August 16 to September 9: Gore Bay to Drummond Island

We left Gore Bay on a calm morning.  The water was as smooth as glass, and, unusually, continued so all the way to Meldrum Bay.  We had read about the restaurant at Meldrum Bay Inn, and decided that, with so many Loopers raving about it, we had to try it.  Fortunately, we made a reservation.  It is a difficult dilemma for Loopers.  On the one hand, making, and trying to follow, a schedule, is something of a no-no.  It will tend to lead to poor decisions with respect to weather conditions and sea state.  On the other hand, marinas fill up during high season, as do the nicer restaurants.  Dick and I try to take a middle road.  We have a plan, with rough dates, but the plan is adjusted as we travel, to allow for weather delays and to add some flexibility to destinations.  For holiday weekends, or if there is to be a festival in town, we make marina reservations several weeks in advance, since they can always be cancelled.  Most other marina bookings are made less than a week ahead, and we also make restaurant reservations as soon as we know there is a reasonable chance that we will get there on the day we expect.

This has stood us well this summer, both for the marinas and also for the restaurants.  We felt bad for several boaters who arrived in Meldrum Bay expecting a great dining experience, only to be told that the restaurant was fully booked.  There are no other eating out options, and not much reason to stop there without the restaurant.  Later we were surprised to discover that in fact those boaters could have been accommodated, had we known.  The owner takes bookings for tables, most of which seat 4 to 6 people, and once her tables are booked, she refuses reservations.  I overheard her saying “I let the boaters sort it out among themselves”, in other words, we could easily have asked the people on one of the other boats to join us, had we known, as almost all of the tables had only two people seated.  A strange way to do business.  As it happened, the meal was reasonable but not the exceptional experience we had been led to expect.  A night in one of the anchorages we had chosen to miss would have been more enjoyable.

Yes, because we had a schedule, we skipped some of the highly recommended experiences of Georgian Bay’s North Channel.  Dick’s mother’s 90th birthday party was coming up, so we needed to be in Sault Ste Marie by a specific date in order to pick up a rental car and return to Trenton for the festivities.

Gore Bay early morning 2
The marina at Gore Bay in early morning
Gore Bay early morning
Gore Bay anchorage, water like glass and perfect reflections
Meldrum Bay key lime pie
Key Lime Pie at Meldrum Bay Inn
Meldrum Bay shortcake
Berry shortcake at Meldrum Bay Inn

From Meldrum Bay we were expecting an easy crossing of the North Channel to Blind River.  Sadly, both the wind direction and the wave heights were quite different from what was forecast.  We had a very uncomfortable ride, with the waves broadside, causing a corkscrew motion that was most unpleasant.  We ran fast, and were in by 10:30am, after which I needed to just sit still for a couple of hours in order to feel more like myself!  Blind River has little to offer boaters, as the marina is about a mile from the town, but we were delighted to get a message to say that our friends Brenda and Bruce on B-Side were on their way.  Their upcoming plans required a weather window that was likely to close if they didn’t make some adjustments, giving us an unexpected reunion.

Like much of Georgian Bay’s North Channel, the area was first settled by fur traders, loggers, and miners.  A sawmill was built at the mouth of the river originally known as the Penewobecong.  Europeans named it the Blind River, because the mouth of the river was hard to see along the canoe route of the voyageurs.  The protected estuary with deep water offshore was a good location for a mill at a time when all trade was carried by water. The copper mine at nearby Bruce Mines was a good customer for the logging industry and sawmill, providing timber and planks for the mine.  For 40 years from 1929, the McFadden Lumber Company operated the largest white pine sawmill east of the Rockies.  The mill finally closed in 1969, but a few years earlier, uranium was discovered in the area.  While a local mine was short-lived, a refinery was built nearby in 1983 and still operates, producing uranium trioxide and providing employment for the area. The Trans-Canada Highway runs through the centre of the town.

Blind River early morning
The old burner unit from the sawmill at Blind River

That evening we all decided to ride bicycles into town to the best rated restaurant.  We got our bikes off the boat, and after walking them along the dock we were ready to ride them along the boardwalk towards the road.  As my companions headed out, I prepared to get on my bike when it decided to lean affectionally towards me, rather like a large and friendly dog.  There was a moment where I realized what was in my immediate future, and then I subsided gracefully to the boardwalk, with the bike landing on top.  At this point I was very glad I had decided to carry my bike helmet on my head!  I was also glad the landing surface was wood instead of gravel.  The only damage was to my dignity. And I did subside gracefully, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

We rode to the restaurant and enjoyed such a convivial last evening together that we rather lost track of the time and ended up riding back in the dark.  Fortunately, we were able to take back roads with little traffic, since the bike lights I had purchased had been deemed unnecessary by the man who would have had to take the time to clip them onto the bikes.

Blind River sunset
Sunset at Blind River

Our planned very early start the next morning was somewhat delayed by fog.  After about an hour it cleared, so we set off, only to have it close in again.  For only the second time this season we needed to run with the radar on a split screen with the chart, luckily no other boats were around.  It is a strange and eerie feeling to be out on the water with nothing to be seen around you except your wake!  The fog lifted fairly quickly and we were in Thessalon by 11:15. In the afternoon the wind and waves really kicked up and we were glad to be off the North Channel.  There was one other Looper boat in, Idyll Time, and we enjoyed docktails later that evening aboard Nine Lives.

travelling in fog 3
Travelling in fog means using the radar on a split screen with the chartplotter.
travelling in fog
Looking back, fog all around us
travelling in fog 2
A hole in the fog shows there is blue sky above!

Our passage to Richard’s Landing on August 20th was very pleasant, although the wind picked up later and again, we were glad of our early start.  Richard’s Landing is a tiny but well-kept town with a very popular Italian restaurant on the dock.  It was completely filled outside on the deck and a fair few tables occupied inside even though it was a Monday night.  We enjoyed a wander around the town and spent some time in a very nice shop that featured all kinds of local arts and crafts.  After buying a beautiful new wooden chopping board and a pair of moccasins for Dick, both destined for our home in UK, we felt the need to refresh ourselves with ice cream!  The next morning, we departed for Sault Ste Marie and a two-week break.

North Channel lighthouse 2
A historic lighthouse on Georgian Bay’s North Channel
North Channel 2
The North Channel on our way to Richard’s Landing
North Channel lighthouse
Another historic lighthouse on the North Channel
North Channel
Pretty scenery in the North Channel
Richards Landing
The village of Richard’s Landing built this picturesque lighthouse on their harbour
Richards Landing 2
A gardener in Richard’s Landing with a sense of humour

Mum’s birthday gathering went very well, with all members of the family present including Dick’s sister Judy’s family.  They made the long trek from northern Alberta, camping on the way.  It was wonderful for Mum to be surrounded by all of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren for this momentous birthday!

Dick and I enjoyed the trip very much, returning by road to some of the special locations we had visited earlier by boat.  We stocked up on chocolates in Lakefield, and finally managed to try Cassis Bistro there.  We also returned to Picton to collect our beautiful sculpture and enjoyed a very nice afternoon chatting with Paul Verrall and his wife Donna in their garden.  We picked up our vehicle from Dick’s brother, and returned in convoy by a different route, that took us through the heart of Ontario’s cottage country.  I may say that I enjoyed the Kawarthas, Muskoka, and Haliburton much more from the water than I did driving.  We stopped for a night at the Log Cabin Inn at Parry Sound, having had such a nice meal a few weeks earlier.  Sadly, I think we had the b-team in the kitchen on our second visit.  The meal was acceptable but nothing to write home about.

Nine Lives was waiting for us in Sault Ste Marie, having snoozed for a week.  Other boaters had kept an eye on her, and even adjusted her lines on a rough day without asking, just another example of how helpful and considerate the boating community can be.

Sault Ste Marie marina
The marina at Sault Ste Marie is brand new, but there were very few boaters by the last week of August.

The twin cities of Sault Ste Marie sit across from each other on the St Mary’s River.  The Ojibwe used the location at the bottom of the rapids as a meeting place during whitefish season. The treaty that ended the War of 1812 set the border between United States and what was to become Canada along the river, dividing what had been one city into two. The rapids drop the level of the water from Lake Superior to the lower lakes of Michigan and Huron by 20 feet, so a canal and lock was built in 1798 to solve the problem of having to portage around the rapids.  This first canal was destroyed during the War of 1812, and after the treaty, trade passed through Soo Locks, on the American side of the river.  In 1895 a Canadian canal was built after an unfortunate diplomatic incident between the two countries.  At the time it opened, the Canadian Sault Ste Marie Canal contained the largest lock in the world, and the first to be electrically operated.  This lock was shut down in 1987, and a new, much smaller lock was built within the old lock, completed in 1998.  Today the Canadian lock carries recreational and tour boat traffic, while the much larger commercial ships use the Soo Locks.  The Soo Locks are the world’s busiest canal in terms of tonnage, in spite of being closed each year from January through March.  We watched a number of freighters and tankers pass into the locks from our vantage point in the marina.

Dick spent a summer working at what was then Algoma Steel in Sault Ste Marie when he was a student.  At the time it was a huge and important steel mill, today it is owned by an Indian company, and is a much smaller operation.

Sault Ste Marie bridge
The international bridge connecting the twin cities of Sault Ste Marie
Sault Ste Marie Gliss
Steak and shrimp at Gliss Restaurant in Sault Ste Marie
Sault Ste Marie marina at sunset
Nine Lives in Sault Ste Marie marina at sunset.

The commentary on the Agawa Canyon train told some of the story of the visionary businessman Francis Clergue, who arrived in Sault Ste Marie, backed by a consortium of Philadelphia businessmen, in the early 20th century.  A hydro-electric dam, a paper mill, the steel plant, part of the Algoma Central Railway, and two mines were all part of the interconnected empire he created.  Sadly, like many fast-growing businesses before and since, cash flow was insufficient to fund the growth, and while most of his enterprises continued, some to this day, Clergue was unable to maintain the empire and in 1903 he was forced out.  He left Sault Ste Marie and never lived there again.  The paper mill closed in 2011, and has now been repurposed into a mixed-use cultural and tourism hub.  The Algoma Conservatory of Music occupies one of the restored buildings, while another contains several restaurants and an events venue.  A farmer’s market is also on the site, and a new station for the Agawa Canyon Railway Tour is planned.  We ate in the steak house and also the pizza restaurant, and enjoyed both the food and the ambiance.  It is so nice to see beautiful historic industrial buildings being preserved instead of knocked down.

Sault Ste Marie converted mill
The beautiful converted paper mill in Sault Ste Marie now houses several restaurants and an events venue
pizza at Breakfast Pig
We enjoyed breakfast one morning at The Breakfast Pig, I tried a breakfast pizza, it was delicious!

On August 30th we set off very early for the famous train journey to Agawa Canyon.  The Canyon was not formed by glaciation as one would usually expect in this part of the world.  Instead it is part of an ancient rift valley, created through faulting 1.2 billion years ago. This trip is 8 hours of travel for a 90-minute stop.  It was nice enough, but not worth it.  I believe that 15 or 20 years ago it was a very different experience.  We could see that the brush and small trees have been allowed to grow up all alongside the tracks, so that the scenery is almost entirely a green tunnel punctuated with very quick glimpses of the views that would be marvellous if you could actually see them.  The trip is likely nicer once the fall colours develop, but even that will not change the complete lack of the views of the rivers, lakes, and Lake Superior that we had looked forward to.

Agawa Canyon train depot
At the depot on board the Agawa Canyon train
Agawa Canyon train 2
A glimpse of one of the lakes as we ride the train towards Agawa Canyon
Agawa Canyon train
The best moment on the train, as we passed over a trestle and could see the power plant far below
Agawa Canyon park 3
Agawa Canyon park
Agawa Canyon park 4
The train and Agawa Canyon park
Agawa Canyon river 2
Agawa Canyon River
Agawa Canyon river
Agawa Canyon River
Agawa Canyon from viewpoint
Dick climbed the 372 steps to the Canyon Overlook
Agawa Canyon park root cellar
A root cellar in Agawa Canyon. We have no idea who or what it was for.
Agawa Canyon waterfall 2
One of the two waterfalls you can visit in Agawa Canyon
Agawa Canyon park
The train waits to begin the 4 hour return journey to Sault Ste Marie

A few days later we went for a drive along the route taken by the train.  We had hoped to see the railway trestles from the land, as well as the dam and possibly some of the fall colours, but we were frustrated in those goals.  However, it was an enjoyable drive and we did get to see some of Lake Superior and the very pretty Chippewa Falls.  The Falls demonstrate some of the fascinating layers of geology that we were told about on the train.  We could see ancient rocks smoothed by glaciers, and darker areas that were laid down by lava flows.

Chippewa Falls 4
Chippewa Falls. Notice all the different kinds of rock.
Chippewa Falls 3
Clear water and a hint of autumn at Chippewa Falls
Chippewa Falls
Another view of Chippewa Falls, popular with fishermen.
wildflowers by the roadside
Wildflowers by the roadside

SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an America Great Lakes freighter that sank in a storm in November 1975 with the loss of all aboard.  When launched in 1958, she was the largest ship on the Great Lakes, and is still the largest ever sunk there.  Although the story was later immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” the following year, I can definitely remember listening to the radio as the tragedy and the search for the missing freighter unfolded.  The sinking led to improvements in Great Lakes shipping regulations and various safety practices.  As we looked out into Alona Bay at the deep blue waters and endless horizon of Lake Superior it was not hard to imagine very different conditions in November.  We have experienced changing forecasts, and conditions that are not as expected, often enough on our own voyages to be able to understand how it is possible to run into problems.  Whether it is the ocean, lakes, or even rivers, it is important to respect the dangers and remember that boating is nothing like driving on roads.

Alona Bay viewpoint
This was the view from the scenic outlook at Alona Bay. Why they build a pullout on the highway and don’t cut down the brush so one can actually see something, I do not know.
Lake Superior
A better view of Lake Superior from further down the highway

The Trans-Canada Highway began construction in 1950, intended to provide an unbroken transcontinental route across Canada.  In several places along the route there is more than one designated route, and the numbering is not consistent from province to province.  However, the entire length and all the variations carry a white on green maple leaf route marker.  The highway officially opened in 1962, and was completed in 1971.  At Chippewa Falls we read about “The Gap”, a 56-mile portion of the highway that was considered one of the most difficult parts to construct due to topography and the hardness of the granite.  Construction was stopped until 4 men from Wawa walked the route through the bush to Sault Ste Marie and met with officials to demonstrate the desperate need for the highway for the residents of Wawa.  This area is considered the half way point of the transcontinental highway.  Dick and I found the story interesting, having driven nearly all of the highway, including most of the variations, over the years.  One day we will have to complete the piece in Newfoundland and the last part of Quebec that we have not visited.

We enjoyed great docktails aboard Nine Lives one evening with other boaters, not Loopers this time.  One couple are Sault Ste Marie locals.  He is a commercial diver and instructor, and owns a restored tug as well as a large trawler.  They seem to divide their time between his work and a farm, and live partly aboard the boat as well.  The other couple are from Ohio, he is a firefighter.

September 3rd was very rainy and windy.  Dick visited both the Bush Plane Museum and the historic lock while I made a set of prints of the birthday gathering for Mum.  We were also watching the progress of Hurricane Dorian as it threatened the east coast and Hilton Head. After a few days of increasing concern, I am glad to be able to say that our area was essentially unaffected, apart from the inconvenience of the mandatory evacuation.

Arturos red snapper
Dick enjoyed red snapper with pumpkin ravioli at Arturo’s in Sault Ste Marie
Arturos shrimp pasta
Excellent shrimp pasta at Arturo’s

Eventually it was time to leave Sault Ste Marie and continue the last week of our summer voyaging.  Our first stop was the very picturesque town of Bruce Mines.  The mines here were known to the First Nations, and early explorers arrived in search of the copper.  The first copper mine was opened in 1846, and was worked by miners who emigrated from Cornwall. The mine managers would not allow any stores to open in the town, instead settlers were forced to buy everything from the company store.  The enterprising Marks brothers from Hilton Beach would load fresh produce and various goods onto a barge that they would anchor off the town because they were not allowed to dock.  The townsfolk would row and paddle out to the barge to shop.  The copper was worked for about 100 years before it played out. Today the mine is a quarry for an exceptionally hard rock that is used for road building.  The town is a few miles west of the quarry, and I was surprised at how pretty it is.  It is also right on the Trans Canada Highway, and boasts several restaurants of previously excellent reputation.  Dick was particularly looking forward to the Bavarian Restaurant.  Sadly, the restaurant has been sold.  The current reviews of both that and the other local eatery were so bad that we decided to eat on board.

Bruce Mines
The pretty village of Bruce Mines

 

leaving Bruce Mines
Calm seas as we leave Bruce Mines

Our last night out was at an anchorage in Milford Haven, a long narrow inlet, still in Canadian waters.  We anchored near a picturesque abandoned boathouse.  We were surprised to be completely alone in such a pretty spot, usually we would have expected a few sailboats and possibly some Loopers to join us.  It just shows how much the weather has changed since the middle of August.  We are seeing far fewer days of fine weather, and the nights are now considerably colder.  I imagine most boaters that are still out prefer to stop in marinas with power, rather than anchoring out.

Milford Haven anchorage
We anchored near a deserted boathouse in Milford Haven

We arrived in Drummond Island Yacht Haven just before noon, followed by several other Loopers.  We were invited for docktails on board Vitamin Sea, together with the crew of Misty.  It turns out that we had met both couples before, last year at Rendezvous in Norfolk and then Misty again on the Hudson.  They are all great storytellers with an excellent sense of humour.  Afterwards we went to a local Tex-Mex restaurant for an outstanding meal.  It is fortunate we have our vehicle here, because the town is several miles from the marina.

Drummond Island Yacht Haven
Drummond Island Yacht Haven

Drummond Island sits between the Georgian Bay’s North Channel and the open waters of Lake Huron.  It is the seventh largest lake island in the world.  The Canada United States border runs north and east of the island, so it was our port of entry for our return to USA.  It used to be necessary to meet in person with a US Customs and Immigration officer, but these days technology has improved things, at least for boaters.  Dick has an app on his phone that he uses to notify Border Protection of our entry.  An officer may ask to have a short video conversation, and will then approve our entry.  A few minutes later a number is emailed, that we enter into our online profile details and that’s that!  We did learn last year from other Loopers that answering all questions accurately is important.  For instance, when asked if you have any fruit and vegetables on board, the correct answer is yes.  If you lie and say no, they will know you are lying, because boaters of course have food on board!  When asked, you simply tell them you have “ship’s stores”.  As commented by a fellow boater the other day, Loopers, who tend to be retirement age, and travel at 7 knots on trawlers do not exactly fit the profile of drug dealers and smugglers.

Drummond Island stormy weather
Stormy weather approaches Drummond Island

Drummond Island is connected to the mainland by a ferry that runs all year round.  There are around 1000 permanent residents.  There is a small air strip, and a primary school, but most children are bused to school on the mainland via the ferry.  The island is a year-round tourist destination for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, boasting miles of trails for off-roading, more than 13 unique ecosystems, water trail systems for paddling, access to both Lake Huron and Lake Michigan for boaters, and excellent birdwatching.  Dick and I caught sight of sand hill cranes as we drove to dinner one evening.  The underlying rock is dolomite, used in several industries including glass, paper making, agriculture, and even medicine, but the main use is for steel manufacture.  The Drummond Island Quarry, now owned by Carmeuse, ships out nearly a million and a half tons of dolomite each year.  The quarry is located inland, and we could just see a road specifically created to support 75-ton capacity haul trucks that bring the quarried rock to the processing plant on the shore.

Drummond Island Potatoes
Crispy potatoes with bacon, cheddar, and green onions was a specialty at the Drummond Island restaurant

The Yacht Haven where Nine Lives will stay for the winter, has a number of huge buildings, one of which is heated.  This means that we can leave much of the food (pantry items), clothing, bedding, etc on board.  We also do not have to put chemicals into the fresh water and blackwater tanks as we would if we had to winterize the boat.  There is quite a bit of work done even so.  We take home flour, since it does not last well, also anything that needs refrigeration of course.  I like to take large laundry items like bath mats and some of the bedding home, so it can be washed (and ironed) in my big machines at home.  Dick took samples of the oil from the engines, which are sent away for analysis.  The report will tell him whether there are any problems with the engines, and also whether he needs to change the oil when we return in June for next year’s voyaging.  We like to take the carpets home for steam cleaning.  A final cleaning of bathrooms, the salon, and galley gets the boat ready for a winter rest, although of course another cleaning will be needed when we return.  Dick gets together the various spares and parts that he will ask the boatyard to install, and also spends a lot of time making lists of needed maintenance and replacements.  Boating is not an inexpensive lifestyle!  This winter we will need a new air conditioning unit to replace the useless forward unit, a replacement side by side fridge freezer, and a new water pump.

On Monday morning the head tech from the boatyard came on board to go over the to-do list with Dick and see where everything was located.  At last Nine Lives was ready for haul out.  We have not seen her hauled out since the survey when we bought her in 2016, so we made a point of staying to see it.  The boat is driven into a narrow channel, and is positioned above two large slings under the travel lift.  Slowly, the boat is lifted in the slings, and then the travel lift drives away from the slip and conveys the boat to its destination on land.  The heated shed was not quite ready for Nine Lives, because boats are located in the shed in reverse order to when they are expected to leave.  Instead she was positioned on blocks of wood so the travel lift could be unhooked and driven away.

haulout positioning
Positioning Nine Lives on the slings of the travel lift
haulout lifting
Nine Lives is lifted out of the water
haulout leaving the slip
The travel lift leaves the slip
haulout driving away
Nine Lives is taken down the road to the boat sheds

The first thing we wanted to check was the status of the sponsons, the extra flotation that is unique to Nine Lives, and that had the hole in it last year.  To our surprise and dismay, we could see that in spite of having taken considerable extra care this year, the starboard side sponson was cracked, and so was the one on the port side.  Dick had arranged for plugs to be installed last spring, and as soon as they were opened gallons of water gushed out from both sides!  So not only was the extra flotation not doing its job, we were hauling around all that extra weight of water!  This impairs fuel efficiency, and also creates an imbalance on the boat.  Water puddles in the showers and the kitchen sink, and the ice maker gets iced up as the automatic refill spills out of the back of the tray and onto the bottom of the unit. Dick will be getting in touch with the boat builder to find out exactly where the extra flotation part begins and ends, and of course the Drummond Island boat yard will need to make repairs.  We will have to look into some different fenders to try to protect this vulnerable part of the boat in future.  Apart from that, Nine Lives is in good condition, props and rudders looking good.

Nine Lives tunnel
Placing blocks of wood for Nine Lives to rest on above the concrete.
Nine Lives oops
Oops! Water pours out of the sponsons once the plug is removed.

We were able to stay overnight in cabins associated with the Yacht Haven.  They were rustic, but well equipped and absolutely spotless.  There was a lovely view over the bay and beautiful sunsets.  The only inconvenience was a dearth of power points, including in the bedrooms.  In fact, one of the bedrooms had a very nice bedside lamp, but the cord was left lying on the bed because there was absolutely no place to plug it in!

Drummond Island meat pie dinner
A last dinner cooked on board, shepherd’s pie with vegetables and garlic cheese bread to accompany.

The next morning, we finished packing up the car and said goodbye to Drummond Island until next summer.  It has been a wonderful voyage this year.  The weather could not have been better, not too hot, and very little rain.  The rain we did get was mostly at night.  We seldom needed the air conditioning, and when we did, the aft unit was sufficient.  This was fortunate, since the forward unit is not working and is scheduled for replacement this winter!  We had few weather delays, only one major (more than a day), and there were also few days when the forecast for wind and waves was not as expected.  We met many Loopers this year, because we were travelling at the same time as most of the “pack”.  Lots of enjoyable docktails and dockside chats.

This will be the final blog update for 2019.  Look for Nine Lives again some time in June, 2020.

August 1 to 15, 2019 – Henry’s Fish Camp to Gore Bay

Henry’s Fish Restaurant, on Frying Pan Island, is considered a must stop on the Great Loop.  We knew it would get crowded, so we set off in good time and arrived around 11am.  It was quite something watching all the arrivals, including seaplanes, a large charter group, and pleasure boats as large as 50 feet and as small as wave runners.  Arrivals were wrangled by the new owner’s father acting as dockmaster, and wrangled is the right word.  Only the larger pleasure boats call on the radio and ask for dock assignments, the smaller boats just zoom in and park wherever they please, regardless of whether they are blocking other boats.  The docks are long fingers, designed to hold several boats one behind the other, so it matters who ties up where! Henry’s is on an island, and typically serves about 350 meals on a weekday, and over 700 every day on weekends.  Lunch is busier than dinner.

Henrys 3
The busy dock at Henry’s, before the lunch rush begins

We met a few Loopers who stopped for a meal and then anchored elsewhere.  Carefully timing our dinner for a less busy period, we enjoyed our fish, although portions were huge and we certainly didn’t need the appetizers!  Something strange is going on with the reviews.  The owners took over the restaurant last year, and locals have been trashing the place on both Trip Advisor and Active Captain, and even spreading unfounded rumours at nearby marinas.  We enjoyed our visit very much, and felt bad for the owners, who are certainly putting great efforts into making it a great experience.

Henrys fish chowder
Dick enjoyed fish chowder to start
Henrys smoked fish
A large portion of smoked salmon with cream cheese was too much with what was to come!
Henrys fish and chips
Fish and Chips at Henry’s, battered pickerel, chips, coleslaw, and baked beans!
Henrys dock
After dinner at Henry’s you can sit on the dock and watch the world go by

 

Leaving Henry’s, we had a pretty trip to Parry Sound.  Georgian Bay was unusually calm, so we chose to avoid the white-knuckle channels and go around outside.  In Parry Sound there were 8 Looper boats in the first evening, and a get-together for docktails on the shore.  Among the stories exchanged was an experience with Canada Customs.  The wife happened to have some CBD oil on board, which she declared when asked.  They were immediately told to stay on the boat and wait for an inspection.  Said CBD oil was confiscated.  What made everyone laugh, was the helpful Customs inspector told the lady she could buy a replacement at a shop less than half a block from where they were tied up!  The chuckles were not over, we next heard that upon arriving in the store, the husband noticed pre-rolled joints for sale.  Suddenly feeling nostalgic for his student days, he decided to buy one.  Returning to the boat, he smoked a little of it, concluded that the experience was not quite the same as his memories, and tried to put it out.  He had us all laughing as he described trying to get this thing to go out, without success.  A great storyteller!  He concluded “they don’t make ‘em like they used to!”

Parry Sound marina
Stormy skies over Parry Sound Marina
Parry Sound sunset
The sun sets behind one of Georgian Bay’s distinctive tall pines on Parry Sound.

While in Parry Sound we booked a meal at Log Cabin Fine Dining.  Dick discovered that Trip Advisor had the location wrong, instead of a .8-mile bike ride it was 4 miles away.  For only the second time in our Looping travels we had to call a taxi.  We were joined by our friends Brenda and Bruce from B-Side, and the meal was worth the taxi and then some.  In fact, we are booked to stay there when we travel south later in the month to attend Mum’s birthday party.  The next day was occupied with general maintenance, Dick changed the oil on the generator and replaced a burned-out fan, while I did the laundry.

Log Cabin elk carpaccio
Elk carpaccio at Log Cabin Inn
Parry Sound waterfront 2
The trestle bridge that crosses the river in Parry Sound is the longest east of the Rockies. Built in 1907, it is 1695 feet long and 105 feet high. It is still in regular use. A tall ship can be seen leaving the docks.
Parry Sound tall ship
Another look at the tall ship leaving Parry Sound. It left the docks entirely under sail, no engine.

Monday was a holiday, so we continued our stay in Parry Sound. Boat cleaning day, inside and out, and then Dick did a provision run on his bike while I scrubbed the white ball fenders of all the grunge that had accumulated in the locks.  The barrel fenders got their covers back on (we take them off for locks, because we find the knit fabric hangs up on the rough lock walls), and Nine Lives again looks shipshape!  In the afternoon we took a seaplane tour of the 30,000 islands.  It was an interesting experience seeing where we had been from the air, including flying over Henry’s, but we both agreed that the very limited sight lines of a Cessna compared to a helicopter make it not really worth the trip.  I have never been in a seaplane before though, so it was a new experience.

Parry Sound refuelling seaplane
Refuelling our seaplane before we got on board.
Georgian Bay from the air 1
Georgian Bay from the air. Note the boats rafted up in one of the many anchorages.
Georgian Bay from the air 2
You can see all the small islands of Georgian Bay
Georgian Bay from the air 3
Some of the protected bays and inlets of the 30,000 Islands
Georgian Bay from the air 4
From the air you can see how clear the water is, and how many rocks lie just below to catch the unwary boater!
Georgian Bay from the air 5
Many of the islands have large homes on them, often built and maintained at great cost and only visited for two or three weeks a year.
Georgian Bay from the air 6
A last look at 30,000 Islands!

I have been musing over boat names lately.  It is interesting to speculate on why someone names their boat as they do.  Some are clever, such as our friends Brenda and Bruce on their catamaran B-Side (you gotta be old enough to remember 45rpm records).  Last year we met Loopers whose boat was Fun.  When calling marinas or bridges, they of course follow protocol, repeating the boat name 3 times.  They told us half the people who hear something like “Lock 23, Lock 23, Lock 23, this is Fun Fun Fun” have trouble responding they are laughing so hard.  (Not to mention hearing The Beach Boys in their heads for the rest of the day). Apres Sail ensures that everyone knows there are former sailors on board, and of course Nine Lives is named because she is a CATamaran.  Red Boat is a beautifully kept sailboat with a bright red hull and matching dinghy.  Some names clearly have meaning to their owners, but are not so obvious to the observer.  A boat called French Toast?  Sailboats are often evocative, North Star, Windrunner, Orion.  But I could not believe the one I saw at Henry’s.  This was a large, sleek, fast motor yacht, about 45 feet, (the kind that throws us around as they speed past us, throwing wakes that rock our boat madly from side to side), with a middle-aged couple on board.  The name?  Grand Wazoo.  Now I realize there is a recording by Frank Zappa by that name (quite nasty lyrics), but I cannot imagine the owner has actually looked up the meaning of Wazoo.  And what’s more, he is boasting that he is a really big one!  (my gentle readers are going to have to look this up for themselves).

Hole in the Wall
We ventured through the narrow channel known as Hole in the Wall as we left Parry Sound.

On August 6 we were again underway, this time hoping to tie up at what was called a “Government Dock” in Point au Baril Station.  After traveling a long way up the channel, we arrived in what looked like an interesting village to find no evidence of the so-called government dock, and a clear sign on the public dock saying that boats longer than 30 feet are strictly forbidden from docking.  Retracing our steps part way, we found a very pleasant anchorage in Kitsilano Bay for the night.

Kitsilano Bay anchorage
Our anchorage in pretty Kitsilano Bay in early morning.

Heading out the next morning we passed one of the iconic lighthouses of Georgian Bay.  In fact, almost all of the Canadian lighthouses I have seen follow a similar design.  Instead of the tall round tower that is more familiar in the USA or Britain, Canadian lighthouses are often a fairly short clapboard structure that tapers to the light.  They are painted white, with distinctive red trim.  Many are still in use, although most are unmanned.

Pointe au Baril Lighthouse 3
Pointe au Baril Lighthouse
Pointe au Baril Lighthouse
A closer look at Pointe au Baril Lighthouse

The next day our destination was Britt, up Byng Inlet.  We planned to stay just one night, but high winds in the Bay kept us there for 5 nights.  Not really complaining, it was only our second weather delay of this year’s voyage, compared to how much time we were stormbound in previous years.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much to Britt.  We rode our bikes into “town” to visit the post office, and ate a meal at the only restaurant on the way back.  We got together with other Loopers the first evening for docktails.  A few boats left the next morning, but we didn’t like the forecast.  Instead we spent a most enjoyable afternoon playing bridge with Brenda and Bruce and listened to the wind howling around us.  Saturday morning one of the remaining Loopers left at 7am, but were back an hour later reporting 4-foot waves (instead of the 1.5 foot that were predicted) and double-digit winds.  We had been just about to start our engines, but we shut everything down and made another afternoon bridge date.  Finally, Sunday with a 6:30am start we were able to say goodbye to Byng Inlet.  We are too large for the so-called small craft channel, especially on windy days, so we ran outside at our top speed of 18 knots.  It was unpleasant at first, but gradually the waves settled down.  We were glad we had taken the picture off the salon wall and generally prepared for rough seas.  We had forgotten that when it is very rough the water actually splashes up into the bathroom sinks.  Dick thinks this is an excellent way of clearing the U-trap of any accumulated crud.

We turned off Georgian Bay into Beaverstone Inlet and then made our way along Collins Inlet.  This was one of the most scenic routes we have seen.  It was a geology lesson in miniature, more rugged than further south, but stunning.

Collins Inlet 2
High water has killed many small trees at the water’s edge in Ontario this year
Collins Inlet 3
Spectacular scenery of Collins Inlet
Collins Inlet 4
Collins Inlet
Collins Inlet 6
A sailboat leaves the narrowest part of Collins Inlet.
Collins Inlet 7
Collins Inlet
Collins Inlet 8
A geology lesson from the waters of Collins Inlet
Collins Inlet 9
Approaching one of the narrow channels of Collins Inlet
Collins Inlet 10
When the channel is this narrow, it is important to “colour between the lines!”

In Killarney we tied up at Killarney Mountain Lodge.  The marina has good docks but inconvenient showers and unusable wi-fi.  Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable stop and I always like watching the boat traffic.  Docks there are long, requiring boats to be moored two-deep.  We arrived and were trying to tie up behind another boat, with a very strong current pushing us off the dock and dockhands who were very young, confused, and incapable of taking instructions.  The owner of the large boat in front of us was also trying to explain to us that he would be leaving in the morning and we should tie up elsewhere.  Apparently the Dockmaster had left for the day, and the young lady in charge was clearly inexperienced.  Announcing ourselves before arrival as a 44-foot catamaran with a 19-foot beam was apparently unclear to her.  Eventually we were moved to a more suitable slip.  Meanwhile, the other captain proved to be a very friendly and chatty individual.  He entertained us with his story of the morning before.  He had bought a muffin at the small kiosk on the shore, and was eating it when he noticed a small dinghy coming into the dock.  Helpful chap that he is, he stepped up and took the line and was just starting to tie it up when the Labrador on board lunged forward, snatched the rest of the muffin out of his hand and wolfed it down!  Apparently, the dog’s owner was desperately embarrassed and insisted on replacing the muffin.

Killarney Mountain Lodge
View of the Lodge from the docks
Killarney Mountain Lodge 2
Killarney Mountain Lodge

We ate at the nearby Sportsman Inn that evening.  Nice aspect overlooking another marina in the channel, food very tasty but rather overcooked.  The next morning Dick prepared one of his special breakfasts on board.  Later, I began working on the blog and became aware that someone else obviously likes Scottish music.  The music got louder, and I looked up to see the tall ship Madeline moving majestically down the channel with a piper on the foredeck!

Killarney Sportsman Inn 2
Fish supper at Sportsman Inn, tasty, but sadly overcooked.

Killarney is a small village about 25 miles from the mining city of Sudbury.  It relies mainly on tourism, including fishing camps, boating, and general wilderness pursuits.  It was first settled in 1820 by a French Canadian fur trader and his Anishinaabe wife, who established a trading post.  Road access to the small community did not arrive until 1962.  The town population is less than 500, but between the 4 marinas and two large hotels, it is bustling in the short summer season.

Killarney breakfast 1
Dick begins to prepare breakfast on board
Killarney breakfast 2
It’s ready, dishing it out!
Killarney breakfast 3
English bacon, two eggs (lots of pepper), mushrooms, hash browns and toast, yummy!
Killarney tall ship 2
Tall ship Madeline cruising through Killarney Channel. A piper plays bagpipes on the foredeck.
Killarney tall ship
Another look at Madeline
Killarney channel tugboat
A beautifully restored tugboat passing through Killarney Channel.
Killarney workboat
One of the large fishing vessels we have been seeing on Georgian Bay

We were delighted to see Brenda and Bruce arrive on B-Side the next day.  We keep saying goodbye and then find ourselves once again in the same place.  One of the great joys of Looping!  We relaxed in the shade on the very comfortable chairs and then repaired to Nine Lives foredeck for docktails.

Killarney Mountain Lodge docks
That’s B-Side on the left. Nine lives is behind on the right hand dock.

Dinner that evening at the Lodge was excellent, such a contrast to the experience at Sportsman Inn, even though they are under the same ownership.  Afterwards we went to the lounge to listen to the live entertainment.  This was a young man, who brought with him at least 10 instruments.  His music was a mix of Celtic and Canadian folk, with a few light rock thrown in for variety.  He was a very talented player.  What made his performance absolutely fascinating was a machine he called a “looper”.  He would begin playing an instrument, and the looper recorded it.  He would then play back the recording and accompany/harmonize, laying a new recording over the first.  It was quite an amazing presentation, especially when he would switch instruments to add to the mix.  He sang one song a capella, using two mikes, and gradually building up the chorus while singing the verses with the single voice.  A most enjoyable evening!

Killarney Lodge crab cakes
Crab Cakes at Killarney Mountain Lodge
Killarney Lodge venison
The special was venison en croute, Dick said it was delicious!
Killarney entertainment
Evening entertainment at Killarney Mountain Lodge
Killarney channel 2
The well stocked general store in Killarney, you can drive up by car, or by boat!
Killarney channel
Passing the Sportsman Inn as we leave Killarney

The next morning, we set off for Little Current on Manitoulin Island.  One must pass under a bridge, formerly a railroad bridge, now converted to a single lane highway bridge.  It opens only on the hour, but normally we would easily pass under its 20-foot height when closed.  We still approached very carefully, knowing that this year’s high water is at least 5 feet above chart datum, and were preparing to ease under when the bridge tender kindly stepped out of his hut and called down that the bridge height is 13 feet.  That would be 1.5 feet lower than we can duck under, so Dick had to reverse and wait for the opening, fortunately only 10 minutes later.  Not an easy job, the current under the bridge in Little Current is not so little!

lighthouse near Little Current
Lighthouse on the point as we approach Little Current
Little Current bridge
Once a railway bridge, now a single lane highway bridge at Little Current. It opens only on the hour to allow boaters to pass.

Little Current was first settled in the late 1860’s, and is the main town on Manitoulin Island.  An important port for Great Lakes shipping taking on wood for fuel in the 19th century, today lumber is still an important part of the economy, along with agriculture and tourism.  It is a well-kept village, with an outstanding municipal waterfront facility.  The town wall is available for short term docking, and several floating docks make up the marina.  Dick reports that the washroom/shower facilities are excellent, and well-spaced for access from all part of the marina.  This should be obvious, but believe me, in so many places it isn’t.  We were docked right beside the boardwalk.  It is always enjoyable to watch people and boats coming and going and chat with passers-by.

Little Current
Little Current

Our next stop was Gore Bay, a deep V-shaped bay on the north side of Manitoulin.  Docks at the marina are so long that the dockhands ride bicycles to get to the slip and help tie up.  It is interesting how different people have different perspectives and reactions to the places we visit on the Loop.  One Gold Looper we met waxed lyrical about Georgian Bay’s North Channel, telling us it is the most beautiful place he has ever cruised.  In addition to completing the Great Loop, his usual cruising ground is the San Juan Islands off the west coast, and he spent last summer in Alaskan waters.  To be honest, once we left Killarney and entered the North Channel, Dick and I are still waiting to see this amazing scenery he was talking about!  So far it is attractive, but by no means the most beautiful we have seen since beginning the Great Loop!  Another couple who cruise these waters most summers, when asked for recommendations by Dick, suggested spending two nights in Gore Bay.  Once again, we are wondering why!

The next afternoon we rode our bikes the 3 kilometers to Janet Head Lighthouse, at the top of Gore Bay.  The lighthouse is in private ownership, but it is open to visitors during summer months.  Janet Head Lighthouse was built in 1879.  The light, still operational, although now unmanned, can be seen for 11 miles into the North Channel.  The building was built as a combination light station and home for the keeper and his family.  The first keeper had 11 children.  We wandered around inside, and found it surprisingly spacious, with 4 reasonable bedrooms, parlour, kitchen, and another front room.  We could see that there is also a cellar, which would have been used as a cool room.  During summer months the lighthouse was a warning beacon for Great Lakes shipping.  In winter months it also directed sleighs carrying the mail along an ice highway from Gore Bay to Spanish between 1910 and 1924.  This 35 kilometer route is still followed by snowmobiles in winter.

Janet Head Lighthouse 1
Afternoon bike ride to Janet Head Lighthouse on Gore Bay
Janet Head Lighthouse
Janet Head Lighthouse

After visiting the lighthouse, we retraced our route and followed the bay around to its southern end.  There is an important wetland and salmon run, and a boardwalk with interpretive signs offers visitors a chance to enjoy nature.  We finished the day with excellent pizza at the restaurant near the marina.

Gore Bay
Gore Bay from the southern tip
Gore Bay wetlands
Wetlands at the southern end of Gore Bay

This update will likely be the last for a few weeks.  Upon arrival next week in Sault Ste Marie, we will be taking 10 days to return to Brighton for Dick’s mother’s 90th birthday party.  Returning to the boat, we will visit Sault Ste Marie and then make our way to Drummond Island, where Nine Lives will enjoy a well-earned rest for the winter.

July 16 to 31, 2019 – Peterborough to Wani Bay

Our return to the Trent Severn and initial travel up the Peterborough Lift Lock was uneventful.  This year it was executed in bright sunshine, good for pictures and a thus a more enjoyable experience than last year.

This picture of our approach to the lift lock is also a good visual for the “blue line” that I have mentioned occasionally.  In Canada, lock keepers do not use radios.  Instead, when you are ready to go through the lock, you move and tie up to the blue line that is painted on one or both sides of the lock wall.  The lock attendants see you and will then prepare the lock for you to transit.

Peterborough Lift Lock
Peterborough Lift Lock. You can see the Blue Line portside. This busy lock also has a blue line to starboard, so boats line up on the correct side for the descending chamber.
Trent University
Trent University spans both sides of the canal

Our first stop was Lakefield, home of Cassis Bistro and The Chocolate Rabbit.  No problem finding a suitable tie up along the lock wall, and we headed into town, looking forward to buying what we consider the best chocolate we have ever eaten.  All offerings are made daily in house, using the best Lindt chocolate from Switzerland.  Their beautiful and delicious liqueur chocolates are the best, colourfully decorated and filled with a creamy (and alcoholic) filling that is such an improvement over the more traditional hard coating over a liquid centre.  We made the owner (who remembered us from our two visits last year) laugh as we failed to agree on how many of the amazing treats we were going to need to carry us forward on our summer voyage.  Two boxes later, and a brief stop for more mundane groceries, we were able to return to the boat with our loot.  A double-check confirmed our fears for dinner plans.  The Bistro, which seems to be exactly our kind of place, has now been closed for all 3 of our 3 visits to the town.

Lakefield
Vegetable garden in a canoe. An alternate use if you are finished with paddling!

Just as important as fuel and fresh water, pump outs are part of our weekly routine and need to be planned, as not all marinas offer the service.  Peterborough’s machine seems to be permanently broken, and the town fathers in their wisdom have decided they will neither repair nor replace the system.  Instead a large truck appears at the dock by appointment.  The dockmaster strongly recommended finding another solution, as the oversize hose and high suction on the truck has been known to collapse holding tanks on pleasure boats.  I don’t even want to think about the consequences of that!  Our next opportunity was to be Lakefield Marina.  Dick phoned the night before, and was assured that their pump out was working and there would be space kept free on the fuel dock for us to come in the next morning.  On arriving and making a radio call we were told, sorry, the dock is full, we can’t help you.  We could see a number of large boats along the dock, but they were placed with large spaces between and could easily have been better positioned to leave the fuel and pump out facility free.  Onward to Young’s Point, and a completely different experience.  As soon as the dockhand saw that we were going to have trouble fitting into the gap, he asked the trawler beside the space if they would mind moving along to let us fit in.  Not only did the captain move his boat, he also helped catch our lines.  Happens it was a Looper, who we had met before, but I believe any boater would have obliged.

Hells Gate 2
The narrow channel known as Hell’s Gate in the Kawarthas
narrow channel
A narrow channel on the aptly named Stoney Lake

Our next stop was the lock wall above Burleigh Falls.  It is a pretty spot, very popular with picnickers and boaters, but quiet as evening falls.  Dick went walkabout and visited the falls that give the location its name.  From Burleigh Falls to Bobcaygeon was a short run, but the spaces on the lower wall that have power were already filled, so we transited the lock and tied up on the upper wall and used the generator.  Bobcaygeon is a bustling small town in the heart of Toronto’s cottage country.  It is the location of the first lock to be built on the Trent Severn Waterway, in 1833, and yet the village was not incorporated until 1876.  The history goes back quite a bit more, the site being visited by Samuel de Champlain in 1615.  It was not until the early 1800’s that the area began to attract settlers.  The lock, a sawmill, and a gristmill, followed by lumbering business, ensured further development of the village through the 19th century.  The railway arrived with passenger service in 1904.  Today the village serves as a hub for tourism and a location for services unavailable in the smaller communities around the Kawartha Lakes area.

Burleigh Falls
Picturesque Burleigh Falls

One more overnight was required before Lake Simcoe.  Last year we stopped at the bottom of the second lift lock on the system, Kirkfield.  It was a fascinating stop, and we had thought to stay there again this year.  A look at the wind forecast for Lake Simcoe suggested travelling on further that day, so that the next morning we would be able to get off the shallow lake before the wind came up in the afternoon.  Consulting our various sources suggested Lock 40 as the ideal stop, but on arrival at Lock 37 we were told Lock 40 was already full, both top and bottom.  Instead we tied up above Lock 38, in a residential area that turned out to be just delightful.  Cottages line the waterfront, with some natural area along the calm water of the small bay. One home with beautifully landscaped grounds features a distinctive red British telephone box.  Close examination through binoculars reveals a life-size blow-up doll in a bikini making a phone call inside.  A very British sense of humour!

Kirkfield Lift Lock 2
In the chamber at Kirkfield Lift Lock
Kirkfield Lift Lock
Looking waaay down before the Kirkfield Lift Lock chamber descends
Hole in the Wall 3
We approach Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall from Aisling Gheal
A fellow Looper and Endeavourcat owner took this picture of Nine Lives just past Hole in the Wall

After setting off the next morning we could see that our various books and information were out of date, and there were further options to tie up closer to the lake and avoid having to transit 4 locks in the morning.  However, none of the options were nearly as pretty as our stop, and all the alternates seemed to be home to more than a fair share of horseflies.  Arriving in a timely manner at Lake Simcoe, but not liking the look of the dark cloud all around, we ran fast to Orillia and arrived just after noon.

Orillia has a very pleasant town marina, nearly as good as the one in Trenton, just lacking in a fuel and pump out facility.  The marina is in the centre of town, so very convenient for shops and restaurants, including an excellent grocery store and the all-important liquor store.  It is a popular stop for Loopers, especially those who have learned the lesson about weekends.  What is that lesson you ask?  STAY PUT.  Weekends bring what seems like vast numbers of boaters who lack even the smallest sense of courtesy or consequences of their wakes.  In fact, we can only conclude that all too many think it is “fun” to come as close as possible.  If one is thinking the best, one assumes they are merely curious (as well as ignorant of the discomfort caused by their wakes), if one is not assuming innocence it does seem as though many of these boaters think bouncing and swaying of a wake is both fun and a desirable aspect of being on a boat.

There were at least 15 Looper boats in the marina in Orillia that weekend.  Friday evening, 30 of us gathered for docktails in the welcome air conditioning of the marina building.  This was the largest gathering of Loopers we have been part of since Norfolk last spring.  Interesting snacks were produced and many boat cards exchanged along with stories and plans.

Orillia bicycles collage
Some of the art installations on Orillia’s streets on a theme of bicycles.
Orillia mural
A colourful mural showing the history of Orillia.

Saturday morning after a quick vacuum and clean-up we were ready to entertain visitors.  Erika and Holger arrived first.  We had corresponded with them on several occasions.  They are also Endeavour 44 owners, and we were interested to hear that in fact they saw our Nine Lives some time before we did, when she was briefly for sale with a broker on Florida’s east coast.  Holger told us that timing was not right for them to buy (lucky for us!) but from then on, all boats they saw were compared to our Nine Lives, unfavourably as it happened! (If you are wondering, we do not mention the previous boat name, having gone through the important de-naming and renaming ceremony one should not remind the gods of wind and waves that there was ever a different name).  As Erika and Holger left, Martin and Louise arrived.  They have been friends for many years.  Dick worked with Martin even before we all moved to Calgary back in the dim and distant past of their careers.  It was lovely to see them and have a chance to catch up.  We will hope for more chances to get together now that Louise has also retired.

Dick with Martin
Dick with Martin
Louise and Louise
Louise with Louise
We are Loopers
We are Loopers! The flag says so!

That evening, at cocktail hour, Dick decided to pour himself a Caesar (a refreshing long drink made from vodka and clamato juice, not dissimilar to a Bloody Mary).  Several lip-smacking sips later, he chanced to examine the can of clamato juice, only to discover that it is actually a pre-mixed Caesar in a can, with the vodka already in it.  Nobody would ever accuse Dick of preparing a weak adult beverage, so his libation had double or perhaps quadruple the normal ratio of alcohol to juice.  No wonder it was so delicious!  Later we walked (one of us with a bit of a roll in his step) to the nearby Thai restaurant with our new friends from Visions and Second Princess.  Sadly, this was possibly our last get-together with them, as we are now past Second Princess’s final destination, and I have heard from Visions that they are many miles ahead of us on the voyage.

After a relaxing weekend in Orillia we left with a slight detour back to the boatyard at the south end of Lake Couchiching for a pump out.  This is the boatyard where we came to grief last year due to a combination of strong current, winds, and too many small boats ignoring all the rules of the road.  We slammed into the corner of their dock and punched a hole in one pontoon, fortunately well above the waterline (and beautifully and invisibly repaired this winter).  The dockhands remembered us, and the incident!  I was interested to observe (and why would I be surprised?) that girls do the best pump outs.  There was great care taken at all stages, and zero spillage.  Somehow it just isn’t in boy DNA to take such care!

After transiting Lake Couchiching we arrived at a railroad bridge that is just 6” too low for us to pass under when closed.  It is known for being very busy, with long waits for boaters to pass through because of the amount of freight carried by that line.  On arrival we were advised that the bridge was not working, and the attendant was waiting for someone to come out and look at it.  He took my phone number and promised to call.  That part of the river has a current and nowhere for us to tie up, so we backtracked into the lake and anchored along with 4 other Looper boats.  The nice young man did call me, so I spread the word and we started to haul the anchor.  It seemed as though half the weeds on Lake Couchiching had attached themselves to our chain and anchor, so we were well behind the other boats as we returned to the canal.  I got another call from the attendant to ask how far out we were, and he was very sorry to tell me that he had trains coming and would be unlikely to be able to hold the bridge for us.  When we got there, he had held it after all, which was very kind.  The delay cost us more than two hours on what was going to be quite a long day, so we realized we would not get to our destination, Big Chute, that afternoon.

We stopped above the lock at Swift Rapids.  There were quite a few other boats, so it was not exactly a peaceful stop, but the scenery was lovely and being on a lock wall meant that Dick was able to grill some of the steaks he had bought at the meat shop in Peterborough.  He also took the opportunity to install the part for the generator that had been delivered to us in Orillia.  More than a few sighs and occasional muttering later, the replacement hose was installed, and so far, the generator is running perfectly with no more leaking of coolant.

Swift Rapids dinner
Dick took the chance to grill at Swift Rapids. Most marinas will not allow you to grill at their docks.
fixing the generator
Dick repairs the generator
Swift Rapids
A peaceful morning with a little mist rising from the river at Swift Rapids

Swift Rapids is the highest of the conventional locks on the system, 47 feet.  On arrival at the bottom we were glad we had stopped above where it was much prettier and with a cool breeze to keep away insects.  From there it was a short drive to Big Chute.   There were originally intended to be a flight of 3 locks to take boats from the Trent River down the escarpment into the Severn River, but a problem with sea lampreys in the Great Lakes required an alternative solution that would keep them from getting into the Trent River.  A marine railway, or canal inclined plane, was proposed and built in 1919.  It operated successfully until 1978, when a new, larger railway replaced the original.

This was our second transit of Big Chute, so we didn’t need to tie up and watch, and we knew we would not need the slings.  There was nobody ahead of us, so we headed straight in after a very brief stop on the blue line.  Big Chute is the only marine railway still operational in North America.  It is basically an open railway carriage, 80 feet long by 26 feet wide, that drops into the water so that boats drive on, then the railway comes up out of the water and down the steep hill (a 60 foot drop) to the Severn River at the bottom.  The carriage travels on a dual track, with the front and back of the car on different tracks that allow it to remain level. At the bottom, the carriage drives into the water until the boat is floating again, and the boat then simply drives away.  Most larger boats require slings similar to the sort that are used to take them out of the water at a boatyard, but fortunately Nine Lives has fully protected props and rudder, allowing us to rest nicely on the bottom with no requirement to swing precariously in the slings.  It is still something of a knuckle biting ride, as the carriage shakes and rattles and you try not to look to hard at the rust on the supports.  Interesting thought it may be, we are glad to drive off at the bottom after a safe transit!

Big Chute 1
Big Chute Marine Railway. The carriage rises out of the water and crosses the road. Nine Lives is sitting on the floor of the carriage. You can see fellow Loopers in the observation platform, watching to see the operation before they trust their own boats to the contraption.
Big Chute 3
We are across the road and approaching the top of the slope.
Big Chute 4
Uggh, don’t look down!
Big Chute 5
Nearly down, looking back up the slope.

A short ride and transit through two more locks and several extremely narrow channels brought us into Georgian Bay, with a quick trip across in very calm seas to Victoria Harbour.  Here we enjoyed docktails on Nine Lives, followed by dinner at the nearby restaurant with Loopers on another catamaran.  B-Side is a PDQ, a Canadian builder, unfortunately no longer in business.  Their cats are both narrower and taller than ours, having a fly bridge.  It is always interesting to look at other boats on the loop, and we have all enjoyed seeing the similarities and differences between the boats.  Victoria Harbour also offers an excellent briefing for travel in Georgian Bay.  Dick attended and took his charts along to allow for annotations.  He said it was interesting, although with mostly the same information that had been presented at the session in Norfolk last year.  Not surprising, the Canadian Shield, being rock, tends not to change the way the sands of the ICW move around to catch unwary boaters!

The next day took us to Penetanguishene.  Last year we visited Midland, so we thought we would investigate the next bay over this time.  Although quite a lot has been spent on new sidewalks, parks, cycle paths, and an array of hanging baskets, the village itself has little to offer visitors, with few restaurants and all the stores being more repair depots than actual shops.  Dick rode his bike to the grocery store.  Brenda and Bruce on B-Side had a much more positive experience of the area.  They got tickets and went to the local live theatre production of Beauty and the Beast.  They tell us it was a very professional production, with excellent singers, actors and sets.  The town seems to attract a great many visitors, if the numbers of people walking around on the docks is anything to go by.  On our way in we passed many beautiful homes on the waterfront, so it was a surprise that the village looked so run down in spite of the money spent on the town marina and infrastructure.  So different from what we saw when we were in Quebec towns last year.

Penetanguishene main street
Penetanguishene Main Street. Expensive new sidewalks and pretty hanging baskets, but no real shops or interesting restaurants for visitors.

We enjoyed looking at H.M.S. Badger, a replica gunboat from the “golden age of sail”, the time of Nelson’s navy.  Capable of being moved by both sail and oars, these gunboats would carry at least one and up to three cannon on board.  Being small and manoeuvrable, they could operate in shallow or restricted areas, and could be used in stealth attacks on shoreline defences or larger ships. They were quick to build, and were often used in swarm tactics in a naval battle.  H.M.S. Badger was lovingly built from a Great Lakes lifeboat over two years of research and now sails regularly in the Penetanguishene area.  Badger went out one evening during our visit, but sadly I didn’t catch sight of them away from the dock.

Badger and B Side
Gunboat H.M.S. Badger at the dock, and that’s B-Side behind.

Dick spent the afternoon taking another run at diagnosing what might be wrong with the fridge.  It is a mysterious problem, with the freezer section working perfectly while the fridge section just seems to get less and less cooling.  The new part that Dick installed in Trenton (and removing some of the wooden slatting to allow more air circulation) made no difference.  Dick again pulled the fridge out from its slot (no trivial task) and by means of alligator clips he was able to determine that the problem is not with the thermostat.  A pity, because that would have been an easy fix, so we are almost certainly looking at replacing the fridge this coming winter.  Strangely, the messing about does seem to have had some effect, because while the fridge is still not working acceptably, it is definitely about 10 degrees F cooler than it was, so once again useable for many items.

Penetanguishene bay
A seaplane takes off in Penetanguishene Bay

In a bit of scenic one-upmanship, this part of Georgian Bay is called the 30,000 islands (as compared to the 1000 islands of the St Lawrence).  This is the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, stretching across the eastern part of Georgian Bay north to Parry Sound. The area boasts 8 Provincial Parks and a National Park, and is a mecca for boaters, campers, hikers, and cottagers.  The area was much loved by the artists from the Group of Seven, and the distinctive windswept pines on rocky outcroppings are part of the stunning scenery. Legend tells of a god called Kitchikewana, known for his great temper.  Disappointed when he was turned down by the woman he wished to marry, he grabbed a handful of soil and flung it into the Great Lakes, creating the 30,000 islands. The finger marks he left behind became the five bays. He then lay down to sleep, and is still there to this day as Giant’s Tomb Island. Probably just as well.

Penetanguishine park
A pretty town park in Penetanguishene with a statue of Kitchikewana.
Georgian Bay scenery 2
Some of the 30,000 islands in Georgian Bay
Georgian Bay scenery
More of Georgian Bay’s beautiful scenery. It is important to stay in the channel here, that rock is Canadian Shield, and you do not want to be bumping into it below the waterline!

Our first destination was Honey Harbour, a long inlet with several quite narrow and shallow channels, made more challenging by speeding local boaters.  We were amused to hear over the radio, “to the cruiser who just crossed my bow, are you new to boating?”  We chuckled, and sympathized.  South Cove Marina is almost exclusively large boats, and has a restaurant on site.  It is very much a full service marina, with both tie up and cast off help from dock hands, hourly trash pickup from dockside, and even collection at your car and transport to the boat for your provisions and suitcases!  It is also a very dog friendly marina, with lots and lots of tail-waggers to watch going to and from the boats.  We were especially charmed by an 8 week old golden retriever pup on the boat behind us, reminding us very much of our long gone Sam.  We enjoyed docktails with Brenda and Bruce on B-Side before heading to the restaurant for supper.  They left Sunday morning, braving the weekenders, but we are looking forward to meeting them again, probably in Parry Sound.

Honey Harbour 2
Scenery in Honey Harbour
Honey Harbour 4
Evening light near South Bay Marina in Honey Harbour
Honey Harbour 5
Still water in early morning
Honey Harbour 3
One way to get to and from your cottage from the city… no question, the rich are different!

July 29 found us at anchor in Longuissa Bay, a long narrow inlet off Musquash Channel.  Dick barely had time for a swim before his uncle Hans and aunt Cathy came chugging into the anchorage on their houseboat. We rafted up for the night, and enjoyed a convivial afternoon of swimming and naps for the old fogies (that would be everyone but me), followed by docktails and dinner on board Nine Lives.  Major squall warnings were being broadcast almost continuously over the radio for part of the afternoon and during dinner.  Even in our sheltered anchorage, Nine Lives swung continuously around the anchor and the trees on shore swayed and bent wildly in the winds.  We were very pleased that the anchor held fast, even with the added weight and windage of the houseboat. 180 feet of chain certainly offers a lot of strength, even though there is some suggestion that a mix of chain and rope is the preferable rode.

Longuissa Bay
Pretty Longuissa Bay
rafted up 2
Hans and Cathy rafted up in Longuissa Bay
rafted up
Cathy swam out with her camera to get a water level view!

The next day we continued our slow meander north, stopping for the night in Indian Harbour.  It was very pretty, especially at sunset, but surprisingly windy.  Other boats had trouble setting their anchors, and I never entirely trusted that we were not dragging.  I woke up many times in the night to check the anchor app on my phone to make sure we were still where we were supposed to be.

Indian Harbour 2
Indian Harbour
Indian Harbour
Sunset in Indian Harbour

It was a short step to Wani Bay, off Twelve Mile Bay.  The suggested anchorage near O’Donnell Point seemed both unprotected from the wind and full of a lot of rocks in overly deep water.  We were joined in Wani Bay by 2 other Looper boats including Bella Gatto, an Endeavour 36.  We all enjoyed docktails on the big foredeck on Nine Lives.

Wani Bay 5
Beautiful Wani Bay
Wani Bay 2
Wani Bay

In the next couple of weeks, we will continue making our way north through Georgian Bay and the North Channel towards Sault Ste Marie.

July 1 to 15, 2019 – Bath to Peterborough

A relatively short hop on a calm day took us from Kingston to Bath, Ontario, a historic community settled in 1784 by United Empire Loyalists. A sheltered harbour and road access to the important town of Kingston helped the town to become prosperous.  United Empire Loyalists moved north to British North America during and after the American Revolution.  Many settled in what are now the Maritime provinces and Quebec, but some started new towns in Upper Canada, that eventually became the province of Ontario.  The Crown gave the Loyalists land grants of 200 acres, to encourage settlement, and this began the first major influx of English-speaking immigrants to Canada. Not all stayed, many returned to the new United States, and others retained close ties, including commercial interests, with those they left behind.  Initially a bustling lakefront manufacturing centre, Bath began to lose importance as it was bypassed by important rail and road connections, until in 1998 it was disincorporated and added to Loyalist Township.  Today it is a sleepy village with some surprising subdivisions of prosperous looking middle class homes, presumably occupied by commuters to Kingston and retirees seeking a relatively quiet waterfront community.  We arrived on Canada Day, the July 1st celebration of Canada’s birthday.  The town puts on an outstanding fireworks display, which we enjoyed from the cockpit of the boat, only slightly obscured by an inconvenient tree.  We later learned that Bath’s display is well known, and considered far better than the one put on by the much larger town of Kingston.

The marina we stayed in had a boatyard, so Dick asked them to see if they could solve the problem with the dinghy motor failing to start.  I unfortunately missed the photo opportunity as Dick launched it and paddled it away to be hauled out.  The technician spent quite some time, but ultimately failed to diagnose the problem.  He did, however, suggest a work-around until Dick can find a Yamaha specialist.  This low-tech solution involves taking the cowling off the motor and stuffing a rag into the air intake.  A certain finesse is required to get the right moment to pull the rag out and replace the cowling while still keeping the motor running.  All this to be accomplished without falling out of the admittedly somewhat tippy craft, and preferably before untying the painter (that’s the rope that secures the boat to a dock or mooring) and risking an unplanned voyage!  Dick was surprised when it came time to settle the bill, as the technician felt badly that he could not solve the problem and charged for only one hour, even though he worked on it for several.  Excellent customer service.

The next evening was the main event for our stay in Bath, a reservation at a farm-to-table restaurant in nearby Portsmouth.  Dick had wanted to try it last year, but had decided it was too far from Kingston to ride bikes.  So of course, this year we stayed even further away and had to take a taxi.  It was an outstanding meal, the chef very involved with taking orders and serving.  He seemed to particularly enjoy chatting with Dick about boating and the Great Loop, and even offered to drive us back to the marina!  Dick may have ever so slightly regretted his gracious refusal when he paid for the taxi.  To add insult to the injury to his wallet, his phone slipped off his belt and was left in the cab.  A phone call the next morning was successful, the phone was found and they agreed to hold it for us at the depot for collection on the weekend.

Portsmouth appetizer
Beautiful presentation of a cheddar tart with tomatoes, shallots and arugula at Bayview Farm Restaurant in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth fish
Dick enjoyed a main course of Arctic Char
Portsmouth dessert
The dessert special was a maple cheesecake. Irresistible! And note the reasonable portion size.

Onward to Picton, a charming and artsy town in Prince Edward County.  The art and sculpture offered in the galleries is to a high standard, and the town is very tidy and prosperous looking.  Many of the historic buildings have been sympathetically repurposed, and there are interesting boutiques and restaurants.  On our first evening we found an outstanding fine dining restaurant in a gorgeous old house.  We had a wonderful meal, and hope to return at some point.

Picton restaurant
Merrill House in Picton
Picton vegetarian
I chose vegetarian, a delicious concoction of asparagus and chevre with quails eggs.
Picton dessert
Dessert was as glorious as the rest of the meal.

Prince Edward County is a beautiful peninsula, essentially an island, jutting out into Lake Ontario.  In early years Picton was a schooner port, manufacturing and distribution centre, first settled in the late 1700’s by Loyalists. Today the County is known as region producing good wines, as well as being a mecca for tourism and the arts.

Picton 4
Picton’s town centre

The next day we walked to the studio of a fantastic sculptor.  Paul Verrall retired from a successful career in Graphic Art and Design in Montreal, and returned to his first love, sculpture.  He carves wonderfully tactile pieces inspired mainly by Canadian wildlife, using the softer stones such as Soapstone, Serpentine, Alabaster, Cola and African Wonderstone (pyrophyllite).  We were truly blown away by his work, and spend quite a long time chatting with him and his wife.  For some reason Dick failed to correctly interpret my increasingly broad hints and eye movements, and we briefly left the studio empty handed.  However, it took zero negotiation before I rushed back to discuss and arrange to buy the piece we had both agreed was the one we could not resist.  A polar bear stands on the ice, with seals swimming below.  Like many of Paul’s works, it can be lit from behind or below to give an entirely different impression of the piece as the light creates a soft glow through the stone.

sculpture
Paul Verrall’s beautiful sculpture of a polar bear and seals under the ice floe.

Later that afternoon we were delighted to entertain Paul and his charming wife Donna on board Nine Lives for docktails and nibbles.  We are looking forward to renewing acquaintance when we return in August to collect our piece.

Picton 5
This year’s high water has had an impact on the marina, with some docks and even the new landscaping under water. But the ducks like it!

As we left Picton we passed a huge cement plant and quarry.  It is quite an eyesore, visible from miles around from the water, and of course from the opposite shore. Cement has been used since the times of the Greeks and the Romans, and the world uses a lot of it. The total world production of cement in 2010 was 3,300 million tonnes (according to Wikipedia), and use continues to rise.  It just seems rather sad that quarries and manufacturing plants seem to be located in some of the country’s great beauty spots.

Picton cement plant
The cement plant outside Picton
Picton quarry
Next to the cement plant is an enormous quarry

We arrived in familiar Trent Port Marina, happy to be located slightly closer to the showers this year.  This is the town where Dick was born, and his Mom lives nearby in Brighton.  We had hoped to dock in Brighton this year, but the high water has put so many docks under water that the only marina that would have been suitable is not available.  Trenton is a convenient place, with an Enterprise car rental within walking distance and plenty of shops and restaurants.  The first evening we took Mom to dinner at one of the Brighton restaurants that overlooks the waterfront.  We returned to Trent Port to hear the sounds of celtic music floating over the marina.  It was coming from a fellow Looper and Endeavourcat, Aisling Gheal (Bright Vision).  Jeff and Barbie play banjo and flute in their cockpit in the evenings, a delightful sound for the rest of us to enjoy!

Trent Port 2
I watched with interest as a large crane lowered a sailboat into the water in Trenton.

The next day we took the rented car to Brewerton (stopping on the way to collect Dick’s errant phone), and collected our vehicle that had been left in storage at the boat yard.  We drove back in convoy, and then left the Range Rover in Mom’s unused parking space at her apartment for collection when we return next month for her birthday party.  While in Trenton we also shopped at the Dutch delicatessen, picking up yet more goodies for docktail offerings.  Dick borrowed some of his brother’s saw horses but unfortunately, they were just not quite the right size and height.  The project was to take the fridge out of its slot and install a new part that the manufacturer had sent, in the hopes that it would solve our mysterious issue with cooling the fridge part of the side by side fridge freezer unit.  Last year some fans were added to the rear of the unit to try to provide more air circulation around the coils, but that didn’t work.  The new resistor should have worked, but sadly did not, even after Dick removed a couple of the wooden slats that were restricting air flow to the rear of the unit.  For now, we are referring to it as our “warm fridge”, and keep only items that are happy being stored between 40 and 50 degrees F in there.  We are very fortunate the Nine Lives has a lot of extra refrigeration space, so we can wait and try different solutions for this particular issue.

fixing the fridge
A shoulder is almost as good as saw horses at holding the fridge balanced on the counter while repairs are attempted!
Trent Port
Weeds are an ongoing problem in marinas. Trent Port has this very interesting floating machine that scoops the weed out of the water for later disposal.

Eventually it was time to start up the Trent Severn Waterway, repeating a part of last year’s voyage.  We planned to stop again in the places that we liked, and also choose some alternatives along the way.  The first glitch in the plan occurred the first night.  To our vast surprise, the somewhat lonely, and particularly salubrious stop above Frankford Lock proved to be a great magnet for Loopers.  Not only were there three boats that left Trent Port ahead of us who decided to stop, a further three boats that had arrived the previous day were enjoying themselves so much that they decided to stay a second night!  Six boats filled up all the spaces and we were forced to find an alternative stopping point further up.  Glen Ross was a safe if boring spot for the night, and the next day we continued on to Campbellford.

Trent River
A quiet section of the Trent River

Here we enjoyed an excellent meal at Antonia’s, a lovely restaurant tucked away on a back street that we had visited twice last year.  The chef retired from the Toronto restaurant scene, and was somewhat shocked at the lack of dining options in rural Ontario, so he and his wife opened their own restaurant.  Summers are good, but he told us that the winter was very difficult.  On our return to the dock we enjoyed some well played and very familiar sixties and seventies music by a great local family band in the gazebo in the park.

Campbellford 2
Boats tied up on the wall by the park in Campbellford
Campbellford
Concert in the park at Campbellford

Leaving Campbellford early to be first on the “Blue Line” for the lock, we managed to nip ahead of Visions, a beautiful boat that had been on the dock near us in Trenton and across the canal in Glen Ross.  The captain came up, hoping to negotiate a fit into the lock with us and another large trawler, to no avail.  However, we got talking, the usual stuff, “So are you really from Hilton Head?  Where do you live?  Wexford?  Really?  We lived in Wexford for 10 years!”  It’s a small world.  Jan and Bob Kossman were part timers in the plantation before we moved there.  Later we got together with them in Hastings for docktails, and then again in Peterborough.  One of the wonderful things about boating is that you meet such nice people, and then later you might well meet them again!  After docktails on Visions, Dick and I headed for the dockside restaurant.  It did not really seem like our kind of place, somewhat loud and a considerably younger crowd.  We had arrived on Karaoke Night.  Dick asked the friendly host to seat us “Somewhere away from this racket”, thus irredeemably relegating himself to Old Fogie status.  He got that indulgent look that the young give to the old and very eccentric, and the nice young man (who honestly looked like an Amish biker if there is such a thing), seated us outside.  We ate an indifferent meal and were in turn eaten by mosquitoes, but at least we weren’t deafened.

The next morning our friends on Visions were up and away at a seriously uncivilized hour to ensure that this time they would be first on the Blue Line.  We chuckled and finished our coffee and then enjoyed a very nice breakfast across the canal at the excellent local eatery.

Hastings
The dam at Hastings

We had tried to make a reservation at the marina in Peterborough some time ahead.  (Notwithstanding the requirement to avoid having a strict schedule, it does pay to make reservations in popular marinas for the weekends as soon as you can be reasonably sure that you will get there when you say you will).  We were told that they were fully booked with several large boating groups coming in for the music festival, but if we didn’t mind being without power, they would “fit us in somewhere”.  Upon arrival, we discovered that the “somewhere” is the free dock, at the far south end of Little Lake, that we were familiar with from last year when we met Dick’s uncle Hans and his wife there.  This T-shaped concrete dock is in good deep water, but it is popular with fishermen and geese.  The fishermen are not a problem, the geese, and their copious leavings, a bit more so.  As the dockhands (who had transported themselves by golf cart) tied us up, I was, possibly, somewhat undiplomatic in my comments.  Once we were settled, Dick rode his bicycle over to the marina, prepared with many arguments (including no security, power, water, or wifi) as to why he should be given a substantial discount, only to have the wind taken entirely out of his sails when he was told they don’t charge for that dock!  We did get to move to the marina for our last night, allowing us to do laundry and take on water.  Our spot on the free dock was immediately taken up by two other Looper trawlers.  It is a pretty location, as long as you don’t mind the geese.

After an excellent meal at an Indian Restaurant, we returned to the boat in time for the outdoor concert that had the marina filled and people parked on the side streets for miles around.  I gather the Crash Test Dummies were a very big Canadian band in the 90’s, and there was great excitement that they were reunited and performing at this concert.  Their music is described as Alt Folk Rock, but, sadly, from our perspective, there is an awful lot of Alt and not so much folk or rock… Being a famous band with commercial success, they of course played entirely their own music.  I could go to great lengths to describe and critique, at risk of sounding exactly like my parents, but suffice to say, not our scene.  Not that we had any choice, in spite of the bandshell facing away from us and being behind a large building, the sound was such that even with the doors closed we could not watch TV below in the boat.  Fortunately, nobody plays very late these days, so by about 9:30 everyone was leaving.  Our dock was then infested by a different kind of pest, teenagers, girls huddling and flirting, boys loud and showing off.  Eventually, the large gang left, but one of the boys stood swaying on the dock and asked, “Do you have a bathroom on board?”  I passed that one to Dick for fielding, and he very diplomatically (I thought), said, “No one is allowed on the boat.”  The fellow complemented Nine Lives and staggered away.

The next day we rode our bikes to several foodie shops.  The first is a British food shop that we visited last year, where we stocked up on English style bacon and Warburton’s crumpets.  Then on to a wonderful cheese shop.  In addition to all sorts of interesting condiments, they offer hundreds of different cheeses, both local and imported.  The shop owner is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and delights in offering tastings of all the cheeses.  I spied the Ossau Iraty, a sheep’s milk from French Basque country that was a favourite of mine when we were in Paris.  I said I just wanted to buy a big piece, didn’t need a tasting, and the owner was actually disappointed.  We made up for it though, by sampling about 10 different cheeses and then of course buying quite a few!  From the cheese shop it was a short step to a gourmet butcher and fishmonger.  We do have quite a bit of meat already in the freezer, but Dick failed to resist some steaks for the grill.  So far this year we have eaten very few meals on board, instead seeking out the nicest restaurants on our travels. Dick says that so far, our food budget is exceeding our marina budget!  This will likely change and we will be working our way through our freezer hoard when we get into Georgian Bay and the North Channel, with many fewer towns and opportunities for eating out.

In the afternoon Dick’s uncle George came and spent a few hours with us on the boat.  He retired from dairy farming some years ago, and now lives in Peterborough.  It was great to see him, and Dick enjoyed reminiscing and conversation about dairy farming and how it has changed since his parents and grandparents first emigrated from Netherlands in the 50’s.  Later on, Dick launched the dinghy and tested the low tech solution to starting the motor.  It worked well.  After a short tour around the harbour, Dick returned to the mother ship in a freshening wind.  It took several tries to position the dink so that I could catch the line and secure it.  I wanted to assure the audience (there is always an audience, especially when execution of a tricky maneuver is not quite flawless), that we are much slicker when we dock Nine Lives!

Peterborough Marina 2
Dick taking Minnie, the dinghy, out for a spin in Peterborough
Peterborough Marina
Oh my! The wind came up!

The next morning we headed out towards the Peterborough Lift Lock and further adventures.

June 16 to 30: Oswego to Kingston via the Thousand Islands

We left Oswego on a morning that was forecast to be good weather and calm seas on Lake Ontario.  Unfortunately, the passing weather system had roiled the waters enough that they had not quite settled down.  It also created quite a significant morning fog.  We went through the last lock and then pulled in to the marina dock for a pumpout and to wait for visibility to improve.  After an hour we had about 1 mile of visibility, so we set off.  Instead of the usual display of just the chart on the chartplotter, Dick activated the radar and set up a split screen.  We were following 3 other loopers, all with different destinations, but we could see them easily on the radar screen.  The light chop was uncomfortable at our regular cruising speed of 7 knots, so we gave her a fast run for a couple of hours.  At 18 knots the boat rides nicely over the chop, and we soon left the other boats behind.

leaving Oswego
Looking out onto a misty Lake Ontario. The chartplotter has a split screen, showing radar on the right hand side and the chart on the left.

We arrived in Sackets Harbour, and proceeded to Navy Point Marina.  Here we could really see the extent of the high water that this spring has brought to Lake Ontario and the 1000 Islands.  The large covered boat dock was entirely under water, as was the dock next to the one we were assigned.  Our beam meant that, as often happens, we were on the fuel dock, but it was not a problem because power was turned off to all the docks in the marina.  If you look at the picture you can see where the other dock is, with the power pedestals standing up above the water.  Unfortunately, any wake will almost certainly have washed water into the outlets on those pedestals, and I gather they are very difficult to dry out once that happens.  So it will be a difficult summer for any marina with fixed (as opposed to floating) docks this year.

Sacketts Harbor marina
The covered docks are submerged, as is the dock beside us. You can see the power pedestals sticking out of the water.

We loved Sackets Harbor, and wished we had planned to stay a bit longer.  The town was founded in the mid-1700s, and the main street has some beautifully preserved and tended homes.  The town takes good care of their heritage, and we enjoyed the beautiful municipal plantings that complimented the tree lined streets.  The village was the site of a major Navy shipyard, built specifically for the War of 1812. The shipyard and a naval station continued to bring prosperity through the 19th century, and Sackets Harbor was an important Great Lakes port.  By the early 20th century it was also a destination for families taking long summer vacations from the major cities of the Great Lakes and New York.

Sackets Harbor
Pretty waterfront homes and docks in the Sackets Harbor basin.

While Dick went off for his usual whirlwind walking tour of the village, I enjoyed people watching and listening to the live music floating across the water from one of the many waterfront restaurants.  A local eatery called Tin Pan Galley had been highly recommended, and we were disappointed to discover that they are not open on Sundays.  However, our spirits lifted when we were told that they had decided to open that day, in honour of Father’s Day, and they had a table for us.  It was one of the best meals we have had so far this trip, enhanced by the live music.  The musician played a variety of instruments, and mostly folk and light rock of the 60’s and 70’s, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Sackets Harbor
The patio restaurant Tin Pan Galley, with live entertainment
Sackets Harbor
A delicious presentation of Bagna Cauda

The next morning we set off for Cape Vincent.  Dick had intended to anchor behind the village breakwater, knowing that the docks would be under water.  We arrived to see that the breakwater is a favourite roosting spot for hundreds of birds, seagulls, cormorants, and even oyster catchers.  While it would have been possible to tie up to the breakwater, and the birds would have flown off on our arrival, we also knew that they would return, and as soon as it got dark and quiet, they would avail themselves of the decks of Nine Lives.  So, leaving aside the pitter patter of birdie feet across the deck all night, I asked Dick if he really wanted to clean all the resulting guano off the decks!  Dick decided I was probably right, and we headed for Clayton a day early.

Clayton Marina
Lots of Loopers in Clayton Marina

Clayton is another lovely St Lawrence village with a historic downtown, excellent shops and restaurants, and the main attraction, the outstanding Clayton Antique Boat Museum.  We pottered around the shops, stocking up on local cheese, sausage, chocolate, and some lemon infused vinegar.  Our visit to the boat museum was everything Dick had hoped.  There are both in-water and dry sheds, with a huge variety of wooden boats of all sizes and vintages.  We toured La Duchesse, an enormous houseboat built in 1903, and used for entertaining by George Boldt (more about him later).  This is a beautifully restored barge type of houseboat.  It has no engines, instead it was towed to its destination by a tug.  In addition to running water and flush toilets, the two storey home boasts two wood burning fireplaces, servants’ quarters, a dining room, and a large salon with a stained glass dome above a piano.  Impressive as the fireplaces were, we were told by the guide that the one time the owner tried to light the one in the dining room the flue didn’t work and the room filled with smoke!  An open fireplace is perhaps not the best idea on a boat anyway.

Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
La Duchesse, a 106 ft houseboat built in 1903.
Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
The formal dining room of La Duchesse, with a wood burning fireplace.
Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
La Duchesse salon, with the piano.
Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
The upper deck of La Duchesse. The white wicker furniture is original.

The rest of the museum was equally fascinating.  One whole shed is devoted to canoes of all kinds, from the dugout through sailing canoes to contemporary fibreglass and other materials.  Another shed shows the history of boat racing.  An in-water shed even offers short tours on some of the historic craft.  I found the whole experience quite nostalgic.  In the 1960’s and 70’s my family had a cottage on a lake in southern Ontario.  My Dad was very fond of boats, and at one point we had 7 of them.  He built a sea flea, a plywood hydroplaning boat that my brother and I loved to zip around the lake at ridiculous speeds, creating a noise that today I would find extremely annoying!  Dad was also persuaded to buy a classic mahogany boat, that he could parade majestically around the lake.  He would have loved the museum!

Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
Some of the wonderful historic boats on display
Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
Dick checks out one of the boats in the in-water display shed
Clayton Wooden Boat Museum
A hydroplaning boat similar to the Muskoka Sea Flea that my Dad built

There were several Looper boats in the marina while we were there, and one evening the Thousand Islands Harbor Host and his wife brought their boat down for the evening and a convivial docktails get-together.  Dick and I had cleaned Nine Lives inside and out that day, and it was a very pleasant evening sitting out on the foredeck watching the river, chatting with new friends, and nibbling on a charcuterie platter.

The next day we made the fairly short trip downriver to Alexandria Bay.  Here the municipal dock has had a second dock built on top, so it is still possible to tie up there.  There are two marinas beside the Town docks, both are under water, but that has not stopped them being open for business.  Fuel is dispensed by dockhands wearing wellington boots!  Our visit coincided with a biker’s meet in the town.  One might once have been concerned, but I was reminded of the comment from my neighbour in our UK house in Yorkshire.  Hawes is a mecca for bikers, especially on weekends, as they love tearing along the winding, hilly roads of the Dales.  John told me, “They won’t bother you, they’re all old men, young ones can’t afford those bikes!” This seemed to be true of the bikers gathered in Alexandria Bay, many of whom took a stroll along the town dock and looked at the boats.

Alexandria Bay
The fuel dock may be under water, but they are still dispensing gas and diesel!
Alexandria Bay
Bikers Meet
Alexandria Bay
An unusual and attractive old church.

From Alexandria Bay we took the first shuttle of the day to Boldt Castle.  Normally we would have been able to go there in our own dinghy, but the public docks are under water and only tour boats are allowed to visit.  We spent about two and a half hours wandering around the castle.  Boldt Castle was built by George Boldt for his wife Louise.  From his roots as a poor immigrant, he became wealthy as the owner of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.  He and his wife bought Hart Island, changed the name (and even the shape of the island) to Heart Island, and lived in the existing house while construction and transformation of the island began. There are 3 interesting towers.  The Alster Tower is sometimes called the Playhouse, and was supposedly intended for the Boldt children.  The Power House is situated on a point and housed the electrical and pumping machinery, as well as apartments for the engineers.  The Dove-Cote was the original structure on the island, containing a water tank and topped by an aviary where exotic fowl were housed (one presumes the tank was well covered…).

Boldt Castle
The dove-cote and water supply tower
Boldt Castle
The Power House

The magnificent main castle is certainly an exercise in conspicuous consumption and display of wealth.  The castle was never completed or occupied.  During the construction, Louise suddenly died, and the next day George sent a telegram halting all work.  All the materials had been ordered and were stored in warehouses, as was some of the furniture, and even marble statuary for the gardens, but the construction never resumed and George never visited the island again.  During WWII, the current owner of the castle allowed it to be stripped of iron, steel, and copper towards the war effort.  Over forty thousand tons of materials were removed, not very carefully, contributing to the speed of the deterioration over the 73 years that the castle stood empty and unfinished.  In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority took over the castle, the island, and the nearby Yacht House, and began a program of restoration.  We were very impressed with the care and quality of the workmanship.  This is more than a restoration, the Authority is actually completing the castle construction, furnishing rooms as they are finished.  It is a major attraction for the Thousand Islands, and contributes to the economy and tourism in the area.  It is estimated that in addition to employing at least 600 people, the castle contributed nearly $40 million a year to the local economy.

Boldt Castle
The main castle
Boldt Castle
The castle library

The next morning we set off before the local tour boats and circumnavigated the castle.  We also tooled around the nearby bay, off Wellesley Island, home of some stunning summer and full time homes, and the exclusive Thousand Islands Yacht Club.  We then headed north on the River towards Brockville, pausing to loop around Singer Castle on the way.  We had hoped to dock, but a sign suggested that it was closed that day.

Boldt Castle from the water
The Alster Tower in the foreground, main castle in the centre behind the trees, and the Power House on the right.
Boldt Castle Yacht House
Across the bay from the castle is the Yacht House, where George Boldt kept his boats.
riverfront homes Wellesley Island
Some of the beautiful homes on wealthy Wellesley Island
Singer Castle
A freighter passes Dark Island, home of Singer Castle
Singer Castle
Beautiful Singer Castle

We had intended to stop in the small village of Morristown for the night, but on arrival the marina appeared to be deserted.  Our reservation was made online, and there was no response to either radio hails or phone calls.  The docks appeared to be in very poor condition, with metal sticking out and parts under water.  We decided to see if we could dock in Brockville a day early.  On arrival the first task was to contact Canada Border Protection and check in.  Apart from a long wait on hold, it was a very easy process, sitting in comfort on the boat instead of the former requirement to stand at a pay phone!  Dick was duly given the check-in number, and I was very glad he wrote it down and told me where he put it.  A couple of days later two officers walked down the dock and asked me if we had checked in and to see that all-important number.

welcome to Canada
Dick puts up the Canadian courtesy flag on our bow.

We stayed 4 nights in Brockville.  This allowed time for local sightseeing and lunch with another Looper couple and the local Harbor Host.  We met at a tearoom called Cosies, run by a couple who emigrated from England 20 years ago.  Unusually (in my experience), they have not changed their offerings from traditional English fare.  Their breakfast is exactly what one would be offered in any good B&B in England, complete with black pudding and baked beans, although the bacon is the American style strips, rather than English cut.  For lunch they offer many very traditional English treats, including my absolute favourite prawns in Marie Rose sauce.  For our non-English friends, this means small shrimp in a pink sauce made of mayonnaise and tomatoes.  You can have it as an open-faced sandwich, or on an also traditional jacket potato (baked potato).

Brockville
Historic downtown Brockville

Dick took a train to Toronto, staying overnight at the Royal York Hotel, and then joining the annual reunion lunch of his former colleagues from Ingersoll Rand in the late 70’s.  I enjoyed my couple of days with my own company, and took the opportunity for a major session with the washer dryer!  I really enjoyed the people watching, as the marina is located on a spit of land that is a popular park for dog walkers, exercising, and visiting families. There is also a tour boat leaving from one of the docks, taking a 90-minute tour of the 1000 Islands.  At one point I was surprised to be hailed by an Indian lady accompanied by her extended family (about 20 people).  She asked where the 90-minute tour was going to take them.  I politely sent her along to the tour office, and then realized that she had thought that Nine Lives was the tour boat!

I also enjoyed watching two tall ships that were on the docks.  One was out in the river when we arrived, but the larger one was being fitted with spars and sails.  I watched the young sailors hoist one of the spars, and then fit it to the mast.  The next day they attached the sails, and then set off down the river.  There is a tall ship meet and race this year, that will visit a number of the cities on the Great Lakes, and both the ships in Brockville are part of the event.  I hope we have an opportunity at some point to see one under sail, although I suspect the timing won’t work for us.

Brockville tall ship
Tall ships docked in the harbour at Brockville
Brockville tall ship
Crew working on the spar on one of the tall ships
Brockville tall ship
Fair Jeanne leaves the harbour. I watched them rig the two spars on the foremast. It took two days.
Brockville tall ship
Fair Jeanne leaving Brockville

On the last evening I watched a sailing race out in the St Lawrence.  At least 20 boats raced down the river with spinnakers flying in the evening light. An hour later they returned and I had a front row seat while they made hair raising turns just short of running aground on the submerged outer docks of the marina.

Our next destination was Gananoque.  We enjoyed cruising back along the Canadian side of the St Lawrence, and were greeted on arrival at the dock by the local Harbor Host.  The next evening we were entertained by him and his wife in their stunning condo on the harbour for cocktails and chat with them and two other Looper couples.

Another highlight of the trip so far was a 1-hour helicopter ride.  We flew as far as Kingston, passing over Fort Henry, the city, Queen’s University and the Penitentary.  Our route then took us across Wolfe Island and along the US side of the River as far as Singer Castle.  The pilot pointed out the various sights, and also a number of wrecks that are visible from the air in the clear water of the river.  It was a fantastic tour, finishing with a loop over the marina in Gananoque where we could see Nine Lives at dock beside another Looper catamaran.

Thousand Islands by helicopter
Dick and Louise get ready to board the helicopter
Thousand Islands by helicopter
It’s a long way down, but what a view!
Thousand Islands by helicopter
Gananoque Marina. Nine Lives is docked right at the end, that is 900 yards from the marina office and showers!

From Gananoque it is a short trip up the river to Kingston.  We were too late to get in to any of the local marinas, especially as the weekend is a Canadian holiday and the traditional start of a great many summer festivals, fireworks, and of course boating.  With the high water, many docks are unavailable, so transient space is limited even more than usual.  We anchored in a bay disturbingly called Deadmans Bay, tucking in just before the Canadian Forces Yacht Club.  There were long swells coming up the bay from the river and Lake Ontario, so it was rock and roll for most of the afternoon.  Also, it was quite a boring place, with nothing much to see and no boats to watch.  In the early evening the waves calmed down and the wind changed, and suddenly we were facing the opposite direction.  We usually put out quite a lot of rode, so we were disturbed to find that we drifted right over a floating buoy.  This buoy slid under and around the boat all night, banging on the hull and making it very difficult to sleep. Add to that, in the early evening there was first a tornado watch, followed by a squall watch, urging us to “take cover”.  The next morning I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

Because we left so early, we were able to arrive in the next bay over, called Navy Bay.  The previous day it had been filled with a dinghy sailing race.  We anchored well into the bay, and enjoyed a wonderful peaceful day with lots to watch.  On one shore is Royal Military College (RMC), and as we watched a large group of cadets rig sailing dinghies and set out to race in the River.  On the other shore we could see the ramparts of Fort Henry, and one of the Martello towers beside where we anchored.  Later in the day another Looper boat arrived, followed by 5 sailboats.  This was certainly the most anchoring company we have had in years!

Kingston RMC
Royal Military College, Kingston
Kingston Fort Henry
Fort Henry and a martello tower, with a sailboat and a fellow Looper at anchor.

We enjoy listening to the “chatter” on the VHF radio when we are docked.  I tell you, the young men who handle the radio for the huge Confederation Basin Marina deserve medals, or possibly sainthood!  We listened to people calling in, many not using standard marine radio protocols and terminology.  Some of what we assume are our American boating neighbours kept calling “Confederate Marina”, and one boater became quite frustrated when his calls to “Kingston Marina” went unanswered.  Each boater is given very careful directions to find their slip, and about a third of them then get a subsequent call, “You are going the wrong way, please turn around and exit that channel and turn up the next one.  Apparently, the dockhands in bright red t-shirts are not easily seen…

Our next destination is Trentport, via Bath and Picton, and then after a few days pause we will head up the Trent Severn Waterway towards Georgian Bay.

June 1 to 15, 2019. Brewerton to Oswego with a visit to the Finger Lakes

Welcome back to the account of Nine Lives and her Great Loop Voyage!

We left off the story in September, 2018, after leaving Nine Lives in Brewerton, New York.  She spent the winter snoozing in heated, climate controlled, indoor storage while her crew did some travelling and even spent a few weeks at home in Hilton Head.

During the winter, the excellent team at Winter Harbor performed various expected maintenance and upgrade operations, as well as one or two additional, somewhat unexpected repairs.  We had a major engine overhaul and added several new gauges and alarms.  We now are able to tell that the solar panels are doing their job and charging the batteries, and we have alarms to show exhaust temperature heat, a faster indicator of trouble than engine temperature.  New house and generator batteries were installed.  Now the lighting in the cabin is brighter, the icemaker does not turn off the chart-plotter when we are underway, and we can stop overnight without shore-power and still have enough battery charge to make coffee in the morning!  New strainers were added to the air conditioning system that allow us to put in chlorine tablets.  These will stop marine growth inside the coils of the water-cooled system, and presumably improve the operation of the AC. The anchor up/down switches that had stopped working were replaced, as were the underwater LED lights.

There were also some cosmetic and not-so cosmetic repairs required.  Last summer, thanks to a nasty cross current and a badly sited protrusion on a fuel dock we put a small hole in the side of one pontoon, fortunately above the waterline.  Some good strong white tape kept water from splashing in, and the repair was scheduled for the winter.  When the Winter Harbor team looked for the damage, we had done such a great job with the tape, that they couldn’t find it at first!  Instead they discovered a much bigger hole, below the waterline.  When Nine Lives was built, the original owner added so much extra electronics and other features, that it was decided to add extra flotation to the pontoons.  This consists of a large tube down the side of each pontoon.  In the starboard flotation tube was a large hole, and the flotation tube was carrying 15 gallons of water inside.  Dick remembers noticing that there were some performance changes last year, slightly higher fuel consumption and minor handling differences.  No wonder, carrying around all that extra water!

boat repairs
A small oops, fortunately above the waterline!
boat repairs
The much bigger oops, that we knew nothing about!
boat repairs
That hole was carrying 15 gallons of water, fortunately not in the main part of the pontoon.

Last but not least, a new ice maker was installed, as the old one was no longer working properly.

Repairs complete, Nine Lives was put back into the water at the end of May, and was pronounced ready to go after a successful sea trial.  Her crew left Hilton Head on May 31st, and arrived in Brewerton on the 1st of June.

Various preparations were needed before we could set off.  Dick changes the oil and fuel filters himself.  This is a good way to observe exactly what goes on with the engines, and if a boater is able to do the job himself it is much better, as well as saving a whole lot of boat bucks!  We also clean the fresh water tanks ourselves.  This means adding bleach to the tanks, running it through the system and then leaving it to sit overnight.  Next day needs two complete fills and empties to get all the bleach out of the system, and finally the Seagull filter (that filters bacteria as well as impurities out of the drinking water tap and the ice maker feed) is replaced.  Cleaning the fresh water tank annually and always filling with our own hose ensures that we can safely use the water on the boat just as we would the water from the taps at home.  My job was to put everything away, make beds and organize the pantry, and prepare the provisioning (grocery) list.  I also spend a few hours making up little bags of cloves, using sacks designed for making your own teabags.  These little bags are distributed in all the pantry cupboards, and are intended to discourage ants.  I read about this on a sailing blog, and have done this each year, replacing the bags roughly every 6 weeks.  So far so good, and knock on wood.

preparation for voyage
Taking a look at all the wiring behind the TV. Who knew all that was back there!
preparation for voyage
Checking out the dinghy, making sure it starts.
preparation for voyage
In theory, these little bags of cloves discourage ants. They do make the cupboards smell nice.

At last we were ready to set off on Tuesday June 4th.  We had an easy few hours on the Erie Canal, passing through two locks, and retracing our trip from last autumn to Baldwinsville.  We were pleased to find that our locking and docking skills had not deteriorated from disuse over the winter!  We like Baldwinsville, and particularly enjoyed a second visit to the restaurant called “The Chef and The Cook”.  It is an interesting place, with two sides to its regularly changing menu.  The cook’s side offers somewhat more familiar, although still quite innovative dishes, while the chef tends to be quite experimental.  Dick particularly enjoyed his unusual appetizer, carrots prepared in 5 different ways with a small piece of roasted pork belly.

first night underway
Opening our traditional bottle of bubbly after our first day out.

June 5th took us into new territory, as we followed the Erie Canal west to the Cayuga Seneca Canal and then headed south.  There are beautiful homes lining the Erie Canal for some miles west of Baldwinsville, many with extensive landscaping and interesting dock facilities.  The Cayuga Seneca Canal connects the Erie Canal with Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, allowing industries on the shores of both lakes plus Seneca Falls and Waterloo to have access to the Erie Canal and ultimately to Lake Ontario, or even the Atlantic ocean via the Hudson River.  Begun in 1813, added to and improved through the rest of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal carried goods as wide ranging as flour, potash, pork, whiskey, lumber, and wool.

As we passed through the extensive lands of the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, that encompasses part of the Erie Canal and the first few miles of the Cayuga Seneca Canal, we were surprised to see a huge brown bird fly overhead.  It looked just like a juvenile bald eagle!  A little google research proved us right.  There are at least 6 occupied bald eagle nests in the Refuge, and a number of juveniles remain in the area.  Altogether we saw 3 juveniles and 4 adults on the two days we travelled through the Reserve.

We spent the night tied to the wall below Lock 1.  The next morning, we set off south, hugging the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake.  The shore is lined with cottages of all vintages and sizes, ranging from tiny cabins to large mansions (and the occasional glimpse of one of the area’s wineries).  Many of these cottages are built on the cliffs above the shoreline.  Often all we could see was an impossibly long staircase disappearing into the trees.  Having been part of the “cottage country” lifestyle as a teenager, and knowing just how much of a pain it is to carry all your provisions up and down a steep hill to and from the water, I looked at these stairs without envy!

Cayuga Lake east side
Cliffs and a waterfall on the eastern side of Cayuga Lake

Summer has only just arrived here in northern New York State.  Lockkeepers and fellow boaters commented that this was the first nice weather of the year, and we could see many boats still shrink wrapped and out of the water in the various marinas we passed.  Even some of the trees have clearly only just leafed out.  However, this means that temperatures are pleasant, and we are enjoying cool nights and no need to run the AC.

Near the southern end of the lake we passed a huge mine.  Cargill owns the controversial salt mine, situated at the edge of the lake and tunnelling deep under the centre of the lake.  The first mine was built in 1915, but was unsuccessful and shut down.  In 1921 a deeper shaft was sunk (2000 feet) and produced commercial grade salt.  The mine was purchased by Cargill in 1970.  Salt is produced mainly for the road de-icing business, with some also for residential de-icing. The 7 mile long shaft produces 2 million tons of raw salt a year.  When Cargill decided to drill a new 2500 foot shaft, a lawsuit was filed to halt the initiative, suggesting that the mine has an adverse effect on the salinity of the lake.  The lawsuit was filed in 2017, and is still awaiting a court decision.  Meanwhile, Cargill continues its preparations for the new shaft, that has already received approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation. The mine employs 200 workers, and contributes millions to the local and state economy.

On our travels around the country, we have commented many times on how it is clear that towns that once thrived are now barely holding on.  Industries that once anchored the towns and villages have shut down or moved away, family farms are closed, and there is not enough population to sustain local businesses.  A lawsuit that holds up a commercial initiative, even though it has already been approved, is a common theme for so many industries, and has to contribute to the many corporate decisions to simply abandon long established factories in favour of more commercially friendly locations.  I shall now step down off my soapbox.

Cayuga Lake east side salt mine
The huge and controversial Cargill salt mine complex on Cayuga Lake

We arrived in Ithaca, at the south end of the lake, in early afternoon.  Multiple attempts had been made to make a reservation at the large, State-run marina, without success.  Given that it was a weekday and very early in the season, we thought we would just take a chance and show up, and if necessary, anchor somewhere if there was no room for us.  Fortunately, an empty T-head presented itself, because we soon realized that all the slips designated for transient (visiting) boaters had an inconvenient post in the middle of each slip, limiting the accommodation to boats of less than 15 feet beam.  We met the dockmaster, who told us she knew the dock we were on was available that night and we were fine to stay.  She also explained that she has to be out on the docks all day, rather than in the office, and does not answer the phone, allow or return messages, and does not have a radio to communicate with boaters.  While we were there, I watched her replace 3 old boards in the dock.  Clearly, New York State has decided that the extensive and well-built marina needs only a single employee as a jack-of-all-trades.  I can only imagine the chaos in busy summer months.

Fender Boards
Ithaca saw our first use of our new fender boards. These keep the boat from scraping on the dock when the construction has pilings on the outside of the dock.

Ithaca is a nice town, we know from our visit by car last autumn, but it is all but impossible for boaters.  The area is too hilly for bicycles, and the town centre is a long way from any docking facilities.  The one riverside restaurant is far enough away that we needed to ride bicycles rather than walk, and while they do have their own dock there doesn’t seem to be any way of using it.  So we were fine with just spending the one night there.

There is a tourist boat docked in the marina, and I watched as a large tourist bus decanted about 30 Amish tourists.  All the women wore the typical white bonnets and long dresses, while many of the men sported beards of varying lengths.  I don’t know enough about the Amish people to understand why they use horse and buggy for personal travel, rowboats without motors for fishing, and yet travel in large coaches and cruise on sightseeing boats.  Something to research some rainy day perhaps.

Ithaca tour boat
Tour boat with Amish visitors

On June 7th we travelled north, hugging the western shore of Cauyga Lake.  We passed Sheldrake Point, a very pretty part of the lake with some lovely old homes, working farms and a winery.  I was particularly interested because my father’s Yorkshire mother was a Sheldrake, and it is a relatively unusual family name.

Cayuga Lake west Sheldrake Point
Pretty Sheldrake Point on the west side of Cayuga Lake

After turning back into the Cayuga Seneca Canal, we arrived at Seneca Falls and docked on its very boater friendly town wall.  There is a long wall with power pedestals and good cleats on both sides of the canal, with sections of lower floating dock to allow for smaller boats, while larger craft are made welcome on the higher walls.  The boater facilities include excellent showers and toilets, and even laundry facilities.  Such a contrast to other towns, that could equally make boaters welcome and yet allow their docks to become derelict, or fill them up with commercial tour boats.

Seneca Falls Nine Lives docked
Nine Lives on the boater friendly dock in Seneca Falls

We liked Seneca Falls.  This is clearly a town that is making efforts to improve the downtown and attract tourism, in spite of losing local industry.  Goulds Pumps, founded in 1848, still maintains their headquarters in the town, but the Seneca Falls Knitting Mill has shut down.  Situated in a beautiful old limestone building on the canal shore, the knitting mill opened in 1844, making socks until 1999.  The company held the last two patents for socks in the US, but the owner decided to sell the patents to a German company, and the business has gone to Europe.  Fortunately, the historic building is gaining a new lease on life as the new home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  It is a good fit for the town, which is known as “The Birthplace of Women’s Rights”.

Seneca Falls knitting mills
The beautiful limestone future home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame

On July 19 and 20, 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention was held.  Its purpose was “to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.”  It is considered by many to be the event that triggered and solidified the Women’s Rights movement in America.  One should note that the Suffragette Movement in Britain was founded in 1903, more than 50 years later.  Seneca Falls is now the home of the Women’s Rights National Historic Park.  The Wesleyan Chapel, where the Convention was held, has been restored, a visitor centre is situated next door, and two of the homes of the organizers of the Convention are all part of the Park.

Seneca Falls Womens Rights Park
The restored Wesleyan Chapel where the Convention was held
Seneca Falls
Downtown Seneca Falls

The next day, Saturday, we followed the Canal to the head of Seneca Lake.  The last four bridges crossing over the canal before it joins the Lake, were, shall we say, interesting.  The final one is nominally 17.3 feet above the water, and we had already lowered our antennas in anticipation, but given the high water the whole area is experiencing, we decided I should stand outside and we would approach very slowly, ready to back off if necessary.  The first 3 were quite close, but as we passed under the rusty girders of the last one, I could see just inches above our radar array.  Our air draft is 14.5 feet, and we should be a little lower with a nearly full load of fuel, but I certainly would not have wanted to pass under that bridge in choppy water.  A lockkeeper later told us that the canal has been raised 6”, and the lake a full foot.

Travelling close to the eastern shore of Seneca Lake we could see lots of cottages and homes of all sizes and ages.  Eventually we arrived in Watkins Glen, after carefully dodging a sailboat race.  The T-head had been reserved for us, but it was already partly occupied by one of the many speedboats that were out and about on the first nice day of summer.  Apparently, the owner felt that the “Reserved” sign did not apply.  Fortunately, our docking skills (and no wind to speak of) stood us in good stead and we successfully docked without crunching him.

The friendly boating facility in Watkins Glen is an example of how to get it right.  There are lots of transient slips of all sizes, and a lively restaurant right at the marina.  Boaters are free to come in and tie up while visiting the town or the restaurant, and are only asked to pay if they want to stay overnight.

Watkins Glen marina
The busy and well run marina at Watkins Glen

Saturday evening, we entertained our first visitors of 2019.  Bill and Louise Wirz joined us for drinks and chat on the boat, and later we went for dinner at one of Watkins Glen’s nicer restaurants.  Bill was a colleague of Dick’s from Dresser Rand, so there was much reminiscing, and of course shaking of heads about the direction the company has taken since Dick retired.  Bill is newly retired, and is easing into the new lifestyle, keeping busy with Habitat for Humanity and other pursuits while his wife continues working for another year.  It was a most enjoyable evening.

Watkins Glen
A historic building in downtown Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen
Downtown Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen
The World’s Smallest Diner!
Watkins Glen gorge
Dick hiked up the Gorge in Watkins Glen

We had intended to leave Watkins Glen on Monday, but the weather forecast was not good, so we stayed an extra day.  As we did last year, we try to stay in a marina on weekends, in order to avoid all the mad boaters who get out on the water and tear around, waking everybody and just generally being a nuisance!  Tuesday morning, we headed north, following the western shore, hoping to stop overnight in Geneva.

Watkins Glen is home to two salt producing operations.  In the town, Cargill operates a refinery that is a brine operation (as opposed to a mine). Steam is introduced into two wells, creating a brine that is then pumped up and processed into products including granulated salt for food, water conditioning pellets, and agricultural salt.  Just north of the town is another brine operation operated by US Salt. This taps into a brine well 1500 feet below the surface, discovered in 1882.

Seneca Lake salt plant
US Salt on Seneca Lake

On arrival in Geneva it was clear that the negative reviews we had read about their dockage were quite accurate.  Although there are quite a few spaces on floating docks behind a breakwater, the docks are very short, with space for only one large boat such as ours.  That space was already occupied, so we turned around and headed back to Seneca Falls.  And town fathers wonder why they cannot attract enough tourists even though they ignore the opportunities from boaters!

In Seneca Falls we were reminded again of how unusual Nine Lives is.  People comment and ask questions as they go by.  It is very interesting to notice how different are the reactions of men versus women.  Men get quite excited by the boat, and will call out across the water, “What a great boat!”  Women, on the other hand, are interested in the name, and I hear them pointing out the name to each other “Nine Lives, Nine Lives”. This month, all the women seem to be getting quite excited by the dinghy.  I hear comments, “Oh and look, a little boat!”  Two women who stopped to chat about our boat and our voyage were more interested in Minnie (the dinghy), wanting to know what we would do with the little boat.  Of course, we love answering any and all questions and I am sure Nine Lives bobs up and down with pleasure when she hears all the compliments.

Seneca Falls sculpture trail
In addition to its many other attractions, Seneca Falls has an interesting sculpture trail.
Seneca Falls church
The beautiful Trinity Episcopal Church on the canal in Seneca Falls
Seneca Falls church
The Anglo Gothic architecture of Trinity Episcopal Church

As we made our way back to Baldwinsville the next day, I was able to sit out front with my camera and big lens and watch for eagles and other interesting wildlife as we passed through Montezuma NWR.  In addition to the eagles, we saw other raptors including osprey, a small hawk, and a group of vultures.

We passed the ruins of the Seneca River Aqueduct.  Opened in 1857, the second longest aqueduct on the system carried the original canal over the Seneca and Clyde Rivers.  It was dynamited in 1910 to make room for large barges to pass on the Erie Barge Canal. It was 840 feet long, with 30 piers and 31 stone arches.  The ruin is an impressive sight.

Seneca River Aqueduct ruins
Impressive ruins of the Seneca River Aqueduct

In Baldwinsville we were delighted to entertain our second visitor of the season.  Barbara Kubiak is a wonderful photographer who I met many years ago when we lived in Olean.  Her family is from Baldwinsville, so she was willing to make the 3 hour drive to get together with us.  I showed her my pictures of eagles and songbirds from Alaska, and she shared her images of Cuba with me.  A most enjoyable afternoon, followed by dinner in one of Baldwinsville’s many restaurants.

We left Baldwinsville on Thursday morning very early, hoping to dodge the raindrops, but with a total of 8 locks to transit we did get quite wet.  We are tied up to the free wall in Oswego, fortunately above the last of 3 locks, because as I write this (Friday) there is a big windstorm.  Wind coming up the river, against a strong current from all the rain going down the river, has made for some really heavy chop at the dock below the last lock.  Dick was just there, and reported that the big boat we saw pass us earlier is bouncing up and down.  We don’t envy those aboard.  The only downside of our free dock is that there is no water or power.  Fortunately, we can run the generator to get the hot water tank up for showers, and the solar panels are at last doing their job and charging the batteries for much of what we need.  Cool weather means no need for air conditioning, which is the biggest power draw.

(Saturday) We are watching the weather closely, and expect to be able to leave tomorrow morning with light winds and calm seas on Lake Ontario.  Yesterday afternoon we were joined on the wall by two other Looper boats.  An invitation to join us on Nine Lives for drinks and chat was well received and we enjoyed a convivial couple of hours swapping stories.  We have an app that lets us see where other Loopers are, and could see that at least 10 boats were staging themselves on the canal well south of Oswego.  This morning the news came that there are two major problems at Phoenix, and the canal is closed indefinitely.  As I said to Dick, when you can see the good weather coming, doesn’t it make good sense to get as close as possible, rather than hanging back and counting on there being no issues with the canal! We had thought to see a big group arrive today, but at this point it looks as though there will be just two other boats at most joining us here in Oswego.

I wrote fairly comprehensively about the interesting and historic town of Oswego when we were last here in 2017, so I won’t repeat it all again.  Enough to mention that it is an important and historic port town, situated as it is on the shores of Lake Ontario.  There is a marine museum with a WWII tug, restored Fort Ontario, and some interesting shops and restaurants.  The commercial port is still active, although small by modern standards.  It is the first large American port city west of the St Lawrence River.  Over one million tons of goods are still shipped from the port.

Tomorrow Nine Lives will be on the move again, heading for eastern Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands, and then on to Canada and eventually the Trent Severn Canal.

July 25 to August 13, 2017. New Jersey to Beaufort NC

Retracing our steps

Our stay at Great Kills Yacht Club in New Jersey was very enjoyable.  Without question it was the friendliest yacht club we have visited.  Each day there were people working on their boats or in the evening spending time in the bar.  Most made a point of chatting to us, and several came along the dock to look at Nine Lives and ask questions.  She likes that kind of attention!  We rode our bikes into town and found a very nice Italian grocery.  Although we didn’t really need any provisions we couldn’t resist a few things on the shelves.  We also rode over to the park on the Atlantic side of the basin.  We were amused to see many people relaxing and sunbathing on lounge chairs set up in front of their cars in the parking lot.  Wide sand beaches and acres of grass were completely ignored in favour of being within spitting distance of the car!

Eventually we got a one day weather window that was enough to get us to Atlantic City.  Here we were again stopped for several days.  We had planned to stay at a large marina in front of one of the casinos, but it was fully booked for the weekend and instead we docked at a small family run facility across the basin.  The Coast Guard Station was opposite, and we could hear Reveille and Taps across the water each morning and evening. The next day a huge out of season nor-easter blew in.  The waves were right on our beam, which meant rocking from side to side so much that one of our lines frayed nearly through.  We had to get out at the height of the storm and move the boat further into the slip and retie everything.

We did have an interesting stay in Atlantic City apart from the storm (which was a different kind of interesting).  We rode our bikes all the way along the boardwalk through both Atlantic City and Ventnor.  The dreadful tourist souvenir shops, attractions,  and hot dog stands show that the British by no means have the monopoly on tacky when it comes to seaside resorts.  On the other hand, the mostly closed casinos are fascinating architecture, and it is rather sad that they are so quickly becoming derelict.  Ventnor is entirely different, with large gracious homes with beautiful gardens all along the shoreline. Atlantic City is trying to diversify their economy, and local residents are quite pleased that there is a university currently building a new campus near downtown.  Why they would not take over one of the enormous empty casinos I do not know, probably the casino owners or the debt holders are holding out for more money than it will take to build a new campus from scratch.  One can only shake one’s head at the waste.

Shortly after our arrival another boat came in to the marina and the captain walked over and introduced himself.  It was a sailing catamaran, also built by Endeavour (the builder of our boat).  We enjoyed two evenings of docktails with this very nice couple, and it was fascinating to compare the similarities and differences in the two boats.

Finally, the weather calmed again and we made a fast run to Cape May.  We tried a different marina this time, and hope to return and spent a bit more time next year.  The town seems very quaint, with lots of interesting shops and restaurants to visit.  The next day was also calm and we were able to proceed up Delaware Bay and through the C&C Canal to Chesapeake City.  This is a lovely little town, that has done a wonderful job of sprucing itself up and turning into a boater’s destination.  We docked at one of the restaurants, and even though it was a weekday it was packed until very late, both the fine dining restaurant and the more casual outside deck.  We enjoyed a great meal in the dining room, lobster for Dick and red snapper for me. The houses in the village are beautifully restored, not just the mansions, and most have nicely kept lawns and gardens.

Our next challenge was to make our way down Chesapeake Bay.  The forecasts were good for the mornings, but blew up each afternoon to small craft warnings.  Our first stop was Annapolis, staying two nights.  We made a good run to Solomons, where we filled up with fuel and stayed two nights again.  This time I joined Dick on a bike ride around the town, and later we rode our bikes to the restaurant for dinner.  We liked Solomons on both our visits, and plan to stop there again next year.

Having taken on fuel, we decided to make a single high speed run to Portsmouth, rather than stopping overnight part way.  We left by 6:30 am, and made it to our destination before the daily blow up of wind and waves.  Being a weekend, we had to dodge sailing boats that were busy tacking back and forth across the channel, as well as watching for the huge wakes being thrown up by weekend fishermen.  No military vessels or cargo ships to avoid this time, but at least those are predictable when they are underway!

Portsmouth is struggling to attract visitors, especially with extensive new waterfront facilities across the river in Norfolk.  They have many beautifully restored homes and downtown buildings, but as so often happens with these old towns, they don’t seem to be able to attract the mix of shops that will make downtown liveable.  We spent nearly an hour in a wonderful antique shop, and then another happy hour in one of the most interesting kitchen shops we have seen.  So many unusual gadgets and things that you never knew you needed! For the most part, we resisted temptation. The Portsmouth lightship is one of a very few lightships.  They were used when construction of a lighthouse was not practical.  Can you imagine spending time on a vessel like that, rolling around in heavy seas, not to mention climbing up to tend the light!

After a two night stay in Portsmouth we set off down the Elizabeth River and onward to the small town of Coinjock, about an hour north of the Albemarle Sound.  Almost immediately we were held up by a railway bridge that is usually in the open position, but it was down for a train to pass.  After fifteen minutes of stooging around (an important skill for mariners that involves maintaining position in a channel without running onto rocks or into other vessels while waiting for a bridge or lock to open), the bridge lifted and we could proceed.  That fifteen minutes put us behind on all three subsequent bridges and the single lock, turning what should have been a three hour trip into nearly five.  The offending railway bridge is next to an unusual style of highway bridge, that lifts instead of opening.  We have seen this type of bridge for railways (usually open) but never for a highway.  Just after we passed it lifted for a boat that was too tall to fit under, quite interesting to watch.

Albemarle Sound is one of the two crossings that I had been dreading, as it is very shallow and winds pile up the waves and can make a miserable trip.  This time the winds were higher than I would have liked, but they were behind us, so in theory it would not be so bad.  As the day progressed it got rougher, whitecaps appeared, and there was a corkscrew effect that made Tucker and I most unhappy.  At the end of the crossing there is a zig zag required to get into the mouth of the Alligator River, so that put us broadside to the waves and made things worse.  Fortunately, it was a short time before we were tied up at the marina and I could sit still and be quiet for a while!  We watched two sailboats make their way into the marina a bit later.  The broadside whitecaps had them wallowing, and even experienced sailors find that much rolling very uncomfortable.

That evening we invited the couple on one of the sailboats to join us for docktails.  Such an interesting life they are leading!  They left Falmouth, England, in 2008 on their two masted sailboat headed for Spain and the Mediterranean.  A year later they crossed the Atlantic to Brazil, and spent time there, and in Uruguay and Argentina.  Some years on they came north, with stays in Panama, Cuba, and other Caribbean islands before crossing to the US and making their way north on the ICW.  Their current destination is the Chesapeake, and after that, they will go where the wind takes them!  An adventurous life that would not suit everyone, but what wonderful experiences they are having!

Our trip down the Alligator River to Belhaven was dry and uneventful, in spite of threatening skies.  In calm weather this part of the trip is two hours of boredom followed by two hours of tedium, but that is better than the excitement of a rough passage! Perhaps Belhaven is an interesting town, but apparently August is low season, and the best restaurant closes for 3 weeks.  There were very few boats in the marinas.  It is very strange to me to be told that August is low season, but I suppose with so many American schools starting mid-August there are just not that many families travelling.  Most boaters are much further north during the summer months.  One marina owner told Dick that August is just too hot for boating! We were told that the Alligator River Marina has had up to 30 boats in overnight during the season for travelling south in October and November. The night we spent there, we were one of only three boats staying.

We decided to leave Belhaven very early, because we are still seeing high winds and thunderstorms coming up in the afternoons.  Our transit of the Bay and Neuse Rivers was completely calm, and a welcome change from the dreadful crossing we had on our northbound trip.  We stopped in Oriental. Waterway Guide waxes lyrical about the attractions of this sailing town, but we were seriously unimpressed.  The marinas offer little protection when the winds are from the south, so we spent an uncomfortable night rocking in the waves.  Dick went for a bike ride (dodging raindrops), and was not enthused.  Again, we decided to leave early for the short journey to Beaufort, NC. The brief crossing of the Neuse at 6:30am was calm, and the Adams Creek Canal is interesting. We were travelling slower than usual, in order not to arrive to early in Beaufort, but that proved to be a slight error in judgement!  As we came into the tricky part of the trip, navigating through various shoals in the busy Newport river, we were enveloped in thick clouds and torrential rain accompanied by thunder and lightning.  We have radar, which we use on those rare occasions of low visibility, but when Dick updated the firmware on the chartplotter he did not realize that it would change how the radar is accessed.  He didn’t dare risk losing the chart (and taking his eye off the waters ahead) while he poked around trying to find the radar screen.  I was very concerned that not only could we not see any boat coming toward us, they couldn’t see us either.  Eventually, after what seemed like a long time but was probably only about 15 minutes, the storm cleared enough that we could see again.  In addition to a large shrimp boat ahead of us, we came on two kayakers paddling across the channel.  What possessed them to be out in busy waters in such poor visibility I do not know.

We arrived in Beaufort to find it celebrating the annual Pirate Invasion.  Beaufort was the home of the famous Blackbeard, and it celebrates all aspects of its nautical history with grand enthusiasm.  Shortly after we tied up there was a battle between a fully rigged pirate ship and a large rowboat with 8 pirates and a cannon on board.  Our view of the naval engagement was blocked, but we could hear the cannons firing and the screams!  Arrrr!  The town was infested with pirates, along with a number of women dressed as heaven knows what.  However, everyone seemed to be having a good time.

We have seen some interesting wildlife behaviours on this trip.  On our way north we passed hundreds of osprey nests; sometimes it seemed as if every channel marker had a nest with osprey rearing chicks.  Now, two months later, the chicks have flown, but I have noticed that there is often a bird perched on the empty nest.  I wonder if it is one of the young, still staying around familiar places.  On one of our ocean passages we saw at least 30 dolphins herding fish into a tight circle to feed from them.  We passed an area on the Chesapeake with hundreds of gulls swooping on waters that were literally boiling with fish.  In addition to the gulls there were pelicans, and even a few osprey diving to catch dinner.  We couldn’t tell what was making the fish rise to the surface, but there were several areas like this over a couple of miles of shallow water.  One of the most fascinating episodes I watched was while I was sitting in the cockpit at the dock in Great Kills.  I heard a repeated banging sound, and turned round to see a young gull with a huge clam.  He was jumping up about 10 feet above the dock and dropping the clam, then following it down to make sure it didn’t roll off the dock.  After dropping it about 20 times, the clam developed a crack in the shell, and the gull was able to break it open and eat the meat inside.  I was so fascinated I forgot to get a camera and take pictures!

We are nearly finished this year’s journey, expecting to be home in about a week.  We have not anchored overnight since we left North Carolina on our outbound journey, and we enjoy the peace and quiet, so we plan to anchor most nights, and to stop just one night at a marina in Southport and one south of Myrtle Beach.  It has been an interesting trip.  We have made lists of things that we want to fix, or improve, before we set off again next summer.  Tucker has finally settled into the various routines, and seems to be reasonably content.  I have enjoyed cooking on board, using some of the special things I spent so much time collecting this winter.  The pressure cooker/slow cooker has been an unqualified success, but I have also found some great recipes for one pot meals and casseroles that work in the toaster oven.  We do plan to replace the Australian style grill for a more familiar type.  I had expected to be able to work on pictures during some of the quiet times, but this has not been possible.  Even a slight motion of the boat makes me feel queasy if I try doing close work on the laptop in the salon, and the table in the cockpit is too high for me to work on. We find that while the cockpit chairs are comfortable, the helm chair leans back too far for me to be able to sit in it and drive, and we both miss being able to relax in a recliner chair.  So we are hoping to replace both cockpit chairs with some that we saw at the boat show that have more adjustment and also a recliner position and footrest.  Dick is going to replace the bulbs on the interior lights, plus a couple of inoperable fixtures, and we hope that will solve the problem of the dim lighting at night.  We are also hoping to get screens made for the side doors of the cockpit, to add more air circulation while keeping the insects out.

This was Tucker’s last voyage for some time.  Between the heat and the continuously changing routines, he became more and more unhappy in the last few weeks of the summer voyage.  He now spends his summers with his other family in Hilton Head, and everyone is happier.

storm at Great Kills
Storm at Great Kills NJ
Great Kills basin
Great Kills Basin, after the storm
whats in there
What’s in there?
Atlantic City Coast Guard Station
Atlantic City Coast Guard Station
Atlantic City
Atlantic City
Chesapeake City 2
Chesapeake City
Chesapeake City
Chesapeake City
Annapolis sunrise
Annapolis sunrise
Sunrise leaving Solomons
Sunrise as we leave Solomons
Tucker and the view of Norfolk
Tucker and the view of Norfolk
lobster dinner
Lobster dinner
Portsmouth lightship
Portsmouth lightship
Portsmouth old town
Portsmoth Old Town
highway lift bridge
highway lift bridge
Carolina Reaper Shrimp
Carolina Reaper Shrimp
a good place to sleep
A good place to sleep
fishing boats on Adams Creek Canal
fishing boats on Adams Creek Canal
rainbow leaving Belhaven
rainbow as we leave Belhaven
keep watching the chart
Keep watching that chart!
Alligator River
Alligator River
Pirate ship
Pirate ship
pirates
Pirates at Beaufort!
red snapper
Red snapper
What do you want
I want to go home!