Rising silently over the eastern shore,
The moon illuminates the anchored ship.
When the crew awakes, they'll not be as before.
Such is the magic of this sailing trip.
Daylight replaces the darkness; the magic fades, but not completely. The sparkling water, the warm sun, the dark green forest, the slate-pink rocks, all retain their aura of ancient mysticism.
The setting seems so familiar to me that I am overwhelmed with deja vu. Have I been here before? I have a vision of this place hundreds of years ago: It looks exactly as it does today! An indian rows his canoe into the harbor. He sets up his camp on the shore. He fishes. He hunts. He makes a fire. He travels silently across the pristine wilderness.
As I look around the harbor, there are no artifacts of modern life visible, except, of course, the other boats anchored here with us. The spell is broken when I suddenly realize that the postion of Serenity has changed. The wind was up in the middle of the night, and they have dragged their anchor several hundred feet. They were lying in front of us, but now they are quite astern.
Our destination today is close by: Little Current. It is only 15 miles to the west. The weather is perfect, the sun strong and the breeze steady. After coffee and breakfast we recover our anchor and motor out of the most beautiful spot on earth. Into the Lansdowne Channel we go, following a few small bouys that mark the channel in a rare example of navigational aid.
Into Frazer Bay we sail. For the first time all week we enjoy sailing without a destination. We tack and sail around for an hour, making slow progress westward, toward Browning Cove on Heywood Island, our lunch stop.
In Browning Cove we snuggle into a little shelter on the western side and enjoy our lunch. We've separated ourselves from the other boat, which remains anchored out in the main part of the harbor in much deeper water. Again we are surrounded by beautiful woods and water. Only the occassional contrail of a high altitude jet across the sky reminds us that we are in the last decades of the twentieth century.
By radio we agree to go our separate ways after lunch, with a rendezvous set for Little Current at 3 p.m. Serenity leaves the achorage ahead of us, bound for some sailing and exploration of the waters to the west. We eventually break out of our little cove and head westward, too. Across the North Channel we sail, around the northern tip of Strawberry Island with its cute red and white lighthouse.
This early in the season there are few boats around, and radio traffic on Channel 16 is very light. We have no trouble receiving the call from Serenity , who hails us to request our assistance: they have broken down near Gibbons Point on Manitoulin. Their prop shaft has separated at the engine coupling! They are anchored, and await our arrival for a tow to Little Current.
"They broke my boat!" Ray moans. He really likes Serenity better than Voyager II. "First they broke this boat, now they break that one! Let's go get them," he mutters. Off we go in search of our companions.
Serenity's black spars are easy to spot, and we soon arrive to lend them a hand. A towing bridle is fashioned and we take them in tow to Little Current where Boiles Marine will look into the problem. When we finally arrive, there is more to it than first glance has revealed.
During the storm on Monday, the violent motion on the boat must have combined with enormous torgue on the prop shaft to break loose one of the motor mounting brackets from the hull laminate. As a result, the motor has been running badly mis-aligned to the prop-shaft, and the strain has finally parted the shaft coupling just behind the transmission case. Serenity will need some new braces and reinforcement of the hull-to-motor-mount fiberglass bonding. The mechanic at Boiles is pretty handy, and he accomplishes the repair, but the boat is out of commission for a day or so while the new resin-fiberglass bond strengthens.
We take Voyager II on to Spider Bay Marina, just west and around the bend, where we will end our trip. We spend the rest of the afternoon washing up the boat, and organizing our gear. We'll depart first thing tomorrow for the return trip via the Chi-Cheemaun ferry at South Baymouth.
The warmth of summer has crept even this far north now, as we enjoy the longest day of year on Manitoulin Island. For dinner we re-join our mates at The Shaftsbury Inn, a local steak house. With a pocket full of unspent Canadian cash, in an uncharacteristically extravegant gesture, I buy everybody (eleven of us) a round of drinks. I have had such a grand time on this trip I don't want it to end. I wish I could continue on for another week or two, exploring this wonderful region that has taken us seven days to reach.
After dinner we prowl the town and docks and sample Hawberry Ice Cream from the Farquahar Dairy. Back to the boat we wend, unaccustomed to the firm footing of land under our feet. Finally, the sun slowly lowers to the north and west, and our trip to Manitoulin concludes with a beautiful night under the stars and full moon. The 1986 Transfer Trip is over, but my voyaging has just begun.
Copyright © 1995, 1996 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
Page Last modified: October 19, 1996