NEW WATERS ON AN ANCIENT BAYAugust 23, 2013
Thursday, 22 August, 2013
Pos: At Anchor off Giants Island, Georgian Bay – 44 53.65’N x 079 59.63’W
Wx: N F 2, Brilliant Sunshine
Pride of Baltimore II at Anchor in 60′ of Water
A week ago tonight Pride of Baltimore II first entered the Georgian Bay. It was overcast, we were towards the end of a stressful and tightly timed passage, and suffering from an acute case of motoring fatigue. At sunset, with Cove Island, the Bruce Peninsula and the entrance to the Bay still out of sight, a favorable breeze filled in, and we started truly sailing for the first time since Chicago. While general contentment surged through the ship as the insistent engine drone gave way to the groaning symphony of wood, canvas, and water, none of us took the breeze as a sign. We should have been more attentive.
For all her travels around the Northern Hemisphere, for her dozen trips to Great Lakes, Pride II had never before been to the Georgian Bay. Once she skirted the edge on a transit from Detroit to Duluth that included a bit of sightseeing in the North Channel, just, in fact, north of here. But that was in on her maiden voyage in 1989, before half of the current crew were even born. As if to ask “What were you waiting for?” that unexpected sunset breeze was part welcome mat and part tractor beam, I think. The Georgian Bay had awaited our coming for too long.
Sailing down the Bruce Peninsula in starless darkness, we saw its islands and headlands as mere silhouettes, darker blurs against the black span of night. They gave they eye no hint of their beauty as we slid by, yet their names – Tobermory, Whippoorwill Bay, Lion’s Head, White Cloud Island – carried magic and left a palpable sense we had entered someplace not only new, but quite special. Our singular focus on arriving to Owen Sound distracted us from the wonderment, and by dawn we were fully immersed in the logistics of setting up for a festival.
Our overnight transit of the Bay meant that the first thing we actually saw was Owen Sound, and the town of the same name. From a seafaring perspective, this is ironic because Owen Sound is at the inner most end of the Bruce Peninsula. But the bustling town of twenty-two thousand was eager for our arrival, and, as the regional center, had the feel of a base camp, the starting point for expeditions. In fact, all through the busy festival weekend, we were asked where we were headed next, and then promptly told what we should make a point of seeing along the way.
We needed no further invitation. Since early Tuesday morning, Pride II and her crew have been exploring waters new to both ship and sailors. Sailing all through the day past green capped bluffs and anchoring in brisk, crystal clear waters, we took in the full moon rise in company with Lynx off Lion’s Head, tacked close enough to Flower Pot Island that we could wave to the tourists on the beach, and tucked ourselves up into the Big Tub of Tobermory to anchor and explore for an afternoon. The rocky, pine speckled shores smack of Maine – but without the impossible range of tide or the insistence on consuming crustaceans. Warm summer winds have even aided our venture, and we’ve covered our ground all under sail.
With arrival to Midland tomorrow, we’ve sailed to the Southeast end of the Bay, past a collection of rocky islets mysteriously named The Watchers to anchor off Giants Tomb Island. A towering mound is said to eternally house the Giant himself. This all keeps with the mythic feel of the bay, and so I think it is best to leave him to his slumber, not to make him stir. Because here, in the otherworldly reaches of the Georgian Bay, there just might be a giant buried there. And while Pride II and her crew are always up for new adventures, we’ll stick to sailing new waters, and skip the tangling with undead giants.
Captain Jamie Trost and the letting sleeping dead giants lay crew of Pride of Baltimore II