Crown land camping on Georgian Bay can be phenomenal. The sunsets, solitude, and escape from day to day life can be just what you need to relax and reset. However, it can also be dangerous, tiring, and expensive if you aren't prepared! For those that are new to camping and new to camping on Georgian Bay in particular this article should give you a thorough list of items to consider while you plan your trip!
The first thing to consider when planning a camping trip on Georgian Bay is access. Not all the islands you see or campsites you have in mind are on crown land! In addition, there are a number of islands which camping is prohibited by the Georgian Bay Land Trust. Although some of these area's may have posted signs this is a rare occurrence. Be sure you know before you go! To check if the areas you plan to visit are crown land check out the resources linked below:
Once you have established a few areas where camping is possible there are a number of things to consider when picking a campsite.
Cell Phone Service - Not all areas of the bay have cell phone service available. If this is a necessity be sure to check with some local resources if there is coverage in the area. This is a crucial safety item and if no service is available you will want to have another form of communication in case of emergencies
Campfires - Weather permitting a fire is a great way to enjoy the night at your campsite. Unfortunately, due to all the rock finding adequate firewood can be difficult. Not a lot of places will have easily accessible brush on the ground for building a fire and cutting down tree's on crown land is a big no no. Be sure to pick a location that appears to offer a decent source of firewood. In addition, Georgian Bay is known to be very windy, having very large fires is unadvisable as the wind can quickly and easily spread this fire to nearby areas. Don't be the reason for the next wildfire to destroy an area. Keep your fires under control.
It should be no surprise that campers on Georgian Bay will be unlikely to find a nice beach to pull up into. If you are bringing a boat with you it will be sitting on rock. Beach campsites do exist but are not found easily, may not be available, or even in your desired area. Having your boat rock back and forth on the rock with wind and waves is sure to cause damage. Have a plan in place to secure your boat and prevent damage! Ensuring an area is selected which isolates the boat from being exposed to wind and waves will help make this much easier. In addition to securing the front of your boat on shore consider throwing the anchor out the back or securing the back end with additional ropes to prevent it from moving back and forth in the wind and waves.
Tents - Just like your boat your tent is going to be on rock. This means your pegs will be useless. Campers will need to secure their tent with rocks or other heavy objects. Selecting an area which will be protected from the wind will help ensure your tent is still there when you return from a day on the water.
Wind delays - Depending on the size of water craft you will be in it is best to assume that the wind will keep you off the water for at least 1 day in every 4 day trip. By this we mean the wind (and resulting waves) will be too strong to make going out on the water worthwhile or even safe. If you plan on doing a multi leg trip be sure to allow additional time to reach your destination due to wind delays. Delays can be expected at an even higher frequency once summer gives way to fall!
Now that we have established how to pick the perfect campsite there are a few must have items every camper on Georgian Bay should have with them:
1. Rope, Rope, & More Rope - Wether securing your boat, your tent, or your food from a tree you won't be disappointed by bringing extra rope on your trip.
2. Boat Mat - The bumping and rubbing of your boat on the rock is sure to cause damages. Having a thick rubber mat to place under the boat where it contacts the rock is one easy way to prevent damages
3. First Aid Kit - This one speaks for itself. Being around rock there are a number of tripping hazards and falls hurt. Be prepared for any injuries that can be obtained.
4. Weather Forecast Access - Be it from a smartphone or the radio having a way to stay up to date on the weather is crucial for your own safety.
5. Battery Charger - If you are an angler that uses a trolling motor it is unlikely to last the duration of your trip. Having a way to charge your battery overnight will make the trip more enjoyable and help you take full advantage of your time on the water. Suitcase generators are a great way to do this and are available from a number of manufacturers, are small, light, and quiet.
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