The North Channel (Part One)

We spent a little over a week exploring several anchorages and a town in the North Channel.

After our first anchorage in Long Point Cove, we continued to hop to the anchorages recommended by Fred, a former Looper who generously spent an hour with us in Sault Ste Marie going over recommendations.

From Long Point Cove to Beardrop Harbour to Hotham Island to The Benjamins to Little Current to Baie Fine to Covered Portage Cove to Snug Harbour

Beardrop harbour was next. It was bigger than the previous anchorage and had a lot of the flat, slanting rocks the area is known for. On our dinghy ride, we went through a “cut” and peeked out into Whalesback Channel which was full of additional rock islands of all sizes.

Beardrop Harbour smooth rock islands (picture taken through baggie to keep phone dry!)

We tried to find a place to climb out of the dinghy onto a rock, but nothing showed itself as a great candidate. We’re not as limber as we once were. Still it was fun to get close to the rocks.

Couldn’t get onto the rock without stepping in water. So not yet.

There were more boats in this anchorage than the last, but still plenty of room for us to find a spot.

The next day we drove the boat through the Whalesback Channel we had glimpsed the day before. They say there are a number of anchorages on the island to the south, but we were headed for the next one on Fred’s list.

One interesting piece of navigation was at “Little Detroit”. It is a short, narrow channel. In order to make sure you don’t meet an oncoming boat, you call a “Securite” (pronounced Se-cure-it-TAY) on the VHF Radio, channel 16. “Securite, Securite, Securite. 40 foot motor vessel passing west to east through Little Detroit in 5 minutes. Opposing traffic take note”. (Apparently “detroit” is a french word meaning “strait”.)

Looking into Little Detroit
It sure seemed closer than that!

We ended the day at anchorage number 3, Hotham Island South bay. We had an incredible experience there. The anchorage itself was quite wooded, with an island in the middle. It looked like a Pacific Northwest Cascades mountain lake. But that’s not the incredible part.

Hotham Island sunset

Shortly after we pulled in, a woman came paddling by in her kayak. She was from one of the two “cottages” on the bay. She invited us to happy hour on the deck of their cottage at 4:30…bring your own beverage, no food.

So about 4:30, people on all the boats anchored there, about 10 maybe, started climbing into their dinghies and heading over to the small dock. We all sat around on the deck, chatting, for a couple of hours. The cottager, Elaine, introduced all the people by first name and boat name, starting at one end of the bay and going clear around.

Hotham Island happy hour. The hostess is standing and in a blue shirt. Their winter home is Arizona.
Picture taken by our hostess

Most of the people on the boats spend their summers on their boats, cruising from one anchorage to the next. Then in the fall, they put their boats in storage, either in Canada or Michigan and go to their winter homes. They do this year after year, so many of them are well acquainted with each other and see each other throughout the summer. There were folks from both Canada and the US in the mix.

In the course of chatting, we heard that one of the cruisers owns a solar panel company. Come to find out, it was the company we had purchased our solar panels from. Before buying them I had called for a consultation and had spoken to Tom, the very man who was on the deck!

“Cottage” appears to be a term used for what we in the PNW would call a “cabin” or “lake house”. In the same way that many families have cabins in the woods in Washington, families have cottages along the waterways.

Friendly cottage

We spent three days in Hotham Island South anchorage and attended the deck happy hours twice. The cottagers, Elaine and Norm, had been cruisers at one point and knew how isolating it can be. Even in a crowded anchorage, you don’t meet the other people unless you dinghy over to say hello. This deck happy hour is a real blessing to the people to happen into Hotham Island South.