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Author Topic:   Tobermory 2014
jimh posted 07-29-2014 01:50 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
We arrived at Tobermory, Ontario, a wonderful little town on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, on Monday, July 21, 2014 and left on Friday, July 25, 2014.

When we arrived on Monday, about 5:30 p.m., we stopped for some gas for the truck--we came in with just a few gallons left in the truck's tank and I wanted to get enough gas so we could leave later in the week and not get trapped without enough gasoline to get back to civilization. I think there is only one filling station in town. It can get busy when the ferry traffic arrives. The little filling station has a big parking area. After we got some gasoline, I pulled the truck away from the pumps, and parked. We did all the boat preparation at the gas station. When we got to the ramp all we had to do was literally back down the ramp, let the boat come off the trailer, and we would be ready to go.

When we got to the ramp, it was empty. I backed down the ramp. The ramp slope is very good and there is deep water there. The boat came off the trailer with just a push, and I pulled the trailer up the ramp. Just as I get back to the boat to start the engine, a fellow comes up to the ramp, in quite an excited state.

"There is a 27-foot boat coming in. He has no engine. He can't steer. He has no control. You've got to clear the ramp," he says. I think he is either a friend of the disabled boat's owner, or just a good samaritan, trying to help. I am not sure, but he's not part of the marina staff. I also don't quite know what he expects me to do about having had the ill-fortune to have just launched my boat at the ramp when he wants to declare it an emergency crash site.

"Well," I tell him, "I will be glad to clear the ramp as soon as I can. But it is going to take me a minute or two."

Chris and I warped the boat with lines around the courtesy dock to the other side, away from the ramp. Now the ramp is clear. I look up to see a 25-foot sterndrive bloat-boat cruiser being towed toward the ramp by some little dingy with an outboard. Fortunately, they don't collide with CONTINUOUSWAVE, and manage to get to the ramp side of the courtesy dock. I didn't actually see all of this, as I drove off to park the trailer.

We must have had the ramp tied up for all of five minutes. It seems like there is always a lot of drama at a boat launch ramp.

We motored away and went to the fuel dock to go to the harbourmaster's office to get our slip. Then we moved to the slip. Then we walked back to use the bathroom. It's about 45 minutes later and the disabled boat is still at the ramp. The guy is still trying to get his boat to load on his trailer.

The high winds on Tuesday and Wednesday kept a lot of boats pinned in the harbor. On Thursday it cleared out, a bit. The harbor was always full by evening. On Monday we had to raft off a commercial boat for our dockage. Tuesday through Thursday we got to tie to the dock, but to the commercial dock, not the yacht dock. But it was a nice spot, very well protected. Late arriving recreational boats had to raft off commercial boats that were in for the night--no other room in the harbor.

The wind blew 30-knots from the North on Tuesday night--the sailboat rigging in the harbor was singing with that breeze. We had our stern to the wind at the dock so the hull slap was minimal, and mostly slept through it.

Wednesday morning the wind continued at 20-knots from the North, and Georgian Bay had a three-to-four-foot swell rolling down into Tobermory. No tour boats left all morning. The first ones departed about 2 p.m. We stayed in the harbor until late afternoon, when the wind finally blew out and the seas started to decrease.

On Friday we had a lazy morning, and we were planning to take a short boat ride and then go to the ramp, haul out, and drive home. We pulled away from the dock about 10:30 a.m.

I said to Chris, "If the ramp is clear, let's go right over there now, instead of taking a boat ride."

The ramp was clear, we tied up at the courtesy dock, and I walked up the hill to get my truck and trailer. We loaded the boat without any problems. I pulled the trailer up the ramp, and stopped, just to check the boat on the trailer to see if it was properly centered and sitting correctly. I looked up to see a truck and trailer waiting to pull into the ramp area. Our boat was fine, so we pulled out of the ramp area. As we drove up the street, two more trailered boats came around the corner. It was a good thing we went right to the ramp. Three boats in line to launch at Tobermory can mean an hour wait, as a lot of these guys are rather slow-pokes when it comes to boat launching. We had seen a couple of guys spend an hour at the ramp launching and getting their old two-stroke engines to fire up. Thank goodness we got there first.

We pulled into the paved parking lot behind the Canadian Legion, and prepped the boat for the highway. Got on the road by 11:45 a.m. There was no Southbound traffic at all, as we were ahead of the arrival of the ferry from the island. Northbound traffic coming to Tobermory was an endless and relentless stream of cars, campers, RV's, and trailered boats. I was very glad we were leaving the harbor, as I am sure it was about to be overrun with (even more) tourists and more trailered boats at the ramp all weekend. I think that is the only ramp in town.

Customs and Immigration

We approached Sarnia about 5:45 p.m. Friday, which I was afraid would be bad timing for the border traffic. However, they even have a NEXUS lane now for the toll booths, so we were able to drive right up to the bridge without delay. There was no delay on the bridge, either. At the USA Immigration and Customs, there was a long line for NEXUS. Apparently more people are getting wise to NEXUS. I think we could have moved through the border check faster in the non-NEXUS lane. This was the first time I have ever seen a line of cars for NEXUS.

They even had two NEXUS lanes open. One was NEXUS-only, and a second was NEXUS or Enhanced Driver's LIcense (with RF ID). It only took ten minutes to get through.

Tobermory Eateries

We tried several restaurants. Monday night Chris got us take-out from Craigie's Fish-N-Chips. It was mediocre. And expensive: $25 for one order of fish-n-chips and one side order of one-piece fish. Do not believe their sign, which says "Best Fish-n-Chip" and something about being in business for 50-years. They won't make it another year with the fish they served us.

On Tuesday we went (by car) around to the North shore of Big Tub to the Big Tub Bar. I had a burger and fries. Very decent for a Canadian hamburger. Good view of the harbor. It was cold, windy, and raining, so we ate indoors, but they do have a nice patio.

On Wednesday we went to the Grandview Inn for some fine dining. Entrees start at $28. We ate outdoors overlooking the outer harbor. The food was very good. We ordered whitefish. Whitefish is such a bland fish, it is hard to get too excited about broiled whitefish, but it was cooked just right, and served with various garnishes. The side dishes were very good. We also had calamari appetizer, and gorged on the delicious freshly baked scones.

On Thursday we finally got back to our favorite, The FIsh Place, for some take-out fish-n-chips and fish-tacos. Not only is it better fish, and you get more fish, and more fries, it is also less expensive than Craigie's. The place was packed.


There was a lot of wind. It was not very warm. On Thursday it was a nice sunny day. We got back to the harbor at 1 p.m. after taking our three guests (family who were staying ashore in Tobermory) for a circumnavigation of Cove Island and lunch at anchor in Boat Passage cove. They wanted to depart by highway before too late in the afternoon. After we said our farewells, we relaxed on the boat. Normally we would avoid sitting on the boat in the harbor at 2 p.m. because it would be stifling hot. It was actually cold. The air temp was in the low 60's and there was a 15-knot breeze. We sat in our fleece jackets and read. It was hard to believe it was the last week of July.

We did not do any swimming or snorkeling. I think I could have tolerated the 65-degree water for a few minutes, if it were really hot weather. But we never had really hot weather.

Flowerpot Island, Beachy Cove

We explored Beachy Cove on Flowerpot. I got some local knowledge from one of the Blue Heron tour boat captains. The water level of lake Huron was about 0.5-meter above datum. We could reach the camper dock in Beachy Cove with about 4-feet of water. Favor the breakwall side when entering. Watch out for shoal in the middle of the harbor. Do not go directly to the camper dock from the breakwall, due to the shoal. Take a circular approach from the breakwall, counter clockwise to the camper dock. Watch for rocks.


This time of the year Tobermory is packed, and don't go there on the weekends. Never get fish-n-chips except from The Fish Place.

dfmcintyre posted 08-01-2014 09:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Regarding clearing customs inbound to the US, at Port Huron: if everyone in the vehicle has a NEXUS card, and there's a lineup in the official NEXUS lane, just go to any open available lane. Each lane has a NEXUS card reader. Best kept secret of clearing inbound with a NEXUS card.


jimh posted 07-06-2015 12:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am shamelessly reviving this thread by appending this article only for the purpose of reminding readers of the great fun that can be had by launching at Tobermory, Ontario, Canada, and, weather permitting, exploring Georgian Bay. I first visited Tobermory in June, 1986, when it was a very sleepy little fishing village. It has since transformed into a real tourist destination, and, with its location only a few hours of driving from the megalopolis of Toronto and the six-million people that live there, it now has a lot more tourist day-visitors that you could have ever imagined in 1986. But it is still a fun place to visit. Just get there early in the day if you expect to get a decent slip in the marina.

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