Great Loop – Week 8 Penetanguishene, Georgian Bay

It’s surprising how quickly our time on the Great Lakes is slipping away. It’s been three weeks since we left Buffalo at the east end of Lake Erie and we’ve now spent one week at Penetanguishene. But it is nice to stay put in one place for more than a night though.

Based in Penetanguishene we explored the area by bicycle; cycling to and from nearby Midland and surrounds; up to the Awenda National Park; through the off-road mountain bike trails (easier said than done with road tyres!).

We cycled to the famous Martyrs Shrine (The shrine honours eight Jesuit Saints who lived, worked, and died here in the 1600s, although the shrine was constructed in 1927), and visited the site of Sainte Marie of the Hurons. With sunny days interspersed with rainy days, it’s enjoyable to get off the boat, get some exercise and fill our lungs with this gorgeous summer air!

Back on board we carried out routine maintenance and other jobs – oil changes, laundry, provisioning, tax returns (ugh!), plus reading and planning for the next stage of the trip. Our Waterways Guide to the Great Lakes reminds us that our trip is not even halfway through. There’s still plenty to see and many miles to cover. There’s a logical reason to reach Chicago by early September – the climate will be noticeably cooler at that time of year and changes in the season also brings increased gales and storms to the Great Lakes. Three weeks should be plenty of time to get around to Chicago.

With one eye on the weather, there’s also the logistics of unstepping the mast again in Chicago for our trip down the river systems. Wayne’s managed to find a place that is reasonably priced and we can berth there too.

Third cousins - Ally and Janet

Third cousins – Ally and Janet

One rainy morning during the week, a friendly local couple, Alex and Linda, invited us over for a coffee on their boat and gave us lots of good information about Georgian Bay anchorages. Also during the week I was fortunate to meet a couple of distant relatives. Janet and her husband Roger visited us aboard Blue Heeler. Janet ‘met’ my father through their mutual interest in genealogy. It is remarkable that I would be within one hour from where they live and it was so nice to meet another branch of my family tree. (My Great-Grandfather’s sister is Janet’s Great-Grandmother, which makes us third cousins). On a separate occasion I was fortunate to meet yet another distant relative, Amy, who is the great-great-granddaughter of my grandfather’s mother’s sister (I hope I got that right!). It was great to meet Amy, her aunt and her cousin aboard Blue Heeler.

So now it’s time to get moving again. It’s been a luxury to spend a week catching up on news from Australia and the World, cycling around, Skyping my family, working on the boat and meeting distant cousins. Now we begin our journey weaving through the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay. Along the way we hope to catch up with cruiser friends we first met in Sri Lanka.

Until then…

Murals depicting the growth of historic Midland are scattered through the town. The photo below of the grain elevator in Midland Harbour has the largest historic outdoor mural in North America. Enjoy!

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Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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