Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Trips and Rendezvous
  North Channel August 2012

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   North Channel August 2012
jimh posted 08-19-2012 02:33 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Here is a very quick account of a week-long cruise around the North Channel of Lake Huron we took in August of 2012 in the company of five other boats. I will give a more detailed account later in the SAIL LOGS section of the website.

North Channel 2012

Day One, Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weather fair

Beverly Hills to Detour Village Marina by highway, about 330-miles
Launch boat at ramp adjacent to marina, park trailer in private lot.
Slip 87 in Detour Marina. No local boating.
Dinner with fleet crews in THE MAINSAIL restaurant in the village. Very good whitefish for $16.

Day Two, Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weather cloudy with some sun then fair
Wind West Northwest 20 to 30

Departing Detour at 10 a.m. with small craft warnings and deteriorating skies. We hope to run downwind to Gore Bay. After two hours at sea in rapidly building waves we abort to Meldrum Bay. Waves were more than six-feet in height and we saw many eight-footers.

Meldrum Bay Harbour has just refurbished the floating docks. The new docks are excellent for small boats, and we are protected behind a new monster stone breakwall that makes out about 300-feet into the bay. We are in calm winds and waves now.

By late afternoon the breeze is really strong at the docks and the boats are surging a bit. Too much wind for a camp stove cook out. We all go to dinner at THE MELDRUM BAY INN. More whitefish for us ($19) but the whitefish fish-n-chips ($17 ) look even better.

Day Three, Monday, August 6, 2012

Weather fair
Wind Southwest 20

Departing Meldrum Bay 10 a.m. with fresh breeze from the Southwest. We run down to Clapperton Island Harbour and anchor for lunch and a swim. Then on to Little Current, with a big detour to Bear's Back Island and Bedford Island on the way, looking for possible overnight anchorages. Too much wind in both places. We end up at E-dock in Little Current. We share slip E2 with HOLLY MARIE.

On the dock we conduct a evening-long gam and dinner. A fresh never-frozen Lake Trout is prepared by Kathy Hart--she caught it, too--and it feeds all 12 in the group.

Added fuel at Wally's Gas Dock. We find out that Wally passed away 20 years ago and the guy we always thought was Wally is really Rob.

Day Four, Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Weather cloudy becoming sunny
Wind West 10
Departing Little Current just prior to the 11 a.m. bridge opening. We hung around to let the overcast weather blow out and do some grocery shopping. Just as we enter Baie Fine the sun comes out. We have a beautiful cruise to THE POOL.

We spend the day and evening at anchor in THE POOL. An expeditionary force of five hikes to TOPAZ LAKE via dingy to shore. Five boats raft for dinner, which is cooked on various boat grills and served with appetizers passed around. For the night we split into two separate rafts to ease any confusion should the anchor drag. Winds overnight are calm. The sky was clear. Star gazing was excellent. CAPELLA twinkles red-green low in the Northeast.

Day Five, Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Weather fair with some clouds
Wind East 10

Departing THE POOL at 10 a.m.. It took 40-minutes to recover the anchor and get all the weeds off the anchor and rode. We proceed to Little Current for a pit stop. We need ice, beer, some groceries, and flush toilets. The gas dock is too busy to refuel this morning.

Departing Little Current at 12:30 p.m., we proceed West to South Benjamin Island's South Harbor. We raft for lunch, a swim, and exploring ashore. A wind shift about 3:30 p.m. breaks up the raft and the lunch stop. We depart for Little Detroit, taking a tour of the Benjamins and making a nifty exit via a narrow unmarked passage to the West.

Through Little Detroit we turn North and visit Spanish River. We stay at the municipal marina. Dinner is another cook-out on the docks.

Added small amount of fuel to ensure tomorrow's long run.

Day Six, Thursday, August 9, 2012

Weather fair, some clouds
Wind Northeast 20

Departing Spanish River at 10 a.m., we motor slowly toward the Whalesback Channel, enjoying the scenery. We stop in Long Point Cove (not named on chart) around 1 p.m. for lunch and exploring by dingy.

A big gust of wind breaks out the anchor on the raft of six boats, and we depart Long Point Cove about 2:30 p.m. With a strong tail wind from the Northeast, we run along the coast to Thessalon, arriving about 5 p.m.

At Thessalon we have another group dinner cook-out, but this time at the boater's lounge inside due to the high winds.

Day Seven, Friday, August 10, 2102

Weather cloudy
Wind Northeast 20 to 25

Departing Thessalon at 10 a.m. with strong NE winds for 15-mile run across the North Channel to Drummond Island. We re-enter USA at Drummond Island Yacht Basin. We take on more fuel, as we are undecided about the next stop.

Fleet anchors in Island Harbor refuge area for lunch. We are anchored in only three feet of water with 100-feet of rode, but the wind is so strong it again blows out the single anchor. Six boats were too much in this wind for one anchor. We depart for Lime Island, a Michigan State Park on the shipping channel in the St. Mary's River, about 15-miles West.

Arriving Lime Island at 4 p.m. there is just enough dock space for our five boats. (One has gone to Detour Village Marina for the night.) We have another collective dinner, this time on shore on a picnic table and with a bonfire.


Day Eight, Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weather cloudy with rain threatening
Wind North 15 to 20

Departing Lime Island at 10 a.m. for Detour Village launch ramp. We load the boat and get on the trailer for the drive home. We are on the highway by 2:10 p.m., and we are home by 9 p.m.


Miles by water = 312.7 miles
Fuel used = 112.6 gallons
Average fuel burn = 2.78-MPG

Excluding the intentionally short last leg, the average day's travel was 50.5-miles. The longest leg was 70.6-miles to Little Current from Meldrum Bay. The shortest leg was 24.8-miles to THE POOL from Little Current.

The weather was generally fair. We had some rain overnight once or twice, and an evening sprinkle, otherwise no siginificant rain.

tmann45 posted 08-19-2012 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for tmann45  Send Email to tmann45     
When you leave De Tour do you head northeast and run north of Drummond Island or head south and run south of the island?
jimh posted 08-20-2012 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
We left Detour to the North and passed North of Drummond Island. That made our passage in open water to be directly downwind. On a calm day you could go the other route, passing South of Drummond Island and coming up around the West end of Manitoulin Island through the Mississagi Straight.
Buckda posted 08-20-2012 09:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
In my limited experience in the area, the false DeTour Passage and Mississagi straight can have brutal conditions due to the current flowing through the area. I've had one nice trip up False DeTour Passage...and three awful ones. The only time I ran up the Mississagi Straight, I think I loosened a filling.

It's easy to armchair quarterback from my desk at home, but I'm curious if any of the captains mentioned the option to take the Northern Route up to Thessalon/Blind River, etc. to avoid the open channel?

jimh posted 08-21-2012 08:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
One of the crew from the two big sailboats that came in to Meldrum Bay the same day we did--I don't recall if it was the 60-footer or the 50-footer--told me they took the Southern route and they thought it was a mistake. As they were telling me this they that look in their eyes like they had just seen the Almighty in person.
dfmcintyre posted 08-21-2012 09:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Jim / Dave -

Pretty much our experience, however crossing westbound from Gore Bay to Drummond, both straits were barely noted by Gail.

Although two memories really stick:

As a family, we went by Surburban to the Mississagi Strait lighthouse, on the eastern shore up on the rocks. It's at the very extreme western end of the island. And we watched what looked to be a 40+ sailboat going _maybe_ 5kts in waves coming in all directions that looked 5+ foot plus. Not a fun trip.

The other trip was exactly the opposite; we left Cheyboygan, MI and ran across the northern half of the lake in oil smooth conditions. Autopilot on in the Revenge. Asked Gail if she wanted to chance Mississagi and she said sure. Oil smooth up the straight and all the way to Porcupine.

Not to be repeated....

Regards - Don

jimh posted 11-13-2012 09:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have my longer narrative with 80 photographs now published at

This should be good for a bit of vicarious boating this winter.

Buckda posted 11-13-2012 08:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Awesome. Been through it twice now.

Interesting to note: twin engine rig docks bow out most of the time....single engine rigs almost always dock bow in. Including at Thesallon, where there was a strong breeze blowing right into the cockpits. A maneuverability thing?

jimh posted 11-13-2012 11:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Docking at Little Current was probably the most difficult due to the current running through the docks. I docked stern-in there because it seemed easier.

I think in a couple of cases the docking order just happened to put HOLLY MARIE on the outside of the pier, making stern-in an option.

Glad you liked the narrative. I put a lot of detail into the information.

6992WHALER posted 11-13-2012 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
Meldrum Bay the HOLLY MARIE is bow out to take up less room on the dock. Needed to prove to the dock girl we would fit on the dock. I probably would have gone bow out even if I had more room.

Thessalon we are bow out because of the wind. I don't know why no one else went in stern first.

The twin engine maneuvering docking is the space we ended up in at Little current. They did not have a slip open for us on the same dock with the rest of the fleet. But I convinced the dock guy I could fit on the gangway behind Jim's boat. One spring line and those twins and we did a little parallel parking. I don't remember if Jim was already docked when we came in. I am pretty sure it is a repressed memory caused by the fear of hitting CONTINOUSWAVE.

K Albus posted 11-13-2012 11:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I always docked bow-in during the trip just because it was easier. Even with all of the wind we experienced, I never had a problem with waves slapping on the hull or with the canvas rattling. I slept like a baby every night. of course, I made generous use of spring lines at just about every stop.

I did have a little problem with the wind on the very last day, when I returned to the launch ramp at Detour Village. I misread the wind and came in on the wrong side of the courtesy dock. Hal was on the courtesy dock to help secure me, and I had lines tied to my cleats. The lines, however, were in a jumbled mess and I was not able to get my stern line to Hal quickly enough. The back end of my boat ended up swinging out parallel to the dock, and my skeg just kissed some rocks on the far side of the narrow launch area. When I got the boat out of the water and inspected it, there wasn't even a scratch on the skeg. No harm, no foul, other than a little embarrassment at a novice-looking approach to the dock.

Jim and I took my boat for a ride in Lake St. Clair a couple of weeks later and removed a good bit of paint from my skeg, again with no damage to the metal. So my boat now has that used boat feel, and I can relax a little bit in shallow water and while docking.

jimh posted 11-14-2012 08:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If there are going to be little wavelets, we like to dock stern to the wind to cut out the hull slap. At Thessalon I was expecting to have some wind out of the Northeast, but I don't think the overnight breeze was very strong.

I suspect that Thessalon gets its name from the Greek Thessaly or Thessalonica, a particular region of Greece. I don't think there is another place name "Thessalon" but perhaps this name was inferred from Thessalonian as used in the Bible chapter Thessalonians.

I never got very far off the dock at Thessalon, just over to the bathhouse and to the marina office, where I had a conversation with the harbormaster, who was a pleasant fellow. Chris borrowed a bicycle and rode to town twice to do a bit of shopping. The Trans-Canada Highway--all two lanes of it--runs past Thessalon, and I have driven by without stopping probably 20 times.

Going East from Thessalon along the coast there was not much to see or explore and no good harbors until you got to Blind River. This stretch of the coastline seems particularly undeveloped. I don't recall seeing any cottages, inlets, docks, or even any sort of industrial site on that coastline. Just miles of woods and shoreline. Some of the beaches look sandy, which typically means they are not very well protected from waves. Sand usually comes from waves pounding ashore for a few millennia. Even the main highway avoids this coast. Hwy-17 turns inland in the area, getting as far as five miles from the coast.

When I was coming into Thessalon it was my first visit there. On the chart plotter I could see that I needed to make about a 90-degree turn from my course (of 290-degrees-True) on approaching the harbor to get onto the actual harbor entrance. I make a hard right turn, but I did not get all the way to 90-degrees. I stopped at about a 65-degree turn, and before me was a very obvious river mouth and entrance. I became locked onto this river mouth, and I was looking intently for the range markers that were supposed to guide me in, all the while maintaining a heading of about 355-degrees-True. I got into a tunnel vision situation, disparately looking head ahead for the range lights (which are on 022.5-degrees-True). Fortunately someone called on the radio to tell me the harbor was a bit farther to my right. If I had looked just a bit to the right I would have seen the very prominent range lights guiding into the real harbor. The river mouth I was approaching was a shallow sand bar and probably would have been a real disaster if I had carried on another 100-yards in that direction. To whomever it was that hailed me on the radio I now say "Thanks."

I was going too fast when I made that turn and was approaching too fast for entering a harbor that I had never been to before. It is very prudent to come in slowly if you don't know the local conditions. What should be done in preparation is to note the course line for the range, and when I turned I should have turned onto that course per my compass.

jimh posted 11-14-2012 08:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Speaking of range lights, the front range light for the Thessalon harbor entrance is right on the break wall of the marina. The rear range light is on a hill on the shore behind, about 1,700-feet distant. Once dark, the power of the lamp in the rear range light became apparent. The beam was very focused and threw a green glow over the marina but only in a very narrow band precisely inline with the front range light. On the East side of the finger pier LITTLE ZEPHYR was bathed in green light from the rear range light, and 25-feet away on the West side of the finger pier it was dark. It was also quite amazing to me how bright the range light was. In the dark when you walked into that beam it was very bright.
jimh posted 11-14-2012 12:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Thessalon approach problem got me investigating a few things this morning. I looked at my chart plotter to see what it had to offer about the range. The electronic chart shows a violet line that indicates the range, but there is no notation of the heading. I dug out my official Canadian chart--well, actually a reprint of it in the Richardson's Chart Book I bought 25 years ago--and the range is clearly shown on the paper chart, and it is noted as having a bearing of 022-1/2-degrees from seaward.

Having the bearing for the range presented on the electronic chart would have been very useful. When I made my turn I could have relied on my compass to show me when I came around to the heading for the range. Magnetic variation up there is about 7-degrees-West, and the compass bearing for the range should be about 030-degrees. But I did not look at the paper chart as I was approaching. I was just using my electronic chart plotter, which, sadly, I have become too reliant upon. Instead of turning onto a heading of 030-Compass, I just made my turn--what I though was a 90-degree turn--and looked up for the range.

Once I saw the river mouth, I figured it was the harbor entrance. I stopped looking at the chart plotter. If I had just looked down at the chart plotter I would have seen my track heading in the wrong direction. But I didn't look at it. I became focused on finding the range ahead of me that I mistakenly though would guide me into this natural opening of the river. I continued to approach the river mouth and kept hunting for the range lights. It was only the call on the radio that interrupted my navigational stupor.

ASIDE: I probably have the official chart for Thessalon somewhere. I have a pile of charts for the North Channel. I used to bring them with me all the time when sailing up there, and I used the official charts as my primary navigation information source. I kept the Richardson's Chart Booklet as a back-up, in case one of the official charts were lost. Richardson's Chart Booklet is not printed in multiple ink colors, and their charts are very hard to read compared to the actual official charts. And in the old edition of Richardson's that I have it is even worse. That edition is printed in only two colors of ink. Later editions added a third ink color and are a little easier to read, but still not as clear as the official charts. The Richardson charts are broken up into panels and are very hard to maintain orientation because you can't see the whole charted area at once; you only see panels of the chart. However, despite all the drawbacks, the Richardson Chart Booklet is useful. It provides a lot of charts at an attractive price, and the spiral binding makes for a compact organization and storage of the charts.

Now I tend to leave the official charts at home and only bring the RIchardson's as a back up for my electronic charts. But I always carry the official charts for the small craft series 220x charts. These are truly beautiful and detailed charts and you can't duplicate their presentation electronically very well.

I typically have three sets of electronic charts: one built into the chart plotter from the Lowrance Insight cartography, but this omits much of Canada; a second set of electronic charts for the chart plotter on a memory chip from Navionics, which is generally excellent digital cartography and covers all of the Canadian regions in the North Channel, and a third set of electronic charts on my laptop.

For the laptop I have purchased the official Canadian digital charts for some portions of the area we are cruising. The official digital charts are $75 per segment, and I have the segment for roughly Chart 2207 and East to all of Georgian Bay. However, I do not have the official Canadian digital charts for the North Channel West of the 2207 Chart. That's where Thessalon's chart would be.

The price of $75 per segment is not a bad deal, as each segment typically has about ten charts that are probably at least $20-per-chart, so you save some costs.

I really do not use the laptop charts for navigation while underway. The display of the laptop is just not very visible in direct sunlight, and I don't have a good set up for the laptop on the boat. I don't have a mount or holder and I don't have a good 12-Volt power source for it. (It is a MacBook Pro and running a MacBook Pro from 12-Volt power is a very weird problem, too complex to get into here.) So even if I had the official Canadian electronic chart for Thessalon, it is unlikely I would have had access to it as I approached the harbor.

What good is having the official electronic charts for the laptop if I don't or can't use them underway? I use them for trip planning on the laptop. It is much easier for me to make waypoints or routes on the laptop using the official charts than it would be to accomplish the same thing on the chart plotter.

K Albus posted 11-14-2012 01:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Here's screen grab of the Thessalon area from the Navionics PC app: jpg

While Jim headed for the river mouth, I followed a route which I had programmed into my chartplotter. I basically skirted the red buoys and headed straight for the marina, without giving much thought to the range. The waters approaching Thessalon are wide-open and deep enough that the range isn't all that critical for a shallow-draft power boat running in daylight.

Hoosier posted 11-14-2012 02:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
The first time into Thessalon can be a bit tricky because the marina is at the very end of the bay. The rocks on the east side of the channel need to be given a wide berth. As an aside, Totally Blowed came into Thessalon the hard way, he came into the channel to the commercial dock and then, realizing his error, headed west through the rocks in front of the Anchorage symbol. The harbormaster is very vigilant and tried to warn him away from that approach, he didn't hear the call and came through. The harbormaster told me he'd never seen anyone do that in a sailboat. The next day his luck ran out, Totally Blowed ran aground approaching Drummond Island Yacht Haven.
6992WHALER posted 11-14-2012 05:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
I only had a way point set for the tip of Thessalon peninsula.

Holly had the paper charts (Richardson) in her hand and she told me that Jim was off course. We had dropped in behind Jim. On the paper chart the range and the marina were very obvious.

Holly checks our location on the paper charts (GPS lat/lon) many time on the trip. And almost always holds a chart when we are coming into a marina or skinny water.

On a side note, when we decided to go to Meldrum Bay, the paper charts were in the cabin and I did not have a way point set for Meldrum Bay. Trying to read the chart plotter in the seas we were in was very hard, but I knew Kevin was in the bay so I sent a DSC position request to OUTLIER, and instantly I had a way point on my chart plotter. That sure was a simple way to find a safe harbor.

jimh posted 11-14-2012 05:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I added an image that shows my track (above).

The approach problem is interesting in that the mistake compounded. When I first turned for the range, the range was only slightly off my dead-ahead course. I was on 355 and the range was 022. The range was only 27-degrees off my dead-ahead line of sight. You would think you'd see it. (But I should note that the range front light was one-mile away, and that is perhaps too far to see the range marker with ease. The natural mouth of the river was closer, and it grabbed my attention.)

The farther I went ahead on 355, the more the range moved away from my field of vision. By the time someone hailed me on the radio, the range front light was then bearing about 045, or about 50-degrees off my dead ahead. The farther I went on the wrong course the harder the true course was to see.

I learned from this situation. Well, I always say, I learn something new every time I go boating. What this situation showed me:

--don't come in so fast to new harbors

--figure out the compass bearing for the range before you get there

--if something does not look right, don't keep going ahead on that course

--if you see your buddy standing on into danger, call him on the radio

--(corollary to above) keep your radio on in case someone is calling you trying to tell you that you're standing on into danger

--alternative to radio--give an alert on the ship's whistle

jimh posted 11-15-2012 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have found an interesting document from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) that presents a technical analysis of the design of range lights and ranges in general:

jimh posted 11-15-2012 10:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I found a description of the Thessalon range lights in the Canadian Coast Guard list of lights for the St. Josepth Channel at pdf

The defintions are given in ifronte2009.pdf

In the listing for the Thessalon Range Lights the distance they are visible is listed as "16" which I believe means 16-nautical miles. I assume that this measurement is assuming the viewer has sufficient height above the sea surface to see 16 miles. That is a very powerful light to be seen at 16-nautical-miles during daylight!

K Albus posted 11-15-2012 10:22 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
There isn't 16 miles of open water from which to view the range. Drummond Island is only approximately 11.5 miles away in that direction.
jimh posted 11-15-2012 11:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Kevin--that is an astute observation. Maybe "16" means 16-kilometers. I re-read the introductory publication three times trying to figure out the units for "RANGE" but could only infer nautical miles from the definition.
David Pendleton posted 11-15-2012 10:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Thanks, Jim. Your narrative made an otherwise crappy day a lot more enjoyable.

It was also nice to finally see pictures of OUTLIER.

I'm really bummed I missed this trip.

Mambo Minnow posted 11-23-2012 10:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Another very nice cruise narrative with pictures JimH.

You always have very detailed log data with your narratives. I have never had the opportunity to do a one week cruise with my Whaler, but something I would like to do more in the future.

Being a professional logistician, I am curious about supplies and logistical planning. How many coolers of food and water do you bring for the grill and how do you make it all fit on a small boat and not spoil over the week? Our Whalers don't really have a full galley in the 20-24 foot range.

Any modifications to the berthing? Do you add additional cushions to the OEM ones in the berth? We have a pretty good setup of camping gear from our kids' Boy and Girl Scout adventures. I would imagine quite a bit of it would come in handy. It looks like most of you have camper canvas for the cockpit area. Did some of you use air mattresses out on deck?

Very envious. The closest I came to such an adventure was the Only In America 25th anniversary cruise from Norfolk to Boston two years ago.

Thanks for giving me something to dream about over winter!

dfmcintyre posted 11-23-2012 11:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
A number of members have very creative ways of storage, etc when traveling on our boats. Here's a few of mine:

I'm a side sleeper, so we use an added layer of dense foam under the normal cushion set.

Gail spends quite a bit of time drying some food basics in one of those multi-layered food dryers. She packs two coolers, one dry and warm, one cold. We buy dry ice and place it under a layer of 1/4" plywood. Will last for just about a week in the standard Igloo cooler. Winter months are used for recipe, uh... exploration.

If your a salad eater, try this (even at works great): Salad in a Mason jar. Pour in your favorite dressing first, about 1/2". Then chopped up "stuff" you like. We use chopped celery, carrots, tomatoes, red/green peppers, garbanzo beans, etc., with a sprinkling of grated cheese (or fake soy cheese). Finally pack in your chopped greens. We like head lettuce. When ready to eat, shake and open. Here's the interesting part; this method will keep it fresh, i.e. no browning of the lettuce for over a week.

We've upgraded from a one burner white gas stove (used in our Montauk) to a Coleman two burner gas canister. She says she could switch back to a one burner with minimal problems.

Clothes? One duffel each. Reading material? we've switched to a Kindle.

And your right, camper canvas, either factory or custom rigged is important.

Regards - Don

K Albus posted 11-23-2012 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Mambo - Planning and logistics are half of the fun with these trips. We begin planning them as much as six months in advance. Everything from route planning to boat packing gets discussed, sometimes ad naseum. It's a great way to kill boating down-time during the winter.
Buckda posted 11-23-2012 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Mambo -

How you outfit the boat will depend on where you are planning to go. For instance, in Georgian Bay and much of the North Channel, you COULD re-provision the coolers and even wash your clothes every other day. Most marinas that see frequent transient traffic feature laundromat facilities or have them nearby, and most of the small communities in that area have some kind of grocery store...and there are some great little places to eat up there. As the trip progresses, you can adapt your plans and provisions accordingly.

If you plan a more remote cruising destination like Isle Royale or Lake Nipigon, cooler management and other provisioning become more important - and as Kevin mentioned, the discussions about such things in advance of the trip can become quite extensive, lengthy and detailed.

Bottom line, with a little foresight, planning and some tips from guys who have done it before, you can very easily do one of these trips in a smaller Whaler - including a Montauk, and, as I did in 2003, even a small 15' Whaler.

The more you do it, the more you will specially adapt your boat to your cruising needs. For instance, on my 18, I rigged an on-deck auxilliary fuel tank and plumbed it into the main fuel system, providing me with additional range in remote locations where access to fuel was limited.

I also like to pack my clothes in dry bags - been doing this since I took the trip in the 15. Dry bags on a small boat can be clipped to the bow rail and flipped outboard when at anchor or the dock to free up valuable deck space and your gear will stay dry. JimH likes to pack his clothes in a it's up to you!

I typically use a Rubbermaid 30 gallon tote for my dry goods - cereal, bread, etc. A second tote holds my dishes, utensils, etc, and serves as a dishwater container when I need to clean up. I like to use plastic utensils, and dirty "dishes" are stored in a sealed, 1 gallon ziploc bag with the air squeezed out of it and I do my best to "compact" my garbage stores in a third tote with some other items that don't mind being located next to a garbage bag.

My coolers work as follows: 1 is only opened once per day, usually in the morning. I remove what I will need for the day and put it in the other cooler, which also has my drinks, etc in it. That cooler is opened multiple times each day, and is the one that usually needs a mid- or late-week addition of ice.

I like to save various plastic containers which I later fill with ice and freeze. I've found that gallon size milk jugs are great for keeping ice most of the week, but lousy for "filling out" the empty space in a cooler. I use 20 oz softdrink bottles, 1/2 gallon milk jugs, those large V-8 or Apple Juice containers, etc. I've found that Listerine mouthwash (the large, broad and flat ones) are great for laying on their side and "topping out" a cooler with ice.

Anything you want to stay frozen should be packed in a water tight container and placed in the bottom of your cooler.

Good canvas is a must. After several seasons in my 18' Outrage with full Mills canvas, I went on a trip in 2010 with my "new to me" 25' Outrage with less than adequate canvas and was miserable - cold, wet or cold and wet - for the second part of the trip when the weather went south.

$1,500 in canvas is better (but not a replacement for) than very expensive foulies. RE: Foulies - West Marine Third Reef makes a good product - it's what I'm currently using, as does Helly Hansen and others...check with what SAILORS are wearing on this gear. In a pinch, the Cabela's Guidewear is also comfortable and warm, and not inexpensive either - expect to spend at least $300 for a good set of bibbs and a jacket.

One thing is for certain, outfitting the boat for a trip like this really puts on the pounds - so make sure your tow rig is up to the task...and this is why I like to recommend max HP on the transom. Example: my 18' Outrage and trailer, fully outfitted for a week of camping and fishing, rolled across the scales at a "certified" 4,300 lbs. I haven't had the courage to weigh my 25 when it's fully loaded...I'm afraid it might lead to the purchase of a bigger tow vehicle...

jimh posted 11-23-2012 10:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
On the North Channel 2012 trip it was easy to buy provisions as we went along. We were in a marina most nights, except when at The Pool and Lime Island. For a trip like this we take all the food we will eat for breakfast and lunch with us. We take a few things to grill for dinner.

Breakfast is simple: drip coffee and cereal. We boil water in a small electric kettle. If we are not at a dock we can make coffee with a small propane boiler, a JET-BOIL.

Lunch will be a sandwich from cold-cuts and cheese. We usually have lunch while at anchor somewhere. We also bring some snacks in case we have to eat lunch while underway. Some trail mix or a snack bar are good in case you have to eat while you are at the wheel.

Dinner will be ashore in a restaurant, or something cooked on a grill, either at the dock or on the boat. Sometimes you can catch dinner, but lately we have not put any effort into fishing. We keep it simple: steak, sausages, hot dogs, or hamburgers.

On our boat we manage the clothing with three containers. I put all my stuff into a small cooler that stays on deck. Chris packs two soft-sided bags: a cold weather bag and a warm weather bag. When underway the bags are in the cabin, and at night the bags are on deck while we sleep in the cabin. If the weather is good the cold weather bag is never opened.

We usually have only one food cooler. We freeze water in large plastic containers for the ice to start the trip. As the ice melts, we use it for drinking water. We usually have to buy ice at the marine about the third or fourth day. The cooler holds the beer, the cold cuts, and any dinner stuff.

In spite of the simple methods, the cruise is very fun. The berths in a Revenge are very comfortable. We have a foam layer we put over the cushions. It is encased in a cotton cover--that's the bottom sheet. We sleep under a down comforter in a cotton cover--that's the top sheet. We have a couple of extra blankets in case of very cold weather.

About the sixth day, if the weather has not been good, you can start to look forward to you own bed.

Mambo Minnow posted 11-24-2012 02:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Thanks for the detailed answers to the logistical questions. I have most of the necessary equipment, except for a gas powered grill and electric coffee pot. Those would make good holiday gifts.

The last picture of the Nissan Pathfinder and the Walkaround 21 interest me. If not mistaken, I believe this was the family that came from South Dakota, which is a bit of a drive to tow.

I am looking at the brand new 2013 Pathfinder which is rated for 5000 lbs towing. It has an innovative CVT transmission would level load towing. I really need a tow vehicle with three row seating for six for my large family. The growing teens need more leg room now and frankly I would like better mileage since my tow vehicle does double duty as an daily driver.

I hope the mechanical difficulties at haul out were not difficult. Would a Pathfinder tow a 21 foot Whaler buddy sufficiently?

I estimate my boat/motor/trailer package somewhere between 5,000-6000 lbs.

Mambo Minnow posted 11-24-2012 02:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
My bad - David and Walkabout are from Michigan. Still, it appears about a 300 mile trip to the launch point, so that is still some long distance towing experience. Michigan is a big state!
Buckda posted 11-24-2012 03:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
David and Kathy are from Northeast Indiana, and store the boat at a summer home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's about a 20 mile tow or less from their home to DeTour, however, I do believe that Dave and Kathy towed that boat from Vermont to Michigan's Upper Peninsula behind that vehicle.
Teak Oil posted 11-25-2012 12:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil     
Good narrative and write up, Jim. It helps to plan a trip like this with such detailed accounts.

Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.