Georgian Bay - Franklin, Mink and McCoy Islands
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When you discover a great place like Georgian Bay, the best thing you can do is to go back and that's exactly what we did!
This time, we chose the Mink-McCoy islands for a relaxing, self-guided, 6-day and 5-night outing. We've done 3-day trips by ourselves a number of times already. With our recent 6-day guided trip with Détour Nature earlier this summer (see earlier post), we felt ready to take on this new challenge.
Our planning started with our usual exhaustive Internet search followed by a valuable book "Guide to Sea Kayaking Lakes Huron, Erie & Ontario - The Best Day Trips and Tours" by Sara Ohmann and Bill Newman (ISBN #0-7627-0417-9). Route #6 in the book describes the Mink and McCoy Island Group in detail and provides useful suggestions.
Topping off our documentations was Chrismar's outstanding waterproof "Adventure Map - Sea Kayaking Guide - Franklin, Minks and McCoys" (ISBN #0-929140-76-1). It provides a great map on one side and tons of useful information on the back.
After a 6+ hour drive, we arrived in Dillon's Cove to load-up and put-in our kayaks at the municipal dock. We parked at Dillon's Cove Marina for $5/day. The parking next to the dock is reserved for residents of the Township of Carling. Given the time of day and windy conditions, our objective was to camp on King Island just North-West of Franklin Island. Equipped with my new Brunton 58 Kayak Compass, I was somewhat confident that I'd find the island easily.
Well, (insert your excuse here), we tried to find King Island but didn't waste too much time & effort. Instead we picked a small (unnamed?) island directly South of Polley Island (near buoy A42 on the Shebeshekon Channel). Our tent was somewhat exposed to the wind (as you can tell from the picture) but it offered us a great place to start our kayak-camping adventure. A nice sunset topped-off the first day on the bay.
The next day we paddles South between Twin Pine and Archer Islands, past Birnie Island, across to Garland Island then behind Elmtree-Goodkey-Wallbank-Rapier Islands to get to Green Island, the last good camping spot before reaching what are mostly private islands in the chain of Mink Islands.
With the wind that day, we decided not to risk paddling over shores to the wreck of the Seattle (November 1903) West of Rapier-Green Islands.
Despite some shelter from the trees on Green Island, I still needed about 300 lbs of rocks and some extra rope to secure the tent and prevent it from collapsing.
We were treated to an absolutely fabulous sunset that night, below is one sample picture. I believe the trees that can be seen on the horizon are from the Limestone Islands Provincial Natural Reserve about 3 to 4 miles away.
We knew the next day would be a bit different. Most of the islands are private with cottages/homes. We also had the longest open-water crossing of our trip: about 4 miles from Stalker-Virtue-Castle-Old Tower Islands to Henrietta Point on Franklin Island. As we came up to Old Tower Island, my wife saw a lighthouse "just behind the island". I knew is was an optical illusion due to the small size of the island and the huge size of the lighthouse. In the first picture below, we're about 3/4 of a mile away from the lighthouse. In the second picture, you can see the size of the lighthouse relative to a 17ft kayak.
In the next picture, we're at Henrietta Point looking back at the Red Rock lighthouse which is 3 miles away.
By now we're getting tired of eating from our campsite cafeteria and we head out to Gilly's restaurant at nearby Snug Harbour for a fresh meal and cold drinks.
Unfortunately we had to leave the kayaks at the municipal dock which is our of sight from the restaurant. That meant we ordered our food for take-out and couldn't enjoy a cold beer in this charming restaurant. We headed back to Franklin Island as the sun was setting.
Since we hadn't been delayed by weather up to this point, we had time to head-up the West side to find our final camping spot instead of rushing-up the channel on the East side to drive home that day. We paddled by Lenice-Windsor-Gaspar-Speer Islands before pulling into Wrinkler Island. While we only found a few small & not quite level camping spots, it has a protected cove and a relatively high cliff that offers a great viewpoint of the bay and the now-famous sunsets.
We had an unexpected passenger on one of our kayaks on the final day who just wouldn't get off.
Our plan was to duck behind (East) of King and Dick Islands to reach buoy A37 on the channel, about 1 mile from Dillon's Cove. Instead, (insert another excuse here), it looks like we paddled in front (West) of King-Myrtle-Polley Islands and came out near buoy A42, more than 1 mile farther than planned...not a big deal but we could have done without the detour.
No matter what I say or what pictures I post on this blog, it won't do justice to the truly outstanding beauty of this area. I highly recommend this trip to any avid flat-water kayaker who doesn't mind being on open-waters for one to two hour stretch.
This trip and our previous trip near Killarney have turned Georgian Bay into our favorite destination. Our biggest challenge now is to decide which part of the bay to explore next time!
Labels: camping, Franklin, Georgian Bay, Islands, kayak, McCoy, Mink