Thursday, August 7, 2008

Little Current

We had considered a second night in West Hotham -- if you discount the 60 kilometer winds, it was really a nice little anchorage and we were re-assured that our anchor would hold when it was set. We decided that we'd visit Hotham again on the way back and went over to Little Current to do some errands (laundry, provisions, boat cleaning).

Entering Little Current requires paying very close attention to the buoys that mark a narrow channel to the town. The channel runs close to the shore, so watch the buoys carefully. The name "Little Current" is something of an understatement. The current that runs under the slips in the marina is not little at all. Between the current and the wind, the dock hands had their hands full helping us in. They say that this current can change at a moment's notice but the only current we experienced was the raging current from the west that seemed intent on pushing Meridian into the next marina.

Little Current is the "big town" in the North Channel. It is a bustling, provisioning stop that was made a little more bustling this particular weekend (July 26-27) because the Mackinac to Manitoulin ("MacMan") race had just ended. There were a large number of "racer sailors" (not to be confused with "cruiser sailors") running around in matching boat-logo shirts. They were on missions, dispatched by their captains to carry out specific tasks. So focused are they on fulfilling the captain's orders, that they don't have time to smile or say hello to people who aren't wearing shirts that match theirs. If you don't match their shirt, are you "the enemy"? It didn't quite have that welcoming feel that other towns have. Plus we were at a slip that was a little short for us and at the end of the dock where it was the windiest (Future reference: if you can get in on the wall, there is better protection and you're closer to everything. For all these reasons, we decided to stay just one night and forego the boat cleaning. We quickly did laundry ($2.25C/wash; $0.25/5 drying minutes) and provisioned as best we could (fruits and vegetables are not key items carried in grocery stores near marinas).

The laundromat was a little scary. The guy that Bernie got change from had mentioned he'd heard "Horror stories" about doing laundry there. But it wasn't bad at all. Aside from one dryer that didn't dry, it was acceptable. And the people doing the laundry there were obviously cruisers (since the shirts they were washing were all different colors ... and besides, don't racer sailors just pack 10 sets of underwear, 5 pairs of shorts, and 50 matching boat logo shirts?) because they told you which machines would give you hot water, which ones only had cold, and which dryer to avoid.

There are a couple of notable businesses in Little Current.

The Anchor Inn serves a good dinner (whitefish - yum!), has internet available, and also plays host to "Cruiser Net", a daily morning show for cruisers at 9:00am in July and August on VHF 71. They give a news and business summary, weather forecast, and a brief summary about an anchorage, town, or notable site. Cruisers then call in with their boat name and location. We finally started to remember to listen in (Bernie set her phone's alarm -- alarms, time, and some internet are the only things that work on our phones up here. Which is odd because the internet doesn't work with the aircard.) In the five years they've been doing Cruiser Net, they've gone from 414 call-ins in 2005 (they didn't keep stats in 2004) to over almost 3,000. They expect to get to 4,000 in a few weeks.

LocoBeanz Coffee Shop

Turners carries books, art, souvenirs, boating supplies, and a little bit of everything else.

There's a Farquhar's Ice Cream stand by the Town Docks, where we stayed. They give VERY LARGE Ice Cream servings.

Hayden's Meats & Confectionery further up the street has local smoked trout, housemade sausages, local dairy cheese, and other specialty food items.

Valumart and G&G are the grocery stores. There is also a post office, medical office, two banks, two other restaurants, and two sports clothing stores (running attire, t-shirts) on the main street.

Town Docks (officially Port of Little Current) has wifi so we were able to post several blogs to keep everyone up to date. Now that Bernie's PC is getting WiFi again, Phil's has begun to act up. Technology is a wonderful thing -- when it all works. ;)

To leave Little Current to go further east, you have to go through a swing bridge that opens every hour on the hour for 15 minutes but does begin to close after 8 minutes. We caught the 11:00am bridge opening on Monday July 28 and headed off to Browning Cove on Heywood Island.

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