August 31 – Sept 7, 2019 The North Channel and Back to the USA

We finally escaped the grip of Little Current on August 31, and headed to The Benjamin Islands – a “Must See” on the Looper List.  We knew just where we were going to anchor, and the spot would protect us from the South winds coming in overnight.  Guess what?  LOTS of other people also knew just where we were going to anchor and were already there.  OK, this WAS Labor Day Weekend, which Canadians also celebrate, so we should have expected company.  Didn’t see a spot we felt comfortable anchoring in overnight, so we went to the southside and anchored temporarily so we could get the dinghy and explore.  We couldn’t stay there, because we would have gotten the full force of the south winds.  WOW, what we saw from the dinghy was beautiful.  These are very accessible islands and people were walking everywhere.  We tied up to shore and walked/explored for awhile.  So sad that we couldn’t stay the night.

The islands are composed of pink and gray granite and limestone.

Next stop was to be Hotham Island, so we headed there for the night.  We traveled north and then traveled to the north side of the island to a cove.  Navigation aids are great, but sometimes they aren’t very accurate.  As we entered the cove, we saw a lovely secluded spot to our right, which was plenty deep – according to our electronic and paper charts.  I eased the boat that direction and was I ever glad I was going slow.  Suddenly the depth finder started to plummet.  Reverse, reverse!  Those were rocks down there and they were NOT boat friendly.  We changed course and moved over to another area where there were two other boats.  We anchored and it was not long after, that a lady named Elaine came over to us in her kayak.  She welcomed us and said she and her husband owned a home in the cove and all the boaters were welcome to come over for Happy Hour at 5.  How great is that?  We had a lot of fun that evening.  As a bonus, after it was dark, there were only 3 anchor lights in the cove – the darkness gave us a great star show in the night sky!

Moving on to the next stop – Turnbull Islands Anchorage.  Got to the islands and we wove our way between islands into an open area anchorage.  Just a few other boats there – lots of room.  The islands didn’t look very walkable, but they were great scenery.  Decided it was a good day to lay in the sun on the bow of the boat– something I like – NEVER do.  After about an hour, I noticed a distinct change in the weather.  Winds were increasing and the temp was dropping.  We checked weather info again – yep, it had changed.  Winds would increase significantly overnight and into morning. Stay or go? Our boat is like a big sailboat in the winds – getting pushed every which way, so the decision was GO.  

We arrived at Blind River Marina in late afternoon.  Not too many boats here – for good reason.  It was starting to get COLD.  Local boaters were already putting their boats in storage or dry dock for the winter.  Huh!  We were given a T-dock tie up, and we were pretty much the only ones on that dock.  A T-dock means a boat is docked at the end of the dock, outside of a slip.  Imagine several slips coming off of the stalk of a T, and we were on the outside across the top of the T.  Hard to explain.  Blind River is sometimes referred to as “the Metropolis of the North Channel” with a population around 4000!

The next morning was windy, but sunny.   We borrowed trail bikes from the marina and headed to a local park with hiking and biking trails.  Glad we took their bikes – there was mud and difficult places to get through on the trails.  Ended up on a point that overlooked Lake Huron – beautiful.  Then we sort of lost our way on a trail – it didn’t exactly follow the map we had.  When in doubt – retrace your steps.  We found our way back home!  Back on the boat, we saw two kayakers come in.  They made their way to a grassy area near the marina office and set up a tent.  

The next day it rained the proverbial cats and dogs.  Winds were pushing our boat off the dock – put out more lines for reinforcement.  We looked towards the office and there was that tent – somehow still standing in the winds. During a break in the rain, we walked up that way and met the two kayakers.  They were on a fairly long trip, and were certainly well provisioned and geared for just about anything.  But we did feel sorry for them sleeping in a tent in cold and rain.  We offered to have them stay in our front cabin, but they declined.  They did accept an invitation for a hot dinner and we had a very enjoyable evening.

Next day the rain stopped, but the winds were still too strong for us to leave.  The wind did change direction and was now pushing our boat against the dock.  Time to put out more fenders.  We walked around town – not much happening.  The next day was still windy – would this ever stop?  Now we know why Loopers are told to be off Lake Michigan by Labor Day.  The winds in this northern area increase significantly starting mid-August.

In looking at our remaining days, it was obvious to us that we would have to skip some of the places we had wanted to see.  That’s the most difficult part of the trip – trying to decide where to stop and what to skip.  There are too many places to see and not enough days to get to all of them; hence the reason that many people “loop” more than once.

Winds finally died and we headed to Drummond Island, our re-entry point to the US.  

Clearing customs was easy – had a one way video chat with a customs official.  They can see us, but we can’t see them!  Ed had arranged for the fuel filters to be changed at this marina – they were already half thru when we finished with customs. WOW, that was fast!  We met some other Loopers here, which was good.  While talking to the boat docked next to us, they happened to mention something about a fireplace on board. What?? We just HAD to ask to see it. This isn’t something you’ll see on many other boats – if ANY!

We spent three nights here due to winds and weather.  Found a local museum.  Seems that two families pretty much settled this area.  The one volunteer at the museum was from one of the families, so we heard lots of local stories.  Found a fun store in town – one of those that stocks a few of just about everything.  A small grocery story next door provided us with some provisions that we needed and, of course, we even found an ice cream store!

This is the location that has hatched a story about us stealing a car once we had re-entered the US. That’s not really what happened. Three couples were going out to dinner and one of them had arranged to get a courtesy car from the marina. The car wouldn’t start. Knowing that there were other cars in the lot, I just started trying to open cars. I found one open with the keys under the mat. Figuring it was one of the other courtesy cars, I told everyone to get in. There seemed to be some hesitancy, not really knowing if this was one of the courtesy cars, but we loaded up and went to dinner. All the jokes that night were about stealing a car and hoping we wouldn’t get caught. All’s well that ends well. Nobody reported a missing car that night!

We had been in Canada since June 28.  What a wonderful summer!  The temps had been comfortable most days, and even during the few weeks that it was hot in the daytime, the evening temps were cool and refreshing. Makes us wonder if we ever want to spend another summer in Augusta. 

One thought on “August 31 – Sept 7, 2019 The North Channel and Back to the USA

  1. Lyndia Jackson says:

    Wow! I enjoy reading and seeing everything. Everything sounds so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. I check almost daily to see what’s next. Your pictures are wonderful.

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