30 June, 2014
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).
***”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.