Aground Part 1

It happened Wednesday night and I’m just ready to talk about it here now. Pretty traumatic experience.

On Wednesday I left Parry Sound in the early afternoon. I had slept in, refueled, done some maintenance. Didn’t feel any urgency. The plan was to meet Samantha and Sarah Thursday night late in Killarney. Weather looked benign, though to be honest I hadn’t looked at a marine forecast in almost a month. The joys of inland voyaging 🙂

Had a beautiful inside passage up to Pointe au Baril, and detoured inland an hour or so to visit the actual hamlet. Nice country. Dropped the hook for a quick break and started thinking about where to stop for the evening and next day plans.

Whoa. Looking at the chart in detail I realized that there is no more protected passage. It’s into the big lake for most of the 40 miles to the south entrance to Collins Channel. I knew I could get to Killarney from there in any weather.

I knew this, but didn’t remember quite how desolate this coast is in the northern section. Islands change to rocks. In fair weather it’s beautiful. In bad weather it’s menacing. When I came through here in 2016 going south it was gloriously sunny and flat calm, and I casually threaded my way through the small boat passage with awe and wonder.

The marine forecast wasn’t looking great. Winds had been NW 15 knots all day and were forecast to go to west 20 knots overnight with building seas through the next day.

I should say that I approach open water with trepidation. It’s mostly because I get easily seasick. The boat seems ok in moderate seas. Sometimes going faster helps and I can cruise at 10-12 knots when I want to.

After some consideration I decided to continue on, and do a night time straight line offshore run to Beaverstone Bay. I could anchor there and have an easy day getting into Killarney. About 37 miles across and up to ten miles offshore. Doable as long as the waves weren’t too bad, I’d have a head sea.

I reached the Pointe au Baril lighthouse about 9:00 in the dark and headed out. 20 minutes later I turned around. Waves were short and nasty, and I was getting thrown around enough to realize that this probably wasn’t prudent, and certainly wasn’t going to be fun. Went in past the lighthouse and immediately started thinking about finding an anchorage. I was getting a bit queasy and was happy to find flat water and regroup.

I should say that unless I’m in open water with good visibility I drive from the flybridge. Guess my sailing instincts rule here. I have a bimini but hate the idea of an enclosure. I like to be exposed to the elements. Also at night I want to be able to see and hear clearly. I keep a hand held spotlight, horn, binoculars, and vhf radio there at all times and have a Garmin chart plotter there, but for the most part I keep everything dimmed way back and try to maintain good night vision. Generally it works, and I often use the binoculars at night too. Anyway, it was a nice night, clear with a moon.

I poked into one little cove just a few hundred yards from the lighthouse. There was a boat moored there and 20 feet of water and I wasn’t confident that there was sufficient room to swing so I headed out through a different route. My plotter showed a clump of three very small islands to pass by on the starboard side to get into a larger bay. The passage through was perhaps 100 yards wide. I could see the islands clearly and went through at idle speed. With a clear path ahead and a steady 20 feet depth I increase throttle a bit as I passed the islands, and about 10 seconds later ran up on the third island, which was about 2 feet underwater. I was probably going five knots.

I’m sure I had the gear in neutral before I stopped moving. It was a gentle bump followed by the bow rising. First reaction was shock. At some point shortly after I put the motor in reverse and tried a strong shot of reverse. Nothing. I was stuck.

Heading North

Just left Parry Sound. Came in yesterday around noon to drop off Miles and Chantal and stayed put as it was raining and blustery yesterday into this morning. I paid $75 to stay at the town dock overnight with power. This morning I filled fuel and water tanks and did an oil change and am now heading out for Killarney. Need to be there tomorrow night to meet Samantha and Sarah.

Several people have asked about fuel consumption. I operate in an economical way, which basically means going slow, typically 6-7 knots. I can travel faster but use much more fuel. My tanks hold about 800 l.

I went 20 days and traveled 393 nautical miles, about 750 km. I put 77 hours on the main motor and about 20 hours on the generator. Total fuel consumption was 333 litres of diesel. This is well within my target of 1 l per nautical mile, or about 4 usmpg.

Nice day now, sunny and low 20s. Wind NW about 15 knots.

Massasauga Provincial Park

I could spend a few days exploring here. Empty and remote feeling. Currently anchored in the middle of Jenner Bay. No cottages and very few boats.

Samantha, Sarah and I were up here canoeing last fall, and it looks like I could travel though the whole area, although there is no depth published for the inner sections. Would have to go slow and stay alert. Would love to see how far up the Moon River we could go. But that’s for another trip.

To catch up, Miles and Chantal arrived Saturday night about 11:00 and we had a nice cruise out through Parry Sound (the water) to the tip of Killbear, where we anchored just inside the point. Played in the water in the morning then back into town to get groceries and meet up with my friends Tim and Layton who have an inland lake cottage relatively close by. Had a lovely relaxed cruise around Parry Island with them.

After leaving Parry Sound at supper time we found a lovely little cove right off the main channel. Had a stream running into it, a portage terminus to an upper lake and no cottages. Beautiful. Set bow and stern anchor in close to shore. No depth published so we felt our way in. Lots of water. The only issue was a lack of cell service. I actually hiked up the portage path about 11:00 pm to get an internet fix.

Today we planned to explore Massasauga Park. Came out to Sans Souci and turned back inland. This was the first spot on our list and it was pretty perfect so we’re here for the rest of the day and tonight. Miles and Chantal are going to stay ashore in a tent. Supposed to start raining tomorrow morning and all day tomorrow but we’re not more than three hours to town to drop them off.

Tomorrow after dropping Miles and Chantal off it’s north to Killarney where I’m meeting Samantha and Sarah Thursday night.

Parry Sound

Got underway about 10 and noodled my way north. Took several ad hoc inside passages and went down 12 Mile Bay. Then in past Sans Souci and through a few narrow passages on to Parry Sound. They call it something like 10 mile narrows.

Got into Parry Sound about 3:30, tied up at the government wharf and walked into downtown, wandered around, had a fish and chips. Filled my water tanks, left and day anchored out just around the corner.

I’m waiting here for Miles and Chantal, who are driving from London this evening. Hope they make it ok.

I’m completely winging it. I don’t have food for three for three days, so we’ll likely have to go out tomorrow morning to provision. Not many grocery stores where we’re going. Or restaurants for that matter.

Where are we going? North I think. But have to discuss with M&S.

Lots of very nice cottages around here, and a bunch of boat traffic is basically commuters. Not so many pontoon boats in these parts, lots of big aluminum utility boats with big outboards. And a lot of Limestone 24s. I have a history with Bruce R and a Limestone 24. Classy boat, but a bit slow by today’s standards.

Saw a new Carver 52 Coupe underway. Guess that’s a somewhat popular us$1.2m+ boat these days. A lot like the Riviera 5400 I met earlier. But edgier. Bah Humbug. Who buys these things and why?

I took this picture cause I liked the idea of walking out on this high deck early in the morning. House is in the trees.

There are lots of cool boathouses. But I thought that Peter M might appreciate this one, and the boat. Took two because when I got by it wanted a more complete view 🙂

Dunno if you can see it but a float plane was landing in front of me.

Turns out there’s quite a busy float plane operation here. They’ve been flying in and out regularly. Cruised by their dock.

30,000 Islands

I ended up spending two nights in Midland. Yesterday was super muggy when I got up and I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere so I hung out on the boat with the AC on, did some reading and cleaning up. The pressure washer and submersible pump hung overboard work very well. Had a delightful shower in the cockpit in the afternoon. Next time I’ll take a picture 🙂 Rain last night.

This morning I went into town to see the tugfest activities, had coffee and a sandwich – thanks Jen for the local knowledge – then pulled up anchor about 2:00.

Here’s the cutest boat at tugfest

From Midland I went across to Honey Harbour, stopped for a couple of things at the grocery store there, and headed north into the 30,000 islands.

Wow. I spent some time around here two years ago and marveled then at the area. It’s better than I remember. I took the most inside route I could find through the islands.

A couple of hours from Honey Harbour and the cottages and boats start to thin out.

I’m now anchored in a small channel between two islands. It’s uncharted but because the water is so clear and I draw less that 3′ it’s easy to navigate from the flybridge. Dodged a couple of rocks coming in and am now snug, with a bow and stern anchor holding me in place. There is nobody around apart from a few sailboats anchored in the large cove around the corner.

I took a few pics coming up here but the day was pretty grey. Won’t waste the bandwidth on posting them here. But I’m sure there will be lots more!

Tomorrow I’m going to end up somewhere where Miles and Chantal can reach me by car. Am thinking Parry Sound. Then we can stock up before heading out for a few days exploring the area. Weather looks benign for the next couple of days.


Had a very relaxed day cruising down to Georgian Bay. It’s funny doing the reverse trip – I came down from Lake Huron to Trent two years ago and encountered my first lock in this boat then. It was a whole bunch of new experiences then. Now I feel like an old hand and can relax and enjoy myself.

I rescued a boater in distress today at Big Chute. A family in a bowrider had lost power and were frantically paddling while being sucked towards one of the gates. Lots of current. Fortunately there’s a buoyed wire preventing boats and swimmers from getting swept over the dam and they ended up pinned on it. I was able to back up to them, get a tow line and tow them to a nearby dock. The Big Chute railway guys were impressed.

I meant to take pictures but had phone charging issues. I bought two new cords in Orillia earlier this week, as well as a new mount for my tablet which I use as a plotter at the lower helm. The first cord was destroyed when the new mount dropped the tablet shortly after leaving the dock and the second turned out to be the wrong kind. Got a couple at Big Chute before my phone died.

When I got out of Port Severn I wasn’t sure where to go next. Thought about going up to Honey Harbour but also wanted to get new phone cords. So I came over to Midland. Anchored in Cheapskate Cove which was nicely sheltered from the NW breeze. It’s just me and a Swan 51 here. Flat calm now.

The weather was a bit strange today. As I was pulling into the Swift Rapids lock it started raining. While we were in the lock it absolutely poured. This is a super deep lock, the highest on the TS with a 47 foot lift. It was like being in a giant shower stall. The rain ended shortly after we left the lock. By the time I got to Midland about 4:30 it was stinking hot and I retreated to the dark air conditioned cabin for the evening.

It’s supposed to rain for the next couple of days and there’s a tug festival going on here. I have guests arriving Saturday night and I was planning to be farther north, but there’s lots to see and do around Honey Harbour. I still have to clean and organize the interior so can use time not travelling

Here are the Big Chute pics before my phone died. I’ve got to say it’s scarier going down than up. Very cool machine.

Lake Couchiching day 2

After spending most of the day in Orillia running around picking up groceries and a few other supplies I headed up to the north end of the lake where the canal starts to go down to Sparrow Lake. Missed the hours for the opening railroad bridge and so backtracked to the lake and anchored for the night just off the channel. Nice evening, no clouds. Should be good sky watching later

Starting to get big rocks showing up.

Lake Couchiching

I’m anchored off of Chief’s Island for the night. Stopped at Orillia for lunch earlier, then headed out here. Anchored in about three feet of water over a sandy bottom and walked around the boat cleaning the waterline and topsides. It’s a beautiful evening.

Here’s the passage from Lake Simcoe north into Lake Couchiching

Will run into Orillia again tomorrow morning to stock up on groceries, then probably head for the canal at the north end of the lake. The trip from here to Georgian Bay is pretty and interesting. Not in any rush as I’m solo until the weekend.

Edit:. Have been sitting out all evening. Dark now. And no bugs. Best evening yet.

Underway again

After stopped by at the bottom of the canal entering Lake Simcoe Thursday evening I did some minor repairs. The alternator belt had been slipping and on close inspection it turned out that one of the bolts holding the tensioner had sheared off. Went to Guelph Friday evening for a visit with family, then back Saturday night to the boat. On Sunday I put things back together but wanted to get a new belt, so rode my bike down to Beaverton this morning and picked one up. Now fully operational. Nice day out on Lake Simcoe, next stop Orillia.

Lake Simcoe

Had a nice couple of days with Samantha and Sarah travelling from Peterborough through the Kawartha Lakes and got to the entrance to Lake Simcoe last night where they disembarked. Had plans to welcome Susan Sunday but they are now in doubt as her cat is sick :-(. After some heavy rain last night the weather looks great for the next few days.

Now trying to make plans… Have a car here. The trip from here to Port Severn is one of my favourite segments.

More pics here