Fall Foliage Floatilla

A Georgian Bay Pictorial

Photos by Yvonne McKinlay & Patrick Vinet
Text & Images by Bryan Quickmire

I had been waxing eloquent to Patrick Vinet about the wonders of Georgian Bay for so long he could stand it no more. He ejected from his desk and flew his Challenger from Mont Tremblant to Edenvale. North of Montreal to north of Toronto. As the Challenger flies this is 500 km. As the crow drives it is 750 km. Now that justifies a plane! Here is the account of Patrick's guided tour!

(Webmaster's Note: As usual on challenger.ca you can click on the pictures below to see enlargements.)

Patrick Vinet in his corporate Challenger C-GMAV.
Patrick owns and operates Puddlejumper Floats Inc.

    Georgian Bay is a bay off Lake Huron however it is sometimes referred to as the sixth of the five Great Lakes. At 320 km by 80 km it is about the same size as Lake Ontario!

    Fortunately navigation from Mont Tremblant to Edenvale Aerodrome is rather easy:
    follow the sun west until you hit big water then turn left or right as appropriate.

    Patrick's trip from Tremblant to Edenvale was in somewhat scuzzy weather.
    The next day the weather was worse than somewhat scuzzy - it was downright cruddy.
    We puttered about CNV8 and briefed for the following day's mission.

    The mission objectives were threefold: (1) to cruise Nottawasaga Bay - the world's longest freshwater sand beach, (2) to hop Christian, Hope and Beckwith Islands, and
    (3) to rendezvous with Challenger owners Henry McKinlay and Keith Robinson for a formation tour of the 30,000 Islands (29,000 islands better than the 1,000 Islands).

Great Lakes
Southern Georgian Bay

Mission day dawned bright and clear - that's according to Patrick - I'm never up that early!
At the crack of nine we departed via the Edenvale One SID. It was CAVU - postcard perfect.

XSL plays Lead The Follower

In 1822 Georgian Bay was named after King George IV by Captain Bayfield of the Royal Navy.
Two hundred years earlier - in 1615 - Samuel de Champlain had named it "La Mer Douce".

This day our sea was indeed sweet - from the giant sand dunes of Bluewater Beach
to Christian, Hope and Beckwith - the Caribbean-like islands off the Penetang Peninsula:

Bluewater Beach
Beckwith Island

Few Challenger flights are complete without umpteen landings for no particular reason.
Out here off the beaten path the pilot is not only in command, he is in control! No ATC!
Doughnuts on the GPS track as below usually mean a circle to land IFR approach occurred!
(Webmaster's Note: 'IFR' = 'I Fly Revelling')

Christian, Hope, Beckwith

Henry and Yvonne McKinlay's cottage near Bone Island is definitely not for wheelplanes:

Satellite-Eye View
Challenger-Eye View

Looking For Parking!

Parking Lot Found!

Henry parks his Challenger on a granite rock which slopes up out of the water.
He lowers the wheels in the water and drives up the rock, tieing down to anchored eyebolts.

(Webmaster's Note: The prop on the left below is the McKinlay's Cessna - they're a two amphib family!)

Henry's Parking Spot
Keith's Parking Spot

Keith Robinson, from Go Home Lake, parked his Challenger at the McKinlay's boat dock.

Keith's own cottage hasn't seen a gently sloping shoreline since the glaciers ran amok.
Not only does his floating ramp float, so does the whole dock to allow for water level changes:

No sloping shore means sloping ramp required!

Since we will have a four ship formation we discuss protocol before departing.
Henry will lead this leg since he is a long time denizen of the 30,000 Islands and knows all the most scenic spots plus tons of interesting anecdotes about people and places.

Henry Leads The Way To The Outer Route

We will fly out to follow the outer route along the unprotected edge of the inland sea.
Eastern Georgian Bay has shallow, crystal clear water and countless granite islands.
(Come to think of it, how could they be countless if they are called the 30,000 Islands? Hmm!)

30,000 Islands
Round House

The western shore is the exact opposite - towering dark cliffs and extremely deep water.
The world's longest freshwater sand beach joins the two shores at the south end .

Pointe au Baril, just past Parry Sound, is the apogee of our flight, an hour from the cottage.

Henry starts a left turn towards the inner route.

Our inner route back along the bay loosely follows the Small Craft Route
used by mariners lest Georgian Bay's ferocious waves rise up and smite them.

Keith meanders!
Patrick copies Keith!

Along the eastern shore the trees are mostly wind swept pines with a sprinkling of deciduous.
When we climbed up to a few hundred feet we could see the fall foliage starting several miles inland paralleling the shore and continuing into the Muskoka district and beyond.

Can you spot the deere?

Two and a quarter hours after departure we land back at McKinlay's for Lunch.
(Webmaster's Note: Lunch always has a capital L after a flight.)

Look carefully and you'!l see a line along the base of the cliff.
The water level has dropped 4 feet in the last few years!

After sandwiches and sodas a formal mission debrief followed:

Clockwise from left: Bryan, Patrick, Keith, Henry, Bert

Then, all good things having to come to an end, it was time to take to the water.
Wait a minute, taking to the water isn't so bad - it's beginning another flight!

Inuksuk & Empty Bench
Wake Like A Loon

Heading off into the sunset, to re-visit the big islands and longest beach on the way home:

Shades of Green and White

(Ask Bryan why the picture below reminds him of a special day near Sydney, Australia!)

Trailing Diamonds

At the end of the day I downloaded the GPS track to my laptop. You can tell right away from the maps below that these are Challenger tracks - there's not a straight line to be found anywhere!

Traditional View
Astronaut View
Mariner View

In total Patrick and I each logged 4.9 hours with one land takeoff and landing plus seven water landings and takeoffs. The last two water landings were well out from shore on glassy water.
I used 80 litres of car gas. Henry and Keith logged 2.3 hours with us on the 30,000 Islands tour.

Yellow Brick Road

We covered 275 miles - mostly over water at low altitude. As the crow flies it would have been much less - Edenvale to Edenvale is zero miles. If getting to the destination had been the goal, we could have stayed home. Thank goodness we didn't ! Here's to time spent getting nowhere!

As I write this travelogue it is early November - the five day forecast has the word snow in it!
My crystal ball holds an image of Patrick's Challenger as it will be a few weeks hence:

Changing Seasons

For more great Georgian Bay photos by Yvonne McKinlay and Patrick Vinet click to Hot Shots!

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