Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Few Extra Days In Killarney, Then On To Gore Bay

Killarney is not so much a town but a village lying on a one mile straight that connects Georgian Bay and the North Passage. The north shore is dotted end to end with small marinas and short stop docks, such as to a general store and a government run alcohol store. The south shore has quite a few private docks and some slips that are part of a marina on the north side connected by water taxi. The only real landmarks are the aforementioned LCBO (the government run alcohol store, “Liquor Control Board Ontario”, I think) and a regionally famous fish and chips outdoor stand. We are located at Roques Marina which is at the far west end just a short distance to the entrance to the North Passage. The whole town can be traversed on foot in a whole whooping seven minutes at a casual pace.
Killarney straight, looking east

Looking west

Rogues shore side

Busy little marina

Our view at breakfast at Sportman's Inn

Square mast sailing ship


Take Off!

We have now been here two nights and really have seen everything that there is to see. We have been to the village government center which has a post office. We needed to buy a stamp. The general store is small but fairly well stocked, but has a penchant for rutabagas. The fish and chips stand sold fresh and tasty fish and chips. The bakery has the most bland blueberry muffins either of us has ever tasted. There are actually quite a few people here as this apparently is a popular summertime destination. There are quite a few camping trailers around and smaller boats that are, for all intents and purposes, used as marine camping trailers, so to speak. The water is deep and crystal clear. I went for a swim yesterday and I could easily see the bottoms of boats that were gently cruising around. Why Knot is very likely the largest boat here.

Rogues is an ok place. In looper-speak we would say it is rustic, which translated means it is on the old side and it’s a bit beat up, but not a dump. We have a great slip that faces out directly into the channel and we’re surrounded mostly by those marine camping trailers I spoke about. The marina “office” is basically a barn and its inside looks like the setting of one of those cable TV shows where antiques experts go in and find hidden treasures amongst piles of junk. But it’s ok with us.

The most noteworthy feature of the area is the “boat-in theater”…sorry, that would be “theatre” up here in Canada.  They have an outdoor 12’ by 24’ movie screen set up high on the south shore made out of whitewashed 4’ by 8’ plywood sheets. Every night at 10:00 pm some poor schlub climbs a tall ladder to a small platform in front of the screen and sets up a dvd projector and plays a movie. The sound is broadcast on radios at a frequency of 101.1 fm. Each movie starts way too late for us. Heck, we’ve already been asleep an hour by then. (Sundown is much later here than down in more southern latitudes.)

Our basic game plan was to stay only two nights and depart on Thursday, August 2nd. But we knew that this was a plan open to adjustment as the weather forecasts weren’t looking too good for that departure date. Our next destination, Gore Bay, is about 57 statute miles away in fairly sheltered waters but the forecast as of early Thursday morning was for a squall line crossing the channel during the day with winds up to 40 knots, rain, thunderstorms and even some hail thrown in for fun. Friday is very iffy. Saturday looks better but it would be an early quick dash to our next safe harbor. (As I write this at 8:00 am on Thursday, August 02, 2012 it’s sort of calm, the skies are filled with heavy grey clouds and it has already been raining. The next weather update via radio by Environment Canada is at 10:30 am.) We’ll need about five hours of reasonable conditions to make the next destination. It’s a matter of when we’ll find that window. Unfortunately this marina does not have internet access. For that we have to walk down to Sportsman’s Inn, the next marina east of us, to get that. So, we’ll see.

Friday, August 03, 2012

As it turns out the weather forecast greatly improved during Thursday afternoon. Any hint of bad weather either dissipated, ducked to the south or stalled to the west over Lake Superior. Friday turned out to be a great cruising day. The forecast was for partly sunny skies with diminishing winds towards midday. As I woke up this morning around 5:30 am I first ducked my head out the door and saw that it was almost dead calm in Killarney. I walked down to Sportsman’s Inn where they have free wifi and found that it would be a good day to get underway to Gore Bay. We pulled out of our slip a few minutes before 8:00 am and went to Sportsman’s Inn Marina for a quick pump out. Then off to the west we went.

Upon leaving Killarney we were officially in the North Channel with mostly deep water and islands all around. The first half of our journey was mostly navigating around these islands in meanders that kind of took us in a west-northwest direction. The first landmark was the town of Little Current which is a very popular destination as it is really the only straight to get from where we were to where we wanted to be. Besides the several marinas there is also a swing bridge that only opens on the top of each hour. As we approached Little Current we were worried that we were not going to make it for the opening at 11:00 am. But as there was a lot of boat traffic waiting we were able to get into the queue and made it through. After Little Current the waters opened up and we had more straight line reaches between waypoints in deeper and wider waterways. It seemed more like traversing large lakes than channels. The scenery was terrific! 

At about 4:00 pm and after 58 miles we finally pulled into a very wide and comfortable slip at Gore Bay Marina. This looks like a great marina and the small town of Gore Bay is suppose to be very boater friendly. There seems to be quite a few boats from Michigan here. I am pretty sure that a bunch of them travel up to Canada for the summer. We met Mike and Marge, the crew of the boat next to us and they just arrived here yesterday after leaving Michigan on the June 26th

We will be staying here at least through Sunday night. The weather over the weekend is variable with some moderately high winds and thunderstorms possible. The early forecast for Monday through Wednesday doesn’t look all that good either. The forecasts are for ten to twenty knot winds but they are mostly from the south and south west and as we are going to be skirting the Manitoulin Islands on their north side that might not be too bad. We’ll see. But for now we are very happy to be in Gore Bay.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Saturday in Gore Bay was very pleasant for the most part. It was sunny but very windy and as the day progressed the marina began to fill up with boats that had started out for some destination but due to high winds and water decided to duck into the bay instead of taking a bit of a beating out in the water. Most of them came in by noon or one o’clock.

Gore Bay Marina is an excellent facility. The docks were put in new in 2007. The slips are very wide, perhaps wider than they need to be (they could increase dockage by, I don’t know, maybe 25% if they would have cut down on the shared slip space) and the fairways are even wider than normal. The shore side facilities are typical for a municipal marina, which is a good thing. It is my experience municipal facilities are rather industrial looking but almost always clean and very serviceable, better than most privately run marinas. The docks are incredibly ample. The central walking dock from the slips to shore has to be 16 feet wide. The finger docks between the boats are four feet wide, both dimensions are big by the standards we have seen. The marina’s ship’s store is very well stocked. Its comfortable here. I think that this is the best marina we have been to in Canada.

The town of Gore Bay isn’t much to write about. There ain’t much here. There is however a hardware store which may be handy as I am going to spend today, Sunday, on a few small items on my maintenance check list.

The weather for the next several days is variable. Today it is suppose to be rainy and thunderstorms are possible. Monday is suppose to be clear but very windy. Tuesday’s forecast is the same as today, and Wednesday the same is tomorrow. I have modified our float plan to cut the next leg in half stopping at Meldrum Bay. I had planned the next leg directly to Drummond Island in Michigan, a long leg of about 60 nm, but that is too long. So Meldrum sits right there in the middle making it a two day excursion back to the US instead of one.