dest-canada-back_to-large“So you’re back,” says Canadian Yacht Charters co-proprietor Ken Blodgett as if it hasn’t been a year since we’d last seen him.

“I’m back.” I sit down on a Muskoka chair beside Blodgett just outside their office, snugged down on the shores of Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island’s north shore.

I stare at the waters – dark green and mysterious in the late afternoon. I look up at East Bluff, their heights emerald in the sun, etched by pine trees, expanse broken by poplar leaves that seem to glitter

like silver coins, the occasional white gleam of the trunks of birch trees, the mottled faces of limestone bluffs that are one of the last north-climbing reaches of the Niagara Escarpment.

“Might lose the weather,” says Blodgett, desultorily.

That can happen. But right now it doesn’t concern me unduly. I’ve come back to the Channel and ever since crossing the bridge from the mainland southwest of Sudbury into Little Current, the tension has washed off me like dust in a warm shower.

“But anyway, you’re back,” says Blodgett. “Want a burger?”

His wife, Pam, comes out and gives me a big hug. “Welcome back,” she says. “Want some homemade fudge?” Ken and Pam are part of the reason we’re back. Not the only reason, not the most important reason. But part of the reason.

We started coming up here eleven years ago. They were friendly and hospitable then. Now they feel like family. Pam is a Haweater. Back when settlement first began on the biggest freshwater island in the world it was subsistence living. Lots of rock, lots of forest. Lots of fish, but the farming was tough. Earliest settlers had to survive eating the flesh of bitter Hawberries.

Lesser folk would have given up, but like islanders everywhere they’ve made do. Now they call themselves Haweaters with an almost Newfoundlandesque sense of humour. And come summer they have a Haweaters’ Festival in Little Current. Rest of the time they work hard to eke out a living here. Ken works hard but right now he’s every bit as lazy as I am. Pam goes back inside to catch up on some more paperwork.

First met Ken at the Toronto International Boat Show where he was doing an introduction to the Channel.

Struck me at the time that he should take his show on the road – sort of a one man- Broadway comedy act. Struck me at the time that he would be a fun guy to spend time with.

Struck me at the time that we really had to do the Channel.

And now we’re back.

“Where are you going to go?” says Blodgett. He stands up, lifts the lid of the barbecue, tosses some patties on the grill, and sits back down.

I shrug.

Blodgett grins, tanned leathery face showing the weather, the sun, the cold, the

winds, in it. “Where the winds take you.”

We’re back in the Channel. That’s enough.

First time here I had a float plan that would have made Derek Hatfield proud. There are something like three hundred and fifty islands in the Channel. I was going to stop at every one of them. Completely conquer the place.

The Channel had other plans.

Made us wait a day-and-a-half. Rain and heavy cloud. Gore Bay is a charming town in a postcard-picture setting. But there is not a lot to do here in the rain. Second biggest town on the island but this is a relative term. There are something like two traffic lights on Manitoulin Island. Neither are in Gore Bay.

So I was itching to get out there – the islands swathed in mist were Northern Ontario Bali-Hai’s, beckoning and seductive. And I was going to see everyone.

That first day was a warning. “You have to meet the Channel on her terms,” said Blodgett in our first chart briefing. “You go with her rhythm and not yours.”

We pulled out of the dock, making our way north, when a line squall roared through. Got the main up and the boat pitched and yawed. Another squall came through. We turned around and limped back to harbour.

Sometime after twilight I strolled out to where the bay opened up a bit – now the skies were lavender and fading fast to indigo. Not a light to be seen on the Channel, just a few here in town. I cursed silently and then I heard the chuckle of a loon.

Seemed like the Channel was laughing at me.

But I forgave her.

Next morning was perfect and the boat skimmed the waters. We were making for South Benjamin Island.

Ken and Pam are part of the reason we’re back in the Channel. South Benjamin is a bigger part.

We pulled in there that first night and dropped the hook in the lee of a great towering boulder of granite. The water was so clear you could see pebbles at fifteen feet. A cliff, pink granite, rose up from the waters toward the end of a bay decorated with sea grass that glowed neon lime in the afternoon sun.

In a tiny rock channel – rocks formed by wind and water so delicately they reminded you of cushions on a bed – a couple of sailboats were snugged down, sterns affixed to tree trunks on shore.

I decided that if there was ever an apocalypse I would steal a boat from Blodgett and head straight for here.

A couple of trailerables with centerboards had pulled up onto a rock ledge. At twilight they lit campfires.

South Benjamin is part of why I come back to the channel.

We’re not the only ones who comeback.

Before dark that first night in Benjamin we dinghied around the bay and I pulled up beside a yacht from

Detroit. A twenty-something girl reclined in the cockpit, a middle-aged man was reading a book.

“First time on the Channel?” I said.

He grinned. Desultorily. “See her?”He pointed at the girl. “She was a baby our first time. Back every year.”

Back in the Channel, back in Gore Bay, we’re waiting. For both weather and for my wife’s friends, Barb and Dave Anschuetz. It will be their first time on the Channel.

Guys on the next dock over have come back to the Channel too. We go over and share drinks and lies about our favourite anchorages. Blodgett comes aboard. The rum goes down as all these channel regulars (these guys are from Ottawa, been coming up for twenty years.) “Every year,” says Blodgett. He points to another boat down the dock. “Twenty years for those guys too.”

A storm breaks over us and the lightning flashes across the sky. The thunder rattles the mast and thuds against the hull.

The Channel is reminding us. Doesn’t matter how many times you come back, you meet the Channel on her terms.

But everybody keeps coming back.

I have a lot of reasons, I think to myself next morning, sitting in a Muskoka chair usually reserved for Blodgett, waiting for Barb and Dave.

Item: Crossing south between Clapper - ton and Amedroz Islands. The waters are the colour of the sky and Manitoulin looms in the distance, gentle undulating ridges dominating the south horizon, somewhere between blue and indigo. Close-reached: small limestone bluffs of Clapperton capped by dense forest that comes right to the edge of these tiny cliffs off our starboard beam, pine-encrusted low-lying Amedroz off the port beam.

Item: Watching the play of sun on the water from a dock at Kagawong, watching kids jumping off the eight-foot pier, laughing and screaming, gasping with the cold as the day dies, while we set out pork tenderloin on the Force Ten, after hiking up a glittering stream to a waterfall that shimmers like a bride’s veil.

Item: North on a beam reach while son Adam yells, “harden the sail, Dad,” because, with the white peaks of LaCloche Mountains dead ahead, looking like they are snow-spattered though it’s actually quartzite, waters here pewtergilded and wind-riffled, two other sailboats are ahead and Adam’s bought into the maxim that any sailboats headed the same way are, by definition, racing.

Item: When the kids were young, discovering a deserted beach on Darch Island, a family swim, a picnic lunch at anchor, skipping stones in crystal water and watching them bounce like flying fish.

Item: Sailing a fancy Hunter with all the bells and whistles. Sailing a much older Aloha called “Rowdy’s Revenge”, a 38’ cat called “Nauticat”, cruising in a trawler and a power cat both. Canadian Yacht Charters has a diverse fleet with the right boat for your needs whether you want luxury, sail or comfort. And if you don’t feel up to the channel, they’ll provide a skipper.

Item: Late one day at south Benjamin after we’ve picked up Barb and Dave and cast off for this particular return to the channel.

One boat here. Ours. The sun falls and paints the pink granite headland even pinker. We dinghy ashore, clamour up great boulders.

Back on the boat we watch the stars come out – a scintillating tapestry that does something to your soul as you look around, as you hear the call of a couple of loons, haunting and forlorn but beautiful as a Mozart symphony.

“I can’t believe how beautiful this place is“ says Barb. “Like a Group of Seven painting.”

“Two or three other spots I wanted you to see,” I say. Haven’t had a great weather window on this trip so they aren’t going to happen.

Barb takes a sip of wine, looks around the bay, up at the sky. She deeply inhales the evening air, crisp and redolent of pine.

“Next time,” she says.

“So you’d come back?”

“I’d come back in a minute.”

Back to the Channel.

Pam and Ken Blodgett maintain a complete fleet of boats for skippered or bareboat charters out of their Canadian Yacht Charters Gore Bay base.

www.cycnorth.com

Related Articles

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Optimized sailing performance and comfortable living – a sweet ride. The expression that came to ...
This is such an exciting time in boating! While we feel very sorry for people whose health and ...
For many, the 2020 sailing year will be one to go down into the books as “different”. With delayed ...
What perfect timing! Beneteau is has just announced their new Antares 11 model for North America ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full-service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...
The Oceanis Yacht 54, younger sister of the Oceanis 62, embodies the innovation that has always ...
Beneteau announces the launch of the latest addition to the Antares range! With a length overall of ...
I had been looking forward to a sea trial aboard the Greenline 33 because I was hoping it would ...
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

 

Hanse 418By Katherine Stone

Optimized sailing performance and comfortable living – a sweet ride

The expression that came to mind immediately was “Sweet Ride” – and I wasn’t referring to the latest ride at the CNE, a chairlift, or a new Mercedes – it was the new Hanse 418, as it cleanly cut through the water in a gusty 15-20 knot breeze averaging 6-8 knots on Lake Ontario. She was easy to steer and manoeuver even in the big gusts. The extra length over the 388 has made a big difference, with German architects Judel/Vrolijk focusing on updates to the deck layout, cockpit and stern.

Read More

ChemainusBy Marianne Scott

The approach to the Chemainus Municipal Dock from Stuart Channel is straightforward and is protected from all but strong northerly winds. The only obstacle may be some large log booms often anchored in the harbour. The Dock is immediately south of the B.C. ferry terminal; the ferry runs to Thetis- and Penelakut Islands.

Harbourmaster Harmen Bootsma, who has been the cheerful, welcoming presence here for a couple of decades, is ready to catch your lines. 

 

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Skipper John “Drew” Plominski is hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Plominski, whose boat ...
The Association provides a forum for exchanging information, tips and access an advocate on behalf ...
Kristin Cummings, Operations Manager at Beacon Bay Marina took this shot after the skies broke ...
Our Photo of the Week (two, in fact) comes from New Zealand where the second America’s Cup AC 75 ...
The Marine Debris Recovery Initiative (MDRI), a collaboration with the Clean Coast, Clean Waters ...
The International Joint Commission (IJC) is reviewing Plan 2014 and could use your help. The plan ...
The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), thanks to funding from Environment and Climate Change ...
This Photo of the Week came from our own CY Team member Sarah C who, like many of us, is trying to ...
Limestone, a heritage Canadian boat brand that has earned a loyal following over the past 35 ...
Schooner Cove Yacht Club through their staff Capt. and other volunteers organize cruises so members ...

Discovery Harbour MarinaThe Association provides a forum for exchanging information, tips and access an advocate on behalf of the membership. Their Directors work with members to find solutions to issues in British Columbia. Members receive quarterly newsletter, with contributions by other members all along the BC coast.

The Association and its members continually update the list of marinas that allow little board moorings. This is a list of known and reported marinas that allow marine residents in British Columbia. We need your help to build and keep this list up-to-date. Please contact us with any additions or edits.

Read More

DIY & How to

  • Prev
There’s nothing worse than wondering how much fuel you have on board. You’re left wondering how ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is a phrase that many of us are familiar with. Most of the ...
I’m on many different types of boats, with many configurations. Some have a single ...
I often get asked if regular care and maintenance is necessary for inflatable PFDs. Here is a ...
Labour Day weekend tends to be the ‘last hurrah’ on many fronts: the last long weekend of the ...
One of the Great Lakes’ best known tall ships, sail training vessel TS Playfair, will soon be ...
My Dad is not a mechanical guy. He is educated and well-read, and handy around the house – but not ...
I was cleaning up my workbench the other day. My eyes then scanned across my workbench and fell on ...
July and August  in Canada are the months of boating. People are on the water – exploring, ...

WinterizationBy Andrew McDonald, Lakeside Marine Services

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is a phrase that many of us are familiar with. Most of the time it is in reference to a bygone era of better, and it’s used to lament the sorry state of what we have today. It is a phrase that can be applied to many areas of our lives: architecture, art, furniture, tools. Boats? I would argue that they don’t make them like they used to. But, is that lamentable, or is it progress?

Progress, I think. With this concept in mind, as we enter another season of putting boats to bed for the winter, why do we winterize as we always have?

Read More

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
The Tundra 65 is Yeti's most versatile cooler, just as adept at keeping catches cold as it is ...
Fireball self Extinguisher. It's a revolutionary self-detonating device designed to extinguish a ...
The problem with driving any full-size Pickup Truck or Sport Utility Vehicle is that when you are ...
Wait no longer - the 2021 Rideau Canal & Lower Ottawa River PORTS Guide will be available for ...
Timed to help with those tough last-minute gift-giving ideas, we bring you the (almost) first-ever ...
With growing demand being placed on onboard electrical power supplies these days, it's an ideal ...
Timed to help with those tough last-minute gift-giving ideas, we bring you the (almost) first-ever ...
By Amptrup, Jon and Bob Shepton      
Ratcheted strap allows quick, easy attaching.