Wednesday, July 29, 2015

North Channel 2015 - Killarney

Once again, it is an achingly beautiful morning.  All is quiet in the anchorage except for the sound of birds.  In fact, it’s so quiet I refrain from peeing off the back of the boat so that I don’t break the magical silence of the morning hour.
Stella is awake early and looking for breakfast so we make a round of oatmeal and load them up with the fresh blueberries we picked yesterday – delicious!  There is some talk of hiking back to Topaz Lake for a morning swim, but we decide instead to pull anchor and get an early start for Killarney, which is only about 20 miles away.  The ride back down the Baie Fine channel is marvellous and Ana is at the helm which leaves me to ride at the bow of the boat looking into the crystal clear water.  We stop about halfway up Narrow Bay for a quick morning swim and bath and the water is a balmy 25 degrees.
We travel south across Frazer Bay towards Creak Island and Badgeley Point.  Between these is the “Hole in the Wall” – an extremely narrow channel that can only be passed with high water and a boat with shallow draft, but which offers a shortcut to Lansdowne Channel.  How could I resist?
As we enter the channel I power the engine down to near idle.  As we’re sizing up the channel we see a good sized power boat coming through and as he passes by us I ask him how much water is in the channel.  He says five or six feet, which is more than enough for us.  We slowly move towards the hole, and the water gets shallower as the channel narrows.  Ana is at the bow of the boat having a near panic attack as we pass through the tightest part of the channel, which is only about six feet wide and five feet deep.  Any move right or left could potentially ground us so I keep her straight and true and we pass through without a scrape!
That was to be our only excitement for the trip as the remaining miles through the Lansdowne Channel are trouble-free, besides a little tricky manoeuvring through the channel markers.  We arrive in Killarney on what must be the hottest day of the summer – 33 degrees.  Ana has reserved us a dock at the Killarney Mountain Lodge and the dock hand is there to catch our lines and guide us in.  Our friends Mika and Robin and their kids Gavin and Kirstin whom we met back in Little Current are also docked here and it is Kirstin’s birthday today, which is why Stella was keen to get to Killarney as soon as possible.  This is the only marina in Killarney with a pool, so we get our swimsuits on, walk over to the pool area and find our friends already there enjoying the cool water and hot sun.  It is also the only marina in Killarney with a helicopter pad, and along the way we see a family and their dog disembark from their 58’ Sea Ray power boat (driven by a hired captain) and walk over to the helicopter that is waiting for them.  I hear the dad say, “Hon, are we sending the dog home in the chopper?”  I say make him walk.
After a quick chat with our friends I go for a stroll around the lodge and I am surprised at what I find.  Besides the pool, they have a huge games room with a billiards table, ping pong, dozens of games and books, and a large shuffleboard surface with those long sticks you use to propel the discs.  So much potential for injury!  There is a big tv room with leather couches and a huge, white tablecloth restaurant with a classy menu.  There is also an octagonal lounge area with an imposing fireplace in the centre, huge windows, dozens of comfy chairs and loungers, and an expansive bar.  There are stuffed animal heads hanging all over the place, giving it that special Canadian touch.
Ana and I leave the kids in the pool and grab the laundry bag from the boat on the way into town.  We find the laundry right beside the General Store so we load up two machines and then continue our walk.  There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to Killarney, but it is a neat place.  We pass the famous Herbert Fisheries who reportedly make the best fish and chips in the world.  They use fresh lake whitefish and a very thin batter as opposed to the English pub style fish and chips that are usually 95% batter and air.  I am looking forward to trying it tonight.
We continue along the main street to the Sportsman’s Inn, a recently renovated historical landmark in Killarney.  Most of the boats tied up at the marina are 60 foot plus – probably a sign we have entered Wankerville.  Our suspicions are confirmed when we visit the attached marine store and there are a couple arrogant jackasses lipping off the staff.  We decide not to purchase the $9 bags of Doritos and instead walk back to the laundry, switch the clothes from the washers to the dryers and return to the pool.
We have another swim and then return to the boat to enjoy an icy G&T.  Stella and I sit down on the red Adirondack chairs at the end of our dock and watch all the water vehicles going back and forth.  Here comes a kayaker.  There goes a paddleboarder and his dog.  There’s a dingy full of kids.  Here comes a giant power boat, followed by a sailboat, followed by a canoe.  And look at this – here comes the marina’s mobile pump out vessel with a giant waste tank, gas powered pump, and two staff who look like they would rather be doing something else.  Anything else.  We decide the boat’s name should be either, “Pump a Dump” or “Honey Bucket”.
Around 5:45 our friends pull up in their dingy and we walk over to Hebert’s to see if they really do serve the best fish and chips in the world.  There is a substantial queue and most of the inside and outside tables are full of people eating.  There is a huge “Fish and Chips” sign on the building leaving no mistake we have come to the right place.  There is also a menu board there with an exquisitely simple listing.  You can get a large fish and chips or a small fish and chips.  Or you can just get fish.  Or just get chips.  Makes ordering a breeze.  We order two large and two small and as I’m waiting for it I hear a lady in line ask the server, “Excuse me.”
“Yes?” the server replies.

“Do you serve anything besides fish?” she asks.
“Uhhh.  Chips?” comes the unintentionally witty reply.
“Oh.  Nothing else then huh?  Ok.  I guess I’ll have the fish and chips.”
The meal is delicious.  Neither the fish nor chips are greasy and the food is not over-salted.  Plus it is served piping hot.  Is it the best in the world?  I can’t remember having anything better.  And there is not a scrap of food left over when the four of us are done eating.
We go for a walk around town to let the food settle, but also to try and free up some room for ice cream, although the kids never seem to have a problem with that.  We find what Mika calls, “the field of broken dreams” – a small, overgrown patch of land with abandoned boats.  One of them even has some trees growing up through it.
Our walk is cut short by attacking mosquitoes so we high-tail it to the ice cream shop, get some dessert, and then return to the dock and soak up the last of the days sunshine.  We spend a while in the games room after this, but everyone is exhausted after a hot day so we call it a night and prepare for tomorrow morning’s early departure for Tobermory.

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