All good things must come to an end. At least that is what Geoffrey Chaucer said in 1374, and for his sake, I sure hope that 1375 brought Geoffrey many more good things. Because Karen and I had an amazing summer of travel onboard Thalia this year and we sure hope more fun is in store for next year.
We brought Thalia to her new winter home at Navy Point Marine, in Sackets Harbor, New York this week. It was a whirlwind of a week, not the least of which was due to a weather pattern that started out in the low 90’s and ended in the mid 40’s. We had been blessed with three weeks of sunshine and warm temperatures in the Thousand Islands, so it was fitting that the cold weather would catch up to us eventually. It took Karen and I four days to unload the boat and winterize it for her long winter nap. She has now been hauled out and is in the fine care of the staff at Navy Point Marine. For our part, we hope the winter is gentle in the North Country so that Thalia can easily rise to the task of another adventure, on the St Lawrence River and beyond.
Karen and I were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity this summer to explore and discover the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. And we had a fine boat that took us wherever we wanted to go in comfort and safety. Thalia weathered hurricane force winds, shallow canal waters, jagged concrete lock walls, skinny bays and coves, lighting and squalls, and even two teenage intruders. But she was also a platform for reunions with friends, old and new, and a waterfront dining extravaganza. As the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop, we will look back fondly on the tremendous uniqueness of the Great Lakes, the generosity and sincerity of it’s people, and the incredible natural beauty.
Thank you for following along on our adventure and for your comments and support. We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our adventure with you. Until then, I’d recommend locating a nice puffy down jacket and at least one thick pair of wool socks!
No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manor of thy friend’s Or of thine own were: Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind, And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
While I agree that ‘no man is an island’ but part of a greater whole, poet John Donne could not have know when he wrote these words in 1624 that the Thousand Islands area could capture many a man (and woman) in it’s warm and tender embrace.
I’ll just get it out at the beginning. Leaving Detroit behind and entering Lake Erie, we were both a bit apprehensive. Apart from the tasty mojitos at Put-in-Bay on our way through last time, Lake Erie had not been very kind to us. Bugs, hurricane-force winds, shallows – I would have been perfectly happy finding a portkey of the kind Harry Potter would discover to take us directly to Lake Ontario. But being mere Muggles, we were going to have to do this ourselves.
The action adventure got off to an immediate start as we were pushed down the Detroit River, running with the strong current directly into an opposing wind, what we affectionately call the Buzzards Bay effect, as it is reminiscent of being flushed out the Cape Cod Canal into Buzzards Bay with it’s prevailing SW winds and step square waves.
Just a quick note to let you all know that we are working on our next blog post, but in the meantime we have been busy off the boat moving our son Caleb into college. He will be attending Wentworth Institute of Technology, in downtown Boston.
It’s amazing how much distance you can cover in a car going 70mph! It was a 12 hour drive home from Toronto, and then 14 hours back a week later. We are settled now on the boat and getting ready to tackle Lake Ontario, as we make our way east from Toronto, albeit at a much slower pace. The upside is that we gained a passenger in the process, our dog Journey!
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I’m not sure if being born in 1963 qualifies me as a child of the 60’s, as I was still in diapers during Woodstock, but the concept of thumbing your way across the country is certainly appealing. In the present context, that means hitching a ride on the winds of the Great Lakes around the coast of Michigan. And what better coast to hitch along than one that Michiganders whimsically portray as the outline of a thumbing hand!
When an island has everything you need – beautiful clear water, rocky pink shores with deep woods, wild blueberries that grace your pancakes in the morning, and bonfires around which you develop new friendships – it is hard to say goodbye. But that was the Benjamins, and although goodbyes don’t come easy, they are a reality in the cruising world.
Nearby, at Hotham Island, we had been tipped off by a fellow North Channel cruiser that if we played our cards right, we could be invited ashore for happy hour. As it turned out, the invite came easily, as Elaine came kayaking around the anchorage with a friendly welcome and an invite. The rules were easy enough. Bring something to drink, bring a small food item to pass, and take home your own garbage. Sounded good to us!
It has been a little while since our last blog update, but we just wanted to let folks know everything is fine and things are going well. We are simply in a more remote area that has not allowed us the ability to post much content. We are presently in the North Channel area, Canada’s treasure chest of beautiful islands in the extreme north of Lake Huron. We plan to be back in US waters, in Mackinaw City, Michigan in one week, and we’ll post a new blog update with lots of bandwidth-demanding video by that time, if not sooner. We hope all is well with you and that summer in your area is splendid!
In the meantime, here’s one picture as an example of the beauty we have been experiencing in this area. It is Flowerpot Island, off of Tobermory, Ontario. The soil erodes in such a way that it creates these standalone pinnacles, or what they call flowerpots.
It was a close matchup, with the bugs giving it all they had versus the stalwart crew of Thalia. But in an extended overtime session, Thalia eeked out a hard fought victory, and there was much partying in the streets to celebrate!
We left you last time with Karen’s update on our first day out on Lake Erie, as we worked our way west from Buffalo. That was Day 1 of the bug wars. Day 2 dawned bright, sunny, calm, and with many hopeful wishes for a bug free day on our way from Presque Isle to Fairport, OH. But alas, the bugs came out with an early lead and held strong until the final bell. Then, Day 3 dawned with more hope, hope that was dashed early despite the fact that we pulled out all of our ideas as a ‘highly evolved’ species to overcome those little buggers. At the end of the day, bugs were up 3-0 in this best of 7 matchup. Continue reading “Thalia 4, Bugs 3 (Final)”
The Erie Canal is divided up into three sections – Eastern, Central and Western. Quite a few boaters do the Eastern canal, and then head north at Three Rivers Junction to the Oswego Canal, which takes you into Lake Ontario. There were a number of tricky shallow areas in the Eastern portion and we had considered this Oswego route to get us out of the canal and into the expanse of Lake Ontario, and thus avoid even shallower areas further west in the canal. But we had heard from multiple sources that the Western section was the most beautiful and we didn’t want to miss it. I was able to get ahold of the head of navigation and dredging at the NY State Canal Authority, which by the way is an amazing organization that deserves a whole blog post of it’s own. He quickly talked me into continuing west on the canal, all the way to its terminus at Buffalo. He put me at ease, letting me know that the shallow areas I saw on the charts had just been dredged, and that if we took it slow in sections, we’d have no problem. He re-affirmed that the Western Erie Canal is not to be missed. He added that if we headed to Lake Ontario, we’d have to uplock the Welland Canal (which circumvents Niagara Falls), and in the process have to hire crew to handle the lines, all while jockeying for position in the locks with lots of commercial traffic. Simply put, in his words, we’d be ‘second class citizens’ if we did the Welland. The Welland is actually in Canada, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him we weren’t citizens there, but his point was well taken. I couldn’t help but hear a bit of pride in his voice, implying that the Erie treats their pleasure boater citizens with first class, white glove service. Which they really do! But again that’s a story for another day. Continue reading “Go West, Young Man!”