Monday, September 10, 2018

Harbor Island Anchorage to Mackinac City, Straits Marina

Sept 7-12, Fri-Wed - Harbor Island Anchorage to Mackinac City, Straits Marina
At 0330, Tom and Colletta both wake up and stargaze off the back deck.  The heavens are dark but the stars twinkling and sparkle in the sky.  There are thousands of stars and they are beautiful.  The Big Dipper is very low in the sky, just at the horizon of the tree line.  It is really nice to be this far north with no light pollution and see the stars.  One of our favorite things.
We are up by 0700, anchor up at 0730 and off to Michigan.  The weather prediction matches the conditions on the lake.  It is a beautiful, calm, sunshiny day.  The water is calm with 0-1 ft waves.  We round Detour Light by 0830 and make our 54 mile ride into Mackinac City.  It was good to wait for the right day and we got it.  We pulled into Straits Marina in Mackinac City after 6 and 1/2 hours of calm water and settled in for our stay.  
We are here in Mack City, will leave the boat here for while we go home for the wedding and then return to put the boat away for the season.  We are enjoying being sightseers and enjoying shopping, eating ice cream and caramel corn, the sights of the bridge and just wandering around.  There was music at the gazebo, a beer and wine tasting in the park, and even an antique tractor ride over the bridge.  This is a nice place to be visit.  
The Detour Light as you enter Lake Huron

We were in the west bound shipping lanes so we
passed some east bound "Lakers"

Mackinaw Island and the Grand Hotel at the top
of the picture

Mackinaw Island Harbor and Fort Michlamacanaw

Here we are at the Mackinaw State Strait Marina
One of three boats on the entire dock

The bridge

A very windy day, again. Notice the waves in the

Hotham Island, John Island, Cockburn Island

Sept 1-3, Sat, Sun, Mon-Hotham Island, John Island, Cockburn Island
On Saturday we start to head west but don't go too far as we head into Oak Bay and Hotham Island.  This anchorage was suggested by many boaters and it is a favorite of many.  On our passage through the rocky bay, we pass 12 loons scattered throughout and Colletta is pleased to have a family of 3 in our anchorage all day.  Residents (Norm and Elaine) have a comfortable home on this bay and Elaine kayaks out to greet the new boaters and offer a welcome and have a chat.  The six of us -Steve, Diane, John, Pam, Tom and Colletta- enjoy dinner together one last time before we split up as we begin to head west at a quicker pace.  We will be making arrangements to get home for a weekend wedding of Colletta's brother. (Congrats Mike and Laura)  This dinner we shared was delicious and the socializing reminds us what good friends we have the pleasure to travel with. 
After a morning discussion, we decide to travel through Whalesback Channel and aim for Johns Island to anchor for the night.  This morning we pass nine loons, go through the narrow passage of Little Detroit, and travel through Whalesback Channel.  It is so named because of all the little rocky islands along the way, looking like the back of a whale popping up out of the water.  Johns Harbor is actually a passage between John and Dewdney islands.  It has good protection from any wind and we settle in - we are the only trawler here with 3 sailboats around the point.  A lone seagull stalks our boat waiting for crumbs to be shared and we happily oblige.
The morning starts with a log on our anchor chain.  As Colletta pulls the anchor up, a large 8 diameter inch log is laying on the chain.  Tom maneuvers the boat around and the log slips off, to our relief, so we head out onto the big water of the North Channel.  There is little protection from any winds and waves and the forecast lied about the conditions on the water.  We traveled in large head seas of 2-4 ft with a 3 second period between the waves which makes for a rough and sometimes pounding rides.  After a time the captain averted our course and headed southwest toward Meldrum Bay to make the ride more tolerable.  We traveled parallel to Manitoulin Island so the land mass could decrease the fetch and thus the wave heights.  About half way there, the port engine overheated which forced us to run on one engine the remainder of the day. Colletta did enjoy seeing 5 monarch butterflies float by and wonder what they could possible be doing 10 miles out in the Channel. We continued on to the south end of Cockburn Island and Robinson bay.  We anchored in amazingly clear water with a sand bottom and could see the chain resting on the bottom in 12 feet of water.  Even at anchor, it seemed as if the boat could not get settled or decided which way to face.  Tom changes the impeller on the port engine as that gets water pumping thru it and it seems to run fine.  The evening was a little rolly and we were in bed early.
The entrance to 'Little Detroit" passage. A very narrow
channel that you issue a securite' call on the radio to
let other boaters know you are entering the channel. It
once was a booming logging town at this location

As you enter the narrow channel you can
use these range markers to line up your entrance.
You keep the top sign's red line above the lower
signs red line. When the lines are exactly above
each other you are on the correct entrance course

The anchorage at Robinson Bay. Crystal clear with
a sand bottom, something you don't see much up
here in the North Channel

Completely surrounded by pine trees, but we had
gentle roller waves in the anchorage the whole night.
Rocked us to sleep

Cockburn Island to Harbor Island.

Sept 4-6, Tues, Wed, Thurs - Cockburn Island to Harbor Island.
Drizzled rain as we pulled up anchor with overcast skies.  Rained harder as the following seas pushed us along, surfing down the waves at almost 10 mph.  The ride was more comfortable than yesterday as Tom did his best steering to keep the  boat from rocking too much.  It was a reassuring sight of another trawler heading our same direction so we were not the only ones out in this wet weather.  As we turned west at the top of Drummond Island, the waves calmed some as the wind had less effect on our route.  We pull into Harbor Island and anchored as a southwest wind blew into the bay.  As the day progressed, the wind calmed, the sun came out, canoe paddlers stopped by to say 'Hi" and we shared our anchorage with fishermen and pontoon boats. A big change from last night and earlier today.   Tom checked us in through customs using the ROAM app.  (Reporting Offsite Arrival - Mobile) for Customs and Border Protection.  We are officially allowed back in the United States.  
After a calm night, the winds kicked up again with 35 mph gusts predicted.  We are staying right here in this anchorage.  We have plenty of time to wait for a good day to cross the Mackinac Straits so we will enjoy the day.  We do some cleaning and purging of boat files and some general maintenance and are very comfortable .  By 2 o'clock. the winds have shifted and are out of the NE and we slowly spin around again.  Things are comfortable and we are secure.
On Thursday, the winds began to subside some so we enjoyed our anchorage another day.  This is a popular fishing spot for the locals and there are between 2 and 8 boats always fishing here, us looking at them and they looking at us.  They fish a lot but we do not see them catch a lot.  Many seem to be just enjoying being out on the water and relaxing.  This island is a nature preserve and we also see a few heron, a couple of eagles and the friendly 5 or 6 seagulls.  In the afternoon we take the dinghy 2 miles into Drummond Island Marina to look around and check things out.  A nice little marina for future reference.  
A serene, secure anchorage at Harbor Island.
We had been here back in 2012 so we felt very
comfortable and safe in this anchorage even
with 35 -40 mph winds. we were sheltered

Some time you just have to kick back and relax

More butterflies up here then I have seen in a long

WE dinghied over to Drummond Yacht Haven when
the winds finally died done. We had just got off the dinghy
when the office asked us to move because they were
moving a bigger boat into that space. Why start the motor
to go 100 feet, so I rowed

Little Current to Croker Island

Aug 30 and 31 Thurs and Fri  Little Current to Croker Island
Heading out cruising again and it is still cool but the sun is out.  After multiple attempts to anchor by Aurora and Greeks Folly, we were finally all anchored in the south bay of Croker Island.  It is a small bay for six boats so Greeks Folly decides to tie to shore on the stern.  The crew of the three boats head out to explore.  We drive along the shoreline and into little coves always checking for rocks just below the surface.  In the clear watter it is deceiving how deep the water is.  There are a total of 10 boats anchored in the two bays and we all meet on the small beach for cocktails (beachtails).  We enjoy each others' company and always talk about boating.  
Friday is more of the same but this time we take off and head to the Benjamin Islands.  These two beautiful islands are next to the rock formations called Sow and Pig.  The Benjamins are gorgeous!! Huge rocks to climb overlook beautiful bays, some with boats and others look out over the horizon.  We think it can't get any prettier and then we discover this place.  People say that a cruiser has not been to the North Channel until they have been in the Benjamins.  The days are still cool and the sun only peaks through occasionally.  We enjoy out picnic lunch sitting on big rocks on top of more big rocks.  Beachtails today is just us six as other boaters come and go and are about their own business and exploring.  Nice Day
Approaching Croker Island

The back side of Croker is a tight anchorage with
a silty bottom that had better holding around the
edges. We got good holding on the edge and tied
to rocks on the shore to keep us from swinging

Rock formation on South South Benjamin Island

Always have to keep an eye out for rocks. They are
usually a lot deeper then you think because the water
is so clear

Exploring in the dinks, the Benjamin Islands

Hiking up on of the islands. This island is a local
regular stop. They had cemented rings into the cracks
in the rocks and had a bench built also

Looking down at the narrow passages between islands.
Not enough room or depth for the big boats but perfect
for the dinghys

Up on the top of the rocks after a long climb

Yes, there are lots of rocks in the North Channel

The rocks at South Benjamin anchorage
We climbed this and had lunch

Incredible anchorage we plan on coming back to
next year

The anchorage

Baie Fine to Little Current

Aug 26-29-Sun to Wed - Baie Fine to Little Current
The Pool was beautiful but probably more so when the sun is shining brightly.  Anchor and chain came up slowly this morning due to a lot of mud and some "salad" weeds.  The boat hook and Mike's bean hook did the trick removing the greens.  On our way into Frazier Bay we travel out in the open water which can be windy as evident by the wind turbines on shore.  The ride on the 2 foot chop of water was comfortable with the wind and waves on our nose.  We made it to the swing bridge in time for the 1100 opening.  It is here in Little Current that the waters of the North Channel are funneled into a passage only 100 yards wide creating a stiff current as they empty into the Georgian Bay.  We watch the current swirl around us as we are safely tied to a dock.  The Cruisers Net is located in Little Current.  The Net is a daily local broadcast that provides boating information for cruisers traveling in the Georgian Bay and North Channel.  Roy is the creator and broadcaster of the Cruisers Net.  Tom attends the broadcast the 4 mornings we are in port and sits in the audience to listen and offer support.  Cruisers call in with names of their boats and location and many days over 60 boats call in.  This is a vital tool for the cruising community in these waters.  On Monday we attend the end-of-season pot luck sponsored by the Cruisers Net and about 75 people attend the gathering.  The organization also arranged for a tour of a local fish processing plant which was very interesting but also very messy.  The weather has turned cooler, the winds have shifted and increased and it has also rained frequently, all of which encourage us to stay in Little Current longer than planned.  During that time we provisioned, shopped, socialized and Tom used the library internet for updating the blog.  We eat fish often - at the Anchor Inn and 3 Cows and Fries as well as our local dose of ice cream.  This is a nice little town but it is time to more on.
The pink granite of Baie Fine

The narrow exit out of the Poole

The public docks at Little Current

Approaching the dock cautiously after observing the
current and which  way it was  moving

The morning Cruiser's Net from above the Anchor
Inn Restaurant and Bar. July and August every
morning at 9 am on channel 71

Preparing to go on our tour of the rainbow trout
processing plant

This guys job was to cut the heads of the fish off.
I can't imagine doing that for 8 hours a day.

Roy getting a provincial award for being
a great volunteer and giving so much to
the community. This guy in the coat with Roy
is the Mayor of the Island

The gang at the Anchor Inn for dinner
Pam and John (Short Vacation) Steve and Diane (Aurora)

They actually have a cruise ship stop here. 190 passengers
They only stayed a half day because there is only about
a 10 places to shop in the downtown

Rainbow trout fish pens being pushed by the dock.
They managed to get caught in the current and hit
the swing bridge on their way to Frazer Bay.
Don't think there was any damage to pens or bridge

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Killinary to Covered Portage Anchorage to Baie Fine (the Pool)

Aug 23-25- Thurs to Sat-Killinary to Covered Portage Anchorage to Baie Fine (the Pool)
With help off the dock due to the NE winds, we pulled out and made the short trip to  Covered Portage anchorage.  We made our way in- between the anchored boats, mostly sailboats and found a spot to drop anchor.  Looking up at the white quartz wall dotted with evergreens, we knew our fate was to climb atop and check out the view.  We got to shore, past the guard goose, picked out a walking stick leaning against a tree and started out on the trail marked by orange ties.  The climb was enjoyable, well shaded, easier that the lighthouse hike, well marked and we reached our destination with satisfaction.  The view of the bay was lovely with 16 boats anchored in the blue-green water.  The only error we made was we forgot the cold beer (a mistake we will not make twice.)  The other highlight of this bay is at the entrance, at precisely the correct angle, the profile of an Indian's head can be seen.  It is tricky to see, as it disappears quickly as the boat keeps moving.  We took the dinghy back and forth three times in our attempt to catch the correct angle.  Drifting and relaxing at anchor is wonderful.  Watching the birds soar with the wind currents, napping with a comfortable breeze, watching the boats swing and shift at anchor all make for a favorite spot.
After a peaceful night, we head out into a SW wind with the destination of The Pool at the eastern end of Baie Fine.  This passage is a prime attraction in the North Channel.  It has white quartz mountains that stretch down the bay, similar to a fjord.  The Pool is nine miles from the entrance and a long, slow ride looking for random rocks as well as staying in the middle of the deep, turquoise water.  After twisting our way around using eyeball navigation, we anchor in the Pool which has a grassy, mud bottom.  Tom is cautious about anchoring in these conditions so he will mind the wind and anchor chain.  Others arrive and there are 11 boats here for the night.  We enjoy dinner with Pam and John and rousing game of Catch Phrase ( the girls won).
The skies are cloudy this morning and boats start to pull out.  By evening there are only 3 of us left.  We head into shore with lunch packed, to hike to a lookout and the find Lake Topaz.  The trail is rocky, like a dry riverbed until it turned to go into the forest.  Up and down we walked, meeting 4 other sets of hikers who all direct us to the lake.  Lake Topaz is beautiful blue-green in color, deep with some steep granite sides.  Even on this overcast day, the lake looks like a picture.  The lookout was high above the anchorage and the boats were well off in the distance.  On our rainy walk back down, there were sections where we were completely canopied by the large trees and very dry and other sections that were open and we walked in heavy rain.  The mist floated amongst the trees at times even hiding the granite mountain tops.  Once back on board and out of our wet clothes, after hot soup for a late lunch, it rained the remainder of the day and we stayed secluded and comfy aboard Greeks Folly.

Covered Portage anchorage

The Indian head outlined in the stone cliff....
can you find it?

The cliffs over looking the anchorage

The guard goose at the dinghy landing area

Pick your walking stick for your climb
Just return it when you are done

The trail was nicely marked with ribbons on the

Covered Portage anchorage from the top of the cliff

Greek's Folly a long way down

Selfie at the top

A rock cairn. The original explorers of
this area used these stone markers as
a way to tell people following after
them the direction to head. The original
street signs.

Someone had build a tree stand

One of the few industrial operations in the area
a silica mine on Badgeley Island on the way to
Baie Fine ( pronounced Bay Fin)

Entrance to Baie Fine

Looking up into the hills from the Poole anchorage
The Poole is at the far end of the fjord about 9 miles

Hiking to the top

Up we go

Lake Topaz, it was so blue but the overcast sky really
didn't do it justice

We had been told the lake was dead of any fish life
because of some form of pollution. Sure was a lot
of dead trees

Lake Topaz

Taking a break on our climb, we got lost
 a couple of times luckily we bumped into
other hikers who gave us directions

Looking down into the Poole from on top. (our boat
is to the right)

Surveying all her realm

The park had installed this out house in the forest.
Here I ponder the lack of privacy. Oh well.

The bottom of the Poole is muddy  and veery
weedy. Here Colletta prepares her weapons
to combat the weeds on the chain and anchor.
A boat hook and a bean weed hook we got
from her farming brother Mike. The bean hook
worked like a charm on the weeds. Wished we
had it on the Rideau last season.

the rocks surrounding the Poole

The Evinrude cottage as in outboard motor fame

Departing the Poole following Ragtime and Short Vacation