We’re on our way, crossing from Snug Harbour near Parry Sound, to Wingfield Basin at the top of the Bruce Peninsula. While Hurricane Irma wrecks the beautiful Caribbean, and the mop-up from Harvey continues in Texas, and other storms brew to wreak havok elsewhere, we are immensely thankful for this grey, gloomy, a little lumpy with swells, but relatively easy day.

Snug Harbour Light

This is a bitter sweet moment. We arrived here on July 5 last year, and have explored Georgian Bay, the North Channel and Lake Superior. We hauled the boat last winter in Midland, Ontario, and found the town charming, the marina comfortable and relatively inexpensive compared to Toronto, and the marine services excellent. Best of all, Midland’s location at the bottom of Georgian Bay provides easy access to many beautiful anchorages. We have spent a fair amount of time over two summers exploring anchorages and ports in the North Channel, the Killarney area, the Bustard Islands and parts of Georgian Bay. We have learned to fish and enjoyed more pickerel, pike and lake trout than ever before. We feel as if we are leaving our second home. On the other hand we are heading home really – back to Toronto and then on to new adventures. Newfoundland beckons. As does the Caribbean…perhaps. Irma has made us somewhat skittish.

We left Killarney two weeks ago for Thomas Bay, one of our favourite anchorages, which we shared with Georgian Bay “old-timers” Barbara and Peter on Blue Corona. They know the area well. Barbara is an amazing artist – they had been hiking, blueberry picking and painting the day we arrived – this is the result:

Watercolour by Barbara Wurtele – Thomas Bay area

We enjoyed sundowners with them on a little island in Thomas – a perfect evening in great company.

The next day we left for the Bustards, arriving alone in the south-east anchorage, but followed very shortly by 4 other sailboats (and later another plus a tug/trawler) all seeking shelter from the storm and high winds projected for the next two days. That first evening, though, we enjoyed the calm before the storm. Steve caught a large pike, which we cooked up for a tasty dinner. Pike are underrated – they are bony, but if you take care to fillet them properly and remove the bones before cooking, they are truly delicious. We swam afterwards, and then saw the water snake – eek — I would never have gone in had I seen it beforehand! The sickle moon shone dimly through dark trees. The next day the wind howled all day. We hunkered down, a few of the other boats jostled around and re-anchored for better holding, more rode or a more protected position. The wind continued through the night and eased a little the next day. A couple of boats left (we planned to stay) but reported back by VHF that seas were rough, a nasty ride. We stayed an extra day and had the crews of the other two remaining boats over for an aptly named happy hour.

We left the next morning, along with new friends aboard the sailboats Peanca and Escapade, heading south toward Parry Sound. Winds were lightish from behind, so Steve got to play again with our gennaker, which performed well for a couple of hours – our heavy boat moving along at 5 knots in 6 knot winds at one point! As the wind dropped off we motor-sailed the rest of the way and anchored in Snug Harbour, a cute little cove with a few cottages, a pretty lighthouse, and some dinghy channels to explore. The other two sailboats anchored in nearby Regatta Bay and we all dinghied over to meet for dinner at Gillies, a fish restaurant in Snug Harbour. This place is hopping! They don’t take reservations and you need to get there early to avoid waiting a long time for a table. Its reputation is deserving, the food is delicious.

 

Gordon Lightfoot, Tawse Winery

The next day we motored into Parry Sound, a two-hour trip. We left the boat there, rented a car and became land lubbers for a week. The highlights of the week included an afternoon at Tawse Winery in Beamsville watching our son Nick and his band singing Gordon Lightfoot songs with Gordon himself (and some other great musicians) in attendance…. A memorable day, sitting on the winery lawn in the sunshine, sipping cold chardonnay and listening to sweet, sweet music and off-the-cuff chats with this legendary singer. We left towards the end in order to get back for a wedding, so missed Gordon Lightfoot getting up on stage to sing Sundown with Nick and the Dwayners, as well as Tara Lightfoot, Justin Rutledge and Ron Sexsmith.

We made it back to Toronto in time for a family wedding – congratulations to Pat and Elyse! It was so great to reconnect with various cousins on Steve’s side, hang out with our own kids and grandchildren, and watch the little ones dance to the music of Pat’s band. A fun and relaxed wedding, with gingerbread cookies in the shapes of hearts and shields made by our own Natalie!

The next day we left to enjoy the last days of summer at the family cottage near Killarney with our middle son and his family. The weather was underwhelming – mostly cloudy and cool, with a little rain. Undaunted, we enjoyed family games, crafts, great home-cooked meals, and made the most of drier spells to paddle-boat, fish with the grandkids (they each caught two), watch Sam catching frogs, swim, and cook marshmallows and spider dogs on the bonfire. Murphy’s Law prevailed – the day we left was clear and sunny! We made hay…. we packed a picnic and Matt and Steve took the kids on a canoe outing to Hidden Bay while Sara and I cleaned and packed up.

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At the start of the Labour Day long weekend we dropped them back in Toronto, after an arduously long ride home due to a road closure (accident on the French River bridge), and headed back to Parry Sound where Tai Chi waited patiently. We provisioned up and left the same day to return to Snug Harbour, where we enjoyed a final visit from our friends Gord and Val who drove up from Lindsay for a last hurrah in Georgian Bay. We met a kindred spirit when Peter on sailing vessel Onapua anchored beside us, and joined us for the afternoon and evening. We all swapped stories over dinner, enjoying pickerel, wine and companionship in pretty surroundings – a fitting ending to our Georgian Bay sojourn. Hurricane Harvey has just ravaged Texas, and Irma is on her way to Florida. Our weather this summer has been variable, but in the light of these storms, we are grateful for the relative safety of these waters. We sat out another stormy day in Snug Harbour before crossing Georgian Bay, but we don’t mind. We read, sleep, eat, write, research, do boat projects and chat to Peter on the VHF.

As we anchor in Wingfield a lovely rainbow reflects through another boat, Aeron. Another beautiful rainbow greets us in Big Tub Harbour, Tobermory. Rainbows promise the end of rain, the beginning of better weather. Somehow I doubt it. It’s a hollow promise. This year’s weather has been variable at best, and we don’t expect it to improve. It is cold. But compared to the hurricanes down south, we have nothing to complain about.

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