“Strong wind warnings” have been issued on over half the days we’ve been in the North Channel this summer Granted, we’ve not spent the time we usually spend here. But it’s feeling, again, like a very windy summer. When Environment Canada issues a strong wind warning, it means that there will be sustained winds of 20 knots, usually with higher gusts. Sometimes the “strong wind warning” only covers a 2-3 hour period. Other times, like when we were up in McGregor Bay, the strong winds (gusting over 30 knots) blew relentlessly from early morning until after the sun set, only to start up again the following morning. Hours of strong winds whip up the open water (even some anchorages) and make it uncomfortable traveling any where.
When we left Manitowaning, we planned to anchor for the night in a bay protected from the strong west winds forecast, but we have arrived at the bay by mid-morning and the wind was not yet that strong. We quickly made the decision to get a bit further west, through the swing bridge at Little Current (the current was anything but “little” as we made our way under full throttle against it), and to an anchorage we cruisers call “Cell Phone Bay” because the signal is so good. We’re not using our cell phone this trip, but it guaranteed me that I would have email and messaging so that I could “talk” to my sister and learn the results of her recent scans for pancreatic cancer (mostly encouraging news).
This past Thursday, Environment Canada’s North Channel marine forecast was just two words: Wind light. After so many days, one strong wind warning after another and 15-knot winds forecast on the other days, light winds were a relief. “Light winds” can be from any direction, under 10 knots, and will allow the open waters of the Channel to flatten out. Light winds allow us to anchor in just about any bay to our liking. And then the next day we learned that winds were forecast to go east. East winds mean we can sail comfortably downwind or off the wind to the west end of the Channel. After being “trapped at Turnbull” and “captive at Clara” for several days last summer, waiting for the west winds to die enough to make our way home, we would be crazy to ignore the opportunity to take advantage of easterly winds. Once in the west end of the Channel (near St. Joseph Island and the St. Mary’s River), we only need one day to our liking to cross northern Lake Huron to Cheboygan. And so, that is what we’re doing.
We’ve passed so many favorite harbors this summer, it hardly feels we’ve been cruising. We rushed getting here and now we’ve “rushed” back to the west end. Hopefully for the next 2-3 days, we can enjoy some slow days in this pretty, quiet area filled with small islands.