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And the adventure continues...

We are at the end of of our time in the North Channel but not the end of sailing this summer.

For those who want to know we, are anchored in the harbor at Beaver Island and expect to be here through Aug. 16 at least then heading to Harbor Springs. After Harbor Springs we'll start the slow process of returning to Muskegon. We expect to be there by the first week in September.

We have hiked, swam, and kayaked almost everyday this summer and all of us are in better shape than we have been in years. Met many wonderful people, and more importantly are in a better place mentally and emotionally than when we left.

Our long-time friend Mike Torrey told me this spring that retiring was itself, an emotional event, and we needed to take some time to allow those emotions to work themselves out before going on to the next phase of our lives. I retired this spring and Cindy last June but her schedule didn't allow for her to take time to just stop until this summer.

I think this summer has given us both more than we could have expected.

What a five weeks it has been for us in the North Channel. There are lots of stories to tell and pictures to post in future posts but for now, I want to take a moment to look back before we charge ahead.

With the exception of the smoke from fires that have burned east of Killarney for more than a month, the weather has been perfect. Few days of rains and most days in the high 70s and clear.

The last I posted we were still in Gore Bay waiting for new batteries for the boat. The wait was five days in all but it was a great place to wait.

They were finally installed on Tuesday July 31 and we spent the rest of that week anchoring in small gunkholes on the western side of the North Channel.

As July turned to August, things started to change with many of those visiting the NC. Those that were just arriving seemed to be in a hurry to "experience" the NC as quickly and as loudly as possible. Many of the newcomers seemed to have a different edge that those of us who had been there for the summer.

We anchored for two days at Long Point Cove and ended the NC after spending a night at Turnbull Island.

Over the course of the last two weeks we have negotiated the Canadian lock with the boat, sailed on Lake Superior, gone to the Bush Plane Museum in Sault St. Marie, attended the Hessel Wooden Boat Show and spent a few minutes on the Huron Jewel - the newest tall ship on the Great Lakes.

In the next few days I'll post more about those things.

TAKE AWAYS FROM GORE BAY

All summer long we have met people across the NC who have worked hard to make the lives of those around them better.

I would like to tell all of their stories but here are just a couple of the many who have stood out.

Leann Bell, owner of Loco Beanz, grew up in Gore Bay and as an adult worked for one of the local banks.

Ten years ago, the now 40-something owner, decided to open a coffee shop and deli. Nothing unusual about that you say except she had the only coffee shop in Gore Bay and now with two other locations the only coffee shops on Manatoulin Island.

She also has the only truly public, high-speed WiFi on the island. While a couple of the libraries have internet, it isn't as reliable or as accessible.

Day after day locals and visitors alike sit, drink coffee, get a sandwich or locally made pastry and use the internet to stay connected. The impact on the community has been remarkable. The three locations have become a meeting place for locals and others who are greeted as friends and treated as family.

The last day we were in Gore Bay waiting on our batteries, I went to Loco Bean to get lunch and finish a blog post. After ordering a sandwich Leann asked if I had cash, as her credit card machine had died. I said no and asked if it was all right to sit and work on the blog.

She said it was and while I was writing, she brought me a sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk. When i said I would have to go to the bank a few blocks away to get cash to pay her, she said that was fine and then added she was sure I was good for it.

Trust is an interesting thing. I was not alone. several others came in without cash and she fed them as well and just said, "pay me when you can." I saw customer after customer at the bank when I went to get money to pay off my bill, shaking their head and smiling, locals saying it was just Leann being Leann.

Norm Fogal

Norm is a legend in the North Channel. He is a certified master boat mechanic who can fix absolutely anything. Residents across the NC speak of Norm and his wife Dianne in hushed tones as if he is a god that they are grateful to have had the chance to meet.

He could charge any price for his services as he has the largest travel lift in the area and the only mobile marine repair service in the islands.

Still he charges only half of what he could charge and is always willing to do more than asked to make sure a vacation isn't ruined.

We met the couple two years ago after striking a rock and damaging our rudder. Norm made a repair that Catalina yachts said was impossible and changed us a minimal amount for his services. This year we we needed batteries that were not available in the NC, he worked with his supplier two hours a way to get the batteries and installed them for free after checking the boat's electrical systems "just to be sure we haven't missed something."

Both seem like small things and they are in the scheme of life but a constant reminder that treating people well seems all it takes to make the world a little better.

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