Friday, July 24, 2020

Exploring Tobermory



The faintest hint of light began to appear around 4am after a dark, moonless and eventful night sailing Lake Huron. By this point I was into my fourth podcast - an excellent interview with Huey Lewis, a second musical one with Tame Impala, then two from Economist Radio, but I was struggling to keep awake and at one point I think I momentarily fell asleep standing up - not good on a boat. So I splashed some water on my face, brushed my teeth, then immediately spoiled the brushing by eating half a dozen sour gummy worms and some fuzzy peaches in the hopes that a sugar rush would bring me back to life, but it just made me feel sick. So I made a peanut butter and jam sandwich, which brought some peace back to my stomach.

Ana had recovered and took over from me at the helm around 6am which gave me an hour of sweet coma-like sleep, before rejoining her to bring Bella Blue into dock in Tobermory, arriving shortly before 8am, making it an 11 hour,  71 mile trip and one of our roughest ever. Stella popped her head out just as we finishing tying up and looked refreshed and ready to take on the world, blissfully unaware of the goings on the previous night after the end of her shift. I whipped up a mess of bacon, eggs and toast and we all ate a big breakfast, did some boat cleanup, and then I retired for an overdue nap while the rest of my gang went out to explore Tobermory.

HQ2 arrived shortly after noon and Tony and I cracked a beer to celebrate our second big run of the trip, then enjoyed a classic Canadian lunch of Kraft Dinner and hot dogs. They also presented the crew of Bella Blue with a fancy, macrame, swinging chair that Magnus immediately hooked up to the spinnaker halyard and tested out, followed swiftly by Stella. It was certainly a step above the bosun’s chair, with a fancy back and arm rests, and was so interesting that several of the tourists across the harbour waiting in line for the glass bottom boat tour started snapping photos.

We all went for a walk around downtown Tobermory, which is really just the harbour with a bunch of restaurants and tourist shops ringed around it, but an absolutely lovely spot. A huge Haterus power boat, maybe 60 feet long, pulled into the harbour and I was pleased to see the missus, after tossing out the fenders and tying lines while the husband maneuvered the boat into position from the soaring flybridge with a handheld remote control, jump off the multi million dollar vessel and beeline across to the public washroom for a free pee. See, it doesn’t matter what sort of boat you travel in; paying for holding tank pump-outs sucks so you take the free pees when you can, even if your yacht burns twenty bucks of gas idling while you’re taking a squirt.

After returning to our boats, nearly everybody headed down for a nap, but I was feeling quite fresh after my earlier snooze, so I inflated the paddle board and went out for a lovely paddle into the adjacent bay. Even in the harbour the water is incredibly clear and I could easily see the bottom 25 feet down. Tony had mentioned that he may have some weeds wrapped up in his prop as the boat was dragging a bit, so when I returned I put on a mask and fins and jumped in to investigate, but found no weeds at all on his boat or mine. Since I was in the water anyway, I went for a little snorkelling trip and tried to find the full bottle of Corona beer I accidentally dropped into the water the last time we were docked here, four years ago, but somebody else must have got to it before me.



It wasn’t until about 6:30 that I saw some stirring on HQ2 so I went over and Angela offered me the drink she had just made for Tony, as he was just waking up, so we chatted until Tony appeared.

“Tony,” I said excitedly. “I inspected your shaft and found it to be completely clean with no sign of bush or undergrowth.”

He looked down at his crotch and said, “I’ve got to stop sleeping so soundly.”

While on the dock we saw the most amazing thing. A loon appeared and dove down into the water, then the water started to boil in one spot and he shot up through a school of minnows and broke through the surface with one wiggling around in his mouth! Every time he dove we could easily see him rocketing through the clear water and herding up the minnows before launching in for the attack. It is usually very hard to get close to loons on the water, so we were very lucky to see this.

Earlier in the day Stella had proposed we dine at a fish and chips restaurant she spotted, so we rallied the troops and had a delicious meal accompanied by a pitcher of their finest mediocre ale. It was a hopping place and I was simply shocked at how many tourists and visitors were in Tobermory during COVID time. But everybody wore masks inside shops and many outside too while walking around and people tried to keep their distance. If this is the new normal, I think we are on the right track.

After a stop for ice cream, we retired to our respective boats and called it a night. Tomorrow was going to be another big sailing day so a good sleep was in order.

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