That’s Parry Sound Harbour. Remember yesterday’s photo of the Big Sound, wide open and with just a bit of ice on the far shore? Well here’s a photo taken the same day with Parry Sound Harbour to the left and the Big Sound to the right. Quite a contrast. Tucked in to the lower right you can see where the Seguin River flows into the harbour.
Despite the apparent complete ice coverage I didn’t see any snow machine tracks, but there was a hovercraft heading away from the Champaigne Street dock. By the weekend with the big freeze there should be a virtual highway for the snow machines as they head down the South Channel. The Big Sound will doubtless be iced over but perhaps not yet thick enough to support the weight of a snow machine and rider.
Are you ready for your OPP safety check on the water? Or, more importantly, are you prepared for an emergency?
A couple of weeks ago on a humid September day we had friends in town and decided to go for a cruise on Georgian Bay in our small power boat. Since it was calm we elected to circumnavigate Parry Island from Parry Sound harbour. While rounding Bears Head at the tip of Parry Island we were surprised to be flagged down by the OPP boat for a routine safety check. It was a pleasant encounter, all aboard my vessel were wearing inflatable PFD’s and since I am writing about it you might guess correctly that we successfully passed muster.
What struck me however, as I displayed the store bought kit with the mandatory items for my 17’ boat, was how wise in might be to routinely supplement the equipment on board. I had the mandatory paddle, but I also carry a substantial anchor and rode with chain, some extra lines (the stuff in the kit could pass for twine), a fire extinguisher, small air horn, flares, VHF radio, first aid kit, extra clothing, matches, compass (some items may be mandatory for your vessel – so check the regulations. I didn’t bore, or annoy, the officers by showing them my extra gear. But I was glad to know I had it onboard.
It is easy to be complacent out there – be prepared to help yourself and others.
RA – MAREP
The Emerald Isle in Parry Sound. A candidate for a Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron Courtesy Check?
One hand for the boat; one for yourself. It’s a mantra repeated over and over by experienced boaters. Don’t let go of the boat. How many times I pointed out to Nat that he was standing in the dinghy with nothing in his hands; that he walked the length of the boat with little care to hold on.
Anchored in Regatta Bay, I was working down below while Nat learned to row the inflatable. I heard him come to the side of the boat, slide the oars into the cockpit, then little sound for a while until SPLASH!
By the time got my head outside he was swimming toward the boat. PFD holding him well out of the water; dinghy painter in his teeth, he was dog paddling – you couldn’t call it swimming – toward the boat.
After putting the oars into our boat he had planned to tie the dinghy to the boat. But he had let go and the wind had another idea. Now he was getting back to the boat the best he could.
We had another talk. But I think this experience might stick better. We will see.
Nathaniel Tows the Dinghy Home
JM – Commander (iPad sketch using Art Set app)
Where? – Parry Sound Harbour
When? – July 1st, 9:15 PM
Every year the Parry Sound Power and Sail Squadron sponsors Christmas In July. You don’t have to be a member to express your holiday spirit. Just decorate your boat like a lighted Christmas tree or present and join us.
How? – Decorate your boat and join us behind Rosetta Island at 9:15 on July 1 – Canada Day. Or, if the day is Parry Sound perfect, anchor south of Rosetta (there is shallow water near Parry Island) – have a Bar-B-Q, swim, decorate your boat and join us south of Rosetta Island at 9:15
The parade of lights will leave at 9:40 led by the OPP boat or Cambrian. We travel in line toward Parry Sound Marine then loop to travel along the east side of the concrete wharf (many cheers and halloos, here.) We then try to head out past Bobs Point before the Island Queen returns from her evening cruise. We then tour toward the Old Town beach and Parry Sound Sailing School so the residents of Belvedere can see us. Hopefully we can get back and anchored for the fireworks.
Of course a skipper is responsible for his/her own boat. When and where you break off from the procession is up to you. One year in twenty, I remember a thunder storm that caused a change in plans. Grandchildren can insist that fireworks are more important than a long cruise. But I have never regretted being a part of this Canada Day celebration.
After the fireworks there tends to be total confusion in the harbor. I usually leave my boat anchored and fire up ALL my lights until things quiet down. On other nights I have followed boats out toward the Sound – boats with no lights, boats with their red and green lights backwards. I find it best to wait. On the other hand, even with the crowded harbor we have never had a collision.
Hope to see you at Rosetta this July 1. Contact me if you have questions: John Mason, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Year’s Christmas in July Procession
This is the final installment in the series on boat launches in Parry Sound. Previous posts provided an overview of all sites with individual posts on the Champaigne Street, Waubuno Beach and Smelter Wharf launches. While these launches all provide access to Georgian Bay the Mill Lake launch provides access to, surprise, Mill Lake.
This launch is in a corner of Parry Sound just on the north east side of the Highway 400 bridges that cross the Seguin River and many people assume is part of the neighbouring municipality of McDougall. Mill Lake itself is a smaller lake that does not provide access to either Georgian Bay or other lakes in the area. It is largely surrounded by cottages and homes. Here is an aerial look at the boat launch.
The launch itself is shallow with a gravel base, suitable for the boats that might be used on this smaller lake. Parking is available and once again I suggest people contact the Town of Parry Sound if they want to leave their vehicle and trailer there for any extended period of time. Here’s a photo looking at the launch area. It’s a pretty relaxed facility with few users and lots of space.
The dock is about 40-feet in length. A sign at the launch states that dockage is limited to four hours.
That’s it for the review of boat launches in Parry Sound. With a little bit of help we may be able to provide information on boat launches in the surrounding communities.
JB – Communications Officer
This is the fourth post looking at boat launches in Parry Sound. Previous posts looked at the launches as a group, with separate posts on the Champaigne and Waubuno Street launches.
Also known as the Salt Dock (it’s a major facility for the offloading of road salt for the district) the Smelter Wharf is ‘in transition’ in my opinion. The launch was repaired last year to the tune of about $50,000, and as you will see from photos below it seems to need additional work. At present the launch is restricted in terms of the launch width, but it should not present an issue for any vessel that can be trailered on the road. The aerial photo below (click for a closer view) shows the launch site last Spring while it was still closed off and awaiting repair, with the docks not yet installed.
The two following photos show the condition of the launch as of June 2, 2014. The width of the launch is limited and a small section of the launch requires some resurfacing (construction cone). Otherwise the launch is quite functional with a 40-foot dock. There is a rapid drop off, so it isn’t necessary to back up too far before a boat will float.
Looking at the Smelter Wharf Launch
There is lots of parking available, assuming that there are no events/ongoing in the wharf area. Despite this I rarely, if ever, see vehicles with trailers parked in this area. The Champaigne Street launch seems to be where people leave vehicles and trailers. I suggest you contact the Town for information if you you are interested in longer term parking at this site. I expect there is no issue for same day, or single day overnight parking.
Looking Back at the Launch
Extended docking is not appropriate beyond the time required to launch.
JB – Communications Officer
This post takes a look at the Waubuno Beach boat launch. In a recent post we presented a map identifying the free boat launches in Parry Sound. For those of you new to the area and wanting to get onto the Big Water, this information may be helpful. The previous post looked at the Champaigne Street boat launch area.
The Waubuno Beach boat launch is a secondary boat launch beside the Coast Guard Station. The launch area is protected and relatively small. The dock, about 40 feet long, offers very limited space to tie up if there is active launching.
The parking area is also very limited and it’s not clear what parking is permitted and for how long. I don’t recall seeing any longer term vehicles and trailers parked in this area, unlike the Champaigne Street launch area. I suspect longer term parking in the paved Waubuno Beach lot (not shown) is discouraged, especially if there is a trailer involved. Once again it is suggested that you contact the Town of Parry Sound for information and any restrictions. But with the Champaigne Street launch just a couple of kilometers away offering a wider launch area and lots of parking there seems little reason to use this launch for anything but boating for the day. The Smelter Wharf boat launch is even closer and we’ll take a look at this facility in the next post.
Here’s a photo of the boat launch taken later in the day. That’s Parry Island in the distance.
A Ground Level Look at the Waubuno Beach Launch
In the last post we presented a map identifying the free boat launches in Parry Sound. These launches will be familiar to those who have been coming to Parry Sound for years. For those of you new to the area and wanting to get onto the Big Water, this information may be helpful. In this post we are looking at the Champaigne Street boat launch area. (Yes that’s the correct spelling, Champaigne, I went back to a 19th Century map to confirm the spelling. It could have been error at that time but it has stuck.)
The Champaigne Street launch is probably the most practical and useful for those who wish to come up to Parry Sound, launch their boat, and head out for a few days. It offers a reasonably good boat launch for anything up to 30-feet, perhaps more. There is also a barge ramp beside the launch for those with specialized needs. There are a total of three docks, about 40-feet long. Two are accessible from the shore, the third is a bit under water as it touches the shore. (Early 2013 image when the water was quite low, it’s closer to average at this point, 2014/05.)
The docks are intended to be used for the loading and launching of boats rather than dockage. This boat launch can get busy and there is no room for boats to be tied up. Free dockage for a couple of hours has historically been available at Big Sound Marina, with charges for overnight dockage. Big Sound Marina has recently been put under new management and it’s possible that they might not extend courtesy dockage for people who want to get out and explore the Town, have a meal or resupply. Give them a call if you have any questions, here’s a link to their website..
The real appeal of the Champaigne Street boat launch is the availability of free parking for vehicle and trailer. The Town is relaxed with regard to parking at this site. I have had informal discussions with Town Staff and they indicated that there is no issue with parking there for a few days, let’s say four or less. Beyond that it is advisable to contact the Town to discuss a longer stay. They probably want to be sure that there is ‘fair’ use of the facility and people aren’t using the area as a ‘storage’ location.
Here’s a photo of the boat launch taken later in the day. The larger dock you see a little further away is the former Imperial Oil dock that is now sitting unused. It cannot be accessed from the shore. The barge ramp is to the left and not shown.
For those of you with more specialized needs Sound Boat Works offers a hydraulic trailer and crane with the ability to launch and haul power and sail boats up to about 55-feet (possibly even larger).
With Spring actually here, boats being launched, and the prospect of Summer, it’s perhaps worth providing an overview of the boat launches available in Parry Sound. Over the next couple of weeks there will be a series of posts providing information about the launches. This post provides a general overview of the launches.
The Town of Parry Sound provices the public with four no-fee boat launches. Not only can the boat launches be use at no cost, there is no charge to park vehicles and trailers for a reasonable length of time. Three of these boat launches provide access to Georgian Bay, via Parry Sound Harbour or the Big Sound, the fourth provides access to Mill Lake.
Here is a map of the area with the four boat launches marked in red. The roads on the map are a little misleading. All of the boat launches are easily accessed by all but the largest of commercial vehicles. In the next few posts we’ll take a look at each of the boat launches individually with attention to details that some may find important.
Click on the map for a larger version.
JB – Communications Officer
On April 22, 12 boaters graduated from the Maritime Radio Course held at Lakeland. This is important for boaters since a certificate is needed when operating a VHF radio.
This is the time of year when boaters harass marina operators to get their boats into the water. Four or five calls per person is common. The local saying here is that the Sound is clear of ice within a week of April 21st. 2012 broke the belief with an early break up. Some boats were in the water on the first day of Spring. It looks as though 2014 will break it the other way.
So: Before planning on early season boating remember: The early bird gets the worm. The second mouse gets the cheese.
The early boater gets to boat alone. Silence and still water can be delightful but first boaters can be subject to the floating debris left after the ice is gone. This can range from planks and trees limbs to docks that have broken free.
The first mouse, the one who gets onto the bay before a strong wind has blown it clear of this debris, can have some dangerous experiences. Planks torn from docks, their four inch nails sticking up, can damage the smooth underwater hull of a boat. There is nothing like skimming along through an early Spring fog and having a tree, branches and all, loom out of the mist in front of you.
Then there is the ice. It doesn’t all melt overnight. An invisible skim of ice can do quite a number on a boat too. And if it does and your boat is sinking, who are you going to call who can possibly get to you any time soon? I do boat in the early season. My rules are simple. Carry the seven or eight items you must as demanded by law. Boat like you will never need to use them. Boat carefully, one hand for the boat – one for yourself, and make no mistakes. Or wait ’til things warm up some.
Early Season ‘Boaters’ on the Big Sound – No Worries