Where we at

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Fulton to Brewerton, marina

This is the first marina we've been in since Kingston, Canada!

It appears from our departure and arrival times that the day was long. We did have to go through 3 locks, 2 on the Oswego and 1 on the Eerie Canal. We started the day a bit later, given we didn't have far to go.

But we had an hour break (or longer) when we got to Phoenix. While in Lock 1 David noticed that the quaint town had a distillery. We all pulled over and tried out their stuff. Russ and I had a small pizza for lunch.

SAMPLES ONLY! We were still cruising. Just wanted to clear that right up.

Russ and I took a walk while in Fulton. This is the waterfall
from a bridge. You can see the boats in the distance on the left.

While on that walk we spied something in the bushes. We thought
they were buoys of some kind. Turned out they were mushrooms.
Backpack for scale!

Heading back to the boats after lunch.
Before we got into our slip we fueled up, arriving with 19% in the tanks. The weather was perfect, the breeze refreshing. No rain, despite the predictions we'd have some. Excellent day.

We're here for more than a week. Russ is hoping to get a solid answer to the small antifreeze leak we've had since leaving Baltimore, and hopefully get it fixed. We hoped to have the boat detailed, but alas, that will not happen. All the detailers here are single person businesses, and our boat is just too big. Funny, that's the same reason we want to hire it done!

Gorgeous boating day.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Oswego to Fulton, wall

Starting to move south, now.

Rather than make Saturday a longer day with 8 locks or so we decided to put in a couple of hours this morning and get the a mid point, Fulton. We've never been to Fulton. When we looped we went from Phoenix to Oswego. Always good to try new things.

While a short day we did get through 4 locks.

Rainy morning, so locking was dampish.

<slight lock rant>

Right away we noticed a striking difference between the Canada locks and the US/NY locks. These locks (Oswego, Eerie, and Champlain Canals) are similar to the Canadian locks (Trent-Severn, Richelieu, Chambly, and Rideau) in that they are used largely by smaller vessels or personal crafts. The US canals still do get the occasional tow, but they are typically small. 

The walls are crumbling, and the bollard
is waaaaaaay out there.
We're tied on a wall that is eroding. Highwind found some rings to use, but we only had large bollards we could secure to. 

When we hailed the first lock, Oswego Lock 7, someone from lock 6 answered. We realized later that one guy is running both. He was telling us he was on his way.

Meanwhile, the Canada locks had well groomed parks and walls for boaters. Every lock had a number of people working at it. I think the fewest we saw at any lock was 3. To be fair, these locks will not be open most of the year. The job of lock master is coveted by college kids on summer break. They were happy and enthusiastic. One we talked to was thrilled to get the gig, which saved her from a summer of working at Subway.

The canal is quite lovely, even in the mist.
Today, the first lock guy (the one working 7 & 6) was friendly. He offered conversation and even made an announcement (Lock 5 was having a power outage, but it was fixed by the time we got there). He genuinely seemed to enjoy his job. The other 2 lockmasters, not so much. Only one answered a hail, the other we had to call by phone. They hid in their little houses as we floated out of the chambers avoiding eye contact.

It is true, there is no hailing the Canada locks. Frankly, there is no need to. They see you coming, they ask where you're going, and they notify the locks and bridges ahead of you. Oh, and they ask for your pass number.

And this is the biggest difference: We pay to go through the Canadian locks. You can either buy a one-way trip, or you can purchase a seasonal pass, which gets you mooring privileges too (meaning you can stay on the walls for free). That is $20 /foot of your boat, so for us about $900. And totally worth it.

Waiting for a vessel to lock down we got
against another wall, also a bit of a mess.
There was only 1 bollard to tie to.
My point here is I'm flabbergasted that NY doesn't do something similar. Let the commercial vessels move about for free, but us little guys should pay to use the the channels. On this trip we're going to go through all three of their canal systems, all of which were lovely and full of nifty little towns. I can't help but think a "seasonal pass" would help the locks to be maintained, the walls to be fixed, and maybe pay their employees more. Maybe even get some college student an interesting job so she doesn't have to work at Subway.

</slight lock rant>

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Cape Vincent to Oswego, wall

Days ago we'd had our eye on Tuesday as being our "go day." The winds have been pretty unpleasant, blowing hard from the West, making nasty water on the east side of the lake, where we were. Monday the winds were predicted to come from the north, which they did, but a lot harder than predicted. While not great a north wind would be acceptable given we're headed south.

This morning things looked calm. We didn't hesitate at all -- up at 5:30, had some coffee, and out we went.

The 5 hour ride went perfectly. No engine issues, no weather issues, no water issues. We even got through the lock with ease.

The plan is to be here for a few days then head to Brewerton this weekend. We'll be there for a week or so getting some repair work done and (fingers crossed) detailed. The boat is filthy! She's over due for a good cleaning.

Just past those islands is Lake Ontario.

And about 4 hours later, in the distance, Oswego.

inQuest on the wall between Lock 8 and Lock 7, which you can see.
This way we have no weather to deal with, since we're behind the
lock wall. You can see the river rushing on the right.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

3 crazy quick days (Lake of Isles, Boldt Castle, Clayton, Cape Vincent)

Friday afternoon, while on the hook in the Lake of the Isles, the anchor started to drag. Between 30 knot winds and us rafted to Highwind we added enough weight to make it a problem. So we detached ourselves and headed to Boldt Castle, around 3 pm. We'd anchored there before, so we were confident of the holding, and it was in a more sheltered little bay. After they finished work Hannah and David picked up their anchor and joined us, around 6 pm or so.

First thing Saturday we headed to the castle. Still as opulent and jaw-dropping as it was in 2019 when we last visited. Only this year, because the water levels weren't nutso high, we could tour the boat house as well.

David took this with the drone Friday night.
If you click it you can see us... on the left, middle of the water.

Behold. Boldt Castle.
Construction started in 1901, but it was never completed.
It was halted in 1904, when Mrs. Boldt unexpectedly passed away.
It's said Mr. Boldt never visited the island ever again.

Left to rot in the elements many of it's rooms have been 
restored by the Thousand Island Highway Authority.

The domed stained-glass ceiling in the center of the castle.

It's not the intention to finish it, only to bring it to the same
point as when Mr. Boldt left.



'Nuff said.

After that we had a late brunch on the boats (Hannah made banana waffles, and we donated scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes), we all headed to Clayton. We got in early enough we did a quick tour of the Antique Boat Museum there. Then we all went off and had dinner, where I had arancini for the very first time ever!

There were many amazing homes built on these islands.
I took pics of some of the most lovely ones as we traveled.

Lack of roads meant you need access to boats to build.
This is why the area holds so many fancy houses.

Only the very, very rich could buy and build here.

Dinner in Clayton
The next morning we all lazed about until 11 am or so, and had another breakfast, this time blueberry pancakes. Both of us got underway, but we're parting for a while. Highwind made a dash to get to Oswego, on the south side of Lake Ontario. Given they work they didn't want to do a time consuming crossing during the week.

We, on the other hand, we picking a better "go day". So we sidled up to the town dock in Cape Vincent where we'll stay a night or two. Our current plan is to cross the great lake Tuesday.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Running errands

It's looking like tomorrow is going to be a blustery day. So rather than move and risk the next anchorage being more exposed, we've all decided to stay put. However, inQuest needed to get pumped out, watered up, and take on a little fuel.

So. That's just what we did. A number of marinas opened around 9 am, so we unrafted from Highwind and took a 45 minute cruise to Alexandria Bay. 

The city dock was our first choice, but they ran out of diesel. JPs Marina was open, but their fuel price was higher than Horizon Marina.

Unfortunately Horizon didn't actually open until 10 (and it was 10:15 before a person came to help us). We used that time to fill up our water tanks. New day docks had been installed since that last time we were here. I took a look at places that served breakfast, thinking we'd dock after getting this done and get some pancakes.

We made pizzas on the barbie last night,
hanging out on the stern of Highwind.
Fuel still isn't cheap, so we only got enough to comfortably get us to Brewerton, NY, where it is cheap. Well, cheaper. That we were prepared for. What we weren't prepared for was the $15 per tank pump out. We get that the equipment isn't free, but that's an insane price. And we have 2 tanks. Size doesn't matter, quantity doesn't matter, if you have to attach a hose to it, you get charged.

We got our fuel and pumped out. Then we left. The dockhand didn't get a tip, and a local restaurant didn't get any business. And, we gave them a bad review.

See what I did there?
The trip otherwise was without incident. We sidled neatly up to Highwind on our return and had fruit and yogurt for second breakfast. Which ultimately was a healthier decision.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Chillin' on the Lake

Nicely protected we decided to simply stay anchored in the middle of the Lake of the Isles. We've had a number of small adventures, even staying put.

Hannah and Russ did some rock jumping.
Hannah made this spiffy vid, too!

Russ and I decided to do some grocery shopping when I discovered there was a dinghy dock near a small store. Getting there was a bit wet, since there was decent chop on the St Lawrence. But the ride down the creek was very interesting. Like boating in people's back yards.

As we returned I took this pic of our boats rafted together. Russ asked, "Do they look closer to that shore to you?"

Yeah, they do. Turns out David was waiting for us when we got back. We'd been dragging for a while. They went and reset an anchor. Meanwhile, Russ did this for the next 30 minutes...

All is well, now. We do like this anchorage so we'll stay until Thursday or Friday. Then it's off to Boldt Castle.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Summerland to Lake in the Isles, anchor

Nestled between a couple of the bigger islands was the Lake of the Isles. We had a couple of days to chill before moving on, surrounded by land, this should make a good calm hidey-hole from any weather. Not that we're expecting much.

Russ and I left the anchorage earlier to check out the lake before Highwind joined us. There was some disparity between our charts about the depths getting into the lake. We thought we'd investigate before everyone had to commit.  The entrance was a little shallow, but the worst we saw was 4.5 feet beneath our keel. Heck. We only need 1.

Dawn's happening later and later.
When we got to the mapped "anchor here" location we could only grab weeds. We tried different locations, but still only weeds. The water was so clear, I could see them from the helm. We moved out into the lake a bit, Russ looking over the rail, until he found a clear patch. He dropped the anchor at that moment, and it bit into sand.

Everytime we bring up a weedy anchor
it needs to be cleaned before we set it again.

As the day went on nearly 15 to 20 other boats came out to swim or suntan. Families set up swim inflatable platforms, kids jumped from rocks, and jet skis buzzed about in the sun. It's Monday. I swear, no one works anymore.

A panoramic of aaaaaall the little boats around us.

Getting to the lake. You'll see us slow when we
enter the thinner section, both of us watching depth.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Huckleberry -> Gananoque -> Grenadier Island, anchor

Gananoque was just a couple of miles from the anchorage. Ideally we wanted to eat lunch there, but the afternoon weather forecast said big rain and winds were headed our way. So we got close to the town, anchored nearby, piled into a dinghy, and had a late breakfast. Well, second breakfast for Russ and me.

From there we moseyed over to the local brewery and played some Hanabi. After the second game we noticed a distinct turn in the weather. Without hesitation he hustled back to the dinghy. We managed to get on the boats seconds before the sky opened up and dumped buckets of water.

Hannah's pic of the town's sign.
We noticed 2 fronts were passing over us so we hung out, watching our anchor to make sure nothing terrible happened. By 3 pm the skies cleared so we continued the voyage east. The goal was to get close the Singer Castle so we can tour it tomorrow.

That is in the US. So tonight is the last night in Canada.

Hustling back to the dinghy before the rain gets serious.

While short the trip from Gananoque to Singer was amazing.
You travel though a number of rocky islands.

It wasn't hot but Hannah and David took the opportunity to
laze in the lake. Russ did too. I'm the only hold out!

The trip through the 1000 Islands.
... okay, maybe only 50 or so ...

Friday, August 11, 2023

Kingston to Huckleberry Island, anchor

We got underway around 8:30 this morning. The idea was to get close to Gananoque (pronounced "gan-an-ahk-way") so we can go there this weekend. Having just been in a marina for a few days we anchored out. It's Friday night and the boaters are out en force. While we were the first to drop a hook within a couple of hours there were a dozen other boats enjoying their Friday afternoon.

Two noteworthy things about the trip. The first was getting out of our slip. The slip was double long, and throughout our stay there'd been a boat parked behind us. But the last day there, of course, was the biggest boat. That meant a little bit of planning and execution to wiggle out of the slip without hitting anything. And, we did -- smooth like butter! The owner of that vessel, clearly concerned, came out to watch. Russ was on the bow, making sure we were clear on all sides, when the guy called, "Not his first time, I take it?" To which Russ called back, "Her." I'm always amazed that no one thinks a woman can drive a boat.

Lots of boats enjoying the afternoon.
On the left, 4 are rafted together.
The second noteworthy thing was the Navionics route. We know the software cannot be completely trusted. We tend to correct or ignore its ideas as we go. At one point Russ was driving and mentioned that it was taking us out of the channel for some reason, and he was going to respect the ATONs. I was playing a game so I heard and understood that, but wasn't paying attention to specifics. A few minutes later he got a phone call, so I took over. We were on the Navionics route still, so I kept following, assuming whatever he mentioned had passed. 

Nope, it hadn't. What I was seeing on the water (which is a lot of tiny islands made of rock) and what I was seeing on the maps did not vibe in my head. I stopped our forward progress and checked all the maps -- we have three or four active at any given time -- to see if I missed anything. Yep, the green was waaaaaaay over there. I slowly made my way back to the channel, grumbling that Navionics is trying to kill us.

We got a text from our buddy boat: Just felt like ducking into the US? For whatever reason, Navionics sent us out of our way to get to the US only to come back to Canada to anchor. Always got to be on your toes. Especially from homicidal software.

The red/black line is the Canada/US border.
The most direct route would have been to stay
on the green line. All those black dots
are ROCKS!

Thursday, August 10, 2023

What to do in Kingston

For a tiny town Kingston has quite a bit to offer. Lots of shopping, lots of restaurants, and lots of attractions.

We did an Indiana Jones-themed escape room.
The decor was amazing -- we had to traverse bridges
(you can see on the left) and crawl through spaces.
Oh yeah... solved it! With no hints, even.

We took an express tour of the no-longer-in-use Kingston
Penitentiary. This is the guard house in the main cell block area.

Throughout the 4 days we were here we've had to contend with
a number of storms. Some wild weather.

This is from Cook Es. It's 2 scoops; the bottom was
peanut butter chocolate ice cream, but the top was a 
scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough. 
Not ice cream, actual cookie dough!

Kingston offered 2 escape room venues, so we tried them both.
This one was much more cerebral -- lots of puzzles, lots of thinking.
What would you expect from a Sherlock-themed escape room?

The goal was to get a stolen file back from Sherlock's
stalker, Irene Adler. Once we did so, this was inside...
it was a pic of us breaking into her place.

Flip that over, and written on the back. This was a wonderful detail to the game.
Which we solved...with only 5 mins to spare...without any clues.

On a walk I saw this cottage and had to take a pic.

We also ate out at a number of restaurants. There's an amazing variety, from Texas BBQ to Thai, from Mexican to fish and chips.

But tomorrow we'll head out, down the St. Lawrence, and spend the next couple of week in the Thousand Islands. Our buddy boat has an appointment in Brewerton, New York in late August. Time to start heading south.