Toes in Georgian Bay

Since we were going to be returning to the marina at the end of the week, we wanted to head out for a couple days’ cruise, but not too far. It happens we were in the perfect location for that. There are a zillion places to see, and our slip neighbor, Rick, spent some time with us reviewing charts and offering his knowledge of the cruising grounds. Very helpful! Although the cruising guides are pretty complete, they describe all the areas one can visit, but don’t offer much in the way of what one should plan to see. That’s where local knowledge is valuable. We learned where the weekend hot spots are, and which areas would be best to see, given our time frame. So we decided to head to Beausoleil Island, part of Parks Canada.

Beausoleil Island (locals pronounce it “Boze-lee”) is just a short run from Penetanguishene (Penetang, locally), about 8 miles. There’s a dock there, and our season pass will allow us to dock there, if there’s space. Rick indicated that it’s usually occupied, but there are a number of anchorages. As we approached the full-up dock, a boat on the T-head was slipping lines, so we slid in behind them! Nice to have easy access to shore without the need for the dinghy. The dock was filled with lots of smaller cruisers in the 20-35 ft range, but we managed to fit. Friendly folks caught our lines and helped us tie up. Truth be told, I believe they’re eager to help for the opportunity to eyeball the boat up close. We’re getting accustomed to the fact that our boat is somewhat unusual for the area, and we attract lots of inquisitive looks and questions everywhere we tie up. It’s all fun, and it’s a great opportunity to meet local cruisers and pick their brains while we recite boat specs! We signed up for two nights, no charge thanks to our Parks Canada season mooring pass! We’ve certainly gotten our money out of the pass!

The park comprises the entire island, and is accessible only by boat for boating, camping, hiking and biking. It’s a delightful park, save the bugs and snakes. Yes, Beausoleil (and most of Georgian Bay) is home to the Ontario rattlesnake. They’re not agressive, but the park folks and signage cautions about the snakes, and offers suggestions to avoid unpleasant results! One suggestion is to keep dogs leashed, since a curious dog is at far more risk from a serious bite than a cautious hiker. So Molly was leashed! A hike on our second day in the park introduced us to a nice-sized rattler, I probably would have stepped on it had I not gotten an arm across my chest and a tense “watch!!!” Unfortunately, the critter slithered into the brush before I had a chance to get out the camera. Drats! Yeah, I know, if I don’t have pictures, it didn’t happen. Hmmmph…. Take my word, it was there!  I have no snake aversion, instead found it fascinating! He did rattle, but the rattles were pretty small, and he was pretty anxious to be on his way!

A slip neighbor who asked about Maerin the evening of our arrival asked if we’d be interested in a dinghy scoot the following day. We accepted, and Brian, who lives in Waterloo and keeps his boat in Honey Harbor, has been boating in the area all his life, so we were happy to have him as our tour guide as we followed him in our dinghy on about a 14 mile circuit of the area around the “Main Channel” that’s part of the small craft channels marked on the Canadian charts. The charts have a red route line, similar to the infamous “magenta line” of ICW fame! I digress… We enjoyed a very pleasant ride, with Brian in the lead we saw a lot of the high points, and he would periodically stop and wave us alongside to give us some commentary on the area, and where the best anchoring spots were to be found. On our return, we invited him to stay for dinner since his wife was at home. He was happy for the offer, and after dinner we reviewed charts and points of interest further north for our time in Georgian Bay. With the weather cooperating, we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon, and Molly enjoyed the stops we made with a swim opportunity at each one!


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