Jul 09

Sailing to Killarney was a breeze!

Sailing to Killarney was a breeze.  Our course was ever-so-slightly to the northeast and the wind was beautifully out of the southwest.  Once we cleared the lee of Club Island, the engine was off and sails were up at a perfect 130 degrees of apparent wind.  We blasted away, at over 5 knots under sail alone.

At one point, we had to sail deep – close to 180 degrees – and (although slightly unsafe) decided to sail wing & wing.  Yes, I know better than to do so without a boom preventer but I was steering a careful course and only went by the lee for a short time to open up the genoa.  There’s something ‘just right’ about sailing wing & wing… even if it is somewhat inefficient.

The girl is able to spread her wings.

Sailing slightly by the lee to keep open her up. Happy Feng trimming the genoa.

We only saw one sailboat and one freighter all day;  We all happened to meet at the same time and in the same space!

Freighter: Close and Personal

Spinnaker flying sailboat meets Freighter head on...

To put the above two photos into perspective, realize that the sailboat is 30-40′ long and the mast is even taller.  Take a look at this and consider the height of the bow wave and the sheer bulk of the lake freighter.

That's a 30-40' sailboat, meeting a lake freighter. Look at that bow wave!

Fortunately, no harm came to him… you can see his mast just peaking over the side here.

Catch the spinnaker, just slightly above his main deck.

That was our excitement for the day.  The rest of the trip was gloriously uneventful and we arrived in Killarney with lots of time to spare.  Wouldn’t you know it, but we ended up at the same marina as our friends on the Lyre.  So far, that makes Goderich, Kincardine, Tobermory and now Killarney!  I swear, we’re not stalking them.


Jul 09

A little island exploration

Poison Ivy be damned.  The admiral needed some off-boat time, a swim and some good old-fashioned, nose-to-the-ground exploring time.

Exploring by scent

Rossi explores rocky shores

You can't keep a Lagotto from being in the water.

As Rossi grows older, her confidence grows. She's quite happy exploring at a distance.

After exploring the shores, we reached a gravel peak and find Vixen in the morning sun.

Vixen in the Morning Sun

Time to head back and set sail once more.


Jul 09

Our day at Club Island

We spent the day relaxing and exploring this little island.  We discovered rocks, poison ivy and beautiful sunsets.

Me in my element. Reading a book, in a place far away from civilization.

Rowing back to the boat with the Admiral looking on.

The admiral keeps watch as new boaters arrive and sea gulls stay out of he reach.

Eventually the sun must set.  There were six boats that eventually made it into the harbour, ranging from our small 26′ up to a giant 54′ beauty from the USA.

Sunset at Cove Island

Another sunset photo... I just can't get enough.

The 6 vessels hiding away on a remote island. Need you ask why we sail?

And the row back to the boat… I had to take another one.

One last picture of the boat.

The evening comes to a close with three fantastic reflections of the sun…

The sun reflects of the clouds and water.


Jul 09

No wind and a peaceful ride to Club Island

We set out from Cove Island to Club Island mid-morning on Thursday.  The wind was forecasted to be light, and for once they were right.  Darn near no wind at all.

Just as we were leaving, the Chi-Cheemaun also decided to depart… on a collision course.  We decided he had the right of way and waited a mile off while he crossed our bow.

Chi-Cheemaun departs

Chi-Cheemaun crosses our bow

The rest of the trip to Club Island was uneventful.  It was a straight-line run on autopilot and I don’t think we saw another vessel enroute.  Just us, the water and the sky.  We read and napped for 5 hours while the boat steered herself and chugged away quite happily.

On watch? What's there to see?? Rossi's sleeping at the helm, while I re-read one of my favourites.

Rossi continually finds new places to sleep... this time, it was on me while I read.

We eventually made it to Club Island… a deserted island in the northern end of Georgian Bay.



Jul 09

Cove Island

Cove Island is just north of Tobermory, a mere hour away on our slow boat.  On the southwest corner of the island is a protected “hurricane hole” that is hidden and out of the way.  We were late leaving Tobermory and wanted a slow day so we simply popped up north and dropped the hook for the night.

Our first attempt anchoring goes well!

Sunset while anchored in Cove Island Harbour

In the morning, we proceeded to run the dog ashore and then set off.  Feng snapped a few pictures of me and the admiral…

I'm taking the Admiral for a bit of shore leave...

Put your back into it, son!

And then we were off…


Jul 09

Little Tub

We spent two nights in Tobermory, in Little Tub, being in the heart of the action… although, there wasn’t much action after the tail-end of Canada Day long weekend.  Beaver Tails for breakfast, Georgian Bay Whitefish & Chips for dinner and some steaks on the BBQ.  It was pretty laid back

Vixen tucked away in Little tub harbour, Tobermory.

The facilities in Tobermory are very clean and the staff is professional.  There are few transient slips, and it seems like much fewer than when I was younger.  Lots of pedestrian traffic looking in at the boats… that’s great if you want to meet people and not so good if you want some privacy.  We met a number of new folks, Hugh the previous owner of the Crow’s Nest gave us the local news, and Michael in Shipwreck Lee’s gave us the local gossip.  A number of folks stopped by to talk about the Contessa with one young guy, Jesse, who was extremely interested in sailing to the Caribbean in one!  Good luck to him.  I hope to run into them again when we pass through going south, maybe we’ll get him out for a sail if we can.

Once again, we’ve run into our new friends Betsy and Darwin on their Lyre.  Darwin built their 31′ Hunter in 1985 as a kit boat and it’s beautifully done with ash wood interior and designed with the comforts of home.  Must be nice to have pressure water!  I wish I had taken a couple photos while we were having sundowners onboard.  They plan to stay another day or two before heading north… but not us, we’re on our way just a few miles north to Cove Island.

Overlooking Tobermory from the walking path

We couldn't decide which photo to post, so I posted all 3 of the same.



Jul 05

It’s a long, long way to Tobermory

Up before dawn, 3:30am to be precise, pack up, load up, fill up with diesel and off we go.  The weather forecast for Port Elgin, Sauble Beach and Tobermory all agreed that the winds would be light; 5-10 knots at best and would fall off in the evening.  We’d bite the bullet and motor the 11 hours north.

The sunrise was gorgeous as we left at 5:15am, an hour late and the winds were already picking up…

Morning: Lighthouse on Chantry Island

Sun rising over Southampton. 5:15am departure from Port Elgin

Bleary eyed girls, not accustomed to seeing the sun rise.

The wind was picking up and out of the northwest so we motored for a couple hours as we woke up.  Around 7:00am, the winds were still pretty strong, and still too far north for us to keep our proper course but it was faster to motorsail off-course than to power directly into the wind.  The wind picked up to about 13 knots and we began sailing… probably the only time of the trip where we got a good sail-only section of travel.

Sails up and we're cruising.

The wind kept picking up and it was still from a steady 320-340 degrees so we motorsailed… and motor sailed… and motorsailed.  The northwest rollers were slamming us, and even though we were slicing through them – thanks to our thin, ocean-going hull design – the big waves  would grind our process to a halt if we hit them wrong.

Close-hauled, punching holes through each of the waves, we spent 13:40 hours on a rollercoaster of a ride north.  It was a long trip, we managed to take a few naps… I think I had two 40-minute naps, while the napigator also managed to close her eyes.  Rossi slept like a baby for most of the trip.

Bravely sleeping in waves of over 1 metre and wind up to 20 knots.

We eventually had to give up on the motorsailing and head directly into the wind to clear Cape Hurd.  Bunching 4 hours north directly into each wave at a mere 3.5 knots … that’s less than 7km/h for the land-folks!

We rounded Cape Hurd and expected a wicked down-hill run, which would have been the perfect angle of sail for the steady 16-18knot winds we’d had all day… but, Murphy was watching, and the wind died.  Yes.  Dead calm.  We had our sail out for a total of about 5 minutes before it shut right down.  I had to laugh, and smile.

It was a fantastic feeling to finally get to see Tobermory from the water side.  It’s beautiful.  The islands to the north are begging to be explored, although the charts show perilous rocks just below most of the surface.  I hope we get to anchor out there a few nights on our way back!  Or maybe even tomorrow…


Jul 03

Port Elgin Sunset

Another beauty sunset at Port Elgin.

Tucked away with all the big boats.

The three of us on the Port Elgin break wall.

Port Elgin Sunset


Jul 03

Nuclear Power

Today… was beautiful, sunny and not much in the way of wind.  Some 1meter rollers coming out of the northwest, but no wind, so we ended up motoring the 5 hours from Kincardine to Port Elgin.

Here are some photos…

Feng takes the tiller for a few minutes

Feng relaxes in the sun, Rossi relaxes in the shade

Bruce Nuclear Plant. Did the water just get warmer?

Are these the reactors?

Motor boat, motor boat, goes so slow...

Not thrilled with the rolling seas.

On the friendly scales, we’ve got

1. Goderich

2. Bayfield

3. Kincardine

Last:  Port Elgin

The folks here aren’t nearly as welcoming as the other towns we’ve visited.  Peter, the harbour master, seems more helpful than the other ports, but the folks we met on our walk don’t even say hi and avoid eye-contact.  Perhaps they are just Torontonians in cottage country?

Time to sign off, tomorrow will be an 11 hour run at best 18 hours at worst!



Jul 03


The time came to cast off the lines and head out on the big adventure.  I hate to admit it, but it was harder to let go of shore than I had anticipated.  After 6 months of planning, preparation, spending, learning and fuss, there’s always this nagging feeling that you’re not quite prepared.  In fact, we weren’t.  We forgot a few minor things; The steak knives and wine glasses are still in the dish washer and the mosquitoes reminded us that we had neglected to put up some velcro to hold the screen in place.  Minor indeed.

The forecast called for cloudy with a 30% chance of thunderstorms throughout the day.  We were a bit “late” in leaving, although with lots of time for daylight, it would make our arrival time coincide with thunderstorm o’clock.  The winds were beautiful and we carried 8-11 knots of apparent wind all the way from Goderich to Point Clark.  They were from the south, instead of the southwest as forecasted so this made our trip slightly longer but this was just a niggly inconvenience.  We worked our way out into Lake Huron, out of sight of shore, then back towards Point Clark.  For some reason, we could achieve 4-5 knots on port tack, but 5-6 knots on starboard; I will have to sort out what I was doing inefficiently, downwind sail trim has always been my weakness.  Approaching Point Clark was a bit of a pain as we could see the light house marking the dangerous, and only, navigational hazard on our daily run but the red marking buoy was nowhere to be seen.  Feng, with binoculars, spotted it and confirmed it was precisely in the right location as set by my GPS mark.  Fantastic.

The Coast Guard began sending up squall warnings and put out a severe weather watch for southern Lake Huron at 3:15pm, slightly before we reached Point Clark.  As the wind died down on the east side, we decided we better motor sail for a while to add a little haste for port – we weren’t going anywhere fast anyway, so hey, why not?

Thanks to the motor-sailing ,we were within sight of Kincardine when we saw the wall of fog & rain approaching.  Peddle to the metal, we headed in and grabbed our slip.  My turn was less-than-sharp into the slip so it wasn’t a pretty docking with all eye’s watching.  However, some friends we met in Goderich were there to greet us which was a nice welcome.  The thunder started 30 minutes later and a slight shower rained down on us but it was more bark than bite.  A big sound show with not much rain.

We finished off the day with some beers and dinner on the patio of the Bruce Bar (Bruce Steakhouse?) that overlooks the lake facing west… beautiful sunset.

I took only a couple photos of us out on the lake and neglected to bring my camera up to the Bruce Bar;  I’ll have to post the photos later when I grab them off the camera.

Feng helps sail from Goderich to Kincardine