Some books are written for money; some are written for love. This book was not written for money. It is a cruising guide, but far more than that. More, because the North Channel is more than a place to cruise. Marjorie Cahn Brazer, author of the first three editions, put it well: The North Channel is a state of mind. It is flight of the soul to a distant haunt — of peace, of timeliness, of mystery, of tempest, of aching beauty. This book covers all that.
Obviously, as a cruising guide, the book contains courses and distances, harbor descriptions, hazards and obstacles, prevailing weather, and the like. These are well done and comprehensive, with many splendid photos and sketches to supplement the descriptions. Together with the government charts, this book can get you through the majority of the North Channel safely, but more importantly, it will fill you with the desire to go and explore this marvelous area. While even the authors acknowledge that the Great Lakes Cruising Club log books and charts are navigationally more comprehensive, though ten times more expensive, this book contains far more of the romance of the North Channel and it is far more likely to inspire a visit. Readers who have been to the North Channel, even many times, will learn vast amounts of its history and lore, which simply cruising will never reveal to them.
The authors succeed in conveying to the readers what makes the North Channel a place that is seldom visited only once. Its beauty, its geology, its remoteness, and its people are all elements that make it what it is, and the authors include lyrical descriptions of all. Where else would you find that hawberries, and the ice cream made from them, are found only on Manitoulin Island? Or that Farquhar’s ice cream is the best in Canada? Or that Moiles Harbor is named after brothers who stole an entire sawmill? Geological history, people history, and even recipes make this book unique in comprehensively singing a hymn of praise to an area well deserving of one.
For anyone thinking of cruising the North Channel, and for anyone returning with a desire to know more about where they have been, this book is a gem.
Well-favored Passage: The Magic of Lake Huron’s North Channel a Cruising Guide by Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom (4th edition, Sea Fever Gear Publications, 2006; 172 pages)