We left Killarney for Thomas Bay, spending two days there and then four in the Bustards before heading down Georgian Bay to Franklin/Windsor Islands near the northern entrance to Parry Sound Bay, and from there to Beausoleil Island in Southern Georgian Bay. For most of the last two weeks we have been in remote anchorages on our own. Well, except for bears, otters, loons and other local inhabitants!
Here’s how it played out:
Thursday Sept 8 – Thomas Bay near Chikanishing Creek: Wow, this is a beautiful anchorage, so great we have it all to ourselves as most cruisers left the area at the end of August. I could (and pretty much do) watch the otter family play all day. We have tuned our VHF weather “ears” from North Channel to Georgian Bay. Weather is a sort of companion on this trip, Cloudy, overcast, light rain and mist, but not bad. Water relatively warm at 23 C – still swimming every day.
Friday Sept 9: Still pretty, but I need to get off the boat and climb some rocks to get a different vista. Getting a little sick of the confinement of the boat, otters are noisy sometimes….they swim, dive, play all day. It would be more interesting if I understood what they were saying. Climbed rocks on a nearby island and found some wildflowers which made me feel better. Steve stared off at Georgian Bay, thinking of our trip south. Started another novel.
Saturday Sept 10: Left Thomas under blue skies and anchored in the north harbour of the Bustards. Nice to be back here. There is a lovely loon who hangs about all day. Strong wind warning so Steve let out more anchor rode -140 feet all chain. He is busy working on refinishing the toe rail.
Sunday Sep 11: Gale force warning today. I am not getting along so well with the weather any more. It is cooler and I have to force myself to swim each day – it looks less enticing in this wind. These trees, rocks and water are all starting to look the same. Boring in fact. Have to drum up some more projects for myself. Started another novel. Steve made good progress on the toe rail.
Monday Sept 12: Another gale force warning. I am less enamoured with the secret life of loons. These loons do nothing but float around, groom, call out and sleep. Our wind generator is working as hard as Steve but I am getting more and more bored. Thank God for book exchanges….started another.
Tuesday Sep 13: More wind warnings – we can see white caps on Georgian Bay. Steve continues his wood refinishing, making good progress. I go for a rock walk on my own. Just me and my shadow! We both take the dinghy to a more sheltered spot for swimming. I am getting bored of the Bustards. If I don’t see another loon for the rest of the summer it will be fine by me. We are completely alone in the Bustards again! I make lists and metre out our provisions, making menus to last till Midland. We need to get creative with food. I make an eggless banana, zucchini, carrot, nut cake which surprisingly turns out really well! Too bad I don’t remember the recipe – too many creative substitutions!
Wednesday Sept 14: We depart despite the wind warning – 20 knots but at least it is in a favourable direction. In fact we end up having a wonderful sail for most of the day (45 nm) and just motor sail when the wind become light and variable in the afternoon. I have my heart in my mouth steering the boat through a very narrow and rocky entrance (one of the smallest of many tricky entrances), Steve on bow watch all the way into Franklin Bay. We are alone again in this wilderness (surprise) but it is beautiful. A heron visits the bay. Glad it’s not a loon. Change of scenery is good. Calm evening with pretty sunset and even nicer moon rise.
Side note: This is the in-between geology – pink rocks of north Georgian Bay have given way to gneiss (pronounced “nice”) which has characteristic alternating dark and light-coloured layers, or bands. The lighter layers are granite-like and have a “salt-and-pepper” texture, and contortions or layers. Fourteen thousand years ago, the Parry Sound region lay below at least a kilometre of slow-moving glacial ice. Sand, mud and stones lodged in the base of the ice scratched, ground and polished the rock surface below, sculpting this landscape for us!
Thursday Sept 15: We are tempted to stay but the weather forecast if favourable so we leave Franklin. Outside, we find the meteorologists lied. We have stronger than expected wind and waves, pounding on the nose. Unbearable slow progress until we find a twisty passage through rocks and shoals back towards the land and join the small craft channel. A longer route but the waves are non-existent and it is far more interesting navigating among these 30,000 islands, almost off of which are topped with at least one cottage. Small and large, log, and brick, modern and traditional….the cottages make for interesting viewing as we motor sail.
We wind our way past the famous Henry’s Restaurant on Frying Pan Island, and through some channels so narrow we can spit on rocks on either side. We begin to see other boats – mostly cottage runabouts and cruisers – we are definitely back in civilization. After 9 hours we reach Frying Pan Bay on Beausoleil Island where we plan to anchor, only to find it full of boats – on a weekday evening in September! Be careful what you ask for – I did not mean THIS much civilization so soon. Loons take up less space and their calls are nicer than the loud music being shared by the cruisers on the park docks. We turn around and go back a mile or two and anchor in Goblin Bay, on the north end of Beausoleil, with just one other boat.
Friday Sept 16: Goblin Bay. Peace again. This time we cherish the last few days at anchor this summer– the stunning sun-sets and full moons….even the continuous wind warnings (we’re sheltered here) and the rainy day. There is a Y camp nearby and we enjoy watching their twilight canoe/kayak activities.
Saturday Sept 17: Pleasant hikes here – we go to Fairy Lake and back. As we get back, we see a couple on the rocks near our dinghy taking photos – they ask us to take their picture and we readily agree and then I realize I know the guy from my work. So we chat – the first person other than Steve that I have spoken to in 2 weeks. They take our photo too! Thanks Richard Tang!
Sunday Sept 18: Moved to Frying Pan Bay, which was noisy with weekend powerboats with duelling stereos blasting. However we enjoyed watching the weekend party cruisers empty off the docks and untwine from raftings in the late afternoon, heading back to home and work, leaving 4 sailboats (including ours) to enjoy the serenity of the bay on our own. Enjoyed a swim and another hike to a different end of Fairy Lake. Finished another book. Last days of summer. Peace and beauty. Now savouring each moment. No loons here, just a few mosquitoes. Fish jumping. May try to catch one tomorrow.
Monday Sept 19: Our last day at anchor for this season. It is hot, sunny and serene. A perfect last day. Mixed emotions – I am eager to get back to friends and family but still reluctant to leave this perfect peace. We meet the other sailboaters and enjoy the easy camaraderie of cruisers over happy hour on the dock in Frying Pan Bay. We return to our boat and celebrate the end of the season with saved-for-the-occasion steaks and special bottle wine hoarded since Christmas (thanks, Chase and Diane)! The next few weeks will be mayhem in Midland as we prepare the boat for winterizing, unloading everything, packing and cleaning. But in the meantime, we savour each moment of this waterscape. I decide I am ready to move on to other adventures..for now. Perhaps because I know we will be back next summer.