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Author Topic:   Georgian Bay Cruising
Buckda posted 08-04-2009 02:52 PM ET (US)   Profile for Buckda   Send Email to Buckda  
2009 Trip to Georgian Bay, Ontario

Saturday, 7/25/2009
6:30 AM has me up and moving to pack the last minute items for this trip into my truck and the boat. I’ve decided to pack a bit lighter on this trip, as we plan to have access to fuel, food and ice throughout the week. Packing light sounds like a good idea: Increased fuel economy, improved ride and less weight to tow the 600-some miles to our launch point – Midland, Ontario – at the base of Georgian Bay.

But good idea notwithstanding, it proves difficult for me, as I am used to packing heavy, and items need to be shifted from containers and bags where they are normally stowed. Believe me – when you have a system and change it, things have a way of being forgotten, lost or misplaced. I’ve spent all week laying out items for the trip in a special section of my basement that I’ve cleared for this purpose.

By 8:00 AM, I’ve showered, stowed the last of the gear and hit the road on my way to meet with Jim and Christine at Port Huron. I give Jim a call on the cell phone to let him know I’m underway, and the expected arrival at Port Huron. (Approximately 11:00 AM).

10:40 has me in Port Huron at the “last stop for gas”. While the skies were mostly cloudy at home in Hastings, Michigan, I’ve been driving in a on-again/off-again drizzle for the past hour. I fill the truck and the boat, and give Jim a phone call to check their status – they’re about ½ hour behind. We agree to meet across the border at the Ontario Welcome Center in Sarnia. At 11:00, I have paid my $4.50 toll and join the line of cars on the Blue Water Bridge waiting to enter Canada.

Canadian customs, as usual, are a pleasant experience, although the officials are a bit more terse than I remember them from previous years. By noon, I’m through the border and waiting for Jim and Christine at the Tourist Information Center. Jim calls on the phone to indicate that they are stuck in the line for customs and should be across in the next hour.

By 1:00, we’ve met, said our hellos, refreshed ourselves at the welcome center and secured a 2009 Ontario Road Map to help guide our journey, and are on the road, rolling down Canada’s highway 402 at a steady 61 mph (approximately 100 kph). The rain increases. By the time we’ve reached the 407 Electronic Toll Road (ETR), the rain is coming down in sheets that would make farmers in India waiting for the monsoon jealous. The temperature is steady in the mid 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

We turn north on highway 400 toward Barrie. Despite a Varsity showing on the drive East, the weather takes it to the next level between Barrie and Midland, where there are standing puddles of water on the road and we are forced to stop in the small town of Waverly to dewater the boats!

By 5:15, we’re at the ramp in Midland and loading the boats in the rain. My log notes: “Drove through HEAVY rain. At Midland. Put boat together in the rain. MISERY.”

If this is an indication of our vacation to come, I’ll be ready to head home by Tuesday.

By 8:30, the boats are comfortably in their berths at Bay Port Marina, the trucks are parked and the gear is starting to dry out as the rain has abated. We decide to take the car in to Midland for dinner at the RIV BISTRO downtown. The Riv is an authentic Greek restaurant and has delicious offerings. We savor the flavor and reflect on our trip up, and agree that the weather HAS to improve as it can’t get much worse than we’ve experienced.

The rain continues overnight, and we spend the evening aboard our boats in side-by-side slips on the S dock.

Sunday 7/26/2009
The rain continues….
We are up in the morning by 8:00 and moving around: breakfast, boat chores, etc. We take care of dockage and the boat/trailer parking for the week and prep for a day on the water. I leave my canvas fully set to guard against the rain.

By 10:30, we’re underway in an intermittent rain. Despite the rain, conditions are nearly flat calm. As we run up Midland Bay, Jim realizes that he forgot his spare propeller at the truck. We agree that the prudent thing to do at this early stage of the trip is to return to retrieve it. While he and Christine run back, I take a side route and explore the outer harbor at Penetanguishene. Soon, the rain has stopped and we’re back under way and enter the small craft route via buoys MH3 and MH4 at Mohawk Rock and Smooth Island.

The sun peeks out and we begin our way up the small craft route in prime cottage country and heavy boat traffic. I eventually call Jim on the VHF to request a “moderate and steady speed” – I’m getting tired of on-plane/off-plane running in this congested area near Maxwell Island and Aberdeen Island. Soon, we round C109 and emerge into some more open water for running. The wind has becalmed, and there are dark clouds on the Western horizon. We bump the throttles up a bit and keep a weather eye on the horizon.

As we approach Sans Souci (Frying Pan Island) the rain moves in and we zip up the canvas. There are several boats departing Henry’s and one – at least 45 feet in length – trudges by us throwing a monstrous wake. I throttle up off plane to keep the bow high – and GAMBLER crunches through the wake. CONTINUOUSWAVE is not so fortunate and the second wave in the set rolls right over the deck of the 22’ Revenge WT Whaler Drive and soaks her occupants. Any second thoughts about stopping at Henry’s are settled. We’re cold, we’re wet, it’s raining. We hear thunder. Henry’s has a dry dining room and hot food. We stop.

Lunch and a drink (soda) at Henry’s is $23 – but worth the expense to stay warm and dry for a moment as the steady rain settles in. Our destination is calling, however, so we continue onward and arrive at Killbear Marina by 4:30 PM. The sun has come out, the clouds have cleared and we’re on the dock and have the boats opened up and drying out. We’ve traveled 61.3 miles measured by GPS today.

As the evening progresses, the West wind builds and the skies cover over again with clouds. We settle in for the night and enjoy dinner aboard the boats.

Monday, 7/27/2009
By 10:45, we’ve left the dock at Killbear. The skies are overcast and threatening rain. Very soon, the threat becomes a promise – we’re wet yet again as we work our way through Canoe Passage and past Snug Harbor. Lousy weather! To make matters worse, the wind continues to build – we’re behind barrier islands, but Handog Reef and a 10-mile offshore passage are on the route for today – the weather is NOT cooperating.

At 2:00, we find shelter at Pointe Au Baril Station, and stop at the public dock for lunch and a quick browse through the town hardware store for some forgotten provisions. Jim thinks he needs more XD-50 Oil for his motor, so we’re looking for a good source of this important liquid!

Jim stops at BEACON MARINE for fuel. Beacon is the place that was so helpful in 2004 when I had a bad rectifier on my 150 Black Max, and Pat Henahan (HOME ASIDE) had trouble with his Montauk. Great people – great place.

We depart Point Au Baril for HANGDOG REEF in seas that are 5-7 feet of windblown slop and building to 6-8 feet. The 18’ Outrage handles the seas remarkably well for her size – the sun has come out and the wind is ripping. There is spray on my canvas and we make pace to round the reef and get back into the protection of the barrier islands for a few more miles before the offshore run.

As we exit the protected waters for the offshore run to Bying Inlet and Britt (our destination for tonight), I finally run out of fuel in the 25 gallon deck tank at 110 miles on the odometer (4.4 MPG!!) I switch to the main tank, fire the motors and continue on in the building seas. My Canadian courtesy flag is flying from the bowstaff and is straight out in the strong wind, the wind must be at least 20 knots or more – and steady. The offshore reefs are awash in white, frothy seas and the roar of the bay is ever present over the rhythmic thrum of the motors. As LHG would say – this is WHALER WEATHER! I am thankful for trim tabs and Mills Canvas.

By 5:00 we’ve successfully transited the offshore passage, entered Bying Inlet and steamed up the inlet to St. Amant’s Marina where we take fuel 91.501 Liters at 1.019/liter. Dockage is $1.25/foot and we pay our fee and settle in for the afternoon. We have reservations at the LITTLE BRITT INN at 7:30 and spend the time doing boat chores, sipping a cold brew and enjoying the first real sunshine/nice weather of the trip at the dock.

As we settle in, a 1950’s DeHaviland Beaver float plane lands at the marina dock and the party beats us to Little Britt Inn for dinner!

Dinner at Little Britt Inn is excellent as always – Perch, Asparagus, Corn on the Cob and Fries is about $20 and prepared well. A cold brew washes it down and the plate is cleared in short order. A brief walk back to the boats and it’s time for a nightcap at the dock and bed.

More on the seas this afternoon: The reefs and relatively shallow water depth in the channel (about 9-15 feet) combined to generate steep seas with lots of spray and water on the boat – but make no mistake – a 8’ Great Lakes wave is a LOT of water!

At one point we were passed by a group of larger boats – a 30’ Crownline, another “cruiser type” boat – I don’t recall the make, and a “go-fast center console” about 30’ with twin OptiMax motors. The crew aboard all three boats looked at us like we were crazy. The go fast center console crew was outfitted in all-weather gear and appeared to be very wet. While my canvas was soaked, I was dry and comfortable (and smoking a cigar) aboard Gambler. The look on their faces as I waved at them was priceless and I’ll take it with me to my grave. There is no substitute for the right gear right when you need it – and today, canvas was it!

Tuesday, 7/28/2009

I’m up at 7:00 AM. Didn’t sleep well as we had 2 rounds of rain overnight that kept me up – one at 1:30 AM for ½ hour and a second at 2:45 AM for 45 minutes or so. I wake to clearing skies and flat calm conditions. Today, our destination is Key River – but that is weather dependent.

At 9:30 or so, someone upstairs flipped the switch on the wind machine and it is instantly blowing and building – little whitecaps on the channel in front of the Marina. Where did that come from?

Jim and I convene a brief Captain’s Meeting at about 10:15 to discuss the weather and destination. We quickly agree that we can safely attempt to get up to Key River as it is a mostly protected run. By 10:45 we’re under way with a strong SW wind.

My notes are somewhat lacking here – I remember Key River as very cool, but a long, slow trudge at no-wake speeds, since we don’t know the channel and the depth is minimal. Locals fly by us on plane, but we focus on the depth sounders to ensure safe passage and continue on of plane.

The river eventually opens up to a deep channel with high-sided granite cliffs. We take the river all the way to the highway and quickly decide that the marina is not for overnighting – it is small, has few amenities (even by Northern Ontario standards!) and it is RIGHT next to the Trans-Canada Highway – meaning truck traffic all night long. Thankfully, we still have time to return to Bying Inlet.

A quick discussion and we decide our destination for the night is to be Sawmill Lodge on the South shore of Bying Inlet. The return is quick and enjoyable, and we pass a gaggle of girls in Kayaks heading south, as well as some local boat traffic. By 5:45, we’re on the nice docks at Sawmill Lodge. The wind is blowing like crazy and the boats are bouncing in the slips. We’re not sure we can stay here tonight – if the wind doesn’t die down, we’ll be up all night! We decide to give it a go, and are rewarded about an hour later by calming conditions and a beautiful sunset. Après boating drinks in hand, we chat and do boat chores while we wait for our reservations in the dining room.

The trip odometer reads 174 miles.

After an excellent pickerel dinner (and a great atmosphere in the lodge!), we retire to the dock for relaxation. It is hard to come by, however, as the mosquitoes are out IN FORCE. We run to the relative shelter of our boats and turn in early to hide from the mosquitoes.

Wednesday 7/29/2009
We have breakfast at the dock at around 9:15 and the wind is already building – we make quick preparations for departure and are on the water by 9:30 – our earliest morning! The wind is of concern and we want to get across the 10 mile open water run and hangdog reef before the wind becomes a major concern and the seas have a chance to build.

We make it across successfully and although it requires a slow, inefficient trudge, we’re soon safely behind the barrier islands and find a nice quiet cove for lunch. The sun has FINALLY come out in force, and I quickly become hot under all my canvas. The water temperature rises to 70 degrees and we decide that a swim/snorkel is in the cards after a quick lunch aboard.

After lunch and a swim, we make a fairly long run through Point Au Baril without a stop and arrive at the dock in Killbear by 5:00 PM. Beer is flowing at 5:01. The sun is out, the sky is blue with those puffy white clouds and scudding along on the breeze. My odometer reads 231 miles for the trip, 57 miles traveled today. I’m still not out of gas on my auxiliary tank – “toodling” along at idle greatly improves economy and all that time in Key River must be making an impact, but so far, the boat is running at 4.48 MPG on this tank…and counting.

We settle in to the marina atmosphere and decide to cook brauts in the nearby picnic area. As I rise from my chair to get the necessary items from the boat, I am startled by a mid-sized (about 3 ft long) eastern water snake which has coiled itself near Jim’s dock lines. As I get up and head to my boat, the snake quickly slid into the water and startled me. Leaving my vocal chords momentarily unattended, my body lets out a brief, uncontrolled “Whoa!” Everyone gathers around to see what the excitement is about and we are all impressed with the size of this specimen. Fat and happy on frogs and minnows, no doubt!

Later, after dinner we enjoy a slideshow of photos from the trip *so far* aboard CONTINUOUSWAVE. The Mosquitos are voracious tonight and I loan CONTINUOUSWAVE the use of one of my mosquito coils. I also light two of the coils aboard GAMBLER to get a head start. Fortunately, the temperature is dropping off and very soon, they won’t be a problem.

As usual, the wind has died off to flat calm.

Thursday 7/30/2009
Today, we’re planning to return to Killbear Marina in hopes of meeting with Don and Gail McIntyre for dinner at GILLEY’S in Snug Harbor. GILLEY’S is an excellent little local restarurant featuring excellent fish and a great view of Snug Harbor, just to the north of Killbear Provincial Park and the Parry Sound area.

We depart the dock and head into the outer harbor of Parry Sound. It isn’t long until we find a quiet spot in Blind Bay for lunch and snorkeling in the warm water.

After lunch, we proceed East to Hole-in-Wall near Wall Island, then South to Depot Harbour and inspect a aquaculture operation that is taking place in the area. Moving West again, we explore a shipwreck near the Rose Island Channel and return to Killbear via a circumnavigation of Rose Island.

My odometer reads 265 miles for the trip so far. I ran out of fuel at 234 miles (4.5 MPG) on the auxiliary tank and am now operating on the belly tank and will do so for the remainder of the trip.

For dinner, we are unable to connect with Don and Gail, so we are joined by a nice couple from Florida who are completing the Great Loop in their 25’ C-Dory TomCat. Don and Linda have been stranded at Killbear for the past two weeks after Don took a buoy on the wrong side and ripped off BOTH lower units of his twin Yamaha F100 outboards. He’s in a battle with Yamaha, his insurance company and shippers to get new units sent to the north woods of Canada. They are going stir crazy in the marina, so we offer them a ride up to Snug Harbour for the evening. They jump at the opportunity.

Soon, we’re all aboard CONTINUOUSWAVE for the 6 mile run to Snug Harbor. Snug Harbor has always had limited dock space, but this spring, they made an effort to extend the available space by adding slips. The challenge is that they didn’t have time to drive pilings at the ends of the piers, so the narrow finger piers represent quite a difficult challenge. You must ‘balance’ your way to the wharf wall. Every step sending the dock to one side or the other and threatening to throw you into the lake. My guess is that the neighbors have a scoreboard going in their kitchen counting how many boaters fall in this summer!

The wait is long at Gilley’s. As usual, the food is excellent though – and despite NOT closing down the restaurant and getting there with plenty of sunlight, we end up making the trip home to Killbear in complete darkness – as clouds have moved in to obscure the gibbous moon and stars. JimH navigates safely and surely toward Killbear, and I stand by with the spotlight to beam buoys as necessary. It isn’t too long before we’re back at the dock, saying our goodnights and crashing after a long, beautiful day of boating.

Friday, 7/31/2009
I wake at 8:30 and it has rained overnight. The sky is clearing though, and I need to get movine. I promised Don and Linda I’d run them up to Snug Harbor again this morning to exchange some books from the small lending library. They’ve been at Killbear for so long that they’ve exhausted their reading material, etc. I also loan them a few DVD’s to help them pass the time.

After Snug Harbor, the plan is to make our way to Parry Sound and then on the Penatanguishene. By 9:00, we’re on our way to Snug Harbor and the brutally challenging docks. By 9:45, we’re heading back to Killbear and by 10:45, I’ve paid my moorage, replenished some ice in the cooler and said goodbyes to Don and Linda. We’re off!

We make the run to Parry Sound on plane and cross under the Parry Island bridge on the hour. We manage to make Sans Souci and Wreck Island for lunch and a snorkel/swim. After a brief walk on the island and a nice discussion with fellow boaters at the Wreck Island day use dock, we decide that we’ll be staying at Beacon Bay Marina in Penatang. Reluctantly, we depart the dock and head south.

Beacon Bay Marina is managed by the same company that manages Bay Port Yachting Center in Midland – they do an excellent job and have great facilities. We enjoy the dock, we enjoy the facilities, and we enjoy the fellow boaters moored across from us.

At Beacon Bay, I register 341 miles on the trip odometer.

For dinner, we board GAMBLER and make a short run to the Historic Port of Penatanguishene at the Penatang Town Dock and “DOCK LUNCH” restaurant. We enjoy an after dinner walk on the dock and then a sunset cruise aboard GAMBLER to the outer harbor.

Back at the marina, we enjoy a last night drink and cigar at the marina. My odometer read 355 miles.

Saturday, 8/1/2009
The dreaded last day. It dawns bright and clear – and warm. It is shaping up to be the warmest day of the week….of COURSE we’d have to leave TODAY! We decide to delay as long as possible – partly to enjoy the last moments of vacation and partly to avoid crowded ramps on a Saturday morning….and to time our arrival at the US/Canada border at an offpeak hour.

We decide to run across the bay to Port Severn taking the Potato Island Channel and returning south and across the bay to Midland.

At 2:00 we stop at Bay Port and have a quick lunch aboard the boats and stage the trucks and trailers at the nearby ramp.

Soon, both Whalers are on the hard, being washed down and prepped for the long journey home. My trip odometer registered 384 miles for the week and I’m tan, warm and happy. To think … just a week ago I was loading the boat and launching in miserable rain!

By 3:00, we’re on the road south and back to the States…..yet another successful cruise!

Jeff posted 08-04-2009 03:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jeff  Send Email to Jeff     

Thanks for the great narrative. Which seems to have become the signature of all your trips. One day, and with a Revenge for Q and I, I will be able to be up there with you guys. I look forward to that day.

Buckda posted 08-04-2009 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Jeff -

Thanks for the comments - I look forward to that day as well. Those islands aren't going anywhere, and I certainly want to return...

home Aside posted 08-04-2009 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
Nice Narrative Dave, sure wish I could have made that one...sounds like fun was had despite the weather


jimh posted 08-05-2009 10:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave--Your narrative made me feel like I had been there with you..Good job!

We've got a collection of about 400 pictures we can show, too.

jimh posted 08-05-2009 10:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     

Photo Credit: Dave Buckalew

Imagine seven days and 380 miles of this kind of boating and scenery.

prj posted 08-06-2009 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Great narrative Dave, I love to take a trip like this through your writing.

I also like to follow along on the (Google) map, and was continually surprised by how far I had to pan the image to pick up on the next town that you traveled to. Downside is that Google doesn't have much in the way of place names and identification up in that region. I recognize the same from LOTW.

Were you able to drop a line or two on the trip? I'd imagine the pike and walleye are plentiful and musky may even be a dominant predator.

Buckda posted 08-06-2009 10:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Thanks for the comments PRJ -

I obsessed for a few days over whether or not to bring fishing gear. Ultimately, I decided not to. However, when snorkeling, I saw a few nice small mouth bass, and my depth finder "saw" lots of lake trout in the big bays sitting down at 80-90 feet of water in 100 ft. deep bottoms. Perhaps next time I'll bring some gear and at least one downrigger.

I was trying to keep the weight down and also accommodate my travel companions to not slow up the group.

I am certain that you could limit nearly every day up there on pickerel, bass and perhaps trout - if you worked at it.

...but then again, if you spent your day fishing, you'd not see much of the area - you gotta move to cover nearly 400 miles in a week.


Buckda posted 08-06-2009 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I just realized that I mentioned how terse the Canadian border agent was but neglected to recount my crossing back into the United States.

While the Canadian guys have become more strict (at least at this crossing - I usually cross at a much more rural and remote border), the US guys are also more stringent.

For example:
Crossing into Canada, my vehicle was not inspected, and only my truck license plate was captured.
Crossing back into the US, a visual inspection of the cab of my truck (roll the back windows down please, sir) and of the bed (he requested I turn off the truck, opened the bed gate and then rummaged through at least one of my coolers...THAT smell probably wasn't the most pleasant!) and he recorded both the trailer and the truck license and gave the interior of the boat a close look.

Both were professional and courteous - and I'm complaining about neither. I've found border agents at EVERY country I've been to to be professional and mostly courteous (a rare exception was a land crossing into Romania from Hungary right after the fall of communism in Romania...but that is quite different than Canada-US border crossings!). It is a testament to the overall professionalism of these guys who must have mind-numbing jobs!

Plus, I'm pretty sure my US Passport has "Overall Average Joe" encoded on it which pops up on their monitors when they scan it.


jimh posted 08-06-2009 08:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is an account of my re-entry into the US and my conversation with the Customs and Immigration Agent:

AGENT: What is your citizenship?

ME: American.

AGENT: How long were you in Canada?

ME: A week.

AGENT: Where are you coming from?

ME: Midland (Ontario)

AGENT: Midland? That's in Michigan!

ME: NO, Midland, Ontario. It's on Georgian Bay.

AGENT: Do you have anything to declare?

ME: We didn't buy anything; we have an open bottle of liquor on the boat.

AGENT: What kind of gas mileage to you get with that boat?

ME: About 3-MPG overall.

dfmcintyre posted 08-06-2009 10:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
After 911, I was among a number of state, county and local law enforcement officers that donated time working with US Customs officers at the bridge. They had been working shifts up to 80 hours a week, and were pretty burned out by the holiday season, when this effort kicked off.

I gained alot of respect and developed some closer friendships with my counterparts on the bridge. Your right, it can be mind numbing. And for a good part of the time, predicting traffic load is impossible.

Anyways, if I got an incoming Michigan or other state vehicle, and they had been out of country for a week or longer (some people drive to Toronto for an international flight), right after questioning, just before release, I'd smile and say "Welcome home".

Best - Don

Buckda posted 08-07-2009 01:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Here was my border crossing:

I pull up to the booth, Get a RED (laser?) flash in my face, then a photo is taken as I roll up to the booth. I turn on my interior lights and hand him my US Passport.

Agent: Citizenship?
Me: US
Him: Where do you Live.
Me: Hastings
Him: What was the purpose of your visit to Canada?
Me: Vacation - boating.
Him: How Long?
Me: One week - I crossed last week Saturday.
Him: What do you do in Hastings?
Me: (a little off the pace at this oddly placed question) Actually, I commute to Grand Rapids.
Him: What do you do there?
Me: Communications
Him: Did you buy anything in Canada?
Me: Food and fuel.
Him: Do you have any alcohol or tobacco?
Me: I have one remaining beer in the cooler.
Him: Can you roll down your rear window so I can see in the back?
(I Comply)
Him: Okay - turn off your vehicle please. I need to look in the back.
(I comply)
He inspects the bed of the truck, then gets my license plate, then inspects the boat and trailer license plate.
Him: What happened to your boat?
Me: Lake Erie - earlier this spring I hit a huge wave and damaged the bow area.
Him: How was the fishing.
Me: I actually didn't do any fishing up there - we just cruised and explored for the week.
Him: It's a nice boat. Look here, I just need to compare your face to the passport photo. (holds up the passport and looks at me). Oh - you shaved your beard...yep - still looks like you though.
(hands me the passport)
Have a safe drive home tonight.

Like I said - courteous but just not quite as easy as it used to be.....

jimh posted 08-07-2009 07:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave--You need more gray hair. The gray hair gets me through customs in a hurry.
dfmcintyre posted 08-07-2009 10:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
No hair works well too....

jimh posted 08-08-2009 09:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Small Craft Route goes offshore for about ten miles north of Alexander Passage to avoid very foul ground. The track runs through many shoals, and maintains a minimum depth of only about eight feet. On our northbound leg we got there in the early afternoon, in fair weather, but with a strong southwesterly blowing. The seas had developed into solid three to four-foot waves, with many larger ones mixed in. They were also quite confused from all the breaking waves on the shoals. We drudged north at reduced speed, working our way through the seas at about 10-MPH average.

In one of the lulls, I tried to get a picture of Dave's boat and the waves. The darn shutter on my digital camera has a bit of lag, so this image is not very well framed. It does give a good impression of the wave heights:

Photo: Boston Whaler OUTRAGE 18 in large waves in Georgian Bay.

jimh posted 08-08-2009 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave got this nice shot of CONTINUOUSWAVE working in the seas:

Photo: Boston Whaler REVENGE 22 in seas in Georgian Bay.
Photo Credit: Dave Buckalew

jimh posted 08-09-2009 06:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Photo: Boston Whaler boats entering HANGDOG REEF from Georgian Bay in stormy weather.

Returning from a quick 160-degree-turn around U74, about 0.75-mile offshore at HANGDOG REEF, we follow GAMBLER back in on the north side of the inlet. There is an unlighted range ahead to guide us between the rocky shoals. Those droplets on the side curtains are not from rain, but rather from spray off the waves.

mateobosch posted 08-10-2009 01:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for mateobosch  Send Email to mateobosch     

Nice postings and pictures. I look forward to joining you next summer with my new boat. It will be time to explore some new waters for sure...

If you pass though Zeeland sometime, check on the progress of my project at Bowker's.

Take care,


matthughes posted 08-12-2009 11:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for matthughes  Send Email to matthughes     
That is a great posting and it is a beautiful route. Too bad about your trip up the Key River being a disappointment. That is where I have decided to run out of this year and I must admit, I can't wait to make it to the open water when I start out. For future travels, Otter Bay on and Fox Bay (on charts 2204), while unmarked, offer some deep channels, quite anchorages and relative easy passages, not to mention excellent fishing (pickeral spawing ground) and warm water for swimming- roughly the same distance from the Key River turn off but heading in a north-westerly direction (on the marked route).



Buckda posted 08-12-2009 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Matt -

Thanks for that note - I must clarify - the Key River is beautiful. Some of the best photos of the trip are from the 'canyon' section of this river. If I were familiar with the water, and the charts were better, I believe we could have run most of the river on plane, and made the trip more enjoyable, but when your chart shows 2 feet and your depth finder shows 12 feet, it's tough to get comfortable with any kind of confidence you are in "safe water".

Regarding the marina at the highway, it is not so much a disappointment as a marina - but as a place to stay as a transient boater with canvas as a cabin. The location is RIGHT next to the highway, and having stayed in a tent along that highway several times (at several provincial parks along Lake Superior), I can say that the truck traffic noise would have been annoying for an overnight. It also didn't look equipped with showers, etc.

As far as a launching point for access to fanststic boating water, I think it is a great spot - I would have loved to explore further north (French River, etc) - but we were at the point in the week and the weather where we wanted to be at the apex of distance from the trucks...meaning in this case, as far north as we wanted to travel.

matthughes posted 08-12-2009 04:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for matthughes  Send Email to matthughes     
Dave - right on assesement of it for sure for your purposes. The weed growth especially makes it look rather daunting. In another month some of the passages are probably no more than 12 feet wide. It is amazing though to see some of the traffic that moves up and down that river. There are a couple of barges that move with 8 to 10 yards of aggregate and a Bobcat on them from time to time as well as some camp operators thave move large twin engine boats up there at a fair clip. The beauty of the river is most encouters with the bottom are ususally in the form of getting stuck rather than the type that destroys a prop or skeg.


GBayWhaler posted 08-13-2009 06:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for GBayWhaler  Send Email to GBayWhaler     
There is plenty of water in the Key River Channel, this year, anyway.

I will be able to personally confirm this about 22 hours from now.

I will be spending the weekend about a mile south of the mouth of river at a little cabin.

Having travlled the entire Bay, I believe this area to be one of the most beautiful, and rugged. You are certainly isolated, the further you get from the community in Key Harbour.

You are 15 minutes from everywhere- The Bustards, the French River fingers, a little further to The Bad River. And from Georgian Bay Fishing Camp. A rustic, yet welcoming spot with docks, cabins and kitchens.


Buckda posted 09-21-2009 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Just an update - not that I didn't expect it, but my DVD's were returned to me in the mail today. "Whiskers" the 26' Tom Cat by C-DORY was transiting the Ottawa IL on their way to the Mississippi River...

...I had JUST been thinking about it the other day - as I was relatively certain that they had returned into US Waters by now. It turns out that they were stalled in Killbear for 3 weeks and 3 days while the engines were being repaired. Quite a setback - especially since Yamaha has fairly good support in the area. That says a lot about the importance of a strong dealer network!


jimh posted 04-04-2010 10:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I finally finished my cruise narrative for this trip. See

Buckda posted 04-05-2010 10:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Hmmm...I must defend my position on that abandoned cottage at Key River. I recall telling the story of a similarly sunk boat in St. Joseph, Michigan, which I later learned was owned by a guy who WAS in jail - ironically, the county jail is situated on a hill which overlooks the river - meaning that the guy could see his sunken boat when he was 'in the yard'.

I speculated that perhaps a similar story was at play there.


I wouldn't necessarily consider it my assessment...just speculation on possible reasons for the condition of the property.

WhalerAce posted 04-06-2010 08:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for WhalerAce  Send Email to WhalerAce     
Glad to read the other perspective of the trip. Looks like you guys (and gal) had a lot of fun. Maybe one day we'll have the time and money to make the trip.

By the way, the boat that you show at Beacon Marine in Pointe Au Baril Station is a 1969 or 1970 Evinrude Rogue II. [OMC was the first there with true total vertical integration (boat, engine, trailer) and everything was top-notch quality]. And I hope that you were able to look at the front of that boat and notice the uncanny resemblance to the later model (1980's) Whaler hull!

Fair Winds!

--- WhalerAce

prj posted 04-06-2010 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Thanks for the cruise narrative Jim, yet another excellent read about the trip.

This time, I followed your travels on Google Earth, where the program still lacks place names but photographic links tend to pick them up admirably. I was able to maintain continuity much better than on Google Maps.

A couple notes:
I continue to be amazed by the amount of cottage development and marina options in this location, though I guess the proximity to Toronto, Detroit and other populated eastern locales explains the density. As you noted, the population drops off near the terminal end of you trip and it becomes a bit more like wilderness.

At Point Au Baril, I noticed photos of an interesting and abandoned Belleview Hotel. I love built relics and ruins. I also checked out some photos of Parry Sound's Ojibwe Club (if I recall correctly), a truly grand old hotel/resort.

prj posted 04-06-2010 02:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Further, as remote as that area appears to me, a quick distance check yields a modest 2 hour 30 minute trip from Toronto to Parry Sound. That is in fact the perfect trip length for a summer cottage, enabling weekend trips or simple overnighters even.

JMARTIN posted 04-09-2010 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
I enjoyed the narrative and pictures, thanks for taking the time to share them. As before, I am somewhat perplexed by your fondness of fueling facilities. A seven day trip with six visits to the fueling dock.


Buckda posted 04-12-2010 11:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
John -

Funny - I noticed that too - must be leftover from when he had that thirsty 225 carburetor motor.

I've always noticed that JimH is careful with his fuel use and tries to arrive at the ramp fairly empty for the tow home.

jimh posted 04-14-2010 11:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Once we left the dock to start the cruise, we only bought fuel four times. I don't know where you came up with six stops. And we never stopped just for fuel. We only fueled after we had arrived somewhere for another purpose. In any case, four fuel stops in seven days and 370 miles is not really excessive. I like to work on the top half of the tank, until we get to the last day.

When we got to the dock at the end of the cruise I think we showed only 2-gallons remaining on the electronic fuel gauge, so I would say the fuel management was quite good.

jimh posted 04-15-2010 12:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
One reason I don't like to top off the tank to the brim on the highway is after fueling in the U.S.A. we have to drive about 275-miles in a foreign country (Canada) to the ramp. And we have to typically sit on the down slope of the bridge for 20-minutes in stop and go traffic. I don't want to arrive at the border inspection with fuel sloshing out of the fuel tank vent. At the border we have been asked if we were bringing in any extra gasoline for the boat. I replied, "Just the gasoline in the boat tank." There may be some regulations about how much gasoline you can import into Canada in a boat's tank, and I don't want to provoke some border agent into going by the book because he sees gasoline spilling out of the vent from a full tank. As a result, when we drive across the border I usually have the tank about 5/8-FULL. This give me about 40-gallons of lower priced fuel to start. I top off with some more fuel when we get to the marina . I would have fueled up some more on the highway in Canada just before the launch ramp, but it was still raining rather hard when we got to the ramp.
Buckda posted 04-15-2010 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Yes, Jim - but I have the same technology motors and get only slightly better mileage - and I only fueled once. Had I not had the on-deck spare fuel tank, I would have fueled twice.

...but I filled both tanks "to the brim" in Michigan before crossing the border.

JMARTIN posted 04-15-2010 12:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
OK, fueled once on land which is smart, lower price, and five times on the water, some for only 10 gallons.

I guess it's my growing up in the fuel business that I treat a fuel stop like a pit stop. Fill the fuel tank all the way, fill the oil tank all the way, top off the kicker tank, reset the fuel flow to full, note the hour meter in the log just in case the fuel flow meter poops out, and dump the garbage. I will clean the windshield off also if needed and use the bathroom.

Filling the tank each time also verifies that my flow meter is still accurate.

Fuel docks that just want to sell you the fuel and oil but do not have a spot for your garbage, do not have water, do not have an oil measure and a bathroom tick me off. I also do not like to wait for extremely slow people and poor positioning of boats by dock attendants.

Wow, off subject, maybe I should start a new discussion about things that tick me off about fuel docks.


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