Lat: 45° 15.439 Long: 081° 39.735
Tobermory Ontario (sometimes known by its nickname "The Tub") is the gateway to Georgian Bay. It is a beautiful small village perched at the very end of the Bruce Peninsula. It is also the northern terminus of the famed Bruce Trail - the longest (800+ km/490+ mi) walking trail in Canada. The surrounding countryside offers gorgeous vistas and, for any sailor bound for Georgian Bay, a glimpse of what's to come. There are 2 national parks here, including Five Fathoms National Marine Park, Canada's first national marine park. The park contains some of the most pristime waters in the entire Great Lakes.
Tobermory was settled by Scottish settlers (Tobermory comes from the Scots-Gaelic meaning "Mary's Well") and its early economy was based on fishing and lumbering. Over time, these industries declined and the village became a small, out-of-the-way community until the advent of tourism in the region. Tourism now is the major industry and people flock to Tobermory for its outdoors adventures, scenery and opportunities to savour what this beautiful village has to offer.
FROM THE EAST and NORTH
As a quick look at the chart will show you, Georgian Bay is replete with islands, rocks and shoals. A prudent navigator will pay close attention to his/her charts. Generally speaking, the approaches from the east and north are straightforward. Rounding North Point and heading to Tobermory Ontario, you will have a choice of Big Tub Harbour or Little Tub Harbour. Little Tub Harbour is where the village is located. Be aware of the ferry's that use this harbour.
FROM THE WEST and SOUTH
Routes from these directions pose challenges. There are 4 channels coming out of Lake Huron to Tobermory. In all cases, a prudent navigator will plot a course carefully due to the geography of the area. In order, from the South to the north, the 4 channels are as follows:
Cape Hurd Channel is commonly used by recreational sailors however, the Canadian Coast Guard recommends that Devils Island Channel is a better option. The Cape Hurd light is a Fl RED. Make your way past the Cape Hurd light to the Fl GREEN buoy "TE1" and change course to approximately 053o. Follow the buoyed channel towards Doctor Island. With Doctor Island on your beam, you can change course to approximately 100o and proceed to Tobermory harbour. There is a Fl RED on the eastern end of Lighthouse Point. This marks the entrance into Big Tub Harbour.
Devils Island Channel is the next channel to the north. Approach the Fl GREEN "TA1" buoy. From there, follow the buoyed channel. There are range lights on North Otter Island and South Otter Island that create a range bearing of 041.5o. Once you clear Russell Island, you can alter course to starboard. You will leave Doctor Island to your starboard as well and make your entrance into Tobermory Harbour.
MacGregor Channel is the third channel It lies between North west Bank and Middle Bank. It is NOT recommended as the channel is unmarked and the currents are very strong.
Main Channel is the deepest and the widest of the 4 channels. It is easily navigable day or night, in fair weather or foul. It lies to the north of Cove Island. Look for the Cove Island buoy showing a F WHITE light and sounding a bell (MoA). There is a Fl WHITE light on the north east corner of Cove Island. When you clear this light, you can alter course to starboard to approximately 140o and continue in a southerly direction. As you sail down along the coast of Cove Island, you will eventually leave North Otter Island. Once past, you can alter course to 170o which will bring you to Tobermory harbour.
NOTE: These waters lie in Five Fathoms National Marine Park and there are restricted boating areas. These areas are marked with WHITE and ORANGE buoys. Keep out of these areas. You may also see white mooring balls in these waters. These mark dive sites, mostly sunken wrecks. The only vessels that can use them are dive boats. Do not use them.
MARINAS, YACHT CLUBS, MOORINGS, ANCHORAGES
There are 2 harbours in Tobermory Ontario.
Big Tub Harbour lies to the west of the village. Its a quieter, more natural harbour than the busy, Little Tub Harbour in the centre of the village.
Big Tub Resort (519) 596-2191 VHF 68
Big Tub Resort has slips for about a dozen transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline), water and power at dockside and a pumpout station. They have washrooms and showers. There is an on-site restaurant and pub. They also have picnic areas.
Little Tub Harbour is in the centre of the village. There is immediate access to stores, shopping, restaurants and pubs. The marina is operated by the village.
Tobermory Marina (519) 596-2731 VHF 68
Tobermory Marina has 50 slips for visiting sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline) and pumpout station. Water and power are available dockside. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities available. The marina is close to all of the stores in the village. Internet is available at the public library, right across the street from the harbour.
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE, PROVISIONING, BANKS/ATM's
Tobermory Marine Repairs is a full-service marine maintenance business. It is located about 1mi/2km south of the village. They can carry out a full range of engine, mechanical, electrical and fibreglass repairs.
There is a Foodland grocery store located about a block from the harbour. It has a laundromat as well.
There is a Royal Bank of Canada branch in the village, close to the harbour. There are ATM machines there.
There is no hospital in Tobermory. There is a clinic (519-596-2305) in the village staffed by 4 doctors.
The nearest hospitals are a small, 4 bed clinic (519-793-3424) in Lions Head, ON about 30mi/50km south. Another 20mi/30km south is a larger hospital (519-534-1260) in Wiarton, ON.
Prescriptions can be filled through the village clinic. As they are sent to Lions Head, ON, the turn-around time is 24 hours.
The nearest full-service pharmacies are located in Wiarton, ON, 50mi/80km south.
PLACES TO EAT
As a summer resort village, Tobermory Ontario offers lots of options for visiting sailors.
Bootleggers Cove is located at Big Tub Harbour. It offers a good selection of pub favourites and serves ice-cold (is there any other way???) local craft beer on tap. Great views too.
Crowsnest Pub and Deli has a nice cafe/deli downstairs and a popular pub upstairs. There is a large 2nd floor deck to enjoy views of the harbour.
Leeside Restaurant is located near the ferry terminal. Its pub has a deck with terrific views of the entrance to Tobermory harbour.
THINGS TO DO/SEE/VISIT
Bay Street and Carlton Street pretty much ring the Little Tub Harbour. There are lots of small shops and boutiques that cater to visitors. Its great to just stretch your legs and stroll. There are art galleries and several gift shops. Blue Heron Co. stocks a very large selection of local charts as well as other nautical items and gifts. Parks Canada has a visitor centre and museum.
Tobermory is famous for its scuba diving and there are many dive shops with both equipment to rent and dive boats available for charter. There is also a glass-bottom boat that operates tours through the marine reserve. Tobermory has a great tourism website here at Tobermory Ontario that is chock full of ways you can enjoy this picturesque village.
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