Category Archives: Sailing in Lake Ontario

Kingston – July 31, August 1


We are anchored out in Navy Bay and the picture above shows what is on our port side. It is part of Fort Henry. On our starboard side, is the Royal Military College, so I think we are well protected from pirates and other unsavory characters!


Of course, I am not protected from owning yet another boat. Yesterday, I went shopping in Kingston, and Dennis contacted the Kijiji guy who had the boat for $125. They met on the Split Crow and made the deal. Interesting… This morning though, Dennis thought he’d better take a look at the boat and took the ferry across to Wolfe Island and cycled about 15 km each way to look at this thing. He mentioned that it had a carpet of moss growing inside of it, so I guess he will have a real project on the go for the next winter or so!

Kingston is a great city to visit, especially from where we were located. We were right downtown, so that was a lot of fun. Beautiful old limestone buildings, good restaurants, shopping, buskers, a grocery store and pretty much everything we needed. Of course, we had a bit of trouble getting there. Well, not actually getting there – more like being able to get a spot. The Confederation Basin Marina only takes reservations by either emailing their PDF form or faxing it. They won’t take reservations on the phone and they also require 48 hours notice. Pretty strict, I’d say! It must be because of their excellent location. So, I emailed the form and then called them. The young lady I spoke to said that we could not stay on Tuesday night because they required 48 hours notice (ok – whatever!) but that they would save us a spot for Wednesday. We planned on anchoring on Tuesday but in the morning we called and they suggested that we go to their day dock and get on the waiting list. So we did and then checked in at the office. It was very expensive for having no services at all but we really liked the location. It turns out that most people don’t pay when they go to the day dock but we were completely legal and weren’t going to get kicked off!
The dock was fine – we have our own power and water so it was no big deal (although having air conditioning might have been nice but it was not unbearable). The drawback was getting off the dock. Here is a picture of the only way off! We enjoyed the Quebec contingent of ladies doing this in their good clothes!

Here’s a picture of the boat at the day dock.

I went for a bike ride along the waterfront and found Kingston Penitentiary right in the town. Here are a couple of pictures of it – one from the water as we sailed by and one from the road – the front doors. Not a very nice place.


The rest of Kingston is very nice and it is quite like Halifax in a way with the university, the naval history and the military presence. We really had a good time – I think we might go and see Fort Henry tomorrow. After that, we’ll be checking out the thousand islands.



Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario



July 30 – Amherst Island (Kingston Kijiji)


You may be wondering why the picture of the boat is sideways. Well, this is how it is posted on Kijiji. What does that tell you? The owner can’t even figure out how to rotate a picture? I can’t imagine what shape this boat is in! Here’s the link.
It looks like a road trip for Captain Bligh and his trusty mate Glen in September! It looks like we may actually have bought this boat – it’s a “fixer-upper” and will look lovely in the empty space from the last fixer-upper – the ucky Lady (the L fell off and the name seemed appropriate).
The tentative plan is that we will arrive in Quebec City in three weeks or so. We have booked into a marina for August 18th and have tickets to see Cirque du Soleil (it is right next door!) on the 19th. We will hang out for a couple of days and then Nick will pick us up and get us home again. Meanwhile, the boat will be pulled out of the water and then in September, Dennis will travel to Quebec City by truck (it will take one day by land whereas it will have taken us 7 weeks by water), winterize the boat, then drive to Kingston and pick up the “new” boat. Seems very well planned – maybe a bit too well planned… Oh well, another project boat. 🙂

Today has been a very nice day. We did a lot of cleaning – inside and out – but were able to jump into the water when we got too warm from all that manual labour. I also did my cardio and yoga (not at the same time) and have been reading a really good book called A Sail of Two Idiots. These people knew nothing, absolutely nothing about sailing but bought a catamaran and actually made it to the Bahamas. The book is comprised of lessons instead of chapters and they made every mistake possible. Worthwhile to read.

We are heading off to Kingston tomorrow and will be anchoring in the inner harbour. We will go to a marina on Wednesday – we couldn’t get accommodations for tomorrow as the marina requires 48 hours notice (sounds a bit odd). That’s ok – the anchorage is right outside the marina and they have a dinghy dock, so we will just row ashore. The other marinas are too far away from the downtown and this is what we want to see so it should be fun!
That’s all I have to report today.


Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


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July 29 – Amherst Island

Yesterday, there was a poker run at the marina (whatever that is) and a bunch of big “go fast” boats came in to get their cards. This is a picture of one of them. Interesting boats – very loud and VERY expensive. Quite impressive though.
The Johnny Cash show was excellent and I would highly recommend it. The man’s name is Jim Yorfido and he and the band play the Johnny Cash gig all over the continent. He sounds very much like him and he played all of the hits.
The big thing that happened today was this:

Another 420 Passage – this boat was even built in the same year! So, of course the couple who owned the boat spotted our boat and they came over and had the tour. Then, we went to their boat and toured their boat. Very interesting, similar yet different. Now, they have several things that I would like to have and have already started badgering the captain to get on it!
First of all, they have companionway doors. Here is a link to the company’s website so that you’ll get an idea of what I am talking about. These doors would make life so much easier on the boat and they would keep out the bugs. In addition to this, when the air conditioning is on, we have to put in the hatch boards so when you want to go down into the cabin, you have to keep climbing over them. The companionway doors are so logical!
They also have a solar panel on the davits and I always thought that it would be a nuisance but when we saw their panel, it looked good, worked well and did not get in the way. It also makes a lot of power (80 amps a day for your batteries) which would run the refrigeration for a whole day if you are at anchor. Currently, we have to run the generator for an hour or so a day to keep the fridge going, so this would be very helpful. (Boaters tend to get a little obsessive about generating power, I’ve discovered.)
The most interesting part of our conversation though, was we learned that George and Beth live on their boat from March 15th to November 15th. For the winter months, they housesit. They both work – George at the Pickering nuclear plant and Beth works at the Whitby marina. George put in a heating system for the colder months and also installed a central vacuum system! Very impressive!
We learned a lot from them today and I am glad we met them. (Don’t worry though, I am not going to live in the Parry Sound harbour until mid November!)


Right now, we are anchored out at Amherst Island and it is beautiful here. The water is excellent! We have gone swimming many times this afternoon and are enjoying the peace and quiet. There were cows getting a drink earlier over on the island.


I thought today was a perfect day but alas, I was wrong. Dennis just emailed some guy in Kingston about a boat (he was looking on Kijiji). The boat costs $125 and is out in a field somewhere. He thinks we should bring it back with us when Nick comes to pick us up in Quebec. I suggested we just tow it behind us now. It may meet with an unfortunate accident though 🙂


Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


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July 28 – Picton

We had another uneventful passage from Deseronto to Picton. The most exciting thing was that when Dennis pulled up the anchor, it was full of weeds! He had a heck of a time pulling them off with the boat hook! It kept him occupied for a good twenty minutes. I was instructed to keep my eye on the engine temperature in case some weeds got caught and we overheated.

When we arrived in Picton, we filled up with fuel and with water, then went over to an empty dock. It was pretty ramshackle and as Dennis lined up with it, I had to jump down quite a ways and lost the bow line (for the third time this week!). He leapt off too and saved the day by grabbing hold of the midship line and getting the boat under control. When we were all finished, a man came down and suggested that we move the boat to a better location as the dock we were on had been condemned. So, with his help, we moved over to the wall and are happily tied up here.
Picton is a great town for getting supplies – three grocery stores – all good and full of fresh produce. There are also many shops in the downtown (no big box stores so they have been able to keep the old town intact) so we went shopping for a few hours. Didn’t buy much but enjoyed looking around.
Tonight, we are going to the theatre to see a Johnny Cash show – some sort of impersonator – but it sounds like a lot of fun.
Tomorrow, we are going to anchor out somewhere. We have been assured that the water is good and that lots of people swim in this area. The weather is supposed to hold, so it will be nice to get a good swim in. Other than that, nothing else is new! Here are a couple of pictures from the wall.



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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


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July 27 – Deseronto

So, we left this morning just before 8:00 because another sailboat was heading down the Murray Canal towards the bridge and the sign says that you should travel in groups. You also have to have your $4.95 ready to give to the bridge attendant. We wondered if we would have to tie up and go into the office, but no, the man stands on the bank with a long pole and a brass cup attached. You just pass him the money. We gave him a five cent tip. If you look carefully in the picture below, you should be able to see how it is done.

We motored down the Murray Canal and into the Bay Quinte near Canadian Forces Base Trenton. I managed to get a shot of the Hercules aircraft.

We actually motored down the canal with another boat that had a tiny dog and once we got out into the open water, the dog ran to the bow and barked continuously at the waves. Hmm… I am not sure how long that would last on our boat.

We also saw a family of swans right in the middle of the channel and I got a good shot of them because they were so close!

Along the way to Deseronto, we saw a beautiful island. Dennis said that we should go exploring it. Yikes!

Deseronto is a very small town and has a grocery store (of sorts), pharmacy and a couple of variety stores. We tried to get some fresh produce but it wasn’t overly fresh so we will go into Picton tomorrow where there is a Sobeys. Here are a couple of shots around the town.


Dennis tried his hand at fishing and managed to get our salad!

We have enjoyed the whole trip so far but have to say that we sure miss the clean water of Georgian Bay. Everywhere else we’ve been, the water has been ok but certainly not clear or even cold. Some places have been better than others but I think that our good swimming days are over except for maybe around Kingston. We’ll see!

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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


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July 26 – Murray Canal

Poor Dennis didn’t get much sleep last night. He stayed up because of the storm. We were anchored in Colbourg but he was worried about the squalls going through. We did have another boater who kept resetting his anchor and then finally gave up and went to the dock. That was good because at one point, he was right on top of our anchor. Hmm…
It actually rained most of the day, which was fine – we certainly need the rain. We motored to Murray Canal and are now tied up here. Uneventful trip except for the swells. There was no wind at all this morning but the swells from last night’s storm were somewhat unpleasant. However, we weren’t out in the open for too long, and as soon as we got in a more protected area, the swells stopped.
We decided to stop at the beginning of the Murray Canal basically because we noticed another boat – just like ours. It turns out that it is a Hunter 420 Passage but two years newer (2003). The man helped us tie up and as soon as he opened his mouth, we knew that he was from Newfoundland. We had to compare boats of course, and they are almost identical. Too funny!
Anyway, he and his wife live near St. John’s and keep their boat at Iroquois. They are sailing around for most of the summer and have sailed extensively in Georgian Bay but also around the island of Newfoundland. Dennis’s ears really perked up when he heard this!
We had a good visit. Both of them are very nice, knowledgeable and very helpful.
Here are a few pictures of the canal, their Hunter 420 and of Lou – as you can see, we had a few good laughs!




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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


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July 25 – Colbourg

Well, today was an ok day even though Environment Canada had the wind prediction completely wrong. Not only did they predict the wrong speed but also the wrong direction! Hmm… Oh well, our motoring from Whitby was uneventful and I got lots of stuff done on the boat while we were underway.
We are currently anchored out in the harbour and are enjoying the scenery. Going to a marina has advantages such as lots of water pressure and electricity but an anchorage offers and peace and quiet.

Cobourg is a very pretty little town of about 18000. It was founded by the United Empire Loyalists in 1798. It has many old buildings such as Victoria Hall.
It also has a big boating community and an excellent marina. You can either stay at the marina with all the services or you can tie up on the wall for 85 cents a foot (no services and you are open to the public) or you can anchor (this was $12 but we can use their facilities).
Today, we watched the little kids learn how to sail. Since we are anchored in the middle of the harbour, they sailed around us quite a few times!

Tonight, the big boats all went out for a race. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no wind so we didn’t get to see anything spectacular. This is a picture of a huge 75 foot racing boat. Very $$$!

Tomorrow, we are going through Murray’s Canal and should end up in the Bay of Quinte. Soon we will be in Kingston!

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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario



July 24 – Whitby

Well, another safe passage – this time from Toronto to Whitby. As usual, the Toronto harbour was totally busy – the business people were flying in at a great rate on Porter Airways. Here is a shot of a plane coming in right overhead of us.


We sailed the whole way and it was quite nice. A good steady wind down the coast of Lake Ontario so now can officially say that we have sailed in all the great lakes.


I have nothing to report except that we had a few hundred (maybe I’m exaggerating) unwanted passengers onboard to Whitby. Houseflies that were very smart. Usually I just vacuum them up but these creatures were too fast, so we had to get rid of them the hard way and it was not too much fun. I think that insects will take over the world because there certainly are a lot of them – much more than necessary, in my opinion. They are all gone now though, so my breakdown has been averted (I hate bugs!).

Phil and Susie and coming for a visit tonight and then tomorrow, we are going to Cobourg.

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Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


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July 21 – 23 – Toronto Island

After our exciting trip down the Welland Canal, our trip to Toronto Island was downright boring! Very uneventful. We went swimming out in the middle of Lake Ontario – the water was beautiful. We got into the Toronto harbour with no difficulty, just had to dodge many, many boats and airplanes (Porter Airlines seems to take off and land planes every minute!)


We got to the Toronto Island Marina without too much trouble, and found our assigned slip with considerable difficulty because it is like a very crowded maze but Dennis managed to back into the slip on the second attempt. Everybody watched but nobody helped. Toronto – what else needs to be said?

We explored the island on bikes and had a good time. I would recommend going early in the morning before the crowds arrive. I managed to cycle 30 km but it was a stretch. The biking is nice and easy though and there is a lot to see such as cute little cottages, many boats, a wild assortment of people and lots of beautiful trees, beaches and gardens.

Yesterday, Nick and Carly rode their bikes from Etobicoke and came for lunch. We owed Nick a bunch of money for paying for the brakes on the car and getting a new well pump (it ran dry in the drought  that Parry Sound is having), so I’m sure he was happy to come and visit! 🙂

Today, we went to the Royal Ontario Museum. Old Pink made an appearance with T Rex.

We also went to Chinatown and had a real Chinese lunch. It was excellent but we did have to ask for cutlery – otherwise we’d still be there!

Tomorrow, we are off to Whitby. Should be a nice day.

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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Sailing in Lake Ontario


July 20 – The Welland Canal

We had quite the adventure yesterday in the Welland Canal. It started off at 6:00 am, with our engine not behaving properly. We had to really rev the engine to make the boat go. Dennis noticed this immediately and was quite worried that the engine would overheat. Eventually though, as we approached the holding dock, the engine started behaving properly. At the Port Coborne Marina, we had backed into the slip and it was full of weeds, so maybe weeds had been caught on the keel or prop. At any rate, everything was now working!



At the holding dock, we met up with Goban, this was a 40 foot Hughes from the 1970s. The couple that owned it had just bought it in Sarnia three weeks ago. They were having quite a time with the boat. It was well built, much heavier than ours, but had been in the charter business in the Caribbean for years. The owner was 94 years old and helped Michel get the boat ready. Michel was so worried about him because they were working in the extreme heat (35 degrees!) for hours, but the man seemed ok. The boat had seen better days though. Nothing worked on it! No running water, no refrigeration, the dodger and bimini leaked in the rain, most of the gauges did not work, the sails were old and worn out.
The reason we learned all this was because MIchel and Jane (the couple that owned the boat) were at the Port Colborne Marina just two slips down from us and they came over the night before the Welland Canal adventure and told us all about their trip. First of all, Jane had never really been on a sailboat except for a small one years ago, so for her to take on a three week trip under those conditions, was very admirable. Michel was an experienced sailor and nothing seemed to faze him. They have (perhaps had) a ten year plan to get to get the boat ready for their retirement.
At the holding dock, we explained to Michel that our engine was not quite right and he laughingly said, “It is good thing we are here – we may have to tow you!”
We then called the Seaway Welland lockmaster and he gave us the green light to get through the first lock. We were thrilled! Sometimes it takes 16 – 17 hours to get through the locks. We would probably be through in six hours, the weather was cool and we didn’t have to go through with a big boat. It was just Goban and the Split Crow.
The first lock (Lock 8) was so easy. We dropped only four feet and didn’t have ropes to hang onto. We then had to motor for almost twelve miles through the canal before we reached the rest of the locks.
Everything was going very smoothly until suddenly we could hear shouting and Michel calling the Split Crow on Channel 16 (the emergency radio channel). We looked behind us and could see billows of smoke coming out of their boat, and everyone waving their arms frantically. (Goban had aquired tow helpers – Myrna and Charlie – to get them through the locks). Dennis answered the radio and Michel told him that the boat was on fire! We headed back to help and by the time we got to them, everything was under control. We called the Seaway Welland lockmaster and told him that we were going to have to tow Goban. So, we towed them along for a while. Here is a picture of them – notice how nobody is really looking too worried!

The lockmaster told us to get to a certain point, then tie up along the wall and get the boat fixed. Most likely, you cannot tow another boat through the lock system.
So, we tied up and found out what happened. Michel had heard a bunch of alarms go off (water temperature, engine overheating, etc) and simply turned them off and carried on. Within minutes, the engine had overheated and smoke was coming out of the cabin. Michel ran down with the fire extinguisher and opened the engine cover and realized that all the antifreeze and coolants had blown out of the engine. The smoke was actually water vapor. It did look quite spectacular though!
Here is a picture of Dennis with the Goban owners after he helped them out.


We called the lockmaster to let him know what was happening and he then contacted us on our cell phone. Dennis went over to help and refilled the engine with coolant, checked the water pump to make sure water was coming out of it (there was a little bit, not much but a little bit) and the engine started. We called the lockmaster back and he gave us the go ahead to proceed. We set off again, with Goban following. Suddenly, we heard more shouts and when we looked back, their little dog was running alongside the boat on the dock! Michel turned in, grabbed the dog and set off again! By this time, we were hysterical with laughter! What a situation!
We eased into the next lock and the lockmaster asked Michel if he was planning on leaving the dog behind. Apparently, they captured this on camera. Hopefully, we won’t be featured in a training manual dealing with what NOT to do while going through the locks.




The next couple of locks went smoothly. The two of us were able to handle the boat and there was not too much turbulence. Then, as we were heading to Lock 2 (the second last lock), we got another radio call from Goban that their engine was overheating and that they needed to be towed. So, we circled back and tried to get the towing rope, but it was all snarled and knotted. Charlie and Myrna frantically unsnarled it while we went around them again. Meanwhile, we called the lockmaster on channel 14 and Dennis explained the situation. He told us to tell Goban to call him immediately. Michel called in and the lockmaster told him that he had to call in if there were any problems. It was just luck that a freighter wasn’t barreling down the channel.
We crawled up to the lock, towing Goban and let them go just before we entered. Dennis said that if he couldn’t untie the rope safely, he’d have to cut it. We didn’t want it going around the prop!
We successfully dropped another 40 feet and started out of the lock, when Michel’s engine would not start! Good grief! Dennis radioed the lockmaster and told him that he would tow Goban out of the lock. Meanwhile, Goban was bouncing around sideways and running into the wall. We started BACKING UP in the lock towards Goban. Dennis said, “They better have that rope ready!” Miracuously, Goban’s engine started and they limped out of the lock. Only one more to go!
The last lock was actually anti-climatic. Both boats went through easily. We looked for the first place to tie up and got off the boats. Originally, we were going to head to Port Dalhousie (and we’re sorry to have missed it) but there was a strong wind warning out for Lake Ontario (25 knots) and we were so tired that we decided to stay put for the night. We were safe. Goban however, carried on. They said that they could sail to Port Dalhousie. They called today though and let us know that they made it safely!
In all, we had been a little worried about the Welland Canal and hadn’t slept well the night before. Thank goodness we didn’t know what was in store for us! We dropped 328 feet in a span of eight hours and had a great adventure along the way. Hopefully, today’s ride to Toronto Island will not be as exciting!
Here are a couple of pictures of us going under the QEW.


Finally, here is a picture of the Split Crow all safely tied up. Notice who is swimming in the canal!

We ended off the day on a good note – Diane came for a visit and brought us supper – KFC! Thanks, Diane!!