Editors Note: Shelby Mahon is a powersports junkie if there ever was one; her article on the winter of 2013 is, in our minds, one of the definitive pieces on sledding in Ontario. But here she's taking to the water and telling us about the PWC cruising opportunities in her own backyard. Perhaps it's time get the trailer loaded up and spend some time on some of Ontario's best freshwater cruising.
As we arrived at The Cove to pick up our machines for the day, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement building. Riding personal watercraft isn’t something I get to do very much of, but it certainly comes in as one of my Top Five motorsports. As we pulled in to the facility, the great staff at The Cove had a pair of GTI SE 130 Sea-Doos ready and loaded on a trailer waiting for us. These Sea-Doos are one of the most popular personal watercrafts for families, and they certainly won me over without a fight. The lime green was instantly my favourite and I quickly yelled dibs!
Once the trailer was safely connected, we headed back to Parry Sound to launch the Sea-Doos on Georgian Bay. The Bay, as us locals call it, is a large bay off of Lake Huron. The main body of Georgian Bay lies east of the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. Home of the 30,000 Islands, Parry Sound is nestled in an incredibly scenic section of the Bay. The granite rock formations and windswept Eastern White Pines are very characteristic of the area. Unfortunately for us, cold weather and rain were making themselves well known, but we certainly tried to make the best of it. Long sleeves, wetsuits and windbreaker jackets were definitely in fashion, so to speak.
After launching in town, we made our way down the South Channel. Unfortunately, the large open areas of the Bay were very choppy and rough due to the approaching storm, so we stuck to the safer and calmer channels. One of my favourite parts of the South Channel is the Wasauksing Swing Bridge that spans the South Channel between Rose Point on the mainland and Parry Island. The bridge was first built in 1887, but was replaced by the current bridge in 1912. The bridge was originally built for rail traffic, and was modified for vehicle traffic in 1989 when rail service ended in the area. The bridge opens regularly to allow boat traffic through.
After passing under the Swing Bridge, we continued our tour down the channel. With the time approaching noon I could feel my tummy starting to growl in hunger. So you can imagine I was quite relieved to see Craganmor Point Resort coming in to view. But first, we had to move out of the way as two huge yachts trundled past us on the narrow channel. It’s amazing to see such large boats up close when you’re on something so small as a Sea-Doo! Finally arriving for lunch, I quickly ordered a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a nice big plate of poutine. Mmmm, nothing warms up the body better than delicious food and a hot beverage!
Craganmor Resort is probably one of my favourite places to eat on the Bay; there are always lots of boats to see coming in and out of the channel, and always beautiful sandy beaches to walk on (when it's not raining and threatening to thunderstorm of course, haha). A big Happy 15th Anniversary is in order for Cragonmor’s this summer! Fifteen seasons on the Bay is certainly something to be proud of!
Now that our tummies were full and the warmth had spread to my fingers and toes, it was back on the waterway we went. My dad took us for a tour through some off-shoots of the channel and we found the perfect little bay for some play time. At least when the air is cold, the water feels as warm as bath water! My mom also took the opportunity to get her first lesson on how to drive a Sea-Doo. She was amazed at how simple it actually was and she handled it like a champ!
One of the things I love most about Georgian Bay is the diversity of the water intensities. What I mean by this is that the channels afford a great deal of comfort, as the waterways are protected by islands and the mainland. This creates easy and calm riding, great for beginners and those who like a more leisurely style of riding. On the flip side, you're just a hop, skip and a short detour away from riding the heavy pounding swells of open water. As much as I enjoy cruising down the channels in search of beautiful scenery (and food), I live to play in the open water.
For a quick bit of fun, my dad dropped my mom off on shore and we headed out to the open water. As we finished up our quick rough water play session, we could see that predicted rainstorm getting closer and closer. Sadly we figured there was nothing left to do but resign ourselves to Mother Nature and make our way quickly to shore. Although I got a little wet on our journey, it was still a fantastic day full of smiles and laughter, delicious food, and most importantly my family.