Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 15: The Long Ride Home

Seapickle II - the "runt" of the Spanish Marina
Friday, August 9th: We slept in a bit docked at the Spanish Marina, after a late night with our new Canadian friend Al. We knew it would be a long day, so we went out for a big breakfast at Dixie Lee's Restaurant. I had the "Grama" Omelette and Ben had the "Lumberjack." Both were the biggest breakfast I've ever seen, and delicous! It was nice to have a relaxing morning before the long drive home.

Breakfast at Dixie Lee's - whoa!
Spanish Marina launch ramp. Even though it was steep we did just fine.
Gas in Spanish - 1.37 a liter.
By noon we were finally ready to load the boat on the trailer. Maybe we took our time because we were nervous about the extra steep ramp, and looking at it again, it definitely looked intimidating! Two of the dockhands from the marina helped us out, and it went relatively smoothly! (We also had to save a salamander after almost running it over with the truck)

Roadtrip back home

Goodbye Canada!
Traffic Jam on the International Bridge
The drive back on the Trans-Canada Highway was easy, and the truck route signs were easy to follow to the International Bridge. Once there, we waited over an hour on the bridge to go through border control. It felt like a VERY LONG wait up on the bridge in 30mph winds. We didn't have any trouble getting back through border control once we got there though :-)

View off the Mackinac Bridge
Sunset and hours from home
The rest of the drive was relatively easy, but just long. We finally got back to Portage after midnight and dropped Seapickle off for the night. We were exhausted, but had such a wonderful trip it was worth it. And our cat was definitely happy we were home!

Sure missed this little guy!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 14: "A Bear!"

Seapickle II - last boat hanging out in Covered Portage Cove outer harbor
Thursday, August 8th: With strong wind warnings forecasted again (are there ever NOT strong wind warnings in the North Channel?), we decided to forego anchoring overnight in the Benjamins and just stay longer in Covered Portage Cove before heading back to Spanish. It was a beautiful morning, and we sat and watched all the other boats in the harbor parade out, leaving us by ourselves by 10am.

Indian Head Rock at the entrance to Covered Portage Cove
Ben spent some time exploring by kayak, and I read a book on the bow of the boat. We were soaking up every last bit of the peacefulness of the North Channel that we could. Around 11am, we were discussing that maybe it was time to start the trip to Spanish, when I glanced out the port window and exclaimed "A bear!"

North Channel black bear - Covered Portage Cove
North Channel black bear - Covered Portage Cove
Just across from our boat, on the NE shore, a large black bear with a heart-shaped white patch on his chest was checking us out. As soon as I noticed him, he sauntered back into the woods. I ran for the camera and we both waited in silence, sure that he would come back. And a few minutes later, there he was! Standing up in the tall grass, about 15 feet where he originally came out, he peeked out at us for a minute or two. He must have decided we were not a threat, so he came lumbering out over the rocks, pausing to pose and look at us (or so it seemed), before going for a short swim over to the eastern shore. He was so cute, and we could hardly contain our excitement!

North Channel black bear - Covered Portage Cove
We've been waiting to see a bear the whole trip, and we were so happy we decided we were going home completely fulfilled. There were a few more stops that day on the journey back to Spanish (like the Anchor Inn for lunch), but the bear was definitely the highlight.

Heading West back to Spanish Marina
Coming up to the Little Current bridge
Docking on the wall in Little Current
Little Current was a really cute little town!
The Anchor Inn Hotel, where Cruisers Net broadcasts on the 2nd floor. We had a great lunch there!
Looking around in Turner's - cool old maps & old GLCC burgee
By 9pm we were docked in the Spanish Marina and drinking Rye and Glava on a SeaRay named "True Blue," and speaking philosophically about boats, life, and naked swimming. We are growing fond of Canadians. ;-)

"Hole in the Wall" on the way back to the Spanish Marina
Channel leading to Spanish Marina
Our last night in the North Channel was spent in the Spanish Marina!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 13: From Thunderstorms to Squalls to Clear Blue Skies

Ben kayaking in Covered Portage Cove
Wednesday, August 7th: We woke this morning to the strongest thunderstorm we've experienced so far in the North Channel. We felt confident in our anchoring by now though, so we just marveled at the coolness of being in Covered Portage Cove in a thunderstorm, and went back to sleep.

We spent the morning relaxing on the boat listening to the Civil Wars and the Swell Season "Low Rising" album. Outside it was almost silent aside from the splashing of birds diving for fish. A few boats left the anchorage, but most seemed to be staying with us another night.

The highlight of the morning was making our VERY FIRST check in to Roy on Cruisers Net. I (Dana) listened intently to boats checking in from the Whalesback, the Benjamins, and finally moving to East of Little Current. We heard our friends on Traumfanger check in from McGregor Bay, and our new friends on Eddie J were in the studio with Roy that morning at the Anchor Inn. I don't know why I have such an aversion to using the radio, but I felt very brave as I checked in "Seapickle II in Covered Portage Cove." It was very cool to hear our name repeated back and know that all the other area boats heard us!

Dark clouds moving in

Blackheart: The only way to get through a squall
As we sat enjoying the peacefulness of the anchorage, suddenly the winds picked up from the west, and we saw (on weather forecast) a SQUALL WARNING was in effect. The skies darkened and the 30 knot+ winds were hitting us broadside, finally causing us to undo our stern lines and swing at anchor. There was really nothing else to do but pour a drink and hope the anchor held!

Blue skies after the storm
Crusty old turtle says goodbye as we pull anchor
Probably less than 20 minutes later, the dark skies disappeared and the sun came out! The wind was still howling though, so Ben took the kayak out to look for a more protected place to anchor for the West/NW winds we were having. He came back after finding a perfect spot in the outer harbor of Covered Portage Cove. We quickly pulled anchor, gathered our discarded lines from shore and set up just across the other side of a big rock wall in the outer harbor.

Anchoring crew hard at work tying to shore
New view in the outer harbor of Covered Portage Cove
Enjoying the perfect weather and warm water
Taking advantage of the calm

Fully protected now, we couldn't even feel the effects of the wind! With the clear blue skies and warm temps, it seemed like the perfect summer day! We both went for a swim in the 75 degree water and enjoyed the sunshine, Ben floating on a raft and enjoying a Molson Canadian.

Following the trail set by some friendly cruisers at some point in time!
View of Covered Portage Cove from the top of the cliff

Lots of blueberries along the way!
Enjoying the view from the top
A little yoga on a rock cliff
After a quick late lunch, we decided we better kayak over to the hiking trail to take in the views of the harbor, Frazer Bay and Killarney Bay. It was a nice hike up the rocks to the top of the cliffs, and the trail was marked clearly the whole way with strips of fabric tied to branches. We passed tons of blueberry bushes, and gathered some for pancakes in the morning. I insisted on doing yoga on the edge of the cliff, making Ben a nervous wreck. :-)

Kayaking back to the Seapickle
Ben making a "date night" dinner (isn't every night date night?)

Candlelight dinner is served! How lucky can you get!
It was close to sunset now, and we didn't want to be stuck on the trail or kayaking in the dark, so we headed back down the rocks and kayaked back to the boat. There, Ben made a nice "date night" farfalle alfredo and we played a game of Rummy (I always win). It was a very dark night, and we saw about 5 shooting stars in the short amount of time we stargazed before bed. Couldn't ask for a better day! (Well, maybe we could have done without the squall)

Sailboat passing Indian Head rock in Covered Portage Cove

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 12: Perfect Day in Covered Portage Cove

Leaving Killarney for Covered Portage Cove
Tuesday, August 6: We were able to sleep in a bit in Killarney this morning, which was a nice change. We did some boat chores and laundry in the morning, then enjoyed a very nice breakfast with Jim & Anne at Gateway Marine. Ben had the Big Bouy (eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, & hash browns) and I had an amazing Loaded Omelette & home fries. Both came with delicious homemade bread and strawberry jam. We also could not leave without a Strawberry Rhubarb pie to enjoy on the boat!

After visiting the little store in Killarney, Pitfields Grocery, we were ready to leave Killarney around noon. It was a short run to Covered Portage Cove, about 4 miles, and we took it slow the whole way. We've had such a great trip so far, it was not worth taking chances speeding there! It was a bit overcast, but visibility was good from Dana's bow watch.

Ben getting lil' Pickle ready for exploration

Seapickle spiderwebbed in Covered Portage Cove
We followed the GLCC map and tips to enter the anchorage at Covered Portage Cove. We were unsure once inside where to anchor, so we swung in the middle of the anchorage and inflated lil' Pickle to do a little exploring and depth-checking. We found a nice little area that we had initially thought was too shallow to anchor, but it turned out to be perfect! With Dana in the kayak, we were able to stern in and spiderweb the stern to trees on the rocky white quartz shore. Ben also set out an extra bruce anchor, so we had 2 anchors in front and 2 lines tied in back. We held perfectly throughout the day and night, and we never worried about dragging with our setup.

Ben and lil' Pickle on shore
View from the cliffs behind Seapickle
Weird shelter up on the cliff
After getting secured in, and enjoying some pie for lunch, we took an afternoon nap and followed it up with a hike up the rocks behind the boat. We found an interesting shelter built of sticks, with a fire pit inside. Weird! 

Overcast Sunset in Covered Portage Cove
Ben doing some North Channel reading
After sunset we read a bit in the bunk and reflected on a perfect day! We're really feeling like true North Channel cruisers now. :-)

Trip Details:
Left Killarney 12:30pm. 4 miles to Covered Portage. Arrived 1:00pm.
Weather: Rainy/Overcast, nice temp in the high 60's
Water Temp: 66 degrees in Covered Portage Cove
Winds: SE/South 10-15 knots