19 July 2012 | Thunder Bay, Ontario
Once Again, Unbelievable
So far: Goulais Bay, Sinclair Cove, Garganthua Harbor, Michipicoten Island/Quebec Harbor, Otter Cove, The Slates, Rossport, Battle Island, Loon Harbor and here we are in Thunder bay. So now let me back up a bit and fill in a few of the blank pages.
One of my first impressions is just how humongous this lake real is. Even the bays are huge. We sail or power sail offshore and then as the evening sets in we starting heading for our harbor of choice for that night. After sailing from early morning we still have another 12 or so miles to "get into" the harbor. And Deep. OMG, our depth sounder seems to record depths to about 450 feet and then for deeper waters it takes a time out. So once we leave the harbor we just turn it off. Back on as we approach with depth of 250 to 300, then when in the harbor 100 down to 60 and finally as we approach the shoreline 35 down to 25 and then we stop. Luck Bird carries about 300 feet of chain so anchoring in 35 or so feet of water is no big deal, but 15 to 20 is better. We dropped the hook in Garganthua Harbor in 35 feet of water and I could see the anchor all the way to the bottom.
Yes this place is big and it takes a while to make passages unless the plan is to hop along the coast from harbor to harbor which if the cruisers have the time is fabulous. We don't have all the time in the world so we've done some longer passages most likely skipping many many historically relevant and geographically beautiful places. And yet, we fell incredibly fortunate to be able to see and experience the majesty of it all.
First Nation People is the title of the Ojibwes who survived here hundreds of years ago. Their presence is observed through their pictographs, their pawkawska pits and the folk lore, those intriguing stories we read in the cruising guides and hear from local people when we stop and ask. We read that there are some of the best preserved pictographs along the cliffs near Sinclair Cove so off we went delve into Ojibwe history.
Sinclair Cove looked like a perfect harbor on the chart, however, with a SW swell running at 2 - 4 feet the harbor is a mess. I can remember harbors in the Caribbean where we rolled at anchor. No fun and now here in Sinclair Cove we were rolling. Now I'm not complaining, I mean we could stay in our bed, but we're older now and we like our calm serene harbors. A bald eagle swooped by, my closest encounter so far. Close enough to discern it features and magnificent plumage. Kind-a makes you feel proud, the symbol of our country's strength, beauty, boldness and power, right there almost within touch.
From Garganthua we set out onto the Lake for Michipicoten Island, a good days sail. We met another cruising team who also left that morning for the island. I heard them go out around 07:00, a little early for the Smithies unless it's a really long passage. We pull up the hook a couple of hours later and headed out to sea, or out onto the Lake. Beam reach, 7 knots all is well. An hour out we spotted the other boat sailing a much higher course. A couple of hours later and they had coursed our bow now heading much lower and under power. The wind was backing, going further and further behind us and as a result we were slowing and I was heading higher, away from the island just to create some apparent wind. Now we were sailing parallel to our mark not getting any closer and the wind was dying, so captain Bob calls for the engine, darn. We tried power sailing but it didn't work with the sails flagging back and forth so roll'em up and sit back with the autopilot doing the work. It's reading time, sleeping time and watching time. We arrived in Quebec Harbor around 19:00 and anchored at the eastern end, still many hours of sun light to explore by dinghy. Three wrecks, an old fishing village, Agate Island and then back to LB for wine and dinner.
So now on to Otter Cove and beyond.