Jul 25

The Long Slog begins…

So fewer and fewer photos are being taken as we make our way south.  I’ll sum up about 4 or 5 days in this one post as they are fairly routine…

We wanted to stay an extra day in Heywood Cove but the weather window was “now” or “much later”… we chose “now”.  This was the prudent decision I think.  However, the winds being benign and the sky being clear it was a tough decision to make.  We packed up and motored a long way back to Club Island.  Once again, there were a few sailboats afloat but there was lots of room to anchor.  We ran through the routine; Dinghy to shore, walk the dog, make some dinner, do some light reading then off to bed.  Quick to rise, dinghy to shore, walk the dog, haul anchor and be outttta there by 8am.  This was the fastest and easiest turn-around we’ve made so far – no time to meet the other folks as contrary winds were moving in shortly.

Sure enough, as we approached Tobermory, the south winds picked up to over 10 knots, dead on the nose, and we arrived before they really started coming at us.  I wanted to drop the stuff and go back out for a sail but after 5+ hours of motoring, Feng was not enthusiastic about more water time.  Boo!

We stayed in Tobermory for 3 nights because of impending thunderstorms;  The days were beautiful but the nights got a bit brutal.  If I can digress for a moment, we met some cruisers from Bayfield on some large, >44′ boats… one Bayfield ketch (44′?) had engine troubles and docked with the help of a fellow ship… mere feet away from our hull!  It was a bit nerve racking to watch the 3 giant anchors pull in over our heads, pull a 90-degree turn and come to a stop.  The docking was expertly performed but it was really rather tense for me.  I wish I had it on video!

Getting back to the thunderstoms, we were near the end of the transient slip docks which means we’re at the mercy of the incoming swell.  We had the two, large cruisers  rafted (double-parked) behind/beside us on one finger dock and a 28 or 30′ vessel in front of us on the other finger dock and we were on the maindock, sandwiched in with no easy route to exit.  The thunderstorm hit at about 2:00am and we started taking the swell that hit the shore then rode down it until it hit our boats.  The big vessels were being pounded on the stern quarter but our boat was taking them head on!  We were rocking like a hobby-horse / roller-coaster!  I would guess we were elevating to 4+ feet in the air and plummetting the same distance… maybe 6-8 feet total?  There was no sleeping when that started and I grabbed all my foul weather gear, preparing for the worst.  I went out in the rain to make sure the lines had enough slack in them to handle the movement and that the fenders weren’t going to get caught up on the dock in case we got thrown up and over it.  Whoooo what a ride!  All was well and there was nothing that needed doing; Kudo’s go to Feng as she’s coming alone well with her seaman like ability to sleep under all conditions.  HA!  She had the ability to go back to the v-berth and try to get some rest.  I stayed up a while and watched the rain, steady lightening and listen to the thunder.  Keeping a watch until the wee hours of the morning proved to be fruitless but cautious was the right thing to be.

Ok… moving along.  We were putting off the long-haul to Kincardine as long as our schedule would allow.  We picked a day that *should* have gotten us some northwest winds enough to help us down the coast.  Leaving on time around 3:15am, we left Tobermory harbour in the silence and stillness of the early morning.  It was pitch black.  We felt our way through the very tight and narrow Cape Hurd Channel, with its many rocks and ship wrecks passing to each side.  Thank goodness for GPS and detailed charts!  All of the channel markers were in place and we picked them out with the flashlight as we passed.  The last we saw of the Bruce Peninsula was Cape Hurd around 04:30… then nothing.

Literally nothing.  We saw no land, no boats, no sun, no wind, no waves… nothing.  I took the first shift from 04:30-06:30 and let Feng have a well deserved and needed nap on the settee below.  Nothing much to see or do but motor on autopilot.  At 06:30, the sun had risen and was starting to warm up.  I called Feng up for her shift and let her know there were some mosquitoes building up on the sail cover.  Little did we know that would continue all day.  We hit a swarm of bugs; Mosquitoes, Shad Flies and these little Bee-like insects that would infest the boat for the next 10 hours!  Feng spent a full 2 hours killing bugs with a fly swatter.  When I awoke, the deck was covered with dead bugs.  The hot sun, Feng’s methodical swinging of the fly swatter and old age seemed to kill these bugs as fast as we could pick them up.  The deck was thickly carpeted with bug carcasses – you couldn’t walk, sit and touch the deck anywhere without hitting dead or live bugs.  Any shady spot – filled with bugs.  If you faced the sun – your back was covered in bugs.  If you put on a hat – the underside of the brim would fill with bugs.  They were in our eyes, noses, mouths and you just couldn’t escape.  The wind was moving at the same speed as our boat and therefore there was no apparent wind to blow them away… they just kept gathering on board until we couldn’t take it any more.

Finally the fog moved in.  We couldn’t see anything on deck so we took shelter from the bugs in the cabin and watched the radar closely for other vessels… not even one blip.  At least the coolness of the fog, plus the shelter of being in the cabin gave us a reprieve from the bug infestation outside.

We finally saw land again at 14:30… the Bruce Nuclear plant came into view (and was the only thing we could see on the 12NM radar…)

The wind began to pick up; It cleared the fog, cleared the bugs and we were able to get some distance between us and them.  The dead ones were still too thick on deck to clean with a scrub brush. Yikes.

The wind continued and we were able to sail the last 2-3 hours into Kincardine with a beautiful wind, perfect for sailing!  Finally!  We finished tidying up in port; Bugs hosed off, Raid Spray purchased and even a little dinner before the piper closed out the day.

Every evening in Kincardine, the piper plays at the light-house to pipe in boats lost at sea.  This seemed like good closure to a long trip and I was able to sleep well.

The light house and piper make sure that sailors are able to safely make it back to port.

The piper pipes in boats at sundown in Kincardine