Departing Little Current, we made for the town of Kagawong the following morning and decided to tie-up at the town dock for just a few hours. Jennifer packed a picnic lunch and we were off to hike the White Pine Trail to Bridal Falls. We were instantly reminded of some of our favorite family hikes in the Maine woods – Mt. Battie, Mt. Megunticook, Cadillac Mountain and a number of others. We followed a pretty stream past a small privately owned hydroelectric facility. It looked not much larger than a Swiss mountain cabin, though a large quantity of water rushed from under it, so we expect the owner was generating some power to sell to a power pool or maybe directly to local customers. A cool small business idea if you have a river running under your house.
Once we arrived at the end of the trail, the kids looked at the waterfall and asked a local swimmer if they could leap from the top, probably around 100 feet above. Too high he said and not permitted anyway since the water is a mere five feet deep. We asked the kids if they would have jumped had it been deep enough. And they looked at us like we were nuts. Of course they would have jumped, that was why they practically ran the entire trail to get there! We’re glad to see that adventurous light burns so brightly inside them.
With a good afternoon hike behind us, we untied and headed out for the town of Gore Bay and their town dock. We admired some beautiful boats in the harbor, chatted with a few of their owners, toured the town, walked along a boardwalk through a beautiful marsh and then checked-out a local cafe reported to have a Nepalese cook. Alas, he was gone. Our own master chef still needed a break however, so we decided to have dinner onshore – a rarity for us.
The kids have certainly developed more sophisticated palates on this trip. Mostly vegetarian, though we carnivorous boys onboard get to stray when we grill ourselves. Jennifer doesn’t offer up a menu for dinner where everyone chooses what they’d like. The kids eat what’s for dinner, that’s it. Like when we grew up. That’s not to say they don’t make faces or look at some dishes askance. They do. But less and less. And they gobble up more exotic and healthy meals by the week. And most importantly, they have a growing appreciation of how food fits into our lives – nutrition, health, environment, agriculture, tradition, culture. Meals in my family were always where and when the conversations happened, the stories, the laughing, the tea, the music. And we try to do the same aboard Muddy Waters, with Jennifer at the galley helm.
Next morning it was off to Meldrum Bay to sit out the weather. We had squall warnings and were in the lee of the island so felt some gusty and fluky winds and rain but nothing terrible given our tucked-in spot. We awoke to clouds, rain, wind and an Environment Canada warning of thunderstorms, steady 20 knots winds with gusts to 30 knots. A day to sit tight. Though the cloud cover eventually gave way to clear azure skies and cotton puff clouds, those little clouds that come with high pressure systems were zipping by at a good clip. We took a long walk with the kids along the rocky shore and were rewarded with all kinds of beautiful small stones.
Around 8 pm a boat radio-ed on channel 16 that it was in distress and was making for the Meldrum Bay docks. The dock master alerted the few of us in the marina. The couple and their daughter had been on the water in steady 25 knot winds with 35 knot gusts and 4 – 6 foot seas. Bad idea. The were running downwind and rolling like mad, their upper helm station enclosure was ripped off entirely and their upper wheel stopped working. Turns out their only working instruments were up top so the husband was at the helm in the wheel house and the wife was shuttling back and forth between the flybridge and the lower decks. Yikes. When not throwing up, the daughter was apparently texting her last will and testament to her boyfriend.
Once they called on the radio, it was great to see Keenan and Daria both snap to attention and ask how they could help. Both quickly put on their coats and hats, and Keenan began to get the dinghy ready to launch. We learned the boat in distress wouldn’t need a tow in, however, just assistance getting on the dock. Both kids, along with all the other sailors, rushed out and helped grab lines and secure the boat to the dock on the windy evening.
It turned out not to be too dramatic (for those of us on the dock anyway!), and it was great to see the kids jump up and offer to help in a time of potential trouble. Though the boat made it in safely under its own power, it could have been a less happy ending. Jennifer whipped up some hot chai tea for all of us and we sat in the salon warming our fingers. Jennifer and I were proud most of all that the kids didn’t hesitate for a second. They heard there was trouble and they wanted to help. We love seeing that spirit in the kids.
We still had our VHF tuned to channel 16 and we heard the Canadian Coast Guard call our new neighbor on the dock and ask if someone onboard their boat had been text messaging a friend. (The friend had phoned the Coast Guard it seems.) “Yes”, the father answered, his daughter was aboard and now safe and had indeed been texting a friend. Then the father paused and said something like, “And, sir, whatever she might have texted or promised – as her father and captain of this boat – I hereby revoke!” We then heard a short acknowledgement and laugh from the Coast Guard officer. We all laughed too and then started getting Muddy Waters ready so we could depart in the morning.
While in Medlrum Bay, our friends and fellow Loopers Chris and Bruce aboard Bade Boomer were a few docks away and we visited and shared some cruising thoughts. We also met the lovely adventure-seeking couple, Matt and Mary, aboard their beautiful red and solidly-built Corbin sailboat Marion Mae and got to learn lots about the wonders of exploring, boating and diving on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. We hope all these new friends will call on us one day in Miami.
The following morning we departed our final Canadian port of the trip and headed for the good ol’ USA. The North Channel was still quite lumpy from the previous day’s wind, plus 20 knot gusts that morning. We engaged the roll stabilizers and plowed through 3 to 5 foot waves as we rounded the corner of the island. The wind eventually settled, the white caps turned in, and we motored along enjoying the beautiful scenery. We had a fine run of about forty-five miles to Drummond Island and the Drummond Island Yacht Haven where we cleared customs.
After getting our stamps and making sure everything was tied-down, Jennifer and I jogged nearly across the island, the kids caught up on some homeschooling, and we had dinner on deck and talked about our favorite places we’d visited in Canada. It was a fitting end to a wonderful trip on the water through Canada. Pristine wilderness, quaint towns, not-to-be-underestimated waters and many new friends.