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.
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.
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!