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

   

Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports
By Kismet, Tuesday, January 1, 2013

By Jim Favors

If was a little gusty when we departed Little Current – several fair weather captains decided to opt for keeping their boats tethered to the dock as the front passed through. After looking at the weather report ourselves, and being assured of a small window in the morning before the winds would kick up further, we decided to continue with our plan to head out as early as possible, past Picnic Island making a starboard turn into Wabuno Channel, then heading north. Our goal was to catch the leeward sides of East Rouse, Bedford, Ame Droz and Clapperton Islands as we slowly made our way to our destination for the day, Croker Island, a familiar spot for our last anchorage during this “Magical Mystery Tour” of the North Channel.

Kismet resting at anchor off Croker Island.

We’ve had friends tell us stories of their North Channel trips where they had to endure rough seas, high winds and/or continuous days of rain and cold weather. Up to this point our trip had been almost magical in nature, due to the great weather we were fortunate to have had. One day would seem better than the last and the only hint of anything afoul was the fairly rough waters we encountered when leaving Little Current – even then it was more than just manageable with our sturdy little tug. The trip, up until this point, also held some mystery in that some of the routes were first-time experiences for us. We anchored in coves new to us and were able to explore, by foot, some hiking trails that provided stunning views of surrounding areas. Little Current and Croker Island were our only repeat spots.

Up to this point we had been towing our dinghy behind us with 40 feet of line. When we made a starboard turn into Wabuno Channel, on the way to Croker, I noticed the dinghy was trailing way off on the starboard wake, making it difficult to keep track of from my pilothouse vantage point. As I mentioned earlier, it was windy – I was also concerned about the dinghies stability in the rough seas. I stopped the boat and retied the dinghy’s painter line so it ran around the flagstaff, thereby letting the dinghy pull from the transom’s center point. Off we went again, and the retying seemed to work out the way I had hoped. I could see the dinghy while driving as it was now towing, directly centered behind our Kismet. “Perfect” I thought, until only a little while later it was again out of sight. My initial fear was that it had capsized, or that it had become loose and wandered off onto the rocky shore, which wouldn’t have been easy to retrieve in such rough water. Upon a cockpit inspection, I immediately saw the problem, the flagstaff itself had broke in half, therefore causing the dinghy to tow off center again and not readily visible to me. I was happy to see the dinghy was still secured to the boat; the only assumed loss was the broken flagstaff, which we retrieved from the swim platform.

Our plan of avoiding the rough seas, by taking the lee side route, worked to our advantage once we got behind the full protection of East Rouse Island. It worked all the way to our final approach to Croker Island. By that time three, four or occasional five footers were rolling into our bow, but the ride was still fairly smooth at trawler speed. We made our way slowly the last few miles before turning north between the ominous boulders called, “The Sow and Pigs” and Secretary Island just opposite them. Once we transited between these markers, and we were out of the main channel, the water conditions turned into a silky smooth gelatin as we idled into the high-bluffed and well-protected cove at Croker Island. It felt good to be out of the worsening seas.

This is what the rocky shore looks like, to starboard, as you enter the cove at Croker Island.

The boat on the right was the one nudged up onto the submerged rock slab. In this shot it is is getting pulled back off of the slab hiding under the lighter colored shallow water.

With only a couple of days left of our tour we decided to stay put, relaxing in the peaceful confines of the anchorage. Croker Island feels more like a favorite pair of well-used and comfortable fitting jeans, this being our third visit to the island. I would guess we feel this way because of the fond memories from our prior visits here. It was at this island we had our first North Channel black bear sighting, an experience we’ll not soon forget as we came across it swimming right in front of us while we were out exploring in our dinghy. It was also while anchored here that I knocked my glasses into the crystal clear, sandy-bottomed water. After a 10-foot dive to the bottom I was surprised and happy to retrieve them. On this day, as we dropped anchor and sterned in for a shore tie up to a tree, I wondered what memories we’d make during this visit.

I’m not sure who was startled more, us in our dinghy or “Boo Boo” the black bear as he crossed the channel in front of our dinghy. (Seen here looking back at us from shore.)

Navigation into the main channel of the cove is rather straightforward, as long as you keep your boat in the middle of the entrance at the mouth. Having been here before pays extra dividends in knowing the way in. If one reviews their charts before entering the cove, maybe even having crew on the bow to watch for boulders, you shouldn’t have any problems. There is an obvious outcropping of boulders to starboard, so it’s easy enough to figure you should stay away from those. The port side is not so obvious because a large 50-foot long, flat, granite slab, rests only a foot or so under the water’s surface. With that said, there is plenty of room to navigate into the cove between the hazard areas.

Speaking of that slab of granite, later that first day at anchor, we saw two powerboats circling just outside the cove, seemingly preparing their boats to enter. I was watching them with the binoculars and saw one boat enter slowly as if they knew the particulars of the cove. Shortly after they safely entered the second boat started in, however they were taking a slightly different tack and I could tell right away it was not a good one. They were heading directly towards the waterlogged and slightly hidden granite slab. I quickly picked up our VHF handset to call out a warning, however before I could make radio contact they had come to a sudden stop, stuck on top of the submerged boulder. Of course, all the male boaters anchored nearby jumped into their dinghies more than ready to help. The good news was the grounded boat was moving slowly into the cove and more glided on top of the rock than plowed into it. With some pulling and pushing by their companion boat, and the flotilla of dinghies that arrived to help, it was easy enough to get them dislodged from their perch after about 45 minutes of group effort and ingenuity. Although there was no major damage to this boat you could just imagine the harm that could have been caused at a higher speed. Alas, a new Croker Island memory was made; quite by happen chance – luckily not with our boat! ;

The cove at Croker Island as seen from high up the rocky bluff.

With the boating incident behind us, I felt the need to stretch my legs a little; I took the dinghy to shore for a solo island climbing adventure. We had started our trip by finding wild blueberries on such a hike at South Benjamin, so I was hopeful I’d find some on Croker Island as well. I switch-backed my way up to the top of the bluff, which separates the island from the wide-open waters of the North Channel. Once at the top I saw that the open water had turned turbulent with much larger waves, more white caps, and stronger wind conditions. As I continued in my illusive search for the wild blueberries, I thought to myself how fortunate we were to have left early in the day when the water conditions were somewhat muted. After a long rocky hike, there still were no berries to be found. I continued my ascent to the island’s interior, rummaging here and there without any success, the berry bushes had all dried out or perhaps that bear we saw, years ago, or one of his descendants, had eaten them all. None-the-less it felt good to be out exploring the island’s hidden paradise.

With only eight boats at anchor you can see how spacious the cove at Croker Island is.

Feeling as relaxed as an alligator with a full tummy, sleeping on a log under the hot, southern sun while dangling its feet in a river, is how Lisa and I felt after two weeks in the North Channel. Being in this relaxed state of mind on our last day, all we did was dinghy around the coves of Croker Island visiting other boaters, we also swam and did some hiking. We didn’t swim together though as this is one of the few places we’ve ever spotted snakes swimming near our boat, so I always keep a watchful eye out for reptiles from my perch in the cockpit of the boat while Lisa swims.

We had just came back from hiking around the top of Croker Island and Lisa wanted to check the dinghy out to make sure no snakes had gotten into it while we were gone.

We had a perfect sunset for the last night of our North Channel trip.

After two weeks of cruising bliss, we headed back to Spanish and trailered Kismet to drive north, over the Sault Saint Marie International Bridge and finally back into the USA where we crossed back over the Mackinac Bridge and finally headed south to Charlevoix where the city’s Venetian Festival was already in full swing. We immediately noted how the festivities were a stark contrast to our time spent in Canada, but a fun time for us none-the-less.