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As we look around us at our summer’s end, the maple leaves are turning, the golden rod is brilliant, the monarch butterflies are beginning their amazing journey south, and the teenage mergansers are gathered in groups of 15-20 to do their lovely diving – blip-blip-blip, they all disappear and bloop, bloop, bloop they’re back again!  It is with these sights all around us that we are ready to make our final voyages of the season.

Sun / 8-24 / 10 se -> calm / sunny / Covered Portage Cove / Left Thomas Bay bright and early and put up full main and genoa.  Sailed wing on wing in a light breeze but it died off before we got to Killarney so we motored in the rest of the way.  Stopped for a couple of items at the grocery store dock in a real tight docking that went a little poorly as the breeze came up just as we tried to squeeze in between a dingy and a barge platform.  Bumped on both ends to our dismay but no damage other than to our nerves.  Then went over to Sportsman’s Inn to get a pump our and post our latest pictures and stories.  As always, this took longer than planned so we walked over for final fish & chips for lunch.  Then motored over to Covered Portage.  Passed Evinrude’s beautiful yacht Chanticleer, a manificently beautiful and large power yacht anchored at the entrance to the cove.  In contrast to the dwindling number of boats at our most previous anchorages, we found this one to be quite full of boats but we anchored in a nice spot, Barbie took a swim while Andy relaxed, and then we went for a dingy ride to get some pictures and stopped to say hi to our friends on Whisper.  Got some great shots of Chanticleer and of an image of an Indian Head in one of the cliffs – see our gallery for these.  Then joined Bill and Judy for happy hour on Whisper.  It was a very pleasant afternoon.

Mon / 8-25 / 10-15 sw / fair / Heywood – Browning Cove / We left Covered Portage to the southwest on a close haul with full main and genoa and sailed around Badgeley Point, turning westerly.  Sailed wing on wing in the very light wind that allowed Andy to leave Barbie to the sailing as he took off in Little Dipper to get pictures.  As we continued to sail, to Andy’s delight, the 110 foot sailing yacht Sea Quell passed us nearby under motor power.  Check out this photos.  Several boats were already anchored at Browning Cove but we found a nice spot near the channel to the east and anchored there.  Because of the wind direction, we had a nice view of the channel off the stern.  We took Jennifer for a longer dingy ride because there wasn’t a good rock for her to climb on.  She didn’t quite care for this although she was interested in looking into the woods as we motored by.  Got to bed early so we could do lots of closing up activities the next day before leaving.

Tue / 8-26 / 15-20 gusting to 30 nw / sunny / Little Current – Harbor Vue Marina/ On our final day at anchor we awoke to a beautiful sunny day with a nice light breeze and a forecast of winds to about 15.  So we decided to pack up quite a bit while there, do some cleaning, and measure all the things on our list for Andy to work on over the winter.  As the day passed we commented on how nice it was to do this while still on the water rather than on the hard in the Harbor Vue yard.  Around 2:30 or so it was getting to be time to leave and we looked out to sea beyond the cove to a sea of raging white caps and noticed that the wind had actually picked up in our cove as well.  Checked the readings and saw gusts to 30.  Since this was going to be a trip into the wind, we hesitated and  talked about possibly waiting until morning.  But the predictions said it should come down so we decided to haul up anchor and get into a more protected area as the white caps were starting to appear in the cove.  This turned into a fairly hairy maneuver as Barbie needed to steer with the engine in gear for Andy to get the anchor up and the wind was now blowing quite hard.  We managed though and got parked in the lee where we relaxed for about an hour and then decided to give it a go.  We donned our life jackets with tethers, closed up the cabin, motored out into the breaking waves, and unfurled our staysail.  Andy steered nicely to quarter the waves, Barbie handled what little was needed for the staysail, and because this time there was only a 3-mile fetch, the waves were tolerable, nicely spaced, and fairly even.  We’ll take “round” waves over “square” waves any day.  As we drew closer to Strawberry Island and the light house, the waves diminished and so did the wind.  We tacked a couple times with carefully orchestrated furling in, switching tethers to the new high-side, steering across the wind, and unfurling to the new tack.  Arrived around 6 pm and docked easily at the marina.  Unloaded clothes and kitties and headed to our Red Lodge Resort to the kitties delight.  Had a nice dinner and early to bed.

Wed-Fri / 8-27, 28, 29 / light wind / sunny / Little Current / Got up early Wednesday for haul out, etc. and learned that the procedure is to get the winterizing done while still afloat.  So the day went slowly as we worked in between our Harbor Vue folks, got our essential laundry done, and got most things unloaded.  To our delight, we were able to reconnect with John and Angela of Suffolk Punch and we had a nice fresh corn on the cob and burger dinner with them at their little cottage just outside Little Current.  John showed Barbie how to use her sextant so she hopefully will be able to work it next summer.  We had a very nice evening with them as a wonderful closeout to our summer.  On Thursday Andy did his polishing, etc., Barbie did her final cleaning inside, and we wrapped her up in her nice winter coat (see pictures), said goodbye to everyone at Harbor Vue, drove to Blind River, and had another wonderful fine dining experience at Monique’s Bistro.  Drove home Friday and happily landed our kitties and ourselves in our nice home, where everything looked great.  Just had a bit of a shock when we opened the car door to 85 degrees, as the highest we had seen for weeks was about 65.  Well, it’s good to be back, and it’s time to go watch the Badgers knock off LSU tonight (Saturday).  Looking forward to seeing all our friends in Madison and to renewing our friendships in the North Channel and Georgian Bay next summer.

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Wednesday, August 13 reprise – Saturday August 23

Lots to report but we’ll write it up back at Thomas Bay – ready to leave the Killarney scene before we got it written.  Will post next week – will be back in Little Current for pull out on Tuesday, August 26th, after a few more days at Thomas and Covered Portage – retracing our journey out on the way back.  Home for the Wisconsin LSU game, Bob Yost’s hot dog fest with MYC, and the Labor Day end of season race with our tender, Bluebird.  Till then . . .

. . . Then arrives, so now here’s the latest . . .

Wed / 8-13 / sw 25 / intermittent fair & mist -> rain / Byng Inlet / continuation . . . Well, the pancakes were sort of a disaster, because the griddle wouldn’t get hot, but we ate them anyway. Should have done them in the galley. Couldn’t face the rain so we skipped the fishing and commiserated about our sorry lot, safe and sound in a safe marina but cold and damp. Ultimately decided to think about leaving the next day regardless of the weather.

Thu / 8-14 / s-sw 20 / mist & rain / Black Bay behind Golden Sword / Donned our foulies and took off. We had enough layers to keep reasonably warm if not totally dry. Motored out ofq Byng Inlet following the copious channel markers and headed northwest along the small craft route under motor. As we approached Cunningham’s Channel we slowed down and carefully reviewed the detailed charts as it is narrow, shallow and rocky. Proceeded with caution and just as we arrived near the narrowest of the marked passage with rocks clearly visible just outside the channel to starboard, what do we see ahead but a boat under full, red headsail coming toward us with a big powerboat astern of her. Andy contemplated doing some circles to let her pass but with the tight quarters for such a maneuver we entered the channel and went very slowly to the widest part and waited for them to pass to port as Barbie nervously inspected the rocks to starboard. As they passed they shouted “thank you” and Barbie muttered something, not exactly under her breath. We had fulfilled our duty to keep clear and so we proceeded onward. Just as we were about to depart the channel and locate the 3 buoys followed by a turn to starboard as advised by Tom Jones to be Pepper’s favorite route, there on the last turn was a house with a great view and a terrific park bench with a skeleton sitting on it and in big letters painted on the rock below were the words “WELCOME TO CUNNINGHAM’S PARADISE.” We were there. Found our anchorage handily and were able to appreciate how this would have been Pepper an Gosi’s favorite spot, beautiful, hard to get to, and secluded. After we anchored we motored around to check out the islands and found a sailboat just tying up to a steep rock wall where Pepper probably would have tied up the Dane. Stopped to talk as his 4-yeqr-old grand-daughter danced a jig and told us stories about her daddy catching fish. Grandpa said he chose the wall to tie to but last year a bear had tried to get on his boat from there. We wished him well and headed back to our swing-anchored NorthStar wondering if bears would swim that far to get our provisions. Several days later we did hear a story about bears doing just that, similar to checking out campsites. We resolved to always leave the marshmallows at home.

Fri / 8-15 / light winds / rain / Black Bay / Woke up to a light, steady rain and decided to go fishing. Several local fishing boats had already come through so we knew it was a good spot for it. Barbie slowly guided Little Dipper around the various little bays while Andy cast off hoping for a catch. Returned much later and wetter with no fish to show for it, but had a nice time exploring this beautiful area. Can’t remember much more about how we ever got dry or what else we did this day, but it may have been the night we lay around in the cabin listening to Willie Nelson and Ray Charles until bedtime.

Sat / 8-16 / sw 20 -> w 20 -> n 10 / rain-> fair / Black Bay / The rain finally subsided and so did the wind, so Barbie resolved to light a fire with the wet wood around there, since it’s so dry inside. Andy and Barbie collected up rocks and Andy built a great fire circle against a rock ledge with a great updraft. Had some left over oil from last night’s dinner in an empty can of cat food (aka sterno) and so the fire took immediately with a single match. We built it good and hot to warm our selves and had a perfectly lovely evening.

Sun / 8-17 / 10-12 n/ fair / Bustards / This day marks the beginning of our retracing of anchor locations for the remainder of our journeys. We began be heading out of the small craft route between Bessner Rock and Porcupine Island and back into the big water of Georgian Bay. We took a northwest heading with the wind at our starboard front quarter under jib and a reefed main. We had a nice sail heading for the northeast passage past Dingy Reef. We found the DK buoy and headed northeast towards Britton Rock and then westward into the Bustards, anchoring at our identical spot with Jennifer’s favorite rock right off our stern where she could pine away to go ashore. This time we anchored without a hitch, having figured it all out previously. It was nice to be “back” and to have the weather turning fair and mild. We did start to notice the approach of summer’s end, however, and it caused a bit of sentiment about change.

Mon / 8-18 / 20 se / fair / Bustards / Awoke to a beautiful day. Andy got out the deck cleaning supplies and started swabbing everything, which he did for a fair part of the day. Barbie used the time to go in seach of firewood as the well-loved Jennifer rock was totally devoid of such and came back with a dingy-full. So after unloading on our rock, we went to work taking everything out of Little Dipper including the floor and giving her a thorough cleaning “spit-spot.” After getting both boats clean, we did the same for ourselves. We noted that there was only one other boat anchored here, unlike a few weeks ago when this was vacation-central, and that added to the understanding that season was quickly departing. We had happy hour by our campfire and saved enough wood for morning, but alas we were out of eggs and blueberries, so no more pancakes in store.

Tue / 8-19 / 10-20 se / fair with “square waves” up to 4 feet / Beaverstone Bay / Barbie wanted to have coffee by the fire so she got up early and got it going while Andy made the coffee and tea. Listened to the morning weather forecast, which sounded perfect for a westerly sail to Beaverstone Bay because of moderate to strong southeast winds. So we cooked up some bacon and toast and jam on the fire, introduced Jennifer to the fire, which she ignored until she wanted to go back to NorthStar, cleaned up, donned our foulie pants, pulled up anchor after some concern about possible storms, and headed around the north side of the Bustards where it gets 110 feet deep just 50 feet from shore, proceeding with mildly reserved optimism about a great day of sailing ahead. Decided to take this day as a good one for following Grant’s advice to lock up the lazarettes to prevent taking on water in case of a knock down. (We had previously reorganized our storage to relocate our emergency gear so it would be readily accessible from the cabin in case we would need it with the lazarettes locked up.) Put in two of our hatch doors (cabin windows were already locked up) and realized we need to have a plexiglass top door made in order to be able to lock her down tight while still being able to read the chart plotter, which is mounted on the inside swing arm Andy built last year. We unfurled the genoa and decided to wait on raising the main until we saw what the winds would be like on the open water. As we passed the signature 3-shore markers on the Bustard Rocks at the west side of the Bustard Islands, and the remaining string of islands protecting us from the south, and headed again into the open water of Georgian Bay, we found the wind to be a bit strong for the main and noticed the waves were a bit much as well, coming at us from the rear quarter. However, this is not what people mean when they wish you fair winds and following seas. The waves continued to build and had a peculiar “pattern” of coming from two different angles with a very rapid period. Andy wisely advised us to don our inflatable life jackets and safety tethers which we secured to the windward stantion, and we also put on foulie jackets to keep warm. We proceeded to spend the worst sailing experience of any trip we have had getting knocked from stem to stern by the waves and listening to Little Dipper jerking back and forth on her shock cord in the surf. And what about the Poooor Kitttties up in the V-berth? The waves, although not particularly large – 4 feet at the greatest – were very steep, odd angles, rapid and odd periods, and absolutely no rhythm. We later heard that such waves had the coined term “square waves.” Andy commented that Ted Turner once raced on one of the Great Lakes and said he’d never sail them again. Barbie had her first ever experience of mild seasickness and couldn’t look at the chart plotter any longer – just had to keep her eyes on the horizon. Andy did a great job steering us through, and we were thankful to finally reach Beaverstone Bay and it’s protected waters. We anchored at our previous spot in record time, took very brief note of the few vacationers playing on the calm waters, and cracked open and downed several cold ones in record time. As we thought about our day’s experience (while trying to drown out the memory) we considered the fetch of the waters with a southeast wind from our point of departure and realized – to our dismay and embarrassment – that we had experienced the full fetch of Georgian Bay from Midland to the northern shore – about 80 miles of wave building. Now, we would only cautiously venture out on Lake Mendota with that full western fetch of seven miles on a windy day, but it never dawned on us to check in this situation. The wind was acceptable, but the action of the waves certainly was not. We determined, to quote from Music Man that “you gotta know the territory” and to quote from Dirty Harry that “a guy’s gotta know his limitations.” Our little NorthStar is just not equipped with sufficient keel to support sufficient canvas to carry her through such a beating. We’ll know better next year.

Wed / 8-20 / light east wind / fair / Killarney / After yesterday, all we wanted was peace. We had once talked about not going through Collins Inlet again, but at this point 3 knots of wind to our stern in totally protected waters amid walls of geological wonderment seemed like just the ticket. So we motored up the marshy channel into the pass, put up full main and genoa, and sailed wing-on-wing for the next nine hours with kayakers passing us by like we were standing still (but we weren’t). Calculated that we’d need to turn on the motor by 3 in order to get to Killarney by 5 if the wind didn’t get us there first. In different circumstances one might have been bored, but we were in a heavenly peace on this day of recovery. A couple of mathematicians or whatever with a boat named Wave Equation passed us headed the other way under motor and commented on our lazy sail day – which sometimes clocked at 0.9 knots. We were just fine with that.   After Andy got tired of standing on the deck leaning against the boom to prevent the inevitable gybe action from a direct run (or one might say, “walk” in this case), he decided to try Charlie’s suggestion of tying down the boom near the front, a sort of modified vang (don’t know the technical term – will have to find out). That worked well so he returned to the cockpit and took a picture of Barbie snoozing with the tiller in hand, which also shows this contraption – see the gallery for this attractive shot. Got to the western opening of the inlet and even though the wind was light out there, there were some residual square waves so we rolled ‘em in, turned on the motor, and high-tailed it to Killarney, a few short minutes under motor power. Docked, got hot showers, and went out for a fine dinner at the Sportsman’s Inn.

Thu / 8-21 / light wind / light fog -> fair/ Thomas Bay / Finished up our laundry, got some fish & chips, re-provisioned, and headed back to our golden pond in Thomas Bay under motor, just to get there quick. Settled down to a quiet afternoon and evening in our special anchorage once again, surrounded by the pink granite cliffs and pines all around.

Fri / 8-22 / air still and silent / fair / Thomas Bay / The single other sailboat that anchored last night pulled out before we got a chance to say hello. Andy got organized transferring pages and pages of sticky notes into a comprehensive list of things to remember as we get ready to disembark next week. While he was doing this, Barbie got inspired to rearrange things all over the boat to get them better organized, neat and accessible based on the summer’s experience. Andy’s lists include everything to put NorthStar to bed for the winter, all kinds of measuring for winter woodworking projects to improve her, things to buy, storage bins to improve our lazarette holding areas, etc., etc., etc. Barbie’s reorganizing included moving things around in the galley, V-berth, tiding up the shelving areas to make them more attractive and uncluttered, etc., etc., etc. When we got done with that we took Jennifer for a good hike on our favorite rock and she didn’t even want to come back – what a change – she is a cat who has been to sea. Mindy slept through this activity with Barbie’s promise not to make her go ashore again this year. Later we stopped by the one new sailboat that had anchored and ended up with a very fun happy hour on her – a beautiful 45-ish foot Jeaneau made in France – with our new-found friends Kevin and Lise. They had spent 5 years in Germany but otherwise sailed out of Midland for the past 20+ years. Very fun to interact with and we’re glad we met them.

Sat / 8-23 / light wind / sunny / Thomas Bay / Awoke to a beautiful, sunny day with mosquitoes all around that wouldn’t leave at the usual time for our screen raising, so we decided we were too close to shore. Stayed “inside” later that usual and then pulled up anchor and got resituated in the center of the bay. Which brings up a point, how can you tell how far you are from shore, other boats, and miscellaneous rocks? Now I know, Barbie says, that I’m supposed to know how many boat lengths we are from the windward mark, or whether that opposing boat will cross us to bow or stern, but what does that have to do with how close you are anchored to things? The deal is, in 17 feet of water requiring 7 times the rode, which is 119 feet of swing room – oops, plus the length of the boat so add 30, well,it’s the length of a football field for the full diameter of the swing circle. Yeah, are we a football field away from the mark? The ramifications of hitting a mark versus a rock or a boat in the middle of the night – – – well, you get the picture. Today we only share with two other boats, but sometimes the anchorages are more congested and your rode lengths need to match up. We have concluded we will add a laser distance finder to Andy’s list of things we need to have.   Enough about that. Andy put some more sealer stain on the teak swim platform and the water is finally beading up so maybe the teak has drunk it fill for this year. Barbie added to his lists and together they wrote up our past week’s experiences for your reading pleasure. Then we dingied over to meet our new neighbor who arrived by hollering – “hey do you have room for a couple more cheeseheads?” to which we replied of course. Turns out Bill and Judy sail out of Milwaukee, raced laser 27’s there, sail a Tartan 34 here, and know Dave Elsmo real well. So we yukked it up for quite a while and talked about our favorite places up here. Then we went for a short dingy ride, rock climb, came back for a swim, and there you are. That’s the up to date report. Head for Killarney pump out tomorrow and then to sail on to Covered Portage – in French it is Portage Couvert – on Sunday, Heywood on Monday, and back to Little Current on Tuesday. Will post the rest after our return home or then-abouts.

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Wed / 8-6 / w 10 / late afternoon t-storm / Thomas Bay / Got back to Thomas in the mid-afternoon just in time to re-anchor in our previous spot and get our awning up before a passing storm broke. After it was over we dingied over to drop off Angela’s bread and to say goodbye as we would be leaving in the morning. John invited us aboard and we visited briefly before saying our farewells and planning to reconnect after we pull out in late August. In the morning we would be leaving Golden Pond.

Thu / 8-7 / w 5-10 -> e 10-0 / fair / Collins Inlet to Beaverstone Bay / Left Thomas bright and early and set our sails in a light west wind that took us into the entrance to Collins Inlet. This 12-mile narrow but deep inlet with high granite cliffs all around is quite as beautiful as had been reported to us. We enjoyed sailing under genoa for the first part of the trip. As the wind lightened Barbie jumped in the water for a quick bath and then as she got back in Andy noticed an approaching breeze and quickly handed over the tiller as he hauled in the sail and Barbie turned on the engine because the wind had shifted in front of us. Without our quick reaction it could have landed us on the rocks, but not a real problem as it wasn’t too strong and we had time to react. We continued under motor and after quite a while encountered a couple of young men who lost power in their fishing boat just as we came near them in a wider spot. We circled around and offered them a tow, which they gladly took to their site just a little ways up the channel going in our direction. We then continued on to the north entrance to Beaverstone Bay in a tightly marked channel through a shallow marshy area and then came to a beautiful spot with lots of small islands, which Andy suggested as our anchorage for the night. It turned out to be a great place to stay and Barbie built a campfire on a nearby island rock. We fell to sleep to an occasional call from the whippoorwill.

Fri / 8-8 / wind light & variable / fair / Beaverstone Bay / This is the day for Jennifer’s first big adventure. Andy went out early and took some morning pictures of reflections in the mirrored water. He wanted to try some trolling so Barbie motored the dingy around our little islands while Andy cast off to starboard until we were sure there were absolutely no fish anywhere in the area. Then we went back and took Jennifer on her big adventure. She enthusiastically got into the dingy and hesitantly got onto the far shore. She settled down to eat some grass and then did a little exploring under leash until she was good and ready to get back to NorthStar right now! We noted that the wind, which was predicted to be light, was actually pretty nice all day and so we determined that although the long-range forecast for the next several days called for light wind, that there might be enough to take us to the far reaches of the Bustard Islands, so we decided we would chance it the next day. That evening we lit a little fire to finish off the wood we had gathered, drank a glass of wine by the fire, and went back to NorthStar to eat and prepare for an early evening to bed. This time the whippoorwill was answered by another and so he called all night long. How beautiful to fall asleep to the whippoorwill and then wake up the next morning to the call of the loo-oo–oon.

Sat / 8-9 / sw 10 / fair / Bustard Islands / Arose to a still wind on a sunny day but confidently pulled up anchor, motored out of the bay into the big water of Georgian Bay to a light and increasing, favorable wind. Set our full main and genoa and after rounding a buoy so we could take a more downwind heading, then we reefed the main, pulled out the staysail and successfully balanced all three sails and the boat in this first successful experiment with three sails flying at once. We had a long and beautiful sail in the full sun and enjoyed being able to see out to sea for the first time. We were glad to finally reach the Bustards around 4 and were pretty tired when we found our anchorage location. After several failed attempts because Andy was brain-dead by now, we dropped an anchor and got some nourishment to get our blood sugar up and think about what to do. The problem was that the center of the channel was 20 feet deep so the required anchor rode was 140 feet, which was too long for a swing anchor due to the constraining width of the channel. We finally set on tying a line to shore on a tree up a little cliff, dropping the line over the cliff, then setting the bow anchor near the middle of the channel so Andy could use Little Dipper to drag NorthStar’s stern to the shore line (pun intended) while Barbie cheered him on. Then we collapsed for a while. Andy later got some beautiful pictures of the sunset right up the channel to the west just as Angela had described it and then Barbie got a shot of the rising full moon in the east end of the channel.

Sun / 8-10 / se 5-10 / fair / Bustard Islands / Andy got up early and took some more pictures, this time of the rising sun. As the day progressed on the east side of the Bustard Islands where we had made anchor, there was activity everywhere. First, everyone that had been anchored there left. Then, one by one all manner of boats arrived. We had jet skis, dingies pulling water sleds, a dingy sailboat passing through, dingy yachters and local fishing boats speeding through the cut to the west side, and then pairs of trawlers and power boats arrived to set anchor for the pending evening. We decided to join the fray and took a spin in Little Dipper throughout this island paradise. We found a perfect lake cabin for Schmidty and Kristi to sit and watch the setting sun, we saw a boat well-suited for Marthe and Rex, little dogs, big dogs, cats, children, etc. The west side of the Bustards had several summer cottages including one with keep out warning signs stating it was supposedly guarded by rattlesnakes. Andy got a big idea about jury-rigging our windlass to prevent the useless-brand-new-too-soft anchor rode from jamming up, but we had ruthlessly left his allen wrenches off the boat, thinking we wouldn’t need them. So on our return from our dingy outing we swung by the rafted pair of trawlers to see if we could borrow, which nicely turned into an invitation for us to join them for happy hour, which we did later. But first, Barbie had big plans for Jennifer and Mindy. They could see the small rock island we were tied to and were quite interested. They both ended up with a big adventure exploring a very small piece of that very small island until panic set in and we made a hasty retreat. We then joined our new-found friends for happy hour and later Andy took some beautiful pictures of their boats in the rising moonlight.

Mon / 8-11 / se 10 -> 15 / 0.5-1m waves/ fair with pm rain storm / Byng Inlet / The predictions for a wrong-direction southeast wind and early afternoon thunderstorms got changed in the morning forecast to indicate the storms would be delayed until evening. Since we were looking at predictions of several additional days of stronger winds from the southeast Barbie suggested we depart for Byng Inlet today rather than wait out the change of wind direction. Although there was much more to explore at the Bustards, we decided to bite the bullet and motor all day into the breeze and hope the waves wouldn’t get too high. This was mostly inspired by the last speck of ice turning liquid in the icebox. Barbie had cooked up all the salvageable vegies the previous day, Andy had already tossed the curdled cottage cheese (isn’t cottage cheese already curdled?), the bag of milk that had a hole in it and had drained into the icebox was becoming unacceptable in fragrance, and it was unclear whether the big batch of red beans and salvaged vegies would keep as long as the wind direction prevailed from its current direction. So we left this fun place with the nice anchorage and the kitties favorite rock so far and headed into the wind. We were back out on the sea but the journey was less enjoyable than the previous excursion into Georgian Bay big water. Barbie declared it was the right decision but Andy wasn’t so sure. Our temperaments were worsened by Barbie having run out of decaf and the fact that she drank a strong cup of straight caffeinated coffee that morning – not a good mix with a head wind, hot day, and motor. Oh well, we survived, navigated through the channel approach to Byng, took a wrong-side picture of Andy passing the H23 buoy (our former sail number for Avanti, our former E scow for those who don’t already know this), called ahead to Wright’s Marina, well-spoke-of by Rex’s dad Tom, who used to sail with Andy’s dad Pepper, got situated, got ice, and a guy with a beautiful boat and two beautiful brindle collies that “don’t like cats” according to the boat owner pulled in right behind our stern. Barbie used the on-shore gas grill to cook up the hot dogs, pulled out the wrong package of seasoning after reading all the organic ingredients on the right package and stirred it into the beans with a can of tomato paste, and we sat down to a good dinner nevertheless. Called that day done.

Tue / 8-12 / se 25 -> sw 25 / intermittent rain & mist / Byng Inlet / Got up to a pretty rainy day and the strong wind as predicted although it shifted to sw, which was not predicted. Did all our chores – the hot showers felt good. The radar indication of a lull in the rain lured us into the dingy to go for groceries up the channel and of course it rained all over us and our groceries both going there and on the way back. Got dried off, warmed up, everything in its place, and sat down to reconnoiter about our next plans. Looked at charts for quite a while and eventually decided to skip further travels east in favor of the recommended small craft route northwest to Golden Sword Island and several nearby anchorages. The book says this is one of the most beautiful and best-charted in the world. So when the wind subsides a bit, we’re gonna head that way. But when will that be? Decided to take advantage of the loaner car to go to “town”. Town is the same place we got the groceries, which has an upstairs restaurant with good pickerel (Canadian for walleye) and good pie and a good waitress. So we did that, came back, and worked up our stories for you on the computer. Took this time to listen to some nice jazz and classical music piped from Barbie’s Ipod into our wonderful sound system. The kitties glared at the anchor on the dogs’ boat out our cockpit door and wondered what had happened to their favorite rock. Went to sleep to the sound of the wind and the rain and Little Dipper squeaking against the side of NorthStar.

Wed / 8-13 / sw 25 / intermittent fair & mist / Byng Inlet / Got up pretty early. Barbie drank her properly balance half-caff, Andy had a cup of tea to warm up, and then the dog boat pulled out as the wind was lighter than predicted. Considered doing the same for a half a minute, but decided to hold our course in the slip for at least one more day. We may don our foulies and try our hand at fishing in a little while. But first Barbie will cook up some blueberry pancakes on the civilized grill on shore. More to come . . .

. . . As the day passed we just huddled up in the cabin keeping somewhat warm and somewhat dry.  Tried to work on the website but everyone in the marina had the same idea so we had no wifi response.  Barbie got into her dime novel while Andy and the cats snoozed a bit.  Looked at the charts and weather some more and decided we will likely venture out tomorrow.  Toward the end of the day the sky cleared so Barbie cooked a steak on the civilized grill and we had a nice dinner.  Fought with the wifi for a while and then gave up.  Got up at 5 am to get some response and finally got the pictures posted along with this addendum to the above.  Noticed it’s raining again but we’ll probably just go in the morning.  We’ll report back when we get to the next wifi in about a week . . .

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Fri / 8-1 / sw light / fair / Killarney / Bid farewell to Covered Portage Cove and arrived mid-morning under motor due to light wind and short distance.  Thought we could pump out, get ice, do laundry and groceries in 2 hours – hah!  The laundromat was the most popular place in town, so Andy did lots of loads and negotiated dryer access while Barbie did website updates.  Ended up staying over that night because it just got to late to venture out to new territory and find a good anchoring spot at Thomas.  So we had a nice dinner at the Sportman Inn with very nice service and a bottle of the identical wine we had just bought at the LCBO (aka liquor store) but for three times the price.  Oh, well, we topped it off with dessert and went back to NorthStar to get to bed early so we could leave early the next morning.

Sat / 8-2 / sw light / fair / Thomas Bay / Left Killarney hazy & early, motored out of the channel and found just enough light breeze to set our full main and genoa with a whisker pole.  Sailed along rather handily for the light breeze.   Barbie wanted to know if we could also set the jib.  Andy thought we needed to wait for the wind to be abeam and that occurred as we approached the turn into Thomas Bay.  So we tried that but the jib just made the genoa collapse against it and as Barbie goofed around with it, Captain Andy indicated he needed to concentrate on steering and Barbie needed to concentrate on our navigation instead of continuing this failed experiment.  After the usual discussion about such things, we got the jib in and found ourselves a bit confused about Suffolk Punch-John’s advice about how to take the turn around Pinch Island.  So, of course, we did it wrong and had to pick our way through the rocks and shoals while little children on one of the outer rock gatherings leapt and squealed with glee at their adventure.  We made it in safely to this magnificently beautiful red granite rock bay and ended up tying off shore right next to Suffolk Punch on their swing anchor, much to out delight.  The afternoon was beautiful and since we hadn’t yet put up our awning, we invited John and Angela to join us in NorthStar’s cockpit for a glass of wine and more nice interactions together.  We have decided they are our guardian angels because of the blessed time we have had while near them.

Sun / 8-3 / sw 10 / fair w evening t-storm / Thomas Bay / We awoke to a beautiful morning, so we headed out in Little Dipper to explore the inlets and rocky shoals to the east of the bay and found the most beautiful and peaceful world of cruising we have seen so far in our adventures.  Several kayak campers had staked out one of the islands so we waved and went on to explore several more.  As we decided it was time to return for lunch, John and Angela showed up in their wooden dingy to try a little fishing.  We waved and came on back to NorthStar.  After lunch, Andy decided it was the perfect day to put another coat of Semco oil sealer on the teak, so Barbie decided it was the perfect day to escape to the big rock about 100 feet away and refresh a fire pit she had discovered yesterday for a late afternoon fire and weanie roast.  Then she swam around to all seven or-so boats in the bay to invite them to join us that evening on the rock.  The teak looks marvelous, the party was well-attended, and the food and beverage and chatter among sailors was great.  In addition to the Suffolk Punch folks, we met three other couples.  One couple, Dan and Amy, sail out of Manitowok with their two young cats who ride along while walking on the edges of their kayaks.  One fell in and got right back in earlier in the afternoon, completely unscathed.

Mon / 8-4 / sw light / fair / Thomas Bay / Awoke to wet awning after the night-time rain.  But the cloudy morning gave way to some sunshine off and on all day.  We hopped into Little Dipper to head further east in search of the river and hiking trail Angela had told us about.  Once again we didn’t take our charts and although we went further, we still didn’t quite reach it.  We did see a large snapping turtle that surfaced right near the dingy and then dove away and popped its head out to take a more distant look at us before disappearing for sight.  Andy patiently helped Barbie try to fish and untangle her line until she finally got a bit of successful casting off, but no bites.  Came back, ate left-over potato salad and baked beans from last night’s feast, and then took a good nap.  Andy wanted to take some more pictures in the afternoon light, but first, Barbie wanted to lure Jennifer (the cat) into the dingy.  With patience and a little grabbing and placing, we got her first onto the swim platform, then back in the cockpit, then straight out to the dingy before she decided that was a big enough adventure for her first attempt.  Mindy (the other cat) kept her distance but asked Jennifer all about it afterwards.  Then we hiked up to the top of the red granite rocks near our boat and found the most incredible view of the land and water we had been exploring and beyond out to the sea.  Andy took some great pictures which we’ll try to get posted soon.  Came back for a quiet evening of left over hotdogs, Mount Gay & Coke (Barbie) and beer (Andy).

Tue / 8-5 /  sw 10 / fair / Thomas Bay / Awoke again to everything wet from night time rain shower, but Barbie had her coffee and Andy had his cereal under the awning in a pretty dry cockpit.  It really works!  As the sun came out we went over to our favorite rock 100 feet away and were able to start a campfire with the help of  a couple of paper towels and the pretty-dry limbs we had gathered yesterday and the day before.   Barbie cooked up some bacon and blueberry pancakes on the excellently-leveled griddle thanks to Andy’s rock piling around the fire.  Ate up way too many carbs and thought we were done for, but we then took the afternoon to finally find that river, carefully motor up it about a quarter mile (a 30 foot-wide river), secured Little Dipper, and climbed the well-marked red granite rocks and through the woods and rocks again to get to the top and a great lookout across Georgian Bay.  The sights are absolutely magnificent and we had a peaceful rest at the top on a nice flat rock before decending.  We got back just in time for John and Angela’s invitation to join them and their friends on Georgian Mist – Bob and Kathy – for a 2 and a half hour “happy hour” and lots of sailing stories replete with many tales of mishaps.  The trail is a kids’ paradise for seek-and-find the next mark on the rocks.  We felt like kids at heart if not in the musculature but our workouts at the gym are now greatly appreciated.

Wed / 8-6 / n 10 backing to w 10 / chance of afternoon rain or t-storm / Killarney and back to Thomas Bay / Plan to leave our anchorage at 7 am to go get ice and pump out and a few supplies, then return to this beautiful bay for one last day before heading east to Collins Inlet as weather permits.  Hope to get this much posted on our website when we get to Killarney.

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Day /Date /Wind /Skies /Location /Events

Fri / 8-1 / light wind / sunny & warm / Since this is our first major post, it is in increasing date order (except for this comment).  Next week (or whenever) we’ll post above this.  Things got much better after we got to the cruising part of our trip.  We’ll try to post some pictures too.  We’re presently at Killarney slip – Andy’s doing the laundry while I’m doing this (he drew the short straw). We’re happy our head, fresh water, and ice held for the entire week, with a quick replenishment of one block of ice day before yesterday. When done with our chores we’ll get some more of that delicious fish & chips and then head for Thomas Bay for our next anchorage today.  More about that in our next post.

Tue / 7-15 / Depart Madison 6:30 am. Arrive at Blind River 7 pm. Trip uneventful. Another delicious dinner at Monique’s Bistro.

Wed / 7-16 / Arrive at Little Current for breakfast at Garry’s Family Restaurant. Took kitties to Red Lodge Resort, got them settled. Boat wasn’t ready so we returned to Red Lodge for dinner.

Thu-Fri / 7-17 & 18 / Two more nights at Red Lodge due to engine problem. First the computer was smoked. Then tried replacing the panel but had to await delivery. On Friday we launched the boat, stepped the mast, got the sails on, and loaded living space to receive us on Saturday.

Sat-Wed / 7-19 thru 23 / Lived on boat, did lots of maintenance and prep work – needed this time to really get ready. Engine electrical problem solved late Wednesday – hooray!  On Monday, Kevin Rose, the co-owner of Harbor Vue Marina, gave us a bottle of delicious wine and moose steaks, venison sausage and burgers from last year’s hunt. Barbie cooked it all up and we feasted on various dishes for a week. Tuesday was a big blow – 35-45 knots – and a thunderstorm. Glad we didn’t have to worry about an anchor for that. Wednesday we celebrate with co-owners Stan and Kevin by opening Steve & Leigh’s elegant bottle of champagne given to us last year at our bon voyage party. The right time to open had finally arrived.

Thu / 7-24 / Loaded lazarettes, cleared out storage bin into Big Dipper aka our Yukon, resupplied, pumped out, and ready to go.

Fri /7-25 / sw 15 / fair / Heywood Island / Departed Harbor Vue Marina in Little Current Ontario for points East flying a reefed main and full genoa. Sailed past Strawberry Island Lighthouse, which we learned is occupied by an elderly couple who has lived there during the summer months for many years. We had a nice sail and a large cruise ship came up from the southeast. Traveled 4 miles to our first anchorage at Heywood Island – Browning Cove. Lowered our 10 kg Bruce anchor with our new windlass and set her with 115 ft of rode in about 16 ft of water. The windlass worked like a charm and the anchor held true for the next several days of our stay. Dingied over in Little Dipper to meet our closest neighbor and to compare “how much we had out”. Had a great time talking with Lou, who is from Green Bay and had been up here since early May, wondering what that “white stuff’ was (ice). Settled in for our first beautiful evening with two large trawlers nearby and watched the bay fill up with later arrivals, glad we got our pick of a good spot early.

Sat / 7-26 / sw 15 / fair / Heywood Island / At 2 am, the kitties woke Andy to go outside and enjoy the night air from the cockpit.   Andy noticed the nearby trawler with all its lights on and a lot of chatter on a nearby VHF radio. Suddenly about half a dozen loud blasts came from the trawler’s foghorn, scaring Andy and the kitties half to death and waking Barbie from a deep sleep. We put on the VHF channel 16 to the announcement of a Mayday and learned that the man on the boat was suffering a cardiac incident and they were looking for medical assistance in the immediate area. We offered to go lend companionship and that’s how we met Adria’s owners, Richard and Joan and then Jubilee’s owner Dean who arrived on the scene from the other trawler. After what seemed an eternity the Thunderbay Coast Guard arranged for the Little Current O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) to come to Richard’s rescue and transport him back to the Little Current hospital. Richard’s condition turned out to be recoverable and he and Joan returned later in the afternoon to our relief. It’s kind of hard to remember what else we did that day, but we made some good friends and enjoyed their company the following day.

Sun / 7-27 / wind??? / fair / Heywood Island / Joan and Richard invited us all for coffee on Adria in the late morning and we and Dean all visited until about 1 pm. We learned that Joan and Richard are from Evanston and they are very active in the Great Lakes Cruising Club. They are both lively and very self-sufficient sailors and boaters with lots of interesting stories about their various adventures on the Great Lakes. Richard is quite a photographer and we hope to share some of his photos with you. Dean is a retired FBI man with quite a set of stories about sailing/cruising, etc. and delivering Seahorse Trawlers from Hong Kong to the US. He invited us to join him for cocktails Sunday evening and that turned into quite a party with two other couples as well as Richard and Joan and us. One of those couples, Dale and Kathy, corn and soybean farmers from central Illinois, own Albin & Co. , a 1936 converted tug. The other couple is from British Columbia and they just put in to begin their 13-month looper journey, hoping to arrive in the Caribbean for Christmas.   Dean’s trawler is built like an ocean liner ship and is quite a sight to see. We thoroughly enjoyed our interactions with these folks.

Mon / 7-28 / w 15 veering to n–>ne 25 / fair & T-storm/ Heywood Island / We awoke to predictions of a strong northeast breeze, so we pulled up anchor at Browning Cove and motored up a little side channel Andy had scoped out so we could tie off on the lee side of an island and use a stern anchor.   Mid-day we dingied over to say farewell to Lou and Dean since we knew we’d be leaving in the morning. Had nice chats with each of them and then returned for a quiet evening on NorthStar with the kitties.  As dusk fell, Andy heard a bear and Jennifer heard it too because she came out to the cockpit seat and stared intently into the woods. The next morning . . . so, when you hear northeast, that can mean anything up to 89 degrees. We awoke to a strong east wind that blew us hard but could not pull out that tree we were tied to. We enjoyed hearing what we think was a fledgling eagle and saw an adult fly over until we became concerned that the adult was not returning because we may be too close. Hopefully all is well now that we have departed.

Tue / 7-29 / w 10 and down to nothing / fair / Covered Portage Cove / We had a wonderful sail with a due west wind taking us due west so we got lots of sailing by the lee, wing on wing and jibing opportunities. We worked our way from lower terrain islands to increasing elevations of granite islands with a great view of the Killarney Ridge in the distance to port. When the wind went to zero for a few moments, Barbie took a bath off the swim platform as Andy sailed us steadily along with the wind increasing again to about 6. We had planned one final jibe a ways ahead when we notice a bunch of sailboats in an outer bay and realized we had already arrived, so Andy headed to wind so we could quickly douse all the sails and get ready to motor into this fully protected cove. We dropped a stern anchor and Andy took an anchor line in Little Dipper over to a beautiful, wooded granite shore and tied off to a substantial tree. On the way into the cove, Barbie noticed Intangible, a Tartan 3700 that had been at Heywood so she shouted hello. This resulted in Mary dingying over to invite us for cocktails where we enjoyed Mary and Tom’s company and met John and Angela as well. All are accomplished racers and sailors. Tom had just finished second in his class in the Mac and we had a good time talking with him about all the refinements he had made to the Tartan to make it a class winning boat. Tom and Mary hail from the Chicago Yacht Club while John and Angela, originally from England, now sail out of their summer home on Manitoulin Island.

Wed / 7-30 / sw 10 / fair / Covered Portage Cove / After breakfast we climbed the granite hill we had tied off to and got a wonderful lookout over our bay and the bay to the far side of the peninsula. We then dingy-yachted to Killarney to check out the facilities and get some famous fish & chips, well worth the trip. After our return we joined Angela and John for tea. Angela (79) and John (81) have been sailing together since the 60’s. They sailed across the Atlantic to their homeport in England in a boat John built. They were here sharing this beautiful anchorage in another sailboat he built for them called the Suffolk Punch after a type of English draft horse. We had a lovely tea with them in the late afternoon and learned about their many adventures including sailing from Sicily to Greece, which they heartily encouraged us to do. Back in the day there were no GPS or other really suitable electronics so John navigated across the ocean using a sextant. These two are an engaging and inspiring couple of long-time sailors and friendly folk. Oh, by the way, their home-made boat is heated by a coal or word burning stove and it has many classic and beautiful, homey features to support their life style.

Thu / 7-31 / w 10 / rain ->fair / Covered Portage Cove / Woke up to a heavy rainy day with Andy’s fleece out getting soaked in Little Dipper along with Barbie’s sandals. They got left there because we were returning from tea with Angela and John last night and Barbie had to protect the old paper sextant log form John had pulled out of his log book and given to her and she wanted to be sure to store it in a safe place. Andy tied off the dingy and by the time they remembered his fleece, the mosquito netting was down and Barbie forbid a return for our clothing. It rained half the day and finally lightened and then turned into a beautiful, partly sunny afternoon. We jumped into the water to wash and then Barbie enjoyed a swim and got our kitty Jennifer interested in looking into the water. At this time we spotted an otter less than a hundred feet away sunning itself on a rock next to an abandoned beaver home. He rolled around and scratched his head on the rock and then disappeared just as a hero alighted on the same rock to hunt for a dinner of fish or frog. As we watched a muskrat swam by the same spot, so we had quite a menagerie of critters to enjoy. We now sit here in the peaceful quite of the approaching evening with 15 boats in this little cove all quietly enjoying their own activities.


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Our new engine has not worked until they finally fixed it today (an electrical hookup problem).  We’ve made good use of the time getting the boat fully prepped.  Will load the final part that had to stay available while they worked on the engine on Thursday and depart early Friday for Heywood Island just SE of Little Current in Georgian Bay.  We plan to stay there a couple days to get used to being away from the marina and on our own and then continue into other points of Georgian Bay.

All is well on this beautiful evening just before sunset.

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How to make a bullet-proof engine fallible – add a computer.  Stan at Harbor Vue put in a call to Volvo late yesterday and we’re awaiting a good outcome – enjoying breakfast at Anchor Inn and using their wifi at the moment – plan to take a spin in Little Dipper after breakfast to see how fast we go with the new 9.9 motor.

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Our now-favorite-restaurant, Monique’s Bistro in Blind River, was open and Monique and her husband Sam were lovely as always and served up a delicious 3-course dinner.  We passed on dessert this time as we were pleasantly full and pampered.  (See last year’s story about how we accidentally discovered this wonderful spot as part of our sailing journey stop at the Blind River Marina.  Everyone should have the opportunity for such a wonderful meal, elegantly prepared and served with grace and friendship.

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Barbie’s strategy of traveling on a busy weekday worked like a charm.

  • The strategy of going through customs when they’re busy, worked like a charm – no time for anything but rudimentary questions, and no questions about boats and whether they were being imported, etc.
  • Additionally, we were tied up on the bridge long enough to figure out we had forgotten the kitty collars, needed if they want to walk on the deck and to find a pet store right on the other side of the bridge using Google search.  (She thought of this as she pulled out their papers and shot tags and realized no collars for the tags – oops!)
  • The strategy of “if we forgot something, don’t worry, it’s Canada (i.e., & they have stores)” worked for getting the precise collars needed and eliminated some of the other potential checklists.
  • So we made it across!  (what will we ever worry about when we finally go to Greece?)
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Logging off all media except Canadian cell till we get to our next internet connection. See you later.