29-30 August 2014

From yesterdays day of fishing in Big Bay de Noc and our overnight stay in Ogontz Bay we pulled up anchor pretty early and headed south and west into Escanaba, MI. With the shortening days we’ve needed to adapt our schedule to get up and going by 9AM. Dawn is now at 7AM and getting later each day. We are also going to need to get back into our early days to make it through the locks on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

We got into our slip around noon and got all nestled in. The crew of Northern Lights that we had met in Fayette were at the dock. I chatted with them for a few minutes.

We biked into town. Just past the marina entrance there is a marker titled “Sun” with some info about the Sun. A little farther on was one for Mercury.

When we got to Jupiter we stopped for lunch at the nearby “Hereford and Hops”, a local brew pub. We were both pleased with our meals and the dinner option of Mongolian BBQ looked pretty interesting. They had a wide selection of beers, so a return visit to try more was in the cards!

After lunch we did some errands including a grocery mega shop. Our last one had been in Sault Ste Marie about two weeks ago. We are good for another 10 days or so on staples. Our next sequence of places are all marinas and with the exception of the one on Sunday, all are in larger towns. It was a little weird for me, the boxes are all back to being just English text, I had gotten used to the dual language (English/French) boxes in Canada.

When we got back there was a 1986 Bayliner 4588 docked next to ours. Debra Christine was a boat that had completed the loop in the early 1990′s. They had gone with their friends on the Tuscano, docked a few slips away from us. We talked about their experience on the loop and how they thought the Southeast part of the US along the coast was the prettiest section.

For dinner we biked back to the “Hereford and Hops”. The Mongolian BBQ was good, they had an extensive selection of food items to put into the stir fry mix. I also got a chance to try two different kinds of beer, their stout and IPA. Both were very good, I was impressed.

From dinner we rode a few more blocks into town to see the town center. There was a bike shop, a chance to get slow leaking inner-tubes replaced.

The marina was host to the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour, so Friday morning I got up early to watch the event. You can read all about it here. While I was doing that, Susan took her bike on a tour of town and got a massage. Most of the day it rained off and on so it was a good day for me to catch up on blog posts and Susan started getting the last 19 days of videos uploaded.

The crew of Northern Lights had suggested “The Stonehouse”. We took a taxi there but found that the wait would be over 90 minutes. Susan had spied “Ferdinand’s” on the way, so we walked a few blocks back. Turns out it was a great choice, the Mexican dishes were some of the best we’ve ever had.

Saturday morning was more rain and fog. With 100 fish boats out in the fog we decided that staying here was a good choice. By noon it has cleared off some. We took our bikes to “Mr. Bike” to get new tires and tubes. Lunch was at “Rosie’s” the breakfast / lunch diner in town. Susan had a great burger and I had cups of the “Stuffed Green Pepper” and “16 Bean and Ham” soups. The green pepper soup reminded me of Mom’s stuffed green peppers.

We picked up our bikes are were very impressed with our new tires. The bikes seemed to roll much easier on the ride home. I’m hoping that the new tubes will stop the need to pump up the tires every time we ride.

Saturday afternoon was more fish contest for me and more photo / video stuff for Susan.

Susan had the foresight to make reservations at “The Stonehouse” for dinner. To start we had the “Angry Shrimp” and boy were they angry! They were on the edge of too hot to eat. Next time we will go for the “Slightly Annoyed Shrimp”. Susan had a huge piece of prime rib with Mac&Cheese on the side, I had the short-ribs with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Both were very good.

Dessert was from the “Donut Connection”. In theory a good plan, in practice, since they close at 8, buying donuts at 7:30 does not mean you will get fresh ones. We treated the taxi driver to jelly donuts which surprised him.

Sunday we are of to Sister Bay, about a 5 hour trip. I’m hoping for calm waters.


National Walleye Tournament

29-30 August 2014

This post is for Mike and the nice people at NWT.

We are at the Escanaba, MI marina, one of this years host for the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour. It’s three 2 day tournaments that end up with a Championship. This year the third event is Escanaba.


I got up at 6AM to start watching the activities. The marina basin slowly filled with 100 boats ranging from 17′ to 25′. All with large (200-250) hp motors. Most would be what you would call a classic fishing boat. No cabin, just two seats and mostly flat open areas to walk around in.

At 6:45 they announced that boats should start lining up for the start. Each boat has a boat number, so today boat #1 goes first, #100 will go first on Saturday. They have everyone start their boat and test out their safety switches. If the driver goes over the side there is a lanyard that pulls the motor stop switch. Which was important today since the forecast was for rain, 15kt winds and 4 foot waves. We were in the harbor today since it was too rough out.


But the driver and co-angler were competing for $300,000 in prizes / money. Top boat takes $61,000, ( a $46,000 boat and $15,00 cash) and the top co-angler gets $7,000. Not bad for two days of fishing. Except for the rain. Except for the waves. But at 7AM as a gray dawn was breaking they called boat #1 and he and his buddy headed down the long channel to a very ugly Lake Michigan. By 7:30 number 100 had motored by and they were all out fishing.


Rules are pretty basic, Walleye only, two lures (either two rods or a rod with 2 lures per angler), no more than 2 fish over 23” max 5 fish per boat. All fish have to be over 15”. (Michigan DNR rules)


The co-anglers are assigned a boat on the first day and a different boat on the second day. The boats keep their first day total into the second day, as does the co-angler. Mike, maybe you can get signed up as a co-angler!


I walked back down to the tournament site around 3 PM when the first boats were due back. They have a pretty cool system for handling the fish. When boats get back to the dock they are given a heavy duty bag about 3′ square that has reinforced sides and handles. Anglers put their fish and some water in the bag and lug it (21-30 pounds of fish plus water) to the weigh in area.


They put the bags into 6′ x 3′ tubs of water that have bubbler hoses. They put a bubbler hose into the bag to help the fish stay alive. When they are called they go to a measure station where the fish are measured to make sure they are over 15” and to record the count and the max weight. Fish are put back into an empty bag.






Fish and the bag (no water) are off to the main stage to be weighed in and let the anglers give comments on the day. “It was like a walk in the park, I was good with the 6 foot waves, but I lost my hat, I’d like to thank Cabela’s, Trophy, Mike’s lures and Mom for a great day”.


Fish then go around the corner where there is a sponsor logo wall. They pull two fish out and hold them up for official pictures for their scrapbooks.

Bags then go to another tank where they are partially filled with water, keeping the fish alive. Then a dock hand carries the bags of fish, two at a time to the waiting recovery boat that has a giant tank in the center. The water is recirculated with fresh water, and there is an oxygen tank that bubbles into the water. About 65-70% of the fish live (today there were about 400 fish caught). The dying fish are pulled out and given to a charity. Based on the three guys that were picking coolers of fish, I’m going to say the local Legion, VFW, Elks or Eagles are having a walleye fish fry tonight. Note, based on the fish weight and the water weight, the dock hand carried just over 5,000 lbs of fish and water, 100 feet to the boat. When I talked to the guy later he said he was beat.


The recovery boat will go out into the Little Bay de Noc and dump the fish out. According to the tournament guy I talked to, the fish are pretty stressed out. They will go find water about 15′-20′ deep (they try to find a spot about that deep to dump them). They hang out for 24-48 hours, but they won’t bite a lure. Within 72-96 hours they are back where they were caught. I asked about DNR being here to tag fish (hey 400 fish is a good sample size) but was told that they don’t have budgets to do that. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t.

Today’s results were pretty amazing for me, since I’m a non fish guy. Top 2 places all had 27 lbs of fish, the longest fish of the day was 35”, weight wise a 7.6 lb fish was the winner (and oddly, they only caught one fish for the day) Four boats had zero fish, another 5 had only one. Go out in small craft warning weather, fish for 8 hours and come home with nothing. Not my idea of fun.

Cabela’s gave a ton of rods and lures to kids that were there at 4 PM. Nice!

Live stream of the weigh in and stats. Look for the event on NBC in December. Don’t look for me, I tried to stay away from the camera people.

Side note for me: The camera guy had a 4 rotor helicopter that he was flying, sponsored by Ion.


Nice pictures of the departure, some boats coming back in and crowd shots. I really want one of these, it can carry our Go-Pro.



I might do the loop again to get an aerial view of the Quo Vadimus traversing a lock or over our anchorage in Baie Fine. I just need to convince Susan that the $2000 is worth it vs the $800 in fuel that would take us to Baie Fine and back. (Or with the kids, maybe the [Phantom 2 with GoPro gimbals], will make our combined Christmas lists. Maybe a Kickstarter!)

Anyway it was a bonus day for me, I’ve never seen a fishing tournament. The people running the tournament were super nice and spent time with me talking about what they were doing. I thought robot people were passionate about what they do, the people from the NWT were equally great. Thanks!

Pictures from the rainy, foggy, Saturday launch



Big Bay de Noc, MI

28 August 2014

One of the things that Susan likes to do on this trip is fish. She has been getting fishing locations from just about everyone she talks to. Some of them have been really good locations.

One of the locations that I got from a boater on Beaver Island was the Big Bay de Noc. There are lots of little coves and bays that may have fish.

We started off the fishing in the morning at Fayette State Park. Susan had fished the night before and she spent a little bit of time trying her luck off of the main dock. Some small nibbles. The boat behind us pulled a small 6” bass from under the dock/our boat.

At that point we packed up and headed North East around Garden Bluff and into Garden Bay. Good news, there was a cluster of 4 fishing boats where the water level changed from 8 feet to 14 feet. We slowly moved up to about where they were. Susan fished for about an hour. No fish, but she did get some amusement from the trash talk that was going on between the other fishing boats.

Our next stop was off of Porcupine Point at the far end of Big Bay de Noc, near the mouth of Fishdam River. She fished for an hour and no luck their either.

Moving around to the west we came to Orgontz Bay. We got there about 5 PM and we anchored for the evening. She tried her hand again, but gave up about a half hour later.

Since this was our last stop of the day we had dinner. She made a great dinner of sausages so the day ended up pretty good after all.


120 days on the loop!

28 August 2014

We’ve completed 120 days on the loop, we’ve used about one third of our year and gone slightly over 1,500 miles about one quarter of the estimated distance. So from a project management view we are behind in the amount of work completed.

But we are way ahead in the experiences department. The last 30 days were filled with our favorite anchorage, Baie Fine, the North Channel with other great places, the two Soo’s, Mackinac Island and we’ve sailed the length of Lake Michigan.

While we were in the Soo we saw one of the best engineering works, the Soo Canal system. It’s just amazing how big it is, how simple it operates and how much cargo and water goes through it every day.

Once we entered Lake Michigan I was able to claim “Boated in All the Great Lakes”. (I boated in Lake Erie when I lived in Fredonia). So that’s another item off of my bucket list. Not sure how I’ll put it on my resume, but next chance I get I’ll add it to my LinkedIn status.

Our visit to Mackinac Island was another item off of Susan’s bucket list. It was very cool and we both enjoyed it (even with all the horse poop).

Belle is very comfortable with the boat. She comes out often to sit with us on the fly bridge and the pilot house. For some reason she likes to nap on the pile of shoes in the salon. I can’t tell if she likes laying on them, or they are in her favorite nap spot and she just endures them.

We continued to meet very nice people in the form of Loopers, other boaters and people in the towns we’ve visited. We’ve really liked seeing the small towns on the way, but are excited about some of the upcoming cities.

Our trip to date stats: 120 days, 1519 miles, 63 days of travel but only 232 actual travel hours. We’ve burned 1127 gallons of fuel at a cost just under $5,000, getting about 1.35 miles per gallon at 6.5 miles per hour.

The number of travel days will start going up as we head down the west shoreline of Lake Michigan. We have planned stops in Green Bay (to see the home of the Packers), Chicago and St. Louis. By day 150 we should be deep in the second set of locks in the trip south to the Gulf.

I’m writing this in an out of the way corner of Lake Michigan, Ognotz Bay. Last night was a great sunset, overnight there was a sky full of stars and this morning was a very pretty sunrise. It’s things like this that makes the trip all the more special.


Fayette, MI

25-26 August 2014

We left Manistique first thing in the morning. There was a light rain falling, but according to the weather radar that would clear pretty quickly. The winds were from the Southwest at about 8kts in the prediction, shifting to West so that shouldn’t be a problem either.

We were about 45 minutes out of Manistique when the wind shifted to a more southern direction. That put the waves we were quartering into now on the beam. (Before we were cutting into the waves at about a 45 degree angle. Now the waves were hitting the side of the boat.) So there was a lot more rocking side to side. Across the next hour the wind speed built up, so much for a milder 8kts.

I scouted for a cove to go into to wait some. As I looked there wasn’t any real good choices but I was hoping that Portage Bay would help some as the wind moved to the west. Turned out not to be the case so we kept moving. But the little detour helped, as I moved down the coast we were going more Southwest again so we were back quartering into the waves. A little more up and down, but very little roll.

We were soon at Point Detour and headed towards Summer Island. The charts looked like I could go around the point, but it looked a little iffy in spots. So we went down around Summer Island and headed into Big Bay De Noc. The water now smoothed out for us since the waves were behind us pushing us along. Whew!

Two hours later (almost 6 in total) we came into Snail Shell Harbor. It really does curve around like a snail shell. At the inner most point is a long dock big enough for 5-6 boats.

The harbor was originally home to the town of Fayette. Named after Fayette Brown the Jackson Iron Company agent who chose the site, it was once one of the Upper Penisula’s most productive iron smelting operation. Started in 1866 the town grew from one smelter and a few people to two smelters running full time and almost 500 people. In 1891 the market for iron made using the charcoal method started to decline and the plant closed in December of that year. The town tried to transform itself into a farming / tourist / vacation town, but by the 1950′s the town was almost empty. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources bought the entire town and turned it into a state park. They have slowly been restoring the buildings.

We docked the boat about 4 in the afternoon. There are no facilities other than water from a single spigot. There is a visitors center that you can buy ice, ice cream and tshirts at. The center also holds a huge diorama of the village and gives you a visual tour of the town.

By the end of our first afternoon there were four boats on the dock, all but us were from about 30 miles away. It was very quiet and pristine there. And as we found out, very remote, there was no cell phone coverage from the dock. Bummer. We were cut off from the interwebs. It reminded me of a trip that Jen, Pam and I had taken to Lake Wallenpaupack near the Pocono Mountains. There was no cell coverage, the only phone was a pay phone in the parking lot.

Susan set up her chair and table on the dock and read while Belle and I took over the flybridge to read and nap. The weather, as predicted cleared and it was a great evening. Later we ran the generator long enough to make dinner, Susan made chicken breasts with gravy and mashed potatoes. Very nice!

After dinner Susan tried fishing some, but the long roly poly day we were both tired.

During the day we walked the village and marveled again how good it was to live now. The day to day existence for most of the people was pretty hard. The parks people had done a great job with setting the buildings up with period artifacts.

Also during the day there was a change over from the night before with some boats leaving and some arriving. One was a Gold Looper, the Passport. I spent some time talking to them about their loop experience. Meanwhile Susan was making friends with the boat behind us, she had eyed the 6 fishing rods mounted on the sides and knew she had found a kindred fisherman.

Both of us did manage to bike to the outlook way above Fayette in search of phone service. Both of us were able to grab voice mails but the data service was just enough to get email headers and no text.

After dinner of sausages and pasta we headed down to the swimming beach on the other side of Fayette (about a 5 minute walk). One of the boaters had come here as a child and one of her favorite memories was a fire on the beach. We sat and talked to the two other couples about their experiences growing up on Lake Michigan. We meet the nicest people.

In the morning I awoke to the sounds of rain on the deck. It was just a short cloudburst, but one that had not been in the forecast. I’m getting the hang of Lake Michigan weather, it’s never quite what the forecast says.

We got dried off and did some more (unsuccessful) fishing. But there was hope for the day, we were going to circumnavigate Big Bay De Noc in search of fish!


Manistique, MI

21-24 August 2014

There is something very mysterious about Manistique, it’s almost like the town does not want to let us go. I’m writing this after spending three nights here. We are shrouded in dense fog, I can’t see the buildings past the marina. It’s as if the town knows that I don’t like to travel in the fog.

Our trip here was nice. We left Beaver Island on a pretty morning after stoking up on a big breakfast and buying shirts. The lake was calm and we puttered along at a rate to get us to Manistique about 4:30 PM and saving fuel as much as possible.

When we got to town and berthed, we didn’t have wi-fi connections. Since the wall we were on wasn’t full, we slid forward until we were next to the building and had a decent connection. That problem solved we headed into town.

One of the things that has been absent from the “Food we have eaten” page is Chinese food. There was a new place in town, so we though we would give it a try. The chicken and mixed vegetables was very good. Tender chicken, vegetables that were cooked but still crisp. The House Special LoMein was also very good. The only problem was the hot and sour soup. When I showed it to the staff the cook went “Oh, I forgot to put the hot spices in!” Sigh.

We wandered back to the boat. I was very tired after the long 5 hour trip on the water so I crashed to bed early.

In the morning we got fuel ($4.18/gallon!) and pumped out. We were planning to spend the next few days on the hook. It was a gray day, and my shoulder was bothering me so I declared a snow day. We headed into town and got some more fishing stuff and an American flag for the boat. Susan cleaned the inside of the boat, I cleaned the outside and we both got naps! Perfect snow day.

For dinner Susan made pasta and sausages, one of her specialties. There is a winery across the marina basin, they have live music on Friday and Saturdays. After dinner we went over and tried a few different wines and listend to the duo playing. A nice way to spend Friday night!

Saturday morning it was raining. No problem we would out wait the rain before heading west to Fayette, MI. At noon I called the day’s travel off, it was still raining and from the radar it was not going to end soon. About 4PM it did clear off and started to become a nice evening.

Since we were staying (again) Susan had started a slow cooker with beef short-ribs about 1 PM. So we had a great dinner of the beef with the tomato / vegetable gravy over mashed potatoes. We ate with a really nice sunset starting on the horizion.

After dinner we played Ticket to Ride, a board game that you build train routes across the US. It was a lot of fun. We then played Bananagrams that Susan won by one point. It was a fun evening.

Sunday started off gray as we got showered and ready to leave. By 9:30 the fog rolled in and by now (11AM) it’s very dense. We will need to wait until it clears, I’m not up for another trip like we had leaving Mackinac Island. Hopefully it will clear soon, but it’s almost as if Manistique has some mystic hold and does not want us to leave…..

Updated to add: We finally got away on the 25th (Monday) There was a light rain and it looked like it was going to clear, so we took the chance and headed away…


Beaver Island, MI

20 August 2014

When we woke it was foggy out, but the wind had dropped. I wanted to get started as early as possible to do the 5 hour run to Beaver Island. About 10 AM the fog started to lift and we made one last run into town to get a last fudge fix. Because First Mate Pig doesn’t talk much, I’ve been forgetting him. I was able to get some pictures of him with the horses that run around town and a good shot of him posing at the marina sign.

We pushed off the dock about 11 AM and headed west. I could make out the bridge 5 miles away in the fog. Not the visibility I normally like, but not bad. As we got closer and closer to the bridge I noticed that we were not seeing things past the bridge. The fog was rolling in. I listened to the VHF radio weather forecast and they were not talking about fog, so we decided to keep on going.

We motored under the bridge but could not see the top, so our visibility was down to about 200 feet. I checked the AIS system to see what commercial boats were near us, we didn’t see any. I had both GPS systems running so we knew where we were. So other than someone crashing into us we were good to go.

The fog would lift and then drop for the next 3 hours. We kept an eye out for boats, we only saw 3 on the entire trip.

About 45 minutes the fog lifted and we could see land!!! Then it began to do that misty rain thing. Sigh. We got docked at the Beaver Island Marina in the mist without any other problems.

Beaver Island is West of the Mackinac Straits by 35 miles. The island is about 14 miles north/south and 4 miles east/west. It is home to about 500 full-time residents and about that many more seasonal guests. At the north end of the island is the ferry terminal that takes people on the 2.5 hour trip to the mainland.

We sat out the drizzle and when it cleared headed into town. At the fuel dock was Lollygagger, we had met them on Mackinac. They had left an hour after we had and the same fog we did.

As we walked through the town of St James Point, we read about James Jesse Strang who was a Mormon leader in the 1800′s He was part of a group that had splintered off. He had assumed the title of “King”. The group splintering off and his fancy title didn’t sit well with the other Mormons and he was assassinated. The killers were arrested on the island by the Mackinac police but with a “lack of evidence” they were released. History is such amazing stuff! The town still bears his name and there is a “King Strang” private club. The Mormon History museum was closed, we will have to catch that another time.

Dinner was pretty uneventful, but we had two college age waiters that were able to fill in our questions about the town. We can both recommend the fried green beans and the coleslaw, but the wings and the Irish Potato skins were average.

The next morning the fog, rain and wind were all gone. The harbor was very still and we could see down into the bottom of the basin. Very cool! It would be nice if the Chesapeake got this clear again.

I took advantage of the marina’s washer to do a load of clothing. While that was going on we went across the street and had breakfast. I had the Irish skillet breakfast which is home made corned beef hash (with onions!) and two eggs along with home made wheat toast. A great way to start the day!

We both got Beaver Island shirts at the gift shop before leaving town. Both Susan and I have shown great restraint on our shirt purchases! We also checked out the hardware store. Most things were a good deal more than at home, reflecting the cost of bringing things over by boat.

At 11 we set sail for Manistique, MI.


Mackinac Island, MI

18-19 August 2014

Mackinac Island was on Susan’s bucket list since the first days of planning. The island has been stopped in time with only horse drawn vehicles and bicycles for transportation. (Well they cheat in the snow, there are truck plows for the island and the full time residents all have snowmobiles) It is a combination of old world charm and the tourist trade. It’s been a vacation destination since the Indians in the 1600′s.

We got off the dock in DeTour about 9:30 AM. It was going to be a long day with a trip of about 35 miles to get to Mackinac Island. Our days of little 10-15 mile jumps are done, from here to Chicago it’s 30+ miles between places.

The wind started picking up about two hours into the trip and by the third hour we were in a 12 knot wind. The waves were not that bad except for the “every 12th roller wave” that pushed the boat sideways. Not the best sailing weather, but the forecast for the next day was solid rain, so we took the chance.

We got into our dock a little before 2PM and quickly buttoned upthe boat and headed into town. First thing I noticed were all of the horse drawn carriages. Two people, 4 people, carts with 18 people. Horses everywhere. But they were outnumbered by the people and the bicycles. It reminded me of Ocean City Maryland with the throngs of people and bikes on the boardwalk.

Susan was well prepared for our visit. She got us to a carriage ride that came in two parts. The first part through town and the second part back through the state park.

The ride through town was nice. We got to see all the nice buildings off of the main street. There is a small hospital and an even smaller post office. Since all the people have a PO box the joke was “Only US post office that never delivered a piece of mail”.

Our cart held 12 people and was drawn by 2 horses. There were many rest breaks to give the horses a chance to recover dragging us all up the steep hills. The steepest one lead up to “The Grand Hotel”. It is a 300 room, 3 story hotel that was built in the late 1800′s. It is huge and has a front porch with “more rockers than Cracker Barrel”. Across the street is a 9 hole golf course and the back nine is a 10 minute carriage ride away. While you can have golf carts on the course, you can’t have them between courses or on the street.

At the top of the hill is “The Grand Hotel” livery barns and a gift shop where you change carriages for the park tour. We got off and headed to the next building over which was one of the two butterfly exhibits on the island. “Wings of Mackinac” is a small building attached to a long greenhouse. You get to walk along a brick path with soothing music and bubbling fountains while looking at the 100′s of butterflies.

When I walked in one came down and landed on my hat brim. I was wondering why everyone was looking at me until Susan said what was going on. It was a beautiful dark blue and black color. There should be a good picture in the Mackinac album.

From the butterflies we headed over to the stables to check out the carriages and tack that are used by “The Grand Hotel”. The carriages are very fancy and well preserved.

Next was to get on a carriage drawn by three horses and a cart that carried 20 people. We went on a 5 mile jaunt through the woods. We saw Skull Cave, where the indians put some of their dead. The rife range, a 1000 yard cleared stretch of land that the soldiers practiced on. We also saw three cemetery locations, Protestant, Catholic, and the Army. The arched gate to the Catholic cemetary was the best, since the worn path goes around the gate. The reason is they measured to make sure the hearse would fit in between the posts, but when building the arch forgot that the driver sits up high.

We stopped for 5 minutes at Arch Rock, a natural limestone arch close to the waters edge. It’s pretty cool how nature was able to carve the center out. If you go past the arch you can see a message in the water below. Someone has taken rocks out into the water to spell messages out.

On the return trip we learned how they mined limestone (build really hot fires on top of the rock and douse it with cold lake water to crack it) for the churches in town.

We saw the front entrance of the fort and some people got off there. At the Governor’s summer place more people got off so it was only Chelsea the driver and us. She asked where we were staying and we talked about the loop, she had heard of it before. We chatted on the last section of the ride and gave us the latest in town gossip. Of the three drivers we had that day she was the best.

At the junction terminal, we checked out the antique carriage collection that has the hearse and the fire pumper (and it turns out they have a fire department with fire trucks, so much for “everything is horses”). I bought a half pound of fudge for us to try.

We swapped carriages again back to town. We were soon on the main street, and the end of the carriage ride is in front of the Mustang Grill. Karma was speaking to us, so we went in to have a quick beer and some fries to warm up from the cold day.

From there we walked the rest of the length of the shopping district. It consists mostly of fudge places, gift shops, places to eat, carriage ride tours and places to rent bikes. A lot like the boardwalk, except on both sides of the street.

One of the places had a pretty good selection of beers on tap. We were both full from the fries, so we had appetizers (crab cake and a chicken pot pie). I did four beer tasting of some Michigan beers. They were pretty good, but I’m glad I have Canadian beer still back on the boat.

Once back at the marina, Susan headed back to the boat and I set out to meet the Looper boats that were there. I was able to talk to the crews of Nuclear Fishin, Limelight and Lollygagger. They are all in various stages of the Loop, but Nuclear Fishin is out of the lower Chesapeake Bay so they are just a little closer than we are to being done.

It was bumpy sleeping over night. The winds had stopped somewhat but since they were blowing from the Southeast it and the waves were coming into the marina. Boaters had complained about the waves from the multiple ferry boats, but they are done at 9:30 and the bouncing went on all night.

Tuesday morning it rained until about ll AM, but stopped in time for us to walk up to “The Grand Hotel” for the lunch buffet. To be honest, yesterday I wasn’t too thrilled with all the horse manure that was everywhere. Naive me thought “Yay it rained, it will wash it away!”. Whoa Nellie, not so fast. What the rain does is spread it evenly across the road making it slippery to walk on. With visions of slipping on the hill and falling face first into the street we sallied forth.

Our first stop was the “Little Church” that was built in the 1800′s out of island limestone. It was very pretty and has some very nice stained glass windows. There is a huge (30′ diameter) stained glass window above the alter. It wasn’t lighted, so the pictures are pretty dark.

Sticking to the sidewalk as much as possible we made it to “The Grand Hotel”. We paid our $10 fee and sauntered like we were guests up to the porch. I could picture my Grandmother Gray as a young adult spending time here in the 1920′s

In another post wrote about our food orgy at the lunch buffet.It was really good and something that we would both do another time. After recovering in the rockers we set off towards the fort.

We passed the Governor’s summer home. It’s a very nice house, and we were told that the family does spend time there in the summer. When they are not there you can tour the house from 9AM – 1PM, but our gluttony got in the way of that happening.

The fort was our next stop. It was very cool, all of the rooms are like they were in the 1890′s. There is also a team of docents dressed up in uniforms of the day. They do a rifle shooting demonstration and a cannon firing. While the Fort Mackinac was a desirable post in the 1890′s with it protecting mostly a vacation community, I’m not sure I would want to live there. The docents were good about answering questions and talking to the crowds.

The amusing thing was they have the records of the last men that served at the post. I was surprised by the number of court martials that happened. I was surprised by the number of men that died because of Syphilis. “Contracted during service but not in the line of duty” was an oft repeated notation.

From the fort we headed down hill and stopped in the Bark Chappel where the clergy spent time trying to convert the Indians to Christianity. Looked like it would be pretty cold in the winter.

Next stop was Ste. Anne Catholic Church that was built in 1873. There had been a number of other Ste Anne’s, the oldest on the island was 1743, but it burned down. The current church is huge and very ornate. It has stained glass windows on both sides with the stations of the cross depicted on them. The ceiling of the sanctuary soars above the pews.

From the church we walked back towards the boat. We saw a couple leaving a bike place on electric fold-able bikes! When we inquired we were told that 1) They belonged to the people, they were not rentals, 2) They brought them onto the island on their boat and 3)They were illegal on the island because they were powered. Evidently there is a $100 fine. To get a permit you need to have a doctors letter and file an application with the town and have it approved. I’m going to guess that there is also a fee for doing that. (I did some research and motor vehicles are allowed from 1 November until the second weekend in May, but must yield to the horses)

When we got back to the boat there was an impromptu party on the main wall. It was a group of boaters that spend their summers in the area, they all happened to be together at the same time. Two of them had guitars and a third had a drum so they were doing 70′s songs. Very festive.

The boat was still rocking, so we settled in for another night of being gently tossed by the waves.

(Oh and I left my shoes outside!)


The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Isle, MI

19 August 2014

There are many things to see on Mackinac Island, but two of the standouts are Fort Macinac and The Grand Hotel. Today’s post is about the Grand Hotel.

Mackinac has always been a popular place for summer vacations. From what they can tell even the native Indians came here in what would be the 1500′s. In the early days, there were smaller buildings that would hold a dozen or so guests.

Construction of a grand hotel started in 1886. There was a lot of limestone to clear and building construction didn’t start until 1887. There was a problem, they had booked rooms for the summer in a building that didn’t exist yet. The offered a huge construction bonus if the hotel could be completed in 90 days when the season started. The construction company brought lots of labor in, some of it was skilled. Sadly they missed their bonus, construction took 93 days.

You can read all of it here:

We walked up to see the hotel and to have lunch at their lunch buffet. There is a $10 charge to see the hotel and walk around the grounds, but you can apply the money to the $45 lunch. (And it turns out that taxes and tips are included in the price, so it wasn’t that bad)

We got to the grounds about 11:30 and paid our fee to get in. We strolled along the “Great Front Porch” (it’s official name) and went into the Parlor. Acres of red carpet and tons of plush stuffed chairs. We found the elevator and creaked to the 4th floor. Up a flight of stairs gets you to the entrance of the Cupola Bar.

It is a very plush room with a wooden bar at one end a panoramic view of the Straits of Mackinac from the other three sides. There is a huge chandelier in the ceiling that comes from the floor above, made from what looks like carnival glass. So we climb another set of stairs (we are now on the “6th floor” and at the top of the Cupola. We get a table where we can see out and admire the view. By this point in the day the rain had ended and there were wisps of fog across the strait. Very pretty.

We ordered Bloody Mary’s. They arrived in large goblet garnished with a pickled asparagus spear and two olives balanced on top of the glass on a bamboo skewer. Tres fancy! We had asked for spicy and the drinks were accompanied with two tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce with the “The Grand Hotel” logo.

We sipped and Susan let out a contented sigh. Her quest for a good Bloody Mary on the trip had ended. After disastrous and disappointing ones across Canada, where the best one came out of a can, she was happy.

Along with the drinks came a cruet filled with a spicy snack mix. It was wonderful. Lots of crackers, nuts, and seeds coated with a spicy, salty coating. We asked the bartender about the mix, she gets it preloaded from the kitchen, so she couldn’t help me get more. (And I spazzed about asking in the gift shop if they had any for sale).

We took pictures and enjoyed the views in the cupola as we sipped our drinks. Very nice.

It was time for lunch, so we got our bill ($16 each, tip included) and headed down to the main dining room. It runs along the front third of the hotel and can easily seat over 1,000 diners. Because we arrived early we were able to snag one of the last window seats.
The buffet is described as over 100 feet long and I believe it.

The first table contains the salad course. Three kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cucumber, carrots, and croutons to make a tossed salad. Coleslaw, potato salad, cantelope wedges with jello points and a macaroni salad round out the table. Of course Foster skipped this table.

The appetizer table had oysters on the half shell, peeled cold shrimp, smoked salmon, smoked trout, 4 kinds of cheese, rolled sliced ham and turkey, quiche, pate, finger sandwiches, marinated artichoke hearts, little bread balls that had been hollowed out and filled with salmon mousse or avocado mousse and finally, lamb lollipops. We both thought this table was our favorite. Susan said the oysters were stale, and when we talked to another looper she said they were “dirty”. I’m going to guess that getting oysters ready for 1000 people would be a daunting task. But everything else was wonderful.

There was a table with about a dozen different kinds of breads, rolls and butter.

For hot food they had a mixed vegetable medley with green beans, Brussel sprouts, red pepper and onions; Asian flavored beef with white rice, pasta with an Alfredo sauce, chicken breasts in gravy and a carving station with pork loin, and lots of sauces, jellies, and chutneys for the various meats and seafood.

Dessert was pecan, cherry or apple pie, cheese cake, lots of different tiny pastries, cookies and bread pudding.

Something for everyone!! Being old hands at buffets we knew to look first to see what was there and to take small portions so we could try as much as possible. But even with skipping the salad table it was three passes through the others.

By the time Foster got to the desserts, the cherry pie was gone. There was a young man putting more pecan pie out when Foster lamented “I waited too long!” The server said not to worry, he would go back to the kitchen and get a slice!! True to his word he was back in a few moments with pie. It was great, with very flaky top and bottom crusts and a great cherry filling. Great service and great pie!

After stuffing ourselves like Thanksgiving turkeys, we waddled to the front porch and sat in a pair of rockers to marvel in the gardens and the front porch. Once revived we toured the rest of the hotel and set off to see Fort Mackinac (covered in another post)


DeTour Island, MI

17 August 2014

Before leaving Sault Ste Marie Michigan we got 160 gallons of fuel at $4.10 per gallon. Lots less than my last purchase at $6.20 per gallon. I’m looking forward to cheaper fuel prices as we head back down the US. I bought as little fuel as possible in Canada and it worked out well. There is a fuel monitor system that measures the exact amount that I’ve used. I’ve found it to be pretty accurate, it’s within 1%.

The ride was very pretty, even though it was an overcast day. We followed the “downbound” shipping channel on the St. Mary’s river. We passed the top of Sugar island and waved to the ferry bringing a load of cars across.

To help with the freighter traffic they cut a channel on the west side of Neebish Island. It’s a few miles long and about half a mile wide. They piled the cuttings on either side of the canal. They are working on the east side pile, taking the big rocks and turning them into gravel. The good news is they have used about half of the cuttings. The bad news is they have been working on them since the late 1800′s, so there is a decent supply of cheap gravel available.

We saw three freighters on the trip. All of them were empty, and moving at about 14 knots. I was surprised how little of a wake they caused. While we stayed away, we didn’t get bounced around much.

Coming into DeTour there is the bow section of a freighter stuck about 80 feet up into the side of a hill. I asked about it and was told that a guy bought the freighter, lopped off the front third, had it barged in and lifted into the hill. Took most of the summer to get the foundation poured and the lift completed. Rumor has it that he sold the rest of the boat for scrap and it paid for the entire boat and the installation. They then spent 5 years sandblasting, primer, color painting, etc. to get it the shape it is today. Still no idea what it’s going to be, but bets are on either a B&B or a conference center. I’ll need to come in a few years and find out.

The docks at DeTour Island are brand new last summer, they spent just over $5 million on 50+ slips, dredge the basin out, etc. Very nice facility, we were one of 10 boats there for the evening. The weird weather and the cost of fuel are the two reasons they give for it being too slow. The docks are super wide, have lots of length and lots of cleats.

We went up to the Mainsail (a five minute walk) It made me happy, they had fried food and new Michigan microbrews to try. The waitress was nice, but she was a high-schooler and didn’t have a grasp on adult beverages. After a few go-rounds, we got it all sorted out. Highly recommend the place, but it might require a teachable moment. We tipped well and that helped out.

We went back to the boat and had garlic sausages and mashed. This is one of Susan’s stock dinners, but it requires decent sausages. She’s been lucky with the last sets she found.

It was a south wind last night which just blows into the harbor. So it was cold and we were bouncing. Belle decided that she wanted things her way. So we needed to move other stuff around to make her happy – at 1 am..

I was up at 8 to bike to the store for milk and poptarts. Came back with lots more so it was all good.

We were off the dock at 10 and on our way to Mackinac Island, an item on Susan’s Bucket list. Looking forward to the 1890′s


Sault Ste. Marie, MI

15-16 August 2014

We bid a tearful farewell to Canada on Friday morning and puttered across the St. Mary’s river to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan. The half mile trip took 20 mins, most of it was spent waiting for 4 boats to get out of the marina.

We had called Customs and Immigration before we left Canada so it was only a few minutes to wait for the officer to arrive. After answering a few questions we were welcomed home to the United States.

Like our arrival in Rochester, there were a number of packages waiting for us at the marina office. We got all the latest mail from home and some necessary supplies courtesy of Amazon. Yay interwebs and UPS shipping!

After sorting through everything it was pushing lunch time. We walked downtown towards the famous US Soo locks. These locks are the major boat shipping route from Lake Superior to the rest of the world. There are four locks that range from 80 feet wide and 800 feet long to the Poe Lock that is 110 feet wide and 1200 feet long. They are in the process of ripping out two of the locks to create one that is the size of the Poe lock and is able to handle the larger ships.

We watched the Phillip R Clark, one of the “lakers” come through the lock. It was over 767 feet long and 70 feet wide. It carries limestone for the steel plant that is just past the lock. The brochure says that a “1000 foot laker has the same capacity as 2300 tractor trailers. Very impressive. What’s more impressive is that it takes 32 million gallons of water to fill the lock. That’s a lot of water they move around in the dozen lockings per day.

We also watched the Soo Locks Boat Tour use the smallest lock. It looked like fun, so we added that to our todo list.

From the lock we headed back to the “Tower of History”. This is a 210 foot tower that had originally been built by the Catholic Church in 1968. It was to be part of a bigger complex of buildings but the funding was cut and the tower was turned over to the city in 1980. It offers a spectacular view of the surroundings. (Susan got some great pictures for the photo gallery)

Next stop was the Valley Camp, a laker that was built in 1917. It is 550 feet long and 58 feet wide. It would hold 72 Quo Vadimus sized boats in her hull. Today the hull contains a very good museum of shipping history and a very extensive display about the Edmund Fitzgerald. The crews quarters are in the process of being restored, but you get a pretty good idea how the 32 people aboard lived and worked.

From there we jumped on the Soo Lock Tour boat Bide-A-Wee.She was built in 1955 by the Blount Marine Corporation in Warren, Rhode Island. She is currently the oldest boat in the Soo Locks Boat Tour’s fleet and is the third boat to bear this name. The Soo Lock tours have been going on almost as long as the locks have been there.

We headed up river to the Canadian side (Oh Canada, how we miss thee already..) and into the Canadian lock. The lock is much bigger than what we were in on the Trent-Severn waterway. I’ve always wondered what would happen if someone hit the doors. Turns out on June 9, 1909 the locks were seriously damaged when the Perry G. Walker crashed into the south main gate, forcing it back and allowing the force of water to push the north main gate over. The rush of water threw the Perry G. Walker back and carried two other ships downstream, one of which struck the south main gate, breaking it diagonally in two. OK, so that does not sound good. But it turns out the Canadians think ahead. The rush of water through the destroyed locks was stopped by activation of the Emergency Swing Dam. It’s like a swing bridge, pivoting over the river then dropping plates on hinges down into the water to stop the flow.

The lift of 21 feet only took a few minutes and we were heading past the Emergency Swing Dam and past the train swing bridge. We then motored next to the Essar Steel Plant. The guide pointed out the huge piles of coal, limestone and iron ore that are all delivered by “lakers” to the plant. The resulting coils and plates of steel are also shipped by boat. A truck can only carry 3 rolls or 10 sheets, a boat can carry 1000 rolls at a time. We then passed the giant slag piles that have been building since the plant was opened in 1902.

Captain Mark then swung us around to go through the smallest Soo Lock. I was impressed with his piloting skills, the Bide-a-Wee has a single screw and no thrusters. He and the crew made the locking look easy. But I took some solace from looking at the entry way walls that were lined with chewed up 8” x 8” timbers.

The Soo lock is huge from the inside (it would hold 170 Quo Vadimus boats.) The 21 foot drop was pretty rapid when you think about all the water that needs to dump out of the lock.

Our dinner place was the Mexican place in town, our first Mexican meal since leaving in April. The fresh salsa and homemade chips were very good.

Across the street is the Soo Brewing Company, the local microbrew. We sat and had their taster racks and I was very pleased with my selections. The place is pretty neat, there are long tables with pew seating. There are a number of games like Jenga, Bananagrams, Scrabble, checkers, etc. A very nice place to pass the time (and drink great beers!) My favorites were the “Harmony Health Foods Manic Organic”, “13 IPA” and “Laker Gold”.

Saturday we woke up and we were both tired from the prior day of touring. So we declared a “snow day” and hung around the boat relaxing. Hey all this vacation stuff is hard work! Mid afternoon we took a bike ride to the east end of town to the Sugar Island Ferry. It’s a small 9 car ferry that makes trips back and forth. Because the “lakers” use the channel, it would cost too much to build a bridge that would be tall enough for the ships to come through.

We biked through town with the intent of going to the used bookstore outside of town. But a super high hill (the sidewalk had flights of stairs) and the final calculation of a 30 block ride dissuaded this notion. So we shopped in a couple of store in town, buying grandbaby birthday gifts and our own copy of Bananagrams.

Then it was back to Soo Brewing for more beer. Where lots of places have BYOB, they are good with the concept of Bring Your Own Food. Most of the take out places deliver. As part of our international food tour we got Greek Food. And I got a cool shirt! (More details here about the Soo Brewery and the shirt.

Next up is our tour south to DeTour island.


Soo Brewery – the shirt off his back

16 August 2014

(picture to follow)

One of the things I’ve tried to do is hit smaller pub / brewpub bars in the towns we come through. Some have been wonderful, the benchmark was set at the The Stinking Rose in Campbellford Ontario. In Toronto it was Bar Volo, Sault Ste Marie it was Loplop and here across the river in Michigan it’s The Soo Brewing Company (*)

Like The Stinking Rose,the manager of The Soo Brewing Company is also the brewmaster / owner. Soo had about 9 beers on tap ranging from “The lightest beer you have” to a pair of impressive IPA’s, matched by a great ale named after the University: “Laker Gold”. Oh and a real brewed root beer for the kids.

The place is super family friendly. Long tables with pew benches to sit on. All sorts of games from “Rock’em Sock’em robots, Bananagrams(**), Jenga, checkers, cards, etc to play as you drink the great beer.

No food other than the free pretzel sticks, but “Bring Your own Food” is encouraged. Multiple pizza places deliver, but at Ray’s (the owners) recommendation we had greek food from Zorba’s. We had shrimp and pork souvlaki and paired with my “13 IPA” and Susan’s “Strawberry Forever” it was wonderful.

I wanted a “Soo Brew” shirt, and Ray was wearing one that had the Soo Brewing Company Logo, but had the name of a beer I really liked “Manic Organic Pale Ale” . I asked if they had more, and Ray offered to give “the shirt off his back”, since it was the only one. That’s what I call customer service!! So he went to the back and swapped shirts. (The back story is that he has about 2.3 million shirts and is under an edict to get rid of some of them.) So this was a win / win for both of us. And I’ll wear it proudly (once it gets washed).

We stayed around for a few more beers and a few more rounds of Bananagrams. High score for “Bring your own food” and having great beers to match what customers bring.

(*)Yes, we’ve been to a number of nameless pubs that are in the process of going under, but with the level of beer at Soo Brewing that won’t happen.

(**)And Bananagrams is the first word game that I have a chance against Susan.


Sault Ste. Marie, Ont

11-14 August 2014

We headed up to Camille’s Café that we heard about the night before. The selling point was the homemade bread. It was great, and when it was toasted it had a nutty flavor to it.

At 10 we were departing from the marina on what looked like a calm day. We had two choices, head up the St Mary’s River (direct route) or go up through Lake George, the more scenic route. Of course we took the scenic route. Very nice and very pretty.

Lake George is a wide expanse of water, on the south end it is very shallow, there is only a narrow channel for about 5 miles. It was well marked and the only boat traffic were fishermen. With almost no wind the lake was glassy with just our wake rolling across the surface.

At the north end of Lake George we enter the Root River. It goes north past Sault Ste Marie and the doubles back to join the St. Mary’s south of town. Lots of cottages on the left (US side) and the right (Canadian) side of the river. It’s interesting to follow the markers, since some are USCG and some are the Canadian Coast Guard. In some places the Green is US and the Red is Canada.

We were soon coming in to the slip at the Robera Bondar Marina. Roberta Bondar was the first Canadian Woman to go to the International Space Station, she went in 1999. It’s very nice marina, there is a pavilion next door where they play concerts. The roof is fabric and has petty cool support system. I spent about ½ hour looking at how it worked.

Since it was a nice day, we headed over to the Bush Plane Museum. Bush planes play a huge role in transporting goods and people into North West Ontario. They have some of the early planes and samples of the current planes. It was interesting to see that the plane we took on our tour around Parry Sound is one of the more common models flying today.

There is also a neat 3D movie about how they fight forest fires in Ontario. I never really thought about it until you see the map and realize a)How big Ontario really is b)How much is just forest lands. It’s a good movie and gives you a closeup of how big these fires can get and how hard they are to fight.

We also watched a movie about a bush pilot delivering a passenger to a remote camp. The best part is they start from Sportsman’s. But this is Sportsman’s from a decade ago, it’s interesting to see how Killarney has changed. The pilot also flies down Baie Fine and it was cool to see it from the air.

Asking the dock staff for places to go has served us well in the past. They suggested Muio’s for Canadian home cooking. One of the popular items in Canada seems to be broasted chicken. It’s deep-fried food that is pressure cooked at the same time. My chicken strips were verygood, Susan’s half chicken could have used some more spices.

The other thing I ask about is dive bars. On their recommendation we hit both “The New A” and “Reggie’s Place”. If you are looking for traditional “shots / beer” places, these two should be on top of your list. Sadly, because we were there mid-week there were no other customers.

Tuesday started up as a cold, rainy, blustery day. We left the boat to check out the Norgoma Freighter that is docked at the marina. It is a freighter from the 1930′s that is in the process of being restored. It made trips from Killarney to Sault Ste Marie every week for two decades.

Next up were hair appointments for both of us. I headed off to two of the other small museums in town. I love the local ones and how they show life in the towns. One was the building used by one of the original settlers in the town. The other was in the old post office from the 1930′s. One had an entire floor dedicated to sports in town. Turns out Tony and Phil Esposito came from the Soo and were hocky stars in school.

Dinner was at a place called Dock’s next door to the marina. The waitress was interesting, she is taking aviation classes and wants to start out as a bush pilot.

Wednesday opened up sunny and bright, and it was a good thing because at 7:30 we were board the train to Agawa Canyon on the Algoma Central Railway train. We both love trains and it was a very nice ride. They have TV’s along the cars and you get a narrated tour of the trip. When the narration isn’t going on, there is an engineers eye view of the activities.

One of the high points is crossing the trestle at the Montreal River. It’s a curving trestle so from our location in one of the rear cars we could see the engine. These feats of enginering always impresses me.

Agawa Canyon is very interesting. There are three waterfalls that splash into the river below. There is also an observation platform that is 321 steps above the river. I wanted to try, and once I got to 175 steps I decided I was going to make it. Yay me!! I got some good pictures from the top.

I met up with Susan at Black Beaver Falls. It tumbles 175 feet down in multiple cascades. The Bridal falls wasn’t working, the summer has been dry. We had a picnic lunch along the river and enjoyed the tranquil nature. Well as tranquil as it can be with two diesel engines idling in the background.

The only problem with a long train-ride to see something is the long train-ride back. It was past 6PM before we pulled into the station. We headed to town to an Italian place called Solo. We were quite pleased with our food, but the best part was the home made bread. It came with a baked head of garlic. Ummm, warm, soft garlic to use as a spread. Yum.

Thursday started out as another cold blowy day. We would have the choice of spending an extra day in Canada or in Michigan, we opted for Canada to do some shopping. The nice people at the marina took us out to Pino’s market where Susan got us stocked for the next week of boating.

We spent part of the afternoon picking up the salon so that it would not be such a mess. The rest of the afternoon gave us both a chance to nap since we had walked so much in the Canyon.

Dinner was a place called Embers that specializes in grilled and smoked dishes. Susan had the smoked mussels, they were good with just a hint of smoke flavor. I had an appetizer that had four types of meat, smoked salmon, duck breast wrapped in bacon, smoked sausages and pork riblets.

While we were at Embers we talked to the waitress about my quest for butter tarts and microbrews. She said we should go down to Loplops to check out their selection.

Loplops is a small storefront that leads back to a huge set of rooms. At one end of the bar are four coolers containing beers from around the world. Two of them are full of Canadian microbrews. They also had 11 beers on tap, 8 from Canada. Bob the bartender gave us the tour and I picked out a few different ones to try. As we sipped Bob told us about his travel adventures going through the Panama canal on a cruise ship. Maybe something else to add to my bucket list.

We got home late, but did the final prep to head across the river in the morning. Fair well Canada, it was a great summer!

Pictures for Posts

Susan was able to upload some pictures and I got them into some waiting posts.

The rule of thumb is that if the post has no opening picture (like this one), pictures are not posted. Once the get in, then I put a title picture on and try to insert other photos.

As always you can look at the vast galleries of pictures.


Richard’s Marina, St. Josephs Island, Ont

10 August 2014

The plan was to leave Thessalon and head to Bruce Mines to set the old mine setup. In finding out that the mine was closed Sunday and Monday, Plan B became Richard’s Marina on St. Josephs Island.

Since it was nice out we decided to go to the local Sunday breakfast buffet at 11PM. It was pretty crowded, it was one of the top things to do in Thessalonian on a Sunday morning. Buffet was loaded with fried and scrambled eggs, toast, waffles, pancakes, bacon, peameal, sausages, fruit, tossed salad, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw and pastries. For $7.50 per person!

After we waddled back to the boat, we did our start-up sequence a were soon gliding over the glassy North Channel. We can see how we are moving back to more densely populated areas. There were more cottages and lots more boats running around. Eastern St Josephs Island has a large marina, and there was lots of sailboat activity.

We were soon at the channel that runs around St Joseph’s from the east to the north. It’s a well marked channel, but there is some tricky bits. We took our time and managed with no problems. Ahead was the bridge connecting St. Joseph’s with the mainland. This was our third bridge upon entering the Georgian Bay on July 4 (Swing Bridges at Parry Sound and Little Current were the other two). It has a 38′ clearance, so we just motored right under.

10 mins later we were at our berth at Richard’s Marina. Once again the dock hands were quick and knew what they were doing. We were soon on our bikes speeding into town.

We did a pretty good tour of the two gift shops, the art gallery where they were doing stone carving with a half dozen kids. We skipped the ice cream / candy store. There was a small supermarket that was famous for their meats. We picked up sausages and beef shanks for dinners later on. There was also a cafe that we missed, we heard they had great breakfasts, we would try them in the morning.

We perused the menu at the onsite restaurant. Lot of cool things, but Susan wanted to cook the steaks we had gotten in Blind River. We also got some more used books from the book exchange, dropping off some of ours that we had read.

Dinner was steaks, with mushrooms and onions and zucchini as our vegetable. Very good.

I tried some fishing off the boat, we could see fish being caught in the channel. But my worm was not enough to entice them to come in past the breakwall and I gave up in a short time.

On Monday we would head for Sault Ste Marie Ontario (The Soo) for three nights.


Thessalon, Ont

9 August 2014

We got up and did an early breakfast at the dock in Blind River. We motored over to the fuel dock to get pumped out (10 days since our last one!) and did a double load of rinse to make sure we were set. We’ve seen pumpouts range from $11 to $30 each, so we’ve been trying to wait to get one. I know, TMI on the internal workings of the boat.

We waved goodbyes to the crews of Le Hooker, Sea Y’all and Anne Harper as we left the harbor. Another calm day, good for making a long run.

We had talked about anchoring out overnight at the Grant Islands. We were told that they are remote (Yay!) but there wasn’t much to see on each island. We did a swing through just to check it out.

East Grant Island has a horseshoe shape, with the opening to the west. So a Southwest wind would have been good, it would have blown our stern towards the shore (and hopefully kept the mosquitoes also on shore. We cruised in the harbor, it is very deep water. It was at 40′ when we were about 200 yards from shore, it would have made anchoring difficult. The rule of thumb is to leave out 6-7 times the depth of the water the anchor is in, the term is scope. With 200 feet of chain, that means we should look for water ~20-25 feet or less. 40 feet would be 260-280 feet of scope.


We headed out and over to West Grant island. We would anchor off West Grant, which would give us protection to the South and West. Again we found deep water, about 25 feet. We nosed towards shore and it was still deep about 300 feet off shore. There wasn’t anything that was saying “Stay here!” to us, so we decided to just head to Thessalon.

The town docks are very long, the would hold 60′ foot boats. We had to pull up close to shore since the power pedestals are on the bulkhead. On the dock we met the crew of the Kingfisher from Michigan. They have some time, so they are headed east into the North Channel. They hope to get as far as the Bad River before they need to come back.

After docking I rode one of the loaner bikes into town. I stopped at the Library to ask about a local museum. It is outside of town on Rt 17, the “Trans Canada Highway”. That means lots of trucks and cars, so I decided to pass. But they had used books for sale, I picked up 6 more to read.

I did visit the local department store and was surprised about the wide selection of items. Susan had been looking for a replacement set of tongs, they had 4 different styles to choose from!

Back at the boat I did some minor interweb stuff and got the last few days of postings written and published. Susan and I split a pre-dinner Spicy Caesar cocktail before heading to town.

First stop was the library. We gave the librarian our bag of new good books, she went through them and kept 5 that she didn’t have in circulation, she though she would be able to use them. The others we kept to trade in at the next used bookstore we find. We also gave her about a dozen older paperbacks they could add to their “for sale” books. A double win, stuff off of the boat AND a donation to the local library.

Next we went back to the department store. We got more birthday / thank you cards, etc. Susan also picked out the tongs she wanted, they have purple silicone tips.

Dinner was at the Pepper Mill. I had the braised beef shortrib (after missing out on the beef shank at Monique’s, I wasn’t going to miss out again). It was done like Susan’s in a tomatoes, celery, onions, and carrot stock. They then thickened the sauce as gravy for the mashed potatoes. It was very, very good. She had the half rack of BBQ ribs, she said they were good also.


After dinner we did a quick bike tour of town. Thessalon is on a point, and goes only about a dozen blocks to the highway. The town is split by the Thessalon river, there are just two bridges in town to let you cross. Sadly, it’s another of the towns that we’ve run across that is slowly shutting down. There are lots of shuttered buildings and lots of homes for sale.


On Sunday we will go back into town for the Sunday Brunch and then head West to St. Joseph Island. It will be our last small town in Canada. We are both a little sad, we can see the end of our stay in Canada.


Blind River, Ont

7, 8 August 2014

We left Beardrop Harbor and headed back to the eastern end of John Island to the YMCA camp. My propeller was repaired and rather than the prop place calling me, they just shipped it back to Harbor Vue Marina. Harbor Vue was pretty clever, they had done a boat repair and were returning the boat to the YMCA camp, so my propeller went along for the ride.


After picking the bright and shiny propeller up from the YMCA Camp (thanks Scott!) We headed towards Blind River. It was a nice ride, the islands are more sparse as you get closer to Blind River. We had picked another good day, it was very calm out.

We got docked at the Marina, we were next to Omanchie, we had met the crew at Killarney. It was nice to catch up on their travels.

Also at the marina was a Bayliner 4788 (the newer and slightly longer version of the Quo Vadimus). Perr-fection crew has a Main Coon Cat aboard. This breed have a long, really long, full tail. They are super smart cats. I talked to the crew about their boat, they love theirs as much as we love ours.

We went to dinner at Monique’s, about a 25 minute bike ride. (The bikes are really working out for us). I had a nice discussion with the waiter about all the different beers that I’ve been able to have in Canada. Susan went for the garden salad, beef shanks, and mashed potatoes. I went for the curry vegetable soup, chicken strips stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon with a Chipotle BBQ sauce, and native Canadian savory pastries that were filled with minced beef. Both Susan and I agreed that the shanks were almost as good as hers.

We took a different way back to the marina and got to the town park to catch the last 4 songs of a woman singer. She was doing 60′s songs and she was very good. It’s been neat to be able to catch some of these summer concerts.


In the morning we said good bye to the crew of Omanchie. I was told that it’s a Norse god, but the letters in the name come from the names of all the grand-kids. Pretty clever.

We’ve not had a decent wi-fi connection since Parry Sound, so Susan wanted to get as many videos as possible uploaded, she had 15+ to do.

So while she loaded, I headed via bike to do some shopping and see what was in the town. I still don’t have the hang of the kilo-pounds conversion but managed to muddle through OK. Plus shopping on my own gave me the ability to restock my candy supply without a ton of eyerolls.

By the time I got back to the dock Susan was on a roll getting files uploaded. The wind was picking up, so we decided to stay the extra night in Blind River.

And it turned out to be a good idea. The crews of See Y’all, Le Hooker, and Anne Harper came sailing in. Yay Loopers!

We had met See Y’all and Le Hooker at Bad River a few weeks ago. (Seems more like a year). We saw See Y’all at Killarney after the island issue. Al had created a GoPro mount for a boat hook. We had taken a video of the underside of the boat and we didn’t see any real damage. That had been a great relief to me.

Le Hooker is in a 35 foot boat that is powered by 2 300 HP outboards (we only have 250 HP engines). It’s not your classic trawler, but it’s working out very well for them. They putter along at 8 knots like the rest of us to save on fuel, but have the ability to fly along at 25+ miles to make the boring sections fly by.

Anne Harper is a really nice trawler that’s being single handed around the loop. This is his second year (he’s doing the loop in 3 stages). Very cool guy, impressed that he’s solo. I would have never considered doing the loop alone. There are no thrusters on the Harper but the Captain has decades of experience.

For dinner we went with the crew of Le Hooker to downtown Little Current and ate at the Mustang Grill. They had the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and cheese raviolis with a three cheese sauce. Susan went for the fried haddock dinner and had them change the fries to poutine. To be honest, once we got west of Orillia the poutine hasn’t been as good. Our first brushes used cheese curd, now it’s just shredded Jack. I had the pierogies and sausages. They came with bacon, fried onions and sour cream. I really liked the filling, they were a potato and cheese mixture.

After dinner we went back to the dock and hung out with the other boaters. We were joined by the crew of a local boat,Chloe’s Cruiser and their grand kids. They were able to give us some of the local history of the town. In the early 60′s the worlds largest white pine lumber mill was there, supporting hundreds of workers. Tragically it burned down and only a small portion of the plant was rebuilt.

We all had a great time chatting and swapping stories. And we learned a new catch all phrase that Le Hooker and we will use “Dammit Sheri”. It’s a popular phrase on the Sea Y’all and it’s kind of catchy. Once again it was nice to have that 9PM sunset to add a orange glow to the evening. But at Loopers midnight (about 10PM) we all gave up and headed off to bed.

Tomorrow will be Thessalon!


Beardrop Harbor, Ont

5, 6 August 2014

In the morning in Moile’s Harbor, Susan decided to make a short trip on her kayak. She went to a place she had scoped out the night before that would be good for fishing. She fished for about an hour with no success. When she was getting back into her kayak, she slipped on the rocks and ended up rolling her kayak. She later said she wasn’t trapped inside, she fell right out, so my fears of being trapped were unfounded. She did find out that the waterproof boxes she had been using for the camera really were water tight.


After lunch we packed up for the 6 mile trip across to Beardrop Harbor. On the way we passed “The Whale’s back” a small island that looks like a whale. We found a good place to anchor and settled in for afternoon naps.


Dinner was grilled garlic sausages and a Sriracha mayo that Susan made from scratch. I put the coleslaw on mine, made for a gooey sandwich, but delicious. We’ve been very lucky on sausages in Canada. Where we’ve been shopping it’s mostly the local store brands that we’ve been purchasing so it’s always a guess.

After dinner there was an announcement “Attention Beardrop, camp fire on the West Island at 8PM” over the VHF radio. Susan wanted to read, so I got in my kayak and headed the quarter mile to where I could see people. There were three sets of crews there, the only name I remember is Viau a very pretty sailboat anchored near us.


I stayed and talked for about 90 minutes and then went to climb on my kayak and head back. Good thing I had my lifevest on, I slipped on the wet moss rocks and slid waist deep into the water. The open design of my kayak made it easy for me to climb aboard. I was soon back aboard the Quo Vadimus.


The next morning Susan took “Key Lime” for a spin while fishing. Farther down in the bay was the Omanchie and they were setting out. I called and they said it was a great spot, there was a gap in the island that you could see into the main Whalesback Channel. I didn’t see Susan, so I upped anchor and moved over before anyone else could snag the spot.


She returned from fishing, she had caught a small 4” fish and was going to use it to lure out a big pike. As she was getting off of “Key Lime” she heard her line spinning out. “Pike ON!!!” No, it was a midsized bass that had followed her and gulped down her lure fish. Oh well.

From our new home I could see out into the channel. I got onto “Key Lime” and did a short tour of our cove and then I went out into the Whalesback. Once again it was a different perspective to see the rock faces from 5 feet away and at water level. I wish at this point that we had been able to find a sea kayak before Kagawong.

I heard from a Looper friend that they were on their way from Gore Bay. The wind was blowing pretty hard so what would have been just a two hour ride was a 3 hour slog. They were going to anchor in the West end of John Island, but when they got there it was full. So they continued into Beardrop.

They passed us as we were doing the evening fishing and said they would come over in the morning.

With Vayu gone there wasn’t any campfire. But I stayed up to watch for the Space Station pass. It was a cloudless night and it was easy to track the station across the sky.

Unknown to me, I had someone helping me watch. Belle has become more adventuresome coming out onto the front deck, fly bridge and cockpit on her own. She followed me out to watch, but I had missed seeing her. So I ended up locking her outside. When Susan got up to do the anchor check about 3AM she heard Belle meowing outside. We now know that we need to keep a closer eye on her.

The next morning we both fished. Susan had the best luck, landing three. I had some good nibbles and some “almost to the boat” but was able to land only one bass. Not big enough for dinner, so he went back into the water.


My friend Ken from the Loopers came over with his two grand-kids. We chatted for about an hour about places we had seen and what to do for the next few days. With the exception of the Grant Islands, there are not a lot of interesting anchorages between us and Sault Ste Marie.

While we were chatting, the Captain of a sailboat next to us came over to ask about the name of our boat and if there was really a Nowhere OK. We talked for a few minutes before he headed back.

Belle made an appearance at the sounds of the kids playing in the salon. They tried to pet her, but she was still grumpy from the night before and hissed at them. Susan put her into the mid-cabin so she wouldn’t get carried away.

Ken soon packed his charges into his dink, they were off to find a beach.

I got a call that said our anchor was on it’s way from Harbor Vue where it had been mis-shipped and was on it’s way to the YMCA camp. So it was back to the boat dock in Moile’s Harbor.

Then off to Blind River!


Moile’s Harbor, John Island, Ont

4 August 2014

We got an early start out of South Benjamin Island. Around 11:00 we sighted a three masted sailboat cruising along south of us. A very pretty boat. We heard a call on the radio for a Michigan Sea Scout troop and we wondered if the boat was theirs.

At 11:30 we hit a small channel that’s known as “Little Detroit”. It’s not as narrow as Roger’s Gut but it has high cliff walls on either side of the channel. We slowed to be able to marvel at the rock. It was with much amusement that in the middle is a sign advertising a marina.

About an hour later we arrived in Moile’s Harbor at the east end of John Island. We were able to get a great anchorage next to a gap in the island that gave us a view of the Whalesback Channel.

We were both soon on the water, my first chance to try my new “Key Lime Kayak”. It worked very well. I was able to get into it pretty easily. It’s also easy to paddle and it goes pretty straight. It’s nice not having the sides since as we drift I can relax my legs and sit crosslegged.

We circled around to the south, there is a dock there for a YMCA camp. There is also a pontoon bridge that connects John Island to a smaller unnamed island for the campers to use. We paddled around that cove and the cove that we were in. Having the view from the kayak is very different that the bow of the Quo Vadimus. I’m very happy with my purchase.

Susan made hamburgers and coleslaw for dinner. Afterward we both tried to fish, neither one of us had any success. Over night the wind direction changed and rather than having our stern to the gap, we wre out in the middle of the cove, bow to the gap. It was nice, the drag alarm noticed the changes for us!



We meet the nicest people in Canada

4 August 2014

Sorry about the delay in getting this posted, I wanted to make sure that there was a happy ending to the story.

As we go across Canada, “We have met the nicest people” has been something both of us have said over and over.

On Sunday, 27 July we had gone through Collins Inlet into Mill Lake. We had tried to fish and we had known how weedy the bottom was. I was watching the GPS and our anchor drag monitor. They both were showing that the anchor was set, we were good to go.

We went to bed about 9PM. Normally Susan and I get up to check. At 1:30AM we heard a great bang. We ran out back and there was an Island on our stern platform. Our anchor had dragged over 1000 feet to the other side.

GPS track

The multiple squiggles where we were sitting before bed. You can see where we landed at the bottom. All we can figure is that the anchor grabbed again at the bottom of the picture (too late) and the wind pushed us forward.

We ended up in an L shaped section of the island. We were sort of floating but trapped by the wind coming from the north east.

We did a quick check of the boat, no water coming in, no leaks, bilge punps working, but no water.

Our next step was to get help. We didn’t have good cell coverage and since I was up against the rock face, I couldn’t get a response on the radio on VHF 16. But we did have internet! So I sent a pair of emails to Canadian friends, since they knew the area and would be able to deal with the Coast Guard. I also looked at Instant Messengers on the computer and I found my daughter had forwarded her IM’s to her phone. So I sent her a text telling her who to call and what to say.

She was able to get in touch with the Coast Guard and let them know what was going on. Susan had also kept trying the cell Phones and she was also able to get through in about 30 second snatches. The Coast Guard operator was good, Susan just needed to say “Quo Vadimus” and the next part of the information they wanted. (Exact location, were we in danger of sinking (no), injuries (no), conditions around us (winds from the NE at 19kts).

We could tell we were on the island, we could see it from the GPS and Susan had kayaked around it.

Our Island

Side of the boat

More side shots

We put bumpers in the water to help us try not to bang into the rocks.


Looking Forward

Floats help

Via my daughter at 2:30AM we knew that help was on the way, from 40 miles away. For some reason we thought it was the parks people, but we had not gotten to that section of land.

At 3:40 PM we heard that the help that was coming had encountered high seas and turned back. But the Coast Guard sent the CCGS Constable Carrière from Little Current. It’s one of their midsized boats that carries two Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIB). It would be at the mouth of Collins Inlet about 6AM. They would unload the RIB and come up the 10 miles to where we were.

The Coast Guard also asked that I try them on a different VHF radio channel and we were able to talk directly to them. I checked in with them every hour to give an update on our status that we were still OK.

At 6 AM they told me that they were offloading their RIB to come down the inlet. I reminded them that we were not in imminent danger, not to take any risks since it was just dawn.

Dawn in Mill Lake

In the dark we couldn’t really see what was going on.

Boat stern

But with the dawn we could see our exact location and what was going on. (Same picture as above)

Daylight Picture of Stern

And off to the side of the boat:

Daylight side of boat

At 6:30 the RIB showed up. It had two Coast Guard sailors and an Ontario Police officer at the helm.


Note the life jackets. We were prepared to leave the ship and go onto the island if needed. We also had Belle in her cage for easy transport.


They asked lots of questions and assessed the situation. We all agreed that getting the anchor back on board would help, since we could be pulled clear and not need to worry about it. That went pretty quickly.

Anchor recovery

We then helped them set up a two point bridle to pull us off the island. One of the good things is we have lots of dock lines, so we were able to create long bridles so the RIB would stay in deep water. The first time was from a forward cleat and a mid cleat. It was unsuccessful.

Plan B was to pull from the side at the stern to pull it off then move the pull point to the a forward cleat. After we were off the island, they would then drop the bridle and grab a single line from the bow. That worked perfectly!

They towed us back to our original starting place and we dropped anchor. They then checked us over and found that the starboard running gear (shaft, propeller) would turn freely. Yay! But the port side was stuck in place. Possible bent shaft, jammed transmission, jammed cutlass bearing / seal.

The plan was that we would follow them the 13 miles to Killarney on one engine. We left at 7:30 and got into Killarney just over 2 hours later.

This is a better shot of the RIB


and the support ship:

CCGS Constable Carriere

We were at Sportsman’s Marina, and there is a post about our stay there. Our boat neighbor had a “Go Pro on a stick” We did some checking, the propeller looked banged up, but there did not appear to be any other damage to the shaft or struts.

We stayed at Sportsman’s in Killarney for a couple of days to decompress and do some mental recovery from the events. Being rescued by the Coast Guard was something that was NOT on our bucket lists.

On Wednesday we headed west to Little Current and Harbor Vue Marina. They were the only place within 30 miles that had the capability to lift us.



It’s driven by a custom truck that has the seat and controls in it sideways.


We were soon out of the water. We were able to spin the propeller by hand. It spun smoothly, no idea why we couldn’t spin it at Mill Lake.


Once out of the water we could see that there was some minor fiberglass damage. The 6 hours of bumping on the rocks wore off the gelcoat.

Fiberglass repair

We could have gone with marine sealant, (it is like Bondo), but I opted for them to grind some of the fiberglass, put new resin impregnated fabric on and then the marine sealant to make the hull smooth.


This would be more expensive since we needed to be moved and blocked so the fiberglass guy could do his magic.

Lift truck

The mechanics on site then pulled the propeller off and replaced it with one of the spares that I carry.


The propeller was sent out to be repaired (flatten out the bent tip and re-balance it). It will be shipped to me at Sault Ste. Marie.


Once the marine sealant had dried, we got two coats of barrier paint.


We spent the night “On the hard”. While we were blocked up, they left us in the slings for safety.

The next morning we got two coats of anti-fouling paint. They didn’t have the same color, but that’s OK, it will let me quickly find the spot next spring. The repair job is so smooth, I’d not be able to find it otherwise.

Back in the water

We were back on our way.

Susan and I would like to say thank you to the Canadian Coast Guard and the OPP for their help. They were very nice, but most important they were very professional while the rescue was underway. Once we were safe and they knew that we would be OK on our own power they were much more relaxed.

Thanks to Terry who got us in touch with Ken of Gore Bay Charters, who then got us put into the front of the line at Harbor Vue.

Big thanks for all the people at Harbor Vue Marina that worked on our boat. Very professional workmanship, unless you knew, you would not be able to find the fiberglass repair.

And finally thanks to my daughter. If it wasn’t for her putting her AOL IM account through to her phone, and getting up to see who would be texting her in the middle of the night we would have been stuck getting help for many more hours.


As we were walking around the Harbor Vue yard, I noticed that they use all of these antique tractors to haul boats around. Very cool.








Benjamin Islands, Ont

3 August 2014

The Benjamin Islands are a “must do” on the looper list. Unfortunately, our trip there was a huge disappointment.

The trip there from Kagawong was nice. The wind had dropped in the morning, so the bay was like glass as we scooted across it. We got to the South Benjamin Island which had been recommended as the island to go to.

We moved into the cove and there were 8 boats there. It had been this crowded at the Bad River, so we were set to find a place to anchor. Winds were out of the West, so I moved next to (200 feet away) from a boat from a state capital not too far from our home. The owner came out, wings flapping, to yell we were too close. We sat and looked at where we were, the way the boats were pointed and decided to wait a few moments.

With the wind swirling in the cove, there wasn’t a clear direction on which way we, or anyone else would swing. So we decided to pick up and move to a different location. As we were hauling up the chain, the wings came back out “You are going to hit my boat.” We explained that we were hauling in the anchor, we were going to move. “You’re just too close” came the squawk back.

We moved down towards the mouth of the cove 600 feet and put our anchor down. We were well and clear, but still the wings flapped. Sigh.

As you may recall Susan caught two bass in Baie Fine. She had filleted them with the skin on. But after the great fish from our friends on Shannon she decided to skin them and flour them. They turned out great! She also made corn on the cob. I had one of my dwindling stash of Butter Tarts for dessert.

Because of the general crankiness and wanting to make sure we were not swinging, both Susan and I were up a number of times during the night. We ended up swinging in about a 50′ wide arc, so we need not have worried.

We left early to head for John Island to fish and kayak!

(Oh yea, it turns out we have 5 bars on the wireless card, go figure)


Kagawong, Ont

2 – 3 August 2014

We left Baie Fine in the morning with the goal of getting to Kagawong by 4 PM. Thre only tricky bit was the swing bridge at Little Current. It opens on the hour and only until the boats clear, or 15 minutes, which ever is shorter. So I wanted to make the opening at 2PM

Since we had come from that area I had a good course and distances, so I knew the speed we needed to go. There was hardly any wind, Baie Fine was smooth and calm. On the way out we passed a number of boats that had settled in for the weekend.

We soon were in the main channel and skimming our way to Little Current. As we rounded the entrance, the Constable Carrière was at anchor. We gave them a wave on the way by and again said thanks.

We headed into the Little Current channel at 1:50 PM, perfect timing. There was a sailboat about a mile ahead of us. They had their mainsail up, but since only an idiot would try to sail through a swing bridge, I assumed they had their motor on, the sail was for show. (An aside, sailboats under sail have the right-away. Sometimes sailors will use the sail as a decoy as they motor along).

At noon we heard the bells clang and we could see traffic stop. We heard the bridge operator call on both VHF 14 and 16 with no response. Then we saw the sailboat make some wild gyrations to the left and then to the right. Sigh, he was under sail and was too close to the bridge, the operator couldn’t open it until the boat cleared the swing. Five minutes later the sailboat was out of the way, the bridge opened and we passed through.


After that the trip to Kagawong was pretty uneventful. The trip of 36 miles was the longest in quite awhile, our last long distance was over two weeks ago.

We tied up at the Kagawong town docks. We had been talking about getting a second kayak, so I could join Susan on some of her adventures. Manitoulin Wind and Wave was the biggest place in a 50 mile range, so we headed up the hill to their store. We met Bruce who walked us through the options. We settled in on a 9.5 foot sea kayak and an 11 foot standard kayak, but one with a bigger cockpit opening. We would meet the next day for a trial.

From the store we headed up to Bridal Falls. We passed a food trailer, the “Riverside” and decided to stop for a soda. They had “pogos”, which is Canadian for Corn Dog. I got one as a snack it was one of the best corn dogs I’ve had. We then decided to just get dinner there (Susan’s fish would wait until Sunday).

After eating we headed to the Bridal Falls. The Kagawong River comes out into a falls that you can walk behind. We got some great pictures of the falls and the creek that runs away from the falls. It’s a very scenic walk along the creek. There are picnic tables and benches to sit in along the way.


At the end of the marina dock is a church that has the prow of a boat as the pulpit. St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church is also known as “The Sailors’ Church. It was built in 1936-1938. They have a Saturday night service, I was able to get in to get pictures after the service ended. The church has a nautical theme. There is a ships wheel at the peak, wooden floats adorn the ends of each pew. The prow of the boat was from a wreck in 1965 that took the lives of members of the church.


On Sunday morning we both took long showers since I was able to fill the water at the dock. After taking care of mailing some cards out, we headed over to the Kagawong Museum. It was very nice, it had the history of the town from the 1830′s. There is a wreck nearby that is a popular spot for divers. They have an extensive display of pictures from inside the wreck and artifacts.

We then walked back up the hill to Manitoulin Wind and Wave. We walked with Bruce to the top of Kagawong River (before it goes over the falls). I was able to test paddle the two kayaks. I opted to get the 9.5 foot sea kayak. It seemed more stable, and it’s much easier to get into. Plus we knew we could store it on the boat, another 11.5 kayak would have been a problem. I bought the Key Lime Green one (but I bet you knew that color choice).


Bruce delivered us and the kayak back to the boat. We are in the process of packing up and heading to the Benjamin’s for the night. I doubt that we will have internet access for the next week, so I’m pushing this post out.


Baie Fine, Ont

31 July – 1 August 2014

The trip from Harbor Vue to the entrance of Baie Fine took about an hour. Once we entered into Baie Fine it was like entering another area of Canada

There were soaring walls of white rock that had pine trees clinging to the faces. The water travels back nine miles. There is a little sub channel that then heads back another two miles and dead-ends into what the locals call “The Pool” We opted to anchor out at the far end of the Baie Fine. Baie Fine is the largest freshwater fjord in the world.

We tried to fish that night, but it was a little too windy, we didn’t catch anything.

My friend Doug from the Bayliner’s Owen Club came over in his skiff and introduced himself. We spoke for quite a while. Doug and his wife Mona have been coming up here for decades. It’s always cool to meet people in person you only know on line.


We had a slight scare overnight. We use an application called Drag Queen. It tells me how much the anchor has dragged and sounds an alarm when the anchor drags too far. I had I set assuming the direction of he wind would not change. Over night the wind went from SE to NW and the boat promptly turned around. And it set the alarm off, so we were on deck trying to figure what happened. A quick check of the GPS showed that we had moved 180 degrees, total distance moved was 200 feet, the length of my anchor chain.

On the other hand it was a great sky show. Lots of stars to see, and I even saw 5 shooting stars go by. The stars are so impressive, it’s a shame that I needed to go so far to get away from all the light pollution.

In the morning we got up and had breakfast. As we were packing up, Doug came by to invite us over for a fresh fish lunch. We set a time and we loaded up in our dink to head to “The Pool” and Topaz Lake. It’s about a 15 minute ride down the small channel. The water was super flat and calm, it was neat riding down.

At “The Pool” there were nine boats anchored in different spots. While I can see the beautiful location, I’m not sure that I want to sit in a place that everywhere you look is another boat. We puttered to the far end to look around the corner into the marsh. Very pretty. A U-turn and back up to the north shoreline where there is a small dock. We tied off and started our trek to Topaz Lake.

The walk starts of easy enough but then the trail becomes the rock strewn bed of a dry stream. The fist sized rocks makes walking interesting. After about half a mile the path turns to the left and goes up through the forest. It’s a pretty strenuous climb for people that spent the last two decades behind desks. I’m glad we did some walking and biking in the weeks before.


We got to the top and Topaz Lake was spread out about 50 feet below us. The promontory we were on gave us some great pictures of the lake and the mountain behind it. It was a steep climb to the rocky ledge at the waters edge. The water was warm and more of an emerald color than topaz.

Topaz Snack

While we were eating our snacks a group of 5 people came through, two hauling inflatable standup boats. They said they had never heard of anyone trying it, they thought they were the first. A few moments later a group of 6 people came through, one of them hauling a Kevlar canoe. I was amused by this, I had been complaining about the trail and here is a guy with a canoe. They weigh about 50 lbs, but still…. We watched the boarders and the canoe people for awhile before heading back.


On the trail home Susan stopped suddenly and pointed to the right, hissing “deer”. Coming through the trees was a small deer. It crossed the trail behind us and bounded up the hill. It didn’t seem to be concerned by us, I’m guessing that they run into hikers all the time.

We were soon back at the dink and then back to our boat. We changed out of our swimming stuff and headed over to see the crew of the Shannon. We met Mona and their cat. Doug had caught pike in the morning and Mona had lightly breaded the filets and fried them. Grilled white potato slices and salad rounded out our lunch. I’m going to say it was the best fish dinner we’ve had in Canada. Mona told us the secret so once we get to a bigger town we will get the ingredients for the coating.

We spent time talking about boats, and the modifications they made to Shannon to be able to stay out for weeks at a time. They have been boating here for 50 years so we heard about the history of the place and the amazing yachts that came here before fuel costs skyrocketed. They are both interesting people, it was a very pleasant visit. The spot Doug had chosen to anchor gave them a view down the smaller part of Baie Fine, a great vista and not a boat in sight.

Because we had gorged ourselves on fish, the rest of the afternoon was taken up by naps. After naps Susan took her kayak across to a cove, while I fished from the boat. We were both unsuccessful, but it was still fun.

And like the last night, when I got up to check on the anchor, there was a huge star show. Wow!

In the morning, Shannon was gone, they had headed into town for supplies. Susan jumped on the kayak and headed to the spot that Doug had suggested for morning fishing. She was very successful, she had lots of nibbles, caught four and kept the 17” bass and one a little smaller. Fish dinner for us!

Soon after we packed up and headed to Kagawong. I’m really glad that we decided to double back and come to Baie Fine, it is one of the high-points of our trip.


Harbor Vue Marina, Little Current, Ont

30 July 2014

We got up early to move over to the main dock at Sportsman’s. We needed a pump out and water filled in both tanks. Water takes about an hour and I wanted to get an early start on the trip to Little Current. We waited until we saw staff on the dock at 8:00 and called over that we wanted some help getting off the dock and would need help getting onto the fuel dock.

Ten minutes later we were on the dock. We had both had showered at Sportsman’s the day before, the showers were huge and lots of hot water. The Quo Vadimus is a great boat, but we don’t have unlimited hot water and there isn’t a ton of room in the shower. Susan headed off while I monitored tasks and tanks. I had heard about the great breakfasts at the marina next door (combination restaurant and bakery it’s where we got the butter tarts and bread from), I ordered two to go.

We were done pumping out and filling the tanks by 9:10 and Susan had our breakfasts picked up so we were on our way to Little Current. The water outside of Killarney was flat and calm and we made good time to Manitoulin Island.

Manitoulin is one of the larger islands in the Georgian Bay. It has a number of small towns and a very large First Nations population. The town of Little Current is a hub for boats in and out of the North Channel. We were headed to the eastern most marina, Harbor Vue.

It was a short run of 19 miles and we were soon at the marina basin. We were soon situated. The people at the marina were nice enough to lend Susan a minivan and she was off to go shopping. I stayed behind to supervise the repairs that needed to be made.

Susan had a good shopping trip, the store was small but it had everything she was looking for. The afternoon when by quickly as the work we needed done was done. I was very pleased with the skills and the workmanship of the team at Harbor Vue.

We spent some time talking to the crew of a sailboat from Virginia. They haul their boat from just outside Washington DC, about a 1,000 mile drive. They had been doing it for a number of years. They had started out going to Penetanguishene and then Owens Sound. They started coming up here a few years ago and really like it.

We decided to head into town for dinner. We hadn’t used our bicycles for over a week so we took them rather than walk. Harbor Vue is on the outskirts of town, so there wasn’t much traffic. We passed a weird cylinder shaped building that turned out to be where they hold the annual country music festival.

Downtown Little Current is only a few block long and a few blocks deep. It was a quick exploration of the area. The high points are two different surplus goods stores, we got some sponges and more lures to attract the fish. There were two restaurants in town, but the better of the two closed in 2013.

The Anchor Inn is a combination hotel and restaurant. Every morning it is the location for the “Cruisers Net Broadcast”. This is a program on VHF 71 that has been going on for the last 10 years. In the beginning there wasn’t cell coverage or the ability to cruise the internet. Roy, the host has been doing the show for the last 10 years. He starts off with emergency messages, this allows people to get messages back to loved ones at home. Next is a weather summary for the next 5 days. He follows it with Canadian news of interest, world news and then sports. For people in a 50 mile area of Little Current this may be the only contact people have with “civilization”. After that he makes a sweep of the area and boats check in and give names and destinations to coordinate with others they may be trying to meet up with.

We were too late to see Roy in person, so we had dinner. Susan went with a whitefish sandwich with the Poutine fries and I went with Pierogi with bacon and onions. Very good, the right amount for dinner. I got a butter tart to go and left one of my boating cards for Roy’s broadcast.

We cruised the length of the docks to see I we saw anyone we know. We did talk to one guy about his sea kayak, we will take a look at one on our next stop.

It was a short bike ride back once we were past the big hill in town. We got all our purchases together and sorted where they needed to be. and headed down to the bunks.

We both got up about 2 AM to make sure everything was fine. Susan had though she had heard a thumping sound that turned out to be a fender being blown by the wind.

By 9AM my bill was settled and we got set up to go. It was nice to have everyting working again and we headed back east (towards Killarney, but really to the north to go into Baie Fine, the largest freshwater fiord in the world. It is breathtaking with the steep walls and the pine trees clinging to the rock wall.

This is one of the shortest times we spent at a marina. The people were professional, nice and willing to work with me on how I wanted things done.

We were in the water and heading east at 10AM. Off to Baie Fine!