Dad at the helm
Dad at the Helm

       My keenest sailing companion was my Dad, Bernard Smith (1910-1992).  He was always available and willing to make the 750 mile round trip from Ottawa when I had a few days available for sailing. On one early occasion his enthusiasm was put to the test.

       We had planned to sail around Manitoulin Is., some 200 miles, in the six days I had off work. The first three days were very enjoyable in moderate winds and sunny skies. On the third evening we anchored at Burnt Is. Harbour on the SW. side of Manitoulin, the wind was calm and the weather humid. We were anchored in a safe area, I thought, surrounded by land from every direction except the SW.

       In the middle of the night the wind picked up from the SW. and woke us up. The increasing wind and wave action was enough to concern me as to whether the anchor would hold. Later, I directed my spotlight at a reference point on shore and determined that we were dragging toward the rocks. I awakened my Dad and told him to motor towards the wind and I raised the anchor, and after a few tries, reset it a greater distance from the shore, but I realized I should not sleep as the anchor might drag again.

       The wind and wave action was with us until the following evening when the wind abated. Because we had used up four of the six days of my holidays we decided to retrace our track back to Little Current on the morning of the fifth day.

       Lesson learned: Check weather forecast before anchoring.

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Created 30 March 2002 by Mark Smith
Last Updated on 27 December 2010