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Old 22-07-2015, 08:28   #31
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
Only a few days after we left a couple years ago, our fiends happened onto a power cruiser on a bolder in the marked channel (Whalesback), not on the charts. There are places that until recently, were noted as "no data". You can cruise in these places only slowly & with a lookout. Our daft is 6'-8". We could not enter the narrows at the back end f Baei Fine. Deep draft will also keep you out of Spanish and a few other places. There are a few 30-40 foot boats built with swing CB and vey shallow draft that would let you into some really special places if you were interested in that kind of exploration.

Can you tell us where in the Whalesback this is? I used to cruise out of the North Channel Yacht Club, which is right around the corner from the Whalesback. I've been through there more times that I can count, and I don't recall ever having a problem with uncharted obstructions. My boat had 5' draft.

In my experience you get the "no data" view when you over-zoom on raster digital charts. But it's certainly true that deep draft boats will have trouble in certain areas, especially on the north side of the North Channel. I recall going into Blind River Marina and promptly grounding out. Thought we were going to become permanent residents there.




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Old 24-07-2015, 16:23   #32
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Can you tell us where in the Whalesback this is? I used to cruise out of the North Channel Yacht Club, which is right around the corner from the Whalesback. I've been through there more times that I can count, and I don't recall ever having a problem with uncharted obstructions. My boat had 5' draft.

In my experience you get the "no data" view when you over-zoom on raster digital charts. But it's certainly true that deep draft boats will have trouble in certain areas, especially on the north side of the North Channel. I recall going into Blind River Marina and promptly grounding out. Thought we were going to become permanent residents there.

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Water was lower. The location was not far east of Bear-Drop. Sorry, no coordinates. Always be careful up there. We had electronic charts show us sailing through an island. Other places showed 50+ feet on the plotter and over 100 by the depth meter.
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Old 24-07-2015, 19:35   #33
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Water was lower. The location was not far east of Bear-Drop. Sorry, no coordinates. Always be careful up there. We had electronic charts show us sailing through an island. Other places showed 50+ feet on the plotter and over 100 by the depth meter.

Agreed. Also be aware of current water depths. The North Channel was well below datum for a few years. This could easily create hazards that normally are well submerged.

I can't recall ever noticing the charts being off on our plotter, but it's certainly possible. I know for a fact that there are a few such charts that are off by a 1/4 nm or more in some places along the north shore of Lake Superior.


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Old 06-08-2015, 10:21   #34
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

I have spent more than 25 weeks cruising in the North Channel and Georgian Bay. Regarding recommendations, I suggest:

--not too much draft in the boat. Many nice anchorages are in 6-feet of water

--good charts. There are plenty of hazards, but good charts show them. And get the real charts, not a reprint in a chart book. The real charts are much easier to use. The chart book is OK for a back up.

--spare propeller for power boats

--hull repair kit; if you don't hit something you didn't really visit the North Channel.

--a good inflatable dingy with outboard so you can explore; there are thousands of little side channels.

As for sail or power, you will find plenty of sailboats up there, but most of them are motoring around all day. The number of sailboats underway with sails up and engine off is actually not very large.

Fuel is expensive in Canada in general and in remote harbors of the North Channel and Georgian Bay in particular. If you can buy fuel in the USA and carry enough with you for a long cruise, you could save a lot of money. When the Canadian dollar was strong and gasoline was expensive, I was paying over $6-per-gallon in the North Channel. The best place to buy fuel is at Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay. There is some big fuel distribution center near there, and that was always the least expensive gasoline you could find.

Also bring a lot of drinking alcohol with you from the USA. Canada seems to be trying to tax alcohol out of consumption.

You can generally get decent groceries and occasionally good produce, but watch out for meat. Northern Ontario is the home of mystery meat. If you have good refrigeration, bring lots of frozen meat with you.

Even though I have been going to the North Channel almost every year since 1987, I still look forward to each visit, and we find new places to go and new things to do each trip.
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Old 06-08-2015, 14:43   #35
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

I agree with most of your observations CV, but "mystery meat"?? Please explain. Until recently I lived in northern Ontario. I have no idea what you mean by this comment. Unless you're buying your meat from the back of someone's car the meat in Norther Ontario is the same sold all over North America.

And you will once again be pleased with the exchange rate. With oil in the basement the Canadian dollar has once again plummeted compared to the U.S. green back. Booze and fuel are taxed quite high compared to the U.S. (although not compared to most other countries). We gotta pay for the free healthcare somehow ;-).


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Old 06-08-2015, 15:13   #36
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

Let's just say that in some small town in the North Channel on a Tuesday you can't always get Prime Angus beef.
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Old 06-08-2015, 18:45   #37
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Let's just say that in some small town in the North Channel on a Tuesday you can't always get Prime Angus beef.

Probably true, but you can usually find fresh lake trout and white fish.


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Old 07-08-2015, 06:06   #38
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Originally Posted by continuouswave View Post
I have spent more than 25 weeks cruising in the North Channel and Georgian Bay. Regarding recommendations, I suggest:

--not too much draft in the boat. Many nice anchorages are in 6-feet of water

--good charts. There are plenty of hazards, but good charts show them. And get the real charts, not a reprint in a chart book. The real charts are much easier to use. The chart book is OK for a back up.

--spare propeller for power boats

--hull repair kit; if you don't hit something you didn't really visit the North Channel.

--a good inflatable dingy with outboard so you can explore; there are thousands of little side channels.

As for sail or power, you will find plenty of sailboats up there, but most of them are motoring around all day. The number of sailboats underway with sails up and engine off is actually not very large.

Fuel is expensive in Canada in general and in remote harbors of the North Channel and Georgian Bay in particular. If you can buy fuel in the USA and carry enough with you for a long cruise, you could save a lot of money. When the Canadian dollar was strong and gasoline was expensive, I was paying over $6-per-gallon in the North Channel. The best place to buy fuel is at Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay. There is some big fuel distribution center near there, and that was always the least expensive gasoline you could find.

Also bring a lot of drinking alcohol with you from the USA. Canada seems to be trying to tax alcohol out of consumption.

You can generally get decent groceries and occasionally good produce, but watch out for meat. Northern Ontario is the home of mystery meat. If you have good refrigeration, bring lots of frozen meat with you.

Even though I have been going to the North Channel almost every year since 1987, I still look forward to each visit, and we find new places to go and new things to do each trip.
Have you been to a grocery store in somewhere like Paradise Michigan? If you want mystery meat I'd stop in there before heading to Ontario.

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Old 07-08-2015, 06:28   #39
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

I'm a great lakes sailor (Lake Superior/Apostle Islands) and have found that a weatherly boat works best as you're always going to weather. Shoal draft boats like Island Packets in the 35-38' range sound great for you and are wonderful ocean sailors...but they don't go to weather like a fin-keel. So unless you want to spend a lotta time motoring I guess I'd look at an older C&C Landfall or boats of like ilk. They're inexpensive, shoal draft, still perform well, largely fresh-water boats that by now have most likely been upgraded with new engines/sails/electronics/interiors.
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Old 07-08-2015, 10:46   #40
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Have you been to a grocery store in somewhere like Paradise Michigan?
I have not shopped for groceries in Paradise, Michigan.

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If you want mystery meat I'd stop in there before heading to Ontario.
Thanks for the recommendation, but I am not looking for mystery meat. I am trying to avoid it. Hence my earlier recommendation to buy quality meat in the USA and bring it with you on your long cruise in the North Channel of Lake Huron, assuming your boat has proper refrigeration.
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Old 07-08-2015, 10:50   #41
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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I'm a great lakes sailor (Lake Superior/Apostle Islands) and have found that a weatherly boat works best as you're always going to weather.
This is good advice for the North Channel because the winds there are generally Westerlies with an occasional Easterly, and I believe that is caused by the general shape of the North Channel, the north shore, and Manitoulin Island creating a long and relatively narrow stretch of E-W open water.
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Old 08-08-2015, 07:39   #42
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

The best boat is anything that gets you up there because the North Channel is not to be missed.

We just got back from a 2 week trip to the North Channel. We saw everything from day sailors to 40+ ft boats, so somehow everyone is making their own thing work. The Canadian charts on our Garmin chart plotter were right on, as well as the Navionics charts on my tablet. Our Seaward 25 worked for us because it only drafts around 2 ft, making shallow water less of a problem, and it handles higher winds and waves well (we had a bit of that this year). When we were in the Benjamins, the day before we left, I didn't feel like taking our portabote down, so I just anchored close to the rocks on shore and tied off, and waded in...pretty cool (just gotta trust the anchor as the anchorage was windy that day). My only wish would be that the boat was a faster up wind performer, but it has many other good points that offset this. One of the boats we were with was a trimaran, and it was just painful to watch them run circles around everyone else.

We did do more motor sailing than I like to do up there, but we launched at Little Current and took advantage of a couple of east wind days to go west and got west winds the rest of the trip and went east. The $14 Canadian, I spent filling my diesel tank up there says we really didn't motor a lot. The tow vehicle, on the other hand...

We initially had some boat problems, when we got up there. I can't say enough about all the local people and businesses that helped us get back on the water within a short period of time. It really was a trip ending kind of issue with our inboard prop shaft and coupling, and we were able to get back in the water by Wed. of the first week, and make up for lost time, rather than end the trip early and go home.
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Old 08-08-2015, 07:57   #43
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

I sailed out of the North Channel Yacht Club for a few years, and then spent the next near-decade on Lake Superior. I be sailed four of the five Great Lakes now. My observation about all the motorboats with sticks, as opposed to sailboats ;-), is due to two main reasons:

#1. Schedules. People who set off with too little time, and are committed to a specific schedule. Go where the wind blows you. There are anchorages everywhere in the North Channel.

#2. Lack of good light airs sails. The fact is that during summer months most of the days on all the Great Lakes will have light winds most of the time. To keep moving a sailboat needs some usable light airs sails. If they're too much of a PITA to hoist then it becomes easier to go with wind-by-Perkins.


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Old 25-08-2015, 20:24   #44
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

Have a look at a Northeast 400. Might be a bit big for what you want but well within your budget. It is a motorsailer (100 hp) with inside (and outside) steering and enough sail area and waterline length to sail well.
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Old 20-09-2015, 15:11   #45
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Re: Best boats for the North Channel

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Have you been to a grocery store in somewhere like Paradise Michigan? If you want mystery meat I'd stop in there before heading to Ontario.

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Well said!
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