September, 2010

Sep 10

Sailing a 35 foot C&C electric sailboat

Tonight I had the privilege of stepping aboard the Initram, a 35 foot C&C, but not just any C&C, this boat has had it’s old engine removed and replaced with an electric one.


The owners of the Initram are John, his wife Leigh and father Ian. My friend Pamela and I had met them last year on a Sailing trip in Guadeloupe. John is passionate about sustainable energy. His house is a straw bale constructed, solar powered home with a green roof; literally with grass growing on top, so it only makes sense that he would be a pioneer and convert his sailboat to electric. He’s also planning an ambitious circumnavigation to promote renewable energy.

John Wilson and his son Ian will sail around the world in a 39-foot catamaran to raise awareness everywhere about the most pressing issue in the world today: the urgent need to shift to renewable resources. This ambitious circumnavigation is the first component of the Sun Challenge.

Yes there are three different Ian’s mentioned in this entry including myself. You can read more about his house and his sail around the world and information about sponsorship on the Sun Challenge website.

One of the most amazing things about this electric sailboat is how quite it is. You do hear a quiet whirling noise, but it can be hard to hear over the wind, sails, and water. When going head to wind I wondered if it was even on, but then realized of course it is, I am holding my course just fine.

Myself at the helm.

The C&C is a 35 foot 1974 sailboat and it can really move. I have not sailed a lot of big boats, but this is probably the fastest and most responsive one I’ve been on yet. The wind read 17 knots at the airport with gusts to 24 knots so we had a great night. The boat felt rock solid in those winds and could turn on a dime, the entire evening was fantastic.

C&C heeling

Entire crew can’t be seen, but consists of Ian, Pamela, Leigh, John and myself.

To read about the conversion from diesel to electric check out John’s Sun Challenge blog where he has detailed all the trials and tribulations he went through.

Some video of the evening

Caught unprepared for a tack

Sep 10

Vacation along the North Channel

I was recently on vacation exploring various places along the North Channel, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The North channel stretches approximately 160 nautical miles from Sault Ste. Marie to Killarney. I was not sailing, but I was taking mental notes and stopped by various bays and Marina’s along the way. The North Channel is claimed to be one of the most beautiful sailing spots in the world, but of course that is subjective; it’s certainly on my list of most beautiful places and I must sail it sooner rather than later. While I had always toyed with the idea of sailing, it was Tobermory just south of the North Channel that originally perked my interest to take a sailing course. The entire are is just epic in terms of raw beauty.

Killarney Bay Light House

The trip started in Tobermory where we crossed over to Manitoulin island via the Chi-Cheemaun which is a large ferry that can carry many vehicles. Claudia and I spent a week checking out the worlds largest fresh water island and the various shore lines which are peppered with marinas. The first one was Gore Bay where I plan on chartering a boat in the near future for a North Channel sailing vacation. Gore Bay has bareboat charters through Canadian Yacht Charters and they have quite a large fleet of different sized boats. The other really nice Marina is in Little Current where you can also charter boats through Discovery Yacht Charters.

After our week in Manitoulin island it was time to drive right around Georgian bay back to Toronto, but along the way we had three days to kill so we had a quick stop in Sudbury to check out the Dynamic earth. After that we passed the Killarney entrance that evening and on a whim decided to venture down the 67 km road in the hope that there would be a spot to stay. We were in luck, Killarney was more beautiful than I had imagined and soon we were bringing our bags into the Killarny Mountain Lodge. The next day we headed out with a Canoe followed by an evening sail the next night. If I didn’t want to sail the North Channel before, I certainly do after this trip.

An evening sail on Killarney Bay

Stormy Night

The evening sail took place on a Cal 2-46 named the Stormy Night. This is a 46 foot boat with a really roomy interior. I got to helm it for a bit and hold our course. You could really walk away from the wheel and this thing would keep going straight, although it wasn’t all that windy, maybe 5 ot 6 knots.

Lots of rocks

The North Channel is full of rocks and islands and this is what makes it beautiful, but I’m sure it also makes it quite hard to navigate. We went out for a sunset cruise and on the way back I asked the skipper about navigation and said you must really know this area like the back of your hand since it’s so dark and loaded with hazards. We had been canoeing in the same area the previous day during daylight hours. He said “yes and no” and that’s when the big spot light came out; this was a first for me. Some of the channel markers are not lit, so he was scanning the surface trying to find the markers and the many shoals and rocks along the way. Suffice to say when I do go sailing in the North Channel I will not be doing so at night.

Here is some video taken from my canoe trip on a tiny island in Killarney Bay. As you can see it would not be hard to run aground if you were not paying attention. Sometimes we would be canoeing in water and we could not see the bottom and then suddenly the bottom would be there perfectly visible.

Ready to set sail

Here’s a short video of us going down the Killarny channel earlier that evening on the Story Night.

During our trip we managed to see a beautiful anchorage called Covered Portage Cove which was picture perfect. On the way in, there is a famous bluff which has an Indian head in the side of the rock. You must approach the cliff at the right angle in order to see the profile.

Covered Portage Cove Indian Head

And here is the same cliff only moments later, now you can no longer see the indian profile.

Covered Portage Cove

After the indian head you can take a look into the anchorage and you will likely see several boats. This was one of the most exciting points of the trip for me since this is my dream, being in the wilderness with all the comforts of home, a nice sail boat is a home on the water.

Covered Portage Cove

The Killarny Bay Sunset; in the distance you can actually see a rocky point sticking out.

Killarney Bay Sunset

And to get another idea of the area, here is a shot taken from Canoe the previous day.

Killarney Bay

Dreams of Sailing the North Channel

The entire trip was fantastic and all the while I was thinking how great it would be to sail this beautiful part of Ontario. Hopefully sooner than later my dream will come true. If you haven’t already visited Sailing s/v Island Bound in my side bar links check it out. It’s a blog about a families sailing adventures; their most recent trip was in the North Channel.

Google Map of the North Channel to Killarney Bay

View The North Channel in a larger map