Traveling South (Killarney – Covered Portage Cove – Bustard Islands – Hopewell Bay near Pointe Au Baril – Killcoursie – Indian Harbor – Frying Pan Bay – Big Chute – Lock 42 – Orillia)

Note: We realize that our posts have been delayed, but we have not had any Wi-Fi service since we left Killarney on the morning of July 9th. We truly were in the wilderness much of the last couple of weeks, but we are now re-entering civilization and should be able to post more frequently.

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Killarney even has a drive in theater for boats!

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Covered Portage Cove

It was hard to leave Killarney, the gateway to the North Channel. The Killarney Mountain Lodge marina there was beautiful with its manicured lawns, beautiful flowers, brand new docks, and inviting red Adirondack chairs where one could sit and watch the boats go by. Before we untied I took a quick walk to the local fish market to buy fresh fish for dinner. Then off we went to Covered Portage Cove, a lovely anchorage near Killarney, where we took a dinghy ride and stayed for the night.

The next day, Friday, we took one last ride through Killarney on our way back to the beautiful anchorage in the Bustard Islands where we had stopped on our way north. It was a longer day of motoring and we were back out on the open bay, but the payoff was that after that day most of our travels would be in the small boat channel on Georgian Bay.

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The Small Boat Channel

The small boat channel is fascinating. It is a challenge for the helmsman (John), but a joy for the photographer (me)! For much of the trip on Saturday the seascape was dreamlike. If you can imagine the surface of the moon covered with water, but with rocks and craters sticking out in a random pattern with just a little vegetation, you will have an idea of the scene. Besides photographing the channel, I sat far up on the bow to watch for boulders that may not have been charted. John did an amazing job of weaving his way through, sometimes with barely enough room for AfterMath to make the turn between the closely placed red and green buoys that guide the way. Because there are so many intersecting channels on the bay, to make matters worse, it is sometimes hard to remember which side the red or green should be on as it’s difficult to tell if you are returning to or leaving the larger body of water. (Generally, the saying is, “red right returning”, but you have to know if you are coming or going to make that work.) In our case it changed several times a day!

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Snakelike in curves, one of the especially tricky areas was next to an island that is apparently owned by the Cunninghams. At first I just noticed the big letters painted on the rock, but soon we discovered that the Cunninghams have a sense of humor! It is possible that the only alligator in the Georgian Bay exists on their land, and the blonde fishing skeleton with her dog reminded me that it may take a long time for me to ever catch a fish larger than the one 5 inch one I caught a while ago!

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sunset at bustard islands

After piloting through the rocks, we had to detour out into the bay again, as one part of the channel has turns that are too short for any boat over 40 feet. The detour brought us back past a lighthouse we passed days ago and past landmarks we have seen before. Apparently, Pointe au Baril is named for the barrel shown here. It marked a treacherous point where a canoe was once lost. The story says that a barrel of whiskey was found the next spring that had fallen from the canoe. Fur traders drank the whiskey and then left the barrel as a beacon to mark the dangerous area. Eventually a torch was placed there for the first returning fishermen to light each day to guide the other boats. The cross is a monument to Samuel Champlain who first came to the Georgian Bay in 1615. He was the first European to map and explore the bay, which was named for King George IV in 1822.

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While making our passage on Saturday we passed a milestone for us! We could now proudly state that we had traveled 1000 miles since the beginning of our voyage and we did it without any mechanical delays or groundings! I still knock on wood every time I even think this thought.

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At the end of the day we anchored in Hopewell Bay feeling successful and happy. There we met a loon who calmly approached the boat until Kirby decided to greet it with a few too many friendly barks. Those of you who live where loons reside will probably agree that they are beautiful birds with a haunting call that is easy to identify and long remembered. I was happy I snapped a shot of our friend before he ducked underwater and swam away from the cheerful Wheaten Terrier who only wanted to play.

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Sunday took us a short distance to Killcoursie. There we anchored in a Killdeer Provincial Park. It was a bit of a change from our normally calm and quiet havens, but it was fun for a day. There were campers lining the shores and beaches with the noise of summer everywhere. Jet skis and water skiers zoomed around, but thankfully, were not allowed in the anchorage or the swimming areas. We hopped in the dinghy for a ride to a nearby marina to look for a casting rod for me (It must be the rod that is the issue, not the fisherwoman!) and we passed a wedding taking place on the rocks with the bride and groom standing on a rock out in the water. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera so that event will go undocumented, and the marina didn’t sell rods, so it was an unsuccessful adventure.

During the early morning Kirby proved to us what a great watchdog he is. Along the way he has been alerting us to boats if he thinks they are too close and he has been very helpful at times, but Monday morning while we were all sleeping, we heard him run full speed up the stairs from our room and bark wildly. We couldn’t imagine what the fuss was about, but he was so adamant that John got up to check it out. What Kirby heard from down below was someone from a neighboring boat who was swimming parallel to AfterMath, but only about 15 feet from her. Apparently that is in our personal space, according to Kirby and he was alerting us to the terrible danger! While there was really no threat, of course, it was nice to know that no Pirate of the Caribbean will be coming onboard quietly. Of course, if any pirate makes his way aboard, he will be greeted with Wheaten kisses and requests for pats and cuddles along with the Golden Retriever imitation of a throw rug. Watchdogs, maybe. Guard dogs, not at all.

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On Monday we made our way again through the channel of rocks and obstacles to Indian Harbor with a stop at Henry’s Fish House. Henry’s is famous for its fish and chips and is a destination for most boaters on the bay. The meal was delicious, and, almost not surprisingly anymore, we met a couple that spends quite a lot of time with friends in Bradenton, Florida. They were so excited to talk to us that we would never have told them what a common occurrence this is.

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The rocks are so beautiful and varied in color

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Back through the rocks and complicated channels

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Dumbo has nothing on Jake when he is on a dinghy ride!

We arrived in Indian Harbor and were greeted by a large Indian made of stone at the entrance. It was a fun way to start our adventure in this little stone-surrounded cove. We anchored and put the dinghy in the water right away and then took off to do some exploration. Along the way we discovered lots of stone Indians. It was almost a treasure hunt to look for them.

While we can say that AfterMath has never hit a rock, we can’t say the same for the dinghy! The little inlets here can have depths of 25 feet one second and just a few feet farther have just a few inches. While the water is clear and it is easy to see down at least 8 feet to the bottom, one look up at the scenery is enough to make a person miss the next boulder under the surface. We never hit very hard, but we are quite happy we had a keel guard put on when we ordered the little boat!

It was such a beautiful anchorage and we needed a day to catch up on cleaning and tasks, so we decided to stay another night. Also, we knew a storm was going to pass through and we were safe and secure where we were. Unfortunately, we didn’t get back out on the dinghy, but I think both of us looked at that as a mixed blessing.

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Traveling from Indian Harbor

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Another momunent for Champlain

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Frying Pan Bay

Wednesday brought us to Beausoleil Island, a Canadian National Park, where we entered Frying Pan Bay. It’s a very small anchorage, but a popular one. There are a couple of docks for a few boats, space for a few boats to anchor, and some space along the shore for those that both anchor and tie up to a tree with a stern line. We got AfterMath settled and had a relaxing afternoon and evening there.

After a lazy morning in our anchorage, pausing for extra coffee outside in the warm sunshine, it was time to raise the anchor and be on our way. Leaving Frying Pan Bay was bittersweet as it meant we had reached the end of our trip on the Georgian Bay. We enjoyed our time there so much, but we have a date to meet Kelly and her family in Orillia on July 20th and we are so excited to see the kids and grandkids. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost four months since we have seen them as, in the past, we were together every few weeks. Thursday, though, was a gorgeous day and we fully enjoyed slowly winding our way through the narrow channels of rocks for the last time.

Before we knew it, we had traveled back into the Trent-Severn Canal and once again traversed the first of our southbound locks. We made our way back to the docks at the bottom of the Big Chute, but, as it was late afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the safe harbor there instead of continuing over it. We were surprised by a rainy day on Friday. John had built in a couple of rain days and it’s not fun to do locks in the rain, so we stayed put on the dock and took care of a few jobs such as defrosting the refrigerator and neatening up Kirby’s hair a little bit.

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At every lock on the Trent-Severn, there is what is called a “blue line” on the wall. Boats tied up along the blue line are ready to go through the lock and are awaiting a signal from the lockmaster that it is safe to enter. Most of the time a green light appears, but at the Big Chute and the two pan locks at Kirkland and Peterborough boats are called in individually. We moved AfterMath to the blue line at the Big Chute early yesterday, Saturday, in preparation for her transport again over the hill and the road and then back into the water on the other side. This time I wanted to get pictures of AfterMath in the system, so I hopped off when we were called and went up the stairs next to the railway. It was great fun to see how it all looked from shore and, even though I really enjoyed staying on the boat when we were traveling north, I am happy to have the pictures I took on the southbound leg. John picked me up on the other side and we headed on through a couple more locks before stopping for the night.

Today we are in Orillia. We are so excited that we will be meeting up with the Kirk branch of the family tomorrow. They are stopping at Niagara Falls on their way here but they will be here late in the day and in time to celebrate Kelly’s birthday, which is Tuesday. There is a large park near the marina in Orillia with a beach, a playground, gardens, and a splash park for the kids. We will stay here tomorrow and Tuesday nights and then go on our way with everyone aboard. This quiet boat is about to come to life and we can’t wait!!

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2 thoughts on “Traveling South (Killarney – Covered Portage Cove – Bustard Islands – Hopewell Bay near Pointe Au Baril – Killcoursie – Indian Harbor – Frying Pan Bay – Big Chute – Lock 42 – Orillia)

  1. Living life thru your posts. Sounds great. Wish I were there. Thanks for the fun

    Happy Connecting. Sent from my Sprint Samsung Galaxy S® 5 Sport


  2. Have a great time with your family. I can’t imagine some of the navigation John is doing. Better him than me for sure. Miss you guys.


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