The North Channel in Ontario, Canada
July 27 – August 8, 1968
The first seven days (days 1-7) of our 1968 summer vacation on our boat, a 36’ Chris Craft named Seascape. Accompanying us on this voyage was the Playmate II with the Phillips family – Ron (captain), Joyce (first mate) and Carolyn (crew in training) along with their friends John and Lois. I don’t recall the boat type and size of the Playmate II, but it is in several of the photos.
The log is written in my Mom’s words. I’ve only added punctuation or corrected spelling if needed. Otherwise, the integrity of her log is maintained. Italicized notes included parenthetically are my recollection of events or additional information about the story.
SHIP’S LOG – Saturday, July 27 (day 1)
Awoke this morning to the beautiful sound of rain on the roof. Rolled over and went back to sleep. Everyone got up about 9:30 am. Got dressed and went up to the (Indian Trail) motel for breakfast. Ron and Joyce and their company came in. Had a northern-type meal and came back to the boat and started to put things away. Meanwhile Nick installed the radio and changed oil. Went up into town for a few last minute items, gassed up, put the bike on board, and finally left the marina at 3:40 pm. Skies over cast with the sun coming out periodically. Winds picking up from the northwest. Got as far as Cheboygan. Only a couple of boats docked. Tied up and settle down for the night. Went out and had a nice dinner at Step In. Turned cool while we were in there. Took the dogs for their walk in bedded down for the night.
SHIP’S LOG – Sunday, July 28 (day 2)
Left Cheboygan at 7:20 am. Skies clear, winds seemed to have dropped. By the time we got to Poe Reef, the waves were rolling pretty big. Had a little relief after we past the light, but got hit again from Spectacle light and all the way into Detour. Everyone was really happy to put a shaky foot on solid ground. Had breakfast up at the motel. Suzie (that’s me!) caught the first fish, a nice perch. Gassed up and left detour around 10:45 am. Had a rockin and rolling ride again. Started up the downstream channel, so we had to backtrack a little way and cut over into the right channel. Coast Guard registered our number and name with binoculars as we passed the first checkpoint.
The further north we got, the harder the winds blew. Tried calling the cruising club but they didn’t answer. So we decided to spend the night at the Municipal Dock. Had a terrible time getting into the slip. The winds kept pushing us around. Ron made 3 or 4 trips before he got in. We caught a piece of molding on our way in and bent it off. Have to put a couple of screws in before we leave. Got Ron settled and then made some sandwiches. All of a sudden the wheels of the bike appeared on the dock. Somehow the fellas got it off without dropping it in the drink.
The wind has begun to blow harder. Overheard the Flying Gull talking to another boat. They were coming in from Superior. Waves running 16 feet. The other boat was in Lake George. Winds blowing 35 steadily with gusts near 40 miles per hour.
Nick went exploring. The town is about 3 ½ miles. Just a short walk. Decided to settle down for the night. Joyce came over and soon Ron strolled in. Decided to play cards. Us girls got beat 4 in a roll. Finally won the 5th game. Going to sleep in a bit tomorrow.
SHIP’S LOG – Monday, July 29 (day 3)
Got up at 9:30 am. Skies clear but still windy. Had breakfast and we all decided to go into town. Rented 2 taxi cabs and off we went. Started out at the Soo Locks. Boy, what an operation. Watched the Alva C Dinkey lock down. From there we walked across the street to the Old Town. All sorts of antiques. Took the train ride around town. It took us across the International Peace Bridge. What a sight: the locks, St Mary’s rapids, and a real good view of Superior. Had lunch at the Lamplighter. From there we walked down to the freighter Valley Camp. That was quite a tour, from stem to stern, on deck and below. Called for a cab in the Captain’s quarters.
All very glad to be back. Winds have died right down. Checked over the charts and big black book and decided to gas up and head for Dead Boy Cove in the St. Joseph Channel. Had a beautiful ride from the Soo but when we finally found it, there was a sailboat at anchor in the middle. Decided to poke our noses around the corner. Found a nice rock wall to tie up to. Much better than Dead Boy Cove. Explored the rocks, watched chipmunks, picked blueberries and tried the fishing. Ron sailed around in his little boat. Had dinner about 10:00 pm and settled down for the night. Temperature in the forties. Weather clear and winds 0.
I couldn’t find any links about Old Town and the Lamplighter. Also, Dead Boy Cove is referred to as Dead Boy’s Bay on the maps, etc. However, Great Lakes Cruising Club boaters still call it Dead Boy Cove.
SHIP’S LOG – Tuesday, July 30 (day 4)
Awoke to very grey clouds. Started to rain even before we actually got out of bed. Had breakfast and took the dogs out on the rocks for a walk before we left. The girls picked another batch of blueberries. Can’t really recall exactly when we left but it must have been around 11:00 am. St. Joseph Channel wasn’t bad at all. A little choppy. We really started to take a beating about halfway across the North Channel. We hit one wave so hard that the dingy broke loose on one end. Had to turn the boat and take the waves on the stern (at an idle) and Nick went out to fix it. Suzie about this time was completely hysterical. Liz was able to get her a Dramamine tablet.
I have vivid memories of incident. In my child’s mind, my dad was going to die! The boat was violently tossed about especially at an idle. I was certain he was going to get knocked off the davit, and he was going to drowned before we could get him. Or the boat would get pushed over him when we tried to pick him up.
Please note that Dramamine includes the word “drama” and there was definitely drama on board.
We were real lucky we didn’t lose the motor. Had to cut our speed because of the banging. One time took green water right over the windshield. Nick headed for the shore of Cockburn Island to get some relief. Then we could pick up speed again. Pulled into Meldrum Bay and it was jammed. Had to wait in the bay for about ½ hour before we could get in for gas. Tied up across from the Normac ramp. Seeing no one was leaving and the Normac was due in at 7:00 pm (this about 5:00 pm) decided to try anchoring at the end of the bay. Maybe we can get some relief from the wind. Tried a couple of spots but the anchor wouldn’t hold. Finally after the 3rd try, success. Playmate II tied alongside. Everyone completely beat out especially me. Wind really picking up again, but out of the south this time. Nick made one more trip to shore. Dog run this time.
SHIP’S LOG – Wednesday, July 31 (day 5)
Awoke again this morning to grey clouds. Thunder in the distance and, and before we even got out of bed, rain. Had breakfast and cleaned up the cabin, still raining. Along about noon, the skies started to clear and at 1:00 got the MAFOR weather. Winds were supposed to change and reach gale force by evening. That will make this bay very rough. Still no docking space at Meldrum. Took a vote and decided to make a run for Harbor Island. Seas will be at our stern so the ride won’t be so rough. Got a call from the Pretty Baby tied up in Gore Bay inquiring about the waves and also Meldrum Bay.
Pulled into Harbor Island just behind three other boats. Probably no dock space left. Very lucky Joe put us up at the very end where he ties his boats. He remembered us from last year. Walked around a bit. Toured the Club house. After dinner, Nick rented his boat and we all went fishing. Suzie, her same nervous self (Clearly, I was traumatized!). Did catch two, a rock bass and a small mouth bass. Rest of the late evening very quiet.
SHIP’S LOG – Thursday, August 1 (day 6)
Well, had something different this morning. Sun for a change. Nick and Liz went fishing even before they had breakfast. Just took the cookies. Suzie and I had our breakfast and I cleaned up the floors, sewed my slacks, and by that time, it was really getting warm in the sun. Decided to wash my hair and gave Elmer a bath. The more I looked at that water, the more I felt like a swim. So I did. Both Suzie and I went in. When Nick and Liz came back from fishing (didn’t catch a thing), they went in to. Water was real cold when you first got in, but after it felt really good. Had lunch, got the weather in decided you had for Little Current and some supplies. Only had 2 small catastrophes. Carolyn was fooling around on the dock and fell in. No emergency. She had on her bathing suit and a life jacket. Liz was walking along side of the boat by the antenna, saw fly and went to swat it and fell onto the dock. On the way down scraped the side of her leg.
Left Harbor Island about 2:25 pm. Had a nice ride to Little Current. Stocked up and food, goodies, etc. And left for Bay Finn (Baie Fine). Check out the map in link. Had another real good ride. A number of boats in the Pool but our rock was untaken again. 4 times in a row is record. Got everyone tied up and started the fire for charcoal broiled steaks and were they ever good. After it got dark, the boys shot off their fireworks. Pretty good show. This side of the pool looked like the Fourth of July in August. Us girls decided to play cards. Called it quits after four games.
Surprisingly, there is not a lot of information about Bay Finn and the Pool on the internet. At least, I couldn’t locate much at all. Maybe, it is good if these beautiful secluded places are off the beaten path. But I think they are more widely known and traveled than what my searches located.
SHIP’S LOG – Friday, August 2 (day 7)
Woke up at 7:00 am. Sun shining bright but rolled over for another 40 winks. Finally got up about 9. Had my coffee on the back deck. Joyce was the early bird on the Playmate II. Within half an hour everyone was hustling about except Nick. He was the last one out of the sack today.
We did get things underway and Nick played taxi as we all went ashore for a mountain climbing expedition. Lois only made it about half of the way because of height sickness. As we climbed over the rise at the one-third point, we met up with a big furry black bear. Suzie almost had apoplexy. John and Liz went after it but we must had scared the poor thing silly. Probably never expected us up there.
Had a short break after that and Lois decided to stay there. The rest of us forged ahead. Reached the top and headed down the other side by Crater Lake. Got about halfway and down decided to stop. Kids getting tired. Had our lunch under some pine trees. John went off himself. He did reach the lake and said water was quite warm. Sat for a while admiring the view and getting our second wind.
Started back for the long trip down. No unusual happenings. Reached the base camp and jumped in clothes in all. Got everyone going and pretty soon everyone was splashing about. Boy, did that ever feel good. Stirred up the mud bottom pretty good. Nick started taxi service and back we all went but none for the worse.
Nick went fishing and it was a good thing we didn’t wait for supper. He did catch on fair size pike. Saw two big bass but they weren’t biting on anything. Built a bonfire after dark and sat around for a while. Closed up shop around 11:30.
As with Bay Finn and the Pool, there doesn’t seem to be any information about Crater Lake. A few mentions, but nothing specific about this Crater Lake.
Please come back to to read the last week of our cruise to the North Channel…