Sunday, July 20, 2008

Meldrum Bay, eh?

When the winds finally showed a calming trend, we headed out of Detour for Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Mulder Bay). Actually, almost everyone headed out of Detour on the same day.

Harbor Island
On the way to Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Melrose Place Bay), we did a side trip to Harbor Island. We had considered anchoring here for a night but decided to do a quick check of the area instead and perhaps anchor here on the way back. It's a beautiful anchoring spot with an inner and outer harbor. We found that we would be able to anchor in either location (the current water levels in the inner anchorage are greater than the charts indicate). While at our brief
anchorage, we saw a deer and two sandhill cranes.

Moving on beyond Harbor Island, we encountered wind that was at the higher end of the ranges forecast and coming from our stern. That gave us a nice little push and allowed Meridian to surf a little. However, this also required more handling to keep Meridian from turning sideways and catching the waves broadside (definitely not fun).

All the stern wave action we were taking caused one of our dinghy davits to break free from the swim platform and go diving into Lake Huron. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to yell "davit overboard" and toss a life preserver to Mr. Dinghy Davit, so we bid him farewell somewhere, we think, around Mississagi Strait.

With the davit gone, one side of the dinghy was dragging in the water and occassionally attempting to do some surfing itself. This was not a good situation as it was placing extra stress on the other davit and the securing lines, risking a "Mr. Dinghy Overboard" event. So it was Bernie, the Zen Knot Master, to the rescue. With the agility of a newborn giraffe (note significant sarcasm), she crawled across our spacious and scary aft deck, somehow strung a line through the dinghy handle, and valiantly secured the dinghy with a - TAH DAH - Clove Hitch with two Half-Hitches. Of course, not too long after that, we turned into the shelter of Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Mulholland Drive Bay).

It was hard to believe the two sections were even connected but we were relieved to be in calmer waters. Entering Meldrum Bay Marina is quite the experience. Each dock has a HUGE steel casson at the end of it. The docks are not the traditional slips we're used to. They are docks that you tie up alongside. Depending upon the length, two or three boats can fit on either side of the dock.

The dockmaster, Bill and Evelyn (from the sailboat Inua, who left Detour AFTER us but arrived BEFORE us -- certainly because we stopped at Harbor Island -- yes, that must be the reason) helped us tie up. In the future, when we visit Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Milky Way Bay), we will probably hang some fenders low off the side we're tying up on to make it easier to keep Meridian off the docks.

Although very small, Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Macaroni Bay), has an inn/restaurant (Meldrum Bay Inn), a small general store/post office, nice marina staff, a museum (The Net Shed), and, of course, a Canadian Customs Phone.

Checking in with Canadian Customs was painless. Phil provided our Coast Guard registration number, passport information, and ATF information. Bernie's approval was initially on hold due to all the herb plants she was bringing into Canada, but she was eventually cleared. They do laugh at when you tell them about the safety flare guns on the boat, even though all our rule books stress that we should declare them. They didn't deem our alcohol amount worthy of a duty fee, so we were good to go.

Meldrum Bay Inn (which is a wi-fi hot spot) has a brief menu but all the food is quite good. We had dinner there with Bill and Evelyn and can recommend the Whitefish, Smoked Trout, Fish and Chips, and BBQ Chicken. They had an incredible Broccoli Soup (big chunks of tender broccoli) as a soup of the day.

For a to-go dessert, we had a Butter Tart. The Butter Tart is a tall tart filled with buttery caramel, nuts and brown sugar. We think this is a creation of the fabled Meldrum Bay Pie Lady (who sold pies out of her car every afternoon) but are not sure. Doesn't matter, the Butter Tarts are amazing.

The general store/post office has a little of everything: alcohol, first aid supplies, pantry items, local jellies and jams, dairy and some packaged meat and cheeses.

The marina has a vintage lounge. Unfortunately, the historic building which currently houses the lounge and marina office is in danger of being re-done. Hopefully, they just restore and reinforce it as it is a quaint old building.

We were planning on leaving on Tuesday, July 15, but a questionable weather forecast "kept" us enjoying Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Malted Milk Bay) for another day. We took advantage of the stay to (a) make cookies (b) attach a new Dinghy Davit and (c) christen the Kayak (which, according to some faint and barely readable markings on its hull is apparently named Joe Vazzano ;) )

The maiden voyage of the Kayak went well -- no one got soaked, no one got hit with a paddle, and we didn't turtle ourselves.

We paddled around Meldrum Bay (which Phil calls Margarita Bay) and found some stone pilings. We believe these to be ancient Jenga games, abandoned mid-game when Blueberries came into season. They were so interesting (to us at the time) that we almost ran the Kayak aground in fascination.

Phil likened Meldrum Bay (which he is FINALLY calling Meldrum Bay) to the towns in Northern Exposure or Men In Trees. Everyone was friendly, perhaps uniquely quirky, and welcoming. Oh, and they do end their sentances with an "eh?" But I think it may be just for the tourists ... eh?


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

This is Elena, daughter of the owners of Meldrum Bay Inn. I just came across your blog and read about how you weren't sure who made the butter tarts. Well, I am here to tell you the story :) My mother is Persian and she was jokingly told that she will not be a real Canadian unless she knew how to make butter tarts and THAT my friend, is how that (delicious) creation came about. The butter tarts are a family recipe from a lady named Francis Fabian, she is 96 yrs old and living happily on a farm in Bonnchere, ON.

See you soon.


Great Lakes Cruising said...

Thanks for the story Elena. We remember you! As far as we are concerned, your mother is DEFINITELY a real Canadian. Those butter tarts . . . ahhh.