Saturday, December 8, 2018

2018 North Channel Itinerary - What Trip Planning Looks Like for Us

What Trip Planning Looks Like For Us

Truth be told... I LOVE planning trips and mapping out sample itineraries. BUT we've found over the years that the best plan is to be flexible and follow the wind. This allows us to travel along with new friends we meet along the way, meet up with old friends when we hear them call in to Cruisers Net from an anchorage, and explore new destinations upon the suggestions of seasoned North Channel cruisers.

Even knowing that plans will change, the planner in me still cannot give up mapping out a few sample itineraries before we leave on our trip, and I even have a list of the best anchorages based on wind direction ready in case we need to make a fast decision! 

Here is the Sample Itinerary I developed before we left and thought we might follow. (I always try to add at least 2 new places)  I also know we're most comfortable with a marina visit about every 3-4 days, to recharge batteries and empty garbage, so I try to build that into our plans. 

16 day NC Sample Itinerary (my 4th revision)
Week 1
Thursday - Begin overnight drive from IN to Spanish, ON
Friday- Arrive Spanish Marina, launch and anchor in the Whalesback
Saturday - Long Point Cove
Sunday - Long Point to Benjamin Island
Monday - Benjamin Island to Kagawong Marina
Tuesday - Friday - McGregor Bay (East West Channel)

Week 2
Friday - Sunday - Killarney Mountain Lodge - *The 1 reservation we made in advance
Sunday - Tuesday - Thomas Bay or Covered Portage
Tuesday - Little Current Town Docks
Wednesday- Friday - Le Cloche area (Sturgeon Cove, Bell Cove, etc)
Friday - Spanish Marina
Saturday - Drive Home

2018 Actual Itinerary
Week 1
Thursday - Overnight drive from Indiana to Spanish, Ontario
Friday - Arrive and launch in Spanish, secure overnight dockage
Saturday - Fox Island
Sunday - South Benjamin Island
Monday - Little Current Town Docks (decision made to drop off outboard to Boyle Marine)
Tuesday - Wednesday - Heywood Island (to meet up with friends from home port)
Thursday - Little Current Town Docks (had to go back to pick up outboard from Boyle)

Week 2
Friday - Sunday - Killarney Mountain Lodge (advance reservations)
Sunday - Covered Portage Cove (to meet up with friends)
Monday - Wednesday - Baie Fine, The Narrows (by way of loonnngg trip through McGregor Bay)
Wednesday - Little Current Town Docks
Thursday - Matheson, La Cloche hike (to meet up with friends)
Friday - Croker Island (to meet up with friends)
Saturday - Spanish Marina & Drive Home

As you can see, a few things stayed from our planned itinerary, but most changed mostly so we could meet up with friends along the way. The one reservation we had in advance (since april!) was dockage at Killarney Mountain Lodge. I've found it to be increasingly difficult to secure dockage in Killarney in the past couple years, and this year a weekend at Killarney Mountain Lodge with their pool, coffee shop and amenities just sounded like a nice "vacation within a vacation" for this mama.

We usually decide on one main "goal" for the trip - a new anchorage, or a place we love. This year is was McGregor Bay. As you can see from our actual itinerary... we didn't end up anchoring there! It was a beautiful cruise through the bay for us, but Ben just didn't find anywhere he felt fully comfortable with that we loved more than Baie Fine... so to Baie Fine we went (and found our new favorite place)! That's the beauty of being flexible...and also of having a power boat.  :-) 

Monday, June 18, 2018

One of my favorite photos... and trip planning for 2018!

On our 2017 trip, RJ began to embrace the task of trip planning for the North Channel
Here he is working on plans for our 2018 trip!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

#1 Favorite North Channel Anchorage - The Pool

Saturday, July 29 - The Pool

Seapickle II anchored in the Pool

Those that we talk to about favorite anchorages in the North Channel seem to either LOVE The Pool, or HATE anchoring in the weeds and haven't gone back, or are scared off by stories from other boaters and anchor somewhere else like The Narrows (leading to The Pool). We LOVE love love The Pool. :-)  To be fair, we don't swing on the hook and instead tie to shore in most anchorages, and therefore don't pick up as many weeds on the anchor as those who swing.

This year, from Marianne Cove we recruited Orca and Ceiba II to join us for their first time anchoring in The Pool... and they fell in love too. You'll find some of the calmest waters we've seen (when conditions are right), and the hiking trails and views are hard to beat. Topaz Lake and Artists Lake, within Killarney Provincial Park are worth any amount of weeds tangled around your anchor. (Tip - have one person in the dinghy with a boat hook or something to push the weeds off as the anchor is raised).

Ben tying to shore
New spot for us in the Pool, Ceiba II and Orca anchored nearby

We anchored pretty early in the day, so we had plenty of time to relax, fish, and explore. Our first day anchored we took the dinghy upstream to the start of the trail to Artists Lake. It's a quick, but pretty dinghy ride through a narrow channel. RJ is starting to be able to hike on his own for short distances, so we didn't bring the backpack for this adventure. The trip starts by dinghy, and the first trick is finding the narrow entrance to the stream. Next is maneuvering around branches and downed trees while working your way upstream. After a short, but slow, dinghy ride upstream you'll come to the canoe portage on the left where you can pull the dinghy (or kayak or canoe) up onshore. A nice hike along waterfalls and over rocks will finally open up to Artists Lake, one of our favorite views in the North Channel. The trail will also split off to other lakes (like Cave Lake), which are worth exploring. We like Jeff's Killarney Map which shows detail of all the trails and lakes within Killarney Provincial Park. 

Entrance to the narrow channel to Artists Lake
The canoe portage landing that leads to Artists Lake
RJ and I enjoying the views (he doesn't like to sit still)
RJ was so excited this trip to be able to pick and eat blueberries on most hikes
Back at the boat, we take time to relax, make dinner, and hang out with our friends aboard Orca and Ceiba II.  This year the Pool is more crowded than we're used to, but everyone is respectful and we met quite a few people kayaking or dinghying around the anchorage. Some years we've been the only boat there, and some show what a popular anchorage it is! Some years we don't make it to the Pool, but we can't go more than every other North Channel trip without a visit to our favorite anchorage!

Dana and RJ taking the dinghy over for a visit
Sunset in The Pool

The end to a great day

One more video from exploring Baie Fine

Baie Fine Exploration aka Toddler in a Dinghy

A dinghy is a must have in the North Channel with a toddler (we got by with a kayak without a baby/toddler)

Friday, July 28 - anchored in Marianne Cove, Baie Fine

Thank goodness this boy is always down for exploring by dinghy! (He threw "binky" in a few times)
A few years ago, when we were anchored in Marianne Cove (in nearly the same location we anchored with Orca and Ceiba II), a couple that we met the year prior recognized us and stopped by.  They showed us a little cove on their map that they thought we would like, just a ways down the shore of Baie Fine. We didn't have a chance that year to check out the cove, but we had it on our minds to discover this year at least by dinghy, if not anchoring overnight. Since we had such great company in Marianne Cove, we decided to just explore by dinghy and mark our charts for future years an alternate anchorages.

'lil Pickle II" ready to explore
Ben and RJ checking out the island

On to the next anchorage!
Baie Fine, North Channel

Friday, April 20, 2018

Hiking to Casson Peak.. Carrying 30 Pounds of Toddler

Ben and RJ at the top - with the 150th Anniversary Canadian flag 
Casson's Peak, marked on the Canadian charts as Frazer Bay Hill, is a moderate uphill hike that is a bit difficult even without 35 pounds of toddler and gear on your back! Ben was a trooper though and carried RJ to the top, stopped to pick blueberries at many points along the way, and all the way back down to our waiting dinghy. We have the Osprey Poco Plus backpack carrier, and have used it since RJ was around 6 months old and it's still holding up great at 2 years old. He loves hiking on his own, but for a steep hike like this, we had to keep him safe in the carrier the whole time. Luckily it's very comfortable and he loves the view! The blueberries helped too :-)

The closest anchorage to the marked path to Casson's Peak is Marianne Cove in Baie Fine. We did the hike ourselves a few years ago, but this was the first time we tackled it with RJ. We definitely would not have attempted without a group of friends to back us up! It helped to have some extra helping hands along the way as there are some pretty steep sections in the hike. Click to read more about our last hike to Casson Peak 

Up up up

Happy hikers

Still climbing :-)
Our group for the day were our friends from Orca (Paul, Jamie, Bogdan, and Sara), Ceiba II (Brett and David), and the Happy Dance Crew (Geoff, Nadia, and their son Zen).  Funny story I forgot to mention in my previous post... when we arrived in Marianne Cove, our friends said there's someone here in the anchorage from Indiana and knows you! Turns out we spoke on Facebook years ago, and they live just 10 minutes away! We got to hike on an island in Canada with neighbors :-) 

Casson Peak family selfie
Making new friends in Canada... who live 10 minutes from us in Indiana
View of Baie Fine and McGregor Bay from the top

Our group from Geoff's drone

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rafted up in Marienne Cove, Baie Fine

Overhead drone view of Marianne Cove - Seapickle is on the right side of anchorage rafted with 2 other boats. Photo © Geoff Wendt
Thursday - Saturday, July 27-29

Marianne Cove is a popular anchorage in Baie Fine, as well as the closest anchorage to the start of the hike up to Casson Peak/ Frazer Bay Hill (more on hiking with a toddler in an Osprey backpack in the next post).  This was our 3rd visit to Marianne Cove, but our first rafted up for the night with other boats! (Actually, our first North Channel raft-up)  We were happy to join Orca and Ceiba II who were already tied to shore when we joined them from Little Current.

RJ and dada aboard Orca

The "Christmas in July tree" aboard Orca 

RJ's Christmas in July gift from the Orca crew

Our first order of business after rafting up to Orca was to hop aboard and open RJ's "Christmas in July" gift! RJ is such a lucky little guy to have friends everywhere he goes (especially ones who bring presents!) :-)  Seapickle usually finds her own little space close to shore, but we tried out being social and rafting up with TWO other boats this trip, and we had a great time! (haha I swear we're not antisocial, but who wants to raft up to a toddler boat?)

Swimming with mama in Marianne Cove, Baie Fine

Snacks are ALWAYS necessary
Second order of business, cooling off with some swimming and then fueling back up with some snacks! Life sure is tough on our boat vacations. ;-)  Let me just say, if I forget to post the pictures of some of the meals we shared... we have never eaten so well on a boat as we did hanging out with the Orca and Ceiba II crew!  Fresh baked bread, daily charcuterie board... we were definitely not roughing it.

Just a toddler on a dinghy (RJ 1 1/2 years old)

Finding rocks to climb is a favorite activity
This was our first year with a dinghy at Marianne Cove, so we took the opportunity and a chart marked by folks we'd met some years back, to find new coves along the shore of Baie Fine that might be less populated.  We found some great locations and contenders for anchorages for future years, and spent some time exploring the shore in the process!  Maybe we just got lucky that RJ loves riding in the dinghy and going hiking, but I hope that we're setting him up for a lifetime of adventure. :-)

This kid is so much cooler than us ;-)

Happy rafting Seapickle (always the little boat)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Another baby on a boat post...

Sorry, not sorry... he's just so cute! :-) There are plenty of ways for a toddler to entertain himself on a boat. See pics below for proof!

Eat your mac and cheese and chug some water while dada cooks more food just for you

Teach everyone what the orange flag is for (standing on a cooler and waving, obviously)

Test out your balance on the table

Eat snacks, lots and lots of snacks.

Cars can race all over the boat! 
Pull out ALL the pillows and blankets to build a fort

Count your loonies and toonies 

Plan out where mama and dada will take you next.

Use mama's toothbrush while holding your own :-/

Lots of naps are good, but only after fighting them (literally) for at least a half hour 
What? Just sitting here looking cute.

Practice keeping mama and dada on their toes (the window was kept zipped closed after this)

Keep the boat clean

And then just lay back and relax in your queen size bed that you now have almost to yourself...