Cruise Preparation

Entering Canada

    • Passports are now required for re-entry into the US. Carry papers for the car, boat, trailer, etc. Also, get a Canadian insurance card from your automobile insurance carrier to prove that you are covered in Canada in case of an accident.
    • After passing through customs you may want to request a Canada Customs Report, as proof that you arrived by road and not by water, in case you are approached by customs while in port. You will have to pull over and enter the building.  You will need the boat registration and title. (We’ve gotten mixed stories about this the last couple of years. Folks at the border said we did not need it, staff on the dock in Gore Bay said we did.)
    • If you are traveling with a pet, a current Rabies Certificate is required.
    • If traveling with children, each child will need their own passport or be listed on a parent’s passport. If both parents are not present it is also a good idea to carry a letter from the other spouse agreeing to the border crossing.
    • Firearms are a no-no. See the FAQs.
  • Check the regulations on tobacco and alcohol. While alcohol is expensive in Canada, you may be asked to pay duty on what you bring in, if it exceeds the limit. See the FAQ link above.


Chart plotters and GPSs are great, but you must have paper charts to sail with the group. Electronics can fail and you must be able to tell us, and possibly the Coast Guard, where you are.

Charts can take up a lot of room on a small boat. Some of us prefer to carry Richardson’s Chart Book instead of the individual charts. Ports (#3 below) is highly recommended for the overhead views of the anchorages and suggested approaches.

The charts you will need for 2018 are:

  • TBD–coming soon

Charts are available at Turner’s store in Little Current and here:

Other resources:

    1. Richardson’s Chart book and Cruising Guide – Lake Huron (If you only have one resource along this is your best choice.)
    1. Lakeland Boating – Lake Huron Ports O’ Call
    1. The Cruising Guides Ports – Georgian Bay, North Channel & Lake Huron
  1. Well-Favored Passage, written by fellow Trailer Sailors, Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom.

A GPS is highly recommended.

Additional Equipment

Radio: A VHF Radio is a must since it is the main form of communication for the group.  It is best to have a primary 25W radio with a masthead antenna.  Handhelds are good for use in the cockpit when underway or in the dinghy. Please use the low power setting to communicate with the group whenever possible.

Dinghy: You will want a dinghy or kayak to get ashore in anchorages. Make sure your dinghy is properly equipped.  Canadian regulations require your dinghy have the following items:

    • Manual Propulsion (oars or paddle)
    • Audible Signaling Device (Whistle – consider tying to your life jacket))
    • Flashlight
    • Bailing device
    • Floating 50’ throwing line (one ends needs to have a weight)
  • Life jackets for all passengers (inflatables must be worn)

Anchors: Bring two anchors with chain and rode.  Most of the anchorages are less than 25 ft. deep, but bring adequate rode for both anchors. For shore ties a minimum of 50 feet (100 feet is better) of nylon rode is recommended. Put this in a bag or bucket rather than coiling it.

If you have not spent a night at anchor, you might want to try it before the cruise. Just for practice and to be sure you are comfortable with it.

For newer sailors, a good resource for docking and anchoring technique, written by Jack Klang, is available for free as a PDF file at:

Head: Canadian law ( requires that heads be permanently affixed in your boat and be emptied only by dock side pump-out.  If you use a portable head, DO NOT EMPTY IT IN BATHROOMS or over the side.  No one wants to swim in sewage. Spyder Bay has a dump station where you can empty your head for a fee.  Save a receipt to show you have not emptied it over the side.  We prefer all boats have a pump-out installed as follows:

    1. A means of securing the portipotti firmly within the vessel (Screwed in place with brackets supplied by the manufacturer. Thetford and Sealand both have these.)
    1. A deck-mounted pump-out. This is via a pump-out fitting that screws onto the portipotti in place of the main top cap.
  1. A vent line through the hull just below the rub-rail. This also attaches to the fitting that replaces the top cap.

Having said this, we have not heard of this issue being a problem with previous visitors from south of the border.

Depth sounder: Extremely useful for choosing a good spot to anchor and calculating the necessary rode.

Bug Proofing:  When the sun goes down the bugs come out.  You will be much more comfortable if you make sure your boat is well screened to keep the bugs out.  We have found that Off Mosquito Lanterns help to clear the bugs out before bedtime. Some people use large pieces of netting to drape over the companionway. Others have pieces of netting with weights sewn in the hem to throw over an open forward hatch. Bring repellant for hiking on shore.

Bears: In recent years bears have been reported invading a few boats at anchor. It would be prudent to bring along some bear spray.

Sun Protection:  The sun is very intense on the water, so use sunscreen or long sleeves and have a wide brim hat.  A bimini is nice to have both for rain or shine.

Pictures:  Bring a camera; especially if this is your first trip, you’ll want to save the memories.

Walking Shoes:  Make sure to have good shoes for climbing on the rocks or hiking into town.

Dinghy Bingo:  John Travis has volunteered to bring the bingo cards again this year (2015). We have tentatively scheduled dinghy bingo for the Benjamins.  If you wish to participate all we ask is that you bring at least 1 bingo prize per person playing on your boat (Prizes should cost less than $5 and a little humor is OK).

Food and Groceries

    • You may bring in a reasonable amount of food and groceries. The grocery stores in Little Current are well stocked, but small. Killarney is smaller. If there are items you can’t live without, bring them. There are larger stores in Espanola, but it’s a 30-minute drive from Little Current.
    • You will want to bring snacks to share at dinghy cocktail parties, or if you entertain others on your boat. This can be chips and salsa, nuts, trail mix, veggies and dip, cheese and crackers, popcorn, etc. No one expects anything elaborate.
    • Bring pancake mix for the pancake supper. If you don’t want a mess to clean up, consider the Bisquick add-water-and-shake bottles.
    • Marinas have block ice as well as cubes. Lasts longer.
    • Be sure to bring enough water or other non-alcoholic beverage to keep everyone hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water and dehydration causes fatigue and mistakes. Bring reusable water bottles and keep them on deck. We buy 2.5 gal jugs to refill the bottles.
  • Spyder Bay Marina and Killarney have recycling bins.

Communication on the Cruise

Again this year we will have a twice a day radio net; this way members who are not with the group can touch base and find out where we are and where we are going.  Because some members have expressed an interest in listening to the North Channel Cruisers Net at 9 am, the morning Trailer/Sailors Net will be at 8:30 am.  The evening net will still be a 9 pm each day except when we are in a marina.

For boats going off from the main group we ask only that you keep in contact with us; let us know where you are; and try to meet up with the group at least few times.

The goal of the cruise will be to stick as close to the itinerary as possible, but this may change as wind and weather dictate.  All changes in schedule will be covered during the Nets.

Remember the proper operating procedure when using the VHF radio.  When you hail another boat use channel 16, then immediately switch to another clear channel, e.g. 72 or 71, to continue your conversation. Channel 16 is ONLY for hailing and emergency.

While underway ALWAYS monitor VHF Channel 16. If you have a dual monitoring capability, set the second channel to 72. Canadian Marinas monitor Ch. 68.


Remember we are guests in these waters, so treat the area with respect.  No littering or discharging of waste or oils into the water.

Protect the trees. When tying to shore, try to tie to rocks or stumps rather than live trees.  Padding under your shore lines on live trees is strongly recommended.

Remember that we are just visitors, for wildlife this is their home.  Please do not disturb or harm these residents (we’ll make an exception for mosquitoes and those funny little white flies). You may see snakes at Croker I. They are harmless and will leave you alone.

Noise should be kept to a minimum after dark, so as not to disturb those who turn in early.

When going to shore around boats that are shore tied, please ask permission if you use their shore lines to aid in getting out of your dinghies.

Be mindful of anchoring too close to boats that are not in our group.