Monday, July 27, 2020

Heywood Island to Little Current

Waking up in a quiet Northern anchorage was what we had been waiting for, and why we travelled all this way. The North Channel has probably the best fresh water anchorages in the world so the cruisers here typically stay in anchorage as much as possible and just head into the marinas to stock up on supplies, fuel, water, and get pump outs. HQ2 was rafted up with us and there were two other sailboats rafted up together across the bay. We began the day with a swim in the surprisingly warm water then I put on a mask and fins to see if I could find the shackle that one of the kids dropped off the boat yesterday, which I did after Stella spotted it from stand-up paddle board as Magnus was propelling them with his feet and hands while she leaned off the front wearing a mask scanning the bottom. While I was snorkeling I found two discarded beer cans on the bottom, and when I brought the second one up and started emptying the water the can began shaking; something was thrashing around inside. Magnus used a can opener to pop the top and out dropped a gigantic goby…or some sort of fish like that, which was much too big to fit through he hole so I imagine he’s been in there since he was a guppy.

After goofing around in the water I hopped on HQ2 to give Tony a hand with a boat problem. Using my sail boater yoga techniques, I squirmed into the dark depths of the engine compartment with my multi meter to test the alternator and do my best engine gremlin impression. The alternator was putting out 12 volts as expected so we went up to the fly bridge and disassembled the panel. As we were taking the panel out, the port engine stopped running. We put it back in and it started again. Then it quit when we took it out. It turns out the engine problem a marine mechanic would have thrown three thousand bucks of parts and labour at was just a loose wire from the ignition. Same problem with the alternator gauge. So we tightened up the screws, did a happy chappy dance, and carried on like nothing had happened.

After striking gold with the boat fix, we detached ourselves from HQ2 and started the 10 mile run for the town of Little Current, with Magnus at the helm doing the navigation and piloting. A swing bridge is the only road access onto Manitoulin Island, and they open it for 15 minutes at the top of every hour to allow boats to pass. By sheer luck we arrived right at the top of the hour and the bridge opened for us, then we passed through the strong current and then just a short way into the Little Current marina, where we had a rather awful docking and made every mistake in the book - didn’t test the current, didn’t have fenders ready, didn’t have all lines attached, came in too hot. Fortunately we just banged into the dock but didn’t damage anything.

We all went for a walk downtown and checked out a few of the shops. I got taking to a lovely lady working at Turners (the oldest marine chart dealer in Canada) and she pointed out an area of the North Channel called McGregor Bay we hadn’t considered visiting, but she rated it to be one of the best cruising grounds. While walking around Ana received a text from Tony asking if we could stop at Napa Auto parts if we were in the neighbourhood to pick up an engine coil he had ordered. I had seen a Napa store right across from the marina, but I noticed another one just up the street, so I went in and asked for the part. Joe Mechanic told me they just fixed vehicles so I had to go to the parts store which was near the arena.

“Marina?” I asked.

“No, arena,” he confirmed. “Just go up highway 6, you can’t miss it.”

Thinking I still heard him wrong, I walked back to the Napa store by the marina and found it to be empty, so walked up a big headed out of town and spotted an auto parts sign indeed on highway 6. But it was called North Auto Parts. Wondering how many damn auto parts stores a town of a couple thousand people needs, I walked in and asked if this was Napa Auto Parts. The guy I asked looked at the North Auto Parts signs everywhere in the store and said, “Uh no. This is not Napa. You need to go further up highway 6.” I thanked him and started walking. And walked. And walked a bit more, far enough to doubt myself again so I stopped at the Shell station and asked again and was pointed to keep on going. But I did find it, right before the area, a big brand new Napa Auto Parts store. They had Tony’s part ready to go and I picked up a tube of silicone for a small window repair we needed to do. Fortunately the path back to the marina led me right by the Manitoulin Brewing Company so I stopped and grabbed a dozen tall cans of several varieties for an extra special happy hour tonight.

I returned to the boat and met up with the ladies after their shopping excursion downtown where Stella found herself a fine new hooded sweatshirt at a consignment shop. Ana, Magnus and I went grocery shopping to stock up on food, then it was time for dockside happy hour. We cracked the craft beers, sat down on Tony’s deck chairs, and fired up some stogies while the kids put fishing lines in the water and started bringing up one bass after the other. Small ones, but when you are catching, it’s all good! We spent a good long while on that dock having drinks, fishing, and chatting and decided that this town of Little Current is a fine place indeed.

To make the trip more interesting, Tony and Angela have also decided to sell their boat; in fact they were considering this even before we were. So we thought it would be fun to make a contest of it - whoever sells their boat first has to treat the other to a fine meal out! So could somebody please buy our so we can score free steaks?

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