top of page

Killarney to Parry Sound via the Small Craft Channel

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and for following along with our adventures.

As we have said many times, we post intermittently as the WiFi situation here in the wilds of Canada are limited at best.

Respite has been away from her home port now 30 days and the days are starting to run together in teh very best of ways.

For those of you who don’t know our story, Cindy bought our first big boat in 2003 after returning from visiting the Pentagon. It was still being rebuilt after the 9/11 attacks and the sight of it reminded her that life is too short to keep saying “When we get to … we’ll …”

We owned our 1985, 30-foot Catalina Calaloo for 13 years before buying our current boat Respite, a 34-foot Catalina MKII.

When we first started sailing Calaloo, I suffered from a brain disorder that at times left me dazed and confused, so while I was good to captain the boat some of the time, it became apparent early on that if we were going to sail much at all, Cindy would have to learn to do everything by herself including docking and undocking the boat.

While my health ultimately got better, it was still ideal for us to have Cindy at the helm when we are leaving or going into a port. We have a wonderful system of docking that we use call the Klang method which was developed by Captain Jack Klang of Suttons Bay. It requires no help from anyone else other then those on the boat and works in every situation – every situation that is until it doesn’t.

And it doesn't work in Canada.

Canadian docks don’t have posts so docking a boat requires help on the dock by dock hands or others to catch and secure lines which we would normally do ourselves.

I tell this story as a background for the docking adventures we have had the last few days in the Georgian Bay.

Coming into dock at the Amanti Marina in Byng Inlet, the winds had been calm and the seas flat until just as we started our final approach into the marina.

By the time we got there, the wind was blowing 20+ kts and the current going the other direction. Only one person was on the dock to catch lines but he assured us that we would be fine. Turns out just as Dale grabbed the bow line, a gust pushed the stern away from the dock and with Dale holding the bowline the boat was turned sideways into the fairway and ultimately it looked as if we would crash into a neighboring dock and do real damage to Respite.

Cindy got control of the boat, maneuvered the stern just past the offending dock and yelled at Dale to release the line. With a swift push from the prop, Cindy righted the boat and we returned to open water to make a second attempt at docking the boat.

By now another couple of boaters had arrived on the dock and even as the winds gusted, Cindy was able to smoothly dock the boat.

We could not do what we do on the water if we as a team, and her at the helm, weren’t able to do amazing things that to Cindy aren’t that amazing.

Any helmsman will tell you that docking can be the ultimate humbling experience, but for the vast majority of the time, Cindy makes it look as easy as it really is – at least for her.

We left the marina in Killarney and headed for the Small Craft Channel on the east side of the Georgian Bay. The channel weaves its way through a series of narrow channels and open waters and can take boaters of relatively small size from Killarney on the west to the bottom of the Georgian Bay on the southeast and beyond.

The SCC on the map is a nightmare to follow. The turns are frequent, the channel makers appear to be placed randomly in places and the water depth varies from more than 100 feet to less than 10 feet in places and sometimes not more than 50-feet wide.

Turns out the chart on the Raymarine chart plotter had a purple line on it that shows the SCC if one zooms in close enough. Having the line to follow through the rocky channels made it easier to follow but not easier to do as the helmsman and the navigator both still have to pay attention to the route and potential problem areas.

We found several really nice anchorages long the route, places where we could anchor Respite and not see anyone for hours. The clear air was chilly at night but the water already had warmed to 73 degrees.

Marked on the SCC is Cunningham Island which we took the time to pass. Turns out as we went by a small group of Cunninghams were sitting on the island near a flag pole as if waiting for us to arrive.

We also passed a beaver lodge with a satellite television dish mounted on it - I guess the beavers in this part of Canada get bored in the winter and several sand hill cranes looking as if they were trying to find lodging for the night.

We left the SCC at Parry Sound and spent a couple of days at Big Sound Marina. Parry Sound is a town of about 7,500 inhabitants, with real grocery stores, shops of all kinds and several traffic lights, and unfortunately or fortunately whichever way you look at it, a first-class marine store.

Shortly after we tied up and decided that it would be good to have a couple of restful days without having to fix anything, the toilet stopped working and had to be rebuilt. Not a particularly difficult job but as “crappy one.” For those that have never had anything but a flush toilet, thank whoever as a manual flush toilet has more than 20 small pieces that have to be replaced.

Float planes fly in and out of Parry Sound making plane watching a favorite pastime.

We discovered there are several book stores in Parry Sound including “Bearly Used Books”, a used bookstore with stacks and stacks of books of absolutely every genera and author.

According to Nicole who has worked there for more than 8 years, the store has at least 180,000 used books for sale and thousands more waiting to be cataloged and put on the shelves.The store is decorated with dozens of small bears of every kind and chairs for customers to sit and read their selections before they buy.

Nicole said that as Parry Sound is a “cottage” community in the summer, hundreds of people each week come in a trade the books they have read for new-used books. “We even have customers who save their books over the winter and bring them to us in the spring when they open their cottages for the summer,” she said.

In the last year, Bearly Used Books moved into a former health center and has already filled the more than 10,000-square-feet of space with books.

Unlike most places in the USA, the area surrounding Parry Sound has limited access to the internet so most people who read still read actual books.

bottom of page