Jul 082015

Looking at the lift this morning was a sad moment.  We decided that with the damage to mainly the props, new props would be in order.  The props had to be ordered and would take a week to come in.  Scott had a look at them and thought perhaps a repair could be done.  The main guy says new props for sure.  So after looking into new ones for this beast it will be a week.  We are now on the hard and going home.

If you don’t take the bad with the good it is hard to know the good.  That is our motto today.  We are not loving the circumstances but given how many miles we have put on Conductance over the years this is our first mistake.  Our vacation plans are not ruined, nor are our plans derailed.  Our plans have merely changed.  In a boater’s life you can’t take your set plans too seriously.  A boater’s life is always in flux, not much different from our real life away from the boat.  So that being said, Conductance sits on the hard awaiting 2 new props with an engine that has slightly been moved.  A possible alignment is in order.  We won’t know if the new props will fix any additional damage that we can’t see until she is run in the open water.  We ordered the props from Florida and they are making their way north as we speak.  Conductance will have to sit on the hard for a week.

That being said we will be heading home.  Scott has been booked on a flight to head to work in the States.  He will work while we wait for the shipment of the props.  Aiden and I will head to home and spend some time with friends and family.  The way home isn’t an easy one though.  We looked into flights from Sudbury, buses and taxis.  Nothing available on the island or in Tobermory if we took the Chi-Cheemaun.  So we called Mom.  She is in Haliburton, a 5 hour drive away, with friends.  She is dropping everything to come get us, take us back there for the night to stay in the hotel, then we will all leave and head to the airport to take Scott.  Then  home.  Thanks Mom!

Sitting on the hard Scott says the he just can’t stand the waves!!!  You have to laugh in these situations.

 Posted by at 12:59 PM
Jul 072015

This morning we had rain and overcast skies with a north wind.  We decided to get water and fresh fish from the locals here before shoving off to Sturgeon Cove.  We planned out our next 4 nights on the hook with some recommended anchorages.  After lunch we headed out with the rain stopping and settling north winds.

We thought about staying at a small cove near Mosquito Island on the SW side of Great Cloche Island but had heard so much about Sturgeon Cove that we thought we must try it.  Upon entering Sturgeon Cove we noticed very large rocks just under the water to both port and starboard.  With the water levels 2 feet higher than most have seen in recent years it was with extreme caution that we entered.  Nothing on the charts for these rocks.  Once in the cove 2 sailboats were already there.  It was a bit of a rock in there with the north wind and being on the north side of the island so we thought we would head back to the cove near Mosquito Island.  Exiting the cove we kept watch on the rocks when all of a sudden we contacted.  We knew instantly that we were in trouble.  After getting out a bit Scott opened the hatch to check for incoming water.  We were dry.  So it was decided that we had better contact the repair marina in Little Current and let them know we were coming in.  It was 4:00 by the time we got into the marina.  A lift out to check the damage was postponed until morning.

We spent the night with stiff rum and cokes and a movie.  Early to bed and early to rise for the lift in the morning.

 Posted by at 6:48 PM
Jul 062015

We took our sweet time leaving Mary Ann Cove.  We loved this little spot of paradise the most.  I think because of our luck finding the spot right next to the small bluff, the energetic the walk up Caslin’s Peak, the campfire, and the view.  Now onto the real world again but not without a swim and a lake shower.

We made our way onto the main channel after lunch with SW winds that left us a bit rocky but not too bad.  It is a short trip to Little Current of about 45 minute to 1 hour.  Entering Little Current Channel we were greated with “boat approaching please slow down” on the radio.  The marina near the entrance must have a fella watching for anything approaching.  We were still pretty far out.  We weren’t in the channel yet and Scott would have slowed down when it was required.  So we made our way to the channel and to the swing bridge.  The swing bridge connects the mainland to Manitoulin Island and is the only road access to the island.  The only other access is the Chi-Cheemaun ferry from Tobermory.  We are staying on the seawall at the Town Dock.  The current isn’t as bad as the nautical books say but it is strong by the bridge.  I’m sure it can gust up in here but in reality it isn’t that scary a trek in.

After landing we hooked up the water and power and headed into town.  There are two grocery stores within walking distance.  Scott also stopped at the LCBO for beer.  Aiden also finally got his ice cream.  So now we are all happy campers, or boaters.  The town has a quaint main corridor with everything one would need.  The boardwalk goes to the swing bridge and if you are lucky a boat will be coming through so you can see how it works.  There is a beach at the other end of Spider Bay Marina that is about a 10 minute walk.  So many large boats here too.  We are seeing more boats here than we have along the way.  Maybe the USA boaters have started their way north too.  They make up a lot of the visitors here being so close to this area.

After the shore chores Scott opened up the hatch to look at the engines.  He was prepared to change fuel filters here due to time already on the existing ones.  After a couple hours he was done and cleaned up.  After dinner we took an evening stroll along the boardwalk.  Tomorrow is rain and heavy at times.  We  will not be leaving before noon and still have to plan out our remaining North Channel route.  Stay tuned!


 Posted by at 2:45 PM
Jul 052015

After this many days in the back country,with no cell service, in Northern Ontario you have lots to catch up on.  I’ve done my homework everyday but just couldn’t hand it in.  Do I get a pass?

We spent the day enjoying the beauty and making new discoveries.  When we had our motors and gen  off and sitting still in the little bay off the pool we heard waterfalls.  You can only hear it in quiet.  A new exploration!!!!  We took the dingy over to the spot where the sound was coming from.  It isn’t obvious at all.  We think it is a drainage area for Lake Topaz because it is above us over the bluff.  The pictures will remain in our memory because we did forget the camera.  It was a beautiful wooded area that not many people have found.  Most boaters are cruising by and miss this gem.  It is 2 small coves just out of the pool.  We anchored there for the night.  If we didn’t have quiet we would have missed it too.

Our next stop is just down Baie Fine to Mary Ann Cove.  The charts show shallow waters but it must be about 15 feet deep.  There were 6 boats already here.  We found what we believe to be the best spot in all of the North Channel, thus far.  They cliff on the west side is so deep that if you wanted you could almost back in directly to the cliff and hop off.  We didn’t go in that far but enjoyed our new found backyard.

The travellers in the North Channel mostly have chain anchors, except for the odd sailboat that has to pull up the anchor by hand.  The other common practice is anchoring out normally, backing into your spot and then using rope or two ropes around trees on shore to stop the swing.  Everyone has a dingy too.  Haven’t seen a sailboat or cruiser without one.  Only the cottagers with their day tripper boats are without.

While here in Mary Ann Cove we decided to take Low Voltage our dingy over to the famous Caslin’s Peak.  It is about an hour trek straight up a dry stream bed to the most spectacular view of the islands.  If you can get there you must go.  Pictures just don’t do the scenery justice.  On the peak is a fellow who had his ashes buried into the rock cliff.  “Cork” was his last name.  He has been here since 1950 and his wife joined him in 2001.  The trek back down is less strenuous and you will see things you missed.

Now what to do?  Our backyard was so perfect for us that we decided to have an open campfire and cook dinner on the flame.  Scott and Aiden gathered the wood and watched it while the wood turned to embers for cooking.  They only thing I had that was able to cook on the open flame was back bacon, or Canadian bacon for our USA friends.  It has become the best way to eat back bacon.  So good!

The sunset was a salmon coloured sky with the campfire burning and reflections on Mary Ann Cove were just gorgeous.

By the way, this was a tribute to our friend Marianne, who Aiden has become very close to, as he said that we have to mention her in this blog and let her know that he was thinking of her while he was here.

 Posted by at 11:24 PM
Jul 042015

No wifi and no data…………..now this is living.  For the last couple days we have been incognito up here in north country.  It is so prestine and unspoiled that it is disappointing when we go to a spot and another boater is there.  Didn’t they know we were coming???

We left Covered Portage Cove by 7:30 only to stop about 5 minutes out of the cove  because we didn’t want to wake the other boaters with our gen running for breakfast.  Scott was surprised that after 11 hours sitting the batteries were capable of turning over both engines.  Just outside the cove we turned on the gen for the toaster and coffee and enjoyed the fresh air.   Then we  made our way west to a fjord, sort of.  It looks like a fjord and is the closest thing we will come to seeing one in Ontario.  The Baie Fine, pronounced Bay Fin, is a 20 km or so trek up a pine tree lined, rock bluff valley into what is known as “The Pool”.  The Pool is merely a widening of the fjord where the water “pools” which is the end for most boaters even though the water continues up much farther through bog.  “The Pool” is considered one of the best places to be up here in North Channel.  It had at least a half dozen boats there and we figured more were coming.  We had some leftovers for lunch, and then started to head back down the waterway.  We wanted to be alone with no boats around so we found a small carved out area and anchored there for the night.

In The Pool there is a dock that leads to a path to climb up the bluff.   We took Low Voltage out of her sling and headed over to the dock. Its a great hike through tall pines, rock and foliage.  At the top of the bluff you are awarded a beautiful view of a land locked lake.  Lake Topaz has no fish, no algae and no vegetation.  It is as virgin as a lake can be in these times.  Aiden and Scott took the first dip into the fresh water.  A bit nippy to swim in these parts this year but we won’t be back for several years so we must partake.  If you are coming north for vacation this year pack your warm clothes, wetsuits and lots of bug spray.  The nasty bugger black flies are still out and they have made a meal out of us.  Anyway Lake Topaz is higher in altitude than the Baie Fine so logically it should drain but it doesn’t.  It must have a very thick rock bottom where the water stays put.  It is quite large and many a boater makes the climb up the bluff on a well marked path.  However, marked very well it is not a climb that you will want to take if you are not fit enough to do so.  Scott showed Aiden how to jump from the cliffs at Lake Topaz.  So he started with a low 1 metre one and by the time we left was jumping off a 5 metre cliff, several times.  He is growing up so fast now that he is 12.  I reminded Scott that everything is 2 hours away and it may be a good idea to scale it back.  Did they?  Not those two!

After a few hours at Lake Topaz we headed back to our resting spot for the night.  We “showered” at the back of the boat which was needed after a bug spray and sunscreen mix.  Aiden has decided he is “sleeping out” tonight so he has secured a spot in the back of the boat and is ready for the night howls and sounds.  It has become the norm for the boys to head out fishing after dinner.  I get to do the dishes and write.  Not so bad when  my office overlooks the beauty and calm of these waters………………and we have run out of water in our holding tank.  So that means boiling water for dishes and adding lake water to the toilets for flushing.  Now we are really roughing it.

 Posted by at 11:21 PM
Jul 032015

We woke up this morning to the call of the wild….and drained batteries.  So making breakfast we started up the gen to have power and charge the batteries yet again.  Enjoying our morning coffee on the back deck we watched two of the boats leave and wondered what the rush was all about.  After some time we decided to pack up and head to Killarney which was about a 45 minute run.  Short compared to those hours on the lakes.  In Killarney we stopped at Mountain Lodge Marina.  The attendants there commented on how slow the start was for the season this year.  Only 2 boats stayed overnight and only 3 coming in for tonight.  We filled up the diesel tank and headed to the corner store for a few added extras to spend the next 3 nights on the hook out in the middle of nowhere.

We left Killarney and traveled about 30 minutes to Covered Portage Cove.  A sweet cove with high bluffs all around.  It is quiet here.  At the entrance to the cove is a local known rock formation that resembles and called Indian Head.  I decided not to have the gen start up for lunch so instead we had a BBQ homemade muffin quiche with fruit and provolone cheese on the side .  Turned out rather well on the grill.  Then Low Voltage came off the davit and we took the dingy into the areas close to shore.  The cove reads about 6 feet on the charts but the depth finder says it is 10 feet.  Since we draft about 3.5 feet it is always nice when there is deeper water.  The water levels up north are significantly higher than usual.  The water temps this year are running around 70 degrees F.  Chilly, yes!

Taking the dingy to the end of the cove we found a trail to the top of the bluff where the mosquitos had us for lunch.  Bug spray helped but not entirely.  At the top of the bluff we could see Manitoulin Island and the waters around the island.  We eventually lost the trail even though the information we read said it was a 2 hour hike.  So we spent about a half hour trying to find the rest of the trail.  In doing so we got separated.  Aiden and I and then Scott .  We had already made up a plan to make a loon sound if we did get separated.  Scott has a tendency to wander away because he has a much quicker pace than Aiden and I.  So as he was trying to find the trail in one direction, Aiden and I were trying to find it in another direction.  Scott did have a cell phone with GPS so I wasn’t worried about him.  He realized that when he did call out for us we didn’t answer.  So he was worried that we had lost him.  Which of course, we did.  Aiden and I decided to go back to where we knew the marked trail was and figured Scott would meet up with us.  So we walked slowly and enjoyed the view of the cove with its pines and black water.  We kept calling out every once in awhile but not with the loon call anymore.  So through the northern forest the calling of “Scott, Dad” rang out every 5 minutes or so.  I heard a very far off call back after about 40 minutes of “I’m coming”.  We did catch up with each other and found out what had happened.  As Scott went off in his direction he ended up by the water and called us.  We didn’t answer so he knew we were out of range.  His hope was that we didn’t try to follow him.  He didn’t know exactly where he was so he climbed the bluff again to get his bearing.  That is when he discovered that he had somehow hiked to the next bluff.  So back down he went hoping again that we didn’t follow.  Once he was in the valley between the 2 bluffs that is when he heard our faint call to him!

So now the boys are out fishing again.  I’m enjoying the sound of the gen again booting up the run down batteries from the day.  I’m sure we are PO’ing the sail boats here in the cove.  3 hours is a long time in complete quiet with a gen running.  It is what it is!


FYI for our non-boater friends – “on the hook” merely means to be anchored!

 Posted by at 11:01 PM
Jul 022015

We had the luxury of a few hours in the morning due to a shorter day of driving today. I picked up the peanut butter that is an absolute must in our family while Scott chatted with the locals. He friended a few fellas and was told of some great spots for mooring. One fella had a favourite spot that he was going to and offered us to join him. Scott also downloaded some great “must do” spots from another local.

Aiden’s Scout Troop is coming to a campground here in a few days. He wasn’t able to go because we are on this journey. So instead we asked him to plan out a finder’s game for when they are in Toby. He created a box filled with items for them to find, made up a word map with highlights of the way to go and places to discover. My only hope now is that it won’t be found. Not by human but perhaps a racoon or two may discover its contents.

We knew we had to stop at “The Grotto” on the way through to Killarney. It is a cave formation on the side of a rock cliff that you can get to by boat as well as by car. It is located in Cypress Lake Campground just outside Toby. The Grotto is known for its turquoise waters and very unique shape. Many tourists go to this spot to swim. It is not for the unfit however. You must climb rocky surfaces in order to get into the grotto. It is a must see from the water!

After indulging ourselves in the beauty of the cave we headed over to Flowerpot Island. The island itself is very small with a resort of sorts on it. The island is very secluded but with the glass bottom boats visiting just about every 15 minutes it isn’t very quiet. The visitors that do go ashore spend their time exploring large rock formations in the shape of tall standing flowerpots. There are several shipwrecks also visible around the island.

It was just before lunch when we decided to leave Flowerpot Island and head over to our final stop for the night. A small inlet just east of Killarney. Stopping a few times in Collin’s Inlet which turns east (or west depending on which way you are coming from) and mirrors Lake Huron in its path, we saw for the first time the start of the Canadian Shield. Rocks, pines and black water that is synonymous with Northern Ontario greats us. The funny thing about this is that we, as Ontarians, are used to “up north” water. The locals were telling us that the North Channel welcomes thousands of American boaters each year. Apparently several of them are disappointed that the water is so black and not the Lake Huron colour of blue or the Tobermory aquamarine crystal clear colours. They think it is dirty and won’t indulge in its natural beauty.

We finally can slow our pace for the next 10 days or so. Staying on the hook tonight, in the middle of nowhere, in the darkest of dark is our destiny for this trip. We are hoping to see lots of stars and maybe even the Aurora Borealis. Skies are clear for now and we have confidence that the weather will hold out for the next 5 days or so.
Now the boys are out fishing trying to catch tomorrow’s dinner. I’m here writing to all of you listening to the gen run to charge the batteries for the night. The wind has picked up but it will die down soon. We are completely sheltered here, not completely alone, with 4 other boats enjoying the quiet and serenity.

 Posted by at 1:24 PM
Jul 012015

HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!!! After a good nights sleep in Kincardine we headed out onto Lake Huron at about 8:30 am.  The waves were low but the fog was thick.  Worse than yesterday as a matter of fact.  Scott had to slow to a crawl hoping that it would break.  The listing was gone so it must have been something caught on the starboard trim.  The auto pilot was perfect the whole 4 hour trek.  The waves picked up around Port Elgin to about 1 metre.  Nothing Conductance can’t handle.  The fog, well, it stayed on and off.  Respecting the radar but not certain of those small boats that may be out here we did slow to a crawl several times.  That added time but saved on the diesel bill.

We rounded Cabot Head to  less than 1/2 metre waves and saw Toberrmory Harbour in the distance.  As we approached we did notice the Chi-Cheemaun docked.  It is a vehicle and passenger ferry that travels from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. The cell rang while I was dropping.   fenders and getting lines done.  A call from the Chi-Cheemaun and a very surprised Conductance crew.  A wave from the deck of the Chichimaun revealed our friends were on the ship.  Safe travels to Aldo and Mark on their summer excursion.  Sorry we missed you!

Our slip is right in the centre of the action here in Little Tug Harbour here in “Toby”.  We took a quick walk around, picked up some groceries and did the laundry.  Low voltage was dropped and we headed out in the dingy and visited Big Tub Harbour with the lighthouse marking her entrance.  There are two ship wrecks right here in Big Tug at the end.  Apparently due to fire from decades ago.  Toberrmory is the home to Five Fathoms Marine Park, Canada’s only marine park.  22 ship wrecks with water visibilityto 40-60 ft makes this place a divers dream.  Many dive and glass bottomed boats are here for hire to see the shipwrecks.  150 species of birds can be found here too.

It is cold. I should have brought our winter parkas. The winds are low but with the cold water and the wind it is really chilly. No airconditioning needed but the heat has come on several times. We had a Canada Day BBQ and then waited in line for the ice cream stop. Homemade yumminess! After that Scott got out his camera and tripod for the firework celebrations. Toby did not disappoint with a beautiful 20 minute display over the harbour and Lake Huron.

We may not have wifi for the next few days as we head up to the North Channel. We will be on the hook so stay tuned for the next posting.


 Posted by at 12:56 PM
Jun 302015

Again we decided to leave early with hopes for a calm water on Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron.  Lake St. Clair was uneventful while we past some prestigious houses on the USA side.  We were lucky enough to pass the tall ships, Pinta and Nina on our way.  The Bluewater Bridge linking Sarnia, ON and Port Huron, MI looks massive from the water.  Lots of coal power plants line the water’s edge on both sides of the border in this area.

Upon entering Huron the waters calmed to less than a ripple.  That stayed with us all the way to Kincardine.  At first we thought we would stop south at Goderich, but with the water playing nice we decided to push to make tomorrow’s trip a bit shorter.  However, the fog or should I say the sheet.  There was visibility of about 50 metres so the radar when on.  There really isn’t much worse than staring at a white screen waiting for something to jump out.

When we were out at 20 km from Kincardine the boat started to list to the starboard side.  Then the auto pilot decided to continue to make right hand turns.  Scott eventually figured that something must have been caught on the trim tabs because once we slowed she righted herself.  The auto pilot took some figuring out.  Scott mentioned that the compass for the auto was behind the glove box.  I pulled everything out and discovered a strong magnet inside.  We figured that when Scott went in the glovebox to get his ear plugs he must have shifted the magnet and threw off the auto.  It hasn’t been completely tested yet but tomorrow on our way to Toby we’ll be testing that theory.

In Kincardine Marina we did fuel up with diesel and got a slip for the night.  Pouring down rain came just as we were hooking up power.  Good timing!  We thought that we would make the best of it and grab our rain gear and head into town.  The downtown is bustling with restaurants, pharmacy, corner store and just about everything else.  I should have had my nails done!!  A little dinner at Bruce’s Steak House and, of course, the required ice cream at the creamery, we headed back to the boat taking pictures along the way.  It had stopped raining.

Looking at the weather for the next few days shows sun and temps in the low 20s C.  That’s 70ish F for our USA friends.  Tomorrow is Canada Day and we are expecting a big show in the Town of Tobermory!  Bring it!

 Posted by at 1:23 AM
Jun 292015

After yesterday’s bouncing around on the lake we decided to leave early to beat the changing winds that were expected to be SW which would be the worst for us going west. Traveling past Pelee Point and Pelee Island, the southern most tip of Canada we noticed more shipping activity. Lakers coming out of the Detroit River passing us. There was one from St. Catharines so, of course, we had to take a picture. A little bit of home. Lake Erie played nice today but only due to us leaving early.

Upon getting into the Detroit River we decided to drop anchor and have a hot BBQ lunch. Beautiful homes are located along both sides of Canada and the USA. The waters here have a turquoise colour leaving us to think of the Caribbean. We made the decision to stay on the Canadian side but first we cruised between Windsor and Detroit. Two beautiful waterfront cities. No docking on either side while in the city so we passed by with the camera and memories. Detroit starts with its massive steel mills, while Windsor has virgin forests. Such a polar opposite.

Heading passed Belle Isle, an American island that has been made into a walking path park and Peche Island the Canadian Island still prestine in its forests. We are staying at the Lakeview Park Marina just opposite Peche Island. Nice marina, with laundry, showers, all amenities except walking to downtown. You would need a car or taxi. Tight squeeze for Scott when coming in due to winds of Lake St. Clair which is visible over the breakwater.

After hooking up Conductance we took Low Voltage out for a spin and a hike on Peche Island. This is the old Hiram Walker Estate. You know, Canadian Club whiskey tycoon. He had his home on the island but as it is now it is only ruins and nature paths. We did see swans with their little ones, turtles, a mink having its dinner, and so many various birds. It is the kind of place that you would go if you want to get back to nature. Unfortunately the island is loosing its shore on the north side to Lake St. Clair and its weather. No protection from the winds and surf so the north walking trail is about 2 metres in knee deep water.

Tomorrow we are on to Lake Huron and getting to Goderich. Hoping for calm waters this time ’round on Lake Huron. Last venture out there was trying to stay ahead of a storm when we were coming home from our Trent Trip.

 Posted by at 12:01 PM