Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Eric here catching you up to date on the travels of Still Waters II. But first join me in welcoming Sandy and Peter S. aboard as our latest virtual crew members. Welcome aboard and enjoy the ride!
Click on the Travel Map above or this link to see the day-by-day travel log. The crew completed the Trent Severn Waterway which also means they are now half way around the loop.
The crew also has started the 168.5 mile run known as the Georgian Bay. The Bay is actually part of Lake Huron, and the crew will be cruising along the northeast shore. The area is also known as the 30,000 islands. This is because granite rock is poking up above the water creating gorgeous cruising grounds. However, the skipper thinks that there are even more rocks just under the surface so diligence in piloting the boat while sneaking peaks at the scenery will be the order of the day.
Sunday, August 7, 2016
This day turned out to be filled with a wonderful surprise. The crew had met a couple way back in Jacksonville, Florida over the winter. Upon leaving Ortega Landing the couple Peter and Sandy, (our newest virtual crew members) told the crew that they had a summer cottage just outside lock 45 and to send them a message when the crew was in the area.
The skipper sent an e-mail, and as luck would have it, Sandy and Peter were actually up from Toronto for the weekend at the cottage. Peter and Sandy drove over to the marina and came aboard Still Waters II for a while and then invited the crew out to their cottage.
The party moved to the cottage and the couples continued to swap sea stories. It was a great time. Before leaving, Peter and Sandy also shared some of their favorite anchor spots in the Georgian Bay with the crew.
Thanks Peter and Sandy for your wonderful Canadian hospitality!!!
Monday August 8, 2016
The crew left Queen’s Cove Marina and headed to Beausoleil Island. The crew docked at Cruisers Point on the east side of the Island.
The first order of business was to walk to the Visitor Center and check in.
On the way to check in, the crew came across a family off three boys with nets. They were using the nets to nab bull frogs. The frogs were not too big, but the boys were having a blast with their catch and release.
Next on the agenda was to head over to the swimming hole and cool off.
On the hike over, the skipper noticed a snake in the trail. The Admiral has a great disrespect for snakes so she stayed back as the skipper moved in for a closer look.
There is only one venomous snake in Ontario and they just happen to be in this area. The skipper was hoping to get a look at one before they left but as he talked with folks he learned that they are rare to see. But as luck would have it, this snake just happened to be the elusive Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnake. Hot diggity dog. The snake was in a campground so the Parks Canada staff was contacted and they came and captured the female to relocate her to a more remote area. The Park staff said this snake was about as big as they get.
Since the crew had only been on the island for less than two hours, the skipper asked if the snake was common in the area. The Parks Canada staff said that some people spend 15 years on the Island and never see the snake. But some people show up and see two on their very first day. These words would soon become real as the skipper found another rattlesnake while taking a hike. It just does not get any better than this.
Later the Admiral face timed the grandkids and showed them the pictures of frogs and snakes. And the grandkids went wild……… The boys squealed with delight.
After spending time at the swimming hole the crew decided to hike over to the other side of the Island. They took the Lookout trail to Christian Trail and eventually came to Christian Beach.
They found four cabins along the beach. The end cabin was not being rented so the crew sat in the red Adirondack chairs and enjoyed the view of the Georgian Bay.
After supper it was time for one last hike. The crew took the Heritage Trail and walked up to an old Indian Cemetery. The oldest dated marker was 1850. The crew found the chief of the tribe. Then later found the wife of the chief.
Tuesday, August 8, 2016
After a short cruise on the small craft channel thru the Georgian Bay, the crew believes the bay lives up to all the hype. These are some beautiful cruising grounds. The skipper now sees why so many people come back here season after season.
The crew pulled into Henry’s Fish Restaurant to spend the night and to have some more fish and chips. This place is legendary among loopers and most have this as a must do on their looper bucket list.
The crew arrived around 1400 as the lunch crowd was winding down. However, it was hard to tell that business was winding down because there was a steady stream of boaters and small craft planes coming to the island to eat. The island is only accessible by plane or boat, no cars.
There were three planes on the dock when the crew arrived. They watched them taxi away from the dock and then take off. It was not too long and the planes were back dropping off new customers and picking up completed diners for the return trip home.
On Business arrived around 1500, followed by Lyre Lynn around 1600. The three couples then headed to the restaurant to finally try what Canadians call pickerel and Americans call walleye. Virtual crew members Mr. and Mrs. Bisch recommended that the crew try walleye the first chance they get. The recommendation was spot on because the fish was very good.
While dining, Wayne, the captain of Lyre Lynn, mentioned that his port shaft was making a strange noise and he thought his line cutters may have come loose. The skipper suggested that he dive under the boat after supper and try to tighten the set screws.
Wayne tried to tighten the screws but could not hold his breath long enough to make any progress. The skipper volunteered to give it a whirl. Wayne showed the skipper a picture of the line cutters and explained how they worked. Wayne disconnected his shore power to prevent any stray current from providing an unwelcome shock and the skipper slipped into the water.
After the first couple of dives down about 4 feet under the boat, the skipper finally figured out what screws were loose. On the next two dives the skipper was able to reposition the cutters and tighten the two set screws to keep the cutters in place on the shaft.
The next morning, Wayne reported that there was no more noise coming from under the boat while he was operating in forwards or reverse. Just another unique experience on the loop.
After the boat repair, Andy hosted a craft beer tasting. He had seven craft beers that the three couples sampled. You just never know what will be up next on the great loop.
Wednesday, August 9, 2016
The crew left Henry’s and headed to Snug Harbor. The scenery along the route was beautiful. The prevailing winds in this area are from the west and you can tell by looking at the wind swept trees all bending towards the east.
Peter and Sandy had recommended that the crew try the fish at Gilly’s when they arrived at Snug Harbor to anchor. The skipper called and asked if there was room on the dock for a 43-foot boat.
The young lady on the phone said sure come on in. (The skipper does not think the young lady knows what 43 feet means because the docks were only about 20 feet long.) What the skipper learned pretty quickly is why this place is called Snug Harbor. Not much room to maneuver.
When they got up to the restaurant the skipper hovered looking for a place to dock. He could not see any open spots large enough for them to land. He was in the process of turning around when he noticed a man on the last dock waving him in. The skipper headed for the dock, but was not sure how he would get in the slip. Just before the dock, he turned the boat 90 degrees to back in the slip. The bow was hanging over the boats tied along the other dock as he positioned the boat. After some tense moments the boat was finally secured to the wobbly dock.
One man who had been swimming nearby came over and welcomed them to the restaurant as he dried off.
After getting inside and sitting down, the Admiral commented that it looked like the employees were swimming on their breaks. In a few minutes, the man who had welcomed them earlier walked up to the table and once again engaged the crew in conversation. He was now wearing kitchen attire rather than a swim suit. During the conversation, the crew learned that he is the owner of Gilly’s.
While they were eating, one of the servers walked by with wet hair. You could tell she was fresh off of her swim break. Then when the crew was leaving, a young man in his swim trunks came over to help the crew shove off from the dock. He was a dock hand on swim break. It was only 76 degrees outside, but these folks thought the heat was unbearable. It is all a matter of perspective according to the skipper. The crew later learned that the owner had closed the restaurant early that day because of heat.
The crew managed to back out of the snug harbor marina and get back into larger waters. They dropped anchor for the rest of the day just inside Snug Island.
Thursday, August 10, 2016
Two interesting sites for the crew today. One was the Point au Baril Lighthouse and the other was navigating the Hangdog Channel.
When the crew weighed anchor and headed north they got a text from ‘On Business’ that said “look behind you.” In the distance the skipper could see ‘On Business’ coming up from the south. Andy and Twylla had decided to go on to Wright’s Marina and would follow our crew most of the morning.
After the two boats passed the Champlain Monument, On Business took the lead and Still Waters II followed. The next section of the waterway is very confusing and Andy agreed to lead the way since he had already been thru here once before.
The crew then entered the Point au Baril area and then the Lighthouse came into view. The name comes from before the lighthouse was built.
Fisherman would place a barrel on the point with a lantern on the barrel. When the fisherman returned from the Bay, they would point at the barrel to find their way home. A replica barrel was out on the point as the crew went by.
From the lighthouse the Hangdog Channel begins. This channel is very winding and narrow. On the charts mariners can see that they will need to make two U-turns in the channel.
This causes much confusion when the navigator sees multiple markers in close proximity. However, the markers are winding around submerged rocks and the helmsman cannot take any short cuts or there will be mashing of props and fiberglass.
The crew slowed down and navigated thru the maze without incident. The skipper was glad to be following the gold burgee on ‘On Business’. The captain of ‘On Business’ said that when he came thru this maze in 2015 that it was very windy with 3-4 foot seas. Our skipper was glad that the wind was fairly calm at only 7 mph today.
After making way thru Hangdog Channel the crew pulled into an anchorage off of Alexander Passage to spend the rest of the afternoon and night.
Friday, August 12, 2016
The crew made the 2 hour run to Wright’s Marina in the morning before the wind got up too bad. However, with the wind changing direction it caused confused seas and a rough ride. The crew needed to cross in some open water for about 8 miles. The skipper raised the rpm’s on the engines and shortened the time the crew spent rocking in the waves. What seemed like forever, but was actually less than an hour, the crew turned up into Bing Inlet and had a smooth cruise to the marina.
After docking the crew found some more Kawartha Ice Cream. This small store also made a special Coconut Cream Pie ice cream. The Admiral is sold, and commented that this was the best flavor yet.
Around noon, both Lyre Lynn and Perfect Day pulled into the marina. The three couples enjoyed supper at a local restaurant as they swapped stories of their travels. The Perfect Day will be crossing her wake soon as they re-enter the US and cross over to Lake Michigan. The skipper was quizzing Bill and Lori (Perfect Day crew) about their experiences down the inland rivers. From the sounds of things, the crew will be arriving just in time to share the water with massive barges delivering the wheat crop. Just another challenge to look forward to on the great loop.
Tune in next week to see the progress of the crew as they continue thru the Georgian Bay with anchorages in places named Bad River and The Pool.
The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red