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.
Lake Erie always feels somehow older, more mature ..It’s been the cradle of boating and summer pleasure for years. Port Dover is a time-honoured port with an established feel, high spirited traditions both old and new and a real character all its own. Fishing and sunning have been going on for a couple of centuries although the town’s best known institution, PD13, the spectacular motorcycle ride-in that occurs every Friday the 13th and has put the place forever on the map – only began in 1981.
Named for Dover, England in the early 1880s, Port Dover evolved as a fishing port and has been loved by generations as a long established summer resort pretty well ever since.
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.
The Heart of It allAs an attractive destination for sailors and cruisers alike, Midland Harbour doesn’t really have to try hard to impress; the waters of Georgian Bay attract yachts of all sizes from all over the globe. With a history steeped in lumber and boat manufacturing, Midland Harbour today is an integral part of a thriving town, boasting the largest freshwater marina in the world amongst its offerings. The hometown of Sarah Burke, Glen Howard, Adam Dixon and David Onley to name a few, Midland is the heart of the North Simcoe area, the centre of the neighbouring Georgian Bay communities.
In the heart of the Huronia wilderness, the Jesuits established the first French outpost outside of the area we now know as Quebec. It was called Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons in 1639. Wendake, “the land apart”, was the ancestral homeland of the Huron nation. The Wendat were a matrilineal society of skilled traders and farmers. They introduced the ‘three sisters’ (corn, beans and squash) to the French and taught them how to grow these crops in mounds. Sadly, the mission was to last only 10 years. With the Huron decimated by disease and rising tension of more frequent Iroquois attacks, the Jesuits burned the mission to the ground and moved all inhabitants to nearby Christian Island.
Great performance in a versatile, modern design
For the Canadian Yachting readers who are not yet familiar with Beneteau’s broad range of power boat models, the Gran Turismo 35 may come as a bit of a surprise. Our test boat is a head-on competitor to the North American built express cruisers and the latest day boats that are coming on the market.
The GT35 has the style and amenities to match the best new designs in it’s size range, the stern drive power to deliver exhilarating high speed performance plus, it still adds in an overtone of Euro style.