This Benjamin is worth more than 100 USD! Ep. 77

We have been in Lake Huron since our previous posting of 12 July 2017 and it has been almost 100% wonderful! We couldn’t ask for more than that – we always expect weather or water conditions that are less than fun or perfect; however, if most our time is comfortable then we are over the moon! To follow our progress, visit this site and follow our boat, ‘Thalia’:

When we last wrote, we had just cleared into Canada in Sarnia, Ontario which is on the St. Clair River a half mile south of the southern-most point of Lake Huron. I am writing this episode from an island at the opposite end of this huge fresh water lake! Watch this quick video to get to know Lake Huron and how we have been navigating its waterways.

On the morning we left Sarnia, we needed to pass under the Blue Water Bridge which is famous for heavy currents since it is the main way water leaves Lake Huron and the opening is quite narrow. This video shows the current and explains how we navigated it.

We have seen tremendous natural beauty and wonderful geological formations and recorded several videos during our explorations. This posting will be light on words and heavy on visual presentation – we hope you enjoy them!

Our first stop in Lake Huron was in the town of Goderich which is known for its huge salt mine and the town which sits high on a bluff overlooking the lake. The town square is one of the most unique I’ve seen … first off, it isn’t square! Their town center is an octagon with eight streets coming into the points on the large gathering place! The octagon is lined with cute shops and appealing architecture. Check out Tom’s video on the town.

Our next stop was in Kincardine – another Canadian jewel on the eastern shore! We met a couple from Detroit on the dock and acquired some much-needed local knowledge of the waters we would be in within a few days. Thanks to Mike and Terese from the boat ‘Hooz-a-bum’ and we’ll catch you on our way through Detroit! Be sure to watch my video on the bag piper traditions to learn more about the town of Kincardine and their deep Scottish roots!

We were eager to get to Georgian Bay so we had a long 12-hour/70 mile day from Kincardine up to Tobermory, Ontario, where we spent two nights. Tobermory is a significant tourist destination. There are tour boats which show off some of the local geology and the general beauty, which is abundant! There are also glass-bottomed boat tours of several ship wrecks for which the Canadian authorities have established the Fathom Five Marine National Park to ensure their preservation. And with shipwrecks, there are also several dive shops and dive excursions that all use Tobermory as their base. While here, we provisioned, enjoyed the town shops and restaurants and took a bike ride to the ‘Grotto’ – a popular camping and swimming destination about 12 miles from Tobermory and also on Georgian Bay. Don’t miss the video of the Grotto – the rock formations that enclose this swimming hole are dramatic and the water is amazingly clear!

Just off of Tobermory, there is an island called Flowerpot and after hearing about them for our two days in Tobermory, we had to make the slight detour required to see what the fuss was about. Check out ‘The Flowerpots’!

After taking in The Flowerpots, we headed toward the famous North Channel. We had a stiff wind on our nose so we didn’t push it too far and instead stopped for the night at Club Island. We met two couples from Owen Sound (south a bit on Georgian Bay) from the boats named “Sleek” and “Kea”. They shared tips on not-to-miss anchorages while we enjoyed some evening beverages together. I am happy to report that we are putting the great information to good use.

After Club Island, we anchored in Mary Ann Cove in Baie Fine and enjoyed a hike up to Casson Peak. From here we could see Baie Fine and the next bay to the north, McGregor Bay and we could also see much of the waters we had sailed through to get to our anchorage! Tom recorded a video of the amazing views!

We had to see the rest of Baie Fine and the ‘pool’ at the end of the narrows where it is popular to anchor. We had heard much about this place so we took our big boat part of the way up the Bay and then took our dinghy through the ‘Narrows’ and into ‘The Pool’. We had learned about a great hike up to Topaz Lake so we parked the dinghy and headed up! Watch the videos of our trip through the narrows and of the stunning Topaz Lake.

For the night’s anchorage, we made our way the short distance to Heywood Island, pumped up our stand-up paddle boards and set off for an evening paddle.  The next morning we had to pass through an area called ‘Little Current’ that has a swing bridge that opens every two hours. Tom talks about this here:

If you ask almost anyone familiar with the North Channel for one ‘have-to-visit’ spot, you will hear ‘The Benjamins’. Since the anchorages around these islands are so popular, we planned our time to visit carefully so we could stay for a couple days. We are happy to have made that decision – we have been in awe since arriving. There is plenty of protection to enjoy long paddle board excursions and the island group is surrounded by pink/orange rock outcroppings that you never tire to gaze upon. We met Brett and David from ‘Ceiba II’ and they invited us to join a large group on shore last evening for a bon fire. Tom had just mentioned earlier in the day that he wanted to have a bon fire one night and I said ‘those are only fun if you have a group of people’ … well, we found our group — what a wonderful collection of Canadians!

This morning Tom flew the drone over the anchorage to give you a good perspective of this special place.

We now understand the draw for cruisers and why so many people come back to the North Channel year after year. I’ll close this episode with some interesting facts …

Lake Huron Facts:

  • Surface area:  23,0123 square miles … however, hydrologically speaking, Lake Huron is actually the eastern part of Lake Michigan since they are connected by the straits of Mackinac!
  • Surface elevation:  577 feet above sea level
  • Mean depth: 195 feet though it is 750 feet deep at the deepest part!
  • Islands in the lake: 30,000 … don’t believe it? Drill in on Google Earth to the area called Georgian Bay and check out the north-eastern shore and the area called the North Channel! The largest island in the lake is Manitoulin Island and it has over 100 freshwater lakes of its own!
  • Fourth largest freshwater lake on the planet!
  • Lake Huron is the second largest of the Great Lakes in terms of surface area. It is slightly smaller than the state of West Virginia.
  • As with all the Great Lakes, it began forming around 14,000 years ago as retreating ice sheets exposed the basins they had carved into the land which then filled with meltwater.

Great Lake Facts:

The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total area (94,250 square miles) and second largest by total volume (5,439 cubic miles of water). The Great Lakes contain 21% of the world’s surface fresh water, by volume. 

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