The Adventures of Ninkasi

Journal for 2008

The real May 24 Weekend Canada Day
Collingwood, Thornbury and Meaford Trip The Rest of the Summer

The Real May 24 Weekend

Alex and Emma at the Visitor's arch So why why do I refer to this as “The real May two-four” weekend. In Canada we celebrate Victoria Day on the last Monday before or on May 24th. Although we call it the May two-four weekend, it is a very rare event when it does actually fall on the 24th. This year was to be no exception. Usually the “May 24” weekend is our first official start of the summer and is consistency also a rather miserable weekend. In keeping with tradition, this year was no different and it fully exceeded expectations. It was cold, rainy and damp the entire weekend. Gord and I came to the decision that if we were going to spend most of the weekend trapped inside the boat we may as well have the convenience of electricity, heaters and easy access to ice. So in lieu of this decision we don’t have any pictures or many stories of the officially recognized “May 24”, but it is safe to say that it was cold and it rained. Steve in Kitchi's Chair

The following weekend however, (of which Saturday was the 24th) was a rather enjoyable trip out to Beausoliel. The weather ended up being great and we went for the usual hikes to the chair and then up to Thumb Point. The Trilliums were once again in full bloom.

The Family in Kitchi's Chair Trillium on the Path
Alex and Emma with a Caterpillar Emma on the swing

Canada Day

Ninkasi in Our Spot This was the first time in a few years that Gord and Stevie didn’t come up with us for the Canada Day weekend. Kathy was off this year and we decided to turn it into a week of vacation instead of the usual extended long weekend. It started out great, we were out early on the Friday morning and managed to pull right into “our spot” on the north end of the cruiser dock. I have a preference for this spot especially on the long weekends as there are always some rather large cruisers passing by through out the weekend that seem to be very successful at their attempt to put out the largest wake that the boat can manage. Relaxing at the Cruiser Dock

If you happen to be tied up on the end of the dock you will take these on the side and depending on the size of your boat and how well it can ride them will determine the crunch factor. So of course being on the end we take them on the stern and there is almost no effect.

Since we were here before the crowds started coming in we managed to have a rather quiet and relaxing Friday and Saturday. Little did we know that things were about to change…

Kathy at the Cruiser Dock Later in the afternoon on Saturday a smaller rather rough looking sailboat (I cringe at the fact he was a sailor) pulled into an open spot on the wall and the skipper then proceeded to introduce himself (with a rather loud and annoying voice) to everyone at the dock. He then continued to enlighten everyone about his past adventures, future plans, how he forgot his BBQ and whatever else happened to be on his mind at that particular moment. Within short order he was giving his opinions on everything to anyone who would listen and especially to those who showed no interest whatsoever. Alex at the Cruiser Dock He was completely oblivious to the fact that the people he was talking to were ignoring him and when they eventually turned their back on him and walked away he would just move on to the next available ear. Not long after this the dock was mostly empty and he headed back to his boat to continue his conversations with the two younger girls he brought with him.

Things seemed to settle down a bit so we had dinner and then started a fire and relaxed while the kids had some marshmallows. As it started to get dark a new arrival showed up and tied his boat off to the sailboat and they all headed off into the campground. We breathed a collective sigh of relief that they decided not to join us. However when we had had enough for the evening, we left the fire going for them so they could cook their dinner. Alex jumping off the Cruiser Dock Shortly thereafter they came back and by this time were rather inebriated and wanted to buy some more firewood off us. So being a polite Canadian and figuring it would keep them out of my quickly disappearing hair, I sold them half a bag of wood. About one or two hours later the excitement started, there was lot of yelling, swearing, pushing, swearing, shoving, swearing, fighting and more swearing going on that pretty much everybody in the anchorage could hear them. By now they had abandoned the fire and were back at the boat, which unfortunately meant that they were pretty much right next to us and they continued to yell and argue for about another hour (by this time it was probably 2pm) until I completely lost it. Well if there was yelling and cursing before I took it to a whole new level and I ripped out a new ass for each one of them. After I threatened to finally call the police (which is what we should have done right from the start) things seemed to quiet down a bit and the skipper left to go call the police on his late arriving friend. At some point after this his friend untied his boat and left in the middle of the night.

Lesson Six: When people are being idiots and don’t listen to reason then stop being so damn polite and call the Police.

Kathy woke up about 4pm when the police arrived and she proceeded to tell them the entire story. By this time the other three on the boat were now passed out and the police had to aggressively use their batons to beat on the boat and wake them up. They remained for quite a while and although we didn’t actually hear the conversation we could tell that the police were not very happy. The next morning the previous night’s events were the main topic of conversation amongst all the other boaters. Much later in the day the three of them finally got up and of course skipper was trying to tell everyone that everything was someone else’s fault. After getting tired of his voice we decided to take a dingy ride to visit Dave and Maureen who were anchored out in the bay. They had also heard everything that was going on so we filled them in on the rest of it. Everyone at the dock and in the anchorage was elated when eventually we saw them untie and leave. I wish I could say it actually ended there but about three hours later we all shook are heads in disbelief as we saw him headed back towards the dock. Kathy and the girls in swiming

This time as he arrived I was there to meet him and I made sure to tell him that we would not be putting up with any of his crap and if there were any problems the police would be contacted. About two minutes later Dave raced over to dock and laid down the rules. He made it well known to the three of them that they were not welcome and there was to be no repeat of the previous night. There are some missing pieces of the events over the next few hours. What finally ended up happening was that the police came by and picked up the two girls, who we later found out were under age and took them off the island. We all thought that the skipper had also been arrested but a few hours later he reappeared and had been told by the police that he was to remain on his boat and leave the next morning.

Mink in the dock

Our original plan was to stay here for the weekend and then during the week when everyone headed back to work we would start to head on up the inside of the island and try some different spots. Well the weather was great and we were lazy so we ended up staying in the same spot for the entire week, I mean after all it is our spot. Compared to the weekend the rest of the week was nice and uneventful. We later found out that we had a new neighbour living in the dock at the front of our boat. The girls managed to get rather close and get a great picture of what we believe is a Mink. We took part in the Canada activities at the Park and Emma learned how to start a fire and use an adal-adal.

Emma starting a fire Emma using the Adal-Adal
Emma and Mike playing Happy Birthday

Kathy’s birthday (July 4th) happened to fall during our vacation and Emma helped Mike with the playing of Happy Birthday. Mike played the chords and Emma did a great job of the strumming. The rest of us joined in to vocalize a rather poor grunted version of the words. The rest of week was peaceful and we had great weather.

Alex and Emma on the bow

Collingwood, Thornbury and Meaford Trip

Check out the map of our Trip
This year we decided that instead of heading north we would head south west and do some marina hopping. Kathy’s brother boats out of Collingwood so we decided that would be a good stop and we added both Thornbury (on the advice of Dave) and Meaford to the trip. Overall they aren’t that far apart but to get to Collingwood we would have a four to five hour crossing of Nottawasaga Bay and probably a four hour trip just to get to the bay. We decided to break it up into a couple of parts. First we decided we would go to Beausoleil Island for the weekend and then depending on the weather we could head out whenever it looked good.

Alex as the skipper Monday morning everything looked right and we headed out. The plan was to head over to Beckwith Island and spend the night and then off to Collingwood the next morning. From the Beausoleil Island to Beckwith is about a 4 hour trip and of course whenever I plan a route I always allow for some changes or alternative routes in case the weather turns or the wind ends up on the nose. The trip was going well and the weather was holding out well until we got close to the bottom of the Giant’s Tomb and then the wind and waves started picking up (of course they were mostly on the nose) and we figured that we would have another hour or two to our destination. With this in mind we decided that we would pull into Methodist Bay for the night since it had been highly recommended by Mike and Ruth as long as the wind isn’t from the north.

We pulled in and anchored comfortably in 14 feet of water. Shortly thereafter the wind started to shift to the north and the waves started to bend around the point. The boat started to roll from side to side and after about two hours of this everyone except for myself was feeling a bit queasy so we decided to go ashore for a few hours until it started getting dark. Alex, Steve and Emma It had settled down a bit but we didn’t feel comfortable enough to all go to bed, so Kathy took the first watch and the kids and I tried to get to sleep. The kids were out quickly and I finally managed to get an hour of rest. I then went up to relieve Kathy. Within an hour it had really started to settle so I called it a night and we woke up about 6am to a completely flat and calm morning. After breakfast we headed out and started towards Christian Island with a nice breeze. We decided it was time for Alex to start working on her sailing badge for Girl Guides so she took the wheel for about 45 minutes and did a great job.

The lighthouse at Christian Island

After Alex had enough we changed our heading and went past the lighthouse towards Collingwood. Just after we went though the pass we could see the ski hills of Collingwood and even though it was about 14 miles away it was rather deceiving. The trip across Nottawasaga Bay was uneventful, in fact there was no wind which meant we had to motor the entire distance and we only passed one boat for the entire four hour trip.

Blue mountain as we approach

Collingwood used to be a ship building city so the trip was well marked and had lots of depth. We were going to be staying in the Collingwood Yacht Club. Kathy’s brother is a member and we were hoping to meet up with them while we were here. Of course entering an unknown marina is always an adventure but since there were much bigger boats than ours in the yacht club we knew we were pretty safe. The yacht club is a self service club and you just pick an empty spot and hope that whoever owns it is away for a few days. The yacht club is right next to the old grain silos which can be seen from miles away. They haven’t been used for a few decades but are a main part of the waterfront.

The grain towers in Collingwood

We spent three days in Collingwood and never met up with Kathy’s brother. We found out later they were on a trip of their own up in the Parry Sound area. The yacht club was a great place to stop for a few days. Everyone was very friendly and we had the use of all the ice we wanted, showers and an internet connection. We were only about a ½ mile walk from downtown which is great when you’re walking in empty handed but can seem like miles when heading back with a full load of supplies. We ended up trying out a few nice restaurants in the downtown area and one day we took a rather long walk out to the The Candy Factory.

Ninkasi in the Collingwood Yacht Club

On the way back we had to stop at what we now call Kathy’s “Beacon of Light”, Dairy Queen to the rest of us which she can seem to spot from miles away. On Thursday morning we thought it was time to move on but when we were preparing to leave we found two bats hiding underneath one of our fenders. As I flipped the fender over one of them fell into the water (I have no idea if bats can swim, so I'm not sure of its' outcome). The other one was rather startled and eventually flew away but not before Alex managed to get a great picture. The trip out of Collingwood started out rather uneventful and we ended up motoring most of the way to Thornbury since the wind was once again on the nose.

Bats on the boat

The trip from Collingwood to Thornbury is about twelve miles, however we had to head offshore to avoid the Mary Ward shoals and since we were now towing the new dingy and heading into the wind we only seemed to be making four knots, which meant a three hour trip.

By the time we got to the point where we could head back in towards shore the wind had picked up and the waves were about two metres. We hauled up the sails and started heading in at about six knots towards Thornbury. After checking out the entrance to Thornbury on the chart I was rather concerned about our approach. The waves and the wind were really starting to pick up and we were now taking them on the side. We were now into a major Sphincter clenching moment.

Entrance to Thornbury Marina

The approach to the marina has a rock wall to port and a concrete pier to starboard with a starboard hand buoy right in the middle of the channel. This would require a 90 degree turn half way through the entrance and we were still taking two metre waves directly on the beam. We managed but the adrenaline was flowing pretty good when we entered the harbour . I managed to take a picture of the entrance a few days later, but in dead calm it doesn’t look quite as daunting.

Steve drinking a Hoegaarden

Before we headed out on this trip Dave had mentioned how much he enjoyed Thornbury and I have to agree with him. This is now one of my favourite places we’ve visited in Georgian Bay. The marina is very quiet during the week but really pipes up on the weekends and has good showers, a number of great restaurants, a Laundromat, the LCBO (liquor store for those outside of Ontario), a chandlery and of course a Tim Hortons. The only thing lacking is a closer grocery store, however it is only a 25 minute walk which isn’t much different then in Collingwood.

Emma and Alex at the Dam Pub

One of our favourite restaurants was the Dam Pub. Any place that has great beer (something other then the regular lightly flavoured standard beer), good food and a nice pub environment is high in my books. As you can see I had a nice Hoegaarden. They also have Creemore and Guinness (it's great to have a choice).

The Marina was right next the local public beach and the girls were looking forward to taking their sand toys and heading out to the beach for the day. We were all used to the beautiful sand beaches that are found throughout Georgian Bay so we were all quite surprised to find a rock and stone beach. The girls loved it, although the sand castles didn’t quite look the same. They enjoyed playing in the waves and climbing on the submerged boulders. Next to the beach is the retaining wall or breakwater that forms the entrance to Marina and we were surprised at the continuous crowd of people and dogs that were jumping off into the water.

The locals jumping off the Pier in Thornbury

We all seemed to really enjoy our time in Thornbury. We managed to do up the laundry, went to a street dance with a live band, grabbed a few items from the LCBO, visited Tim’s and although we didn’t know it then, we found what should be the last boat we will ever own. When we were in Thornbury we walked the docks looking for a boat style that we might like to move up to in a few years and of course this is where we found the Pearson.

Alex on the beach in Thornbury Emma on the beach in Thornbury

Next it was on to Meaford, just a short eight mile trip up the coast and I had been checking the weather all morning and everything looked great. This also started out as a nice 15 knot wind on the beam (90 degrees to the boat) which is a nice comfortable point of sail in which we were zipping along at about 5 to 5½ knots. Alex and Emma in the Meaford marina I say started out because just as we were getting to the half way point the wind shifted to almost on the nose. We were still able to get some good headway but we needed to go off shore a bit. Now I mention the half way point because this is were you would usually make the keep going or turn back decision if the situation was deteriorating. At this point the wind had picked up to about 20 knots and we were still moving forward so onward we pushed. Well not too much later the wind continued to pick up, the waves were building and we were no longer making headway. There were now reports of water spouts (tornados that touch the water) about 200-300 miles away and the Coast Guard seemed to be keeping an eye on us as they were out doing maneuvers.

Coast Guard boat in the Meaford marina

Well enough of the sailing, we turned and headed straight for the marina and cranked up the throttle on the engine. By now the wind was up to 25 knots with gusts up to 30 and we were only making 2 ½ knots, which meant another 90 minutes. Although this wasn’t the same sphincter clenching moment, we eventually made it and were very relieved when we pulled into the Meaford marina and tied up to the main dock. The winds continued and didn’t seem like they were letting up so we moved the boat into a more sheltered area and almost immediately we noticed absolutely no difference.

Alex and Emma by the Coast Guard boat

The Meaford marina was another great place to stop and the facilities were even a bit nicer than in Thornbury and everything was also within walking distance. We spent the next day exploring the town, checked out some of the local shopping places and had a nice lunch at the “Leaky Canoe” (two thumbs up from Steve as they had Creemore on tap). We walked down a bit further and spent some time at the waterfront park. While the kids were playing somehow Kathy spotted another “Beacon of Life” (Dairy Queen) about one kilometre away, you could just barely make out the sign but I already knew where we were going after dinner tonight.

Alex and Emma on the cannon in Meaford

After a couple of days in Meaford we decided we would start back to our marina. We planned for a two day trip and the weather looked like it was going to behave so we headed out in the morning with the thought of anchoring at Beckwith. Well, this time the weather wasn’t a problem at all, in fact there was very little wind the entire trip across Nottawasaga Bay so we ended up motor sailing the entire way. Kathy took the helm for the first few hours of the trip and although the wind was pushing us a bit off course we decided to stick with it and enjoy the sail.

Alex and Emma at Hope Island

After a few hours Kathy went below to fix lunch so I took over and the wind abruptly died. We continued on and I was continuously teased by the odd zephyr but eventually I gave up and brought the sails in. We continued this time up the west side of Christian island (I guess we can now say that we have circumnavigated it) and followed the north shore to anchor in 8 feet of water at Sandy Cove on the southern side of Hope Island. The next morning we woke up and there was wind, it was even in the right direction, Kathy wasn’t getting the helm this time.

Alex and Emma on the bow

We headed out past the north end of Beckwith and straight for the southern end of Giant’s Tomb at about 5 ½ knots. Although the wind eventually died, I managed to get in a couple of good hours of sailing. We dropped the sails and continued on for another three enjoyable hours before pulling into our slip in Penetang.

The Rest of the Summer

Summer of 2008 Pictures

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