Lake Huron’s North Channel

Islands on Picnic Island after leaving Little Current

Ruins on Picnic Island after leaving Little Current

The North Channel was another section on our trip with unsurpassed beauty. Although smaller and narrower than Georgian Bay, the scenery was similar with its many islands, rocky cliffs, and clear sparkling water.

We departed Little Current on Friday the 18th of July after going to the Town Docks to re-fuel, pump out, and get ice for the cooler. It was a rather short cruise to our destination of the Benjamin Islands, with sunshine and light winds making it an easy and pleasant trip.

Jim Securing Stern Lines to Rocks on Shore Via Dinghy

Jim Securing Stern Lines to Rocks on Shore Via Dinghy

We found a spot to anchor in one of the coves between North and South Benjamin, dropping the hook, then securing lines from the stern to shore (med style) in order to prevent swinging, as the area was packed with boats.

We explored our beautiful surroundings via dinghy, talking to many other boaters along the way. I hiked up to the summit of South Benjamin, an easy climb on a fairly smooth rock outcrop. The sight from the top was spectacular, with all the boats anchored around the islands. In fact the picture on the cover of the Lake Huron Chart Book is from that same vantage point. Blueberry patches were prolific, but many others had beaten me to the punch, and I was able to find only a few ripe ones to enjoy along the way.

View from Top at Benjamin's - Jim Talking to Local Boaters

View from Top at Benjamin’s – Jim Talking to Local Boaters

After my hike, we continued our tour via dinghy, and stopped to chat with the Burger family on 3 different boats rafted together whom we had met in Little Current. We climbed aboard, and Patty made us cocktails. One of them was a fill-in for Roy on the Cruiser’s Net Radio, a great service with weather, news, and a chance for boater’s to call in and give their location from all over the North Channel.

The Burger Boats in the Benjamin's

The Burger Family Boats in the Benjamin’s

Saturday we spent another very fun day in the Benjamin’s. Terry and Anne aboard “Quality Time” pulled in and dropped anchor nearby, then rowed their dinghy over. The guys took our dinghy over to visit neighboring boaters while the gals hung out in the cockpit, talked, whined and wined. The weather was perfect, and many swam in the chilly water. I opted out, but it was definitely another swimsuit day!

Anne & Terry - 'Quality Time'

Anne & Terry – ‘Quality Time’

We pooled our food resources for dinner – the gals eating salmon cakes and the guys burgers, along with mashed potatoes, green beans, fresh strawberries, and a tossed salad. We grilled and ate aboard our boat. Later we had a fire on the rock off our stern, along with a really nice Canadian family aboard an old Grand Banks who had come to the exact spot 13 years earlier with their then much younger boys in the same kind and size of trawler.

Campfire in the Benjamin's -Neighbor Manning the Fire

Campfire in the Benjamin’s -Young Neighbor Manning the Fire

The neighbors pulled our stern lines from the rocks for us the following morning so that we could have the dinghy up. Jim pulled  the anchor, and I steered us carefully around the many boats dotting the bay. We had decided to go all the way around the Benjamin’s instead of chancing the much shorter way out through a narrow cut between the submerged rocks and those on shore.

Our Boat in the Benjamin's - Anchored 'Med Style'

Our Boat in the Benjamin’s – Anchored ‘Med Style’

We cruised about 20 miles through the McBean and Whalesback Channels and up into Beardrop Harbour. Pulling in we spotted “Northern Spirit”, its mast decorated for our arrival with state and Bahamian flags  purchased as they did their Great Loop trip back in 2012-13. They had them hung in the order they were visited.

We dropped the hook behind a little rock island near them, and took the dinghy over to their Benateau. It  was so great to catch up with Ron and Lynne Taylor and meet their new dog Buddy! The last time we saw them was in December 2012 in Ft Myers Beach. They broke out beers and wine, and we did a lot of catch-up on happenings in our lives.

Ron & Lynne Taylor - now Gold Loopers

Ron & Lynne Taylor – now Gold Loopers

They are currently spending the summer in the North Channel, and being familiar with the area helped us plot our course to Drummond Island, and gave us a Lake Michigan harbor book.

Decorated 'Northern Spirit'

Decorated ‘Northern Spirit’

Later we grilled pork tenderloins aboard ARiverDerci, ate dinner and they checked out our boat, as we were in the Bayliner the last time we saw them. It was so great to see them again – they looked the same as ever. They are undecided what to do next winter, but we’re hoping we can meet up with them somewhere in Florida.

Monday morning the 21st we pulled up anchor, and waving goodbye to Ron and Lynne, set out from Bear Drop Harbour. We had a long cruise that day through the open part of the North Channel west and south to Drummond Island. Again the weather was cooperative with sunshine and light winds. We high-fived while crossing the Canada/US Border. We made it back to the States!

Sunset on Drummond Island

Sunset on Drummond Island

We pulled into the fuel dock at the Drummond Island Yacht Haven around 3:30, and were not allowed to leave the boat until the US Customs officials gave us clearance. They boarded our boat, looked over our passports and boat registration, then inspected the fridge, confiscating our green peppers and tomatoes.

Boat Heading Toward Drummond Island at Sunset

Boat Heading Toward Drummond Island at Sunset

After fueling up, pumping out, and filling our water tanks, we got secured in our slip. We decided to go the grocery store, but it was a very long walk, so we took the marina’s rental car – an old Mercedes. I had to get a few things including green peppers and tomatoes (which were grown in Canada). That made me chuckle!

Unbelievable Sunset at Drummond Island Welcoming us back into the US

Unbelievable Sunset at Drummond Island Welcoming us back into the US

We followed a local, who told us upon arrival to just leave the keys in the ignition. Nobody on the island locks their car, because if anyone was stupid enough to steal it you could easily find it at the ferry dock – the only way to get it off the island!

I watched the sun go down, a big coral orb slowly sinking below the horizon. Many stopped what they were doing to see the unusual appearance of the sun as it disappeared from view.

We tried to catch up on emails and download more navigation chart sections on my iPad, but the internet access was very poor. We were back in the States, but still in very remote waters. Hopefully coverage will improve as we get closer to more populated areas.

Rain Falling Behind us on Lake Huron

Rain Falling Behind us on Lake Huron

On Tuesday the 22nd, we had difficulty deciding whether to continue through the open waters of Lake Huron. The forecast included 15 mph south winds and the threat of thunderstorms. After going over the charts with a local, he suggested we duck into the Les Cheneaux Islands. So we got a late start, casting off around 11:15.

Unique Island Cottage in amid the Les Cheneaux Islands

Unique Island Cottage amid the Les Cheneaux Islands

Once through the DeTour Passage, following a ship and waiting for a ferry, the seas of Lake Huron got rough. Heading west the waves rocked us from the port side, making steering difficult. About 1/2 way across, the skies started looking threatening. Soon flashes of lightning could be seen, claps of thunder heard, and we saw a line of heavy rain coming toward us.

Beautiful Beach Front Spot Along the Way

Beautiful Beach Front Spot Along the Way

We zipped up the covers on the fly bridge, and tried to keep our course in the limited visibility. A ship in one of the main shipping lanes passed us on our port. Soon the rain was behind us, and we spotted the opening between Boot and Government Islands. After what seemed an eternity, we got between them, and finally the wind was no longer a concern.

Sundown at Hessel Marina - Note the US Flag Flying

Sundown at Hessel Marina – Note the US Flag Flying

The skies cleared somewhat, and we zigzagged our way through the bays between the islands, following narrow well-marked channels. Along the way we passed cottages with boat houses, many containing old wooden boats. Passing the town of Cedarville we came upon a golf course that had docks. Many dinghies were tied up – how fun to dinghy in for a round of golf!

We made our way to the Hessel Marina, a beautiful spot on Hessel Bay. We docked, then toured the tiny town. Everyone goes all out with their flowers in pots and window boxes. Their is an old-time grocery store, but more of a general store where we stopped in to share a peanut butter cup ice cream cone. Then we walked to ‘The Islander’ bar for a cocktail, and enjoyed the walls covered in local memorabilia.

Part of Hessel Marina

Part of Hessel Marina

The town of Hessel is considered the wooden boat capital of the world. Each year they have a big convention, and people from all around bring their vintage restored boats. The marina grounds were beautiful and we enjoyed talking with the locals docked here. Jerry aboard a Sea Ray named “Under Contract” helped us with the northern Lake Michigan charts, and highlights to hit along the way.

Cloud Formations above marina in Hessel

Cloud Formations above marina in Hessel

I did 3 loads of laundry, Jim did his routine fuel and engine maintenance, and walked to the nearby Boat Works store and fuel dock to have the pedestal for the upper helm seat lowered by a couple inches. We grilled steaks and enjoyed another beautiful day overlooking Hessel Bay.

Tomorrow the seas are supposed to be flat, and our plan is to head to Mackinac Island, about an 18 mile cruise. We still need to chart our course through our remaining portion of Lake Huron. Then we will go through the Straits of Mackinac and under the famous bridge into the waters of Lake Michigan. The journey continues…

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Georgian Bay – Wow!

Trumpeter Swan Family on the 4th of July

Trumpeter Swan Family on the 4th of July

The 4th of July in Canada was exceedingly anticlimactic. We left the Mariposa Landing Marina in the morning, with Nanc yelling at us from shore that she had butter tarts for us – a local specialty. She met us at Bridgeport Marina next door where we stopped for fuel and delivered them to us. Such service! And they were out of this world! No fireworks, but we had our butter tarts!

Rapids Avoided by Using the Big Chute Marine Railway

Rapids Avoided by Using the Big Chute Marine Railway

Our last day on the Trent Severn (after defrosting the fridge) was very memorable, as we went through the marine railway, better known as the “Big Chute”.  You drive your boat into a “railway car” which has train tracks into the water. The railway takes you up and over a road and a high point with rapids alongside, then down the other side, back into the water, where you drive your boat out (pronounced “ouwt” in Canadian), which I’m catching myself doing all the time. Via osmosis, the local lingo has taken hold, eh! Jim has a video on the Big Chute on U-Tube if anyone is interested in checking it ouwt.

Looper Boat "Akasha" on The Big Chute

Looper Boat “Akasha” on The Big Chute

The Big Chute was exhilarating, and after emerging, we came to some tricky rapids with a narrow channel, then through the Little Chute, where we had to announce our presence on the radio, because you can’t see the other end, and it isn’t wide enough to pass other vessels of  our size.

Mural in Midland

Mural in Midland

In no time at all we were at the last lock #45 on the Trent Severn – the smallest of all of them, and we didn’t realize at first that the doors were open. We went through that one faster than any, and entered Georgian Bay in a narrow channel with many switchbacks.

Lighthouse Mural - very 3D - windows in the side of the building are used as windows in the lighthouse

Lighthouse Mural – very 3D – windows in the side of the building are used as windows in the lighthouse

Georgian Bay is without a doubt the most breathtakingly beautiful fresh water cruising I have ever experienced. The 30,000 islands along its eastern shore offer the most scenic boating possibly anywhere on the planet.

Postage Stamp Mural on the Post Office Building

Postage Stamp Mural on the Post Office Building

We headed to the town of Midland for re-provisioning, showers, and pump-out, and ended up spending three nights there, (3 for the price of 2). I especially enjoyed all the murals around town (39 of them) painted outdoors on buildings by a man name Fred Lenz, now deceased. All of them depict the history of Midland between the 1700′s and early 1900′s. My favorites were the postal stamp mural at the post office, the butchers at the meat market, the Girl Guides of Canada, the Trumpeter swans, and the shop with all the bolts of fabric. Some of the murals are falling into disrepair, but most are being restored to preserve this inspiring art form.

Grain Ship Turning Around in Midland Bay on its way back to Thunder Bay

Grain Ship Turning Around in Midland Bay on its way back to Thunder Bay

We enjoyed our time in Midland, especially the live music we could hear from our boat. One of the dice from our many backgammon games ended up overboard. We got some great navigation guidance from a local named Steve on vacation there, and got much accomplished. We toured the town, got groceries, went to the LCBO, did laundry, and enjoyed a couple of evenings at the Boathouse for dinner and drinks.

Grain Elevator Mural

Grain Elevator Mural

On the evening of July 6th we watched a big ship leave the grain elevators (with the big mural) and head out toward Lake Huron en route to Thunder Bay. It was an impressive sight, and many were on the pier to watch its departure.

July 7th was a day to get things done. Jim changed the oil and transmission fluid, getting rides as needed from live-aboard Larry – thank God for the locals who understand your situation.

Our Boat at the Docks at Cedar Point - Beausoleil Island National Park

Our Boat at the Docks at Cedar Point – Beausoleil Island National Park

The next morning we departed, stopping at the nearby marina for a pump-out (whoa – $22.70). We did a short stint to Beausoleil Island, a Canadian National Park, where we rafted up with Terry and Anne aboard “Quality Time” for most of the day.

We enjoyed their company, watched a slide show of our pics, played a card game, and grilled on their boat between the rain showers.  Just before sunset, we went into the docks at Cedar Spring.

The following day we walked the trails at the National Park, making sure to stay on the path so as to avoid the prolific poison ivy. The winds were strong, so no cruising that day. “Cat Call” arrived, and that evening we enjoyed a campfire with them and a nice family from Barry Sound who made smores and entertained us with their stories.

Jim Sitting on the Rock Throne - Beausoleil Island

Jim Sitting on the Rock Throne – Beausoleil Island

On Thursday the 10th of July we left Beausoleil (can you see the French influence here?) and went out into the open waters of Georgian Bay. Along the way we encountered about 20 big cruisers, making their way to Parry Sound for some rendezvous. We held back and followed behind, through the narrow channels, curving our way around big rock outcroppings and little islands of granite.

Our Anchorage at Echo Island

Our Anchorage at Echo Island

Eventually we made our way into a lagoon anchorage near Echo Island where we dropped the hook, then tied the stern with lines to shore on a close rocky island with the help of nearby boater Bill. Many other boaters were rafted to each other, people were swimming and enjoying a beautiful summer Ontario day!

Float Plane Delivering Fresh Fish to Henry's Restaurant

Float Plane Delivering Fresh Fish to Henry’s Restaurant

After taking the dinghy down, we drove it to Henry’s for fresh flown-in fish dinner. Afterward, we dinghied to a nearby convenience store, the only LCBO anywhere nearby, then back to the boat via some little channels by old quaint cottages and rock islands.

Henry's Fish Restaurant

Henry’s Fish Restaurant

After arriving back at the boat, Bill drove up in his dinghy and invited us aboard “Therapy Too” for some local navigational advice. We donned our life jackets, and carrying the chart book, arrived at their boat where we were warmly welcomed aboard.

Pointe Au Baril Lighthouse - The Narrow Channel used to be marked with a Barrel on a post

Pointe Au Baril Lighthouse – The Narrow Channel used to be marked with a Barrel on a post

We went through all the chart pages of the remaining Georgian Bay, and even into the North Channel. He pointed out many great anchorages and routes to take that we wouldn’t have otherwise considered. A poor deserted baby Mallard swam around the anchorage, peeping as it went in search of its lost mother.

Rocks Everywhere!

Rocks Everywhere!

The following morning on the 11th of July, we got a late start after a hearty breakfast. It was a beautiful clear day with blue skies and low winds, but on the chilly side. Big dragonflies buzzed around, landing on the boat, then abruptly flying onward. We made our way past rocky outcroppings through narrow channels dotted with charming cottages and lighthouses. Hang Dog Channel was especially challenging, then through Pointe of Baril to the Byng Inlet.

Cottage on Byng Inlet

Cottage on Byng Inlet

We rode up Byng Inlet a long way through many no-wake zones to a free government dock. We walked a short way to the nearby marina (and local LCBO), then back to the boat for burgers on the grill and planning our next day’s cruise.

Dock Island Hideway

Dock Island Hideway

At the government dock there was an old green sailboat, and Jim talked to the owner on Saturday morning, and got some great local knowledge of a channel further north through some isolated and protected islands to a great anchorage, as rough weather was heading our way.

Reflections in the Dock Island Cove

Reflections in the Dock Island Cove

After going through many tight switchbacks, we made it to the cove in the middle of Dock Island. At first we didn’t know if our boat would fit into the narrow opening, but we made it inside, and tied lines to a stake in the rocks at the port side, originally used years ago for a fishing fleet. It was the perfect hidey hole from the weather, and the most remote and pristine setting yet. Needless to say, it has been my favorite campsite on this entire journey!

Mama Bear Across the River

Mama Bear Across the River

You could step right off the boat onto the steep rocks alongside, and I just had to go exploring! Right off I got hissed at by a mink who didn’t appreciate that I had trespassed on his terrain. Back at the boat we spotted a mama bear with her two cubs across the river, and saw an otter swimming from a nearby rock out into the river.

Mink Hissing at my Intrusion

Mink Hissing at my Intrusion

The next day we swam (skinny dipped), sunbathed, and I took a more extensive tour of my surroundings. Blueberry bushes were everywhere, so I picked them to my hearts content (ignoring the nearby bear poop). Back at the boat I made a nummy blueberry crisp, and cooked up stir-fry for dinner using our generator to power the electric range. We went to sleep with the rain pounding on our roof – the bow of the boat. All day we saw only one other boat go by – local fishermen, and were thankful to be in our amazing little cove to wait out the winds.

Narrow Channel we went through - looking back - went between the rock and the green buoy

Narrow Channel we went through – looking back – went between the rock and the green buoy

We said our goodbyes to Dock Island in the morning and traversed some of the most narrow and switchback channels of the trip. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, with white-quartz mountains in the distance, clear azure water below, and rock islands and shores with evergreens surrounding us.

Scenery on the way to Kilarney

Scenery on the way to Kilarney

We went through some open water along the way, making our way to Kilarney, a small old settlement where we disposed of our trash and bought ice. Kilarney is officially the beginning of the North Channel of Lake Huron, but other’s claim it to be further at the town of Little Current.

Baie Fine Quartz Mountains

Baie Fine Quartz Mountains

We drove through big Frazer Bay with following seas, not a good thing in our Mainship as it makes steering difficult. Through Frazer Bay, we made our way into Baie Fine (a Norwegian name pronounced Bay Fin), one of only a few fjords in eastern North America. The deep water was crystal clear blue-green with high white quartz bluffs on both sides. A few miles in we went to a popular anchorage spot, dropped the hook, and Jim took the dinghy in to tie a line from the stern to a nearby tree, preventing the typical swinging we get when only anchored from the bow.

View out rear of boat at Baie Fine Anchorage

View out rear of boat at Baie Fine Anchorage

It was another gorgeous spot, although we had plenty of company. Eight other boats were anchored in the cove, around the edges and in the middle. High winds and thunderstorms were in the forecast for the next day.

So we enjoyed a pajama day to ride out the foul weather. I never got dressed the following day – can’t even call my outfit “day-wear”. Jim rested his strained sciatic nerve running down his right leg, and we watched movies, I cross-stitched and managed to heat up leftovers. It was really refreshing to have a down day like that when nothing had to be accomplished.

Entering Baie Fine

Entering Baie Fine

This morning we left our anchorage after a mild May Fly hatch. We drove up Baie Fine almost to ‘the Pool’ at the end, then turned around and made our way to the town of Little Current. We are here for a couple of days to re-provision and gain some local knowledge of the North Channel, and are hoping to reconnect with Canadians Terry and Anne, and Ron and Lynne, loopers we met back in late 2012.

Lighthouse at Entrance to Little Current

Lighthouse at Entrance to Little Current

I can’t come close to expressing the beauty of Georgian Bay and its 30,000 islands. Many consider it to be the 6th Great Lake because of its immense size, and I can see how many spend an entire summer cruising here among the many channels and islands. The remote cottages remind me of the northern cabins in Minnesota. You can hear the call of the loons at night, the water is deep and clear, and the stars are aligned as I’m used to. I have not felt this connected with nature since my teenage years on canoe trips with my Dad in the Boundary Waters.

Little Current Sundown

Little Current Sundown

Our plans are to spend a week or so exploring the islands of the North Channel, then to enter the US via Drummond Island. From there we will head to the big waters of Lake Michigan. It will be good to be back in the USA, but we will be sad to leave behind the many Canadians we call friends, and the unsurpassed scenery, beauty, and remoteness of Ontario.

Until next time, ARIVERDERCI!

 

 

 

 

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The Trent-Severn Waterway

Last glimpse of the US for a while - Oswego, NY

Last glimpse of the US for a while – Oswego, NY

Leaving the dock at 7:20 a.m. on the 22nd of June, we waved goodbye to the US and entered Lake Ontario. It was a perfect day to make the crossing, the seas almost flat, with sunny skies and only a little haze. We decided to take the most direct route across, almost due north for 50 miles, then another 50 miles through the many switchbacks in the scenic Bay of Quinte’.

Ship on Lake Ontario

Ship on Lake Ontario

It was a long day – 11 hours of non-stop cruising. We were happy to see the town of Trenton and the Fraser Park Marina with Craig the harbor master waiting out on the dock to grab our lines. We had made it to Canada without issues, although there was loads of water in one of the Racor filters.

Ferry Station on Bay of Quinte'

Ferry Station on Bay of Quinte’

Jim went aboard to clear customs and we got settled in. We saw Terry and Anne aboard “Quality Time”, Canadians whom we had seen a few times before. We met some new friends Erik and Karen across the dock from us, and we all commiserated for a while. Jim and I took a short walk around town.

Gateway to the Trent Severn Waterway Bridge

Gateway to the Trent Severn Waterway Bridge

Monday morning we walked to the Metro grocery store to get a few things, the drug store where I printed some 8×10 photos of the grand-kids, and the LCBO – that’s what liquor stores are called here in Canada. If you want beer though, you have to go to The Beer Store.

The 1st Lock on the Trent Severn

The 1st Lock on the Trent Severn

An electrician came to check our battery voltage, as we were having a few issues. We talked to many of the locals. At dinner time we walked across the Gateway to the Trent Severn Waterway bridge with Terry and Anne to a restaurant/bowling alley called Wahoo’s. Afterward we got a tour of Erik and Karen’s custom-made Duffy and shared docktails aboard “A-RIVER-DERCI” with Anne, Terry, Erik and Karen.

Locking thru with Erik and Karen

Locking thru with Erik and Karen

The next morning after a hearty breakfast, pump-out, and re-fueling we started our journey on the Trent Severn. We had tried to watch the weather, but temps were given in Celsius and wind speed was given in kilometers, so none of it made a whole lot of sense.

Canada Geese in the Grasses along the Shore

Canada Geese in the Grasses along the Shore

At the first lock I climbed off and paid for our locking and mooring permits. Lock 1 is the only one you can call via VHF radio. But it’s surprising how well they keep track of you with all the boat traffic. They communicate with the next lock, and so on and so on.

In the Lock at Healey Falls

In the Lock at Healey Falls

At most locks there are walls where you can tie up for the night if you’ve purchased your mooring pass. If you are planning on going through a lock, you are supposed to tie up on the blue line which indicates to the lock workers that you intend to go through.

Tied up to Wall above Lift Locks 16 and 17

Tied up to Wall above Lift Locks 16 and 17

We went through Locks 1 through 6 that first day, meeting up with Erik and Karen. All day we locked through with the same 3 other boats, getting into a rhythm and tying to the cables in the locks on the same side when possible. The locks are small, but much nicer than those on the Erie. Many of them have no hydraulics – workers walk around turning this big handle to open the doors, and crank this contraption to manually regulate the water flow.

Drained Canal below Lock 16

Drained Canal below Lock 16

We stayed on the wall above Lock 6 that evening. The sky became overcast and looked a little threatening. We grilled burgers, took a walk to the park along the river, but soon the rain and thunder sent us inside. We planned our next day’s travel and laid low.

On Wed. the 25th we set a new record of going through 11 locks in the same day, including 2 sets of flight locks. Those are 2 locks together, they share the middle set of doors, so as you drive out of one, you are driving into another. The day was cloudy and cool, but the scenery kept getting better as we went along. We stopped along the port wall above Lock 17. The setting was very rural with birdsong and wildflowers.

Lock Emptied of Water

Lock Emptied of Water

We walked back to the flight locks of 16 and 17 and were amazed that all of the water had been drained out of the lower lock and the approach canal. It was an impressive sight. That night we got treated to a great many fireflies lighting up the bushes and brush along the wall.

The weather the next day was a perfect 10. Lock #18 is at Hastings, which reminded us of Lock #2 on the Mississippi at a town of the same name. After leaving the lock you enter Rice Lake which is dotted with islands and beautiful cottages. Fisherman were out in abundance, and the 10 km/hr speed limit signs were posted along some of the narrow sections. Loons could be seen and heard along the way. Now I was beginning to feel like I was ‘up north’ in Minnesota.

Islands in Rice Lake

Islands in Rice Lake

After navigating the lake, the Trent Severn follows the Otonabee River. Shortly inside the river we came across a young Asian couple in a little motorized rowboat waving their arms. Despite the language barrier, we understood their trouble, hooked up one of our stern lines, and gave them a tow back to

Towing Stranded Couple on the Otonabee River

Towing Stranded Couple on the Otonabee River

the resort where they were staying. It was about an 8 mile run up the river, and slow going. They looked so happy to be rescued, smiling and laughing under their sun umbrella.

We continued up the narrow windy river toward Lock 19, but missed the last opening at Scott Mills, so we tied to the starboard wall behind the blue line. We walked into Peterborough to get ice and ended up eating at a good little Italian restaurant. Back at the boat we made a fix to stop the generator from sparking, Jim added a ground wire, and I washed my hair in the galley sink, as showers are hard to come by on the Trent Severn.

Loons (the MN State Bird) along the Waterway

Loons (the MN State Bird) along the Waterway

Friday the 27th we beat our previously broken record and went through 12 locks. “Quality Time” with their mast stepped and braced by 2×4′s, caught up to us, and we spent the day locking through with them, including the big lift lock at Peterborough. The lift locks are like a ride at the fair. You drive into a big pan, and boats on the upside drive into a pan. You tie to a bar, and the whole pan is lifted up in 2 minutes while the other pan is lowered. The 2 pans balance each other.

The impressive Peterborough Lift Lock

The impressive Peterborough Lift Lock

The Peterborough Lift Lock was completed in 1904 and was considered an engineering marvel at the time. It is the still the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world.

As we climbed via the locks the scenery kept getting more breathtaking. Soon we entered the Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario, many connected by the Trent Severn locks. My favorite lake among them is Stony Lake, which is peppered with rocky islands, many with cottages and boat houses. One even was adorned with a church. In many places the rocky bottom could be seen in the crystal clear water.

In the Lift Lock pan with Terry & Anne

In the Lift Lock pan with Terry & Anne

We stopped at the Lockside Trading Company for ice and ice cream. We anchored out in Buckhorn Lake near Terry and Anne. After swimming (bathing really) we took the dinghy over to “Quality Time” for Sundowner’s (Bahamian happy hour at sundown). It was a beautiful star-filled night, but the boat was inundated with many little bugs because of the anchor light.

On Saturday we lollygagged, went for a swim, and cleaned up bugs. That was the 28th, my daughter-in-law’s golden birthday. The lakes were crazy with boaters pulling tubers and wake boarders, rented houseboats, pleasure boaters, and fishermen zigzagging between and around the marked channel.We only went through one lock that day, and made it amid all the holiday weekend boat traffic to the village of Bobcaygeon where we surprisingly got the last spot on the wall, thanks to a very observant lock worker. That lock is the busiest of all on the Trent Severn.

Lock Working Manually Opening Doors

Lock Working Manually Opening Doors

There we met other loopers John and Sue aboard “Thanks Dad” from Pensacola. We hung out on the picnic tables and walked through the quaint little village to the grocery store for a few items. We had a late dinner aboard and watched the boat traffic go by – very entertaining!

Island Cottage on Stony Lake

Island Cottage on Stony Lake

Sunday was another hot and humid busy day on the water. We thought to grab a spot along the wall in Fenelon Falls, but it was jammed and crazy, so we went on to Lock #35 at Rosedale. It was a much quieter rural location, and we got the end spot on the port wall with a picnic table. We watched the boats parading by, grilled brats, and enjoyed the shade from the nearby trees. Jim swam and I went for a walk on a dirt cottage road. At sundown lightning lit up the sky and a short downpour ensued.

Cliff Jumpers

Cliff Jumpers

The following day was another hot one, with heavy boat traffic. We locked through at Rosedale and went to a nearby marina for water, ice, and a pump-out. We ended up buying two new batteries and had them installed. Cruising through Balsam Lake the scent of evergreens was thick in the humid air. Next came the Trent Canal, a very narrow and shallow man-made cut where we met and cautiously passed two other cruisers, barely able to squeeze by each other.

The canal opened into man-made Canal Lake, very weedy and shallow, where we went under the Hole in the Wall Bridge. We tried to get to a wall at the Bolsover Lock #37, but the nearby dam was under construction, and no mooring was available.

Another Beautiful Day on the Trent Severn

Another Beautiful Day on the Trent Severn

So we pulled into the Sunset Cove Marina. The owner’s live on sight, and many of the locals were there enjoying the long holiday weekend. We enjoyed happy hour with some of them on the dock, and many kids were swimming right in the marina. It was nice to have internet access for a change.

The Hole in the Wall Bridge

The Hole in the Wall Bridge

Canada Day (like our 4th of July) was anti-climatic. Jim caught up on his asset management, condo rental, and real estate duties via the internet. We got a ride to a local market with great fresh produce. It was another hot and humid day, but much quieter than I had anticipated. Dinner was chicken on the grill with fresh broccoli and strawberries. At sundown we heard the echoing fireworks from some nearby community, but saw none.

Thunderheads at Sunset

Thunderheads at Sunset

Wednesday the 2nd of July we drove through 5 locks, which were very close together. The scenery changed from lakes to farms. Hay rolls and barns could be seen in the distance, and cows meandered in fields along the waterway. Soon we could see Lake Simcoe in the distance, the largest of all the lakes on the Trent Severn. We took one look at the size of the waves crashing, and decided to stay put until the wind calmed down.

Lake Simcoe Entrance Breakwater

Lake Simcoe Entrance Breakwater

We spent the day tied along the wall behind the breakwater, and watched as boaters came by, drenched from the waves after crossing the lake. Some of them yelled at us, “Don’t do it!” So we hung tight. I took a walk, pulled out the cross-stitch, we watched the movie, “The Fastest Indian”, and watched a storm make its way toward us from across the lake.

Sunset near Lake Simcoe

Sunset near Lake Simcoe

Today we crossed Lake Simcoe in only 4 mph winds, so I’m glad we waited. It was a dreary and much colder day, as the storm brought in a cold front overnight with the winds coming out of the north. Rain spitted on and off, and we pulled into the Mariposa Landing Marina. Laundry desperately needed to be done, so I’m blogging in between loads. Jim got a ride into the nearby town of Orillia to a marine store, then walked to downtown and all the way back.

The marina is just off Lake Simcoe in a marshy section called the Narrows. Canada geese have overtaken the yard, and 3 mink popped out from under the dock next to our boat. Red-winged blackbirds can be heard among the reeds, and earlier we saw a Trumpeter Swan couple with their young.The Trent Severn, a national historic site run by Parks Canada, runs 240 miles north and west, connecting Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay.

At the Trent Severn Summit - Kirkland Lift Lock

At the Trent Severn Summit – Kirkland Lift Lock

We have only 4 locks left of the 44, one of which is the marine railway known as the Big Chute. We both appreciate the ever-changing natural beauty and the many friendly Canadians we’ve met along the way.

As usual we are looking forward to our next leg which is Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron with its 30,000 islands. Hope you all enjoy the 4th of July tomorrow! Until next time… A-River-Derci

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Erie & Oswego Canals

“Low bridge everybody down, Low bridge for we’re com-in to a town, And you always know your neighbor, You’ll always know your pal, If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal.”

Blue Sign in Troy - Left Turn for the Erie Canal

Blue Sign in Troy – Left Turn for the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is rich in history, and the famous song written by Thomas Allen in 1905, and re-done throughout modern times by many musicians (including Bruce Springsteen) was in my head for days as we made our way through the Erie Canal.

Wall at Waterford, NY

Wall at Waterford, NY

On Wednesday, June 11th, in intermittent rain, we went past the towns of Hudson and Albany, the capital of NY, and went through our first lock since Virginia. We said goodbye to the Hudson River at the big blue sign in Troy, turning west into the Erie Canal. A short way up the Canal is the town of Waterford, where we pulled up to the wall and got secured in the rain. Many other Loopers were there, and volunteers at the Visitor Center gave us information on the Erie Canal and what lay ahead.

Remnants of Original Erie Canal - now used for overflow

Remnants of Original Erie Canal – now used for overflow

We had docktails aboard “Errante’”, and reconnected with several other Loopers. I took a walk to see nearby original Erie Canal structures, some of which are now used as spillways.

The next morning after breakfast in town and showers, we untied and headed west, locking through the “flight of five” with “Estrellita” and “Young at Heart”. The “flight of five” is a very close set of 5 locks, which rapidly lifted us in elevation. You’d come out of one, and almost immediately enter another. We locked through Lock 7 together in the drizzle, and made our way to the Schenectady Yacht Club in the town of Rexford. After tying up to the rickety floating docks, we settled in, had dinner aboard, and watched a movie on Netflix. I was hoping for blue skies, as the gray days were getting a little old.

Mansion Atop Bluff - Erie Canal - Mohawk River

Mansion Atop Bluff – Erie Canal – Mohawk River

We woke to more rain, and someone pounding on our boat. Jim got up to help secure boats to the docks and docks to the shore. The water had risen precariously during the night, about 7 feet, and debris, trees, and logs sped past in the swift current of the Mohawk River.

Remnants of Aqueduct - Rexford, NY

Remnants of Aqueduct – Rexford, NY

That day they closed down the Erie Canal, and none of the locks were operational. We watched the river rise, the clearance under the nearby bridge shrink, and the buoys disappear under the surface.

We ended up spending 5 nights at the Schenectady Yacht Club, which turned out to be a nice place to be stranded. The locals were very friendly, and a neighboring live-aboard drove us to town for re-provisioning. We had happy hours with the other Loopers, grilled dinner together one night, and even enjoyed a campfire with the locals and swapped boating stories amid the swirling smoke, as the wind couldn’t decide which direction it wanted to blow.

Docks at Schenectady Yacht Club

Docks at Schenectady Yacht Club

One day we walked to the nearby convenience store for ice cream cones, and got a guided tour of the club house, with explanations of all the historic pictures of the nearby Erie Canal and old aqueduct. Once the rain quit, we scrubbed, polished and dusted the boat, inside and out. I caught up on laundry, and walked through the old village of Rexford.

The muddy water receded as fast as it rose, and soon the current was manageable and the Canal was re-opened for public use. The New York State Canal System manages the Canal, and they were busy clearing logs and debris, and re-positioning misplaced buoys in their bright blue and orange boats.

First Mate - Locking Up - Erie Canal

First Mate – Locking Up – Erie Canal

Finally, on Tuesday the 17th of June our section of the Erie Canal re-opened, and we were able to continue. It was an absolutely perfect cruising day, sunny in the upper 80′s, and the scenery was interesting as we motored along. We locked through #8 through #13, still rising. The Adirondacks rose in the distance, and the Mohawk narrowed as we climbed in elevation. We did a 49-mile cruise that day, and stopped at a free wall along the canal, in the town of Canajoharie.

New York State Canal Dredger

New York State Canal Dredger

Eventually many other Loopers pulled in, and the wall soon filled up. A Canadian sailboat ended up ‘rafting up’ with “Estrellita”. The evening was humid, and we walked into town with Burke, Stel, Glenn and Brenda, and had a great Italian meal at Gino’s. Burke didn’t know how to pronounce the town’s name, calling it “Calamari”. So we had to share some calamari as an appetizer and had a few good laughs about it.

One of the Locks and Dams on the Eastern Erie Canal

One of the Locks and Dams on the Eastern Erie Canal

Back at the boat, lightning could be seen flashing across the sky. Soon the wind kicked up, and the downpour ensued. Overnight we ended up with water coming in over the desk where all of our electronics (computer, iPad, phones, remote, and TV) were housed. Luckily, nothing was damaged once we dried out.

Little Falls, NY - Canal is to the right of the pic

Little Falls, NY – Canal is to the right of the pic

Wednesday we had a short day, only going through Locks 14 thru 17 to Little Falls, a very picturesque town, with water seeming to run everywhere. The weather was cooler after the previous night’s storm. We stayed at the marina, again on a canal wall. We walked into town, Brenda got a hair cut and Stel & I meandered through some of the antique shops. Jim also got a haircut, and the guys went to the local hardware store.

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Water Turned from Muddy to Clear

Thursday we waited for the other boats to leave, as we needed access to the pump-out station. We did 5 locks that day, reaching the summit at Lock 21, where we started descending in the locks. At that point the water suddenly turned from muddy to crystal clear. There were many side dams and spillways along the way, and the NYS Canal workers were out in force on dredgers and tugs. We no longer traveled in the Mohawk River, but rather in a straight and narrow man-made channel, which was what I expected the Erie Canal to be like.

Fellow Loopers Welcome Committee at Sylvan Beach

Fellow Loopers Welcome Committee at Sylvan Beach

It was a beautiful clear but breezy day, and we saw many Canada geese with their fluffy youngsters in tow. We pulled into the town of Sylvan Beach on the shores of Lake Oneida late, but other Loopers had saved us a spot along the free wall, which we managed to squeeze into. We had a whole crew to help us with our lines, and it turned into another spot where many of the Loopers converged.

Bridges across the Erie Canal

Bridges across the Erie Canal

It was a fun evening with docktails on the fly bridge of another Looper boat, an antique car show along the beachfront of Lake Oneida, and dinner at a crowded nearby restaurant. The old cars brought back some memories of our childhoods, our first cars, and how we would pack everybody in without seatbelts.

Docktails on Grand Banks - Sylvan Beach

Docktails on Grand Banks – Sylvan Beach

We got up early on Friday the 20th, and shoved off from the tight spot on the wall with the help of Burke, Brenda & Glenn. It was a cool but sunny morning as we traveled the 23-mile length of Lake Oneida. After the lake, the channel narrowed back down, dotted with summer cabins and homes along the shores on both sides. Going was slow with the locks to go through and the many no-wake zones because of all the private docks.

Crossing Lake Oneida

Crossing Lake Oneida

One of the locks had gasoline floating all over the surface of the water, and you could smell and see it along the slimy walls as we descended. We passed many sheriff boats, and found out later that they had found and pulled out a car with the remains of a woman inside who had strangely disappeared 18 years ago.

Junction of Erie and Oswego Canals

Junction of Erie and Oswego Canals

We locked through #23 on the Erie, and came to the junction of the Oswego Canal where we turned north. On the Oswego we went through 6 of the 7 locks (there is no number 4). Some of them were a little challenging in the wind which had become stronger as the day progressed. Current from the adjacent dams as you entered and departed some of the locks was also a little disconcerting.

Remnants of Old Cable Ferry Crossing - Oswego Canal

Remnants of Old Cable Ferry Crossing – Oswego Canal

We arrived in the town of Oswego about 5:00 p.m. and tied on the east wall between Locks 7 and 8. We hosted “sundowners”, the Bahama name for happy hour, on the back deck of A-RIVER-DERCI with a couple from Georgian Bay Ontario, and Glenn and Brenda on “Young at Heart”.

Locking thru on the Erie Canal

Locking thru on the Erie Canal

The town was getting ready for a big kayak event through all the Oswego Canal locks. Tents and picnic tables were set out, a band stand was put in place along with food vendor wagons – all right next to the wall where our boat was moored.

Kayakers Galore

Kayakers Galore

We awoke to another beautiful day. People were milling about, and the live music started at noon. Soon a horde of kayaks appeared, paddling past our boat toward Lock #8. We met and talked with a local resident who has lived his entire life of 63 years in Oswego. He pedaled off on his bicycle, but soon returned with an 8×10 picture of our boat he had just taken from across the canal. What a great gift!  I’m forever amazed at the kindness of strangers we meet along the way!

Oswego River Dam Current and Canal

Oswego River Dam Current and Canal

Jim walked across the bridge to a nearby grocery store for a few items while I worked on the blog. The whole town seemed to be out, celebrating the first day of summer and the kayak festival.

About 4:00 we said goodbye to Brenda and Glenn, and locked through Oswego #8, our last of the New York locks. Lake Ontario looming ahead, we made our way to the fuel dock at the Oswego Marina, filled up and pumped out. We both showered and I did two loads of laundry. Tomorrow we cross Lake Ontario and continue our adventure in Canadian waters.

Lock and Bridge - Oswego Canal

Lock and Bridge – Oswego Canal

The evening ended with fireworks to celebrate the beginning of summer. They were blown off right across the canal from us, and we sat up top to get the best view possible. It makes me wonder where we’ll be on the 4th of July. If we’re still in Canada, we’ll have to enjoy the fireworks on July 1st, Canada Day, instead of on the 4th.

Sylvan Beach Lighthouse - Lake Oneida

Sylvan Beach Lighthouse – Lake Oneida

We’re prepping the boat and charting our course for the big crossing of Lake Ontario tomorrow. Our intention is to make it to Trenton, where we will go through customs. Jim is putting the Canadian flag atop our US flag, which is a requirement while there.

While we are in Canada we will have very limited ability to text or take phone calls. Email will be our best way of communication. We’re excited to be on our way in the morning, with low winds and sunshine predicted. Happy trails to you all! A-RIVER-DERCI

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New Jersey, NYC, and the Hudson

I have fallen behind on updating the blog, so thought I’d better get to it! We have been moving along at a good pace, and have caught up with many other Loopers, despite our many delays with boat repairs.

Walkway to Pool and Aqua Sol Restaurant and Showers at Summit North Marina

Walkway to Pool, Aqua Sol Restaurant, Showers and Laundry at Summit North Marina

The Friday after Memorial weekend, we had a diesel mechanic install the re-built fuel pump and injectors for the main engine. We did a quick sea trial with the mechanic, only to find that one of the injectors was not working correctly. We quickly turned back into the marina, and despite the late hour were able to get in touch with Geoff Hoffman, who drove over, picked it up, re-built it and tested it, and drove it back so it could be installed that evening. Such service!

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Delaware City Street

After that all was good. We left Summit North Marina on Saturday morning for a short stint to Delaware City, finally completing the 14-mile C&D Canal (in 8 days). We arrived at the marina (one long dock in another canal) to find several other Looper’s. We commiserated with them, explored the town, and enjoyed crab balls and split a seafood potpie at Crabby Dick’s.

Lighthouse in Delaware Bay

Lighthouse in Delaware Bay

That evening we had a debriefing session with the Harbormaster for our trip through Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ. Because of the tide and currents, we left Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m., and made good time traversing the length of the bay. The winds were light, perfect for crossing big water. Ships passed by in the nearby shipping channel, and lighthouse markers warned of hazards along the way.

Jim periodically goes down below to check the Racor filters while we are underway, and once we had to shut down because the pressure gauge was in the red, indicating restriction of the fuel system. We made it to the Cape May Canal, having to wait to enter for an outbound ferry. Once in the canal, we made our way a few miles in to Utcher’s Marina.

Jersey Shore Ferris Wheel

Jersey Shore Ferris Wheel

We decided that our restriction problem had to be a little electric pump, so Jim got some fuel lines and fittings so that we could by-pass the pump. We managed to do this rather quickly, and ran the engine to test it. Our 50-mile cruise and engine work done, we enjoyed a docktail party with about 20 others doing the loop. Then we were off to the Lobster House for seafood take-out.

Ocean City, NJ

Ocean City, NJ

Many of us were planning to go on the outside, into the Atlantic for the next stint, but due to changes in wind direction, and our lack of confidence in our fuel system, we decided to take the inside, the New Jersey ICW. We traveled the entire NJ ICW with 2 other Looper’s, “Estrellita” and “Fruitcakes”. It was reassuring to be traveling with a couple other boats, and enjoyed getting to know them along the way.

New Jersey House - Where's the yard?

New Jersey House – Where’s the yard?

The NJ ICW is very shallow, not really maintained, albeit to reposition markers as necessary. The southern portion reminded us of Georgia, very  flat, winding its way through marshes and sand bars. Wading in the shallows were men with rakes, collecting oysters on the bottom. The Jersey shore is densely populated, most communities having large ferris wheels that loomed amid the crowded buildings. We rode under many bridges, several which had to be opened as our height of 15′ was too tall for clearance.

Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City, NJ

We made our way around Atlantic City to an anchorage right near the ocean inlet. It was wavy, with current and a lot of traffic, and wasn’t our favorite spot, the lights of Harrah’s and the Golden Nugget our view that evening. We saw “Nightcap II” and dropped the hook nearby.

Raking for Oysters

Raking for Oysters

Tuesday morning we pulled up anchor about 8:00 a.m. on the rising tide so we’d have the current in our favor. Again we encountered many shallow areas, and spots where the actual markers didn’t match the GPS. Unfortunately, “Estrellita” ran aground, as they missed one of the red markers in a confusing spot. They had to wait several hours for high tide in order to get off the bottom, and back into the channel.

Estrellita and Fruitcakes NJ ICW bridge opening

Estrellita and Fruitcakes NJ ICW bridge opening

We slowly went on, stopping in Long Beach where we got pumped out and filled up with diesel for only $3.55/gal. It looked like a really fun area to stop and explore, but it was early and we had plans to stay at the last marina on the ICW with our traveling companions. So we kept moving. As we got further along, the channel became wider and easier to navigate, although the sky suddenly looked threatening.

New Jersey Shore Parasailer

New Jersey Shore Parasailer

After only light rain, we went through another canal with very swift current, and made our way to Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle, NJ, the last stop before the Manasquan Inlet. We had a meeting with our fellow Looper’s, and planned our trip into the Atlantic and to New York City.

On Wednesday, June 4th, we shoved off about 8:30, having to wait for a NJ Transit train to pass so they could open the bridge. We made it through the inlet and a couple miles out into the Atlantic. We had no issues, with very flat seas, although there was quite a bit of debris, crab pots, and fishermen to avoid.

Great Kills, Staten Island

Great Kills, Staten Island

We decided to part company by Sandy Hook, they heading on through NYC, and us to Staten Island where we could get a mooring ball in a cove near Great Kills. The marina that had the mooring balls was completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, the office was a tent in the parking lot, and they had no restrooms or showers. Plus they wanted $45 each night to tie to a mooring.

Times Square with NYPD cop

Times Square with NYPD cop

Arthur, a gentlemen from the Great Kills Yacht Club nearby owned a mooring, and offered it to us for free. So that’s what we did. The people at the GKYC were so accommodating, friendly, and helpful! Beers were $2 (unheard of for anywhere in NY), and we were so entertained by listening to the accents and stories around the bar.

Times Square - Jim with 2 painted ladies

Times Square – Jim with 2 painted ladies

We got a lot of helpful information from John, the harbor mate, about boating thru NYC harbor, and about transportation to the city. On Friday, June 6th, after mechanic Santiago spent 4 hours getting our generator to work, we walked to the bus stop nearby, and rode into NYC.

What a blast! The bus took us right by the 911 site, with its new sculpture being erected out of the rubble, and up to mid-Manhattan where we got off at 34th Street. From there we walked all over – to Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, the Empire State Building, and all the way to Central Park. Once there, to rest our tired feet, we hired a young man on a pedi-cab to pedal us around the park so we could see more of the sites.

Central Park lake & fountain

Central Park lake & fountain

I had no idea it was so big, green, quiet, and beautiful! The energy of the city invigorated us, but with achy feet and smiles, we found our way to a bus stop, and hopped on, depositing our 24 quarters each for our ride back to Staten Island.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Saturday, the 7th of June, we departed Staten Island in light winds and sunshine. Slowly we made our way past the rock pile, which before Sandy held a lighthouse for 90 years, and into New York harbor. Carefully, making our way through the heavy traffic in the harbor (ships, ferries, water taxis, barges, excursion boats, travelers, pleasure boaters, fishing boats, and even a kayak), we cruised by the Statue of Liberty, then Ellis Island, then Manhattan, Yonkers, and up the Hudson River.

Manhattan Cruise Ship Terminal

Manhattan Cruise Ship Terminal

It was good to leave the hustle and bustle of New York City behind, and comforting to be in more familiar territory on a river. The Hudson is very picturesque with steep green bluffs on its banks, very deep water and huge spanning bridges. Our first stop on the Hudson was in the town of Harmon at Half Moon Bay Marina. It reminded us so much of our own Lake Pepin, where our marina is located back home.

Hudson River Sunset from Half Moon Bay Marina

Hudson River Sunset from Half Moon Bay Marina

Once again we reconnected with several loopers, and shared stories with some of the locals enjoying the weekend on their boats. Jim got a ride on a Donzi from owner Dominic, zipped up to an easy 70 mph in a few seconds.

Waterfall along the Hudson

Waterfall along the Hudson

We showered up on Sunday morning, then walked to a fantastic farmer’s market, where I got fresh eggs, rib-eye steaks, strawberries, potatoes, bread, asparagus, pickles, cookies, spinach and mushrooms. Afterward, a marina worker gave us rides, first to the local laundromat (expensive at $4 per wash), then to the grocery store to re-stock. It was an all-day affair, hauling our stuff down the docks, and stowing everything.

Monday morning we got a late start after sauna, showers, breakfast, and pump-out. It was foggy and cloudy, and we bucked the strong current as we slowly headed north.

Scottish Castle Ruins

Scottish Castle Ruins

The surroundings became more mountainous, trains traversing both sides of the river. We cruised near the ruins of Bannermann’s Castle on Pollepel Island, then past the formidable West Point Military Academy on the western shore. At points fog hampered our visibility, and light drizzle fell. We found some mooring balls in Chelsea, but our displacement was too much for their anchor weights. The harbor master came out in a little boat, and directed us to drop the hook at the southern end of his mooring field, which we did.

West Point Military Academy

West Point Military Academy

Barge wakes caused a little rocking, but we slept soundly. The Hudson still has tidal current, so we swung 180 degrees with the changing of the tide. The train whistles were loud, but did not disturb us much out on the water. I made pesto chicken Florentine for dinner, and we watched “America’s Got Talent”.

Islands & Bluffs - Hudson River

Islands & Bluffs – Hudson River

This morning we got underway about 10:00 a.m., making good time as the tidal current was in our favor for most of the day. We passed the town of Hyde Park, home to the Roosevelt’s and Vanderbilt’s. Unique lighthouses appeared alongside the channel, the Catskill Mountains hovered in the distance, and beautiful homes dotted the bluffs along the river.

An old Lighthouse, now converted to a B&B

An old Lighthouse, now converted to a B&B

We dropped the hook again just outside the channel. Jim tightened some bolts to keep the generator from rattling, and removed an air pump which is serving no purpose. Tomorrow we will go to Troy, through our first NY lock, and turn left into the Erie Canal. We will be on the NY Canal System, partway through the Erie, then up the Oswego until we hit Lake Ontario. This is another unique stretch that we are really looking forward to. Since we’re in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s neck of the woods, I will leave you with one of his famous quotes, “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”

In Central Park

In Central Park

Hope all is well with everyone following us on the blog! A-RIVER-DERCI!

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Chesapeake and C&D Canal

Patuxent River from Solomons Island

Patuxent River from Solomons Island

Saturday morning the 17th of May we took our time getting underway as the winds were supposed to calm down a bit in the afternoon. We had a big breakfast aboard, and took cool showers (not much hot water in the rustic marina bathhouse). We got underway about 11:00 a.m., winding our way through the narrow channel to get out to the Chesapeake.

Ships on the Chesapeake

Ships on the Chesapeake

Once out in the big bay, we turned to the northeast, with 3 to 4 foot waves at our bow. By 1:30 the winds had calmed down, making for a more comfortable ride.  The sun was shining, although the temp was only about 70 degrees. A little confusion ensued at a couple of points with ship traffic, and restricted and prohibited areas marked on the chart.

Sunset from ZYC Mooring Field - Solomons Island

Sunset from ZYC Mooring Field – Solomons Island

Solomons Island, about 10 miles up the Patuxent River was our destination that day, and we were surprised to find available mooring balls up Back Creek in Zahniser’s field. We picked up a ball and registered over the phone. There were a couple nearby Looper’s whom we chatted with. Since it was a weekend, many pleasure boats were out, and Darrell and Ruth from Nova Scotia who we met in Deltaville, pulled in before sunset and got secured to a ball. Live music could be heard in the distance. We grilled and played backgammon on the back deck, and chatted with folks on neighboring boats and bypassing dinghies.

Jim and our loaner bikes next to the Oyster House

Jim and our loaner bikes next to the Oyster House

The morning dawned sunny and clear, and we decided to take advantage of the loaner bicycles the marina offered. We pedaled to the Riverwalk area, and did the remainder of our exploration on foot. Solomons Island was founded in the late 1700′s, and is known for its oyster harvesting. We toured the John C. Lore Oyster House, where the process of cleaning, shucking, and canning the oysters took place. In the early 1800′s there were so many oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries that all the water was filtered and cleaned by them in only 3 days. Now, because of the dramatic decline, it takes the remaining oysters a month to filter all the water in the Bay.

The Tiki Bar - Solomons Island

The Tiki Bar – Solomons Island

We found a tiki bar (imagine that), and enjoyed one of their famous drinks out in the alley, which was covered in beach sand, palm trees, lawn chairs, and umbrellas.  We pedaled back to the marina, and had a cocktail at the pool bar which had just opened for the season the previous day. After dinner, Jim took me to the dock (via dinghy of course) so I could take a shower. That was an amazing shower – better than my own private bathroom at home!

Dinghy Ride - Solomons Island

Dinghy Ride – Solomons Island

Monday the 19th we got an early start because we had to stop for pump-out and water at the dock. The current was surprisingly strong, and we had difficulty getting into the dock. Third time’s the charm! Underway again, back down the Patuxent past the Naval Air Station, we saw their blimp flying overhead. Five ships were anchored where the Patuxent and the Chesapeake meet, and it’s a little disconcerting. Jim turned on the AIS on his cell phone, which shows all ships in the area, their names, destination, and speed and direction if they are en route.

Lighthouse Marker - Chesapeake Bay

Lighthouse Marker – Chesapeake Bay

Once again, the Chesapeake was a little choppy, but calmed down later in the afternoon. We stayed clear of the main shipping channel, and navigated our way up the Severn River to the city of Annapolis, MD. Again we got secured to a mooring ball in the City Marina’s field.

Dinghy with Mallards - Annapolis Alley

Dinghy with Mallards – Annapolis Alley

Annapolis was a hubbub of activity. We took the dinghy up the “alley”, lined with boats and restaurants, to the dinghy dock at the very end. The Plebes (freshmen) from Annapolis Naval Academy had graduated, and were all out on the town in their dress whites. We meandered along old brick tree-lined streets, passed many quaint shops, colonial homes, and the State House, the first Capitol of the U.S., and the longest continually used government building. The grounds were well manicured with lush landscaping, and made one stop to think about our nation’s beginning years.

Blue Angels - State House in background

Blue Angels – State House in background

Mallards had taken over the dinghy upon our return, and they were obviously not shy. It took a bit to shoo them away. Back at the boat we grilled burgers, watched the boats passing by, and saw Ruth and Darrell again on a mooring ball nearby, and made plans to have lunch in town with them the following day.

Darrell and Ruth's Boat "Nightcap II"

Darrell and Ruth’s Boat “Nightcap II”

The next morning was overcast. We dinghied back up the “Alley” to the dinghy dock and met up with Ruth and Darrell. We walked to a little Irish place and had a great lunch and a couple of beers/wines. Afterward, they came aboard and we enjoyed the Blue Angels performance overhead, their company and conversation.

Naval Academy Shoes Off before boarding boat tied up in Annapolis "Alley"

Naval Academy Shoes Off before boarding boat tied up in Annapolis “Alley”

About 8:30 Wed morning, we left the mooring field under cloud cover and threat of rain. We went under the 3.7 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge. We made good time, as the tidal current was in our favor, but both Racor filters plugged, so we had to shut down and change both of them. We were cruising up the Elk River, at the very northeastern tip of the Chesapeake when we spotted the Harbour North Boat Yard, so radioed and were directed into the shallow channel to the fuel dock. Shortly afterward, we motored to the Travel Lift, and mechanic Mike King emptied all the fuel from the port tank.

Boat in Lift - Harbour North Boat Yard

Boat in Lift – Harbour North Boat Yard

We had dinner at the Sunset Cafe – surprisingly tasty food for such a small little joint. The owner of the Boat Yard is the main chef and creates his own menus and recipes. We spent the night in the sling of the Travel Lift and watched the finale of American Idol.

Early Thursday morning Mike showed up with McDonald’s breakfast, and the main engine filters were all changed. They pulled the boat out of the water, and Jim replaced the zinc on the bow thruster, and examined the bottom, the prop, and the keel. Everything looked pretty good, until Jim found a fuel leak coming from the injector pump. So that got taken out and sent off to an outside guy to have new seals installed.

View from Boat Yard - the Elk River in the Distance

View from Boat Yard – the Elk River in the Distance

We borrowed a van and drove all over in search of a laundromat. We finally found one in Elkton, after driving around in circles. Siri was no help on the iPhone. But the countryside was beautiful, very green with rolling hills, woods, and horse farms.

Neighboring boat (sinking) with live-aboards

Neighboring boat (sinking) with live-aboards

Four loads of laundry done, we headed back to the marina and put everything away and had dinner aboard. Then a walk through the muddy yard to the Sunset Cafe for a couple of drinks and games of pool. The place is aptly named, for the sunset that evening was spectacular – the rain clouds bringing out many colors and reflections in the calm water. That night, in the sling again, we fell asleep to the sounds of a bilge pump running every 15 seconds on a neighboring boat.

Mechanic Mike with Daughter Sophia - Boat on Blocks

Mechanic Mike with Daughter Sophia – Boat on Blocks

The next morning our boat was moved to blocks in the yard, as they needed the travel lift for another job. I rode in the front berth, which was a little eerie. I got a shower in, not the greatest facilities, but better than nothing. Mike re-installed the fuel injector pump, and everything seemed to be running smoothly. Then back on the Travel Lift to the sling for our final night there. We split an order of seafood lasagna at the Sunset Cafe, and a piece of the best Key Lime pie I think I’ve ever tasted, and said our goodbyes to the regulars.

We left early after making sure the engine was warmed up and running smoothly. We entered the C&D Canal, and refueled at Schaefer’s Marina in Chesapeake City, after waiting for them to open. We shoved off, going under the Chesapeake City Bridge.

Chesapeake City Bridge - Ship approaching in C&D Canal

Chesapeake City Bridge – Ship approaching in C&D Canal

Just out of the no-wake zone, the engine started to rev up on its own. Jim went down below to check things out. Oil and fuel were spewing out from the main engine, and we were blowing smoke. We were able to shut down, and despite anchoring being prohibited in the 14-mile canal, we did so.

Another Tow

Another Tow

Luckily were off to the side enough, as soon after a ship approached. Jim quickly radioed them to let them know our position and our predicament. We called US Tow Boat, and got towed into Summit North Marina, about half way through the canal.

Hot Air Balloon from our slip at Summit North Marina in Bear, DE

Hot Air Balloon from our slip at Summit North Marina in Bear, DE, piloted by a marina employee

We have someone lined up to look at our problem, but being a long holiday weekend, we have gotten very slow service.The weather is beautiful, and we made it to Delaware, but we are both beginning to wonder if this old boat is worth sinking more money into. Our hope is that this stop will be our last in a series of ‘working’ stops, and that things will finally be operating the way they should once and for all. It has definitely been a memorable Memorial Day weekend.

 

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Phase IV – Chesapeake Bay

Ellie and Logan   :)

Ellie and Logan :)

I arrived back in Norfolk on Friday, May 9th, after a great visit back home with friends, kids, Mom, siblings, and best of all, grand children. My time there was busy and full, and it was good to re-connect face-to-face with those so dear to me, and to meet Logan, the new addition!

Jim greeted me at the airport, having rented a car to go to the Great Looper’s Rendezvous during my absence. It was good to see him, and I was struck by how green everything looked in comparison to home with the late Spring there.

Atlantic Yacht Basin Sunset - 5/9/14

Atlantic Yacht Basin Sunset – 5/9/14

Saturday we spent re-provisioning, and planned our first few days in the Chesapeake. We walked to the ‘Farm Fresh’ grocery store nearby, toting our carts. We also purchased an extension cord for the iPad, which has proven invaluable as an additional aid to navigation while up on the fly-bridge. Jim showed me all the improvements done to the boat. He fixed the helm seat, which was rickety and squeaky and even fell off a few times! We enjoyed watching the big boats waiting for the Great Bridge bridge openings, and I met a few of the neighbors and toured one of their boats.

A couple of the many Norfolk Bridges

A couple of the many Norfolk Bridges

Mother’s Day dawned bright and sunny with light winds. After breakfast and dishes, we moved the boat up the dock to the fuel area, where we pumped out and fueled up. We shoved off, then waited a few minutes for the 10:00 bridge opening. Just beyond the bridge is the Great Bridge lock with a short drop of a couple of feet. Beyond that the Steel Bridge, where we waited again for the hourly opening.

Downtown Norfolk

Downtown Norfolk

We cruised past many commercial and military ships, and the downtown area of Norfolk, and I saw where the Rendezvous had taken place. After several more bridges and a wait for a ship leaving port, we made our way into the great Chesapeake Bay. We cruised about 50 miles that day in sunshine and sparkling calm seas to Yorktown, which is up the York River about 6 miles. Here we got a mooring ball from the Riverwalk Marina. We played backgammon, and talked, texted, or Face-timed with the kids. It had been a blissful day, perfect boating weather with beautiful vistas, and no engine or fuel problems!

Military Ship Going thru Double Yorktown Bridge

Military Ship Going thru Double Yorktown Bridge

Huge waves rolled through from somewhere Monday morning, and I flew out of bed. That got me going! We watched a military ship pass through the 60 ft. high Coleman Memorial Bridge, the only double swing-bridge in the US, and make its way to the munitions depot beyond. We took the dinghy to the marina office to settle up for the use of the mooring ball. From there we explored the Riverwalk on foot, then hopped a free trolley to the Yorktown Victory Center.

Yorktown Beach - Boat on Mooring in Distance

Yorktown Beach – Boat on Mooring in Distance

Yorktown is significant in our nation’s history, as it was where the last battle of the Revolutionary War took place, and where the British commander Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. The Victory Center was a large museum with an amazing collection from that time, and had a living-history army encampment and 1780′s farm.

Victory Monument Site - Bridge in Background

Victory Monument Site – Bridge in Background

From there we rode the trolley to the Victory Monument, which was at the site of the battle. The 13 women around the mid-section of the monument represent the 13 US colonies. The grounds provided a picturesque view of the York River, from which we could see our boat.

Victory Monument - Yorktown

Victory Monument – Yorktown

It was a long and hot walk back to the Riverwalk area of town where we stopped at Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream and a bag of ice. Back at the boat we donned our swimsuits, turned on the air conditioning, dangled our feet in the 63 degree water, and watched the dolphins.

On Tuesday the 13th, after having trouble keeping the generator running, we headed back down the York toward the Chesapeake, again encountering ships and many Coast Guard boats. The engine quit once, but with our new double Racor system, Jim was able to quickly switch tanks, and we were soon underway again. It was another beautiful sunny and hot day. We navigated into Jackson Creek, and pulled into the Deltaville Marina and Boat Yard.

Deltaville - Relaxing in Adirondack Chairs by Laundry

Deltaville – Relaxing in Adirondack Chairs by Laundry

After discussing our continued problems with the Boat Yard staff, we scheduled work to be done early the following morning. We took loaner bicycles into town, and made a stop at West Marine for a new shore power cord and more filters. We met some of the other boaters, and turned in early.

Spring Blooms in Deltaville

Spring Blooms in Deltaville

At 7:30 Wed morning the mechanic was at our boat. They believed our issue was a matter of a plugged screen on the port fuel intake line. To access the line, a 6″ diameter hole had to be cut through the parquet wood floor, which took some doing. While the work was being done I did a couple of loads of laundry. They had diagnosed the issue correctly, and by noon we were underway again.

View from Sandy Point Anchorage

View from Sandy Point Anchorage

We did a short stint that day, about 25 miles because of the delayed start. The engine ran great, although the Racor filters picked up water, so they had to be drained. We anchored out near Sandy Point in the Great Wicomico River off Ingram Bay. I loved the anchorage spot as it was very secluded and protected. We played backgammon on the upper deck during happy hour. That evening the fog rolled in, and frogs could be heard croaking in the distance.

Sandy Point - Wicomico

Sandy Point – Wicomico

Surprisingly there was no fog in the morning, only low clouds and 10 mph winds. We made our way back down the Wicomico, through Ingram Bay to the Chesapeake. We encountered many crab pots along the way. Ships could be seen nearby in the shipping channel, and we had following seas, which picked up gradually as we headed north. One area on the navigation chart showed directional traffic lanes. Occasionally there are large round markers appearing in the distance like lighthouses or the pilot house on a ship.

View from slip at Smith's Point Marina

View from slip at Smith’s Point Marina

We had difficulty maneuvering to the narrow inlet on our way to Smith’s Point Marina. We chose it for the protection it offered, as the weather was forecasted to turn nasty, with rain and gale warnings on the Chesapeake.

The marina is very remote and a little on the rustic side. The employees were very helpful with docking and pump-out upon our arrival. All Racor filters were loaded with water upon our arrival, so Jim drained them, and arranged to have the fuel polished once again. Back at the Atlantic Yacht Basin, after polishing, the mechanic left the cap off the fuel tank. Jim arrived after dark in the pouring rain and hail, not noticing the cap was off. In the morning after his discovery, they re-polished the fuel to get the water out, but obviously they didn’t get it all.

Interesting Looking Bug on our deck table

Interesting Looking Bug on our deck table

The fuel polisher is here now, and he is finding loads of water and black gunk in the fuel. Will this issue never end? I am tired of not trusting the boat, and Jim is tired of moving furniture, lifting the heavy engine covers off, and lying on his belly with his arms deep into the abyss below. From overuse, he now has water on one knee, and is disgusted that we keep having fuel issues. And we’re both getting tired of the smell of diesel.

Bottle Nosed Porpoise

Bottle Nosed Porpoise

One nice thing, after heavy rains this morning the sun just broke out again. The winds have shifted from a southerly direction to a northerly, making it cooler. It will also mean we will be driving into the waves, which makes life easier when underway.

Once through the Chesapeake we go thru the C&D Canal, then through the Delaware Bay. Our travels will take us through mainly very big water until we clear NYC and are several miles up the Hudson River. It is a little intimidating, and requires certain weather windows, so progress seems a little slow. At the Rendezvous Jim was told that more people climb Mt. Everest every year than travel the Great Loop route. It is a much more grueling endeavor than we ever dreamed, but am glad we are committed to finish the journey.

Hanging with George Washington

Hanging with George Washington

Tonight I’m going to cook a good chicken dinner. We plan on leaving tomorrow morning to head up the Chesapeake to Solomon Island. It sounds like a fun community, with a nearby grocery store and lots to do. I’m looking forward to a little civilization after the remote areas we’ve been in for the last few days. Our phones don’t work here, but one good thing we have great internet service. Perfect chance to work on the blog!

Cruising the Chesapeake - Land Ahoy!

Cruising the Chesapeake – Land Ahoy!

Until next time, ARiverDerci!

 

 

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