Sunday, August 4, 2013

Baie Fine, Canada to Drummond, MI Back In The USA

After a busy day at Baie Fine, we decided to move on the next morning.  Our anchor held just fine during the night.  I wish we had gotten a shot of all the weeds and mud that came up with it – no way it was going anywhere.  Our plan was to go to a little town called Kagawong – the write-ups sounded interesting. We planned on walking behind a waterfall, swimming below the waterfall (just Becky), visiting a “nautically themed” church, etc. We called the marina and were assured slips would be available for us before lunch.  We passed through the small town of Little Current – interesting name for a town known for the strong current passing through there.

Shortly before noon, the Kagawong marina called and said the people in the spot we needed for our boat had decided not to leave until 2 PM.  Great, we were only 30 minutes out.  The whole thing just didn’t sound reliable after Rhonda’s conversation with them, so "Mooring Dove" headed on in to check everything out.  When Galen and Becky got there, the folks in our spot were no longer sure when or even if they were leaving, and Galen decided there was no way he was going to try and put his boat in the spot they had for him.  So, we decided to move on to Gore Bay, completely changing our overall plan for the next couple of days and wasting hours, miles, and fuel for the trip into Kagawong.  If you are reading this blog and planning to stop there, give the above due consideration. (The day after we arrived in Gore Bay, two other boats came in. They had had the same experience at Kagawong, and like us wound up at Gore Bay.)

Gore Bay is the home port of our friends from Canada aboard "Satisfaction."  Remember they have been ahead of us for a few days and had already arrived with their 36' Grand Banks. It was good to see them again.  They were getting ready to head home the next day, so if we had stayed at Kagawong, we would not have been able to see them again. We finally got a good shot after a struggle to get Mellow to show the photographer something besides her rear end!

Customs “greeted” us at the marina, asked lots of questions and boarded the boat for an inspection.  Here’s the evidence.  I’m putting together a separate blog post to have a little fun with that.  I’m not writing this from a jail cell so you know we did OK.

The town of Gore Bay is right at the marina.  Like the grocery store in Waterford, NY, the one here lets you leave your grocery cart at the marina for them to pick up later.

There are lots of boats here and it’s a first-class marina.  "Mooring Dove" and "Help Me Rhonda" are in the middle on the outside below.

Like many of the other Canadian stops, Gore Bay has float planes also, this one was docked just a few slips down from us.

Scenery at Gore Bay, a little more flat land than we've seen the past few weeks.

On a side note, Becky collects rocks as they travel.  We think she may have gone a little overboard this time!  Actually, this is a common dock and seawall construction method in this area - pilings with rocks inside for strength and stability.

Rhonda and Becky decided to walk to the nearby lighthouse.  Well, it's not necessarily "nearby" if you are walking.  It's about 2 and 1/2 miles one way.  I rode my bike down to check on them and was surprised they made it the entire distance.   There are several small cottages along the way.

Here's the story of the lighthouse along with "then" and "now" pictures. Becky and Rhonda talked to the current owner who told them all of the history of the lighthouse and how little has changed since the 1800's   (as in there is still no inside toilet, but she said you get used to going outside!). She hopes her daughters will continue the tradition of caring for the property. 

From Gore Bay, we considered a trip out to the Benjamin Islands but we would have to have backtracked a bit after the screw-up at Kagawong.  The Benjamins are supposed to definitely be worth the trip, but on a 7000-mile trip like this in one year, it's impossible to see everything in any particular area.  The best you can do is try and see enough of the area to get a feel for it, and keep moving to the next area.  So, we decided to check out another small town on our westerly route toward the USA, Meldrum Bay, this one actually described as a "hamlet" - total population 42 and in the peak summer season, 60!

When we arrived, we were about the only boats there.  Later, quite a few more docked for the night.

The focal point of the town is the Meldrum Bay Inn.  A couple from California bought it sight-unseen and seem to be doing well with it as an inn and restaurant.  We had lunch there and the food was great.

There is a garden area next door, including a small replica of the inn. 

There is a beautiful St. Andrews United Church on a hill above the "hamlet." 

The residents and guests of Meldrum Bay certainly have a nice view to enjoy overlooking the bay itself. That's a large breakwater from the left into the bay, providing some protection from the predominately west and northwest winds.

That evening, Rhonda spotted an otter on a rock close to shore for a nice picture.  Adam and Jen - be sure the grandkids see the otter!

Galen and Becky left early the next morning for the final leg of our trip through Canada.  They were expecting a longer time with customs at Drummond Island, MI since they had not purchased their return sticker in advance. (The US makes you buy a sticker for your boat before you can come home!) We were of the impression that we could just quickly check in by phone since we had purchased our decal in advance and had BR numbers which are supposed to get you back in the country. So we planned on leaving a little later, especially since the folks behind us on the dock in a 64-foot SeaRay had us blocked in. The day before, the owner had assured us that he would be leaving in the morning, so there was no need to shuffle the boats around when they arrived.  We waited and waited for them to wake up and finally asked the marina personnel to get us some assistance with the problem.  They asked the owner of the boat to move so we could leave, and get this - he refused and went back to bed. All we needed was for him to move back about 15 feet to give us some maneuvering room.  Kudos to the marina folks, they untied the boat, unhooked his shore power, moved him themselves, and we were finally on our way a couple of hours after "Mooring Dove."  The guy in the SeaRay never even stuck his head out when his boat was moved!

Here's the shot from the chartplotter of "Help Me Rhonda" crossing the US/Canadian Border about a mile offshore and north of Drummond Island.  The purple dotted line is the border, the black dotted line is our track.

Rhonda made 3 different calls to  US Customs, and they insisted that we had to stop for a physical inspection, even after all of the assurances we had from the Customs folks in Jacksonville when we bought our advance sticker.  Apparently, the key is having a Nexus card, which we did not have.  Here's an aerial of the Drummond Island Yacht Haven where Customs is based in the area.  Galen and Becky had already cleared Customs by the time we got there and had moved on another 5 miles to DeTour Marina.  With our later start from Meldrum Bay, we had some rougher seas than they did and the wind was howling by the time we arrived.  Also, Customs had a delay getting to us, so we just decided to spend the night there. 

We finally got everything done and "Help Me Rhonda" was glad to be back in the United States.  I have to admit that it was a good feeling for us also. We are very fortunate to live in this great country.

We've acquired a few stickers and decals the past couple of months, also finally got our passports stamped. Customs would not have even done that, but Rhonda asked them to stamp the passports to show we had actually left the country.

We've pushed it hard the past couple of weeks.  Time to relax and enjoy being back in the States.  We are really looking forward to Lake Michigan.  Many Loopers have said it is the prettiest part of the trip.

Next stop - Mackinac Island, Michigan.

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