THE NORTH CHANNEL – WHERE SUMMER BECOMES FALL ON THE LOOP

 

August 24-September 2, 2019

August 24 – Killarney

August 25 – Killarney to Little Current (21 miles)

August 27-30 – Little Current

August 31 – Little Current to Meldrum Bay (60 miles)

September 1 – Meldrum Bay to Drummond Island (40 miles)

September 2 – Drummond Island to Mackinaw Island (42 miles)

September 3-4 – Mackinaw Island (gale winds)

Miles traveled this blog: 163

Total miles traveled: 6954

We had been in Killarney twice before when it was a small fishing resort/village.  Most memorable then was seeing a bear just off the road while riding our bikes out to the township park for a picnic on Canada Day, probably 2009.  While we didn’t see a bear this time, someone a week or so before our arrival posted the picture below from our dock!

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Killarney Docks

Story has it that a local guy done well, invested millions in the Killarney Mountain Lodge resort/marina/conference center and location extraordinaire.  The good news is that the new structures carry the north country allure and the original Sportsman’s Club still stands as it was 100 years ago with a few welcome improvements including new marina docks.

0JFz5vWuSQ+kZCUsnePqUgEast entrance into Killarney

g3oNl2KiTheNst8QKbs0bQThe famous Sportsman’s Club and old Killarney

LPZqnYIURyaD9kfWr0Pz1gAll over Canadian waterways are red chairs such as these signifying a relaxed Canada.  I spent an afternoon sitting here eating blueberries and watching the traffic go by.

uZthYe4QQNaT7Jf4xS4wlQSunset over the west entrance or in our case exit from Killarney

We spent two and a half days with a half dozen Looping boats and much of the surrounding community as it was music festival weekend in Killarney.  Dinners at the famous Fish Restaurant and Sportsman’s Pub, ice cream, long walks, and relaxation were the orders of the weekend.

AOER%0mOTwe5LAAwTNIwDQAn historic picture of the Mr. Perch restaurant run out of a bus back in the day.  It is now a new building but the fish are served in the same paper containers, probably by some of the same staff.

The farmer’s market was the best of the rest with $8/pint tiny blueberries bursting with flavor that we ate for days and some fabulous homemade veggie relish.

fullsizeoutput_10553The entire farmer’s market:  one truck, two tents and great produce

Before we departed on a gorgeous Sunday morning we dingied across the Killarney Bay with Mike and Nancy to Covered Portage, an anchorage where we spent Jim’s birthday – maybe 42nd – with the Steiners a few years ago 🙂  About 6 boats were anchored in calm waters where the high cliffs give protection from any weather.  Next year. . .

h1Vt2y8kRy211SIrYNE7vQCovered Portage on a Sunday morning

xtxH4nhcRPyx2AqwXuDOxQA great dinghy ride with Mike and Nancy

8m5Zds00TEWn8Mx4rCtGiQThe run to Little Current.  None of the strong winds today!

Looking at weather, we determined to make a run for Little Current as some nasty winds were heading our way.  Ultimately, we spent six days enjoying the Little Current life.  This is the largest community in the North Channel with a city marina, a tour boat and weekly cruise ship visits.  In spite of the frequent marine traffic, there is quite a “little current” running under the swing bridge and through the approach channel making docking a challenge, particularly with the persistent strong winds.  In fact, watching other folks dock became our entertainment of the day.  The town had a laundromat, library, two restaurants, and several stores including an interesting Bargain Barn where we got some free “digestives” (cookies) and paid a dollar for a box of Godiva Chocolate and another dollar for some maple Bousin cheese.

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The Anchor Inn, Little Current, Ontario – A landmark and town center for more than 100  years and where we met Janet and Dennis 10+ years ago!

We attended the Little Current Cruisers Net, end of the season, pot luck dinner attended by 70+ boaters including about 10 Loopers.  The food was fabulous, the weather cold and windy, and the door prizes a hoot.  Now I must mention Ray Eaton, the originator and 16 year host of the LC Cruisers Net broadcast every morning 7 days a week at 9 a.m. on VHF channel 71 from June to September.  This is a news, weather, roll call, and call-in service to all boaters in the North Channel.  We attended in person (second floor of the hotel above) one day and listened and participated the remainder of the days from our radio on the Namaste.   Ray is well known throughout the Great Lakes for this service and we were honored to spend time with him even though he could never quite say the name Namaste and substituted No Mistake instead!IbgSQC0cSISObjV3a9%PzACruiser’s Net pot Luck supper with some mighty interesting folks.

JlISAAJ3TaGgqzY1nxck8wThe famous Ray Eaton, host of the Little Current Cruisers Net.  Ray hosts the VHF radio show seven days a week at 9 a.m. from June through September.  We were there for his last broadcast of the season.

A second highlight was taking the local tour boat to Baie Fine and climbing up to Lake Topaz for the view.  This is a famous tourist attraction and since we were running out of time and weather, we would not get there on our boats this year so for something new Nancy and I boarded the trimaran, Le-Grand Heron for an eight-hour boat ride.  Our captains stayed back doing boat chores.  As mentioned above it was windy so the waters were rough and the skies opened up to add to the entertainment but the pictures tell the real story.  If you ever get to Little Current this is a must do.

zvik%fvbRfO7MqlBPOK7hAThe truly spectacular Baie Fine fiord.

NDtsxkS6TMSLKuqdqZzV9gLake Topaz at the end of the Baie Finn fiord – (above and below)

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fullsizeoutput_10520  The climb was “easy” by Canadian tour standards.  Nancy and I had a hard time leaving it behind.

fullsizeoutput_10522The Evinrude (think outboard motors) family cottage at the bottom of Baie Fine and the entrance to the climb to Lake Topaz.  How fitting!

tQmWg2TcSzmIJKRrD%JaFQAnd then the rains came

Thirdly, it was Nancy’s birthday. As a gift Kathy and Ed, on Vitamin Sea, gave her a group tour of the famous Little Current (Ontario Hwy 6) swing bridge compliments of our new friend Bob, the delightful and knowledgeable bridge master who sits in occasionally for Ray (above).  We climbed the outside stairway, were treated to more facts and figures than I can begin to repeat here and were hoping to ride the 11:00 opening but due to rough waters no boats appeared for a requested swing so we contented ourselves with the vista, the story and a tour.

Z+qipysyR923KWFjLKoMwQNancy’s birthday party/progressive dinner.  Dessert was blueberry pie carried in a back pack, later known as blueberry cobbler.

J%8GnEM4R5er6uXWwSWMtwThe famous Little Current swing bridge swinging to let us through.

jtPanZPMTZirM5IrIawiOQ We climbed this outdoor stairway in 20-30 knot winds.  Note the swirling current below.

SLE0emWNRlS%vfXNdvo%TQBob, the local bridge master who knows everything there is to know about this bridge and these waters.

Looking at the next weather system to come through we skipped Gore Bay and pushed on to  Meldrum Bay with a helpful dockmaster but no room at the Inn for dinner.  Again, next year. . .

raRtZ0UgSUOw2NjQd3llyAHere is one brilliant idea of putting colored picnic tables at the end of each dock helping those who have no idea where they are going find their assigned space in the marina.  In this case we were on the west side of the orange dock – bow in port side tie!!

fullsizeoutput_1051eMore red chairs – these oversized folding chairs mark the end of the road – literally – Highway 540 ends in Meldrum Bay

From Meldrum it was a nice trip to Drummond Island, our first American port since Lake Champlain over two months ago!  As we crossed into American waters we took down the Canadian flag and using the ROAM app attempted to clear customs – really the only option.    The short version of the story is that we logged in and complied with required steps but when it was time for the video chat with a customs official he could see but could’t hear us so promptly hung up.  I then called the help number where someone told me that I wasn’t on the passenger manifest so he denied the request, suggesting that I go back in and add myself to the trip.  Since I had absolutely no idea what he meant I mustered all the tenacity I could and went back to the app, kept trying things, resubmitted the request, and this time the video chat officer reported that he could hear but could not see us.  Not exactly sure what I said but at this point he kindly replied, “well, it probably isn’t your fault so I will approve you for reentry!”  Yay, within seconds we had our official notification and on we came.  Given my level of angst I can only imagine the frustration of the officers with the relatively new online process to say nothing of my ongoing respect for anyone not a citizen trying to enter this country.

fullsizeoutput_105e6Whew!  Thank you Canada for an excitingly beautiful summer!  Also happy to be back in the USA.  Enjoy your stay?  We live here!  Sure hope we are legal!

Drummond is a large island with a beautiful old marina which opened in 1945!  We did a few maintenance of life activities, had dinner at the Northwoods restaurant and headed out the next morning for Mackinaw Island.  We guessed and were correct that this would be a slightly lumpy but doable ride arriving at the Mackinaw State Marina in time to take a carriage ride and share stories at dock-tales with Melody in Sea, California Lady, and Cantata.

Yubb2xYERFankQUxVNu%UAOur entrance into the Mackinaw Island State Harbor – always beautiful!!

u3WuvN0KRsOoSeann0TPWwThe Namaste safely in her berth just below the Fort

jeY8UBO6RfXaTzRGbfwBy late afternoon it is getting chilly and this turned out to be our final official dock-tale event.   It was a fun one in a beautiful place with great people!

Mackinaw Island would be our safe harbor to wait out gale force winds on Tuesday and Wednesday giving us time to enjoy and show off one of our favorite places.  Tuesday was miserable enough outside that we spent the day relaxing, organizing and relishing one of our last days aboard the Namaste for the 2019 season.  Wednesday was a beautiful but still windy day so we walked and walked and walked enjoying the old haunts and finding a few new ones.  Preparing ourselves for what would be our last travel day on the Loop.  Stay tuned for the final Wave From Namaste blog entry. . .

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It is a longer story but on windy/rainy  Tuesday Mike helped us figure out how to change our name to Namaste in the AIS data system that shows flashing tiny boats on your chart plotter as an information and safety feature.  We have been trying to change this for the 21 months we have owned her.  Now when people call us on the VHF radio we are happily the Namaste!  Thanks Mike!

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My iconic Mackinaw photos

.fPmlCRGQTpSX+laPAH1vUgLunch at the Iroquois

IMG_5329Ice Cream at Sadie’s of the Grand Hotel

XudIWD47TISEeX66iVK5ugChili supper onboard the Namaste with singing by Jenny Lynn

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. . .and an island walk for Sammy, Leroy, and Mac.  Note the handy fire hydrant for the boys!

Good Boat Name:  Living in Awe

Bad Boat Name:  Marine Disaster (no kidding)

Quote of the Day:  “Destroy the idea that you have to be constantly working in order to be successful.  Embrace the concept that rest, recovery, and reflection are essential parts of the progress toward a successful and happy life.”  Zack Galifianakis

Happy birthday to: Erin, Nancy

Love and energy to the Bahamian people of the Abaco Islands.  A  paradise lost!

Sammy Sayz:  Boy do I need a haircut or what?  They keep snipping here and there so that I can see.  The picture below was taken two weeks ago so you can only imagine.  Jo Ann calls me her rag-a-muffin but the “boys” (Leroy and Mac) don’t seem to care. Being the only girl is a plus!

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