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

October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable

September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem

September 1, 2012

August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options

August 1, 2012
Go West!

July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination

July 1, 2012

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

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

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


Gem in the Rough
By Kismet, Friday, October 15, 2010



By Jim Favors

Halfway between Canada’s Little Current and Gore Bay, both on Manitoulin Island, sits a small group of islands called the Benjamin’s. Like Elvis, Beyonce, Cher, Oprah and other one-named celebrities the Benjamin’s carry the same allure with North Channel cruisers, probably more! The main islands consist of North Benjamin, South Benjamin and Croker Island. All are equally beautiful with their rugged rocky hills; Barney Rubble sized boulders and well protected anchorages. Our anchoring “Gem in the Rough” favorite is off Croker Island; it’s where we spent three wonderful days. It’s a “gem” because it’s so rare to find a place with such pristine beauty and “in the rough” because of it’s natural rocky ruggedness.

How perfect is this? Croker Island anchorage view from the top of the tree lined rocky bluff.


As we approached the Benjamin’s for the very first time we were more than a little nervous because of the shallow waters, large rocks and meandering entrance. As luck would have it, the water was calm and clear so we could see all the submerged obstacles below us that we wanted to avoid. The clear water also made it seem like it was much shallower than it actually was, kind of like those car mirrors that have a label stating that objects are actually closer than they appear, same thought applies when cruising the waters of the North Channel. With


The hiking on Croker Island gave us the double benefit of great scenery, as seen in this shot, as well as exercise.

Lisa on the bow standing watch we kept the Sow and Pigs, as well as the Boars Rock, Islands to our port and Secretary Island to our starboard upon our entrance. Lisa remained our bow ornament as we continued our course into what’s considered the best anchorage in the well-protected cove off Croker Island.


Once settled into our med-moor style anchorage in 8 feet of gin clear water with our stern tied off to the rock lined cliff, it was time to relax. The dinghy was already in the water so we headed out with a packed lunch, we were off to explore all the nooks and crannies of North and South Benjamin. From wide open coves and small bays to the meandering channels that you can only get through with a dinghy-size boat – the beauty seemed more breathtaking around each turn. We eventually worked our way into a narrow rock passage (four to five feet wide) that brought us into the back entrance of one of the most unusual anchorages we’d ever seen, where several shallow draft boats had secured themselves for a comfortable layover.

We would have loved to have brought Kismet back into this channel which is lined with boulders the size of a Suburban but I think I would have worried myself up against the rocks... too tight for my comfort. With that said there were half a dozen boats secured to the rocks from both their bow and stern. The anchorage is not conventional in that a bowline is secured to one set of rocks while an aft line is secured to the opposing rocks on shore to your stern. For added protection, additional lines are run to shore but in most cases your anchor is for decoration and remains resting on the bow pulpit. We landed our dinghy on one of the house-sized boulders to survey the activity and enjoy our packed lunch.

As you can see the rocks go right down into the water. This photo shows the view looking across to South Benjamin Island.

Sunning ourselves on the rocks, like an alligator does on a log in the swamps of Florida, we watched boaters swimming near the back of their boats or sitting in folding chairs on the rocks by their boat reading their favorite novel while others are exploring on shore maybe looking for the island’s popular blueberry patch.

Lisa and I continued our dinghy trip and made it around the entire Island of South Benjamin. Our mission, this trip out, was to scout for potential future anchorages, of which we found several, while also taking in the natural beauty on the way. There are no houses, therefore no residents, on any of the Benjamin Islands with the exception of a small, black bear population and of course the fair weather community of boaters lining the shores.

How cool is this to be tied up in a rock like canyon. If you look close you’ll see someone in the water cooling off.

Our next stop after leaving Croker Island and the Benjamin’s, as we continued our travels, was an anchorage at Oak Bay, in the Whaleback Channel area. We were slowly making our way northeast along the northern coastline towards Thessalon and were midway through our time in the channel. Since we were traveling in June, there were not many other boats either traveling in our direction or in any of the anchorages we peeked into that day so we dropped anchor, all by ourselves, at a spot where a few cottages sparsely dotted the shoreline. Again, since it was early in the season there was little noise or activity from any of the cottages on shore so we settled in for a quiet, peaceful night of reading, playing cards and dining outside on the back deck.


Upon our return to Kismet we found several more boats had made Croker Island their chosen home for the night, a small community was developing around us. A little before happy hour we had struck up a conversation with some folks anchored just to our port side. A short while later Mary and Bing invited us over to Strohaus for a drink and conversation. Everything was going great until I became overly animated and knocked my sunglasses off my head and into the water. I watched helplessly as I followed their descent down into the crystal clear water to their resting place on the sandy bottom, ten feet below the surface. With water this clear the only problem retrieving the glasses was the initial shock I encountered when I dove into the cold Canadian water that only a few months ago was frozen solid.

Mary and Bing had been to Croker Island many times during their cruising adventures and told us about a great hiking path on the island. Because of the known bear population in this area, they offered, and we accepted, the use of a bear whistle to use when we went ashore for a hike. The next day we hiked all over the surrounding area checking out the vistas from atop the highest points of the island. We wandered around for a couple of hours through the scraggily cedar tree lined path, climbing up and over large boulders, all the while wearing the bear whistle around one of our necks.

The view shows how boaters tie off the bow of their boat onto the rocks, without using an anchor.


The next day we headed to Spanish. This is a port that we’d heard a lot about from cruising friends over the years so we were curious as to what the attraction was at this location. We arrived on the cusp of a holiday weekend – Canada Day, so we were observers while many Canadian boaters carried supplies to their boats from their cars and gathered their family and friends on the dock. They were either headed towards a favorite anchorage or a cottage on one of the nearby islands to celebrate the holiday. Spanish Marina is very boater friendly with a warm and inviting boater’s lounge which Jim enjoyed while I took advantage of the laundry facilities. We walked to the little store in town and met some locals en route. Picking up supplies, whether needed or not is always a good chance to get off the boat to socialize, always a welcome activity after being alone together for several days on the hook.

Needless to say, we felt fairly safe having this little red whistle in our possession. On the way back to our boat we returned the whistle to Strohaus and Bing asked me how it worked. I told him we never saw one single bear so we didn’t have to use them. It was then that he said that we were supposed to have been blowing them every so often in order to chase the nearby bears away!




This is a typical rock formation in the Benjamin’s and they are just as big below the water!

After waiting an extra day due to high winds in the area we left Spanish to head towards Long Point and Bear Drop. We threw out the hook again in a small, well-protected cove with two other sailboats and shortly after launched the dinghy so we could explore the area surrounding the anchorage, which has many smooth granite boulders nearby. As we got further away from the boat, we found a few little ponds around and between rusty, spotted boulders. With the smaller dinghy as our means of transportation, we could get closer to the plant and wildlife and not worry so much about the hard boulders hidden beneath the water.

On our third day we spent a couple more hours exploring Croker Island by dinghy, relaxing and reading on the back deck of our boat and doing the chores that are associated with life at anchor. It was an unusually hot day so around dinner time we started the genset to cool things off, charge the batteries and prepare dinner. We had finished dinner and decided to turn off the air conditioning – it was then that we suddenly heard some commotion coming from the nearby boats. We hadn’t noticed the disturbance earlier because of having our windows closed with the air conditioning noise. Of course we had to go out onto the cockpit to find out what all the fuss was all about.

If you’re old enough you might recall the photo taken in Dallas, Texas of all the people with their outstretched arms pointing upward to the building where the shots came from on that frightful day when we lost our President. We did not lose anyone this day on Croker Island but the scene was eerily familiar. From the cockpits of half a dozen boats, we saw women with their outstretched arms pointing up the rocky hillside as they were jumping up and down and yelling. We looked on shore and all the dads were hustling up the sides of the Barney Rubble boulders waving paddles in their outstretched arms, resembling soldiers in the throws of hand-to-hand combat.



You can find the most beauty in the Benjamin’s just standing around, like my wonderful Lisa.

Still not knowing what all the commotion was about we inquired with Bing on Strohaus, who told us the kids had gone for a blueberry-picking excursion when they spotted a bear. The kids screamed for help, the mothers returned more screams, while the dads ran like wild monkeys in an effort to protect their young. Apparently, all the yelling did the trick because soon afterwards everyone returned safely to the safety of their boats. I never did find out if the kids found any blueberries!

Later we overheard the dads say they saw the bear go over to the over side of the hill, towards the water on the other side, this was basically the area we had walked just the day before. Strangely, we suddenly wanted to see this bear so we headed off in our dinghy to see if we could see him on the other side of the island from the water. As we rounded the bend Lisa suddenly spotted the bear as he was leaving Secretary Island walking into the water to swim across the channel right in front of us, back to Crocker Island, most likely looking for more blueberries and less kids. The bear swam within 200 feet of us, got out of the water and gave us a menacing stare before he scampered up the hill.



The small island is where we saw the black bear swim in front of us when Lisa and I were out in the dinghy; he came ashore where I’m standing in this photo.

Lisa and I got up early the next morning and as we were having a cup of coffee we spotted the bear again, this time less then 50 feet from the starboard side of our boat. The bear was returning from an early morning blueberry hunt on a very small island that sits in the anchorage area. He waded through the water, up the rocky tree lined hills to the comfort of his den never to be seen by us again.

As you can imagine our newfound “Gem” has been a source of many fond memories for us, it’s also one of the reasons why we love the North Channel. It could very well be one of the contenders for our favorite part of the Great Loop!