Monday, December 17, 2018
Above is a view from Last Dance while anchored in the eastern harbor among the Bustard Islands. It is easy to see why this is a favored anchorage. Left - One of the smaller islands had a flat top which served as a great spot for Rocktails.
Looking out the entrance to the anchorage in the Bustards, a story of the dry weather an careless construction plays out. In the distance, smoke can be seen rising on the mainland. Above the entrance, a waterbomber is banking into a turn as he circles the islands.
The dry weather made for perfect tinder when a construction crew, which was blasting rocks, created the fire.
For a couple of days, the waterbombers circled the islands in the morning and afternoons as they gathered to fight the fires. Seeing them fly over at low altitudes was a fascinating sight.
Then, on the third day, the flight pattern of one of the waterbombers changed to fly right over the treetops and drop even lower as it flew over Last Dance.
This view is from the aft deck of Last Dance looking under the boom. The pilot seemed to get lower on each pass. Their close passes were never explained.
Along Colins Inlet a beaver hut was observed with an unusual feature. The long winter nights must become boring for this family of beavers who decided to install a satellite TV dish.
At the anchorage by Keyhole Island, pink kayaks were seen. The older of the two girls, age 6, decided that she liked a kayak she spotted at a park the previous summer, claiming that she could paddle it. She was given a chance and proved she could. Santa brought both of the girls kayaks for Christmas. The girls were often in the water with their parents. A great family activity.
Also spotted at Keyhole one day was a juvenile Black Bear. The dry weather was robbing them of their traditional food source of blueberries, causing them to search farther and roam into areas of human habitation that they normally eschew.
A colorful sunset appeared while at anchor in Beaver Stone Bay. The quickness which the colors appear make it difficult to capture your own boat as part of the image. It did provide an opportunity to share a special image with another cruiser with their boat lying inside the sunset.
Last Dance crossed paths with Short Vacation while cruising along Georgian Bay. A photo had to be captured of the two Defever boats. Bob and Barbara Dein began DeFever Cruisers, an association of people who own and cruise on offshore capable boats designed by Arthur DeFever. Under their leadership, DeFever Cruisers became an outstanding resource for people traveling on the water, DeFever owners and those who own Some Other Boat. Bob and Barbara owned Last Dance for 12 years, and began DeFever Cruisers when they owned this 40 DeFever Passagemaker. They decided to enjoy a bit more space, purchasing a DeFever 44 Offshore Cruiser, which they named Gondola. An appropriate name for a boat hailing from Venice, Florida. The Shorts purchased Gondola, and it became Short Vacation. A good bit of DeFever and Dein history is captured in this image.
The Georgian Bay cruise south created a number of opportunities to spend time in beautiful anchorages and many opportunities to share time with friends, both old and new.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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.
Friday, November 9, 2018
After the first visit, Last Dance headed west on the Cayuga Canal toward Seneca Lake and Watkins Glen. The crew was surprised by an interesting, different, odd sculpture onshore - pictured above. Fortunately, the only way to exit Seneca Lake was back through the same canals, making another visit to Seneca Falls an easy and logical place to stop. A closer study of the shoreline on the return trip found a sign along the canal announcing a sculpture park to boaters.
The sculpture park is located along the canal on the old mule path where the animals pulled the barges along the canal. It begins just west of the It's A Wonderful Life Bridge in sight of downtown.
The linear park right in downtown gives a nice environment for citizens and visitors to enjoy the canal, the greenery, and the sculpture. The boat in this image is a New York Canal Snag Boat. They travel the canal picking up snags - trees, branches, and other floating hazards - clearing the canal for navigation.
This Blue Heron, constructed in stainless steel, watches over the canal not far from the location of the Blue Heron pictured in an earlier post.
Sculptures depict topics relating to Seneca Falls including building of the canal, women's rights, local wildlife, and local industry.
The Sculpture Trail is one more entertaining reason to visit Seneca Falls.
A stroll through old towns often turns into an architectural tour. Seneca Falls realizes that their varied home architecture is an asset and produces a brochure identifying homes by architectural style and history.
If you find the architectural details contained in some of the older homes intriguing, take a walk through the hamlet of Seneca Falls through the images provided here.
This building was once a summer cottage, just a get-a-way from the big city life. It is now utilized as an apartment building.
Many homes have yard art, often whimsical and comical. This Seneca Falls home has yard art that might be described as whimsical, but it is a serious, well-done sculpture with a message.
For a town where the fight for women's rights began, a sculpture of a woman breaking out from her chains is most appropriate.
Behind a home sits an architecturally detailed carriage house where the horses needed for transportation were kept.