Ships Log August 17-19, 2005

A dawn start from Covered Portage Cove found us carefully threading our way through the rocky fjords well before first light. We had to know exactly where we were at all times since the depth could change from 200 feet to a five foot rock shelf in seconds. It helped that we had run the first stage to and through Killarney the day before and we had it exactly charted on our plotter.

Once through the Killarney channel, we sailed the 53 miles past numerous islands and across the heart of Georgian Bay to Tobermory, Ontario. This outpost is located on the Bruce Peninsula. Part of the Niagara Escarpment, the cedar forest and orchid covered peninsula is a National Park and also site of the Fathom Five National Marine Park. This was the Land of the Ojibway and Huron Nations who called it Saugeen. The British Admiral Bayfield surveyed Bruce Peninsula and named the bay Collins Harbor. When the Scots arrived, they renamed it Tobermory.

The surrounding wreck filled waters rival the Caribbean in clarity and color. It is startling to see fossilized coral in limestone cliffs so far in the north. This stratum was laid down during the Silurian Period.

The village of, Tobermory located on Small Tub Bay is the staging point for forays into the parks and is a bustling party town full of families and adventurers (and pirates, it seems). Our first night was spent at the noisy town marina. At four in the morning, a Toronto film crew began shooting on the dock behind our slip. They were making a film about the Greek ferryboat tragedy that occurred when the entire ship's crew abandoned their posts to watch a soccer match.

We met Peter of the film crew who has a boat in Panama. Many of the Canadians we have met have sailboats located in Central America and other warmer climes.

Early in the morning, we cast off and headed out of Georgian Bay and 67 miles southward across Lake Huron to Kincardine, Ontario. We anticipated arrival at last light. The weather report predicted possible storms for the next three days and a full gale by the fourth. So, we were eager to get as far south as possible before the weather hit. It hit sooner than we anticipated. An hour after we cleared the tricky channel around the point, the Coast Guard issued a Small Craft Warning. We were motor sailing just off the 15-20 knot wind and making very good time. The 6-8 foot waves breaking over the bow did not make it into the cockpit; luckily Raven is a dry boat.

Three other motoring sailboats that left with us were getting swamped and turned back early on. We felt snug and unfortunately a little smug for another hour, until we got the revised forecast. The weather was becoming considerably worse and the wind was to swing around directly onto our nose. This would make sailing impossible, slowing progress and delaying our arrival until the wee hours of the morning. There were a few villages nearer our position, but the charts indicated they could not be entered in such conditions. The rocks and islands off the peninsula are a graveyard of ships piloted by those that were much more familiar with the area than us. Rana, ever the optimist, voted to sail on since the local weather was not going to improve for a week and the forecast was not as severe for our destination.

But the Captain ordered a return to port. He could not justify risking ship and crew by entering a strange port in full storm in the middle of the night.

We returned to Tobermory, but entered the neighboring bay and moored to the end of Big Tub Bay Resort’s pier. We found it to be the opposite of the village – quiet, uncrowded, and pristine. We took a 6 mile walk around the peninsula. When we passed through the village, Mike saw the Government Liquor store and remembered we were running low on beer.

The next day, we awoke before dawn and it was immediately clear that we would spend another day in Big Tub Bay. It was raining, gale winds were blowing and lightening was striking all around. Our shore power was out. Mike went out into the storm and declared it was “not fit for Man nor Beast”. He doubled the lines and started the engine as a precaution in case we were blown from the dock and also to generate power since all “hydro” was down in the area (the local power is all hydroelectric). Other boats nearby broke loose from their moorings. One lost her anchor and had to go out of the bay into the storm.

We are now sitting out the storm and waiting for a weather window. We lit the oil lamps and fireplace to abate the chill and damp and Rana made delicious fresh raspberry/peach French Toast for a cheery breakfast.

We later went for a walk in the park and out to the lighthouse between rainshowers. In the evening, we went to the Smugglers' Cove Saloon and enjoyed the music of Three Men in a Tub who played a fine mix of rock, jazz, blues and whatever. We met a very nice couple of teachers, Andrew and Linda, who have their sloop Anonymous moored here.

If there is a break in the weather, we will sail before dawn and transmit this Log at the first opportunity. No WiFi Here!

Lighthouse photos through out our site are of ones we passed and relied on for safe navigation.