Sunday, 15 April 2012 23:48

Cruising the North Channel 2010

Cruising the North Channel


05 June 2010

     Left the marina for the 28 mile run down the St. Marys River to Harbor Island, the start of the North Channel. We will wait in this beautiful anchorage for favorable weather for our open water run to Blind River to check in Canadian Customs and then on to Bear Drop Harbor and hopefully some good fishing.

14 June 2010

     Well we are finding out trying to stretch the seasons here is going to be at the mercy of the weather. While July and August are usually quite stable months, June and Sept. are iffy. We had a wonderful spring with unusual warm weather but that all changed on the day we launched.

15 June 2010

We finally got a perfect day for our open water run. And perfect it was. Flat calm after the 30 plus mph winds of yesterday. We even baked a loaf of bread while underway. We checked in Canadian Customs in Blind River and continued on to Bear Drop Harbor where we will spend several days teaching the fish a thing or two. It is one of our favorite anchorages and our best fishing spot. However today looks like rain.

21 June 2010

     A week at one of the best anchorages but fishing was spotty. Actually poor. Weather unsettled but we had the whole place almost to ourselves. Last night several boats came in. When the favorite time of the year for North Channel cruising, there could be 30 or 40 boats anchored here. Today we moved a few miles to Moiles Harbor on Johns Island. A very well protected harbor that also usually is good fishing. Moiles Harbor was a former lumber camp and mill. Much of the ruins are still here. It also is the site of boys and girls camp run by the YMCA from Sudbury, Ontario. It is a beautiful day but forecasts for 20 mph winds from the East later. East winds are rare here. Well protected for fishing if only the fish cooperate.

24 June 2010

     Left Moiles for Oak Bay. A short hop of about 14 miles. Fishing again slow and we didn't see another boat all the time we were there. Another popular anchorage we have used for over 40 years. Alone at Oak Bay also. Weather snotty and windy so we didn't fish.

25 June 2010

     Left for Benjamin Island and another very popular anchorage. We are again alone in this beautiful harbor. Weather nice in the morning but windy and rainy after noon. We will Meet another BOC'er (Ridgekid) here Sunday if all goes according to plan. It will be his first trip here and he is in for a great experience. He trailered from Pennsylvania.

26 June 2010

     Day started out rainy but cleared up with the sun out and calm winds. Made a loaf of bread and washed 3 loads of clothes. We had a male mallard duck the last two mornings at the boat, begging. Of course I fed him some bread. He left and an hour or so later he returned with his mate. More bread. The male didn't attempt to get any for a while and I thought it was nice he let her have it. He then got a piece and the female lit into him and took some feathers out of the male. I then realized he wasn't being polite but it was fear. They left and an hour or so later here comes the female with 8 small ducks. Came right up to he boat to be fed. Opened a box of Cheerios and fed them. They left but soon returned so now we have 10 begging ducks. The dog and cat enjoyed them also but the ducks were a bit standoffish when they were out. It was strange they returned with the whole family after checking us out. We enjoyed them.

27 June 2010

     Rob and Marie arrived. We had a great visit. They will be leaving for another anchorage tomorrow. They are trying to see as much as they can in their short time here.

30 June 2010

     We have had several days of windy weather. We waited it out at Benjamin Island and arrived in Little Current today. Finally a nice day. Did some shopping and anchored behind Picnic Island. We  met Marc and Margaret (Spitfire on BOC). They spent the evening on our boat and we had a great visit.

1 July 2010

     Canada Day and we enjoyed the various things going on in Little Current.

02 July 2010

     Rob and Marie arrived at Little Current and did a bit of shopping and refueled. We both left for Baie Fine. Weather was great but the wind came up later. We were safely anchored in one of the most beautiful boating spots in North America. Rob and Marie did a bit of hiking up the mountain. We passed. Later they said they understood why we passed. We visited our friend at the pool in Baie Fine. We have known the family 46 years. The cottage has been in the family for over 100 years. What stories we have heard over the years. We are invited to dinner tomorrow night. An event we do several times a year. She puts on a wonderful meal. I try to give her a good supply of fish. It was also our 56th wedding anniversary.

03 July 2010

     Beautiful sunny, calm morning. We need to see if the fish are biting.

14 July 2010

     Well we have been here several days. Our favorite spot and an area we spend several days each year. We watch boats come and go, most wishing they could stay. We can and do. Fishing has been very good. Had a little excitement the other day. I am trolling for fish when a water snake crawled next to my bare foot. A nudge with my fishing pole and he went back in the water. Living in Florida part of the time makes my relationship with snakes a bit negative. Its a rough life. Get up, make coffee, watch the news on TV, go fishing. Return for breakfast, clean fish, read/nap, visit friends, read some more and do it again the next day. Its called smelling the roses. I took our friend Christina's two grandchildren fishing. Ezzra is 8 and Rebecca is 14. We have watched them grow up. Rebecca caught a big fish and was excited. Fellow BOC'ers Be Happy 2 and Permission Granted stop by for some fishing. Ken took the honors while Alvin practiced on small bass.

15 July 2010

     Bayiner Owners Club meeting in Little Current on 17 July 2010. We move to Heywood Island which is 8 miles from Little Current. It is another beautiful anchorage. Most anchor in the large bay on the island but we go off the bay along a narrow but deep cut to another anchorage. It is well protected from all wind unlike the large bay which is open to North winds. Boats going by can be seen over the low points and provide some very nice pictures.

16 July 2010

     Be Happy 2 and Permission Granted joined us at Heywood. Permission Granted had Mike and Doreen (WhiskyWizard) aboard. They had drove up for our BOC meeting.

17 July 2010

     We all returned to Little Current. I anchored out. It was very windy. I recorded 25 mph winds. We had whitecaps but were riding very well. I bought some plywood to rebuild the seat on the Sea Nymph we tow. Cut 5 squares for the seat base in that wind, glued and screwed them together, sealed the edges with 5200. Everyone carries a power saw aboard, don't they? We all met on Permission Granted for cocktails. We cooked fish for everyone. Steve and Vera (Relaxation 3) didn't make it because of weather. JeffW and Tara joined us all the way from Arizona. It was good to see them again. A good time with good friends.

18 July 2010

     Mike and Doreen had to leave today. We will see them again in Florida this winter. Jeff was recovering from his long drive. Well part of his recovery was due to the long drive anyway. We socialized and I finished the seat. Mona made fish chowder for our evening meal.

19 July 2010

     Back to Heywood for Permission Granted, Be Happy 2, and us.

20 July 2010 and 21 July 2010

     Steve and Vera finally caught up with us. A couple of days getting acquainted. Steve and I didn't do well at cards. Again.

22 July 2010 and 23 July 2010

     We all left Heywood. Be Happy 2 and Shannon to Covered Portage Cove. The rest went West. Covered Portage Cove is another beautiful anchorage just a couple miles from Killarney. Great protection and so beautiful. We went to Killarney and got on the internet to catch up. Looked up my friend in Killarney and we caught up on what happened the past year. I used to know a lot of people in Killarney but many have died. Over the years we have come to meet the same people on the water year after year. Not what you would call close friends but people you look for every year. They one year you don't see them. You don't know what happened but you never see them again.


24 July 2010 through 27 July 2010

     We are in Mill Lake. Another of our favorites. Doing a little fishing again. Mona caught 2 nice fish, one 7 pounds nine ounces yesterday. I caught a pike that weighed 14 pounds, 2 ounces this morning.

28 July 2010

     Saw a bear getting the fish left overs the gulls and ravens didn't get. Expect to meet up with Be Happy 2 as they said on the Cruisers Net broadcast they were on their way here. Expect Relaxation 3 shortly also. I better go fishing.
Be Happy two arrived for a couple of days. They left on Friday 30 July 2010.

30 July 2010

     We were joined by Relaxation 3. Another couple of days and on to Muskrat Bay in Beaverstone Bay. Another couple of days of visits, shared meals, and cards with Steve and Vera and they had to start home. Steve killed the fishing as it died when he arrived. Steve and I gave the Admirals a lesson in cards however. We went for a day trip to the Chickens. The chickens are a group of rocks best described as taking a large flat surface, fill it with large rocks, add water until just the tops of the rocks are showing. You pick your way around the rocks finding water deep enough for your prop. It is different but has a beauty of its own. Of course we used the 16.5 foot Sea Nymph for this. 8/8 Here we are still at Muskrat Bay. We have to leave soon to get to Killarney and a pumpout. Steve and Vera left several days ago and are likely home now. This is another of our favorite places. Beaverstone Bay is beautiful. It is dotted with islands, about 14 or so have cottages. Sad but many now are unused. Some of the cottage owners we have come to know over the years. Then one year the don't come. The Bay is a popular route coming or going the small craft route on Georgian Bay. We watch the boats come and go. We also have some entertainment watching some anchor. One tied his boat from the shore, stern to shore. Wind was off shore. I ask him if he would like me to set a bow anchor for him. No. I was up about 2 Am checking things. Several boats in our small bay and some were up checking their anchor. The wind had shifted and I saw this boat tied from shore in the water. The bow was now tied to shore and he was trying to set a stern anchor. The area is well protected and I knew he wouldn't get in to much trouble and I went back to bed. Some learn hard and the best lesson might be learned trying to walk an anchor out in the middle of the night. I guess some think they can push on a rope. Had a nice time with a couple doing the Great Loop in a converted tuna boat. Took them ashore to get some of the great pictures of the Bay from an island, gave them some local advise and charts on a CD. Oh, ya, after Steve left the fish started to bite so we supplied a fish dinner for them. Its raining today but he have to move. It is so nice to sip slowly this beautiful area. We watch many rushing through with time constraints. We have none and spend a week or so where others are forced to spend one night. This is something I have longed to do from the first time we visited this area in 1963. I am and have been living my dream for over 20 year.

10 August 2010

     To Killarney and back to Covered Portage Cove Climbed to the top of the mountain and took some pictures.

11 August 2010

     On to Baie Fine and some fishing.

22 August 2010

     Hard to believe how fast the time flies when we are at Baie Fine. Some good fishing, great meals at our friend Christina's cottage at the pool. Met some people we have known for years. Haven't seen them for 6 years. Had them over for a fish dinner and some cards. It was good to see them again. Off to Little Current for supplies and necessities. Anchored behind Picnic Island and will stay for the Little Current dock party on 8/24 then we head West.

24 August 2010

     Another great time at the Cruisers Net Dock Party. Cruisers Net provided a great service for all boaters in the area. It is put on by the Little Current Yacht Club.

25 August 2010

     Not a good day. Started out with our anchor trip line snagging on the prop and pulling the anchor out backwards at 5am. Alerted by the drift alarm. We left for Beardrop Harbor at first light. Wind was supposed to diminish but got stronger. Went on the outside so no protection. I tow the 16.5' Sea Nymph with 1/4" synthetic line rated for 5000#. However it does strange things with knots. You can untie a knot that has been pulled tight. I found out the hard way it also lets a knot slip that just doesn't happen with regular line. Of course it did slip in heavy seas and I had to go back and pick up the Sea Nymph. No fun. Tied a knot that normally would hold but it didn't and I had to do it all over again. Great fun. We got to Beardrop after noon and anchored. Wind was strong. To strong to fish even in the protected harbor.

26 August 2010

     Winds still very strong. 8/28 Strong winds yesterday but we got in some fishing today. Poor luck.

30 August 2010

     A couple of days of good fishing weather with modest results. This is our best fall fishing spot but not this year.

31 August 2010

     Winds strong again.

10 Sept 2010

     Still strong winds. 5 meters on Lake Superior and 4 meters on Lake Huron. Fearsome seas. We are waiting for a good day to make the 60 mile open water jump. Went to Turnbull Island which is 7 miles closer. Another beautiful anchorage.

11 Sept 2010

Ah, a good day. Light seas with quite large rollers but a good ride. Got to Harbor Island and called in Customs. Called the marina to see if we could get in the haul out slip but they are full. So we anchor a few more days.

14 Sept 2010

     Just as well as the winds have been strong again. We can get in the haul out slip tomorrow and it is supposed to be light winds. One day window and only 25 miles to go. I have never seen the winds strong like they were all summer and fall. Sept. starts the windy months in this area but there is usually several good days between the winds but not this year. We anchor in protected waters but I had a new flag ruined by the winds. The good thing is we got a few extra days on the water. Today is 102 days, all on the hook.
  • dmcb
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Saturday, 18 February 2012 06:00

Living on the hook for extended periods


Lets explore what it takes.
I think anchoring is one of the great things about boating. Our season is short, about 100 days when the weather is good boating weather.
Our season on the hook starts as soon as the weather breaks and we launch. Hopefully the first week of June but often extends to the second week.
We leave immediately for the North Channel of Lake Huron, almost all in Canadian waters.
Our range is about 175 to 200 miles from the marina. Weather in the area turns windy in Sept. so we have to be a bit careful on the 60 or so miles of open water when we return.
So how do we equip our boat for this extended stay away from docks? We do not dock the entire season. We do go towns for the necessary things like pumpouts but we need no fuel except for the tender.

The primary thing is the electrical system.
We have 4 gulf cart batteries for the house system. We found that to be enough with ample safety.
A good system to monitor the battery condition is important and we use the Xantrex link system. It measures amp hours in and amp hour out so we know at a glance our true battery condition. We have 420 amp hours of battery capacity.
Batteries should not be discharged much more than 50% and it takes a long time with the generator to fully charge them so I quit charging when they are about 90% when the charger cuts back.
Our charger charges 100 amps but it will cut back to avoid overcharging and over heating the battery. It measures the temp. of the batteries and won't allow them to overheat and boil.
You need means of charging that will utilize the larger charger so you don't have to run the genny a lot.
We average about 2 hours a day genny time. We do it when making coffee unless we have another boat close by we would annoy with the generator. Also when we heat water.
I have a 2400W Yamaha generator for backup. Without a genny. our season would be ruined. It is quite like a Honda and sips fuel. We do use it a bit but mostly the diesel generator. It is 8000W

We spend our time where there is little or no cell phone service and no internet. We do have satellite tv with a 32 inch tv. That is our biggest electrical draw. Even more than the full size refrigerator but you gotta keep momma happy. If she isn't happy, nobody is happy.

We carry enough fuel to last the season. We travel at hull speed or a bit slower with our 3870 and usually on one engine. We get better than 4 mpg doing this. We average about 450 miles a season and likely burn about as much with the genny as the main engines.
Fuel in the area is usually over $6.00/american gallon so that is nice.

We are able to get our drinking water from the lake. Have been doing this since 1963 and never a problem. Of course we select the areas we fill our tank. We have just bought a filter we now use and can use water from anywhere. This is the filter we use.
You can make drinking water out of ditch water with these. You simply scrub the filters to clean them. You get 1000's of gallons with 4 filters depending on what is in the water.
As we boat in fresh water I have modified the water system to utilize lake water.
The only faucets that use tank water is the galley cold water and the small bath. I like to brush my teeth in tank water.
The shower, all the hot water, comes from the lake. So you can take a long hot shower without draining the on board tank. This won't work in salt however.
Its a good idea to modify the black water holding tank for more capacity. In our case there is only 2 places to get a pumpout and we can be 25 or more miles from them so that has to be monitored carefully.

We do take a lot of food with us. The stores are really limited to one town and the selection isn't very good in the small towns we visit. Our spare stateroom becomes a storage room.
It is OK to rough it a bit for short stays on the hook but for extended stays you will want a bit more comfort. We vacuum seal and freeze our meat. That works out really well. We also vacuum seal fish so we always have some when the fishing is slow.

We tow a 16.5 Sea Nymph aluminum boat with a 90 hp Evinrude Etec and a 2.5 Suzuki trolling motor. We fish a lot and it is a large part of our food supplies. It is our go fast and we often venture 20 or more miles from the Bayliner.

I also carry a good tool selection and a lot of spare parts. We boat in an area it would be difficult to get much but the very basic parts in a timely manner.

In a nutshell that is how we live for 3 plus months.
We also take a lot of books as we both are avid readers and with no internet for me I really catch up on my readng.
I should also mention we have a cat and dog aboard. Over the years we have had several different cats and all proved to be great sailors. They are no problem. Our dog also is a great sailor and loves to go in the tender. Just mention go fishing and he is in the boat. He does require 3 trips ashore but that is no problem. The Sea Nymph is aluminum and can stand groundings with no damage. The dog doesn't require me to leave the boat and will return immediately upon call.


Saturday, 18 February 2012 05:38

Anchoring 101


Having spent more than 5 years of my life on the hook I thought I would start a discussion on anchoring and share some thoughts. It is over 5 years now. Retired 27 years and spend about 3 months a year for most of these years on the hook.
It is to be taken as A way not THE way and are just for the most part, my views.
Sometimes supported by fact.
I have no experience with anchoring in tides and won't offer much here except to figure your scope at high tide, not low.
Anchoring is a way of life for us. We spend the summer on the boat but seldom/never spend a night at a dock.
Last year a couple nights, this year, none.

A proper size anchor of the correct type for your area and enough rode with at least some chain.

A. Fluke / Danforth /Fortress

B. CQR / Plow / Delta

C. Mushroom

D. Bruce

E. Northill

There are many types and I have tried several.

My choice is a Bruce or Bruce type.
There are many good anchors but where I anchor, failure isn't an option. You would be vary lucky not to end up on some rocks.
Others have as high an opinion of their favorite anchor as I do a Bruce but I will offer some opinions here.
Danforth. Good anchor that once set will simply hold your boat. IF the wind doesn't shift and reverse itself.
A Danforth will pull and reset. There is the problem. Any weeds or anything in the end of the anchor and they simply won't reset.

Fortress has the same problem with an added problem. I could never get them to set properly. They are light weight and skid across the bottom to often. My friend had a huge one. He doesn't use his lower helm and had it strapped to the wheel. It went from the floor to the top of his wheel. He had not used it but when he did it wouldn't hold his 35' boat.


A lot of people use them but I have had them fail way to many times for me to ever use them again.
I know many will say they are great but I am speaking from experience here on these anchors.
In the 5 years I have been using a Bruce, both in Michigan and Florida, I have never had one slip.
I had one hook on a sunken log and after 3 days I was drifting. Lifted the huge log with the anchor. Had a hell of a time getting the log off the anchor. I really don't think of that as an anchor failure.
Again, day in, day out, the Bruce is the only one that has not failed. All the others did several times.
A Bruce stays put. It does not pull and reset. That is per Chapmans. I believe that is why they hold so well.
An update here. It has now been 10 years without a failure.

I like all chain and that is what I have on both boats.
The main reason is it works better with a windless
A combination of chain and rope works well also. You want a section of chain to prevent chafing on the bottom.

Have and use enough rode.
5 feet of chain for every foot of water and the distance from the top of your deck to the water must also be part of the depth.
7 feet of rope for every foot of water.
You don't want it to slip, don't cheat here. Call it insurance or anything you want but if you want to be sure, at least that much rode.
You can never be sure but you should sleep at night using these figures.
When possible I exceed them.
I always anchor for the worst of conditions. Sooner or later, usually in the middle of the night you will only be up watching for a problem, not trying to correct for one.
Mark your rode in some way. Paint for example so you know how much you have out.
I have found electrical tie wraps work well and last a long time even through a windless.
Anchor size.
I try to go one size larger than the charts say is enough for my boat.
Chapman says these are storm anchors.
Well I don't want to be trying to set one in a storm.
Again I anchor for the worst of conditions. We often stay for days at a time and things are bound to change.
I want to be prepared.

Bottom type

You can't do much about that except stay away from problem bottoms.
That may be good advise in other aspects of life also.
Thru that in before some other wag does.
In fresh water, weeds are a problem. If you anchor in at least 12 feet of water, weeds should not be a problem.
Weeds are, from what I observe, the #1 cause of anchor failure. They are also difficult to remove from an anchor.
You would do well to stay away from them if you use a Danforth.
Clay is usually pretty good but I had an interesting thing happen this summer in clay. Lifting the anchor brought up a very large section of clay with everything on the top of it like clam shells and some small weeds.
Kinda like a large chunk of broken cement.
The entire layer came. Of course it was when we pulled straight up on the anchor.
The anchor went right through the layer of clay.
Short scope here may have caused a problem.

Deploying your anchor

What I do.
I select exactly where I want my anchor to be.
We lower it over the side with the engines in neutral.
I know how much rode I want out and deploy it all.
I do not back into the rode. I let the wind carry me.
I let the anchor gently work its way in.
I NEVER hurry this process by backing up.
I watch people back up just as soon as the anchor hits the water, let our rode as they do. When the anchor finally grabs, they quit. Not a clue how much rode is out and they let the anchor choose the spot.
Of course by this time they are to close to another boat and have to do it all over again.
Unless there is a strong wind I never back into the rode.
If I do it is at least 10 or 15 minutes after the anchor has had time to set itself.
If you back into to soon you will often just plow the bottom and pull the anchor loose.
Always keep a watch from time to time the first hour or so after anchoring to be certain you are not slipping.
Finally, turn on your drift alarm on your chart plotter.
It will warn you if you are drifting. Something I always do. I keep the circle tight and sometimes in a reversal it sounds an alarm as I go outside the circle a bit. That's OK. I would rather get up and look. Also you know immediately if your anchor didn't set.

Do not use a windless to secure your rode. You can damage your windless.
Tie off to a deck fitting.
If using chain, make a bridle from rope to secure to deck fittings. It takes the strain off the windless and the line will have some stretch ability.
Also remember you can swing a long ways with 100 feet of rode out.
Always be sure you will not conflict with a neighbor.
You have no right to anchor different than someone all ready in the area. Like tie to shore when he is swinging at anchor.
This is just some basics and will likely lead to other questions and ideas.
Anchoring out is one of the better things about boating.
Doing it properly and safely makes it more enjoyable.
It should be a fun experience and not one of worry and stress.
Last year we were in a freak, sudden storm that had winds from 90 to 120 Knots depending who was measuring and where you were.
Our Bruce didn't move a bit.
Many docks broke loose, boats were damaged but we were safe and sound on the hook.
There is another aspect of anchoring out. That is preparing your boat with the proper equipment to do so.
That is a topic for another thread.