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Day 7 
Thursday July 15   Little Current to Tobermory

Day Seven we start heading back west. The 59 mile journey for the day finds some rough waters as our cruise takes us between Heywood and Manitoulin Islands, and then turning south for the long haul into Tobermory.



Heywood Island
Skull Point Reef
Lake Huron

Not a Smooth Ride

We had hoped to get an early start out of Little Current today, but the weather is less than desirable this morning, mainly rain and wind. Stepping outside to check out the activity, I notice there are still boats lining the town docks, and no one seems to be leaving.

I walked the short distance into town, and stopped at the Anchor Grill for a cup of coffee to go. I then walked back across the main street to seek shelter in the stone gazebo, and enjoy a rare morning cigar.

I told Hank to stop back here on his way back from the showers, and I'd by him a cup of coffee. The rain was letting up now, but it was still a little windy and cloudy. Back from the showers, Hank and I grabbed another cup of coffee then started walking back. Finally, a lone boat was pulling out. The captain asked me to hold his spring line as he was going to do one of those fancy moves to extricate himself from between two boats. A dock boy and myself just ended up giving him a shove and away he went without problem. A quick meeting with Bill and Mary, and a check on the weather, it was decided to wait a couple of hours and then try to leave at noon. We deflated and rolled up the dinghy and secured it on the swim platform.

I had not previously plotted a route for the run from Little Current to Tobermory, because at the time I wasn't sure which way we'd be headed back from. We could follow our track back west to  the J17 buoy, so I just had to plot a few waypoints to head south between Strawberry and Heywood Islands. Our route would then need to be just about straight west to the end of Manitoulin Island before heading south in Lake Huron at the J13 buoy. From there we would run to the J12 buoy just off Campbell Rock, and then due south to Club Island where we would pick up the same track that we used to head north to Beaverstone Bay back on day two. So I plugged in a couple of the waypoints in the GPS and and scribbled some notes on my route page indicating my plan.

We shoved off the dock a little after 11:00 a.m. and motored the short distance west to Wally's Dock Service. There were several boats waiting to fuel up, so we made some circles out in the channel until they called our name on the radio and pulled in. Took on 89.5 gallons of fuel and then joined the Instead Of in the channel, making the 12:00 swing bridge opening.

Heading west towards Strawberry Island we pushed 3000-3200 rpms, the waves were 2-3ft rollers, and visibility was good, but this definitely was not the smooth ride we had become accustomed to. Also don't see any other boats in the area. At the J17 waypoint we turned south, and went a little over two miles before turning east to go around Heywood Island.

Hank at Helm

I was watching both the radar screen and the GPS, and trying to decipher my route notes. The radar was new to us this year and I hadn't really learned all the features yet. I would never leave in the fog and depend upon it for navigation, but I did like the fact that it outlined the shorelines. And with the ability to set the range lines, I was able to tell how far behind Bill was at all times.

Too Close to Rocks!

About five miles of running east Hank and I both noticed at the same time what appeared to be birds sitting on some debris in the water about 300 years off our front starboard quarter. I steered to port, then took a look at the chart and realized it must be the rocks and shoals marked as Skull Point Reef. We were south of the J16 buoy marking this hazard and heading right towards it. We picked up the J16 buoy and continued eastward.

I double checked my notes and saw that I had the J13 waypoint logged as next, and should of just used the GPS to keep us on a line of  55'  until past the island before heading to the J13 waypoint. It all sounded so simple when I had first planned the route, but I think I relied to heavily on a combination of waypoints and cryptic notes, instead of plugging in the entire route into the GPS.

We now hit the J13 buoy and turned south. It was now another 40 miles to Tobermory. The waves increased to some good size rollers. We tried to keep our speed up, but at times the props would come out of the water. This was going to be a very uncomfortable ride for a couple more hours.

I was getting tired after a while and gave Hank the helm. With the following seas playing havoc, it was tough trying to find a consistent speed to run at. At times we would end up going to fast and slam the water, and other times we would get caught up and slow way down.  On the wide open stretches we mostly rotated helm duties, and it  It was nice having Hank do so much driving, as it gave me some needed breaks.

Heading into Tobermory

Somehow, Linda slept most of the way down below in the aft sleeping area. Gina took a catnap on the stern couch on the back deck, but it was rocking and rolling quite a bit. We just had to grin and bear it. About 2:00 we passed Flowerpot Island and turned southwest for the final leg into Little Tub Harbor at Tobermory. The Instead Of sped up and passed us, so we followed them into the harbor entrance.

Rafted Off Instead Of & a Tug

In the protection of the Harbor, the rough water calmed down, and a light rain developed. Bill hailed us on the radio and  he had already talked to the harbor master for dockage. As the weather was bad, not many boats left for the day, so there were no spots available. He said something about a "safe harbor rule" so they would accommodate us in some fashion. It was now 3:00 p.m.

First  the Instead Of rafted off of a small tug boat, and then we rafted off of them. It was not a bad set up. We were able to run our power cords over both boats to the utility box on the dock.  All three boats lined up fairly well, so we climbing over them was not too much of a chore.

We walked into town and had dinner at the 'Fish and Chips Place'. Gina thought the fish was "ok", but not as good as we had in Killarney. I went into the Mariner Chart Shop and had a sweater shirt embroidered with a logo of the Tobermory Lighthouse for a souvenir. 

After dark I walked down to the docks near the main street and found a nice bench seat to sit down and relax with my glass of wine and a cigar. The Crow's Nest pub across the street had a live band and was buzzing with activity, so I just sat for a while listening to the music. Later, back onboard the Instead Of, we played dominoes. It was not uncommon for these games to last a couple of hours or more, so it was very late by the time we turned in for the night..