Captain's Log

Yo,

A few hours of motoring through the Bay of Quinte brings us to Kingston, Ont.  It’s the bomb!  Once the capital of Upper Canada, it still retains its’ regal style.  The thunderstorms have chased us all day, and the sky looks like they’re going to catch us real soon-like.  It’s super calm, and the surface of the water is like that jar of mercury that we’d marvel at in eighth grade science class (before rolling it around in our bare hands and spilling some on the floor-explains a lot about the present brain damage).  Nonetheless, weather radar shows storms bearing down on us, and we are not to be disappointed.  The harbor whips up into a froth, and the Girl is soon strainin’ at her lines.  No worries, we be laffin’.  Weather passes, off to dinner.  Chez Piggy (Anne’s suggestion-you remember Anne)  presents us with an eclectic selection of Canadian and nouvelle cuisine.  We order Meguisharah(sp?) oysters.  Never heard of ‘em, but WTH?  Tender little guys, and very sweet too.  Hope we’ll see them again, as they are from back East.  Great dinner, wine list questionable.  Next morning-warm and humid.  Andy and Jody should be here for cocktails tonight, so cleaning, unpacking their linens, trip to the super and farmers markets are in order.  (I can’t be trusted food shopping, so guess who’s cleaning?).  I’m rewarded with a chocolate almond piece of goodness that the Admiral has picked up at the bakery we spotted yesterday.  All is (almost) forgotten.  It’s hot, humid, and sunny, but the weather radar shows dogmeat (storms) stretching all the way back to Michigan-think A & J driving.  Looks like rain is imminent, but we throw our bikes on the free ferry to Wolfe Island, home of one of Canada’s largest wind farms.  What a shocker (no pun), they don’t grow wind there, they harvest electricity FROM the wind.  690 volts from each turbine (X86 turbines), boosted to 24,000 volts before shooting over to the mainland, where it is boosted again to around 200,000 volts, and injected into the grid.  Sorry to burden you with my nerdiness, but I love this stuff.  Our 20 mile tour brings us back to the ferry dock where the locals have graciously built a pub with outdoor seating-Beer us!  A & J are in the parking lot that used to be called the 401 in Toronto.  No worries, MDO will whip a boat dinner, and we’ll wait cocktails for them (yeah, right).  They’re here, and the rain that has been following them all day is hot on their tails.  No sooner than we get their stuff on the boat, it lets loose.  Lightning and torrents of rain-as Andy would say, “a real turd-floater” (think this has to do with latrines, and Viet Nam).  The next several days has us all doing the tourist thing in the Thousand Islands area.  Lots of self-guided tours, trolley rides, tour boat rides, castles, museums, forts and etc, zigzagging from Canada to the U.S.A. Without lots of details, let me just say-trolley tour of Kingston, Canada’s military College (our West Point), Fort Henry, restored Coast Guard cutter and museum, Antique Boat Museum, Boldt Castle, Singer Castle, and lots of cottage(?) gawking, finally ending in Brockville, Ontario, where Andy & Jody will catch the VIA (train) back to Kingston and their car. We do a mixture of marina and anchor out nights, jumping between nature and man made.  Did I mention that Andy is the self proclaimed (and highly acclaimed by all he feeds) “Grillmeister”?  Jody holds her own in the Hors Douvre creation department, so with Suzanne’s able direction, we were not hurtin’ for food.  The Admiral will fill you in with some details regarding sites, attractions, and etc., I’m sure.  Gotta say a few words about our buds, A & J.  They gave us our first fix, starting a lifetime of addiction.  When we camped with 2 kids in our 19’ runabout, they were the Mothership that we followed and rafted to on weekend and then weeklong cruises.  They sponsored our membership in The Great Lakes Cruising Club.  Our children were about the same ages, so we shared in their successes, commiserated on their needs for improvement, and supported each other as only true friends and confidants do.  You get the picture.  This visit was our third on the Girl, the first being on her maiden voyage from Solomon’s, Maryland to Troy, NY, the second being to Isle Royale in Lake Superior.  After cruising together for 25 years on our own boats, it’s super comfortable having 4 heads together, running the Show.  We were sad to put them in their cab at Brockville, but will look forward to the next time that we see them.  Guests gone.  Time to……CLEAN.  Four hours later, the Girl is spiffy inside and out, the guest linens are clean, vacuum-bagged, and stowed away.  Last stroll through the Brock, uno mas cervesa (oh, that’s a year down the line), and we’re all done in for the night.  Brockville was definitely a great stop, with the exception of no Wi-Fi (as was advertised, but this ain’t my first bait-and-switch), and hey, the world will still be turning when we reconnect.  Sunny and 70 degree weather with puffy cotton-ball clouds sees us off in the A.M..  A short cruise with the current takes us to the backside of Toussaint Island, about ½ mile above Eisenhower Lock, where our dynamic (?) duo will spend the night, mostly out of the current (.5 knot).  We haven’t done these locks before, and as they are pay-as-you-go, a recon mission is in order.  White Star* is over the side, and off we go to chat with the lockkeeper.  Talk about a contrast from the Trent/Severn!  The lock cannot be approached from land.  There’s a wall to tie up at, and a closed circuit phone to talk to the officials on, all behind a tall security fence.  I call, and chat it up with the lock tender, and he gives me the drill.  Oh, by the way, he knows that we are up behind the island, because he has a security camera in that bay (note it’s a half mile away).  I observe that skinny dipping is probably out, and he replies “yeah, that he can see right up there” (not really sure what he meant by that, don’wannaknow.  An old canal, used before the Seaway was built, takes our ride into a very cool lowland with bountiful wildlife.  Blue herons, too numerous to count, a beaver, and a mink are all spotted.  When we turn off the engine, we are greeted by a cacophony of birdsong.  Lock through in the morning, and travel uneventfully on another sunny, 70 degree day.  Our primary depthsounder is acting cranky.  Won’t register any depth over 20 feet.  Call Furuno tech support, and I’m not likin’ what he has to say.  Cha-Ching!  We’ll review further when in Montreal, in the meantime, the backup is purring along.  Early afternoon ends this short travel day outside Cornwall, anchoring in a 2 knot current, on a boulder-strewn bottom.  First time for us in heavy current, and it’s kinda creepy to see the water blowin’ by us when we are not moving.  Uhhhh….not so comfortable leaving the boat, so we work on our tans, and do small boat chores the rest of the day.  Saturday at noon, and we are pulling into Salaberry- de- Valleyfield.  Pretty chill little town with the emphasis on fun.  Not many boats anchored out, so we pick a spot that we think will be out of the traffic pattern-as the other end of the harbor has a fountain in the middle that gushes about 100’ into the air.  Boy, did we get here at the right time!  There are two boats in the harbor when we arrive, and two hours later, there are 52.  With a phalanx of jetskis slaloming between the anchored, rafted, rockanrollin, everybody laffin’ boats, this is a happenin’ spot.  Down goes the tender, the Admiral and I are off to cottagegawk, and check out the town dock.  Whip by the marina to purchase a Quebec flag for the Girl, as a Canadian flag is not entirely apropos here makes us aware that we’re not in Kansas anymore.  Je ne parle pas francais, and you’re in deep merde here.  Good news is, that after we tour the Ancien Chenal, and stop at a local bistro, we are able to use some of our knowinanylanguage the key phrases that get us bierre,  saumon and boeuf tartare-Yum!  Back to the Girl to mix up a little sippy-sippy, and we’re motoring through the anchorage to do a little rappin and boatlovin’.  A guy on a Cruiser Inc. waves us over, and produces a Passagemaker magazine, pointing to an ad for Kadey Krogen (our boat). No, Parlez vous Anglais?  No problem.  Little sign language, lots of broken Francais on our part, and he and his femme are in our tender to go take a tour of the Girl.  When it comes to bateau’s, we all speak the same language-the tour was a hit.  Krogen, sign us up for another commission.  A little Joni Mitchell, then Neil Young to honour our Canadian hosts with dinner, and we’re rackin’ for our early morning anchorup on our one-stop trip to Montreal.  0700, 18 degrees, C, and we’re off.  First bridge has a 3 knot current in the approach-no problem.  Big problem.  The bridgetender ain’t makin’ it happen.  Doing donuts between two caissons in a narrow channel is not our idea of fun.  We’re just about ready to pull off after 15 minutes of this foolishness, and he gives us the green light, raising the draw.  A 55’ Tiara (go fast) runs up our stern, and races us to the next lock (no contest!).  Suzanne checks the name and hailing port (Boyne City, MI) Arriving at the next lock, we find that there’s no room at the inn.  All of the spaces at the wall are taken up by boats waiting to lock through.  Our pal is sitting at the spot that was ours, had proper etiquette been followed.  No worries, we tie up at the upper reach, outside the security fence.  Off the boat, stroll up to the fence to chat with other boaters who have been waiting for 2 hours.    Seems that it’ll be another 2 hours before we can lock through.  Life at 0 knots.  Hers truly comes up with her BIG dog and remarks that she’s trapped like a rat in a cage (behind the security fence), and should have landed where we were.  I can now address her by name (thanks Suzanne) surprising the BeJesus out of her, and let her know that it’s too bad.  (All the while thinkin’ that Karma’s a bitch!).  It’s a beautiful day for a boat ride, and after meeting some very cool Canadian folks on their new boat who rafted up with us through the 2 locks, we’re on our way, with an invitation to visit them at their home on the St. John’s River for steaks and redpop a few weeks down the line.  Montreal is in sight on the horizon, and Lac St. Louis is like the city market on steroids (boats, not cars).  A real shocker to my I’mtheonlyboatonthewater system.  Late afternoon brings us to the anchorage that MDO spotted on the chart, and we’re the only boat there.  6 foot depths don’t scare us any more after our numerous brushes with terra firma in the Trent/Severn.  Stir-fry, la bierre, a gorgeous purple and pink sunset before rack-time.  Tomorrow brings the last 2 locks, and a 5 knot current (against us) till Montreal (home for the next few days).

 Bon Soir,

Martin

***”White Star” is the name of our tender(dinghy).  When we were casting about for a name for the little one, our friends Phillip and Catherine from the U.K. (3 solo transatlantic crossings) had the answer.  As my maternal Grandmother was a Titanic survivor, along with her mother and infant sister, it seemed the perfect way to honor one of my favorite people on the planet, thus, White Star, the Titanics’ parent company.

Loonie Toonie in Canada

 

I don’t know about you but when I travel one of the first things I look at is the country’s money. Beside the obligatory king, queen, president, czar, etc. The money usually has an historic building, animal or pyramid with a scary eye.  I like to ask the locals, “Why is the …. on your money?”  Why is there an Egyptian pyramid with a scary eye as the top on ours? I have no idea.

Canada has some fun money. The “Loonie “ is the $1 dollar coin and you guessed it has a Loon( a northern  duck like bird that has a unique song) on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other. It is bronze in color and is the size of our quarter. The “Toonie” is the $2 dollar coin and no it does not have Daffy Duck on the back. It has a polar bear.  It is about the size of our fifty cent coin, has silver outer ring and a bronze colored inner ring.   Canada does not make paper $1 or $2 dollar bills.  The new larger denominations bills, $5, $10, $20, etc. are high tech and appear to be very difficult to counterfeit.  The bills are made of paper but near one end there is a clear Mylar(not sure what it is) strip with a hologram. Good luck trying to photocopy. 

 

One last thing about Canadian money. They no longer make the penny and ignore the penny. For example, if something costs $1.91 and you pay with a “Toonie” you receive ten cents back as change. No looking in the car ashtray for the pennies. Try that is the US! I would bet that there are more Canadian pennies circulating in the US than in Canada.  I love the Canadians!

- The Admiral -

16 June, 2014

Hola Mis Amigos,

Let me just say that the territory between the last 6 locks of the Waterway is unremarkable.  Getting back to civilization-road noise, industrialization, etc.  A bit of rain and drizzle made this gray area grayer.  As we rounded under the highway bridge in West Quinte (formerly Trenton), we rang up Craig on VHF channel 68 at the Frazer Park Marina.  As we backed into our slip, he was there to catch our lines along with our oldnew Canadian pal, Bill (Grand Banks Classic “Sea Star”).  Must be a story here-there is.  Seems that after they left us in Hastings, they were plagued by a recalcitrant transmission which insisted on overheating.  He was well and properly vexed about this, since both trannies had just been rebuilt by one of the best outfits in Ontario.  Delving deeper, the Admiral asks “What type of transmission?”  Velvet Drive.  “Velvet Drives SUCK!” says she, still smarting from an ulcerating wound over 7 years old.  (But that’s a different story about a different boat and not at all positive about the product or the complete and utter lack of customer support).  After agreeing to agree on this matter, it seems that the rebuild shop does understand customer support, and hired a local mechanic, and shipped a part free of charge-couple days lost, everybody happy, happy.  The rest of the good news is that we were able to enjoy Bill (a.k.a. Ed) and Lauren’s company for another evening of dinner and chuckles.  Tomasso’s provided the venue and the good grub.  It’s a very popular place, attested to by the big week-day dinner crowd.  After breakfast, Sea Star was off, and we were ready for some exploration.  The Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial Museum is about 4 km. out of town, and was VERY worth the ride.  When we arrived, a docent latched on to us, and gave us a very thorough Q and A session, as well as some tips and tricks for getting the most out of our visit.  Besides the indoor displays, including a Halifax heavy bomber (the only one in existence), there is an outdoor static display of twenty-five or so aircraft-all Canadian military except three.  Had to get my picture made next to an F-104, my favorite Cold War era jetsled.  Two-and-a-half hours later, back to the boat through a misty drizzle to check the weather and regroup.  New neighbors!  A shiny 34’ American Tug,”Great Laker” is tied next to the Girl.  Anne and Larry are from Michigan and are completing the Great Loop (down the Mississippi, across the Gulf, up the eastern seaboard, across the New York canal system to the Great Lakes).  He says the weather will hold, so it’s off to Mount Pelion, an area of high ground just out of town where Samuel Champlain met with (and probably screwed over) First Nation leaders in the 1600’s.  The view was great, the ride straight up.  Whew!  Gotta get more exercise to go along with that redpop.  Live music at the park, 75 yards from our little ship gave a nice backdrop for dinner cooked aboard.  Postprandial cocktails see Anne and Larry waddling (just kidding) back from Tomasso’s.  Can’t have one without the other (sorta like Temptation and the Hawaiian War Chant for you U-M fans)-How ‘bout comin’ over for a drink?  Yep, Larry’s a Michigan alum, met Anne while living in California, and returned to Michigan around 7 years ago.  They’re headed up the T/S to complete their Great Loop after having their boat on the hard in New York this winter.  As an aside, I think that Krogen should get us on the sales team, as I have acquired TWO hot prospects in just three weeks (just sayin’).  It’s Saturday, and colder (52F).  Quick trip to the Farmers market to pick up some strawberries, and we’re outta’ here.  Get “Great Laker” pushed off the dock, then it’s our turn.  Now that we are underway, I hafta say a few words about Craig and Frazer Park Marina.  It ain’t much to look at (the facility), but has to rank among our most enjoyable stops, due to its proprietor, Craig.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a more gracious and helpful guy.  When we couldn’t find a strong young guy to help us raise our mast, he was right there on our boat helping.  He has a wealth of knowledge about boating and his town, which he is happy to share with you.  Having been there for 17 years, he is fully invested in making sure that his “peeps” are having a good time.  Good Folks.  On our way to Picton, the Girl is telling us that she is happy, happy, happy to have 100 feet of water under her keel, and some room to breathe around her.  Planned to anchor in Picton, but the harbor is so cluttered with mooring balls that we tie up at the town dock, which is in need of major amounts of TLC.  They’re pretty proud of it though, and charge us accordingly.  The town itself is pretty cool, built in the late 1800’s, it looks a lot like many of the other towns and villages along the way.  Revitalized, presumably for the tourist trade, it was pretty vibrant on this sunny Saturday.  On the way home, we checked with the little inn on the harbor to see if we could buy their password, and have interweb on the boat.  Absolutely not!  “Here’s the code, didn’t know it went that far”.  Life at 7 knots in small towns.  Our 10 mile voyage to Prinyers Cove brings us in around 1200.  Sure enough, the bay is littered with mooring balls (all unoccupied).  There is a little marina with a dock to tie up to.  I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I wasn’t born yesterday.  It’s starting to dawn on me that all these balls are producing income for the docks.  We drop anchor in the mooring field, and take a long dinghy ride to cottagegawk.  Dinner off the grill, and a little reading to get our itinerary ready for Andy and Jody after we meet them in Kingston.

See Ya’

12 June, 2014

Hi Y’all,

After 2 nights in Peterborough, it’s time to load up the bikes and get on down the river.  74 degrees and sunny as we pull away from the wall at Lock 20.  Seems that folks are running aground in the middle of the channel below Lock 19, sooo.. we have a chat with the Lockmaster-yes, it’s true, in fact, Wayne (the navigation director of the Waterway) is in the barge setting new ATON’s (aids to navigation-translation-buoys) as we speak.  Down goes the lock, and there is the barge getting’ busy.  We’re through with no problema.  Over the winter, the effluent from the power plant had been depositing silt, making the original channel unnavigable(?), so the channel is moved-simple unles you’re the first boats through in the Spring.  Muskie season opened yesterday, so as we run merrily across Rice Lake, the fishermen are as thick as the Dammit flies were on the boat a week or so ago.  The Admiral is hoping for a pic, so when we pass a boat with one on, we have to stop.  After a valiant fight, our fisherman reels in a huge 7” perch-no muskie picture today.  Hastings Village Marina is our home for the night as we need to get hooked up to some city water to wash all of the pollen (there’s lots), and bugs (there’s more lots) off the boat.  They have a cool system for pumping out your holding tank too, with a setup at each slip, so we get that taken care of too-sorry about the pottie talk.  As we’re finishing up our deck scrubbing, etc., a couple comes by asking about the Girl.  They’re on the Grand Banks Classic that we saw moving towards the Lock earlier(they spent the winter working on her, and she is one pretty girl).  One thing leads to another, Bill and Lauren are soon getting the cooks tour, causing a relapse in their WKV48 (WannaKrogenVirus).  Sure, a little red wine would be nice.  Getting’ late, “what are you guys doing for dinner?”  A few more burgers on the grill, and pretty soon we’re making a night of it-so goes the boating deal.  We’ll probably see them in the St. Lawrence after they do the Rideau Canal.  Breakfast at Banjo’s, and we’re off to Campbellford, whose attractions for us are food-the best bakery in the world, a chocolate factory, and more restaurants than a village its’ size should have.  The town wall at Campbellford is situated at a pretty little town park, with electricity for the boaters-cool.  Off come the bikes as we will stay 2 nights here.  There’s a bike trail along the canal to the next lock,complete with a pedestrian suspension bridge over the rapids, so we take the round trip, which deposits us right in front of the chocolate factory.  Being the good friends that we are, and knowing our pals, Andy and Jody will join us in a week, we take one for the team, and plunge in with empty backpacks.  Mission accomplished.  Chocolate?-check.  On to Dooher’s (evil bakery), where the sticky buns will be coming out of the oven (it’s now 1030-good to have local knowledge of the baking schedule).  Baked goods?-check.  We’ll scope out menus at the restaurants on our way to the grocery store for fresh veggies and fruit.  Back at the boat, something’s been bugging me in the darkest hours of the night for the past week since we kissed the bottom hard.  Out with the SCUBA, into the drink (with a lifeline as there’s a current).  Yep, the bottom of the keel is pretty chewed up, as well as the bottom of one of the wings, but not the deal that I conjured up in my nocturnal musings.  It’ll be fine without repair, but you know I’ll reglass it when the boat is hauled the next time for routine stuff.  While I’m diagnosing a defunct motor starter on the dive tank compressor (What do you guys do on the boat all day?), Eric and Pam, who are doing the Great Loop in their 45’ Carver Voyager stop by for a chat.  They’re from North Carolina, so MDO and they are soon fast friends.  I get the motor starter figured out.  There is a fuse inside a plastic fixture hidden from view that is blown.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a friend in the 8,000 (maybe a slight exaggeration) spare fuses that I have on board.  Have to find one when I get to a town with a population of more than 2,000.  Cocktails take us to the civilized hour of 1945, and we mosey up to the restaurant that was closed last night (Monday) for dinner.  They stop serving at 1930-#$@!!&&!  I boldly walk into the kitchen where there are people with sharp knives and let them know how I feel about their work ethic.  Grrrrh.  I’ll show them!  Back to the boat for a gourmet meal of Stacy’s Pita Chips (I’m still waiting to grow up).  Morning brings a driving rain that stays with us all day, making the six locks for the day a kinda wet affair.  We love our dryer.  On route, we pass the Kawartha Queen, a little cruise boat carrying 48 liveaboard passengers to the various sights up and down the Waterway.  Frankford is a cute little village at Lock 6.  Someone in the community had the foresight to install electrical pedestals at the lock wall to encourage boaters to stop (and hopefully, spend some dinero in town).  It works!  9.80 Canadian pesos for hydroelectricity.  Rain looks like it’s passed, we’ll head to Trenton today, the 12th, then off to Kingston, to pick up Andy And Jody.

Hasta Luego!

Trent-Severn Waterway

 

Built in stages between 1833-1920, the Trent-Severn Waterway provides a link between Georgian Bay( part of Lake Huron) and Lake Ontario. The Trent and Severn River along with numerous lakes form the backbone of the waterway. Historically, this route was utilized for travel by the Hurons, to the north and the Iroquois, to the south, in upper New York State, where it was known as the “Iroquois Trail.”  The waterway also provided a venue for continual conflict between these First Nation groups.   Samuel Champlain utilized this route by paddling and portaging through the rivers and lakes.  The waterway as we know it now was begun in 1833 with the first lock built in Bobecaygeon. The concept for building the system was controversial and water rights were fought for vigorously by the farmers, mill owners and the lumber industry. All depended on the waters for their livelihood. Originally, the concept was designed to promote local development and aid movement of timber, grain and other goods from west to east. The path was complicated by the many timber slides, dams and mills along the way. During the early stages of the Waterway’s construction, water was the main transport of goods as there were no steamships or railways. That was about to change. Railways were expanding and steamships were carrying goods.  The waterway was too narrow and shallow for the larger ships. The economic boom did not occur and the timber industry was in a decline. The waterway was an economic bust. It was almost abandoned. After 87 years, it was finally completed but obsolete for commerce.  Instead, it became a mecca for tourism and recreation. The Trent-Severn is 240 miles long, with 45 locks, (36 conventional, 2 hydraulic lift-Peterborough and Kirkfield, a marine railway Big Chute) and 160 dams. The rise from Georgian Bay to height at Balsam Lake is 262ft and then the decline to Lake Ontario comprises the total drop of 597ft. from west to east.  It is an engineering marvel.

In modern times, the Trent-Severn Waterway has become one of the recreational gems of Ontario. The waterway is now dotted with cottages, the old railway beds have become bicycle trails and is a paradise for fisherman. It also provides many homes with hydroelectricity. 

To put things in prospective, the Erie Canal which connects the Atlantic via the Hudson River to Lake Erie was built from 1817-1825. The building launched New York City ahead of Philadelphia as a shipping center and was an economic boom to the small villages along the canal.

-The Admiral-

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