Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Thank You Canada!

Our time in Canada has come to an end. Two Days ago Anna and I crossed back over into American waters and cleared customs on Drummond Island, Michigan. On this day, our 12th wedding anniversary, we took the time to look back at all the wonderful experiences we have had in Canada. It truly is one of the most beautiful cruising areas in the world. I have said it before but I can't say it enough, the Canadian people are some of the nicest people I have ever met. Leaving Little Current, we found ourselves anchoring in waters that just take your breath away. The Benjamin Island and Whalesback Channel's beauty are beyond words. Along the way we continued to meet wonderful people and have been blessed with cool dry weather which has made for one of the best summers anyone can remember in these waters. Every day Anna and I have tried to capture some of the beauty we have seen. You could take a picture every minute of every day and still not capture it all. Even though we are sad to leave this place, we are overjoyed to be back in the good old USA. Finally we are in contact with our friends and family again. Our first stop after clearing customs was the Northwood Restaurant where for the first time in six weeks I bought myself a reasonably priced beer. Anna made a run for the market and got herself some cheese. For some reason beer and cheese were some expensive in Canada, we joke "Behold the power of Cheese". We look forward to moving down onto Lake Michigan. In the next few days we will pass through the Straits of Mackinac and make a stop at Mackinac Island, from there we will make a run down the east side of lake Michigan to Chicago. The first quarter of our trip is now complete. with over 1500 nautical miles under our belts we feel we are ready to take on the Lake. We hope to be in Chicago by Labor day, where I plan on taking Anna to her first major league baseball game. It's not Fenway, but it is as close as we are going to get. Who knows, the Bears will be in their preseason, maybe it will have to be a double header.

Anna it looks like a great night, let's have a camp fire!

Once again friends were close at hand as we enjoyed the fire and a wonderful sunset.

The sky here is just out of this world.

We found a great private little hole for Blue. Stern tieing to a tree has become the preferred method for anchoring in these waters. It allows for some great views as we enjoy an evening beer on the back of Blue.

South Benjamin Island lived up to it reputation as being one of Canada's favorite cruising destinations.

My nephew Will would have loved this chocolate shop. The name made is think of him. Hope you are having a great summer Will!

The Bridal Falls on Manitoulin Island were worth the hike. Only made better by being at the foot of the local LCBO store.

I think we finally found our pot of gold. After an afternoon thunderstorm we were given one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.

This could be one of the best shots of Blue I have ever taken. If there is an image that sums up our time in the North Channel this would have to be it.

In the mornings we awake to a thin layer of Fog which always make us think of home.

We ran into some tuggers cruising the Whalesback in there 37 Nordic tugs Water Kraft and Jenny Joe. I couldn't resist taking a picture of their boats off John Island.

Once again it was a wonderful night.

Anna has mastered retrieving the lines from shore as we untie and lift anchor.

We came across this guy in a canoe in the middle of nowhere. Once again we find ourselves so impressed by the adventuresome spirit of the people who live on these waters.

Our final stop in Canada was in Thessalon where I got to do my PeeWee Herman imitation on these awesome cruiser bikes offered by the Marina.

Our Final look across Canada's waters before we push off for Drummond Island in the good old USA.

With our quarantine flag flying to signal customs we crossed into the USA. It's good to be home. Thanks again Canada we will never forget the wonderful sights you shared with us.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Morning Roy.

It is hard to know where to start, it has been a wonderful week on Blue. The weather continues to be great and the anchorages continue to impress. The day after our last blog entree Anna and I made a short jump on the outside of the small craft channel to see the Bustard Islands. What was expected to be a one night stop turned to two. We anchored in a small cove called Bustard Harbor and as far as we are concerned it was the most beautiful place we have ever been. We anchored and stern tied Blue to the rocks and trees on the bank of the cove. As we explored the area we found hundreds of Blueberry bushes ripe for the picking. It has been a week of Muffins and Pancakes all with fresh blueberries. Not good for the waistline but Umm Umm Good! I wish we could have stayed in the Bustards for a few more days, but with high winds forecasted for the next few days we made a decision to make a run for the Collins Inlet and Killarney. Leaving early in the morning at first light we hoped to beat the wind. Much to our disappointment we were not quick enough, our lovely night in the Bustards was worth it but know we were paying the price with four to five foot seas on the beam. For the first time on the trip Anna felt seasick and I must say I was extremely uncomfortable as well. About two hours into it I decided to screw the fuel curve and pushed Blues engine to the max. There was only one way get through it and that was full speed ahead. It was a long hour till Beaverstone Bay were we found relief in the lee of the inlet, I was relieved to be out of the slop, once again we have found that the waters of the Great Lakes are nothing to take lightly. Anna said, "look at the brightside know we don't have to wash the bugs off the boat." Poor Blue was practically submerged by two or three sets of swells but I must say I am so proud of Anna, she has become quite the seaman. Regardless we opted to spend the night on the dock in Killarney rather than at anchor. Sometimes you just got to put your feet on solid ground and this was one of those times. Anna and I enjoyed a pizza from a local shop and it was a great night. As we sat a whole group of Nordic Tugs came in and docked around us. It was lots of fun and there was great conversation about the boats. All the boats were bought through Jay Kraft out of Traverse City and one again great things were said about their operation. We also met a great group of people that had know us from our blog. It was just unbelievable to find that there are people out there that our following our trip that we have never met. Dave and his brothers and wives where loads of fun to talk to, Anna and I had a great evening in their company, what a great group of people. The next day we made our way to Baie Fine, we had heard of a great hike we could take to the top of Frazer Mountain, a spot were we could see all of Georgians Bay. The hike as tough, lots of boulders and downed trees to maneuver over, but the view was spectacular. Today we find ourselves in Little Current a small town marking one of the last major stops we will have before reentering into the United States. You might wonder how we get our news this far out in the country. As you can tell from how long it is between blog entries that Internet is a pipe dream, and cell service is even worse. Every morning we tune our VHF radio to channel 71 and listen in to Roy as he gives his Cruisers Net update. He gives us the American and Canadian headlines weather and notice to Mariners. At the end of his report he opens his channel to relay locations of boats to other cruisers. We wait with great anticipation to hear the location of other boats we have met along our trip. When he asks about the region we are located, we key the mike and say "Good Morning Roy this is motor vessel Blue Yonder calling from Mary Ann Cove in Baie Fine" It is a great service Roy has given to the cruisers, he made our day when he announced that the BP had finally been able to cap the well in the gulf. We have been waiting to decide if we would have to give up our dream of going down the rivers to the gulf, but now it looks like we will make it. We hope to cross over into the United States in about ten days. Today we will make a run to the Benjamin Islands, I am told they are as nice as the Bustards, if they are we will be there for a few days. From there we will head up the wales back channel to Spragge. We had met a nice couple in Waterford from Spragge and have wanted to check it out ever since. From there it will be to Blind River and on to Drummund Island in the good old USA. Till then get your short wave radios out and maybe you will hear, "Good morning Roy this is Blue Yonder docked at Little Current making way to the Benjamin Islands and the Waleback Channel while have the time of our lives!"

That's not sand!


The Bustards.

Blue Anchored and tied to shore.

What did you say? Snake?

What a spot.

This place will be with us for ever. Anna and I had two Aunts pass away last year, on this day we spent a lot of time talking of them and wishing they could have been here with us. We know Linda and Ann would have loved this place.

The small town of Killarny was a welcome relief from the high seas.

The small town charm is just great.

Watch out you've got a sea plane coming up on your stern.

Baie Fine was just great.

The view from the top of mountain was just great.

Don't trip, it a long way down.

Feeling like we climbed Everest we all took the time for pictures.

Just awesome!

Another sunset in Little Current.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We are in God's Country Now

It is hard to put into words how beautiful these waters are. For the past few days we have been blessed with some of the best weather Ontario has had in years. I keep thinking that if it is this hot up here it has got to be some hot back on Nantucket. Since we have no generator, we are unable to run our air conditioning while anchored. I never thought that would have been an issue up here but man is it hot. Many an afternoon and morning have been spent swimming around the boat. The water temperature is 70 degrees here which I am told is a good 5 degrees above normal. One of the best parts of cruising these waters has been the anchorages. There seems to be a good spot to anchor around every corner. It has been a great change from the canal, we have anchored for the past 6 nights and it has been the best. We have been traveling the small craft route through the area, which leads us on a course that snakes its way through the islands and rocks. There is no use for autopilot here since the channels twist and turn without warning. As you make way through the channel you can see the rocks laying just below the surface a few feet from either side of the boat. It is truly a hole new experience for Anna and I. The Waters of Nantucket are open, these waters are filled with rocks and islands. You can be moving along in 100 feet of water in seconds find yourself in 2 it can make for some stressful moments when entering channels with confusing buoys. Anchoring for extended periods without power water and options for provisions have been a real learning experience for Anna and I. It is amazing how much water you can waste washing dishes, or how fast you can fill your holding tank with excessive flushes. Due to the fact that all the land here is solid rock, there are no holding tanks or waste water plants, this requires all the cottages and marinas to ship their waste out of the area. This directly effects us by making is extremely expensive to pump the head. A pump out here averages 25 dollars, and is hard to find. The water here is so clean it would be a sin to even think of dumping overboard. So much of our schedule now revolves around how much water we have and what our holding tank level is. Anna and I have been pleased to find that we can go about a week without docking and with the proper planning we might even be able to go longer. This is a big plus because with ever mile we head north, there are less and less signs of civilization. Tomorrow we hope anchor in the Bustard Islands, after two or three days we will make our way through the Collins Inlet which will take us to Killarney a small summer cottage town where we hope to take on supplies and have some world famous fish and chips at the Bus. Once we pass through Killarney we will head to Baie Fine and McGregor Bay. These waters are believe to be the best cruising grounds in the world, from what we have seen so far we believe them.

An early morning sunrise running Blue to a more protected harbor before the forecasted heavy winds.

Good thing they don't turn the light off when they leave at night.

We took the inflatables up river to explore the islands that were to shallow for blue. The sun and heat were so strong. I still can't believe it gets this hot up here. The sights were worth it though.

Not only do we have to worry about the channel we also have to worry about sea planes. Many of the cottages here have planes docked in front of them. Not a bad way to get to work if you ask me.

They don't mess around when it comes to channel markers here. One mistake usually leads to a very expensive day.

Remember the Big Chute? Bill gave us this picture of us on our way over the mountain.

Our buddy Bill let Anna and I barrow his kayaks it was loads of fun. We sure miss Ryan Kiley and Paxton at Sea Nantucket Kayak rental.

Just an example of the cuts we have to weave trough here. There is only room for one boat in the cut between the rocks so one must make a security call on the VHF blow the horn and inch your way in.

Our new friend Andrew from "Freedom" reeling in a nice bass. The fishing has been GREAT!

Every night we have been blessed with a wonderful sunset.

Blue at anchor in a small cove above the Moon River.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Big Chute!

Well it is a sad day, after 240 miles of locks, little channels and wonderful sights our time on the Trent Severn Waterway has come to an end. On our last day on the Canal we experienced what is thought to be one of the highlights of the Great Loop. At lock 44 we encountered the Big Chute Marine Railway, a travel lift on rails that lifted Blue out of the water, across a road and mountain top and back down into the lake at the other side. For the past year I have dreamed of what it will be like to travel this lift, and on this day the time had finally arrived. As Anna and I approached the lift, we could see it climbing out of the water with a full load of boats. With smaller vessels the lift can be manipulated to carry four vessels and a few jet skies. As for us, we would be one of two boats that would be lifted in slings and rise out of the water. With the lift being full, we got a great opportunity to get off the boat and watch as the railway moved its cargo down to the bay below. It was as spectacular as I had hoped. I have to hand it to the men and women that work the railway, they can manipulate the lift to fit almost any hull. It is truly a sight to see as the boats crest the mountain and begin their decent. One cannot ignore a slight fear that if a cable snaps or the brakes fail the lift would race to the bottom on the mountain in a giant crash. As we motored Blue into position the rail hands called out commands, when we hit the right spot you could feel Blue come snug up against the straps below her bottom. We shut off the engines and soon we could feel the big rail way inch forward out of the water. The railway seems to attract a crowd and we soon found Blue to be the center of attraction as people all snapped photos of this one of a kind attraction. As we crested the hill and made our way down the view was spectacular, we were blessed with a wonderful day and we got a great view of the last few miles of the canal. On our trip down, I overheard one of the older railway workers quizzing a younger railway worker as to what order and position they would need to load the boats waiting below. It became clear to me that this was not a job that one can just jump into, one must not only understand the machine, but must also has a vast knowledge of various hull shapes and designs. The whole experience was without question amazing. As Blue slowly kissed the water on the other side of the mountain Anna and I felt a feeling of accomplishment and sadness. We had dreamed of this moment to months, and it had just happened. As the straps released and Blue was free the workers thanked us to traveling the Big Chute Railway and assured us that what lay around the corner in Georgians Bay is truly the best cruising in the world. With the motor turning us at 6 and a half knots we entered Georgians Bay in Lake Huron and what we saw was truly spectacular. I have never seen waters like this before in my life, the water is as clear as can be and the views are breathtaking. This will be the start of a new chapter in our cruising, we have left the safety of the canals, and know find ourselves in mixture of open water and narrow channels. The channels are narrow and unforgiving, it is to be challenge, but one that Anna and I bring on with open arms.

Our First View of Georgians Bay as we exited the breakwater of the Trent Severn.