Time and Distance

We’ve come a long way over the past two plus months to where we are today.

We are anchored within three miles of the US border, still in Canada, and will transition through Customs via a new app, CBPRoam that’s similar to the CanArrive app that we used to get into Canada.

Libbie and I looked at each other today with the realization that our trip for this year is almost over. It was a little shocking for both of us.

Here’s what we’ve done since leaving Killbear Marina after getting Selkie’s exhaust fixed.

Our previous buddy boats that made up the Tres Amigos were headed our way, and in fact before sunset one evening at Killbear, one of the boats pulled in a few slips down.

We got caught up over Docktales and decided to go to an anchorage close by the next morning.

As we were preparing to depart the next morning, our friend said, “There goes the neighborhood.”

I looked up and saw our third boat of the Tres Amigos pulling in to the dock next to ours.

We caught their lines, got caught up, and then cast off for Kilcoursie Bay, where one of Ontario’s provincial parks is.

We had a beautiful anchorage at Kilcoursie.

Our buddy boat, Dashaway, parked at Kilcoursie Bay

We dinghied to our buddy boat for Docktales,. During Docktales we discussed plans for the next day, and agreed we would take a long run the next day up to the Bustards, a group of islands that had a great reputation for anchoring.

Through text we communicated our plans to the third of the Tres Amigos back at Killbear.

We then returned to Selkie to prepare dinner and go to bed.

The next morning, we left early, and as we rounded the point to go past Killbear Marina, we were pleased to see that our friends on the third boat had cast off and was headed out to join us.

It is a long day to the Bustards and there are two ways to get there.

One is the inside passage, which has twists, turns, lots of submerged rocks and takes much longer than the other choice, going “outside”.

The issue with “outside” is that it works great until the weather decides not to cooperate. If things get tough outside, it’s often very difficult to get back in because the channels between the two routes are few and far between, so you are stuck in rough weather.

As it was, the forecast for fair weather held, and we made the Bustards after 7 hours.

The Bustards were an idyllic place for anchoring. We all anchored, and hopped in our dinghies to explore the place.

The Bustards proved to be an idyllic anchorage.

We picked an island and decided to do Docktales on land, with nothing but nature and our boats surrounding us.

The Tres Amigos in the Buatards. From the left, Cat Bottom Girl, Dashaway and Selkie

Then, we had dinghy races.

The next day, we had a four hour run to Killarney, where Libbie’s parents honeymooned back in the middle of the last century.

It proved to be a beautiful stop. The other two boats from Tres Amigos chose to use slips, but our friends from the Killbear Marina recommended we try Covered Portage Bay.

We were very glad we did as Covered Portage proved to be the best anchorage of our trip.

Covered Portage was our best anchorage
Selkie in Covered Portage

After two days, we continued on to Baie Fine (which was translated as “Fine Bay”, and it was indeed).

Baie Fine is a 7 mile long fiord with tall granite cliffs on both sides. Although it did not had the same height and elevation as Lake Tahoe, it reminded us of our home in many ways.

At the end of the fiord was a narrow shallow passage that opened into a smaller fiord only two miles long and then opened to the right into a small bay appropriately named The Pool.

Headed towards The Pool

This bay proved to be full of panfish and smallmouth bass, including the one that Libbie caught, and that we had for dinner.

The Pool

From there, we traveled a couple of hours to Little Current at the top of Manitoulin Island. There’s an old railroad swing bridge that has been converted into the only vehicle bridge onto this large island. The bridges opens on the hour for 15 minutes.

Headed towards Little Current on Baie Fine

The current can be substantial, up to five knots, similar to tidal currents we have seen on either coast. Some say the town was misnamed.

Little Current is in a narrow channel between the Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron. Water current is generated when the wind blows from either direction through the narrow pass between the island and the mainland, similar to tidal flows on the east and west coast.

The current can be substantial, up to 5 knots.

One of the locals joked as they helped us dock about the town name.

It should have been “Lotta Current.”

While we were there a cruise ship pulled in. There are a series of smaller cruise ships that ply the Great Lakes now, but I’m pleased Libbie and I are blessed to do it on our own vessel.

After Little Current, we went to a great anchorage in Moiles Harbour. It is one of the thousands and thousands of anchorages available in this part of the Great Lakes.

Then, our mission changed. We were coming out of the island chains where we’d spent the last few weeks into open water on the North Channel, which can be quite treacherous.

There was one more day of nice weather before a string low pressure weather system was forecast to rotate through the region.

We couldn’t dally any longer.

We bolted (if you can say 8.5 miles per hour is bolting) for St. Joseph Island, which was close to an eight hour run from Moiles Harbour. Selkie handled the run with aplomb.

We pulled into Moffat Bay in St. Joseph Island. It was much like my family’s cabin bay of Cecil Bay on Lake Michigan, lined with cabins, beaches and a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees lining the shore.

After a swim and a dinghy ride, we went to bed.

The next morning, we headed to Anderson Bay. To get there we had to cross an open stretch of a few miles in 25 to 30 knot winds, so we headed towards the lee shore to minimize the wave action.

As we crossed, we noticed a rolling swell, something we hadn’t felt in a while. The North Channel must have really been rocking with big waves for us to feel the swell as far in as we were.

We anchored in Anderson Bay just before we were hit with a series of big storms, where we saw winds clocking above 30 knots in our anchorage in a major downpour.

The storms hit us pretty hard. The nice thing about anchorages is that even if it is blasting in the anchorage, the wave action is very small. We enjoyed watching the storm.

Tomorrow, we reenter the US for the first time since June 11 when we entered Canada.

We’ve been on Selkie since May 15.

When we arrive in Mackinaw in a few days, we will have traveled over 1,500 miles on her, starting in Solomons, Maryland.

That’s a lot of time and distance.

We aren’t done yet. In fact, when we stop in Mackinaw we will have done about 25% of the Loop.

Libbie and I wrapped up our day reflecting about our time on Selkie and the distance we have come so far.

To us, it doesn’t seem like a long time or long distance, because we have been only focusing on the present, except for a few days ahead planning our routes based on weather.

My grandfather had a saying, “Yard by yard, life is hard, but inch by inch, life’s a cinch.”

I guess we’ve been living his mantra for a while now.

Still, when I think about it, it’s been a lot of time and distance.

By Tad Sheldon

I'm a retired Silicon Valley Technologist and Director. I teach skiing as a 4th (5th? 6th?) career for fun, and am passionate about Boating. I'm even more passionate about my family and friends. I volunteer occasionally for non-profit Boards, and currently serve as the Secretary of the Board for Western Division of the Professional Ski Instructors of America / American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

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