Georgian Bay and The North Channel
19 August 2019
After the hustle and bustle of 100+ locks, Georgian Bay and the North Channel was a relaxing reprieve. We traveled 350 miles with 20 stops, all but 2 at anchor! Loosly buddy boating with Bella Gatto we would travel together, split for a few days and regroup. DeeO'gee missed Bella terribly when we were apart, I think he has a crush on that tall girl next door. Jayne and Jonathan are great to travel with and Lake Michigan will not be the same without them.
Georgian Bay is peppered with summer cottages, cottages might be what they are called but they range from small one room cabins to three story million dollar homes. Built on rock islands and only accessible by boat, these cottages only get used 4-5 months a year. Remember that winter is harsh in these parts!
Traversing through the Small Craft Channel was at times quiet exciting. Referred to as 30,000 islands by the locals, there are probably twice that many just below the surface, with channels so narrow in some areas that the red and green markers were just 30 feet apart. My captain guided us through safely and we were rewarded with some amazing anchorages. Sometimes a narrow cut would open to a private wonderland just for us. Other times a cluster of islands would provide scenic walks for groups of humans and dogs. The highlight of this section was Bad River, a protected anchorage with a network of dingy channels to explore. At times when the water isn't so high one can dingy the rapids, this year there was just swift currents between large bolders. But really it is hard to pick a favorite when so many were picture perfect.
Once we entered the North Channel the cottages became fewer and fewer and true wilderness was more apparent. We saw eagles, snakes, muskrat and some boaters saw bears! The call of the loons would provide music during evening and morning hours. I know we are in Canada but the sound of those damm canadian geese and their droppings were everywhere. Lots of droppings and I mean everywhere. Drats, did I just whine?
Baie Fine was our favorite stop through this area with a great hike to Emerald Lake. Crystal clear water just begging us to jump in from rock cliffs, even Bella jumped from the rocks as DeeO'gee stayed far enough away to be safe from being tossed or falling in. Back at the anchorage we rounded up all 7 other Looper boats for Rocktails, drinks and munchies on the rocks.
We spent almost 3 weeks on this leg and 2 months total in Canada and enjoyed every day, from cities to wilderness it was all wonderful. Quebec Province was probably or favorite section with darling towns and French flair. I can't imagine why anyone would complete the Loop of 5000 miles in three or for months unless the just want to burn fuel and earn the gold burgee. They really could not experience the adventure. We are starting into our 12th month and have traveled over 4000 nautical miles (4800 statute miles) so far on this voyage. We still have a way to go this year and depending on next year's side trips we should finish up at well over 6000 miles.
Living large at 7 knots!
There's a grumpy Looper
And some frumpy Loopers
And those that just plain whine
Here's to all us grateful Loopers that think this life's sublime!
The Trent-Severn Canal
28 July 2019
Every day is a new kind of wonderful! Visiting cute towns, meeting new people, experiencing incredible locks. It really is such an amazing adventure.
I've mentioned it before and will say it again - We are so fortunate to be Land and Sea Nomads!
This leg of the adventure was the Trent-Severn Waterway. 241 miles long and 42 locks. Completed in 1920, this series of man made canals interlocks rivers and lakes in a zig zag pattern, connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Huron. The canal allows Loopers to stay off the big waters and cruise in more protected areas while enjoying interesting small towns along the way. Many of the locks are still manual hand crank mechanisms and there are a few quite unique locks in the mix. Because we took the longer Lake Champlain route we had already traversed many canals and 78 locks. For most Loopers this is the first Parks Canada canal system. The locks on this canal raised us from 244' above sea level to 841' at Balsam Lake. Kirkfield lift lock is the starting point for lowering traffic down to 578' to enter Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.
There were many wonderful stops and much docktail imbibing but two highlights stand out on this route. First was the Peterborough lift lock, the highest of its kind in the world. Most locks flood or drain water to adjust the level to match the waters in the direction you are traveling but this lock is unique. You drive into a tub and a swing gate seals the water in so that the tub with you in it goes up like an elevator car! After we rode up we tied to the wall at the top and had a tour of the control room and watched other boaters ride up, it was just amazing. The other very famous highlight was the Big Chute Marine Railway. We literally drove up onto a submerged rail car and were lifted slightly with a sling. This rail car then rode up out of the water, across a road and then down a hill. When we were back in water 58 feet lower on the other side, the sling straps loosened and we drove away. Truely a once in a lifetime experience.
We are still traveling with Bella Gatto and at a leisurely pace. Jayne, Jonathan and dog Bella are perfect buddy boat pals. With a similar speed and size, our slow moving routine had us moving early and enjoying small towns or quiet anchorages most afternoons. 13 days averaging less than 20 miles a day, we lunched at small diners, sampled the famed Butter Tarts, and had our fill of Poutine. There are those that do the loop in a few months but this is how cruisers should experience this amazing adventure.
This weekend will be spent at a marina cleaning and loading up on provisions before we start our tour of Georgian Bay and the North Channel. It seams like forever ago that we were planning this trip and the Great Lakes seamed so far off but here we are! Time for another celebratory drink.
So far we have gone 3773 nautical miles (4288 statute miles) and 120 locks on this wild and wonderful LOOP of ours.