Sunday: Weather is cooperating for the open water cross to Killarney, so we make our preparations including taking on fresh water and getting pumped out. Both these should last us until we’re back in the USA at the end of the week. We agreed with Sea Cottage that we would shoot for a 10:00am departure and after we both completed pumpouts, we were finally on our way at 10:15am.
The first four miles out of Byng Inlet were at idle (no wake) speed, then we throttled up to 1,100 rpm’s and 9.6 knots per hour for the cross. At the end of the inlet channel, we turned to 305 degrees magnetic and held course for nearly forty miles, then as we cleared south of the buoy at Scarecrow Island Bank,
we turned to 320 degrees magnetic and cruised into Killarney Channel. It was really strange, because all the time we were approaching Killarney, I kept hearing people call on the radio for dockage and say ‘Killarney’ but I was hearing ‘Kailani’! So I looked at the VHF radio in astonishment wondering why all these boats were calling us and I didn’t know who they were. Anyway, with Sea Cottage right behind us, we both idled down the Killarney Channel to the further east side of the channel to the Sportsman’s Inn and our two slips.
The dockhands tried to put us both on the land based side of the marina, but Sea Cottage couldn’t get into the slip they were assigned sue to their length, so they went the 100 yards across the channel to the George Island side of the marina and had comfortable adequate dock space for their vessel, and the marina provides a tender that cruises back and forth between the mainland and the island from early in the morning until midnight every day. When you want a ride, you can call for ‘Tinkerbell’ on VHF channel 68 and he shows up for the ride across the channel.
There were a few AGLCA burgees flying on some trawlers docked both at Sportsman’s Inn and Killarney Mountain Lodge and Marina, so we pulled together an impromptu cocktails on the dock here at Sportsman’s Inn and the Swinks from ‘Reality’ and the Walters from ‘in HIS time’ showed up from the Lodge and the Dupuis’ from Zoey’s Adventure showed up from our marina. We’ve been in contact with Rene Dupuis before because he is the Harbor Host for Mystic, CT and I had spoken with him last year about departure times from Southern New England, etc. when Kailani was laid up for fuel tank replacements. It was nice to finally meet them.
After docktails, we went to dinner at the Killarney Mountain Lodge with the Strasels from Sea Cottage. Killarney Mountain Lodge and the Sportsman’s Inn are both owned by the same guy, so Tinkerbell was able to ferry us down to the KML for dinner and return to pick us up later. We chose the Lodge because they had better ramp access for Zach. The meals were very good and not really exorbitant in pricing. They have a ‘game’ meat on the menu each day and Sundays, the game is Boar, so Tracy ordered the Boar steak (bor-iiiing) -tc while I had the pork tenderloins. Both meals were filling and no dessert was necessary.
Back aboard Kailani, we made our plan for travel to Little Current tomorrow and both fell asleep in chairs/sofas in the Salon until getting up around 1am to really go to bed.
Monday: This morning is fine weather for cruising, but since we only have nineteen miles to travel, we agree on a later than usual start, plus once in the harbor town of Little Current, there’s a swing bridge just before the marina that only opens at the top of the hour and only stops traffic for fifteen minutes. This is the only bridge onto Manitoulin Island from the mainland, so they are very strict about the rules and procedures for an opening. So we agree on a strategy for a 10:30am departure and a planned arrival just before the 1pm opening. As we are leaving the docks, Zoey’s Adventure is pulling out also and headed for the same destination, so we end up a three vessel caravan to Little Current.
In spite of our perfect plan for arriving at the swing bridge on time, there is a slight current pushing us, so the first hour, we get about twenty minutes ahead of schedule, so we back the throttles down to near idle speed for the last eight nautical miles so we won’t be floating in the channel waiting for the swing bridge to open.
Once thru the swing bridge, we’re only about four hundred yards to the town docks and our tie-up for the night right next to the downtown area of Little Current. We are right behind Zoey’s Adventure on the wall, and Sea Cottage ends up in a slip in the finger pier portion of the marina.
After securing everything from the cruise and registering for the night, Erik, Jennifer, Zach and I take a walk exploring the town. We’re trying to scope it out because if the weather forecast(s) do not change drastically, we’ll probably be tied up here for a few more days as the winds are expected to get up to 25-30 knots over the next two days. If they would just hold off for a day, we’d try to make the jump to Gore Bay tomorrow, but safe cruising comes first so we’ll just have to watch the weather and see.
It’s a nice little downtown with some small shops and a few restaurants, but what’s nice is that the restaurants are more mom & pop style rather than the fancy sit-down type which we prefer, so if we have to hold up here for a day or two, it’s not the worst thing that could happen.
Tuesday: This morning’s look at the weather shows that we might be able to get to Gore Bay today in a decent weather window. We might have rain before we get there but the high winds aren’t supposed to be upon us until Wednesday. So we talk it over with Sea Cottage and off we go at 9:30am. It’s just a nice 25 nautical mile cruise thru mostly protected water in Clapperton Channel, then to the open water of Gore Bay.
One neat thing here in Little Current is that during boating season, the local AGLCA Harbor Host, Roy does a daily broadcast on VHF 71 for all boaters in the area. He does weather, news, finance and sports, then he opens the airwaves to call in boaters by region. After vessels call in to identify themselves, he has open time and some people call in from long distances via relays (boat to boat to Roy). It’s all pretty neat and it’s a long running custom up here in Little Current. In fact, Rene had Roy aboard his vessel last evening and Roy invited him up to the studio this morning to watch the broadcast live. If we had planned to stay, I would have gone also, but we’re leaving midway thru the broadcast, so I missed the opportunity.
Today’s cruise with Kailani in the lead and Sea Cottage following is thru mostly overcast skies, but there is nothing more than a drizzle towards the last hour of the cruise and at 12:30pm we’re pulling into Gore Bay Marina with Dockmaster, Lee Hayward waiting on the dock to receive the lines from Tracy. We back into the finger for a starboard tie-up and soon our power is connected and we are docked right between Sea Cottage and The JOURNEY. The JOURNEY is piloted by Dale and Merna and they are the other couple that had met and cruised with Sea Life, so for the past month I’ve seen them copied on all Larry’s texts about anchorages and places to see and now I have a face to put with the name.
Soon Tracy and I are registering at the marina office and from the office, we can see the Buoy Restaurant and the dockhand says they make the best meat lovers pizza, so off we go for a delicious lunch. It’s now raining fairly steady and we are not dressed for the weather, but it’s a short walk over to the restaurant. Upon arrival we see that there are very few indoor tables because they usually populate the outdoor patio seats, but with today’s rain, nobody is eating on the patio, so in we go and we wait a few minutes for a table. The pizza finally comes and the owner brings it out apologizing that it’s slightly burned. We look at it and its okay to us, so we dig in and it’s pretty good. In the meantime, the owner goes back to the kitchen and cooks up an additional meat lovers pizza and gives it to us complimentary when we leave. He said he just wanted us to be satisfied!
Rain is now heavier and steadier, so the afternoon is spent indoors rather lazily, but Dale from the JOURNEY said that this town, Gore Bay has a lot to offer and more than Little Current. So if we are stuck here for a day or two for winds and weather, we will have plenty of exploring to do in this, one of the largest towns on Manitoulin Island.
Wednesday: We stay for the day due to high wind forecasts in the North Channel. We really only have two more cruising days to get back into the United States, so there’s no need to push thru inclement weather. While visiting with Dale and Merna this morning, Larry O. calls Dale and Dale puts him on speaker so we can have a discussion about meeting in Drummond Island. Sea Life is anchored up in Beardrop Channel so they decide that they’ll cross the North Channel and meet up with us in Meldrum Bay first, then we’ll all cruise together to Drummond Island after that. But Thursday still looks iffy but with a possible quick weather window in the morning for the thirty miles to Meldrum. We all agree to continue to watch the weather closer as the day progresses.
We get in some minor grocery shopping at the local Food Value Grocery Store and take-out from Codmother’s Fish and Chips. Then we watch My Cousin Vinny with the crew of Sea Cottage.
Thursday: The winds are out of the west today as predicted, but in the early morning hours, they’re not high winds yet, so the Journey from here and Sea Life from the Beardrop Channel anchorage both decide to give the cruise to Meldrum a try while we decide to wait out the weather with Sea Cottage.
My take is that the winds tomorrow are forecasted to be slightly less, but the biggest factor for tomorrow is that the winds will be out of the south Friday and that means that Manitoulin Island will provide effective cover for the entire cruise tomorrow versus the winds on the head today in the North Channel. Both vessels eventually make Meldrum safely, but the ride over is choppy at best. Both captains move to the lower helm during their cruise for comfort and protection.
Meantime, Tracy takes advantage of the extra day and gets her hair cut and we walk thru an import store carrying goods from Central America and Nepal. The owner is very personable and we end up chatting about regions of the world for at least an hour with him. He had been EVERYWHERE! My gypsy soul was jealous- tc We also walked thru quite a large flea market of goods but find nothing of use aboard Kailani.
We spend some time planning tomorrow’s cruise and decide that Kailani and Sea Cottage will leave by 8am and Sea Cottage will get a pump out as soon as the docks open. The evening’s entertainment is “Crazy, Stupid Love” and it’s perfect for non-thinking amusement, just watch and enjoy. Lots of twists and plot changes throughout. By 10pm the movie is over and we cross over to our boat to turn in for the early rise tomorrow.
Friday: Gore Bay is quite calm this morning and as we depart, we are hoping that the North Channel will be just as cooperative as the bay. Erik takes Sea Cottage over for the pump out and we leave the dock to wait for them to be complete. Soon we’re cruising out of the bay into the North Channel and find out that there’s different weather out there than in the bay. We had hoped that the winds would be less in the morning and out of the south, Manitoulin Island would block most of the wind driven waves, however we soon learned that the bays are so long, that the winds are able to build up some serious fetch in the bays and as we make these 4-5 mile crosses of the bays and inlets of Manitoulin Island, the waves get pretty significant and are hitting us on our port as we move westward. About midway on the cruise we will cruise right past Barrie Island and with it on our port, it should block the winds, however, as best laid plans usually don’t pan out, the winds changed to westerly and were now hitting us on our nose. Oh well, Mother Nature is showing off her might again.
The whole cruise is only four hours so before long, we can see Meldrum Bay and prepare to turn into the bay for quieter waters. Rick Bradley is waiting on the dock to grab the lines Tracy hands to him and in short order, Kailani is snugly tied up for as long as necessary to find another weather window for cruising. We’re now only one thirty five mile cruise away from Drummond Island, Michigan and re-entry into the USA! Canada has been a spectacular leg of this adventure and every Canadian we met has been ‘over the top’ friendly. This summer has been phenomenal weather wise, so we couldn’t be more pleased about the Canadian leg of the loop. The last cruise of this leg will be bittersweet for us.
The town of Meldrum Bay is not really a town, they’re not recognized as a township for province or federal purposes. They’re more like a condominium community. Everyone is a member of a board that decides how to run the community and because they are so far out at the western tip of Manitoulin Island, they rarely see any officials from Ontario or Canada. But the townspeople are extremely friendly and the ‘town’ has a general store, a hotel/restaurant, and the marina/campground and at the far western tip of the island is a LaFarge Cement quarry that is the largest in North America. Here at the marina, there is a lounge above the marina office with a TV, lounge chairs, books, magazines, etc. so if we’re here for an extra day or two, we’ll have no trouble staying comfortable.
I take a walk up to the general store and it’s like a scene out of the Andy Griffith Show in Mayberry. They have some food, some hardware, some liquor, some ice cream some candy/snacks and some clothing. I end up not resisting the maple walnut ice cream and I walk back to Kailani with a block of ice for the cooler.
The marina transient docks are nearly full now and we meet some really nice people as usual. Tracy packs up a picnic dinner and we walk over to the lounge for the evening with dinner and to catch internet for the computers.
In watching the weather forecasts we think we can get out of here tomorrow and so Erik and I make plans for the cruise to Drummond Island tomorrow. Knowing that we’ll have to finally make use of the CBP ROAM app, I take the time to complete all the information necessary for saving in the app and purchase the re-entry decal which is required to enter the USA.
Saturday: The weather window stays as predicted last evening, so at 9am we’re leaving the docks for the 35 nautical mile cruise to Drummond Island and re-entry into the good ole USofA. The winds are light and variable, but the easterly winds of yesterday and last evening have resulted in waves at our stern that push us around for the entire trip until we round the corner at Bruce Point on Drummond Island and then the waves die down and we have smooth sailing into Drummond Island Yacht Haven.
At 12:45pm I’m calling the marina and letting them know we’re approaching their marina and I will take on full and pump out while Sea Cottage is merely looking for is slip assignment. The marina operator is waiting at the fuel dock to receive our lines and we take on 190 gallons and Tracy pumps out both black water holding tanks. Then its over to our slip and we end up right next to Sea Life with our good friends Larry and Carol, and next to them is our new friends Dale and Merna on the Journey and right after them is Rene and LouAnn on Zoey’s Adventure. Looping is a great time on the water!
It’s great to see Larry and Carol again as we haven’t seen them since we docked at Oswego Marina and they kept cruising up to the Thousand Islands. That was on July 4th, so its been a while for these good friends.
Since this is port of entry into the United States, we must clear customs and I open the CBP ROAM (Customs Border Protection Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile) app and fill out all the appropriate information and submit our entry application electronically. A short time later the app tells us there is a Customs agent that has initiated a video chat with us to complete the process. We accept the invitation and soon we are chatting with Officer Badder and answering her questions. The first thing she must do is verify that we are who we say we are, so one by one, we stand in front of the video camera so she can verify that we match our passport photos. After we pass that (and she notices that I have way more facial hair than I had on my passport photo), she asks us about the answer we gave regarding fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products we are bringing into the United States. Tracy explains each item we have in the refrigerator and Officer Badder clears us for re-entry and provides us with an email documentation evidencing our clearance, easy-peazy.
Then I go over to visit with Larry and Carol and she shows me a banana nut cake she baked for my birthday! These are some great friends. I tell her that we’ll have to eat the cake tomorrow in Mackinaw City because Tracy and I are just about to go out to dinner with the Strasels for a birthday dinner, then a movie (of my choice) when we return. So off we go to Esther’s Real Mexican Restaurant. Erik, Jennifer, Zach, Tracy and I enjoy our meals, then we return to Sea Cottage for birthday cake and ice cream and gifts from the Strasels and Tracy. The Strasels wrote a poem for Nick and prepared angel food cake with strawberries and ice cream as a birthday cake. They also gave him a box of trail mix with a riddle on it challenging him to guess what was inside. I gave him 25 days of not having to do dishes (as the 25th is is birthday) -tc Life on the loop is great! Then I select ‘Sahara’ to watch and afterwards, we say goodnight to the Strasels. They are staying here a few more days because they ordered a new anchor and it won’t be in until Monday afternoon.
So Tracy and I will depart for Mackinaw City tomorrow with the Journey and Sea Life. It looks like tomorrow will be the only good day in the next few days to cruise, so we want to add a few more miles under our belts while the opportunity presents itself, however, we agree to try and wait up for Erik and Jennifer to catch back up with us later in the week and cruise the shores of Lake Michigan together.