I can't believe the skill of Ron and Gary (or rather, I can - but I'd never seen it in action like this). I can't imagine paddling through the water Gary went into to get that boat, never mind snapping on a tow line and then bringing both boats in safely to a tricky landing. I was also very, very impressed with Nancy: she was so calm and collected. She got out of her boat, she hung out on the rock where her feet could touch, and she swam out to my boat - and then, with Ron's help - in to shore, without a hint of panic. Even more impressively, she got back into that boat less than two hours later - and went right back into the same conditions. I know what they say about getting back on horses, but here's my character: when I was 12, I got tossed off a horse. I didn't get back on, no sir, I declared that horses suck and stalked off in a huff. I haven't been on one since.
Nancy's courage notwithstanding, the wind had picked up even further, and our next crossing was 8 km to the Chickens, with thunder rumbling in the background. There were were, all set to go, and I realized, I didn't need to go see the Chickens, really, my compass has a mirror. So I yelled over at Ron, "you *do* hear the thunder?", and that was enough to get Ron to call for us to wait it out for an hour or two - and we landed at a cottage dock near where we were at that point. Two hours later, I was shivering and miserable, and the wind hadn't died down, and I decided I needed dry clothes with rain gear over top, and a hot drink. At the same time, the guys realized that we needed a tarp, and a flurry of activity ensued. The tarp hanging job was so good that nobody wanted to leave it, and since the water made no move to calm down, we had to get over our aversion to trespassing and pitch our tents on the rocks around the cottage. It was all we could do, really, or else Ron and Gary would have had a busy afternoon rescuing five paddlers over and over again. John asked at one point, "so, we did about six kilometers today?" and Gord shot back "sure, three up, three down". In reality, John was close: we had covered seven in the seven hours since we'd launched form Desjardins Point. Oh boy.
The cottage night was a departure from my usual routine: I did not have an afternoon swim (I was just as wet, though). I did, however, have my afternoon beer, together with Gord (we had each brought a beer for every day minus one of the trip. The damn things are sold in six packs, not seven packs), and it turned into a fun evening all the same. The fun was further enhanced by the second half of Nancy's raisin loaf (we demolished the first half the first night) and then some chocolate. When conditions suck, you must eat lots of treats. And our bags were still full of treats!
But hey, it's Georgian Bay, and on Georgian Bay, when it rains, it only does so for a short time, and then the sun comes out. And it did: we woke up to sparkling skies and big rollers, but none of the confused mess of the day before. I was a bit worried about getting seasick, given my last experience with big rollers in the Charlottes, but I was fine, and having fun (turns out, Gary was not so fine, and the day was probably not fun for him - but he didn't complain. He didn't talk to any of us either, but hey, I hardly knew the guy, maybe he's the sullen sort). We stayed out in the deep water for the most part, and it seemed like we were having a lunch break and heading for the Bustard Rocks in no time. At the Bustard Rocks (which have three lighthouses, they must be serious boat-munching rocks to warrant that), Gord and I realized that we both knew of the same campsite in the Bustards, and we were on a mission to spend the night there. Ron humoured us, and we took the lead to get there. The landing was crap, the site was great, and there was swimming, followed by the afternoon beer, followed by complaining that I was too hot (of course, as Gary pointed out, I chose to bake my brains out after the first bout of swimming, but beer tastes better in the sun), more swimming, and watching the march of an army of ants from Gary's tent to the kitchen and back (foolish ants, clearly they did not hear Gary's suggestion that he open his Ziploc full of garbage and then, when they were in there, shut it and put it in the sun and fry them. Apparently, vets know all sorts of ways to kill critters. Ron was much nicer, he decided to feed them a gumdrop. They were not interested). And then there was dining. I had already reached the part of the trip where my dinners involve words like Lipton Sidekicks, and I had a hard time working up the enthusiasm to go through the whole thing. Lucky for me, Gord to the rescue! (note that I had a much easier time working up enthusiasm for the chocolate chip cookies Gary pulled out after I had already declared myself too full to eat another bit of Liptons, please help me Gord!)
The sun continued… and we had an easy paddle day the next day, we were only planning to head as far as Champlain Island. Ron gave us a bearing. I noticed
we were not following it too closely, but brushed that off with "magnetic declination" explanations to myself. But those explanations didn't cut it after an hour: I have been to Dead Island often enough, and I was pretty sure we were heading straight for it - and thus due east, not southeast. I didn't entirely trust my judgment, though, and I didn't want to question Ron's navigation - but then, I also didn't think it felt right, so I surreptitiously turned my GPS on - and *then* I had the confidence to call out to Ron. The GPS was right, we did a detour, but were still on the Churchills in time for our morning pitstop and at Champlain Island for lunch.