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!
Cruisers who venture north of the BC coast’s major tidal rapids quickly learn that they’re not in Kansas anymore. The big passes not only divide the popular cruising grounds to the south from the less-travelled country to the north. They are gateways between the “civilized” south – where humans are in charge – and the “wild kingdom” that is home to some of North America’s most formidable wildlife.
However, the drive was such an exhausting part of the journey, it had the reverse effect of stress relief. That was when we finally realized our calling to transition into boating. Our first boat was to be big enough to sleep on and to entertain our family and friends.
Clayoquot is one of the major sounds on Vancouver Island’s wild West Coast, and a haven for cruisers in search of peaceful, remote harbours.
At the dock in Victoria, we were filled with the anticipation of a new adventure. We were fully provisioned and had carefully reviewed the weather window, consulted the charts and checked all of the vital equipment on Ocean Mistress, our American Tug 41. Like children on Christmas Eve, we pretended to sleep before we departed for our trip. We only had time for a short vacation and desired a place away from the crowds. The west coast of Vancouver Island was our objective.