End of Georgian Bay & North Channel / July 27 - August 4, 2014
July 27, 2014
The forecast was announcing a chance of rain until 11:00 this morning. So we slept a little later than usual and took our time preparing our leave from Birch Island. We also discovered a passage on our map, while we were planning last night, that will allow us to save several kilometres and time. Taking this shortcut we will only have 27km to get to Little Current. Little Current is located on Manitoulin Island and marks the end of Georgian Bay and the beginning of the North Channel. The North Channel is part of Lake Huron, and it is here that we will paddle toward Drummond Island where we will go through US customs. Two years ago, on our Perseverance trip, we did not have an easy paddle throughout this region. Frankly, we did not want to relive what we had experienced before. We wanted to get to Little Current as fast as possible today because Jasmine was very sick. She had been sick yesterday and she was still unwell today. She threw up several times and her skin was covered with dark red spots. Her front paws started swelling around lunch time and she vomited again.
We had a shock when we arrived at the passage which was supposed to save us time. The beautiful and quite large passage that was featured on our map was no more. It was cut off by a raised gravel road. We walked to the road to think about our possibilities. Finally, the decision was made to make a, roughly, 300 meters portage on rough terrain, followed by a perilous launching. The road was about 20 feet high and very steep. Still, we managed to make an efficient and safe portage in spite of the height and steepness. When we made it to the other side of the road, the weather began to deteriorate. We could hear thunder in the distance and see rain all around us. Despite the bad weather coming at us, we agreed to keep on paddling towards Little Current. Jasmine really needed to be seen by a veterinarian. If worse came to worse, we would paddle back to shore as quickly as possible and wait until we could move on.
Somehow, the crossing went well and we did not get any rain. We were right in the centre of everything. There was bad weather all around us. Towards the end, the wind started to blow. It was good timing for us to arrive at the village. After the swing bridge, we stopped at the nearest dock and spoke with people sitting on a bench. We explained our situation and the need to see a veterinarian. These people, from Windsor, were so accommodating and welcoming. They indicated a place for us to dock our canoe in front of one of their sailboats. They took us under their wings, allowing us to leave our canoe at the marina and under their supervision for the night. They also drove us and some of our gear to the motel. Wow! So much help from people that we did not know! It's extraordinary. Moreover, they did research to find a vet and have offered to drive us there tomorrow morning. We do not know how to thank them. Here are their names: Jamie and Miriam, Derk and Fran.
July 28, 2014
This morning Derk and Jamie came to pick up Pierre and Jasmine to go to the vet clinic. Jasmine was still very sick and threw up several times during the night. Her front paws are very swollen and her skin is as red as a cooked lobster. We have been giving her Benadryl since yesterday hoping this would help. The three vets at the clinic could not come to a consensus. They could not tell exactly what the problem was or how she contacted it. A blood sample was taken and we will have the results tomorrow. Meanwhile, we will continue to give her Benadryl and she is to be on antibiotics for the next 7 days. They also prescribed a medication to allow her stomach to produce mucous to help keep her food down.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing. We also went to talk with our good Samaritans. We visited the two sailboats on which they were travelling and had tea on board the “Odyssey”, a very nice sailboat. They were very interesting and it was especially nice to know a little bit more about our new friends. We had no idea were we would get help yesterday when we arrived in Little Current. The first people we spoke with upon arrival became our saviours! They are now a part of our adventure. It's crazy how things can turn out and how people can be so kind. Tonight, our canoe will remain at the marina under the supervision of Jamie, Derk, Miriam and Fran. Tomorrow morning, Derk and Jamie will come to get us at the motel with a car to help us get all of our equipment from the marina.
This evening Jasmine ate a little and kept it down. Her paws are still swollen and her skin is still red but there has been some improvement. We anxiously wait for the test results.
July 29, 2014
This morning Derk and Jamie helped Pierre make the last transport of our equipment to the motel. We decided to stay another day here. Despite the fact that Jasmine improved slightly during the night, we did not think she was well enough to travel. Also we had to wait until 2:30pm to get the results from the blood test. We were looking for solutions if we had to return to the clinic. Leah was again very helpful during our brainstorming.
We spoke with a very nice family that stayed next to us at the motel, the Crook’s family. They are from Mississauga, Ontario, but have lived for many years in Sudbury. They offered us coffee which was badly needed by Pierre who had had a lot of trouble sleeping.
Finally, the results of the blood test were back and showed traces of an unidentified toxin and a lack of protein. We must continue the treatment with the pills. The main issue now is that Jasmine does not want to drink and therefore does not urinate. She has to drink to make sure her kidneys are functioning well. We must watch the situation closely.
In the afternoon, Pierre went for a walk with Jasmine. He met Gary and his wife Julie. It was a really nice encounter. If we had met earlier, we would have been able to stay on their boat which is out of the water. But then we would not have known Jamie, Derk, Fran and Miriam, nor the Crook’s family. Shortly after Pierre and Jasmine came back from their walk, Gary came to invite us for dinner. We accepted the invitation with pleasure. The dinner was very pleasant. We were also accompanied by Heather (Julie and Gary’s neighbor). We had fun, had many laughs and shared stories. It was a wonderful evening. Heather, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario has a great sense of humour. Julie and Garry are a lovely couple with whom we share much in common. Thank you once again for the nice dinner, your hospitality and generosity. Since our arrival in Little Current, we have experienced many memorable moments with great people.
Tonight the swelling in one of Jasmine’s paws has gone down. The red patches are still present all over her skin. She has no energy, but she is no longer throwing up.
July 30, 2014
Jasmine finally drank! She also ate this morning. She did not look like a cooked lobster anymore, but more like a little pink piglet. There has been so much improvement overnight. The antibiotics must have begun to kick in. We are so relieved! (As are so many others who have been following her progress.)
Around 9:30, the canoe was loaded for the portage on the road (with the wheels). All went well. Then we met up with Heather and her neighbours who generously gave us a donation (note: Unfortunately, we do not have the names of our donors. However, they promised to write to us in a few weeks.) After saying goodbye to Julie (Gary was not present), we started paddling around noon. Out paddle was pleasant for the first part. Then we decided to begin the crossing of the first large bay at the widest part. The wind, though strong, was in our favour. The waves were high, but after our days off we had the energy to face them. We had to use the pump twice during the crossing to empty the canoe of water. Even though I was wearing my skirt water eventually found its way in. On several occasions, the nose of the boat was swallowed by waves and I was plunged into water up to my armpits. At their highest the waves were about two meters. Although the situation may sound difficult, we were not in danger and our crossing was safe. Ha! Dear North Channel ... you remain true to yourself and haven’t changed...you treated us the same two years ago!
We stopped in a small bay and on landing hit the front of the canoe on a rock. This part of the canoe had been weakened in the past. Now we have our first big crack to repair.
July 31, 2014
A forced day off ... canoe repair needed. Also, the sky is very grey and there is a 70% chance of rain. In the afternoon we had beautiful sunshine and watched the sailboats. In the evening, we quietly drank a glass of wine (left from the Schwenger's and Heywood's) sitting in front of a fire. We enjoyed the moment and told ourselves that we were glad to be living every day like this with such beautiful scenery and wonderful environment. This is life at its best!
August 1, 2014
Great start today. Very light breeze, no waves. The water was like a mirror this morning. The day was just beautiful! It was not until late afternoon that we felt the wind and waves forming. We planned at the beginning of the day to stop in Gore Bay but the weather was so nice, we decided to continue. This allowed us to paddle 50km.
We planned to pass south of Barrie Island. There was a passage indicated between Manitoulin Island and Barrie Island. For the second time in less than a week, we found the passage wasn't there. We hit a wall! There was no passage! We had to portage, but it took us less than an hour to complete.
After the portage we started looking for a place to sleep on Barrie Island but we could not find anything. It was in a bay, near the end of the island, where we stopped on private land. Pierre went to meet with the owner to ask permission to camp. Brian greeted Pierre as if was an old friend. He offered us beers and showed us his beautiful property. Brian and his wife are McDonald's owners. We were surprised to see Ronald McDonald, himself, sitting on a park bench near the front door. Brian's wife is also an artist. She carved a beautiful totem post which was placed in the entrance. Brian is a generous man with very good values. We had the opportunity to take a shower and Brian invited us to have breakfast with him in the morning. He made us feel valued. He has a great sense of hospitality and endless amounts of generosity.
August 2, 2014
We began the day with a delicious breakfast. This allowed us to work well throughout the morning. Brian, thank you again for your hospitality and generosity!
We experienced a beautiful day of paddling. The North Channel has blessed us for a second day in a row. We had superb paddling conditions which allowed us to enjoy the scenery. Since yesterday, the rocky bottom of the water is very different. The clear, emerald green water showed us some geological wonders of this region. We saw, closer to the coast, large rectangular slabs on the seabed. These slabs, at times, seemed to rise out of the abyss and come up close to the surface in a very short distance. At times, when we looked down we had moments of dizziness. It looked as if we were suspended over a void as the water was so translucent and quiet. The underwater terrain made us experience intense sensations with its height and depth.
We ended the day at Meldrum Bay, the last village on Manitoulin. We stopped at the marina where there was a campground. We had not even finished emptying the canoe and setting up camp when we received a fresh 4 pound lake trout caught by a fisherman. Our mouths watered just looking at the fish. Quickly, I went to buy white wine at the LCBO, a one minute walk. Tonight we ate like kings. Even Jasmine had a taste.
August 3, 2014
We left this morning with a slight breeze at our backs. We were moving fast. We did not yet know if we would attempt the crossing to Drummond Island. We first had to cross to Cockburn Island, the last island on Canadian soil. The weather was beautiful and there was no wind. We attempted crossing from Manitoulin to Cockburn Island in the widest section. This would save us time and distance. Out in the middle of the strait, we were surprised by a south wind and waves of several feet. Still, we managed to keep a good pace. When we arrived at the Island, the east wind came back and helped us move quickly and efficiently. The water was calm again. We stopped on the island to consider our possibilities. We were 2km away from, the crossing to Drummond Island and we could see white caps. We stayed put for two hours before we decided to go for it. The white caps were not as plentiful and the wind seemed to have calmed down. We launched and started the 7km crossing which we achieved in a very short time. Despite the wind and waves (less intense than this morning at our first crossing), we covered the distance in less than an hour. Then we paddled along the island in search of a place to stop for the night. We knew we were not able to go through customs at the Yacht Heaven Marina (located on the other side of the island). If we had not taken the time to wait on Cockburn Island because of the wind and waves, we would have been on time. We found a place to camp in Sand Bay. There is a little sand, a taste of what Lake Michigan holds for us.
August 4, 2014
The night was short. We hardly slept. It was extremely hot in the tent because the sand under the tent radiated heat accumulated during the day. Then, just before midnight, flashes of light made us think that there was lightning everywhere and occurred every 5 seconds, but there was no thunder or wind. We went out to see what was happening. There was lightning in the clouds (south from where we were). We had never seen this before. All the clouds were lit by the lightning. Above us, there were only stars. We could see very clearly Ursa Major. Later that night, we heard growling. The grunts were approaching quickly. We instructed Jasmine to bark repeatedly. In the morning, we discovered prints left by a big cat. The lady at customs told us that it must have been a cougar. According to the prints and the sounds, it makes good sense. We were glad to have had Jasmine with us doing her job. In the morning, we also saw an unusual kind of spider. It was about 3cm long, it had a big white abdomen with a red line on each side. The United States has offered us an exciting reception so far!
We left early this morning at 7:40. The fog was dense. Once the fog cleared, we quickly experienced the North Channel ... waves and wind. We arrived at Yacht Heaven Marina around 12:30. We were quickly taken care of and cleared customs. Everything went well. We have the right to stay on American soil for the next six months less a day. We will have to leave the United States before the end of 2014 in order to reapply for six months in 2015.