The sunny sky suddenly turned black as we waited on the blue line for our turn to enter the mammoth Carillon Lock on the Lower Ottawa River just east of Hawkesbury, Ontario. Then, just after the lock’s giant “guillotine” gate rose overhead to let us in, a strong wind broke the calm. It blew from the east, hammering into the open mouth of the lock and catching several entering cruisers unawares. Frantic lock staff managed to grab one and secure it, but operating under minimum power and with limited manoeuvring room, two other wayward boats started to turn sideways and drift uncontrollably towards the closed gates at the other end – and into each other. So it was Sea-Doo’s to the rescue…a couple of us masqueraded our personal watercraft as tug boats, gently nudging the larger vessels back into position, where grateful lock staff could get them properly fastened.
Morning. Thompson Island on Lake Superior. Fourteen nautical miles out of Thunder Bay. Perfect weather. This begins on Day Two because we cast off yesterday and conditions precluded time spent below deck with my nose buried in “Frodo’s” logbook: co-operative winds, scenery that could make a politician cry, waves decorating cobalt waters that glittered like jewels in a crown. Day two because right here is the perfect beginning: remembering last night, sun dipping in the west, sky-reaching islands hovering like mirages or a Lawren Harris landscape, a fine mist creeping over the water, blurring the edges of a perfect full moon, silvery light on a sauna built by boaters, fired by hardwood, the smell timeless and evocative.
Cruising on Canada’s East Coast, at least for those who have never been there, can conjure up images of fierce tides and dense fog. While these conditions do exist at times, they can be managed with prudence and planning. However, there are two large cruising areas that are as inviting as any protected inland lake or river. These are the Bras d’Or Lakes region of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and the Saint John River in New Brunswick. Although the Saint John River runs for over 400 miles from its headwaters in the mountains of northern Maine, it is the approximately 75 miles between the river’s mouth at the port city of Saint John on the Bay of Fundy and the head of navigation at Fredericton, that attract the boater’s attention.
We were cruising for two weeks in Gwaii Haanas. Spread out among three boats, (a Campion, a Bayliner Trophy and an Iron Wood) we were seven adults, four children and one large dog. We dropped the boats in the water at Moresby Camp and spent a few days traveling south. By Day 4 we found ourselves in a very nice little anchorage known as Civa Cove, Murchison Island.
Our first evening anchored here three of us decided to snorkel across the bay in a bit of a stronger current alongside a nameless little island. It was by far the most spectacular snorkeling I’ve ever done. There was nowhere to place a foot or hand on the ground without touching something alive. The kelp beds were bubbly flowing works of art and there seemed to be a bit of everything in a multitude of colours; star fish, sea anemones, sea urchins, cucumbers, crabs, scallops, goeducks and abalone. If it belonged on the north coast it seemed to be here by this little island.
Georgian Bay: Just the words evoke ethereal images, stirring something special in the hearts and minds of all boaters whether you explore silently by kayak, traverse under taut sails or power through her more than 30,000 Islands.
This vast body of water is technically part of Lake Huron, but is often referred to as the sixth Great Lake for its sheer size and diversity of destinations. It’s a lake of legends, lost ships, forgotten coves, iconic windswept pines, artistic inspiration, rich history and endless islands each packing plenty of personality all their own.
Where to start? Good question. Boaters could spend a lifetime travelling the bay and never know all of its nooks and crannies; never stay in the same spot twice and still not see it all.
Owning a runabout or personal watercraft enables boaters to do unique explorations not possible with larger cruisers. The only additional equipment needed is a good tow vehicle and trailer. This way, you can launch wherever there’s a handy ramp to embark on new trailer boating adventures.
One of the most enjoyable and memorable is touring in Muskoka, Ontario. Dubbed “the Malibu of the North” by the New York Times, Muskoka has attracted the rich and famous since the latter 1800’s. Its cottaging celebrities include Martin Short, Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Tom Hanks, Harry Hamlin, Cindy Crawford, Ted Rogers, Kenny G, Bill Murray, Kevin O’Leary, along with many sports and business luminaries. During the summer, the Muskoka population swells as tens of thousands of pretty well heeled cottagers take advantage of fun in the sun on its clear and sparkling waters.
We met Bobby Sherlock in Ucluelet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island onboard his Hunter 340, Pegasus, near British Columbia’s Barkley Sound. The Broken Group Islands would be our home, for the five of us, for the next few days. The Broken Group Islands are located are on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, in an area known as Barkley Sound and are only accessible by boat.
With fishing licenses in hand, and after a thorough tour of the boat, we talked with our skipper about the evolution of his unique Ocean Harvest Cruise. It seems like a natural fit for Bobby to lead such an adventure, with his education in outdoor adventure training and having cooked in professional kitchens since he was 15 years old.
Some may say that the sailing experience of monohulls versus catamarans is as different as chalk & cheese. Until recently, Frank (my husband) and I never gave much thought to catamarans. We rarely saw them over the years of monohull sailing on the West Coast. However, they’re very popular in warmer water destinations, especially the Caribbean. When we were presented with the option to sail on a catamaran for an autumn Desolation Sound Flotilla (organized by Cooper Boating, Vancouver), it intrigued us – What is catamaran sailing all about? We wanted to find out for ourselves. Our curiosity peaked further when we learned the catamaran or ‘cat’ was a luxurious 40’ Lagoon 400!
As the result of some scheduling issues, career commitments and just bad timing, our sojourn to Holland became a guys only trip. Here is what we would tell our wives that they missed by not joining us on our Le Boat trip in Holland.
Roster for the trip:
* Captain John Armstrong on the wheel * First Mate Robin Ball, navigator, tactician and sous chef * Deck Crew Greg Nicoll, lines and bollards, plus some cooking and storytelling...
The express cruiser style in this boat is refined in a number of interesting and unique ways. The distinctive bow styling serves an important purpose as does the attractive transom treatment while the rest of the yacht in between is an outstanding expression of the contemporary express cruiser style.
Our guide through the boat was Derek Mader, President of Executive Yacht in Toronto and our Azimut 55 S was, at that time, the only 2016 model available in Canada. Derek had ordered the boat in because he believed it had some unique features and indeed, it's unexpected to find a 55 foot express cruiser that includes both a private crew cabin and an enclosed dinghy garage.
As summer becomes a distant memory, see if you can close your eyes and recall those glorious days when you spent more than one lazy day hanging around the general store at the cottage. Not only was it a great place to purchase some penny candy, but also the place where you could eavesdrop on conversations that your parents said you should know nothing about. It’s where countless members of small communities seemed to blend seamlessly when they sailed, laughed, danced, swam, had ice creams, paddled, and shared cherished memories in a casual, summer atmosphere. C and Stony Lake Yacht Club comprise this community which has existed for some eight generations on Juniper Island in the ‘Jewel of the Kawarthas’. Many say that if Stony Lake is a community then Juniper is its hub. In the late 40s, Swatty Wotherspoon came to the lake and has been returning ever since. For him, life-lasting friendships were made where he vividly remembers square dances at the Pavillion, which became a very important place for his family growing up. He still treasures the spoons he won in the races sailing with everyone out of the yacht club.
DIY & How to