From her over-winter berth in heated storage in Charlevoix, MI, Last Dance headed north into Lake Huron and the skinny bay known as North Channel. The Last Dance crew had found these waters to have the best anchorages anywhere on the Great Loop. The objectives for the summer 2018 cruise was to spend time in the outstanding anchorages and spending time with the Canadians and cruising boaters who had become friends during previous visits. Above the crew enjoys Rocktails with other cruisers in the anchorage at Covered Portage.
There are 31 previous posts in this blog about the North Channel, plus posts on the blog documenting the first loop - Last Dance Loop One No place else in the eastern part of North America has impressed the crew to this degree. Only the Maine Coast is worthy of an argument for equally delightful cruising waters. You can search this blog for posts on the North Channel by going to the top left-hand corner and entering - North Channel - which will bring up all the posts. For a quick glance, the last post from the 2017 cruise is in the link below.
North Channel Ramblings
The first stop in the North Channel was an anchorage inside Harbor Island, just north of Drummond Island. Harbor Island is a descriptive title as the bay inside the island is a totally protected harbor. It quickly became a DeFever Rendezvous with a DeFever 40 Passagemaker, a DeFever 44 Offshore Cruiser, a DeFever 34 Passagemaker, and a DeFever 45 Pilothouse sharing the anchorage.
Anchoring is a social activity. The crews of the DeFevers all gathered on the aft deck of Hallelujah, the DeFever 44.
Long Point Cove
Long Point Cove is a favorite anchorage not known by all who cruise the North Channel. This anchorage, which looks too small on the charts to provide sufficient room, makes for a well-protected harbor with kayaking, hiking, and fishing opportunities.
The other favored activity in the area of Long Point Cove is blueberry picking. Heading out for a hike without a container for blueberries is a great mistake. Pockets do work for blueberry storage, but are not the best option. It was early in the season for the blueberries to be fully ripe, but the bushes showed great promise. The promise proved untrue as no rain fell in the next two months and the blueberries became dry to the point of looking like they had been burned with a torch.
Even the popular anchorage at Fox Island proved to be uncrowded. This anchorage had some fish waiting to be boated, including a large Pike, and is always a great place for kayaking. Usually, it is a bountiful blueberry picking area, but it was at the time of the visit here that the blueberry bushes began showing stress. It was also here that the lack of blueberries, a main food of the bears, began showing signs of the stress on the bear population. Four bears were seen while at this anchorage, a place that no bears had been seen on previous trips. One was even spotted at mid-day, a time when bears tend to be out of sight.
Explorations were made in the kayaks and longer trips in the dinghy. While the island is low, not providing the climbing-type hikes of Long Point and Mary Ann Coves, Fox Island is actually a group of many islands and islets, all waiting for exploration.
This pink granite rock among the islands had the appearance of an eagle head.
The Benjamin Islands
One of the most well-known and popular places in the North Channel is the Benjamin Islands. A couple of days were spent at the favored anchorage between South Benjamin and North Benjamin Islands, but the large number of boats and forecast unfavorable wind direction made the cove in the south edge of South Benjamin Island appealing. The move turned out to be a good decision.
The Benjamins are another area ripe for exploration by kayak and dinghy.
Mary Ann Cove
Mary Ann Cove is a protected harbor along the southern shore of Baie Fine. It has high ridges protecting the cove from winds in any direction. It also has a great hiking trail and good fishing. In this image, taken from the deck of Last Dance swinging at anchor, a rare fog settled into Baie Fine creating a quiet, calm atmosphere.
The trail itself is an interesting variety of rock formations and various plant life. The reward though is this view from the top of Frazier Hill at the end of the trail. Looking west, Frazier Bay lies to the left, Baie Fine the skinny piece in the center, and McGregor Bay to the right.
Many factors kept Last Dance in Mary Ann Cove longer than normal - six days. One was that friends made in Canada would journey to the cove to share time together. Another was that the fish seemed to be most willing to take a variety of baits and make their way to the dinner table.
Small Mouth Bass were the most plentiful, a great benefit since they are great eating. This 18" guy made a couple of dinners.
Sharing experiences is the true joy of cruising and exploring along the waterways.
The morning Last Dance left Mary Ann Cove was a calm, clear sky day. It made for an even more spectacular photogenic journey through the amazingly spectacular Baie Fine.
Hiking up to the top of the ridge surrounding this most protected anchorage at Covered Portage is a required task if you are going to fully enjoy this spot. Time was spent again with friends.
One of the peaks along the ridge had a couple Inukshuks, the man-like stack of rocks. They seem to always draw one's attention, like dolphins swimming in the boat's wake.
Another cruise through the North Channel again delivered many great experiences.