BWGLCC 2018 North Channel and Georgian Bay Trip

Accounts of trips taken in Boston Whaler boats; organization of rendezvous for Boston Whaler boats
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Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula

BWGLCC 2018 North Channel and Georgian Bay Trip

Postby jimh » Tue Jul 31, 2018 3:45 pm

We are just back from the Boston Whaler Great Lakes Cruising Club 2018 trip into the North Channel of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. I will give a very brief summary of the trip.

We departed from Northport at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday July 21 with CONTINUOUSWAVE on the trailer, driving 390-miles by highway to Little Current and arriving at 4:55 p.m.--that time is significant because the highway bridge to the island opens on the hour for fifteen minutes. The last five miles we drove a bit faster than our usual 55-MPH-trailer-conservation speed and made the last southbound transit of the one-lane bridge before it opened on the hour.

To get there we entered Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, crossing at the International Bridge. The delay in the traffic queue for customs and immigration was about 30-minutes. Once we had been cleared to enter Canada--all passengers in the car are NEXUS card holders--I asked the Canadian Border Patrol agent about getting some documentation that would establish that the boat entered Canada on the highway, not via water. The reason for this: two years ago a Canadian Border Agent asked us for such proof in Little Current, and we had none. We prevailed at that time on the basis of our trustworthy appearance--gray hair. The border agent at the bridge entry this year asked how long the boat would be in Canada. I replied only a week. He then said that there was no paperwork available to him to give us. As it happened, we spent very little time in Little Current this year, and never ran into any customs or immigration agents.

At Little Current we launched at SPIDER BAY MARINA, and left our truck and trailer there. The marina has a very nice launch ramp, good facilities for trailer parking, and charges modest fees for both. We traveled about 0.6-miles by water to A-DOCK at the PORT OF LITTLE CURRENT where we joined LUCKY TWO and OUTRE, who had come over from Cheboygan, Michigan, on their own bottoms a day earlier. Soon we were also joined by HOLLY MARIE, also arriving on the trailer via highway after a long day-and-a-night drive from Minnesota. Later that evening, OUTLIER also arrived on the trailer via highway from northern Michigan, but due to the late hour, they decided to postpone launch until Sunday morning.

On Sunday July 22, we delayed our departure from Little Current to allow MANIC MOMENT to join us, who came over from Detour Village on her own bottom and had departed from Meldrum Bay (about 60-miles West) that morning. The winds had been strong easterlies for several days and made their progress upwind slower than normal.

About 1:00 p.m. the six-boat fleet sailed east into McGregor Bay and found a nice remote anchorage for the evening.

On Monday July 23, the six-boat fleed departed our cove anchorage and headed west out of McGregor Bay. We established radio contact with WHITE WATER, who joined our lunch raft on the north side of McGregor Point for a short visit. WHITE WATER was day-tripping from their base in Little Current, and they launched at Birch Island Lodge area.

The main fleet proceeded to Killarney, where we took slips at Sportsman’s Inn for the night.

On Tuesday, July 24, CONTINUOUSWAVE, OUTRE, HOLLY MARIE, MANIC MOMENT, and OUTLIER headed farther east into Georgian Bay, and entered the French River delta at the Bad River Channel. We established a raft anchoring with several anchors, and enjoyed the remote anchorage.

The high lake level and the lack of significant rain in the region for more than a month produced an unusual condition at the DEVIL'S DOOR RAPIDS: there was no difference in height between the French River and Lake Huron, quite a change from my last visit here when the two bodies of water were about three-feet apart. It was quite easy to ascend the rapids against the four-knot current in a small dinghy with a 2.5-HP engine. Once above the rapids, the range of exploration was endless.

On Wednesday, July 25, we took a leisurely morning and departed the anchorage after twelve-noon and lunch. By this time the winds had switched 180-degrees, and there was a 20-knot westerly blowing. Progress upwind to the West was very slow, and the 14-miles to reach the entrance to Beaverstone Bay were difficult. Encountering a set of three large waves, we slowed to take on the first wave, made it over without a hard landing, rose up and over the second, then dropped into a big trough and had the third wave come over the bow, with green water rolling up the foredeck and onto the windshield. Fortunately that occurred only once. We entered Beaverstone Bay about 2:30 p.m. and were much relieved to be in calm water. The ordeal of making our westing had worn out the boats and crew, so we went to anchor in Beaverstone Bay for the night, albeit with enough wind that the raft was dragged off its anchors and we had to re-set them about 5 p.m.

Some time earlier, perhaps the day before, LUCKY TWO had departed to the west, wisely avoiding the big westerly now blowing, and stopped at Meldrum Bay, where they would spend several nights waiting for more favorable winds.

WHITE WATER continued alone with their day-trip adventures from several launch sites on Manitoulin Island and exploring nearby waters.

On Thursday, July 26, we departed Beaverstone Bay and ran north and west in Collins Inlet, a beautiful passage in completely calm water, where we hit the highest speed for the trip, 42.5-MPH. Continuing west, we stopped in Killarney for more fuel, ice, groceries, and shore leave. Fuel at Sportsmans was CA-$1.589/liter, which with exchange works out to about $4.80/gallon--a quite decent price. After fueling and getting some wonderful fresh fish and chips take-out from Herbert's new restaurant, we got on plane and ran without stopping all the way to the entrance to Baie Fine. From there we proceeded to THE POOL, which was only moderately crowded with about 17 boats at anchor. We found a nice spot in the Southwest corner, establishing a tie-to-shore with lines to two trees for our stern and two or three anchors for the bow. A shore party left to ascend to TOPAZ LAKE. As the sun lowered behind the rock wall we were tied to, we had a very nice group dinner aboard the five boats: OUTRE, OUTLIER, CONTINUOUSWAVE, HOLLY MARIE, MANIC MOMENT.

On Friday, July 27, MANIC MOMENT and OUTRE departed early to head west and start their trip back to their home ports. OUTRE would spend the night in the Benjamin Islands. MANIC MOMENT made Gore Bay and stayed there. OUTLIER, CONTINUOUSWAVE, and HOLLY MARIE tarried in THE POOL, then departed after lunch for BROWNING COVE on Heywood Island, chosen for good protection from the big westerly still blowing and the short distance onward to Little Current. On arrival, OUTLIER found a problem with their black-water holding tank, and decided to continue on to Little Current. CONTINOUSWAVE and HOLLY MARIE, now a two-boat fleet, spent a nice evening at anchor.

OUTLIER hauled out and headed home on the trailer, driving into the evening and arriving back in Michigan late that night.

On Saturday, July 28, we proceeded with HOLLY MARIE to Little Current about 8:30 a.m. with the westerlies somewhat abated, and went to Spider Bay to haul out. From there we had an uneventful 390-mile highway drive to home, departing about 11:15 and arriving about 7:30 p.m. MANIC MOMENT got underway very early from Gore Bay and made Meldrum Bay by 11 a.m., joining LUCKY TWO there for the day and evening.

OUTRE left the Benjamins on Saturday and made it all the way to Cheboygan, their home port.

On Sunday, MANIC MOMENT and LUCKY TWO departed Meldrum Bay for their home ports of Detour Village and Cheboygan.

I will add more details when I get another chance to have a good internet connection.

Posts: 7125
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2015 12:25 pm
Location: Michigan, Lower Peninsula

Re: BWGLCC 2018 North Channel and Georgian Bay Trip

Postby jimh » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:15 am

With six or seven boats coming rather long distances by water and by highway to the rendezvous, there were bound to be a few problems to solve. I will recount briefly some of the annoyances that had to be overcome in the travels.

One boat was traveling by highway on a trailer with two new tires--and both new tires failed during the trip. One tire failed on the way to the rendezvous, and the second tire failed on the way home. This prompted the purchase of two more new tires to complete the travels while still on the road. Upon finally getting back to home, the tire store that originally sold the first of the two new tires that blew out replaced them at no charge and also compensated the buyer for the cost of two other tires he had to buy.

One boat had a trailer fender bracket break, but stopped at a big-box store and bought four small ratchet straps, and with some crafty rigging was able to support the trailer fender with the four straps.

One boat's highway travel was delayed by a CHECK ENGINE warning lamp on their quite modern and low-mileage tow vehicle. This was briefly investigated and found to not be critical, so they continued on to the rendezvous.

One boat arrived with very poor hydraulic steering operation, caused by lack of fluid in the system. One of the other boats was carrying spare fluid, and the steering was much improved by adding fluid to the system.

One boat arrived with a nearly dead starting battery, and by the third day was unable to crank over the engine. One of the other boats was carrying an extra battery, and the failed battery was replaced, although some ad-hoc wiring inventions were needed to manage the connections due to different terminal post designs. Some spare heavy-gauge wire short cables with ring terminals carried on another boat aided in the connections.

One boat joined the official "VIsited the North Channel" category by dinging a propeller blade on the rocky bottom of an inlet, but this was remedied by installing a spare propeller carried aboard. (There is an old saying, "If you haven't run aground then you haven't really been to the North Channel." We got that over back in 1987. This year, like then, very high water levels obscured many hazards by putting them just submerged. The level of Lake Huron was about 40-inches above chart datum, and features charted as islands were often completely submerged and very hard to see with an overcast sky for illumination.)

One boat--mine--had the trailer winch strap break just as the boat was being loaded onto the trailer for the trip home. This was temporarily remedied by tying two half-hitches with the remaining nylon strap onto the bow eye, and using a bit of engine power to push the boat the last three inches onto the bow stop. I had been thinking about replacing that winch strap before the trip but never got around to it. When back home, I investigated the winch more thoroughly. The nylon web strap was never properly attached at the dead end to the winch--who knew--and was apparently installed that way by the previous owner or his dealer. It was a good thing the winch strap had never been spooled all the way down to the end. I think it would have pulled out of the shoddy connection that was on there. I also found the winch drum was rather rusty, so I ended up replacing the entire winch, rather than just getting a new strap.