"The North Channel is a state of mind. It is a flight of the soul to a distant haunt -
of peace, of mystery, of tempest, of aching beauty.
Its very name evokes a mood, an ephemeral feeling -
recall for those fortunate to have been there,
yearning for those who have only heard tell."
Marjorie Cahn Brazer, Well-Favoured Passage (1975)
The North Channel is a long bay off Lake Huron separated by Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. The northeast end of the bay is filled with islands and smaller bays. It is hard to believe an area could be more beautiful than the 30,000 Islands, but many argue that the North Channel wins the beauty contest. It is hard to argue differently.
|Lighthouse Marking Entrance to Baie Fine|
Baie Fine (bay fin), meaning "fine bay" in French, is located above Killarney, separated to the north by a range of mountains called the Blue Ridge. The color in the name is puzzling since the whole mountain range is comprised of white quartz rock. From long distances, it appears that the mountains are snow covered.
While the bay is over 2 miles wide for most of its length, finding the deep water was challenging and often brought the boat close to rock walls. There are multiple areas of rock that make very narrow passages. As in most of the North Channel, there are few, if any, markers indicating deeper water and no suggested channel marked on the charts. Navigation challenges abound in the North Channel.
At the east end of Baie Fine is a small bay known as The Pool. It is separated from the larger bay by two very tight, shallow, unmarked passes through rock walls.
The Pool provided an outstanding anchorage -- quiet, protected, beautiful scenery, and wildlife, including bass, Loons and a bear. Loons are beautiful birds with multiple, enchanting songs.
At the top of the mountain just north of The Pool, lies Topaz Lake. A long hike up the mountain, along a spring creek bed, is required to reach the lake -- good exercise and an effort well rewarded. The lake is appropriately named with its identifying color. After a heat generating hike up the mountain, the lake's cool waters were most refreshing.
The Blue Ridge provides many hiking opportunities. It is located within a Provincial park that covers many square miles to the north of Killarney. For the cruisers anchored in The Pool, the mountain views allowed a rare, high view of the boats at anchor. Last Dance is the boat to the right.
Jill builds an Inukshuk (little man) out of white quartz rock.
Just north of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies McGregor Bay. This bay was uncharted until five years ago. It is rarely traveled by cruisers as it is a side trip off the line of spots to visit in the North Channel and due to its many, many rocks that lie hidden just below the surface of the water. Many a cruising boat has found the rocks, experiencing unpleasant consequences. One of our friends, Frank Vellutini, on Once Around, even developed a complex due to the rocks in McGregor Bay -- http://frankncare.blogspot.com/2011/08/arocknephobia.html
But, as with many things that are difficult to attain, McGregor Bay had many beautiful sights to share with the cruiser who dares attempt entry past the rocks.
Even in an area where the anchorages are many and amazingly beautiful, one has to stop in a town once in a while. Little Current provided an opportunity to restock the larder, pump out the holding tank, catch up with a few friends on the docks, and join Roy for the morning broadcast of The Cruisers Net.
|Light House Leading to Little Current|
On the way to Clapperon, a Great Lakes commercial fishing boat crossed our path. These steel boats are quite different from fishing boats that work the Gulf and the Atlantic. The sunset photo demonstrated that even in paradise there are a few unpleasant aspects. The photo was taken through the window of the boat since the admiral would not allow open doors due to the amassed insects surrounding the boat. You can see one of the biting flies on the window.
Between North and South Benjamin Islands lies a large, rounded, bare, pink granite rock. Many Loopers arrived at the Benjamins to anchor for the night and the pink rock became the site for an impromptu rendezvous -- Rocks on the Rock. The dinghies landed, the refreshments spread, and the party began.
Long Point Cove
On the trip from Long Point Cove to Drummond Island, Michigan, leaving Canada and the North Channel, the Loons gathered to bid the Last Dance crew goodbye. All through Canada, Loons were seen mostly as solitary birds, sometimes in a pair, but never more than two. They always seemed to be close to shore and their nests. Here they have gathered in a large group, far from land.
Maybe they weren't bidding good bye. Maybe they were saying "Come back again soon."