Hundreds of boats escorted the SS Keewatin back to her home port of Port McNicoll. With Coast Guard ship escort running in front and Police boats following behind and an armada of old tugs, passenger boats and recreational boats following her down the Bay it was a spectacle that will probably never be repeated in the area. For full history and coverage of the SS Keewatin CLICK HERE
Whether you own a run-about, sailboat or mega yacht ... few can argue that Georgian Bay is recognized as a premiere destination for boaters to cruise in paradise. While the Bahamas and eastern Caribbean are a great winter respite from the harsh winters of the north ... and the quaintness of the Chesapeake is certainly very appealing ... and let's not forget the vast, largely uninhabited, Pacific coastline north of Vancouver ... but when it comes to the rugged beauty of windswept pines, on colorful rock, scoured clean by glaciers, offering snug anchorages and sunsets to die for - nothing compares to Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay draws cruising yachts from near and afar to experience nature’s best in amongst the 30,000 Islands and the North Channel. The loneliness and sheer beauty of gunk-holing in remote anchorages is contrasted by picturesque towns and urban ports of call that make Georgian Bay cruising so interesting.
We hope this Georgian Bay directory will be of assistance to sailors and power boaters alike when planning vacations, researching ports of call or simply looking for a quiet weekend anchorage to relax. The directory includes boat services, area events, points of interest, maps and even weather related links. Over time, the site will grow larger and we will include some of the characters and vagabonds that historically and currently ply the Bay. We have included the ports, towns and cities where you can provision for extended cruising or tie up to a dock to dine out. Emergency services are included and information on the many Georgian Bay Provincial Parks that you will want to visit along the way.
Just a reminder to update your charts. Georgian Bay and the North Channel are at the best of times tricky to navigate. Hundreds of shipwrecks and thriving prop shop businesses are testament to the boat mishaps that take place due to underwater hazards on the Bay.
With lower water levels, comes changes to navigable routes. Visit www.notmar.gc.ca to pick up Coast Guard - Notices to Mariners. You can also register to have the notices for the charts in your possession to be sent to you automatically as navigation hazards and changes take place.
If you have special photographs of your boat, the landscape or your adventures that you want to share, by all means, send them along to email@example.com and we will try and include them. If you have a cruising experience that is of interest to boaters ... we'd love to hear about it. And let's not forget that Georgian Bay is about rugged natural beauty ... so many of our feature Flash photographs will be inspiring so that during the cold winter months, you can dream about yachting on the Bay. For "easy to find" up to date power boat and sailing resource information, we hope that you will come back often to check out the latest news on Boating Georgian Bay™.
Here is what the crew of Brazilian cruising yacht Jade had to say about Georgian Bay.
Photo is JADE in Hindson Marine, Penetanguishene
We are a Brazilian crew in a Brazilian flag trawler cruising around the world. We just finished cruising the gorgeous Georgian Bay and North Channel. It was much more pleasant than we expected. People are very friendly, waters are sensational, views and images are impossible to describe. As a world cruiser we doubt that we are going to see such a marvelous place as we saw in this country mostly in the Georgian Bay and N. Channel. Congratulations for the beautiful Country you have.
Jack, Denise and Beatriz
Trawler Jade's crew www.projetojade.com
To start things off, here's some helpful links to other area resources.
US Yachts Customs Information When Arriving North Channel/Georgian Bay
Boats arriving from the USA (or any other country for that matter) must report to Canada Customs. You will need your passports or Nexus Cards. There are a number of marine telephone reporting sites on Georgian Bay and the North Channel. They are: click for locations or call 1-866-996-3987 for more information.
Monitoring Georgian Bay Weather Is Paramount
If we can emphasis one thing very strongly it is this - Georgian Bay is one of the top cruising destinations in the world BUT severe weather, wind and waves can develop very quickly and the Georgian Bay's hundreds of shipwrecks from the 1800's right up until present day are testament to the danger severe weather brings to unsuspecting boaters. Our advise ... don't get caught out in a storm. This means planning ahead and checking all the forecasts and trends and not just the VHF weather forecast or the Environment Canada radio forecast you get from local radio stations.
If you follow multiple weather sources closely you will find large discrepancies in weather forecasts. It is not a perfect science so let caution prevail. We especially notice frequent differences between the Environment Canada forecasts and the US based NOAA National Weather Service for Lake Huron & Georgian Bay marine forecasts. When a front or the jet stream dividing line is close to the Georgian Bay region this is especially true. One very useful tool is the NOAA wind direction and wind speed maps of the Bay. You can look at existing conditions (Nowcast) and see all the little wind pockets as well as look ahead Forecast of the same. You can also view the marine radar & satellite imagery from the same page (scroll to the bottom). The NOAA forecasts seem to be consistently accurate but we have several sources of weather information on our Boating Georgian Bay™ Weather page so we recommend that you review several sources of Georgian Bay weather information on this site and you will have a thorough picture to predict what you might expect for the area you are travelling in .... and it is often very different than the radio broadcast. If the forecasts all line up then it is probably a safe bet in terms of what to expect - but when you see large discrepancies, it bears further investigation.
Once you get in the habit of checking this page as part of your cruise planning you will get very good at interpreting and forming your own opinion on what can be coming your way weather wise. It was interesting when the tornado came through Midland June 2010 around dinner hour that the weather channels were only tracking the original storm cell after it hit Midland and it was moving east towards Orillia but paid little attention to a much bigger cell that crossed Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and eventually Georgian Bay during the middle of the night. This cell was tracking east at 50 kmh but had a vertical north/south pattern and an intense center that was twice the size of what came through Midland. Watching the Weather Network this cell was never mentioned ... but if you were out in the middle of Georgian Bay you would sure want to know about it. Luckily this cell passed away from all major population centers.
The Georgian Bay Park Islands (26 total) reach from Honey Harbour to Twelve Mile Bay. Lying on the edge of the Canadian Shield these islands harbour plant and animal species of northern and southern varieties which makes this "edge effect" unique in the Canadian Park system. The northern areas of the Park are barren glacier cleaned rock dotted with wind swept white pines while in the southern section on the Park's largest island ... Beausoleil offers thicker richer soil supporting hardwood trees that make the environment quite different. The area is known for the 33 amphibian and reptile species that live in Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Beausoleil Island is also refuge for the shy Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake which is Ontario's only poisonous snake. Raccoons, wolves, bears, porcupines, deer, muskrat and a host of bird species are common to the Park.
Frying Pan Bay
Traditionally there have been many first nation aboriginal hunter gatherers that have occupied the Park islands including Saugeen, Odawa, Algonkian, Wendat and Ojibwa tribes. The Ojibwa arrived early 18th century. There was a reserve on Beausoleil Island between 1836 to 1856. In 1856 the band was moved to Christian Island from Beausoleil due to the poor farming and subsistence conditions. In 1929 the Park was established and the few remaining settlers relocated to the mainland or to other islands. One of the last to leave was the Joe Corbiere family - a French voyageur with a homestead at Frying Pan Bay on the north end of Beausoleil. Joe spoke English, French and Ojibwa. They had a few livestock, a large garden, trapped and fished the area. The homestead location can still be identified by the Lilac Bush that still grows along the Bay.
Boat docking is available at various Park locations as follows:
Cedar Springs (Toby Dock) 25
Cruiser Dock 7
McCabe Rock 4
Wana Keta 12
Little Dog 8
Frying Pan 12
Bone Island 12
Total 90 dock spots. Of course the size of boats determine actual number of available spaces. Most boats anchor out and bottom holding is good - usually sand/clay in nature.
Frying Pan Bay
Park staff are currently upgrading the Beausoleil Cedar Springs area and some buildings have been removed at various locations in order to increase wildlife habitat and protect certain species. There are some designated campsites in the Park and an excellent trail network on Beausoleil. Trail maps are available but be careful because some of the designated trails cover some rough ground and the loops can be long. Wear comfortable hiking boots - don't try doing them in flip flops. The Park Islands of course are only accessible by boat and modest docking fees apply as do beach landing fees if you are anchoring out. Park Wardens come by all the anchorages on a regular basis to collect dock fees. If you land your dingy to explore the trails you must purchase a pass from the self serve kiosks and the pass must be in your possession with the copy provided left affixed to your landing craft. The Park is well maintained and you should think of these fees as your small contribution to the upkeep of these beautiful unspoiled natural state islands.
March 27th, 2010 a new Georgian Bay Island National Park management plan was tabled in Parliament and it sets out the future strategic direction for the Park. A copy of the plan is available on the Park web site at www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/on/georg/plan.aspx
The Park is a beautiful place to cruise and drop anchor but please be respectful of your neighbours. Last time we were anchored in Frying Pan Bay there was one lone boat among many with clearly drunk passengers ... swearing and music blaring around midnight. It reflects negatively on all boaters and threatens future use of the Park - it is also boorish and ill considerate to others that are trying to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the area. If you want to party out of control all night do it at your own house and leave the boat at the marina.
One last comment - please don't camp or light fires in undesignated areas of the Park. You will probably get fined and the Park Wardens are busy enough without having to breakdown and cleanup spent fires and littered campsites. Illegal campfires severely increase the risk of wildfire on an island and it would be a great loss to both man and nature to have any of these picturesque pristine islands that provide refuge to so many rare species burn out of control.
Boating Georgian Bay is a Lieutenant sponsor of America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association