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Old 15-09-2019, 18:45   #1
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Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Hi All, New here... Not sure if this is the right section to be posting in, because my question has a few dimensions to it.
I am planning a first cruise in my CL 16 on Georgian Bay (likely summer 2021), and looking for some wisdom.
I have kayaked in these waters, and sailed in Kingston, but I have no cruising experience and am looking for some guidance regarding route and contingency planning. I realize these can be challenging waters, and my questions may reveal my inexperience. Please bear with me.

Route: Britt to Parry Sound

In general, do folks in a boat of this type (relatively shallow draft, smaller displacement, pivoting centerboard) stick to the small craft channels, or more freely wander? If you're wandering, do you aim to know precisely where you are at all times, to avoid hitting rocks, or mostly just keep your eyes open?
It makes sense to me that one would escape the vessel-choked channel and make headway on the outside. In these cases, do you aim to always know your precise position, or just the general lay of the land? (When kayaking, having a couple reference points is enough, because hitting rocks is a non-issue.)
If the weather gets heavy while on the outside (more open water) and you need to find shelter, would you just use your eyes to guide you into a bay, or heave-to and plot a detailed route in through one of the deeper channels? Do you aim to know where you are, precisely, even when in deep water?

I suspect the answer will be: On the outside, you need a general idea of where you are, and in the channels you really ought to know more exactly.


In a kayak, you can find your way with a little more trial and error, with no consequence. In my experience out there, I have seldom seen water that I could not comfortably sail in, but once you add in the danger of hitting rocks, I get a bit more nervous. In light airs, moving through the shallows I don't see as a big issue. My fear is about what to do if the weather gets gusty while I'm a little off-shore and I want to come in for shelter. Navigating to exactitude while managing a dinghy in tough conditions seems unrealistic. Does that mean I'm not ready for the cruise?
How do you guys approach your way-finding, planning and escape routes?

thanks
Ian
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Old 16-09-2019, 02:25   #2
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Ian.

This Route has many narrow passages. The shoreline and bottom are unforgiving granite.
https://www.great-lakes-sailing.com/...aft-route.html
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Old 16-09-2019, 03:00   #3
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Please take a Power Squadron Ontario course this Winter and learn to navigate.

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Old 16-09-2019, 03:24   #4
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Itís hard to know how to respond Ian. You sound like you donít know what youíre doing with regard to this this adventure. But obviously you have some skills and experience as a kayaker. Your little sailboat is very shallow draft (less than a foot), so youíll get away with a lot of bad navigation, but the right answer is to know where you are at all times.

As you know, Georgian Bay is notoriously difficult to navigate in because every damn rock and island looks the same, and there are 10,000 of them. Thatís why the small craft channel is so well marked. You should definitely learn to navigate, so LittleWingís recommendation is a good one.

You should get a simple handheld chartplotter with the Georgian Bay charts on it, but you still need to know how to navigate.

Winds can come up fast and furious sometimes on the Bay. How good a sailor are you? It will easily produce winds no one would want to sail in, especially in a little boat. But of course most of the time it is light (at least in the warm summer months).
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Old 16-09-2019, 03:34   #5
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Mix and match, play the forecast. The sailing can be tricky on the inside due to flukey winds. The sailing on the outside can be dangerous due to the largely uninhabited rocky lee shore. I think the inside route would be preferable in all but light winds. Light wind, it would likely be worth popping out on the outside to make some miles.

Yes to your question about pilotage vs navigation. I would navigate a boat like a wayfarer somewhere in between a kayak and a small keel boat. The charts don't really have the granularity most dingy sailors want for deeking behind islands and running up shallow inlets. So have a decent idea where you are using your chart plotter but be prepared to use your eyeballs and judgement to extrapalate.
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Old 16-09-2019, 05:35   #6
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

From my experience in that area, the risk in "popping out" for a few miles is that you need to channel to pop out through and another one to pop back in. And when you're outside you need to be far enough off to avoid the rocks on that side (generally a lee shore, as has been noted).
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Old 16-09-2019, 06:17   #7
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Here are a couple of screenshots showing the area, one zoomed out to show Georgian Bay and one zoomed in to show the inside channel.

One big difference with a kayak vs a sailboat is you can make VMG in any direction. A sailboat simply won't do that, so you can't just stop and turn around if things get ugly.

So I think the solution is to plot a detailed route through to safe water, and then keep a somewhat open mind on how exactly you are going to connect the docks.

Of note, when navigating in channels and rock gardens like this, you are not staring at your chart or following a magenta line on a chart plotter. You are setting up your route with your chart/chartplotter, then finding landmarks with your eyes and navigating with the landmarks, with your chart available so you don't lose track of your position/land marks.

Land marks will include such things as buoys (which are numbered for easy following), range lights, lighthouses, sector lights, islands and even cottages etc.
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Old 16-09-2019, 08:14   #8
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

I had a Wayfarer out in and around Parry Sound this summer. Great sailing.

Here is some details on Wayfarer sailing in Georgian Bay: http://www.wayfarer-international.or...-Clockwise.pdf


Allan.
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Old 16-09-2019, 08:35   #9
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

What wonderful responses you've had, esp. the last I saw about sailing anti-clockwise about Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer. I ditto the remark -- "take the Power Squadron class the winter to learn to navigate" and a LOT MORE. The Bay is a gem but it also large and rocky !
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Old 16-09-2019, 09:14   #10
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Years ago I purchased a book Dinghy Cruising with Phillips. I believe it's out of print but there maybe a copy out there some where( it was printed in 1981). There was however a list of associations, and as he sailed a Wayfarer I have submitted a link to their cruising page. Cruise Logs Index
I also recommend taking a Canadian Power and Sail Course or two, it's an excellent way to prepare for your trip Boating Courses
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Old 16-09-2019, 10:24   #11
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Yes agreed. Thanks for the responses. My navigation is strong for the requirements of kayaking. But then it is easy enough to stop and take a minute or two to find ones bearings without the boat requiring much attention. I'll look into the mentioned course. Realistically I think I need practice rather than training.
I did read that account of sailing counter clockwise round the bay. Thanks.
My sailing skills certainly need some work. Got my bronze 4 years ago. But I suppose that really means squat in the context of cruising challenging waters. Need to update and practice reefing system, recovery from capsize etc. as well as general handling.
Maybe I should start with a less challenging cruise. Not sure where to go that offers the camping availability on gb.
Lots to think about.
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Old 16-09-2019, 11:06   #12
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Thousand Islands has excellent camping too. The navigation is easier, but still no cake walk. The sailing is probably harder due to currents though. Big thing is there are a lot more bail outs and resources.

Navigating a Wayfarer shouldn't be much harder than a kayak. Like you said. Heave to. Takes 10 seconds.
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Old 16-09-2019, 11:39   #13
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

Remember that ditty (which I may or may not have exactly right), but: "a great march starts with only a step" ? We all begin somewhere, and usually way out of step. If you're not planning on doin' the big trip next year then get some practique somehow, anywhere. Go to a good sailing school class asap or this winter in the south. Also see if you can't go out with other people, on their boats, and see what mistakes they make. Everyone makes mistakes ! Also, put out a modest ad that you're eager and pleasant to be and maybe not highly experience and then that'd you'd bring beer/drinks and some sandwiches ! You don't have to circumnavigate Georgian Bay or the World to have a great time. Just sail and in out of Midland or Parry Sound or wherever is convenient .... Or launch your boat on one of the Trent Severn system Lakes -- all pretty and interesting too. Just have fun.
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Old 16-09-2019, 12:21   #14
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

In many ways, the Muskoka Lakes would be better for a first trip than Britt to Parry Sound, same thing with the Rideau Lakes. Lots of cheap camping, protected water, easy to navigate.

I don't think it will be too easy to find folks that can teach you much about dinghy cruising by running ads. Its a pretty niche activity. Not a lot of people doing it. Getting out on bigger keel boats might not be that helpful/relevant.

I wouldn't wait until 2021 to do a simple camping trip with a Wayfarer. If you already have a boat, there is probably still time to plan and execute this year. If not, then next year.
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Old 16-09-2019, 12:48   #15
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Re: Georgian Bay in a Wayfarer

The North Channel also offers small boat sailors some pretty nice waters to travel. Getting into the Whaleís Back section puts you in pretty protected waters. Not sure about the camping possibilities, but Iím sure there must be lots.

Another place that comes to mind is the new Lake Superior Marine Conservation Area, centred around Rossport, ON. Itís a bit of trek, but there are a series of protected islands that forms a nice archipelago, with plenty of island camping.

BTW, I donít think your proposed route is unreasonable, but none of these trips should be treated lightly (not that I think you would). You asked about navigation. I think it is a basic requirement to be able to know where you are. I have canoed some of this stretch, and sailed it in bigger boats. Itís definitely a challenge to navigate, but thousands of people do it every season. All it requires is some skills and experience ó which Iím sure you can achieve.
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