Canadian Odyssey - Pit Stop # 5 Mattawa, ON

This most recent update was in fact written from Vancouver while taking a 5 day hiatus from the trip to attend his son Wyatt’s wedding. He is now back on the Ottawa River with the end in sight!

Great Lakes = Great Wind

After delaying his departure from the last pit stop at Silver Islet due to bad winds on Lake Superior, Michael encountered several more frustrating weather delays throughout both Superior and Huron. August is historically bad for travel as the sun warms the water and in turn increases winds independent of the weather system.

Back on his own and faced with these challenging conditions as well as long crossings (4-8km), he showed his willingness to exercise caution. He listened regularly to weather reports on his VHF for wind strength and wave height and would not venture out if the forecast was for greater than 15 knots (27 km/h). While frustrated at not being able to keep up with his schedule, we are glad he played it safe. It was another reminder that one can only do what the Lady (Mother Nature) would allow.

Michael made the most of good days to ‘go like stink’. He completed most of Lake Superior passing the Rossport Archipelago along the north shore to Marathon. After getting stranded for several days in Pukaswa Park, he needed to get ferried to Wawa, ON before finishing Lake Superior at the entry of Sault Ste Marie headlands on Whitefish Bay.

He had better luck on Lake Huron as the north channel is largely protected by islands that shield from the harsher waters. He logged long days and long crossings to complete the Lake. The stretch from Blind River to Little Current and Killarney had him holding his breath due to the level of wind and height of waves.

Mental Test -

Michael embarked on the Great Lakes with a high level of anxiety. Knowing the conditions and that he was once again alone, he feared the impact that isolation and being wind bound would have on his psychological well-being.

 “I was worried about my capacity to endure being stranded and alone. I knew if weather happened, I would have to keep myself busy and engaged but that is often easier said than done. I was soon tested. After an ill advised start on day 3 from Silver Islet, I soon found myself in waters too dangerous to pass. I was rounding two points of land and encountered huge wind, waves and shoals of rock that challenged me to the extreme. I was terrified. After struggling a further 10 km to the lee of the wind behind Spar Island, I called it quits for lunch. I waited out the “blow” for what proved to take the next 1.5 days. During that “furlough” my psyche was challenged more than any time in my life.”

A Different Kind of Stag Party

Son Wyatt met Michael at Killarney to help him cross Georgian Bay by way of William Edward Island, Collins Inlet and Beaverhouse. Two weeks before his wedding, he opted to avoid Vegas and rather join his Dad on his biggest adventure ever. Wyatt considers it one of the greatest highlights of his life.

Mattawa River Reunion

For 4 days on the Mattawa River, Michael was joined by former Queen’s University football teammates and long-time friends Don Bayne, John Gordon and John Fee. The trip down the Mattawa River was quite simply divine. Despite one day of hard rain, the remaining crystal clear days provided great fun with some old buddies. Michael enjoyed their company to the fullest and, as always, appreciates their support.


An Unexpected Surprise

Although he was forced to miss 200 km of Lake Superior from Pukaswa to Wawa, by taking the ride with new friend Rudy Krdlicka, he unexpectedly came across the grave of his great, great, great aunt Louisa MacKenzie Bethune on the North Bank of the Michipicote River. Given the context of the trip, he considered this a great treat with an element of divine intervention.

More New Friends

Once again, Michael has been continuously overwhelmed by the support and assistance of strangers turned friends:

Stranded in Marathon ON for 4 days, Michael Butler - “one of the most spontaneously generous souls I have ever met” and wife Martha (who he met at a campsite), opened their home to him and introduced him to several helpful people at Pukaswa National Park.
Kim Ransom and Rudy Krdlicka, also strangers until a random campsite meeting, joined Michael on his travels, took him hiking while stranded due to wind and transported him to Wawa. 
Peter Kempney who drove him through the locks at Sault Ste Marie
Carol Deutsh, in charge of the Lake Superior Provincial Park Visitors Center, and her husband Bill Cooper, who provided maps and advice on coastline detail, such as 'get out' points.
Christine Johnston and Jen Gordon and family who provided lodging and storage for Michael's kayak while he made a wedding hiatus

    Up Next 

    Michael is back on the water again on the Ottawa River. The final countdown is on and he is looking to hit Ottawa and Montreal before month's end. His brother Peter will join him out of Montreal and a family reunion of the Painchaud/Tessier lineage awaits in Quebec City as the final prize for a long trip! Michael is looking very thin but full of spirit and excitement. When asked if it has been everything he hoped it woul be, he answers 'more."   

Fundraising Update

To date, we have raised $22,000, towards a goal of $50,000.  Thank you to all who have donated! We rely on your support and are deeply touched by each and every contribution.

How to Donate:

1) Secure on-line donations: click here. **100% of all on-line donations receive tax receipts.
2) Send a cheque, payable to: 
Tides Canada - Strachan Hartley Foundation
468 Arbutus Ave, Duncan, BC, Canada, V9L 5X6
**Donations made by cash or cheque of $50 or more receive tax receipts

Social Media

Read Michael's blog about the most recent portion in his words
As before, Michael continues to update his daily progress on the SHLF website 
This includes daily check-ins via his SPOT trackerphotos and media updates, and links to social media (Facebook and Twitter) which are being updated daily.