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.