6/21/17 – 6/23/17: We left Baie Fine early in the morning, as we had about 53 miles to sail. We took one last look at the hills and cliffs of Baie Fine, and wished we had more time to spend here. The wind was steady at 15 knots, and the waves were between 3 and 6 feet the entire trip. It took 31 days, but we finally made it to Tobermory.
As we approached Tobermory, the first thing we saw, even before making out the harbor entrance, was the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry. Manitoulin Island, which creates the land mass between Lake Huron and The North Channel, can only be accessed by vehicles in two places. One is the swing bridge in Little Current, and the other is the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry from Tobermory. The ferry is monstrous. It looked like a small cruise ship. It can hold 143 vehicles, and 638 passengers. It is unbelievably big (for a ferry).
We arrived at the marina and were given a place on one of the two downtown docks. The harbor is extremely long and narrow, with only 3 docks at the downtown end (one is reserved for commercial use). The location was awesome, as we were right in the midst of the town’s activities. And we quickly found out that there was a lot of activity. Toberymory is a huge tourist destination. The downtown harbor is lined on all 3 sides with gift shops and restaurants. About half the boats in the harbour were tour boats of one kind or another, from glass bottomed boats that visited various islands, to diving and snorkeling boats that would take you to the numerous shipwrecks in the area.
It’s also a popular stopping point between southern Lake Huron and The North Channel & Georgian Bay. The closest marinas were each about 55 miles away from either direction, which made Tobermory an ideal spot to spend a night before moving on or, as we did, spend a few nights exploring. During our first night and first day, we saw at least 6 boats come and go on our dock alone. At this time of year, they were all headed north, and were all eager to share their experiences, ideas, and tips for our journey south.
We did our largest reprovisioning here since being out, as the grocery store was right at the end of the docks (and not up a hill or several miles away). We stocked up on all the heavy stuff like bottled water, juice, Gatorade, etc… And, right next door to the grocery store was the laundromat, so we took advantage of that, too (can vacation BE more fun than that?). After that, we explored the town, visited a few of the gift shops, and found the post office.
We have to mention the place we ate, it was that good. The first night, we ate at The Crows Nest Pub, which was ok. While sitting there, we looked across the street and wondered what all the people were doing sitting outside under a tent next to a run down looking place called Shipwreck Lee’s. We decided to eat there our second night, and after eating, we understood perfectly why everyone was there. It was, hands down, the best food we’ve eaten since leaving Minneapolis. The menu was simple: fish & chips, chicken, or ribs (or chicken & rib combo). The fish was lightly battered, and the chicken & ribs were served BBQ’d or jerk style, with jerk corn on the cob on the side. The meat fell off the bone, the jerk cork was amazing, and the fish was second to none. It was awesome! We sat inside at picnic tables under beach umbrellas with Jimmy Buffet playing in the background. The tent outside had the same picnic tables / umbrellas, but also featured a little tiki bar for added ambience (including skeletons sitting amongst the customers). It was a really fun dining experience – if you are ever in Tobermory, be sure to stop by – it is well worth the money.
On our many excursions back and forth from the boat, we had to walk among the ducks and the seagulls, who had become so used to humans, that they would just sit on the docks as you walked by and not move. You could stand right next to them, and they wouldn’t budge. Some would even quack or squawk at you, as if saying “Hey, watch where you’re walking!”. And Pat found out real quick not to feed them, as he quickly had every duck and gull within a mile radius begging for food around him! They sure do like waffle cones, though!
We are staying here 3 nights, to allow some bad weather to pass (again), and then we will be on our way to Port Elgin, to begin our journey down Lake Huron and across Lake Erie.