July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?
By Kismet, Friday, October 1, 2010

The thrill of the adventure is what drew Lisa and me to undertake the challenge of embarking on the 6,000-mile Great Loop boat trip. Going places we’d never been, making new acquaintances, learning first hand the history of our great country and taking in the beauty of our vast North American continent from the vantage point of the rivers, lakes, canals, bayous and bays from the Mississippi River east to the Atlantic Ocean and from Florida to Canada’s stunning North Channel. We experienced countless first time events like the school of dolphins playfully swimming in the crystal clear waters near Destin, Florida seemingly guiding us into port or the feeling of pride as we anchored in the shadows of the Statue of Liberty. So it’s almost impossible to answer the question we get asked on a regular basis: “what’s been your favorite place on the Great Loop?”

Killarney’s Sportsman’s Inn and Marina uses this water taxi, called Tinker Bell, to shuttle boaters across the channel..

Two hundred and fifty miles is the farthest we had ever boated from our homeport of Charlevoix, Michigan before heading out on the Great Loop so it’s no wonder everything was unknown to us. Five thousand seven hundred and fifty miles of brand new uncharted waters for Lisa and me to explore, 96% of the Loop! It’s the last 4% or 250 miles of the North Channel and Lake Michigan that are the waters practically in our backyard and this is where we eventually found ourselves – finally returning to familiar territory. We were slowly closing our Great Loop adventure and now that we’ve had a taste of big water adventure, our thoughts were busy formulating what the next adventure might be and what were some of our favorite places that we might want to revisit.

 

 

Here you see the channel in Killarney, looking west, as we head out to Baie Fine. The town of Killarney is to our starboard.

 

 

So, the question of where was, or is, our favorite place on the Great Loop still begs for an answer? Well I promise to tell you later after I’ve told you a little about Canada’s pristine and very rocky North Channel.

We’ll start at the imaginary line of where Georgian Bay and the North Channel start, a place called Killarney and by this name alone you’d think we were in Ireland but alas we’re in Northern Ontario. Killarney is a small village protected by an island on its south side, it has a channel that runs east to west so boaters are very well protected from the elements when they visit Killarney. Lisa and I had reserved a slip at the Killarney Mountain Lodge on the east side of the channel, a wonderful resort complete with swimming pool, shuffle board courts, bar and restaurant and we took advantage of each and every one of the amenities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This, at the entrance to Covered Portage Cove, is typical of the rock walls that line many of the anchorages. It was here we saw kids jumping into the water from the highest ledge.

This shot was taken from the western end of Covered Portage Cove looking back towards the entrance.

Once we were hooked up to the hydro (electricity) and had our lines secured we headed to the famous Herbert’s Fish and Chips Restaurant. This is not your typical epicurean treat, Herbert’s is a converted school bus painted red – it sits just off the channel and serves the white fish that the Northern waters are known for. It does not matter how many times you visit Killarney this was and still is one of our favorite treats – it’s not to be missed.

Later that same afternoon we took a dinghy ride west, out of the channel and over to Covered Portage Cove, just a few miles away. With a “dogleg” type entrance and extremely high, shear rock walls boaters are well protected in just about any weather condition once inside. As we entered the turn into the cove we were entertained by a venturesome group of kids diving from the rock cliffs, high off of the water into a deep-water pool that only months before had been frozen solid.

 

 

Notice the very large boulders at the narrow entrance to Covered Portage Cove they get left to your starboard as you thread yourself into the Cove.

Covered Portage Cove is a favorite spot for North Channel Cruisers and today was no exception as there were easily 20 boats anchored with room for many more. We landed the dinghy so we could scale the rocky cliffs; get some exercise with the ancillary benefit of the exceptional view from shore. We made it to the top with no problem other than the rock ledge Lisa tried to move with a head butt… that hurt! We could see down onto the quietly moored boats, hear the echoes of the kids screams as they dove from the cliffs off in the distance as well as view the horizon of this special place, one we’re sure to return to.

After our two-day stay in Killarney we headed to Baie Fine (pronounced Bay Fin), a short 12-mile run to the entrance before you make a 10-mile cruise up to the “Pool.” The day was exhilarating for us because the sky was clear blue, just the slightest breeze, no humidity and the boat slipped through the water as softly as a hot knife cutting through butter. The stretch from the entrance of Baie Fine to the Pool is a meandering fjord, lined by quartz wall cliffs that reach high to the sky as you make your way, unnervingly close to shore, in the ever-narrowing water canyon. Following the marked channel was tricky, as it appeared we could almost reach out of the pilothouse and touch the rock walls of the fjord. Having never cruised into Baie Fine back to Pool before we were amazed by the natural beauty and felt fortunate that we were able to cruise all the way back there for an experience like none other we’ve had to date.

 

It does not get much better then this as we look out at all the boats anchored at the Pool, which is located at the end of Baie Fine.

One of the highlights of our anchorage at the Pool happened when we landed our dinghy on the shore nearby for a planned hike up the rocky path to Topaz Lake. Topaz Lake sits a few hundred feet ABOVE the Pool and this popular watering hole was naturally carved out of the massive rock during the Ice Age. We later learned that the lake has no known living organisms so the crystal clear water is great for a refreshing dip especially after the long, buggy hike uphill to the lake – neither of us could resist this tempting treat.

 

This photo of Topaz Lake is one of our favorites of the North Channel.It’s 140 miles from Killarney, Ontario on the east side of the North Channel, to Detour, Michigan on the furthest point west on the North Channel. One could easily cruise this distance in one to three days, depending on your vessel’s speed but why would you want to? There are too many unique towns and wilderness to explore. Many boaters seek the tranquil coves for a remote anchorage and some will spend 4-6 weeks soaking up the raw and natural beauty. So it was not unusual when we left the Pool at Baie Fine for an overnight anchorage at Heywood Island, only a short 14-mile cruise southwest

 

Heywood Island doesn’t have the natural rock beauty of Baie Fine or some of the more popular anchorages in the North Channel but Lisa and I have two fond memories from a one-night stop in 2002, before our Great Loop trip. As we approached the Island for the very first time we began scouting for the perfect spot to drop the hook. Being somewhat new to anchoring with a larger boat we were not as proficient at the proper techniques as we are today.

It must have looked like a comedy act from the decks of the other moored boats as we dropped our anchor, could not get a good set, lifted the anchor to retry in a different spot…. several times. Two sailors, who had been watching us with amusement, came over by dinghy after a while to offer some friendly advice and assistance. This is when we learned about the proper technique of dropping the anchor and backing down to secure a proper set, we’ve used this technique ever since with great success. Today, it’s more often us who watch others and offer assistance… after all we wouldn’t want a badly anchored boat to drift into us in the middle of the night.

 

 

 

Lisa likes to say I’m her favorite subject when taking photos; here I’m getting ready for dip in Topaz Lake.

We woke the next morning to our second memorable experience at Heywood Island. As the sun was starting to rise the birds started to sing like we had never heard before. The melodic sound was if a group of birds were performing in an orchestra or carrying out a colorful conversation with each other. We lay in bed mesmerized by the bird’s rendition for the better part of 30 minutes before we rose for the day to head out for the town of Little Current. We’ve never heard birds sing like this since our time at Heywood Island and the songs we do hear are always compared with and always fall short of that memorable morning.

 

 

 

 

Notice how clear the water is at this photo taken at Heywood Island.

The trip to Little Current was a leisurely 10-mile cruise from Heywood Island, past the Light House to the channel that separates Manitoulin Island from Goat Island. Little Current sits on the north shore of Manitoulin Island just past the railroad swing bridge that connects the two islands. It’s called Little Current because of the current that’s created between the two Islands from the larger bodies of water to the east and west. When waiting for the swing bridge to open, idling in neutral we could feel the pull of the water drawing us closer to the bridge, making it important to pay attention to the task at hand. By visiting Manitoulin Island we were able to enjoy the colorful Canadian Island lifestyle which is found along this waterfront, we had a beer or two, fresh ice cream but more importantly we realized that we had set foot on the largest fresh water Island in the world and this was not even on our bucket list.

So, we’ve been in the North Channel eight days and we’ve only traveled 46 miles, with a little more than a hundred to go. There’s so much to see we’ll have to conclude our North Channel exploits in the next log when we’ll try to answer the question, “What’s your favorite place on the Great Loop?”