Tag Archives: anchor

‘The Waubuno’; A Georgian Bay Shipwreck

Georgian Bay is renown for the number of shipwrecks that are not only extremely well preserved, but also the fact that many lie very close to the surface. The cool and clear waters are perfect for keeping the remains of the mostly wood constructed vessels in such a good state of preservation.

The combined result has been the establishment of Canada’s first underwater national park. Located near Tobermory, Ontario, where Georgian Bay meets Lake Huron, Fathom Five National Park includes many natural and cultural highlights, including the wrecks of over thirty ships, making it popular with the diving crowd.

Local Wreck

For those of us that are more familiar with the eastern reaches of ‘The Bay’, or who don’t necessarily want to don full scuba gear, the Thirty Thousand region holds many treasures of it’s own. Located not far from the ‘world famous’ Henry’s Fish Restaurant in Sans Souci, sits Wreck Island. An easy dinghy ride from Henry’s, one can easily discover the remains of the paddle wheel ship, ‘Waubuno’, which was lost in a gale on the night of November 22, 1879.

The 'Waubuno

The side wheel steamer ‘Waubuno’. Photo credit: southchannel.org

History Noted

Although the specific reason for the ship’s loss was never determined, the overriding factor on that fateful day was the brutal weather. From all reports, a gale force wind was howling, with heavy snow thrown into the mix. Anyone who has ventured onto this part of Georgian Bay on a windy day quickly realize that this body of water is not to be taken lightly. With it’s full on exposure to the prevailing west winds, modern day boaters’ understand to be aware of conditions that are know to change quickly. I could only imagine what those poor souls aboard the Waubuno were thinking on that dark November night. . .

Speaking of that day, November 22nd is also marks the date that U.S. president John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. For that reason, I’m able to quickly recollect both tragic events.

Current Resting Place

The ship had set out from Collingwood, at Georgian Bay’s southern shore, and was destined for Parry Sound,  roughly 50 miles northeast. An historical plaque resides in ‘Anchor Park’ in Parry Sound to commemorate the loss.

Waubuno plaque

Historical plaque in Parry Sound, Ontario.

This anchor, which was recovered in 1959, is located next to the historical plaque in the park. It’s interesting to consider how many people pass right by this anchor without knowing any of the history, or how accessible the wreck is today.

ship's anchor

The recovered anchor.

On to the wreck site. Another bit of irony for those of you taking notes – the wreck is actually just off of ‘Bradden Island’ and not Wreck Island itself. Wreck Island is actually just a bit to the south.

We took our dinghy over for a look see and to take some pics and video to share. At the time of our visit, the remains were clearly visible just below the surface.

waubuno wreck

The remains of the Waubuno’s hull are easily visible form the surface.

I was amazed to see how much has survived after 130 + years;

130 year ol ship wreck

Amazing how much still survives

How Did it Get There?

Looking back westward from the wreck site towards the open Bay, one can see the two giant rocks that protect the remains from the full fury of Georgian Bay.

So, how did it get here, you ask? Remember that the water level has dropped roughly five feet (!!) in the past 20 – 25 years, so the conditions depicted in these photos would have been quite different from 1879. The storm gale that caused it’s demise would have resulted in a storm surge of three – five feet or more, so the ship would have been able to easily clear (or be pounded over) those rocks back in the day.

georgian bay rocks

These giant rocks now protect the ship’s remains.

Being is such close proximity of this place gave us both chills. The ship carried 24 passengers and crew, yet no bodies were ever recovered. Makes one think about whatever became of them.

Here’s some underwater video I was able to capture with my GoPro camera. This really helps to illustrate how much remains intact;

Boating Guides; Choosing an Anchor

Unlike the hit song from the 70’s, the last thing you want to do is ‘Drift Away’ after setting your anchor. A bit of planning and the right equipment will make setting the hook a secure experience.

Anchor Styles

A smaller boat needs a smaller anchor and a bigger boat needs a bigger anchor, right? This is not always the case, as size is an important consideration, but not the only one. Our experience has shown that the style of anchor has a greater bearing on its holding power than mere bulk.

When deciding on an appropriate anchor, take the following into consideration;
•    Size of boat
•    Bottom structure
•    Sea and weather conditions

Considering at the various styles, think about where most of your anchoring will take place. Will it be a lazy afternoon at a quiet, inland bay or for days on end alongside a more exposed Caribbean island? Either way, take into account the bottom conditions to determine the corresponding style.

For small runabouts to larger cruisers, the most popular choices are;
•    Claw or Bruce. Designed for mud bottom.
•    Danforth. Best suited to a sand bottom, as the sharp flukes will dig in with tremendous holding power. Can also be used in a mud bottom, but may be more difficult to break free than a plow when retrieving.
•    Delta or Plow. As the name implies, this anchor is designed to work its way into the bottom, much like a farmers plow. Good all-around anchor in many conditions, including weeds.
•    Scoop Style (Spade, Rocna). These are relative newcomers to the scene and report fast setting with superior holding power. Down side is that they may be more difficult to retrieve and bring up lots of mud/weeds when set in those sea floor conditions.

We generally boat where the bottom is mud or sand and use a delta style anchor as our main, with a smaller Danforth as a backup or stern anchor. Our inflatable dingy has limited storage, making a folding grapnel style or mushroom anchor feasible choices. Although small and easy to store, these compact units are best suited to short term use only.

Anchor Construction

Most anchors are forged from steel with a galvanized coating to prevent rust, as they are relatively strong and reasonably priced. This mass production material is the most common used and we have never had an issue with this type of construction. Although more expensive, stainless steel anchors are another choice as they offer considerably more strength and can be polished to a high gloss shine. Think of it as having both ‘bling’ and ‘brawn’ for your bow ;-)

 Rope or Chain?

Now that an anchor has been selected, we need to secure it to the boat. Use an anchor shackle to connect the anchor to the rode or chain. A piece of stainless steel locking wire should be run through the removable pin and tied around the shackle to avoid it turning out from vibration. No stainless wire on board? For a short term solution, a common zip tie can be used in a pinch, but is more susceptible to deterioration from use or UV damage.

The anchor rode (or line) is the next common element, produced from rope, chain or combination of both.

The advantages of an all rope anchor rode is its light weight and ability to stretch. The three common rope configurations are; traditional ‘twisted’ line, ‘single braid’ or ‘double braided’ line. Nylon is the preferable material, having the desirable characteristics of good elasticity and resistance to UV light.  Another choice is Polyester, which is not quite as strong as nylon, but has better abrasion resistance and more UV resistant. The disadvantage of all rope is that it is considerably more susceptible to chafing and deterioration than chain.

More Chain = More Weight

Going with all chain will offer more weight, tending to improve the angle at which the anchor sets on the bottom. Chain is also preferable when anchoring in coral or rocky bottoms to reduce chafing that might otherwise occur on an all rope line. The disadvantage of going with all chain is that in very windy conditions the chain may go tight, with no slack or give. This could cause the anchor to break loose or damage deck fittings. Introducing a separate snubber line close to the deck would help relieve that strain.

Our choice matches that of many cruising boaters; a rope/chain combination, which gives us the benefits of both materials. Whichever way you go, be sure to have a ratio of at least ten times the length of rode to the depth of water you will be anchoring in – having even more on hand is advisable.


The ‘First Mate’ on our boat loves the convenience of our mechanical windlass, which hoists the anchor up and down at the flick of a switch. Windlasses come with specific chain or rope sizes that they can work with, so match the rode to the unit you will be using.

It’s important to keep in mind that when using a windlass and the anchor has been set, it is imperative to take the load off of it, as it is not designed to bear the force generated by the boat’s weight. We have seen a fellow boater’s windlass that was damaged beyond repair when it was not properly tied off on a windy day. To avoid this yourself, relieve the windlass by attaching the rode directly to a cleat, or use a chain lock for an all chain rode. A mooring snubber will further reduce the strain on both the rode & boat.

Whatever your choice in hardware, once anchored it is vital to keep an eye on everything, checking periodically to make sure you are maintaining your anchorage. Changes in wind direction or speed, current or wave action can all affect the anchor’s hold, so be sure to be aware of these changes and adjust accordingly.

With a sound anchoring solution, you can relax to a ‘Peaceful, Easy Feeling’.

Mooring Balls in Georgian Bay’s Massasauga Provincial Park

I was recently asked by a viewer of my YouTube videos as to how one pays for the use of a mooring ball in the Massasauga Provincial Park. Located along the eastern shore of Georgian Bay’s Thirty Thousand Islands, this provincial parks has many coveted ‘Designated Anchoring Bays’, as well as 135 camp sites.

Designated Anchoring Bay on Georgian Bay

Designated Anchoring Bay on Georgian Bay

Mooring Balls

The following video shows our run into the Park and our mooring ball location for the night. Unfortunately, this spot in Port Rawson Bay is the only area of the park that offers mooring balls. There are only four located there. Port Rawson Bay is at the easternmost part of the park.

When tied up to a mooring ball in this area (the Massasauga Provincial Park), payment is made to the Ontario Provincial Park’s guys who come by in a small boat to collect the fees, as well as take away your garbage for you.

Overnight Fee

Sometimes, such as in this instance, nobody showed up when we were there, so we didn’t have to pay. Not that that’s an issue, because it’s very reasonable, but sometimes they don’t have enough time in the day to drop by every boat at every location. They will also collect a $10/night fee if your boat is tied to shore anywhere in the park. And that goes for all the boats who may be tied to shore together.

Ontario Parks Rangers

Ontario Parks Rangers collect mooring fees

What that means is that we have been there with four boats tied together (us and three friends) with a line running back to shore for stability. When the Park’s guys came by, we all had to pay the $10/night (4 boats x $10 = $40 in total). Again, we are good with that, because they will take the garbage away and best of all, tell you where the nicest anchorages are :-)

Have a look at this video I did from a trip there back in 2009. This was in one of the anchoring bays, called ‘Gilman Bay’. You can see what I mean about the boats all tied together and then tied to shore;