August 14-23, 2019
August 14 – Hockey Stick Bay (previous blog)
August 15 – Indian Harbor/Bands Island (14 miles)
August 16 – Henry’s Fish Restaurant (11 miles)
August 17 – 18 Kilcousie Bay and Killbear Marina (5 miles)
August 19 – Regatta Bay (12 miles)
August 20-21 – Wright’s Marina (47 miles)
August 22 – Bad River (30 miles)
August 23 – Collins Inlet and Killarney (40 miles)
Miles this blog: 159
Total miles traveled: 6833
We are currently on the eastern shore of the Georgian Bay (GB) which is on the eastern shore of Lake Huron which is on the eastern shore of our beautiful Michigan where we will cross our wake in a couple of weeks. Draw a line due west from Severn at the bottom of the Georgian Bay and it will take you to Traverse City and from Killarney at the top of the GB it will take you to Mackinaw Island. As mentioned in the previous blog, we were happy to be into the open, rugged and pristine waters of the Georgian Bay. However, this area is not as open as it first appears as it is also known as the land of 30,000 islands meaning that the coast is sprinkled with large and small picturesque rocks. Many are covered with trees, bushes and wildflowers growing from cracks where earth accumulated and seeds sprouted sometime between yesterday and 100 years ago. Buildings dot the landscape here and there with the occasional marina or tiny community. Otherwise it is a mecca of beautiful bays, cuts, and inlets creating endless unique anchorages.
Unlike others who elected to diagonally cross the bay directly to Killarney, we decided to gunk-hole or move from anchorage to anchorage up the 100+ mile coast and I am so glad we did!
As planned we finally met up with Mike, Nancy and Leroy on California Lady in Hockey Stick Bay on our Mike’s birthday – how appropriate. We spent a glorious afternoon swimming and sharing dinner together on Melody in Sea. There were several boats anchored nearby for the day but by nightfall it was just the three looper boats and a sailboat or two left in the bay.
A great swim
A sea plane – picture right off our anchored bow.
Mike helping to tie the Namaste stern to a tree – Med style
Help with raising the mast after the many weeks of reduced air draft needed to get under all the bridges of this leg.
Sunset and a full moon reflection in Hockey Stick Bay
On to Indian Bay the next day, a short two-hour trip allowing time for resting, swimming, and playing once we got anchored. There were 12 other boats anchored with us on a Saturday but it was a large bay and no risk of swinging into one another. We dinghied through a tiny channel between rocks out to the open water and saw perhaps our most beautiful day’s end of the GB. I didn’t have my phone as it was too risky riding in the dinghy and climbing rocks with an un-backed-up device so no visual report.
Picture credit goes to a Looper with a drone. Posted to the AGLCA FB page from an unknown anchorage in the Georgian Bay
The following day we up-anchored early heading to Henry’s Fish Restaurant and Marina, a not-to-miss establishment and indeed we found the fish to be delicious and the people kind. Captain Jim had been silently questioning the battery capacity/charge/etc. so instead of anchoring a fifth night in a row we decided to stay plugged-in getting those pesky batteries all filled up. We have a portable generator for just in case but determining if there was an issue was more the point so we stayed the night learning much about running a popular restaurant from a small island. By morning all was good so on we went to Kilcoursie Bay.
Seaplanes, boats and wave runners the popular modes of transport.
Sunset at Henry’s
Sunrise over the Namaste at Henry’s
Kilcoursie bay is surrounded a Provincial Park with more activity on a Sunday than we had seen in a while. We had front and center seats to a women’s kayaking class that lasted the better part of two days and we experienced some of the best hiking of the trip along beaches, in forests and on top of huge rock formations sculpted by glaciers. Still a little nervous about the battery issue and with high winds predicted we ducked into the Killbear Marina for a night where the fun began.
Captain Jim doesn’t look too nervous here.
Hiking the trails
We were napping in the aft cabin on a Monday afternoon with a fan cooling the air around us when, all of a sudden, the fan stopped. Jumping up, we learned that our section of the dock had lost power but no big deal as that was a marina problem. Well, when everyone else’s power returned and Nancy continued baking her Key Lime Pie which was perhaps the source of the original problem, we had nothing. Had we blown the entire electrical system on the Namaste too? Our not frequent but scary touch with, would this be the end of our Loop? After much chin scratching and problem-solving conversation, Walt, the marina manager and master technician came aboard and took over. The responsible culprit was a $70 battery switch which he had in stock and which was likely the source of our charging problems of the last few days. Whenever such things happen we see is $$$$ but this time we celebrated with California Lady by dressing up with clean t-shirts and enjoying a surprisingly delicious dinner at the upstairs marina restaurant.
Next up we headed to Hopewell Bay but the 30 mph wind gusts and open water helped us decide to cut short and stay in Regatta Bay instead, perhaps one of my favorite anchorages of the trip. With California Lady we were the only two boats in the bay until late when a sailboat joined us. A highlight of this stay was observing an adolescent/middle school group of boys on a kayac/camping trip from a few hundred yards. We could hear their voices and music off in the distance gently reminding us of our grandchildren and our own youth. In fact, grandson Lee is currently experiencing such a trip north of Sudbury, Ontario with his 8th grade Steiner School class. We explored the bays around us in Mike’s (California Lady) “hard” dinghy coming upon the boat JADIP (Just Another Day in Paradise) with whom we had managed many of the Trent-Severn locks. Anchored off by themselves we learned that it was a sad day as one of their two geriatric Bishons, Biscuit, had fallen and was injured on top of her already several chronic illnesses. They had made arrangements to backtrack to Killbear Marina where they would meet a vet and lay their beloved Biscuit to rest the following morning. We left them to share their final day together commenting that she would come to her end in one of the most beautiful places on earth . . . and so it was.
Two of seven kayaks of Middle school boys in Regatta Bay.
Dinghy riding with Mike and Nancy
Best Loon picture so far
Dinghying and climbing
Latrine in Regatta Bay for campers and hikers I’m guessing. We saw neither.
The pirates. Mike got a haircut and Jim a beardcut today!
Since we were in need of provisions and a pump-out we happily found Byng Inlet and Wright’s Marina in Britt Ontario, regrouping with Melody in Sea and several other Loopers. Surprise of surprises they offered a great internet connection so I got the last blog posted and paid bills but intentionally decided not to look at the news. Britt was a small community sporting a two-story cement block building that housed the grocery store, hardware store, gas station, restaurant and where we ate possibly the worst pizza ever but enjoyed a glass of wine and wonderful conversation. A most special dock-tale event occurred one evening with spontaneous entertainment by Jim on Steelaway who is currently a Looper but a Sea-Tow Captain in his real life. Sea-Tow is a marine towing/rescue/salvage operation similar to Boat US in Michigan. His stories ranged from the fascinating to the terrifying to the hilarious with most of us experiencing considerable relief that it wasn’t me he was talking about! Although in the end there was a general consensus that each story could have happened to any one of us on any given day.
Sea Tow dock-tale stories
Changing of the Coast Guard at the Byng Inlet Light
We perused the coast up to the Bad River. Now there is nothing bad about the Bad River except that the channels are narrow and the shores rocky but that has been our cruising life since we entered the Georgian Bay. Of these 30,000 islands, many are submerged and dictate that you maintain your course through the center of the green and red markers, allowing for not a moment’s distraction. We decided to put the anchor down early to explore the Bad River by dinghy plus climbing and were thus treated to perhaps the most unique examples of geography and geology yet. Until now we had experienced spotty Verizon phone coverage, some 3G, and almost no LTE data availability but for this 48 hours the upper left corner of my iphone 7 said No Service and it felt good!
Great example of the rock navigation hazards in GB
Our final day in the Georgian Bay began by retracing our wake back out of the Bad River and ended in Killarney through the awe inspiring, fiord-like Collins Inlet, a 20 mile passage as we began our trek to the west across the top of Lake Huron into the North Channel. Local reports suggested that we not miss this passage and I can say nothing better than a quote from Captain Jim, “I feel like I am living in a National Geographic Magazine.” The grey, pink, and white granite cliffs were something of a fairy tale.
Photos below are of the Collins Inlet – no commentary needed.
As the Collins Inlet widened back into the GB we scooted along with glassy, open seas into the Killarney Channel and what we consider to be our “home-waters”. We have boated here on and off since the mid 1980’s with Ron and Marilyn Steiner on Connectivity and our own Fuji ketch, the original and sadly missed, NAMASTE. Killarney was a more than welcome sight and the beginning of reflection. Stay tuned.
Kayakers dwarfed by the scenery
Lighthouse welcoming us to Killarney, the North Channel and home waters.
Good boat name: Dues Paid
Bad boat name: Sotally Tober
Happy birthday to: Sally and Brooke
Happy anniversary to: Mike and Nancy (29) and Curt and Brooke (9)
Quote of the day: “The one who plants trees, knowing that he or she will never sit in their shade, has at least stated to understand the meaning of Life.” Rabindranath Tagore
Rest in peace: Pretty Biscuit
What an adventure Looping has turned out to be. Unforgettable scenery with experiences both good, bad, poignant and funny, are undoubtedly burned into your memories. We have enjoyed and will continue to cherish your reflections of life on a boat and in the wild and well, life in general.
JoAnn, this is so amazing. Enjoy every minute! My favorite is “living in a National Geographic magazine”! Love you both, Patty
Another awe-inspiring entry, JoAnn! As I was reading it I saw two kayakers going upstream on the “mighty” (dirty) Huron River – getting in some upper body exercise I guess. The river is truly dirty- I just read that trips on it sponsored by the city were cancelled yesterday due to a sewage spill – downstream from us but ewww! So glad to read your blogs and see yours pics & realize there are still some pristine waters out there. Continue to enjoy and savor every moment! Love to you both, Penny