We have often hiked out to the Killarney Lighthouse or driven out for a fish & chip picnic while staying at the family cottage on Carlyle Lake each year. It is a pretty place. So it was quite an experience to view this familiar landmark from the water for the first time, sailing into the Killarney Channel, passed the Killarney Mountain Lodge where Matt and Sara held their wedding reception and its Pilot House, where we stayed with my mother and Tim at that time.
Further along the channel we passed Pittfields General Store, and the Hebert Fisheries picnic tables with people staring at us as they ate their fish and chips, the Sportsman’s Inn (now under the same new ownership at KML so all spiffed up) and some grand new “cottages” on George Island. We anchored just outside the west end of the channel to dinghy back in to buy a few essentials and mail letters at the post office.
Rejoining our boat, we headed for Portage Cove, but seeing too many boats tucked in there, we anchored instead behind Pine Island, in a lovely little anchorage pointed out to us by friends Chris and Linda on Mon Arc. We were the only boat there initially, and enjoyed swimming and the views – were later joined by some local youth who came to swim and drink on the rocks nearby for a few hours, leaving us in blissful solitude overnight in the calm still early morning, my favourite time of day.
Steve spent the next morning putting the replacement part on the freezer pump relay. This has worked wonders, fixing our freezer so that it draws less power than it had done – constantly draining the battery bank so we had to run the engine to recharge. Flushed with success, and worried about the storm/gale-force winds due to hit the next day, we left for Baie Fin mid-afternoon, arriving in The Pool shortly after 7 pm.
Baie Fin is one of the largest freshwater glacial fjord’s in the world. Although the day was overcast, we had a peaceful and pleasant trip, navigating the small passage “neck” into the Pool at the end, while lapping up scenery – high quartz cliffs and mountains and wilderness forest, with anchored boats enjoying delightful solitude in little coves along the way.
The Pool is a long-established anchorage, it has been a “hurricane hole” for centuries. We anchored along with about 8 other boats, but as the nasty winds picked up the next day, other boats piled in so that there were 25 boats (sail and power) anchored there on the Monday night – with good swing room for all!
We swam in the warm water off the boat, and took several hikes – one to Topaz Lake to swim in the even warmer azure clear water there. We also hiked further up the well-marked Killarney Park trail to a high rocky crest with an amazing view of the Pool, and our boat, along with the others, anchored serenely below.
We took the dinghy up Artists Creek one morning, for the short hike into beautiful Artists Lake, vowing to bring Steve’s sister back here for an “artists retreat” at the aptly named slice of water-lily heaven which members of the Group of Seven understandably enjoyed painting. Steve commented that one would have to work hard to have an ornamental pond looking as beautiful as the natural wilderness one on the way into Artists Lake.
We stayed in the Pool three nights altogether and met some other cruisers.We left Baie Fin, again enjoying the trip through it, and crossed Fraser Bay to Heywood Island, arriving early enough to snag first anchor in the innermost harbour, where we were later joined by 3 more boats. This anchorage would have been somewhat less remarkable than others but for three things:
- A bear swimming between two small islands in the anchorage as we entered. Sadly Steve was getting the ground tackle ready to anchor and I was helming so we missed that Kodak moment!
- In the generally less-than-6-degree-separation-cruising-community we met Rick aboard a Gozzard called “Home” and found that he sailed with our close friends Sari and Peter on their offshore leg in their Bristol. He stayed for dinner and we hope to meet again somewhere up here.
- A spectacular sunset (another one, yes, but still worth capturing).
Our last Killarney-area anchorage was Snug Harbour, a pleasant and well-protected, heavily wooded anchorage. We took the dinghy to shore and hiked around some deer hides and Devils Bay Lake to Fossil Beach on Fraser Bay, where we disturbed another cruiser skinny dipping with the dog! Neither seemed to mind too much, and we politely kept going down the beach in the opposite direction. Many of the rocks on the beach (layers of limestone and of shale originally deposited over 400 million years ago) contained fossils –trilobites, and a whole tribe of weird and wonderful creatures, ancestors of modern clams, snails, worms, and squids.
We left Snug Harbour and headed into Killarney, picking up a mooring ball owned by Killarney Mountain Lodge, right opposite the hotel, nestled into a small bay on George Island. In these pleasant surroundings we left Tai Chi to fend for herself while we spilled some immensely enjoyable time with our family at the cottage on Carlyle Lake. Our son Nick picked us up in Killarney and we were joined later that day by Matthew, Sara and our grandchildren Sam and Amelia, as well as cousin Kate who stayed just one night.
We relished watching and participating with our grand-children as they immersed themselves in the full cottage experience – swimming, fishing, paddle-boating, canoeing to a picnic on the rocks in Hidden Bay, bonfires with marshmallow roasting, star-gazing and plenty of family games, Sam’s favourite being “Fictionary”!! We ate like kings, laughed a lot, relaxed between the ensuing work of a large family gang sharing one small cottage. Nick and I hiked the Chickanishing trail and saw a deer close to the road, and a couple of bears at the dump. Steve and Nick hiked to Heaven and Bunnyrabbit Lakes on the La Cloche Silouette Trail. This is the making of fond memories that become etched in the soul for generations.
We reluctantly said goodbye to the family as they headed back to Toronto. Back in cell-phone range we found that our third son, Tim and his wife Natalie had been on every major news network in Canada and most print media, raising an important issue of accessible travel with Air Canada using the hash tag #wheelchairsarentluggage. We are so proud of their willingness to fight the good fight to break down barriers and open the conversation around accessibility and inclusion world-wide.
We headed back to Heywood Island – a windy but good sail – ready to jump off to Little Current and points north!