On your journey through life, the North Channel has to be on your bucket list of places to visit, and the only way to experience it is by boat. The North Channel is separated by Georgian Bay and Lake Huron by Manitoulin Island. Manitoulin Island is really an extension of the Niagara Escarpment and it is here where limestone meets granite and provides for some very unusual geological formations. This is also true of the underwater world of the Channel. The rock formations can rise so abruptly from the channel bottom that one can see depths change from 100 feet to waterline over a distance of 10 yards. Careful attention to charts is a necessity in these waters.
The First Nations people have been in the area for 9,000 years and Manitoulin is still home to generations of native Canadians. The first European explorers came to the area in the early 1600s, followed by Catholic missionaries who came to minister to the natives. In the 1800s, small groups of Europeans began to settle in the area but the farming conditions were so bad that they had to turn to hunting and gathering, like the natives in the area. Haweater berries were used to supplement diets and islanders are still referred to as Haweaters. Lumber became the industry in the late 1800s, and like many areas of Ontario, the old growth forests were stripped bare. With little top soil on the rock base, many islands remained barren to this day. There is little development in the area because much is reservation land or unceded native owned land, crown or
protected park lands.
The North Channel runs 70 miles from Thessalon south to Killarney. At best, the Channel is 20 miles wide and at some points very narrow. There are 40 miles of beautiful cruising, with waters to the east being a little more sheltered and easier to navigate, and the water to the west being more remote with some tricky locations to navigate. East or west, the anchorages are beautiful and plentiful. The area is popular and from mid June to mid August is peak season. The best cruising and the best selection of anchorages can be found from August 15th through September 15th. The crowds are gone, the mosquitoes are gone, the water is warm and the weather conditions are predictable.
If you've cruised the Bahamas, Chesapeake or the Greek Islands, and you think you've experienced the best, you might be surprised that the North Channel is even more pristine, with better cruising. Where ever you go there are dozens of picturesque sheltered anchorages. The towns are also close enough at hand that provisioning is not a problem. Many of the towns or villages are charming and unique in character. Villages include Thessalon, Spanish, Gore By, West Bay, Little Current, Killarney, Drummond, Whitney Bay, De Tour Village, Bruce Mines, Hilton Beach and Richard's Landing. Always call ahead if you plan to dock at a marina. Arrive at anchorages by 3:00 pm. It can be busy during peak season and space is limited, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment. There are several boat charter companies with both sail and power fleets located in Gore Bay and Little Current.
Canadian Yacht Charters - Gore Bay (power and sail boats to 50 feet)
COSMOS Yacht Charters - Midland (sail boats to 46 feet)
(905) 715-8795 www.cosmosyachtcharters.com