We have now been in the North Channel for most of the last 45 days. The weather has finally warmed, but with the warm weather has been an unusual amount of high winds and thunderstorms. Respite has spent a few more days in port than we would like out of an abundance of caution for the weather.
That said, we have been having a great time meeting up with old friends, making new ones, visiting towns and anchorages that we had not visited on our previous 4 trips to Canada. There have also been several summer festivals to attend, gathering of the local cruising association as well as impromptu dinners on boats. Our friends Paul and Becky hosted us on Cindy's recent birthday for a small party featuring fresh northern pike and a scratch-made birthday cake.
We also took a side trip back to Mackinaw City for a few days the second week of July to celebrate our two grandchildren's birthdays as well as that of their grandmother. The two were so glad to see their "Gaga" and she they. It was the first time in months that we had our entire family together and it was wonderful.
Phone access as well as access to internet has been even more limited this year than in years past, as the North Channel waits for new towers and infrastructure that is coming by 2025. At times it can be a little frustrating but then we remind ourselves that we are here visiting and not working.
So far we have had only a few mechanical issues. We had to replace a battery and the battery switch but both were easily obtained and only took a short time to install.
The more time we spend here, the more we have come to appreciate those that choose to live here. Living on an island has its own challenges - living on an island during the Covid pandemic has been even harder. Still somehow the residents have maintained their humor.
Gore Bay Harbour Days
Seems every town in the world has its own special festival each summer and Gore Bay is no exception. From live music featuring "Chicks with Picks" to the cardboard boat races, a car show, and of course lots of food, we were glad to be there for the festivities this year.
The Little Current Yacht Club at Sprague
What does a mining company do when they are done with a mine that has its own port, turn it into a Yacht Club of course. The North Channel Yacht Club is like no other in the world I suspect. When the mining engineers were asked to build a system for hauling boats in and out of the water and then storing them, the engineers did what they knew how to do best and created a system on rails that requires little mechanical power but runs mainly on human power.
Boat cradles sit on railroad trucks - wheels- on rails and are moved by hand to a transfer car that ultimately allows the boats to be put in and taken out of the water. The cradles have special push bars attached to make pushing the boats easier. This spring men and women mainly between 65 and 92 years-of-age were on hand to launch the boats. There is even an A-frame stepping masts which is geared so that a single person can lift a mast by hand.
Boats up to 12 tons can be stored at the marina located in Sprague.
We were first in Blind River in 2016 after we had an accident with the boat. The harbor master Daryl and his staff took great care of us then and did again this year when we finally were able to return. The entire marina has been rebuilt but the landmark used by boaters to find the entrance to the harbor remains. The former incinerator was used 50 years ago by a smelting operation that is long gone.