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Thread: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

  1. #1
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    Default A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Well, with my 29-day Grand Canyon river trip over and the ice slowly melting off the lakes back home, but not quite cruising season around here, I figured it's finally time to put up a thread about my first big(ish) trip in my new (can you call it "new" if it took 7 years to build?) Kurylko Alaska, seen here in northern Wisconsin on an early shake-down cruise last summer:

    Christmas letter photo.jpg

    I wasn't able to get away during the summer for a real trip, though, so this was an autumn jaunt through the North Channel and into Georgian Bay, launching from the little town of Spanish as usual--that's the Ontario side of Lake Huron for those unfamiliar with the area:

    day overview.jpg

    Small Boats Monthly published an account of my trip back in the November 2017 issue, even putting my boat on the "cover" of the digital issue, which you can find HERE if you're interested. With their kind permission, I'll be reliving the experience here on this thread to amuse myself and any other interested parties.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Bear on, young man; bear on...
    Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    So, I drove up to Spanish (about a 10-hour drive) with my "new" boat in no particular hurry, just happy to have the chance to get out for a few weeks in September--that was the plan, anyway. Along the way I stopped in Michigan's UP to see some friends who have been busily building a 65' schooner. A schooner they managed to plank up in 3 days with a small contingent of volunteers to spread glue and handle planks, putting my 7-year build of an 18' whitehall into proper perspective. Yowza!

    Ok, so got to Spanish in cold rainy weather and camped at the municipal marina for a few days waiting for warmer weather. Then, during the launch, I realized the bearings were so bad in the trailer wheels that it was a wonder they hadn't fallen off on the drive up. I took the trailer to the local shop and he fixed it right up while the weather was still too rainy to be very appealing anyway, so more hanging out at the marina.

    The next day I picked up the trailer, drove it back to the marina, and discovered that there were NO lug nuts on the wheel. Oops. I drove back to the shop to get them, and the repair guy was so embarrassed he drove over to put them on himself. No harm done, but I was beginning to feel like I had used up a substantial portion of my allotted luck for the trip.

    But the boat was in the water, anyway:

    DSCN3448.jpg

    Even better, the weather was supposed to get suddenly, magically, blue-sky-and-sunny nice, after a long cold wet no-summer-at-all bad stretch. I wasn't sure if that meant my luck was holding, or if it meant I had REALLY used it all up...
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Quote Originally Posted by mmd View Post
    Bear on, young man; bear on...
    Ha! I intend to, at great length--I won't get out sailing again until June because of a new job. So this is the best I can do for now.

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    I set out in the early afternoon, finally, after a cool rainy morning. My "plan" was kind of a re-interpretation of THIS TRIP back in 2014, when I borrowed my brother's Phoenix III for a 3-week cruise: Head east and south from Spanish and on into the bigger, wilder, rockier Georgian Bay until...

    Well, until what? I wasn't sure how long the weather would stay good, for one thing. But I figured I'd get a few weeks, maybe. I rowed out of the Spanish marina heading for the Benjamin Islands as a first stop:

    DSCN3450.jpg

    No one out on the water--felt a little spooky. Enjoyed a nice leisurely 10-mile sail south and east toward the Benjamin Islands (or The Benjies, as they are never called), cutting through the channel north of Eagle Island:



    Felt good to be on my way after so many delays.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    At the eastern end of the Eagle Island channel is Fox Island, really the first place where the North Channel starts to show its Candian Shield granite Georgian Bay-esque rocky side--perfect for sail-and-oar cruising. But it was late enough I simply turned south and headed for the Benjamins just a few miles away. The wind picked up significantly:



    making for a fun ride down the west side of North Benjamin Island, through the granite-slab maze of the southwestern side of South Benjamin, and on to one of my favorite beaches in the North Channel for the first night's campsite:

    DSCN3482.jpg

    Whereupon the rain started up again, so I put up the improvised 8' x 10' tarp that stands in for a boat tent on my trips and settled in at anchor to huddle in my sleeping bag and read--perfect timing! And, eerily enough, I had the whole Benjamin Island archipelago all to myself--one of the North Channel's most popular destinations for summer cruisers was completely empty.

    DSCN3492.jpg

    Here's an approximation of my route from day one--about 12 miles sailed, and off to a great start:

    Day 1.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-02-2018 at 06:19 PM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Day 2 was another grey-sky cool day to start, and from what I could see tucked in at the southern tip of South Benjamin Island, the wind was tearing along quite energetically from the northwest. I was somewhat unenthusiastic at the prospect of starting out my day triple-reefed, but figured I should at least row out into the bay to the east and see how bad it really was.

    Pretty windy. Hmm... I didn't really feel like starting out the day this way; it would have been so much nicer to work up to it gradually. But I didn't really want to just sit around chickening out all day either.

    Which, I realized, there is NO reason to do when you have a boat that rows as well as it sails! With that happy thought, I left the mast down and took to the oars, rowing up the east side of the Benjamins--a much faster way to work to windward in these conditions anyway. I was having so much fun that I decided I'd spend the day exploring nearby Fox Island under oars, checking out all the nooks and crannies I could squeeze into along Fox Harbor, a popular (but now empty but for one anchored sloop) summer anchorage for big boats.

    With a long wet summer and rising lake levels, it seemed like water levels were about 3' above chart datum, opening up some new avenues for exploration. I even found one little dead-end bay that, in contrast to what the chart suggested, I was able to follow all the way through to the north side of the island:



    It was turning out to be a great day after all, with the strong northerlies simply not a factor at all.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    After thoroughly exploring all the inlets and passages of Fox Harbor, I continued my exploration along Fox Island's southern side, still rowing, and still (mostly) protected from the wind. I had some hope that the winds would die down enough, or I'd get brave enough, that I could hoist up the sail and head eastward across the North Channel, but that would mean at least a 7-8 mile hop to the next available island to anchor/camp at.

    A quick note about the design while I'm thinking of it: the Alaska is designed as a standing lugsail ketch, with an 85 sq ft mainsail and a 49 sq ft mizzen (also a standing lug):

    Sailplan.jpg

    However, I'm sailing it with only the mainsail, stepped in the optional center mast step. That's mostly because of my preference for simplicity uber alles--I really enjoy having only a single sheet and tiller to manage. Also because 134 sq ft of sail is a HECK of a lot of sail area on a narrow pulling boat with a 4' 6" beam. Also because I couldn't afford the mizzen right away (but wow, is that mainsail from Stuart Hopkins of Dabbler Sails ever great!). But, let's face it, also because I'm just too lazy to want to bother with the added complexities of a mizzen and double sheets for the main when the mainsail alone generally gets me where I want to go.

    Meanwhile, I was still enjoying the "oar" side of sail and oar cruising. This little passage through the south side of Fox Island made me realize that yes, I think my Alaska could handle the too-narrow-for-oars passages (e.g. the Nightmare) along the inside route of the Everglades Challenge--earning me a gator tooth along the way:



    Came back out to the south side of the island and kept heading east, still tucked into the wind shadow, looking for potential campsites. Found a tiny little bay just big enough to stop in for a while:

    DSCN3512.jpg

    Ate some lunch, and set out again when the wind finally seemed to be dying down. Nope. Got out of the island's wind shadow and it was still triple-reef breezes--too much to want to face at the end of the day. Dropped the rig and rowed back to Fox Island instead, camping back at my lunch spot:

    DSCN3523.jpg

    Another good day for sure. Tomorrow--if the weather cooperated--would bring the long hop eastward across the North Channel, closer to Georgian Bay.

    DSCN3526.jpg
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Here's the route, pretty much, from day 2:

    Day 2.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-03-2018 at 06:58 AM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Nice! Great writeup and photos of a perfect small-boat adventure.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Day 3 brought beautiful sunny blue-sky weather--and very light winds. From Fox Island there are two routes to the east and on into Georgian Bay, so I'd have to decide (actually had already decided). The typical cruising route leads through a narrow channel south of Great La Cloche Island and under a swing bridge at the town of Little Current--but wind-driven currents in the narrow channel can run as high as 5-6 knots. And I wasn't here to visit towns, either. That kind of thing is fun later in a voyage, but I was just getting started and didn't want to lose my momentum so soon.

    The other route, open only to shallow-draft boats that can fit under a low bridge, sneaks around the north side of Great La Cloche Island, along the southern edge of Bay of Islands, and then south, where it cuts under a couple of low bridges and continues through a dogleg passage to the eastern North Channel near the mouth of Baie Fine (a long narrow bay that everyone who hasn't been to Norway insists on calling a fjiord).

    With the second route in mind from the start, I ate a quick breakfast and started the long hop (20+ miles) eastward toward Bay of Islands:

    Day 3.jpg

    Winds were light and contrary at first--a typical light-air North Channel morning. I wasted an hour tacking nowhere before taking to the oars for a few miles. Then a light breeze came up and I was on my way:



    Thanks to an extremely simple but shockingly effective "self-steering" system I had learned from my brother (really just a tiller tamer, featured in THE SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE of Small Boats Monthly), I only had to steer when I felt like it. This is one of the best improvements a solo sailor can make to his boat--highly recommended! I took to calling mine "the $.59 autopilot" because of how cheap and foolproof it was.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-03-2018 at 08:34 PM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Lovely!
    Makes me wanna pack my boat and explore,...
    Encore please

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Great story, Tom!

    I don't recall - have you done a capsize and recovery test yet?
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Alex, I did get to do two sets of capsize tests this summer before my cruise--full details were posted HERE if you're interested. Short version: with mainsail only, the Alaska is very well suited for quick solo capsize recovery--no turtling, and a gentle tug on the gunwale or centerboard pops it back up. It does scoop some water, but not too much with two big cruising drybags loaded in. Even better, it comes up almost MORE stable when loaded with water. I think that's partly because the whitehall hull loads very gracefully, but also because the sealed-in thwarts and centerboard case really compartmentalize the interior, leaving very little room for water to slosh around and destabilize the boat.

    And in fact, since I made the drain tubes through the thwart compartments very small, the boat comes up with all the water on the opposite side from the person righting the boat, draining through very slowly to equalize water levels on both sides. That water trapped on one side of the boat gives an excellent counterweight to balance the sailor climbing back in over the gunwale--a feature I like so much I'm going to start pretending I planned it that way.

    All right, on with the trip!
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-03-2018 at 09:36 PM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    The wind got stronger throughout the day--pretty common in the North Channel--so I kept sailing right along, settling in for a long day of simply being there enjoying the moment:

    DSCN3537.jpg

    Sailing a broad reach all day long, letting the autopilot handle the steering:



    By the time I got to the edge of Bay of Islands, where I planned to camp, the wind was VERY strong. I dropped the sail 50 yards offshore and owed over a shallow rocky bar into a hidden passage I had found on my 2014 trip. Tucked in out of the wind, I set an anchor and ate some supper:

    DSCN3548.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-07-2018 at 02:06 AM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Before continuing through the passage along the southern edge of Bay of Islands and on toward the evening's anchorage:



    Whether by luck or Don Kurylko's thoughtful designing, the layout of the Alaska means it's just as comfortable to row from the rear thwart facing forward as it is to row from the middle thwart facing aft--a nice convenience for rowing through narrow constricted areas, or when you're just not in that much of a hurry and want to watch where you're going instead of where you've been.

    At the far end of the backwater passage, hidden away in a cluster of islands, was a perfectly sheltered inlet too shallow for bigger boats. I put an anchor off the stern, tied the bow to shore, and went off to explore:

    DSCN3561.jpg

    Then came back to enjoy the perfect lounging seat in the bow for supper and some reading:

    DSCN3566.jpg

    Slept aboard--really nice for a solo sailor with the Alaska's full-width sleeping platform--and woke in the very early hours to find a herd of otters snuffling and splashing around the boat, coming in for an inspection; I could just see their white nose whiskers in the darkness. Fell back asleep smiling.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-04-2018 at 02:17 PM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Day 4 started out with the mirror-flat calm common to early mornings around here. I pulled up the anchor and got underway, heading for the low bridge small boat route into Georgian Bay:

    DSCN3568.jpg

    And on under the bridge:

    DSCN3572.jpg

    And past McGregor Point, the far eastern stretches of the North Channel.

    DSCN3579.jpg

    From here the route turned south toward the Lansdowne Channel, which leads into the town of Killarney, Ontario--the gateway to Georgian Bay. I wasn't sure how far I'd make it, but there was still plenty of light left. I tacked for a while in light headwinds before coming to my senses, dropping the rig, and rowing dead upwind for 4 miles to get into Lansdowne Channel, where the wind picked up and put me on a close reach into Killarney Bay:

    DSCN3583.jpg

    A perfect day so far. With Killarney just a few miles ahead, I figured I'd make a quick stop in town, call home (I don't carry a cell phone, but Canada still has pay phones!), and maybe get a pizza. I knew there were some excellent anchorages just past Killarney on the northern edge of Georgian Bay, so that was Plan A.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-04-2018 at 06:59 AM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Killarney, the only town I'd see on this trip apart from Spanish, is a neat little town that straddles the channel into Georgian Bay. It probably has more marinas per capita than any other town in North America--and in fact also features the only boat-in theater (speakers on pilings to tie up to, and the screen up on a hill) I've seen. From my first trip here in 2014, I'd discovered a perfect small boat beaching spot just outside an ice cream shop, so I headed there. Conveniently, the ice cream shop is near the famous fish and chips shop everyone seems to know about. I pulled in by early evening and walked around town to stretch my legs (and to eat a bunch of the best fresh-caught fried fish ever).

    DSCN3587.jpg

    Turns out it was a Sunday night (I had lost track) but everything stays open anyway. In fact, it was the very last evening the ice cream shop was open for the season. After a fish dinner, an ice cream cone, a call home, and a quick stop for groceries, I returned to the boat to find a woman loading a bunch of bags INTO my boat--all of it filled with expensive cookies and maple candies (what else, in Canada?) from local shops. She told me it looked like I needed it in my little boat. I didn't argue.

    Then I set out toward Georgian Bay just a mile or so down the Killarney Channel. I figured I'd camp in nearby Tarvat Bay, where I had stayed on my last trip through:

    DSCF7968.jpg

    So I set out from Killarney under oars.

    DSCN3588.jpg

    But there was a fierce SW wind blowing out on Georgian Bay, with some big(ish) waves--more than I wanted to face in the final hour of daylight. So instead, I pulled into a tiny bay on the edge of Killarney Channel itself, just a couple of minutes from town--it might as well have been 100 miles, though--a nice lonely spot.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-04-2018 at 07:54 AM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    That's a beautiful boat, and a really cool trip, Tom. Many thanks for the narrative and the amazing photos and video.

    P.S. It may be just me, but the links in Post #16, to attachments and video, are broken... FWIW...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Chris,

    thanks. The images seem to work fine sometimes, and sometimes show up as an attachment instead. And it'll be a photo one time, and the next time I log into the Forum, it'll be just an attachment. It seemingly changes at random without any reason behind it. I'll keep trying to update and fix stuff as I log in. It's a bit of a befuddlement for me.

    Tom
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Here's a look at the route from day 4:

    Day 4.jpg

    I spent a nice evening tucked up in the little bay outside of Killarney, trying to decide where to go from here. The next day would take me out into Georgian Bay. Weather looked like it was improving. Hmm... Maybe I should try a crossing to one of the islands farther out, and hop my way down to the Bruce Peninsula on the west side of Georgian Bay. Or maybe repeat my route through the 30,000 Islands region on the east side.

    After giving the charts a good study:

    DSCN3595.jpg

    I finally decided on a variation of the 30,000 Islands route. Prince Phillip Edward Island looked intriguing--a large island tucked in the far northeastern corner of Georgian Bay, it created a 10-mile "inside passage" that cut behind the island and then back out into the open waters of Georgian Bay. With the prevailing winds NW, I'd have a better chance of favorable winds sailing through this narrow cliffbound passage on my way southeast into Georgian Bay, so if the winds were good for it, I decided that's where I'd go.

    So, the next morning I loaded up the boat (it had spent the night tied up to its own private granite dock):

    DSCN3596.jpg

    and headed out into Georgian Bay, sailing east in light winds toward the opening of the inside route. Winds were light at first, with a mildly annoying swell left over from last night's big winds:



    But I was really learning to love my new boat. Funny, it had seemed a little less capable when I first launched it, with its low freeboard and narrow beam, but I was learning just how much it could actually handle before needing to reef. Overall it seemed pretty comparable to my brother's Phoenix III, which I had sailed a lot (and trusted to see me through some pretty tough conditions if the need ever arose). So, kudos to Don Kurylko for a great design and a beauty of a boat!
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    The wind was indeed good to get me into Collins Inlet, the opening of the passage behind PE Island, so I headed that way, past the aptly named One Tree Island:

    DSCN3608.jpg
    Attachment 13716

    Meanwhile, off my starboard bow was a treasure of granite-domed islands along the outside route. I figured I'd go that way on my way back to Spanish, but it was still hard to pass them by. I had really enjoyed the Fox Islands (about 7 miles east of Killarney) on my 2014 trip:

    DSCF8018.jpg
    Attachment 13713

    The passage through Collins Inlet wasn't quite so remote-seeming, with some scattered cottages here and there. Still pretty cool, though:

    DSCN3615.jpg
    Attachment 13714

    With a following wind, I experimented with booming out the sail with an oar. Simple enough to do, but honestly, I didn't detect a whole lot of difference in speed. Or rather, I couldn't notice ANY difference. Without a way to control the twist in the sail, I couldn't boom the foot of the sail out very far anyway before the yard came forward of the mast.

    DSCN3613.jpg
    Attachment 13715

    It didn't take me long to realize that it wasn't worth it. Besides, the narrow passage was funneling the wind directly down the channel, putting me on a dead run with frequent gybing threats. Better to bear off onto a broad reach and "tack" downwind instead, trusting the extra speed to make up for the extra distance sailed.



    The passage through Collins Inlet quickly narrowed down to about the size of a big(ish) Midwestern river (e.g. the Wisconsin, not the Mississippi). I did find a little beaver-pond inlet to stop in for lunch:

    DSCN3635.jpg
    Attachment 13718

    Did a little bit of somewhat "exciting" slab climbing to get to the top of a dome, had a look around, and found an easier way back down to the boat.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-26-2018 at 06:07 AM.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Glad you're liking the boat with more experience with it - that's the way its supposed to work!
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    The wind held strong through the narrow passage, and I kept tacking my way downwind past forests and cliffs (Killarney Provincial Park covered the mainland off the port, with PE Island to starboard).

    DSCN3636.jpg

    There were a couple of places where the passage opened up into bigger bays stretching off the the southwest, with some exciting sailing as the now very strong SW wind from up the bays collided with the very strong W winds still pouring straight down the Collins Inlet passage. After about 10 miles I finally reached the eastern end of the passage, where it opens up into Beaverstone Bay. Here the wind tearing up the bay was just ridiculous. I dropped the sail and rowed into a stiff headwind looking for a place to camp out of the wind.

    I found it, eventually, in a sheltered corner of an unnamed (on my chart, anyway) island--a high dome of granite with a flatwater lilypad bay at the NE corner. It was too early to camp, so I pulled in for a little exploring:

    DSCN3643.jpg

    The eastern side of PE Island was just across the channel, all cliffs:

    DSCN3647.jpg

    I had fun scrambling around the rocks of my own very tall island, finding a little interesting bouldering to play around with:

    DSCN3640.jpg

    In the evening I rowed across to a little island across the way and found a sheltered platform to tie up at for the night. There wasn't a single spot flat enough for comfortable tenting, so it was back to sleeping aboard.

    DSCN3655.jpg

    There was time, though, to play with my new little tripod and get some new angles for photos. Which seemed like a good idea until I managed to drop the entire rig, camera and tripod together, into the water. A non-waterproof camera. Oh, well. I figured that was the end of photos for this trip, but I did my best to dry everything out, empty the batteries, and whatnot. In a way it was a relief to be free to ignore the camera and just enjoy the moments as they unfolded. I had a nice quiet night, reading and doing a bit of writing. Tomorrow I'd be heading out Beaverstone Bay back to the open water of Georgian Bay, camera or not. Good enough for me, I decided.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-04-2018 at 04:55 PM.
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Quote Originally Posted by AJZimm View Post
    Glad you're liking the boat with more experience with it - that's the way its supposed to work!
    Yeah, what's surprising is that the boat hasn't changed its behavior so much as my perceptions of it have changed. It seemed to be tender and heel easily at first--so much so that for the first while my standard rig was mainsail only with one reef tied in!

    Now it just seems comfortable to have the boat heel over--it does seem to lock in with good reserve stability. No doubt my confidence went way up after seeing how well the capsize tests went, too. I did the second test in actual windy sailing conditions, so I feel like I have a good handle on what to do if the worst happens.

    Yep, I think it's a great boat--I'm really happy with it.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  26. #26
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Thank you! Great thread, pretty boat & beautiful country.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  27. #27

    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Thanks, Tom. Putting together these threads must be a lot of work. It is great fun to follow along.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I look at these threads more as self-entertainment than work, but it does take time. Time spent remembering a great trip--life is tough...

    Here's a look at the route from day 5, the inside route through Collins Inlet behind Phillip Edward Island:

    Day 5.jpg

    Thanks to dropping my camera, no photos from day 6. So, here's a couple from earlier in the trip instead. Another look at my first campsite on South Benjamin Island:

    DSCN3474.jpg

    And packing up the next morning:

    DSCN3493.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-05-2018 at 11:42 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    They should rename Georgian bay in to Gorgeous bay.
    Fantastic scenery and superb photography,...

    Thanks for this thread. Really!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Yep, the Canadian side of Lake Huron (and Lake Superior, but I haven't sailed there yet) is amazing--perfect exploring for small boats.

    On with the trip and day 6. I got going early in the morning, which always seems to be the case after sleeping aboard. I'm often enticed into packing up and starting to sail right away, skipping breakfast, just because I'm eager to start the day. That was the case today. I sailed my way in light winds down Beaverstone Bay back toward the open waters of Georgian Bay. It would've been faster to row, but I was having fun tacking my way past a bunch of islands. Good thing I had anchored where I had, though--the lower reaches of Beaverstone Bay had a few cottages scattered around (no people this late in the year), which I'd rather stay away from.

    The wind picked up throughout the morning, as usual, until by the time I reached the lower end of the bay, a reef or two might not have been out of the question. Like most of the shoreline in the 30,000 Islands area, I'd have to pick my way through a wide band of rocky shallows and reefs to get out of the bay, and it was a little tricky finding the right passage among the thousands of low-lying rocks. But eventually I found a narrow outlet on the west side of Toad Island (or was it Todd? I forget) and quickly spotted a couple of buoys telling me I was right.

    The wind was blowing dead up the channel, which was quite narrow. No problem. The Alaska short-tacked past without a problem, even without a reef (I figured I'd get better windward performance with the longer luff, and it seemed to work fine--my perceptions of what the boat could handle had expanded significantly by now). I was able to sail within arm's reach of the rocks on each side before tacking each time, and seemed to make pretty good progress.

    By afternoon I had sailed my way out through the rocky shoals and back into Georgian Bay--inside route completed. Which raised one question: now what? The Bustard Islands were within reach, maybe a half day farther to the east. But then I got thinking: I could get to the Bustards tonight. Then, day 7-8, or 7-8-9, or even longer, explore--once I was that far I wouldn't want to go back right away. But then it'd be another 7 days to get back to Spanish, with autumn becoming more and more autumnal and bad weather maybe waiting to sweep in and give me a good pounding. Which might make the 7 days to Spanish into 8, or 10. Or two weeks. Which would take me well into October. Which would bring increased chances of bad weather.

    Hmm... Bummer. I wanted to go on, but knew the smart thing would be to turn back toward Killarney, swing through the Fox Islands on my way, and start working my way back. I knew there was a reason I preferred summer trips! (That, and the blueberries, which were pretty much completely gone by September).

    I sailed farther out into the bay, beating southward until I had a clear line past the rocks and reefs on the outer shores. Then, with more than a tinge of regret, I pushed the tiller over and put us on a reach toward the Fox Islands. With this wind, I'd be able to camp there tonight.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    A quick word about some basic Georgian Bay info--the charts. The Canadian government publishes a wonderful set of small-scale charts for the buoyed small craft route through the 30,000 Islands and along the entire eastern shore of Georgian Bay. I wouldn't want to do a trip here without these--they come in sets of 4-5 charts, each covering a section of the coast, and really let you explore the unmarked entrances and passages through the inevitable mile-wide band of rocky shallows that runs up and down the entire coast. Each separate chart is rotated so it covers only the near-shore areas, so it's also nice to have the full chart for Geogian Bay as well (Hawk Island, for instance, is not on the small boat charts even though you can see it from the Fox Islands, which ARE on the chart--Hawk Island is just far enough off to be cut out).

    There's a little information about the buoyed/marked Small Craft Route HERE if you're interested--but I find that I use the charts not to follow the buoyed route, but to be able to escape it and go where I want. With caution. And not in just any weather, as a west wind (common here) can really kick up a mess of breakers on the rocks.

    For all the above link's hyperbole about how the sailing in Georgian Bay

    is arguably the most challenging in North America
    (NONSENSE!) I find it's simple to use eyeball/terrain association for almost all navigation. In a small sail and oar cruiser, the rocks and narrow passes just aren't a hazard if you're not entirely oblivious to obvious dangers--leave your electronics at home, bring a compass, and you'll be fine.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  32. #32
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    I reached the Fox Islands by late afternoon, as planned, and headed directly for the largest, Marten Island, where I remembered spotting a wonderfully sheltered bay ringed by tall cliffs. It was still plenty windy, though, and (not surprisingly) the eastern entrance to Marten Island was guarded by a wide band of partially submerged rocky shoals, with the wind kicking up lots of exciting spray. I thought about sailing (carefully) through the maze of rocks, but knew it would be a bit of a roulette run, so I opted instead to drop the sail, raise the board and rudder, and work my way closer under oars.

    I did find the bay, but it was open to the south and catching too many waves for anchoring in this wind. Just around the corner was a marginally acceptable little bay where I could anchor, but I kept rowing all the way around the island, counterclockwise, to see if there would be anything better. Short answer: No. Within an hour I found myself back at the tiny marginal bay on the NE corner of the island. Good enough. I rigged a semi-complicated 3-anchor set-up (one off the stern, and two lines to shore from the bow) to hold the boat in the one exact position I found where I'd be able to keep the boat off the rocks but still step off into knee-deep water (onto a huge slab of granite).

    Good enough. I then carried my gear up onto the eastern summit of Marten Island because it was a tall granite dome and I couldn't resist sleeping on top. I was a little leery about not being able to see the boat from the tent but figured I'd check on it a few times through the night to be sure. There really weren't any waves to speak of getting into the anchorage anyway, just refracted/reflected ripples sneaking in that would've made sleeping aboard annoying anyway.

    So, a few minutes later I had my tent set up on the summit overlooking all of the Fox Islands. And just like that I decided to treat myself to a layover/exploration day, and celebrated by mixing up some fresh hummus (a pre-mix of tahini, etc. that you mix with a can of garbonzos when you want to eat it--no refrigeration needed) and eating it all. A perfect day.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  33. #33
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Here's a look at the route from day 6, Beaverstone Bay to the Fox Islands:


    Day 6.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 04-06-2018 at 01:57 AM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    .. letting the autopilot handle the steeringAttachment 13603

    Superb Tom, thanks for sharing.
    Any videos of that self steering in action? (Thanks for the link to the article - seems too simple ).
    Last edited by gypsie; 04-05-2018 at 11:08 PM.
    Everyman carries within himself a world made up of all that he has seen and loved; and it is to this world that he returns incessantly, though he may pass through, and seem to inhabit, a world quite foreign to it.
    Chateau-Briand, Voyage en Italie.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: A Kurylko Alaska in Georgian Bay

    Quote Originally Posted by gypsie View Post
    Superb Tom, thanks for sharing.
    Any videos of that self steering in action? (Thanks for the link to the article - seems too simple ).
    Yep, it's a great system that's so simple it seems unfair that it works as well as it does--not real self-steering, but a foolproof way to hold the tiller in whatever position you want it, yet still be able to steer normally without engaging or disengaging anything. And as I said already, no hardware or expensive fittings or gadgets, just simple friction with line and bungee. It's worth a post of its own, I suppose--really, I doubt there is a better way to set this up, and I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in being able to let go of the tiller anytime they want and stay in perfect control.

    First, rig a line across the boat athwartships under the tiller--you can see a narrow-diameter white line in the photo below, running from one horn cleat to another:

    DSCN3568.jpg

    Next, take a bungee loop (the kind with the plastic ball) and wrap it multiple times around both the athwartships line and the tiller. You want this tight, so wrap it around as many times as you can, then finish by putting the plastic ball through to lock off.

    That's it. The friction of the bungee around the tiller and line will hold the tiller firmly in place whenever you let go. At the same time, you can steer normally without having to adjust the tension or disengage anything--just steer whenever you want to, or let the tiller go whenever you want to.

    As for video, the clips in posts #5, #11, and #15 were all shot with the $.59 autopilot doing the steering, as was this one where you can actually see it for a few seconds:

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

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