The North Channel--Part II

Monday, October 24, 2016

Some boaters terminate their North Channel trip at Little Current, and others go on to Georgian Bay. Although we would have liked to travel on, we didn’t have the time. So after attending church on Sunday morning, we left Little Current heading back west.

Our first stop was at a pair of islands called the Benjamins or, more accurately, North Benjamin and South Benjamin. After anchoring in a cove between the two, we took our dingy and explored the rocky terrain. The first picture shows Donald and Roland standing on one of the islands.

After a quiet night, we moved to a nearby anchorage at Shoepack Bay. Getting there was uneventful, but anchoring was another matter.

We had put the anchor down, and Roland was backing up to set it, when he heard a sickening sound. The rope between the dingy and the boat was too long for what we were doing, and it wrapped around the propeller. Roland had to put on his swim trunks and dive down into the water several times before he got it unwound. Fortunately, there was no damage.

The next morning we pulled up the anchor and navigated through some narrow channels to Spanish on the Ontario mainland. To get there, we had to go through Little Detroit, which is a very short channel that is not wide enough for two-way traffic. For several days we had been hearing people on the radio announcing “Securit√©, securit√©, securit√©, [#] foot sailboat entering Little Detroit going [east or west],” and we got a thrill out of doing it ourselves. We waited for two sailboats to come from the other way before signaling our intention to follow yet another sailboat through in the same direction we were going. The next picture shows Freizeit approaching Little Detroit.

At Spanish, we walked downtown, where there wasn’t much to see. It was a hot day, so we waited until the sun started going down before climbing up an observation tower and hiking partway along a nature trail. That was much more worthwhile than our walk into town had been.
The following day we headed to Blind River, also on the Canadian mainland. The trip was very picturesque. We sailed through Whalesback Channel, which takes its name from a rock or island simply called Whalesback” after its shape. Among the other partially submerged rocks were some very insignificant ones with a very significant name—Page Rocks.
Blind River wasn’t anything special, nor was the trip from there to Thessalon, also on mainland Ontario. It was a nice evening, however, so we went to a festival in downtown Thessalon. After eating dinner at a fish fry fundraiser, we walked around looking at vintage cars and listening to vintage music from a live band.
From Thessalon, we headed back to DeTour. The trip was a rough one, with sunny skies but high winds. We didn’t even try to sail as we navigated around reefs and pounded through the waves. We had to stop at the Drummond Island Yacht Haven to clear customs, and fighting the wind to dock was quite an experience. Then we pounded through more waves until we got to DeTour.
The next day we left Donald in DeTour with the car and asked him to meet us in St. Ignace that afternoon. It was Saturday, and we went to the 5:30 p.m. mass at the Roman Catholic church near the St. Ignace marina so that we could leave early the next morning. That we did, with Donald and I going by car and Roland taking the boat back by himself, as he had come.
It took Roland longer to get home than we had anticipated. That’s because the boat had some mechanical problems, and Roland spent several days at Charlevoix waiting for parts to arrive. The mechanic finally got it fixed, however, and Roland eventually made it back to Holland.  
Although the trip wasn’t without mishaps, this time we made it to the North Channel and returned home with the boat intact.
Living on the boat during our North Channel vacation was good preparation for the following year, when Freizeit became our temporary home. That’s the subject of next week’s post.

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