OUR PLAN

We are writing this blog for one reason and one reason only. To provide a vehicle to make it easier to remain in touch with our family and friends back home.

Our plan is simple. Depart our home port of Goderich Ontario in the Summer of 2011. Cruise Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron while visiting some of the ports and anchorages we have missed over the years. As well as revisiting some of our favourite haunts hopefully with some of our very good friends with whom we have cruised with many times before. All the while adding up the miles and gaining experience with our new trawler. Our first and only self imposed deadline is to be in the Chicago area around Labour Day. South of Chicago, weather and circumstances will guide us!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

July 23, 24 2013 Trenton, Fraser Park Marina to Trent Hills Ont. Bottom of Lock 8


As dawn broke the next day Terri and I awoke and agreed to stay put.  There was no real reason to travel today if we didn’t want to.  No schedules, deadlines or weather systems to consider.  Stay we did, hoping to see a little bit of Trenton.  Relax, do some boat chores and just be happy.  We did go downtown and lightly refresh our supplies.  Canadian Beer and its unique taste were high on my list.  I also remembered from our last visit that there was a local person whom was adept at splicing dock lines.  They did have a small supply in the Marina office and they were perfect for our boat.  Another way to support the local economy I thought as I purchased four of them.  We weren’t in desperate need but our old ones were well worn from the many, many locks we had traversed in the last few years.
Terri looking forward locking through.
Looking forward while in a lock.

One of many falcons on this stretch of water.
Beautiful countryside.
Great Blue Heron
We spent the rest of the day washing the boat and lounging around.  There was a constant show of boats going up and down the river. The locals are the same but different everywhere we go.  Fun to watch from our fly-bridge and pass the time for the few days we had here.  Tomorrow we would have 8 locks to go through and were hopeful for an early start as we planned on fueling up before we depart.  So an early night was in order.


Terrmar resting at the bottom of Lock 8.
How Locks Work
View from our spot on the wall looking towards the lock opening.
Proof that I did actually got fishing.


Beautiful Park but over crowded with Canadian Geese and what they leave behind.


Up and at it early today, as you never know how things are going to go with regards to Marinas and their service promises.  I was told that I would be first in line for fuel today, but Murphy’s Law and a Marina attendant had other plans.  I was to be second which isn’t usually a big deal, but the Locks of the Trent Severn System were now operating with roving Lock Attendants.  This meant that if we didn’t make the first lock opening we might be in for a long day.  The first opening was scheduled for 9:00AM and if we missed that, it might be 11:00AM or later before the Attendants arrived back to Lock 1.  We had lots of fuel in reserve and could easily make it to Peterborough in a few days, so we left without fueling up.  We did make the first lock through on Lock 1 and everything turned out well.
By days end we find ourselves at Lock 8 and tie up at the Lock Wall.  We share the wall with some local people who are just out for the afternoon.  We enjoyed a very pleasant and peaceful afternoon and evening.  We walked Smudge but had to stay on the concrete portions of the Lock Wall as the grass was liberally bombed by the Canadian Geese.
Another beautiful Sunset.


Cheers,
Mark










Saturday, October 24, 2015

July 22, 2013 - Oswego, N.Y. - Fraser Park Marina, Trenton, Ontario

Well as we thought, our lock masters were not prepared for a speedy on-time lock-through.  There was daily maintenance to be performed before such matters as locking boats through could be considered.  They had to grease the lock door bearings, empty the trash, and sweep the walk way..….
But by 8:30 am Terrmar and another boat locked through and we were on our way.  The marine weather forecast while not ideal, certainly seemed less than treacherous.  The wind was forecast at 10-15 knots from the South-East.  That should put the wind and waves more on our stern than the beam.  Well the forecast was correct for the first two hours but then the wind backed around to more of an Easterly, putting the wind just aft of the beam.  Not our most comfortable point of sail, but I kept telling Terri that the closer we got to the North side of the lake the less effect the wind would have on us because we would fall under the lee of the Prince Edward Peninsula. I was correct, well sort of but, the wind picked up at the same time and the effect on the boat remained unchanged.  No worries as we had seen much worse.
LAST LIGHTHOUSE AS WE LEAVE OSWEGO NY. AND THE USA


OUR CHART PLOTTER AS WE CROSS THE BORDER BETWEEN USA AND CANADA ON LAKE ONTARIO
One thing that did change our mood was the realization that with every mile we traveled now was another mile closer to Canada.  We have been travelling for the better part of two years with the boat. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.  I would do it again next year given the chance, but we missed home, simple as that!  One of us missed home more than the other, but we were both glad to see the Canadian Forces Jet greet us from the base in Trenton. We were almost giddy.

CANADIAN FORCES JET GREETS US AS WE NEAR TRENTON ONT.
It was three years ago that we first traveled to Trenton in this boat. (See blog entry for July 2010).  It was the year that we bought Terrmar and sailed it from Toronto to Trenton and eventually Lake Huron.  There was only familiar boating ahead and we really looked forward to it.  We had chosen to take the Murray Canal route from Lake Ontario into the Bay of Quinte.  This would save us time and put us into sheltered waters sooner.  There were also two bridges in this canal that we would need an opening from.  They are open until 5:00 pm.  No problem we had it timed perfectly with 30 minutes to spare.  But when we arrived at the first bridge and deposited our $5.00 in the tin can, the bridge tender warned us the second bridge was going to close early today and that we had better get a move on.  We didn’t have any time to question the reason for the time change or more importantly the lack of notice for the time change.  We just pushed our speed up to 7 knots from our no wake speed of 5 knots.  I managed to raise the second bridge tender on the radio and he did confirm that they were closing very soon but would wait for us.  “Hurry up” he said.  I push the throttle up so we are now doing 9 knots and leaving one heck of a wake.  I didn’t enjoy the high speed in the tight quarters of the canal, but I didn’t want to spend the night here either.  The bridge tender made one last plea for us to hurry up and that he couldn’t even see us yet.  "Okay", I said as I again push the throttle down and we are doing 11 knots.  We did make the bridge and I did thank the bridge tender for waiting, but I never did find out the reason for the early closing that day.  I wonder if there were other disappointed boaters who didn’t make it.  That’s boating!

ENTERING THE NARROW MURRAY CANAL

Murray Canal a short cut from the western end of the Bay of Quinte to Presqu'ile Bay on Lake Ontario. About 5 miles long.

We stayed just before this bridge at Fraser Park Marina in Trenton.
We had reservations for Fraser Park Marina in Trenton.  No problem as they were ready for us and put us in to our slip with little fuss.  I had planned on fueling up here before going to our slip . I did have arrangements made with the dock master for fuel upon arrival, but there was another boat blocking part of the fuel dock and we agreed that I would be first in line in the morning.  No worries, sounds like a plan.
Now the only thing left to officially accomplish today was clearing customs.  We had never had to clear Canadian Customs while travelling on the boat before and were unsure of the proper procedure. All we had was a phone number to Canada Customs and the borrowed phone at the marina office.  I did call and did answer all of the questions, no issues.  The agent on the phone asked me the usual questions about firearms, tobacco and booze.  No issues as we only had a little Wine and Beer.  He asked me to explain what the Great Loop was about and I complied.  The reaction from him seemed one of amazement and jealousy.  “I would like to do that someday” he quipped.  “Don’t wait too long” I replied.  We chatted lightly for a minute or so.  I gave him some Vessel Identification information and it was over.  “Here is your clearance number and please don’t lose it, have a nice day and welcome home.”.  Even now as I write this I get a fuzzy warm feeling.  Again O Canada!
Terri and I were home and happy.  Fish and chips at the local restaurant and then watching the world go by from the fly bridge, finished off our day.  Later that evening we did see a group of Canada Customs officials (four) walking the docks with intention and authority.  They appeared to have a specific agenda and went to specific boats, some Canadian and some not, some Looper’s and some not.  Boats of interest were boarded and inspected.  There was one senior person who was the obvious quarterback.  He directed his people quickly, efficiently and with respect.  Terri and I watched with great interest and waited our turn, but as quickly as they had appeared, they had disappeared.  The show was over and we were not part of it.  They didn’t even appear to give us a second look!  Oh my gosh!  This is not typical of our luck, what is going on?  We were prepared with documents and our clearance number and as per usual nothing to hide.  Alas, our excitement would have to be contained to include drinks on the fly-bridge and Smudge guarding the boat.  We can do this.
Oh Canada!
Cheers,

Mark

Thursday, April 3, 2014

July 20 - July 22, 2013 Ess-Kay Yards Brewerton NY. - Oswego Lock Wall Oswego NY.

We were awake and on our way by 0730. Terri and Smudge even had a good walk while I did my pre-trip checks. Only a few miles to go before we turn North on the Oswego River and leave the Erie Canal to history. There were only a few locks and 32 miles before we reached our last lock in NY State. The weather was iffy for crossing Lake Ontario tomorrow, but we wanted to be staged for the possibility of crossing the following day.
To the left Buffalo NY and to the right Oswego NY and Lake Ontario

The next few locks while routine had a few issues with their personnel. We were not the only ones who noticed this and the comments were less than flattering towards the people who operated these locks. But Terri and I promised ourselves to keep this blog positive and upbeat so we shall leave it at that.
Before we arrived at Oswego we had a few decisions to make, the first one being, where to stay tonight. Should we stay at the Marina that is on the North side of the Last lock and have shore power, water etc? Or stay on the wall on the South side of the last Lock and have no shore power or water. It all depended on how long we think we would be here. If we stayed at the Marina on the far side of the lock we could have all of the amenities but most important we could leave at first light to crow Lake Ontario. The down side was that this Marina was very exposed to the lake. A rock and roll night would be a definite. If we stayed on the lock wall we would be right out of the weather. The down side of the lock wall was we would have to lock through the last lock before we started across the lake. That meant an 8:00 am lock through if the lock master was on time and properly prepared. The lock was not the biggest lock either so if there was a crowd that 800 am might be 9:00 am. An easy 3 hours later than we would normally leave. It was 70 miles or so across the lake it should be no problem to cross in the daylight hours if we if we got a late start. So we opted for the wall and arrived at around 1:00 pm. I fired up the generator and cranked the A/C. Beautiful!
We weren’t the only boat with the idea of staying on the lock wall. By the evening there were up to 6 boats to join us along with the two that appear to have been camped here for quite a while. The rest of the afternoon we walked around the small down town that we could walk to and then spent a nice quiet time up on the bridge for Cold Beer and Wine Spritzers.
I don't know who this is, but he was flying the Canadian flag.

This boat was docked with no one around for quite a while.

Zoom in and read the words if you can.

Looking North to Lake Ontario from the Lock wall.

Terri and Terrmar on the Lock wall

Industrial Oswego

We turned in that evening listening to the weather forecast and decoding the Mafor. It didn’t look real promising for our crossing, but we shall see.

Cheers,

Mark

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

July 17 - July 20, 2013 River Link Park, Amsterdam NY. – Ilion Marina in Ilion NY – Ess-Kay Yards in Brewerton NY.


The next few days were totally benign. Judging from the number of pictures we had taken (none) we were just on a mission to get out of the Erie Barge Canal. Ilion Marina was a safe stop but nothing special to do or see here. We stayed here a mere 14 hours and were gone by 0640 the next morning.
Ess-Kay Yards was on the West side of Oneida Lake and represented our last stay on the Erie Barge Canal System. Our self-imposed pressure, was off and we stayed an extra day, because our next stop was in Oswego NY on the Oswego River System. This was where we would stage for our crossing of Lake Ontario. We had been watching the weather systems quite closely and conditions were not quite good enough for the crossing. We had to change our decision making process and change from the "River" mindset and back into the "Lake" mindset. Flooding, closed locks and floating debris will no longer slow us down. It will be the wind and more importantly the wind direction that will decide whether we go or don’t go. Ess-Kay Yards was a beautiful old time marina. Adequate in every way but it certainly had that don’t hurry feel. We really the enjoyed river front view and the boat traffic that always seemed to be buzzing. We managed to find a pizza joint one day for lunch and although there we very few patrons. The local people were friendly and colourful.
Cheers,

Mark

July 15 - July 17. 2013 Schenectady – River Link Park, Amsterdam NY.

Today was the day. Our life in Purgatory (Schenectady) NY was about to come to an end.  We had returned from Canada yesterday and while we still had the car we took advantage to re-supply. It was hot and humid and a lot of work but it had to be done and we shouldn't complain, right? We have confirmed that that Lock 8 would open tomorrow. This would get us a little farther West in the Erie Canal system. We guessed that there would be a rush of boaters wanting to move as soon as possible so we wanted to try and beat the crowds. Even if we only moved one lock forward it would be a small moral victory.
While we were up early we were in no big hurry to be underway. It was about a 20 mile trip and there was no reason to get ram-my. We settle up with the dock master, and topped up our water tanks. Now we just had to get to the fuel dock for a pump out. There was still quite a current running and as we were docked perpendicular to the current, undocking and then docking at the fuel dock would require some planning and skill. The summer student who was working as a dock master and a neighboring boater were there to help us. Help us they did and we maneuvered in a three knot current like true boaters. No worries! A quick pump out and we were on our way by 10 AM. A big thank you to all of the people that we met in Schenectady, every one that we met was more than friendly and in spite of the Purgatory feeling we will always have fond memories of this place.
WE SAW THIS CROSS ON THE RIVER BANK SHORTLY AFTER OUR RELEASE FROM PURGATORY

SELFIE ON THE FLY-BRIDGE

There was still a fair amount of tree branches and debris coming down the river system so this would add to the experience today. As it turned out, travelling worked out fine. We traveled a little slower so if we did hit something there would be less damage to the boat. We weren't worried about our prop as it is very well protected by the full keel and skeg. As we rounded the last corner for the day we were greeted by another beautiful view that was becoming the norm in this part of NY State. River Link Park in Amsterdam NY would be our home until Lock 9 was open for business. 

Terrmar at River Link Park


Amsterdam Link Park was sort of a serve yourself faucility. We did have reservations as suggested in the cruising guide. But there was little here other than a good safe dock. What else could we ask for? We arrived about 1:30 in the afternoon and still had some time to drop the dinghy and go ahead and scout the next lock. This we did and as we approached Lock 9 it was clear that there was still work being performed. But we did manage to get enough information from one of the local boaters that Lock 10 was a go tomorrow. Monitor the Erie Canal website was the advice. We have been doing that for a long time now and the updates were really, well not up to date. But like so many things in boating, you have to gleam information from many sources and sort of put them all together to get usable information.
We retired that evening with plans to head West the next morning.
Cheers,

Mark
THAT'S A WRAP


Friday, July 19, 2013

June 25 – July 15, 2013 – Schenectady, NY


Well it was going to be a long day, so we once again started early to beat the heat and make sure to arrive at our destination mid to late afternoon.  The closer we got to the Erie Canal, the more debris we had to dodge in the channel.  We locked through the Troy Lock (#1) with no problems and by the time we reached the entrance to the Erie Canal, two more looper boats had caught up with us.  The trouble was none of us could raise the lock master on the radio or telephone, so we all kept going in circles while trying to get information on the status of this lock.

At Waterford, NY there is a free wall and a visitors’ centre for boaters and we approached some of the boaters tied up at the wall to try and get some news.  We learned that the government had cut back on Erie Canal staff and this particular lock master had to operate 3 locks in a row and then return to the first lock and repeat.  If all went well the operation took 2 hours.

There was nothing to do but wait, so we continued to go in circles for another hour.  When we finally began locking it was noon and the process went smoothly although we were exhausted by the time we finished at lock #7.

We were greeted by a looper at Schenectady Yacht Club as he helped us dock.  He shook his head and exclaimed, “Welcome to purgatory!”  Each day we woke and anxiously looked at the notices for mariners on the Erie Canal Web site.  Each day was the same - still closed.  Mark got on the phone and finally got a person who was able to give a little more information but always amounted to the same, “Will probably open within a week”.

And then the rains began and then the flooding!  So close to Canada and yet so far!  Then the announcement that the whole Erie Canal was closed with some locks sustaining serious damage.  Ah-h-h-h!!!  Stuck in Schenectady, NY!  We can’t go forward and now we can’t go back!  The rains had subsided a bit and we determined, thank goodness, Terrmar was safe and secure, so we decided to rent a car and take a vacation from boating while the weather and canal got its act together.

Seven hour car ride later, we rested back at home (sigh)!

Terri 
Albany, NY

Albany, NY Skyline

Debris collected on the Hudson River

Waterford,NY - Erie Canal visitor's centre @ free wall

Old wood water tower

Across Erie Canal Entrance - people waving Canadian flag

Leaving Lock # 6 looking East

Bridge on Erie Canal

Tour Sailboat turning around - going east

Schenectady Yacht Club - red buoy almost submerged.

Bridge water level too high for clearance

Smudge will not be left behind!

Candice visiting @ cottage

Ian helping??

Lauren helping with dishes!
  

 

June 21-25, 2013 – New Baltimore, NY




While Rondout Yacht Harbor was peaceful, it was a little light on amenities especially when staying an indefinite period of time.  As we chatted with another boater at this marina, he mentioned he had reservations just up the river at Shady Harbor, New Baltimore, NY.  It was worth a try and would get us closer to the Erie Canal.

Again we had a very pleasant trip travelling the Hudson River.   We arrived at Shady Harbor and managed a very tight squeeze into our spot against a swift current with the help of the harbor-master and dockhand.  Here we waited with many other boaters in anticipation for word that the Erie Canal was open and operational.  By now the local marinas were being filled up with loopers and other boats anxious to be moving north.

We very much enjoyed the amenities at Shady Harbor, including a great restaurant, courtesy car and well stocked ships’ store; however there always seems to be something!  On one of our hottest days thus far our power went off – that’s right – no air conditioning!  All the boats at our end of the long dock were experiencing the same.  After over an hour with no change and no sign of electricians that day, Mark took the bull by the horns and asked to be moved to a dock with working power.  We were settled in just before the sky opened up and it began pouring!  Perfect, we were now staged to make an easy getaway early next morning.

Now you know that Mark is a man of action, always with a plan.  He called ahead to the marina closest to the last lock on the Erie Canal that was open (#7) and got reservations for the following day.  So-o-o we were “in” with the last open spot at Schenectady Yacht Club, NY.

Terri 
chimmny ruins along the Hudson

Light house

Terrmar @ end of long dock

Marina restaurant

Looking south over Hudson River

More rain!

Mark with courtesy car

Industry on the Hudson