The main reason for our day trip to Tobermory, was a non-landing trip to South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island aboard MV Chi-Cheemaun. Chi-Cheemaun was built in Collingwood in 1974 to replace the two previous ships that served the route, which connects the north end of the Bruce Peninsula to Manitoulin Island.
As we are used to the unpredictable Clyde Coast weather, although we were planning to take a trip on Chi-Cheemaun, we did not make the final decision and buy our tickets until we arrived in Tobermory. We booked onto the 13:30 from Tobermory and the 15:50 from South Baymouth. The journey time is around 2 hours. At around 13:00 Chi-Cheemaun came into view as is reached the end of its previous trip from South Baymouth.
Once tied up, unloading and loading was speedily carried out. There were not many foot passengers. As we could not see the vehicle holding area, we did not how many vehicles boarded. The ferry berths bow in at Tobermory, so the first manoeuvre is reverse away from the linkspan, and once clear turning round to head north. One of the first sights as we left is the Bug Tub Lighthouse.
Chi-Cheemaun has had many different colour schemes since first delivered in 1974. In 2014, the funnel was decorated with motifs that give suggest the Bruce Peninsula area.
South Baymouth, on Manitoulin Island, is a small settlement as the end of the road to the ferry. At the mouth of South Bay (hence the settlement name), the ferry terminal is sheltered between the two headlands that form the opening from the bay into Lake Huron.
Around half the vehicle holding area was occupied, and within the 20 minutes the vessel was berthed, the unloading and loading was completed. This included the crew counting those still on board and returning to Tobermory. On time at 15:50, the ropes were cast off and Chi-Cheemaun left the berth, initially carrying out a 180 turn in the channel to head back out into Lake Huron, passing the South Baymouth lighthouse.
There were not many passengers on board. We remained in the Observation Lounge (to use a term from Caledonian MacBrayne ferries on the west fo Scotland), and there was plenty of space.
Approaching Tobermory at around six o’clock, the crew made prepartions for docking at Tobermory.
All too soon, Chi-Cheemaun was tied up and had completed the schedule for the day. We dis-embarked, found our car in the car park and were heading south down the Bruce Peninsula to chase the Bruce Sunset.