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North Channel Cruises 1990

  Crew..........Jim, Chris
  Duration......7 days
  Dates.........July 7-15, 1990
  Destinations..Bell Cove, S. Benajamin Island,
                Croker Island, Little Current

(The portions in typewriter font are reproduced verbatim from a contemporaneous log kept during the trip; the remainder is written from memory.)

First Week

Aboard are Chris and Jim

Saturday, July 7, 1990

Little Current to Bell Cove (10 nm)

It takes about two hours to drive from Algoma Mills, where again we've enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Chris's Aunt Lolly, to the swing bridge leading to Little Current on Manitoulin. So we should leave by 9 a.m. if we want to arrive prior to the 11 a.m. opening of the bridge for boat traffic. Of course, we are a little late and find the bridge open when we arrive, necessitating a brief interruption in our vacation progress. The bridge opening and closing takes about 15 minutes and creates a fair-sized back up of cars waiting to cross over to the island.

Once on Manitoulin, we find our chartered boat, Serenity, berthed at Spider Bay Marina, the previous users having already left as we agreed. After the usual chaos of moving aboard, we get ready for sailing. Two new hooks for our money are the $35 yearly Canadian fishing license and an annual parking/ramp permit at the marina which costs $35, too. This saves us a few bucks because they want $3/night for cars left at the marina parking lot, and we'll be leaving the car for 14 nights this year.

Little Current. Spider Bay Marina

3688.5 hrs @ Hobbs meter
(I always write this down at the start, but forget to record
the number at the end of the cruise!)

Rough Starting diesel.

1415 Start and warm up diesel. Wx fair. Winds E 10/15

1440 Abeam J60 at Little Current

1506 Wx Soo St.Marie Marine Radio:
	Winds light E becoming SE 20-25.
Marine Forecast/Environmental
11 a.m. 7 July to 11 a.m. Sunday for Lake Huron North:
12300 12310 1326 19949 13336 19949.
Winds SE 10 becoming 15 this afternoon and increasing to S 20-25
overnight. Fair, Tonight scattered showers.

Our destination is Bell Cove, in the shelter of Neptune Island. We motor and sail towards it, giving ourselves a scare when we round the buoy at the southeast end of the Wabuno Channel. There the depth sounder goes from 150 to 9 feet! A crash head-up leads us to deeper water, and then later we wonder if it was perhaps just an air bubble. Once around the end of Great LaCloche we have a little trouble picking out Bell Cove. Every quarter mile there is an inlet, some leading to small bays and others just tiny small dips in the shoreline. But, finally, we pick one as being the opening to Bell Cove, and we slowly venture in. Once inside we see the two small islets that confirm it as the place that we think we are! Here the government's old, large scale chart doesn't show much detail, but we have the Great Lakes Cruising Club's information, and with it we are able to pick our way around a few rocks awash and into 10 feet of good anchorage in the extreme NW end of the cove.

1700 Anchored in Bell Cove in 14 feet.

1800 We are moving due to wind shift to the South 15-20
Dinner tonight:
	Marinated Chicken on the Grill
	Baked Potatoes
	Plenty of Labatts Blue

At this end of Neptune Island a group of cottages has been built, and their generator roar breaks the otherwise quiet of this beautiful harbor. Fortunately, it seems to only run on demand, and after the cottagers cook dinner electrically, the generator noise ceases.

Sunday, July 8, 1990

Bell Cove Second day

0805 Wx broadcast. Lake Huron and North Channel:
Winds SE 10 becoming SW 15. Small Craft Warning due to Thunderstorms.
Showers and scattered thunderstorms this afternoon.

The day starts out nicely, but deteriorates into rain and overcast. In what will set the tone for this week of cruising, we decide that we'll just stay here and enjoy our surroundings. Some morning fishing brings us no fish, but contact with the fellow from the cottage. He gives us some tips on the best spots, and he should know: his family has owned Neptune Island since the 1930's and he has fished here for 40 years. He also offers us some minnows, as the smallmouth in this area "won't hit on anything else!" Before we can put this new bait and knowledge to use, rain drives us into the cabin for the afternoon. At the end of the rain the fish are biting and we hook into three big smallmouth bass.

2000 It has rained all day. It finally let up about 5 p.m.
We tried fishing this morning and got caught in a shower.
The cottager greeted us with a pail of minnows. He's from
Battle Creek and his family has owned Neptune Island for 60
years. He's been fishing here for 40 years. He told us the
hot spot. We fished between the Islands. First Chris boated
a big smallmouth. Then I got one. Both on minnows. Then I
got one on a Mepps Spinner with white bucktail. Got it up to
the dingy and it broke the line. Then Chris hooked a fourth
fish, which I ended up boating. He was really hooked, the
barb practically down his gullet. So we kept him and
released the other two. He made a terrific dinner, along
with some hashbrowns and salad. We proudly told the cottager
that we turned his six minnows into five fish. (I had one on
this morning and lost him.) All were smallmouth bass. Too
bad this overcast is hiding a beautiful full moon from us!

Weather roundup: Temps.		
        Port Severn   Perry Sound     Snug Harbour
AIR     19 (66F)        18              21 (70F)
WATER   21 (70F)        21              17 (63F)

JA2 at Shingle Island is missing.

Forecast at 7:37 p.m. EDT.
Lake Huron for Kincardine to Sarnia.
Winds S 15/20 gusting 30. Veering to SW. Scattered
Showers and Thunderstorms.

Nearshore at 3:20 p.m. for now until midnight. North Channel:
Small craft warnings. Winds W 15-20 becoming NW.
Showers ending this evening. Outlook: Winds NW 10-15 and

Monday, July 9, 1990

Bell Cove to South Benjamin Island (10 nm)

Wiarton Coast Guard Radio on Channel 21B Continuous Broadcast.
Marine Forecast for Great Lakes July 9th.
12610 19613 15710 Waves 1 meter

Decodes to: Winds W 15 becoming NW. Mist dissapaiting in the morning. Fair.
Synopsis: A NE to SW trough and wind shift line, pressure 29.90 ("two nine
decimal nine zero") over eastern Lake Erie and western Lake
Ontario, moving to lie south of the lower lakes by 11 a.m. EDT.
An E-W ridge, pressure 30.00, moving NE to lie over
western Lake Superior by Monday afternoon.

Near Shore Marine Forecast:
Killarney to Tobermory NW 10-15 Mist a.m. Fair
Tobermory to Kincardine W 10-15 becoming NW Mist a.m. Fair
North Channel W to NW 10-15 becoming NW by morning FOG in the a.m. becoming Fair.
Wave 1/2 to 1 meter.

Ship's Observations at 1200 Winds:NW 8 Air:17° Water:18° (C)

Notice to Mariners: Chart 2202 Sheet 1, MH5 green spar missing

LORAN Chain 8970-Y Baudette will be unuseable 1400-1559 July
11. Lonely Island JA2 spar on NE Shingle missing

Water Level 0.47 meter above datum

Notice #2266,-Regatta of 65 boats on Lake Huron...

The wind is against us as we try to tack our way westward up the North Channel's North Channel towards the Benjamins. After about two hours of VMG 2.0 knots, we turn the engine on and slam and bam into some big rollers until we reach South Benjamin Island Harbour.

This day brings us to a discussion of the need for our ideal boat to be able to sail to windward. With the wind and waves against us today, Serenity can only sail about 60 degrees to the wind. That makes our progress very slow. We also hit upon the idea of sailing south of Amendroz Island, staying in its lee, and then taking a more favorable tack between it and Clapperton. Here we'd also be in the lee of Clapperton and when we finally hit the open seas, they'd be beam seas instead of head on!

Tuesday, July 10, 1990

South Benjamin Island - a second day (0 nm)

North Channel Weather: WInds W 10-15 becoming variable this
afternoon and then NW 10 tonight. Fair.

0820 Skipper of HAT TRICK asks if we have a spare battery. I
disassemble SERENITY to get to the battery compartment.

0830 Loan the #2 12 V battery to HAT TRICK, a 36 foot
Carver that had drained all her batteries. She has electric
head, frig., windlass. etc. Owner was running on "both".
Advised him to run on 1 or 2 only.

0850 The borrowed battery is returned. no worse for wear.
The owner raised his arms in triumph when his engines
gurgled to life.

0900 Back to routine vacation - cruising! Chris is reading
trigonometry. I am reading LeCarré. The silence is broken by
the gurgle of HAT TRICK's engines charging her batteries.

(Later) Rowed to Entrance Rocks at East Side. What a view!
But too rough and wet in the dingy to take the camcorder.

Lake Levels:  Superior 0.07 below datum; Huron 0.49 above

2100 UTC (Weather Forecast)
Lake Superior West 16900 19200
Lake Superior East and Lake Huron North and Georgian Bay
14710 14900 19800
(Decoded to Winds NW 10-15 becoming N 10 in a.m.)
A stationary ridge, pressure 30.12, lies in Western
Lake Superior.

From Environment Canada: North Channel: Winds NW 10-15
Gusting 20 this afternoon. Fair. Waves 1/2 meter.
Wednesday: Variable winds becoming N-NW 10-15. Fair.

NITRO a Freedom 30 from Port Huron with Jim and Susie aboard
is anchored next to us. They envite us aboard for a drink.
The bought the boat from Toledo Beach Marina. They were
caught in a big wind on Sunday heading East from Gore Bay.
We were anchored in Bell Cove at that time.

We've had enough of sailing and just relax aboard for a vacation day at the cottage.

Wednesday, July 11, 1990

South Benjamin Island to Croker Island (2 nm)

SW10-15 becoming N, Fair. A HIGH, central pressure 30.18,
over Western Lake Superior remaining nearly stationary
during the forecast period.

Nearshore Marine Forecast at 7 a.m. Wednesday July 11th:
Lake Huron: NE 10 becoming 15 by afternoon; fair.
North Channel: Light becoming N 10-15;fiar Waves 1/2 to 1 meter.

We power up and motor to nearby Croker Island, staying in the south harbour. An overnight wind and storm makes things interesting, but we hold our ground and can go back to sleep without having to re-anchor, although several boats do drag and have to re-set their hooks in the dark.

Thursday, July 12, 1990

Croker Island - a second day (0 nm)

MAFOR for Lake Huron: 11120 14130 13110

Superior: NE15 becoming variable; fair
Huron: NE 20-30 decreasing to 15; fair
HIGH, central pressure 30.40 over southern Manitoba
moving to lie Western Lake Superior at 11 pm then remaining stationary

NC  NE 10-15 and fair.

Croker's charm keeps us here for a second day.

Friday, July 13, 1990

Croker Island to Spider Bay Marina (15 nm)

A windless day, and a gentle motor of the twentyfive miles back to Little Current.

Final Hobbs time: 3699.1

That means we motored for: 10.6 hours this trip.

Saturday, July 14, 1990

Spider Bay Marina to Birmingham. MI via ferry (275 m)

Even with the Nindawayma running at normal capacity, we just miss her 11:00 a.m. departure and have to wait for the 1:20 p.m. Chi-Cheemaun sailing.

A Second Week Cruising

  Vessel........Voyager III
  Crew..........Jim, Chris, Jay, C.C.
  Duration......7 days
  Dates.........August 18-26, 1990
  Destinations..La Cloche Island, N. Croker Island,
                Oak Bay, Gore Bay, S. Benjamin Island, 
                Bell Cove, Little Current

Saturday, August 18, 1990

Algoma Mills, Ontario to Little Current by car (150 m)
Little Current to NW Point Cove, Great La Cloche Island (5 nm)

This day begins with an early morning dive to recover the glasses lost overboard on Friday's fishing adventure on Lake Luzon. Then the Voyager III crew embarks on a rainy and windy day for another visit to Bell Cove. But this time very strong Northeasterlies change our mind and while heading up the Wabuno, thinking it might be a good move to just head all the way to Croker, we see a number of boats at anchor in an unnamed cove at the NW point of Great LaCloche Island. Heading in we carry plenty of water and anchor in nice shelter.

Hobbs Time at start    1383.5
Hobbs Time at anchor   1385.1 
Distance 5.2 nm

Anchored in 18-feet in the unamed cove south
of Northeast Point of Great LaClouche Island.  Entered on a
CC of 050. No rocks or shoals sighted. Dinner was great
hamburgers, Pasta Salad. Fishing tug also taking refuge
here. He anchored very close ashore, out of all wind.

Sunday, August 19, 1990

NW Point Cove, Great La Cloche Island to Croker Island, North harbor (8 nm)

The NE wind is still blowing and we ride it downwind in a hurry to the beautiful north harbor of Croker Island.

Monday, August 20, 1990

Croker Island, North harbor to Oak Bay (10 nm)

After a delightful day and morning, we depart Croker and motor carefully over to Oak Bay and Hotham Island. After trying to anchor in some weedy shallows, we end up tied to two trees.

Tuesday, August 21, 1990

Oak Bay to Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island (22 nm)

The sailing urge strikes us, and we reach for several beautiful hours across to Gore Bay. The perch fishing is hot there and we land twenty or more!

Wednesday, August 22, 1990

Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island to South Bejanim Island (20 nm)

On departing the harbor, the throttle handle breaks. We have to return to buy a new fastener for it at the marina store. We always seem to make two exits from Gore Bay! Not much wind after the morning breeze dies and we arrive in South Benjamin Island Harbour.

Thursday, August 23, 1990

South Benjamin Island to Bell Cove (10 nm)

The easterly breeze has returned, but now we're heading east. But by mid afternoon it hauls just enough south to let us carry some long tacks on our way back to Bell Cove. Fishing was not productive this day.

Friday, August 24, 1990

Bell Cove to Spider Bay Marina, Manitoulin Island (10 nm)

Once out of the lee of Bedford Island, we hit a new record 7.9 knots close-hauled, main with one reef and Genoa furled to about 90%. The heel loosens everything in the cabin that has been collecting on shelves and drawer tops for a few days and sends it flying across the cabin with each tack. Little Current is just a few miles away.

Saturday, August 25, 1990

Little Current, Manitoulin Island to South Baymouth (32 m)
South Baymouth to Tobermory via ferry Tobermory to Birmingham (284 m)

Turning our wonderful Voyager III over to a slightly nervous new captain, we head for the ferry driving two cars (ours and theirs). We even both make the 11:00 a.m. loading aboard the Nindawayma. It is our first trip on this "little sister".

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Copyright © 1996 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
Page Last modified: June 19, 1996