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Georgian Bay and the North Channel

Georgian Bay and the North Channel - so much to see!
We are now (23 Aug) docked in Little Current at their "Downtown Docks", and I am taking the time to update our blog and budget sheet (we are not ready to share the budget sheet yet, sorry) while Papi works on tracking a water leak coming somewhere underneath the head (bathroom floor). The boat should be floating on water, water should only be in designated areas... not the bilge area. The rear compartment is still nice and dry, so that is great. The challenge now is to find where this water is coming from. Is it from our fresh water tank, the thru hull to flush the toilet, the rain??? Papi is doing his detective work as I type... (and stay out of his way!!!)

13 Aug / 19 Aug - We left the Beausoleil Island and took the small craft channel to our next destination, Echo Bay (not far from Sans Souci). From there we continued to Parry Sound, and stayed at the Big Sound Marina for two days to resupply, do laundry and plan our route from there.  This was as far as we had come by boat, everything from Parry Sound heading west is new to us, so a bit more planning is now required.

One of the many navigation aides you see in Georgian Bay
Echo Bay anchorage - early morning
We finally put our banner on the dinghy!
Parry Sound
Parry Sound waterfront
Big Sound Marina - can you see Papi?
We've been using our "Ports Cruising Guide" guide to help us decide where to stop, what to explore and best routes to get there.  There is so much to see and do in the Georgian Bay and North Channel that we can't even explore a fraction of the area.  We've already decided that we are (at some point) going to come back and spend a whole season here boating and discovering the area. Our charts have "post it's" all over them with notes of where to anchor, hike, visit, explore... from other boaters who know the area and who've shared stories and information with us.

Hopewell Bay anchorage
From Parry Sound, we headed to an anchorage in the Shawanaga Inlet, Hopewell Bay was a nice small anchorage and we were the only ones there. This bay deserves a special mention as this is where Papi caught the first fish that we decided to keep and eat! It was a bass fish and it was pretty tasty! We decided to go to Wright's Marina in Britt from there.  It's a great place to stop! They know how to welcome boaters and make them feel at home. We knew of this marina only because of the forest fires that where in the area.  The marina was posting daily updates on travel bans and restrictions on facebook and the AGLCA forum.  It was a great help to many boaters and we really appreciated the information as it aided us make our decisions.

Canoe Chanel
Pointe au Baril
Wright's Marina - awesome stop
We had been told by many not to miss the "Bustard Islands" and "Collins Inlet". It was in our cruising guide as good anchorages so we had the information to safely anchor in both places. They are definitely places we want to come back and spend more time at. We dinghied a bit around Bustards (and we kept and ate another fish Papi caught), and we were amazed at the "canyon" we went through in Collins Inlet. Mill Lake, where we anchored out for the night, is about a third of the way in the passage and it provided a safe and scenic spot to spend the night at anchor.

Collins Inlet
Collins Inlet
Sunset - Mill Lake

20 Aug / 23 Aug -  As you exit Collins Inlet, you come out to open water before you arrive in the North Channel. Our first stop for gas, pump out, milk and bread was Kilarney. It is a really quaint town, very picturestic. We didn't spend the night there, we continued on to another recommended anchorage just past Kilarney, Covered Portage Cove.

Lighthouse as you arrive at Kilarney

Covered Portage Cove will defiantly be one of those places we remember forever! We were anchored there for two nights. On day one, we dinghied to shore to hike to the top of one of the cliffs to take photos of the anchorage and our boat! It was impressive to say the least, our photos don't do it justice. Some of you might have seen the photos of the otter Papi shared on facebook, that otter has no fear of boaters or of boats! What a mischievous otter! We had all noticed him swimming in the cove, munching on whatever he could catch and checking out the boats. At one point, he came to rest on our lower engine units under the swim platform. He only swam away after we both got on and used the boat hook to bang on the swim platform. Even then, he was like "what are you looking at?". That same evening, he climbed in one of the sailboats and stole a fish! When the owners who were on another boat paddled back, the otter jumped in the water and swam to another boat and climbed up on their swim platform and ate the fish there. Pretty cocky otter!! Day two was rainy and windy and almost no one left the anchorage. The winds never calmed down during the night, and two boats dragged their anchors... One of them had a bit of damage as it collided with another boat, but the other was lucky and did not hit anyone! We were lucky too, as they were right next to us and must have slid right by us and missed our anchor and the boat.

On day three, the winds were supposed to calm down in the afternoon, so we waited until almost 14h00 (2 pm) before leaving the anchorage (that's pretty late in the day for us to move). The winds were not as intense, but we still had a rolly ride to Little Current. We were glad to be safely tucked in at a marina as the wind and rain picked up again about 10 minutes after we arrived. (One of the places we didn't stop, was Heywood Island, and we are glad we didn't! There has been at least five reported boat boarding by a bear in the last two weeks! Luckily, no one has been hurt (yet), only material damage to a couple of the boats.

Contd 24 Aug - 26 Aug

Our stay at Little Current's Municipal marina lasted two days. In part because of the weather, but mostly because Papi wanted to check and see where the water we noticed in the bilge is coming from... As I mentioned above, Papi put on his detective hat. The investigation phase was a bit overwhelming to say the least.  He removed the toilet from it's spot, cut a hole in the sole of the head (floor of the bathroom) to see to the hull, then removed the whole sole (floor) section. The fridge also got moved out of it's spot to remove the bottom shelve to expose the hull there too. The cockpit panels (floors) where not spared either, to trace the hoses and lines.  It was total chaos! Papi never did find the cause, but he did find a bit of rot under the head sole, so he removed it with his hand saw, chisel and hammer. We will need to fix it later, but for now at least the rotten section has been removed and the area has been cleaned.  The water accumulating under the head is likely the reason for the rot, as there was no where for it to go.  We will be using the shop vac to clean the area now that we know it is a problem, we can keep an eye on it. (We had a fellow Looper come over and look at it with Papi and he was very reassuring. As an engineer, who has built boats and owns multiple boats, he was knowledgeable and a good source of information for us.) Papi pulled an all nighter to put everything back together in the cabin and the cockpit. A good cleaning in the morning, and you can't tell there was a huge mess the previous day!

Lighthouse before Little Current
Cruise ship in Little Current! 
It was leaving the dock wall.

Part of the chaos
It had rained so hard we hadn't even plugged in yet!
So, with a tidy boat, we left Little Current to go to the Benjamins Islands. It is another beautiful spot,  crowded with other boats, that we are putting on our "will need to come back" list. Another looper, that we had met previously was also anchored there and they dinghied over to invite us for "dock tales" on their boat.  In total, they invited 5 other boats, we were 12 for cocktails. (They have a bigger boat than us, lol) We had a great time.
Jo and Trish rowing to Padragin
Just a few of the boats at Benjamin's South Island
Yesterday, we left the anchorage and headed out to our next anchorage, in Whaleback Channel, but when we got there it was still early in the day, so we decided to carry on and go to another spot I found on the chart that looked good. No one had mentioned this one to us but, Beardrop Harbour was a great anchorage. It was sheltered and the depth was perfect for us at 12 feet in the whole bay/harbour. We were the only power boat there, the other five where sailboats.

Beardrop Harbour
He caught one fish - it was hiding under our boat
This morning, the winds were not too bad, so we decided to come to Thessalon, where we are docked at their municipal marina. There is only another four boats here, and we are the only ones on our boat here tonight. We are enjoying the quiet, as today was the longest distance we've done in one day so far, 76.3 km.

Soon, we'll head out again and if all goes well, we should be in Sault Ste Marie in a couple days!

Crazy to think that after that, we'll be going down Lake Michigan in September... that is not too far away!

Tina & Papi

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with" 

– Charles Schultz