Log #2c North Channel to Baie Finne

July 20, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Logs by Series, Series 02 Toronto To North Channel, The Logs

Log #2c North Channel to Baie Finne
Sugar Island, Illinois River, USA
(41 20.5 N, 08 28.9 W.)
Oct. 3, 1998

Hi Folks,

We are on our second day down the Illinois River from Chicago. We stopped early today, so I had a chance to catch up on my log entry. I know I am about two months behind, but what the heck, I’m retired! I am not sure when I will be able to send this, as I have to request of some one to use their telephone jack to send my E-mail. I should be able to do so when we reach Peoria in a couple of days.
Everything is fine with us and the boat so far. Our stay in Chicago was great, and we got the mast down at the Columbia Yacht Club in Chicago. We hit a strong thunder storm last night and stayed in Joliet (the penitentiary town). We have gone through two locks so far, but after the Welland Canal we can handle locks O.K. However, the barge traffic is already heavy and challenging.
I’m off for now, and will send this at the first opportunity when we are alongside someplace. So below is Log #2c.
Take care,

Aubrey Millard
at anchor off the southern tip of Sugar Island in the Illinois River at 41 20.5 N, 08 28.9 W.


Oct. 3, 1998
While motoring through Peoria Lake, I had a chance to do Log #1d this afternoon while Judy was on watch, so I will append this log as well. It originally started out as a traditional log of our passage, but I got myself involved with our electrical system when we returned to Veleda after 5 days with no recharging. So I will send this detailed account of our electrical upgrades as Log #1d. Incidentally, today marks the third month of liveaboard sailing. We are still enjoying it. Every day presents a new vista, experience and challenge. It’s a great life!

LOG # 2c

After leaving Gore Bay on July 21, we motored to the Benjamins where we were surprised to find our favourite anchorage in South East Cove of South Benjamin unoccupied. We have anchored there a few times before and love the seclusion of it.
There is a pink sandy beach at the inner end of the cove. The cove itself is bordered by a high rock face with a sheer drop of about 100 feet on the south and a wooded craggy rock outcropping of the same height on the north side. There were good blueberry patches on both summits. We got some good pictures from above of VELEDA anchored in this narrow cove. Linda is interested in painting, and so we dropped her off on one of the outlying rock islands to sketch away for the afternoon.

In the early evening we motored out in our dinghy, ”Northern Sprite” to one of the Sow and Pigs (a batch of low lying rocks worn smooth by glaciation) to watch the glorious sunset up the North Channel. It was a tranquil time to sit on the rocks and just quietly watch the sun go down. The pink and orange hues permeated the few clouds on the horizon, highlighting in stark white some of the higher clouds. Then as the sun sank lower the tops of the clouds darkened a little, while the undersides were bathed in a luxurious pink, fading to a rich orange as we watched the orange orb of the sun wink out below the horizon. It reminded us of a tradition in Key West where every evening people go down to the Mallory Docks to watch the sun go down across the Gulf of Mexico and to celebrate the ending of another day.

The next day we went up through Little Current, a charming  stopping for a bit of shopping, then continued east through the bridge to go over to Baie Fine. We were saddened to see Okichobee Lodge closed up again. It has a lovely location at the entrance to this fiord-like bay. We went about half way up the fiord and anchored in a shallow cove on the north side for the night, as we did not want to try to navigate into the Pool at the end of the bay in the dark. We had this little cove all to ourselves. We enjoy the isolation of anchoring in secluded coves (in contrast to the 30 or more vessels we encountered the next day in the Pool )

It was a pleasant run the next day down to the Pool. It reminded me of a similar trip down there fifteen years ago when we lived up in this area. We were drifting down Baie Fine in Windspray, our Venture 21, wing on wing. An old friend of mine I met when teaching in Germany, Bill Thompson, was teaching my son Gilles how to play the pan flute. As we ghosted down the bay along some of the rock walls, Bill would trill a few bars and then we heard a crystal clear haunting echo of his melody, then Gilles would imitate the tune, and it too came back with a granite purity. We continued down the bay for several minutes just listening to the two of them trilling their flutes and playing with the crystal clear echoes cascading from the white quartzite rock walls. It was one of those high moments of sheer pleasure, being with friends and family, on a mild sunny day, with a light following wind drifting down wing on wing — all was at peace with the universe!

Into the pool we went — boats all over! We tried to set the anchor three times and dragged each time in 15 to 20 knots of wind. We finally went over and tied off a rock face with a kedge anchor out. After lunch we heard a bumping on our hull and couldn’t figure out what was causing it. After a while it stopped and we thought nothing more of it. However after a few minutes we saw this large old snapping turtle lazily swimming off our stern. It had green moss on its shell, and an ancient reptilian face. We wondered if it would eat anything and threw it some old cold meat that we had had for too long anyways. A piece of meat would drift down slowly in front of him, then he would slowly, as if it were an effort, move his head or lazily move one of his clawed webbed “hands” to manoeuvre towards it and effortlessly open his jaws to engulf the drifting morsel. He stayed around the boat for about twenty minutes, then drifted off. We had noticed his shell appeared scarred and had some white and blueish markings. Later that evening in talking to a gentleman who was rowing around the anchorage, we found out this old turtle had been around for at least fifteen years and would actually ”mooch” treats from anchored boats by bumpnig up against their hulls to gain attention. That was what the mysterious bumping was on our hull, and explained the blueish markings caused from the bottom paint of the boats.

The wind kept up and shifted to the extent we didn’t trust our location, so we relocated to the very back bay of the Pool and put out our 35 pound plough with 50 feet of chain and 30 feet of line in 15 feet of water. We are glad we did, as the wind was blowing 20 to 25 knots for most of the night. The next day we hiked up to one of the crystal clear lakes above the Pool.

Log_2c_Baie_Fine                 Log_2c_Baie_Fine_2

It was one of those lakes where a person can see 20 to 30 feet down through sparkling crystal clear water that contains no life because of the acidity (thanks to the superstack at the INCO plant in Sudbury 50 miles away).

On leaving Baie Fine, we were returning to Little Current, this time to miss the bridge by about two minutes, and had to wait another hour to get through. Do the bridge keepers enjoy closing the bridge on sailboats in the channel going full speed to make the bridge only to have it closed on them one or two hundred yards from it? We commiserated with the other boat which was trying to make it too. After a brief stop in Little Current we went up the Wabuno Channel to Sturgeon Cove to anchor for the night. Once again the material from the Great Lakes Cruising Club came in useful to identify the dog-legged entrance to this bay. We again had to share it, but with only five other boats. The next morning we sailed up into the Bay of Islands to an isolated inlet across from a camp owned by the Chisnels, the family of my daughter-in-law, Alvin’s wife Sandra. We secured Veleda off a rock wall and took stern and bow lines across the inlet to tie off to rocks for added security. We left Veleda there for four days as we borrowed Sandra’s car to go down to South Baymouth to catch the Chichimon ferry back to Tobermory and return to Toronto to take care of several details we left unfinished.