Georgian Bay Islands National Park



    Sailing-Camping Trip, Aug. 14-20, 2000
    Beausoleil Island, Georgian Bay Islands National Park

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Getting There

Iíve always wanted to sail the cobalt waters of Georgian Bay. The stretch of water around Midland, Honey Harbour and Victoria Harbour, which is known as Severn Sound, is a very popular sailing area. This area is also well known for its rocky landscape and windswept pines, scenes that are immortalized by paintings of the Group of Seven. In this area lies a string of islands with unspoiled natural beauty under the conservation of the Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The third week of August is our favorite camping time in the summer: bugs normally have started to disappear, days are warm enough to swim, and nights are comfortably cool for a cozy campfire. Back in May I had reserved a campsite at the Cedar Springs campground at Beausoleil Island. So on this picture-perfect summer morning, all camping gears packed and carefully loaded onto the Marsh Hen, we started out on the three-hour drive from Waterloo to Honey Harbour.

There are no public boat ramps in the area, and I was shocked to find that Marinas charge almost Toronto price for parking. Launching fee plus parking for 5 days amounts to over $60! We picked Bayview Marina as it is located closest to the Cedar Spring campground. To get to Beausoleil, one must go around Roberts Island through a rather busy and narrow waterway, and then swing west. This area is strewn with dangerous rocks and shoals, and especially with the Lakeís water level being low this summer, an iron sail (aka motor) is a necessity to get through the channels! The 17 ft. Marsh Hen floats in less than 1 foot of water; with the center board down it draws less than 4 feet. The massive center board is gravity-dropped, and when it hits shallow grounds it simply rises up, usually with hardly a scratch. Even so, we were being extra careful as this was the first time we sailed in this area. We headed into a light south-west wind, and as the boat was loaded with camping gears and was not in the easiest state to maneuver sails, I simply kept the motor going and reached Beausoleil by smelly power. With the antique 4-horse Everinrude on the Hen, it took about 40 minutes to get to the main docks.

Copyright ©2000 Ben Ho

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