Georgian Bay. We would have been fine in the bay, but getting out could have been dodgy. Once again, we went out the way we came in, back past the lighthouse and into a very well protected bay off the channel facing Richard's Island. We were settled in early enough for steak before sundown and scrabble before the light faded completely.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Wingfield Basin to Franklin Island

July 21: It was just like a typical Partridge Bowl (happening in Kingston today), a close spinnaker reach that eventually requires a takedown as the SW wind backs a little or the course titans up... except this one took us all the way across Georgian Bay, about 40 miles at over 7 knots most of the way. Today's conditions were definitely worth waiting for.

Out in the middle of the Bay we met up with a wayward and exhausted Dragonfly. He settled in on the corner of the companionway and didn't budge for over an hour. Then he flew around the boat for 10 or 15 minutes before we lost track of him. I don't know if he stayed aboard somewhere we didn't see, or even if he had ridden with us since Wingfield. He was certainly huge, more than 3" head to tail!

We came in past Savage Rocks and a whole lot of other named rocks at the south end of Franklin Island. There were lots of Georgian Bay White Dolphins frolicking as we passed. (The waves really do look like dolphins when they break and splash!) We came up the inside channel behind Franklin, quite cautiously in some of the shallow and tight spots, then dropped our anchor near the north end.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tobermory to Wingfield Basin

July 19: We took it easy this morning, enjoyed our coffee and tea watching the traffic and savouring the cool air we had been missing for most of the trip so far. We made a trip to the grocery store for a well filled cart full of heavy groceries, especially drinks, then wheeled the cart all the way back to the boat along the docks. It was smoother than expected and we were very conscious that shopping carts could probably plunge as easily as young girls on bicycles, but there were no mishaps in either direction.

We topped off the tanks, then motored out for a look at Flower Pot Island. The island is unremarkable until you come around the corner where two flower pot stone formations show up really well from offshore. The view from the lake lets you see the geology as a whole, with many similar structures visible. Unfortunately it was a little lumpy out for pictures, so you'll have to look up the Five Fathom National Park website.

We tacked outside Bear's Rump Island, then back towards Wingfield. The 15+ NE gradually faded to zip and we motored the last few miles to get in by about 1800. We were sharing the basin with just two other boats until a third came in about 1900 as we were making dinner.

After dinner we dinghied over and explored the ruins of Gargantua, a huge wooden tug that apparently burned to the water line after being run aground in the basin. (Google says there was 20 years between the grounding and the fire, likely started by a careless sailor's BBQ in the early 1970s, which sort of takes the romance out of it.) With the water being so low, a lot of the structure is revealed above the water. There's a cottage on shore that looks directly out over the wreck, which must be interesting.

The wind is coming up now, but we are snug in a very well protected harbour.

July 20: With the wind still up from the east, we decided on another lazy day in harbour. More determined souls ventured out through the cut, but with reduced sail.

I spent the morning wiring up and playing with the circuitry designed to monitor the engine speed. For those who care, it's a voltage divider with a Zener diode to shape the decay waveform off the coil into a single TTL pulse per spark event. The result is something I can monitor with an Arduino micro controller to track and record, and even act on engine speed, temperature, oil pressure, etc. I have no good reason why, other than the idea of a computer monitored Atomic 4 being perversely amusing.

Laura spent the morning at least equally well, reading murder mysteries.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Deja Vu

Last night at sunset I fished a bicycle out of deep water with an anchor...again.

A girl, riding along the dock, missed a turn at the corner above and drove into 15 feet of water. It was clear enough that some reached for boathooks while I was getting the anchor. Yes, the girl had already been pulled out.

I got it on the second cast. A cold and grateful girl went home with Laura's rescue sweatshirt to keep her from shivering.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Pointe au Barques to... Tobermory

July 17: There was more wind than expected at anchor last night and there was still about 20 WSW when we set off this morning. After about half an hour of close reaching to go across the bay and up the American side, with gusts over 25, Laura asked how far to Kincardine. I was thinking something similar, so now we are on a fast and fun broad reach towards Tobermory, which will be about a 90 mile day.

Part of cruising is being ready to follow the wind. The American shore of Huron doesn't look much more interesting until the very top, so we will detour back to the Canadian side where we know it's interesting.

The wind clocked substantially, as forecast, so we came up to close hauled in the early afternoon. The waves were still huge and behind us. Surfing while close hauled is an odd experience, but one worth repeating!

The wind died at sunset and we motored on to Tobermory, tying up about 0300 right across from the gas dock. There's red flashing radio mast or something that's visible 20 miles out from Cape Hurd, while the actual Cape Hurd red nav light is only visible 7 miles out. The two of them lead us right into the inside approach, where the buoys are reflective, but not lit.

We slept late this morning and are having a lazy day on shore. The harbour is busy with dive boats and glass bottom tour boats and all the tourists needed to fill them. We just watched the ferry load and leave for Manitoulin Island. Tobermory is focused around the harbour, with all the services you need (and plenty you don't) all right there. Ports like this are really nice to visit and Tobermory has plenty of transient sail traffic passing through or staying a day or two like us.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Up the Thumb

July 16: I was only recently informed that Michigan looks like a mitten. At 1330 we are about to pass close by Harbour Beach, the last obvious stopping point on the east side of the thumb. Wind started at nothing, then built slowly to about 10 S. Vassily is doing a surprisingly good job steering us wing and wing.

Immediately after passing the harbour the wind rose to 15. It always does that when Laura takes the helm. The shore has been mostly sandy and low so far, with deciduous trees, much like the Canadian side. We're a mile or so offshore, enough to get us 40 feet, but well away from the freighters we can still see going by.

By sunset we had dropped anchor just past the Pointe au Barques lighthouse, had a swim and dinner from the BBQ. It's a little overcast, but cooling off, with about 10 SW that should swing W for a good reach tomorrow if we can rely on the forecast.

I got some really cool pics of this sunset with the big camera and I'll share one once I get them out of the camera and processed. It's not film anymore, but it still gets better with the right post processing ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Kelley's Island to the Detroit River

July 12: The Seaway Marina on Kelley's Island has tons of space and 12 foot depth even in the back corner. 1.75 a foot is not so bad. Although there is a car ferry, most people seem to come over on foot and get around the island on a fleet of rental golf carts at $14 an hour. There wasn't nearly as much to be found in downtown as you might have expected for something labelled as "downtown" on the map.

From Kelley's we did a drive by of Put In Bay, which looks like the place to go on your power boat to party your brains out. Not many masts in the harbour. Pointing the boat straight at the Detroit River, we narrowly missed Middle Sister Island. We were able to sail well into the river, but gave up when the current overwhelmed us around the BASF plant.

Mid afternoon we heard a Canadian Coast Guard alert about a bomb threat in the Windsor/Detroit Tunnel. Then the USCG took the lead, establishing a safety exclusion zone due to an "incident" in the tunnel. They never did tell us what the incident was, but dropped the exclusion in time for us to motor through and anchor off Grosse Pointe. Apparently the tunnel survived.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Port Huron to Port Sanilac

July 15: Tonight's stop, Port Sanilac is one of the "Harbours of Refuge" built by the Army Corps of Engineers with the help of the State of Michigan. It looks like a fortress, made up of a series of steel cylinders 20 or 30 feet across that could defend against anything Lake Huron has to offer. The name apparently derives from a Wyandotte Native Chief, rather than anything to do with cleaning up the lake.

We are in slip 7, more or less in the middle, with a view straight
up Main Street to the town's only traffic light.
The marina has great docks, now with ladders to get up onto them with the water so low - it looks like it's about 2 feet lower than designed for and that matches reported levels. The wifi works fairly well (but not right from the boat), there's laundry right at the dock, and excellent ice cream in home made waffle cones just next door. Definitely a good spot to stop, although I haven't seen a grocery store yet.

We gassed up and pumped out this AM then once more under the bridge against the current, sometimes under 3 knots over the ground. A gentle SW let us make reasonable progress, but went to bed about noon as black clouds built on the shore. We motored through a series of squalls in the early afternoon, with some sailing in between. From the radio it sounded like the weather was more severe south of Port Huron, with threats of 50 knot gusts and hail. We got off easy with winds in the low twenties and sheets of rain. By dinner, steak and salad, we had clear skies, calm winds, and clean underwear.