Wednesday — Picton to Belleville Canada

June 30th, 2010 john

Day: 383   Miles Today: 28   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3679   Total Locks: 92

Long pants it is.  It is windy again and a bit cool.  We watched all the other boats depart at 7:00 a.m. then took our time and left soon thereafter.  We were not in a hurry because we only had about 30 miles to go today and I did not want to arrive too early in the day.

We slowly raised the anchor.  I can raise it from within the pilothouse. You try not to put too much strain on the windless so you drive the boat a little forward and raise some chain.  This is repeated over and over until you are directly over the anchor.  Fran was on the bow looking down and pointing to which way the chain was running so I could turn the boat and slowly head that way. 

When we got directly over the anchor, I could feel the strain on the windless, but up came the anchor.  The bottom had been gray clay and the anchor came up fully loaded.  It looked like a mud ball of about 3 feet in diameter.  And of course the clay would not just fall off.  We have a hose on the bow to wash the chain and anchor as it comes aboard, but the hose would not do a thing to the clay.  Fran and I both had to use boat hooks to chip away at the clay to get it off the anchor.  The process took about 15 minutes.  It was not easy.  But finally clear of the clay we used the windless to hoist the anchor back on board and into its bracket.  We were off.

It was windy and the waves had kicked up to about 3 feet.  Again, it was no problem for the Emery El.  We arrived early at the marina in Belleville and pulled in through a very narrow channel with a strong cross wind.  I had to power up in order to get through the channel without drifting, then had to immediately power back to stop forward motion within the small marina. My instructions were to pull up to the end dock just on my left.  Lucky that pointed me into the wind which made for a more controlled docking.

They had four young females as dock attendants and I do not think that they see many big boats.  The wind was blowing 25 mph but would be on our bow as we pulled up to the end-dock on the pier.  The young lady catching the bow line did not know enough to wrap it around a cleat so I had to yell at her from up on the fly-bridge.  She tried to hold the boat, (fat chance) but to no avail. So I had to yell again “take a wrap”.  I don’t think she knew what that term meant.  She became frustrated and just laid the line down on the dock.  Finally a man from a neighboring boat came running over and took the line and got a wrap.  I then use that line to pull the boat backwards and the stern moved to the dock.  By the time the stern was tied the dock girl had disappeared.  I felt bad that I had to yell but the situation called for it.

Afterwards I walked over to the dock office, paid the dock fees and calmly talked to her again.  I apologized for yelling, but discussed the importance of “taking a wrap”; wrapping a line full circle around a cleat first thing.  Then I worked hard to smooth things over with other discussions and finally won her over.  She was no longer mad and was giving me directions to restaurants, etc.

The Emery El was securely tied up at the end on one of four piers in this municipal marina.  Now I had a chance to look around and realized that we do kind of stand out a bit, due to her size.  Oh, well. 

We relaxed and read our books in the afternoon and then walked about three blocks to a good restaurant.  If the dock person had not referred us to this restaurant we would probably not have entered, but it was very nice inside. I had a delicious fried seafood dinner and Fran had a big hamburger, which was just what he was seeking.

That evening we broke out a new game I had purchased and played Mexican Train Dominoes.  We had a lot of laughs.

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Tuesday — Kingston ON to Picton

June 29th, 2010 john

Day: 382   Miles Today: 40   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3651   Total Locks: 92

Up early we were, trying to get a jump on the weather.  We left the dock at 7:00 a.m. with four other boats at half hour intervals behind us.  The weather was forecasted to be blustery, and when we turned the corner out of Kingston harbor and started our first westward leg, it was a bit choppy.  The waves were coming directly off Lake Ontario and were in the 2 foot range.  For Emery El it was not bad.  But again I knew the wind was going to pick up throughout the day so we wanted that early start.  We had to go about 7 miles until we ducked behind Amherst Island which gave us a lot of protection.  The wind increased to the 20-25 mph range but the waves remained small.   There has to be a large fetch to allow for large waves.  (Fetch is the distance the wind travels over water, and the islands were protecting us.)

Next we cruised into the North Channel (this is not the North Channel of Lake Huron which we will traverse later in the trip, but the small North Channel on Lake Ontario). We then traveled west through Adolphus Reach and into the Bay of Quinte.  Finally four hours later we entered Picton Bay, which is very narrow and somewhat sheltered.  We tried to anchor in the town harbor but it was way too crowded with boats on moorings, so we turned around and came back out to a natural cove on the west side of Picton Bay named Hollowell Mills Cove and anchored there.  The anchor went down the first try but it was very windy today and the boat was skating back and forth and turning to the left and then to the right.  We were in 22 feet of water with a little over 100 foot of anchor chain out.  It was not uncomfortable, and the anchor was holding firm with no drag, that’s what counts.  Just don’t know what kind of sleep I will get tonight.

We were going to lower the dingy and motor into Picton, but I believe I will pass. I just would not feel comfortable leaving the Emery El alone at anchor with all of this wind.  We will run the generator for a couple of hours tonight and again in the morning to recharge our batteries and just enjoy a quiet night on board.

Hear we sit in this cove, four boats, all from the Tennessee River.  And no one knew each other before a couple of days ago.  Tomorrow we will part ways. The other three boats are going on to Trenton ON.  We will go to Belleville.  July 1st  is the big Canada Day holiday, so we will stay off the water and in port at Belleville for the whole weekend to enjoy the 1st and the 4th.

Hey ya’ll!  What happened to summer?  Tomorrow:  low of 55 with a high of 65.   I guess it is back to long pants.

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Monday — Kingston ON Canada

June 28th, 2010 john

Day: 381   Miles Today: 00   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3611   Total Locks: 92

Another rainy day!  At least we are timing it right.

This time however there are more looper boats here then when we last left.  Would you believe there are now 6 boats from Tennessee?   Yes, six!  We had a cocktail hour on one of the boats and I suggested that we all get together for our own rendezvous after we complete the Loop so we can get a picture of all of our boats with our Gold AGLCA burgess.  AGLCA is the American Great Loop Cruisers Association to which we all belong.  While cruising we all display a white AGLCA burgee (flag) that has a gold map of the Loop route.  This is flown on the bow of our boats indicating “Loop in progress”, so that we can recognize fellow “loopers” as we travel.  When you complete the Loop you earn and can then display the Gold version of the burgee.  That is a gold flag with a white map.

Last week when I was here, I had arranged for a mechanic to come work on the boat this morning.  Two men showed up at 9:30.  As I had previously mentioned, Fran and I tried to replace an engine stop solenoid, but the bracket did not \quite fit.  They had no problem and were very friendly as they worked.  When they decided they had to go back to their shop to cut a part of the bracket off, I just pointed out the workbench with the vise and handed them a hacksaw.  They were very appreciative about the size of the Emery El’s engine room and the equipment in it.  I also had them put some caulking around the windless located on the bow in hopes that it may stop a small water leak we were experiencing in the forward stateroom.  They also changed the oil in the new transmissions.  The first oil change was due after 50 to 80 hours of running.

They were very friendly and I could not believe the reasonable fee they charged.  I was very satisfied.

Today, Fran and I made a run to the hardware store followed by a replenishment run to the grocery store to up our stock of food.  I then asked one of the dock boys to drive me to the Beer Store to re-supply that staple.  We are ready. 

Tomorrow the weather does not look great.  I have spent some time reviewing tomorrow’s route along with the weather and I believe that it will be ok to depart.  If we leave early and the winds are down, we should be in protected waters within an hour.  I plan to go about 35 miles to Picton Bay and we plan to anchor for the first time.  Let’s see how that goes.

After discussing our plans at the cocktail party, (an informal skippers meeting) I believe I will have company traveling tomorrow.  We will see.

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Sunday — Alexandria Bay NY to Kingston ON Canada

June 27th, 2010 john

Day: 380 Miles Today: 36   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3611   Total Locks: 92

We left Alexandria Bay at the decent hour of 0830.  Instead of just retracing our route back to Kingston, we decided to be adventurous and to continue east on the St. Lawrence for about 5 miles and then to squeeze through a little cut between two islands to enter what is called the Canadian Channel of the St. Lawrence.  When we arrived at the two islands there were no buoys to mark our way, however the chart plotters showed a safe deep passage.  We slowed down and took it very carefully. We made it through with no problem.  Here we were maybe 50 feet from each island and were in depths of 85 feet of water.   The Thousand Island is full of these deep water cuts, for the brave and daring to explore.

Upon entering the Canadian Channel we turned back to the west and then went up the St Lawrence going contrary to the currents.  The actual current was not bad; in the wide parts it was maybe one knot and in the narrow channels it would pick up to maybe two and a half knots.  We had suffered through a rainy day yesterday, but thank the good Lord for providing a beautiful day today for our travel.  No wind.  Waters were perfectly calm.  (Fran and I have made church each Sunday, maybe it is paying off.)

We arrived back in Kingston at Confederation Basin at 1256.   For the third time we spun around and backed into the same end slip.  Again, everything went well.  It looked like we knew what we were doing.  (Boy can I still pull the wool over their eyes.)  All the dock hands know us here.  You would think this was our home port.

I went and checked back into Canadian customs with no problems, just the normal set of questions.  When they asked me how much booze I had on board I told them I was down to two cases of Canadian beer which we had bought last week in Canada.

Fran scampered to the showers then afterwards we went back to our favorite pizza restaurant.  I had the apple butter pizza again and yes it was still good.

Back to the boat, and I hate to admit it but I was in bed with my book by 7:30 p.m.   Hey when you are tired, you are tired.  (It is not good to beat the sun to bed!)

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Saturday — Alexandria Bay NY

June 26th, 2010 john

Day: 379 Miles Today: 00   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3575   Total Locks: 92

The weather was rain off and on all day.  We got up late and then started a new adventure.  We wanted to go tour Boldt’s Castle.  From the back of our boat where we were slipped, we could see the castle just across the St Lawrence’s American Channel.  Rain or no rain, we lowered the dingy off the boat and into the water and took off across the river to the castle.  It took us less then 10 minutes and we were tied up at their free docks.

George Boldt, the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and owner of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, built this castle in 1900 along with an elaborate boathouse located directly behind and across the water from it.  At one time Boldt was thought to have the biggest fleet of private boats in the area, with over 60 crafts, including a 140 foot houseboat, several steam yachts and many racing yachts.  He and his wife were avid boaters.

We were able to tour both the castle and the boathouse and were amazed at the beauty of that age in our history.  The Thousand Island area was quite the playground.  On the way back to the Emery El it rained and we got a bit wet but so what.  We put the dingy back on the boat, went in, changed clothes and settle in to watch soccer.

It is supposed to clear tomorrow and we will head back to Canada.

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Friday— Kingston, Ontario to Alexandria Bay NY

June 25th, 2010 john

Day: 378 Miles Today: 33   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3575   Total Locks: 92

I got Fran up early today and off we went.  This was going to be a side trip for us.  We turned east out of the Kingston harbor and started down the St Lawrence Seaway.  The river winds right through the Thousand Islands area.  It is exceptionally beautiful.  There are lots of big houses on the waterfront.  I was initially nervous about going down the St Lawrence due to the shipping traffic associated with this route.

However, the morning was beautiful, with bright sun and still waters.  We had the seaway almost to ourselves.  When we got down near Alexandria Bay, the channels got smaller and the number of boats picked up, but all was ok.   But now we were back in the U.S. so we had to clear customs.

There were several ways to clear customs but I had asked several boaters in Kingston (one being a paid Captain, running a 66 footer) what the best procedure would be.   I followed their advice.  Directly across the channel from Alexandria Bay is Heart Island, which is the home of the famous Boldt’s Castle.  It is a very highly visited attraction and because of the influx of the Canadians, they have a U.S. Custom’s check-in right there on the dock.  So I pulled up to Heart Island and waited for one of the tour boats to enter and followed it in.  We then saw the Yellow line on one of the docks, indicating a U. S. Customs dock.  There was no one to help us with our lines but we pulled up in a light but contrary wind.  Fran was able to reach out with a boat tool and place a line on a cleat.  I then used that cleat to pull forward which eventually brought the boat over to the dock where Fran could step off and then tie the stern and then the bow.  It took us a little time but we did it without looking too foolish.

Customs was a matter of giving them our passports, documentation number and answering a few questions like where have you been?  For how long?  Where are you going next?   It took every bit of my self control not to espouse on any one question, but to answer them as simply as possible.

I was nervous when he stated he would walk through the boat and that I had to remain on the dock, but when he returned all he said was “Nice way to travel!”.  I guess he did not mind the two cases of Canadian beer stuck in the corner.

We then left Heart Island without a tour of the castle.  (We plan to return tomorrow by dingy.)  We proceeded directly across the river to our marina and tied up.  After checking in we took a long walk to downtown Alexandria Bay and checked it out.  Guess what?  It’s “Biker Weekend”.  Bikers are pouring in by the hundreds.  It should be an interesting weekend.

It does feel good to be back in the U.S.  The price of beer has gone down, but the price of docking has doubled.

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Thursday — Kingston, Ontario on Lake Ontario

June 24th, 2010 john

Day: 377 Miles Today: 00   Locks Today:  00   —   Total Miles:  3542   Total Locks: 92

The weather was not looking too good for today so we decided to stay still.  I was up at my usual 6:00 A.M. and baring an umbrella, shower supplies, and a bag of laundry, I braved the docks in the rain and walked to the marina office.  Believe me it is quite a walk from our slip to land.  After a warm shower, I started up the laundry and enjoyed a good book.

Afterward, Fran and I enjoyed a good late breakfast on land and then returned to the boat for some engine room maintenance.

In the afternoon we fell back into boat time and read our books, watched a little soccer on TV and then worked on planning the next couple of days.  We have decided to change our plans.  We are going back into the U.S. of A.  This is a chance to see the Thousand Islands area and since our trip up and down the Rideau went relatively fast we are ahead of schedule.  So tomorrow we are going to travel east, down the St Lawrence Seaway through the Thousand Islands to Alexandria Bay NY.  I am really looking forward to seeing this area.

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Wednesday — Chaffey’s Lock to Kingston, Ontario on the Rideau

June 23rd, 2010 john

Day: 376   Miles Today: 33   Locks Today:  13   —   Total Miles:  3542   Total Locks: 92

We got up leisurely and departed by 08:47 A.M..  The weather looked like rain was on the way but it never showed up.  We were going to stop at one of the locks and make it a two day trip back to Kingston but the weather forecast for tomorrow looked even worse so we just kept on going.  We had a big day: 33 miles and 13 locks.  That’s our record for locks in one day.

In one of the locks we had a problem.  Many of the locks on the lower Rideau have to be filled to the brim in order for the Emery El to make it through.  They fill it to within an inch or so of the top, which makes it very difficult to fender the boat.  The water is so high that it is actually cascading over the lock doors into the next lock or river.  The lock tenders help you by passing your boat lines under the cables that are barely visible starting down the sides and then they hold you off until the water starts to go down and your fenders can grab.  It makes for some anxious moments.

We were in lock 2 of a four lock step-down when the cable that the stern was attached to gave way.  Yes, it broke.  I guess it just did not like the Emery El pulling on her.  It made for some exciting moments both for Fran on the stern and the lock attendant but they soon had the boat line around another cable and we were ok.

All of the locks were open and waiting for us or at least ready to open when they saw us, except for the last set.  We had to pull over to the wall and tie up and wait 40 minutes for a boat from the other direction to come through the set of four locks.

Finally we were down to level zero with no more locks to go through.  Now we had another problem.  It was 04:15 P.M. and there was a bridge in Kingston 5 miles away that had to open.  This bridge is on an hourly schedule except at 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M.  We slowed down the last five miles and only went 4 mph trying to eat up time but will still arrived at the bridge at 5:05 so we had almost an hour wait.  We went up to the fly-bridge and let the boat idle for an hour.  I smoked a cigar and it really was not a problem.  The boat did not wonder very much and just held station.

At 6:00 P.M. the bridge opened and our destination marina was just on the other side.  When we pulled in we were assigned the end slip which meant that it only had one finger pier.  We had our choice to go in bow first or stern first, we decided to pull in stern to.  Of course everybody from nearby boats came out to help.  We spun the boat around and backed her up just like we knew what we were doing!

Guess what, the boat next door to us is from Tennessee.  In fact, there were three boats from Tennessee all tied on the same dock as us.  They are all doing the Great Loop.  Then I looked around and saw that there were five boats total flying the Great Loop pennant.  I guess the season has caught up with us.

We tied up, secured the boat and then Fran went running to get a shower.  This was the number one item on his list.  After he returned and changed into fresh clothes we went out to our favorite pizza restaurant, just a half a block away.  I was in an adventurous mood, so I selected a special pizza.  This pizza did not have red sauce; it had Apple Butter, Roasted Garlic, Cheddar Cheese, Sweet Onions, and Blackened Chicken.  I think it was the best pizza I ever had.  (I better wait until I have it again to say that.)  But it was delicious.  For those of you that may come this way, it is one block from Confederation Marina in Kingston and is named Wooden Heads.  It is a classy restaurant that just happens to also sell pizza.  (I wish I would have gotten a picture.)

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Tuesday — Newboro to Chaffey’s Lock, Ontario on the Rideau

June 22nd, 2010 john

Day: 375   Miles Today: 06   Locks Today:  1   —   Total Miles:  3509   Total Locks:  79

Last night during dinner our air-conditioning went on the blink.  It was not a big problem because the fans in the staterooms worked great. First thing this morning, we went into the engine room and opened up the sea-strainer for the air conditioner water intake and also the strainers for each of the engines.  They were all filled with seaweed.  So hopefully that was the problem.  It has been too cool today to run the A/C.

Today, while sitting tied up at the lock, was the first time we have seen the lockmaster pack boats into the lock. They had four large pleasure crafts in the lock, two to starboard and two to port, and then stuck a medium sized craft in the middle, rafted to one of the boats.  I think it is a sign of what is to come ahead of us as vacation time hits Canada.

We left there about 11:30 AM. And  by 12:45 P.M. we were re-docked at Chaffey’s Lock.  It is just another quiet little park.  We were about 50 feet from the lock gates so we got to watch all the boats go through. 

There is no town here but there is an old fishing lodge up the hill, so we booked dinner at the 6:00 P.M. sitting.  The lodge was decorated like something out of the 1950’s, vinyl chairs, etc.  For those of you who are relatives, it looked like Uncle Ed’s basement in the olden days.  Dinner was good, but I am not sure what the “sittings” were all about.

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Monday — Newboro, Ontario on the Rideau

June 21st, 2010 john

Day: 374   Miles Today: 00   Locks Today:  0   —   Total Miles:  3503   Total Locks:  78

It was just too pretty today to untie the boat.  I had some work to do for the company back home, so we just stayed tied up before the lock.   I worked all morning and into the afternoon and got a lot done.

Fran got industrious today.  The staff of the Winter Harbor Marina, Brewerton NY, had made a new top rub-rail for the port side of the boat.  (There are three rub-rails on each side.  Rub-rails are made of teak wood and stand out from the side of the boat.  They have a stainless steel cap rail that attaches to the outside edge.  They help protect the boat, are used for rubbing against pylons etc.)  Anyway, I had a new one made and put onto the boat but it needed to be painted.  Fran removed the stainless, put on an epoxy primer coat and then put the stainless back on.  It looks great and now the new wood is protected from the elements.  We will wait until we return to Memphis to get the master craftsman, (Barbara) to put on the outer coats of the Awlgrip marine paint.  She’s a real pro at that.

While docked we had four small steamboats pass through the locks just next to us.  They were especially neat.

We had another quiet evening on the boat with spaghetti and meat sauce.  Grabbing a book it was off to bed, listening to the calls of the male and female loons.  Just can’t beat it.

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