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Redline 25 From Wiarton to Howdenvale and Return

After I delivered Pieces of Eight to Wiarton with my friend I needed to find a slip.  Why not keep her in Howdenvale Bay where I sailed the Fennec and it was sheltered.  I would just anchor her in the bay.  

I leave Wiarton early in the morning.  Destination - Howdenvale with a stop over in Tobermory, some 32 nm.  I was going to re-fuel in Tobermory, get some food and stay overnight. 

Georgian Bay is flat, like a mirror, no wind and it is hot and humid.  Ideal day for a late day thunderstorm.  As I am motoring up the coast past Lion's Head and Dyer's Bay I see clouds forming into what promises to be a major thunderstorm.  

There are a couple of other boats ahead of me and everyone is cranking up the engines to make maximum speed to get to Wingfield basin which is a very sheltered little bay protected by cliffs.  I know if I get caught by this thunderstorm out in the open it won't be pretty.

I did make Wingfield basin and just, and I mean just, got the anchor down and by this time the wind had piped up and I am doing this solo and I have never ever anchored before and I am in a crowded anchorage and all hell is breaking loose. 

Talk about a thunderstorm!  Wow!  The nice part about Wingfield basin is that it could be a hurricane hole.  High cliffs all around and only a very narrow entrance.  Ideal place to be in bad weather.

Now I am in Wingfield basin and it is 7 P.M. and the thunderstorm has past but there is no food onboard except a couple of crackers, some cheese and a coke!  The choice I have, is to motor to Tobermory,  which will take 3 to 4 hours and it will be dark soon or stay put and eat some of the cheese and some of the crackers.   

I stayed put!  I managed to ask a boat near buy with a tall mast to see if we could make a call home to say that I was fine.  They said no problem and I did get through saying that I was fine.  

I was to proud and to ashamed to ask for food though. A real sailor would have had provisions on board.  I was up by 6 A.M. next day, very hungry -  had the rest of the crackers and the cheese and finished the rest of the coke.

Tried to get the anchor out.  No dice!  I think I finally got it loose by motoring over it and breaking it out or tightening the anchor rode and then walking to the stern of the boat and then back to tighten some more and then walking to the stern of the boat, etc.

Got underway and made Tobermory by 10 A.M. or so.  Just in time for breakfast - which was just fabulous - bacon and eggs and toast and coffee and homefries.  Yummy!

You would think that I had learned my lesson back in '88 on the trip from Port Darlington to Whitby.

Then went shopping to make sure I had some food onboard and left for Howdenvale.  First thing in the spring now, I bring canned tuna, salmon, crackers and canned soups on board!  Before every trip provisions are bought.

Followed the buoys of the "pleasure craft channel" out past Cape Hurd and into Lake Huron.

And then I did it again.  Gee - why don't I stay close to shore and just motor down the coast line.  No wind - just like the day before!
Of course, some hours later a couple of nautical miles or so before Stokes Bay, the center-board goes bump and bump and bump!

I look at the water and what do I see - huge boulders and rocks.  Shit! Shades of Newcastle to Whitby trip.  You would think I would learn, eh.

Throttle back the engine to idle.  Go below and look a the chats.  Oh gee - there are buoys 5 n. miles or more (don't remember) off-shore and I am supposed to be on the other side of the buoys.  STUPID!

These days I am very anal about knowing where the buoys are, where the channel is and I plan the trip and route and course before I leave the dock and constantly check the charts to make sure I am where I am supposed to be!

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful.  Keep motoring, look for the buoy marked N2 and then hang a left.  Eventually N2 was spotted and I gingerly headed for shore.  There are no buoys and local knowledge is a must.  I found Beament Island and I knew that just to the north of it is a small channel.  

Found the channel, motored through it and saw the big rocks at the bottom.  The water is very clear up north.  

I head for land in the general direction of Howdenvale.  It is surprisingly difficult to pick up landmarks from 3 miles out.  

Eventually I recognize where I am and tie up at the Howdenvale government dock.  No one there to greet me so I had to walk a mile to the cottage. 

I kept the boat at anchor for a couple of weeks but worried the whole time that it would break loose. Also the sailing was difficult.  I had to basically motor back out to the N2 buoy for safe sailing.  The inside bay may have been fine for dinghy sailing but certainly not for a 25 foot sailboat.

In the meantime I am looking for an inexpensive marina and discussing the options of where to keep the boat with the local sailors.  They keep on telling me that Lake Huron is a mean lake in September and I better find a place before September arrives.  

I make a decision to sail her back to Wiarton and strike a deal with Wiarton marina to stay there for the rest of the season.  

On the return trip my friend Bruce accompanied me.  We have a pleasant sail up the Lake Huron, past Stokes Bay, a possible refuge, and past Johnston Harbour which is a refuge but you would have wanted to have gone into Johnston Harbour on a calm day as the channel into it is very tricky. 

Eventually Cape Hurd  is sighted and now we need to make a decision.  Take the "Pleasure Craft Channel" or the Devil Island channel.  I want to go up the "Pleasure Craft Channel" but pick the wrong buoy.  I pick up the first buoy of the Devil Island Channel and as my next buoy I pick the Pleasure Craft buoy and which means we are passing over some shallow water.  We are okay because the Redline only draws 2' 6" but still another stupid mistake.  We make it safely into the Pleasure Craft Channel and then hear on the radio that a big powerboat made the same mistake I did but he hit some rocks and has to be towed off.  

We spend the night in Tobermory and it is blowing hard so we decide to stay put.  Bruce needs to go back to work but I stay till Monday and motor the back to Wiarton.  I did a lot of motoring in those days.  Mostly there was no wind.  It is 15 nm from Tobermory to Cabot Head and then another 20 nm to Cape Crocker.  About 1/2 into Colpoy's Bay the wind finally arrived but I was tired and just motored to my slip.  

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Copyright by Peter Deppisch, February 2006