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Day 3 
Sunday July 11    Mill Lake to Covered Portage Cove

The third day takes us from the wilderness of Mill Lake westward down the rest of Collins Inlet, to the "civilization" of Killarney. There we get our land legs back for a few hours and enjoy the best darn fish and chips in the world. Then we head off to one the best anchorages in the area, Covered Portage Cove.


Covered Portage Cove

Killarney for Lunch

Mil Lake into Collins Inlet West

We woke up this morning to a great looking day at Mill Lake. Temperature warm, sun shining, and hardly a cloud in the sky. The plan today is to head to Killarney and beyond.

Hank and Gina made omelets for breakfast, and I made a second pot of coffee "for the road".  After retrieving the stern anchor line from the small island we left Mill Lake at 10:30 a.m. and went just a short distance north to re-join Collins Inlet heading west.

We turned the corner from Mill Lake into Collins Inlet, and were instantly reminded of why this is one of the best routes of cruising in the area. The scenery is awesome. I took down some of the windshield glass to get a better view from the helm. The Inlet averages 300-400 foot wide, with lots of rocks and steep cliffs right up to shore. The south shore is the large Philip Edward Island, and the north shore is part of Killarney Provincial Park.

There are no markers on this leg until you get to Keyhole Island, about 5 miles west of here, so I had plotted just a minimal amount of waypoints. Just stay somewhere near the middle and you can't get in trouble. There were only a few signs of civilization that we saw, including a couple of cottages and docks, and several small fishing boats. Mill Lake as well as Beaverstone Bay reportedly are fairly decent fishing areas.

Once we get to Keyhole Island we turn southwest into a very narrow passage, and another two and half miles brings us to Buoys D11 / D12, where we turn a little more and pass the Flat Rock Light. This red and whit metal cylinder type lighthouse built right on a small rock island is beautiful, and it marks where we now enter Lake Huron again.

We can now clearly see the South LaCloche Mountain range in the distance. Just to the north along the mainland coast are a series of small islands (and a lot of rocks) and several small coves. If time permits and you are a little adventurous (and very cautious) I've heard there are a few good places to anchor, including Thomas Bay. For now we'll save that for another year.

Collins Inlet West

We had been traveling Collins Inlet at a slow speed, mainly to savor the sights. But now we passed Flat Rock Light and the waters have opened up into Lake Huron.

So I pushed the throttles up and we got on plane for the remaining three miles to Killarney. Bill and Mary in the 'Instead Of', followed suit right behind us. It felt good to 'go fast'  at cruising speed after spending the last day just motoring through Beaverstone and Collins Inlet.

The weather today has been fantastic, and the cruise and views were exhilarating. After being on hook, I was looking forward to getting into Killarney and seeing civilization, if even for just a short while. The last time I had been here was thirty two years ago on a backpacking trip. I was eager to see how much it had changed since then.

We rounded Red Rock Point with its' infamous red-topped white salt-shaker type lighthouse, about noon, and I slowed down to enter the Killarney Channel. Just about 3/4 mile down the channel was Killarney Mountain Lodge and we decided to get fuel and a pump out here. I hailed them on the VHF radio and was told to wait until the other boat at the dock left and then tie up at the dock.

We tied up to the dock and while one of the 'dock girls' filled up the tanks, we went inside to look take a look around. Gina bought a shirt. Just like at Kincardine, the people here were accommodating and split the fuel bill into to two so Hank and I could both use our credit cards to pay. 

Flat Rock Light

Coming Into Killarney

We shoved off from Killarney Mountain Lodge fuel dock and headed west down the channel to find Bill and Mary. They had stopped at the Sportsman Inn for fuel. I got a hold of him on the radio and he told me there was a tight spot next to him at the dock of the Sunset Grill, just west of the Sportsman.

We maneuvered up to the docks and there were people there who grabbed our lines and help us tie up. What a nice spot this was, with newer docks with tables and umbrellas set up. The Great Lakes Cruising Club was having it's annual Rendezvous here this week, so I knew docking space was going to be limited.

All of us then took the walk of a couple of blocks down the main street to the "world famous" Herbert Fisheries, also know as 'Mr. Perch'. It is a converted school bus where you get the best fish and chips anywhere. You get very generous portions of whitefish, and it was worth the wait, as there was quite a line while we were there. They have picnic tables set up next to the channel, so lunch was a truly an experience. Good food and a great atmosphere, watching the boat traffic and all the people. Even a seaplane went by.
After a relaxing channel side lunch we walked back to the boats. Bill bought Hank and I a beer at the docks at Sunset Grill, while the gals sat on the Tick Tock Too chatting.

At 3:30 I turned on the blowers, and set the short four mile route to Covered Portage Cove on the GPS. We shoved off and headed west out the channel into Killarney Bay. You have to do an "S" curve track between the buoys and then head northeast up the bay a couple of miles to the entrance to Covered Portage Cove. I started to pick up speed and somehow my GPS wanted to send me the wrong way. Confused, I slowed to idle, got my bearings, and headed the correct direction.

Wow, coming in the entrance you see the steep cliffs on the port side and the main section looks like a giant carved Indian head. Pictures might not do it justice, but eyeing it up close you definitely can make it out.

Fish & Chips for Lunch

A quarter mile in the Cove narrows and you see the true beauty of this magnificent anchorage. Tall, white cliffs with lots of trees which appear to growing right out of the rocks. It looks like. This afternoon there are quite a few boats in here, some anchored and some just cruising around, including a Chinese Junk type boat. We slowed down to look for a spot to anchor, and the 'Instead Of' passed us to explore potential areas farther inside.

Covered Portage Cove

Bill settled on a location on the north side of the Cove a few hundred yards from the end. Dropping his bow anchor, he then grabbed a stern line and proceeded to jump in his dinghy to attempt to tie the line to shore. I'm not sure of the exact sequence of events, but somehow as he was rowing, the stern line became wrapped around one of his props. I suppose maybe this is a "right of passage" for cruisers?

We rafted off next to him and Hank and Bill got their swim suits and diving masks on to try to remove the line from around the prop. With both of them diving under the boat, they were still only able to unwrap a very small portion at a time. So, after a short time, Bill resorted to using a knife to cut the line and take it off in sections.

Meanwhile, Gina and Linda got the 100 foot stern line from our boat and started rowing the dinghy to shore. It became clear real quick that the 100 foot line would not reach all the way to shore. So they came back to the boat and  I finally suggested that they take a stern anchor out a ways with the dinghy and set it by hand. It ended up working just fine. This whole episode was both frustrating and funny at the same time.

Later, we did happy hour on the 'Instead Of', and were amused by watching a beaver making repeated trips a short ways up the shoreline to retrieve sticks for his house. Gina and Mary took a short dinghy tour of the area and remarked that the nearby boaters erupted into applause when we turned off the generators. (I knew the proper etiquette was to not run them all the time, and I think we convinced Bill it was the right thing to do as well.)

Us guys hung out on the swim platform of 'Instead Of' for a while drinking and talking. Hank and I enjoyed a couple of cigars. Tonight we ended up playing games (Catch Phrase and Dominoes) until quite late. It is very peaceful anchored back here. I found out in the morning that Linda ended up sleeping on the back deck to get out of the main cabin and away from my snoring.