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Day 2 
Saturday July 10      Kincardine to Mill Lake

Day Two starts out in Kincardine and takes us over 100 miles north. We stop in Tobermory for an extended lunch, then to Flowerpot Island, before entering Beaverstone Bay. We wind our way through Collins Inlet and end up in Mill Lake to anchor for the night.


Mill Lake

Tobermory, Flowerpot Island, Beaverstone Bay

Lake Huron: Smooth Water!

We cleared the piers at Kincardine about 8:30 a.m. to head north. Lake Huron was unbelievably flat. No waves, and hardly any wind made for great cruising. We were able to travel at a good clip and it was a very comfortable ride.

Originally Bill was thinking to follow the coast up the Bruce Peninsula, but we decided to bear a straight line  course to the Cape Hurd Channel #TE buoy,  60 some miles, and then turn the corner to head into Tobermory.

There is an alternative route just a little north called Devil Island Channel which is said to have less shoals, more room, and deeper water. But the Cape Hurd Channel was no problem; we passed by 5 buoys in three miles that I had marked, before heading into Little Tub Harbor around noon. The Instead Of took the lead and we just followed them into the Harbor.

We ended up finding space at the docks at the end of the Harbor.  It did get a little tricky pulling in, as we had the large Blue Heron Tour boat right on our tail, and a bunch of people in kayaks just a few feet in front of us heading out from the ramp. This was "prime parking" right in the heart of town next to the boat launch. We tied up and Gina made us some shrimp salad for lunch. Walking through town, Gina bought a walking stick for her daughter Adrienne. 

Prime Parking at Tobermory

We stopped by the Glass Bottom Boat tour booth and thought about taking one out to Flowerpot Island and observing some of the shipwrecks that are scattered in the area. We picked up some literature and decided we should just visit the island on our way to Beaverstone. You can't really get your own boat right over the wrecks, but getting close to the Island looked fairly straight forward. With the weather and lake so nice, it was easy to decide to keep going north this afternoon instead of laying over for the night.

Flowerpot Island

At 2:00 we left Tobermory for the short three mile trip to Flowerpot Island. As we got closer, you could see the "pots" on the northeast end of the island. "Is your depth sounder reading what mine is?", Bill asked over the radio. Wow, it was actually 295 ft. deep just off shore. This was a fantastic sight, and we slowed down to drift and take in the view. After relaxing and taking a lot of pictures, we idled around the east end of the island to get a close-up view of the light station before getting back on course to Beaverstone Bay.

The next mark we hit on the 55 mile trek to Beaverstone is 15 miles northeast, between Club Island and Lonely Island. During planning of the cruise we had debated heading towards Killarney or going into Beaverstone Bay. 

Wanting to see Collins Inlet, it made much more sense to hit Beaverstone first, rather than going to Killarney and head back west. From our Club Island waypoint, we turned to a course of 40 degrees and after another 20 miles passed Gull Island, a small patch of land with a red and white tower. Four miles farther we spotted the D86 buoy marking the fringe of islets known as The Chickens, then turned straight north for the D88 buoy, before turning again for the shot right into Beaverstone Bay.

It was a great feeling (and relief) traveling such a distance and finding these buoys. I had "practiced it" all winter on the charts and computer. The one thing about the Canadian buoys ('spars') is that they are quite a bit smaller and skinnier than the ones we are accustomed to in American waters. The leg from Flowerpot to Beaverstone was not quite as flat as when we left Kincardine earlier in the day, but is was still relatively calm. We entered Beaverstone Bay just before 5:00 p.m. and the sight was awesome. Lots of pink granite rock, and the white quartz make up of the LaCloche mountain range in the distance gave the appearance of snow capped mountains.

Coming Into Beaverstone Bay

Navigating through the Bay between the islands and rocks can be a little intimidating, but there are well placed buoys as well as day markers placed on some of the rocks that help. By plotting a few waypoints and paying attention the the charts, it is fairly easy and safe. The Canadian charts also have the suggested 'small craft route' already shown. We took it slow just admiring the sights. I tried to keep one eye on the GPS and charts, and one eye to take it all in, because it truly is spectacular. Beaverstone Bay is approximately 5 miles long, and there are numerous spots to anchor. You'd need to do some research and be extra cautious if you plan on going off the beaten path throughout here.

Collins Inlet

At the north end of the bay as you approach the D96 buoy it narrows quite a bit  near the Pisa Rock marker. This then leads you to four sets of  buoys before you take a 90 degree turn west into Collins Inlet. There also is a white caution buoy here, warning of low water. The water levels this summer were high enough so no problem. It was all so serene, with only one small speedboat the only sign of civilization we encountered.

Entering Collins Inlet you find trees growing right out of the high rock walls, and even a small waterfall. There are no buoys located here, so we just cruised down the middle. Sometimes we were side by side with the Instead Of, close enough to carry on conversations. Mary sat on the swim platform of their boat, dangling her feet in the warm calm water, which showed 74.6 degrees on our temperature gauge. 

Gina took the wheel for a bit (dancing at the helm to the stereo) so I could walk up front to take some pictures. About three miles west down Collins Inlet we take a gentle turn southeast into Mill Lake, just past the day marker on Turtle Rock. As we head into the lake we see several boats anchored on the eastern shore.  I had talked to several boaters from our marina that described a nice spot to anchor, and tried to pick it out on the charts. Passing Green Island on the left and then hugging the western shore I watched the charts as well at the depth sounder. I thought I found 'the' spot I wanted but as I got closer saw we needed to go a little farther, finally settling in a little cove, with a small rock islet just outside of it. We 'snuck' right in and decided this was a  fantastic anchorage. The Instead Of pulled in behind us and we maneuvered to set the bow anchors and raft off. It was 7:00 p.m. and the sun was shinning bright and it was still quite warm.
Once we got situated, we needed to tie a stern line to shore. Hank and Gina volunteered for this job. They started by inflating the Instead Of's dinghy, which just happened to be the same exact type that we had brought along; a 9' model that inflated fast with 2-part aluminum oars. I set up a small fold-up chair on the swim platform, grabbed a cigar and a glass of wine, and proceeded to watch them row over to the small islet with the anchor line that Bill was doling out from a 100 foot reel.

Gina had her camera, while Hank did the rowing. They needed all 100 feet of the line to find a spot close on shore to tie us off. They then climbed around a little to the top where someone had made a small stone sculpture (commonly called an inukshuk) by piling up some of the larger rocks on each other.. Gina disappeared from view when she took a fall, but got right back up and brushed herself off without harm.

Rafted at Mill Lake

100 ft. Stern Line

Meanwhile, Mary inflated her small floating easy chair, and floated around the area for a little while. Hank and Gina then shoved off the islet and rowed a couple hundred yards to the shore to start a fire. There was a small fire pit someone else had started, and after gathering some kindling, Gina used some cigarette wrappers to get a nice fire started, then her and Hank dragged a dried-out 10 foot tree trunk from nearby to get it really going.

Hank rowed the dinghy back to the boats a few times to provide shuttle service for the rest of us, including our cargo of chairs, beverages, and drinks. We had brought a disposable grill complete with charcoal, and it came in handy to make some tasty chicken sausage roll-ups for dinner.

After eating and enjoying some fine conversation, we notices that the mosquitoes were coming out in force, and we packed up quickly to row back to the boats. Hank was nice enough to be the dinghy shuttle driver for both trips, but he paid the price by getting bit up some. Fortunately I had closed up the camper top, and made a note to make sure we do that all the time by early evening at the latest if we're going to be off the boat.

I later downloaded the tracks from the handheld GPS unit to the laptop, and noticed we had traveled the same distance today as we did the day before; 143 miles. 

Shore Dinner