Friday, August 10, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears- Oh, My!

Hello all: We are now in Sault St. Marie, Canadian side, about to venture into Lake Superior.

In Little Current, we saw and participated in the Hawberry (or Haweaters') Festival, including watching a juggler juggle a chainsaw! We also toured Manitoulin Island and saw Bridal Veil Falls (photo at right). After the island tour, Bob and Sue on Tom-Kat, Mike and Jeanne on Jeanne Marie, and we on the faithful Winnie W took off from Little Current a few days ago.

Then we were part of a small flotilla (3 boats) in the North Channel, and that's what this post is about, including Doug and Hank's near-close encounter with a bear! Thanks to Jeanne on Jeanne Marie for the bear and other photos of folks in our "small flotilla."

Here is the small channel leading into the western part of Oak Harbor, where we'd intended to "anchor out," but decided not to go into- too narrow.

So, instead, our first night in the North Channel, we were in a lovely anchorage on the northeast side of Hotham Island. We had a smooth trip over and after swimming in beautiful clear (and cold!) water, then a relaxing gathering on Tom-Kat for snacks and conversation before supper.

Heavy traffic- here is a line of boats ahead of our small flotilla, going for a narrow spot just north of Aird Island.

The second night in the North Channel, we were in John's Harbor, south of John's Island.

The channel into John's Harbor has several rocks, this photo shows a few.... these were easy to spot. An ancient rule of navigating: 'Don't ever try to steer your boat where the birds are standing.'

The late afternoon weather was looking threatening and it was cool, so few swam and mostly we were relaxing- until Tom-Kat was approached by dinghy, asking if they would render assistance to a fellow boater who had overlooked a charted rock in the harbor; the boater had parked his 34,000 pound sailboat on the rock, complicated by the wing keel which really hooked the keel onto the rocks. Bob and Mike used their dinghies (we only have oars- unfortunately for this circumstance, no horsepower on our dinghy) to help pull the boat off the rocks; the fellow was grateful (see champagne delivered to Bob and Tom in photo) and was having his boat pulled (out of the water) in the next few days to check the keel bolts and other underwater structures.

That evening, we enjoyed snacks on Winnie W and then had "white chili" (chicken and various white beans and spices) for supper on Jeanne Marie.

The excitement on the Winnie W was the next morning: when Doug took Hank ashore in the dinghy, Kathie saw a bear about 1/4 mile away from them on a neighboring beach of rocks! Kathie was inside on the boat, and only went out on the aft deck to see if they were ready for help getting Hank from the dinghy to the boat (help means encouraging him to jump up: he's a real athlete!).

Looking to shore to figure out their progress in Hank's exercise, I (K) saw a bear! First, I thought "don't be nuts, you're imagining things" and tried to think what else could have this bear-like shape. I looked again, and yelled "Doug-- bear--come back!!" Then, because the prior evening, our small flotilla discussed that none of us had seen a bear yet in these wilds of Georgian Bay and the North Channel, I got on the VHF radio and told the other boats that if they'd look where I was pointing, I could show them a bear on shore!

Doug had our camera on shore; these photos are courtesy of Jeanne Marie. For a size comparison, you can see part of the back-end of Hank in the dinghy, about halfway between the shore with the bear.
The bear was ~1/4 mile from Doug and was "moderate" size (size discussion with Mike and Jeanne); with the bear walking on all fours, comparing to Doug's height, the bear's forequarter would have been about elbow height on Doug. Doug said he couldn't hear what I was saying, but got the drift that I wanted him to come back to the boat!

Winnie W peacefully settled in John's Harbor, which will now be forever remembered by us as "the bear anchorage." This shot of boat & cliff (at right) was photographed earlier that morning by Doug, as the bear was ambling along the shore just below.

We then went to the small town of Bruce Mines, which has an unused mine that we toured and heard about the copper mining industry in the 1800s. Here is our guide showing how one spots veins of minerals in the rock.

Here's a view of the St Joseph River, which is part of the estuary connecting Lake Superior with Lake Huron. Thee photo doesn't do the water justice; it was a beautiful shimmering green, and made us understand why some call the North Channel the "Caribbean of the North."

Soon we will be heading through the Canadian side of the locks into Lake Superior, to an anchorage.

We wish you all the best!
Kathie and Doug


Anonymous said...

So the water was too cold to go bear??

And now I've got to work on a white chili recipe.I'm learnig stuff I'd never thought I'd learn from your trip.


Anonymous said...

Ok no comments so I'll leave one. I was looking for a picture of a Hawberry as I too was in Little Current and just got back on Sat (aug. 11) Live near detroit and family has a place right near the mouth of Baie Fiene (french spelling is bad). Beautiful area isn't it! Enjoy your voyage.