Family PWC Trip at Georgian Bay's Pointe Au Baril

How do you take a large group on a personal watercraft trip and keep everyone happy? Take them to the place that has it all!

Sea-Doo riders in search of a Georgian Bay adventure need look no further than Pointe Au Baril, Ontario. Here in the tourism region known as Explorers’ Edge, Pleasant Cove Resort provides a central staging base for day rides north to Britt and south to Parry Sound, and for exploring some of the thousands of islands that dot Georgian Bay’s eastern shores.

That‘s why we chose Pleasant Cove for our annual “families” getaway with seven couples, 11 offspring, 15 personal watercraft, nine vehicles and eight trailers – plus enough gear, baggage, food, refreshments, toys and other paraphernalia to supply a small town.

We towed our Triton Trailers to hospitable Pleasant Cove Resort, about a three-hour drive north of the Greater Toronto Area on four-lane highway, for three days of stellar Canadian Shield riding. The resort has its own boat launch and docks, plus lots of parking for trucks and trailers and on site fuel for guests. Recreation activities include sandy beach, swimming pool, hot tub, fitness room, tennis court, bonfire pits and boat rentals (for excellent fishing).

In Good Hands

Genial owner Bruce Bishop, who was as eager to guide us around the Point Au Baril area waterways as we were to get riding ours, greeted our arrival. With Bruce and Ontario Tourism photographer extraordinaire, Martin Lortz, along for the ride, our PWC number swelled to 17.

We settled into our housekeeping lodgings in a variety of cottages, chalets and deluxe suites clustered around a secluded cove. That night, we enjoyed the first of three gourmet dinners with steak, chicken, burgers and sausages provided by Barrie’s popular Chicken On The Run, prepared and cooked to perfection by smoker maestros, Frank & Beth Crocco.

West of Point Au Baril

Until noon on day one, Bruce led us through the local islands and westward through gentle swells to Limestone Islands Provincial Park, located well out into Georgian Bay proper. Then we were on our own to find a tasty fish lunch at Gilly’s Snug Harbour Restaurant and Marine.

It’s located almost due east from the Limestone Islands (watch for the white lighthouse that marks the entrance to Snug Harbour). Then we cruised north to Shawanaga Bay for a refreshing swim at a sandy beach and some daredevil cliff jumping near Nadeau Island, before visiting the Ojibway Club on the way back.

Heading North

Next morning, Bruce took our crew west toward Lookout Island and north to explore more islands and channels towards Bayfield Inlet. After a picnic lunch back at our favourite sandy beach (more cliff jumping), this day on the water ended early so we could while away the rest of a leisurely afternoon with spirits and nibblies around the Pleasant Cove pool.

Except of course, for those who couldn’t resist playing around and getting wet on such a hot day! Before packing up and heading home, the final day headed south of Parry Sound to Henry’s Fish House for lunch and a visit to Moon River Falls.

Respect For the Waters

Georgian Bay has a haunting and ethereal beauty of its own, but can be a challenging ride, especially for inexperienced riders. Its wide-open waters are subject to big swells and large waves on windy days – where the suspension on my Sea-Doo GTX S 155 really shines! It’s also easy to get turned around among innumerable islands and narrow channels; there are many rocks and shoals, some visible, some submerged.

That being said, none of our 17 PWC’s hit anything, in part because we had a guide some of the time. On our own and with many of us riding double, we were always extra careful, following the numerous channel markers whenever possible, often riding in single file to avoid being tossed in multiple wakes, and relying on three GPS units to keep us on course. In a pinch, there are many cottages scattered throughout the islands for respite or directions, but we always found our way okay.

I’d certainly recommend a summer stay at Pleasant Cove Resort for anyone, but if you’re after a great PWC adventure on Georgian Bay, contact Bruce and he’ll take care of you.

About Craig Nicholson—The Intrepid Cottager

Popularly known in the summer as “The Intrepid Cottager,” Craig Nicholson is a freelance journalist, writer and communications consultant who specializes in motorized recreational activities, including personal watercraft. As an avid Sea-Doo rider, Craig logs over 100 hours and 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) on the water most summers on many waterways in Ontario and Quebec. His one-of-a-kind Intrepid Cottager website features his Sea Doo tour articles, PWC riding tips, product reviews and comment.

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