Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cruising by the numbers

The small cove on the south side of Stovin Island in the St. Lawrence River near Brockville was our favorite image of the last two weeks. As for the numbers . . .

Total distance -- 540.2 miles
Longest day -- 99.0 miles
Shortest day -- 2.0 miles

Port engine -- 45 hours
Starboard engine -- 47 hours (on account of charging batteries)

Average speed -- 12 miles per hour
Maximum speed -- 27 miles per hour

Fuel burned (gasoline) -- 1,038.6 liters/274.4 U.S. gallons
Gallons per hour -- 6.1
Miles per gallon -- 1.97
Cheapest fuel -- $1.02 per litre at Port Whitby Marina, Whitby
Dearest fuel -- $1.18 per litre at Brennan's Marine, Gananoque
Propane burned -- 4 one-pound cannisters

Eight-hour candles burned -- 2.5
Paper towels -- 2.5 rolls
Toilet paper -- less than a roll*

Drinking water -- 37 litres
Red wine -- 6.75 litres
Beer -- 2.7 litres

Steaks (beef) -- four servings
Steaks (pork) -- one chop each
Lamb -- 3 small chops each
Pork roast -- one (but what a story it was!)
Sausages -- 9
Burgers -- 4
Chicken breast -- one, cut into two servings
Salmon -- one fillet
Trout -- one fillet
Eggs -- 30
Butter -- 1.5 pounds

Number of words in the Admiral's journal -- 4,858

Dollars expended -- to be tallied
Cost -- priceless

*No, we do wipe. We used so little aboard the TomCat as we had a chance to use shoreside facilities on Parks Canada islands and in marinas.

The Who Knows Where Cruise

Excerpts from the Admiral’s journal:

Sat Sept 12 - Cobourg
Depart Frenchman’s Bay at 0820 for Whitby to refuel and pump-out
The sun is shining, the winds are from the NE
Breakfast on the go - Admiral’s famous bacon/egg/mushroom western sandwich
It’s a bumpy ride - Admiral doesn’t have her sea legs and spends time on the cockpit floor snoozing and avoiding the big bumps
It’s a bit too bumpy to continue so we decide to stop at Cobourg.

Sun Sept 13 - Kingston, Confederation Marina
Calm day on the waters
For the first time, we see an unusually high number of American boaters
At the Adolphous Reach - we are radioed by a Rosborough 24 - “Pecan”
owned by Rich & Tamara Tate of Melbourne Florida, who are travelling with their son James. Rich is part of the CDory forum.

Mon Sep 14 - Wood Isle
Another sunny day. We enjoy a leisurely breakfast of eggs over-easy and see-it-again potatoes as we decide our route for the day.
We refuel at Kingston Marina. Captain discovers that the outboards have a gasoline smell. Concerned, we head to Collins Bay Marina to have it checked out. Great news! Nothing wrong, there may have been too much oil. Cost $37.00 for the appraisal and to take out a little of the oil.
We are given the go-ahead and head towards Camelot Island. Much to our surprise and disappointment the anchorage is full. We circle the Island and every anchorage and Parks Canada dock is filled. We now know, after Labour Day it is still very busy in the Thousand Islands and you have to arrive early to claim your anchorage.
We anchor at Wood Isle which is next to Camelot. We are not alone. We spot a 34 Defever, 42 Grand Banks and two sailboats.
We spot our first wildlife - two muskrats.

Tues Sept 15 - Adelaide Island
We wake up to the sound of our first loon.
Winds are out of the NE 10-15
After a quick breakfast of Kashi crunch cereal with blueberries, we head towards Adelaide Island, our first Parks Canada stop. Cost is .90 cents per foot for dockage. There is a reminder to pay immediately upon arrival.

Wed Sept 16 - Ivy Lea

Winds are out of the NE 15-17
Not sure if heading towards Brockville today.
As we poke our nose out, Captain decides to head upstream to Peck’s Marina at Ivy Lea. Cost $2.00 per foot. The most expensive dockage so far, plus $3.00 per garbage bag. But we do have wi-fi, laundry and a much needed shower.
Time to finally unpack our clothes.

Thurs Sep 17 - Stovin Island
Winds are very light
We head towards Brockville to do some provisioning:
the Farmer’s Market: local tomatoes, garlic, oriental cucumbers, yellow beans, potatoes, zucchini bread loaf, maple chipotle bbq sauce, amaretto honey and a grainy mustard. We buy out the Market as usual.
Tait’s Bakery and Deli for a multi-grain loaf and pumpkin tarts. Metro: St Albert’s cheddar cheese, salad, salmon, lamb chops (cut to order from the store butcher) and beef burgers, milk & juice
The Brockville Municipal Harbour allows free dockage for three hours. It took us that long to provision and have lunch. See-it-again pork roast sandwiches with the fresh multi-grain bread and tomatoes.

Fri Sep 18 - Crysler Park Marina, Morrisburg

We wake up to our first morning rain shower of the trip.
It is a leisurely morning as we plan our day.
Iroquois Lock our first seaway lock on the St Lawrence.
Dinner is Captain’s grilled smoked salmon on a cedar plank. Delicious. Very moist. Served with yellow beans and penne with pesto. Dessert is see-it-again pumpkin tarts.

Sun Sept 20 - Grenadier Island Centre

Winds from SW 5
Depart Crysler at 12:35pm
It’s a sunny day. We pass a very busy Brockville and Stovin Island. Cruisers, big ships, kayakers and runabouts. Very smooth ride to Grenadier Island Centre.

Mon Sep 21 - Grenadier Island
It’s a hot sunny day. No breeze at all.
We have been invited for dinner and to dock on a nearby island for the night.
Dinner of steak, potato and caesar salad. Dessert is a warm apple pie.
What a treat to stay on an island and to meet such hospitable hosts!

Tues Sep 22 - On to Gananoque

Light showers in the morning.
We check into Gan Municipal Marina. Cost is $35.28. Transient slips are quite a walk away from the facilities on the outer docks. You can recognize them by their blue cleats.
The Admiral checks in with the Marina Office and introduces herself to Katherine Kelly, daughter of the people we had dinner with last night. She is running the marina herself today.
After dinner, we do a load of laundry. $2.00 per load/wash (loonies only). 25 minutes for the wash cycle, 45 for dry.
We are bummed out that there is no internet. At check-in Katherine had mentioned that there wasn’t any internet coverage on the docks but in the laundry room. No such luck. We also discover that we left the 10 litres of water back at the Metro, ugh!

Wed Sep 23 - Kingston
Two more loads of laundry before we head out. We discover that the server for the Internet has been down. The Captain heads out to the Metro again to get our water and one more bottle of propane.
Breakfast is quick zucchini loaf and banana as we are doing the laundry.
We depart Gan after a quick lunch. We decide to overnight at Kingston as the winds are from the SW at 10-15 on the nose for the last half hour. Not fun for the Admiral. We have the dock to ourselves except for the summer liveaboards at the end of the dock.

Thurs Sep 24 - Cobourg

Quick morning shower and the Admiral heads out to the local Farmer’s Market.
Admiral buys: Whole Wheat Loaf (Red River Bran) from Wolfe Island, blueberry bran muffins, pecan tarts, zucchini squares, pumpkin marmalade and peaches and cream corn. All local.
Captain is finishing some e-mails and getting the boat ready.
It’s a calm morning and we are undecided how far to go. The weather will determine our distance. As soon as we depart the Murray Canal, we notice that the winds are changing and it is a bit choppy. The Admiral says let’s go for it. So 6 1/2 hours later, we arrive in Cobourg. This is the longest travel day aboard At Last! and for the Admiral.
Fairport Yacht Club has reciprocals with Cobourg Yacht Club but only on the wall. The water levels are too low, so we end up on a slip and a $31.50 charge.
Dinner is a grilled pork shoulder blade steak with BBQ sauce and yam and zucchini.
We have learned to use any marina microwaves (available in Kingston and Crysler Park Marina) for our potatoes and yams.

Fri Sep 25 - Frenchman’s Bay
Early departure at 0800 for Frenchman’s Bay
The winds were 15 NE -waves 3 to 5 feet - surfing conditions with At Last! running at about 20 mph, surfing up to 27 mph
1040 Arrive safely into Frenchman’s Bay
We stay aboard At Last! Don’t want to go home. Let the holiday continue, just a bit longer.

Signs in the sky

When we arrive in Kingston, we spot a rainbow beyond a neighbouring boat in Confederation Basin Marina, one of our favourite places to stop for provisioning and super-fast Internet access.

The next dawn, the color of the sky foretells of a change in the weather—likely for the worse. We did have 15 knots of breeze behind us and a following sea of 3+ feet on the run home from Cobourg yesterday. Today, three days of rain starts.

Soon after tying up at our dock (and after taking a nap), the Captain takes the kayak for a spin on Frenchman's Bay. That's our condo tower in the background.

Eating our way home

One night we feast on trout grilled on a cedar plank.

The next night the Captain serves up pork shoulder steaks slathered with a gourmet sauce.

We taste decadence in the pecan tarts from Wolfe Island Bakery, an excellent source of baked goods in the Kingston area.

The cannons of Fort Henry are trained on At Last! as we approach Kingston.

Here's Rosebud, a pretty tug conversion we encountered in the Bay of Quinte. She is based in Picton but her owner is a member of Frenchman's Bay Yacht Club back in Pickering.

The Brighton Road Bridge on the Murray Canal swings shut behind At Last!

Skinny-dipping in the St. Lawrence

We spotted this young lady getting ready to dive into the St. Lawrence River near Rockport. Anyone know who she is and what's the story behind her being there?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Trawler crawlers bare all!

Some people have shirts made up displaying the names of their boats with a graphic representing their pride and joy. Not Mike and Carolyn, owners of Navigator, a Marine Trader 44. They sport tattoos of a compass rose just like the one that adorns the transom of Navigator.

We’re delighted to have met them, and enjoyed swapping boating experiences over dinner.

Mike, when they began thinking about getting into trawlering, started lurking on the Trawlers & Trawlering List, a popular Internet forum the Captain has hosted since 1997.

In the winters, Mike and Carolyn head for the Bahamas with Navigator. In the summers, they replenish the cruising kitty by working in the 1000 Islands region where they have spent most of their lives. Carolyn manages a family health group while Mike is the dockmaster at Peck’s Marina in Ivy Lea where we overnighted one night last week.

It seems Mike, after we departed, recognized the Captain’s name from a copy of Circumnavigator magazine we gave him and emailed us an invite to dinner at the private island they look after near Rockport.

After they left for work the following morning, we stayed tied up to the dock, and later strolled around.

Talk about a great view of the 1000 Islands! With the water tower at Alexandria Bay, New York, just visible in the far distance.

Hmmm . . . what would it be like to own an island? For $600,000, the price of a new Nordhavn 43, we could own an island such as this one. Better yet would be to babysit one as Mike and Carolyn do . . .

Exploring Grenadier Island

It’s only her second time on a bicycle in umpteen years but the Admiral offloads her new Port Runner folding bike, in three steps unfolds and assembles it, and off across Grenadier Island she goes, following a trail through the woods and past a beaver dam.

As the sign explains, nature is taking over the island again, more than a century after it was cleared for use as agricultural land. Click on any image for a larger view.

A bustling farming community once thrived on Grenadier Island, but today it’s mostly the summer people who remain. The bustle of activity on the island is now made by boaters, hikers and paddlers who fancy the warm sandy beaches, old fishing holes, vivid past and abundant opportunities for observing wildlife.

The Admiral finds the water too cold and too wet for swimming.

All day we watch ducks, geese and a solitary great blue heron foraging for sustenance.

And the occasional perch aiming not become sustenance for anyone.

With bedding airing in the bright sunshine, our TomCat begins to resemble a gypsy boat.

Keeping the windows clean aboard At Last! is a daily chore for the Admiral.

Keeping in shape was supposed to be a daily task for the Captain but . . .

It’s the last day of summer, a glorious day that we enjoy immensely before a 15-minute cruise to a private island nearby where we have been invited for dinner.

Crysler Park to Grenadier Island

What a gorgeous day for the run back up river!

Clear skies, little wind, temps in the low 20s. But the current does sap two to three knots out of our speed. Whereas we ran down stream at 21 knots, sometimes faster, now we’re plugging along at 16 to 18 knots. (Speed in knots is measured in nautical miles per hour. One nautical mile is 6,080 feet, i.e., a tad longer than a land mile.)

Here’s Abaco, a tug we met and couldn’t resist photographing. Check out the crew taking a nap on the aft deck.

At the Iroquois Lock of the St. Lawrence Seaway, we save time and $25 by scooting through a gate on the adjacent control dam

The limiting air draft (height of the boat above water) is 2.5 meters. We’re 2.4 metres, with antenna and nav light lowered.

There’s always something to see on the St. Lawrence River.

Every now and then, we encounter commercial traffic, and lots of fishermen out in small runabouts.

At Brockville Narrows, where the ship channel runs close to the north bank of the river, there is so much traffic, we spend as much time watching for speeding boats approaching from the stern as looking ahead.

Regardless, we have a smooth ride all the way to the Parks Canada dock at Grenadier island Centre. Including some poking around and taking of pictures, we cover 66.5 nautical miles in four hours on the water.

At Grenadier, there are 16 slips available. At Last! and four other boats (one is here for a picnic only) occupy five slips. We dock apart from the rest as we prefer privacy.

Just as we settle in, an express cruiser comes in and docks right next to us. We can’t believe it! Eleven empty docks to choose from and he docks next to us. The captain of the cruiser jumps out of the boat, immediately hauls his generator to land and starts it up. Thankfully, it’s a Honda and not loud, but we can hear it. After all, we came to this park to get away from marina noises. We promptly put up our port and bow blinds facing our unwanted neighbours. We are not amused, but we elect to stay as the Admiral is busy making dinner of butternut squash soup and grilled St Albert’s cheese sandwiches.

Other than a curt “good morning” the next day, we never utter another word to the four people aboard the cruiser. They turn on lights and pretty well take over the dock with a BBQ and chairs around a fire pit--with their big dog running free.

One cruises to get away from it all but cannot escape human nature.

Weather is our everything

The last 24 hours, we have been watching the weather on eastern and western Lake Ontario, starting to plan when we'll make our open water run of close to 80 nautical miles from Presqu'ile Bay near Trenton to Frenchman's Bay. We don't like pounding to weather--heading into wind and waves--so for this stage of the cruise we don't want wind out of the west or south.

Today, Thursday, looks like an excellent day to lay down miles as there is only a light breeze from the north, from land, in the forecast. Friday starts getting a bit more windy and maybe not from the right direction all day. Saturday and Sunday, with winds of 15 to 25 knots forecast from the south, ie, building waves all the way from the south shore of Lake Ontario, we do NOT want many miles to cover.

Thus, from Kingston, after a visit to the farmer's market, we plan to run as far as the Trenton area, possibly continuing on to Cobourg to make the Friday shorter.

We'll be back in Frenchman's Bay two days early but cruising without pounding requires flexibility.

Here are the WX sites we consult:

St. Lawrence River
Eastern Lake Ontario
Western Lake Ontario
Toronto Islands. is a site new to us recommended by Mike and Carolyn of the Marine Trader Navigator.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Upper Canada Village

Sunrise at Crysler Park Marina near Morrisburg held promise of a gorgeous day for a visit to nearby Upper Canada Village, a recreation of an Eastern Ontario community in the 1860s.

Click on any image in the blog for a larger view.

By the by, if you want to walk from the marina to the village, don’t believe the 20-minute duration cited in literature and by marina staff. It takes a full 50 minutes to get there, albeit it is a pleasant stroll along the St. Lawrence River.

Happily, our visit coincided with the fall fair. The poster was typeset and printed in the village’s newspaper office. Altogether, the village covers 60 acres and takes at least a half-day to see. Adults $18.95. Seniors $17.95. If you have a CAA card, 10% off.

When we arrive, we have lunch at the Village Cafe: chicken caesar wrap and a ham-cheese panini with home-made potato chips on the side. These are the two largest sandwiches we have ever seen or eaten. Madeleine, our sandwich-maker, is rightly proud of her handiwork. In addition to being huge, they are delicious.

We see and learn all kinds of interesting things about life in Upper Canada at the time of Confederation, but, on occasion, we need to sidestep the horse apples on our walk around the village.

In the course of plowing one acre, a 1860s farmer would walk 10 miles. The village had 30 acres of fields. That’s 300 miles of walking behind the horse and plow.

The Admiral meets Eleanor whose task it is to pull the tow scow along the canal built in the village for demonstration purposes.

We say hello to Buck and Barney, the village oxen, but they ignore us.

One of the principal attractions of the village—at least for two cheeseniks—is the working cheese factory that makes the Upper Canada cheddar that we purchase.

Cheesemaking flourished in 1860s Canada with small operations such as the one at Upper Canada Village. The cheese was eaten locally and exported to England.

Mr. McNight, the apprentice, stirs the curd mixture over several hours. He tells us 900 pounds of milk makes 90 pounds of cheese.

Mr. Kayer, the cheesemaker, loads the curds into a press where it will remain overnight. Then the cheese is aged for months, turning black with mold on the outside. The mold is removed and we are served a very nice cheddar.

We also purchase on excellent whole wheat bread from the village bakery. It’s made with flour produced at the mill on the site. There is also a working sawmill and a small factory to spin wool gathered from the village sheep.

All the guides and interpreters are dressed in period costumes as is this school teacher.

The Admiral hopes she won’t be gored by one of the cows on display at the agricultural fair.

Four hours later, we are ready to head home to At Last! but, after being on our feet for the better part of five hours, we don’t want to walk back. Thankfully, the ticket agent offers to arrange for a ride with the security service that patrols the village.

Before long, the Admiral is husking the corn that will go with the Captain’s first attempt at grilling lamb.

Maybe a bit too long on the grill but otherwise juicy and tasty.

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