North Channel Lobsters

Strange Creatures They Be By…

By Greg Nicoll and John Armstrong

The Galley Guys were invited to party, in fact we were invited to a Birthday party, make that a double birthday party. Pam and Ken Blodgett, the owners of Canadian Yacht Charters, invited friends to celebrate their birthday at their charter base in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island.

As expected, our drive from Toronto to Tobermory to catch the Chi Cheemaun Ferry to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island, was well worth the drive as we met up with Pam, Ken and a troop of of revellers for the festivities.  The cast of characters was made up of charterers readying their boats, staff, tradespeople, locals and others that just seemed to belong to this amazing community.

For those not familiar with Gore Bay, it is located on the North Shore of the largest freshwater island in the world, Manitolin Island, at 45.9167° N, 82.4667° W in Georgian Bay. Although it was in early in the season ,we had glorious May weather and found the some time to get out on the water to see what many call the “finest fresh water cruising grounds in the world”! The trees were coming to life, the pink granite rock shone bright in the sunlight and the clarity of the bluest fresh water in the world was spectacular.

The Galley Guys were tasked to bring enough Nova Scotia lobsters for everybody as the local variety of crustaceans apparently were  out of season. And, that lead to a grand tale. Ken told the story over dinner that several years ago he invited  friends to a party at his house and he timed it perfectly so that just as the friends arrived, he pulled out a live lobster from the creek that ran by his house. He threw it in a basket with some others and he served them for dinner. He tells of the great fun he had for weeks afterward as people showed up hoping to pull a lobster out of the magic creek!

Our yacht for the stay was a Jeanneau 50DS that like all boats in the CYC fleet, was meticulously clean and in amazing repair. How great it was to be back on the water after the winter we had to endure! We only wished we had more time to find a secluded anchorage in the Benjamins, or among the many other other islands scatttered across the 120 miles that make up the North Channel, to full take in the beauty of the windswept landscape and one-sided leaning trees that always remind me of the Group of Seven paintings.

Ken,  in anticpation of a Galley Guy visit pulled out his famous beef tenderloin recipe and spent much of the day slow cooking this choice cut of meat . First he crushed fresh garlic and then hand rubed the entire tenderloin to get the garlic well into the meat. Then he rolled the loin in a bowl of Montreal Steak Spice. A fast hot sear followed by a slow cook while applying an occasional Teriyaki basting produced outstanding results. The Galley Guys always have a meat thermometer at the ready when barbequing, especially on a boat because of the variances of portable grills.The magic number for Ken is 155F with and an additional 10 minute wait period for the meat to settle. Surf and Turf is always a group pleaser!

Canadian Yacht Charters began in 1976 and went through a few transition before Ken bought the company in 1990. Pam was with the company during the purchase and became Ken’s full time life and business  partner shortly thereafter.Throughout the years there have been a few lows, like the time in 2004 when a major storm came through at 105 knots with a down draft that sunk their flagship Sealord 42. When asked about the highs, Ken smiled and said, “Just seeing this beautiful harbour everyday is my high!”

Charterers come from all over the world to experience cruising on the North Channel and many make the trip an annual event. Pam and Ken employ 16-18 staff members during the season and they do an amazing job of keeping the boats in pristine condition while delivering a very high level of customer service. Most of the boats in the charter fleet are owned by former charter customers who simply fell in love the North Channel and with the team at Canadian Yacht Charters.

The Galley Guys have made several trips to Gore Bay and have always left feeling very well fed, and with a plan in mind to make it back as soon as possible. In Ken’s words, this is not a business, it is a lifestyle! Galley Guy words to live by!


Photo 1:  Pam and Ken Blodgett (with the seared steak) look on at John Armstrong and Kevin Smith with the trap and the lobsters.  Was that Ken's trap from the creek?

Photo 2:  A safe harbour along the North Channel.

Photo 3:  This is looking better and better!