Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 4: Leroy Cove, McTavish Island, and Little Current

Morning in Leroy Cove
Monday, July 14: Leroy Cove to Little Current, with stopover at McTavish Island
We woke to a beautiful morning in Leroy Cove and enjoyed a little coffee and relaxation. We weren't in a huge rush, and the wind had turned south, so we spent some time sunbathing, fishing, and tidying up the boat for our next destination. We had anchored out 3 nights now, and it was about time to go to a marina to plug in for the night. We knew we wanted to head East, so we decided on Little Current as our destination. 

Norm (from the Blue Cottage) had drawn us a map the day before showing us how to get through the narrow channel to the East end of Oak Bay, where we would then head south of the Bay of Islands and through the Waubuno Channel to Little Current.

The navigator on the bow
 The narrow channel to the East end of Oak Bay definitely would have been intimidating without the map. With it, we made it through easily, and found a couple of really nice anchorages on the other side. (We've marked them for future trips) The anchorages on the other side would have been SO MUCH better in the strong West wind we had sat through yesterday, but... every year we learn more. :-)

Good anchorage options on both sides of channel
Heading East through Oak Bay
 The Eastern end of Oak Bay was a beautiful area to cruise through. Very peaceful and glass-flat the entire way. We just couldn't believe the difference from the day before!

Rough water
 Once outside the protection of the surrounding islands though, we were hit with a strong South wind and very choppy seas. We had decided to head through the Bay of Islands to Little Current, and since we were getting so beat up, we pulled out our charts to figure out a place to find shelter for awhile. We located McTavish Island on the chart and it looked like it would offer just enough protection from the South wind. By now, we were in 3 foot constant waves, and we just wanted a break.

Safe harbor at McTavish Island

Taking a break at McTavish Island
 Rounding the corner into McTavish, it was like a completely different universe. The wind died down, and there was barely a ripple in the water. We anchored "boaters beach" style in about 6 ft of water, close to shore. Warm, sunny, and beautiful, we had turned the corner into a private island paradise. Ben explored the shore while I sunbathed and spent time floating in my tube. Ben caught a huge bass while fishing, and sadly (for me) let it go! I was ready with fish seasoning and a pan! Instead we grilled an amazing steak and zucchini lunch.
Rowing over to see how the North Channel waves were
After a few hours, I rowed my tube over to check on the conditions in the channel. It seemed that the wind had died down, so we left our little island for Little Current. We had a smooth cruise through the Waubuno Channel, and easily found the channel leading to Little Current. We debated on where to stay, and decided to just stop at the closest marina, which was Spider Bay. The marina was ok, but we weren't extremely impressed. The docks were pretty rickety, and we were farther from town than I realized. Ben says it's the last time I get to pick where we dock :-)

Soon after docking, we walked to town and grabbed some dinner at Griffin's Fish & Chips (yumm) and then walked across to The Beer Store, where we stocked up on some Waterloo IPA, Guinness, and a few single beers to try. Overall, we had an amazing and very long day!

Docked at Spider Bay Marina, Little Current
Port Departed: Leroy Cove  11am
Stopover: McTavish Island  11:30am-3:30pmPort Arrived: Spider Bay Marina  4:30pm

Weather: Beautiful, warm sunny day, building seas, choppy in open water

What & Where we Ate: Coffee & snacks for breakfast; grilled steak and zucchini for lunch in McTavish, dinner at Griffin's Fish & Chips in Little Current. We split a Whitefish filet and a gigantic serving of poutine

Money Spent: $20 Griffin's, $40 Beer Store, $150 Fuel & Dock at Spider Bay

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

360 Video of our Anchorage in Gibson Cove, Fox Island

Please forgive the shakiness in some of the video :-)

Day 3: Gibson Cove to Leroy Cove, Oak Bay

Early morning stillness and fog over the mountains
Sunday, July 13: Gibson Cove to Leroy Cove, Oak Bay  
I awoke early again for sunrise around 5:40am, and was greeted by about 10,000 mosquitos when I opened the door to the cockpit. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen. I pushed my way through and up onto the bow for sunrise pics before waking Ben up for coffee around 7:30am. We wanted to get an early start on the trip to Oak Bay, where we thought we could hole up against the forecasted strong West winds.

Fog en route to Oak Bay entrance
 Just as we were preparing to leave, a misty fog moved in and we had to decide whether to stay put or to go for it. The wind was building, and not wanting to delay any longer, we untied our lines from shore and started on our way. It was a heavy fog all the way to the entrance to Oak Bay, where it started to lift just a bit. Turning in, we were impressed by the stunning view even in the fog.

A little help anchoring again :-)
As we passed through Oak Bay, we made note of all the harbors on Hotham Island that looked like good anchorages for future visits.  Just before the narrow channel that leads to the east end of Oak Bay, we poked in to "Pixie Cove" but it was too full of weeds to anchor. By now the west winds were howling and we were getting desperate for a safe place to tuck into. Searching for the entrance to Leroy Cove, we thought there was no way the tiny cut in the rocks was really the entrance. Luckily, a man on a fishing boat took notice of our confusion and came by to help.

"Have you been here before" he asked. We said "no," and his response was "I can tell." :-)  Norm directed us to follow him through the narrow entrance to Leroy cove, where we would be protected from the wind. Through the entrance, if you cut it into thirds, a rock shelf extends across the right 2/3, and you need to navigate directly through the center of the farthest left 1/3. Scary in that strong wind!

Once inside, we anchored in the center to swing, and Norm introduced himself as "The Old Man from the blue cottage." (on South Hotham harbor). We chatted for a bit, and also met the guys from "Tuggin'" and "Wings" who were out fishing in their dinghys. Norm invited us to happy hour on their dock, but with the strong winds we didn't feel comfortable leaving the pickle alone.

Reading in lil' pickle
The rest of the day was spent somewhat uncomfortably swinging in the wind, until it died down late in the evening. We spent the day kayaking, fishing, napping, eating and overall just waiting for the wind to calm down! The evening mosquitos were not nearly as bad here, but perhaps that was due to the wind.
Another boat dinner

Looking out Leroy Cove - divide the channel into thirds, and in this pic you'd need to stay in the center of the right 1/3. Look to the left as you go through and you can easily spot the rock shelf 2 feet underwater!
Port Departed: Gibson Cove (NE Fox Island) 9:10am
Port Arrived: Leroy Cove, Oak Bay (north of Hotham Island) 11am (by the time we anchored)

Weather: Foggy morning, then clearing. Warm 70 degrees. Choppy. Strong West wind

What & Where we Ate: Coffee & coffee cake for breakfast; 1/2 Sandwich & Soup for lunch; Chili dogs and salad for dinner.

Money Spent: $0

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 2: At Anchor in Gibson Cove, North Channel Ontario

First NC morning anchored in Gibson Cove
Sunrise over Mount McBean, from Gibson Cove
Saturday, July 12th: At Anchor in Gibson Cove, North Channel Ontario
I set my alarm for before sunrise (5:20am) and woke from a deep sleep to take some photos and video of the peaceful North Channel morning. Just as the sun rose, I woke Ben so that he could also enjoy the view, and then we both went back to sleep until about 9:30am. So nice to not have anything to do!

Dana "checking-in" with Roy Eaton on Cruisers Net
When I woke again and saw it was 9:30, I jumped up and turned on Cruisers Net, hoping we could still make it to check-in with Roy! The first thing we heard was a check-in from Heywood, and as Roy headed West, we heard our cove neighbor on Bandit II check in. A couple minutes later I finally got through to check in "Seapickle II in Gibson Cove." At the end of the broadcast, a boater called in to thank another boat for their help, and Roy remarked that is was just another great example of the way people go out of their way to help others in this community of boaters. Just one of the reasons why we love the North Channel so much! 

One of our morning visitors (the other was a beaver)
 We spent the morning relaxing, and then set about the task of getting Seapickle cleaned up and organized for our trip. With everything in place, we enjoyed a nice lunch and marveled at how lucky we are to be here. :-)  After lunch, I kayaked to the east point on Fox Island while Ben did some fishing off the boat. When I returned, we hiked the island a bit and collected wood for an evening fire. 

Poor Ben! 
When we returned to the boat, Ben decided to do some perch fishing. The weather soon turned to pouring rain, just about as soon as he started to fish! He hung in there for awhile, but only caught a couple little perch. Feeling defeated (poor Ben!), he returned to the boat empty handed and couldn't make his darling wife the requested"surf & turf" dinner.

Ben crafting a lovely bonfire on shore

Enjoying my very first North Channel bonfire on the rocks
Later in the evening we enjoyed a nice fire onshore, and Ben even found a little stool stored nearby for me to sit on! Thunder rumbling off in the distance threatened to break up our fire party, but we were able to relax and enjoy until the thunder got a little too close for comfort and we kayaked quickly back to the boat. Watching the lightning light up the sky was a great ending to a perfect, relaxing day!
Seapickle II anchored in Gibson Cove, Fox Island

Port Departed: Stayed at anchor in Gibson Cove (NE Fox Island) for another night
Port Arrived: NA

Weather: Cloudy & warm, heavy periods of rain in the afternoon, West wind

What & Where we Ate: Coffee & coffee cake for breakfast; Ham & pickle sandwich on pretzel roll w/ salads for lunch; yogurt for afternoon snack, Filet with mushrooms, zucchini, and buttered noodles for dinner

Money Spent: $0

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Road to North Channel, Ontario, July 2014

International Bridge Crossing
Friday, July 11, 2014: The long-awaited day has finally arrived! Late last winter we decided that we would do whatever we could to make it back to the North Channel this summer, and we've been looking forward to it ever since. After very little sleep (and no sleep for Dana), we picked up Seapickle and were on the road by about 2:30 a.m. CST.  We had a pretty uneventful tow (which is a good thing!), and only needed to stop for one rest-area nap near Lansing, MI. 

We crossed the International Bridge right around 2pm, and thankfully had no trouble at customs.  The drive from the border to Spanish took another 2 1/2 hours, which got us there right before 5pm EST. Aside from a bit of construction, it was a very smooth drive.

Just launched at Spanish Marina, Ontario
 Once we arrived in Spanish, it took just under 2 hours to load all our clothing, food, kayak, etc onto the boat, get the boat launched, and get the truck and trailer secured in the parking lot at Spanish Marina. We had checked the wind direction forecast (S/SW) on the way to Spanish and decided on anchoring at nearby Fox Island or Gibson Cove for the night. Once we were leaving Spanish around 7pm though, we decided that we would leave the tricker Fox Island anchorage for another day and head to Gibson Cove.  Also of note, there was NO wind warning for once in our trips up to the NC!

Spanish channel leading to North Channel
 Following our GLCC charts and maps we've purchased over the years, we navigated out of the Spanish channel, through Little Detroit Narrows, and around to the NE shore of Fox Island, which is referred to as Gibson Cove. Turning in, we discovered only one other boat anchored, tucked into the NW corner of the cove. We investigated a few different spots to anchor, until Butch from Bandit II (the other boat at anchor) rode over in his dinghy to find out who in the world would be trying to find a spot to anchor so late (haha... us of course) and lead us to a good spot that they used to stay in with their smaller Sea Ray. 

Butch from "Bandit II" assisting us with tying to shore
 With smooth rocks and a fire pit on shore, it seemed to be a perfect spot to tie up for the night. Butch was even nice enough to take our lines to shores for us and tie us up to a couple trees. :-) It was about 8pm by the time we were anchored, and even though it stays light out so much later than at home, we only lasted another couple hours before we were out for the night. Vacation mode = ON!!!

"Bandit II" at anchor in Gibson Cove
Port Departed: Portage, Indiana (by car, towing boat)  Time: 2:30am, CST
Port Arrived: Spanish, Ontario   Time: 5:00pm, EST (with 1 hour nap at rest-stop)

Weather: Mix of sun & clouds, warm (70's), light South / Southwest Winds

What & Where we Ate: Road Trip food, with a stop at a gas station Arby's for lunch.  Bagel and cream cheese for dinner, because we were too tired to cook.

Money Spent: $46 for truck/trailer storage in Spanish, plus ice & worms