Sunday, January 31, 2010

Open Water

Yesterday, Anchor Girl & I took advantage of the sunny day and, as planned, went for a drive to check out the Georgian Bay scene. The first stop was at the Port Severn Lock (#45) and from there, a bit farther north west to Honey Harbour for a round trip of about 350 km.

On the way back, we dropped into West Marine to get a couple of little things for Boogaboo, including a new compass that I will mount in such a way that I'll actually be able to see it when I have my charts out. As it is now, the only spot I have to lay out the charts is right over the factory mounted compass. That one will come out to make a flatter surface for the charts. Anchor Girl thought the new compass might come in handy the next time we are shrouded by thick fog and can't even see the front of the boat. Or the boats behind (?) us . . .

 Despite the cold, -14 degree day, it wasn't too bad with the sun shining brightly. Made for a nice day close to the water. And yes, there was open water at Lock 45;

The water was really flowing from the dam next to the lock, so there was lots of open water;

Here's a super zoomed in shot of the water churning at the bottom of the spillway. See how the spray has caused the icicles to form like stalactites;

 As was the case when we dropped down through here on our holidays, the force of the rushing water was so great that it was pushing the port hand buoy over like one of those dummies that you punch and it bobs back up. Not sure what those things are called, but the result is the ice forming a heavy coating where it was continuously in and out of the water; 

The top side of the lock. Looks pretty in the sun, even though it's winter;

 To get a feel for the incredible zoom on our new camera, I took this shot of the Picnic Island store while standing next to the Delwana Inn. For those of you who know how far away they are from each other, you will have a greater appreciation for this shot and the clarity the camera was able to capture from such a distance. According to the distance measuring tool on Google Maps, it is 2244 feet between these two points! This zoom feature is gonna be great for lots and lots of picture taking this summer;

 Next, I have three video clips I took yesterday up in these parts, but wanted to give you all a heads up on the newest technology we will be enjoying henceforth.  Not only does our new toy - I mean camera - have a 20 times optical zoom, it also records video in HD (High Definition). So, that means we can all enjoy moving pictures that are way clearer than before!

 The one hitch is that your computer has to be powerful enough to display the HD clips. Don't worry, if your machine is any newer than four years, should be no problem. I can even play the vids on my laptop, which was the cheapest one I could find four years ago. It has a relatively (by today's standards) slow processor and a low end video hardware accelerator. I did have to download and install the latest video driver to make it happy, and it now works good enough that I can stream the clips from the laptop onto the big screen TV for some impressive video - the way it should be :-)

 The way YouTube handles these things is that when you click to play the videos (any and all videos they host), the default presentation is in very low end 320p resolution. To see them in a higher, HD resolution, one must click down at the bottom of the video where it shows '320p' and a pop up will give you the choice of playing the clip up to 720p (HD) quality (of course, this only applies to the videos that people filmed in high def and uploaded to YouTube in that format). Try it.

 320p? 720p? What does it all mean?? Well, I will 'splain, Lucy. The figures represent the number of horizontal lines of resolution on your screen. The more lines, the clearer the video. Currently, the maximum resolution available to the consumer market is 1080p - that is, 1,080 lines of pretty pixels flying across your screen to make a pretty darn sharp and clear presentation. The maximum that YouTube will present is 720p (for most people, the difference between 1080 & 720 is imperceptible).

 Think of it this way - if your TV or computer monitor had the ability to display 720 lines of resolution and the video was only playing at 320 lines, the 'gaps' (for lack a better term) will present themselves as fuzzy, smudgy looking blah :-( 


 The only other thing that might hold back your viewing pleasure is if you are looking at this through a crappy monitor - especially if it's an old, tube type one. In that case, don't sweat it - it simply ain't gonna happen for you. Future shop sells good flat screen monitors for about a hundred bucks ;-)

 Hopefully you and your machine comply with all these complex prerequisites. The only way to tell is by trying it out. Here's a screen shot I took of the first video I'm sharing with you. Note that you have to wait for the video to initially start playing to change the settings. The RED ARROW highlights where to click for the higher resolution and the GREEN ARROW shows where to click to watch the clip full screen;

  Isn't his all so exciting?!?! Ya, me too :-) Ok, so on with the videos. Good luck and PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF IT WORKS FOR YOU . . .

 First one is from the bottom side of Lock 45. If you are having trouble reading this, just listen to my insightful commentary;

 Next one I took at the top of the lock. You will notice the tiny snow flakes flying around from the mist of the water pouring over the darn dam;

 Last one for today was taken at the Delewana Inn, looking around the frozen winter wonderland of Honey Harbour;

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tipping Day

Tipping Day is here!! For those of us poor slobs who have not yet retired, stopped working or otherwise not obliged to head to the salt mines every day, I am very happy to announce 'Tipping Day, 2010'!!

 Tipping Day? Yes, this is the day when we tip the scales from being CLOSER to THIS YEARS' holidays and FARTHER AWAY from last years'. That's a good thing. One more milestone that we've overcome for the off season!!

 Despite how much we all dread the end of the season, I have to say that this one has been really good for me. . .  Good time to clear my head and re focus on the important stuff. Too bad I haven't focused as much on this years' Follies - but I am working on the Year End Video tonight - and with any luck I'll actually get a chance to do the invitations. Might be a good idea, given the fact that we are only 2 weeks away. . .

 Tomorrow, Anchor Girl & I are gonna take a land cruise up to Georgian Bay. Plan is to visit Midland, Port Severn and Honey Harbour. We got a semi-Santa thing new camera & I wanna play with it. Plus, it's a good cure for my cabin fever.  Remember that 200 +++ hours I spent this time last year on the Year End Video? Well, this time around I've invested that time (and much more) into work. You know, that time we spend in between our holidays ;-) With any luck, it should pay off handsomely :-)

 I want to add that Me & AG spend most Sunday evenings with the laptop hooked up to the big screen TV to surf the interweb looking for inspiring photos & wideos for our next Georgian Bay adventure. Way better than the brain numbing crap that is on broadcast TV . . .

 So, if you hope to see anything on the big screen this year for FFFvIX, you're gonna have to wait for the next installment of fun filled photos here. It's coming, just can't say when.

 Plus, I hope to have some time to include a little lesson on the whole HD phenomenon . . .

Cottage Report

Real quick, here's some video from last Saturday at the cottage;

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Where Does It Go?

Time. Where does it go?

 Was it not just a few weeks ago that we were lamenting the end of the '09 season? And here we are, the Boat Show behind us, just a few weeks until the Follies of February and the days are getting perceptibly longer. That last one is a good thing :-)

 The Boat Show was fun & you will all be happy to learn that I was able to score a great deal on an overdue upgrade to Boogaboo's sound system. And I know just the song I'm going to test it with :-)

 Speaking of upgrades, I just got my renewed BoatUS membership in the mail this week and made sure I got the unlimited towing option. After seeing and hearing about all the smashing and clunking on Georgian Bay last year, I figured it would be a prudent move - especially since we are hoping to go even farther off the beaten track this summer. . .

 At the Boat Show, as planned, we met up with the 'Water Wings' crew. . .

 . . . And the 'Maple Leaf' & 'SunAria' crews;

 We didn't plan on this part, but we also met up with Mike Holmes & his uncle Bill at - where else - the beer lounge;

 Ya, seems he had recently bought his first boat and was just checking out the show for the same stuff we all do - Boat Stuff. Too bad the boat he bought was a Bayliner . .  That's OK, Mike, we'll talk you through it buddy ;-)

~  At Echo Bay, Part II  ~

 On the third day of our Echo Bay adventure, the Maple Leaf & crew pulled in to spend some time, go swimming and sing totally off key with the rest of us; 

 Now the Three Rays are in the company of that beauty 1936 Taylor Craft;

To keep everything Gute-N-Tite,the boys with the pretty dental work decided it was time to take another line to shore;

That there looks like it'll be real good for holn'd them thar boats;

Capt'n Buttercup takes a refreshing swim - right after pushing his sister in the drink!

Despite the smart ass remark on my shirt, it was good to see you again, Miss Ellie;

Buttercup's sister (the one he had recently pushed into the water), Leanne, joins Billie Sue & Sanja in the smoking area

It's Captain Bob;

With our FOUR stern lines secured for the evening, it was time to prepare for a good old fashioned singalong;

By the look on his face, I'd say Scott was right into a rousing rendition of Jackson Browne's 'The Load Out/Stay';

The next morning, the Maple Leaf pulls out for the run up to Parry Sound. Once again, the forecast for later that day was for some pretty strong winds, so we decided to take advantage of this lull to head to town for supplies and a secure dock. As the Maple Leaf travels at about 3.4 MPH (down hill), we gave them a big head start. We still got there first ;-)
 The forecast proved bang on, as the wind was really blowing when we got into the Parry Sound docks. So much so, that some of us (including me) almost got INTO THE DOCKS when we landed;

Our turn to move on from Echo Bay. But wait- why are Analus & Billie Sue doing all the prep work aboard SunAria? Isn't that the job of the captain & crew of the vessell? HA!
 Really, Sanja, you gotta find yourself some deck hands for these types of trips . . .

Lucky for me, I have my own deck hand. 

That's DECK hand, Kevin!
And she cooks,too!
That's COOK, Kevin!

And has the prettiest legs ;-)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

At Echo Bay

Tonight you'll notice a bit of a change with the look of the Blog.

 First, I made the overall <-- width --> a bit wider to fit in all the words that profusely spew from my keyboard. That, and more importantly, I am now presenting the photos in a B I G G E R format. I've often wondered if you were actually clicking on the photos to see the full size. Well, tonight I discovered a new editor that allows for the larger format photo presentations. You can still click on them for an even larger look, but at least they initially show up a bit better.

 Be letting me know what you are thinking of this  . . .

 Now for some learning stuff. Getting back to the charts, when I was highlighting the day beacons, bifurcation buoys and ranges, I came across a 'wreck' symbol close to the Shawanaga River (the spot we hope to get to this summer). Being the inquisitive kinda guy that I am, I did some digging on the inter-web to see if I could find out something about the wreck.

 As a quick aside (since my head is so full of otherwise useless information), there is another wreck that I am aware of - on chart #2202 - at the aptly named 'Wreck Island', which is in the Moon Islands, close to Henry's Restaurant. That one is for the 'Waubuno', a vessel that went down in a storm on November 22, 1879. Hmmm, November 22 on Georgian Bay - any guesses as to what sort of conditions might have precipitated it's premature demise? I did some research on that last year and found a couple of photos of it in it's current condition & was quite surprised to see how much has survived over all these years. . .

  What I found about the latest wreck is really cool - that's why I'm sharing it with you. First off, here's a picture I took of the area of the chart that I'm referring to;

 On close inspection, you'll notice that the wreck symbol has a port side day beacon indicated right beside it. You may have also noticed that this is all right beside yet another Turning Island / Turning Rocks area! Let's see, there's a Turning Rock at Honey Harbour, another at the Waubaushene Channel, a Turning Island just before the Parry Sound / South Channel cutoff & wherever else I'm sure I've seen that name. Have these people no sense of originality?

 I have another very interesting aside (groan) on the subject of place names on Georgian Bay, but I'll spare you on that for this episode and save it for another time - but don't let me forget ;-)

 But, alas, I digress. . . . After a bit of creative searching, I was able to not only find pictures of the wreck, but it's name & why the heck the thing is there. Here's a really cool 'current' shot of the wreck that I found;

 Not only is the wreck there, but the day beacon is mounted right on top of it! I'm pretty sure that the white thing that he marker is mounted to is the old steam boiler for the vessel.

 I was also able to find out that the vessel was called the Metamora, built in 1864 and found it's way to this spot as a result of a fire, back on July 30th, 1907. It actually served as a gun boat for five years and was, during that time, fitted with armour and cannons! And guees what else? I have a picture of it, taken shortly after it came to rest in this spot;

Now isn't that cool? How many times do you come across something like this? Well, I want to visit it. As you saw on the charts it's only 30 miles north of Parry Sound - or roughly 170 (!!) miles from home port. Now THAT'S COOL!

~~ At Echo Bay ~~

 It just came to mind that our continuing review of the Georgian Bay trip '09 is stuff that is now something that's gonna be referred to as taking place last year. Another year, another decade. Where does the time go?

 We'll start this one off with a screen shot from our chartplotter when we arrived at this spot. One hundred and forty + miles from home and a whole other world! Great.
 A closer look brings into focus the factr that I had our 'ship icon' set to the circle with the dot in the middle. I've since changed that to an icon of a boat - one that faces in the direction that the real one - Boogaboo - is facing. I did  that after our incident of getting turned around in the thick fog. More on that in subsequent postings.

 I put this panoramic view of our anchorage from three different photos;

Just after arriving, Sanja was greeted by this stowaway aboard SunAria. You'll hear us talking about it in the next video clip;

A video panning view of our anchorage;

 First one in for a swim shower!
 Actually, what happened was that I was taking a stern line to shore with the dinky. I thought I was in only two or three feet of water, so I stepped out to walk the rest of the way in - only to find out that I was in more like EIGHT feet of water. Straight down I went - me, anchor, glasses, cap & all!
  Ya, everyone on the big boats thought that was hilarious! That's how I found myself to be first in the water that day;

  Why is it that I always seem to find Analus watching me while I am bathing?

The next day was a beautiful one with lots and lots of sunshine! This is looking out from our anchorage, towards the east and where we all go for the first part of our dinky adventure;

Getting ready to head out on the big ride. Look at the colour of the water! Wow!!

A beautiful still shot of the Three Rays in the sun;

And from a bit farther away;

Echo Bay is actually two distinct bays - the north and the south arms. Our anchorage was in the south arm, as the north part is a little bit tricky to get into with the entrance being very shallow in spots. That said, we did dingy up to that part on this dinky trip (as you'll see shortly) and found a fair size cruiser anchored in there. As we left that part, they pulled out as well and we all hung back to see what track they followed to leave the north arm.
 And we're on our way;

As you can see, we journeyed somewhat off the beaten track and straight into a Lilly pad patch. No problem, we just had to go dead slow, as it was a bit shallow in spots. Shallow being rocks close to the surface;

You see, it's not only rocks and trees up here. Sometimes you can run into salad :-)
Looks like this is as far as we can go in this direction;

Analus surveys the surroundings while the gals enjoy the gorgeous day before we head to the north arm;

Back on our way, we ventured to the northernmost part of Echo Bay to check out a narrow channel marked on the chart;

Man, look at what we found. . . How beautiful is this? C'mon, I'm asking you;

This is looking out the other end of the channel. Look close & you'll see a passing boat, heading north along the Small Craft Route;

Back at the boats after our long adventure, Anchor Girl takes advantage of the warm sun for a swim shower. The oil slick you see on the water was as a result from a little overindulgence in sun tan lotion on the Water Wings vessel. I think that's where it came from, right Bilie Sue?

Here's a simple video look from the back of Boogaboo, taking in the view from the anchorage. You'll hear Analus talking in the background to Ugly Pugsely's babysitter and my comment on how much I DIDN'T miss him on this trip;

Our fun day in the sun was capped off with a dinner at the world famous Henry's Fish Restaurant - the original one on Frying Pan Island, only accessible by water. As SunAria was the only vessel that wasn't anchored or tied to shore, we all piled on and let Sanja take us over;

Ah yes, the lovely spot at Henry's. We never got a chance to spend a whole day there this time around, but I'd love to this season. Lots of entertainment here and relaxation all rolled up into one. Plus, you can get a decent fast food meal when you don't want to BBQ :-)

Tell me, what are your impressions of your fist time at Henry's?

 Anchor Girl points out the sites to Sanja as we head into the restaurant;

Fish & chips;

A brief dinner vid;

Analus catches a quick after dinner smoke before we get back onto SunAria for the calm, relaxing, peaceful, quiet, easy, flawless, well executed, uneventful trip back to Echo Bay;

A lovely evening shot;

Here's Tanner & Kevin (and the other fellow who's name escapes me right now), from Parks Ontario to collect our mooring fees for the evening. The deal in the park is that you can anchor anywhere for free, but if your boat is tied to shore, a $10 fee per boat, per day applies.
 That was more than acceptable for us, as they took our excessive garbage (and empties) away each time and were a great source of local knowledge. They told us about some other good anchorages, what waters to avoid and even drew lins on my park map showing the otherwise uncharted route into an area called Woods Bay.
 Woods Bay was going to be our next voyage of discovery, as it was to be our jumping off point for an all day dinky ride up to the Moon River Falls. Unfortunately, the park rangers also brought us bad news this night about some tragic drownings at the falls that very day. As a result, the whole area was off limits. So, as seemed to be the case for the whole season, our plans once again changed on the fly;

Let's see, Sanja, looks like you have no less than five charts and maps here under review. With all your new found insights and experience - not to mention the pleasant on water coaching by myself - on Georgian Bay, does that mean you are going to lead us up to Byng Inlet this summer?

 This early morning shot was taken on morning #2 at Echo.
 Seems someone had a hard time sleeping that night and was up early enough to capture this great sunrise;

 . . . . Coming up next, the extended crew of the Maple Leaf shows up for a good, old fashioned sing-along. . . .

 Now the seats are all empty, let the roadies take the stage . . .