Mini Pearl crosses her wake!

223A3B67-4F7D-416D-8A12-8BD205905BCCOn Sunday, we became charter members of the IIGLDCA  That’s the Isabella Island Great Loop Dinghy Cruising Association.  So far it’s only us and Second Wave, but we completed the Loop the same day we started it and are confident looping the island will become a thing.  Or possibly it won’t.   Either way, it’s a cool island in Parry Sound, and it was a beautiful day for a dinghy ride.

img_4645On our way back to the marina, we stopped to celebrate our mini-loop at a small joint with the coolest TV ever.  This would be a great place to watch the Vols in what cannot possibly be a worse season this year, although by the time football rolls around in a few weeks there may be 4 feet of ice instead of water.  We settled for half of a Toronto Bluejays game, which is a long time for lunch but the service truly was that slow.

img_4636On our way to Parry Sound, we nervously  threaded a very tight pass called Second Mile Narrows.  When the huge tour boat gets through with no problem, however, it suggests we just are weenies.

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Parry Sound’s biggest claim to fame seems to be as Bobby Orr’s home town.  It’s actually pretty cool to see a town so proud.

We cleaned Misty Pearl up a bit, walked the trail outside of town, and bonded with a huge dragonfly,  All in all, a solid weekend.

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Tomorrow looks like a long cruising day.

The salad dressing up here must be unbelievable

B8D29E13-A530-44DD-8818-8624FF651E0AGeorgian Bay is known as one of the best cruising grounds in the world.  30,000 islands dot the area.  Wait what?   That’s 30 TIMES as cool as Thousand Islands!

One of the islands is Fryingpan Island—or Frying Pan Island depending on your source of information—which was our destination for today.  That’s because this is the only island—out of 30,000—with Henry’s Fish House Restaurant.

003a1614Henry’s they say is a place one must go when in Georgian Bay.  Kind of like we think about the Tin Fish on the Imperial Beach Pier.  Commercial seaplanes fly folks in just for lunch.  We wouldn’t elevate it to Tin Fish status, but it was pretty good even though the overnight mooring was a tad pricey.

img_4579One of us historically has been the clear target of a government conspiracy involving unmarked police cars with radar guns and Redflex cameras that dispense what should be unconstitutional speeding tickets, so we’re sensitive to trickery.  The beat-up fishing boat used by the Canadian fish wardens is the ultimate.  By the time these guys sidle up with their sidearms, there’s no time to escape the effects of whatever illegal you might doing on your boat.  They tied up at Henry’s, however, just like everyone else.

The tough part of the day was before we got to Henry’s.  img_4567Things started out blissfully enough.  Light wind, flat water.  Excellent day to see some new stuff.  It’s been a while since we had open water, and a day without locks promised to be worry-free.  Then the winds whipped up 3-foot beam waves, changing our outlook significantly.  Add in some big fast boats waking us and some big slow sailboats blocking us, and getting to Henry’s grew in importance exponentially.  We won’t be posting pictures of the scary stuff, obviously, because we were too scared to be taking pictures.  Trust us though, some of this is scary.

There were moments in the small craft channel, fortunately, when we could admire the scenery.  We’ll probably post a bunch more pictures that look a lot like these but also fail to do justice to what we see.

Tomorrow we head to Parry Sound for a couple of days.  We need provisions and almost certainly there will be a handy LCBO.  After that, there’s a real possibility that we will not have cell service for chunks of the next week or two, basically until we get to Michigan.  So if we don’t post for a few days, we probably haven’t died.

Two days before the mast*

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Another glorious sunset, this one from the dock at Queen’s Cove Marina whilst playing cards.  Brent and Karen have mastered the game we taught them so it’s about time to find a different one.  Good times.

img_4545For something like the past 4 months, we’ve awakened every morning to the view through the hatch above our bed.  Sometimes we see blue sky, sometimes stars, sometimes gray and rain.  On Wednesday morning, we saw brown.   Oh that’s right, we parked in a garage.  We guess they forgot that we came here to step the mast.  There barely might have been 27-feet clearance inside, but the roof is pitched and we would have to just sit in there forever if we got taller.

So on day 2 we moved to an outside slip.  St. John the Rigger graciously agreed to leave retirement just long enough to help install new lines and cable, which required him to drive half-way to Toronto for materials.  Raising the newly-outfitted mast on Thursday, however, required an extra day in Tay.  (There’s a limerick hiding in that sentence somewhere.)  Mini Pearl is happy that she soon can get back in the water, however, and we’re happy to get some topside space back.  And DirecTV, since football season is almost upon us.  Here is one of those super fun spot-the-differences puzzles:

img_4549Tay is a place through which one can walk—even with recalcitrant dogs—quicker that it takes to say “Tay.”  This would be the proverbial one stoplight town if it had one more stop light.  Literally.  The egg salad sandwiches at the mercantile, however, were delicious.  So was the fresh blueberry pie.

Did we mention the endless hordes of geese in Canada?  And as a matter of simple physiology, where there are gooses, there is goose poop.  Everywhere.  Except Queen’s Cove Marina in Tay.  img_4546These folks have devices—designed to do away with geese—which are available for purchase at the marina store as well as aptly-named AwayWithGeese.com**.  No geese here except those smartly passing by overhead.

Thursday afternoon St. Robin the Harbormaster went through her Georgian Bay charts with Second Wave, Aurora, Adagio, and us.  img_4556She even lined us up with marina spots that otherwise might be unavailable during the month that all Canadians with boats are required to use them in close proximity to Misty Pearl.  We feel fairly ready.

img_4560Our last night at Queen’s Cove was quiz night at Queen’s Quay Pub.  Big crowd for quiz night.  Our team—Second Pearl—might’ve had a shot, but the MC was from Wales and we couldn’t understand a word he said.  We’d never heard of a Floofy Dook, for example, so no way we would know that it’s  made with room.

Tomorrow off to explore Georgian Bay.

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*Apologies to Richard Dana.

**Misty Pearl receives no compensation for its endorsements.

But it’s a dry heat

Yesterday the weather forecast looked grim, so the plan was to meet with Second Wave at 8 to see if anything had changed overnight.  The only thing that really changed was the fact that other boats left our marina and headed to the blue line at 7.  Throw planning out the window if other folks might get a leg up seemed to be the new plan, so we hustled over and tied up with time to take showers, walk the dogs, and research the day’s navigation issues.  But finally it was our turn.

img_4542As noted yesterday, the lock at Big Chute is a pretty darn cool marine railway.  The actual traveling part was not too scary after all.  The scary part was when the lock guys struggled to figure out our keel shape and how to set the slings so as to avoid the stabilizers.  Ultimately we handed them an iPad photo of Misty Pearl’s butt in a travel lift and they hooked us up.  (Crossroads and Change of Pace, if you read this you might want to have something ready to show them if they have the same concerns with you.)  Photo cred to Beth on Inuksuk.

img_4533The last stretch of the Trent-Severn Waterway includes more tiny islands with more happy, smiley, wavy Canadian islanders.  (Zoom in to see a happy, smiley, wavy Canadian islander.)  We’ll miss them, as after the last lock we popped out into Georgian Bay and on to Queen’s Cove, where we’ll spend 2 nights.  Both Misty Pearl and Second Wave are having some minor things resolved before going north.

img_4536When we reached Tay, Ontario, this afternoon, we were a bit cranky about the 70 degrees and rain showers that forced us to use umbrellas on our way to the only local restaurant (which not-at-all-unexpectedly was a pub.)

Mwaa Haa Haa.

 

Big Chutes to fill

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Two months ago today we waved goodbye to Big Daddy and pulled out of Washington.  Today we pulled out of Orillia—1,140.8 nautical miles later—just as the sun broke through the scary clouds that weren’t quite scary enough to make us stay another day.  Good call, because things cleared up nicely.

img_4506In places, the Severn River looked a lot like places along the Trent River.  Narrow, shallow, trees, etc.  It looks serene, right?  Mostly it is, but then you hit a lock.

Locks turn out to be collection points for all the people we like in concept but not in practice: other big boats, go-fast boats, jet-skiers. img_4508 If the lock master decides to be ornery, everyone gets jammed together in most unsafe ways.  The good folks at Lock 42 decided to see if Misty Pearl’s fenders would mate with the fenders on a boat with a 14-foot beam.  The French-Canadians on said boat proved to be poor lock-mates so we tied up with Second Wave at Lock 43 to escape them.  Lock 43 unfortunately was just as crowded.

img_4522The big thing about the day—apart from our anniversary celebration—was arriving at Big Chute.  This is where we are forced to confess that you can’t actually boat—as in float in a vessel—around The Great Loop.   However, you can travel by boat, since Parcs Canada makes everyone stay aboard as the boat sits on a rickety-looking railway cart.  img_4524Basically you pull in over the submerged cart, they sling you up, and then after some 5 minutes of terror that rivals the terrorizingest ride Walt Disney could contrive—if he was still alive of course—they plunk you back in water.  Misty Pearl is our only home now, so it will be even worse for us.

Tomorrow we’ll pass through what technically is Lock 44 but even more technically isn’t a lock at all.  Great drone opportunity, right?  Mostly it would be, but today we scouted things out.  Either the lock master was eavesdropping or Doug was injudiciously loud.   Turns out it’s highly illegal to drone over Big Chute.  The last thing we need is to be sentenced by a Canadian judge to hours of synth-pop.  We aren’t even charging the batteries, therefore, just to avoid the temptation.  Video from the flybridge is the best we might do.

We finally saw a moose.img_4512