Monday, August 18, 2014
There are two Echo Bays, one north of the small channel leading inland and one south. The north bay is larger with room for many boats. But, wisely, no boats were in the north bay during Last Dance’s visit. The entrance to the north bay is littered with rocks. An exploratory trip in the dinghy with a portable depth sounder found a path through the rocks about 20 feet wide and 4 to 5 feet deep. Not sufficiently sized for most boats to pass.
Above, Last Dance is stern tied to a rock in the southern Echo Bay. This bay is located in a provincial park, so it is surrounded by public land.
Parks Canada made stern tying easier by inserting steel petards into the rock around the bay. This also helps protect the park as lines wrapped around trees can damage the bark.
A resident of the north Echo Bay taking advantage of a sunny day during an unusually cool summer to catch a few rays of sun.
The narrowing channel from Echo Bay to the Small Boat Channel in Georgian Bay.
The group of islands known as The Bustards are a popular spot for visits by cruising boaters. A number of anchorages within the islands provide great protection from weather and a base camp for exploration. Above, Last Dance is tucked into a corner of a cove.
When at anchor, a boat can swing in a circle, sometimes much larger than a football field. A technique employed to keep an anchored boat in one spot, and to fit the boat into very small coves, is stern tying. The line from the stern of Last Dance to shore can be seen in this photo.
The view from Last Dance to the east. Having a home that moves allows one to select home sites with interesting views, and to change those views when desired. This image also shows how the islands in this small bay provide complete protection from the open waters of Georgian Bay.
The Bustard Islands are a grouping of various-sized islands tightly arranged, leaving small passages between them well suited for exploration by dinghy or kayak. These islands are part of a Canadian provincial park. This is another spot in Georgian Bay that can provide a home for an extended period, providing new experiences every day.
A Google Earth view of the Bustard Islands can be seen by clicking on the link below.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Just east of Collins Inlet lies a large bay filled with islands, many islands. Beaverstone Bay is scenic and has a number of anchorages in coves formed by the islands. Another area in Georgian Bay with kayaking and dinghy exploration possibilities.
A mother loon and her chick along the rocky edge of an island in Beaverstone Bay.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Collins Inlet is a narrow channel formed between Phillip Edward Island and the mainland. At times, the rock walls are almost fjord-like. The rock is pink granite, worn smooth after millions of years. A part of the Canadian shield, this is one of the oldest rock formations in the world. A few, though spacious, anchorages lie along the inlet for cruisers to linger and savor this beauty.
One of the best anchorages anywhere, at least in the opinion of the Last Dance crew, is Thomas Bay. It is one of the last anchorages in Georgian Bay traveling west toward the beginning of the North Channel at Killarney. Thoughts of not posting about this anchorage were considered to keep this anchorage from becoming popular, and thus, crowded. But, there is too much beauty here to share.
A closer view of the chart illustrates why most cruisers do not attempt to enter Thomas Bay - the many, many rocks between deep water and this tiny bay. There are no makers or buoys in the area and no depths charted in the bay. It is totally incumbent on the mariner to find, or maybe better stated to not find, the rocks. Many who cruise Georgian Bay and North Channel find a rock or two, which keeps the boatyards in Little Current busy in the summers.
The mainland side of the bay has pink granite rock ledges creating a gorgeous view and great protection from winds and fetch while at anchor.
Although the rock surrounding the bay is quite steep and a challenging climb, there are spots along the edges at slight angles providing for easy dinghy landing. This view shows the low island across the end of the bay creating 360 degrees of protection.
The view from the boat is simply stunning.
The view can be entertaining at times, also. This otter knocked against the hull of Last Dance early one morning. Then after some fishing, went ashore to preen. He seemed to be performing for the crew in the water and on the rocks.
One afternoon, a juvenile black bear wandered along the shore in his search for blueberries.
The loons, most often seen alone, fished by Last Dance. These uniquely marked birds have multiple calls, different when in the water and on land, that could be described as eerie and beautiful at the same time.
The land around Thomas Bay is part of a large Provincial Park, allowing cruisers access to the land surrounding the bay. It provides good hiking, although this area does not have developed trials. Hiking where there are no trails is more challenging in both climbing and orienteering. Beautiful and amazing views continue to change as one ascends and winds around the hills.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Crossing large waters on commercial ships often brings them close to shore in the dark. Finding one's way through the rock infested waters could be impossible without landmarks on shore visible at night. Many of these lighthouses are still standing, still operational, continuing their function of guiding ships in the night. Above is the Snug Harbor light.
Pointe au Baril light has the old, but more modern lighthouse functioning on the point adjacent to the original light.
A replica of the original light stands proud on the point. As a warning to sailors, a fire was maintained in a barrel on shore. Thus, the name of the inlet and small community is still expressed in French.
This group of islands much have proved very dangerous as three lighthouses were built.
The lighthouse at Bing Inlet.
The Strawberry Island light near Little Current.
The islands in Georgian Bay and North Channel offer many hiking opportunities across the rocky surface. That rocky surface also makes for a distraction from hiking, causing one to pause and bend over. The thin soil is good for the growth needs of wild blueberries, such as those growning along the mouth of the cave above.
Just small crevices in the in the rocks can support the growth needs of this short, fruit-bearing bush.
Often the wild blueberry fruit are tiny, requiring well over 100 berries to make a cup, and are spread thin with very few in reach. But, if you are lucky and find the right spot on the right island, much larger berries, grouped much thicker can be found.
Why are blueberries important to cruising? Well, there are blueberry muffins, blueberry pies, blueberry tarts, blueberry pancakes, blueberry-banana bread, and blueberry sauce over pound cake. The small wild berries seem to be packed with more flavor than their cultivated, commercial cousins. Then, there is always that thrill of enjoying the fruits of your own labor, so to speak.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Baie Fine (pronounced Bay Fin), French for Fine Bay, is appropriately named. Long, protected by a very tight entrance, and surrounded by beautiful rock formations, it is a fine bay, indeed. Although it widens out considerably, the above image illustrates that the channel into the bay is right next to the southern edge. The water is deeper next to the rock wall than it is on the left.
As one cruises down the bay, the rocky mountains to the north become more prominent. This ridge, known as the Blue Ridge, is made of solid white quartz rock.
At the end of Baie Fine is a small, round bay known as The pool. This image was taken from high on the Blue Ridge with a long telephoto lens. It is an amazingly protected anchorage, surrounded by rock mountains 100s of feet high and able to hold more boats at anchor than first appears.
Many thousands of acres of land around the pool is a national park. The park is filled with miles of trails, this one leads up the mountain to Topaz Lake and is a spring creek bed.
The trails are used by serious, long-range hikers. This young lady, portaging her canoe, was part of a group that was hiking from a lake north of the Blue Ridge to Baie Fin. Hiking over a mountain with a canoe on your shoulders has to be classified as serious hiking.
Near the top of the Blue Ridge, above The Pool, lies Topaz Lake. For some reason, in 2014, the lake was no longer topaz in color. However, it remains a beautiful spot, well worth a steep hike up the mountain.
Near Topaz Lake, a ridge can be hiked providing an overlook to the boats anchored in The Pool The first image in this post was taken near here with a long lens. This image gives a normal view from the top and illustrates the ridge that rings The Pool.
A hike up the mountain has other benefits. In the Pool, being far from civilization, in the middle of a national park, ringed by mountains, there are no cell phone signals. Standing on a high spot on the mountain, facing in a certain direction, a cell signal can be captured. Communication can make cruising safer and less stressful. Just the weather apps on a smartphone provide a level of safety.
Another boat anchored in The Pool was on the Great Loop journey. DeDe is a wooden, home-built boat on the Blue Jacket design. They began the Loop in Virginia and plan another visit to North Channel after completing the Loop. Since DeDe is trailerable, she is much easier to return to northern waters. A wide range of boats are used for transportation on the Loop.
The day leaving The Pool, traveling through Baie Fine, was a day more suited to photography. Sunlight is very beneficial. This shot illustrated the long, narrow shape of this fine bay. The Pool lies behind Last Dance, the entrance to Baie Fine lies ahead.
The Blue Ridge borders Baie Fine in some areas with almost sheer cliffs. At a distance, these mountains look to be snow covered.