Moving through the North Channel, which technically started at the Killarney lighthouse (photographed in the last post) toward Gore Bay we definitely notice the difference in landscape. There is a great deal of exposed quartz in some areas and the islands are much larger with fewer cottages. We depart LIttle Current without issue, as we have a nice end-tie and Larry is a pro now at getting off the dock sideways, even with a current pinning us in. We stop at a marina in Gore Bay (26NM) for the night and poke around the town. We find ‘Split Rail’ Brewery and have a nice frosty lager by the water and then a pizza dinner down the street that has a local guy playing the guitar. Cute town with a nice harbor. We move on toward The Benjamin Islands the next day. There are four islands that make up this group and most of them offer pretty scenery with pink granite, green pines and gorgeous sunsets. We pick a little pocket bay at Croker Island (14NM) and are the second to anchor in this area. Throughout the day more and more boats show up as it is the weekend and soon the little bay is packed. One sailing vessel arrives late in the day and basically anchors over our chain...we will use an anchor ball in the future. A pretty night with winds less than predicted is always nice. Up early the next morning we make a long run (8.5 hours) up the North Channel to an anchorage at St. Joseph Island in Moffat Bay (67NM). A perfect night at anchor without wind or anchor alarms. A quick hop around the corner to Hilton Beach (4NM) the following day to tie up in a marina as the winds are forecasted to pick up tonight. We wash down the boat which has been covered with bugs for weeks and when we are almost done I proceed to crush my fingers in the engine room door. A bit of a nervous moment but I quickly figured it was a flesh wound and with ice, ibuprofen and many band-aid and glove changes it will heal. We move up St. Joseph Channel to St. Mary’s River and reenter the US at Gore Kemp Marina in Sault Ste. Marie, MI (27NM) which means ‘the Rapids of St. Mary’s’ in French. Sault Ste. Marie is a city on the northeastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the Canada - U.S. border and separated from its twin city of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, by the St. Mary’s River. The two cities are connected by the International Bridge. The area was first inhabited by Native American Ojibwe or Chippewa people who gathered in this area to fish for ‘white fish’ which were found in the rapids. Later the French Jesuits settled the city in 1668 making ‘The Soo’ the third oldest continuously inhabited city in the U.S. west of the Appalachian Mountains (the first is St. Augustine, FL followed by Jamestown, VA). Fur trapping and trading was the base of the economy then later a tannery, Fort Brady and shipping. The St. Mary's River was the only water connection between Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. However, there was a section of the river known as the St. Mary's Rapids where the water falls about 21' from the level of Lake Superior to the level of the lower lakes. This natural barrier made it necessary for the construction of the Sault Locks, a project known as the St. Mary's Falls Canal. The first lock was built in 1797, on the Canadian side, but was destroyed in the War of 1812. The United States built its first lock in 1855. Today there are 4 locks in use, continuously being visited by ships and tourists. Tourism is now the main source of income in ‘The Soo’. So we spread some tourist dollars at the local watering holes and meet some fabulous local people. This is a great town and we hate to leave but after provisioning and getting the Doherty’s back on board we head to the locks of Lake Superior. We can’t come this far to not ‘dip our toe’ (as Larry puts it) into all of the Great Lakes. We ‘up lock’ on the Canadian side where pleasure vessels can transit (the U.S. side is for commercial traffic). It is a slow, smooth fill and we tour Lake Superior for an hour then return to ‘down lock’ and head to an anchorage at Whiskey Bay, St. Joseph Island (52NM).