Sunday, June 29, 2014

Peterborough, ON

Today we traveled to Peterborough via Rice Lake and the Otonabee River/Trent Canal. Leaving Hastings, we had to thread our way thru old railway bridge abutments and narrow channels marked by concrete pilings, making for an interesting navigational challenge.

Kids, we've found,  are the same in Canada as in the US. We noticed this group jumping off a 40ft high overpass just as we passed under. If you look closely you can see the first jumper in the water to the left. We hope they know what's under the water below.

Here's the others getting ready for their turn.

Rice Lake, 20 miles long and 3 miles wide, got its name from the extensive wild rice beds which have since died out due to fluctuating water levels. After 60 miles of river travel it's nice to have "vistas" and to be able to open the throttle a bit.

It seems that every island or tree in the rivers and lakes become resting places for all types of birds. Rice Lake is no exception.

The entrance to the Otonabee River leads us to Peterborough and is site of the Hiawatha First Nation Indian reservation. Now autonomous, it dates back to 1818. The river is similar to a Louisiana bayou and is lined with cottages, RV parks, and camp grounds.

Arriving in Peterborough's Little Lake we are greeted by a huge fountain ... impressive.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hastings ON - Day Two

Another beautiful day. We started by walking to the Bridgewater CafĂ© for coffee and breakfast treats. Across the street was a small Chinese restaurant and B & B place typical of the town's architecture.

Today we met and interesting older couple on the loop with a very unusual boat named "De-De". The boat is an outboard drive, 28 ft "Bluejacket" design, home-made by the skipper in their Virginia basement and barn. The boat is small by looping standards but is comfortable inside and sports a refrigerator, camp stove and a composting toilet!

There is no such thing as "fine dinning" in Hastings, but  since today is our 23rd anniversary, a quiet dinner out to celebrate is a must. On the recommendation of a local "church" lady, we dined at the Banjo Grill  across the river from our dock. The food was mediocre but the company was perfect.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hastings, ON

Between Campbellford and Hastings, the shore consists of cottages, scrub and farmland. The river winds its way around islands and mashes, making the trip much more interesting.

 We met a 32 ft newer Nordic Tug, "Enfin", similar to Dunworkin. In the name of efficiency, the Lockmasters had us raft up because these locks are so small, and we locked through several together.

Once again we've stayed "on-the-wall" of a lock without electric, water or internet. That said, the location is in the center of town and within walking distance to a grocery store, bank, drug store, and restaurants.

Several boats that we have met along the way are also docked here ,and we have met some new folks as well.

Blue Moon is here, and Akasha, a 48ft Kadey-Krogan Whaleback (Thom's all time favorite boat,which was in Picton, Ontario with us), also pulled in.

Captain's Supplement:

Two days running on battery power is a little bit of an experiment for us but we didn't expect any difficulties given we arrived fully charged and with 80 gals of fresh water on board. That was until a maladjusted pressure switch on the fresh water pump popped a line off and dumped 50 gals of water into the engine room. After a bit of a fire drill, we fixed the hose, reset the pressure switch and bailed out the water not removed by the bilge pumps. They say there is always something going wrong on a boat.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Campbellford, ON, CN

More lock throughs and we found ourselves in Campellford, on a wall run by the local Chamber of Commerce. Campbellford is the home town of the artist who designed the twofie, or $2 coin. Here's the monument.

A short walk into town found groceries, and we were soon grilling our steak dinner.

Tomorrow we head off to Hastings, where we will be off the grid for two days.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Frankford, ON, CN

Entering the Trent-Severn Waterway, we made our way through 6 more locks to Frankford, Ontario, bringing us to a total of 36 locks so far this trip and our 137th career lock. This is what is looks like approaching a lock.

When it is empty and the chamber doors open, it's like driving the boat into a shoebox or canyon. 

The Lockmaster closes the doors behind you, and fills the lock chamber with water. You wrap a line around a pipe or cable hanging on the wall, holding on for dear life, and float to the top. Then the doors in front open, and there you are on the new level.

Many of these locks are still manually operated. In this photo, the lockmaster walks the manual mechanism around in a circle, which slowly opens the doors. Notice the low, blue swing bridge in front of this lock, which will also be manually opened.

Liability laws are different here. Common sense is expected. Tonight there are 9 boats tied up around the outside of this lock. The lockmaster gave each one a key to the restrooms and shower, and went home for the night. Here's the walkway over the lock to the building. No signage, no chain link fence. Be careful, and don't fall in. But if you do, there’s a number to call.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Trenton, ON, CN

Today found us winding our way around the beautiful Bay of Quinte to Trenton. This area has got to be a sailor's paradise. Large spaces of deep water, many bays and little towns, anchorages everywhere.

Snake Island looked like a pile of rocks with dead trees, but looking closer, you can see it is covered in birds, probably cormorants.

Trenton, is the beginning of the 240 mile Trent-Seven Waterway which ends at the Georgian Bay.

 We are staying at Fraser Park Marina with a beautiful view of the Bay of Quinte.

An added benefit is that the marina is just a few steps to Main Street.



Monday, June 23, 2014

Oswego, NY, US to Picton, ON, CN

We journeyed from Brewerton to Oswego, arriving late afternoon, a peaceful path we've taken before. There are seven lock thru's on the Oswego canal, one in particular was quite challenging due to strong currents and winds.  Everything in boating in a trade off - the taller boats with flying bridges have more room, but they act like a big sail in the wind and can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.  Interesting to watch when it's not you.

To celebrate the first weekend of summer, the city of Oswego held many special events, from a kayaker's Paddlefest from lock 3 to lock 7, which we managed to avoid, to various  street and park fairs.  Sunset over Oswego.

The day's events ended with a fireworks display which we watched right from the pilothouse windows. 
Ellie continues to make new friends.  People bring her their choicest leftovers.  Last night a French Canadian couple brought an offering of steak.  Two days ago, another woman brought the remains of a rotisserie chicken, carefully sorted for bones. Ah, life is good!

The Lake Ontario crossing always elicits a certain amount of anxiety, given its reputation for big waves and winds.  The forecast predicted calm, and sure enough, it was flat and uneventful. The challenge was staying awake through the monotonous scenery.  The skipper of Blue Moon, who crossed at the same time, admitted to falling asleep.  His wife decided to let him sleep and she kept watch while the autopilot kept them on course. 
The journey up the Adolphus Reach in the Bay of Quinte to Picton was quite beautiful, with pastoral scenery.  Picton Harbor is small and picturesque, almost like a little fjord surrounded by hills. 

Today will be spent exploring this pretty little town.
 Captains Supplement: Anyone who doubts that you can eat well on a small boat only needs to look at Maryann's perfectly prepared dinner of tonight. Did I say perfect? Yes indeed.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Winter Harbor, Brewerton, NY

One of the interesting parts of cruising are the people you meet along the way. This time of year the Loopers, or folks doing the Great Loop (Google for more information) are traveling through the northeast and Canada. They have to be through Chicago and headed down the Mississippi by Labor Day to stay ahead of the weather.

We met a 75 year old, whose home is Illinois.  One Christmas his wife bought him the classic book "Honey Let's Buy A Boat".  He read it, and decided he wanted to do the Great Loop. He took two Coast Guard courses, joined the AGLA, and bought a 30 year old Prairie trawler in Mobile, Alabama.  The prior owner gave them 3 days of hands on training, and they headed out.  Across the Gulf of Mexico. They've been on the boat for 9 months now, and don't want it to end.

Another couple was on their second Loop trip.  They finished and enjoyed it so much they decided to go around again. Two years on a boat circling the eastern half of the U.S.  Hmmm.

In the small world department, we ran into the owner of the company I worked for back in the 90's. He bought his Nordic Tug from our friends Jim & Barb, who had used it for the Great Loop in 2008.  We know them because Barbara is an organist like me. 

Our friends Clark & Evelyn from our 2012 cruise told us to watch out for Andy and Julie on a Mainship named "Fruitcakes".  With over 100 people per year on the Great Loop at any given time, I didn't think there was much chance of running into them.  And there they were, parked on the wall at Waterford, NY, and marooned with us for the 5 days at Amsterdam. 

Everyone on these long cruises is pretty much in the same age category, usually 60 to early 70's, retired.  The number of artificial knees in this group is astounding!  They are all still looking for new challenges, and are determined to keep it going as long as they physically can. On a boat, something is always broken.  Men who never got their hands dirty are now repairing diesel engines.  Men who worked blue collar jobs are mastering sophisticated electronics. Women are making do with temperamental stoves and tiny refrigerators, all the while learning to drive the boat and communicate where they are at any given point. Nice people from all over the country, and we all help each other.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brewerton, NY

Leaving Little Falls yesterday, we slogged our way along the straight part of the Erie Canal, picking up new boat buddies while going through another 5 locks and dodging the ever present dredging operations. 

After a very long day we spent the night at Sylvan Beach, on a wall, with no electric, water or Wi-Fi, but ... they had pizza and ice cream

Today, we are at Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton, NY where they are always welcoming.  The staff plants an herb garden, pepper garden, and tomato garden on the dock for the use of their guest ... nice touch.

 While we washed the lock mud off the boat, Ellie took time off to do some sunbathing on the dock.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Amsterdam, NY to Little Falls, NY

After four days and five nights stranded in Amsterdam, we woke to fog.  Today the locks reopened at 8 am, and we were anxious to get on our way.

One thing about cruising is that you meet a lot of interesting folks doing, more or less, what you are. We been traveling the past few days with Ken and Terry on "Roundabout", a 42ft Grand Banks trawler home ported on Block Island. They are "loopers" on the first leg of a year long adventure. They lead the way today.

The Mohawk River is full of logs and debris and new sand shoals have appeared over night making cruising slow and exhausting.



Ken and Terry "locking-Thru" on MV Roundabout
We locked through seven locks today including Lock 17, the only lock with an over-head door. It is cavernous, with a lift of around 40 feet. As the great chamber door lowers, the booming sounds reminds us of the "Temple of Doom"

One bitter sweet moment came when we arrived at Little Falls where we spent two day on the 2012 Mini-loop.

At the approach to the main building, there is a fountain where two years ago we snapped a picture of us with River and Ellie. Today it seemed empty.

Our thoughts immediately went to River, who is no longer with us, and while saddened, we remembered his smile and missed him.

Little Falls, NY 2012
The day ended with a line of thunderstorms labeled "dangerous" by the weather service.  The show was spectacular. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Amsterdam, NY

Day 3 marooned on the Mohawk River.  The latest is that the locks are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday.  The rain has finally stopped, and today we are being treated to an absolutely perfect, 10, day.  There are 8 boats here, and we've formed a little community.  Spent the day walking through town and reading the Times on the back porch (cockpit).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Riverlink Park "Redux"

This morning the heavens opened and the rain poured down. Definitely not a good day to be on the Mohawk River.
We hunkered down and stayed at Riverlink Park Marina for a day of rest and reading.

As rains came down so did an enormous amount of logs and debris floating down the river. Extremely dangerous.

Sleeping is challenging at many points along the river and canal due to the trains that parallel the route. To give you some idea, here's a short video, shot near the dock, as an example of what we hear when a train going by ... sometimes there are two at once, one in each direction. Double the sounds!

So, while our lives went on hold for the day, unfortunately for Eleanor and therefor Maryann, life went on. 

Captain's Supplement:
With the rains yesterday, today came flash flooding. By early evening the river had risen 30" placing the floating docks at the top of the concrete wall.

Several of the larger yachts, tied up on the fixed wall had to move to an even higher wall as the water reached the top and their fenders no longer provided any protection.

 By 8:30 pm the river had placed the floating docks within a couple of feet of disconnecting from their pilings and I started having real concern for the safety of MV Dunworkin.

Checking our depth gauge frequently, by 10:30 the river crested at 15.7 ft. The NY Canal Authority opened the down stream locks to lower the levels and by 11:30 the depth was trending down and so was my anxiety.

This morning the dock is nearly level with the fixed wall but the river is still high at 14.3 ft., the current is swift and there is a lot of debris. May have to stay yet another day.