The Benjamin Islands

The Benjamin Islands

Postby jackiejiv » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:30 pm

The Benjamin Islands are a gem hidden in the North Channel - North of Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. Manitoulin is the largest freshwater island in the world so the body of water sheltered behind it is still large. These photos were taken during our vacation this past August.

First, here's were you'd find the Benjamins.

1 The Benjamins from Google.jpg
Map of Lake Huron


We headed to the Benjamin Islands after the successful end of the 2007 Royal Regal Rendezvous which culminated in Killarney - the entrance to the North Channel. Depending on how aggressive you want to be, it'd be a 4 or 5 day boat ride from our marina (Hot Knots) in Lake Couchiching.

2 The Benjamins from Google Earth.jpg
The Benjamins Map


The primary anchorage can be found between the North and South Island and is reasonably safe to access. If you want to be more adventurous though, post a bow watch and weave through the many large rocks hanging just below the surface to find your special spot. The good news is that the water is very clear and visibility is good. Just take your time.

Here's our special spot.

3 Benjamins Anchorage.JPG
Benjamins Raft


We started our stay with a raft of four Regals including a 3560 (Knottiii Grotto), two 4260s (Blood, Sweat & Beers and Jackie J IV) and a 3260 (My Sanctuary). Over the course of our stay some came and went including another 3560 and a 3360. We spent two nights at anchorage.

The Benjamins are a gunkholer's delight. The best spots can be found with a little exploration in your dingy. Each evening, you find dingys circling trying to see who might be moving from that perfect spot. Once we got set-up, we decided to do our own little dingy tour.

4 Dingy Cruise.jpg
Dingy Cruise


Together with our friends, we did a little sunset cruise.

5 Dingy Cruise.jpg
Dingy Cruise


One of the amazing things about this area is how the rocks rise from the depths to form islands and submerged hazards. You can go from 100 feet to zero in an instant. Here for example is one of our friends that was dropped off on one such submerged island. Here she is in a yoga stance.

6 Walking on Water.jpg
Yoga on Water


All around her is 100 feet of water.

7 Yoga on Water.jpg
Walking on Water


Looks as though she's walking on water. Just remember that bow watch I referred to earlier!

Continuing on, we came across these folks having a campfire, on this little rock in the main anchorage.

9 Campfire on Smooth Rock.JPG
Campfire in Main anchorage


There's lots here to see and do. This next photo is looking back into the main anchorage around a point. The motor yacht in the shot is a Neptunus, manufactured in St. Catherines, Ontario. the company I work for supplies all of the CAT engines for these beauties which range in size from 55 to 80 feet.

10 Neptunus.JPG
Neptunus in main anchorage


Moving on, we decide to do a little exploring on one of the small islands that surround the Benji's. Here's a shot of the original Jackie J (right) and Kathy performing a little yoga.

11 Yoga on Rock.jpg
Yoga on a rock


It can be a little tricky landing your dingy if there's any wind or current. Basically you're going from deep water to steep, hard rock in an instant. Watch your approach so as not to cause damage to your craft or end up taking an unintended swim.

We thought this would be an excellent opportunity to take a "Christmas Card" photo. Here's the clan.

12 The Sows Family Picture.jpg
Family Picture


The orange lichen (moss) on the rocks is incredible. I've never seen lichen of that particular colour anywhere else.

As you can see in the photos, all of the rocks have that smooth texture and round shape reminicent of a pig. For that reason, these little islands carry names such as "The Boar's Back" and "The Sows and the Pigs".

Since everyone else is getting into the act, Greg decides to Ham-it-up on The Sow. :lol:

13 Greg on Rock.JPG
Greg


Every direction you look comes with a beautiful view.

14 View from Rock.JPG
Scenic View


Given that the sun is about about to set, we decide it's time to head in for the night.

15 Sunset Cruise.JPG
Sunset


A short time after we returned to the raft we saw this Canadian Coast Guard chopper buzzing Islands. Obviously something was up. Later we heard that there were reports of a vessel on fire near the North island. Yikes!

16 Rescue Chopper.JPG
Rescue Chopper


The next day was filled with swimming and exploring. Here are a few shots of some of the smaller islands surrounding our anchorage.

16 View from Anchorage.JPG
View from anchorage


Lots of opportunity for photography.

17 View from Anchorage.JPG
View from anchorage


The kids also love to explore in the dingy. At this anchorage, we were lucky enough to be travelling with another family with kids the same age as ours. It's always nice to get a respite from sibling rivalry!

18 Kids Exploring.JPG
Kids exploring


One the second evening, we were blessed with a rare sky watching opportunity. To the south of us, cumulo nimbus clouds turned into a full-blown summer thunderstorm. A spectacular light show. Here's a shot of one of the clouds starting to build and reflecting the sunset onto the water.

19 Thunderstorm Forming.jpg
Thundercloud


Overhead, we had a clear sky showing the full night glory of stars and constellations and to top it off, we had a full moon. It was great. Jason decided to sleep on his sunpad that night under the glory of the stars and hemmed in by his sunpad cover.

The next morning, Jason left early for Gore Bay, leaving just the two of us - The Knottiii Grotto and The Jackie J IV. Just a few days earlier, our fleet was up to 16, mostly Regals.

20 And then there were two.jpg
And then there were two...


Given it was beautiful and sunny for our final day, we decided we'd go for a little hike. We understood that there was a trail which crossed the island which we hoped to pick up from our drop off site.

Image

I was hoping to get across the island to that bug smooth rock featured in one of the above photos. We had Greg drop us off at what we understood was the entrance point to the trail.

Image

You can see from the shot above how beautiful and clear the water is in this area. Incredible really.

Here's a couple panoramic shots I took at the drop-off point which I later stiched together with Microsoft Digital Image Pro.

Image

The channel seen in the above couple of pictures has a number of really neat little anchorages for those in-the-know. There were a number of spots where boats were tied right up to a rock wall with fenders down - just like a dock. There was even one spot where a boat had fenders down on both sides jammed into a tight little harbour. I think you'd also have to have time and patience on your side to pick-up one of these spots.

Early in our hike, we came across this little plaque, about 8" x 6", mounted to the rock. Obviously Carl liked this spot and I can clearly understand why.

Image

We hunted around the tree line but never did find an entrance to a trail. Since our taxi had moved on, we decided we'd make our way back towards the raft along the shoreline. Some of the shoreline wasn't all that passable really like this area which was nothing more than a rock face.

Image

Nice day for a hike though...

Image

I thought these rocks were pretty neat looking. Kind of reminicent of a whale's back breaching the water.

Image

Ultimately, we called Greg on the VHF and asked for a pick-up at the sandy beach. Ended up being a short hike but a good adventure nonetheless.

Image

Finally our time was up at the Benjamins and it was time to head on to our next destination - Gore Bay. But that's another story...and another post...

Image

Hope you enjoyed the tour,
Paul
Last edited by jackiejiv on Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:30 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby bhead56 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:08 pm

Thanks for the picts. What a beautiful place to boat.

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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby rommer » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:20 pm

Very nice!
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby Vaughn » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:48 pm

Very nice shots ... thanks for the post.
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby Rugger8 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:08 pm

Looks like a lot of fun! Great pics.
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby DogDaze » Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:25 am

Hi Paul,

Thank you for the post and for the beautiful pictures.. I love the rock 'bow watch' technique... that would freak me out - as I would think it would be hard to tell exactly how far down they are?? Have you ever bumped into one??

I love the yoga rock... and it looks like Greg is doing a little yoga himself... :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Based on your notes, it seems like it would make sense to keep a 'bow watch' even while out on the dinghy then???
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby nawtical1 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:08 pm

Great shots.

Thanks
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby Leviathan1 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:11 pm

Beautiful pictures. There is gorgeous scenery up there. I'm not too sure about the bow watch and dealing with the rocks (turtles) as well. I think I will take the bottom here in the Chesapeake. We have some low water going into some of our favorite anchorages but it is generally soft silt and sand.
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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby jackiejiv » Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:05 pm

Thanks for the commments guys. The Benjamins are pretty spectacular and the photos do not do them full justice. My favorite boating magazine is Soundings and they had a pretty good write-up on the Benjamins in the June edition as their top spot in a review of top boating destination islands in North America. Here's a link to the article:

http://www.soundingspub.com/ME2/dirmod. ... E9EA1CBE5D


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Re: The Benjamin Islands

Postby Canada » Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:35 am

To support Paul with a few more. He mentioned how boats can tuck right up to a rock wall. Here's an example.
tie to rock.jpg


And it was also mentioned if you need to post a watch with a dinghy. Not really but you do go slow. You can see the rocks ahead of me.
dinghy watch.jpg


You just have to keep your props between the little crevasses and keep an eye on them from time to time when it gets really close.
d2.jpg


And here a couple more of the rocks. Strange sights as they are very smooth and wind and wave blown.
rocks.jpg


and they can stick out anywhere. This is one anchorage you would not come in at night to set an anchor
little rock.jpg


and as far as that one rock shown above out in the middle of nowhere and is just under the surface (and there are a few like this) here is more of a close up of how 'deep' it is yet if you step off it, you are in a hundred feet of water.
kg.jpg
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