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 . . .