Cruising – The Mundane and the Fun in the North Channel

As Dan mentioned in his last blog, we were heading into Little Current to fetch our guests, Mark and Jeanne. But we had a few things to address before they came aboard with ‘their stuff’. The highest priority was the routine chore of laundry. No, we do not have a washer and dryer on board. And no, we’ve not resorted to using a bucket with a plunger to clean our clothes – that’s probably in our future but for now, the mundane chore of laundry is still in the modern age of sailing.

Mom – I’m home!

So how do we do laundry? It’s like being in college and you haul all your soiled clothes either to the dorm laundry room or you take it home to Mom. For us, we search out wherever the closest laundry is and schlep the pile either by bike or dinghy. In some cases, we get lucky. At Spider Bay Marina, where we stopped for fuel, they let us hang out at the gas dock long enough to get three loads of laundry done. All within 50’ of the boat. Score! As for taking dirty clothes home to Mom, well, we don’t have that option anymore but we have been known to show up at friends’ houses and after saying a brief hello, ask them where their washer/dryer are located. Cruisers can’t be shy!

And then, of course, we argue as to who is going to put it all away. Sound familiar?

With laundry done, we moved Gaviidae from the Spider Bay Marina which doesn’t have overnight docks big enough for us, and headed to the Little Current town docks. If you are not familiar with Little Current, the town docks cover a half mile-long section of the harbor that include actual docks on the east and west ends of a very long cement wall. Between the docks boats can tie alongside the wall. We ended up tied to the end of “C” dock. It makes it a challenge when trying to explain to someone how to find you. With that in mind, I hoisted our colorful collection of flags up the halyards so Mark and Jeanne would have a visual aid in finding our boat.

They arrived later that day with their entire vehicle packed to the brim with ‘stuff’. Being totally fair to them, 50% were provisions that they had picked up for us along the way. Armed with goodies from Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Pino’s amazing Italian market in Sault Ste Marie, we managed to find spots for absolutely everything.

Sadly, there was a casualty among the goods they picked up for us. A bottle of Cruzan Single Barrel sipping rum broke in the well at the back of their SUV! Dan and Mark got out our industrial-strength cordless DeWalt wet/dry-vac and sucked the spilled rum out of the carpet. Don’t think they didn’t ponder how to salvage the “liquid gold” before they dumped soapy water into the well, brush scrubbed and revacuumed the affected area a couple times. They were pretty squirrelly by the time they were done. I suspect they huffed some rum fumes during this project.

The Cruisers Net

The plan was to head out the next day but big winds were in the forecast. We opted to stay put and we trotted off to the Little Current Cruisers Net Happy Hour hosted by Roy Eaton.

Little Current Cruiser’s Net Happy Hour

I chatted a bit with Roy about our sailing adventures and our involvement with the Great Lakes Cruising Club. Roy requested that I join the Saturday morning ‘Net’ as he wanted to interview me ‘on the air’.

Those predicted winds that kept us in Little Current roared into the harbor late Friday night. By 4AM on Saturday our boat was bucking like a wild horse, rearing against its docklines and bouncing violently against the fenders, which were protecting the side of the boat from the dock. Both Dan and I got up to double-check the lines. We were on the end-cap of a dock and exposed to both the wind and the wild current of the channel. Within a few moments of getting onto the dock, crew from two other boats got out to inspect their lines. We discussed having an early morning coffee-chat. Instead we all added extra lines in every direction possible, added or adjusted fenders as needed, and went back to bed. I do have to make one comment regarding this night – our friends who were sleeping in the bow, never woke up even when Dan was clomping on the foredeck above them getting additional docklines out from the anchor locker!

Terrible Wife

Just before 9AM, I toddled up to the Anchor Inn for the morning net. While cruisers are invited to join Roy every morning to listen/watch the broadcast, I had never done so. As I entered the room there were a dozen or so other people sitting around a big table, a few who I knew from sailing in the North Channel or had just met. As Roy determined there was no ‘good news’ that day, he skipped forward right into the interview with yours truly.

He asked me lots of questions about our travels, the benefits of belonging to the GLCC, and so on. When I returned to the boat, I asked Dan and our friends how it went. Dan’s first response was that I never mentioned him! I used ‘we’ in discussing our travels but I never said who the other half of ‘we’ was. He gave me some well-earned grief, then we turned our attention to plans for the day.

Boat Bite

The winds continued to howl all day Saturday and into the night. At some point during this tempest, a springline added to the already crowded forward deck chock slipped out of the chock and chafed the teak caprail aft of the chock.

GLCC memorabilia at Turner’s

Amazing how fast a working dockline can make a trench in the woodwork! Ouch.

As for our guests, they took a drive around of the east end of Manitoulin Island while Dan and I puttered on the boat. Important stuff like installing LED lights in all of the reading lamps onboard. Then we wandered around town going in and out of every store.

We discovered that Turner’s, the famous downtown mercantile, has a little maritime museum upstairs. The museum has a lot of local artifacts, including the first GLCC burgee. The cruising club’s first rendezvous was held at Little Current and Turner’s was a major sponsor and promoter of the event and the association.

Close Call

By Sunday morning the winds died and we departed Little Current. It was not a graceful departure. The current in that harbor is usually anything but ‘little,’ and can run hard in either direction. Dan misjudged the current’s strength and as we tried to back away from the dock the current and our prop walk swung our stern hard to starboard. Fortunately, a couple guys from neighboring boats were on the dock and muscled us safely around the corner of the dock. As Dan gunned the diesel into forward, the current pushed us toward the neighboring powerboat and we almost caught its bow with our outboard, which hangs off the starboard davits at the rear of Gaviidae. Close call and a lesson learned. From then on, we dropped a piece of parsley on the water before we leave a dock. The direction and speed of the bread on the water indicates the direction and strength of the current.

August 6 Going through the Little Current Swing Bridge

Safely away from the dock, we headed down current and through the open swing bridge. Then we cruised to Marianne Cove, my favorite anchorage, where we were scheduled to catch up with Magic Carpet.

As it turns out, Magic Carpet had left Heywood Island for better protection elsewhere from the Saturday winds. They were not in Marianne Cove when we arrived. Once anchored and tied ashore, Jeanne and I tossed the kayaks overboard and paddled around the neighboring bay and the small island that separates the anchorage from Baie Fine channel. Magic Carpet arrived that afternoon and we got together with them on Gaviidae for happy hour and to plan our next move.

A New Destination

Marianne was just a stopping point as our real destination was McGregor Bay. With all of our prior visits to the North

Sauna along the shore in McGregor Bay

Channel over the years, we had never ventured into this particular area.

We followed Magic Carpet as she dodged left and right around islands, submerged rocks and other obstacles they know from their years of experience sailing these waters. Gaviidae passed numerous gunkholes that I thought looked perfect but Jerry had a specific location in mind in the far reaches of McGregor Bay. We entered a channel dubbed West Sampson and came into a lovely anchorage already hosting several power and sailboats.


We had a couple of celebrations while we were in McGregor. The first was my birthday and the second was the official re-naming ceremony of Gaviidae. We had completed the first half of the ceremony when the prior name was removed from the boat—back in Rhode Island. We delaying completing the ceremony until Mark and Jeanne were aboard. They had participated in the naming ceremony for the G37, so we postponed this ceremony until they could participate. With a couple chilled bottles of bubbly, lots of good appetizers provided by us and Magic Carpet, we formally introduced Gaviidae to the gods of the winds and seas (or lakes, in our case).

August 8 A toast to Gaviidae!
Boat Rules Happy Hour – Yum!

The renaming ceremony was long overdue, as far as Dan was concerned. He was beginning to suspect that the mechanical issues we began experiencing back at Port Washington on Long Island were manifestations of the gods’ displeasure with us for not completing the ceremony. Neither of us are particularly superstitious, but our growing list of problems inspired uneasy jokes about unhappy sea spirits. Dan hoped the deities of the seas would be appeased by our generous and boisterous ceremony.

Our time in McGregor was spent kayaking, watching fierce-looking storms blow by, and a little bit of fishing done by Mark. And boat maintenance – our engine stopped shooting water out the side which is absolutely necessary to keep the engine cool. Dan removed the water strainer and found that it was packed with weeds, probably from when I ran through a huge 12” thick mat of weeds on Lake Erie that I could not avoid. With that cleaned and a little coaxing, the cooling pump took over and all was well aboard the good ship Gaviidae. The gods were smiling on us.

From McGregor we headed back towards Little Current stopping at Heywood Island where we dropped anchor in an area that Jerry refers to as East Heywood. With some heavy weather predicted, there were numerous boats already anchored and many more that arrived after we set anchor. Some of those dropped anchor a bit too close to other boats and it resulted in a chain-reaction of boats moving one direction or another. The weather held off and while Mark and Dan went fishing, Jeanne and I tootled around the bay in the kayaks.

Mark working hard at a crossword puzzle

The Vacation is Over

The next day we prepared to return our guests to Little Current. Their vacation was coming to an end. As he checked the engine, Dan noticed that the coolant level in the expansion tank was low. Engine temperatures while running had been fine, but he added some coolant and decided to begin monitoring the engine’s cooling system more carefully.

On arriving in Little Current, we reluctantly dropped our guests off after a great week of relaxation and fun. We were relieved that their car did not reek of rum after sitting closed up in a parking lot for 8 days. As they departed, we gave them instructions to start thinking about where they wanted to sail next summer.

And we returned to the mundane chores of doing laundry and getting groceries. Life on a boat!

Late afternoon in West Sampson after storms blew through

August 3 – 11, 2017 Little Current Ontario     45°58.958’N   81°55.681’W   1380.1 Nautical Miles



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