Friday, August 3, 2007

Beginning the North Channel at Little Current, Manitoulin Island

Hello family and friends: We're in Little Current, on Manitoulin Island, where North Channel of Lake Huron begins. Here's a map of our route starting at Killbear, just west of Parry Sound.

(link to GoogleMap, location of Killbear Marina)

Before Killbear, we were in Parry Sound; one of the attractions of Parry Sound is the observation tower, located in a park (next to the museum) high up on a hill overlooking the harbor. Unfortunately, the 'Winnie W' is hidden behind the silver roof of the marina building. However, you can see the small cruise liner at the town dock, most of the harbor, and the 200+ foot high railroad trestle (lower right) that spans the Seguin River gorge.

Shortly after leaving Parry Sound, we had a choice of two routes... the 'outside' way, leading west around a Squaw & Telos Islands; or the 'inside' route thru a place called Canoe Channel. Some of the boats in the Looper Flotilla did not have this choice, but 'Winnie W' is small enough to fit thru.

Hmm.... these are the last two marks leading us to Canoe Channel... the channel itself looks like a canoe might be too big.

Looks big enough for several canoes! The 'Winnie W' proudly flies the Looper flag thru Canoe Channel. You can see the rock ledges sheltering the Georgian Bay shore past the far end of this little cut.

After leaving Canoe Channel, we rambled along thru a maze of rocky ledges & small islands. This photo is looking toward the mainland side. The Georgian Bay "Small Craft Route" was used by Indians and fur traders in canoes; it is sheltered from the open lake but it is still not a place for careless navigation.

Here is a good luck statue of loose stones, known as an inukshuk, for safe passage. Do they really bring good luck? Hard to say, but there's no way to build any sandcastles anywhere around here. They are in many locations along the small craft route.

This is the last stretch of the Point Au Baril channel, leading past the lighthouse and out into the open Georgian Bay. You can see on the map that this area is difficult to reach, and certainly not densely settled... but there certainly are vacation cottages!

Now, everybody who took French in high school, raise your hand.... good! What does "Point Au Baril" mean?

No fair clicking on the photo and reading the sign.

Every once in a while, we are tempted to complain about the skimpy & undersized navigation aids & markers.... then we think how lucky we are to not be depending on a barrel of burning straw....

After Killbear, we stopped in Byng Inlet. A very pretty spot and certainly not crowded. A few cottages and a few small marinas catering to summer cruisers & fishermen.... this is supposed to be a great spot for fishing.... and there is a fuel oil terminal for the railroad. A 500' tanker brings in fuel oil 4 times a year, we were told. The captain of that tanker is very skilled to bring such a large vessel in here without accident; in addition to its huge length for a small channel, the boat's draft is 20 feet with 24 feet of water in the channel.

This photo captures the still morning & lovely reflection along Byng Inlet.
(link to Mapquest)
(link to GoogleMap)

From Bying Inlet we took the "outside route"... straight across the northern corner of Georgian Bay, bypassing the Bustard Islands, and making landfall at Grondine Rock. This was a run of about 22 miles; a light chop made the crossing a little bouncy but not bad considering the fetch of over 100 miles.

Kathie took this photo from about 3/4 of a mile away.

Our destination for the afternoon was Killarney, with a sharp right turn into Beaverstone Bay, which is another channel into waters sheltered by rock ledges and small islands. The bay also leads to Collins Inlet, which may be the prettiest route we've been through; together these two separate Philip Edward Island (a big one) from the mainland.

Collins Inlet was beautiful. The photo above really doesn't do it justice. This one shows Doug & Hank contemplating this beautiful fjord-like scenery from the foredeck of the 'Winnie W.'

Is there a geologist in the house? The Earth is showing some pretty dramatic stuff here. First, along Collins Inlet we saw granite cliffs veined with rich colors, then pure white mountains reared up in the background.

This photo is looking north from the western end of Collins Inlet; in the distance you see the La Cloche mountain range and in the foreground, you see the red granite ledges. And a navigation marker, reassuring us that we are in the safe channel!

This is the lighthouse at the entrance to Killarney. After docking safely, we rode our bikes out there.... this photo was *not* taken from the boat!
(link to Mapquest)
(link to GoogleMap)

So, one more short day's travel bring us to Little Current, on Manitoulin Island.

This weekend is the Hawberry Festival so there are big doings up here. A flyer refers to "Haweaters Weekend," and one of the teens who checked us in at the marina said Manitoulin Islanders refer to themselves as "Haweaters."

To get to Little Current from Georgian Bay, we went under the single lane bridge that is the only land access to Manitoulin Island. By Doug's map you can see it is a HUGE island. Traffic backs up as the bridgekeeper varies access from the mainland and the island sides. As you can imagine, opening the bridge for boats makes the traffic situation worse.
We missed the "on the hour" bridge opening at 12:00, and at 12:10 we lowered our antennas and mast, which brings our "air draft" to 12 feet and snuck under at about 12:30. We had both current and wind against us, so Doug could bring the boat right up to the bridge to gauge whether we'd fit under the bridge (if we couldn't make it, the wind and current would push us away from the bridge); Kathie stood on the pilothouse roof and judged whether we would make it under. Kathie could not touch the bridge, standing up, so we probably had at least 6 feet to spare!

After this weekend, we'll go from being part of a 22 boat flotilla to our original flotilla of 2 boats, Tom-Kat with Bob and Sue, and the Winnie W with us.

We hope that you are all well and happy! Thanks for following our progress, Doug and Kathie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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- David