Saturday, August 18, 2012

More on Gore Bay, To Meldrum, Then Drummond Island, USA

Remember I said that the forecast was variable while we were in Gore Bay? Well, that was a very accurate forecast. We ended up staying there for eight nights because there just didn’t seem to be a good day to scoot out. So we paid the weekly rate and got used to our surroundings.

We did venture into Gore Bay and it turns out it is a very suitable boater’s town. There are several restaurants with the typical Canadian cuisine of tasteless food. There is a full service grocery store, a hardware store, a LCBO (government run liquor store), gas station, and a couple of sundries stores. All in all it was a good destination to hang out at. The marina itself has a very friendly vibe to it. It was pretty well filled to capacity with boats of all shapes and sizes, from fishing dinghies to yachts, both power and sail. The reason it was so packed was because towards the end of the week the weather took a turn for the worse.

Starting on Thursday, all through Friday day and night and into Saturday the winds picked up tremendously. During the height of it on Friday afternoon I measured sustained winds of 15 to 20 knots with gusts up to over 30 knots. Very windy indeed. We had a starboard side tie up in our slip with the bow pointing due west and with the heavy winds from the north the boat was pretty much separated from the dock for the entire time. It rocked and rolled continuously during this time but we got used to it. Why Knot is a good boat out on the water but she does not have the best manners when docked. It seemed she was rolling and dancing in the wind much more than any of the other boats.

So what does one do when they are stranded in a marina? Fortunately for us the wifi signal in the marina was excellent so we did a lot of stuff on line. I spent a lot of the time keeping track of the Olympics or we watched a bunch of stuff on Netflix. Let’s see…we watched five different Star Trek movies, a video production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, various episodes of different TV shoes, some old educational movies that I watched when I was a kid at summer camp, more recent science shows, and just about anything else that caught our fancy. All we had was time so we spent it burning up the bandwidth of the wifi.

The first day with a break in the weather was Sunday, August 12, 2012. It wasn’t a stellar day but not too bad. I do have to say something about Environment Canada, the Canadian equivalent of the National Weather Service. (I think I have made this rant before.) I have on several occasions been very vocal with praise for the NWS. I think they do a great job and provide an incredible amount of data about every weather situation that could exist. Not so much with Environment Canada. Their marine forecasts are, I think, kind of lacking in meaningful detail. You only get a snapshot of the situation and not a concise detailed picture of how things could be. This was the situation on their forecast for Sunday. It’s not that they were entirely wrong, they didn’t fill in with some pertinent details. For instance with the NWS if you want detailed info of a particular piece of a body of water, even down to a few square yards, you can click on that point on one of their maps and presto you have the forecast for that little niche. Environment Canada only gives you the big picture for a whole body of water, like the North Channel as a whole. This is not adequate because similar details such as wind speed and direction can have different affects at different places, such as along shore lines. And what is happening on the north shore isn’t the same as what is happening on the south shore. Anyway, their forecast for the North Channel was for 10 knot winds from the northwest slowly diminishing the further out in time you go. Their wave predictions were for less than one meter. That’s less than 3.5 feet. Well that may have been true somewhere in the channel but not along the south side. The winds weren’t so bad but the waves were easily more than a meter, probably in the five foot range. Fortunately then were not aggressive waves meaning that they were not pounding waves with whitecaps and all that. They were spaced apart ok and we were going through them at a good angle (read: they weren’t broad siding us) so we were able to make our way through them all right. But it made for a busy day.

Right about 2:00 pm we made our way into Meldrum Bay on down to the small marina that operates there. They have recently installed several very new, nice long finger docks and we were able to get docked in very comfortably. It did not appear that there is much in the village of Meldrum Bay. There are just a few homes and a small restaurant that is only open from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm each day during the boating season.

Meldrum Bay was our last stop in Canada. Monday we would cruise to Drummond Island, Michigan. We have been here a bit over five weeks and it has been a wonderful experience. The waters are wonderful, the people are terrific and this is truly a beautiful country. We are already talking about our return next year wanting to stay here longer and see more of this great place.

Now, if they just didn’t talk so funny and they got rid of this metric thing. Eh?

Drummond Island, Michigan, USA

Our cruise on Monday the 13th of August to Drummond Island was terrific. The winds were calm for the most part and quite a bit of the way the water was calm, almost glassy in places. The course from Meldrum Bay was pretty much a straight shot. We ran north a bit out of the bay and turned to west / northwest for about 26 statute miles. Then turning more towards the west and to the south, we navigated through a slightly bendy channel to Drummond Island Yacht Haven. As we approached the entrance to the marina I caught a little pixie jumping up and down on a deck of a boat. It was Laura of The Zone! Excellent! Her and Ross have been good cruising buddies along the way and we have stayed in touch with each other by email as to each other’s whereabouts. They had arrived about an hour before us from a place called Blind River. We were sure we were a day ahead of them but there they were. It was a wonderful surprise.

Drummond Island Yacht Haven is an official US Customs port of entry. After just a few minutes a uniformed customs officer came to our boat and cleared us in. It only took a few minutes. I took down our Canadian courtesy flag and we were back home again.

A short time later Ross and Laura and us took one of the marina’s courtesy cars and went to a local restaurant on the island called Sune’s. Remember my complaints about how tasteless Canadian restaurant food was? That was all forgotten at Sune’s. There menu was very full and I had the best hamburger that I have had in months. And I got free soft drink refills which are not available in Canada. (Bryan and Kevin – Remember rule number 1 of restaurant selection? Canada flunked.) We all talked about all of our adventures and filled in all the details that we didn’t mention in emails.

Unfortunately they had already made plans to leave on Tuesday morning. We had planned to stay until Wednesday. When Tuesday morning came around and I was on the internet I saw that weather conditions were going to be good so when Lisa woke up we started the process of getting under way. But that didn’t work out. I could not make a same day reservation at the marina at our next destination, Mackinac Island. Most of the marinas in Michigan are tied in to a reservation system operated by the State of Michigan and they have a pretty firm “no same day reservations” policy. I quickly checked where else we could go but nothing seemed to add up. And that was too bad, too. The conditions would have been great. Wednesday will be even better but Thursday and Friday might be iffy. So instead of going to Mackinac Island we will go to Machinaw City, MI and plan to stay there until Saturday when a new good cruising window appears. From there we will go to Charlevoix. We were already planning to stay there a week as we want to have some maintenance done to the boat.

So there we were in Drummond Island on a beautiful day instead of being out on the water. We made the best of it by using one of the marina’s rental cars to explore the island a bit and to go to the grocery and dry goods store. Those were pretty much the extent of our exerting ourselves. The rest of the day was all about chillaxing. We’re glad we had the down day.