Getting Ready to Sail – Planning a trip up the North Channel to the Baie Fine Fjord

The world famous Baie Fine Fjord is nestled in the Canadian seclusion of Killarney Provincial Park, where adventurous people dare to tread. Sailing his grandkids up the Fjord is a long-time plan of my fathers, and this year, his 80th, we’re finally going to do it!

Dads birthday party sept 2018 (11)
One of his awesome presents on his 80th birthday. Safety rule #1: Dad has to wear this as soon as the sun goes down, every night. We are going to drill the children a few times before we leave for the Fjord.

Of course, we messed up and are going the second year after Dad sold his 30+ foot catamaran that would have withstood the worst millennial storms of Lake Huron (we tested it), and would have comfortably slept the whole fam-damly.

Dad, Jerry Cowtan, and his partner at the time, Cheryl Courville, ran the Port Elgin Sunset Sail tours for many years. The “His N Hers” catamaran was a fine sailing craft for his business. But as his 80th approach, Dad thought he might “slow down” a bit and finally take on those adventures that had been put aside for his “retirement” activities (taking out up to 4 charters a day).

This year, we’ll be sailing in his much smaller sailboat, about which Dad said,

“This must have been in someone’s barn for the past 30 years. Look at how good the wood still is”.

The new boat is a 1972 22′ Canadian Sailcraft {CS} with a swing keel that didn’t quite swing last year. Despite my misgivings after having been spoiled by the Cat, I have to admit, last spring’s sailboat prep was a great family project as we worked together to figure out how to unstick, unravel, and untwine the lines, the keel, and any of the other parts seized by time (luckily none of these parts were on my dad, just his boat).

I think we broke more than we fixed, but Dad gamely purchased what he needed and got the boat sailworthy. When we launched from the Port Elgin harbour, it was a whole new experience for my teenage sons. They were used to sailing the Catamaran, which was a beautiful boat but didn’t give you that sliver-jabbing, wave-fighting feel of a rudder handle. Nor did it heel up on its side like this one will do. My sons don’t know the fun they are in for on our upcoming trip.

So, what is the Baie Fine Fjord? It is one of Canada’s secluded and stunning waterways that leads into an incredible land-mass of Canadian Rocky-Shield wilderness. Think “Group of Seven” multiplied by World Heritage site and add a secret, hidden aqua-coloured Topaz Lake,  surrounded by high, rocky cliffs perfect for jumping off.

I think Great Lakes Sailing says it best:

Baie Fine is one of the largest freshwater fjords in the world. This tear in the earth’s surface is about 9 nm long and offers breathtaking scenery as you cruise deeper into it.

Baie Fine is bounded by high quartz mountains that gleam in the sunshine. There are numerous anchorages scattered along its length. There are anchorages which are quite popular and which can be busy. But, there are others that offer delightful solitude.

Now you’re getting it. Let’s hope I am. Am I really up for a long sailing trip with some of my favourite people on a floating craft? You betcha! It will be the trip of a lifetime. My biggest concern is 1) where am I going to sleep and 2) definitely not with the spiders I saw on Dad’s boat, last year. Lake Huron visit winter 2018

But those concerns are for part II of my Fjord blog. Stay tuned for a review of camping hammocks that will wrap up a Canadian nicely for a bear snack.

PS: IF you’re one of the 1000’s of people my dad sailed out to meet the sun in Port Elgin, feel free to say “hi” in the comments. I’ll make sure he gets your message.

And to all the Canadian sailors out there, the ice will break; the water will wait.


One comment

  1. We went with your dad about 20 years ago! What a wonderful day! My husband chose to hike back to camp from Topaz Lake while I took the boat. I think I got the better deal! Thank you Dad for us. I’m bummed- was hoping to take our teens on his boat this year. The full hike to/from Topaz from George Lake was great 5 years ago, but my old body won’t take it this year. All the best to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

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