Cruising is an adventure but is it also a social experience. When we first reached The North Channel in 2011, anchoring in the cove between the Benjamin Islands, boats that were on the Loop began arriving. By late afternoon, eight other Loopers were in the Benjamin anchorage, way too many people to fit on a boat for cocktails and conversation. Everyone wanted to share conversation, meet new people, and talk about plans for continuing the cruise towards Chicago. A large, smooth, pink granite rock lines the inner portion of the harbor and seemed to be a perfect spot for a party, which was dubbed "Rocks on the Rock." Nine dinghies which transported the crews to the rock are pictured above.
This blog has focused on the Great Loop by serving as a travelogue, painting the scene of many of the interesting and beautiful places along the Loop, in the hope to be helpful to others who will be traveling to these locations, and to those who will not have the opportunity to travel themselves, but enjoy sharing the experience and beauty vicariously.
This nod toward writing a post on the social side of cruising was spurred by comments on the American Great Loop Forum, where a number of experienced and knowledgeable members argued that to gain the benefit of meeting people it is necessary to always stop at a marina; anchoring is for the antisocial. Always spending the night in a marina eliminates experiences in many beautiful places on the Loop, nowhere more true than in The North Channel.
One of the first North Channel anchorages for Last Dance in 2017 was Long Point Cove. A few friends made in previous years were in the anchorage. Wanting to get together with friends, but not wanting to leave others out, a dinghy ride to each boat was made, inviting the crews to join the Rocktails. Everyone came, with drinks and munchies.
A good time was had by all. The people gathered in an anchorage invariably come from many different areas of the world and from many different backgrounds and experiences. There is always much to learn and enjoy.
The term, "Rocktails," was coined from the boating term of "Docktails" - the practice of meeting other boaters on the marina dock in the afternoon, sharing beverages, munchies, and conversation -with the fact that the location is on the rocks.
The Benjamin Islands were again the scene of another spontaneous Rocktails.
The Benjamin anchorage is large, and so was the party. It seems one always meets interesting and friendly people around boats.
The other side of the cove, on a rock known as "The Ski Slope," was the location for the event. There is even a ring of flat-topped rocks that served well as tables for all the food that was brought. The crew of the boat, Hunky Dory, anchored here next to The Ski Slope, were the organizers of this Rocktails.
Bob and Karen, the Hunky Dory crew, led a hike to the top of South Benjamin the next day, in search of those special places that hold blueberry bushes.
Bob is an avid and successful fisherman, heading out onto the waters most days. He is always interested in company and shares his fishing techniques. Rarely does he return without some fish. Bass. like the ones he has here, are his favorite for lunch. Rocktails are not the only social activity among those at anchor.
While on a hike along the ridge in Covered Portage Cove, three trawlers, flying Great Loop burgees, came in and anchored. Of course, after the Last Dance crew completed the hike and returned to lake level (the waters here are 575 feet above sea level), they were invited for Rocktails.
A large, flat-topped rock lies at the base of the cove, perfect for chairs and hosting a gathering. And, a great time was had by all.
It is possible to be at anchor and still participate in Docktails. A nice cove along Hotham Island has a house along the shore. The owners invite the crews from all the boats at anchor to come to their home, gather on the dock, bringing beverages and o'deovers, meeting the other boaters, sharing stories and tales.
This Docktail party occurs every afternoon, all summer long. A good time was had by all.
A Canadian couple we meet at an anchorage a few years ago, leading to a close friendship, invited the Last Dance crew to Rocktails at Mary Ann Cove, a beautiful spot along Baie Finn. Canadians, it seems, always have a fire when they go ashore, which does add a bit of atmosphere and the smoke keeps their large mosquitoes at bay.
This was a group was comprised of Canadians who keep their sailboats in Georgian Bay, cruising Georgian Bay and North Channel every summer. Generous, as always, they included the foreigners from the country to the south in their celebration of another great day on the water.
This version of Rocktails even included live music.
And, a good time was had by all.
While cruising on a boat is about the wonderful places one can experience, from the natural beauty of The North Channel to the history, architecture, and food of a place like Chicago, meeting the people around boats will always be one of the joys and of what many memories are made of. Cruising, an adventure on the water among interesting people.