The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ.
The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.
I have continued to whittle away on my Great Loop adventure bit by bit. Last fall it was decided that a group of us from Carlyle Lake, IL would take our boats north this summer to cruise the North Channel. As we approached our departure date, our plans changed and we decided that this year’s adventure would be Georgian Bay. Below is a map of our trip:
Friday, June 28, 2019, we departed home and headed north. After a full day of driving, we stopped for the night just south of Port Huron, MI. The driving resumed Saturday morning with us crossing into Canada. I elected to take the two lane scenic route through the country side versus the highway route skirting Toronto. This took us a bit longer, but was quite beautiful and we encountered minimal traffic. We arrived at Wye Heritage Marina in Tay, Ontario (just east of Midland).
Wye Heritage Marina is a very nice marina with a large parking area near the boat ramp. We were able to take our time rigging the boats and launching. Our plans were for a one way trip north and once we ran out of time, then making our way back south via land to collect our tow vehicles and trailers. Wye Heritage Marina accommodated our parking requests for $55 per week while we were away.
We got the three boats launched and moved over to their slips. Our group consisted of my wife and I on our Catalina 250 wk, another couple on a Hunter 260 and a family of five on a Santana 2023.
Here is a photo of my C250 and my friend's Hunter 260 docked at Wye Heritage Marina.
While we did some provisioning at home, we were worried that we might have to sacrifice food at the border crossing. So, Sunday was spent finishing up the provisioning in Midland, ON. There were plenty of store choices and a Walmart Super Center. So, we were quickly able to get everything we needed. We decided that we would not rush out of this marina. But instead would stay put for Canada Day and then depart Tuesday morning, July 2.
Sunday night and Monday we sailed locally. We also took our dinghies up the Wye River to visit “Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.” A French Jesuit settlement. I say dinghies, but in reality, it was one overloaded dinghy and four kayaks. Monday evening we sailed from Wye Heritage Marina to the public docks in downtown Midland. We walked into town for dinner and finished up with ice cream before sailing back to our slips.
Tuesday morning we started our adventure north. We elected to travel the small boat route versus heading out into the open bay. Our goal for this evening was to find a marina in Honey Harbor within the heart of cottage country. Many phone calls to marinas lead to rejection after rejection. After contacting six marinas, it was quickly decided that we would be spending our first night at anchor. Our new destination was Frying Pan Bay on Beausoleil Island just beyond mile 14 on the small boat route. We did not have to anchor. There was room at the Provincial Park docks. We settled in. Some went for a hike. I took my dinghy out for a row around the bay. Others kicked back and took it easy. (Distance covered about 15 miles).
At the Provincial Park Dock in Frying Pan Bay
Wednesday morning started out with our planning session for the day to determine a new target destination.
It was decided that we would have a full day of traveling today. First stop would be at Henri’s on Frying Pan Island (mile 40.5). We would stop for ice cream and ice and then continue to our anchorage for the night. Final destination was Echo Bay within San Souci Island (mile 42). As you enter the bay, there is a little arm off to the left that is quite shallow at the entrance (per the charts). We had received advice that if we stayed to the right, we could definitely get in there. I got my C250 anchored and then the other two boats rafted up to me. We had a nice quiet evening at anchor. I got up in the middle of the night and took a look outside. The stars were absolutely amazing. Today’s run was 28 miles. 43 so far for the trip.
Stopped at Henri's for Ice Cream
Dinghy Race at Echo Bay
Rafted up for the night at Echo Bay
This is all for today. I will post the rest of the trip over the next day or two.
Thursday’s destination was Parry Sound Municipal Marina. Today, would be a lot of motoring and winding in and out of rocks, channels, etc. while following the small boat route. We had quite a bit of fog in the morning. It had us wondering whether we should proceed or hold for awhile. The fog would come and go, but never was too limiting on visibility. We had a couple really tight spots to get through. First being the 7 Mile Narrows followed by the 2 Mile Narrows followed by holding in a small bay to wait for the Rose Point Swing Bridge to open.
Swing Bridge at Rose Point, just prior to Parry Sound.
Parry Sound Municipal Marina had basic services and was nice enough. In hindsight, we could have saved ourselves a lot of walking by selecting one of the marinas on the south side of the bay near the river. We walked about 1.5 miles to WalMart to buy more provisions. Also, did some sightseeing around town. Parry Sound is a nice community and I would spend more time there in the future. Today I had spent a lot of time on the phone trying to plan out the remainder of the trip. We still had the goal of going one way. Our initial plans were to make it to Killarney and leave the wives and kids at Killarney Mountain Lodge while us guys made our way back to Midland to get the tow vehicles. I was beyond striking out in finding a means of transportation out of Killarney. We were getting down to the wire on deciding to continue north or find a different route by boat back to our starting point. I was also striking out finding a marina for Friday night. And I knew the next two nights would be fairly remote. Distance for today was about 12 miles. 55 so far for the trip.
Friday morning we were greeted by an announcement from the couple with the the Hunter 260 that they have arrived at a point of being beyond their comfort zone. We were in a very good location (Parry Sound) for them to get transportation back to Midland. They decided they were cutting their vacation short and heading for home. So, the dynamics had changed. My boat (s/v Small World) and the family of five (s/v Santana) were more adventurous and wanting to go the distance. We were determined to find a way back to Midland from up north. The decision was made to press on knowing that some how a plan would come together.
For Friday’s destination, we planned to anchor in a very protected cove on Nadeau Island near mile marker 29.5 (the small boat route markers restarted at Parry Sound as we moved into a new chart). It was a beautiful day for traveling and we managed quite a bit of sailing interrupted by some motoring through some tight spots. Another peaceful night at anchor. Distance for today was about 29.5 miles. 84.5 so far for the trip.
Saturday morning we woke up to the boat completely littered in bugs. At least they have nice little handles to pick them up and toss them over board. A fish was enjoying the free food and was busy snapping them up as quick as I tossed them over.
I am out of gas tonight. I will go ahead and post all of the text and try to come back soon and insert more pictures within the text.
Today, we were hoping to stop in at Pointe Au Baril. From posts on the forum I knew there was a possibility of Henk and Johanna being in the area. I called Payne Marine service and could not get any information. Also, could not get a slip for the night, so decided to continue on without making the detour up Pointe Au Baril Channel. We did a lot of motoring and winding along through narrow channels. Any chance we had with a bit of a straight away and the wind out of a favorable direction we set sail and sailed as long as possible. Our destination today was Wright’s Marina in Byng Inlet. We detoured off the small boat route at mile marker 57 and headed another approximately 4 miles up Byng Inlet. Wright’s Marina was a very nice marina with pleasant customer service. They offered lots of advice for the remainder of our trip north. They also made it pretty clear that we were not going to find any public transport out of Killarney and that the road was a long rough road and trailering our boats out on this road would not be any fun. Total miles today approximately 31. Total for the trip 116 miles.
Sunday, a bit more surfing the web and we found a bus from Little Current to Sudbury so that we could rent a car. We would just take one of our wives along so that we could return the rental car. We reserved a car and also booked a marina at Little Current. We now had an end destination. On to working out the details in between. Both of our wives really wanted to spend two nights at Killarney Mountain Lodge. But now, we had more distance to cover. We needed to make it to Little Current and if we were going to continue on past Killarney, then I wanted to be able to spend some time in Baie Finn. We decided to compress the schedule a bit and the weather was looking like it would cooperate for skipping a portion of the small boat route and going on the outside.
So our plan for Sunday was to make it to the Bustard’s and anchor in a nice protected cove between mile marker 23 and 24. We had a great day and managed quite a bit of sailing. We spent the night at Bustard Island Harbor within Burnt Island. We had started on another chart in the morning, so once again the mile markers had reset to zero. We travelled about 25 miles today. 141 total for the trip.
Monday, we woke up bright and early. We wanted to make a stop at Devil Door Rapids in the Bad River. This was just a few miles from our anchorage, so we headed out and were anchored just a short while later. My dinghy does not have a motor, but would be the most up to the challenge of motoring up through the rapids to ride back down. The plan was that we would pull the outboard off of Santana and put it on my dinghy. Mark and I would then go and try to run Devil Door Rapids going against the current. If we could get through, we would then come back and get the kayaks in the water and we would tow them up current. Once all were upstream we would then ride back down the rapids. Our attempt with just Mark and I did not work. My dinghy is not really made for multiple big guys and a heavy motor. While we maybe had the horsepower, we were lacking freeboard to be able to punch through. So, the plan was aborted. We headed back to the boats. Mark and the kids went for a tour of the Bad River while the outboard was on the dinghy. Upon their return we pulled the anchors and headed out for a full day of sailing to Killarney. We sailed about 25 miles on the outside. We had an absolutely beautiful day. Winds were about 10 mph on the beam. Distance traveled today 27 miles. 168 total for the trip.
We spent Monday night and Tuesday night at Killarney Mountain Lodge. This is a great place to hang out for awhile. Slip fees are $C2.00/foot and with a $10/night resort fee you have full run of the facilities and toys. We did a lot of walking around town. Ate out regularly versus eating on the boat. We took advantage of the resorts bicycles and all went for a ride. We also hiked out to the lighthouse at the point. Overall, it was a great stay.
Wednesday, we headed out to Baie Finn. Our goal was to make it back into “The Pool,” anchor and then hike up to Topaz Lake. We departed Killarney and had to motor for awhile since the wind was straight on the bow. Once we turned the corner we hoisted the sails and sailed until the channel started getting tight. We then motored our way deep into Baie Finn. I dropped anchor once in “The Pool” and it set on the first attempt. Santana rafted up to us and then we attempted to set an anchor from Santana as well to pull from another direction and prevent us from swinging towards shore. The bottom was really weedy and we had to make several attempts to get the anchor to set. We felt we were hooked securely and then launched dinghies and kayaks for the trip ashore. We hiked up to Topaz Lake and went for a quick swim and then headed back down hill and out to the boats. Santana’s anchor had drug and we were now close to shore. We decided, we needed a more secure anchorage for the night. Especially considering storms were in the forecast for around midnight. We sailed about half way back towards the entrance of Baie Finn and anchored in Mary’s Cove. This was a very well protected cove. Again we rafted up. We had set an anchor off each boat’s bow in a V and took a line to shore and tied off to a tree. We heard there was quite the squall that rolled through that night. While we saw quite a lot of lightning flashing and heard the rain on the deck. We felt absolutely no movement. We definitely were in a very protected bay. Distance traveled approximately 20 miles. Total for the trip 188.
Thursday morning, we departed for Little Current. This was suppose to be an easy 15 miles. Turned out that as soon as we cleared Baie Finn, the wind was on our nose all the way to Little Current and was blowing in the high teens and gusting above 20. It made for slow going, especially with the drag of towing a dinghy. We had a 4pm reservation to pickup our U-Haul truck. We also had a swing bridge to deal with that only opened on the hour. Were we going to make it? Turns out we had no problem. We arrived at the swing bridge for the 3pm opening with about 20 minutes to spare. Once through the bridge, we made our way over to Spider Bay Marina. We knew they had a nice ramp and parking area so that we could pull the boats once we returned with our tow vehicles and trailers. Today’s distance 15 miles. Total for the trip 203 miles.
Friday morning, us two guys got in our U-Haul rental van and took off on the long drive back to Midland. We departed at 6:30 am and returned back in Little Current with our vehicles and trailers at 6:20 pm. It was a long day of driving. After dinner we started removing sails, etc. in preparation for pulling the boats in the morning.
Saturday morning, we pulled the boats, dropped the masts and started driving towards home. I drove 11 hours on Saturday followed by another 13 on Sunday. We spent Saturday night in a campground amongst the RV’s. Our ambulance / sailboat rig stirred up a lot of conversation.
Total distance that we drove round trip was 2,104 miles. The trip was everything I had hoped it would be and now we are looking at sailing the North Channel next year to complete the Little Current, ON to Mackinac City, MI leg of our ongoing Great Loop experience.
Notice: The advice given on this site is based upon individual or quoted experience, yours may differ. The Officers, Staff and members of this site only provide information based upon the concept that anyone utilizing this information does so at their own risk and holds harmless all contributors to this site.