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Author Topic:   Cruise Report--Georgian Bay Small Craft Route
jimh posted 08-07-2001 09:18 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
We are just returned from a 9-day cruise in eastern Georgian Bay along the well-marked Small Craft Route. I will be preparing one of my [usual] lengthy trip narratives [See below for link to full report], but I am so excited about this cruise that I have to post this brief report about it immediately.

The Small Craft Route in Georgian Bay is the most perfect place for boating in a trailerable boat that you can imagine. We put about 500 miles under the keel of the Whaler 20-Revenge WT, almost all in protected inshore passages among the rocks and inlets. There are only two or three spots along the route which require making passage in the open water of Georgian Bay. The longest of these offshore hops is about 25 miles. Another requires about a 10 mile run between inlets. The rest of the trip is in very sheltered water.

This year the lake water levels were very low, just an inch or so above Chart Datum, which made the controlling depth on the route about 5-feet. Probably because of the low water, we encountered very few larger boats making the passage. In some stretches wihout local cottages we had the waterway to ourselves.

We made the journey in hops of about 70 miles each day, generally taking some side trips to explore inlets along the route. We began from Midland, Ontario, and went as far as Killarney, where we stayed for three nights, then returned along the same route.

We slept aboard our Whaler, but depended on the marinas where we stayed each night for bathroom facilities. We prepared breakfast aboard, using the marina electricity to make coffee, and generally had lunch underway, although we did find a few eating establishments along the route that could not be passed by and we stopped for a shore lunch.

Dinners were in restaurants, either a short walk or a short boat trip away, and I can say without reservation that I have never eaten so many consecutive good meals in restaurants. They were all excellent!

The scenery along the route is wonderful. In the extreme NE part of the route the landscape is still exactly as seen by Champlain when first navigated in 1615.

It is interesting to note that although we were abroad (in Canada), the most common small boat seen along the route was the Boston Whaler. We encountered dozens of 13-foot and 15-foot Whalers, and we also saw plenty of 16/17-foot hulls, too.

We also saw quite a number of newer Whalers of the smaller Dauntless lines. We even encountered a 24-Outrage with twin engines; that was the largest Whaler we saw.

Many sections of the route are "cottage country" and consists of thousands of small islands with cottages. Access to these homes is only via water. I think this accounts for the extraordinary high representation of Whalers, as in this area you need a boat with a great deal of utility.

The arrival of our small flotilla of Whalers often elicited visits from other Whaler owners who would come out on the dock to say hello and talk boats.

Gas prices were in the $2/gallon range, but good fuel was plentiful and never a problem.

Other expenses were very modest and made even more so by the favorable currency exchange ($1.00 US = $1.50 Canadian).

The weather was extremely cooperative, with only one brief rain, and that at night.

Making the trip is a navigation challenge, as it is quite easy to get lost among the rocks and islands, 99% of which are undeveloped and unmarked. But if you pay careful attention you will find the Canadian government has done a wonderful job of marking the route with both daymarks (on rocks) and floating aids, and their charts are excellent. We bought the official "strip charts", which consist of four booklets that have as many as five long accordian-folded sheets. These are in four-color (Black, Red, Blue, Brown) and are very easy to read. The booklets range in price from $20 to $45 (U.S), but they are worth it.

We made the cruise in the delightful company of three other whalers, LHG and LCG aboard WHALE LURE, and Jim Gibson aboard MEMORY.

If you are within trailerable range of this waterway, you should plan on making this trip yourself. It is a wonderful boating experience in a Whaler.


Georgian Bay Boater posted 08-07-2001 09:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
Sounds like you had a great trip, you should have stopped by when you were in Pointe au Baril.

Looking forward to your trip details.

Orca posted 08-07-2001 11:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for Orca  Send Email to Orca     
It was one the finest places we have ever cruised. Our boat is too small for sleeping but we had no difficulty with shore arrangements. Smaller boats can go as well. Your enthuisasim brings back many memories. Dave
lhg posted 08-07-2001 02:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
GBB: While stopped at the Ojibway Club we asked several Whaler owners if they were you, or knew you, or where you were located. We thought you were somewhere around Port Au Baril, but no luck. Sorry we missed you. That is one of the most beautiful sections on the Bay.
Georgian Bay Boater posted 08-07-2001 02:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
I'm sorry I missed you, when were you in the area ? If you were going north from the club you would have passed the channel leading out to my island. I am about 5 min from the club on an outer island. Did you stay in the area ?
Any plans to cruise it again as I did not notice any trip plans in this forum ?
lhg posted 08-07-2001 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
We stopped at Ojibway last Monday afternoon, and then again last Friday afternoon on the way back. Docked at Killbear Marina both on way up and back. Also spent nights in Britt and Killarney.
jimh posted 08-07-2001 08:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Sorry we missed you, G.B. Boater, but I am certain we will make this trip--or a segment of it--again, probably next year.

I think it was too long a time period (9-days), and too long a hike (500 miles) to turn it into a Rendezvous-style event. But we certainly could (and should) organize something around a long weekend.

Our timing was good, too, as we had very light highway traffic on the way home, while the northbound lanes were clogged with cars and people arriving for Canada's August holiday weekend.

I used to think the North Channel was the place to go, but having seen Georgian Bay I have a new favorite. I'd go back next weekend, if I had the time available!


bdb posted 08-13-2001 08:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for bdb  Send Email to bdb     
Thanks for the report, Jim. I'm looking forward to the unabridged volume.

But...why didn't you guys ask me along? I would have behaved.

A downcast Harpoon Harry

kingfish posted 08-14-2001 04:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
I just wanted to take a quick opportunity to say hi to the Georgian Bay Small Craft Route Voyageurs. I wish I could have been along, and I'm sorry I wasn't "home" when you stopped by - I would have been more than amazed to have seen you guys up there, and I really appreciate your efforts in trying to cross paths. You met my cousin Frank, (one page article on him and his Grady inside the back cover of the August issue of Motorboating Magazine), and he and his wife Sue both said they enjoyed chatting with you.

GGB and HH - I hope we can put something together again in the North Channel or the Georgian Bay or both one of these days; I'd enjoy meeting you both, (and I'll stick my neck out and say that I'm pretty sure you'd enjoy meeting the rest of the crew, too).

A gang of folks who enjoy their Whalers and cruising with them more would be hard to find, as would be a nicer bunch of people, whatever their interests.


Georgian Bay Boater posted 08-15-2001 09:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     

As I try to strech the boating season as long as possible, there is always the opportunity to do an extended weekend cruise before the beginning of Oct. this year.
See link below for a idea for a trip.

All the best,


Tsuriki BW posted 08-15-2001 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tsuriki BW  Send Email to Tsuriki BW     
Thanks for the report Jim. Great reading.


Dick posted 08-15-2001 09:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     

That sounds like it was the perfect trip. Makes me wish that I wasn't to far across the US to experience it.

Pictures please.


jimh posted 12-05-2001 01:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Now four months after the cruise, I have finally finished the narrative of the trip. This is a rather long cruise report; it runs over 50 pages if you print it out. I think you will find it interesting.

Unfortunately, I am just starting to work on the illustrations and photographs. If you are a picture-oriented viewer then perhaps better for you to wait for the final version with all the photographs.

If you are a reader, I think you will find the cruise notes to be a fairly good read on their own, and they will definitely give you a feel for the adventure and fun we had.

I have over one-hundred-fifty photos. Mine are already scanned by the lab at high resolution to CD, but my CD drive has died! I am planning on a new one from Santa Claus.

I had several rolls of my photos marred with a sticking shutter when shooting at really fast exposures with telephoto lenses (darn 25-year-old NIKON that's been banging around boats all its life) but I was fortunate to get many, many wonderful shots from my cruising companions, Jim Gibson and LHG.

Unfortnately I have to scan those myself from the prints (not the negs) so it will take me a while to finish this.

Rather than have this article be two years old before anyone reads it, I thought I might offer it as-is, without photos, for your fall cruising reading enjoyment.

The full text version is available:

Georgian Bay Cruise 2001


jimh posted 12-05-2001 01:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Need one more post to get this right...]
Georgian Bay Boater posted 12-05-2001 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
Good Morning Jim,

I have been looking forward to this narration for some time, I just printed it out and it should make for some very interesting reading at the cottage this weekend.

With this unseasonably warm weather, Georgian Bay is still " Whalerable " for the next week and possible maybe even Christmas. I think a red ribbon on the bow would be a nice touch as I pull out of the marina.

Thanks in advance.


Blackeagle posted 12-05-2001 01:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Blackeagle  Send Email to Blackeagle     
Great writing Jim! I enjoy reading all your 'sail' logs and this one sounds like it was a really fun trip. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures that go with it (bummer about the dead CD drive and sticky shutter).

Your writing definitely makes me want to visit Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Hopefully, I'll get a chance someday.

Buckda posted 12-07-2001 03:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
As always, a fantastic read. I couldn't put it down (almost missed my bus stop on the way home last night)! I can't wait to see photos when you get them up.

I have a couple questions that perhaps you can cover, Jimh (or LHG):

1)Can you do an introduction to GPS for those of us who don't use it regularly?
2)Where is the best place to get navigation charts/and an introduction to reading navigation charts - and who makes the "best" (meaning most updated-reliable) charts?

Perhaps I've opened up a can of worms...but the sail logs really lit a fire under my butt - I'm definitely going to make it to the NC and GB in the next 5 years (who can miss the opportunity?)...and so I better get hopping on knowing my stuff.

Thanks - and thanks again for such a great site JimH!

Eagleman posted 12-11-2001 12:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Eagleman  Send Email to Eagleman     
Thanks for the great narrative of your boat trip. Thirty years ago I cruised the same area and through your travel narration I was able to relive my travel experiences. We currently have a 1984 22' O/R with all the Mills canvas for over nighting. I told LHG this past summer while boating in Door County that we plan on going with the group next time a North Channel trip is planned. Anxious to see the pictures. Really enjoy the website. Thanks for all your effort.
lhg posted 12-11-2001 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
Russ and Paula - We'll be counting on your joining us next summer! We may be able to talk "caddis" into this also. I'll keep you posted on plans as they develop. The pictures and scenery will greatly enhance Jim's excellent article. Having been there with him, I still can't figure out how he found time to record and remember all of the information!
jimh posted 03-10-2002 08:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
UPDATE: Sunday, March 10th, 2002.

I have been trying to get the illustrations and photographs done for the Georgian Bay 2001 Cruise Narrative, but it has been one big problem after another.

First, I discovered that my trustly old NIKON SLR had developed some light leakage, probably from banging around boats for all these years. This resulted in many of my pictures having very strange exposures and light contamination in them. Of course, I did not find this out until after I had them professionally developed at the Kodak lab and scanned from the negatives at HiRes onto CD-ROM. I was able to salvage some pictures by cropping and retouching, but many were spoiled (and they were all great shots, of course!).

Next, the CD-ROM drive on my workstation died, and it took me a while to find the one I had in the closet and get it cabled into my SCSI external buss. That finally got me going on doing the pictures. I started a couple of weeks ago.

It took some time to tweak them in Photoshop, working around all the weird splotches on the film, etc. About 6-7 days into the trip the film just gave up and I ran out of shots that could be used.

Next, I was greatly helped by the contribution of duplicate sets of the photos taken by my cruising mates, Larry Goltz and Jim Gibson. They gave me prints, giving me many wonderful shots (especially those of my own boat which are hard to take by yourself) but I had to scan them to digital images by hand on my trusty old UMAX-1220-S. That takes some time.

To make things interesting, when Larry got his film processed the place he used managed to mess up the negative strips by letting them dry together, which spoiled some of the images. More retouching for me in Photoshop.

Jim Gibson came through with many fine shots, although he was using a shorter lens than Larry and I and many of his photos needed some cropping.

Well, to make this long story come to and end (almost), I spent almost the whole weekend doing nothing but scanning, retouching, re-sizing, tweaking, uploading, etc. (and of course writing all the HTML to wrap around the images), and I have about 40 shots available now to go with the narrative.

I also broke the narrative up into nine segments, one for each day of the cruise, to make it easier to read and (most important) easier for me to edit and work on. (I actually started on this several weeks ago, but it is coming along...)

If you are still with me after all this, I can say that I have the segments for days 2-3-4 pretty much done and you are welcome to read and look at them. The other days still need some work, but there are a few pictures in there already.

Using three sources for the photographs, taken with three cameras, three photographers, three kinds of film, three different labs, three different kinds of paper, and two different scanners (the professional Labs and mine), has produced quite a range of colorimetry, composition, and exposure. I have tried to correct for all of this, but before it becomes a life-work, I thought I would just give up and put it up there for people to see.

Besides, all these problems with the pictures gives me a good reason to go back and take them all over again!

OK, here is DAY TWO :

You can start at DAY ONE, if you have not read it before, but there are not many pictures in that long intro:

Enjoy--with the lousy winter-like weather we had this weekend (snow and 45-MPH winds), a little reading about summer cruising is probably good for what ails you.


Blackeagle posted 03-10-2002 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Blackeagle  Send Email to Blackeagle     
Great looking pics! That they came out this well despite all the technical problems is certanly a testament to jimh's hard work and photoshop skills (and the skill of Jim Gibson and Larry Goltz to take many of them in the first place) .

It's hard to think of anything more beautiful than three classic whalers in such spectacular scenery.

Georgian Bay Boater posted 03-10-2002 10:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Georgian Bay Boater  Send Email to Georgian Bay Boater     
Thanks for adding the spectacular photos, this is exactly what I needed after a long winter (hoping that spring is just around the corner, but it sure does not feel like it today).
Now if you are not satisfied with the photos and you need to do the trip again (what a terrible thought !) you are more than welcome to tie up at our dock.



jimh posted 03-17-2002 02:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am very pleased to announce that the "sail-log" of our Georgian Bay cruise last summer is finally done!

I think you will really enjoy reading the narrative and seeing the pictures. There are also several chart excerpts that may be of interest to people curious about the navigation.

I'll leave this alone for a while, as I have three other great trips from last year that deserve some write-up, too.

If you like charts, take a look at this sidebar article:


Arch Autenreith posted 03-17-2002 05:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Arch Autenreith  Send Email to Arch Autenreith     
Nice trip and writting as usual, Jim.

Just got home from Church and read the whole narrative start to finish.

Sure would like an invite if you do it (or a version of it) again this year.

I have been wanting to join a Rendezvous for some time but am always torn as to what one I would do. I was leaning towards the one developing on or near Long Island but was also thinking of the one Swellmonster was starting. I could plan that on my way to Ft. Myers again.

Now I read this and here I am again not knowing which one(s) to do. I guess a lot will depend on timing.

Happy St. Pats day everyone.

Arch O'Autenreith

Blackeagle posted 03-18-2002 06:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Blackeagle  Send Email to Blackeagle     
I like the additional pictures you added, especially the bear. Nice detective work on the Shoal Narrows pic BTW.
djahncke posted 03-18-2002 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for djahncke  Send Email to djahncke     

Great narrative. Reading it brought back many memories of the summers I spent as a kid cruising those waters with my family.

It was the summer of 1968 in Georgian Bay when I first rode in a whaler. It was a 17' standard that a family friend towed behind his Roamer. My father was impressed enough that he bought a used Nausset from Don Thompsons Sport Haus that fall. That was a very long winter for a teenage boy waiting for spring to get that beautiful boat wet.

For the next five summers we towed that Nausset behind our Matthews every place we went. It opened up many new opportunities and vistas at every port of call. But none so spectacular as the many explorations it took us on in Georgian Bay.

Thanks for bringing back all those wonderful memories.


Eagleman posted 03-19-2002 02:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Eagleman  Send Email to Eagleman     
WOW! No need to boat in Georgian Bay after reading your narrative. While reading it I felt as if I was there with all the other WHaler folk.Having boated in that area almost 30 years ago it seemed like only yesterday. Great job and thanks for taking the time to share the experience with us.

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