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Rhumb Line -- News from Great Lakes
January 12, 2018

Rhumb Line

a course that keeps a constant bearing

The Rhumb Line for Great Lakes Sailing is clear: to provide a comprehensive listing of ports around the Great Lakes basin and articles that cover a broad range of topics of interest to sailors.

The purpose of Rhumb Line is to keep you up-to-date with new additions to Great Lakes Sailing and articles of interest in a brief, easy-to-scan and concise manner. I value not only your interest but also your time.

January 2018

New at Great Lakes Sailing

1. Summer Sailing

2. Baie Fine

3. Bayfield Sound

4. Gore Bay

5. Ice Conditions on the Great Lakes

6. Wind Farms on Lake Erie

7. Toronto Boat Show

8. The Romance of the Sea – Traditions, Customs and Sayings

1. Summer Sailing

Its been a few months since I have written anything in Rhumb Line. The reason – very simply, we were sailing. Despite some cool and rainy weather, we set out to explore more of the fabulous North Channel and northern Georgian Bay. With the boat up on the hard now for the season, we have lots of photographs and memories to keep us warm over the winter.
Baie Fine

Baie Fine has long been a must-visit destination for sailors. It has sure been on our list. So, we laid a course that took us east into Georgian Bay and up into its northeast corner. The weather was generally clear but cool. The scenery throughout the area is outstanding.

Baie Fine is the largest fresh-water fjord in the world. At 10nm in length, it leads a sailor deep into Killarney Provincial Park, one of the crown jewels of Ontario's park system. It is a wilderness park with few facilities and miles of stunning scenery.

There are 2 distinct sections to Baie Fine. The first extends from the entrance east to a point where the bay narrows significantly. The second section takes one from the narrows to the very end at what's known as 'the Pool'

The Pool had long been a destination for us. What a disappointment. It was very crowded with mostly power boats, generators thumping away and personal watercraft everywhere creating cross-waves in every direction. This was no quiet anchorage. After a very short time, we reversed course and returned down the passage. We found a small cove not far from the narrows, dropped anchor and had a splendid evening and quiet night surrounded by tall dark forest and a star-studded sky. The photo above was taken at dawn as we enjoyed steaming hot coffee on deck

Certainly explore Baie Fine but avoid the Pool. There are some neat little coves along Baie Fine that are excellent alternatives.

3. Ice Conditions on the Great Lakes

According to NOAA's date as of January 10, 2018, this is the ice cover across the Great Lakes Basin.

   > Lake Ontario   9.6%
   > Lake Erie        70.4%
   > Lake Huron     20.8%
   > Lake Michigan  15.1%
   > Lake Superior   7.8%

Across the entire Great Lakes, the total ice cover is 18.9%

The map shows where the ice cover is concentrated.

4. Bayfield Sound

Bayfield Sound is named after the great surveyor, Sir Henry Bayfield (as are so many other locations around the Great Lakes). Bayfield Sound is a deep sound on the northwest coast of Manitoulin Island. It extends some 14 nm south east from the North Channel. Altogether, to wander its shoreline, it is a 34 nm +/- cruise. And I have wanted to do it for a long time.

The first thing you notice when you look at the charts is a small group of islands at the mouth of the Sound. These are sometimes referred to as the 'family islands'. Fanny Island is named after Bayfield's wife and Gertrude Island after his youngest daughter. Henry Island is named after his oldest son. Further into the Sound, you will find Helen Bay named after his sister and Elizabeth Bay named after his mother.

Bayfield Sound has been described as the North Channel in miniature. It is a generally well-sheltered body of water. Soaring cliffs and headlands, deep bays and in many ways, off the beaten path, make it a wonderful area in which to sail and explore.

There are some residences scattered around its shoreline and a closed resort at the bottom of Campbell Bay. The fishing is superb as I can personally attest (although the actual skilled angler was my friend, Gilles). We ultimately anchored in a sheltered spot tucked in behind a sand spit at the very end of the Sound. (note: - water depths can get skinny and I relied as much on my old-technology lead line as on my depth sounder.)

A few days or a week exploring this beautiful area would be time very well spent.

5. Gore Bay, ON

Gore Bay is one of the hidden gems that a cruising sailor should not miss. The marina is first class. Owned by the municipality, it is in excellent condition and is well looked after. There are about 100 slips and the staff are very helpful. There is a good-size fuel dock with both diesel and gasoline available. The harbourmaster can assist with recommendations for repair and maintenance services you may need. The bay in front of the marina offers excellent anchorage and many sailors dinghy over to the marina to get supplies, etc.

The town has everything a cruising sailor could need. There is a very good grocery store, a well-stocked hardware store and an excellent cafe – Loco Beanz that serves just terrific coffee. There are gift shops, restaurants and a Farmers Market every Friday. The bank is staffed with real people, not just an ATM. A Post Office and a government office provide services to the community. There is a community clinic with medical and dental services and two pharmacies. There is also a first-class Royal Canadian Legion that offers a warm welcome to visitors. A very nice museum is housed in the old jailhouse (names carved into tables) and Gore Bay has highly-regards community theatre.

At the harbour, there is an excellent restaurant – Buoys, where I have enjoyed many a good meal. And across the way, is one of the best craft breweries I have discovered – Split Rail Brewing Co. The service is excellent and the beer is simply outstanding – try the Copper Lager! It was sad to learn that its entire production disappears down the throats of Manitoulin Islanders leaving none for us thirsty sailors from 'away'. But, Split Rail is growing and expanding so hope springs eternal.

Each year, Gore Bay puts on a terrific Canada Day celebration, culminating in one of the best small-town fireworks displays I have seen. A warm dark night, lots of friendly people and fireworks exploding over a still bay surrounded by high ridges makes it a special event. If you need a destination for a cruise in the early summer, Gore Bay should be high on your list. You can find more information about Gore Bay here

6. Wind Farms on Lake Erie

Every year, it seems that the Great Lakes face a new threat. Almost all of them are the result of one 'species' – us. From pesticides that pour into the lakes resulting in algae blooms to companies draining off water to sell in plastic bottles to half-baked ideas about burying nuclear waste beside Lake Huron, there's always something. The new flavour of the day in exploiting the Great Lakes to make money is the development of giant wind farms. There are plans afoot to build a massive wind turbine farm off Cleveland, OH. and there are plans to industrialize Lake Erie with over 1,400 turbines, over 40 stories tall. I will likely have more to say about this plan in the coming months but if you would like more information, you can find it at this site.

7. Toronto Boat Show

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Toronto Boat Show – the largest indoor boat show on the Great Lakes. It runs from Friday, Jan 12 through Sunday, Jan 21 and is a terrific show. As in years past, I will be speaking again on the topic of cruising and exploring the Great Lakes. My schedule is below and if you are around come on in and say hello.

Sunday Jan 14th 2:30
Thursday Jan 18th 6:30
Saturday, Jan 20th 5:30
Sunday Jan 21st 2:00

8. The Romance of the Sea – Traditions, Customs and Sayings

One of the things that I have always enjoyed about sailing is how so much of what we say and do today is bound up in the customs and traditions of long ago.

Round Robin A petition popularized by sailors who, fearful that the names on the top of the list might be seen as the ringleaders, wrote their names in a circle. But the actual credit for the idea goes to French officers who, in a complaint, wrote their names on the sash or ribbon worn on their uniforms. 'Round' is a corruption for the French word rond and 'Robin' is a corruption of the French word ruban or ribbon.

Jackknife The name for the hinge-bladed knife comes from its inventor, Jacques de Liege. Jackknives were carried by officers while crew wore a sheath knife on their belt.

A Couple of Shakes This was a sailor's way of measuring a short period of time. It referred to the speed with which a sail would begin to shake when the helmsman's attention wandered and the ship began to head to close to the wind.

Thanks for reading Rhumb Line. Your opinions, thoughts and comments do matter. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me here at Rhumb Line or at Great Lakes Sailing.

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Fair winds and following seas.

Michael Leahy, Publisher

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