Cruising: Lake Huron’s Lee Shore

Bayfield Street

Mark’s full story appears in the June issue of Canadian Yachting magazine or you can access it here.

June 7, 2023

By Mark Stevens


Mark’s full story appears in the June issue of Canadian Yachting magazine or you can access it here.

Lake Huron’s lee shore, an area including Port Franks, Bayfield, and Grand Bend, stretching roughly thirty nautical miles along Ontario’s west coast, has long been synonymous with summer fun.

It’s always been one of my favourite Ontario destinations.

As a youngster I camped at the Pinery Provincial Park just outside Grand Bend. As a teenager I attended summer camps near Bayfield.


Grand Bend BeachGrand Bend Beach.

Years later my wife and I camped at the Pinery with our own kids; sometimes we’d book a summer cottage here.

These shores host a cornucopia of activities and attractions – from live theatre to wine-tasting, from golf to history, from exhilarating wave-jumping to some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen – but it was only recently that I boarded a vessel for a nautical perspective on these cruising grounds.

That’s when I gained considerable respect for conditions here: not always for the faint of heart.

Winds were blowing out of the west early on the morning of that day we first cast off. We were sailing with friends who kept their sailboat (appropriately a Bayfield) at Village of Bayfield Marina near the mouth of the Bayfield River.

Clouds hovered over the horizon even as waves assaulted the river’s mouth. Rain soon followed but we were determined. With well-deserved faith in the skills of our skipper and crew, my wife and I chose to challenge the elements.

The hull nudging the bottom in wave troughs as we cleared the narrow channel leading into the lake itself, I quickly learned respect for local challenges to navigation.
We bounced around under sail for roughly an hour – foresail the size of a handkerchief, main double-reefed – before crawling back to the harbour.

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