Sailing Sailing Tipsy Gypsy Travels

North Channel Travels – Croker Island & The Benjamin Islands

Caution: these islands are some of the prettiest, most amazing islands we’ve ever experienced. There is no way to describe them completely and you’ll most definitely need to see them first hand to appreciate their beauty.

Click HERE if you missed Part 1!

Our entire next day, after leaving Blind River, was an amazing tour of Ontario’s beauty. We started to see much different terrain to our familiar Michigan travels. Mountains of beautiful stone started to appear and islands littered Lake Huron. Island after island, we chose our new favorites and decided which we’d want to have as our own someday. Little did we know the best was yet to come. We motor sailed a straight shot to the Benjamin Islands and were never bored from the amazing views all around us.

40 nautical miles later, we approached Croker Island. One for the books. We decided to anchor outside of the busy Benjamin Islands to further our appreciation of secluded anchorages. As we returned the bend around the South side of the Island we saw for the first time another Nonsuch like ours, Runcible. We’ve already briefly mentioned their boat in another post but when a Nonsuch meets another Nonsuch, a sort of happy magic happens. We cheered in excitement and knew immediately that we had made a great choice in our first actual anchorage in the North Channel. This island soon took over as our favorite island on our travels. It is also claimed as our favorite to this day.

Making sure we were hooked for the night, we then took the dogs on a mountain climbing escapade. I’ve never seen the chihuahuas as happy as this. Leashless, they followed our ups and down as we ran along the pink granite mountainside. We explored beautiful heights and gave us multiple ideas for a nighttime bonfire escape. Hours went by and we were still climbing and jumping rock to rock to see how the Chihuahuas would manage. They were brilliant. Absolutely one of my favorite days with the dogs, with Tharon, and just being alive in general.

After arriving back to the boat, our new Nonsuch friends made their way over on their dinghy. We invited them onto Tipsy and shared our love for this great boat. We gave them ideas of our upgrades and they gave us tips for upcoming visits. They left all too soon but gave us permission to come aboard their Nonsuch in the morning. Then we decided it’d be best to enjoy a bonfire on the hilly cliffs for the sunset to come. Packing our bags with Michigan beers and all the necessary items for an amazing bonfire, we took Dingus to the fire pit we had found. We spent the night reminiscing of the beautiful sights and the luck in picking such an amazing anchorage.

The next morning, we made sure to take our time touring Runcible. They’ve had their Nonsuch for eight seasons now and it was immaculate. Tipsy is in need of some work compared to Runcible but we got so many great ideas for all the upgrades we had already spoke of and made us dream of what Tipsy Gypsy will become over the years. They also shared with us the story of their boat’s name. Read it, you’ll be entertained 😉

Runcible’s Story – The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea in a beautiful peagreen boat.
They took some honey and plenty of money wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up the stars above, and sang to a small guitar:
“O lovely pussy, O pussy, my love, What a beautiful pussy you are!”
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl! How charmingly sweet you sing! O let us be married; too long we have tarried.
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away for a year and a day to the land where the bong-tree grows.
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood, with a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”
Said the Piggy, “I will”
So they took it away and were married next day by the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon.
They danced by the light of the moon.

Runcible is a made-up word. Paul McCartney has also used it in his song, Heather. Check it out here –> Heather by Paul McCartney

David & Heidi are incredible people and their boat gave us inspiration for ours. We would see them multiple more times during our trip in the North Channel but never seemed enough to get our fill with them. They soon left and so did we. Our next stop would be the Southern anchorage in the Benjamin Islands and theirs would be on towards Spragge meeting friends.

Our quick journey took less than an hour to make it from anchorage to anchorage. Deciding that gunkholing would be a bit too stressful, we decided to steer closer to the outskirts of the already filling anchorage. Our neighbors were plentiful but the views were completely worthwhile. From the anchorage, we decided to explore. We first explored South Benjamin where we went to the highest peek and relaxed in a hammock for a cat nap. There were so many ants and so many spiders – it didn’t take long for us to descend and retreat back to the boat!

After a short recovery, we decided to explore North Benjamin Island. We took Dinghus and the dogs and passed all the people we’d come to be around for the past morning/afternoon. There was NOBODY around North Benajmin and we didn’t mind. Our favorite part of these travels was the private exploration and absolutely gorgeous gunkholes we were soon regretting. Again, it is our first season with this boat and we’re still getting familiar. No worries though, we still had our small boat to bring us to these amazing views.

Soon enough, we found our favorite part of the Benjamin Islands. To set the scene, look at the picture below. It’s a gorgeous nook of hilly granite cliffs, deep swimming holes, and a pine tree wilderness. From afar, Tharon spotted a Black Bear. We soon came to find out that this was not just a Black Bear but a Mama Black Bear. Following her were not one, not two, but THREE bear cubs!! We calmed down the dogs and shut down Dingus’s motor so that we could row a slow and quiet distance forward to get a better look. We watched them for at least 20 minutes with no decent pictures taken. I did take some video but that will be some time till I can edit for the viewers end. Something to look forward to 😉

In awe of the bears, we made way to a small island ahead of the land they stepped on. With them disappearing in the distance, we could not help but soak in the seclusion and beauty of the Benjamin Islands. We just saw multiple bears and there was nobody else around. Absolutely incredible. From there, we kept thinking we should search for them but gave them their space. Then, we left. It was hard because we wanted to see more and waited around longer than we probably needed to but they never returned. We were waiting around for a ghost. Still, we were smiling ear to ear on our way back to Tipsy. It was our allegiance to the the North Channel.DSC01465

We stayed an extra day in this anchorage. If anything, we had high hopes in seeing the bears again but it also had great internet for Tharon to work in. While Tharon worked, I hammocked and swam all day in the same area as the bears the previous day. No bears were witnessed but still took in the beauty of the Benjamins. Though they weren’t around, they were interested in our visit the previous day because there was quite a lot of bear scat all around the island we had taken refuge in!

The rest of the day was me finding scenic areas to hammock in, bathe in, and meditate in. After a while, I did get lonesome. It was me by myself after all. After the traditional workday, I decided to head back. The wind had picked up much more than the morning and I had a very rough dinghy ride back. As I approached the wild wide open lake towards Tipsy I could only imagine it looking like I had fallen out and that Dingus was making a straight forward route towards the popular anchorage. I was still on and holding tight. Although I was trying to stay low in the dinghy, I was still jostled and toughed out the strong waves across the way. No worries about making it safely back, but the entire time over it did seem that I’d flip over frontwards with the wind at my face.

We spent a very windy evening snug and safe in the anchorage of the South Benjamins. After my challenging dinghy ride back and Tharon’s completion of work for the day we decided to go back to the bear spotting at the North side of the Benjamins. We were one with the bears and could not get enough. I also got to show my secret message to  Tharon and explain my amazing hammock day. Still no bears to be seen but still mesmerized by the beauty in their absence.

The next day we gathered some amazing aerial footage of our beautiful anchorage.  It was difficult to say goodbye to such an amazing place but we know we’ll see it again. You should too, you will not be disappointed. Trust me!

Cheers & thanks for reading! If you like to watch, check out our videos below!







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  • Jac
    December 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    These islands look like such a nice secret escape, I love how secluded and serene it looks 🙂

  • Christine
    December 16, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    What a beautiful trip! Would love to visit here myself sometime! Everything looks so quaint and lovely!

  • Julianna Barnaby
    December 17, 2017 at 6:05 am

    What a beautiful trip – so nice to go and spend some time with nature and the boat. Love the adventure!

  • Deea
    December 17, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Such wonderful scenery! Never heard of this place before <3

  • Jen
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Wow, I had no idea of the place but loved learning about it and seeing this gorgeous scenery! 3 baby cubs must have been so amazing! 🙂

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