We are back to cottage country and find a fancy accommodation. (Two Photographs)
|Date:||Saturday, August 4, 2001|
|Winds:||Northerly, Light and variable|
|Waves:||Less than 1 foot|
|Departure:||Killbear (Parry Sound), Ontario|
|Destination:||Honey Harbour, Ontario|
|Distance:||55 miles by Small Craft Route|
The fair weather is still with us as we awake to another beautiful day. We fall into our usual morning routine, converting the cabin from sleeping to storage, taking down the rear canvas and rolling it up, making coffee, having some cereal breakfast, and just enjoying being on the boat.
Running our engines six hours a day or more consumes enough gas that we generally need to refuel each morning, too. On the trip northward I was trying to keep the gas tank full, but now, with only one more long leg ahead of us, I try to anticipate how much fuel I'll need so that I will end with the tank near empty as I haul the boat onto the trailer. This will keep the boat as light as possible on the trailer, and also save a few dollars by not buying expensive Canadian marina gasoline.
Our mates need gasoline, too, and for a change they beat us to the fuel dock. Eventually we are all topped-off with fuel, and we get underway at the usual hour of about 10:30 a.m. Our destination today is relatively close-by, just 40 miles to the south, so we begin by immediately taking a diversion.
The wide water of Parry Sound is just to the east, a lovely protected expanse of fresh water whose northern shoreline is Killbear Provincial Park, a favorite spot for campers and beach-goers. We cruise inland and explore the many islands and passages, spending about an hour navigating our way to the head of the inlet, the town of Parry Sound, the largest municipality on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay.
We cruise past the Ministry of Transportation's Marine Depot, the base from which the aids to navigation along this entire shore are maintained. Past Salt Point the chart denotes "decayed timber bottom" in Parry Sound Harbour, an artifact of all the lumbering once done in this water.
I am thinking we'll have to turn around and retrace our path back to the coast, but there is a second route available, the South Channel to Amanda Island. This is a very pleasant cruise, although we are now in the company of many other boats, including several larger tour boats that take a hundred or more passengers for trips among the islands on this portion of the Small Craft Route. The shoreline is filled with marinas and cottages, and even an ice cream stand, an irresistable attraction for Larry Goltz who stops WHALE LURE for a noontime treat.
After about ten miles of relatively narrow passage on the South Channel, we return to the main track and more open water at Mile 43 (Sheet 3 of Chart 2202). We are heading for lunch at Henry's Fish Restaurant at Fryingpan Island, when Larry suddenly diverts from the channel east of C181, and heads for Totten Island on our left. The cause of this diversion: a black bear in the water! We all idle over to see this unusual swimmer, a young black bear paddling across toward Toten Island. It is quite a sight, and we watch from a safe distance as he climbs ashore and shakes the water from his fur. He must weight at least 300 pounds! He turns to give our boats an eye, then nimbly climbs the rocky island slope and trots off into the woods. After this excitement, we move our boats to the floating docks at Henry's and take a seat in one of their several dining rooms for lunch.
After lunch we resume our trip southward, but take another immediate diversion into the rocky water of Moon Bay. This segment has been nicely surveyed but not as well marked as the main route. About two and a half miles up the old steamer track, we are on the verge of being lost. One group of rocky islands begins to look like the next, and we decide to get back to the mainline. Around 4 o'clock we pass west of McCurry Rocks and rejoin the Small Craft Route at Mile 38.
Bear Naked Swimmer
It was a treat to have a young black bear swim across our path, just abeam Toten Island.
Photo Credit: Larry Goltz
The wanderlust for exploration hits again just a few miles further, and our mates propose cruising up Twelve Mile Bay. I look at the gas gauge and see that my fuel reserve is getting somewhat low, so we decline. Instead, I shut the engines off and just drift in the broad open water of the mouth of the inlet, relaxing in the afternoon sun, while our fellow Boston Whalers make an exploration inland for about 30 minutes. When our mates return, we head back to the O'Donnell Channel, then turn inside Gooseberry Island for a three mile run down a beautiful stretch of coastline.
About 5:00 p.m. at Mile 28 we divert to pass through Indian Harbour, now filled with boats at anchor on this pleasant Saturday afternoon. Back into coastal water, we are moving at high speed, on plane at about 25 MPH, and the miles are rolling past as we enjoy the boat ride in calm water. Just as the sun starts to decline, we are back in the busy stretch behind Beausoliel Island, slowed to idle in NO WAKE zones. We know we're almost back to the start, as we have to turn to Sheet 1 of Chart 2202, the first--or in this case last--chart of the trip.
In the lee of Beausoleil Island, traffic on the Small Craft Route increases as we approach the Honey Harbour area.
Photo Credit: Larry Goltz
We motor slowly by the six marinas on the shore at Honey Harbour and enter the back water of South Bay. There a privately maintained string of buoys leads us to the docks of South Bay Marina, our last overnight destination.
|Marina:||South Bay Marina|
|Mooring:||Alongside very long floating dock; Rate = $1.35/foot minimum 30 feet|
|Dock height:||About three feet. Very nice aluminum dock system, but rather tall for small boats. Needed extra fenders to keep our boats from going under the dock!|
|Bathroom:||Two MENS/WOMENS large bathrooms with multiple stalls and sinks.|
|Showers:||A dozen or more individual shower rooms with very nice showers.|
The marina is quite a nice facility, but it is geared to larger boats. Transient dockage is available only along their long pier. All the slips are seasonal rentals and filled with big cruisers in the 40 to 60 foot range. The aluminum floating dock sits so high that the gunwale of Jim Gibson's 18-Outrage goes right under it. Two helpful young dock attendants in crisp khaki uniforms bring out some large ball-shaped fenders to improve the mooring, travelling back and forth on the long dock using golf carts.
Initially we are wary of the cost to stay at such a yachty place, but even with an assessment of a minimum 30-foot fee, the price turns out to be quite reasonable. Dockage includes the usual showers and bath facilities--which are excellent--but they also throw in free ice, free coffee, free breakfast rolls and cereal, and a morning newspaper. The dock attendants also come by to collect any garbage right from your boat. The biggest surprise occurs when we go to the office to prepay our fees. The marina manager welcomes us to South Bay Marina with a gift: a very nice rigging knife, easily worth almost as much as the docking fees!
We get a late seating reservation in the marina dining room, a nice restaurant with an elevated view westward across the harbor. Dinner there turns out to be another bargain. We have a huge meal which takes us almost two hours to consume, and the tab runs only about $16-US per person. Tonight we are truly the last table to leave. We are just having dessert and coffee at quarter to eleven. Chris, Jim, and I take a long stroll an the docks to walk off some of that food. It is another beautiful night, a continuation of the eight consecutive days of fair weather we have been blessed with on this trip.
The nine-day narrative continues in Day Nine.
Copyright © 2001 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!
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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared September, 2001.