Parry Sound Boat Launches – Smelter Wharf

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



Parry Sound Boat Launches – Waubuno Beach

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 LaunchOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Parry Sound Boat Launches – Champaigne Street

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor 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).


Parry Sound Boat Launches – Introduction

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.

Parry Sound_Map_Labeled_2014-05-21

Click on the map for a larger version.

JB – Communications Officer




Delivering the Goods – Smelter Wharf

Following last week’s post I though it might be interesting to see a slightly more ‘romantic’ photo of a ‘saltie’ in the Parry sound Harbour. In this case it’s the Algorail delivering salt to the Smelter Wharf in the outer Parry Sound harbour.



At this point she’s fully unloaded with the draft marks showing her sitting at about 12 feet. The draft marks go up to 30 feet.

There’s more water at the Smelter Wharf than in the inner harbour. Right beside the wharf the charts show a little more than 20 feet, but this quickly drops off to 45 feet and then 75 feet.  Not quite the same challenge as docking at the inner harbour of Parry Sound. I suspect that there might be a little bit of grinding when the ‘saltie’ first pulls into position at the dock given how close it is tied to the wharf, the 20 foot depth at that spot, and the somewhat lower water levels this time of year.

JB – Communications Officer

Delivering the Goods

Last week the Mississagi arrived in Parry Sound to deliver what I expect was the last salt delivery of the season. It was later than I remember but it seems the winds we experienced for most of November had kept the ‘salties’ from delivering salt to the docks in the Parry Sound harbour and the Smelter Wharf. I was told the waves were on the order of 12 feet for much of November in the harbour in Goderich they are loaded from.

While watching the Mississagi land and start to unload the I spoke with a local resident who has been watching the ‘salties’ arrive and unload for decades. She mentioned that the Mississagi was able to get into the inner harbour because of her relatively shallow draft. You can see that at the point this photo was taken she was taking on about 21 feet, well above (below?) what she is able to carry. At this point she had not yet started to unload. It was mentioned to me that the harbour is quite shallow and requires a remarkably shallow draft, from a laker standpoint, to enter the inner harbour. (Click on the image for a larger view that makes it easier to see the draft marks.)


So I though t it might be interesting to take a look at the chart depths for a vessel as it enters the inner harbour passing through the gap between Salt Point and Bob’s Point. Pull out your charts and follow along.

It turns out that at one point the chart data shows a depth of a little more than 22 feet in the channel just before one reaches the red spar buoy (P42). And even as one emerges from the gap just past the breakwater for Big Sound Marina, the depth is still only 24 feet, with 21 feet marked a little to the west of a line defined by the ranges. The chart shows that the depth off of the dock where the Mississagi is shown tied up is 23 feet, and quickly drops to 14 feet as you approach the shore.

Given the relatively shallow depths involved and the proximity of Sound Boat works (seen in the background) I am impressed with how quickly the Mississsagi was able to enter the harbour, line itself up, and start unloading. It took less than 15 minutes to maneuver from a position perpendicular to the dock, to being tied up with the conveyer structure positioned over the dock. It was perfect day in terms of wind and waves, but impressive nonetheless.

Delivering the Goods


Christmas in July – Enthusiastic Response


There was  good turnout for the Squadron’s Christmas in July ‘sail/boat-by’ just prior to  fireworks in the Parry Sound Harbour. The participants showed enthusiasm and creativity in their use of lights.

In the picture above you can see the procession ‘coming and going’ in front of the town dock. If you click on the image you can see a larger version that makes it easier to identify individual boats. (If you would like a copy of the image drop me an email –

Leeward Ho!

A short report from the Squadron’s Executive Officer – John Mason.

There’s snow on the ground.  It’s cold outside.  Time for some winter boating!  John and Pauline Mason, and grandson Xavier, took a March charter out of Sint Maarten.  Well we, and 158 others, ‘chartered’ a cabin on one of Star Clippers 370 foot boats.  Have you seen the ad in the Canadian Yachting that comes with a membership to CPS?  Take a peek a page 95, April; that’s the four mast clipper we were on. (Editors note – it’s Star Clippers through Europa Travel and Tours, here’s a link to their website.)

Pauline and I have been on three river cruises in Europe; this was different but just as good.  Our state room had a queen size bed, a bunk for Xavier, and a bathroom with shower.  Quite big enough for the trip.

St. Maarten, Nevis, Dominica, Les Saints, Guadeloupe, St. Barts. Each day we stopped on one of six leeward islands.  As well as possible tours ashore there were options for rafting down a river, zip lining through tropical forests, snorkeling through reefs, that kind of thing; or you could stay with the boat for wine tasting, water sports, including a ride to a nearby beach to swim and snorkel. The days could be full.

The week on the boat can best be summed up by Xavier who said day after day, “This is the best day of my life!”  His best days included tubing down the rapids, climbing the mast, learning to scuba, (he reported he could live underwater) and, even I have to admit, some of the very best meals.  There was a choice of three chef prepared dinners each day. If chicken, Chateaubriand or lobster were not to your taste, there was a steak or veggie dish.  Five or six meals or snacks through the day – just what a growing boy needs.

Pauline and I agree it was an excellent trip AND the Green Flash exists.  As I climbed down from the mast I stopped to see the sunset.  After years of watching for it, it happened.  A small flash of green in the center of an orange Sun. I saw it.

I am ready to do it again.

To get out of the way of hurricanes and catch the lucrative Mediterranean market, the boats are repositioned twice a year.  I have always looked forward to sailing across the Atlantic and I now think this would be a way to go.  Want to come with me?

Up, up and Away

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