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Lake Huron, Part II – North Channel (Killarney to Sault Sainte Marie)

Posted by on July 29, 2013

The next section of our cruise, called the North Channel, is considered by many to be the best cruising region in the Great Lakes (for a map of this area, go to http://thenorthchannel.ca/map.html). With great scenery, many islands, excellent anchorages, and generally more protected waters than the eastern sections of Georgian Bay, it certainly has the right stuff. Another feature we enjoyed, perhaps because it reminded us of B.C., were the rocky hills which predominate here. Not only did they provide some excellent hikes and stunning views, they also offered an extra treat – abundant and delicious blueberries! Bushes were everywhere on the hillsides – without too much effort, we (well, Ria actually) were able to fill our pint container in less than an hour.

We also enjoyed our three day stay in the small village of Little Current, which is located at the northeast corner of Manitoulin Island (the world’s largest in freshwater). After anchoring out for 10 days straight (a record for us) it was a neat little place to re-provision and socialize with other cruisers. Speaking of other cruisers, we are finally seeing other boats out and about, including many from Michigan and Wisconsin. Lucky for us though, it’s still not crowded.

Many cruisers cross the Canadian/U.S. border at Drummond Island (at the southwestern end of the North Channel) however we chose to travel another 50 miles or so west to Sault Sainte Marie and make our crossing there. We had a number of reasons for doing this, including the opportunity to visit the Bushplane Heritage Museum there, and to travel through the Soo Locks so we could ‘dip our toe’ in the waters of Lake Superior. We liked Sault Sainte Marie, and spent four enjoyable days there.

After 13 months cruising and wintering His Idea in Canada, and a 5 minute crossing of the Saint Mary’s River, we entered into the U.S. at their Sault Sainte Marie. Our U.S. cruising documents were ready when we arrived (the Captain had provided the necessary information to U.S Customs a few days earlier) and we were on our way in less than an hour.

One of the primary reasons for embarking on our Great Loop adventure was the chance to spend quality time exploring eastern Canada from the water. We have not been disappointed, and consider ourselves very fortunate to have had such a wonderful experience.

Less than 2 miles past Killarney is the anchorage  called Covered Portage.

Less than 2 miles past Killarney is the anchorage called Covered Portage; this is the view from the water……

.....and this is the view from above.

…..and this is the view from above.

From the hill atop our anchorage, looking west towards Frazer Bay.

From the hill atop our anchorage, looking west towards Frazer Bay.

The bounty from our blueberry picking!

The bounty from our blueberry picking!

Our front yard view from our anchorage in Mary Ann Cove, Baie Fine.

The ‘front yard’ view from our anchorage in Mary Ann Cove, Baie Fine……

.....and our 'back yard' view (sometimes we can safely get in very close with a good anchor set and a stern line).

…..and the ‘back yard’ view (sometimes we can safely get in very close with a good anchor set and a stern line).

The view north from a hill near Mary Ann Cove towards island filled McGregor Bay; Baie Fine in the foreground.

The view north from a hill near Mary Ann Cove, towards island filled McGregor Bay; Baie Fine is in the foreground.

This the view south.

This the view south; Manitoulin Island is in the distance.

The view of Baie Fine to the west (with some obstructions in the foreground); if you look closely, you can see His Idea tucked into Mary ann Covein the top left of the picture.

The view of Baie Fine to the west (with some obstructions in the foreground); if you look closely, you can see His Idea tucked into Mary Ann Cove.

The waterfront boardwalk in Little Current.

The waterfront boardwalk in Little Current.

Sunset reflected on Little Current bridge, the only land connection to Manitoulin Island (and  as a former railway bridge, one lane at that).

Sunset reflected on Little Current bridge, the only land connection to Manitoulin Island (and as a former railway bridge, one lane at that).

Whaleback Channel, fairly typical of the north channel cruising grounds.

Whaleback Channel, fairly typical North Channel cruising grounds.

A few boats at anchor in Beardrop Harbour.

A few boats at anchor in Beardrop Harbour.

The Bushplane Heritge Museum was another highlight of our North Channel explorations - from iconic bushplanes like the Norseman (and many others)....

The Bushplane Heritge Museum was another highlight of our North Channel explorations – from iconic bushplanes like the Norseman (and many others)….

.....to modern waterbombers like the CL 215, the displays highlighted Canada's aviation leadership in bush flying and fire fighting.

…..to modern waterbombers like the CL 215, the displays highlighted Canada’s aviation leadership in bush flying and fire fighting from the air.

While in Sault Saint Marie we rented a car and explored Lake Superior's wild eastern coast; the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lies  19 miles offshore.

While in Sault Saint Marie we rented a car and explored Lake Superior’s wild eastern coast; the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lies 19 miles offshore.

Locking through the Canadian Soo locks, now a National Park and used only by recreational boaters.

Locking through the Canadian Soo locks, now a National Park and used only by recreational boaters.

Fifteen miles from the locks we came to the entrance to Whitefish Bay (so big, it gets it's own marine weather report).....

Fifteen miles from the locks we came to the entrance to Whitefish Bay (so big, it gets it’s own marine weather report)…..

......where the Admiral just had to go for a swim!

……where the Admiral just had to go for a swim!

Coming up – Lake Michigan, the Mississippi, and other waters of the U.S. interior…..

3 Responses to Lake Huron, Part II – North Channel (Killarney to Sault Sainte Marie)

  1. Janice

    Hi Ria and John. Your pictures continue to be fabulous, with the great commentry too. It looks like things have been going well (other than the head?! issue) and looks like the last bought of time the weather has looked fabulous. Much like Vancouver where we had one or two off days but it continues to be great weather. John I guess you heard your buddy has now retired from BCAA…a sad day but a nice send off. I feel like the only long term person there….I’m on vacation for a couple of weeks and just came back from the US and am heading to the Island soon so taking advantage of the great weather we are having. Looking forward to continue following your travels. Safe cruising! Janice.

  2. Christelle And Gary

    Hi guys!! We love the photos on your blog!! Safe travels and hopefully we shall see you again in Chicago or sooner? G&C on T& T

    • john-and-ria

      Thanks G&C!

      It’s been great hangin’ with you, and we’re looking forward to the next time we meet along the way. Not sure where – maybe St. Jo, maybe Chicago, maybe Kentucky lakes, maybe…..Bahamas? Safe cruising until then, and please keep in touch……J&R

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