Recap of Soo events:
Tuesday night, after docking, we were very tired after our two-day sail. Neither of us got much sleep, and we were beginning to doubt our ability to handle an Atlantic crossing. Dinner, a hot shower, and a good night’s sleep did wonders for us. On Wednesday morning, Norden Passages, a 36-foot Benetau out of Bayfield, Ontario, motored into the marina. We had seen this boat in Snug Harbour last summer in early July, and she was also at the Roberta Bondar Marina in July. She left one day before us and we had a very good visit and conversation with her owners yesterday and today. Wayne Norden was an officer in a fishing company in Halifax, Nova Scotia and spent most of his working life managing fleets and therefore on boats in the Maritimes. His wife, Joyce, is newer to sailing, but has become competent under his instruction. For fun, they go out for a week of sailing on Lake Huron, never going into port, no anchoring, just heaving-to every once in a while. They had good advice for us concerning long passages and how to cope. When they left the Soo on July 6, there was a steady east wind, so they set sail for Thunder Bay. The lake was kind to them. 50 hours later they arrived in Thunder Bay without once having to turn on the engine. They spent the next 7 weeks cruising along the north and east shores, hardly ever using their engine except to get in and out of harbours. They are good friends of the owner of the marina in Wawa, and spent the last week helping him run a salmon derby. They are now on their way back to Bayfield, possibly spending some time in the North Channel.
Besides spending time with the Nordens, we used the marina bicycles to go out Queen Street to Bellveue Park and the check out one of the houses in which Brian grew up.
It was fun being on a bike again. I had not done any cycling since we lived in Leaside. We also stopped in a supermarket in the area and bought as much fruit and vegetables as our backpacks would hold, since the small market near the marina has limited selection.
Wednesday afternoon I did a load of laundry and managed our finances via the marina’s internet connection while Brian taxied out to Canadian Tire to fill our propane tank and get a few supplies.
Thursday, August 25, 2005. St. Mary’s River to East Neebish Island.
This morning after a LONG breakfast with the Nordens, we gave them a tour of Pilgrim, then left at 12:30 to begin the trip down the St. Mary’s River.
Soo skyline and the BushPlane museum set up at the old hanger on St. mary’s river
There were 3 freighters upbound during our trip, and we followed one downbound.
Some crew are repainting the sign on the stack This freighter is being pushed by a tug
As we passed the car ferry East of the Soo, we heard some people calling us from the shore to alert us that their fishing boat (18 foot bass boat with 200 and 20 hp outboards) was adrift in front of us and asked for assistance getting it back. We pulled as close as we dared to the outboard, Brian snagged it with the boathook and we dragged it as close to shore as we could. There were no lines on the boat and we are wondering how the boat got away from its owner. Another fishing boat arrived quickly after we let go, and helped get it close enough to shore so that the owner could retrieve it.
Friday, August 26, 2005. East Neebish Island to a bay north of Lime Island, St. Mary’s River.
There is not much to report about our activities today.
Sunset at East Neebish Island
This morning I went for a swim and Brian did some unsuccessful fishing. Then while I made bread, he installed some software on my ThinkPad so that we can use it from now on to send e-mails via the HAM network. We discovered that the inverter that we require to run the deskside computer that handles our charting program is very noisy and has made it difficult for us to get a good Single Side Band (SSB) signal. If we use my ThinkPad, we do not have to turn on the inverter and we should be able to get a better radio signal.
We left East Neebish Island at 12:30. The wind was from the southeast at 10-15 knots (right on our nose), so we motored the entire way down to Lime Island.
The old fort at St. Joseph Island
At least the current was with us in some parts of the channel. By 3:00 the wind was steady at 12-15 knots from the southeast, so we decided to anchor in bay that we used on July 3 with Jim and Darcie. The wall at Lime Island is exposed to winds from the south, and there was a significant chop that had developed, so we decided to anchor.
Two views from the Lime Island anchorage … rather a flat place but good holding
I read while Brian washed more lures and we watched a parade of freighters going both upbound and downbound. We also so a US military patrol boat and a cruise ship going down the river.
Last night the wind finally subsided around midnight, but we were still glad to be at the anchorage rather than at the cement wall at Lime Island. During the night a number of freighters passed, each time kicking up enough of a wake to toss Pilgrim awake. At one point we think 4-5 freighters passed, some upbound, some downbound and one tooting its intentions. The surge from that group lasted a good 20 minutes.
This morning rain was threatening, and by the time we finished washing the breakfast dishes, it was raining hard. The visibility was poor. We saw / heard several freighters pass, sometimes blasting every two minutes. Brian installed the weather fax programs on my ThinkPad and we received our first faxes, comparing them with the coast guard weather synopsis and forecast. We decided to stay put until 3:00 PM or the rain stopped, whichever came first. At 2:30 the rain stopped, the mist lifted, and the wind switched from southeast and south to northwest. We decided it was time to move on.
Saturday, August 27, 2005. Milford Haven, St. Joseph Island.
The trip down the rest of the St. Mary’s River was uneventful. We encountered no more freighters. When we got to the southern tip of St. Joseph Island, we turned northeast up the steamer channel, passed Duncan Island and Burnt Island. With the northwest wind building (up to 10 then 15 knots), we decided to unfurl the Genoa and sail a bit. As we got close to Milford Haven, the weather turned threatening again, with rain and wind up to 17 knots. We furled, and got into the anchorage as quickly as possible. By the time we dropped the hook, the wind was down to 8 knots and the sky in the northwest was blue. The ugly grey clouds passed us to the northeast. It was quite a different sight from the bow of Pilgrim (clear skies and sun) and the stern (grey skies with rain falling).
Finally we are here! We tried to get here during a strong west blow in Swan Queen in 2000, but ended up in Thessalon instead. It was good that we did, because we had cracked a bolt that held the alternator and were no longer charging our batteries. Thessalon has a hardware store; Milford Haven does not. We could make the repair in Thessalon. We had hoped to get here in June, but alas, our 5-day stay in Thessalon to fix the exhaust system kept us from cruising the eastern shore of St. Joseph Island. But here we are, finally, and Brian now knows why I have wanted to get back here.
A quiet centre An old 2 story farm house down to one story
To my surprise, there is a cottage complex on Sandy Point and the “boathouse” that was falling into the water is now reconstructed. There is a power boat (looks like an old wooden Chris Craft) at anchor here.
The new boat house with an old wall ruin Sandy point cottage
No one is at the Sandy Point cottage. The wind has quieted down completely, and the mist is rising from the creek mouth at the end of Milford Haven. Shortly after we anchored, we saw TWO eagles soaring over the eastern shore. The terns have been frolicking and diving into the water. It is so very quiet.
Jim, you mentioned moose in Milford Haven. When we rowed up the river, we saw areas where we think moose must have slept (reeds flattened recently) the night before. So, although we did not see moose, deer or wolves, we saw enough evidence to know they are in the area.
The giant birch has died View towards the entrance
I think they mean it So we took the river route
I was doing some calculations based on our log records. Since we left Midland in June, we have sailed 1578 miles, 1230 of them in Lake Superior. Our engine has been on 257 hours, 186 of them in Lake Superior. We have been cruising aboard Pilgrim for 12 weeks.
Our friends on Norden Passages came into Milford Haven last night around 6:00 PM.
They left this morning before we were in the cockpit, but called us on the VHF radio around 9:30. They are planning to get back to their home port (Bayfield, Ontario) by mid-September, so we will probably not cross paths again until we are both back on shore. Shortly after we talked to them, we got a call from Assaence, a National Yacht Club boat we know very well. The owners used to have a CS33 when we still had Swan Queen and sold it shortly after we acquired Pilgrim. They are on their new boat and were anchored between Beef and Hog Islands on the SE side of St. Joseph Island, just about 5 miles from Milford Haven where we were anchored. We had a short radio conversation, then signed off to hoist our anchor.
Raising our anchor in Milford Haven was quite an experience. We had anchored in about 10 knots of wind from the Northwest. The wind had continued from the northwest and west during our stay. When the anchor surfaced, it had a 50 foot tree truck in its flukes. It was about 10 feet in front of our bow and streamed behind us the length of our hull. WOW. What to do? Brian instructed me to be prepared to back hard for a short duration, then he dropped the anchor to the bottom, we reversed hard, and somehow, freed the tree from our anchor. We have a picture (we think). It was an amazing and frightening sight.
The tip of the 50 foot log/tree that was caught by the anchor … now if it could only catch fish
Once we had cleared Milford Haven, we saw our friends on Asseance, so did a big circle so we could make voice contact with them. This was their first trip to the North Channel, and although they enjoyed it, the owners are really dockside folks who much prefer to spend time with people than be alone in anchorages. They were planning to clear US customs in Drummond Island Yacht Haven, and then go down Lake Huron on the Michigan side (marinas all the way) to Sarnia / Port Huron before going through the rivers to Lake Erie and back to Lake Ontario.
Asseance from the National Yacht Club in Toronto
Sunday, August 28, 2005. Lost
Monday, August 29, 2005. Dead Boys Cove, Campment D’ours Island, St. Joseph Channel.
Our trip to the north side of St. Joseph Island was relatively uneventful. We motored all the way, with winds from the south less than 3 knots. We witnessed an dramatic rainfall on the mainland, but managed to stay dry ourselves.
This is as close as we like to get to this kind of storm
I remember the charts Larry Perkins gave the Witherspoon Family some 40+ years ago of the North Channel. They are in the kitchen at #1 Belvedere Club, and show a great harbour at Dead Boys Cove. I do not know if Algonquin has ever been here, but this is my first visit. What an interesting harbour.
Heading into Dead Boys Cove View from the bow
View from Starboard View of the enterance
It is deep (we are anchored in 28 feet, with 100 feet of chain out, and are really close to the south shore right now), has very interesting plants (Touch Me Nots, which I do not think I have seen before), a beaver house right off our stern (no activity from the beavers since we are so close), an eagle that soared through the shallow part of the anchorage this afternoon, and has been hovering in high evergreen trees ever since, and springs that magically spring from the rock faces and form mini waterfalls. The far end of the cove is shallow, weedy, and has one deadhead showing. The sides (north and south) are fairly steep and heavily wooded. The water is not clear (cloudy St. Joes Channel colour), so it is difficult to see rocks and deadheads that may be lurking below us. From our anchorage we can see the bridge from Richards Landing (on St. Joseph Island) to the mainland.
Once we were secure in the anchorage, an outboard came by to greet us. The couple own an Valiant 40 and keep it in Chesapeake Bay as liveaboards. They are members of Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) as are we, and are thinking of crossing the Atlantic next year (to the Azores then to Ireland or Britain). Amazing who we meet!
We are attempting to monitor the weather. Of course the Canadian Coast Guard and NOAA weather on VHF radio, but also weather fax on Single SideBand (SSB), and other SSB weather services regarding the effects we may have from Katrina. So far there has been no effect, but that storm is moving quickly, so we are monitoring the situation. This anchorage is very secure from all but NW winds, and we have alternative harbours in mind if we must move.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005. Joe Dollar Bay. Greetings from Brian’s old stompin’ grounds.
We hauled anchor around 10:30 in Dead Boys Cove and motor-sailed through the buoyed channel, then sailed with a scant 5 knots of wind from the Northwest àWest with the main and Genoa. I tried to keep the sails filled, first on a broad reach, then on a wing-on-wing run while Brian tried to fish. We ghosted along at 2.5 knots, and no fish were to be had.
We sighted a freighter going into Bruce Mines at noon, and saw it leave around 5:30 this afternoon. (Cargo looked like limestone) Anchored at 2:00 near Seagull Island in 15 feet of water.
The old camp at Joe Dollar Bay And yet another sunset
Brian set out in the dinghy to fish and I set out in the kayak to explore. I saw two eagles soaring together over the east end of Joe Dollar Bay. I was so fascinated seeing the two birds flying together, that I actually tried to paddle backwards for a while just to keep them in sight. As I neared the shoreline I frightened a Great Blue Heron from its site in the reeds. (Sorry…) Brian was surprised to see how many of the cottages / camps had been either enlarged or torn down and replace with larger buildings. There was very little activity on shore. We saw few people and little boating /fishing activity. The old Doda camp had a stars and stripes flag flying (no maple leaf) so are not sure if the camp has been sold again.
At 6:30 we listened to the revised weather forecast, which called for northeast winds from 15-20 knots by midnight. Since Brian had sounded the area closer to shore (since the fish are non-existent) we decided to move closer to the north shore in 12 feet of water. We think we have a good anchor set, and have 80 feet of chain out, which should be OK.
After we moved, we met up with a gentleman who regularly rows around the bay at the end of the day. He has a huge rear view mirror (like on trucks) installed on the rowboat. We met him when we were here on Swan Queen in 2001. He let us know there was no threat from Katrina (the hurricane).
Wednesday, August 31, 2005. Turnbull Island, North Channel. We are back in the true North Channel. We traveled 50 nautical miles (40 miles as the crow flies) to get her from Joe Dollar Bay. (Crows can fly over islands and shoals; boats can’t) Last night we re-anchored close to shore in Joe Dollar Bay because the forecast was for northeast winds at 20 knots. We did get the NE winds, but only at 10 knot. This morning when we left the winds were from the north at 5 knots. We sailed / trolled until we cleared Cedar Island, then we motor-sailed for a while to charge the batteries and get around Thessalon Island. As we passed Thessalon, we were surprised to see a freighter tied up to a dock there. For most of the day we had winds from the northwest and west ranging from 5 to 17 knots. Therefore much of our journey was under sail, sometimes at 7+ knots (Jane LOVED it).
We shared helming and reading (Amelia, we are really enjoying the Harpers Magazine you left behind. Thanks). We passed Doucet (Cormorant) Rock at 5:00 and anchored behind the “scrubby” island at 6:30. There are three other boats in the anchorage, two Canadian and one US. We will probably stay here two days before moving on to Bear Drop for the Labour Day Weekend. We thought we saw an eagle right after we anchored, but it is a crow. Still a remarkable soaring bird.
Ok …So I like sunsets .. here are a couple more from Turnbull
Thursday, September 1, 2005. Turnbull Island, North Channel. Yes, we are still here, and the only ones in the anchorage tonight. Today we did some dinghy exploring and general boat maintenance. We went all the way to Vaux Island (last island before getting to Clara Island) where there is a camouflaged cabin with solar panels and a rock-filled crib as a landing spot on the north side of the island).
A breakwater that is very hard to see from the water
There were two people fishing; one from one of the anchored sailboats and the other in a fishing (outboard) boat from shore. Brian decided not to join them / wash lures. Instead we did boat chores: cleaning, replacing water filters, researching SSB channels, and other reading. It was a delightful slow day.
The weather around us is a bit strange. There are gale warnings (35 knots from the Northwest) in Lake Superior, and wind advisories for Whitefish Bay and the North Channel (25 knots from the Southwest à West) but we are in benign conditions here in Turnbull. Our wind generator (Wendy Whirligig) has done little for us today. It usually takes about 7 knots for her to produce any meaningful power, and the solar panels have contributed more then she has despite a short downpour around 3:00 PM.
Now that we are in the North Channel, we are finally getting the Canadian Coast Guard channel that gives weather forecasts, current conditions and notices to mariners for the North Channel, Georgian Bay and northern Lake Huron. It is amazing how many more Notices to Mariners there are for the North Channel and Georgian Bay. We picked up one yesterday that a bush plane was submerged, upside-down in Killarney Bay, near Portage Cove. Today we heard that the plane has been recovered and is no longer a threat to mariners. One notice about the “keep out” buoys outside the Meaford Range that we heard in June is still being broadcast. Why don’t they go and repair those “keep out” buoys? The wind in both Gore Bay and Killarney is Southwest at 14 knots, so we know the wind outside our anchorage is pretty strong. Such is the beauty of Turnbull Island. It offers great protection from the wind and the waves.
Thursday, September 2, 2005. Beardrop Harbour. We made the big trip (5 nautical miles) from Turnbull Island to Beardrop. But what a trip. I indicated in my last note that the forecast was for 20 knot winds overnight. At 4:00 AM we work up to wind screaming in the rigging. We could not sleep with that racket, and also wanted to ensure the anchor was holding, so we spent about an hour in the cockpit monitoring the wind speed, wind direction and our position. The wind was from the west sustained at 20 knots and gusting to 25 knots. At 5:00 AM the revised weather forecast for the North Channel was broadcast. Although there were still gale warnings for Lake Superior, there was only wind warnings for Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, including the North Channel. The wind subsided to 15-20 knots, and we went back to bed. The wind picked up again at 7:30 AM, so we were up again. Somehow strong winds in daylight are much easier to take then when it is dark. Since our anchor was holding so well, we decided to do nothing until the wind dropped (forecast to do this late Friday afternoon). We thought about putting out more scope or setting a second anchor, but decided against. If you have a good thing going, it is sometimes best to just let the situation be.
Brian did more programming on the Single Sideband radio and I did needlepoint and made a vegetable / bean soup in the pressure cooker. There was little traffic on the VHF radio, so we listened to broadcasts on SSB concerning the situation in New Orleans. How sad that “civilization” is so uncivilized. We worry that folks in power will never ask the root cause kind of questions to understand what should be done so that people do not get to the point of saying “I’ve got nothing to loose. Why not take whatever I can get.” “Rugged individualism” has taken a bad turn and causes people to look only at their own, personal, immediate needs and desires. Long term needs for the whole community are lost. How sad.
At 2:30 this afternoon the wind seemed to have dropped to 10-15 knots, so we decided to make the trip to Beardrop. By the time we had the boat ready to go, the wind had picked up again, but not up to 20 knots, so we decided to go. The windless could not handle the weight of the anchor and chain and the pull of the boat. I had to motor to release the anchor’s strong hold. As soon as we were in the larger part of the anchorage (out from behind the “scrub” island) the wind speed indicated 21 knots! We were more protected than we realized. We managed to get out into the channel and hoist the mizzen and our staysail, a combination we think we will use often on the ocean, but had not tried yet this summer. We tacked downwind at about six knots. A nice sail. We also decided to get the boat to “heave to.” We had never done this with Pilgrim. We anticipate we will need to do this in heavy weather if the seas are not too large to do meal preparation. It all worked very well.
Sea conditions that we were playing in while hove to
Heading for Beardrop and passing the entrance rocks
We were amazed to enter Beardrop and find NO other boats. After all, this is the beginning of the Labour Day Weekend. (Maybe the strong winds have something to do with the lack of boats. Perhaps the sudden rise in gasoline prices is keeping power boaters at the dock this weekend)
“Beardrop” and some local rock stars
The wind is finally beginning to calm, although Wendy Whirligig is still charging our batteries. We will stay here a day or two before heading to Spragge for a pumpout at the North Channel Yacht Club.
Saturday, September 3, 2005. Beardrop Harbour. Yes, we are still here. And yes, my last note indicated in was Thursday, not Friday, September 2.
We had a slow, leisurely day. After breakfast Brian spent time trouble shooting the main inverter (problem: bad switch). I read. At noon we took the dinghy to the Beardrop and hiked to the top to take some pictures.
Looking East and looking North into an empty harbour
Then Brian went out to fish (he caught two Pickerel / Walleye which we had for dinner
Hunter … Gatherer …a great team
… YUM. Sautéed in butter with a cornmeal / whole wheat flour light coating) and I inflated the kayak and went around the shoreline looking for new fall wildflowers. So far I have identified three different kinds of goldenrod.
Our two deadhead markers (we put out when we were here in June) are still intact. Someone has added a third marker for the deadhead we saw off the stern of Pilgrim in June, but which was too deep for us to tag.
Can’t beat those sunsets
I cannot believe what we did this morning. We did what we have done on every cruise. We made a rough schedule of where we must be in order to get through the Welland Canal by October 1. I won’t give you all the details, but after Spragge for a pumpout and garbage dump, we will be cruising west of Little Current until September 17. Will spend two nights in Little Current to do Laundromat laundry and re-provision for the trip back to Toronto. Then we will go to Baie Fine, Snug and Killarney before going east to either the Bad or French River and the Bustards. Then down to Wingfield Basin (near Tobermory), then a straight-through sail to Sarnia / Port Huron. Two days to get through the St. Clair River / Lake/ Detroit River. Then 2 days for Lake Erie.
We stayed in Bear Drop Harbour to do our laundry, fish and explore in the kayak. It was a delightful day, with Brian catching one more Pickerel (in the freezer until we catch another).
Jane on the wash tub and Brian on the wringer
Monday, September 5, 2005. Long Point Cove.
We are here rather than in Tausherau Bay since southwest winds are in the forecast for early morning, and that anchorage is open to the southwest. We decided to duck into our tried and true Long Point Cove.
There is one other boat here tonight, a Canadian Yacht Charters Hunter (28-30 feet), at anchor with three fenders out on the port side.
This morning we left Bear Drop late morning and hoisted the main sail with a southeast wind, 4-6 knots. It gave me the opportunity to sail and Brian to troll for a while. The wind picked up after noon and we sailed to the North Channel Yacht Club in Spragge for a pumpout and to dump our trash / garbage. We left Spragge and set sails again, sailing all the way back out to Turnbull Island, then practicing “heaving-to” with the main the Genoa (last Friday we did it with the mizzen and staysail), then sailing with a partially furled Genoa and poorly trimmed main to keep our speed to less than 3.5 knots so Brian could troll. There were lots of markers on the fish finder / depth sounder, but not one of them was interested in Brian’s lures. We sailed past Navy Island (the turning point to get into Long Point Cove) and then furled the Genoa and lowered the main for one last sweep back down the channel to Prendergast Island so that we could charge our batteries and give Brian one last try at the elusive fish. Once anchored in Long Point Cove, Brian made one last attempt at catching a Pike in the reeds while I prepared dinner.
We are in an extremely high weather high (32.5 inches or 1025 mille bars) which is bringing us clear skies and gentle breezes. There is still very little evidence of fall. We are in shorts and able to swim. The sweaters have not been out of the locker and the diesel furnace has not been on since Midland in May. We will let you know when the sweater days begin. We think it will be very soon.
Tuesday, September 6: LOST
Thursday, September 8, 2005. Fox Island. We stayed two nights at the North Harbour on South Benjamin Island. We had a great time. Tuesday night there were 4 sailboats and one powerboat in addition to us. Two of the sailboats were Canadian Yacht Charters. One was a Great Lakes Cruising Club member with his son, daughter-in-law and grandchild on board (a 30 foot Nonesuch … a bit crowded). The other sailboat was a Macgregor 25 being single-handed.
On Wednesday, we went ashore in the dinghy and then climbed the “ski slope” hill to get a great panoramic scene (and photographs) of the area all the way up to McBean Mountain.
First there was one … then there were many boats
Looking North from the “ski slope” Jane looking for new unknowns
Another quiet centre
We found two red squirrels; Brian, of course, talked with them, and they stopped still for him to take several pictures.
Even the squirrels have been trained to beg … what a tragedy
Later we found peanut shells further down the hill, evidence that begging for food is not only done by ducks and gulls, but also the squirrels. I picked some more wildflowers to identify.
She found one
It is amazing how different the flowers are in the fall from the spring. If I had another full season in the North Channel I would love to compile an amateur’s guide to the flora of the North Channel: flowers, trees, shrubs, grasses, mosses, lichen, ferns, especially identifying edibles. There would be lots of indices to make it easy to identify the yellow flowers, etc. We would have to change our plans (not out of the question) for me to fulfill this wish.
Around 10:00 on Wednesday, a small sailboat entered the harbour, motored into the shallowest bay, and threw out a stern anchor, then a bow anchor. The boat was in about 3-5 feet of water. The boat was single-handed by a robust woman, about our age. On our way back from the “ski-slope” we rowed by her boat, Raggedy Annie. The owner was in the cockpit and greeted us. Our first question was, “Do you know Pea Pod?” Pea Pod was a boat we saw in Snug Harbour last year. It was less than 20 feet long and was single-handed by a woman. She said, “I WAS Pea Pod.” This woman, Ann Westlund, sold Pea Pod last fall and bought a new, larger boat (20 feet rather than 17 feet and a good 1.5 feet wider). She spent all winter fixing it up near the Chesapeake Bay area, and sailed there in the spring before bringing the boat back to her home in Detour Village. She has been sailing in the North Channel all summer with her new boat. She just recently retired from teaching and being a school librarian. We all immediately fell for each other. She came over to Pilgrim because she has always loved Whitbys. She is a very “hands-on” kind of person, doing most of her improvements and repairs, and when she cannot do a repair because of the lack of tools, she knows what to tell the boatyard to do. She uses Dave Irish (Harbor Springs) for much of her work, and is familiar with Charlevoix and Algonquin. Before moving to Detour Village, she lived in Paradise, near Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. She has done extensive sea kayaking in Lake Superior. We loaned her the copy of Harper’s Magazine Amelia left with us, for which she is most grateful. We respected her when we saw (and heard her on the VHF radio) in Pea Pod, and are most delighted to actually know her. Will definitely keep in touch with her. She is great proof that a life of fun and adventure for a woman are not dependent on having a male companion. (Note to Brian: If a woman has a great male companion, that is just a huge bonus)
Because we had not run our generator or motor at the Benjamin anchorage, our batteries needed help. This morning we decided to spend the day motoring, sailing with the generator on, and trolling around the Benjamin Islands, Fox Island and the McBean Channel. We saw evidence of fish, Brian tried several lures, we varied our speed but not one fish seemed interested in being caught. We finally motored into Fox Island harbour, and anchored with another boat, Mild Steel, a steel-hulled sloop we saw last June in Croker Island. Ann told us that in addition to the resident Fox (and her kits), a bear has been seen on Fox this summer. One boat was tied close to shore and barbecuing meat when the bear suddenly appeared and seemed very interested in taking the meat off the grill. The boaters took the meat below, and somehow got a line on the BBQ and lowered it in the water to reduce the tempting smells. We will be wary about going ashore, and will definitely not go alone.
Fox in all it’s colour
Saturday, September 10, 2005. Oak Bay, Hottam Island, South Harbour. We stayed at Fox Island for two nights. We re-anchored twice because of forecasted wind changes and to move away from the other sailboat that was in the anchorage so we could run our gasoline generator. Brian did some fishing with no success. Jane did some kayaking. Our friend in Raggedy Annie had tucked into the cove in the northwest part of Fox Island, which is far too shallow for us. I kayaked through a very shallow cut between our anchorage and this cove and found her.
Jane and Anne … and Raggedy Annie
We had a great visit, and then she came to Pilgrim for dinner. (Her boat has no refrigeration, so her dinner options were limited on her boat) We did not see the fox. Ann had told us that a Canadian Yacht Charters boat was tied to the rocks and barbecuing their dinner. A bear and her cub showed up, interested in taking the meat off the grill. The boaters took the meat off and then put a line around the BBQ and lowered it in the water to reduce the enticing smell. The bears retreated. When we were anchoring on Thursday afternoon, I thought I saw a large, black animal in the distance, but certainly wasn’t sure it was a bear. On Thursday night / Friday morning, Brian heard something big thrashing in the water. On Friday we did some sounding of water depths to see if we could go further into the bay (because of predicted wind changes). Brian thinks he saw bear prints in the shallow water. There were many small shellfish / clams / etc. in the area. BUT… we did not sight the bear. When I was in the northwest cove, Ann and I saw an American Bittern … a bit like a blue heron, but smaller and does not crook its neck when it flies.
We marked another deadhead and took readings (depth, latitude, longitude) on a deadhead that someone else had marked.
This morning there was very light wind, so we just motored up and down Pilgrim Channel (our new name for the water between the Benjamins / Fox Island on the east and Eagle / Frechette Islands on the west. We saw very few markers on our fish finder, and trolling gave us no hits. We tried one pass in the McBean Channel north of Fox Island, then turned into Oak Bay. There were only two other cruisers in Oak Bay (Raggedy Annie and her friends on a tiny trawler Robert Sidney) tucked in near Perch Bay. We traveled east along Hottam Island to the South anchorage. There are two cottages on this bay, but no one is in either of them.
The harbour was open to the North but the hold was solid
Nice reno job
After we anchored and had some lunch, we went out in the dinghy to look for fish. I had seen a few markers as we entered the bay, but no luck. We did a big sweep of the entire bay, and in-between the two cottages; a fairly large bass took Brian’s lure. Therefore, we had bass and pickerel / walleye for dinner tonight. The pickerel was in the freezer from Bear Drop Harbour.
Swimming Update: The water is still very warm (68-69 degrees F) and I swim most days.
The daylight hours are getting shorter. It is dark by 8:00 PM and the sun is not up until 7:30 AM. We have had difficulty dealing with this change. We have been going to bed when it is dark (10:00 PM during July), but now it is dark so early. We were going to bed at 8:30, but waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning and unable to get back to sleep for several hours. Now, we are forcing ourselves to stay awake until 10:30 so we can sleep through the night. Such are the conundrums of us retired folk.
Bug Report Update: We are suddenly plagued by mosquitoes. We did not have many problems with them during June and July, and never expected a problem with them in the Fall. Evidently, they are an Asian variety of mosquito that carries the West Nile Virus (this has been reported on the Sailnet broadcast on VHF radio out of Little Current). They are lighter in colour that North American mosquitoes and evidently have yellow stripes on their legs. We have not kept a specimen to examine under the magnifying glass to confirm this. We just slap them as soon as we see one. Tonight during dinner we had the screens on the cockpit enclosure and there must have been about 30 – 40 of them hovering around the screen. We hope there are none in the cabin.
We stayed at this anchorage for a second night. Because Brian caught a good-sized bass yesterday, he wanted to try his luck again this morning. After breakfast he set out in the dinghy. While he was in the dinghy, I did some boat cleaning, baked bread and made brownies. (This may be hard for any of you to believe, since I am hardly a chocolaholic, but last night I tasted chocolate in my dream. I had to do some baking today.)
After two hours without success, Brian rowed back to the boat and did one last cast. He caught a perch. That was enough for him to anchor the dinghy and try a few more casts. Within the hour, he caught 8 perch.
Perch for two meals
We decided to stay, since he had to clean 8 fish. (The beauty of catching a 10 lb. Salmon is you only have to clean one fish and it is good for 4 or more meals. 8 perch will make a lovely meal tomorrow night, and required Brian to clean 8 small fish… each much harder than cleaning one large fish)
We would have had the perch tonight, but I had been soaking beans for the past two days to make Mom’s baked beans, and they were about ready to ferment. I had adapted Mom’s recipe for the pressure cooker and make them with un-sliced bacon chunks. We will have the perch Monday night.
Brian gives the seagulls a treat whenever he catches fish. He takes the parts we do not eat and deposits them on shore or an island for the gulls. Last night we had great fun watching a large Herring Gull and a Ring-Bill Gull trying to lay claim to the whole bounty. Today, Brian went armed with his movie camera. The Herring Gull soon smelled the treat, and the Ring Bill was soon to follow. Brian was anxious to get the “negotiating” gulls on film, but suddenly 2 turkey vultures appeared and scared the herring gull away. Then 2 more turkey vultures joined the first two and we had a most interesting show of these large birds swooping toward the rock with the fish remains, but never making contact. Turkey vultures are about the same size as eagles (6 foot wing span) and are beautiful soaring birds. Brian caught them on film rather than the bickering Ring-Bill and Herring Gulls.
Tomorrow we will leave via the west entrance into Oak Bay, sail (or motor) east in the McBean Channel, probably trolling for a Salmon, and will probably go into Gibson Cove or McBean Harbour (just a few miles from our current anchorage … as the crow files). Although there are two cottages in this bay, no one has been at them this weekend and we have seen NO boats. We have heard some boats in the McBean Channel, going home after a weekend out.
The weather today was very warm (85 degrees this afternoon) and fairly sunny. The North Channel had moderately strong south and southwest winds, but we had calm wind and wave conditions. Wendy Whirligig has done little to help keep our refrigeration going. Thank goodness for our Honda Generator.
The mosquitoes are thick again tonight. We tried to examine a dead one under Brian’s magnifying glass. We could not detect stripes on the legs, but the body is definitely black and white striped. We are not sure if that is the usual mosquito, or if these are Asian mosquitoes as suggested on the Little Current Sailnet. All we know is that we finally have mosquitoes the second week of September.
Monday, September 12, 2005. To Croker Island.
This morning we motored back out the west entrance to Oak Bay, then hoisted both the main and mizzen. I had noticed a wasp lurking around our main mast. We decided it was best to shake both sails out. When we were sailing from the Apostle Islands to the Keewenaw Peninsula, I hoisted the mizzen at night; the next morning there was a big blob of mud on deck. It had fallen out of the mizzen, and then we encountered a rain storm. I’m happy to say, there were no nests in our sails.
The wind was light (0 to 8 knots) from the southwest, so we were on a broad reach going down the McBean Channel at trolling speed. (Once again, no luck with the trolling) We passed Gibson Cove, and were drifting along so nicely, we decided to keep sailing for a while, then motor back. We sailed all the way to East Rock. Croker Island was to our starboard; rounding up into the wind would make a good sail. So then we decided to sail to Croker rather than go back to Gibson Cove. Half way to Croker the wind died and we ended up motoring the last 45 minutes.
This is not our planned destination, but here we are, the only boat in the harbour. There is a very insistent duck quacking for us to pay attention, circling the boat. Otherwise, we are alone.
Alone in Croker … well not quite of you include our guardian Ducks
We were surprised to see an empty anchorage. It was hot, hazy and humid with only a slight breath of air moving. We put up our forward awning so that we could keep the screen in our dodger and keep the centre hatch open even if it rains tonight. We hope it does rain. This high-pressure weather just is not moving, and is very hot (80-85 degrees F. today) and oppressive.
Keeping the sun at bay … (in September???)
One lone duck has been our constant companion since we anchored. We read, bathed, and I swam in 70-degree water. We fried the perch for dinner and only ate half of them. We have yet another meal from the 8 perch Brian caught. (We still have one more Lake Trout from the Slate Islands and two Chinook Salmon Steaks from Lake Superior in the freezer. Brian has been a much better hunter/fisher person than I have been a gatherer this summer)
There are only a few mosquitoes here (a blessing).
Tuesday, September 13, 2005. Croker Island. Yes, we are still here. The forecast for tonight is thunderstorms with winds from the northwest at 20 knots with gusts to 30 in thunderstorms. We decided that Croker was the only harbour between here and Little Current that would make us feel secure. We had a most leisurely day, doing odd jobs around the boat, doing needlepoint, reading, and rowing the dinghy around to look at the campsite on the beach in the outer harbour, see if there were any new wildflowers, and generally check out the landscape. We took soundings of the 5-foot ledge (that gets as shallow as 3.5 feet and has white fiberglass remnants on the shallowest parts) and got some GPS waypoints for the perimeters that are now in our computer.
We now have two Mallard ducks that have adopted us.
Georgette and Gracie
They now know we will not feed them, but they keep coming around and keep us company. While we were rowing along the shoreline, one of them swam up to us while we were inspecting a little water snake that was coiled in the rocks near the shore with its head sticking out of the water, waiting for a small rodent to come to the shore for a drink.
Look close and you can see the head of the water snake … the duck found it
Nothing we did could deter the snake from its position. Violent rowing, setting up waves in the area were of no interest to the snake. But when the duck swam by (and perhaps tweaked its tail when it dipped its bill into the water), the snake disappeared. We have seen water snakes here before (in Swan Queen).
When we were in Oak Bay / Hottam and last night in Croker, we had difficulty getting a good SSB signal for sending e-mails. Some of the sites we use are giving priority to transmissions regarding the New Orleans victims (as it should be). We also think the current atmospheric conditions are interfering with transmissions. We hope you will get this on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning.
The forecast is for northwest winds tomorrow (Wednesday), so we will probably move on east to Bell Cove. Will try to send another update then.
Tuesday, September 14, 2005. East Rous Island. What an interesting storm we had last night. At 12:30 AM the wind picked up and seemed to be tossing us around. We could not sleep, so put on some clothes and went to the cockpit. There was lightening flashing along the mainland, and gusts of wind that ranged from 0 to 30 knots on our anemometer. Because the Croker anchorage is surrounded on the east, south and west by high bluffs, the wind was coming over the bluffs and hitting the water in about our location. We were being buffeted about, but were in no real danger. But the sensation was quite dramatic. Wendy Whirligig generated very little power because the wind gusts were not sustained. Once the lightening passed, the wind subsided and the rain began, first in torrents, and then just a gentle rain. We went back to bed. Around 4:30 the wind picked up again, but not too strong. The rain had stopped, so we opened portholes, but the air was still quite warm and humid.
We slept late. After breakfast the wind in the anchorage was only 5 knots from the southwest, but the weather forecast and reports for the North Channel indicated the wind was 15 – 20 knots from the west, going northwest by late afternoon.
We left Croker at 10:40. The anchor was totally buried in clay, including the shaft. Brian required me to put Pilgrim in forward gear to drag the anchor out. It is always comforting to find the anchor has secured the boat firmly to the bottom of the harbour. Once we were out in the outer harbour (between Croker and Porcupine Islands) we realized the wind was truly strong out of the west. We hoisted the mainsail before setting out into the passage between Croker / Secretary Islands and the Sow and the Pigs (little islands / shoals to the west). By the time we were cleared of shoals, we were traveling 5.5 knots just under the main sail. We unfurled the Genoa and were surfing along with a west wind that maxed out at 26 knots, at 7+ knots much of the way to James Foote Patch, southwest of Bedford Island. (Yes, Jane was in Heaven) The waves were 2-3 feet (babies compared to Lake Superior) but knocked us around, especially when we were going dead down wind.
Almost got dumped on … Jane was ready for anything
By 2:00 we were in the Wabuno Channel. We headed north up the channel until we were abeam the channel into East Rous, then we came into the wind and brought down the mainsail.
Rouse is very flat but has great holding and lots of virtual fish … even the locals come here to get frustrated
The trip into the anchorage was easy. We anchored in 15 feet of water with the wind down to 10 knots from the west. Brian went out to search for Northern Pike, while Jane stayed on board babysitting the gasoline generator (we had not produced much power from the engine or the wind generator during our trip) and took a bath and went for a swim (water is still 68 – 70 degrees F). The wind has finally turned northwest, but is still moderately strong (10 knots). The overcast conditions and rain from the morning has dissipated, and the sky is now almost cloudless. The temperature is still warm (70 degrees F … rather than 80 degrees yesterday) but comfortable. Despite the warm weather, the trees know better. Some of the birch are turning yellow and the sumac are turning red, both leaves and fruiting bodies. Since we only have a week more in this area before heading down Lake Huron, we don’t think we will see much fall colour until we reach Lake Ontario.
The time has come to float our way home