Saturday, August 9, 2008

Penatang to Killarney

****This is the posting I was trying to get to the other day!!! Our good friend, Guy, from "Southern Comfort" has been sitting beside me now helping me do this--while the rest of the group has been having cocktails!!. Thank you Guy!

Thursday, July 31st.
We left Penatange with 8 other boats this morning. “Sandpiper” had arranged a Captain to lead several boats on a flotilla for 12 days ending in upper Michigan sometime around August 12th. This is a once in a lifetime trip for us, so we decided that we didn’t want to be on quite that tight a schedule, so we opted out of the flotilla—us, “Phantom of the Aqua”, “Traveling L & M”, and “C-Life”. We four would all work our way through the Georgian Bay and North Channel—after all, with our great Captains, we ought to be able to navigate! As it turned out, all the boats from three marinas left around the same time in the morning—so we wound up being in the flotilla after all, until after lunch!
Traffic on the water has really picked up and at one point in the morning, there were 18 boats, all lined up like baby ducks, weaving and winding through these narrow cuts and islands—it was quite a sight! We all, plus many more others, were headed to Henry’s Fish Camp for lunch on the island of Sans Souci—the only spot to stop for miles! Float planes were flying people in to eat, big and small boats were jockeying for a spot on their many docks, and dogs were barking, children were running all over the huge rocks — it was a real “happening” place! We sat at picnic tables inside a huge screened room (although there were tables outside as well), and ate baskets of delicious pickerel, whitefish, and perch. What a treat—what an institution here—and one we’re glad we didn’t miss.
After lunch, we split from the flotilla, and headed to a beautiful anchorage in Echo Bay—where the four of us boats all rafted together to spend the night. Dinghies were launched, Louis grilled brats for all of us, and just at sunset, Bonnie saw a moose! A beautiful/surprise ending to a great day!Friday, August 1st.
After a calm night at anchor, I slept in late—8am! Louis had been up since 6am, checking the engines, listening to the weather, charting our course for the next several days, and making sausage rings! What a treat for us to wake up in a beautiful, quiet spot smelling sausage cooking—just like camping! The Captains were worried that bad weather was coming in from the west, so a decision was made to move to Parry Sound. Around 11am, we pulled up our anchor, and we were on the move again.
We had an easy run to the town docks in Parry Sound, passing small, red and brown cottages with lots of activity in and around them—turns out this is another holiday weekend for Canadians—a “Civic Holiday”! Interesting, since May 24th (Queen Victoria’s birthday!), the Canadians have had 3 more holiday weekends—love that summertime! As I mentioned before, the traffic on the water has increased greatly—now we have small, local boats (and some “go-fast” ones too) darting in between our line of slowly moving trawlers—sometimes it can get “hairy” in the narrow spots—making me nervous and keeping Louis on his toes!
The town docks where we are docked are right beside the Georgian Bay Airways—float planes. All afternoon we watched these planes take off and land—ferrying people for scenic tours and taking them to Henry’s Fish Camp. If we hadn’t already eaten there yesterday, we might have been tempted to take to the air for a different perspective! But we decided instead to wash the boat, take showers, put more water onboard, relax, and go just across the street to Bay Street Café for dinner. A good choice! There are four boats here—“Victory”, “Phantom”, “Paradigm”, and us. And it didn’t storm after all that worry and discussion!

Saturday, August 2nd.
We had expected bad weather today, but woke to a beautiful morning with a 10% chance of storms. We were thankful, but confused! We spent the day charting, cooking, exploring the town, peeking our heads in and out of the cute stores (we found Louis’s Crocks!), and going to the movies—the new Mummy movie. The guys loved the movie; the girls still like Mama Mia the best! “Prime Time” has caught up with us, and we’ll be traveling again with them tomorrow.

Parry Sound was named after the arctic explorer, Sir William Edward Parry (population @ 6,500). First a logging town, Parry Sound became a busy transshipment port for oil and salt. Today, salt is still delivered by ship to several spots on the water. One such place was directly across from our marina, and we watched as this huge ship docked and off loaded a tremendous Hershey-kiss shaped pile of salt. The pile was then covered with this equally huge black tarp, and everybody went home! Fascinating.

Later, we had take-out Chinese food for dinner and went to bed early. The sky tonight then was the clearest yet, with millions of stars—I’m really hoping I’ll get to see the Northern Lights sometime while up this way—I keep looking every night. Louis has seen them several times before on his hunting trips in Canada, lucky guy!

Sunday, August 3rd.

With a float plane in front of us, and one behind us, we left Parry Sound and headed northwest. It’s been so interesting to intermingle with these float planes—just business as usual up here! I remember seeing the first ones somewhere around Montreal—and it still gives us a thrill to see them take off and land. We saw one yesterday that was all red, and instantly thought of the Red Baron! It was a beautiful morning, calm waters, and cool.

We traveled to a spot that “Southern Comfort” had told us about—Hopewell Bay. We set the anchor, rafted up with “Phantom”, launched the dinghy, strung a long rope from the stern to a nearby tree, and took off exploring in this beautiful cove. We saw several small inukshuks—a man-like stone figure the Indians used as a marker when traveling—and we decided to make one of our own. So, we found a spot that looked good and fairly flat which had small stones nearby, and we proceeded to build this inukshuk—not an easy task! But we did, and we all loved it—took pictures of HER—and had fun. We called her “Lady Loop”. While exploring, we also found small, wild blueberries—which the bears had eaten most of, but we were able to find enough to satisfy our taste buds. Also in this cove were two small ice-fishing houses (just like in the movies!), pulled up on the rocks with cables, stored safely for their owner’s winter entertainment—the first we’ve seen of them. It’s hard to imagine this area being so frozen that you can drive snow mobiles from town to town on the ice—and be able to pull these seemingly heavy “huts” out over enough water to actually catch fish below. I’d love to come back and see it in the wintertime!

After a good nap (we had worked so hard on the rocks!), we opened the refrigerator and shared our leftovers with “Phantom’s”. We were in a cove, neither a light nor sound around us, and for the last time @ 11pm, I checked the sky—looking for shooting stars or the Northern Lights. None were found, so I called it a night!

Monday, August 4th.

Today we were up early and on the move again. It takes a good amount of time, work, and effort to “un-anchor”—but we really are enjoying being on anchor—choosing your own “spot” and staying as long as you want is a freedom we’re just not used to having. Plus the quietness and sheer beauty of all around you is breathtaking, making the days and nights at anchor just the best! We’re both still hoping to see some wildlife when we’re anchoring, but so far, nada.

We traveled “outside” in the big, deep waters of the Georgian Bay—about 5 miles off shore. It was a short and very enjoyable respite from all the narrow, shallow, rocky, and winding channels we’ve been in for such along time. The outside water was flat—such easy traveling—and a day we all were thankful for. We were headed to Wright’s Marina—and we passed “Prime Time”, “Wanderin L & M”, and “C-Life” as they were headed out of Wright’s. We should catch up with them in another day or two at Killarney.

Wright’s Marina is a quiet little spot, with not much there. I tried to do our laundry, but they only had 2 washers and 1 dryer—and I needed to do 4 loads. That would have taken all afternoon, so I only did 1 load—will try again in Killarney. We did, however, go to dinner at one of Canada’s top 10 restaurants—The Little Britt Inn—wow. Hard to believe a place like that could be this remote! Jim, the owner, came to our marina and picked the four of us up and took us to his restaurant—and we can’t say enough good things about the food, service, the reasonable pricing, and décor. Jim is quite a character, has many funny stories to share, has an eclectic taste in his furnishings, and has an excellent chef—his wife! The menu there is hilarious too—one section in particular (kids) I’d like to remember. The menu says; “Noisy kids: Fried liver & onions with broccoli & a side of olives. Priced according to noise levels. Messy kids: “Uncle Jim” will make them clean up after themselves—no charge!” And finally, “Polite kids: Macaroni & cheese & free ice cream!” (There were no kids there the evening we went!) We came back to the boats in time to see an orange sliver of a new moon just rising over the trees—our moons at home don’t get that color until the fall—so pretty!

Tuesday, August 5th

We left Wright’s Marina @8am, and headed out into the Georgian Bay, where we would be off shore 5 miles for about 25 miles in distance. The boat channel goes out there, with no inshore route available—so we had to “pick” our day to travel. “Phantom” and Louis decided it was a “calm enough” day—so, off we went. We had a side-to wind the whole way, making us roll and roll and roll—very uncomfortable after all the calm waters we had been in for the last several weeks, but fairly common in the waters of North Carolina. After about 4 hours, we reached the inlet where we could go inside and find anchorage for the night—Collins Inlet.

We got “Phantom” and “Bella” anchored and rafted together just before the worst storm we’d ever witnessed (while being on the water) hit us head on. Neither of us has a wind gage on board, but Louis estimated winds of over 60 MPH. Rain was blowing sideways, visibility was limited just to the bow of the boat, and lightning was cracking all around us. It got so bad that Louis and Bruce both turned on the engines and pointed our bows into the wind—and we were still at anchor! I understand from daughter Catherine that this is the same storm that hit Chicago yesterday and that Wrigley Field had to be evacuated in the middle of a game. It truly was something else!

After the storm passed, “Wanderin L & M” and “C-Life” came into our cove and rafted up with us—they had waited out the storm in a safe place about a mile away. We all laughed about what we had just witnessed, and were so thankful that we had not been out in open waters when it hit. Margie wound up fixing homemade pizzas for all eight of us, Bonnie and I emptied our refrigerators of salad fixings, and we had a great time on “Wanderin”. After supper, Louis made another batch of his now famous ice cream for us all to enjoy!

We were sitting there finishing the ice cream when Larry looked out of the boat and up the channel where we had all come from. Lo and behold, another storm was coming down the channel—a huge white curtain of rain was about to descend upon us again—ugh. If someone had yelled “FIRE!” we couldn’t have scampered off the boat more quickly! We all hurried back to our boats, hopping on and off our “raft”, to get back and prepare for more rain. Sure enough, in about 5 minutes it hit—although this storm was nothing like the previous one. But it was now late enough for us all to be safely tucked in for the night. What an interesting day this has been!


Jan and Kim - The Sassy Sisters said...

Hey L&D,

So glad y'all are still having such fun. Your blog makes me wish I were right there with you! And even though I love a good storm (we had one here this morning) it sounds like the ones you had this week were pretty scary! We leave this week to take Kim to Austin, so you think about us driving while I think about you floating. Keep up the good work, Diane - I know how hard it is - and you know you can call me anytime! My computer crashed last week so I'm busy getting my new Mac up to speed now. Lots to learn!


Scott said...

Louis you were right, the wind hit 52.2 knots which converts to 60 mph. We were actually anchored at the East end of Mill Lake and had dropped our hook seconds before the storm hit. I turned on our instruments to check to see if we were dragging anchor or not. (luckily not) Being in a sail boat, the wind actually pushed us over into a 20 deg. heel in the gusts. Sounds like most of the damage was towards the west end of Collins Inlet. There were trees down behind us, and a cou8ple of trees landed on the roof of the lodge at the East end of MIll Lake, but very little in the way of damage beyand that.

BTW we're from Bay Moorings and Amanda is awesome.

Scott & Caroline
Sunset Chaser

Scott said...

I should clarify a little for those that are not familiar with the area. Mill Lake is 3-4 miles long and a couple miles wide and is perpindicular to Collins Inlet towards the Easten end of the Inlet.