We threw off the dock lines at 5:45am and were on our way westward to pay a visit to our friends Dave and Kira at their cottage, 23 miles away in a spot south of Barrie Island, near Helen Bay, but we’ve just been calling it “Kira Bay” to make things easy. Their kids Tula and Esme are the same ages as Magnus and Stella and they have gone to school together since kindergarten. The kids have been looking forward to this visit, which will give them a chance to spend some time off the boat and get away from us for some much needed space. Tensions have been running a bit higher than normal on the boat, a likely consequence of being jammed together in a very small space for 24 hours per day. And the very limited internet access doesn’t help.
The wind was blowing from the west at about 13 knots, right in our face, and the waves were sizeable so the ride was a bit rough and we had to motor into the waves. Once we turned the corner around Barrie Island we got on the happy side of the wind and put up the sails, which increased our speed and improved stability, albeit at a rather steep heel. The kids slept soundly right up until we were very close to our final destination, then I put Stella on the wheel so I could go down for a quick shower.
As we rounded Ned Island and finally got eyes on the likely cabin site, an unknown, wide-brim hatted figure appeared in a canoe paddling toward us. It was Dave! He pulled up beside Bella Blue in his birch strip canoe and we had a quick visit, then we anchored Bella Blue in front of their cabin and dinghied in and were met by Kira and the kids and had big COVID-free hugs. It was so great to see them all. When they first told us several years ago that they had a family cabin on Manitoulin Island, and showed us where it was, I told Ana that we were going to sail there and meet them one day. And here we were! They gave us a tour of the cabin and it was far, far more elaborate than I had pictured - fully solar powered, UV filtered water, amazing huge kitchen, and such a cool design with exposed beams, rugged steel fittings, steel roof and lots and lots of space, which is tough to come by living on a boat. On the lake they had a big sundowner dock with lounge chairs and umbrellas, a longer dock leading into the water, with a slide at the end, and a floating dock anchored just offshore.
We had a huge lunch then went for a walk to explore the other buildings on the property, and the small beach area that was no longer there due to the high water levels. Dave and I then drove several kilometres down a twisty gravel road to the main highway to pick up Tony and Angela, as they had decided to catch a ride from a local driver instead of coming the long distance by boat. With perfect timing, we arrived at the locked gate just as they were being dropped off and then we all hopped back in Dave’s vehicle and returned to the cabin. The Henriques already knew Dave and Kira through work and social events, plus we all played in a reggae band together for a while. Yes that’s right, and it was a band destined for great things, until we got screwed by our agent, then there was the substance abuse issues, the relentless touring schedule, the inflamed egos, the in-band fighting, et cetera, et cetera. I guess you could say we followed the standard rock/reggae band playbook and blew the whole thing up, then just went back to our solo careers; focused mainly in basements and around campfires.
Tony, Dave and I dinghied out to the bay to see a sunken ship while the ladies visited on shore. Actually, we left without Dave and he pointed us off in the completely wrong direction then paddled himself over to the right spot. Once we eventually caught on, we cruised over and helped him find the wreck then put on the snorkels and went for a look. It was an old steamer and we were able to see the boiler, many of the gears, lots of lumber and other bits and pieces that were hard to recognize. It was in less than 10 feet of water so very easy to see.
The rest of the afternoon spent together was lovely, except for when the kids challenged us to a volleyball game and the three of us men miraculously trounced them and felt real bad - especially since the stakes were dinner dish duty, so the unfortunate youngsters scrubbed pans while we drank beer. Kira put together a five star dinner with fried whitefish, fresh cut fries, seared ribeye steak, salads, and bottles of wine courtesy of the Henriques. If this is what living in the bush is like, I could get used to it. But it was no big surprise really as we already knew that Kira was a formidable cook.
Ana, Dave and I took Bella Blue out for a hard motor run to get the batteries charged up, while Kira drove Angel and Tony out to the road for their lift back to Gore Bay, then once back we settled in and played some music with the guitar and ukulele. Dave is an incredible musician and one of these guys who knows the chords and lyrics to hundreds of songs, which makes it easy for me to join in and just follow along. Trust me, if you are ever stuck around a campfire and run out of ideas for things to do, Dave is your man.
The kids decided they were all going to sleep on Bella Blue for the night, so packed in the dinghy and took off. A couple of hours later Ana got a call from Magnus saying there was a lightning storm in the distance freaking them out so they jumped back in the dinghy and got set up in the cabin instead. Ana and I switched places with them and spent a blissfully quiet and roomy evening on the boat, at anchor, with the beauty of Manitoulin Island all around us.