North Channel Cruise 2013 – Emails to family

 

Here follows the text of the daily emails that I sent to the family to document our daily progress. I have changed and added pictures.

 

Pre-Departure

Hi all…

We will be leaving for our Georgian Bay, North Channel cruise with Judy & Matthew early tomorrow morning. Our rough plan is…

·         Launch boats in Little Current on Friday evening.

·         Sail to Baie Fine (on Saturday?)

·         Sail to Killarney (on Tuesday?)

·         Back to Little Current (on Wednesday or Thursday?)

·         Sail to Benjamin Islands

·         Not sure after that

·         Our latest return to Little Current would be on Thursday July 25.

·         We plan to be home on or before Friday July 26

 

All our plans are very dependent on the weather (and the vacation spirit). If the weather is doubtful we plan to stay put at an anchorage or marina. We are not planning to take any chances with the weather.

 

Cellular coverage is likely very spotty but we will check when we can. The best way to contact us would be by leaving a voice mail at my cell phone number or send an email.

 

We also plan to monitor Ch. 16 on VHF as much as possible while cruising. Our boat names are “Di-and-I” (Blue/beige Macgregor/Venture 25) and “Fyre Sail” (Green/beige Bayfield 25). In a real emergency you may be able to contact us through one of the local marinas on VHF.)

 

Truth be told, although this has been a long term dream of mine I do have some apprehensions…

·         That the van holds out on the way there and back

·         That the weather is good and we do not experience any fierce storms

·         That mom will enjoy the trip (at this point she is very positive)

 

So your prayers and thoughts are appreciated.

 

We will attempt to keep you apprised of our adventure as we are able.

 

Love…

Mom & Dad

 

Day 1 (Little Current) …

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A long day! We left home at 6:15 and hauled the boats for 600 kilometers with a 13 year old Honda odyssey. We are thankful that the trip went well and that we arrived safely and on time (2:30) for Matthew’s scheduled crane in appointment. The boats were set up and we motored a few Kms to the Port of Little Current, a beautiful little town with an extensive municipal dock and water front. (Complete with water and electrical hookups, Wi-Fi, showers) We are "slip mates" with Judy and Matthew. I tried out my new dinghy and am very pleased with its stability and performance. The landscape here is beautiful and we look forward to heading out for Baie Fine tomorrow. It is a beautiful starry night with no wind at the moment so we hope to get a good night’s sleep at this beautiful marina. 

 

Dad


Day 2 (Heywood Island) …

 

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We spent the morning in Little Current... Walking the town, organizing the boats, etc.. Little Current is a lively place!  We set off just before noon to make it through the swing bridge and set our sights on the anchorage at Heywood Island. After a while we were able to set our sails on a nice tack in wide open water with a steady breeze. After some time Fyre Sail was falling behind and Matthew hailed us on the VHF. Apparently he was having engine problems and determined that the transmission shaft had sheared (a one inch diameter shaft!) so he was getting no drive to the propeller. What to do? We decided to continue to Heywood Island since all full service marinas are closed on the weekend. Matthew was able to sail into the anchorage and using the dinghy, set his anchors. We plan to stay put here for tomorrow and figure out what can be done on Monday. This is a nice spot and we enjoyed a swim (yes even mom!), sherry time and dinner together. Currently it is very calm and we expect a calm and peaceful night here.

 

I'll send some pictures in another email as I haven't figured out how to attach pictures to this email on my iPad.

 

Another great day! Have a blessed Sunday.

Day 3 (Heywood Island) ...

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We didn't sit in a pew today but spent the whole day in God's awesome cathedral! We were up at 6:30 a.m. and were treated to a wonderful, tranquil scene in the anchorage. Sights and sounds of loons, mirror-still water and a wonderful cup of coffee. Diana tried her hand at fishing (with no luck yet) but got familiar with her new rod. We spent the morning making breakfast (bacon and eggs on the bbq), swimming, reading and puttering about the boat. Early afternoon we made our first dinghy excursion and explored some of the local islands and channels followed by more swimming and snorkelling. Another great bbq supper with Judy and Matthew, this time we were the hosts.

 

Tomorrow we are hoping for good wind direction that will allow Matthew to sail to a marina to see what possibilities exist to resolve his engine problems. This will take us back to our starting point, where we first launched the boats.

 

I hope all is well with y'all, we are having a great time!

 

Day 4 (Heywood Island) ...

 

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Interesting day! After another tranquil morning at Heywood anchorage Matthew and I retraced our steps to Little Current to see about solving his engine problems. Mom and Judy stayed behind with the crippled sailing vessel "Fyre Sail". At the end of much deliberation it was decided to purchase a used outboard motor and a motor mount. The motor mount was not exactly what we needed so some improvisation was required. We returned to the anchorage (round trip was probably about 23 Kms) and proceeded with the installation work. We backed the boat up to the beach and installed the motor. We did get a few stares but got the job done. (One fellow was very intrigued and asked me if he could call me "MacGyver"). Anyways it seems to work and with a few further adjustments should get us on our way.

 

It was very hot today so it was nice to jump in the lake often. Tomorrow we plan to proceed to Baie Fine.

 

I hope that all is well with you.

 

Day 5 (The Pool) …

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Another gorgeous but incredibly hot day. The picture below shows our anchorage for tonight. We are all alone with the (18 inch diameter) snapping turtles, deer, beaver and presumably fish. We travelled all the way up Baie Fine to "the pool", a breathtaking trip up the "fjord", cliffs and hills on both sides. We anchored for a few hours in a secluded cove where we swam, snorkelled and had lunch. We covered about 33 Kms in total today.

 

Matthew's new outboard installation seems to be working well. This email may not get to you today since we have no cellular signal here. We hope that all is well with you all!

 

Day 6 (North of Marianne Cove) …

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Another great day! This morning we went on a rather long uphill hike and were treated to some great views. When we came back we saw a bear and some cubs on the rocks near our anchorage. In the afternoon we travelled back westward up Baie Fine. It was upwind, a very strong wind, so we had to motor the whole way. We are now anchored at the same place we stopped for lunch yesterday, a beautiful natural cove. We are anchored only ten feet from the rock cliffs. Tonight we decided to raft up for the night so the picture you see is taken from our boat. There were severe weather warnings however apart from the high winds we haven't seen any bad weather. It was very hot today again.

Tomorrow we hope to actually do some sailing and hope to make it to Killarney. From here it is about 33 Kms.

 

Day 7 (Covered Portage) …

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We travelled 40 Kms today. We motored from our anchorage in Baie Fine to Killarney. We had hoped to sail this leg of the trip but unfortunately there was insufficient wind. At Killarney we were able to gas up, pump-out (our toilet), get some ice and groceries and have a Fish and Chip supper at the famous Herbert's. Killarney is essentially a strip of marinas and a LCBO with its own dock. The other end of Killarney channel opens into the open water of the Georgian Bay. We poked our noses into this end of the channel and noticed immediately that there were very noticeable swells, unlike the water that we have been in today.

We are now anchored at covered portage cove which is a beautiful, protected anchorage surrounded by rock cliffs.

Day 8 (Covered Portage) …

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We endured a nasty thunder storm last night but fortunately we were anchored in one of the most protected anchorages in the area. The anchors held securely and other than some dripping through the pop-up canvas we came through fine. There were several inches of water in the dinghy this morning. At the moment it is sunny again.

It was very hot today and mostly cloudy and we did have some minor rain, but nothing consequential.

We had quite a storm last night and rain this morning. We stayed at our anchorage since there were still storm warnings. We had a boat washing fest, scrubbing the decks and allowing the rain to rinse. The boats have never been so clean. After this we went for a hike up a rock crest and were rewarded with a spectacular view of our anchorage. You can (barely) see our boats at the bottom-centre of the photo attached. Now we are enjoying our sherry time and are preparing the bbq supper. Another awesome day!

I almost forgot..... Mom caught 4 fishes.

 

Day 9 (Heywood Island) …

We are back at Heywood Island after travelling 40 Kms today. We dropped by Killarney again and then did some serious sailing in the big water. We were out in Georgian Bay for a while. Tonight we are not as sheltered as other nights and the boats are bouncing around a bit because the wind has shifted to our vulnerable direction (North) it is supposed to calm down throughout the night and shift to the east so we will hope for the best.

Tomorrow we will cruise back to Little Current and start the westward portion of our cruise. I added up our travels thus far:

·         Day 1, 3 Kms, Little Current

·         Day 2, 23 Kms, Heywood Island

·         Day 3, 22 Kms, Heywood Island

·         Day 4, 0 Kms, Heywood Island

·         Day 5, 33 Kms, the Pool

·         Day 6, 15 Kms, Marianne's Cove

·         Day 7, 40 Kms, Covered Portage

·         Day 8, 40 Kms, Heywood Island

So in total we have travelled about 175 Kms on the water.... And still loving it!

 

Day 10 (Little Current, Goat Island) …

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Another glorious day of cruising! We travelled about 25 Kms today, most of it under sail. The winds were light so it was very relaxing. We stopped by our vehicles and picked up some provisions that we had stashed there. We also pulled into Little Current for groceries, gas and a pump-out. Whereas last night was quite windy and bumpy, tonight it is calm as you can see from the picture above. We are anchored right across the channel from Little Current, saves us $50 on marina fees :) .

I loaned Matthew my spinnaker today so he could fly it, it looked great, and seemed to pull his boat along nicely. Tomorrow we head out to the Benjamin group of islands, likely for two nights and then on to Gore Bay. That will pretty much use up our available time. It will be hard to say good-bye.

Lessons learned...

·         - Biminis are essential - stay out of the sun as much as possible

·         - take and drink lots of water

·         - watch your charts! (I grounded twice so far)

·         - five gallons is NOT a large holding tank!

·         - Bruce anchors are great!

·         - VHF radios are not a luxury

Good night to you all.

Day 11 (Croker Island)…

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It's unbelievable to imagine but each day brings on even more beauty! Today we actually sailed 32 Kms. The wind was perfect! At one point we attained 8 knots as indicated on the speedometer. This trip took us westward from Little Current to Croker Island a beautiful anchorage with breathtaking views from the crest of the cliffs overlooking our boats. as usual the day included swimming, some dinghy touring and another great BBQ supper. Tomorrow we do not expect to venture very far and plan to explore the island and surroundings.

A good night to you all!

 

Day 12 (Croker Island) …

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I did not send my normal email last night because we were anchored off this beautiful natural beach where we had a huge bonfire until late in the evening! Yesterday we moved three times, all within the same anchorage, trying to find a calmer location as the winds were high (30 kph) and shifting direction. Even the last location still ended up providing a bumpy sleep last night. Ironically, as it turns out, we probably should have stayed put in the first location.

On Monday night we had another violent thunder storm but once again the anchors held fast. The expression: “The Lord is our rock and anchor" has taken on more significance on this trip. During the storms the anchor is the only thing keeping us from being dashed on the rocks!

Matthew did some kite surfing and we spent time clambering over the rocks locking for that even more special view. :) Mom and I took a dinghy ride across to the beach, which was at the time in very choppy water so the ride was wet and exciting. After spending some time on the beach, we got back I to the dinghy but with the crashing surf mom got thrown out, clothes and all, with her new iPhone in her pocket. Fortunately mom survived the spill and we immediately dried off the phone which thus far still works, phew!

 

Day 13 (Benjamin Islands)…

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It is hard to imagine but it seems to get more spectacular each day. Today we arrived in the South Benjamin Islands, this is truly what we envisioned of the North Channel cruise, flat granite rocks and islands much like you would see sailing out into the bay from Killbear. We spent most of the day hiking on the granite rocks and enjoying the scenery. Judy has probably taken several thousand pictures! At the moment it is very calm and we are anticipating great south winds to sail back to little current tomorrow.

We met a couple (Andy & Barb) from Madison, Wisconsin who we met back in Baie Fine. We had them over for "sherry time".

It has been another fantastic day!

It's been nice to hear from Justin, Matthew (California) and Peter & Michelle (Killbear) who are all on vacation.

The temperature has really dropped since last week; 11degrees C when we woke up this morning but it is sunny and promises to go up to mid- twenties later in the day. We plan to move to the South Benjamin island today, to explore that island.

Have a great day. Every day we pray that our Lord is near you wherever you are, at home or vacationing.

 

Day 14 (Little Current / Beauty Island) …

Today can easily be considered to be the perfect sailing weather for the Venture 25. Fifteen to twenty kph wind from the southwest. Under full sail, on a broad reach for a 20 km leg in open water the boat clipped along over 6 knots for most of the time. There were nice even rollers, at times up to 1 meter high, the sun was shining, it was perfect! We covered about 36 Kms today. We stopped in Little Current for one last time and since Matthew has an early 8:00 am haul-out appointment tomorrow we decided to stay on the east side of the swing bridge. The anchorage is not great but it is close to the marina.

If all goes according to plan we should be sleeping in our beds at home tomorrow night. D.V.

We all feel truly blessed to have had this opportunity to sail the North Channel of the Georgian Bay.

Good night to you all!

Day 15 (Barrhaven) …

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The boats travelled once again 620 km eastward at approximately 95 kph ;). We made it home safely after a stop at the Nepean Sailing Club for a final meal with our travel companions, Judy and Matthew.

On the drive home I reflected on my initial apprehensions about the trip....

1)      The reliability of the van --- The van performed marvellously and on the return trip my confidence in its ability to tow the boat.

2)      The weather ---- The weather was excellent! The first week was extremely hot, the second week was considerably cooler but still very pleasant. We had at least two major storms however we were able hunker down and endure them without any bad effects. My confidence in anchoring has greatly improved.

3)      That mom would enjoy the trip --- I think that it would be fair to say that mom loved the trip! There were some anxious moments but I truly got the impression that she enjoyed the trip for herself not just for my sake. She seems to be much more comfortable on the boat. (She was even scouring the ads for other boats and is talking about doing it again.)

I thank and praise our God for how my apprehensions were taken care of and for a safe and enjoyable vacation! I also thank Judy and Matthew for being great sailing companions, sharing this adventure together made it all the more enjoyable. We will relish the memories for a long time.

As you may have gathered by now, this cruise has been everything I have dreamed about for a long time, and more. I hope that we have the opportunity to do more of this in the future.

Signing off for now, I will let you know when we get the rest of our pictures organized, and I hope to create a web page as well.

Love from Dad.

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Summary of Distances Travelled

North Channel Cruise - 2013

Track #

Date

Distance

Trip

Day #

25

26-Jul-13

0.9

Beauty Island to Harbour Vue

15

24

25-Jul-03

36.9

Benjamin Islands to Beauty Island

14

23

24-Jul-13

5.4

Croker Island to Benjamin Islands

13

22

22-Jul-13

31.8

Goat Island to Croker Island

11

21

21-Jul-13

25.1

Heywood to Goat Island

     10

20

20-Jul-13

40.1

Covered Portage to Heywood

9

19

18-Jul-13

40.0

Marianne Cove to Covered Portage

7

18

17-Jul-13

15.3

The Pool to Marianne Cove

6

17

16-Jul-13

32.9

Heywood to The Pool

5

16

15-Jul-13

22.0

Heywood-Harbor Vue - Heywood

4

15

13-Jul-13

22.8

Little Current to Heywood

2

14

12-Jul-13

3.0

Harbour Vue to Little Current

1

Total:

276.2

Kilometers

 

On the picture below, the track for each day is a different colour.

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