Franklin Island

For boaters wanting to experience the wilder side of Georgian Bay without straying too far from amenities, look no further than Franklin Island! Located at the mid point of the 30,000 Islands on the east coast of Georgian Bay this beautiful and rugged Crown island is perfect for exploring and also offers a few “guilty pleasures” to entice boaters!

Franklin Island, just 14 NM’s northwest of Parry Sound
Northeast coastline of Franklin
Franklin Coordinates: N45 23’ 4”, W80 20’ 1”

Situated approximately 14 NM’s northwest of Parry Sound, or about 45 NM’s north of Midland, this island was named after Arctic explorer Rear Admiral Sir John A Franklin.

Almost 6 km long by 3 km wide it has a very irregular shoreline with many inlets and small rocky bays, particularly on the west and northern sides.

Very diverse and on the line of the Canadian Shield, Franklin has anchorages to avoid almost any wind, the more popular one being Regatta Bay situated on the southeast side.

There are buoys to guide you in to Regatta but if it’s your first time, I suggest a bow watch. There are many areas to drop the hook and stern tie to shore although some mariners prefer to swing, which can quickly fill up the anchorage.

Regatta Bay

If you enter on a busy weekend and find not much space available, the areas outside of Regatta, just north or south of the entrance, are also popular with both power and sail boaters and have plenty of room with reasonably good holding.

The western shore is a lot more wild and when the western winds whip up trickier to navigate, but Shark Bay on the southwest side is a beautiful and often quiet anchorage. It has a narrow entrance but good protection once inside. The entrance is on the north side of Windsor Island, and just ensure you post a bow watch, entering slowly on your first visit. I have seen both sail and power boats tucked inside, but depth fluctuates and for your first visit, this anchorage is best attempted on a very low wind day. Just note that should a strong western wind whip up, you may not be able to exit until it’s over!

As Franklin is Crown land it is fairly easy to find your own private little nook! If it’s your first visit to this island, anchor in or around Regatta and then explore the shoreline for that perfect hide away that might fit your mother-ship. You may even find more than one, and then mark the location and approach on your charts so you have a new place to try on your next visit. Just be careful when navigating through some of the coves and bays – many of the rocks and shoals underwater are not sounded and come upon you quite fast!

Lots of shoreline to tuck away!

For the “foodies” or those who just want a break from the galley, Franklin is the perfect anchorage. Buns on the Bay – a local bakery from nearby Dillon – will get your day started with a delivery of home made fresh-from-the-oven Chelsea buns, right to your boat at Franklin provided you pre-order by a day or two! Topped with raisins and walnuts, the glaze still dripping off the edges as they pass this warm box of beauties to you from their delivery boat, the “Bun Runner”!

Margot and Kim in the “Bun Runner”

Check their Facebook page for pricing and details – here is the link:

And Snug Harbour just across the channel from Franklin is home to Gilly’s Restaurant, the perfect ending to your day with pan fried pickerel and delicious cocktails. Be sure to leave room for one of their incredible desserts!

Gilly’s – July 2022

I visited Gilly’s a few times last summer and with every visit the food was delicious and the service great! They also have a store in their lower level with a few basic provisions.

Snug Harbour is easy to spot as the lighthouse marks it’s entrance however there is a little short cut if dinghying over from Franklin.

Snug Harbour Lighthouse

This helps if there is a strong south or west wind blowing – rather than enter at the lighthouse, enter here where you will see a red and green buoy. These lead to a little cut in the rock just accessible for dinghies which will deliver you into sheltered Snug Harbour. Note that Snug Harbour has many cottages lining it’s shores so be careful not to leave a wake when passing through.

Snug Harbour Channel

There are fairly new public docks available in front of the restaurant and the local snapping turtle is a behemoth, but very friendly!

View from within Snug Harbour, looking east toward mainland

One thing to keep in mind when planning a visit – Franklin’s proximity to the mainland and closeness to amenities can make it a busy place during the summer months. Being Crown land and an easy paddle from Snug Harbour, this island is a very popular choice for kayakers, canoeists and campers, especially on long weekends.

Both Franklin Island and Snug Harbour are beautiful areas for mariners and with plenty of activities! And Franklin is an ideal island to explore, it’s so easy to spend the day dinghying the circumference checking out the many coves and inlets. This island is always a fun experience and worth a stop on all boater’s itineraries!



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