This online document is a means of sharing the adventure of traveling on America's waterways with friends and family. Last Dance is continuing to take her crew to historical, natural, beautiful, and interesting places. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

North Channel - Whales Back Channel

To the west of the Benjamin Island/Hotham Island area is an interesting area of mainland coves and islands that is also known as a channel - Whales Back.

The entry to the Whales Back is a skinny, turning cut between a crooked mainland peninsula and Arid Island, Little Detroit.  Odd name it seems for spot in an area of rocky islands covered with trees.  Detroit is French for a strait connecting two lakes.  Detroit, Michigan, is located on such a strait.  After a securite (sea-cure-i-tei, French for what follows is important) call on the VHF radio to check for traffic in the opposing direction, a pass can be made through this tight cut, being careful of possible currents.  Little Detroit is a gateway to some interesting cruising waters.

First stop for many, if not most, cruisers is the town of Spanish.  The town government operates a nice marina behind a protecting rock breakwater.  Cruising the Benjamin Islands area, at anchor all of the time, depletes water tanks, fuel tanks, and fills the holding tanks.  This is a good stop for water, fuel, and a pump-out.  The actual town is a few miles away with a small grocery, made more convenient by a local that provides an unlicensed taxi service.  Last Dance took advantage of this opportunity before heading to anchorages in the Whales Back Channel.

The channel gets its name from an island lying in the middle of the channel, Whales Back Island.  To some early mariner, this island reminded him of a whale rolling on the surface of the ocean to catch a breath of air, exposing its back.  While the waters here are wide, the deep waters of the channel are skinny and winding.  Careful navigation is a must to keep the boat off the bottom.

As Last Dance approached the western end of the Whales Back Channel, a colorful spot appeared on the horizon.  It grew larger and was eventually identified as a spinnaker sail on a sailboat.  A spinnaker is a large sail, usually very colorful, used to sail downwind.  The winds from the west were building, forecast to increase and maintain for multiple days.

There was another small spot near the spinnaker flying sailboat.  As the distance grew smaller, the small spot became identifiable as a sailing canoe.  Quite a small boat to be traveling in the big waters of Lake Huron.

Cruising plans for the day were to stop and anchor at Beardrop Harbor, a protected harbor surrounded by high shorelines and islands, one with hiking opportunities and fishing possibilities.  While Beardrop offers great protection from wind and waves, it is open to the west, and the west winds that were coming were going to make Beardrop most uncomfortable.  Cruising plans must be very flexible.  A more protected small bay was selected, Long Point Cove.