Georgian Bay's 30,000 Islands offer some of the best cruising in the world. The area is part of the United Nations Georgian Bay Littoral Biosphere Reserve. This designation is in keeping with the unique environment and the natural beauty of the area. The area was once a major Algonquin - Huron First Nations trade route with the Huron - Petun Wyandot Nation to the south and the Anishinaabeg to the north. In 1610, Europeans came to the area. In 1615 Champlain arrived. Most of the islands remained unspoiled, until the prime mainland logging tracts were exhausted of lumber. Then the islands also became a target for logging. Most of the islands today are Park Reserve lands or in private hands, utilized as cottage properties. Many of the islands are totally uninhibited and without any buildings.
The waterways were first charted by William Fitzwilliam Owen in 1815. In total, the area is the largest group of fresh water islands in the world. Georgian Bay Islands National Park is comprised of 59 islands along a 50 km stretch and proportionally is only a very small section of the 30, 000 Islands. The billon year old rocks in the Bay were once mountains that have been scoured smooth by glaciers. Plenty of fossil evidence exists in the rock and is testament to life before the ice age.
In the late 1800s, tourists began to visit the area fish and hunt camps. They would arrive by boat and stay for the summer months. Like other parts of Georgian Bay, the Islands are dotted with ship wrecks of all persuasion and size. In the early 1900s, cottages, camps, hotels and private clubs became common in the 30, 000 Islands. Towns sprang up as industry took hold. Although there is not much commercial shipping today, in the 50s, coal, iron ore and oil were commonly freighted around the area. Now the area is known mostly as a tourist region with some small industry sprinkled about the mainland. Towns, villages and settlements in the 30,000 Island region include Honey Harbour, Franceville, Cognashene, Blue Lagoon, Go Home, Moose Point, Manitou Dock, Woods Bay, Copperhead, Sans Souci, Five Mile Bay ,Depot Harbour, Parry Sound, Kilbear Park, Snug Harbour,
Snug Haven, Dilton, Brooks Landing, Adanac, Shawanaga Landing, Skerrymore, Ojibway Island, Pointe au Baril and Henvey Inlet.
The 30,000 Islands has more anchorages than one could visit in a lifetime. You need a good understanding of your charts and you must know where you are at all times, as theses waters can be treacherous. When anchoring, take into account that the mud cover over rock can be scant and, if the wind comes up, you don't want to be dragging anchor. Two anchors are better than one and make sure they are well set.
If the anchorage is small and there are other boats, use the anchoring technique of those that were there first. If they are all swinging one anchor ... then do likewise yourself. If they are Bahamas moored with two anchors ... do the same. In the case of commonly used bow/stern anchoring, do that or make one of the anchor points a shore line.
For this reason, all cruisers should have two anchors with a least 50 feet of chain rode & 200 feet of rope, plus a minimum of 200 feet of 1/2 inch plus shore line. Don't tie to shore on private property and do not anchor where you might disturb private landowners cottaging. If the weather is windy and your anchorage is not totally protected, assign your crew to anchor watches. Just like paying attention to your charts, planning ahead for the weather is vital to the safety of your crew and boat. Plan ahead and stay focused. It can be tricky navigating the area but the natural beauty of the 30,000 Islands make it all worthwhile.
To enter the 30,000 Islands from points across Georgian Bay, boaters should utilize only the small craft routes where there are marked buoys. Safe entry inlets are north from Midland/Penetang, Barnard Bank, O'Donnell Point, east toward Parry Sound, Snug Harbour, Pointe au Baril, Bying Inlet, Key Harbour and Bustard Islands. Yachts under no circumstances should follow smaller boats that may have local knowledge through unmarked inlets.
COSMOS Yacht Charters - Midland (sail boats to 46 feet)
(905) 715-8795 www.cosmosyachtcharters.com
Canadian Yacht Charters - Gore Bay (power and sail boats to 50 feet)