Ever since we began the Great Loop we heard that cruising the North Channel would be the highlight of our Loop. Boaters from both Canada and Michigan rave about this area. Was it going to be something that was built up with so much anticipation that it would be anticlimactic? Not a chance!!
Gypsies Palace left Tobermory to head straight across Georgian Bay to make our way to the North Channel. We knew that there was some great cruising in Georgian Bay and we not going to be able to back track to see it all. We decided that we would find an great anchorage in the Bustard Islands.
We had not had a chance to anchor out since the Hudson River and we were anxious to experience the beautiful waters and scenery of northern Canada. Our first stop dropping hook was magical. We backed into the shore as close as possible and tied the stern to the trees. We dropped an anchor in the front so that we did not swing around. Most boats in the North Channel anchor this way in coves. We spent two days there finally using those kayaks that we had bought in Canada. It was so much fun! There were many back areas to explore and paddle around. We got both dogs into the kayaks and found that it was easier to take them to shore in the kayak versus the dinghy. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the high 60’s to low 70’s. In Florida we would have thought that those temperatures were chilly! When we started out we would turn our heater on when it got down into the 50’s. Now we are not cold at all!
Another popular place which everyone recommends is Baie Fine and the Pool. This area did not disappoint. Baie Fine is actually a fiord so it is pretty spectacular to come into the channel. We anchored in Baie Fine East and pretty much had the anchorage to ourselves.
We did not take Gypsies Palace in the area called the Pool because we heard that it is very grassy and sometimes getting the anchor to set is a problem. We used the dinghy to go back there which is what a lot of people do. We left the dinghy on shore and hiked up a trail to Topaz Lake. This lake is totally enclosed with no boat access. The color of the water is amazing. We saw people swimming in the beautiful water. We did some exploring and found wild blueberries to pick. That was a first! Steve ended up making blueberry pancakes with them. Isn’t that cool? Baie Fine was totally worth it.
While in the North Channel we stopped on land only twice. Once in Kilarney and the other in Little Current. While at Little Current we attended a daily radio broadcast where boaters obtain local weather information and news. The fun part is that the host (Roy) asks boats to call in and state where they are located and where they are going. It is nice to hear familiar boat names during the call ins. We also waited for our friends on One Eye Dog to arrive and began to “Buddy Boat” with them. We hadn’t traveled with them since the Erie Canal. Now we will be traveling with them until Alabama.
Our next anchorage was in the Benjamin’s between north and south Benjamin. We saw on Active Captain that this is a great anchorage, but it can be crowded. It was, but it was also very large. I think we had about 25 boats in there one night. We rafted our two boats together and that way only used on anchor as we did swing around. We spent two days there where we kayaked and thoroughly enjoyed the area. This is where the dogs really enjoyed going to shore via kayak. There was a beach and room to run on the flat rocks. We were even invited to “Rocktails” by the other local boaters…..a first for us Docktail Loopers. Oh, and we caught fish – small mouth bass, which we enjoyed for dinner that night. Another first on the Loop!
We were involved with a “medical emergency” while we were anchored in the Benjamin’s. Our other Looper friends on Lab Partners (they have a big lab) were there also with their buddy boat. We all did the Rocktails and everything was fine. The next morning Beth was in excoriating pain and needed to get to a hospital. Luckily, her buddy boat consisted of parametics. We determined that our friends on One Eye Dog had the fastest boat with their 52 foot Hatteras. Beth was transferred to their boat with one of the parametics and off they went back to Little Current. It turned out that it was kidney stones and everything is all right now, but it was fantastic to see how the community of Loopers all pulled together to help.
Anchoring and cruising in the North Channel has been the highlight of our Loop. We were told this at the Looper Rendezvous and it did live up to the hype. The dogs seemed to love it, too. They got used to a shorter walk in a limited space. In Little Current our boat got known as “Gypsies Pee Palace”. The green mat on our bow seemed to encourage everyone’s dog to pee on it. We had Looper friends that we having trouble with their dogs going on board. However, they all seemed to like our mat so they would bring over their mat so that other dogs would pee on it. It got to be quite the joke. Steve got a new nick name as “Pee Daddy”! So far, our dogs use it to pee on, but not on a regular basis. But, they use it enough that we are pretty happy!
Our last night in the North Channel was at an anchorage called Grant Island. The winds were picking up and we tried to get as much protection as possible. Our boats were rafted together, but the noise of our fenders rubbing on each other’s boat and the wind howling did not make for much sleep. We got up early to get to our next stop – Mackinac Island – and, back in the USA! We were really sad to leave Canada though. Our time spent there was so pleasant and welcoming.
We definitely are planning to return to this area on future cruises. Who could resist this scenery?
“She’s changing channels as she goes”……….Jimmy Buffett