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Lake Huron, Part I – Georgian Bay (Midland to Killarney)

Posted by on July 17, 2013

During the first few days of our Georgian Bay experience we were joined by John’s sister Sue and brother-in-law Ted, as well as by John and Marsha Belford aboard their vessel Kadadi. John and Marsha have had many years of experience cruising this area, and introduced us to excellent anchorages that we likely wouldn’t have found ourselves. We had much fun together, including John on his ukelele (his voice isn’t bad either) and rediscovering the challenges of playing Bridge with Sue and Ted. We were also very fortunate to have everyone’s assistance and ingenuity when the head broke down, but that’s a story we won’t go into.

While our route through the Trent-Severn Waterway left a strong impression of man’s influence on his surroundings, our travels through Georgian Bay often did the opposite. Although cottages can be seen within the protected inner passages and occasionally on the remoter outer islands, much of the area still feels like wilderness, with man’s presence but a minor foothold. We can only imagine what it must be like during the the very cold and windy conditions of winter.

Whatever challenges there may have been, the area was occupied by First Nations peoples for thousands of years. Georgian Bay then became a key route for the northwest fur traders from eastern Canada, who traded and traversed the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. Early explorers, such as Samuel de Champlain, visited as early as 1615. ¬†Settlers and industry followed in the 1800’s, and many of the small towns we visited, such as Killarney, were once considered significant centres of commerce in their day.

In addition to the remote beauty of the region, a contributing factor to our feelings of isolation may have ¬†been the much-less-than-expected boat traffic we have experienced (locals in small marinas and towns tell us that business is down by as much as half). We’re not sure why this is, but it has meant that we have often had excellent anchorages all to ourselves, or at most shared them with only a few other boats.

Selecting pictures for this post has been a challenge as we have taken so many that may be of interest. Hopefully the ones we have chosen will provide the appropriate flavour for this most unique and interesting part of our trip.

To provide an overview of our current cruising area, the first image is a map of Georgian Bay. Our route was along the northern shore, from southeast to northwest.

images

Right out of the Group of Seven, a typical view from the outer banks of Georgian Bay - pink granite and windswept trees.

Right out of a Group of Seven painting, a typical view from the outer banks of Georgian Bay – pink granite and windswept trees.

On our way to our first Georgian Bay anchorage at Longuissa Bay - this is typical of a 'three season' cottage, many on small, individual islands, spronkled all the way to Parry Sound.

On our way to our first anchorage at Longuissa Bay – this is typical of a ‘three season’ cottage, many on small, individual islands, sprinkled all the way to Parry Sound.

John's sister Susan and brother-in-law Ted joined us for the four day cruise to Parry Sound.

John’s sister Susan and brother-in-law Ted joined us for the four day cruise to Parry Sound.

His Idea and Kadadi rafted up at Moon Island; the adjacent land is in Massasauga Provincial Park.

His Idea and Kadadi rafted up at Moon Island; the adjacent land is in Massasauga Provincial Park.

**** happens - we'll spare you the gory details, but when head problems happen, two heads are better than one.

S**t happens – we’ll spare you the gory details, but when there’s a head problem, two heads are definitely better than one.

No, that's not a very large beaver crossing the channel in front of us, it's a black bear; he was into the woods lickety split once he reached the shore.

No, that’s not a very large beaver crossing the channel in front of us, it’s a black bear; he was into the woods lickety split once he reached the shore.

From wildlife to industrial life - this has been the only lake freighter we have sen so far.

From wildlife to industrial life – this has been the only lake freighter we have seen so far (she’s leaving the port at Parry Sound).

Th view of Parry Sound harbour from the top of the (circa 1920's, but rebuilt) fire watch tower.

The view of Parry Sound harbour from the top of the (circa 1920’s, but rebuilt) fire watch tower.

Another spectacular sunset, this time over the calm waters of the sound.

Another spectacular sunset, this time over the calm waters of the sound.

This is one of the many lighthouses/range markers critical to navigation along this section of the coast; without them it would be extremely difficult to locate the channel entrances amongst the   many rocks and low, uniform landscape of this portion of Georgian Bay.

This is one of the many lighthouses/range markers critical to navigation along this section of the coast; without them it would be extremely difficult to locate the channel entrances among the many rocks, islands, and low uniform landscape of this portion of Georgian Bay.

The small craft channel of Georgian Bay is very tight in spots, and not recommended for craft over 40 feet (they have to travel offshore).....

The small craft channel of Georgian Bay is very tight in spots; it’s recommended that vessels over 40 feet travel offshore…..

.....and this turn was just wide enough to fit our 17 foot beam.

…..hmm, they didn’t say anything about a 17 foot beam.

Exploring the outer reefs of Georgian Bay (in our dinghy).

Exploring the outer reefs of Georgian Bay (in our dinghy).

This is the original Point-Au-Baril light - essentially a fire in a barrel.

This is the original Point-Au-Baril light – essentially a fire in a barrel.

Setting the stern line for our anchorage in the Bustards (yes, with a u).....

Setting the stern line for our anchorage in the Bustard (yes, with a u) Islands…..

.....where we found more tranquility.....

…..where we found more tranquility…..

......and interesting flara and fauna (too much to show).

…..and interesting flora and fauna (too much to show).

Fish and chips are a big deal on Georgian bay - this is at the famous fish and chip wagon in Killarney, miles and miles from anywhere, and they're lining 'em up.

Fish and chips are a big deal on Georgian Bay – this is the famous fish and chip wagon in the tiny village of Killarney (miles and miles from anywhere) and they’re lining ’em up.

Next up will be the North Channel section of Lake Huron, which we plan to post when we arrive in Sault Sainte Marie next week.

7 Responses to Lake Huron, Part I – Georgian Bay (Midland to Killarney)

  1. Doug

    Loved the “two heads” comment. I am sure at the writing of the comment “heads” were way cooler than at the moment of truth. Great sunset picture. A friend of ours just bought a power cat, 32′ something that I can’t recall, made in Washington. He actually knew about PDQ’s, amazing. Sounds like the trip is going well, looking forward to the next post.
    Cheers,
    Doug

    • john-and-ria

      Hi Doug,

      Sounds like he purchased a Glacier Bay – it’s supposed to be an excellent rough water fishing boat – or maybe a new Aspen, which is made in Snohomish (what can I say, us catamaran folks seem to retain this kind of information about the various cats out there….).

      We’re currently anchored in Government Bay, in the Les Cheneaux Islands, which are located in the northwest end of Lake Huron. Weather permitting, tomorrow we plan to travel to Mackinac Island for a couple of days. It’s very close to the juncture of Lakes Huron and Michigan. Hope to post from there.

  2. Suzanne Lowther

    Hi there!
    Looks like you are having a fantastic trip! What a great experience!
    Hopefully, we will do the same someday!
    Suzanne

    • john-and-ria

      Hi Suzanne,

      Glad to hear you’re following along!

      We’re missing the company of the Lowther threesome. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to cruise together again next year…..

      Cheers,

      John & Ria

  3. Kirk Ernst

    Thx for sharing. Have been following friends and planning my own adventure. Your pix and narrative have strengthened my resolve to explore the pool. Wish you a safe smooth passage. EC.

    • john-and-ria

      Thanks Kirk, it’s good to hear to learn the blog is providing inspiration to others. Good luck with your own adventures!

  4. Bill & Sue

    For 15 plus years we have vacationed in the Baie of Fine, Killarney and Bad river area’s. We plan to trailer to Perry Sound and boat up to Killarney/Baie of Fine next summer. Any suggestions for launch ramps with long term parking? Anchorage and must see area’s between Perry Sound and Bad River? Excited to explore a new area.

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