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Thread: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

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    Default Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    I guess it's time to start a continuation of THIS THREAD about my 2018 sailing trip to Georgian Bay, on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. I usually launch from the small town of Spanish on the North Channel, and work my way eastward and southward into Georgian Bay:

    Georgian Bay overview.jpg

    For those unfamiliar with the area, this is perfect cruising territory for small sail-and-oar type boats--thousands of rocky islands, very little road access so development is very limited. It really feels pretty close to pure wilderness. Plenty of shelter for a shoal-draft boat, and it's easy to sleep at anchor or ashore on granite slab islands.

    Again, for those who missed the first thread on this trip, the boat is my Alaska, designed by Don Kurylko and built (slowly) by me, with plenty of help from my brother for all the tricky bits. Though the Alaska is designed as a two-masted lugger:

    Sailplan.jpg

    I've opted to sail with just the mainsail, stepped in the alternate center mast step to keep the center of effort in the right place:

    DSCN3310 cropped.jpg

    I've been perfectly happy sailing this way, and will probably continue as a single-sail, single-sheet boat.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    So, on with the trip. In the first 7 days, I sailed about 120 miles from my launch point in Spanish, Ontario, eastward and southward into Georgian Bay:

    Part I overview.jpg

    Ending up in this perfect campsite on Black Bay:

    DSCN5466.jpg

    So, day 8 began with a typical morning calm. I rowed through the southeast corner of Black Bay, looking for the place I had camped back in 2014, when I borrowed my brother's Phoenix III (designed by Ross Lillistone) for a 20-day trip to Georgian Bay:

    DSCF8195.jpg

    I had been pinned down here by high winds for three days on that trip. Now, four years later, water levels were so much higher that the entire tent platform I used was underwater. Believe it or not, this is the same spot:

    DSCN5474.jpg

    Very shallow and rocky all through here, but under oars, with the board and rudder up, perfect exploring grounds.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    But I finally worked my out to the open coast of Georgian Bay, and turned south. Dodged around the McNab Rocks on the buoyed small craft route (more info on that HERE--a marked passage all along the coast of Georgian Bay for small craft), and as I rounded the corner the winds picked up to a reefing (maybe double-reefing) breeze.

    Luckily I was able to point just high enough to keep to the buoyed channel, which here runs through a band of extreme shoals with some breaking waves. And the channel is narrow enough that tacking wouldn't be an option at some points. It was a bit of a boisterous ride, one reef in:



    Getting too windy for just one reef, but rocks all around, too. Then suddenly there was a vicious "CRACKKK!" from the mast, so I luffed up and did a quick inspection. I couldn't see any obvious problems, had a nagging suspicion something might not be right at the foot but I couldn't see it well, and had no time to check it thoroughly as we were drifting down onto some rocks.

    Instead, I tied in a second reef, rowed back to windward to gain sea room, and hoisted the sail again. Seemed ok--the mast was shifting a bit in the partner but I drove in an extra wedge there and it seemed to work all right. I hoped...
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-17-2019 at 03:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Now, though, it was really windy. And a big fetch with all of Georgian Bay out there to starboard. The buoyed small craft route zigged and zagged a big V around another band of rocky shoals.

    CRACKK!.jpg

    By the time I got the sail re-hoisted, and rowed upwind a bit to make up for drift, I was at the apex of the V and ready to turn downwind. Which I did:



    Would've been a fun ride if I hadn't been worried about my mast. Well, I guess after a while I forgot to worry and it WAS fun. But I did start looking for a place to get in to shore and find a camping spot.

    It's always a little messy to manage the sheet, the tiller, the chart, and the compass all at once, so I missed a pretty good clear channel through the inevitable granite shoals, and soon found myself in a mess of rocks. Rocks to starboard. Rocks to port. Rocks ahead. Rocks behind. Wind still building.

    Not a big problem, though. I dropped the sail and took to the oars, and worked my way slowly toward what looked like it might be a sheltered little cove.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-17-2019 at 02:25 PM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Which it was, though it was hard rowing there through the rocks and waves with the mast still up. It was wedged in so would not have been easy or quick to drop. Mainly, though, I think I didn't drop it so I could delay finding out how bad the damage was...

    I came ashore on a little island that was pretty well sheltered from the wind. A scampering little mink met me at the shore, and tried to convince me it was his island. We negotiated a truce and I came ashore to camp:

    DSCN5494.jpg

    A beautiful spot, and I was ready for a break after a windy and stressful few hours out in the rocks.

    DSCN5486.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-17-2019 at 02:54 PM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    So, that was day 8. About 13 miles total from Black Bay to Mink Island:

    Day 8.jpg

    I spent the afternoon hanging out on my island, looking over charts, and deciding that I'd probably have to turn back toward my car pretty soon. Seemed like there might be an interesting inside route threaded through all of the Canadian Shield granite, which tends to create narrow passages just right for exploring under oars.

    Which meant--no need to do a thorough inspection of the mast just yet. (Isn't avoiding unpleasant things a great way to increase your enjoyment of life?)

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-17-2019 at 02:49 PM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Beautiful, but are there bears? Unfriendly thieving bears?

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    I've heard of people seeing bears, but haven't been lucky enough to see one myself. I haven't heard of any major problems with bears. Then again, I haven't heard of anyone except kayakers and canoes traveling through this area up close the way a sail-and-oar boat can do.

    But yes, there are bears out there. NOTHING like how pesky they can be in the high Sierra, or in Yosemite, though! I spent one night at the base of Half Dome listening to nearby hikers banging pots and pans and shouting "Hey bear!" as they were continually besieged by bears who had learned that campers mean food. Another time, I watched a bear amble in to Camp 4 and grab a bottle of something alcoholic (still in the brown paper bag) and wander off with it. The people in the campsite didn't even notice him take their drinks.

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-17-2019 at 03:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Such pretty scenery up there. I'm enjoying the report!

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Thanks--I'll be following up with more shortly. It is beautiful for sure.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    So, Day 9. The charts did seem to suggest that the sneaky inside route, through narrow seams in the Canadian Shield bedrock, might be possible for a few miles. At which point, it'd be back to sailing. The mast was wedged well enough that, with care, that should be ok. I promised myself I would actually unstep it and check it out thoroughly. Soon...

    But for now, I left the mast wedged in place and got ready to go. My stern "anchor" had been a line clove-hitched in series to three little sticks wedged into cracks in the bedrock--good enough to keep the boat off the rocks:

    DSCN5495.jpg

    I packed up, loaded gear,

    DSCN5496.jpg

    and left the island to its rightful owner, the mink:

    DSCN5497.jpg
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    The inside route snaked around behind a big island (Foster Island).

    Day 9.1.jpg

    I hadn't expected cottages, but there they were:

    DSCN5525.jpg
    Along with channel markers:

    DSCN5526.jpg

    and an oddly placed sloop that must not have been sailed for a while:

    DSCN5530.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-18-2019 at 08:57 AM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Kind of neat sneaking through these tight channels so close to shore. Very shallow; even for a boat with 7" draft there were a few keel scrapes. But I eventually made it out into relatively open water:

    DSCN5534.jpg

    With some decent wind (but not too strong), I risked raising the sail. The mast wedges seemed to be holding ok, but I put in a reef anyway just to reduce loads on the mast. Seemed to work. A mile or two farther on, I took a short cut up a narrow channel behind a lighthouse:

    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-18-2019 at 07:40 AM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Then it was back to the same route I had followed on the way down, only in reverse. I took a slight detour because the wind was with me through a narrow passage called Rodgers Gut (I had rowed around through different channels on my way down rather than tacking through a narrow pinch point like that). Much nicer with the wind behind me!



    Getting a little windier than I liked, with some potential mast problems. I promised myself I would unstep the mast and do a thorough inspection at camp tonight--wherever that was going to be. Turned out to be the Churchill Islands, just past Rodgers Gut:

    Day 9.jpg

    So, about 17 miles covered on Day 9--maybe 5-6 rowing, and the rest under sail. I found a little sheltered cove in the center of the Churchills, and tied up the boat.

    DSCN5538.jpg
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Unloaded all the gear, and then (finally) pulled out the mast for an inspection.

    DSCN5602.jpg

    Yep, I knew all along something wasn't right:

    DSCN5613.jpg

    Eventually I figured out what had gone wrong. I had drilled the mast step over-sized, intending to fill it with epoxy and re-drill to the correct size for the tenon on the foot of the mast. But somehow, I never got around to that crucial step. And it had lasted through my first season of sailing without me ever noticing. After all, when the mast is in the step, you can't really see the hole. And when the mast isn't in the step, there's nothing to compare the hole to.

    I may have also left the tenon too long, and the drain too small, which let the end grain soak up water all day, softening the wood enough to let it break.

    Oh, well. I knew I'd have to do something or other. But I figured I'd let it dry out overnight before trying a repair.

    Meanwhile, I had sailed past what looked like a smallish fire on shore earlier on Day 9, only a few miles from the Churchill Islands. But it wasn't staying smallish:

    DSCN5539.jpg
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    So I set the mast on shore to dry out, set up my tent, and sat back to watch the Canadian water bombers work the fire. Neat planes. Funny, my wife and I had visited the Canadian Bushplane Museum just a few weeks before my trip and got a look at these planes up close: Canadair CL-415s. Now I was seeing them for real.

    DSCN5611.jpg

    Seemed like they were scooping up water behind me, out of sight, and then circling over my island to head back to the fire to dump:

    DSCN5740.jpg

    This fire turned out to be one of the largest wildfires in Ontario last summer--Parry Sound 33, which burned about 28,000 acres. Just a few days after I passed through, the small craft route through the area was closed (although I didn't find that out until I got back home).

    Although it's scary to recognize the new normal means more fires, bigger fires, and longer fire seasons, it was interesting to watch them work the fire.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-18-2019 at 11:11 AM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    But it was getting to be suppertime. I was really looking forward to a nice easy meal of canned pasta:

    DSCN5638.jpg

    You'd think, wouldn't you, from the picture on the label, that this was a can of spiral pasta-things in sauce.

    It was just sauce...
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-18-2019 at 09:00 AM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Well, on with Day 10. I got up early (easy to do when the tent faces east):

    DSCN5643.jpg

    Assembled my meager tool kit:

    DSCN5647.jpg

    And epoxied the tenon back into the mast with cheap hardware store epoxy I didn't have much faith in. Then I promised myself that I wouldn't touch the mast until the next morning (a promise I almost managed to keep).

    DSCN5649.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-18-2019 at 09:01 AM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Which left me free to explore the Churchill Islands under oars all day. I pretty much circumnavigated the entire group of islands, stopping wherever I felt like it for a bit of exploring ashore:

    DSCN5650.jpg

    A pleasant bunch of islands, though not as high as the Fox Island group outside of Killarney, which is still probably my favorite area in Georgian Bay. But still, a good way to spend a day:

    DSCN5660.jpg

    Another mink crossed my path as I was rowing along. He looked up, startled, and then ducked underwater and swam away. Lots of minks around here.

    The fire, which had lain down some at night, picked up again as the day went on:

    DSCN5661.jpg
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Great!

    Hey, I'm playing a concert at the Bushplane Museum this Saturday!

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Tom,

    Please pre-forgive me for this barb/joke/rib shot I cannot help make at your expense. Please.

    I bet if you had that mizzen, you coulda just stepped it, and kept sailing...

    I really like the pictures you take. You have a nice eye for it. Your trips are the type deal I enjoy, as well. The places you go remind me of the lakes here, sometimes. Granite, except for the soil. Itís decomposed granite and duff.

    Peace,
    Robert

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Tom,

    Please pre-forgive me for this barb/joke/rib shot I cannot help make at your expense. Please.

    I bet if you had that mizzen, you coulda just stepped it, and kept sailing...
    Well, that's probably true. But the $800 I saved in not buying a mizzen lets me buy enough supplies to camp on a lonely island for a LOOOONG time while I make repairs!

    I really should try a mizzen sometime. I have about 3 days sailing in a Michalak Laguna, which is a two-masted lugger as well. It didn't seem like a game-changer to me, but my opinion would probably change if I had more time with a mizzen. The people who like them can't all be wrong. McMullen, yes. He can be wrong. But Yeadon? No way.

    Thanks for the kind words about my photos--I must have picked up a few things in the years I've been doing this. No formal training other than admiring my wife's photos, which are always better than mine.

    And yes, the Georgian Bay granite does remind me of the high Sierra a lot. I assume that's the kind of country you are near?

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Hadfield View Post
    Great!

    Hey, I'm playing a concert at the Bushplane Museum this Saturday!
    It's a neat museum--I guess I shouldn't be surprised that YOU of all people know about it, eh? Have fun with your gig.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Idling around on my circumnavigation, I found myself surrounded by gulls dropping into the water for fish--just SPLASH headfirst in, grab one, and fly off. I decided I'd stay out until I managed to get a photo. I think I managed it:

    DSCN5686.jpg

    The fire was still going, stronger and bigger as the day went on:

    DSCN5705.jpg
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    My nine-year-old self once asked Farley Mowat in a Montreal bookstore whether he really ate mice as described in Never Cry Wolf. He boomed at me indignantly "Of course I did!"
    I realized later that I had missed the point.

    So how was the pasta sauce?

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Well, that's probably true. But the $800 I saved in not buying a mizzen lets me buy enough supplies to camp on a lonely island for a LOOOONG time while I make repairs!

    I really should try a mizzen sometime. I have about 3 days sailing in a Michalak Laguna, which is a two-masted lugger as well. It didn't seem like a game-changer to me, but my opinion would probably change if I had more time with a mizzen. The people who like them can't all be wrong. McMullen, yes. He can be wrong. But Yeadon? No way.

    Thanks for the kind words about my photos--I must have picked up a few things in the years I've been doing this. No formal training other than admiring my wife's photos, which are always better than mine.

    And yes, the Georgian Bay granite does remind me of the high Sierra a lot. I assume that's the kind of country you are near?

    Tom
    You do know, of course, I’m only ribbing you because I follow lots of these threads to learn stuff, even if I don’t always post, and I have noted the fun you’ve all had debating mizzens.

    I’ve never owned one, but I plan, to. After I do, I’ll have an opinion.

    Until then, I will remain a puckish dingbat.

    And, yup. We use lakes a mile or more in the sky, nestled in granite crags cum reservoirs, rendered such by the ground up remains of the surrounds, added to a slurry of magical mud that becomes like stone unknown in nature; some engineered matrix.

    Granite domes and pine duff and... oh, some cedars. Hahaha.

    65EAB6B3-D361-4573-BCA5-05E4BDFD09A1.jpg

    Peace,
    Robert

    ETA, this is me, trying to avoid some of said granite...

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by darroch View Post
    So how was the pasta sauce?
    You're a cruel man. I'm still bitter about that. You know how when you've decided EXACTLY what you want to eat? And then for some reason you can't eat it? That's how that night went.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    A stronger and more durable way to make a mast step is to encase the lower 8 inches of your mast in aluminum or copper pipe bedded in epoxy, or wrap it with several layers of 8 inch glass tape in epoxy, then bore a good sized mortice into the heel. Seal the mortice and the mast heel with all of the epoxy it will soak up plus 1 or 2 coats.

    Now remove that water and dirt entrapping step and replace it with a hardwood block screwed and glued in place and bore a hole for a hardwood dowel tenon. Drop the mast on the tenon and you're good.

    Thanks for the pics Tom. I haven't been anywhere in a while and enjoy them very much. The inspiration doesn't hurt anything either.

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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    You're a cruel man. I'm still bitter about that. You know how when you've decided EXACTLY what you want to eat? And then for some reason you can't eat it? That's how that night went.

    Tom
    The perils of foreign travel, eh? You're a tough nut - in a just world a man who travels 17 miles in a small boat should at least be fed. Even bums get a hot meal once in a while.

    On the bright side, though, you're kind of in small boat heaven here.


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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    I did eventually finish my circumnavigation of the Churchill Islands--it was only about 4 miles total. Then I set off for an on-foot circuit of my particular island, and returned to camp on the evening of Day 10. I poked the mast repair job once, but it was still a bit gooey.

    The fire was still going, as were the water bombers:

    DSCN5695.jpg

    From everything I've been reading, I guess this is the new normal. 2018 saw 1,325 wildfires in Ontario, well above the 10-year average of 735 (almost double, in fact).

    And that was Day 10.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Day 11 started early as usual:

    DSCN5639.jpg

    The mast repair looked as good as it was going to get. I had used up my one little kit of epoxy, and it had been just enough. I hoped.

    But, since there wasn't much else I could do about it with the tools I had, I decided it would be good enough for now if I was careful. And "careful" meant doing what I could to reinforce the mast and prevent it from moving. So:

    1. I rigged some lines to nearby frames and the samson post to try to hold the mast in the partner so the foot could not shift backward if the tenon broke again. This was largely a waste of time, but I left the lines rigged on the off chance that they'd be better than nothing (though I suspected they wouldn't).

    2. Then I used the telescoping monopod for my camera to wedge some of my ballast bags against the heel of the mast, again hoping to keep the heel from shifting backward if the tenon broke. I had a moderate amount of faith in the effectiveness of this set-up.

    3. But what really worked was driving in a couple of wedges in the mast box below the partner. This instantly tightened up the whole set-up. I'm quite sure these wedges alone would have secured the mast. In fact, they worked so well that I will probably use wedges here as a routine way of holding the mast tight in the partner.

    DSCN5745.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-20-2019 at 12:08 PM.
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    And then, with a light following breeze and a single reef tied in, I set out:



    Seemed to be working. I did avoid gybing, tacking all the way around instead. I don't know if it made any difference, but I didn't want to take too many chances.

    Tom
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Before long I was sailing past the Bustard Islands on a southeast wind. A wind that was getting stronger. Hmm...

    A southeast wind was exactly what I needed to make real progress. The wedges seemed to be holding the mast in position, and the tenon hadn't broken off yet as far as I could tell (which, to be fair, was not very far at all--it's pretty close to impossible to check the status of a tenon at the heel of a mast while the mast is in the step).

    I decided to keep going. For this kind of off-wind work, I like to sit on the keelson with a cushion for a backrest--very comfy.

    DSCN5756.jpg

    It turned out to be a beautiful all-day sail, never needed to point higher than a beam reach. Mostly broad reaching.



    And then the wind died away to nothing. Well, better than the mast breaking again. I got out the oars and rowed a couple of miles through the leftover chop, aiming for Hen Island at the eastern end of the "Hen and Chickens" shoals that I had learned to avoid. My first trip along this part of the coast I had tried to sail through them, thinking that a shallow-draft centerboarder might be ok with ignoring marked shoals. But no. I managed to escape the shoals before getting too far into them, but I wasn't going in again if I could help it.

    But Hen Island itself looked like it might have a perfect sheltered anchorage tucked in between the chicken leg peninsulas that (I assume) gave the island its name. And so it was--a perfectly sheltered bay, with a sandy beach (rare around here, and a nice change from needing to arrange complicated anchors to keep the boat off the rocks). I just ran the boat up on the beach:

    DSCN5762.jpg

    And got some lunch ready:

    DSCN5764.jpg

    It was already 4:00, and I had covered 25 miles or so. Good enough.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-21-2019 at 01:29 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    Or was it? The wind seemed to be coming up again, still southeast. And a southeast wind around here is not to be wasted...

    I set out again, rowing off for some sea room before hoisting the reefed sail again. What a ride! Ten miles of perfect broad reaching.



    I was glad I decided to set out again instead of spending the night on Hen Island. I wouldn't have wanted to miss this (even if I was still a bit worried about the mast--but then, the wedges were holding it rock steady as far as I could see).
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Return to Georgian Bay, Part II

    By the time I reached the Fox Islands, a double reef would have been better. But the Fox Islands are pretty rocky, so I decided to drop the rig and row on up into Solomons Island to find a place to camp. But it was windy enough that all I had to do was steer--we must have been making close to 2 knots under bare poles.

    Pretty soon I was safely ashore, with the mast still intact:

    DSCN5786.jpg

    I laid out the charts to see how far I had come:

    DSCN5794.jpg

    Turns out we sailed 35 miles--the longest day yet.

    Day 11.jpg

    And another perfect island campsite all to myself--the typical situation in the Thirty Thousand Islands region of Georgian Bay.

    DSCN5787.jpg
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-20-2019 at 11:48 AM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

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