A nine-day cruise in a Boston Whaler through 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay.
In the summer of 2001 Chris and I had the opportunity to cruise the eastern shore of Georgian Bay for the first time. Hauling our 20-foot outboard-powered Boston Whaler along behind us, we travelled by highway to the port of Midland, Ontario to rendezvous with two other boats, also Boston Whalers and also trailered up there by highway. Boating with our friends Jim Gibson, Larry Goltz, and son Larry, our group of Whalers went from Midland to Little Current and back, a round trip of some 500 miles. Staying always along the coast of Georgian Bay, we traversed the Small Craft Route, taking many diversion to explore side channels and alternative tracks. It was a wonderful trip and the experience of it is presented here in narrative form. The text is supplemented with over fifty photographs (see note below) and has been divided into separate articles, one for each day. If you prefer a text-only version, the narrative is also available without photographs as a single article.
I have tried to present several different facets of the trip, varying from details about the boat we used to historical information about the area. Accounts of our adventures, descriptions of the many places we stopped to visit, and sketches of interesting people we encountered are also given. In addition there are tabular summaries of marine facilities and dining rooms along the route, which will be useful to others planning a visit by either boat or car.
In the process of conveying all this information, I hope that you will find the narrative to be readable, even if you are not especially interested in the technical minutiae of Boston Whaler boats or the facilities of the bathrooms at particular marinas. I have include these details because boaters, unlike the rest of the population, are often quite keen to know such things.
I can hardly say enough positive things about boating in Georgian Bay. Some other boaters wish I would say nothing at all, for it is the scarcity of other boats and boaters that is part of the attraction of this area. The water is wonderfully fresh, clean, but unfortunately a bit cold for swimming. The scenery is very pleasant and quite varied, and the little towns along the way have a friendliness and charm that comes from not being visited too often.
Even though we have cruised in northern Lake Huron for more than twenty weeks over the past fifteen years, we were not prepared for the unique waterways of the Small Craft Route. This safe passage for small boats twists through 30,000 islands and rocks, creating an interesting navigational challenge for the pilot and a wonderfully scenic trip for the passengers.
As you can perhaps tell, I am quite enthusiastic about both the trip itself and the narrative of it, so I will keep you from it no longer. This latest and best of my "sail-logs" begins with Day One.
Assembling the photographs of this trip has been something of a challenge because of some problems I had with my camera. After years of banging around boats, my old NIKON SLR developed a light leak into the film compartment, with the unfortunate result that many frames of the film were spoiled completely or contaminated with streaks. To salvage some shots, I have resorted to some unusually tight cropping or, in some cases where there was no alternative, to including some slightly spoiled images in the article. Even if all my rolls had turned out perfectly, I am more fortunate to have the photographs taken by my cruising mates, Larry Goltz and Jim Gibson. They gave me many fine photos which I have used to great advantage to illustrate the events of our trip. In particular, their excellent work with a camera has provided me with many views of my own boat on the journey which otherwise would have been impossible for me to have taken.
As a result of having three photographers, three cameras, three different lenses, three kinds of film, and three different processors, the actual prints which resulted varied widely in composition, colorimetry, and exposure. Further adding to the variations, my film was scanned from the negatives to digital by a professional lab, while I transferred the other images from prints of varying density using a modest home scanner. I tried to compensate for these differences as best I could when manipulating the digital images in PhotoShop, but in some cases my efforts were not successful and you can detect quite a difference between views of boats and places which we have photographed in common.
I also want to make clear that some retouching was done here and there to enhance the presentation, but that no photograph presented here is composited or represents something different from what we actually saw. The exception to this would be the color streaks evident in some of my images, but these are quite obvious. My apologies for presenting them in this way, but in certain cases I think the content is still valuable dispite the technical flaws.
Beverly Hills, Michigan
March 13, 2002