Lion’s Head – On the Wrong Side of the Peninsula

If you remember O.J.’s high speed chase down the freeways of LA, you will get the picture of our incredibly slow-motion docking when coming into Lion’s Head in the middle of the night. Dan wrote about it in the last blog entry. The only thing moving fast were our friends as they slid around in the goose poop on the dock. But we made it – with no dents, dings, or bruised egos. Except for Dan – he may have gained a few more bruises and nicks while he wrestled with the failed sea water pump.

GOOD Morning!

We woke the next morning (far too early considering our late night) to a rap on the hull. It was a local sailor named Randy, a friend of Dave’s (of s/v Good Idea who is also GLCC Port Captain for Lion’s Head). Randy came to check on what we needed to get underway. With that, Dan and Randy and the failed pump hopped on Randy’s ATV and buzzed around the bay to see if a local machinist named Bruce could assist. Assist he did. They quickly disassembled parts of the pump Dan couldn’t break down after it failed. They then machined the badly worn shaft to realign it. It took a couple of hours in Bruce’s shop and cost all of a bottle of vodka and a case of beer.

With accounts settled and fixed pump in hand, Dan proceeded back to the boat and re-installed the pump. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Not quite. It also required re-installing the alternator, belts, and a few more bits and pieces. Using our headsets, with me at the helm and Dan buried in the engine, I fired up the Westerbeke with my fingers crossed. A minute later, Dan told me to shut it down. Water was leaking through the repaired pump – and it was more of a stream than a trickle. Our next option was to get a completely new pump.

Hello, Mike?

Given the frequency of our calls to Mike Gozzard at Gozzard Yachts I’m sure he groans when he hears that it is either Dan or I calling. But since he had already been involved via text messaging as to our predicament, he had already been toying with some solutions. After some discussion, we opted to replace the pump since he happened to have one on hand for another boat.

As the crow flies, Goderich is 90 miles from Lion’s Head southwest on the other side of the Bruce Peninsula. By car, it’s not much further–161 kilometers or about 100 miles. By boat, it is 150 miles.

So close and yet so far. It would take two days—maybe three—to ship the pump from Goderich!

We learned that Howard and Kerri-Ann (the lovely folks who bought Gaviidae 37) had already arrived in Goderich. A quick phone call to Howard along with a hint that maybe he might want to sail with us from Lion’s Head to Goderich and a plan was made! Both Howard and Kerri-Ann decided they wanted to come with us. With pillows and the pump in hand, they made the trek across the peninsula and arrived in Lion’s Head later that day.

The Pump Works!

On their arrival midafternoon, Dan set about installing the new pump with Howard supervising his work while simultaneously sipping a beer. To our great relief the pump worked as intended when we fired the engine. Given the late hour, we dismissed departing that afternoon and quickly changed gears to plan our sail around the Bruce to Goderich.

We departed at 0830 the next morning and around 0930 we shut down the engine. With four Gozzard owners aboard, it was time to enjoy the boat’s sailing capabilities. We initially set the downwind pole on the genoa and to run wing on wing straight down wind. For those who are not sailors this means we have the main sail off to one side of the boat and the big genoa (with the pole) off to the other side. The wind from behind is caught between the two sails and pushes us along. Dan likes to call it “poultry in motion.”

Burying the Rail
Lion's Head to Goderich
Howard at the helm and hitting 8.5 knots!

We were able to maintain 5 knots and by noon were heading around Cabot Head on the NE corner of the Bruce Peninsula. The downwind pole and genoa were stowed once the winds kicked into the 20s. We continued with the mainsail and staysail with Howard at the helm. The winds remained in the high teens and low 20s. I was below deck and at one point I looked out the window to see water splashing over the top of the toe rail. Howard was definitely having some fun pushing our boat! In fact, Howard took the speed record for our entire season on Gaviidae. He was hitting 8.5 knots as we rocketed along the north side of the Bruce.

Later, Howard put his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and with a grave look on his face asked whether he had pushed our boat too hard! Gotta love the guy! I shrugged and said, “You don’t get speeding tickets in a Volvo and you don’t bury the rail of a Gozzard!”

Cove Island

Since we had made such good time sailing along the Bruce, we decided to bypass Wingfield Basin and continue on to Cove Island near Tobermory. Howard and Kerri-Ann had never been to Cove Island – it’s a bit tricky getting in but following the Great Lakes Cruising Club Harbor Report we wiggled our way in and dropped anchor safely tucked away in the pristine cove.

After dinner, we played a game of Farkle and discussed the game plan for the next day. The unanimous decision was to do an overnight sail for an early morning arrival in Goderich. Doing so would give us most of the entire day to explore Cove Island before heading out in the late afternoon.

The next morning, we dropped the dinghy and hopped aboard. We puttered around the cove, amazed at how crystal clear the water was. We then proceeded into the next cove to see what anchoring options were there for future visits. Cove Island is the perfect stopping point at the top of the Bruce if you don’t want to head into the overly crowded tourist-centric town of Tobermory. Don’t get me wrong, Tobermory can be fun but once every couple of years is enough.

After exploring the neighboring bay, we saw another sailboat coming in. They initially headed towards the cove we had been in but changed their minds. They then attempted to anchor in the channel which was not protected from the winds. We suggested they would get better protection further in and they proceeded to follow us around the corner into the cove.

Heading South

By 1600, the anchor was up and we were underway – motoring through the field of rocks and shoals that guarded the entry to the islands charming coves. We decided to do two-hour two-man shifts. Overlapping crew changes would occur every hour so we would start a watch with one person and end the watch with a different person. Dan and I have done a number of overnight sails now but I have to say it was much easier with four people!

The winds were light through the night, never topping 10 knots and when it did get that high, it was from the south – right on our nose. But light winds and small waves are much better than getting bashed or rolled from side to side.

Lion's Head to Goderich
The red lights on the wind turbines flashing along the Bruce Peninsula
Our route from Cove Island to Goderich
0443 Our location as we head to Goderich; No, the lakers on the other side of Lake Huron aren’t hitting – it just looks that way on the chartplotter!

In the early morning hours, we were guided by the bright red lights from the wind turbines along the west shore of the Bruce Peninsula. Aside from a few boats that popped on radar, it was a very quiet night.

We slid into Maitland Marina just before 0900, docked the boat and ended our trek from Lion’s Head to Goderich as well as our 2019 sailing season.

September 19-21, 2019 Goderich Ontario 43°44.857’N   81°43.173’W

1464.29 Nautical Miles

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