Thursday, August 18, 2022

GGB pt 2 Black Bay to Bustard Islands

Before we ever entered Georgian Bay, my ‘minds eye’ set high expectations for the beauty we would encounter.  My research of the area had me dreaming big, regarding the topography and environment.  While we had been impressed, up to this point, it wasn’t until we entered Black Bay that my mental imagery matched our reality!  This post will include two (out of three) of my absolute favorite anchorages in Georgian Bay, where the breathtaking scenery is unmatched!

Black Bay 45° 47’ 36”N, 80° 40’ 02”W
Exploration by dinghy, drone, & foot (including a lot of climbing)
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

I absolutely loved the backdrop of windmills in this location, and the drone made it clear, there were a lot of  places to explore…so launch the Whaler!

The days were quite cool (for us) ranging from 74-78°.  These cool temps (and chilly water) kept us out of the water on most days, but a few times the hike warmed us enough to justify a dip.  A swim was especially justifiable if we had warm rocks to relax upon after exiting the water!  This location was perfect for a dip.

Absolutely amazing!

Our next anchoring location put us in the middle of the windmill farm.  I still felt awe inspired being surrounded by these giants, and I didn’t feel as though they detracted from the natural beauty, at all.
Henvy Inlet 45° 50’ 52”N, 80° 39’ 33”W

Our original plan was to launch the Whaler and do some trolling in Henvy Inlet.  Our friend Shelly, from Oh Henry, told us this was the place to catch record breaking Pike.  However, the day we arrived it was cold and windy, and we both felt a little exhausted from our recent ‘activities’ calendar.  We decided to stay on the boat, but dropped a few lines in the water from the cockpit (which offered good protection from the wind). I landed a nice smallmouth bass, which supplemented our beef/bean taco dinner, with a couple of fish tacos.

Considering the fact that this was the first fish we caught in Ontario, and a fishing license costs $85…this taco cost $43.00 ($42.50 for the fish and .50 for everything else😉) to make…but it was delicious!!

Due to predictions of strong wind, we left Henvy inlet the next day to find an anchorage with better protection.  Therefore, we didn’t really explore Henvy.

Bustard Islands 45° 53’ 45”N, 80° 54’ 20”W
Exploration by dinghy
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

The tops of these trees would lead you to believe the wind was screaming at this moment, but that is not the case.  Many of the trees in this area grow like that…probably because they are usually buffeted by wind from that direction!

Mink!  Our first mink sighting was two minks chasing each other along a big rock.  We sat and watched as they darted into cracks and crevices then reappeared along the water’s edge.  We assumed they were playing, or flirting, with each other…UNTIL the one in the back caught the one in the front.  Yikes…the scream that came from the fury of fur was neither fun nor romantic!  Once they separated, this guy ran for the water as fast as he could move, jumped in from a rock ledge high above the water, and swam quickly to the other side of the cove.  We now assume he was caught trespassing!

Our exploration took us into some very narrow channels.

And on occasion, a little help over the rocks was necessary.

But getting up close and personal is the way we like to explore.

This is the spot we stopped for lunch…spectacular! I would rank this in the top 5 most beautiful lunch spots in my life.

As Keith finished lunch, and stepped into the water to push the boat off the rocks…he found these eggs??  They look to be either from a turtle or a snake, as they were leathery, not hard.  However, they were totally submerged in water, so neither a turtle nor snake would survive.  We placed them back in the water and went on our way… just in case they were viable (we agreed the blackened egg was definitely dead).  Upon returning to the boat I tried to research organisms that might have laid eggs in the water, but everything pointed back to a land nest, from a turtle or snake, getting washed into the water.  If I had known for certain they were dead, I would have loved to cut one open to see what was inside…I know I am weird!

If you can identify these eggs, please share your knowledge!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Gorgeous Georgian Bay

As soon as we entered Georgian Bay, we were entranced by the scenery!  The rocks were low, smooth, and pink, while they transition beautifully into a bright green landscape of forest.  This exciting feeling of NEW, is the thing that seems to energize our souls.  Whenever we enter an area that provides new features, we are like children at Disney…oohhh…look at that, wow…how beautiful, this place is AMAZING!  We are excited, and alive, and ready to explore.

I will admit to being a bit overwhelmed when it came to planning our route (and stops) through Georgian Bay.  This chart screen shot will give you an idea of the immense number of possibilities, just within this 5 mile area.  I decided, for the first time in my life, to reach out to Facebook cruising groups to get guidance from other cruisers, as well as, two sets of cruising friends from Ontario.  Since our style of cruising is very different from that of most cruisers (we like to anchor and experience nature…as opposed to traveling from marina to marina) I was careful to preface the question with our desire to hike and kayak.   The response I received was amazing, and after tallying all of the suggestions I was able to create a route that I felt really good about.  A route that would allow us to visit ‘must see’ locations, while giving us plenty of opportunity to ‘get off the beaten path’.

This post shares pictures from our first four anchorages in Georgian Bay.  All pictures were taken within a few miles of the anchoring coordinates listed with the name.

Our first stop…
Indian Harbor  42° 02’ 01”N, 80° 00’ 33”W
Exploration by kayak & drone

From this view, you can easily see the underwater rocks.

And it always feels good to come home!

Wreck Island 45° 08’ 33”N, 80° 05’ 45”W
Exploration by hiking & dinghy

Hiking rocks along a shoreline is my favorite way to explore.

No honey…I don’t think a tadpole tank on the boat is a good idea!

Hale Bay 45° 17’ 03”N, 80° 15’ 42”W
We enjoyed the scenery from the top deck…

Ugh…big underwater rocks are sooo close to the channel.  Several people have told us that we will not get out of Georgian Bay without hitting a rock…scenes like this have us concerned they might be right.

Frederick Inlet 45° 29’ 28”N, 80° 25’ 59”W
Exploration by dinghy and foot.  

Frequently, we like to nose the Whaler against a rock and hop off to explore.  Here we found an internal pond enclosed by rocks.  We were both mesmerized by the life in the pond.  We sat on the rock for a very long time, perfectly contented in watching tadpoles, small fish, and skater bugs going about their daily routine.  When people ask how we could possibly live in such close quarters without killing each other…this type of activity comes to mind.  We are compatible because we are easily entertained by the wonders of nature, and are probably the same kind of crazy/weird 😉

Some of the tadpoles were starting to sprout their little frog legs…this one wasn’t that far along!

I hope you can take the time to enjoy nature’s beauty!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Engineering Marvels pt 2

Since the time of our arrival in Boncaygeon, we have been hearing about a growing backup of big boats (over 30’) at Big Chute.  Apparently, there are only two seasoned operators who have the experience and expertise to safely move big boats on the railway.  For some reason (another lock tender told us they were out with Covid🤷🏼‍♀️) no one was qualified to transport big boats for about 10 days.  By the end, there were 40+ ‘big boats’ backed up and waiting to get through.

Once again, time for us to slow down and spend a little more time in each location…
Three locks in a 1 mile distance…all in a nice straight line.

Orillia seems like the perfect town to explore for a few days!
We anchored right off the park, which includes a nice beach.

And luckily, this was the site of an awesome Scottish festival.

On Friday nights they close the main street to traffic so shops and restaurants can expand outdoors.

We didn’t patronize this particular shop, but during our three day visit we put quite a few miles on our bikes and really cruised from one end of the town to the other.  One afternoon we set out on a mission to find wifi (for the posting of a blog), and after three attempts (which included a lot of coffee and donuts), we finally found a business with an adequate connection to handle our upload…thank you Starbucks!

Word is the Big Chute is open for ‘big boat’ business again, so it’s time to mosey along.
We arrived on a Sunday, knowing that ‘big boats’ were only being transported on weekday, but we wanted to walk around and get a feel for how things worked.  We were boat #11 in the line for the next day.

A bit of history is warranted here since this is the only marine railway, of this kind, still in use in North America!  

In 1914, plans were made to build three locks (#43 Swift Rapids, #44 Big Chute, and #45 Port Severn) to connect the Severn to Georgian Bay.  Construction on the Port Severn lock started first, while ‘temporary’ railways were constructed at Big Chute and Swift Rapids.  World War I halted construction plans for locks 44 and 45, but Port Severn was completed, and is still in operation today. In 1964 the Swift Rapids railway was replaced with a conventional lock, and plans were made for a single lock at Big Chute.  

However…” Before construction began the sea lamprey, which had been devastating the fishing industry in the Great Lakes, was found in
Gloucester Pool- at the bottom of the railway-and plans were put on hold. Several impractical ideas were suggested, but
no practical solution could be found. By the end of the 1960s, the old marine railway could not keep up with the amount of
boating traffic in the area. Long lines formed at either end of the railway, with waits often being overnight. Research was done
to find a way to prevent the migration of the sea lamprey into Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe, while still effectively
increasing the flow of traffic. A biologist sat at the bottom of the railway for days, checking the bottom of boats that locked
through, and finally saw a lamprey attached to the bottom of a boat. The lamprey fell off after less than 6 meters, so the
railway was determined to be effective at preventing the sea lamprey's migration. In 1976, it was finally decided that a new,
enlarged railway would be built. The current carriage was opened to the public in 1978, and can carry a boat up to 100 feet…” (Wikipedia)

The first rail car, we witnessed, carried 4 vessels at one time (3 boats & 1 jet ski). The car comes out of the water and crosses a road…

Then down the hill they go.  If you look closely, you can see that the rollers in the rear run on a different track than the front rollers.  This is designed to keep the rail car level during the descent.  You might also notice that now the cables are working to slow the rail car, and keep it from picking up too much speed before it hits the water below.

Once everyone is back in the water, they lower the roller arms that divided the sling straps, and cables pull the straps into a groove to ensure they are well protected from props.  The entire ref lost process only takes a few minutes, and everyone is on their way again.

The mechanisms that power the cable system are located in the building on the right.

This was the boat in front of us.  Big boats are usually on the car alone.  You can see the small cables used to pull the straps in, once the boat is refloated. Also, in the upper right hand corner of the picture you can see a spool.  The operator uses that to roll cable in, or let cable out, as the car moves.

Yikes…it’s our turn!  Again, I drew helm duty🤷🏼‍♀️  Just put the boat in the slings.  The stress involved in this ‘lock’ was opposite of that in the lift locks.  Here, once we were hanging in the slings, and the engines were shut down, and that’s when my heart rate increased.  Prepare for an interesting ride.

The process was very seamless.  Within a few minutes we were out of the water.

Crossing over the road…

Here is a view from behind.  You can see two of the boats waiting on the ‘blue line’ for their turn. As well as, the road we just crossed, and the cables doing the work.

And as we are heading down the hill there is a big THUMP, THUMP with a shudder!  With heart rates back up, the operator explains that thick ice, this past winter, damaged the track in that spot😳 I think it provides him and his crew a little entertainment, watching the faces of the ‘people in the sling’.

And just like that, we are floating off the car, and on our way again…WOW, that was COOL!  The time stamp on our pictures shows us entering the sling at 11:13, and exiting at 11:24…that was an impressive 11 minutes!

This is lock #45, Port Severn, the last lock in the Trent Severn Waterway.  Notice the sign on the gate showing that once we leave this lock, the navigation markers will flip sides. Farewell, Trent Severn and hello Georgian Bay!

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip along the Trent Severn Waterway.  This was a very different cruising experience than what we are used to!  The people were fantastic! The towns were welcoming and happy to see us! And…the cruising itself was EASY!  No major worries about tides, winds, storms, waves, swell, or surge.  There were always numerous  options for overnight mooring…you can anchor on a lake, tie to a lock wall, or stay in a marina. 

 Even if you don’t own a boat, you could experience some of the beauty and wonder of the Trent Severn Waterway.  There are houseboats for rent on several of the lakes, and NO previous boating experience is necessary!  You read that correctly, and that is probably why encountering houseboats was the most stressful experience on the TSW.  They are notoriously hard to steer anyway, and add to that equation a little wind + a totally inexperienced captain, and you will understand why the locals call the houseboats ‘Harvey Wallbangers’😁

GGB pt 2 Black Bay to Bustard Islands

Before we ever entered Georgian Bay, my ‘minds eye’ set high expectations for the beauty we would encounter.  My research of the area had m...