Good-bye NY and the USA!
Friday we crossed the great Lake Ontario and made our way into Trenton Canada. The 84 nautical mile passage was uneventful as the lake was flat with no waves, and there was little wind. It was overcast all day, which kept the temperature pleasant and allowed for a nice day on the boat. Here is what we have been up to since our last post:
Saturday (7/4) – In the morning Denise went for a short run that took her past the old site of Fort Brewerton. In the afternoon she and Mark relaxed on the boat, visited with other loopers, and did a little email and work for our business. Later in the afternoon Jeanne and Vicki showed up and we all went to a local restaurant (“Waterfront Tavern”) for dinner that overlooked the Oneida River. We introduced them to our looping friends and they had a chance to see the camaraderie we experience every day.
Vicki had wanted to see some fireworks on Independence Day, but Brewerton had their celebration the night before and none were scheduled near where we were. So she and Jeanne located some in a town about 20 miles away that would start at 10:00 (it stays light until 9:30 here) and set out to go view them. Since we are unable to stay up that late, we chose to stay behind and let them have all the fun. We barely heard them come in as we were sound asleep.
Sunday (7/5) – We got up early so we could make the 8:30 mass at a church that ended up being closed. So we located a second one that took us past a Dunkin Donuts which enabled us to have breakfast before attending Divine Mercy of St. Michael.
After church, Denise went with Vicki and Jeanne to the town on Skaneateles Lake about 40 minutes away. The lake is large and they took a one-hour boat tour of the lake, which was very crowded as it was a nice day. (Yup, after nearly 4 months living on a boat, Denise was on another boat)!
The lake is surrounded by huge mansions built by people who made their wealth in industrial concerns (scrap metal, etc., but are now owned by the newly rich. This includes one such home that was visited by the Clintons after Bill was no longer the President. The town has a lot of typical shops and restaurants, but Denise found a few things to spend some money on.
In the meantime Mark did such exciting things as put water on the boat, cleaned the AC raw water strainer, and installed the Canadian charts on the chart plotter.
After the day’s adventures it was time to get some laundry done. Jeanne took Denise to the local laundromat as there was no laundry facilities at the marina. It was not a spectacular place and half of the washing machines and dryers were inoperable, but there were enough to get it all done. Makes you appreciate the ones in your own home even more.
Jeanne and Vicki joined us for the docktails with our fellow loopers, all of whom are in queue waiting for the opening of the Oswego and Eerie canals so we all can move forward with our adventures. Then Denise, Jeanne & Mark headed out to a Panera Bread they had discovered the day before, so we all could have a great salad (Vicki stayed behind). We know you must be thinking that this is an every-day restaurant, why would you go there? The answer: because we haven’t eaten at one in a very long time and it just tasted so good!
Monday (7/6) – Jeanne and Vicki left us, but not before taking Denise to Wegmann’s (very cool grocery store) and Mark to Supercuts for a much needed haircut. Once they had left, Denise & Mark got down to work, talking to clients, scheduling future activities and updating phone and computers with software updates.
Later that evening, all the loopers got together to each share their strategy for leaving tomorrow and handling the locks. Several are staying behind for various reasons, but many are headed out to go up the Oswego and make their way towards Canada like us. We said our good-byes to marina owner Kim, and then we grabbed some dinner on board. We got a quick hit of news on TV, and then went to bed.
Tuesday (7/7) – We were up early and left Ess-Kay Yards at 6:40 in order to either make, or get in queue to make the first opening of Lock #23 (7:00 am). Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was already full and we had to wait for the next opening. Here we were in line once again with other FL loopers “Andiamo” and “Speedy Delivery” as well as looper friends we have met along the way. In total there were 7 boats in this lock with us, and another 7 or 8 boats in the one behind us, including “Snug Tug”. We made our way through all 7 locks without incident, although we did find locking down to be a bit more challenging than going up. It is difficult for short people to grab the lines or cables when they are more than 5 feet from the boat. We were grateful for the assistance of Gold-Looper John (“Andiamo”) who would get off his boat and assisted other boats with their lines before the locking process started. He could do this as he had 3 other people on his boat to help him, and a rear steering station from which to maneuver his 60+-foot yacht.
Arriving into Oswego Marina was a major fiasco. Of the 7 boats locking together that day, all but one was headed into the same marina. In addition, Lock #8 is less than ½ mile from the entrance to the marina; add to this the wind, combined with the current from the dam at the lock made it difficult for maneuvering all of us in such a tight space. Additionally, the dock master was a total “B – – – – ” – in part because she was stressed trying to handle the large number of boats that had come into the marina at such a short time; 3 or 4 in the lock before us, and then the 6 in our lock. Add to this the fact that it was the hottest day we have yet to experience and people were a little testy. Not a pleasant docking experience, but one we survived, only to learn that our dock had insufficient amperage to support the ACs on our boat (we need two 30 amp or one 50 amp power outlet). Given the number of boats in the marina and their size, there was no other slip for us to move to, so we only operated on one AC unit and lived with that until the sun went down and things got cooler.
Jeanne and Vicki showed up at the marina as they were making their way back from the Thousand Islands on their way to Buffalo. They had adventured there after they left us at Brewerton and wanted to tell us about the area. We had considered going there in our boat, but the delays in Cape May and Staten Island had taken away the time we would have otherwise spent there. Jeanne advised us that we were only a 30 minute drive from Brewerton; something that took us 8 locks and 6 hours in the boat!
We were invited aboard the boat “Nearly Perfect” for docktails by owners Jack & Patty Nickerson. We originally met them at West Point when we toured the Academy with nephew Jacob. That day they had been with Jack & Jane Conway (“Spirit”) whom we had met earlier on the Loop. Together all 6 of us enjoyed some drinks and discussed our planned itineraries and got to know one another a little better. We quickly learned that Jack N. is a hard-core Gator and yes the next day he made sure to wear his gator shirt all around the docks.
In the evening we walked downtown with Ginny & Bruce to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, and then back to the boat for 8:00 as Mark had a planned call with our Malaysian client. The weather started to deteriorate as a front was coming through, and we knew we would be staying in Oswego at least for another day. Along with many other loopers we made plans for crossing Lake Ontario on Thursday when the wind was going to be more favorable.
Other sites from the Erie/Oswego Canals from today:
Wednesday (7/8) – We woke up to rain and a wind that was rocking all the boats in the marina. It had rained all night and everything was wet. It was clear no boat was going out on Lake Ontario this morning, and probably not for the rest of the day. Denise had a 2-hr web training with one of her clients and by the time she was done, the weather front had passed through and the winds died down. The temperatures was also noticeably cooler and we were back to wearing jeans and long sleeves again.
We wanted to explore the town of Owego, particularly Fort Ontario. It is an old fort that was originally used in the War of 1812 and later as a processing center for holocaust refugees post WWII. It has a spectacular view of Lake Ontario, our marina, and the Port of Oswego. Here we met loopers Bill & Jann Mellman (“Ivory Lady”) from Marathon, FL. They too were docked at Oswego Marina and would be crossing to Trenton the next day.
After seeing the fort, we decided to walk over the bridge and explore the downtown area. Along the way we passed through a neighborhood and saw a small but very beautiful vegetable garden and stopped to talk to the owner. He was harvesting his large zucchini and offered us a handful. Since Mark doesn’t eat the stuff, Denise accepted only one and thanked him for it. Of course we didn’t think to take a picture until we were up the street and around the corner of the next block.
We continued with our walk and explored more of the downtown area, including a local bookstore. After that we returned to the marina and discovered friends on “Renegade”, “Patriyachtik” and “Plane to Sea” had arrived, as well as other loopers.
That night 8 of us went to dinner at a sports bar (“Press Box”) that was close to the marina and talked about how we would be crossing Lake Ontario the next day and what would be our port of entry. Naturally, the slower boats and the faster boats (like us and Snug Tug) would pair up and buddy-boat together.
Thursday (7/9) –There are several different routes that you can take to get to Ontario, Canada, depending on your port of entry. Most of our friends were headed directly into Trenton (Start of the Trent Severn Waterway) as were we. However, the trawlers cruise around 8 kts so they need more time and had to leave early. At 5:45 the first boats (like “Ivory Lady”, “ “Renegade”, & “Patriyachtik) pulled out of the marina to cross Lake Ontario. “Snug Tug” left around 7:00 am. We pulled out at 8:00, along with several others (“Nearly Perfect” & “Spirit”) who were headed to Kingston (different course).
Most of the trip we were by ourselves and welcomed the flat seas, no wind, overcast skies, and cool temperature. We monitored the vacuum pressure on the fuel filter where it stayed at 4 (Excellent) for the whole trip. As we crossed Quinte Bay we encountered a sailboat regatta with no less than 50 boats of varying sizes. It was so fun to watch as we wondered “what do these people do for work?” – remembering that after all, it was a weekday.
Shortly thereafter we came up on “Snug Tug” and followed them all the way into Fraser Park-Trenton Marina. It was so fun to be coming in together again, and sharing the day’s experiences.
Denise slowly docked the boat without incident, and then Mark went ashore to call the Canadian Customs per protocol. Bruce (“Snug Tug”) had beaten Mark to the phone and received his clearance right away. So when they told Mark that they would be coming down to the marina and will be checking us in then we figured the reason they were doing so was because so many other boats were coming from the USA and they could look at all of us at once. As we had signed up in advance for the CAN-PASS we anticipated a quick clearance. Boy were we mistaken!
In the meantime all the trawlers showed up, almost one right after the other. As they had come a different route (Murray Channel), they had stopped at another location to clear customs and were now all flying Canadian flags (cleared).
As promised, the Customs gals showed up 20 minutes later and boarded our boat. They asked a ton of questions, searched our boat and finally gave us a clearance number. Their only concern was an apple we had brought on board which we agreed to eat in their presence, and advised not to remove the basil plant off the boat until we got back into the USA. They didn’t bat an eye on the number of wine bottles or anything else. Our only thought was that since Mark has been in and out of Canada several times for our Victoria client, he must have been flagged somehow. In any event, the officers were polite and courteous and it was not a bad experience; just different from any that other loopers had on this day.
The dockhands at this marina are all college kids and it is considered a primo summer job. They are all smart and know how to tie up a boat. However, there are no less than 4 that are there to assist when you come in, and it feels like you are getting a royal welcome. When they are not assisting boaters coming in or leaving, or getting fuel, they sell you some of the best ice cream we have yet to eat on this trip.
That night we met up with Tim & Karen (“Tika”) who were behind us through the Oswego locks and also part of the flotilla who left Oswego Marina. Together with Ginny & Bruce we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant (Tomasso’s) recommended by the dockhands. It was perhaps the best dinner we have had since Charleston and we loved getting to know another looper couple. Although originally from Minnesota, they now live in Ft. Meyers, FL. We soon discovered that they own several manufacturing businesses and we were happy to share some work-related common topics.
We plan on staying in Trenton at least until Saturday. Tomorrow we have to go to an ATM to get some Canadian money, locate a service provider and obtain a chip to make one of our iPads a hotspot on a Canadian network. This will enable us to work and to communicate via the wireless mode as described below when we cannot get it for free.
Now that we are in Canada, we want to make sure all know how best to communicate with us. As long as we are in a marina or a city dock wall that has wireless we are able to get our email and (sometimes) iMessages (only) on our phones. Otherwise, we have turned off all data services on them. We are also limiting our phone calls. Even though we have roaming for voice, it is expensive so we are trying to utilize the wireless network where we can. When doing so, look for us on SKYPE to talk, otherwise our minutes are saved for work.
We plan on staying in Trenton at least until Saturday. Tomorrow we have to go to an ATM to get some Canadian money, locate a service provider and obtain a chip to make one of our iPads a hotspot on a Canadian network. This will enable us to work and to communicate via the wireless mode as described when we cannot get it for free.
Stay tuned for more adventures to come!