Detour State Harbour, Detour, MI to Straits State Harbor, Mackinaw City, MI — July 31, 2013

Today is a big day for us.  We are headed to Straits State Harbor in Mackinaw City and we were there last September. This means that we have completed the Loop when we get to Mackinaw City because we will cross our wake.

It is hard to believe that we have traveled over 5600 miles and we have finished the Loop.  We have met so many great people along the way and that is really a great portion of the Loop experience.  This also was a completely unique way to see America that just cannot be duplicated in a car.

As some of you know, we are going to do the Loop again.  When we leave Straits State Harbor we are heading into Lake Michigan and we will end up in Muskegon around the middle of August.  We are going to leave the boat for a month to get some work done.  We will drive home and visit with all of our doctors before returning to the boat in the middle of September.  We will then head for Florida again.

We have family and friends to see in the 4 weeks at home and I am sure the time will fly by.  It will probably be restful to get back to the boat and head south.

Today the sky was cloudy but the wind was light out of the southwest.  As we departed Detour there was a freighter heading south in the channel.  We got to Lake Huron and headed west toward Mackinaw and so did the freighter. I had never given it a lot of thought but just thought all the freighters from Lake Superior went south to Detroit, Cleveland or along the St Lawrence Seaway.

The light wind had a chop of about 1′ on the water and that eventually went down to almost nothing.  The ferry traffic was busy around Mackinaw Island as we went by and the wakes we crossed again reminded me why we do not stop at the Island.

We were in Straits Harbor around 1:00 and the sun came out for us.  Straits Harbor was pretty empty with hardly any boats here.  I think I counted 15 boats in the harbor.  There were more in Detour Harbor this morning when we left.

The dock attendant at the fuel dock remembered us from last September and that was kind of neat.  I think she remembered Candy more than Lenore and I.

We will be here for 2 nights and then move to Petoskey if the weather is good.  The cool days with the threat of rain and thunderstorms could pose a problem but we will wait and see.

Gore Bay Town Docks, Gore Bay, Ontario To Detour Harbour, Detour, Michigan – July 29, 2013

We went to bed last night thinking today would be a weather day in Gore Bay with the winds a little to strong to consider moving.  Well after Candy’s morning walk I checked the weather services and the winds looked good for today and a little iffy for the rest of the week in the North Channel.  I woke Lenore up and said we needed to move.

The plan was to go to Meldrum Bay and then the next day we would go to Detour.  The water was good and we ran at about 15 mph so we decided to keep on moving.  We knew we would have to stop at Drummond Island Yacht Haven to check back in with US Customs.  I had an email from Humbug that Customs had taken the herb plants, citrus and some vegetables from the boat. Lenore wanted me to pitch some of the herbs but I said let’s wait and see what Customs does.  We would probably have a different Officer that Humbug did.  Might not mean anything but they could throw them out if they took them.

Well we did get to Drummond Island early afternoon and soon after we tied up another boat Time & Tides came in to check in.  We had radio contact with them at the Britt Inlet and saw them motor thru Killarney later that same day.  They are Canadians from Trenton doing the Loop.  We were chatting as the 2 Customs Officers approached.  One of them told me to go back to my boat.  The female officer came to Champ III and we had all the paperwork in order for her to fill out her paperwork.  She looked at the
herbs and asked where we got them and we said in Florida during the winter.  She was a little dubious but said she was supposed to take them but she would not.  She asked about citrus and we had a couple of oranges and clementines so she wanted those bagged up for her to take.  She came down into the cabin and pretty much asked about each compartment and had us open most of them for verification.  She really did like Candy and we gave her a cookie to give Candy. Candy was worth her weight in gold.

After we finished with Customs we left for Detour and Customs was still working with Time & Tides.  Detour is only 7 miles from the Customs stop so it was no big deal.  We like Detour Harbor because you can watch the freighters go by on the St Mary’s River headed for Lake Huron or Superior.

When we got to Detour just as the sun was coming out. We had
help tying Champ III up from Pete from Humbug.
Off Leash was also there and we had cocktails with Paul and Betsy Loock
from the Birmingham Power Squadron.  Paul
and Betsy had kept their 34’ Mainship in St Clair but 2 winters ago they lost
it in a fire at a storage building in Canada.
They had their new boat there and they were on a trip with Betsy’s
sister and husband.  We had dinner with
Pete and Carolyn from Humbug so it was a pretty active evening with cocktail
and dinner with friends.

Little Current Town Docks, Little Current, Ontario to Gore Bay Town Docks, Gore Bay, Ontario — July 27, 2013

We left Little Current early.  The wind was not real strong, the sky was clouy and temps were cool.  We decided to move to Gore Bay to continue on in the North Channel.

We have always like Gore Bay.  It has been one of our top ports in the North Channel.  They have a nice marine store right at the marina and that is probably because Canadian Yacht Charters is based there.  That would allow the people renting the boats to have easy access to marine supplies that they needed.

The ride was a little bumpy for the first half because of the wind out of the southwest and a pretty good reach to the shore from the channel we were in.  After we passed thru Clapperton Channel the water was pretty flat because we were closed to Manatoulin Island.

We passed several sailboats going toward Little Current and there was one commercial fishing boat out. We were passed by 2 cruisers that had been in Little Current last night
and they were headed west.  They ended up in Gore Bay and had just finished fueling when we pulled in.

Not much has changed in Gore Bay in the last dozen years or so.  Gore Bay is still the same quite community with a relatively small downtown. They have a grocery store, a hardware store, a convenience store, a gas station, and a couple of restaurants.

Candy liked the grass area and we were able to get dock space in close to shore so it was a short walk to shore.  There are a lot of other boats with dogs so Candy had plenty of company on the docks and during her walks.

We barbequed the first two nights in Gore Bay because the weather was reasonable and we wanted to use up some of the food in the freezer.  It has been a while since we used the barbeque but I found all the parts and got it assembled with no problem.

Killarney Mountain Lodge, Killarney, Ontario to Little Current Town Docks, Little Current, Ontario– July 24, 2013

We had fish from the Fish Bus yesterday.  This bus is a real institution up here.  The commercial fishermen go out in the morning and bring back the catch for the day.  They supply the bus and a fish market in the adjoining building.  The bus provides fish and chips pretty much exclusively and people come from all around to enjoy.  The fish is whitefish that is deep fried with a light batter. Very, very good.

Pretty cool morning today.  When Candy and I came out at 6:30 it was in the low 50’s with a reasonable breeze out of the northwest.  The sun was just coming up and it was nice and warm.

We stayed at the dock and I listened to the weather and the winds sounded reasonable so when Pete came over I suggested we leave around 11:00.  Pete was fine with that and we started making preparations for departure.  The wind did not seem to strengthen so I was confident that the water would be fine for cruising on the open bays.

There was a lot of boat traffic today and we took the Lansdowne Channel.  There are a couple of narrow spots in the channel so we were following a line of saiboats thru a narrow spot.  It was good to pass the slower boats even though we were only moving along at 9.5 mph.

The temps did warm during the day to the low 70’s but not much more.  We arrived in Little Current at just after 1:00 and it was a zoo with boats floating all over the place waiting for either the fuel dock or waiting for a slip assignment. We called in and they did respond but put us in the que.  They did get us into a slip in about 20 minutes.

The Little Current Town Docks have grown in the last decade or so.  They used to be just a long shore dock and then they added floating docks with slips at the west end of the channel about 10 years ago.  They now also have floating docks with slips at the east end of the channel.  The center portion is still a shore dock but is used for Great Lakes Cruise Ships if they are in the area. The center portion (east end) has Wally’s Fuel Service for the boaters.

Once we were situated we found where the grocery store and pharmacy were and walked up the hill.  There were 2 groceries, across the street from each other and the pharmacy was next door to the Foodland Grocery.  Lenore and Carolyn did a little shopping.

We had been without internet for the last several days. The Killarney Mountain Lodge advertised that had internet but it turned out to be only available in the lodge lounge and you were limited to 10 MB’s of data or enough to check your email as the attendant told me.  What a bummer.  Little Currents internet is great and readily accessible from the boat.  There are 2 networks, one for the east docks and one for the west docks.

We ate at the Anchor Inn last night and our luck is not working.  Lenore and Pete had buffalo burgers but they were not cooked as requested so Pete sent his back.  We asked for Lenore’s left overs to be boxed but they were thrown away instead.  Less than what we had expected.  At least the company and conversation were great for the evening.

Pete and Carolyn are leaving tomorrow and Lenore and I are staying another day.  We will meet up later when we start our second Loop.  They are headed south of Chicago for Labor Day so they can drive home to Connecticut for a wedding.

St. Amont’s Marina on the Byng Inlet, Britt, Ontario to Killarney Mountain Lodge, Killarney, Ontario – July 22, 2013

We ate at the Britt Inn last night and it was somewhat disappointing.  The service and quality of the food was not quite up to what we remembered from years past.  It had been probably 6 or 7 years since the last time we were in the Byng Inlet.

We decided with the weather coming we would go to Killarney today but we would go thru Beaverstone Bay into the Collins Inlet.  Mill Lake is near the south end of the Collins Inlet.  Lenore and I have anchored a number of times in Mill Lake. The Collins Inlet is part of the Small Craft Route on the Georgian Bay is very well protected from the winds.

We had been advised not to use the Small Craft Route from the Byng Inlet to the north side of the Bustard Islands because of the lower water.  We charted a course directly from Byng Inlet to the north side of the bustard islands just slightly south of the entrance to Beaverstone Bay.  Beaverstone Bay has some great anchorages and leads to the Collins Inlet.  The actual entrance to the Collins Inlet from Beaverstone Bay is very narrow channel marked by probably 6 sets of buoys in about 600 yards.  The lowest water we saw was about 5.5’ and the bottom is reportedly soft.

Once in the Collins Inlet the walls are all granite that rises up in some places to maybe 100’ and some of the walls appear to be vertical rising right out of the water. The channel in a couple of places is not more that maybe 150’ between there vertical walls.  The Collins Inlet is really a very scenic trip.  We passed a couple of southbound boats just before the Collins inlet but no others while inside.

There was a lot of boat traffic today in both directions. Pete and I had the VHF tunes to channel 72 so we could talk when necessary and there were a lot of boats also using 72.  Interesting to listen to some of the conversations and start to draw some images of the boaters and their skills.

We arrived at the Killarney Mountain Lodge reasonably early in the afternoon.  The Killarney Channel was busy with boat traffic and channel 68 is used by the marinas and it was busy.  We had heard reports that there were not a lot of boats in the Killarney area or the North Channel.  That seems to have changed for the better for the marinas and other businesses.

It took us a little while to get situated in the Killarney Mountain Lodge Marina because they were busy and our dock space was taken by a boat that was being serviced. Fortunately it did not take too long.

Lenore and I had never stayed at the Killarney Mountain Lodge Marina before.  It has always been real busy and it seemed like all the big boats would stay there.  This year there were some big boats but also a lot of smaller cruisers and sailboats.  Candy liked the area because there was a lot of grass and a good number of dogs in the area.

With the predicted weather we will stay here 2 days and then see what the winds are doing.  There are some predicted high wind warnings for the North Channel and Northern Lake Huron.

Hopewell Bay Anchorage, Pointe Au Baril, Ontario to St. Amont’s Marina on the Byng Inlet, Britt, Ontario – July 21, 2013

We had a great dinner on Humbug last night.  Humbug is Pete and Carolyn’s 39’ Nordic Tug that they bought to do the Loop.  We barbequed steaks and salmon and had lots of good stories. It was a great time and Pete towed us back because of the outboard issue.

We decided that we did not need to get an early start.  The forecast was for the wind to turn out of the east (from the northwest) which it did. The wind was also not quite as strong as yesterday.  We followed the chartplotter route line that we made yesterday and having been thru the route twice before made the navigating a breeze.

The wind was as predicted and the Georgian Bay was pretty calm with a very light ripple on it.  We had a 3rd power boat that was following us.  They were in the Hopewell Bay anchorage last night and left just before us this morning. They were going slow and so we passed them about ½ way to the Pointe Au Baril Lighthouse.  After we passed them they picked up the speed and were about ½ mile behind us all the way to the Byng Inlet.

The Byng Inlet is a deep water inlet that used to take oil tanker freighters in, but that business has been discontinued.  The town of Byng is on the south side of the inlet and the town of Britt is on the north side of the inlet.  The Towns are set back off the Georgian Bay approximately 5 miles.

The Byng Inlet is also the outlet for the Magnetawan River.  Morton’s Point Fish Camp is probably 40 miles up the river past several rapids and waterfalls.  I have been a member of Morton’s Point Fish Camp for 30 years and there has been some really good fishing up there.

We also had made arrangements to have our mail forwarded to the St. Amont’s Marina.  I was not sure how long it would take and what Customs might do because of a US package that as obviously more than one letter.  WelI I guess Customs did nothing because in total it took 4 days from mailing to delivery.

Lenore and I have stayed at St. Amont’s Marina many times in the past and have enjoyed the area.

There was no mechanic available on a Sunday to look at the outboard so hopefully we can have it looked at in Killarney.

There is also a Restaurant called the Britt Inn just up the road from the marina that has been very good in the past. We have heard that the owner died this last spring but the restaurant is still open with the same cook.  We will go there while we are in Britt.

The plan is to stay here one night and move on to Killarney.  We were going to anchor out in Mill Lake on the Collins Inlet but the weather is not cooperating so we will go on to Killarney.

Killbear Marina, Killbear Ontario to Hopewell Bay Anchorage, Pointe Au Baril, Ontario – July 20, 2013

Well the cold front went thru yesterday and we had a huge rain storm but thankfully not a lot of thunder and lightning.   The temps this morning were comfortable and the plan was to go to the Byng Inlet.

The Byng Inlet is the outlet for the Magnetawan River where I have been a member of Morton’s Point Fish Camp for the last 30 years.  The camp is probably 30 miles or so up the river past several rapids and waterfalls.

We will be traveling with Pete and Carolyn of the Nordic Tug, Humbug.  They are from Mystic Connecticut and are only on the start of their Loop. We first met Pete and Carolyn at Liberty Landing Marina in the New York City area.  We also shared Docktails with them in Peterborough on the Trent-Severn for Canada Day. Pete and Carolyn arrived at Killbear Marina the other day a couple of hours after we did. We will travel with them for the next several days.  It is always nice to travel with a buddy boat.

The winds this morning were out of the northwest and blowing moderate, maybe 15 mph.  We were going to do the small craft route all the way to the Byng Inlet but we had been advised due to the low water to go outside for the portion from Pointe Au Baril to Byng.

The small craft route was great.  Lots of pictures of the rocks and the channel in several areas had the narrow channel between the buoys.  The area as we approached Pointe Au Baril becomes more populated with cottages and boaters in their runabouts.  There was a fair amount of “big” boat traffic headed south that we passed.

The route we took was a little different than in years past.  It wound thru the small islands
and came out about 1 mile from the Pointe Au Baril Lighthouse.  The wind intensity had picked up somewhat since we saw the Bay just outside of Killbear. The route we were taking was about 3 miles offshore.  We travelled out about halfway to the turn and the waves were larger than we wanted to struggle with for the next couple of hours so we called Humbug and let them know were going back in.  They did not take too
long and decided to follow us back.

We went back about 7 miles to Hopewell Bay.  It had been recommended to Pete by the Owner of Bayport Marina in Midland.  He had sat with Pete and went over the entire route from Midland to Killarney, including places to stay and anchorages.  Hopewell Bay
is as good as advertised. A well protected anchorage.  We had no problem anchoring in about 7’ to 8’ of water with plenty of room to swing.  The bay is carved out of granite but has a good mud bottom.

The only bummer was I could not get the outboard started.  I even replaced the spark plugs but it did not help.  I will have that looked at in the Byng Inlet if I can find a mechanic.

Big Sound Marina, Parry Sound Town Dock, Parry Sound, Ontario to Killbear Marina, Killbear Ontario – July 17, 2013

Today was another hot, humid, stuffy day, just like Southeast Michigan is experiencing.  When Candy and I came out this morning for her walk at 6:30 it was already in the high 70’s and humid.  It is a good thing that we had a decent breeze across the water from the west.

We were at the Big Sound Marina.  We moved there from the Town Dock yesterday because they had Wi-Fi in the marina and the marina has better protection from the wake of passing boats so it was more comfortable.

We only had a short trip today to Killbear Marina.  It is a small marina at the intersection of the small craft route and the channel into Parry Sound.  There is a large rock at the intersection with the daymarks on it that is named Carling Rock.  Killbear Marina is in the 1st bay north of Carling Rock.  Lenore and I have visited the Killbear Marina several times before and have enjoyed it.  Killbear Marina gets its name from the adjacent Killbear Provincial Park.

There was a light chop on the water from the decent breeze out of the west.  The chop was maybe ½’ to 1’ and the breeze was around 10 mph. A good deal of boat traffic on the water today, headed into Parry Sound with most of them bigger cruiser boats. Water temps are about 78 F from my instrumentation so there are a lot of people swimming at the various beaches we passed along the way.

I was listening on the VHF radio before I called into Killbear Marina and they did not seem busy with little chatter on the VHF radio.  Just as I picked up the mike to call several boats called in to get fuel and dockage for the night.  We needed to wait a few minutes so the dock hands could help with the lines.

After we were in there was another wave of boats that came in from the south.  There was 5 more power boats that came in in total. The winds and weather for the next couple of days is not supposed to be ideal for boating so I think everyone is looking for
a dock to tie to.

Henry’s Fish Restaurant, Ontario to Parry Sound Town Dock,

I called Big Sound Marina and asked about dockage at the Town Dock.  Lenore and I have liked the Town Dock because it is a lot closer to Town so the walk is shorter.  We were told that the Town Dock was not really being used for transient boaters. There were no showers or Wi-Fi at the dock.  After talking with Lenore we asked for reservations at the Big Sound Marina. They asked when we would arrive and we said Saturday and they said they were full so we would have to tie up at the Town Dock.  Well that was settled easily.  We planned on leaving late morning.

The next morning Candy and I went for our walk and after the walk I started talking with the boaters next to us at Henry’s.  After some time we compared where we were going and when I said Parry Sound he asked if I was aware of the rendezvous that would be in Parry Sound today.  It was out of Penatang Harbour and there were 60 boats traveling.  He showed me their itinerary and they were going to Britt, the Bustards and Killarney after Parry Sound.

I let Lenore know that we should get underway ASAP to Parry Sound.  There likely would be some competition for space at the Town Dock if 60 boats were going to pretty much fill the marina.

It was only 15 miles to Parry Sound so we did not have a long distance to travel.  We went in the South Entrance that winds thru cottage country and the islands.  Some of the channels were dug out of the rock so they connect the lakes.  It is very picturesque and we were there at 11:15 and the marina was still pretty empty.  Only 2 other boats on the Town
Dock so it was not a problem getting a space with power close in.  One of the other boats was Lady O that we last saw in Brewerton NY.  I went over and talked to them once were tied up and the shore power was on.  They had already been to the Okeechobee Lodge and were on their way back to Midland.

I talked to the Tourism Office.  This is where I paid for use of the Town Dock.  They called Sobeys the local grocery.  Sobeys will provide shuttle service to their store from the marina or Town Dock. The store is about 3 to 4 miles away near the south side of town. The shuttle was great and they refused to take a tip saying that it was against
their policy.  I brought back all the provisions I could carry.

The Town Dock has several features that make it interesting.  It has the Island Queen
Tour Boat.  The Tour Boat probably seats 200 and goes out about 3 times a day headed to the small craft route.  Our first introduction to the Tour Boat was one of our first times to the Georgian Bay. We were in the southern part of the small craft route headed north and this huge boat came out from between 2 islands ahead probably do 25 mph and actually looked like it was sliding thru the turn.  Quite a site to see as it headed right toward us.  Fortunately we were in a wider part of the small craft route and there was plenty of room for the boats to pass. The Town Dock also has a sea plane dock.  You can go in their office and they offer aerial tours of the Georgian Bay.  They
also offer a dinner flight to a restaurant or a champagne flight.  They run from $150 to $250 per person per flight.  Saturday was a reasonably busy day for them.

The 60 boats left Sunday morning.  Candy and I walked over to the marina to use
the Wi-Fi and probably ½ the boats were gone.
The other half trickled out over the next 1 ½ hours.  The marina was left with maybe 10 boats in
it. I did get my Henry’s post done to the Champ III website.

Tomorrow we will move on to Killbear Marina.

South Bay Cove Marina, Honey Harbour Ontario to Henry’s Fish

Well the rest was nice at South Bay Cove Marina.  The staff is great and the amenities are first class.  The weather cleared yesterday but it was windy and today should be perfect and in the low 70’s.  We got a mid-morning start because we did not have all that far to go to get to Henry’s Fish Market Restaurant.

The winds today were light with just enough breeze to make it comfortable.  Lots of boat traffic on the water today even though it is Friday. Quite a few boats had left South Bay Cove before us today getting a jump on the weekend.

We cruised along at about 9 mph and everybody was going faster and we had to roll with the wakes. Fortunately any of the boats were runabouts or personal water craft.

The scenery is just spectacular with all the rock formations.  Everything is rock and many of the islands do not have any trees or vegetation because it is just smooth rock.  There are cottages around but not all that many and the further north we get the fewer cottages we will see.  After Parry Sound it does get quite natural and undeveloped

Several of the areas of the Small Craft Route are very tight turns and narrow channels.  The markers have been placed so you avoid the rocks on either side of the channel.  Everyone respects the channel markers, even the PWC’s. I took several pictures of one particular tight turn.  This channel was really meant for the small runabout type boat and you need to pay attention to the charts and watch the channel markers.

Henry’s is located on the Small Craft Route and is a must stop.  The food is very good and the scenery is really fantastic.  Many people come from the cottages around the area and Parry Sound.  I talked to a couple last night that were anchored out and came in with their dog by dingy.  Lenore and I have been here before and enjoy the spot.

Friends of ours, Dennis and Anne Welsh have a cottage on this island. We did meet boaters here that we have seen along the way.  Off Leash, a catamaran was here when we pulled in and Canadian Flyer, Cameo trawler, that we saw in Campbellford, came in about an hour after we did.  We all got together for an early fish dinner and both boats left to anchor out.