This pictorial essay is one chapter in an on-going
living saga featuring the adventures of a small lug-rigged
open sailboat (designed by
John Welsford) and her romantically-inclined
skipper. I built and launched Jackrabbit (JR) in 2005,
with a view to using her as a diminutive, seaworthy
trailer sailor capable of taking a small crew of adventurers
to different sailing venues. Since her launch I have
enjoyed several journeys with JR, including a cruise
in eastern Lake Ontario with a friend and several
on the Upper Ottawa River with my kids. The following
essay describes a recent journey on the magnificent
Baskatong Reservoir in Quebec, Canada, illustrating
the simple pleasures of beach cruising in a small
Launched and ready
Launched and ready
A heavily laden JR just launched and ready to set
off from Pointe-a-David, on the huge Baskatong Reservoir.
On board were provisions and camping gear to support
two adults on a 4-day excursion. The Baskatong Reservoir
is a large body of freshwater located in north-western
Quebec comprised of many long bays, several clusters
of islands, and an expansive open water basin. The
area is mountainous and exhibits a typical Canadian
shield landscape. This launch point is one of the
few populated enclaves on an otherwise pristine lake.
We set off for a 4-day cruise among the unspoiled
islands located at the northern end of the basin.
Our first task was to find a suitable spot to establish
a base camp from which we could explore the basin,
its islands and remote shorelines. The strong winds
and choppy waters offered by this lake were experienced
from the moment the boat was launched. It took a while
to become re-acquainted with JR's lively manners under
Feeling our way
Feeling our way among the islands
The northern portion of this immense lake is studded
with wild islands, most of which presented a forbidding
granite-lined shore. The few sandy beaches seen along
the way were either too exposed or already occupied
by like-minded beach cruisers. Notwithstanding, this
body of water is so immense that the presence of other
boaters is barely noticed.
A promising spot
A promising spot
Finally, we reached what appeared to be the entrance
to a small cove on one of the larger islands, heralding
a good potential landing place...
Carefully making our way in, we were delighted to
discover a secluded little cove, which we named Camp
Cove, where we established our base camp. Among other
amenities, this cove provided a swimming rock featuring
an eight foot drop-off bottom and a shallow underwater
ledge to aid our egress from the water.
Mouth of cove
A perfect beach cruising camp, providing a well protected
anchorage, level spot for a tent, seclusion and, of
course, excellent swimming.
A very satisfied skipper-builder, steering JR across
the expansive basin on an exploratory day excursion
to the eastern shore (where we poked into a nice protected
bay harbouring a small cluster of sailboats on their
own beach cruising adventure). Note the lifejacket,
which I would never be without on such a large and
blustery lake. The first reef was tied in most of
the time, though JR handled the gusts and chop very
The large open basin provided consistently gusty winds
and a sharp chop, which along with the semi-wild and
remote aspect of the place created an exciting sense
of adventure. This image captures the beginning of
a long beat to windward taking us back to our island
camp from the southeast corner of the basin where
we had completed an exploration of a long bay fringed
with sandy beaches.
A typical scene at the end of a good day's sailing.
This prospect is exactly what I had in mind when I
built Jackrabbit, and its memory will warm me in the
coming months when I am out slicing through the snow
on my cross-country skis in the wintry Canadian hinterland.
Early moring still
Early morning still
For the first time in days, we awoke to a calm lake
on the last morning. It was with heavy hearts at the
prospect of leaving this charmed place that we broke
camp, and motored the 5 miles back to the launch.
It was a peaceful ending to a memorable beach-cruise.
I shall return to this amazing place, and the wonderful
state of mind it has conspired with JR to create.
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