July 29, 2012
We were reluctant to pull anchor from our beautiful spot in the Bustard Islands, but it made sense to move on. Between the Bustards and our next stop in Killarney was Collin's Inlet, a long, narrow body of water lined by granite walls on both sides. Marc's Ark and Quest opted for the traditional route from east to west, but we were concerned about reports of very shallow water in the eastern Beaverstone Bay entry. Because Blue Heron tends to cruise faster than most of the other boats we travel with (shocking, I know), we decided to shoot across the open waters of Georgian Bay and enter Collins Inlet from the far end, cruise about halfway up at a leisurely pace and then turn around and retrace our path back out again. And probably still get to Killarney before the others!
On our way though the open water towards the west end of Collins Inlet, we passed Green Island, which is reputed to be a huge blue heron rookery, with hundreds of herons and their big nests visible from the water. I knew we were probably several weeks past prime nesting season, but we hoped to see at at minimum the empty nests and maybe a few stragglers still lingering on the island. We circled the whole island, and saw lots of gulls, but not a single heron or nest. Not one. But we can’t complain because we’ve been pretty lucky overall with our blue heron sightings. We are sure we can count on one hand the number of cruising days we’ve had since the beginning of our trip when we haven’t seen at least one blue heron.
We reached the western end of Collins Inlet in good time and took a pleasant ride through the beautiful waterway. We confused a few other Loopers who passed us coming from the opposite direction and wondered if we were lost. After about 8 miles, we turned around and retraced our path back towards Killarney.
Killarney is a formerly quiet fishing village that wasn’t accessible by road until 1962 but has become a busy cruising destination, lying as it does along the narrow waterway that connects Georgian Bay and the North Channel. Practically everyone crushing in this part of the world comes through Killarney. The first thing you see upon entering Killarney is the Killarney East lighthouse. When we went past the light, there were lots of tourists climbing on the light and the surrounding rocks.
Almost immediately past the light, we found ourselves in the busy traffic of “downtown” Killarney, complete with a seaplane zooming alongside us. The entire Killarney channel extends for no more than about a mile, but there is a lot of activity in this confined area.
We had a reservation at the highly recommended Sportsman’s Inn marina towards the far end of the channel. but they weren’t quite ready for us. There had been a big boaters’ rendezvous from Michigan at the Sportsman’s over the weekend, and not all the slips were vacated yet. So we told them we would go to the fuel dock first and get diesel and a holding tank pump-out while we waited. Turned out we had to wait at least a half hour, dodging traffic in the middle of the channel, to get a spot at the fuel dock. We weren’t impressed with the organizational skills of the Sportsman’s staff! And all this time we were forced to listen to the loudly amplified music broadcast for our enjoyment by an off-key singer stationed on the Sportsman’s big front deck. This wasn’t the peaceful Canadian back-country we had become used to!
We finally tied up to the fuel dock and got our business taken care of, but they still weren’t quite ready for us to move to our assigned slip, as the last few rendezvous boats were getting ready to leave. That turned out to be an unfortunate combination of events, because while Craig was up at the marina office paying for our fuel, I watched helplessly from the fly bridge while one of the last rendezvous boats, a brand new 60+ foot, multi-million dollar boat, lost control and despite his wife, me and everyone on the dock yelling for him to reverse, slammed into the fuel dock right in front of us. In the process, he hit our bow pulpit (the part that sticks out in front and holds the anchor) and lifted our bow several inches. It felt and sounded much worse from where I was standing and frankly I feared the worst and had visions of our Loop ending right then and there as I ran down and around to the front of the boat. Everyone in the area heard the crash, including Craig up in the marina office, who fortunately didn’t realize our boat was involved. To top it off, our dog Joey was standing out on the bow through all this, but seemed to take it all in stride, as Joey does most things. (The story isn’t over yet. Although visually the bow pulpit seems OK, there are some vibrations that we are going to have checked out as soon as we get to a boatyard capable of assessing it.)
Anyway, between the traffic, the waiting, the music and the crash, our first impressions of Killarney weren’t great. Things did improve, though. Killarney is famous as the home of Herbert Fisheries, where they bring in the daily catch, clean the fish and serve it up as fish and chips from a red and white school bus on the dock. So after a brief walk through town, we joined Carl and Ricki from Quest and Mike and Kathy from Queen Kathleen for a huge dinner at Herbert’s. I took home more than enough to warm up for fish sandwiches for lunch the next day. But it was good!
This is Herbert’s fishing boat, typical of the fish tugs that have been used for generations of commercial fishermen on the Great Lakes.
We were kind of curious to see if they would run a movie at the “boat-in” movie theater right across the channel from us, but we were really tired and glad they didn’t. Marc’s Ark signed off with a conch serenade, though.
Having felt that we had experienced all that Killarney had to offer – and then some! – the next morning we headed into the North Channel for a quiet and peaceful anchorage!
Next, spectacular Baie Fine.