Charlevoix, MI

Well, as Mother Nature would have it, we just spent 9 days in Charlevoix!  This was for a handful of reasons.  We left Mackinac Island after our morning of biking and headed to Charlevoix knowing we had to leave the boat for a few days.  My grandfather passed away June 30, 2018 and the funeral was delayed a bit until everything could be organized.  It was scheduled for Saturday August 18th so we knew we had to be somewhere that we could get a rental car.  Our friend Erik told us he wasn’t using his slip in Charlevoix and we could leave the boat there while we traveled home for the funeral.  This was so generous of him and we are thankful to have such great friends!  We got in right around dinnertime and got all settled.  The kids immediately wanted to take a quick swim in the pool.   It was late but we let them because I knew the next morning would be crazy with trying to pack up and get the rental car, etc.

Friday we drove to Chicago and had dinner with Ben’s brother and family.  We got the kids settled in their beds at home and tried to get organized for the next day.  The funeral was lovely and it was special to be with so much family.  After the cemetery service everyone came back to our house and hung out for the rest of the afternoon.  My grandfather was almost 101 and it was an incredible life to celebrate!

Sunday it was time for another wonderful family celebration – a wedding/engagement/bridal luncheon for my baby sister Emily and her fiance Josh!  It was great to all smile and laugh and celebrate new beginnings.

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Next stop after the luncheon was Ben’s family’s house in Michigan.  The girls swam and we celebrated Fred’s and Sophie’s birthdays and played until around 7 when we had to hit the road.  We still had 4.5 more hours to go to get back to Charlevoix.  We got the kids to bed about 11:45 PM Sunday night and hoped they would sleep in Monday morning. We had some thoughts we would travel to Elk Rapids but the weather dashed those thoughts pretty quickly.

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We spent quite awhile in Charlevoix last fall so we hadn’t planned to spend time there this trip.  But, like I said, Mother Nature had other plans.  With no chance of getting the boat out in super strong winds and bad conditions on Lake Michigan, we decided to hang onto our rental car.  We had plans to rent a pontoon boat on Torch Lake for a day and decided we may as well just drive there and skip boating down into Grand Traverse Bay.  I’ll do a separate post about Torch Lake!

So, we had almost a full week left in Charlevoix based on the forecast.  We went to the library again.  It’s still great.  We went to the beach again.  Also still great!  The girls rode their scooters all over town.  We saw the mushroom houses.  We ate crepes.  We went back to the local toy store and bought more stuff (Kanoodle – highly recommend!).  We bought more fudge.  It was like a repeat of last Sept/Oct!  But it was all good.  Wilsons and Herbons were both there so the kids had a blast at the beach.  We had docktails and met lots of other boaters also waiting.  We had a pool at our marina as well.  So, swim, beach, scooters, friends.  What more do you need?

Friday was our anniversary!  It also happened to be Kathy’s parents’ 50th anniversary!  Kathy texted me Happy Anniversary and mentioned her parents were close by in Harbor Springs.  She texted back a minute later saying never mind, they are actually in Charlevoix!  What???  So, they found us, parked their car, and visited for a few.  It’s special to share an anniversary with such a wonderful couple.  We had a lot of hugs and smiles and are so happy we got to see Tom and Eileen for a few minutes.

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Happy August 24th Anniversaries!

Bobby and Wendy graciously offered to keep the girls so we could go out for dinner.  It was raining on and off all day and Ben and I were both just on the fence of not caring if we went out or not.  Bobby and Wendy all but insisted and took the girls.  I’m so glad they did.  We went back, changed clothes, made ourselves presentable and headed out to dinner.  We had a fantastic dinner.  Definitely the best and most interesting food since we left Chicago.  It was good to get out and celebrate.

The lake was angry all week long.  Charlevoix is a great place to wait that craziness out!  Thanks Charlevoix for treating us well once again.

Mackinac Island, MI

Well, we had to leave Canada and head back to Michigan so we decided to make the most of it.  We stopped over for the evening in DeTour Village, MI and checked back in with US Customs and Border Patrol.  The next morning we headed to St. Ignace, MI.  We couldn’t get a reservation in Mackinac Island and Ben and I had a surprise up our sleeves for the girls.  We hadn’t been to St. Ignace before and our good friend Kathy was driving home from Manistique to Detroit right through St. Ignace. We had made arrangements to meet her there but never told the girls.  It saves a lot of nonstop questions and of course heartache if plans change.  And provides so much joy when a surprise works out.  These kids love each other like sisters.  We are so lucky to have friends that will travel to where we are and make sure we stay connected.  Every visit is so special.  We pulled into St. Ignace in insane wind.  Ben had to use full engine force to get us in our slip and safely secured.  We had about an hour to wait and then SURPRISE!  We had just helped the Herbons dock and I randomly asked if the girls wanted to walk up to the parking lot.  Molly asked why but agreed and followed me.  Maddy was trailing behind.  When Molly caught sight of the Burnetts she turned to me and yelled “WHAT????!!!!” and took off running.

We spent the afternoon with the kids happily playing on the boat and the grown ups catching up and hanging out.  We took a walk along the water front, bought some more fudge, cooked dinner and got everyone settled for the night.  This was supposed to be a quick visit.  Potentially just for the afternoon with Kathy driving the rest of the way that evening.  We hoped we could convince her to stay over and drive home the next morning.  This was the first time their dog Paolo had been on our boat and she was a little worried about how he’d do.  He did just fine and Kathy agreed to stay.

Our plan for the next morning was to call Mackinac Island first thing and ask if they had a first come first served day of slip available.  If so we had to go right away so we didn’t lose the slip so we knew it might be a fast goodbye.  Sure enough Ben called about 8:45 AM and they did indeed have a slip for us but they won’t hold the slips.  Whoever pulls in first gets them, so Ben said he was dropping lines as quickly as he could.  He put Kathy on the spot and convinced her rapidly to stay on the boat and come with us.  We said we’d run them back the 4 miles to St. Ignace later in the dinghy or they could take the ferry one way.  A little crazy but off we went!

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Good morning! Happy this isn’t goodbye! Off to Mackinac Island….

The Wilsons were already on the island and the Herbons were coming over later that afternoon.  We quickly introduced Kathy and the girls to the Wilsons, sent the girls to run around at the park and then walked around town a bit.

Molly and Livia were super excited to head out biking.  We have four bikes on board so we convinced them to take Maddy and Claudia with them.  We decided when they got back that Ben, Kathy and I would go and we’d rent a small bike for Sabina.

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Ben and the girls….

Poor Molly and Livia.  All they wanted to do was bike the island!  Those pesky little sisters had other plans.  Always off in their own world, they stopped to collect rocks, stack rocks, play on the rocks….  None of our kids have phones so we sent the girls off with my phone strapped to one of the bikes.  Ben was able to track them by following my phone.   He’d report where they were.  And then he said they turned around.  Then maybe not.  Then standing still.  At this point they should have been over halfway around and appeared not to be moving so we gave them a call.  They explained that Maddy and Claudia were playing on the rocks and then tried to load all their rocks on their bikes, which promptly spilled and someone fell over and on and on and on.  We told them to turn around and come back because we were all starving!  After a fabulous lunch we let Molly and Livia go by themselves and bike the island.  They took my phone again and were responsible with their checking in from time to time.  I’ll say it again….the independence they’ve had this summer is amazing.

Once they returned Kathy, Ben and I headed out to rent a bike for Sabina.  This tiny 6 year old biked the entire 8.2 miles!  She was determined!

Now it was time to return Kathy, the girls and Paolo to the car.  But, we convinced her to stay again.  She had an appointment the next morning so no more delays.  We spent the rest of the evening getting huge ice cream cones and shaved ice and walking around.  We had some sliced veggies and snacks for dinner and called it a night.

Bright and early Thursday morning Ben dropped the dinghy and we loaded everyone in.  The goodbyes are always so hard and this time our fall schedule is so up in the air that we weren’t sure when our next visit would be.  Everyone fit in the dinghy and the girls and I watched as they took off and got smaller and smaller on the horizon.  Ben said the 4 miles back to St. Ignace was pretty easy.  While he was running them across we went and helped the Wilsons untie their lines.  They were heading to Harbor Springs.  So many goodbyes in one day!

When Ben got back to the boat it was time for one more jaunt exploring the island before we had to take off for Charlevoix.  We headed out to bike the island one more time.  I stopped with Maddy to take a picture of the rock tower she and Claudia made when they were supposed to be biking.

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Next we stopped at the walk up to Arch Rock.  We’ve previously just biked past and taken pictures from the ground.  This time I wanted to walk up.  Hmmmm…..that was a LOT of steps to climb when we’d biked over 8 miles the day before.  But what a view.  It was gorgeous.  Arch Rock is a natural limestone arch formed during a post-glacial period.  It’s beautiful to see it from up high.

We also discovered this is the route all of the horse and carriage tours take.  We’d never strayed from the bike path before.  Madelyn was so excited to see so many horses.  She took some time to pet a few of them.

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At the halfway point around the island we decided to turn off the path and go up.  And UP we went!  We went uphill for about 2 miles over the center of the island.  It was a bit grueling.  We passed the airport which Molly kept asking about.  We passed a beautiful cemetery.  We passed a LOT of horse and carriages.  Madelyn was desperate to rent one but we kept telling her no.  It’s just not a passion the rest of us have.  One day we’ll give in.  But, we did find the next best thing.  Once we started to head downhill we ran smack into the Grand Hotel Stables.  What an amazing structure.  This was the Grand Hotel’s main stable and barn and it was spotless.

The building was both the stable and a sort of museum.  The old carriages on display were immaculate and beautiful to look at.  We also got to walk over and see all of the horses who were not out at the time.  Maddy liked Jester the best.  There was a short description of each horse’s lineage on the wall as well.  Additionally we got to walk into the tack room.  This was a special detour for Maddy.

Eventually we had to move along and finish our ride.  We headed down the hill, past the Grand Hotel and back into town and onto the bike path.  We got back to the marina and began the process of loading four bikes onto the boat.  This is primarily done by Ben.  He is a good sport and does this often but I know it’s a lot of work.  Unfortunately my darn back won’t let me help as much as he and I would like.

Alas, we had to start our trek home.  First we said goodbye to Canada.  Now we had to say goodbye to Mackinac Island.  We love it there.  We left around 1 pm to head to Charlevoix.

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The Mighty Mac

Back to reality on the boat.  It was time to clean.  We spent some of the 6 hour ride scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms.  The girls did all of it and I supervised.  We pulled into the marina in Charlevoix just before dusk and let the girls take a quick swim before bed.

We had to head to Chicago the next morning via a rental car for my grandfather’s funeral.  We are thankful to boating friends of ours for letting us use their slip in Charlevoix while we traveled home.

 

John Island, ON

After our departure from the beautiful Benjamin Islands we headed back to Gore Bay, where we began our Canadian adventure earlier this summer.  We had plans to meet up with another family there and were excited to see them.  It eased the pain of pulling anchor in the Benjamins!  Erik, Sarah, Isabel, Sam and Will arrived late afternoon and our girls were super excited to see them.  The Wilsons came to Gore Bay with us as well and as soon as Erik and Sarah got settled we took all of the kids to the beach to cool off a bit.  We managed dinner with 14 of us at Buoys and talked about a loose plan for the next day.  Bobby and Wendy had plans to head back into the US to DeTour Village while we decided to spend another day in Canada so we had a little time to visit with Erik, Sarah and the kids.  We were debating maybe anchoring at Beardrop Harbour or possibly going back to the southwest end of the Benjamins.  Eventually we tabled the discussion until morning.

The next morning many of us attended an adorable Anglican church in town.  As Bobby, Wendy, their girls, my girls and I, and Sarah and two of her three all filed in we literally filled half the church!  The priest welcomed us with open arms and at the end of the service said how wonderful it was to have all of the kids there.  He mentioned that all of the kids seem to belong to different churches in the area and that it brought so much life to the church to have them all there.

At some point Sunday night Bobby decided he was ok with delaying their return to the US another day.  This meant they were joining us for one more North Channel anchorage!  We all settled on John Island.  John Island was near Beardrop but a little more open.  We left Gore Bay around 1 pm and headed up that way.  The girls were super excited to have Isabel on board Have Another Day for the ride!  It was an easy cruise and all three boats got anchored in a beautiful setting.  The kids were immediately in the water.  We barely had our anchor down and Ella was already paddling our way.  Ben got the dinghy down and zipped Isabel to her boat to grab a swimming suit.  Pretty soon we had paddle boards and kayaks and lily pads and dinghies all over the place!  Another sign of a great anchorage.  John Island was completely different scenery and beautiful in its own way.  We had docktails on our boat and all hung out for a bit.  Before bed the Wilsons moved over to raft up with us.  We got all the kids in bed and played some rummy the rest of the evening.

Monday was our last hurrah!  We were determined to make the most of it before we had to say goodbye to Canada for this summer and head back to the US.  We had a full morning.  The kids were jumping off the bow and flybridge before they’d even had breakfast.  They are some brave souls and had a lot of fun.

I really wanted to explore a bit by dinghy so I took Wendy, Mia, AnnaMay, Isabel and Molly out for a ride.  We found a little beach and cruised over some really big boulders in the water.

Next up I wanted to beach the dinghy and climb on the rocks a bit.  The terrain was so different from our last anchorage that I just wanted to put my feet on the ground for a few minutes.  Maddy paddled over while Ben took the rest of us in the dinghy.  We picked up Isabel and Sam along the way and all climbed around for a bit.

Finally I took a long paddle board ride by myself.  It was serene and peaceful and I paddled over to this amazing cove that I had seen other boats go in.  I knew our boat couldn’t make it in there but I loved paddling in and seeing the other boats.  What a cool private little place to tuck into.  After that I finally jumped in.  I don’t like cold water so I usually don’t get in.  But this was my last chance in the North Channel so in I went and it felt great.  All the kids were still having a blast with the kayaks and paddle boards and each other.

After a few minutes we had to say a lot of sad goodbyes.  Erik and Sarah were heading onto Killarney and the Wilsons and Steins were heading to DeTour Village.  Then came the arduous process of pulling up the paddle boards, hoisting the dinghy, getting everything secured and then pulling anchor.

Goodbye for now Canada….you’ve been more than we could have hoped for this summer!

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Benjamin Islands, ON

The Benjamin Islands were my favorite place in the North Channel.  I was hoping to spend a few extra days here just based on what others had told me, but alas weather and needing to head back to mainland Michigan before too long foiled that plan.  So, we soaked up every minute of the time we had.  It was magical there!

We left Kagawong first thing Thursday morning before the wind had a chance to kick up and trap us in the harbor.  We pulled into the main anchorage between North and South Benjamin.  We got settled at anchor pretty close to the mouth of the anchorage but tucked in behind the island.  Plenty of room to move around and not worry about having to tie to a tree.  I marveled at the beauty.  All of the North Channel is beautiful and it was exciting to see how the terrain changes. These islands are all rock like the others but much more open smooth rock.  It was a huge playground just waiting for the kids.

We immediately got the paddle boards and dinghy in the water and set off to explore.  The kids took off paddling and looked around a bit.  Then we all went out in the dinghy and cruised a circle around the anchorage.

I read that we had to climb Ski Slope Mountain so from the water I looked around to figure which rock that was.  Turns out it was right where we were anchored.  So we took the dinghy and tied it to a tree and off we went.  It was an easy walk up the side of the mountain.  We finally found blueberry bushes but unfortunately due to the drought the berries were all dried up.  We’ve heard about bear attacks because the bears are hungry in part due to the dried up blueberry crops!  We all tasted one of the dried berries.  They were awful!  Tasted nothing like a dried blueberry!  Poor bears!  We did see bear claw marks in the granite.

I got some shots of the girls on the rocks and some shots of our boat below the rocks.  I of course also got a shot of Benjamin in the Benjamins!

Ben had to do a little work after that so the girls and I paddled over to the Wilson’s boat to play.  The girls took off and headed to the rocks again.  I paddled back and forth between their boat and ours so many times that afternoon that my shoulders were exhausted.  The Herbons pulled in late afternoon and got anchored on the other side of the bay.  When they were settled they came over too and we all just enjoyed hanging out.  We had a lot of “do we stay, do we move” discussions and all of us decided we wanted to stay put and explore by dinghy.  I got back to the boat and Ben said he thought we’d need to move because of wind.  Ugh!  I told him he just missed our planning discussion.  But the wind turned out to be fine the next day and we all happily stayed where we were.

First thing the next morning, before breakfast, the girls were out on the paddle boards.  It was just a picture perfect morning.  The beauty here continues to amaze me every single day.

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Once everyone was up, Ben, Molly and I took the dinghy and went to check out Hotham Island.  We’d been told by quite a few people it was a not to be missed anchorage.  There is a couple who retired there and when you arrive the wife paddles out to your boat to get your names.  Everyone is invited to their deck for drinks and appetizers each evening.  We had a lovely but cool cruise over there but weren’t impressed when we arrived.  It would be a ton of fun to go hang out and socialize with all the other boaters.  But where we were anchored presently was nonstop fun for the kids and it didn’t make sense to move somewhere tree lined and marshy where they weren’t free to explore and do what they wanted.  So we reported back to the group and stayed put.

I took Molly, Maddy, AnnaMay and Ella out to go Zup boarding that afternoon.  I was a little nervous to try to manage it all by myself but we did ok!  They had a blast.  Since I was driving the dinghy and making sure the tow line didn’t get caught in the prop and making sure the kids were safe I didn’t get ANY pictures!  Bobby, Wendy and Mia came out in their dinghy and got a few!  The kids had fun and all wanted a second turn.  I was super thirsty and said I was going to run us back to the boat and see if Ben could come back out with us.  By the time we got back they were all happy to move on to swimming.  Fine by me!

Swimming turned into more climbing on rocks. The kids started building houses, and little worlds of their own on the islands. They named all the various islands as well.  The creativity that blooms when they are all playing together is just incredible.  I went to hang out with Kelly and Wendy and Mia while all the kids played.  Soon enough another couple and their 9 year old son joined in.  Kids see kids playing and they come running.  It’s such an inclusive group.  Everyone just gets along and plays together.

The couple we met was from Canada on their summer vacation.  We had fun swapping stories and sharing experiences.  While we were all chatting we started watching Ben.  He was supposed to be working but took up residence on the bow of our boat watching and chasing off all the people trying to anchor around us.  Canadian Yacht Charters rents boats to people for a week at a time.  We had a lot of experience with the charter boats in the Bahamas as well and we just assume they are clueless.  This catamaran came in and dropped anchor next to us.   Ben told them they couldn’t anchor there because they would swing right into us.   So they went and tried to anchor behind the Wilson’s boat, between them and the rocks.  Nope, that won’t work either.  They came back by us, anchored and ran lines to shore to tie up so they didn’t swing at all.

Eventually Ben came over and joined us on the rocks.  We all decided it was a perfect night for “rocktails”!  We boaters do a lot of “docktails”.  Basically happy hour with snacks and drinks on the dock.  Some Looper friends posted pictures last year of “rocktails” when they were in the Benjamins so we wanted to keep the tradition alive.  We all ran back to our boats, threw some food together and headed to Ski Slope where there was a lot of room for food and to sit.

The next morning I was really dragging emotionally.  I knew our time in Canada was coming to a close for this summer and I knew we had to leave the Benjamins that day.  I could have stayed there for a week without question.  The freedom and activity the kids had there was like no other place we’d been.  They’ve had a great time everywhere but the Benjamins offered place after place for them to climb and play and explore and we could see them anywhere they went.  They’d hop off the boat first thing and be gone til bedtime (coming back for food of course)!  Ben and I feel pretty strongly that our traveling is great for all of us.  At times we worry about the kids not having a normal life at home.  And then I watch days like these and those thoughts disappear.  This was incredible.  And their life is perfect for them right now.

We had to make the most of our morning.  I claimed a paddle board before the girls took off again. They grumbled but I told them to double up.  I wanted a chance to paddle around alone and just enjoy the quiet and serene morning.  Ben met us shortly in the dinghy.  We moved onto another rock pile that we hadn’t explored yet on foot.  The Herbons were already there.  All the kids headed over and then the Canadian family showed up as well.  We were standing on the top of the rocks looking at water on both sides.  What a way to spend a morning.  I’m out of adjectives.  This place will forever hold a special place in my heart.  I can’t wait to get back up there.

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But alas, as with everywhere we go, it was eventually time to leave.  We were meeting friends in Gore Bay later that afternoon and needed to get moving.  Off we went, waving goodbye to these special islands.  Until next time Benjamins!

 

Kagawong, ON

We left Baie Fine and headed towards Kagawong.  Once we got back out into the North Channel I called Kagawong marina to confirm our reservation.  There was a lot of scrambling on the line and it turned out that one of the dock hands had given away our spots and there was not room for us.  We were originally supposed to come in the previous day but I had called to say we were delayed a day.  The marina is VERY small.  They offered their outside wall.  Power cords don’t really reach and it’s unprotected to the bay.  No thank you.  So, we had to quickly change plans and stop in Little Current again for the night.  Once the Pronks got their tent set up in Kagawong they drove to Little Current to meet us.  All of these towns are quite close together by car.  It was such a great reunion!  Marcos and Lucas and all of the girls quickly got right back to playing.  This was the first time all three families had been together at the same time.  The Wilsons and Pronks spent time together.  The Wilsons and Steins spent time together and the Pronks and Steins spent time together but this was the first time we were all three together.  We headed to the only restaurant in town for dinner and then the kids fished and played tag up and down the waterfront walkway while we chatted.

The next morning James dropped Nancy and the boys off at the docks again.  We invited whoever wanted to ride with us on the boat to Kagawong.  James graciously drove (turns out he and the boys got to take a boat ride on another Looper’s boat when he came through Peterborough).  Nancy and Marcos rode with us and Lucas rode on La Cigale with AnnaMay.  Marcos, Molly and Maddy giggled and played and seemed to have a great time.  It was a lovely morning and an easy hour and a half cruise into Kagawong.

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We got settled in the marina.  The kids were off the boat in a flash and ran over to the beach.  I made everyone sandwiches and grabbed some towels and water bottles for the hike to Bridal Veil Falls.  We loved Bridal Veil Falls last year.  A hidden gem in little Kagawong, ON.

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The walk/hike there is beautiful and one of the paths was even manageable with Mia’s wheelchair!

When we were here last September we had the falls to ourselves but there were also salmon in the water and it was cold.  This year it was hot and sunny and everyone (except me!) jumped in and swam.  The big kids had a blast swimming under the waterfall and climbing up behind it.  They played and played.  Madelyn was a little nervous about it so she stuck to playing on the rocks with Mia and Ella.  It was a fabulous afternoon.  Ben had to stay at the boat and work but managed to make it over just as we were packing up to leave.  We managed to get a group picture with all of us!

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The whole group!

After we walked back from the falls we stopped in the church right next to the marina.  I wanted Wendy to see it.  It contains history from a tragic story on the bay.  The pulpit in the church is the actual bow of a boat that sunk in the bay where 2 children and 2 adults lost their lives after hitting some rocks.  The story is long and incredibly sad.  The church has a mariners theme.  We stopped in last year as well and it was good to stop by and see it again.

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We had a good old fashioned cookout and picnic for dinner and watched a truly spectacular sunset.  The colors were indescribable and just kept getting better.  Eventually we had to give lots of hugs and say our goodbyes.  We hope the Pronks can come visit in Chicago sometime.  It was so special to catch up with James and Nancy and give the kids more kids to play with!

The plan was to head out the next morning to the Benjamin Islands.  Ben had a 9 AM conference call and Bobby was getting some work done and then we were going to leave.  I took a nice long walk early to get some exercise in before anchoring for a few days.  We were all ready to go and boom….the wind.  Ben is always cautious of the wind.  I frequently poo poo it.  This was insane wind straight out of the west.  This little tiny marina has a big floating buoy in the entrance channel.  It marks the start of a very large rock pile.  The only way for us out of the marina is to pull out into the harbor and then back out of the marina because there was not enough room to turn going forward with those rocks.  The wind would have blown us right into the rocks.  Ben went up to the office to say we were going to have to stay and the guy working said we had to leave because they had boats coming in.  Hmmm…remember yesterday when we had a reservation and they gave our slip away???  Remember that???  Well, needless to say they worked it out and doubled up some boats in slips and we all fit and waited out the wind just fine.

Now, what were we going to do all day?  Well, we started with the farmer’s market!  I was skeptical because the last two farmer’s markets have been terrible as far as fresh produce goes.  But Kagawong was great.  Mostly, one stand was great.  We stocked up.  Green beans, pears, peppers, tomatoes.  Wendy got watermelon and apricots as well.

Maddy and Ella collected a lot of rocks from Bridal Veil Falls.  They carried them all the way back to the marina and set up a little store on a picnic table.  They ended up making $20 CAD selling rocks!  They sat at that picnic table almost the entire day.  They did take some time to both go fishing and to polish their nails.  But they had some serious stamina and their hard work paid off.

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Wendy and I took Mia, AnnaMay and Molly to the museum on the other side of the beach.  I figured it would be small and pretty minimal like Gore Bay.  But we were pleasantly surprised.  We started with the Post Office museum.   It was an old post office building that had been picked up and moved to this site.  It contained some information about how the mail was delivered and a lot of old family artifacts from the families that settled and started the town of Kagawong.

Then we moved onto the main museum.  It was actually quite full of information and interesting things to look at.  There were displays on all of the sawmills in Kagawong and a lot of history describing how important the waterfront was to Kagawong.  Fisheries and the sawmills were the big industries.  There was a picture of when the Kagawong marina was built.  It is exactly as it is today!  Only back then it didn’t have finger slips.  It was just the wide open walls for the fishing boats and barges to pull in.

Kagawong is a great stop off the beaten path.  We’ve enjoyed it two years in a row.  It has a lot to offer for a visit.  But after we made it through the entire day killing time and hanging around we were very excited to head out early the next morning before any wind kicked up!

Baie Fine, ON

Sunday morning we headed to Baie Fine.  Finally!  It was a pretty quick backtrack and we had good advice on an anchorage to try.  Mike and Kelly on INNTW got there first and got all set up in Maryann Cove.  We pulled in and were able to anchor next to them and then raft up to their boat.  Then Wilsons rafted to the other side of INNTW.  This was our first experience with anchoring with our stern to the rocks and tying a line around a tree on land.  This keeps the boats at anchor from swinging around in an arc.  Ben really didn’t like being so close to the rocks and was quite nervous.  But he ran a line to shore and got us all secured and kept a close watch.

It was hot and sunny but we knew there were strong storms coming around dinnertime.  Remember how we went to Little Current to be safe from the storms?  Well, there were no storms for the three days we spent there.  Now here we were back in Baie Fine waiting for a squall to hit!

All the kids and adults were in the water cooling off and playing.  I really wanted to get the hike to Topaz Lake in while it was hot and sunny.  But everyone was happy to just play in the water and we realized that where we anchored was actually about 7 miles from the start of the hike.  I took Ella and Maddy for a long dinghy ride to explore Baie Fine.  It’s just huge.  After a few miles the Garmin computer in our dinghy picked up our tracks from last summer.  I followed those back to a cottage we found last year.  Maddy remembered the bridge built from one rock to another and asked if we could go underneath it again.  So, I slowed down and we crept under and around the other side.  We kept going back until we got into the channel leading back to an area called “the pool”.  I could see the sky starting to cloud over and decided we should get back to the anchorage just in case.

The squall finally hit after dinner.  It was a massive storm, 16 miles wide on the radar.  Ben started our engines and watched closely as the wind whipped us all around.  He was very concerned about us drifting back into the rocks.  Sure enough as the wind yanked all the boats around we started drifting back.  Wendy and I were in the salon of our boat and I put my headset on.  Ben put his on upstairs on the fly bridge.  We stood and watched out the back and would report up when it looked like we were going backwards.  We all had our dinghies behind our boats.  Likely our dinghy would have served as a bumper enough against the rocks, but there was no reason to find out.  Ben had to put the engines in gear to move us forward quite a few times.  After a half hour or so the worst of the storm had passed.  There were a few other pop up cells moving through that we watched approach on the radar.  Once all was clear, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, the lines to the trees were tightened, and we relaxed for a few minutes before getting the kids in bed.  We were all thankful the storm happened before dark.  It would have been much scarier during the night.

Monday morning was gray and cool.  Not great conditions for swimming in Topaz Lake, but perfect for hiking!  Given how long the trip back to “the pool” was, the Wilsons decided to move their boat back there.  We decided to move our boat close to where we anchored last year.  That got us out of the dicey tied to a tree situation and got us a little closer to the hike.  Then we took the dinghy the rest of the way.  The Herbons left their boat and took their dinghy the whole way back.  We got all of the dinghies docked and set off on the hike!

The kids hopped along the dry creek bed and up the steep parts of the hill.  The steepest part of the hike took a bit of a village.  I led, working on finding solid footing.  Ben was behind me to help brace Wendy.  She had Mia, with her arm in a cast, on her back in Kelly’s ergo carrier.  And Bobby followed behind Wendy making sure to catch her and Mia if she slipped.  Wendy was determined to see the beautiful views and she made it to the top and then down the slippery path to the lake.

Topaz Lake is as beautiful as it was last year and we were thrilled to share it with friends.  It was still pretty overcast so the colors weren’t as vibrant as last summer, but it was way more fun according to Molly.  The kids had a blast jumping off the rocks with their friends.  This is what we were missing when we were in Little Current!

What a fabulous and special morning.  But it was once again time to move along.  Our friends the Pronks, who looped in 2016-2017 with us, were coming to see us!  Wendy, Nancy and I used to chat daily during the loop even though we may have been hundreds of miles apart.  The Pronks live in Peterborough, ON and made a huge trek to come visit all of us.  So, we headed back to our boats and on our way to Kagawong to see them!

 

Little Current, ON

After two amazing days anchored in Covered Portage, we were excited to head to Baie Fine.  But upon looking at the weather it looked like we were going to have some pretty decent storms so we decided maybe we should head to Little Current instead and get to a marina and then backtrack to Baie Fine when the weather improved.  We got settled in Little Current and of course no storms ever hit.  We had originally planned to come to Little Current the following day for the Haweater Festival so this just put us in town a day earlier.  We’d all rather spend these days in Canada at anchor enjoying the beauty around us, but sometimes we just have to make a call based on what we think will be best.  We spent the rest of Thursday just hanging around and took a quick walk up and down the dock after dinner to burn off some energy.  Herb Seaton on Phanthom, along with many other Loopers, were in the marina so we went and said hello.

Friday morning Ben and Bobby had to work so Wendy and I took all the kids out and about.  The Haweater Festival was underway.  The main street in town was closed to traffic and set up with various booths.  Between the booths and the shops in town we spent quite awhile just looking around.  Then we took a long walk to the park and beach.  There were supposed to be some activities set up for kids out that way.  On our way we spotted a Hawberry tree.  We learned that a Haweater is a person who was born on Manitoulin Island.  Little Current is on Manitoulin Island.  Long ago when the winters would get particularly rough, the people resorted to eating hawberries to stay alive.  Apparently hawberry jam and other products are made, yet we have not found hawberry anything anywhere.  But here was the actual tree!  Wendy was brave and tried one of the berries.  It was awful!  She spit it out and spent the next 20 minutes trying to get rid of the taste.  After looking up more information about them we learned they aren’t harvested until fall.  Apparently August is not the right time to try tasting one.

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At the park crews were setting up bounce houses and a horse corral for the festival.  The girls ran over to see all of the ponies.  Maddy was so excited.  They weren’t quite set up yet so we sent the kids to the playground.  They all played for awhile and then Maddy was desperate to ride one of the ponies.  I gave her a choice between the pony ride and an airbrush tattoo at one of the stands in town.  All the other girls were going to get the tattoos.  Maddy is obsessed with horses currently so she picked that.  She got a quick pony ride around in a circle but then got to pet her pony for a few minutes.

After the pony ride we headed back to the boats for some lunch and whittled the afternoon away not doing too much.  A walk to the grocery store.  A trip for ice cream.  Not too much else!

Saturday we had a busy festival morning.  I was very excited about yoga on the docks.  I do a lot of exercise and stretching on my own but it isn’t the same as a full hour of yoga.  So, Molly and I headed out for the class first thing and AnnaMay joined us halfway through.  It felt wonderful!  Next up was the Haw-run.  Molly, Ella and Maddy ran in the kids’ 1k fun run.  It was Ella’s first race and despite some nerves she took off running with Molly and Maddy.  Molly finished it in 5 minutes.  Maddy and Ella were pretty close behind a minute or so later.  Molly was a bit shocked at how short it was.  Congratulations to all of them!

On our way back to the waterfront we stopped to see the Carver Kings.  Pretty incredible to watch the chainsaw carvings.

We ended up missing the afternoon bobbing for donuts and watermelon eating contest.  But Wendy took the girls up for the magic show.  We met them there and walked over to Herb’s boat for docktails.  It was a beautiful night and we had a nice time visiting with so many other Loopers in town.

Our time in Little Current was fine, but we were ready to get back to nature on Sunday!

Covered Portage Cove, ON

Tuesday morning it was time to leave Killarney.  We dropped the girls by dinghy at Marshall and Judy’s boat to walk Mindy and play for a bit.  I took the dinghy to the General Store just to see what they had.  I have a bit of a food hoarding problem while boating…every time there is a store I feel like we must need some sort of food.  We have yet to go anchor for a month straight and run out of food, so I’m not sure what my problem is, but there I was again at the General Store.  I got some peaches!  Which I did not get in Gore Bay….so, you know, we needed them!  I zipped back over and picked the girls up and headed back to the boat.

I untied lines and Ben and the girls headed to Covered Portage Cove to anchor.  I followed in the dinghy.  Ben wanted me to be in the dinghy so I could scope out depth for all the various anchoring options.  We had already decided we weren’t going into the inner harbor.  We hoped to get into the outer harbor but it was pretty crowded when we arrived and we knew the Herbons (Mike and Kelly) on INNTW and the Zeeffs (George and Melissa) on Livin’ the Dream were waiting for us to anchor so they could raft up to us.  We gave it a try a couple of times and Ben decided we just didn’t have enough room to be comfortable so we went to another cove we’d found around the corner.  Back out on the bay the wind whipped up and as we were trying to anchor Ben got a call on the radio from a boat in the cove we’d just come from.  He asked if we were the boat trying to anchor.  Ben said yes and he went on to say they were leaving within an hour or so and asked if we’d like their spot.  Yes we would!  So, instead we pulled out to wait and have Zeeffs come up next to us.  Their anchor windlass wouldn’t go down so they were just floating around.  Ben was going to try to fix it while we waited.  Just as they pulled up the guy called on the radio again saying they were leaving so we aborted that plan and headed back in.

The Herbons decided to head into the inner cove and got all settled.  They kayaked out to meet us as we got anchored.  It’s always an adventure.  I was still in the dinghy.  Canada is such different anchoring.  The rocks are big.  The water is deep.  And then you put those two things together.  The water is deep until shore.  The rocks are big and deep and the shore drop offs are pretty sheer.  And yet it’s still hard to wrap your mind around putting the stern of the boat back against the rocks.  The way most people anchor here is to drop anchor and then tie the stern of the boat to a tree on land so the boat doesn’t swing around.  With all the issues we’ve had with props it’s scary to put them anywhere close to large rocks.  So, here we were.  Me in the dinghy reading depths to Ben over the headset while he is in the big boat trying to anchor.  It was still 8 feet deep almost all the way to shore.  Ben anchored and then I pulled up in the dinghy to have him take the line to shore.  He told me I had to do it so he could manage the big boat.  Hmmmm.  Ok.  What do I do?  He didn’t know either.  He handed me 110 feet of our thick boating lines.  But I didn’t do very well.  I was trying to drive the dinghy while feeding out all of the line from the boat and trying not to get it tangled in the dinghy prop.  Ugh.  The line was all in the water at that point and Molly was trying to feed it out to me.  I am a pretty good multi-tasker.  I was AWFUL at this multi-task.  Once the line was wet it was so heavy.  My biceps were burning.  And then it quickly became apparent we were nowhere close enough to shore.  So, abort.  We told the Zeeffs to come on in and get tied up to us and then maybe Ben and George could figure out tying to shore.

Once all that craziness was done it was time for some fun.  We never did tie to shore.  The kids immediately started playing.  Ben and George got their anchor issue fixed.  The Herbons all came over and we had a fun afternoon of kayaks, paddle boards, swimming, playing with dolls and visiting.  The girls from all three boats had quite the game of dolls going.  The Zeeff’s daughter is like Maddy’s long lost sister.  She collects things like Maddy and has the same amount of doll stuff on board!  The three littler girls played all afternoon.  They set up a full doll house in the dinghy of all places!

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The Wilsons were on their way from Tobermory and couldn’t get a slip in Killarney so they were coming to raft up as well!  We had a huge buffet dinner we threw together between the three families and spread it all out on the Zeeff’s boat.  It was time for bed but the Wilsons were due to arrive by 8:15 pm.  Six of the seven kids (Molly stayed behind) kayaked and paddle boarded over to the rocks to go exploring at sunset.

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Molly spotted the Wilsons first.  Pretty soon, over on the rocks, all the other kids spotted them as well and came running and screaming.  We got the Wilsons safely rafted up on our other side and everyone said hello.  The kids all swam again and then despite the excitement it really was time for bed!  But boy was it an accomplishment and pretty darn special to have FOUR looping families all together in one anchorage.  Special for the parents.  Special for the kids!

Wednesday started early with crafts on the Wilson’s boat, La Cigale, and then kids on the water toys and lily pad.  They didn’t care that it wasn’t warm out or that the water was cold.  Overnight we got a little rain and it was a damp morning.  Very overcast and hazy.  George and I were talking about how it smelled like someone’s campfire burned out.  After a bit we realized that it was the smoke from the terrible forest fires!  The wind direction changed and we were getting the smoke over here.  I can’t imagine the people living through them.  It was hazy and smoky all morning.  I took Mia, Wendy, Molly and AnnaMay for a dinghy ride while Ben was working on the boat and Maddy was playing dolls with the other girls.  We cruised past the Herbon’s boat and said hi and went back into the cove where the trail to the top started.  Then out onto the bay so the kids could take turns “driving” the dinghy.

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Don’t worry, I held the wheel other than the one second I was snapping a picture!

Once the haze burned off a bit we headed to do the hike to the top!  Bobby and Mia stayed on the boat but we had the other 16 of us.  It was a pretty vertical hike to the top and got very warm but we made it and the views of Covered Portage Cove at the bottom were as pretty as promised.  Unfortunately, since our boat wasn’t inside, we couldn’t see it, but we got some good shots of the Herbon’s boat and I got a very faraway shot of where we tied the dinghy up.

After hiking, everyone went for a swim or a paddle to cool down.  Then we managed dinner with all four families!  Next up, evening haircuts on the swim platform.  We’d heard a rumor that Mike Herbon would give haircuts.  He cut Bobby’s hair (La Cigale) a week or so ago and Ben very much needed a haircut.  Mike had actually brought his hair cutting clippers over to the boat!  Bobby lounged in the dinghy watching while Mike went to work.  We were a bit skeptical at first and Kelly (Mike’s wife) kept apologizing and saying she was worried.  But Mike did a great job!  Next up was the Zeeff’s son.

Once all the haircuts were done we managed to get a great picture of all 10 kids together.

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We loved Covered Portage Cove.  Additionally, it will always be special because we had all of us together.  Our schedules will come and go but I’m confident that we will all be together again.  All four families have obligations of some sort or another in Michigan in August so we’ll all end up crossing paths again soon we hope.

 

Killarney, ON

After a lovely stay in Gore Bay, it was time to move on.  We headed towards Killarney Monday morning.  We loved Killarney when we stopped through last summer and were excited to see it again.  There is nothing there to speak of.  No real town, nothing much to do, but it’s just charming and a great place to visit with other boaters.  Killarney Channel separates the mainland from George Island and boats, paddle boards, kayaks, sea planes, dinghies, and any other water craft you can imagine go up and down the channel all day long.

We were also anxious to arrive because we knew two other families doing the Loop were in Killarney and we’d finally all get to meet up.  We traveled for about 4 1/2 months on our first loop before meeting up with another family.  We have made near and dear friends everywhere we go, but having friends our kids’ ages is so special.

We got docked at Sportsmans Inn on the George Island side of their docks.  This means a pontoon boat runs you back and forth across the tiny channel to get to mainland.  We hopped aboard and headed over.  Next we headed to the annual Volunteer Firemans’ Fish Fry to meet up with the Zeeffs on Livin’ the Dream and the Herbons on INNTW.  We found them as soon as we arrived and the kids made fast friends.  Ben and I met the Zeeffs and their kids at the AGLCA Spring Rendezvous but our kids had not met and we had only met the Herbons via Facebook.  We all hit it off and had a great night.  We stood around and talked and swapped stories for a few hours while the kids ran off together and played on the playground.  They were filthy and happy at the end of the day.  A nice walk back to the marina, some much needed showers, and bed!

We were treated to an amazing bagpipe performance at sunset.  A man on the small sailboat next to us pulled a full set of bagpipes out of his boat and stood on the dock playing for about a half hour.  It was amazing.  Just another special treat this trip has provided.

Tuesday morning we got up and the girls and I headed down to Killarney Mountain Lodge to the pool to meet up with everyone else while Ben worked for a few hours.  Killarney Mountain Lodge has a pool, a rare find up here.  The kids only swam about 20 minutes and had more fun climbing on the rocks, planting little flowers, finding water snakes, and playing with the giant chess board.  It’s unclear if they were actually playing chess or if it morphed into some other game of carrying the pieces around.

Ben made his way over around lunchtime and got the Herbons generator issues fixed.  We all headed back to the boat for a few minutes to get out of the sun and regroup.  The girls and I took the dinghy over to the Zeeff’s boat for a few to hang out and then we picked up Ben and headed out with the Zeeffs on dinghies to check out Covered Portage anchorage.  We hoped to head there the following day and Ben wanted to scope it out and check depths and rocks.

After cruising around the anchorages, George and Melissa took all the kids for rides on their ZUP board!  They loved it.  I see one of those in our future for sure.  We ended the day with the Zeeffs on our boat for a visit and a quick kid dinner while they played a bit more.

Our friends Marshall and Judy on Let’s Go arrived in Killarney as well with their 6 month old puppy Mindy.  The girls adore her so they got a couple more visits in!  We planned to pull out of Killarney to go anchor in Covered Portage for a couple of days but they went to walk Mindy first and play with her for a bit.

Killarney did not disappoint.  It’s always a fun stop!