After the remoteness of Lake Superior, returning to the North Channel was a bit like coming back to the city after months in a wilderness cabin. Well not exactly…. I exaggerate. After all the North Channel is also composed of wilderness islands, rocks, trees and water, loons, beavers and eagles. But there are a LOT more cruisers who hang out here – many for most of the summer months. There is the Little Current Cruiser’s Net, run by the gregarious, kind, and quintessentially Canadian Roy Eaton, who provides a connecting network and arbitrates a formal and informal social calendar much appreciated by American and Canadian boats who frequent these waters.
So we spent some time visiting old favourites and a few new anchorages, and making new friends while reconnecting with old friends, and having altogether a gay social time in this wilderness. We love the Turnbulls. Considered by most North Channel cruisers to be the “far west” this little huddle of islands provide secure anchorage and great dinghy or kayak exploring territory. We dinghied about, trawling and not catching anything on a bright sunshiny day. We visited with the trawler captain of “Free Spirit” a looper from Vero Beach (aka Velcro Beach) who popped over for a drink after we had thanked him for holding back as we entered the Turnbulls rather than racing us into the anchorage, after our long nine hour day tacking through bands of thunderstorms, winds and waves on the nose. There was plenty of room for everyone. Still, seeing 9 boats in the same “outer suburbs” anchorage was a shock to the system after Superior.
The sky cleared though and we stayed up way past cruisers’ midnight (9 pm) to watch the start of the Perseids meteor shower from the front deck. We did not see the density of meteors predicted, but those we saw did seem to be more dramatic than normal with long tails on the “shooting stars”. We decided not to get up at 3 am for the more intense natural fireworks when, looking through the hatch, we noticed that the moon had risen and the starry sky was less clear than earlier in the night when we gazed at the milky way.
The next day we took advantage of west wind to sail into the Whalesback, and anchored behind Beardrop Harbour, a spot we had checked out and sounded last summer. The North Channel is a popular cruising ground, not only because of the many beautiful island anchorages, but also because of the relative protection given to the whole area by the large barrier island of Manitoulin, and the services offered by the low-key, friendly small ports along its shores, such as Little Current, Kagawon, and Gore Bay.
The Whalesback is like a mill-pond within a lake – a smaller area of barrier islands and pretty anchorages providing even more protection hugging the shore around Spanish, Ontario. We enjoyed watching a pair of bald eagles, more unproductive fishing but enjoyable dinghy rides through channels, and, in the evening, meeting another couple of loopers, Mark and Lynn from Colorado, delightful adventurous souls who gave us two great books to read! (PS “Loopers” is not a comment on their mental state but refers to the fact that they are doing the Great Loop – the continuous waterway than includes the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Hudson River, New York State Canal, the Erie and Trent Severn Canadian Canals, the Great Lakes and the inland rivers of the US heartland).
We moved on again the next day, to Eagle, to meet up with our friends Julie and Dan on their new, beautiful Gozzard 44 cutter-rigged sloop called Gaviidae, and also met their friends on Magic Carpet, John and Clare. We enjoyed reconnecting and making friends during a very happy hour or two on Tai Chi.
To keep wearing our new cloak as social butterflies, we moved on the next day to the Benjamins, to meet up with our friends Georgie and Larry aboard Cabernet, another happy reunion. We had them and their guests Lotta and Curtis over for a fun and tasty pot luck dinner. All this while enjoying pretty surroundings and stunning sunsets.
We passed through Little Current again and the swing bridge and saw more boats coming through the swing bridge than we had seen in total over 5 weeks in Lake Superior!
We enjoy being back in the North Channel. It is relaxed and comfortable. Like Roy on the Cruisers Net which we listen to when our VHF radio lets us i.e. close range to Little Current only. He reports on the weather, world, national and local news along with quirky extras such as good news stories, this day in history, and local history embellishments. Cruisers call in with their location. In evenings with friends, and on our own during the day we discuss, deplore, despair over current affairs such as the Charlottesville tragedy and Barcelona attacks. We are rarely oblivious and never smugly distanced from world affairs, but we do feel more strongly connected here with the world outside, while still in touch with this pristine natural environment.
We anchored in Heywood on a calm evening before an expected storm. Amazing to us that we can be so social and yet be so far away from it all.