Northern Lake Huron - south of Manitoulin
Last year I circumnavigated the top two-thirds of Georgian Bay. I started in Midland, went up the east side to the Bustards; over to Killarney; down to Tobermory; across to Hope Island; and back to Midland.
My goal for next year is to do the southern portion of Georgian Bay (Collingwood, Meaford, Thornbury over to Colpoy's Bay) then up the East side of the Bruce and over to Tobermory. I am pretty confident in this part of the trip as I have already done the Midland to Wasaga Beach run, and the Cabot Head to Tobermory stretch.
From Tobermory I was thinking of heading across to South Bay then heading west, south of Manitoulin, to the Mississagi Straight; up into the North Channel; East to Killarney; then clockwise around the top of Georgian bay and back down to Midland.
I figure about 3 to 4 weeks for the trip.
My questions are: has anyone sailed along the south side of Manitoulin? How are the anchorages? What are the weather conditions generally like in June - July?
I hear the North Channel and Northern Lake Huron forecasts regularly, and they seem like they can be somewhat extreme. I imagine that the weather is a bit tamer in the lee of the island.
I have heard that the best part of the North Channel is East of Gore Bay. Does anyone have any opinion on this?
I imagine that due to the length of the trip I will be single-handing much of the way. Is this realistic given that it will be my 4th season of sailing? I just began single-handing this summer. I am pretty confident (some say 'over-confident') in my sailing abilities. I have taken the CPS boating and piloting courses and am very comfortable with navigation.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Club Island is south of Manatoulin by about 2 or 3 miles and about half way across the south side of Manatoulin and has a good protected harbor. Good anchorage.
Rattlesnake island is also reported to have a good anchorage but a bit shallow. It is much closer to Tobermory.
Haywood island is near the east end of Manatoulin and has excellent anchorages.
All 3 are uninhabited.
I don't think there's much on the actual south side of Manatoulin.
We stayed at Club Island last year. It was very nice and sheltered (we had to stay an extra day before we headed south to Toby due to the weather).
I had put Rattlesnake into my chartplotter as an optional anchorage last year. I have heard that it is good.
I will keep Heywood in mind for next year. I have heard that Baie Fine is also a must-see.
I haven't heard anything about the south side of Manitoulin. I've looked in an older Richardsons and it looks like there might be some places to anchor between South Bay and Mississagi. I guess most people either enter the East Channel at Little Current in the East after coming up from Toby, or by going across from the Straights of Mackinac and through False Detour Channel. There doesn't seem to be a lot of info about the area in between.
I'm a little concerned about the water conditions and the weather.
Rattlesnake is OK although there is some light logging in the area and when we have stayed, there has been a generator running all day and all night to power the accommodations for the workers. Watch for deadheads in the harbour. Our anchor rode wrapped a large deadhead two years ago. We were able to free it easily with a boathook.
I have never heard or seen any cruising information on the south side of Manitoulin. Richardsons shows there may be some spots. You may wish to sign up with the Great Lakes Cruising Club (some deals usually available at the Toronto Boat Show)... they have some info on a few harbours and anchorages but there isn't much between Providence bay and Great Duck Island / Burnt Island Harbour. Hopefully you can get better info before your trip. The North Side or Manitoulin (i.e. the North Channel) is about as good as it gets so, in my view, it's hard to spend precious time on what I suspect is a second rate cruising ground on the south side of the island. Even at the height of the season when it is busy around the Little Current / Baie Fine area, there are still great spots you can find and enjoy in solitude if that is your thing.
I was not looking at a chart and didn't realize what you were talking about. The south side of Mantoulin is open to the prevailing westerlies and you'd want a very protected harbor to ride out any storm. There aren't any. There are several fair weather harbors but nothing well protected.
Considering how fantastic the N Channel is, I wouldn't bother with the s. side.
The Benjamins, Croker, Fox, Baie Fine; all fantastic places. I could spend a month just poking around those places and be very happy.
I would come up from Killarney to Covered Portage Cove and west around to Baie Fin. Then hit Little Current on the way to the Benjamins, etc. Hit the places you missed on the way back.
There are places where you can tie to rocks in a hole big enough for only your boat. Very cool spots all around.
I've never been on the south side of Manitoulin, but from the maps, it does not look like many sheltered bays to anchor, which would result in sailing through, and a little tough to do single handed. It looks like it's exposed to West, SW and South winds ( all prevailing ) which would pound all night at anchor.
If you haven't been to Baie Fine, then it's well worth the time spent getting there and staying for a day or two. Several ridges to hike once you're there. Beyond that, theres all of the North Chanel and lots more to explore and sail. Rather than trying to make a route out and around, make it the destination and spend the time to explore the area.
Thanks for the suggestions all.
The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards entering the North Channel from the east (Killarney / Little Current) and poking around for awhile.
My original goal was to define a circular route so that I didn't cover the same waters twice. It sounds as though there is enough variety within the North Channel to do this.
I think I'll order the charts for Northern Lake Huron anyway, just to look at them closely.
Last year I left from Meaford sailed to Winfield basin at the tip of the penisula to providence bay then stayed at Great duck island up through missisauga strait and up into meldrum bay. From there up into Superior.
On my way back I ran from the SOO back to winfield basin acrros the south of manitoulin.
If you have any questions about this ask, but I will tell you this.
If you are asking weather you should go the answer is this.
Can you sail single hand in winds of 30 knots and seas of 3-4meters AVG?
and can your boat take it?
Answer yes and that would be my minimum critera to say go for it.
As for the weather I went in July and It was a bit cool but I realy enjoyed the sail, generaly you will be beating all the way because the prevail winds and the closer you get to the shoreline of manitoulin the more they seem to funnel right in your face.
If I was planing that trip, (and I am planing somthing similar this year) I would return via the south of manitoulin to take the prevailing winds to your advantage.
The way home was a blast down wind and was realy warm and sunny even with winds of 20k It took me 36 hrs from the Soo to wingfield.
You will be well off to get the canadian sailing directions even for the north side
Canadian Hydrographic Service
You will be suprised at your options for ancorages, most people just use the ports guide. you seem like the type to go in more off the track place like me.
I think for your first trip it would make sense to stay on the north side of Manitoulin. I have spent a many many weeks in the North channel and do have a desire to see the ducks but not sure it is worth your hassle just yet.
I prefer Rattlesnake to Club and from there it is an easy day to Little
Current. Fog tends to be an issue in Georgian Bay proper but not in the channel.
Heywood is a decent over night stop, you can go back quite a ways in the channel. Once you are past Little Current you could stay along the Island to Kagawon, Gore and Meldrum bay then head up to the Whales Back Channel which I highly recommend. Then back through Little Detroit , the Benjamins, Croker and Baie Finn.
Baie Finn, Covered Portage, The Benjamins and Killarney will be very crowded from about the second week of July to mid August. There are however still some not very well known spots to anchor and enjoy.
Can you elaborate on Rattlesnake? Is it an easy approach with plenty of depth?
What is better about it over Club? Club seems pretty darn good for a stop.
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