Category Archives: Lake Muskoka

Crossroads and cross-lakes.

After showing cottages by boat (they were mostly island cottages for sale) on Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau all day Saturday, we knew that we had planned well. We finished up around 6:00 pm at the top of Lake Rosseau, in Cameron Bay across from the Village of Rosseau, and just in time for dinner.
Fortunately our favourite Muskoka restaurant Crossroads Pub & Grill is just across from the village public docks. Crossroads is one of Muskoka’s best kept secrets – and that’s not just our opinion; check out the opinions of others on TripAdvisor. As you may see, the only criticism is that it takes a while to get your food served. That’s true, but having your meal made on the spot for you, well, it is absolutely worth the wait. Richard and Julie run a fantastic, community engaged restaurant serving a lot of local products. Pure. Simple. Delicious. Check them out in action. I think they didn’t notice their Videographer spelled restaurant wrong at the end:)

So, having arrived at 6:30 for dinner, meeting up with family and friends and taking our own sweet time to order and enjoying our fabulous meals, we weren’t back to the boat until 10:15. Even at the height of summer in Muskoka, it’s getting pretty dark. With a dock waiting on lake Muskoka, we had a long way to go: all of Lake Rosseau, half of Lake Muskoka, Indian River, Mirror Lake and the lock at Port Carling between them – which closes at 8:00 PM.

 

Lake Rosseau at 10:30 at 30 knots.
Lake Rosseau at 10:30 at 30 knots.

It’s a surreal experience, at cruising speed on the black surface of the lake. I know the way, but it is COMPLETELY different in the dark. Nothing is familiar; everything you normally use for guidance is gone. I know that Lake Rosseau  goes from close to 300ft. depths in the north to 100ft. or so in the south toward Port Carling; but it’s the edges I’m more worried about, and the rock shoals here and there. Anything other than that safe depth of water would be an absolute, potentially life threatening, disaster. This becomes little trouble though if you have, like I do an iPad and Navionics. For about 15 bucks I know, within a reasonable margin, where I am, where I am going and where the hazards are. All lit up on the iPad screen – you have to turn the brightness all the way down at night – really excellent!

Tobin Island Lake Rosseau on the Navionics app on my iPad
Tobin Island Lake Rosseau on the Navionics app on my iPad

The main lock at Port Carling closes at 8:00 PM, and we arrived there around 11:00PM. Fortunately there is a self-serve lock available. It’s tricky manoeuvering around to the smaller lock in the dark. There are marker buoys set, but no good lighting – if you have docking lights, put them on to pick up the reflective tape on the buoys. Head for the blue dock edge and tie up.

Tied up at the self-serve lock on the Lake Rosseau side.
Tied up at the self-serve lock on the Lake Rosseau side.

The self-serve part of the Port Carling locks is easy. Head over to the booth – we pay annually (about $85) for lock use, otherwise there is a drop box for your payment on the honour system. Then, you just stick your hand in the hole, move the lever in the direction of whichever gate is open, hold the lever in that position until the gate closes and the lock fills. It is crazy with bugs attracted by the light right over your head – but no biters for whatever reason.

Operating the self-serve lock at Port Carling.
Operating the self-serve lock at Port Carling.

The rest of the trip through Indian River and down into Lake Muskoka was just as beautiful as the Lake Rosseau passage. And again, no problem with the assistance of the iPad and Navionics. We docked about midnight. Nice adventure!

Flooding on Lake Muskoka

Flooding on Lake Muskoka
Dock system completely submerged

These north Lake Muskoka clients are doing well so far, but holding their breath. They consider themselves very fortunate.

Many have fared worse, we just finished a conversation with Walker’s Point, Lake Muskoka cottagers whose entire 2 dock system has lifted right off the cribwork. “We are hoping that it sets itself right back in place when the water recedes. At least it’s still there; we’ve seen a few float by.”

Lake Muskoka ice is gone!

Quick Update:

We are having some crazy weather here – like many other places. Strong winds with above-seasonal temperatures overnight. At 7:00 am this morning it was 16C, the expected high tomorrow only 1C.  It was all enough to make the ice on Lake Muskoka disappear!

Look at the two images below; essentially the same view separated by three weeks.

Lake Muskoka April 19 7:00 AM
Lake Muskoka April 19 7:00 AM
Mar 29 2013
Mar 29 2013

Spring in Muskoka? Nice, but still waiting.

It got up to 8 degrees C today, and really quite lovely, but we have some work to do to get all this ice and snow out of here. Other than today, our high temps have been -2 or so with night temperatures 10 degrees below that.  Lake Muskoka is still totally ice-covered, so the cottage awaits.

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Lake Muskoka at Hoc Roc river.

It looks like temps will be above freezing for … well, after tomorrow.

But, the ice is still very thick; hope so – we have to go price an island property on Lake Jo tomorrow, and we have to go by snowmobile. I might wear a CO2 lifejacket I got as a sailboat gift at Xmas … just for warmth of course.

Walking the Dogs

There is a way to tell that it is spring in Muskoka. It is subtle, but encouraging because, you may know that we still have lots of snow here in Muskoka and we need encouragement. But we have light, more light, and I love light!

Steve and I walk the dogs late every afternoon. Until fairly recently we have had to outfit them with their special Muskoka walking lights. They fit on their collars and blink. Blinding for us, but safety for them. We march down by the cottages, leashes in hand. When we get to Chamberlain’s TimberMart, we can let them off their leashes. Chamberlain’s is gracious enough to let us walk our dogs offleash. And they have a wide dirt road, and a large forest. Good for everyone!

Peel out Boys!
Peel out Boys!

We are very proud of the fact that we walk our dogs daily. Caesar says that dogs need exercise first, discipline second and love third. So we are on it! Bentley is a little Muskoka boy through and through, and Askim is from Iqaluit. I will fill you in, in another post. Our dogs seem to love living in Muskoka and they look very fit and healthy. I, on the other hand, look a little less fit. Don’t worry about me, I am in good health, but my tummy just won’t budge from under my belt. It finally dawned on me why the dogs look so slim and fit and I don’t. They are constantly running in and out of the forest and playfighting all the way.

So – I am sure you can guess what is on the agenda for me. Steve???

Spring at the Cottage in Muskoka … not here, not yet.

Many times in the past, at work in Toronto, Chicago, Orlando, or Boston, I’d hear about spring equinox (night and day of approximately equal length) and begin to wonder how conditions were at our Muskoka cottage.

In case you are at work planning for spring at the cottage, I have an update for you. Depending on where you are, it may not be all that spring-like, and it isn’t here either.
On Lake Muskoka, I made this image less than 20 minutes after the spring equinox today (Mar 20th). It’s hard to tell, but it was snowing and the high today is expected to be -2C.

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Lake Muskoka from Muskoka Beach area. Mar 20, 2013, spring less than an hour old.

Here’s how the spring weather looks coming up this week:

forecast

If you are reading this a bit later here’s the current forecast.

And have a look below at the historic records for this date. Last year we hit 24.8C – much better than -18 in 2007!

records

We did have an “early” spring last year and cottage real estate, just took off for us.

Speaking of spring, we’re at the Cottage Life show on April 5th -7th, really getting the cottage season jump-started; actually we are there Sunday the 5th from 1-5pm, so come and say hello.

If you want tickets give us a call.

In Muskoka, better late than never; skating rink on the lake.

Most are anticipating spring now, but it seems to still be about a week away before any sort of warmup. Some folks though, are having way too much fun, still enjoying beautiful winter weather.

We were out yesterday, delivering Cottage Life Show tickets to some of our clients (now all friends actually) along with Catharine’s “Welcome Spring” cookies – this year they’re canoe and paddles.

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Among others, we found two by the fire on Pine Lake, two about to go snowshoeing on Lake Muskoka, two just getting back to Lake Joseph from lunch, and … two clearing the snow for a skating rink. That’s right, just days from when the fish huts have to be off Muskoka lakes because of ice break-up, they were making a rink! And having a wonderful time doing it!

The newest rink in Muskoka.
The newest rink in Muskoka.

There’s nothing quite like skating on the lake, at the cottage. Heading inside to relax by the fire afterward is pretty good too.

In 2003, there was virtually no snow in Muskoka until about a week into January. It was quite cold though, so I had a chance to enjoy a very large rink – really cool!

Winter 2003. Took up long distance skate training.
Winter 2003. Took up long distance skate training.

These sort of conditions don’t occur very often, so lake rinks are more a product of dedication and some degree of work(fun). If you want to get started right away, or want to file this away until December-ish 2013, here’s some good, mostly Muskoka stuff:
From Huntsville, someone really into rinks.
Some rink and safety info from a Muskoka cottage products web-retailer.
Keeping the rink smooth from Cottage Life magazine.
And one of many home grown methods to improvise a bodger Zamboni for the ultimate surface.

Protect Your Muskoka Cottage Investment. Muskoka Lakes Association seedling sale; re-naturalize your shoreline this spring

The single most important thing you can do to protect the value of your Muskoka cottage waterfront property investment is to protect the water quality of your lake. One of the best ways to help sustain/improve water quality in your lake is to ensure you have a natural shoreline and a buffer zone; an area of natural vegetation running along your shoreline.

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The function of the buffer zone is to act as a filter for water flowing to your lake, and studies show that they greatly reduce water pollution. The plants and soil absorb runoff water laden with sediments, nutrients and pollutants harmful to the lake. Turf grass does not do an adequate job filtering water runoff, and is very attractive to geese and other nuisance species.

Native Plants … and lots of them!       “Ideally the buffer area is thickly covered with native vegetation. The higher the percentage of the ground that is covered, the better your buffer can work. A landscape made up of native plants is low maintenance. Once established, they can survive without extra watering, and without application of pesticides and fertilizers. Native plants are adapted to deal with local bugs and diseases and can get all the nutrients they need from existing soil.”

On the Living Edge Sarah Kipp, Clive Callaway
 

You can pre-order native plants from the Muskoka Lakes Association.

MLA

“The Annual MLA Seeding Day is scheduled for Saturday May 18, 2013 at the Port Carling Community Centre from 9 am to 12Noon. The emphasis this year will be on Muskoka native species. An order form (with pricing) is available from the MLA website here. We have a lot of seedlings available in some of the most wanted species including White Birch, Balsam Fir, White Spruce, Dogwood and Nannyberry among others.”

Order soon as quantities are limited.  Orders can be emailed to info@mla.on.ca, faxed to (705) 765-3203 or mailed to Box 298, Port Carling, ON, P0B 1J0

Afternoon sail on Lake Muskoka

Now, 10 days or so into fall, we are still completely busy with real estate, almost. I was able to get out sailing today from 3 till dusk.
With the sun setting before seven now, and me still used to long summer evenings, dusk seemed to come quickly along with cold winds. Three in the afternoon was t-shirt weather, then a sweatshirt on top by five, and a foul weather jacket by six.

Sailing south on Lake Muskoka between Browning Island and the mainland.
Flying the colours of the catboat Swell: the Ontario flag and the Catboat Association burgee.

The winds were our prevailing northwesterlies, and in the afternoon at 15 knots with gusts required a reefed sail. By evening they were a nice steady 8 or so so the reef was blown out and I sailed back north.
The evening sail was wonderful; once set, the boat stayed on track without any input from me. I was able sit back and take in the beautiful evening colours as the setting sun accompanied the boat back to Pine Island.

Once I rounded Pine Island, the wind, blocked by the mainland, slackened and I dropped the sail and watched the following sun set to the west.

Goodbye to a beautiful fall day.

 

Classic Muskoka Cottage & Boathouse; View From Above

We have a magnificent property listed at Pine Point on Lake Muskoka.

The key feature about this property is the land itself; the rare privacy afforded by 895 feet of Lake Muskoka frontage on this beautifully level point. Nevertheless, the buildings, specifically the boathouse, has found its way into a number of classic Muskoka books.

As an iconic Muskoka boathouse, the boathouse at Pine Point doesn’t dominate the scenery; it plays an important supporting role.

Iconic in summer.
Standing resolute to the winter cold and winds.

We wanted to feature all of it somehow; the boathouse, cottage and the truly wonderful property itself in our own way. So, up in a battery powered remote-controlled helicopter went a carefully mounted digital camera, and softly(whew) down it came with the following pictures on its memory card:

… beautiful!