July 28, 2001
Georgian Bay is everything we had heard it would be - - rocky island after rocky island; twisting, turning channels that, in places, are no wider than 2 boats across; and lovely coves and bays that either require local knowledge to get into (because of sunken islands or just-under-the-water rocks) or are not charted at all. I must admit, it is all a bit intimidating. But we have found that the charts and cruising guides are fairly accurate and, by staying in the channel at all times, the water is plenty deep - - and that's a good thing ... we really want to cruise back to Maryland with the same prop we started out with! (For the boaters, actual depths are at chart datum thus far this year. But it is a little unnerving that one of our charts is based on a 1885 survey with soundings in fathoms - - fortunately, the water is very deep! Although the chart is supposed to be updated this year or next, right now it looks just like a chart you might see in a museum.)
Midland, Ontario (the location from which we sent our last e-mail), was a great place to stop. We were able to stock up on fresh fruits and meats and enjoyed walking around a larger town. To the boaters, we would recommend the Midland Municipal Marina - - not only was it a nice facility and just one block from downtown, but it was only $26 (American) per night, including electricity/hydro, water, and showers. Gary and Linda (a couple we met at Port Severn) docked behind us later that morning and we enjoyed talking with them again (thanks for the happy hour, G&L - - we hope you had a great vacation). In the morning, we discovered a Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender at the end of the wall where we were docked. Oh, and to follow-up on the lake freighter that pulled up behind us as we were getting fuel on Saturday morning - - it took 10 hours to unload the gravel it was carrying. We watched the ship go from a 30' draft to a 13' draft and it never moored/docked - - the captain (or someone) kept adjusting it to a proper position so that the "dispensing boom" distributed the gravel on short in huge piles. It was interesting (and impressive) to watch.
Maintenance note: Brian discovered a half cup of water in the bilge on Saturday afternoon and went searching for the cause. He found a faulty high pressure check valve in the fresh water system, but had the problem resolved in no time. Other than that, all is well in the bilge/engine area.
One more note about Midland. Starting in 1990, the town commissioned the painting of 36 murals on the walls of buildings throughout the town. Each mural depicts a different scene or event from Midland/Ontario's history. The largest is 80' x 210' on the side of 4-5 grain elevators. The grain elevators are the first thing you see when entering the harbor. They are very well done and make the town unique - - we'd recommend a stop at the town just to see them. Really, they are something to see. As we left Midland and entered the small boat channel on Saturday morning, we were shocked at the number of boats and cottages. It was almost like being on the Chesapeake between Annapolis and St. Michaels on a weekend! The numbers got less as we continued north/west, but there are still a lot more of both than we anticipated.
We traveled about 30 miles on Saturday (~4 1/2 hours) to reach our first destination of San Souci and the well known Henry's Fish Restaurant. Henry's is known for its fish baskets and meals. Once we found out that it was only $17 (American) to dock overnight at Henry's (to include electricity/hydro and showers), we decided to stay for the night instead of anchoring. I think we are starting to get soft in our old ... uh, middle age - - I'm not sure that we will remember HOW to anchor! Anyway, we had dinner at Henry's and it was wonderful. As is almost everything else in Georgian Bay (or so it seems), Henry's is located on an island (Frying Pan Island) so all of its patrons arrive by boat ... or sea plane! We must have seen 6-8 sea plane "taxis" bring people in to dine. The place is nothing fancy, but it (and the docks) was packed all evening.