Thursday, July 5, 2018
Last Dance's first Great Loop was completed in 2011 - 2012 over a period of 16 months. The crew felt that pace was much too fast to visit and enjoy all the many interesting places along this path around eastern North America. So, a Second Loop was begun in the fall of 2012, taking Last Dance to Maine for two summers and five seasons into the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.
The northern waters have interesting towns and scenic anchorages, but the cruising season is very short. Some believe that spending two months in the North Channel (Canadian Bay in the north of Lake Huron) is stretching the season. In Maine, many businesses close the day after Labor Day. To facilitate the multiple-year northern cruises, Last Dance spent the winter in heated storage in Brewerton, NY (on the Erie Canal), and Charlevoix, Michigan.
Plans had been to continue the Great Loop, heading south to Chicago and taking the river systems down to Mobile, then to Florida and home. In considering the most interesting places to visit, the places along the river systems did not rank the highest. A path back east, through the North Channel, Georgian Bay, the Rideau Canal, and the U.S. east coast, held more beauty and interest. So, the decision to head back east, rather than gaining a new flag for completing the circle a second time, was made.
June 2018, began Last Dance's journey on the Loop, backward. UnLooping, we have termed the new pathway. Travel will be following close to the same paths as highlighted on the map of the "traceless path" shown in the Great Loop Two Map in the right panel of the blog. It would be impossible to document the Unlooping trip on the same map. Thus, the new map added to the blog.
One rule on a boat is: Plans Change. Even a trip of a few hours can change with weather or other circumstances. Last Dance's plans have changed, in an easterly direction.
These photos are of Last Dance anchored and stern-tied in back of a cut on Fox Island, North Channel, Canada. One of the most scenic of anchorages, anywhere in North America. The trip east has found Last Dance in the North Channel early, before the visit of most boaters, leaving the best places in the favorite anchorages available. As of the date of this writing, the going-backward decision has brought good experiences.
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Chanticleer, a 108' Burger, shared the anchorage at Benjamin Islands. The sight of this boat brings back much of the cruising and boating history of the North Channel. Ole Evinrude, the inventor of the outboard motor for boats, purchased an island at the end of Baie Finn and built a house there, in the early 1900s. He would cruise his large wood yacht from his home in Wisconsin to the island in the summer. There was no electricity in the area, so he would plug the boat into the house, powering the house with the boat generator. He had a line of outboards mounted on the back deck. If he would happen upon someone having a problem with an Evinrude outboard, he would exchange a new outboard for the one they had.
This boat has a similar style to Ole's boat, although much newer and built of Aluminum. There is also a historical tie. It was purchased by the entertainer, Frances Langford (song: I'm in the Mood for Love), who was officially Frances Langford Evinrude, wife of Ole Evinrude's son, Ralph. So, the Evinrude boat is back in North Channel. No matter its history, Chanticleer is a beautiful boat to have in the harbor.
This 75' Marlow shared the anchorage in Mary Ann Cove. Marlows are beautiful, quality boats. It is always interesting to see other boats of interesting and attractive designs. Many boats are works of art that travel upon the water.
For some reason, rainbows and rainbows with brighter colors seem to appear in much higher frequency in the North Channel. While docked at the town of Little Current, a rainbow ended on the aft deck of Last Dance. Just one of the many rainbows observed in 2017.
There were a few new sights in Meldrum Bay. The general store reopened this year with new owners, which brings the town's count of business to 2 - The Meldrum Bay Inn and the general store. To call attention to the newly opened business, the owners have placed some picnic chairs in front of the store that are guaranteed to attract attention.
Tied to the wharf at the city marina was a well-maintained, nice-looking, Great Lakes fishing boat. These boats were designed to handle the large waves that can build on the lakes. This boat has huge bow strakes to push water to the side and a very low pilot house so that waves can pass over the top of the boat. Sadly, there are few of these left and even fewer fishing on the lakes.
Worms in a Vending Machine
When contemplating ways to begin a new business and get rich, did the idea of putting worms in a refrigerated vending machine ever cross your mind? Well, that thought did cross some fisherman's mind and has come to fruition. This Live Bait machine is at the Drummond Island Marina.
Observing wildlife is one of the enjoyable aspects of being out in the wild. Some critters need encouragement to make themselves seen. Two Canadian friends, lifelong fishermen in Georgian Bay and North Channel, shared a number of tips bringing more success to fishing efforts and more fish for the dinner table.
Beavers rarely make themselves visible to human visitors, but they leave signs of their presence by building large beaver lodges along the shore.
Hiking Trails - Long Point Cove
Many of the anchorages in the North Channel have hiking opportunities, expanding the experience of nature. The trail at Long Point Cove is unmarked with some sections easy to see and simple to hike, while other sections confusing to determine and difficult to hike. The challenge is part of the enjoyment.
The view from the top of the ridge is a great reward.
Hiking Trails - Covered Portage Cove
One of the hiking trails at Covered Portage is along the edge of the ridge of quartz rocks located on the north side of the cove.
The high altitude of the ridge is exhilarating, particularly for Florida flatlanders.
Kagawong is a small town, located at the base of a bay along the northern shore of Manitoulin Island. The red-roofed building in the center of the image above is the city marina office. The few slips offered are behind the breakwater to the left of the building. The bay opens north and the breakwater is much needed in a strong northerly wind.
The black-roofed building to the left of the marina is an interesting and quite different church - more later. The building on the other side of the street from the marina is the general store and the one to the left is the old hotel. The lighthouse on the right is a working lighthouse.
The general store is still functioning, but only barely. A wide variety of products are available, from 2 kinds of motor oil to 2 kinds of breakfast cereal, but each was only four packages deep. When we visited, no one else was there, not even the proprietor. They live upstairs and might have been at lunch. Laid back retailing. The little addition on the left with the mismatched architecture is the post office. The millstone sitting by the steps is an important part of the town's history.
Just up the street is the old hotel, closed for many years. It has been purchased by someone wishing to restore it. A few projects were completed in 2016, but no work had been accomplished this year and no one in town had information on the future of the hotel. It would be a great loss for the hotel not to be saved, but it is also difficult to envision a successful business plan for a town that has no business travelers and a short tourist season.
There is a church on the bay, right on the waterfront. For the most part, it looks like traditional church architecture of the time period. There is a hint of a difference in the ship's wheel mounted above the entrance.
And, a ship's wheel on the church sign. What is going on here?
It is a nautical-themed church, with a wooden boat bow section used as the pulpit. For a church that was built in a town with an economy based on the waterfront and fishing, appropriate architecture.
The view through the stained glass windows is of the marina. Last Dance can be seen at the dock.
Another block up the street is the most prosperous business in Kagawong - the chocolate shop. Who would have thought that in a tiny town with almost no traffic, a chocolate shop would attract all the business? It does. Chocolates made fresh on site and a variety of European jams and jellies seem to attract a large number of people. Interesting town, Kagawong.
Turn at the chocolate shop and another block along the waterfront is an old stone building sitting next to a stream. Much of the history of Kagawong centers on this building and lives there today. The first big industry to land in the North Channel, after fishing, was the timber industry. This stone structure was built near the end of the 19th century to be a pulp mill. They made wood pulp out of the spruce trees, which was shipped wet to Chicago where it was turned into paper for the Sears Roebuck catalog. That ended with the depression, after which a generator was installed to be run by the water power. It generated all of the electricity for Manitoulin Island. It was operated as a generating plant until 1961 when the power company closed the plant and provided all the electricity to the island from large mainland generating plants. It sat vacant for 30 years. Then a group of community members refurbished the building to become a museum on the first floor and an art studio on the second. It was a most successful transition.
The old generator sits outside on the property as a part of the historical display. It is interesting that this one generator, powered by the flow of the stream, could provide electricity for the entire island.
The community group more recently moved this log homestead to the mill property to house the overflow of exhibits that were developed.
The town's phone system was once operated by this small switchboard. How communication was made by mail and by phone are displayed in the log house.
The museum floor of the mill is filled with displays depicting the activities of the local people and economic activities. A detailed exhibit fills a large space dedicated to the best known family in town history, although they were only summer people - the Dodge family, of motor car fame. There is still a mystery unsolved in the family.
Across from the power plant, a number of hiking trails begin along the river, gravel trails varying in difficulty and a paved trail.
The paved trail has a variety of kids activities designed for different age groups. For the older kids, there is even an over-sized chess set.
Natural beauty is all along the gravel trail that runs along the river. It is an improved trail, smooth and wide, much different from the challenging trails along the north shore, but still interesting and beautiful.
This trail is also adorned with artists sculptures. There are bronze deer in the woods and a turtle peers out of this rock at those who hike by.
A fish sculpture seems at home placed in the river.
The end goal of the hike is to reach Bridal Veil Falls - a moving piece of natural art. The smaller fall is not evident in drier years. These falls were once much grander with many times over volumes of water. Today, most of the water is diverted to a canal on the other side of the road to power an electric generator in a nondescript building. Allowing the water to first fall over the cliffs would reduce its potential energy.
This view better illustrates how the falls got their name.
Kagawong is a tiny town, but is engaging and active for visitors.
Friday, December 29, 2017
Killarney is located at the end of a long peninsula where a geological event carved a cut through the rock. That cut makes for a pass through the land mass and provides waterfront for marinas. Killarney is the dividing point between Georgian Bay and North Channel. A small lighthouse on a prominent point marks the east end of the channel.
The Killarney economy has been in decline for years. At one time, every business in town was for sale. Things are looking up. The Killarney Mountain Lodge, originally built in the 1950's as a retreat for a large corporation, was purchased by a Canadian businessman, who has upgraded the property and built new buildings. The marina has also been greatly expanded. He also purchased the other inn in town, the Historic Sportsman's Inn and Marina. Activity is returning to Killarney.
Canada is proud of the Inukshuk, a traditional symbol of welcome of the First Nation People. The Killarney Mountain Lodge had the largest Inukshuk encountered. The newest lodge building is in the background.
Killarney is a not-to-be-missed stop on a cruise through the North Channel. Last Dance was there for two days when the forecast big storm arrived in full force. There is great food at the Lodge and a famous fish and chips restaurant at the commercial fishing dock. Killarney is always a popular stop.
Mary Ann Cove is a small but deep cove along the southern shore of Baie Fine. It is a popular spot for cruisers for many reasons - it is a beautiful spot, the rocks on the far shore in this image are perfect for Rocktails, and there is an amazing hiking trail. The trail is challenging, but the scenery and the view from the top are spectacular.
It is customary for boats anchored in Mary Ann Cove to stern tie to shore. First, the water is so deep that sufficient amount of scope (the length of the anchor line deployed) required for a secure set would result in a huge swing circle. Second, many boats anchor here and stern tying keeps the boat in one spot, making room for more boats. While it looks like we have a solitary anchorage in this image, there were 12 boats anchored in the cove by evening, including a 75 footer.
This is the view from the rock ledge on the far side of the cove, looking across the outer cove of Mary Ann and Baie Fine, with the solid white quartz Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Just a gorgeous setting.
Entering Baie Fine at one of its widest points, the only deep water is right next to a rock wall. This year a waterfall greeted cruisers, one which has not been there is past years. It is indicative of a wet spring and summer, conditions that make for good blueberry production. It also adds to the scenic value. Why is it that sunsets and waterfalls always grab peoples' attention?
The hiking trail begins along the shore of the outer cove and heads up the ridge through many twists, turns, and rock climbs.
There are narrow sections, steep sections, and places that are confusing. It is not a park-maintained trail, so the often placed blue blazes are not there to help with deciphering which direction leads one along the trail and which direction might get one lost.
The spectacular view from the top of the ridge makes the effort of a long, challenging hike well worth the effort. This view is looking west. The water body to the left is Frazier Bay, with Little Current and Killarney to the south. The body of water in the center is Baie Fine, with the narrow entrance in the distance. From this point, one is looking down on the Blue Ridge Mountains on the right. The water body behind the Blue Ridge is McGregor Bay.
There are many interesting sights along the Mary Ann hiking trial. One was this leaf. It is August and fall is beginning, an early season change experience for native Floridians.
To narrow the depictions of interesting views, images of only one topic are shared below - mushrooms, of which there are many varieties.