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1986 Transfer Trip

Day Six: Tobermory to Snug Harbour

Thursday, June 19, 1986. Aboard Voyager II

A natural range for safe passage through the Cape Hurd Channel is formed by Doctor Island and Flowerpot Island. Steer a course so as to keep Doctor Island centered in front of Flowerpot Island. This is known as "putting the doctor on the pot."

Cruising was made for days like this. Reluctantly, we bid farewell to Tobermory, where we have spent two nights and a wonderful day. It has been the salvation of the trip for me. When I arrived, I was on the verge of abandoning the rest of the cruise. Now, I feel great again, and I can't wait to resume our trek northward.

Northward we go, leaving early, as we again have a long haul in front of us. We weave our way through the many islands surrounding Tobermory, until we're out into Georgian Bay. It's a miniature Great Lake by itself.

We are in the lee of Cove Island and others, and we find the winds favorable and the waves very small. It's the other boat's turn to lead, so we don't have to pay close attention to the navigation. With the breeze from the southwest, we are sailing downwind again, and we need a boost from the engine to keep our speed above five knots.

For lunch, we take a quick side trip to the NE tip of Fitzwilliam Island and investigate Rattlesnake Harbour. We don't have time to stop, but it is great fun to take a quick spin around the anchorage. We'll get back there someday, for sure.

Now we turn more northward again, broad reaching up the eastern shore of Manitoulin Island itself, our ultimate destination.

The wind is light and we're motorsailing. At least this boat's engine is not as loud as that diesel. But we are sailors at heart so we set up the spinnaker rigging, and give it a try.

It launches beautifully, a giant red kite that adds enough power to allow us to shut the engine off. We grab the air horn and TOOT at Serenity ahead of us, prompting them to look back and see our beautiful red sail. They wave their approval.

The added speed draws the apparent wind forward so far that the darn 'chute won't stay filled. We try to get Ray, at the helm, to fall off a bit so we can keep the sail flying, but he's not budging off the rhumb line course. The chute collapses; the engine comes back on. Ray is a power-boater at heart, we all conclude.

Up the coast of Manitoulin we motor. Past James Bay. Past Cape Smith. Around the end of Badgeley Island. Across the Lansdowne Channel. Then finally, we enter Snug Harbour, our first North-Channel anchorage. It's early in the afternoon by our standards, and for once, we aren't dead tired.

There are no restaurants in Snug Harbour, so we are forced to cook aboard. We have stocked up in Tobermory. A case of Brador beer, an especially potent Canadian brew with almost twice the alcohol content of American beer, has been "smuggled" aboard. Dave carefully secures six bottles in netting and lowers them into the rather chilly water. This anchorage is one of the deepest around, with almost thirty feet to the bottom. In a few minutes the beer comes up nice and cold and ready to drink.

We have been towing our little dingy for over two hundred miles, but we haven't needed it until now. One or two at a time, we board the tippy little boat and row around the anchorage. Besides Serenity and Voyager, there is only one other boat in the harbor, a beautiful Baba cruiser about thirty-five feet long. Chris and Bob row over and get invited aboard for a tour.

The idea of a swim is brought up and discussed. The water is very cold. One or two of us change into swimsuits, but we get only as far as the last step on the boarding ladder. Even our high-as-the-sky enthusiam, the urging of the rest of the crew, and a few beers can't overcome the natural aversion of the would-be swimmers to the extremely chilly water.

The invisible flame of the alcohol stove slowly brings a pot of lake water to boil. We cook some spaghetti noodles and warm some bottled sauce. Adding fresh bread from Tobermory and a salad, and we have dinner. Our appetites stimulated by the fresh air and our palettes enhanced by our excitement, the simple meal is transformed to a culinary delight.

We are almost at the solstice, and daylight lingers until 10 p.m. We start a game of Hearts in the cabin. Finally the sun sets, and it is replaced by the full moon. It rises over the tree-lined shore of Snug Harbour, casting a silver light across the water. The clear sky is filled with stars, and two bright planets, Mars and Jupiter. Voyager lies still to her single anchor.

It has been a perfect day.

Continues with Day Seven: Snug Harbour to Little Current.

Copyright © 1995, 1996 by James W. Hebert. All rights reserved.
Page Last modified: May 25, 1998