CHAPTER 6 JULY 25, 2007
GEORGIAN BAY & NORTH CHANNEL, CANADA
On July 25th, we arrived at the "BIG CHUTE", Lock 44 on the TRENT-SEVERN WATERWAY (see pictures). It’s a marine railway with a 57 foot drop. Hydraulic powered slings hold your boat during a 7 minute ride traveling 600 feet across a road! The railway car is submerged under water on tracks, you pilot your vessel over the car which has sophisticated cables and rods to support each boat as it rises out of the water. The tracks are constructed so that the car remains level – it’s an engineering marvel! We stayed at Lock 44 that night, then first thing the next morning took our ride on the Big Chute, and continued on to MIDLAND, a great provisioning stop.
We are now officially in the GEORGIAN BAY, where we’ll spend the next couple of weeks. We’ll be following the northern small craft route, through the THIRTY THOUSAND ISLANDS (part of, and just above Lake Huron) - pristine fresh water surrounded by wilderness, and hauntingly beautiful. The first half of the Thirty Thousand Islands has many lovely and expensive summer cottages. Some are just one or two cottages perched atop ancient rocks. Later on, the Georgian Bay becomes more remote. Scattered among the rocks and pines are a few rustic fishing/hunting camps. No power, telephone, cell phone or roads. Most camps are accessible only by water. The landscape is large slabs of pink and gray granite cut from long ago glaciers. Many of the islands were created from molten rock. Trees and shrubs grow in what little soil is available. There are rocks everywhere in the water. Navigation is extremely difficult, like navigating through a minefield, and many channels are very narrow and winding. The procedure is to issue a "Security" on VHF channel 16 just prior to passing through a narrow winding channel, announcing your vessel size and direction.
We spent a few days in late July on BEAUSOLEIL ISLAND (see pictures). It’s part of Parks Canada, and a very popular place for boaters and campers, 5 miles by 1 mile wide, and only accessible by boat. Swimming is wonderful in the clear, warm water with sandy bottom and great beach. Exploring in the dinghy was great fun. Only problem is – there’s bears, rattle snakes and poison ivy here. The northern end of the island was closed due to a bear in the vicinity! They swim over from Deer Island looking for blueberries. The park rangers warn you not to leave any food or garbage in your cockpit, which would encourage the bears and raccoons.
Next stop on July 30th was HONEY HARBOR, South Bay Cove Marina. Here in the wilderness, is a first class, beautiful resort marina with a delightful restaurant. This was a welcome treat!
Continuing on in the GEORGIAN BAY (see picture), some areas have the rugged beauty of a moonscape. We arrived at FRYING PAN ISLAND on July 31. The world famous HENRY’S RESTAURANT (see picture) where planes, water taxi, and boats arrive for dinner. We had an excellent battered (light as air) Pickerel dinner. The extremely helpful dock boys have to secure the mooring lines of planes as well as boats! Passed through scary, narrow, rock filled "Canoe Channel" today (see picture) – thank goodness we fit! There’s lots of money in this part of the Georgian Bay. Many of the "cottages" have docks with a small plane alongside their boat, jet ski, water slide, and other toys. We spent Aug 1st in a tiny town called POINTE AU BARIL at the town dock – 55 cents a foot – what a deal! Next stops were an anchorage in BUSTARD ISLANDS (great for swimming and fishing), and an anchorage in MILL LAKE (see picture). It was so windy in Mill Lake that we had to tie the chairs on the bow to the boat with the dock lines! Thankfully, it calmed down the next day, and on we went to KILLARNEY, the gateway to the NORTH CHANNEL (upper Lake Huron).
The NORTH CHANNEL is a more remote and wilder version of the Georgian Bay, and has far fewer cottages. We rarely had cell phone service here. In KILLARNEY (see pictures), which was once a busy commercial fishing village not accessible by road until 1962, we had a delicious lunch at the famous school bus restaurant called "Mister Perch". The town largely relies on tourism now. It was a delightful stopover with a few shops, museum, PO, and restaurants. Next stop was CLAPPERTON ISLAND on Aug 5th. We anchored with several other boats. Great spot for swimming and fishing. We spent Aug 6th and 7th in BLIND RIVER. It’s a wonderful marina with a large boater lounge – great for parties. I, of course, took advantage of the book swap. We spent our time here catching up on bills, emails and enjoying the free wi-fi.
Some interesting observations: In Canada, you can buy Hallmark cards in the post office. Also, many drug stores have a mini post office in the back. Every town has a King Street and a Queen Street. Liquor is really expensive in Canada. There are beer stores, and separate stores that sell the hard stuff called LCBO (liquor control board Ontario). And, I’m loving it that it’s still daylight until 9:30 pm or so every night.
We’ve been in Canada for 7 weeks now. Next stop is the 42 mile run to DRUMMOND ISLAND – back in the USA at the top of Lake Huron.
So far we have traveled 1339 nautical miles, plus the previous 1000 miles when we brought SUMMERTIME up the Intracoastal Waterway from Charleston
SC to Old Saybrook CT in 2005. We look forward to hearing from
friends and family – please keep the calls and emails coming!