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Great Lakes Adventure, Week 2, Entry 4

By BeeWeems - Published July 28, 2008 - Viewed 2746 times

By the end of the second week Bee Weems is in the waters of Ontario, Canada.  We have been on 5 distinct waterways this week. Our last day on the Erie canal was Saturday, the 19th. We saw more people on the waterway that day then we did the whole week previously - quite a  few local recreational fishermen, kayakers, waterskiiers, etc.  But still no "loopers". That's the name given to cruisers who loop into the Great Lakes from the Hudson River or St. Lawrence Seaway and then down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico to Florida and back up the Intercoastal Waterway of the Eastern Seaboard.  I'm not sure what name designation we should have because we're only doing a half loop!

But I digress!  The remaining locks of the eastern portion of the Erie Canal lowered us down to the level of Lake Oneida. Just past this lake we came to the junction of Three Rivers where we had a choice to continue on the second half of the Erie Canal which leads through Rochester and ends at Niagara Falls or go north through the Oswego Canal system which empties into the eastern side of Lake Ontario.  This is the way we chose because we wanted to be in position to cruise to the 1000 Islands which are situated where Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway meet.

We experienced our first real rain while in the locks of Oswego. Really pouring rain!! Not much fun when you're working the lines in the locks. By the time we entered Lake Ontario we had transitted 26 locks altogether! But we're not finished with locks yet!! More to come in week 3! 

We were able to make good time crossing Lake Ontario (14 knots) to our next destination of Clayton, New York, a small town with a reknowned Antique Boat Museum along the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We spent a day in Clayton.  This town was more what we had hoped to see along the Erie Canal but didn't.  Most of the Erie Canal towns were economically depressed.  Most downtown storefronts were empty.  Clayton was different.  It was obviously a tourist town with a wealthy clientele that helped the local shopkeepers stay open.  The museum was wonderful and we found a wonderful riverside bakery too which had incredible sticky buns. 

The next two days we spent in the 1000 Island area. These islands are very picturesque!  The rocky outcroppings and the evergreen trees reminded us of the islands off the Coast of Maine or the San Juans in Washington State. The big difference is that these islands are in fresh water with no tides.  So many of the houses and boat houses are built right over the water here.  What's interesting, too, is that the St. Lawrence Seaway is a big shipping channel, and we saw huge commercial ships steaming within a few hundred yards past the beautiful summer homes along the Riverway that house antique yachts. There is evidence of a lot of money here that goes back several generations.  We toured two castles that were built in the late 19th Century.  One, the Boldt Castle, belonged to the family that built up the Waldorf Astoria Hotel of NYC and others in Philadelphia.  The second was built by one of the early presidents of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.  The settings of both these castles was spectacular. 

On Thursday we were ready to cross the border to Canada. So we cruised upstream to Kingston, Ontario which is a town that reminds me of Annapolis. It's similar in size. It caters to tourists but has two college campuses, one of which is their military academy.  It also was the capital of the nation for about a year just as Annapolis was.  Then the capital moved inland to Ottawa which is a similar distance from Kingston as is Annapolis from Washington, DC. 

Passing through customs was easy.  Peter called the Canadian Customs from a phone that was located at the dock in the central harbor and they conducted the necessary business in 5 minutes time. We noticed a huge amount of seagrass in the marina.  The marina crew spent their free time raking it onto the dock and then carting it away to ??? 

Here in Kingston is where we had our second mechanical mishap. We believe the water intake to the engine got clogged with seagrass from the Marina.  Pete tried to clean it out but in the end we had to be towed back into the marina a few minutes after leaving because our engine was overheating.  We spent another morning in Kingston, but we were very fortunate because Peter had stowed on board the extra part that needed to be replaced and there were capable mechanics in town who could do the repair work.  The really big bonus was that the Canadian Coastguard towed us in at no charge.  What a great service!  The whole incident cost less than $200 and a day's time.

 We will spend the next month in Canadian waters. Something I like about the marinas in Canada is that they provide a place to recycle plastic and glass. None of the marinas in the US provided recepticles for recycling.  Also, the Canadians are very serious about bringing their own bags to grocery stores. Very few people use plastic or paper bags.  The towns we've visited so far are clean and prosperous and the people are friendly. 


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