Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cruising the North Channel

The Ontario Provincial Police Veterans Association welcomes retired all sworn officers, civilian employees and auxiliary members of the OPP and other forces as full members. They specifically include Special Constables who served with the Snowmobile Trail Office Patrol (STOP), which is how several of us who worked beside a number of these officers ended up as members. In fact, I am currently the Treasurer of OPPVA Chapter 13 Sudbury/Manitoulin.

Chapter 13 usually holds an August Fish Fry in Sheguindah on Manitoulin Island hosted by members Rick and Gail. This year, however, a family event prevented this, so Chairman Ron suggested we take a cruise on the North Channel to visit the Benjamin Islands. North Channel Tours operated out of Little Current and offered a number of cruise options including this one.

There was no rush to get started this morning because our cruise started boarding at 9:30 AM and the dock was a ten minute walk away. An intial look outside confirmed that it was raining but the weather app on the phone promised it would stop soon.

Rain, rain go away....

We went down to North46 and ordered breakfast. Sandy just had oatmeal while I ordered off the sides menu to avoid toast and potatoes. I asked for two scrambled eggs and sides of bacon, sausage and ham. The bacon was a regular size order, as were the very tasty sausages. But the ham consisted of three thick slices which would have been sufficient on its own. I ate it all even though, in addition to avoiding carbs, I am supposed to be watching the calories. 

I did not eat the fruit

The rain had stopped by 9:00 AM. We opted to leave the car in the hotel parking lot and walked along the waterfront along what appeared to be a rarely used street.

This tree has seen better days but it has character

The Little Current waterfront

Triumph was getting ready to cast off

The rest of our tour group and others were waiting to board when we arrived at the Grand Heron gangplank just before 9:30. I could see our friend from yesterday on The Triumph was pulling in his water and power lines, preparing to get underway.

After being welcomed by captain/owner Chris and crew member Brittany, we got settled. It started raining off and on just after we cast off at 10:00 AM, heading northwest towards the Benjamin Islands. Brittany set out coffee and pastries shortly after we got started. I had coffee and looked longingly at the baked goods.

The Chapter 13 contingent

Life ring

Life jackets

Inflatable raft

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, a huge GPS screen on the wall kept us abreast of our route and position. The people at the next table operated a farm east of Ottawa and were camping on The Island in a 42 foot 5th wheel towed by a Ford F450 diesel. They were snowmobilers, so we had a number of things in common.

Captain Chris and the GPS screen

Low lying clouds over the La Cloche Mountains

Moving right along....

Most folks stayed inside due to the rain and spray

Many rounded granite islands in the North Channel

I forgot the name of the First Mate/Boat Driver (Helmsman)

Captain Chris

It all looks like a Group Of Seven painting

The North Channel

Before we arrived at our anchorage spot in a bay at South Benjamin Island, the crew (Brittany) served lunch. We had sausages on a bun. hamburgers on a bun, potato salad and pasta salad. I had sausages and hamburgers (no buns) with a diet coke. I did cheat with one small spoon of potato salad but I went outside when they served the desserts.

Someone moored in a secluded area (I need a bigger zoom lens)

South Benjamin Island

After we dropped anchor, Captain Chris took anyone who wanted to explore or swim ashore in the Zodiac. Norm (retired CP Police and friend) was the only one in our group who felt so motivated. There was a nearby cabin that was for sale along with five acres of land. They were only asking $799,000 Canadian dollars. It would be a nice, secluded location if it wasn't for the cruise boats:-))

Look for a corner of the cabin roof on the left side

Low lying wind swept rocks

Rick is pointing something out to Ray and Ron

Some of our gang

Norm ashore in the yellow shirt and yuppie sweater

The explorers return

After a couple of hours, we weighed anchor and started back towards Little Current.

Underway again

Near Little Current - less rock and more trees

Old lumber mill on Picnic Island

Happy sailors

I like a classic cabin cruiser

I can see our dock

Brittany prepares to tie us up

Unlike Gilligan, we all returned safely

We arrived back at the dock a little before 5:00 PM. Norm and Leslie Ann, who parked near the dock, gave us a ride up to the hotel parking lot. Again, the traffic light was green as we approached the swing bridge and started the last drive in our trusty old 2014 Equinox. We stopped at Tim's in Espanola for a bathroom break and then made it the rest of the way home without incident.

Today's Route (86 Equinox miles):

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