The North Channel

tgrass462 - May 4, 2019

We are planning to spent most of this summer (2019) on our Catalina 320 sailboat in The North Channel.

Where can we find the GLCC list of the best anchorages in The North Channel?

Also wondering if other GLCC members are planning to be in The North Channel in June and July prior to the wilderness rally..

Tom and Tracy Grass

S/V Bucket List

St. Louis, MO

dspencer's picture

Hi Karl and Denise,
Welcome to the GLCC. You will find dozens (or, more likely, hundreds) of fellow GLCC members cruising the North Channel this summer and they will always be ready to share knowledge and offer advice or assistance whenever you need it.

In response to your question, I can only speak for C-MAP charts on my modest chartplotter and Navionics on my friend's huge plotter on his powerboat but I've found electronic charts to be very accurate as long as they are derived from CHS charts. Some chart plotters come preloaded with "coastal charts" which are't nearly detailed enough for exploring the North Channel. As a rule, for Canadian charts, if they are free or come preloaded on your plotter or tablet, they are likely inadequate.

CHS chart accuracy is quite good for navigation areas, but they can be less accurate in anchorages.
There are no better charts than those provided in the GLCC Harbour Reports for anchorages, especially remote anchorages like you will find in the North Channel and Lake Superior. The GLCC has also produced legacy charts of previously poorly charted or uncharted areas around the Benjamin Islands, Bay of Islands and McGregor Bay. These are excellent and quite accurate but are not chartplotter compatible. I have them printed out and taped together 8 1/2 x 11 pages to form a large chart and refer to them frequently in parallel individual Harbour Reports and paper CHS charts.

The Canadian Coast Guard primarily offers assistance to boaters in distress and is less focused on enforcement. The OPP and RCMP enforce boating laws and border security (along with CBS). While I would strongly recommend buying and carrying CHS paper charts for the areas you will be travelling, I have never seen or heard of any recreational boater falling afoul of the law due to inadequate charts. Most enforcement effort is focused on other boating safety elements including lifejackets, flares, impaired operation or other unsafe activities. For Canadians, they are also strict on carrying proof of competency in the form of an operator's licence. For Americans, the RCMP and OPP will want to see your customs clearance reference number to prove you entered Canada legally. Wildlife officers will want to see a fishing licence if you have any fishing gear aboard.
It sounds like a lot but it isn't. Other members may have a different experience, but based on my experience and that of boating friends over many years, you are unlikely to be challenged by any authorities during your trip if you don't do anything silly. You can be relatively certain that you won't be checked by law enforcement for carrying the right charts but if you run into any trouble, your insurance company may not be too pleased if you can't demonstrate you had appropriate charts.
Have a great trip and keep asking questions!

Dave Spencer
Port Captain, Lion's Head, Ontario GB-7

SO40GTB's picture

We are planning on spending July in the North Channel and will be first time visitors. What are the most accurate charts available for the North Channel, whether tablet-readable or chartplotter compatible? How strictly does the CCG enforce the Canadian chart-carry rules (which appear to severely limit the acceptable chart products)? Our boat has B&G Zeus II chartplotters.

Karl Lahm & Denise Moline
s/v Voyageur, Jeanneau SO40
Elk Rapids, MI

mark.gagyi's picture

Tom and Tracy - I mentioned the GLCCSchool's North Channel Ports is still available as a recording. After checking I learned the other NC webinar - Joe McKeown's 30 Favorite North Channel Anchorages - is likely going to be re-opened as a recording the end of May or early June. Like the Ports webinar this is an excellent presentation packed with tons of information. If you are interested keep an eye on the GLCCSchool's website (https://www.glccschool.com/home). Notice of this posting will also likely be announced on the GLCC website home opage.

mark.gagyi's picture

This winter the GLCCSchool offered two North Channel webinars. One covered anchorages the other ports. The ports webinar is still available as a recording. This webinar (https://www.glccschool.com/content/cg00311-d-north-channel-ports) is presented by Roy Eaton. Roy lives in Little Current and is the the founder of the Little Current Cruiser's Net. His webinar covers ports in the NorthChannel, the LCCN and touches on some anchorage areas. If you want to know what the "locals" say about the North Channel you might seriously consider Roy's webinar.

Roland's picture

Give me a call: I’m in Spanish, eastern end of North Channel and I would be glad to talk to you

Roland Rear Commodore North Channel

scourge's picture

While everyone has their own 'favorite' anchorage, you should not miss 'The Benjamins' , Baie Fein *Bay Fin) and the Pool. MaryAnn Cove and directly across is another great anchorage. There is a GLCC School presentation, 30 Great Anchorages in the North Channel, given by Roy Eaton. If you get a chance, in Little Current, stop in for Roy's broadcast. There is also a 'Cruise through the North Channel - Historical' in the North Channel Harbor reports that will give you an indication of places to go.