Sunday: One more day in port here in Midland as we are getting picked up by Marshall and Corinne and we’re going sightseeing, restaurant and grocery shopping, then back to their boat for dinner. They arrive at 10am and off we go to see the sights. First they take us over to Penetanguishene which is the next bay over from Midland Bay and we walk around the King’s Wharf Theater area with some shops, chandlery, etc and very nice waterfront views. They also take us by the local hospital on Asylum Point (you guess what type of patients are inside) and the local maximum security prison. Then to the harbor area and all the marinas. After that we drive around Midland a bit and end up at Mom’s Restaurant and have a spectacular Sunday brunch meal. After shopping at FoodLand, we return to Kailani and stow our provisions. I have to get in some pool time, so bathing suit and towel are in order and I go over for some sun and water.
Later on Marshall picks us up and we go over to Cormarant II for steak dinner. Corinne has prepared some great appetizers and side dishes to go with the steaks and Tracy had brought the sweets for dessert. After a splendid time with them and discussing some more about Georgian Bay, we go back to Kailani for the evening knowing that we’re leaving this beautiful area tomorrow morning.
Once back on board, we review the charts and decide to shoot for Echo Bay anchorage tomorrow and Tracy goes back to Sea Cottage to watch the musical “Hamilton” with Zach.
Monday: We’re shooting for an 8:30 am departure from our slip to get to the fuel dock, but Marshall and Corinne show up, our next door neighbors want some info on the charts and we have to fill our water holding tank, so let’s not even worry about the time. With all that completed, Tracy takes us out of the slip and over to the fuel dock as we wave goodby to some great friends. At the fuel dock we only want to take on about fifty gallons so we’re not fully loaded for the rock cruising ahead. Also Tracy will complete a full pump out so as we anchor our way up Georgian Bay we’ll have plenty of room in our black water tanks. Pump outs are very expensive in Georgian Bay due to the full rock terrain and no logical place to dump/treat sewage.
Finally, we’re cruising our of Midland Bay towards Echo Bay in the San Souci area. Georgian Bay is best described as “rocks and trees” but in this area, you can say “rocks and trees and cottages”!
And what Canadians call cottages, we call estates! Seems as though each new cottage is larger than the last. This makes for beautiful views as we wind our way through well marked channels to our destination.
When we get to Echo Bay, there’s one other motor yacht and one sailboat, we move past the motor yacht and find a nice anchorage in the far corner of the bay. Tracy drops the anchor and we try to set it, but it won’t set so after a few tries to set it, the guy from the other motor yacht comes over and tells us he had tried to set his anchor right where we were and he couldn’t either. So if we wanted to stay here, we’d have to rig a stern line to shore and tie to one of the land anchors provided by the Canadian government which can be used for $10.75 per night. So he dinghies a line to shore and tied us off and we were set for the night.
Soon the bay was filled with three other sailboats and another motor yacht and just before dusk another sailboat came in but left because the bay was full. We were lucky to have such a nice spot in such a nice anchorage. Tracy fished off the stern and we both rafted a bit in the clear water that was cool at first, but warmed up nicely once you were used to the temperature.
Tuesday: We plan for another anchorage night in Hopewell Bay farther up the small craft route and it’s thirty nautical miles away, so we really don’t have to rush to leave this morning, so Tracy gets her first cup of coffee and fishes off the stern again and this time she catches a few smallish bass, then she lands the largest bass she’s caught to date! It was a beauty. She removed the hook and placed him back in the water.
We had to unrig the stern line on land and raise the dinghy to the roof before departure, so Tracy dinghies to shore and removed the stern line, then brought the dinghy back and I raised it to the roof and secured it down with the straps. Now we were ready to raise the anchor and start out. Tracy went to the bow and raised the anchor while I took us out of the bay. We waved good bye to Kevin and Catherine, our boat buddies that helped us with the stern line and off we were for the day.
This part of Georgian Bay would take us past Parry Sound which we chose to skirt, but had we gone into the town, that’s where Boston Bruin great, Bobby Orr was born, so there is a Bobby Orr Museum there. It would have added two hours and almost twenty miles to our cruise, so we’re glad to skirt that sound. We will also be cruising in some nearly open water today as the small craft route juts out in an area where there aren’t any barrier islands, so if there is wind, we will have to deal with some chop, but Georgian Bay is relatively calm today and the three mile stretch where wind may have been a factor becomes a non-issue.
We cruise past many cottages again today and the terrain is identical to yesterday as rocks and trees are the norm. Some places there’s a tree growing right out of the crack in the rock. Again the small craft route is well marked and safe navigation is a reward of constant awareness, so again, we make it safely to Hopewell Bay and we select the Nadeau Island anchorage and we are totally alone in this small bay! What a nice surprise and the weather, although slightly cooler that we’ve been experiencing is still very nice and couples with the scenery, we have a winner again.
We are planning for an open water cruise tomorrow, so we’re watching the weather carefully to make sure we’re okay to make the cross.
Wednesday: The weather is cooperating, so we make our plan for a relatively easy morning departure, meaning Tracy will fish for a while and I really can’t say she’s just feeding the fish because she again lashes onto another sweet smallmouth bass and it’s very nice size. So now the morning is complete and we can start raising the anchor. We pull out of the anchorage in Hopewell Bay at 9:00am and as we are leaving the cove, we see a Bayliner 4788 out in the small craft route of Shawanaga Inlet. It will stay ahead of us until we get to the Pointe of Baril lighthouse (now closed).
But prior to that, we pass by Champlain Monument Island and the monument to Samuel de Champlain in honor of the founder of the Georgian Bay (and Lake Champlain). The monument is a stone cross commemorating the Frenchmen who was the first to discover and chart Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. He must’ve sunk a few boats before getting safely thru this area!
Back to the Bayliner, after passing Monument Island and turning a corner in the small craft route, we see up ahead, the Bayliner and it’s turned sideways in the channel and not moving!
We slow down to see if anything will start to happen and the Bayliner slowly is backing up to the small pier at the Pointe of Baril Lighthouse. Soon we see two people walking on the dock and the boat is pulling away and clearing the channel.
So we start to proceed at no wake speed and as we approach the lighthouse, we discover that the Bayliner is actually our slip neighbors from Bayport Yacht Centre when we had left there on Monday and one brother was driving the boat away and the other brother and his wife were touring the closed lighthouse taking pictures. We exchanged big waves of acknowledgement and continued on.
Our route today is taking us out into Georgian Bay open water after Pointe of Baril and then north to Byng Inlet. We go about 3 miles offshore and find buoy AA2, then turn to course 320 degrees for 10 nautical miles, towards Morden Rock, then after avoiding Morden Rock we turn to 340 degrees for 3 nautical miles to reach the first buoy of the Byng Inlet channel. This is well marked and by 12:40pm we are tied up at Wright’s Marina Ltd for the night.
The first thing I notice is the gold burgees of our friend’s boats, Lake Effect and Little Hide Away. Remember back to coming north and meeting them at Alligator River Marina, then seeing them a few more times further north including the fog day on the Chesapeake River. Well this is their home port and they finished the loop about a month ago in July, so they now proudly fly the gold burgee.
After registering and getting settled, we see two more friendlies pulling in, Eric, Jennifer & Zach on Sea Cottage, and Ken & Jean on DreamQuest. Sea Cottage came via a night stay at Killbear Marina and DreamQuest came via an anchorage in Snug Harbor. They had both thought about taking the open water route, but DreamQuest turned around to go the small craft route out of Pointe of Baril instead of the open water route because they felt like the weather was a bit threatening. So I guess we just made the open water cruise in time. But it was good to catch up with them all again.
During the check-in at the office, we thanked the Lacey’s for supporting the AGLCA to the level that they do and to also thank Graham for keeping us loopers updated on the wildfires north of here that had closed a portion of the small craft route last week. In our briefings with Ken MacDonald at Bayport Yachting Centre he had told us to forget that area and to plan an open water cross right to the Bustard Islands because of the wildfires, but the Laceys are now telling us that this is a portion of the Thirty Thousand Islands that should not be avoided. So I guess it’s back to the drawing board and we should start plotting a passage thru the small craft route north of here and forget our original strategy. They report that a direct cruise to Killarney is 40 miles and the small craft route is 60 miles, so there really isn’t a big difference in the small craft route, plus it will give us more time cruising the aqua colored, clear water that has been high on our want list for this trip.
After a nice t-bone dinner aboard Kailani we go over to Sea Cottage to watch the end of The Phantom of the Opera with Eric, Jen and Zach.
Thursday: This morning is a flurry of activity with DreamQuest, Sea Cottage and Kailani to decide go or no-go. After much deliberation, Sea Cottage and Kailani decide to stay put and ride out the impending weather while DreamQuest makes the decision to head out to the Bustard Islands for the Gun Barrel-East anchorage. We help them shove off and proceed enjoying our time here in Britt. Eric and I continue to watch the weather forecasts as they develop and one thing’s for sure, I’m glad I never decided to be a meteorologist! The forecasting is changing seemingly every hour as the day progresses and this confusion makes our planning even more difficult. We follow one service that says there will be winds in the 17 to 20 knot range and another service says the winds will be in the 5 to 8 knot range. The only thing they all seem to agree on is the location of the winds being from the East Northeast and that’s a good thing as the land will protect us from those winds as will the anchorages we are contemplating. So we just enjoy the rest of the day on terra firma and watch the forecasting.
Later in the afternoon, Yvon and Gil Renaud show up for the evening and Gil and Tracy go fishing in their dinghy down the Byng Inlet searching for Pike.
Tracy comes back with a nice (to us) Pike, but Yvon says it’s a rather smallish catch for their normal standards. He shows us how to filet the Pike so there are no bones in the filets. He calls it ‘the five filets’ and true to his description, there are no bones, then he describes to Tracy how to prepare and cook the filets and we go back to Kailani for some delicious Ontario Pike.
Friday: First thing this morning the entire Byng Inlet in both directions is fogged in, so we’re probably not going anywhere today since trying to navigate the small craft route in fog is not on our bucket list. So we check in with the Sea Cottage and we both decide to wait it out one more day then travel together tomorrow and at least thru back into the USA in Drummond Island.
Then we borrow the marina courtesy car and drive down to St Amants for some small groceries in preparation for departing tomorrow. Fog finally burns off but there are two bouts of rain later in the day, so we’ve made a good decision to hold off on cruising for one more day. Tomorrow, we will cruise to Thomas Bay while Sea Cottage cruises right into Killarney. They’ll stay two nights at Sportsman’s Inn and we will meet up with them for the second night before departing together for Little Current on Monday.
Saturday: Winds are still blowing and the north Georgian Bay buoy is hopping with wave action, so we make the executive decision to take advantage go Wright’s Marina’s hospitality and use the free day of dockage that is offered to us.
We now nix the plan to spend a night in Thomas Bay and make a new plan to cruise expeditiously, but safely to Drummond Island and work a goal to get back into the USA. We all agree that we’ve seen enough rocks and trees!
Luc and Yvon see us lounging around and think that we’ve become seasonal at their marina! But Tracy fishes, I socialize, we plan for a dinner together with Sea Cottage and we go for a walk to a tag sale and ice cream shop down the road from the marina.
After a hamburger and side dish dinner, we set our plans for a cruise into Killarney for tomorrow and agree to check the weather again first thing in the morning. We will be crossing forty miles of open lake so we really want to be sure of the weather before heading out. Right now it looks real good even with a southeast wind.