The Hatteras “Stinkpot” and her Journey to the Bay

New to Georgian Bay this season is a very grand, privately owned “Hat” named Stinkpot whose journey to her home port in Penetanguishene, Ontario, with her new owners took three attempts, spanned over two years, two Great Lakes, the North Channel and finally Georgian Bay. If you have ever purchased a new-to-you vessel and captained it home from a distant port, this is a story you won’t want to miss!

Chicago, 2019

A little background on Hatteras Yachts: long recognized as quality built, comfortable cruising vessels capable of tackling the big seas without much fuss. Elegant interiors, spacious bridge designs, luxury accommodations and one of the first companies that, when founded in 1959, began producing fiberglas hulls at a time when other yacht builders were still pumping out the “woodies”. Ahead of their competition these beauties were built to withstand both the test of time and the seas.

A little info on Stinkpot: a 1985 48’ Motor Yacht with an impressive 15’ beam, she is fairly new to owners Richard and Karin who acquired her just prior to covid. In search of a solid built vessel they could bring to Georgian Bay to spend summers cruising on and perhaps live aboard full time in the near future, they first saw this “Hat” at a Chicago boat warehouse the summer of 2019. Powered by two Detroit Diesels 6V92 (435 hp each) and with a Kohler Generator, 4 reverse cycle HVAC units and updated navigational equipment, they felt she checked all the right boxes to easily manage the Bay. Like many of us who have purchased a new-to-us vessel they hoped they had found a diamond in the rough that with the right amount of polish would become a true beauty!

Polishing that hull!

By the time their deal was complete, it was almost October and far too late to be on the lakes so they decided to move the boat to a local storage facility for some needed repairs and maintenance over the winter. They would then return to Chicago the next spring to prepare for their journey and depart for their future home port of Penetanguishene.

Touring the Chicago River

It was on a cold October morning that Richard and Karin fired up the engines, leaving the Chicago marina to move Stinkpot to the storage facility. For anyone who has visited this city you may have witnessed the massive rollers that often develop, slamming the waterfront piers and harbour. But on this particular morning Lake Michigan appeared relatively calm, the forecast was reasonable and they only had a short move – quick and easy, or so it should have been!

Their troubles began out on the lake shortly after departing the marina – a port engine issue leading to complete loss of power. While inspecting that they realized the 2nd was also having issues, in fact struggling to stay running. Karin was at the helm, trying to steer the boat while Richard was in the engine room working to assess the issues. It was then he noticed a fountain of water streaming in through the rudders while the bilge pumps – which luckily worked well – were running non-stop to keep up! By this time the winds had started blowing and the seas were beginning to build as Karin struggled to hold the boat at the right angle into the waves, bringing to light another issue – the hydraulic steering was failing! Realizing they needed help, Karin immediately called for a tow while they sat on Lake Michigan, the waves building to well over a metre and beyond, trying to hold the boat from sitting sideways in those seas. After more than 2 grueling hours the tow arrived and took them to their winter storage facility up the Calumet river. It was not exactly the “maiden” voyage either had envisioned but they hoped the worst was behind them and their departure next spring would go off without a hitch! Over that winter they visited Stinkpot regularly to check on the progress of the repairs, which appeared to be going well, and also to tackle many other needed projects on their own.

Fast forward to spring of 2020 and a big kink in their plans – Covid! – resulting in closed borders and “no travel” advisories. At least the much needed maintenance had been done, including a full cleaning of the fuel tanks – the issue that had led to the initial loss of engine. By early summer of that year flying to Chicago from Canada was still allowed so they decided to take advantage while they could and bring Stinkpot home.

And so on a beauty day in the summer of 2020, excited to have had the maintenance issues dealt with over the winter, they set off from Chicago for what they hoped would be the journey of a life time. Their planned route was impressive with stop overs up the coast of Lake Michigan, Mackinac Island and then on to the North Channel. They had reviewed the charts, plotted their route, checked customs entrance regulations, provisioned the boat – this couple had a well-organized itinerary and were prepared for the journey ahead.

Sadly not long after departure they were forced to return to the dock – the technicians had not sealed the fuel tanks properly and they had started leaking. A big problem. And with the world closing down completely, there was no guarantee how fast it could be fixed. Just a heart breaking day for this adventurous couple; after all the repairs they had made and work they had put into her. As the world got deeper into covid, their dream of bringing Stinkpot home faded each month.

It wasn’t until almost a year later that the fuel tanks were fixed and they were able to plan a departure date – July of 2021. After lots of “covid” red tape and paperwork, they finally left Chicago for good and I am pretty sure that city is no longer on their future “places to visit” list! They planned their departure to coincide with a perfect weather window, they did not get their hopes up whatsoever, and for good measure had their boat broker (who by that point in time had become a good friend of theirs – LOL!) accompany them as they cruised up the west coast of Lake Michigan to Racine, Illinois. And this leg went off without a hitch – they were ecstatic! They parted ways with their broker at that point and continued on their journey to Georgian Bay.

Departing for Racine, Illinois

Their first Canadian stop was Hilton Beach, Algoma, where Stinkpot was cleared by Canada Customs, officially becoming a Canadian vessel! However their welcome was short lived as a major storm quickly descended right after their arrival, downing hydro lines and knocking out local power. They sat at the helm throughout, terrified the docks would be ripped out as the storm wrecked havoc. There was a tornado sighting reported within a short distance away and the marina docks did sustain significant damage from the high winds and current. It was quite the welcome to Canada! From there they continued through the North Channel and onto Georgian Bay, luckily without any further incidents!

Dock Damage after the Hilton Beach Storm

For anyone interested in seeing their Lake Michigan crossing and other portions of their trip, along with many of the projects they have tackled, here is the link to their You Tube Channel “The Stinkpot Chronicles” : https://youtube.com/channel/UCjgiQFAiOIx0Ydsum5DfuLQ

Since arriving in Georgian Bay, Richard and Karin have been exploring the beautiful anchorages and have enjoyed putting Stinkpot through her paces, even taking her through the Norton Narrows on the route back to the Go Home Shute – for anyone who has been through this narrow passage, think “15’ Beam”! Their video of this passage is insane, I have included a few pictures below.

Pictures courtesy of “The Stinkpot Chronicles” (You Tube)

Their story is one of perseverance and courage, some mistakes made and valuable lessons learned, but they accomplished their goal of bringing Stinkpot home!

And for those wondering why the name? Blow by’s or stinkpots, some boaters will recognize both terms and understand the significance and for those who don’t – I suggest the next time you see this beautiful girl on the Bay, stop by to say hello to her friendly owners; with a little prodding, or for a cold beer, they may just share that piece of the story!

Weekend Getaway to Parry Sound

Parry Sound is a vibrant eclectic harbour town that sees a big population boost during the summer months when avid tourists, boaters, cottagers, and day trippers descend on the town, all anxious to explore Georgian Bay’s beautiful 30,000 Islands. It is a fun town to visit during the height of boating season and also in the early fall when the leaves begin to change and days become cooler.

Located at the base of the Seguin River the town was incorporated in 1887 and holds the world record for deepest natural commercial fresh water harbour.

View of Seguin River from Trestle Brewery

Cruise ships and float planes, pleasure craft and commercial vessels – it is important to know your “rules of the road” when navigating through this busy harbour. And when the west wind blows, the current can become an added challenge especially at the base of the swing bridge.

Heading south through the Swing Bridge

There are two routes into Parry Sound, and although very different journeys, each has it’s merits. The route approaching from the west through the Sound is beautiful but wide open, passing Killbear Provincial Park and “Hole in the Wall”, while the South Channel is more protected, with many cottages and traffic however you must time your arrival to coincide with the Wasauksing Swing Bridge opening times (unless your vessel is able to go under). And that can be a challenge – it is a very enjoyable route but lengthy, slow, and with “no wake” zones in areas.

Entering Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall

I find it is much easier to catch the swing bridge when leaving from a local Parry Sound marina so I save my return trip for this route; the bridge doesn’t stay open for long and trying to time the arrival just perfectly when travelling the long and narrow South Channel is difficult!

It is important to check the swing bridge hours and that it is operational, also ensure you monitor 16 for securites as the Island Queen travels this route. Here is a link for info on the swing bridge: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1604582527720/1604583507506

To Know Before you Go:

The marinas can get quite busy so I recommend calling ahead to reserve a slip, regardless the time of year. There are various options for transient slips but Big Sound Marina and the Town dock are closest to downtown which is important if you need provisioning. Both are managed by the town with reservations handled through Big Sound.

Big Sound Marina
View looking west from top deck at Big Sound Marina

My transient experience has only been at Big Sound – George, Andy and the team have always gone out of their way to ensure a memorable stay. With clean washrooms, laundry facilities, wi-fi, ice for purchase, water/hydro at each slip and barbecues available for boaters to use, this is a perfect marina for a refresh. Note that Big Sound has no pump out or fuel facilities; pump outs are available at the Town dock and for boaters requiring both pump out and fuel, Sound Boat Works is an easy option. They also offer transient slips and monitor 68. Here is the link for both:

https://www.bigsoundmarina.com/

https://www.soundboatworks.com/

Once docked and secure it is time to enjoy the many activities right at your doorstep; here are some of my favorites:

For Hiking and Swimming: The Waterfront Fitness Trail is a well groomed easy to walk trail and can be picked up at the Stockey Centre, just steps from Big Sound Marina. For swimming follow this trail west, past the Coast Guard base to Waubuno Beach at the foot of Prospect Street.

Shopping and Provisioning: There are numerous small shops (hardware store/gifts/food/art galleries) along Seguin, James and Bay Streets, including LCBO. All within walking distance of Big Sound and the Town dock. Larger grocery stores are a little further away and will require a cab.

On Tuesday mornings in the summer there is a market at the town square with local vendors offering vegetables, crafts, clothing, and baked goods, including “Buns on the Bay” – delicious freshly baked Chelsea buns. This local bakery will also deliver to boats at anchor in the Franklin Island/Snug Harbour vicinity but orders must be received in advance. You can message them through their Facebook page.

And I must mention Bearly Used Books – located on James Street, just a 10 minute walk from Big Sound, this is heaven for book lovers. Guaranteed you will find a book you like and occasionally they have some harder to find ones about Georgian Bay history. It is the perfect place to get lost in for an afternoon, the kind where they won’t complain should they catch you reading with your eyes closed, provided you don’t snore or leave without buying the book…LOL!

Restaurants: The restaurants are plentiful and get busy in the summer. There are some “chain” style restaurants along with “Tailwinds” Diner at the town dock. If you’re up to a walk, the Fitness Trail leading east from Bay Street follows the old railway bridge over the river, delivering you to the doorstep of the “Trestle Brewery” where you can enjoy a flight of frosty cold brew! This is a fun place for lunch and located close to Tower Hill which is another definite must see! Note that the Trestle Brewery is dog friendly.

Tower Hill and the Museum: Georgian Bay history buffs will enjoy the West Parry Sound District Museum.

I had the opportunity to visit last month and was amazed at the model train display – the incredibly detailed work presented the history of the railways, the creation of Depot Harbour and the many changes the area has seen over the past century. And there were also a few items that reminded one of just how far boating technology has improved over the years! Anyone still have one of these kicking around in their garage or boathouse?

Here is their website noting hours and info: http://museumontowerhill.com/

For stunning views of the Harbour and Sound climb the 30 metre high Observation Tower located just outside the museum entrance. The view is especially breathtaking in the fall when the leaves begin to change. And don’t forget to walk the beautiful Heritage Gardens at the base of the Tower, they provide a serene and peaceful place on a warm summer day.

And a few other important mentions – the Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts is within a 5 minute walk of Big Sound and the Town dock. They have some amazing events throughout the year, including the iconic mid summer classical music series “Festival of the Sound”. And hockey buffs will enjoy the hometown hero Bobby Orr ’s “Hall of Fame” located in the building.

After dinner enjoy an ice cream while walking the Town dock where the Island Queen and other tour boats depart. There is always lots of action here in the summer and the larger Great Lakes cruise ships also dock here when in town.

Pearl Mist at Town Dock

A visit to Parry Sound is a fun filled break from the remote anchorages of Georgian Bay and also a great fall getaway, especially with the weather getting a little cooler. A perfect town for boaters to recharge, provision, wine and dine, plus learn a little about the fascinating history of this beautiful town.

Georgian Pearl westbound into the Sound

The Wild Western Islands

The Western Islands are a chain of low lying rock islands and shoals situated almost 9 nautical miles west of O’Donnell Point.

Barren and exposed with little vegetation, they offer no protection from wind or currents; when the Bay starts to churn this is not the place you want to be! But when on her best behaviour the Bay can transform even this remote and rugged rock pile into a place of serene and magical beauty, particularly in the evenings!

The best way to plan a visit is not to plan at all, but rather wait for that perfect mix of sunny seasonal temperatures (less chance of squalls/thunderstorms if not too humid), and a long term forecast of very low winds. And remember to take a good assortment of ropes, grappling hooks, anchors and most of all patience!

Continue reading “The Wild Western Islands”

Ten Fun Facts about Georgian Bay

Georgian Bay, named for King George IV and also often referred to as the “6th Great Lake”, has some interesting history along with a few world records! Here are 10 fun facts about the Bay:

#1: Wasaga Beach on the southern shore is the world’s longest freshwater beach.

#2: Manitoulin Island at the NW edge is the world’s largest freshwater island.

#3: The Georgian Bay Ship Canal, if built as planned in the early 1900’s, would have joined Ottawa to the Bay through the French River. This project would have been along the same scale as the Panama Canal, with large commercial freighters and cargo ships passing through what is now the unspoiled wilds of the French River. Here is a link to the story if you wish to learn more:

https://www.northernontario.travel/northeastern-ontario/french-river-georgian-bay-ship-canal

Continue reading “Ten Fun Facts about Georgian Bay”

The Falls at Go Home

The falls at Go Home are an amazing place for a dinghy day trip, the journey being just as fun as the destination!

Go Home – a beautiful water access cottage community just north of Cognashene – will celebrate it’s 125th anniversary next year. There are a few stories about how this area was named, the more popular being for the loggers who drove the timber down the Musquash river system into the Bay during the 1800’s – once they had delivered their log booms to the local wharf for transport by steamer, their job was complete and they could “go home”.

By the turn of the 20th century that same wharf began to welcome what would become the original “Go Home” cottage settlers, along with supply ships throughout the summer months bringing mail, visitors, and sundries. Today it is still the social hub of the community, hosting many get togethers for the local cottage association members to participate in.

The Waubic approaching Go Home Wharf (photo courtesy Madawaska Club, ca 1915)
Continue reading “The Falls at Go Home”

New Flare Technology for Boaters

With Transport Canada’s recent approval of Electronic Visual Distress Signals (eVDSD) for pleasure craft vessels, I decided to do a little research into this newer technology to see what benefits they offer boaters and if they are a better option than traditional pyrotechnic flares, both environmentally and safety wise.

Continue reading “New Flare Technology for Boaters”

Love the Lichen

You will see them all over Georgian Bay this summer – covering the most exposed rock in hues of yellow, orange, grey and green – these wonderful organisms are often confused with moss. We all admire the beautiful colours however many don’t realize the critical role lichens play on the Bay!

A unique combination of fungi and algae, lichens form and spread on surfaces, building a foundation for moss, grass, and other plant life to grow under the harshest of conditions.

One of the many amazing features of lichen is they absorb their nutrients from the atmosphere so their presence in an area indicates good air quality, and we could all use a lot more of that! So when you’re out exploring beautiful Georgian Bay this summer, find the lichens and breathe deeply!

Weather, Wind, Radar and Water Level Links

When on the Bay I like to do quick periodic checks of forecasts, especially when enjoying a long dinghy day trip. Wind, wave heights and radar are all things to keep an eye on. Tired of going to the various websites I decided to compile everything I need onto one page so I can quickly access the information from my phone or tablet. Note that this is not a substitution for regular MAFOR updates, only suggestions and you will need cell/internet service to access these. It is always recommended to monitor Channel 16 for marine warnings from Canada Coast Guard.

After clicking a link and viewing the info, use your browser arrows rather than “X” to leave the link as that will take you back to my page so you can continue on to the next link.

Forecasts and Buoy Readings

Environment Canada – this link will land on Lake Huron, click on Georgian Bay for updated forecast: https://weather.gc.ca/marine/region_e.html?mapID=10

National Data Buoy Centre (*see note below): https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/obs.shtml

There are buoys on the Great Lakes that have a code number you can text for immediate readings of wind/waves/water temp etc. The above link allows you to use the interactive map to locate whichever buoy you wish a reading from or to locate the correct text code. If you wish to use the text service, first add the phone number to your contact list – 705-710-8011 and then text the buoy code to it. Georgian Bay is as follows: For the South Buoy text 45143 and North is 45137, below is an example of the data you will receive back.

Wind Forecast

South GB: https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/south_georgian_bay_lake_huron

North GB: https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/georgian_bay

Midland: https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/midland_grandview_beach

Western Islands: https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/western_island_georgian_bay

Christian Island: https://www.windfinder.com/forecast/georgian_bay_christian_island

Radar

https://www.theweather.net/radar-ontario-ca_ont-rain.html

Note: Storm Radar by the Weather Channel is also one of my favourite options – it is available as a free app on apple or android.

Water Levels – Great Lakes

https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/Great-Lakes-Information/Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/Water-Level-Forecast/Weekly-Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/

A Georgian Bay storm passing at sunset

Southeast Wooded Pine Island

Southeast Wooded Pine Island is a fun dinghy day trip for boaters anchored in the vicinity of Go Home, Monument Channel or Indian Harbour. This island is best visited on a warm day with low winds forecasted as it is situated a little offshore.

View of the harbour looking west

Preserved and protected by the Georgian Bay Land Trust (www.gblt.org), this 7 acre island is located approximately 2 nm west of Monument Channel and open for boaters and cottagers to explore and enjoy.

The expansive flat bedrock top makes it easy to walk while the gently sloping sides provide wind protection for picnics and afternoon naps. The island also offers great swimming and stunning sunsets. Dogs are welcome, just no fires or over nighting.

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Live Webcam Links – Georgian Bay and Turks and Caicos

Live webcams are a great way for people to preview an area they plan to visit. Georgian Bay has a few that are fairly reliable and although not a replacement for official up-to-the-minute marine weather forecasts, they are a great way to get a quick visual of conditions around the Bay.

Honey Harbour

Below are links to some that are currently operational; as summer approaches and more come online, I will add to this list. Most can be enlarged once you land on the site. Once you have viewed a link, use your browser arrows to go back to my page to select the next link…and so on.

Continue reading “Live Webcam Links – Georgian Bay and Turks and Caicos”