The Route South

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Ten Hundred Islands

I got back from Florida on the afternoon of the 3rd.  Larry and Jean returned from their road trip about the same time.  We were just in time for Ess-Kay Marina's 4th of July celebration...thats right, on the 3rd.  That's when Brewerton shoots off their fireworks.  We got back to the marina just in time.  The grill was fired up and the burgers and dogs were cooking.  The marina provided the meat, grill and cook.  Everybody brought a dish to share.  And of course drinks.  We all had a nice time in spite of the brief rain shower before the pyrotechnics.  Since Wednesday was the actual 4th, we decided that we didn't want to travel with the crowds.

4th of July comes a day early in these parts!

Thursday July 5, 2012
At 0700 we were finally under way.  It was a short 15 minute trip to Winter Harbor Marina, who has the cheapest diesel fuel in all of upper New York State.  We took on 150 gallons so we should be good through Canada and Lake Champlain.  We are hearing about prices of over $5 per gallon!  Ouch!
From Winter Harbor is was  about two hours to Lock #1 on the Oswego Canal, which runs north from the Erie to Lake Ontario.  Locks 3,5,6 &7 (there is no #4) were easily transited and by 1345 we were tied up alongside the wall between #7 & #8.
Our friends Mark and Emily Little were traveling from Cleveland to Canada in their motor home and coordinated a stop so we could all get together.  First cocktails aboard Sea Dweller and then we walked to dinner.  It was a great reunion and the time passed much too quickly.
28 NM

Friday July 6, 2012
Lock #8 doesn't open until 0730 so both boats are ready and waiting to go and by 0740 we are through.  Lock #8 is the gateway into Lake Ontario and it is quite calm, just what we are hoping for.  We set a course of 33 degrees, toward Sackett's Harbor.  It has been great traveling in Bateman's company but here is where our paths diverge.  They are heading to Kingston then Trenton and the Trent-Severn waterway, going on to Georgian Bay.  Their plan is to put the boat in winter storage and come back next summer see even more of Canada.  Morning Star, on the other hand will head further east to the Thousand Islands area, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence before going to Kingston and up the Rideau to Ottawa.  I keep stumbling over the name of the area, The Thousand Islands, mixing it up with the Ten Thousand Islands in Florida.  So we decided that this area should be known as the Ten Hundred least to us.
By lunch time we are out of Lake Ontario, past Association Island and Lime Barrel Shoal, tying to the Sackett's Harbor town dock at 1245.  Our fresh water system pump is not working properly but I have a spare in our parts stores so I swapped that out before we took a stroll around town.  Ice cream was my reward for a job well done and Cindy got one in recognition of her excellence in assisting.  Unfortunately, the town doesn't allow boats to tie overnight.  Our intention was to untie and slip a few hundred yards out of the harbor to anchor.  But when we got there we couldn't find a spot that pleased us so we moved on to Whites Bay where we anchored in 15' of water at 1845.
44 NM

Saturday July 7, 2012
The engine was warming up at 0650 and ten minutes later we were pulling the anchor up and trying to clear it of all the weeds.  There must have been a bushel basket full of weeds.  I had to shoot water on it with the wash down pump while pulling them off with the boat hook.  But we prevailed and were back under way, passing Lime Barrel Shoals (again) at 0740, rounding Point Penninsula thirty minutes later.  By 0915 we were passing Grenadier Island (just one of several Grenadier's) and at 1045 we arrived in Cape Vincent's harbor in a drizzling rain.  As we approached the town dock we slowly, quietly and ever-so-gently ran HARD AGROUND!  We didn't feel it and couldn't tell we were aground...we just stopped moving!  Turns out, there is a stone ledge about a third of the way down one side of the dock.  We got off with the help of one of our dock neighbors.  Once the rain stopped and the sun came out you could plainly see the rock, especially now that it has a smudge of bright blue bottom paint marking its location.  By 1115 we were tied to the other side of the dock in plenty of water.

Village dock at Cape Vincent.  'Nuff said?

Despite its unfriendly introduction, Cape Vincent proved to be one of our favorite stops, a delightful little village.  When were you last somewhere where they had an honest-to-goodness village green?  You know - like the Billy Joel lyrics - "I remember hanging out at the village green".  We ate lunch at the nearby waterfront restaurant and walked around the town in the afternoon.  There was even a nice size grocery right next to the village green!
22 NM

Cape Vincent Village Green.

Sunday July 8, 2012
Sunday mornings are one of my favorite times to go out for breakfast.  Yesterday, while walking around Cape Vincent, we scouted our breakfast location for today - "Ann's".  It is a little Mom & Pop-style restaurant with locals catching up on the weekend gossip over coffee and eggs and pancakes.  Perfect fit for a great little town.
We were away from the dock shortly after 0930.  It took two short hours to run the 13 miles to Clayton, NY.  We have been told that the Antique Boat Museum is not to be missed, so after tying up to the Town Dock and having a bite of lunch aboard, we are off for some sightseeing.  Turns out that this museum has a very serious collection of old wooden boats.  I'd hate to pay their annual varnish bill!  After touring the museum we took the bikes down so we could ride to town for dinner.  Several people gave us a referral for a new restaurant in town and we weren't disappointed, except that we can't remember their name!
13 NM

Clayton, NY - the view of the Antique Boat Museum from the Town Dock.

Clayton, NY waterfront.

George Boldt's 110 ft. houseboat.  More about him later.

Houseboat living room.  Yeah, that's a real fireplace.

One of many restored antique boats at the Museum.

 Just a small portion of their small boat collection.

Antique outboard motors.

Small boat restoration shop.

Monday July 9, 2012
We are out of duct tape!  Everyone knows that you can't run a boat without having a roll of duct tape aboard.  It might even be in the Coast Guard regs somewhere.  I hopped on my bike and rode into town where the local hardware store filled the bill in short order and we were under way by 0935.  Its another short two hour run down the St. Lawrence, passing under the Thousand Islands Bridge, to Heart Island and the famous Boldt Castle.  

Light house maintenance on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Ocean-going freighters and pleasure boats coexist on the St. Lawrence.

Passing the mega-yacht "Luna" as we approached Boldt Castle on Heart Island.

"Luna" is 375' long!  She is owned by russian multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Look carefully at the very bottom deck.  Thats where the covered swimming pool is located!

Everybody says "you've got to stop at the Boldt Castle" and everybody is right.  It didn't disappoint.  Its a popular spot and we had to wait for somebody to leave before we could tie up.  After a quick lunch, we were off to explore the castle.  Its was built by George Boldt, founder of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.  He was obviously quite wealthy and he built the castle as a gift for his wife.  When she died a few months short of completion, Boldt notified the workmen to put down their tools and leave.  He never again visited the island and never completed the castle.  It changed hands numerous times over the years and finally was given to the Thousand Island Bridge Authority, the folks who are responsible for the bridge between Canada and the USA.  It has been partially restored and beautiful.  The grounds are breathtaking.

No, its Boldt Castle, not the Magic Kingdom.

The Sitting Room...or is it the Drawing Room?  I can never remember. - Boldt Castle.

Billiards room - Boldt Castle.
Notice the fish over the fire place!  You know its a big fish when you have to retire the rod and reel too!
No point in building a castle if it doesn't have a ballroom...with its own pipe organ. 

The Library.

Yep, a Tiffany glass domed skylight.

So this is what those things look like on the other side!

Talk about a room with a view!

If you're going to own a castle on a island, you might as well own a boathouse too!

The Boathouse has at least three indoor dry-docks.

Boldt Castle, from the Boathouse.  Morning Star far right.

The Thousand Islands is cottage country.

After four hours at Heart Island, it was time to find a spot to anchor for the night.  We hoisted the yellow "Quarantine" flag, the "Q" flag, for short, and crossed the border into Canada.  The south side of the St. Lawrence is in the US and the north side is Canadian.  The Thousand Islands are mixed so you need to pay attention.  Don't want to cause an international incident!  Arriving in Rockport, Ontario, we could see that the Customs wharf was closed down and fenced off.  When Cindy hailed a young man and asked where we could clear customs, we waved us into his marina.  There is a phone in the office with a direct lint to the Canadian customs office.  It was an unbelievable clearing-in.

Randy (RWP) - Hello, I need to clear in.
Canadian Customs (CC) - OK, Where are you calling from?
RWP - Rockport.
CC - How many aboard your vessel?
RWP - Two
CC - What are the names?
RWP - Randall Pickelmann & Cynthia Pickelmann
CC - Name of the vessel?
RWP - Morning Star
CC - Documentation number?
RWP - 943471
CC - Do you have any guns aboard?
RWP - Nope.
CC - Do you have any wine or spirits aboard?
RWP - Yep.  We live aboard full time so we have wine and liquor for our personal use.
CC - OK, write this number down - 20121910505.  Thank You very much.
RWP - Ummm.  Don't you need to see our passports?
CC - Nope.
RWP - Don't you at least need our passport numbers?
CC - Nope.
RWP - That's it?  We're done?
CC - Yep.  

Holy Cow!  That was easy.  We left Rockport 15 minutes after we arrived, putting up the Canadian courtesy flag before they changed their minds.  A half-hour later we were anchoring at Grenadier Island (a different Grenadier).  What an interesting day.  We are in Canada!

Grenadier Island welcoming committee - what else but Canada Geese.

18 NM