Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The North Channel

August 6-15

Days 268-277

We will soon be leaving Canada to begin the last leg of our wonderful journey. Our visit in Canada has  been everything we were told it would be and then some! The local residents in every small town we have visited have been extremely welcoming, and the scenery has been nothing short of spectacular. While the Georgian Bay is beautiful, we have thoroughly enjoyed the more remoteness of the North Channel. The islands and hidden coves are not dotted with cottages, allowing us to drop anchor in places where our view consisted only of rocks, trees, and brilliantly clear water. This is not so much an area filled with weekend boaters, as a place where cruisers come for the whole summer to visit their favorite anchorages and discover new ones to add to their already long list. As with the Georgian Bay, we made sure we dropped anchor where locals had told us were must stops, and also searched out a few amazing spots on our own. The beauty and serenity here brings many boaters back to the North Channel year after year. Canada has also been great to me in an entirely different way. Many of you know that Jess and I have had an ongoing cribbage match for the last several years. We normally manage to stay within a game or two of each other, but for some unknown reason Jess experienced a long string of luck when our trip first began, allowing him to take a huge lead of 38 games at one point. Well, I have held my head high and not given up! My perseverance paid off on July 25th when I finally took my rightful place in the lead once again! It doesn't take much to thrill some people.

After a long day crossing about 50 miles of open water, we arrived in the small village of Killarny just in time to watch a parade of seaplanes leaving port.

Killarny is the home of Herbert Fisheries and their "World Famous" Fish and Chips! Just wondering how many people it takes to spread the word before something becomes "World Famous"? Anyway, we did enjoy visiting with Dan and Angie from Sea Horse while we tested the perfection of Herbert's fare. I have to say that from my point of view the Fish & Chips I had from a small roadside van on Little Current were much better.

One more amazing sunset to add to my file! 

Our first stop in The North Channel may be slightly off the beaten path, but so worth every mile that we went out of our way. Baie Fine (Bay Finn) is one of the few fjords in North America, providing stunning scenery along its10 mile passage into the Pool at its far end.

Bama Dream on anchor beside Sea Horse in the Pool. Rain threatened when we arrived, but then moved on to give us a beautiful afternoon for our hike up to Topaz Lake.

Our reward for the hike up the rocky trail is breathtaking! For some reason Lake Topaz is a dead lake with no life within its waters.

The crystalline waters of the lake, and the tranquillity of its setting, enticed us to just sit and breath in its beauty.

Jess and Dan couldn't resist taking a plunge in the cool, clear water. I would have jumped right in, but of course someone has to take pictures. What a shame.

The lake is a favorite spot for adventurous swimmers. Many climb the cliffs along the banks to daringly jump from their heghts to the chilly water below.

It took Jess about two casts to hook this largemouth. I quickly caught a pike, and that was it for our fishing luck. We did have a great time dinking around the Pool while searching for more, though.

The fishing may not have been great, but the views were awesome!

Other than birds and fish we have seen very little wildlife as we have cruised through Canada. Jess says there are plenty of bears and dear, they are just too hard to see because of all the trees. Of course he can't prove this, so I will just have to take his word for it. We did find this guy and I must say Jess did a great job getting him to pose.

The waters were so calm early in the morning, that I couldn't resist taking this picture of the reflection of the sky beside the boat. 

The Pool may be beautiful, but it also has no shortage of weeds. This is actually only a small part of what came up with the anchor. Jess had already knocked all of it off the chain before he took this shot. 

The lighthouse on Strawberry Island guards the channel leading into Little Current.

The swing bridge crossing the channel between Manitoulin Island (the largest freshwater island in the world) and Goat Island was originally built in 1914 as a railroad bridge. It is now a one lane bridge that is Manitoulin Island's only connection to the mainland. With only an 18 foot clearance we, along with several others, had to patiently wait for its once an hour opening. Just past the bridge is Little Current, the largest community on Manitoulin Island, with a population of about 2,500. We stopped here for two days to reprovision and stretch our legs. 

Every summer morning at 9:00, Cruiser's Net is broadcast from the Anchor Inn in Little Current. Roy provides boaters with the days weather, world news, events in the area, and then opens the radio for boaters to check-in with their locations throughout the North Channel. We had fun joining his broadcast, along with several Ranger Tug owners who were having a rendezvous in the harbor.

Our next stop on Manitoulin Island before heading to the islands along the north shore, was Kagawong. This very small community seems to have two claims to fame. It is the home of Bridal Veil Falls and a Chocolate Shop in the small downtown district. Actually it is a nice little historic town, with very friendly residents and nice trails along the Kagawong River.

It has been a very dry summer in the North Channel and that is really evident here in the pool below Bridal Veil Falls. While I climbed the stairs to the top of the falls, Jess checked out the water.

After trying to get the camera set to get our picture with not a whole lot of luck, a nice guy out walking his dog gave us a hand. He is the owner of the local B & B, and shared with us what it is like to live in this remote area in all seasons. The whole lake freezes over in the winter, allowing for ice fishing and snowmobiling all the way over to the mainland. With the right clothes, I think it would be fun. I don't think Jess agrees.

The Anglican Church welcomes boaters from its spot in the harbor.

The history of Kagawong has a strong link to the sea. Even the church recognizes that fact with its marine themed decorations.

The North Channel provides an abundance of nice, quiet anchorages. Here we are in a bay at Croker Island, as we continue island hopping toward the north shore.

Soaking up some heat from the sun's rays, Jess is warming up before diving in to swim back across the bay.

Again the dinghy ride proved to be much nicer than the fishing here.

Rain threatened, but the clouds always managed to pass us by. After giving up on the fishing, we focused on picking up enough dead wood along the shore for a campfire on the beach.

The rain stayed away, but obviously it did fall somewhere.

This is only our second campfire on this trip. I wasn't prepared for the first one, but as you can see, I now make sure I have a bag of marshmallows aboard.

To keep from swinging into places we don't want to be, we often have to tie off to shore, as well as drop the anchor. Jess has used many different techniques to accomplish this feat. Some have definitely worked better than others.

There is no lack of beautiful scenery in Ontario's North Channel.

This is our anchorage on South Benjamins. It is hard to believe that we were the only boat in this awesome bay. Of course it was quite a challenge getting the anchor to set. Jess actually had us tied off three different times before he was finally satisfied. While I was perfectly happy to just enjoy the view, nothing would do but Jess had to hike up to the top of the rocks to see what was on the other side. It looked a little steep to me, but he didn't hesitate. Before he left me, I did give him a review of the fact that without him I would be slightly stranded, so watch out for snakes, bears, and don't fall off any cliffs.

Jess did provide a nice shot of Bama Dream snuggled into this sheltered bay.

This was one of the few spots that Jess actually got a little nervous. Watching for rocks that hide just below the surface is very important here. When we entered the bay we discovered a rather large one to port that wasn't on our charts. The experienced captain that he has become just took a deep breath and guided us into safe waters.

A day of smooth water brought us to our final anchorage before turning our bow toward American waters. There were several boats already anchored in Long Point Cove, but we still had plenty of room. We are hoping to catch a few more fish before leaving Ontario behind. We have spent money on many things as we have traveled along the loop, but we both have enjoyed our Ontario nonresident fishing licenses as much as anything.

These islands are so amazing that we couldn't resist a nice dinghy ride before we tried our luck with fishing. In the dinghy we could weave our way around rocks and islands, getting into places that bigger boats can't go.

Other than a mink scurrying along the shore, we didn't see any other wildlife. I guess with miles and miles of remote territory, there is no reason for animals to frequent the more populated areas.

The water is so clear it is quite difficult to judge how deep it is. Making it very important to watch out for the rocks that can cause major damage to our props. 

Morning arrived with the threat of a significant thunderstorm. While we were entertained by the lightning and thunder, most of the rain slid by without soaking us too badly. It finally did clear off for a nice afternoon of fishing and sightseeing.

While we were hoping for more fishing activity, I must point out that I did catch the most and the biggest. Jess will say that his pike was bigger, but it was only longer, my smallmouth was definitely heavier.

This beaver evidently wants to make sure he has plenty of winter food in easy reach for those long, cold days. He is either new at this, or a very messy bachelor.

The North Channel is absolutely beautiful. It is no wonder that so many boaters spend their summers searching for its hidden gems! They are not hard to find, as they are everywhere you look.

Just wanted to point out that right there where the weeds extend out into the water is where I landed my smallmouth. I am going to miss hooking into these guys. They love to jump as they try to shake out the hook, and they never give up the fight until they have been netted.

The sun sinks behind the hills on our time in Canada. We may not make it back here on Bama Dream, but I am sure that, God willing, we will return.

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