West of Little Current up to Gore Bay
Once through Little Current it became quieter again as the number of possible anchorages increases and the variety in the landscape offers different experiences. There are deep bays to the South on the shore of Manitoulin Island with high cliffs overlooking the North Channel. To the North there are many smaller islands with little gunk holes, channels and bays and in the middle there are a number of larger Islands with protected bays.
July 20: Little Current to Clapperton Island Harbour (14.9NM)
With a steady N/NE wind we headed West at 6 knots with just the Genoa. By 1pm we pulled into Clapperton Island’s Southern Bay, a large bay with a small island inside. It offers good protection from most wind directions but can get a bit wavy in strong West or SW winds. 3 sailboats were already anchored here, but there was plenty of space to swing. We tucked in behind the island on the North East side. The island has an abandoned and dilapidated lodge on it, but since it’s private land, one would need permission to land and explore.
We went below to clean up and when we came back on deck, noticed that “Gaviidae” had pulled in beside us. We hailed them on the VHF and they invited us over for drinks and snacks boat style – bring your own beverage, glasses and a snack to share. Once on “Gaviidae”, Julie and Dan introduced us to Marie-Claude and Frank from “Komeekha”. We had so much fun together, we decided to stay another day in the same anchorage with them. Frank was invaluable in coming over to our boat and helping us analyze some of our electrical issues with the VHF and gave us suggestions on how to update our Raymarine electronics.
Dan from Gaviidae put on a fabulous dinner for all of us the next night. We had braised short ribs with roasted cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and Marie-Claude added a salad. We all pitched in Wine and had a great evening. “Gaviidae” is a most comfortable boat and the cockpit seats more than 6 with no issues. I think we didn’t get back to our boat until after 11.
July 22: Clapperton Island to Gore Bay (NM)
Regardless, we were up not too late the next morning to reciprocate. David made his famous apple pancakes and served freshly roasted coffee on our boat. Check out our friends Julie and Dan’s blog to see more pictures https://gaviidaesails.com/ramblings/exploring-the-north-channel-beyond-the-norm/
After everyone was stuffed to the gills we said Good Bye to our new friends and headed west to Gore Bay. We wanted to see if we could pick up a new VHF radio at the marine store there, since ours would erratically cut out when we were talking to people.
It was only about 1 1/2 hours to get to Gore Bay. It would be the most westerly point we would hit in the North Channel this year. Gore Bay is situated on the North shore of Manitoulin Island in one of the numerous deep bays. It’s a very small little town, but it does have a brew pub and a few little restaurants apart from a marina with marine store, fuel and pump out. We decided to anchor instead of taking a slip. A new breakwall had been installed to protect the harbour a few years back and it provides good protection for anchored boats as well.
Unfortunately, the marine store only had one type of fixed VHF radio model, none of which had GPS. So Dave decided to try and fix the old one instead. He did manage to clean up the connection a bit and it seemed to work fine. A quick radio check with Sarnia Coastguard verified that we came in loud and clear. For now we had dodged the bullet of spending more money, but we knew that we would have to look at our VHF a little more closely once we got back. Another item for the ever growing list of fixes, tweaks, repairs and upgrades. But then that’s what you do when you cruise – you shakedown your gear.
July 23: Gore Bay to Fox Island (NM)
Early the next morning we left Gore Bay and headed North East toward the Benjamin Islands. It was another glorious morning with a slight breeze. We sailed for a little until the winds died. Motoring, we took a path South of the Benjamins but North of Clapperton Island to get a closer look at the various anchorages around here. 3 sailboats were leaving the south west anchorage as we rounded the point. Probably getting out of there before the strong SW winds were starting that evening. Dave took the boat through the Sow and Pigs shoal, as I was on the bow looking for shallows. Going right between the 2 largest rocks from West to East is ok if you watch your charts and have a bow watch. Turning north we got a good look at the anchorage on the East side which would give enough protection for the forecasted winds, but it’s also popular. Quite a few boats were anchored, and while there would probably have been space, we enjoy solitude more – so we continued on to Fox Island’s North East shore.
Here we found a small cove, referred to as Gibson Cove. It’s large enough for 3 or 4 boats if some tie to shore. One small trimaran was tied into the little nook to the East and another motorboat on the West side was just pulling anchor as we arrived. We settled in with the anchor in 22’ and then tied to shore. It’s a lovely spot and we were very sheltered from howling winds on the SW side. A little surge came into the cove but that was it. We knew it was windy out there the next day from the sound in the tall pines on shore.
As we got there early and it was still beautiful we assembled our fold up kayaks and paddled past the little shoals and islands to the North for a couple hours. Also chatted with our trimaran neighbours, a couple with their teenage son, who had trailered their boat up and were out for just a short trip. I felt for them the next day as it rained until dinner time and they didn’t have a lot of room for 3 below deck. Luckily, it did finally clear and we took a dinghy ride around the island. What a great place. The South West bay is like a bunch of fjords with rounded, sloped rocks and shoals. We took the dinghy into the bay and it was like a maze. A couple of times we bumped into rocks and had to pull up the motor to paddle the boat through. The video below give you a better idea of the beauty of this place.
There’s an anchorage here as well, and in calm seas with winds from the East or North this would be a stunning place to stop and kayak around. Definitely a place we will check out more next time we are up here. We also dinghied around MacBean Harbour to the North and into the anchorage behind Anchor Island. There are a number of cottages here but it’s quite protected and about 10’ deep. Note: you can’t even get the dinghy through the west entrance of Anchor Island anymore as there’s a beaver dam.