Freshwater cruising – exploring the natural wonders of America’s Lake Huron

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Restless at rest in The Pool  

LAKE HURON, CANADA – The Pool is a square kilometre of clear water surrounded by white quartz mountains in the heart of Killarney Provincial Park on the northern shore of north America’s Lake Huron.

This is one of the five Great Lakes of North America, the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world. They include some of the most dramatic and breathtaking cruising grounds any boater could wish for.

To reach the delightful, secluded waters of The Pool, you can only hike in or go by boat.

Wes and Dianne Paisley steered their new Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht, Restless, into The Pool during the northern summer to meet friends, to hike and to explore and bask in the quiet environment.

They had taken delivery of their motor yacht just a few weeks earlier.

Their home in Bay Harbor, Michigan, overlooks Lake Michigan and the marina where Restless awaited. They took delivery just in time to make the 10-day voyage with friends to The Pool and the nearby township of Killarney.

Wes and Dianne have been boating since he was 13 and the couple have enjoyed cruising the massive inland waterways for many years.

Hiking toward Topaz Lake
Left: Wes and Dianne exploring The Pool. Right: Hiking toward Topaz Lake.

“We stopped boating after the kids left home and went to college,” said Wes.

But a love of the lifestyle drew them back and to their local Riviera Dealer, Matt Mrozinski.

“I knew the Riviera brand but not much more about the motor yachts,” said Wes. “I know Matt quite well. The last boat I bought from him was a wooden canoe! I trust Matt and he trusts Riviera. Trust is vitally important to me.

“I am a conservative guy, but this Riviera Sport Yacht got my attention. She is eye candy!

“My boating experience has been with conventional shaft drives but Matt convinced me about the Volvo Penta inboard propulsion system with pod drives. In a couple of weeks I was comfortable with them.”

After just two weeks of conversation, Wes and Dianne became the proud owners of the motor yacht they named Restless.

“The name sums our personalities,” Dianne explained. “Not long after our holiday to The Pool, we took our granddaughters hiking in the spectacular Bryce and Zion Canyons in southern Utah and then he was off on business to France.

“We go on long cruise ship trips to the Southern Hemisphere in the winter months.

“We don’t sit still.”

Left: Barbecue on board. Centre: Enjoying the view from the Cupola, a rooftop bar at the Grand Hotel. Right: Visiting the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
Left: Barbecue on board. Centre: Enjoying the view from the Cupola, a rooftop bar at the Grand Hotel. Right: Visiting the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Wes said: “Stepping aboard Restless is like being at home. The cabinetry is better than in our home and I think she has more TVs than we do at home.”

Dianne commented: “The aft galley right in the middle of the entertaining area is amazing. So many motor yachts place the galley away in a corner. But the Riviera Sport Yacht has one big entertaining area. We have had eight people for dinner together in the cockpit and the saloon.”

Restless in a marina slip on Mackinac Is
Restless in a marina slip on Mackinac Island.

Having settled aboard, the couple were soon heading out of Lake Michigan toward The Pool.

“Our plan was to meet up with friends from the Bay Harbor Yacht Club at The Pool,” said Wes. “We would each make our own way there.”

To reach The Pool, Wes and Dianne motored north on Lake Michigan and turned east under the spectacular Mackinac suspension bridge that marks the separation of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

They were soon into Canadian waters and headed for the North Channel, a body of water across the north of Lake Huron. It stretches approximately 160 nautical miles and is bordered on the east by Georgian Bay, on the west by the St Mary’s River that leads into Lake Superior, to the north by the Canadian mainland and to the south by a series of islands.

At its widest point the North Channel is more than 20 nautical miles wide and is considered one of the best freshwater cruising grounds in the world. There are a number of small communities on the islands and the mainland with marinas and shops for provisioning.

Wes and Diane steered between two of the bordering islands into the North Channel and their first port of call, Meldrum Bay, where they checked in with Canadian Customs.

Top: Portage Cove near Killaney. Left: Snapping turtles that came up to the boat. Center: Wes and Dianne prepare for a hike above Portage Cove. Right: Preparing a meal for guests on-board.

“It is also the home of the Meldrum Bay Inn, a great restaurant,” said Wes. “The owners, Shirin and Bob, love to have people in their home.”

Fully cleared, they motored further eastward through the Little Current between two small islands into Frazer Bay and on to the fjord-like scenery of Baie Fine, a 10-mile-long narrow channel that leads to The Pool.

Wes described their voyage into The Pool.

“We steer along a narrow channel with rocks on either side and the white quartzite cliff faces towering a thousand feet above us,” he said. “Then it opens out into an expanse, still surrounded by steep rocks. We are in the middle of nowhere.

“There is wildlife everywhere. Snapping turtles come right up to the boat.

“We met some of our friends and spent a day hiking up to Topaz Lake. It is a turquoise blue water lake, surrounded by the same white ridges as Baie Fine with jack pines everywhere.”

Their next destination was the township of Killarney, once a bustling fishing and trading village. Now boating tourism is its main source of income.

“At Killarney, our numbers grew to 14 motor yachts, their owners and guests and it was time to party,” said Wes. “The entertainer layout of the Riviera Sport Yacht really stood out. We got a lot of great comments as people asked to come aboard for a look.”

They continued to explore the region over the next few days, making day trips from Killarney to the islands and coves of the area.

Dining with friends at a lodge in Killarney
Dining with friends at a lodge in Killarney

But it was soon time to return home. On the way, they stopped at Mackinac Island, a glorious step back in time. Transport is by horse-drawn carriage or bicycle as there are no motor vehicles allowed on the island. The elegant Grand Hotel dominates the island, claiming the world’s longest porch at 660 feet. Its swimming pool is named after actress Esther Williams when she starred in the 1947 movie This Time for Keeps, shot there. The 1980 film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, was also filmed on location at the Grand Hotel.

Wes and Diane are already planning their motor yachting adventures for next summer.

“We would like to visit Tobermory on the edge of the North Channel,” said Wes. “There is great diving there on shipwrecks in the national underwater park.

“And maybe we will go south. Restless is a perfect motor yacht for the Bahamas!”

 

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