With Soulianis on the hard in Florida, we take our van up to The North Channel of Lake Huron and hop back on a sailboat! We meet up with two couples who are seasoned sailors (our “boat parents” from Episode 13) who take us on a tour of their favorite spots over five days.
We sail, paddle, hike, and cliff-jump. The water is crystal clear, the air smells of pine. Hundred year-old trees grow atop boulders. Multi-colored lichen blanket the rocks, squishy mosses cover the hilly forest floor. After hearing about the wonders of The North Channel from so many others, we’re delighted to be able to explore it ourselves… and share it with you.
Lauren & Kirk
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Start Your Morning with some Sailing Inspiration
Are we even half way yet?
[Lauren] We are Lauren and Kirk and this is Soulianis. We sailed her from Lake Michigan, down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
[Kirk] It’s the ocean!
[Lauren] And have been living and working aboard ever since. After hauling the boat over hurricane season, we moved into our summer home on wheels.
[Kirk] Alright boat, take care of yourself.
[Lauren] A van we named Chip. Last time we left off on the east side of Wisconsin. We were just getting underway, up and over to the north channel of Lake Huron for a week of sailing with friends. And just like that we were back on a boat. This is David and Cheryl, who you might remember way back in episode 13, when we sailed across Lake Michigan. We spent a week with them and their good friends, Jon and Katharine, in Charlevoix, Michigan, all four are avid sailors.
[Kirk] The two couples have sailed the north channel together for years and invited us to join them for a few days to show off their favorite spots. This is the usual anchoring routine. Landslide, a Hinckley 42, drops the hook and Atom Cara, a Pearson 36, snuggles in beside.
[Jon] I got you.
[Jon] We’re fine, we got no problems.
[Kirk] Well you can practically see the anchor, can’t you?
[Jon] Yeah, you can when you get over it.
[Lauren] Wow, look at that bottom.
[Kirk] I’m about ready to jump in.
[Jon] The water is 72 degrees.
[Jon] come forward Here we go. Right there.
[Kirk] After settling in, we got our first taste of the beauty found within the North Channel.
I got my towel
[Kirk] What is that for?
You wanna survive out here, you’ve got to know where your towel is.
[Kirk] That’s true.
[Cheryl] This rock is called the basketball. When you’re on top of it, it look’s like basketball. That’s where we taught our kids to jump. They were like six or five.
[Lauren] All these colors on the rocks are lichens, which grow incredibly slowly. Some of these increase in size less than one millimeter per year.
[Kirk] We had spent the previous day on Anam Cara so we jumped ship and joined Jon and Katharine aboard Landslide for the afternoon. Our goal for the day, to sail Porcupine Island through Little Current to Baie Fine. A 15 kilometer long freshwater fjord.
[Kirk] And just liked that, the race was on.
[Kirk] That’s quite of the racing maneuver…
[Lauren] Quite of maneuver, yeah.
[Kirk] Their going to come up and banket our wind
You’re a thief!
[Kirk] David and Jon have been sailing these waters together for over 20 years and their competitive spirit is still strong.
[Jon] Are you guy’s hungry?
Hungry to jump of a rock.
[Katharine] It’s 26 feet out here.
[Kirk] That’s a jumping rock right there then.
[Lauren] It might have been but the group had another spot in mind.
[Female] It’s pretty.
[Lauren] At the very end of Baie Fine, lies Lake Topaz. Accessible only by boat or an 11 kilometer hike through Killarney Provincial Park.
Is that the spot?
[Kirk] Yeah, you ready?
[Kirk] Okay, here we go.
[Lauren] Spending a lot of time on a boat really makes you crave a good walk. And this leg burner of a hike was exactly what we needed.
Almost slipped these shoes on Oh, that’s gonna, did you see that?
[Lauren] What’s this?
[Kirk] That’s cool. That’s the view we’re looking for.
[Cheryl] So this is called Striped Maple, it’s really a northern plant. This is probably 30 years old.
[Kirk] Oh wow.
That’s how slow they grow and they call it moose wood because it’s so hard to cut cause it’s so strong. The trunk can photosynthesize.
[Laura] When Kirk and I go on hikes like this through the woods
[Cheryl] You can see how big the striations are on the trees.
[Laura] We usually just see the woods. But Cheryl taught us about almost life form we’ve passed.
[Kirk] Hug the tree. Hug the tree.
How old do you think he is Cheryl?
[Cheryl] At least a couple of hundred.
[Laura] Did we mention she’s a science teacher?
Feels waxy, like a candle. Yeah.
[Kirk] I like this.
[Laura] Cheryl, do you think that one’s stuck? That fly right there or is he just sitting there?
[Cheryl] Oh, he’s stuck.
[Laura] He’s stuck?
[Cheryl] Oh yeah, he can’t get out.
[Kirk] So far it had been a pretty magical few days on the water. Without cell service, computers or the stress of dealing with our own boat and it felt great to slow down and relax.
[Lauren] What do you have to say for yourself?
What did I do?
[David] Flips Off a cliff.
Flips? I did flips off a cliff. I expected it to be as beautiful as it is. I mean there were so many people that told us, “Have to come to the North Channel”
[David] Yeah, we raved about it by so much.
It’s amazing, it’s been fantastic. What I didn’t expect, was that we were going to continue to eat the way that we ate at your house.
[David] Hey Kirk. Flip off the engine room blower in the fridge.
[David] Thank you.
It’s always I don’t know how cold this is going to be.
[Lauren] I’m already on 15.
[Kirk] If we’re not back by sunset
[Lauren] Come get us.
3 hour tour. This is not the S.S Minnow, right?
[Lauren] Katharine, where are you taking us?
Taking you to the Sow & Pigs.
[Kirk] Shit, now what Lauren?
[Lauren] You’re leaving us here, aren’t you? Nah, she wasn’t leaving us. This was our last night on the water and Katharine wanted to show us her favorite part of the North Channel.
[Kirk] Show us your epic rock climbing skills Lauren. Oh, I got it all on camera
[Kirk] And Katharine would you like a hand or would you like to climb?
I probably would like a hand. There we go, thanks.
I’m going to pick a few things off of you, you collected on the way up. There you go.
[Kirk] We’ve spent five days in the North Channel and barely scratched the surface before it was time to head home. Thanks so much to Cheryl, David, Jon and Katharine for showing us around. We’re excited to return one day with Soulianis to explore these waters again.