Georgian Bay


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     Wednesday, July 21, 2010
    8:45 a.m.       Depart Big Chute Railway lock wall tie-up
    12:10 p.m.      Arrive Bayport Marina/Midland, Ontario
    Distance travelled: 22 miles
    Weather: L=67, H=79; sunny, big puffy clouds, breezy with gusts to 22 mph

    We were up and ready for our Big Chute experience at 8:30.  Watauga went first as there was not enough room for 2 big boats at one time. Then it was our turn.  All went well and it was not at all the frightening experience that Brenda thought it might be.  It is truly an engineering marvel and took only about 10 minutes to load us onto the platform, take us into the air and over the land, and then set us back into the water on the other side. The lockmasters ride on the platform with the boats and their crew and are very proficient at their jobs. The only disconcerting part is that they positioned the boat so that approximately 4 feet of the boat hung over the back end of the platform.  Again we saw beautiful homes and cottages on our way to the Port Severn Lock #45 and our last lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway.  This was a very small lock and only 1 big boat at a time could lock through. Coming out of this final lock certainly required the top-notch skills of the captain as the current was swift and the channel was somewhat narrow and twisty and you had to line up for a bridge.  It was interesting to say the least, but Captain Ken did an excellent job.  We went through the Waubaushene Channel and then into the big water known as Severn Sound and made our way to Midland.  It actually felt wonderful to be in open and deeper water after all those miles of narrow channels and locks of the Trent-Severn Waterway.  Before long we arrived at Bayport Marina in Midland where we met up with Mas Bueno and Sassy who arrived a day earlier.  This is a very nice marina with most accommodating staff.  Today completed our journey on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

    Well, we got up and in and we are now "over the hill" and on our way.  Some say I was "over the hill" some time ago, but clearly that was not the case.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010
    8:30 a.m.       Depart Bayport Marina/Midland, Ontario
    1 p.m.          Arrive Echo Bay anchorage/Sans Souci Island
    Distance travelled:  38 miles
    Weather: L=72, H=76; sunny

    Today is our first day on the Georgian Bay portion of our journey. We travelled across Midland Bay past Beausoleil Island and then through Minnicogneshene Channel where we picked up the small craft channel. Two Turtles who had been anchored in Frying Pan Bay joined us at this point. All of our travel was around and amongst rocky islands, some with cottages and the rest just big rocky outcrops that you stay well away from.  At one point, near O'Donnell Point, the channel was so narrow that we barely fit between the red and green buoys. Thankfully, we did not meet another boat at this point.  There were several other narrow passages where we did meet other boats!  Most boats we met were smaller cruisers that went top speed and cared little about the wakes they were creating.  We arrived at our anchorage at Echo Bay where there were already several other boats.  This was our first experience with "med" mooring and we gratefully accepted the assistance of some Canadian boaters already anchored there. With this type of anchoring you drop your bow anchor as usual but then you run a line from the stern of the boat to a tree or a mooring pin on the shore.  Mas Bueno, Two Turtles, and Watauga arrived approximately 30 minutes later.  We all found a mooring spot.  

    Here is an example of two boats med moored.  The sterns are tied to the shore.  This adds $10 to the day! (Parks Fee).

    Here our travelling friend from Mas Bueno (Hal and Cheryl) are having a dinghy ride around the lovely bay.

    Hal & Cheryl (Mas Bueno), Liz & Tony (Two Turtles), and Ken & Brenda dinghied 2 miles to Henry's Restaurant, which is only accessible by float plane or boat as it is on an island.  In spite of that, it was very busy.  We had pickerel and chips, which they are famous for, and it really was excellent.

    We took our dinghy with Hal and Tony and Liz took Cheryl and were off for the 3 mile ride to Henry's Fish Camp.  Only way there is by boat or seaplane.

    At Henry's Warf, you will be directed and helped by his excellent dock staff.  Just make yourself comfortable among the boats large and small and various amphibious aircraft.

    Not too many restaurants have to issue taxi instructions to their clients.

    Friday, July 23, 2010
    Echo Bay Anchorage/Sans Souci Island
    Weather: L=64, H=74; foggy and misty with light drizzle most of the morning and then intermittently during the remainder of the day; cleared in the evening

    Today was a good day to do chart plotting and planning for the next few days of travel on Georgian Bay.

    Saturday, July 24, 2010
    7:30 a.m.       Depart Echo Bay/Sans Souci Island
    11:50 a.m.      Arrive Hopewell Bay anchorage
    Distance travelled: 35 miles
    Weather: L=69, H=75; foggy, overcast, and then sunny later in the day, breezy with gusts to 18 mph

    We had planned to depart at 7 a.m. but because of the fog waited an extra half hour.  We wound our way amongst many rocky passages with Sleeth Island being the only one where we held our breath as it was another one of those situations where the boat barely squeezed between the red and green buoy.   Other than that, it was a relatively easy journey; just had to pay attention to the channel markers. We saw many lighthouses along the way.  Our anchorage is a beautiful location with many rock outcrops surrounding us.  Here and there on the shoreline there are Inukshuk stone monuments.  They are vertical stone creations about 2 feet high; these once were built by natives as a method of communicating to others passing by to indicate they had been there. There are 5 boats at anchor here tonight.

    It is impossible to capture the beauty of the Bay without a panorama camer.  Here is the rocky shore.  Loons galore here, but no pictures turned out worth posting.  Apparently they are rather camera shy.

    Here is our friends Bill and Nancy at anchor in Watauga in Hopewell Bay.  As the evening wore on, the sky clouded up but no bad weather came in.

     Sunday, July 25, 2010
    7 a.m.          Depart Hopewell Bay anchorage/off Shawanaga Inlet
    11 a.m.         Arrive Wright's Marina/Britt, Ontario
    Distance travelled:  33 miles
    Weather: L=62, H=78; sunny, some breeze

    Following the advice of the guidebooks and the advice of a Canadian couple from Penetang whom we had met in Elizabeth City, NC, we travelled on the outside (in the open Georgian Bay waters) from Pointe au Baril to Byng Inlet.  The small craft route at this portion of the journey is twisting and can be very difficult for larger boats and thus the reason for the advice and why we followed the advice. Mas Bueno did follow the small craft route and although they said it was beautiful and exciting, they also said that we made the right decision to go outside as we would have had difficulty negotiating some of the turns amongst the rocks.  Our open water ride was a bit choppy with waves generally 2 to 3 feet but not uncomfortable.  Cheryl & Hal cooked ribs and we enjoyed a potluck dinner on the docks.  This marina is very looper friendly.  On the shore in front of the slips are a barbeque and a picnic table, both of which we used for our potluck meal.  The management here also is a good source of local information regarding the waters.

    Crude though it was, I am sure that this was a great aid to many boaters in the early days.

    This just goes to show you that some lighthouses are just downright gorgeous.  This one marks our progress towards the open waters of Georgian Bay.

    Here is Nancie in front of Watauga, and to the right is the lovely area with umbrella covered tables and a nice gas Bar-B-Que.

    Monday, July 26, 2010
    8:45 a.m.       Depart Wright's Marina/Britt, Ontario
    12 noon Arrive anchorage at Pearl Island/Bustard Islands
    Distance travelled:  25 miles
    Weather: L=58, H=78; breezy with gusts to 16 mph but sunny

    Our travel was once again through and around rocky islands which meant we had to pay close attention and make sure we were always in the channel.  At one point (buoy D57) we made our turn and we were headed straight for the rocks.  Thanks to Captain Ken's skills, he realized that the buoy was out of place and he averted what could have been a very dangerous situation. There are many lighthouses placed strategically on rocks throughout Georgian Bay.  Two channels, Cunninghams Channel and Rogers Gut (yes, gut not cut), required a securitae.  What this means is that because the channel is very narrow and there is no room to safely meet and pass another vessel that you broadcast on VHF that you are about to enter so that boats coming from the other end will know that they should wait and vice versa.  Even though we announced our intent to enter Rogers Gut we encountered another boat who paid no attention and did not himself issue a securitae.  Thankfully we saw him in time and we just waited until he got through.  We heard the Thunder Bay Coast Guard announce on the radio that a bull moose was reported to be swimming across the channel at Parry Sound.  Our anchorage in the Bustard Islands was beautiful and well protected.  By nightfall there were 12 boats anchored here.  One of the boats coming in later was another looper boat called Rambler.

    As you wend your way into the area towards the Bustard Islands, you will find some channels that require you to pay particular attention to the channel.  The clear water makes the rocks on the bottom look about 2 feet down!

    However, once you are at anchor in these beautiful anchorages, it all seems very worthwhile.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010
    6:15 a.m.       Depart anchorage in Bustard Islands
    10:15 a.m.      Arrive Sportsmans Inn/Killarney, Ontario
    Distance travelled:  32 miles
    Weather:  L=66, H=91; hot but breezy with gusts to 16 mph, rain during the night

    After the first 5 miles of travel today the small craft channel was on the outside in the open Georgian Bay waters for about another 18 miles so instead of going back into the small channel we just continued on the open water directly to Killarney.  By avoiding the small craft channel we saved about 10 miles of travel. For just over half the distance the water was a bit choppy with waves of 2 to 3 feet but very doable and not uncomfortable. As we got nearer to Manitoulin Island we were more protected and the waters were smooth.  Several other looper boats arrived at the marina as well and they included Sassy, Lady in Red, Bulldog Sally, Somerset, and would-be loopers Wild Goose.  Our arrival at Killarney marks the end of our Georgian Bay adventure and the beginning of the North Channel adventure.

    Who would have expected to find two tall ships here?

    Here is half of our Loopers at dinner in the Sportsmans Lodge.  The food was very good.

    Ok, so maybe the last photo was a litle more than half, but this table is having just as much fun.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010
    Sportsmans Inn/Killarney, Ontario
    Weather:  L=68, H=78; extremely wind all day with winds as high as 32 mph

    We had been told that Herbert's Fish, which is sold from an old bus, was better than the fish served at Henry's at Sans Souci.  So we had to put it to the test.  Brenda, Ken, Hal, Liz, and Tony went there for lunch. We all agreed that we preferred Henry's at Sans Souci.  Because of the high winds, there was concern at the docks because the docks which were just recently installed were not secured at the ends.  The marina staff tied ropes at the end of all the docks to keep them from moving or breaking away.  It was not  a comfortable feeling especially since we had already had a bad experience at Viamede Resort.  The end of our dock was tied to a fixed structure so that provided some comfort but we all sure were on edge at times.  We were ever so glad when the wind finally died down at dark. Tellico Lady hosted a potluck dinner on board with Watauga, Mas Bueno, Two Turtles, and Sassy.

    Here is the Sportsmans Lodge portion of the marina we stayed at.  A very nice facility way up north!

    Killarney has some cute homes just like most other towns on the Loop.

    Thursday, July 29, 2010
    9 a.m           Depart Sportsman Inn/Killarney, Ontario
    12 noon Arrive anchorage at Baie Fine
    Distance travelled:  24 miles
    Weather:  L=62, H=76; windy all day with gusts to 16 mph/winds light after 6 p.m.

    In this part of the journey the shoreline has become more hilly and covered mostly with evergreens with a few deciduous trees but of course with many rocky outcrops.  These very old rocks and the landscape are as a result of glaciation. We have also noted that there have been fewer cottages in Georgian Bay and now in the North Channel than we had seen further south.  We anchored at the far end of Baie Fine just before the narrows that lead into the famed 'pool'.  Baie Fine is a fresh water fjord created by glaciers.  It is very long, narrow, and with a hilly shoreline that is rocky but tree covered.  It is truly beautiful.  So now we have experienced the much touted Baie Fine. At anchorage here were Tellico Lady, Mas Bueno, Sassy, and Bulldog Sally.

    Bay Fine really is a long fjord with nearly mountainous edges.

    Friday, July 30, 2010
    6 a.m.          Depart anchorage at Baie Fine
    12:30 a.m.      Arrive Gore Bay Marina/Gore Bay, Ontario
    Distance travelled:  53 miles
    Weather: L=57, H=73; sunny, beautiful day

    We have chosen to follow the southern side of the North Channel instead of the small craft channel which goes through more rocky island passages.  Our flotilla of Mas Bueno, Sassy, and ourselves have decided that we have seen enough rocks.  We had a wonderful day of travel with virtually no wind.  We only had to wait about 15 minutes for the swing bridge at Little Current and because of virtually no wind we did not experience the current that can be tricky here.  We caught up to Watauga at Gore Bay Marina; they had travelled and stayed at Little Current Marina last night.  After getting docked and settled, we walked to the local grocery store to re-provision.  As a group we went to the Rocky Racoon Cafe where we had an excellent dinner. The restaurant is described as being a 'global restaurant'.  The chef is from Tibet and offers various entrees, with various origins such as Thai, Indian, American, or Tibetan; a surprise to find such a restaurant on Manitoulin Island.  We plan to stay here until Sunday and then will travel on to Meldrum Bay and then to the USA early next week.

    Here is the swing bridge you must have opened at Little Current.

    This is the Gore Bay town marina, which is very nice.

    Despite the unlikely name, the food at the Rocky Racoon is absolutely outstanding, as is evidenced by the grin on the dinners faces.

    Saturday, July 31, 2010
    Gore Bay Marina/Gore Bay, Ontario
    Weather: L=56, H=72; sunny

    Nancie and Brenda went on their 1-1/2 hour walk which included a stop at an antique/flea market which was quite impressive for such a small community.  Potluck dinner was on Mas Bueno with Tellico Lady, Sassy, Watauga, and Sheetless.  Bob & Joyce (Sheetless) are platinum loopers meaning they have done the loop more than 2 times.  They gave us valuable information for our future travel.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010
    7:30 a.m.   Depart Gore Bay Marina/Gore Bay, Ontario
    11:30 a.m. Arrive Meldrum Bay Marina/Meldrum Bay, Ontario
    Distance travelled:  36 miles
    Weather: L=60, H=77; a light drizzle early, overcast; sunny and calm later in the day

    Today's travel was an easy day on the water.  We went through approximately a 5-mile band of rain in the Vidal Bay area.  Meldrum Bay is very small but a pleasant marina.  This once thriving commercial fishing village now only has about 49 homes, an inn, and the Net Shed Museum.  Residents must drive approximately 1/2 hour away to get groceries.  We visited the Net Shed Museum which had an excellent display of artifacts depicting the fishing and marine history of Meldrum Bay.  In addition there were items depicting other aspects of life in the early days, eg. schools, agriculture, retail.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit at this museum. Potluck dinner was on Mas Bueno.  Sassy and Watauga left today for the long run to Drummond Island.  Meldrum Bay is also a customs clearing port for boaters entering Canada.

    Here is the little Net Shed Museum.  It is small, but very interesting and unusual for a museum in that you can and are invited to pick up the old documents and read through them.

    Here is the whole town.  And the building on the right was a combined general store and LCBO liquor store outlet, but it did not survive the last winter.  Such a pity.

    Note:  the next portion of the trip will be posted in the "Lake Michigan" section.


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