I love gunkholing, especially early or late in the season when popular anchorages are deserted except for local resident wildlife. And particularly when we are able to share the joy of it with guests. We picked up our friends Gord and Val at the Killarney Mountain Lodge dock and spent a week visiting our old favourites and a few new anchorages in the Killarney area.

Gunkholing is the art of cruising in shallow or shoal water, meandering from place to place, spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers, known as gunkholes.

The weather was variable, as it has been so far this year, and the forecast looked pretty miserable. But fortunately the forecast is as unreliable as the weather and we enjoyed more sunshine and fine weather than expected. After casting off we motored a short distance across Killarney Bay into Covered Portage, one of our favourite anchorages in the area, where we enjoyed dinner of fresh lake trout and a peaceful, sunny evening. However, we cancelled our shore excursion to the lookout at the top due to the steady rain in the morning and instead weighed anchor and headed up the Landsdowne channel.

A decent wind blew us across Frazer Bay and into Baie Fine, one of the largest freshwater fjords in the world. This 9 nautical mile tear in the earth’s surface is banked by coniferous woods and quartz mountains gleaming in the sunshine. We enjoyed the scenery and the weather brightened and dropped the anchor in Mary Ann Cove, which is usually jam-packed with boats in the summer. We hiked up Casson ridge to get a good view of Baie Fine. Local mosquitoes were excited by the arrival of fresh blood so we were liberal with cottage cologne (aka deet) on the way up but the breeze on the ridge kept the pests away long enough to take in the views.

The next day we headed through the Narrows at the end of Baie Fin and into the Pool. We were the only boat there other than a canoe at a campsite (researchers perhaps as they seemed to be doing some scientific study), and were later joined by one other sailboat. Last year we were one of 25 boats in the Pool during a 30 knot blow in July sheltering from the storm! We hiked to Artists Lake to once again soak up the beauty of this pristine wilderness garden – little wonder it was a favourite of the Group of Seven artists.

The dinghy trip up the creek towards Artists Lake is an “African Queen” like excursion of its own, with peculiar looking long-nosed gar fish clearly visible swimming away in front of us despite the murky water.

Trying our hand at fishing again, Steve and I caught a good-sized bass one day, but that success was overshadowed the next day when Gord caught a whopper Northern Pike. Needless to say we enjoyed our fill of fresh fish during the week adding a bass fry and barbecued pike to dinner menus.

We hiked to Lake Topaz where Steve and I braved the cold water for a quick dip followed by a short walk up to the top of the ridge for a good view of the boat at anchor in the Pool. Our tea light lantern and little Morocco lanterns (thanks, Mary P) provided plenty of light in the evenings for card games.

As we left Baie Fine doubled back to enjoy a great downwind sail all the way to the foot of Frazer Bay where we anchored to enjoy the rest of a brilliantly sunny day in what is commonly known as Horseshoe Bay due to the curved cove of an unnamed island near Blueberry Island. We swam and explored the little cove and island.

Our last anchorage was Snug Harbour, another popular summer spot that we had to ourselves after a rollicking windy ride back down the Landsdowne channel. We waited for rain showers to subside before taking another shore hike to fossil beach.

We returned to Killarney in time to enjoy the Grand Opening festivities of the Killarney Mountain Lodge which included tours of the new wing, live bands, a fish fry in the barbeque pit, free microbrewery beer and Pelee Island wines, and an amazing firework display. The Lodge renovations and improvements are in very good taste, and the hotel has retained its character and allure as a wilderness lodge while upgrading all of its facilities and food immensely. The serendipitous timing of the celebrations were a fitting end to a great week. A special thanks to Gord for swabbing the decks with the Skipper at the end of the week, to  Val for both galley helper and winch monkey during the week and to both for being such good company!


Map: click markers for more info

Fossil Beach
Horsehoe Cove
Artists Lake
(46.0452732007732, -81.46405085921288)
Topaz Lake
(46.05448874713311, -81.47834233939648)
The Pool Anchorage
(46.04477891885818, -81.4779131859541)
Mary Ann Cove
(46.01214001424184, -81.63262233138084)
Snug Harbour
Covered Portage
(Covered Portage)
Killarney Mountain Lodge
(Killarney Mountain Lodge)