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Georgian Bay Islands National Park




Georgian Bay Sailing - Day 4

The weather front completely dissipated during the night, and clear sky returned the next day. It was a gorgeous morning, crystal blue sky, sparkling water, winds light. We left our campsite, walked through the powdery sand that was just beginning to warm up under the sun, and were looking forward to some sailing and fishing. That morning I learned a new term from my neighboring campers: Storm Tide. Although Georgian Bay doesnít have much of a tide (about one foot, depending on the lunar cycle), a strong blow from the west pushes the vast body of water towards land and can add over 1 foot to the tide. I had set my boat too far onshore during the storm when the water was high, and now that the lake had receded to its normal level, the boat was basically sitting on mud. Here it is, all 650 pounds of the Hen resting on about 2 inches of water, impounded by the forces of nature.

No damage was done - just acute embarrassment. In this situation one has two options: dig around and under the boat to give it sufficient draft to float, or get enough hands to lift the boat up and move it back into deeper water. Luckily at the campsites near the boat there were many sympathetic eyes watching my predicament, and with help from four fellow boaters we lifted the Hen by the bow and swung it around into ankle deep water. From there it was easily pushed through the soft sand and onto freedom.
For the rest of the day, we sailed and explored around the area. At the main channels shoals are well marked, but for sailing around by necessity one strays from the marked waterway, extra caution is required. At the water near Sandpiper campground at the south side of Beausoleil, we watched a 26 feet cruiser trying to take a short cut at less than 20 feet from us. The boat was stopped with a gut-wrenching, loud grinding noise. Its motor was not damaged but the hull was now riding on a submerged shoal. It took the owner 15 minutes to free his boat by pushing the beam with his Zodiac and rocking the boat side-to-side.

This stretch of water is also supposed to be a great fishing area with plenty of pike, perch and bass. Under the jib only the Hen sails at perfect trolling speed:
However I have never been much of a fisherman, and the warm sun, light wind and gently gurgling waves just made it too relaxing to do any serious fishing. We didnít catch anything longer than the worm on the hook.

The next several days we had the entire weathermanís recipe - showers, strong wind, no wind, sun. We sailed and explored the trails on the island. We saw several water snakes, a Huron, loons, a woodpecker, a hawk, two Gartner snakes (actually they saw us first, and proceeded to quickly leave the trail), and a great variety of trees and plants. Despite the cold weather, it was a completely enjoyable trip. We look forward to visiting the park again during the fall, when the summer storms are replaced by more constant autumn breezes, and the areaís hardwood forests are at their colorful heights.

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