Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 9: Little Current to Spanish, ON to...

Stopping by South Benjamin harbor on the way back to Spanish
Saturday, July 19: The day we go home to Door County, Wisconsin for vacation round 2, this time with family!  We woke up early in Little Current to start our trip back to Spanish to put Seapickle back on the trailer.  On the way, we decided to poke into South Benjamin harbor (can you believe, in 3 years of going to the North Channel, we STILL have not anchored in the Benjamins?!?!).  While seeing the beauty of the harbor made us a little sad since we were not able to stay, we were glad we had the chance to see it and put it on our MUST-DO itinerary for next year!

Poutine stop! This was a must before getting on the road.
 Once back in Spanish, we were able to leave Seapickle at the courtesy dock while we ran into town for gas and a mandatory stop at Lucky's Snack Shop for poutine!  We met a nice couple (who are GLCC members) on the sailboat "Wind Spirit" and drove Mary into town for groceries while we were there as well. :-)  One of my favorite parts of traveling/boating is connecting with others along the way and helping each other out.  There's such a great sense of community that I have yet to find anywhere else!

Ready to go!
 Loading Seapickle onto the trailer was, thankfully, pretty uneventful and we were assisted by Al, who we met last year in Spanish. It took a good hour or so to get the boat ready for the next part of our journey... a nearly 500 mile tow to Sister Bay, Wisconsin to meet up with family for another week. (The drive ended up taking about 12 hours)

Back on the road again... feels like we were just here!
 While we were sad to cut this portion of our trip short, we were really excited to hang out with Ben's family for a week in Door County, where they have been vacationing for many years. We were also very excited to meet our new baby niece for the first time!

Much easier to find this time around!
 Back to the USA! We weren't sure what we would find once we got to the bridge. Last year we were stopped for over an hour in traffic.

International bridge to USA
No traffic this year.. yay!
Somewhere in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
 The drive through Michigan's UP was beautiful and boring, at the same time! :-)  This part of the trip seemed to last forever... and we still had hours to go through Wisconsin.

Finally time to relax
Around midnight, we dropped Seapickle off in the parking lot for Sister Bay Marina, where we would launch in the morning.  It was definitely sad to leave our little home sitting there in the parking lot, but we knew that a beautiful log cabin in the woods awaited!

Door County Wisconsin - Cabin with family

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day 8: Little Current & Cruiser's Net Happy Hour at Anchor Inn

Walking to Happy Hour at the Anchor Inn
Friday, July 18: We were so excited today to attend our first Cruiser's Net Happy Hour, hosted by Roy Eaton at the Anchor Inn in Little Current. Listen to some of Roy's broadcasts here.  We were looking forward to meeting Roy, who's voice joined us every morning at 9am, even in some of the more remote anchorages. Making it extra special was the fact that our friends Jim & Anne were playing music during the happy hour.

The North Channel's legendary Roy Eaton, of Little Current Cruiser's Net
When we got to the Anchor Inn, we signed in at the desk and were quickly greeted by Roy, who we had let know we were planning on attending when we called in that morning.  Roy seemed genuinely excited to meet all of the boater's who gathered there that afternoon.  There was a buffet set up in the middle of the room with lots of goodies provided by the Anchor Inn, and a bar in the back where I got to try a delicious Alexander Keith's Hard Cider (which was served over ice).

Jim Krause & Anne Hurley playing some of our favorite songs
We grabbed a table next to where Jim & Anne were playing with another boater couple from Indiana, Susan and Robert from Le Voyageur!  There was a great kinship between the boaters who gathered for the happy hour, and it was so great to share stories of past trips and get ideas for future anchorages.

Anne singing "The Sailboat Song"
Anne prepared a special song for the occasion, called "The Sailboat Song," which was very funny... but also informative. :-) (I will get it on YouTube asap!)  After Happy Hour we met for dinner at the Anchor Inn, were convinced by Megan on Sleek to bring our future children to the North Channel in Moses Baskets, stopped for Ice Cream, met a couple from Ogden Dunes (next to our home port), and just enjoyed the company of kindred spirits. Today was very different than our usual days in the North Channel, but we're so glad we were able to meet new friends and also connect again with old friends.  We were so sad that this would be our last night this year, but so glad we could spend it with such wonderful people, and we're already looking forward to meeting back up next year. The North Channel just gets into your soul.

Dinner with Indiana friends at the Anchor Inn
Little Current sunset from the Town Docks

Monday, September 22, 2014

Seapickle anchored in The Pool, Baie Fine, North Channel of Ontario

Day 7 - Topaz Lake, Killarney Provincial Park (aka what Dana dreams about all winterl)

Soaking up the sun above Topaz Lake
Thursday, July 17: This year on our North Channel trip, we were determined to set even less of an itinerary than in previous years, and just go where we felt and where the wind/weather would allow.  We weren't sure we would visit The Pool or Topaz Lake on this trip, but we ended up spending 2 nights at anchor in The Pool, and we feel like we that was the best decision of the trip!

Our first year in the north channel, we didn't make it to Topaz Lake, Dana's ultimate destination. Read about that trip and it's misadventures here.  The following year, it felt like we really succeeded when we made it there for the first time.  This year, I was really sad about the thought of not going to Baie Fine and Topaz Lake, but we were on time constraints and thought we should see somewhere new.  When it came down to it though, we just had to get back.  It's truly breathtaking after the long hike to the top, when you finally are able to see through the trees and take in the crystal clear blue water surrounded by white quartz mountains.  In our opinions, it's worth the trip every time!

Peeking through the trees at Topaz Lake
Blueberries galore!
Ben in search of even more blueberries!
Crystal clear (and cold!) water. No swimming for us this year. :-/
View from the top
Life doesn't get much better than this!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Panoramic Video of Artist's Lake & Waterfall

Day 6 cont... Artist's Lake (So Amazing it gets it's own Post!)

The narrow, hard-to-spot entrance to the canoe portage to Artist's Lake
Last year on our North Channel trip, the ultimate destination for me was Topaz Lake (in Killarney Provincial Park). Once we got to that mountaintop overlooking the lake, I felt like we made it, that nothing could get better.  This year, of course, we were on a mission to top that experience.  

Just inside the entrance to the portage, on the way to the waterfall we could hear but not yet see
Looking at the charts for Baie Fine, the hike to Artist's Lake does not look like an easy one.  Had we not just spoken about kayaking in Killarney Provincial Park with our friend Jim, we may not have even gone searching for the entrance!  I'm so glad we did though, because Artist's Lake has become to Ben what Topaz Lake was for me. (And I was in awe as well)  The experience is, I think, best expressed in photos. Enjoy!

Time to leave the kayak and hike the rest!
Ben enjoying the view of the waterfalls
Smooth rocks formed by glaciers
So excited for new experiences in our favorite place!
Perfect photo by Ben
Waterlilies (I was picturing Monet loving this) 
Seriously, how much better could it get?
We'll be back :-)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hmm... Where Does This Lead??

Day 6: Baie Fine and our Favorite Anchorage, The Pool

Great Loopers visiting the North Channel for the first time
Wednesday, July 16: We woke up this morning in Snug Harbor and were quickly on the move (along with everyone else). :-) Behind us in the Lansdowne Channel, we watched 4 Great Loop boats make their way into Snug Harbor for their first stop in the North Channel. (We know this because we heard them check in on Cruisers Net!) Our destination for today is "The Pool" anchorage at the end of Baie Fine. It was our favorite stop last year, and we're looking forward to trying to anchor again in our same spot.

Boat on the move in Baie Fine
Turning the corner from "The Narrows" into "The Pool" - and finding it completely EMPTY!!
We enjoyed a leisurely cruise through Baie Fine and The Narrows, just taking it all in and enjoying the journey. It was still pretty early, around 10am, so there were still lots of boats on the move! For this reason, we were stunned when we turned into The Pool anchorage and found it COMPLETELY EMPTY!! What?!?! The whole Pool to ourselves?!?! How lucky could we get? :-) (The Pool is one of the more popular anchorages in the North Channel - people seem to either love it or hate it. We love it.)  We were hesitant to really celebrate though until we got farther in and discovered that "out spot" from last year was open and waiting for us. Perfect!

"Our Spot" in the Pool
A deer hanging out on the rock behind us
Little baby blue gill
We found our spot, anchored, and got down to the business of relaxing, taking in the scenery, and fishing! We caught a bunch of little blue gill right around the boat, and Ben caught a nice bass...

Hey, that's our fish!
...that the resident ancient turtle decided would make a good dinner for himself! I'm sure you can guess who won this battle! 

Going out to catch some more fish for dinner
Success! Our first fresh-caught dinner in the North Channel
Throughout the afternoon, boats started filing in, so we weren't alone for very long. Ben set out in the kayak to find a good fishing spot and try to catch dinner. He ended up catching a few Northern, an ugly Alligator Gar, and a few more nice sized bass for dinner. We cooked up the bass in some butter, with spaghetti on the side, and it was AMAZING!

Beautiful evening in The Pool
End of a wonderful day :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 5: Little Current to Snug Harbor and meeting up with friends!

Morning on the dock at Spider Bay Marina
Tuesday, July 15: We woke up to pretty nice weather this morning, but saw on the radar and forecast that it wasn't supposed to last through the rest of the day. We had intended to cruise up to McGregor Bay this morning to meet up with Traumfanger, but the forecast had us second guessing our plans. We tried a few times to contact Traumfanger, but with no luck (reception can be pretty spotty), so we made the decision to move on before the wind and rain came.

Swing bridge at Little Current - we're not tall enough to need it to open
Strawberry Island Lighthouse again a darkening sky
Once we passed the Little Current bridge heading east, we had to make a decision on where we would anchor and find shelter for the day. We decided on Snug Harbor, in the Landsdown Channel, due to its protection from all winds. Earlier in the morning, I had let Traumfanger know we were going there, but wasn't sure that they received the message. As 9am rolled around and we listened to the check-ins on Cruiser's Net though, we were assured that Traumfanger got the message when they called to check in from Snug Harbor. Yay!! Even if it's a rainy/windy day, at least we'd have friends to hang out with.

Can you spot the entrance to Snug Harbor? 
Snug Harbor anchorage
Once we found the entrance to Snug Harbor and navigated the somewhat shallow entrance, we found Traumfanger anchored right inside. Jim came over in the dinghy to help us find a spot to tie to shore, and we were amazed at the clarity of the water and the fact that we could anchor just a few feet from shore in pretty deep water!

Jim and Anne coming over for a visit
After we were settled in, Jim brought Anne over for a visit.  It was so great to reconnect with "old friends" that we met on our last North Channel trip! 

Ben fishing in Snug Harbor
Dana writing notes in the cruising log
It was a cold and rainy day, probably about in the mid 60's, so we didn't get to do any swimming or really enjoy the crystal clear water. Instead, we did "rainy day" activities like writing in the cruising log, fishing, a little kayaking, lots of eating, drinking beer, and visiting with friends.

Lunch aboard Traumfanger, with special guest Krista
For lunch and dinner, Jim and Anne were kind enough to host us aboard their boat, and we got to meet their friend Krista who was visiting for about a week. Krista made a delicious lunch and later we shared a typical thrown-together boat dinner of parmesan spaghetti, sausages, veggies, and more drinks. We enjoyed a lovely evening with friends and paddled back to Seapickle late at night in the pitch-black. I have never been out in such darkness before, trying to find the boat by flashlight! Amazing experience... and a little scary!

This was one of those days where we pretty much just relaxed, and didn't do a whole lot! So I will finish up with a few more photos of our time at Snug Harbor. Tomorrow, if weather allows, we think we will get an early start and head back up to our favorite anchorage, before meeting Jim & Anne back in Little Current for a Cruiser's Net happy hour in a couple days.

View of Seapickle from a sailboat :-)
Afternoon kayak
A boy and his fishing pole