Cruising on Island Time

America's Great Loop here we come

Sault Ste. Marie to Gore Bay

Posted on July 28, 2019

Friday, July 19th- Sault Saint Marie. Bob and I flew back to The Soo from Fort Lauderdale and arrived back at the marina just after 4pm. We caught up with some of our new friends from the marina. Judy & Randy, on Tuition Free, who are locals and are building a house in Venice, FL; Jody & Norman from Fort Lauderdale, on JoJoFa, who are loopers that we met last year at Shady Harbor Marina in NY (who are also on the multi-year plan) and Don & Glynis from the U.K. who are also loopers. Sadly, when Don & Glynis arrived into the marina the day before I flew out to join Bob in Fort Lauderdale, Glynis fell off the back of the boat and was seriously injured with a broken right wrist that required surgery and a plate, a broken left elbow,  and a collapsed lung which resulted in pneumonia. Don and I were corresponding via email while I was home and Glynis spent a week in the hospital. They will most likely be at the Soo for a month while she recuperates enough to continue on their trip.

Saturday, July 20th -Portlock Island. We set off early in the morning to grocery store to provision the boat and then promptly cast off our lines and set out for Portlock Island (across from Hilton Beach) to finally anchor out. We crossed over to Canada, cleared into customs via telephone, and had a nice leisurely cruise down the St. Mary’s River to our anchorage. We selected a secluded spot away from any boats or cottages and enjoyed a quiet evening listening to the Loons. We had some exciting news today that our 7 year old grandson, James, won his breast stroke swim competition and is going to the State finals! Way to go James!

Sunday/ Monday, July 21 & 22 – Bear Drop. In the morning, we took a cruise around Portlock in our tender then weighed anchor relatively early as our next destination was approximately 65 miles away. Due to the distance we would travel today, we extended our tow harness so we could get up on plane and cruised at 21 mph. The wind started to pick up in the afternoon so we were glad to have picked up the pace. We selected a spot just west of several sailboats and the 4 power boats that were rafted off together with a stern tie to the trees & rocks (photo). Beautiful anchorage so we decided that we would stay 2 nights. We enjoyed lots of exploring via the tender, fishing (got a couple of pikes and a bass), relaxing and reading, listening to the loons and just enjoying life. On the back side of Bear Drop there were a couple of Looper boats; one a gold looper and one a platinum looper (gold has done the loop once; platinum has done the loop twice or more).

Tuesday/Wednesday, July 23 & 24. Hotham Island. Our friends, Nancy & Dan Dickerson, had told us about their favorite anchorage in the North Channel and even sent us a screen shot of the anchorage location so we headed out it. At this particular anchorage at Hotham, there is a cottager that invites all the boaters anchored in their bay over to their cottage for docktails. Elaine & Norm have lived in this cottage for 12 years and host this cocktail party every night (during the summer of course) with the caveat that the boaters bring their own drinks, an appetizer to share and a bag to haul out your garbage.

Well, when we arrived and peaked into the anchorage and saw so many boats, Bob and I decided to anchor around the corner in a spot all to ourselves. But at 5pm, we dinghied over to the cottage (with our drinks and appetizer) and joined in the fun. We arrived and announced our greetings from Nancy & Dan as Elaine seemed to be confused as she didn’t have us on her “roster” of boats anchored in their bay. Of course she & Norm welcomed us warmly and we enjoyed meeting all the boaters anchored in this cove (photo).

Turned out to be a very busy day. Earlier in the day, we met Wayne from Red Dog as he passed by on his dinghy while fishing. Found out that Wayne and Barbara were new Loopers having started a month ago from Lake Simcoe, Ontario. (We anchored out in Lake Simcoe last year). And Wayne had recently retired from a career in Corrections. Later in the day, Bob and I took a cruise around the area and stopped to say hello to a fellow Tiara owner. Max & Samara, on Lady Sam, own a 42′ Tiara Open and keep it at Sturgeon Bay, WI most of the time but live in the Chicago area.

Then even later, we were visited by Karen & Gary whom we had met last year at Baie Fine and reside in Little Current, Ontario. They recognized our boat and tender and stopped in to see us. While they were visiting, Max from Lady Sam came over so he could show us some favorite spots in Door County, Wisconsin on the charts as we had mentioned we would be crossing over to WI on our way down Lake Michigan. So by the time we arrived at the cocktail party, we knew several of the guests and felt quite at home.

On Wednesday, we enjoyed a nice relaxing day and took the tender out to cruise the bay and do some fishing. Across the bay in a secluded anchorage, we came upon another Looper from Fort Lauderdale. Turns out they use to live on Coconut Isle and next door to Charlie Bay that Bob use to work with at FLPD. Small world when you get out there and travel. The winds were starting to kick up so we headed back to the boat and decided to move Island Time for protection from the wind. Turns out the winds died down that night and it was pretty hot and buggy and not a good sleep night. We also discovered that after 6 days and 5 nights at anchor our tank was out of water which wasn’t a problem since we were headed for a marina in the morning.

Thursday, July 25-27th – Gore Bay. We headed out from Hotham Island for the 20 miles south to Gore Bay and passed the 4 boats that had left an hour before us. It was a beautiful day on the water so we kicked up our speed to 21 mph and were in our slip and fueled up by the time the 4 boats arrived. We were delighted to discover that this weekend in Gore Bay was their Harbor Days celebration with lots of activities planned throughout the weekend. And there were at least 4 or 5 other looper boats here. While introducing myself to Deborah & KT on Mountain Wave, they told me about another Gigi looper. Sure enough, that afternoon the other Gigi (who had heard about me) came down to introduce herself. Gigi and husband Mark are loopers from Gulf Shores, AL on Misadventure. Gigi told us they were headed down to the Brew Pub at 4:00 so we joined the group and ended up having dinner with a group of 12 of us at Buoy’s. Fun time with loopers and future loopers.

Friday, July 26th. Happy birthday to our daughter Colleen! We enjoyed a leisurely day of catching up on chores, going to the farmer’s market and meeting more loopers. Mark and Patty on Speedy Delivery stopped by to find out about our tender. Turns out that Mark is a retired federal judge and Patty is a retired medical examiner both out of New Mexico. During the day, a big Viking Sportfish pulled into the marina towing a 32′ inflatable tender with twin 250 hp engines. While most people we meet on our trip are envious of our tender with a 90 hp engine, Bob had a bit of tender envy seeing this monster.

In the evening, Bob and I went to dinner then to see the local play. On the way home, the deer that frequents town, crossed right in front of us. She is apparently not to bothered by cars or people.

Saturday, July 27th. Started the day with a pancake breakfast hosted by the local Rotary Club and joined in with other loopers; watched the raft races, cardboard boat races, water skiing & flyboard exhibition, and face painting. In the afternoon, our boat neighbors on a 39′ Tiara Sovran, John & Lynn, wanted to chat about boats. They had heard that I was a yacht broker. We ended up talking for several hours and shared two bottles of wine. John and Lynn live about 20 minutes away. She is the CEO of the two local hospitals and John is retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Canadian Air Force and now works for GE managing a local wind farm. Afterwards, Bob and I decided to skip going to dinner and enjoyed cheese and crackers as the sun set.

Well that wraps up our action packed week! Stayed tuned for our next adventures as we start to head south to Michigan.

 

Hilton Beach to Sault St. Marie

Posted on July 6, 2019

Monday, July 1st. Departed Hilton Beach (Ontario) in the morning and made our way to The Soo. Upon departing, we realized that our steering system needed attention so once we got out of the bumpy bay and into protected calm waters, we added hydraulic fluid and were on our way again. The route to and from The Soo and Lake Superior is a channel that is used by the big freighters (called Lakers here). Its common to see 800′ Lakers coming at you or from behind and they don’t slow down or move for the pleasure craft. But we arrived at the George Kemp Marina safely.

The marina is located next to the American locks (primarily commercial) and across the river from the Canadian locks (primarily pleasure). It is also a short walking distance to town and the observation area for the locks. Bob and I walked downtown in the afternoon to have a late lunch/ early dinner and then enjoyed watching these massive ships locking through (photo). There are several tour boats that take passengers through both the American & Canadian locks so they can experience the locking process.

As it was Canada Day and our marina is across the river from Sault Ste. Marie ONT, we were treated to fireworks that evening. Of course, since it doesn’t get dark until almost 10pm, we were struggling to stay awake until 10:30 when they began. The fireworks barge was right across the river and we were treated to a beautiful show.

Tuesday, July 2. We decided to rent a car in the afternoon in order to take a road trip on Wednesday. This was quite the process and adventure. We called Enterprise since they pick up and drop off their customers. When we called, we did not realize that Enterprise was in The Soo in Ontario. And they do not cross the border to pick up their rental guests. So we tried calling the two car rental agencies on the Michigan side. No cars available until next Monday due to the July 4th holiday. No Uber or Lyft will cross the border and a cab company wanted $80 to drive us the 5 miles.

So Bob had a great idea. I would take him over to the marina across the river into Canada via our dinghy, we would both clear into Customs (a phone call), then Enterprise would pick him up at the Bondar Marina, and I would dinghy back and clear into U.S. Customs (a phone call). No problems on my end. However, when Bob drove across the bridge back into the U.S., the Customs Agent was having a hard time understanding how Bob got over to Canada and what happened to me. So he made Bob pull over and walk upstairs to the Customs office and explain it to them. That Customs Agent quickly understood the situation and told him he was free to go. Bob picked me up at the marina and we made haste to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Women’s Semi-final round of World Cup Soccer. There was quite a group of soccer fans there and cheering the US team on. USA beat England and are in the final match on Sunday. You know where we will be.

Wednesday, July 3rd. ROAD TRIP. Headed out at 7am for the 2 hour drive to Munising, MI where we had reservations for the 10am boat tour to see the spectacular Pictured Rocks (photos). This folks is definitely worth a trip. Large & colorful rock cliffs in crystal clear water. We had wanted to do the Pictured Rocks Kayaking Tour but they were sold out and after seeing the kayakers getting in so close and going through the arches, we are sorry we missed out on the kayak tour. But the tour boat was very informative and it was 2 1/2 hours well spent.

After a quick lunch in town, we headed to Oswald’s Bear Ranch which was about half way back to the marina. The ranch is situated on 240 acres and houses about 40 bears. They separate the bears by gender and age. All the males are together but separated into either adults, yearlings or cubs and same on the female side. The most interesting thing we saw, were the bears climbing the trees. In the yearling section, there were 4 bears high in the trees. One was at the top of a tree that was about 4 stories high (photo).

Thursday, July 4th. Another Road Trip. Since we didn’t have to return the rental car until after 2pm, we decided to visit Tahquamenon Falls & Whitefish Point. The Tahquamenon Falls are the largest falls in Michigan. Both interesting stops but nothing like the Pictured Rocks. Whitefish Bay is where the Edmund Fitzgerald sunk during a terrible northeaster (90 mph winds) in 1975. The ship was only about 12 miles from Whitefish Point and as the song says “had they put  in 15 more miles behind her” they would have made the point and some protection.

There is a shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point but we were short on time with having to return the rental car so we skipped the museum. So now we are in a bit of a hurry to get back to the marina so Bob can drop me off and return the car. But just as we reach the town of Paradise, the street (only one way in or out) is closed due to their July 4th Parade. (Photos). We sat patiently watching the parade and then were allowed to follow the last vehicle so we were essentially in the parade. Of course we waved!

Okay so now we have to return the car and reverse the process to pick it up. Bob drops me at marina, he heads over to Enterprise and crosses the border, I cross over the river in the dinghy where Enterprise will drop Bob. All went smoothly this time except that it takes me 2 minutes to cross over to the marina but 15 minutes on hold waiting to clear Canadian Customs.

Thursday night. Happy Independence Day! Grilled out on the boat then watched the U.S. fireworks that came on at 10:30pm. Really was quite the show (photos).

 

Friday, July 5th. We are officially “Superior Sailors”. Decided we needed to take the boat into Lake Superior as we will probably never venture up here again on Island Time. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world and is famed for thousands of ship wrecks and fog that can descend on you at anytime without warning. There are very few marinas along the 2,000 plus mile coastline and lots of wilderness.

We cast off our lines, left the dinghy on the dock and headed over to the Canadian Locks. Locked through with no problems (we were the only ones in the lock), were lifted 21′ and then crossed into Lake Superior. Gave the Tiara a really good run and opened her up to wide open throttle (35 mph). We went into Whitefish Bay but the fog was starting to appear so we turned around and headed back to the lock and our marina. Incidentally, there is no fee for transiting this lock and if you are just passing through and not planning to stay in Canada, you don’t have to clear into Customs.

We are headed home for a couple of weeks as Bob has a couple of cases to work on and I will visit the family. So will post in a few weeks when we are out on the adventure!

P.S. You can click on any photo to see it and the other photos if cut off in the blog.

Drummond to Hilton – 6/24 – 6/30

Posted on July 1, 2019

Monday, 6/24. It was a good thing that we decided to head back from the anchorage Sunday afternoon instead of Monday morning. Woke up to rain, rain and more rain. It rained all day and night. Sometimes a light drizzle, sometimes intermediate and sometimes hard. While the temperature was in the 60’s, the dampness made it feel much cooler. Bob and I were bundled up all day and night with socks and jackets. The highlight of the day was lunch at Northwood to watch the women’s  world cup soccer with USA playing Spain. USA won 2 to 1.

Tuesday, 6/25. You may wonder why we aren’t moving from this location and marina. We have been waiting to find out if Bob needs to fly to Fort Lauderdale for a trial and we have been staying put exploring our options. As next week is July 4th, the flights in the area are expensive and limited. So we hung out for another day of chores and relaxing.

Wednesday, 6/26. Road trip to Mackinac Island. We decided to rent a car and drive to St. Ignace (56 miles away) to then catch a ferry over to Mackinac Island. For years we have been hearing about a “must stop” for Loopers in Mackinac. And it certainly did not disappoint.

But first a little about our car rental experience. As you know from last week’s blog, Drummond Island is rather short on amenities. We heard that we could rent a car at Bailey’s Service for $45 a day. We called to arrange with the owner, James, and he said he would pick us up in the morning and then we could be on our way. I told James to bring his biggest car and he replied that it was his only car (at the moment). So James picked us up in our car, then we dropped him back at the shop. No paperwork, no credit card, no last names. Just see you tomorrow and we can fill the car with gas and settle the bill. While the car didn’t look like much, it did ride nice.

Mackinac Island (pronounced Mack- in- naw) is quite the summertime destination with an average of 15,000 visitors per day during peak season. Automobiles are not allowed on the island (banned 1898) and so the only way to get around is walking, biking or by horses (although snowmobiles are allowed in winter). Horse carriages serve as taxi’s to transport arriving/ departing guests with luggage to/ from the ferry dock, private airport or around the island. Note: they do have fire, ambulance & police vehicles in case of emergency but they are well hidden in big sheds.

Fun fact: there are approximately 600 horses on Mackinac basically owned by two families. The horses work about 5 days a week but only 3 to 4 hours per day. They generally work the morning or afternoon shift. In the winter time, the majority of the horses are relocated via ferry to Pickford, MI which is about 40 miles north of St. Ignace. We were told that it is easier to bring the horses to the feed instead of bringing the feed to the horses in the frozen winter time.

80% of the island of Mackinac Island is owned by the State of MI. Of the 20% of private property, the home owners there are generally quite wealthy and the island has been known as the playground of the rich. We decided to take the horse carriage tour (90 minutes) to take in the history and should you get up this way, is definitely worth it. The carriage has 7 rows with about 4-5 seats across. (photos). A team of two horses took us on the first 30 minutes of our tour. As an added bonus, it was time for our team to end their shift so we got to see the changing of the team (photo). The island is quite hilly and so half way up the island, everyone disembarks and changes over to a three-horse team in order to reach Arch Rock (photo) and make their way down the hill. Arch Rock (elevation 146′) was definitely the highlight of the tour with spectacular views of Lake Huron and the island.

The waterfront area is thriving with shops, restaurants and FUDGE shops. There are 17 fudge shops on this island that is only 3 square miles! We did not have time to visit Fort Mackinac, the Grand Hotel or tour the 8 miles of coast line on bikes. Although having seen some of the bike riders (who were in shape) huffing and puffing on those inclines, I am glad we didn’t attempt it. All in all it was a fabulous day as we topped it off at St. Mary’s Bistro / Draught house (27 different beers) with apps and drinks then ferried back across to St. Ignace. And on the drive home, we stopped at a road stand and bought fresh strawberries and asparagus.

Thursday – Sunday, 6/27 – 6/30. More hanging out waiting for Bob to hear whether he needed to be in Miami to testify. If he didn’t have to go, we were planning on flying to Pensacola to attend son Ryan’s promotion to Major. Unfortunately, we did not get word until Saturday afternoon that Bob did not have to be in Miami Monday but by then it was too late to fly out. We are in a remote part of Michigan and flights are limited and airports are not close by.

While we were waiting, we did a little fishing via trolling off the tender. Caught a Musky the first time out and a Pike the second time out. Both released but it was fun. On Saturday, I went back to the farmer’s market with Gay and bought some more fresh salmon (no walleye available) and later Gay treated us to lunch at Esther’s.

On Sunday morning we decided to make our way to Sault St. Marine (MI) with a stop at Hilton Beach, Ontario. It was a beautiful day on the water and we enjoyed finally being back out cruising. Hilton Beach is only about 20 miles from Drummond so it was a leisurely cruise. Nice protected marina with a restaurant on property but that’s about it.
We did go across the bay in our tender to check out an anchorage, we were told about, at Porklock Island and we will definitely hit it on our way back from The Soo and into the North Channel.

Monday July 1st is Canada Day which we were told is their first official day of summer. Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends! See you next week!

 

 

Drummond Island- 6/17 – 6/23

Posted on June 24, 2019

Monday, 6/17. And so our journey and blog on the Loop continues.

I landed in Sault St. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie) on Monday afternoon. I had arranged a pickup from the airport with Gay, the marina owner’s sister, and my flight was almost an hour late. The “Soo” airport is about 56 miles from the marina. Gay was kind enough to stop by the grocery store so I could pick up essentials for the boat i.e. water, wine, half & half for my coffee, and some breakfast items.

I had been a bit anxious about the boat’s condition after being stored for 8 months but found it in better condition than I imagined. The interior was clean and devoid of any dust, spiders or critter intrusion. Since Bob wouldn’t be joining me until Wednesday, I was concerned it would be a big cleaning project and I was arriving late in the afternoon. But all was good and I was so excited to see “Island Time” after so many months.

In the slip next to us was “Meant To Be” a 43 Tiara Sovran from Tennessee and also Looping. Phil & Barbara live in Atlanta but their hailing port is TN. Another Looper was on our dock, whom I briefly met, but they were leaving in the morning.

Tuesday, 6/18. Spent most the day organizing and provisioning. The marina has several courtesy cars for marina guests and all you have to do is let them know you are taking one of them. There are no taxi’s, Uber’s or Lyfts on the island. You can also rent a car.

Drummond Island is a quaint island with a population of about 1,100 which doubles and triples in the summer. The only way on or off the island is via the ferry (which runs year round), private boat or private airplane. There is a grocery store, gas station, hardware store, ice cream shop and a few restaurants. While there is a small clinic on island, most medical emergencies are taken off island via an ambulance and the ferry and taken to one of the larger towns an hour to two hours away. If you need a prescription, then your doctor calls it into a pharmacy in one of the larger towns and you either pick it up or they will mail it to you.

Tuesday evening Gay and I had dinner at Esther’s Mexican Restaurant since it was “Taco Tuesday”. The tacos were delicious and I got a chance to meet Esther and speak Spanish with her when she came out to say hello to some of the locals. Prior to going to dinner, I had docktails with Phil & Barbara on their Tiara and we spotted a beaver swimming in the marina.

Wednesday, 6/19. More provisioning, cleaning and organizing as I waited to head to “The Soo” to pick Bob up from the airport. Bob had been diverted to Tallahassee to testify in a hearing hence his delay in joining me. His flights would take him from Tallahassee to Atlanta to Detroit then to “The Soo” and it was 2 hours late. The airport (actually in the town of Kinross) is really small with gates 1 & 2, no bar and no food (vending machines) so the wait was boring. The drive back to Drummond is very rural and pretty with sightings of deer along the way. We arrived just in time for the 6:40 ferry otherwise we would have had to wait another hour. Bob was really tired after his long few days and so we opted to come back to the boat and enjoy some wine and relaxation. The Loons came out to welcome Bob which made our evening.

Thursday, 6/20. Enjoyed a relaxing day hanging around the boat then went to lunch at Esther’s. The food is really authentic and good. Did some more provisioning and inquired as to where we could go to watch the Women’s World Cup Soccer game between USA & Sweden. We checked out the bar at Northwood’s and were told they would have it on so we returned at 3pm to watch the game. USA beat Sweden 2 to 0.

Upon returning to the marina, our dinghy had been launched and so we went for a dinghy ride to explore the area. The sun rises around 5:45am and sets around 9:30pm here so plenty of daylight to explore. We headed across the bay to an anchorage area called Harbour Island and stopped to chat with some folks that were anchored there. The dinghy ran great and it was fun to be racing around on it again.

Friday, June 21. On my way out to get a haircut, I spotted a mink running down our dock. Just love the wildlife here. More relaxing, another ride on the dinghy and dinner at Northwood’s. Friday night in town! The restaurant and bar was crowded and the ice cream shop had a line the whole time we were there.

Saturday, June 22. The Farmer’s Market in De Tour Village. Gay was heading to the Farmer’s Market and invited us along. The market was rather small but we contributed to the local economy and bought some fresh Walleye & Salmon, eggs, a mixed berry pie, and fresh farm chicken. De Tour Village is across the channel so we took the ferry over and back for the market.

On Saturday afternoon, we cast off our lines and headed to an anchorage at Harbor Island across the bay. We wanted to do a shake down cruise on both boats before leaving D.I. to explore the North Channel. We anchored in a cove and had it all to ourselves. We grilled some Walleye and corn while enjoying our quiet surroundings.

Sunday, June 23. Spent most the day relaxing at the anchorage. It was still and warm. In the afternoon, the wind suddenly started to blow and our anchorage was exposed so we opted to head back to the marina since we were expecting some parts for the sound shield on our generator. Grilled some salmon & asparagus while enjoying a quiet evening tied up at the dock.

The weather has been interesting. Down in the 50’s at night and high 60’s to low 70’s during the day. The water temperature (I am told) is 55 degrees so we won’t be swimming any time soon. When the sun is out, it is really warm but in the shade or when overcast, the light jacket comes back on. The Great Lakes has been experiencing high water (flooding) due to this past winter’s ice and snow. While our area is not bad, Lake Ontario and the locks we transited last year are very effected with marina’s and lock closures. Glad we are past all that.

We also enjoy the wildlife as have seen and heard the loons and seen plenty of deer including a doe with her fawn and a few bald eagles. Well, that wraps up our first week on the boat. Stayed tuned for next week’s adventure.

Returning to Island Time

Posted on June 9, 2019

Hello from Florida! Thought I would “dust off the cobwebs” on the blog and report that we will soon be rejoining our boat in Drummond Island, MI. We will fly back to Michigan on June 17th. A little later than we had anticipated due to the very cold winter they experienced up there this winter. That cold vortex froze everything solid up there. And even now in June, there have been morning temperatures in the low 40’s. But I for one, am looking forward to the cooler temps as it has been in the high 90’s here in South Florida.

We are truly getting excited about our return. We plan to spend another month in Canada (North Channel & Georgian Bay) then start heading south to Mackinaw Island, MI, the Michigan coast and some of the Wisconsin side. We will shoot for early September in Chicago then start down the inland rivers. We don’t have any plans in concrete (not supposed to) but figure it will take us 4 – 6 months before returning home.

As a follow up to our return trip home last September, we had a great time on our road trip. Upon leaving Drummond Island on September 27th, we headed north to Marquette, MI (in our new Ford Explorer) so we could stick our feet in Lake Superior. The lake was clear and already very cold. Beautiful area and we enjoyed a visit to the Marquette Maritime Museum which has tons of information about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and much more about the area. After spending the night in Marquette, we took a beautifully scenic drive to Green Bay, Wisconsin and had lunch at the Packer’s Stadium Lambeau Field.

Then it was time to visit friends, Ramah & Judd, who live just outside of Chicago and spent 2 nights with them. We arranged to meet our new friends, Dan & Nancy, that we met in Drummond Island as they live 10 minutes from Ramah & Judd. The six of us enjoyed a great dinner together. On Saturday, the Cubs were playing so we bought tickets and headed into Chicago for the game. Great time at the game and on the way home.

After bidding our friends “The Judds” goodbye, we headed south to Nashville, TN. Had a great day walking the streets, enjoying the pubs and  restaurants and the Johnny Cash museum which is really worth while. Spent the night in a hotel just outside of Nashville then headed south in the morning. Destination Pensacola to visit our son Ryan, daughter-in-law Kristen and grand kids Riley, Kaity & Katrina. Spent a few nights enjoying the family then it was time to head home. Arrived home on October 5th after our 9 day road trip. It was great to be home for the last 8 months but we are now ready to finish the Loop and bring our Tiara home. Stayed tuned and we be back in a few weeks!

Baie Fine to Drummond Island

Posted on September 28, 2018

Mon / Tues, Sept 17 – 18. Baie Fine. Departed Killarney and headed to anchorage known as “The Pool” in Baie Fine (pronounced Bay Fin). It’s about a 10 mile stretch from the entrance to Baie Fine to the area known as “The Pool”. On the way in you pass by beautiful high rock cliffs (fjords) of the La Cloche mountains. The anchorage on a summer weekend is very popular and we were told by a local cottager that he has seen as many as 40 to 50 boats anchored there. Fortunately for us there was only one other boat there when we arrived.

After our wonderful fresh grilled Pike dinner (topped with butter, garlic and lemon), Bob took the dinghy over to check out the area and stopped to talk to Wayne and nephew Chris that own one of the only 3 cottages in the area. The Evinrude family owns one of the other two cottages and apparently won a lawsuit against the Crown when the government wanted to take over their property in this area that is now a Provincial Park. While Bob was sitting with them on their porch, they spotted a moose and beaver swimming across the bay.

On Tuesday morning, we took the dinghy over to the dock at the base of the trail to do the 30 minute hike up to Topaz Lake. Normally it takes 30 minutes and its pretty steep but we missed the turn to Topaz and kept going on another trail. 30 minutes turned out to be 90 minutes on a fairly rugged trail. When we came back up the trail and turned to what we thought might be the right trail, Bob decided to mark it with his hat to make sure we were coming back the correct way. Fortunately we found the hat and our way back.

Wayne had given us tips in the event we came across a bear such as “don’t run; dinner runs” and “stand tall, make noise, make eye contact, etc.” Well since we are a couple of Florida crackers with no bear experience, we were quite anxious on our hike so we played music the whole time to let the bears know we were coming! The lake was a beautiful topaz green and the return trip only took 30 minutes. Stopped in to chat with Wayne and Chris on return then spent the day relaxing. While we were on the trail, another boat came into the anchorage and we were invited over to Gary & Karen’s trawler “Slo M Ocean” after dinner. They had another couple with them and we all chatted away for a couple of hours. The dinghy ride back to boat was pitch black.

 

Wed / Fri, Sept 19-21. Spyder Bay Marina, Little Current. Weighed anchor in the morning and headed to Little Current. Gary & Karen on “Slo M Ocean” keep their boat in Little Current so we decided to follow them to their marina. The weather forecast was calling for up to 56 mph wind gusts & rain in the next few days so we decided to hunker down at the marina until it blew over. Wednesday evening, Bob and I dinghied over to the town docks and walked the main street stopping at Anchor Inn for dinner. On Thursday, Gary & Karen invited us to a First Nations event just outside of town on the reservation. Here is Canada, what we refer to as our Native Americans, they are referred to as First Nations. The event was intended to show off the traditional culture of several First Nations tribes in the area. We then drove to Gore Bay for pizza and visited Lookout Point and Glenn Veil Falls. (photos)

On Friday, we caught up with all the mundane maintenance stuff and then Karen drove me into town to the grocery and LCBO. By now it was getting windy and by 4:30 it was gusting bad. The marina’s floating docks were not holding up very well and the ramp to our dock had moved significantly and we feared that the ramp to our dock would give-way so we offloaded our laptop, tablets, passports, and some personal items, adult beverages (of course) and headed to the Captain’s Lounge by the marina office. A backhoe was brought in to secure the dock & ramp we were on with line and chains. Originally I wanted to stay on boat to protect it but then realized that we would not be able to do anything in this wind so we opted for safety. This wind seemed worse than some of the hurricanes we have been through. Scary! 5 of us had our own hurricane party in the lounge then drove to town for dinner. It was cold and blowing really hard. So glad we weren’t anchored out somewhere by ourselves.

 

Sat, Sept 22. Meldrum Bay. We were originally going to anchor out a few more nights before heading to Drummond Island but the weather this time of year is unpredictable. The wind direction can change hourly and come from all directions; unlike in Florida, where it may change after a day or two. So we bypassed a couple of anchorages and went to Meldrum Bay Marina and our last stop in Canada. Tried reaching the marina earlier in day via telephone and left message. Tried hailing them on the VHF when we arrived and no response so we just docked at one of the empty slips as the marina was virtually empty except for a few local boats. We heard that the restaurant at the Inn was excellent and called about a reservation but the owner’s said they close for the season September 15th. The owner felt really bad about being out of town as they probably would have accommodated us in some fashion so we will just have to go back upon our return next spring. We had a quiet night to ourselves but were rewarded with seeing two foxes, two beavers and a couple of loons. Later in the evening, two of the community leaders came by to chat and agreed to meet us in the morning so we could pay our dock fee.

 

Sun, Sept 23. Drummond Island, MI. Back in the USA! After two wonderful months in Canada, we departed the docks at 9:00am for the 35 mile trek to DI. Our weather apps were reporting light winds from the north but once we got into the bay, it was bumpy and getting worse. The Canadian Coast Guard put out a broadcast that strong winds were reported in Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay and we experienced it. We were getting tossed around quite a bit so ended up heading to the southside of Drummond which would be the lee side of the island. This route would add another two hours but it would more comfortable cruising. A Canadian Coast Guard Cutter was patrolling the border between Cockburn Island (CA) and Drummond Island (US) and we were delighted to have them for company in the rough seas. As we made our turn to the U.S. Bob hailed them on the VHF and thanked them for the escort.

The winds were blowing pretty hard (and cold!) by the time we arrived at Drummond Island Yacht Haven so the dockmaster directed us to the fuel dock which would be easier for docking. It was a long stressful day getting here but we are now where we will leave the boat until next Spring. We used our new Roam app to check in with US Customs and had a video chat with them and were given our clearance. There are certain items, such as citrus, produce and lamb, that you aren’t allowed to bring back (or into) the U.S. which they question you about but other than that it is a fairly simple process. Because it was cold and windy, we opted to stay in even though the marina offered a courtesy car to drive into town or a restaurant. Low tonight will be 46 degrees.

 

Mon/ Thur, Sept 24 -27. Drummond Island.  Monday we finalized the deal on our new Ford Explorer that we are buying here in Michigan to drive home. Since we have been car less since starting this trip, we decided that it would be a better option for us to buy a car here since we needed to offload quite a bit of stuff from the boat. Now its time to pack our belongings, and prepare the boats for storage until our return in May 2019.

On Tuesday, we were dropped off in Petoskey (2 hours away) at the Ford dealership where we picked up our new car. On drive back, we drove through the “Tunnel of Trees” which is a beautiful and famous 20 mile drive along the coast of Lake Huron. Caught the Drummond Island ferry which runs almost 24 hours per day year round. Yes, even in the ice.

On Wednesday, we packed and loaded up the boat ALL day. In the late afternoon, we were invited to join Dan & Nancy for dinner at the local restaurant. I asked what restaurant and they said there was only one in town! Dan & Nancy own a 74′ Hatteras motor yacht and will be storing here for the winter as well. They have spent most of their summers in Georgian Bay, North Channel & Lake Michigan and just rave about it. They live outside Chicago. Had a fabulous time with them at dinner and hope to see them when they come down to the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. We also got a chance to see quite a few deer on the way to and from the restaurant.

On Thursday morning, the travel lift hauled “Island Time” out of the water and we sadly said goodbye to our Tiara and dinghy as we won’t see them for 7 1/2 months. It will be strange not to have a boat at the house but hopefully we will keep busy with other things. So this will be our last blog posting until we resume next year. We will enjoy a road trip on the way home visiting friends and family. So thanks for being part of our trip and for all of you that offered supportive comments. It’s been a wonderful journey and we look forward to taking you with us next year!

 

Parry Sound to Kilarney

Posted on September 17, 2018

Mon/ Tue, Sep 10 -11. Parry Sound / Kilcoursie Bay. As predicted, Monday was rainy, windy and cold. We took taxi up to grocery store and then hung out at boat most of day. Went back up to Boston’s Pizza to watch Monday night football. Didn’t want to walk to far in the rain the cold. On Tuesday morning, we took the dinghy over to the seaplane docks and went for our tour. Normally, the tour is 35 minutes from dock to dock but since it was the first flight of day, the plane needed extra time warming up so we were 48 minutes. While it was still overcast, it was a beautiful flight over the region and a very different perspective from the air. We flew over the areas we would be transiting and over the areas we had already been by. One cottage had a tennis court and a pool and believe the owners are American according to pilot. I got to sit in the co-pilot seat and enjoyed talking to our pilot Alex. After our flight, Bob and I walked into town for breakfast at Orr’s Meats & Deli. The famous hockey player, Bobby Orr, is from this area and the deli is owned or was owned by an uncle in the Orr family. There is also a Bobby Orr museum right next to the marina.

Once we got back to the boat around 11:30, we departed for an anchorage off of Kilbear Provincial Park in Kilcoursie Bay with a stop across the bay for fuel & a pumpout. While there weren’t any other boats at our anchorage, there were lots of RV campers all along the shore and many of them were out paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, etc. Bob and I stayed bundled up on the boat as it was still chilly out there. Enjoyed a quiet (and dark) evening under the stars and watching the glow from all the campfires on shore.

 

 

Wed, Sept 12. Hopewell Bay / Wright’s Marine, Britt, Ont. Weighed anchor in the morning and headed to another quiet bay called Hopewell Bay. Again, no one around and we were enjoying our solitude when we realized we had an issue with our holding tank that required our being in a marina. (will spare you the details). There aren’t a lot of marinas in these parts and our options were to back track 15 miles or continue forward for 25 miles. It was already 3:30 in the afternoon and our concern was getting to the marina before dark. You do not want to be underway in the dark while dodging gigantic granite boulders everywhere. In addition, the wind was up in the afternoon and we had to cross an open expanse of water so it was bumpy, making 90 degree turns, and stay in the marked channel. The markers were not easy to see in the late afternoon sun. But we made it to the marina at 7:00pm and even though the marina was closed, we had 3 people come out to assist us (resolved our holding tank issue) and get us into a slip. It was a very stressful afternoon which called for some strong Cosmos for Bob and I. Munched on some cheese and crackers and called it a night.

Thu, Sept 13. The Bustards. In the morning, we went for a dinghy ride to buy a few needed groceries then headed out. The topography from here on really starts to change as you head towards the North Channel. Whereas Georgian Bay is populated by granite islands and lots of trees & cottages, the North Channel is a lot more barren with these gigantic granite boulders everywhere that look like whales in the water (not very many trees) . One must keep total focus & vigilance and STAY in the marked channel or end up shipwrecked on a rock. There were lots of hair pin 90 degree turns and narrow channels. Arrived safely at our anchorage in The Bustards and were immediately greeted by our favorite Loons. The Bustards is a collective group of islands and we picked one of the coves that had been written up in Active Captain. Thought we had the place to ourselves but late in the day a sailboat made its way in but anchored a good ways from us. Very few cottages in the area so the anchorage was pitch black at night. Grilled some pork chops with roasted Brussel sprouts and watched our Loon friends come near.

 

 

Fri, Sept 14. Bad River. Chose another anchorage that was supposed to be pretty cool due to the “rapids” you can ride in your dinghy. We arrived and went to explore the rapids. There was a bit of strong current racing through the narrow shallow cut but “rapids”? No. We kept exploring thinking we would come to actual rapids but guess that was it. Again, we are the only boat anchored here but did see a couple of boats zip by to go through the rapids and a few boats fishing. The area is supposed to be a great place to catch Wall Eye (Pickerel). Unfortunately we didn’t bring any fishing gear or have the requisite license to fish. Sure would love to catch some pickerel and cook it up! We are hoping to find a fishing guide that will take us fishing.

Sat / Sun, Sept 15 -16. Kilarney Mountain Lodge. Wow, this place is picturesque. As soon as we arrived, decided that we would stay more than one night. Beautiful property with lodging, pool, sauna, restaurant and bar with great view, red Adirondack chairs on all the docks, picnic area, canoes & paddle boards for rent, short walk to general store and liquor store. Made reservations for dinner at 6:30 at the Lodge. Dinner did not disappoint. Bob decided to try their “game special” which was Elk and I had their rack of lamb. Delicious. I tasted the Elk and it was good and not too gamey. Met a nice couple from Stratford, Ontario (David & Laural) that were docked next to us and enjoyed talking to them.

Also called a fishing guide (Robert aka“Bungy”) and made arrangements to go out fishing on Sunday morning at 8:00am. Morning arrived and the fog was as thick as pea soup and we had to wait until 1:00pm before it cleared and off we went. What fun! Not only catching fish (Pike) but zipping around with Bungy’s local knowledge at fast speeds while dodging rocks. Bob and I both landed some fish and we missed a couple that got off right before boating them.  Our guide Bungy cleaned the fish and we brought it home to enjoy some of it tomorrow evening. Had to freeze some as it was quite a bit.

So ends our experience on Georgian Bay as we start the North Channel tomorrow. Another great week ends on our great adventure. Stay tuned!