We have finished sailing the 175 mile-long Small Craft Route, from Port Severn in the south to Killarney in the north. What a journey! A journey which tested piloting skills while traversing some seriously beautiful country. We are now on the Canadian Shield with pink granite and pre-Cambrian rocks: unforgiving and dramatic in equal measure.
There are many sheltered coves and rocky outcrops which have been rounded from the scouring effects of ice sheets. Trees have a windswept stance from the prevailing westerlies. Stark, haunting wilderness. The air is fresh and clear, enabling glorious sunsets.
What has amazed me is the climate. Days are warm and humid. Nights are still with hardly a movement of air. The water temperature is very pleasant – enabling both of us to have a swim in Frying Pan Bay. And the water is clear, so clear you see the boulders lurking beneath the hull. I wrongly assumed Canada would be much cooler, being so far north.
This part of Canada is known as cottage country. Cottages dot the landscape, sit atop rocky outcrops, some perch precariously over water. Canadians love their cottages and the islands they inhabit, so much so, that most islands are private, meaning boaters are not welcome to go ashore or drop anchor close to their piece of paradise.
The bugs are merciless. Mayflies are not May flies. They do not bight, just land everywhere on the boat and die! Mozzies are annoyingly everywhere and do not heed bug spray. Horse flies and deer flies are gigantic killers – killers of peace and calm, as we madly hop about trying to kill them. They do not die – they bounce back and attack, again and again. They are brutes!
The towns, bays, coves, inlets and passages we touched on in Georgian Bay are:
Midland – a lovely city covered in murals made all the more memorable by the kind hospitality of Evan and Ruth Cameron, and a much needed hair cut.
Penetanguishene – a French speaking town briefly visited with the help of our host, Evan.
Beausoleil Island – Frying Pan Bay – a happenstance rendezvous with friends from the Trent-Severn. What fun we had!
Potato Island Passage, Monument Passage, Cunningham Passage, Rogers Gut – all incredibly nerve-wracking, but so worth traversing. Scenery stunning, boulders too close, shallow in places, twisty and narrow… what fun!
12 Mile Bay – we anchored in gorgeous Wani Bay. We explored the bay and islands, and visited other boaters in our dinghy,
Snug Harbour – Canadians like good food even in remote places! We used the dinghy to reach Gilly’s Restaurant. Oooh yeh! Canadians like good food! We dined well.
Pointe Au Baril – striking lighthouse but tortuous piloting.
Byng Inlet – necessary but apart from laundry run and restocking supplies, would give this a miss.
Beaverstone Bay – an ‘oh my gosh’ series of moments. After sailing past Bustards Islands and sailing in deep water in Georgian Bay, to turn into this bay took our breath away. If not for the windy weather warning to seek shelter, we would have anchored here and explored at length.
Collins Inlet – at the top of Beaverstone Bay and after negotiating an extremely tight turn in an extremely narrow channel in extremely shallow waters, we entered this fjord. The sheer pink granite walls, the lush vegetation, the colour of the water, the narrowness – all the ingredients of a picture postcard vista. The only thing missing was the sighting of a bear.
Killarney – and now we are sitting, cheek by jowl, boat bow to boat stern, packed in like sardines due to the weather alert, seeking safe harbour while the thunderstorms roll over us and the wind abates. This is not a bad spot to be holed up. Food in abundance. Boating friends in abundance. Even did a little boat work before the rain!
Georgian Bay is beautiful and challenging, a thoroughly new and enjoyable experience in our boating career.
Such is Life!