June 6 – Adagio is launched
After the bottom paint dried, Winter Harbor launched Adagio before we arrived from the campground. The tech was just leaving after verifying that the generator repairs made this winter were adequate. Last year’s water flow problem turned out to be a worn shaft on the generator seawater pump, so a new pump was installed. Adagio needed to be in the water to perform the lengthy test. Ron misplaced the galley faucet sink water mixer, so an overnight shipment for a replacement from Defender was made. Then we noticed the freezer was not cooling enough. We added freon a couple of years ago and all was fine since. The refrigeration tech came aboard while we were shopping, assume he added freon again, but not positive. Two weeks later the freezer failed again, right after we defrosted. This led to further investigation. It turns out a couple of wire connectors to the compressor were making partial contact. High resistance on start-up resulted in the freezer compressor not turning on. After a couple of days provisioning and checking boat systems we finally got underway on Saturday.
June 9 – underway at last
Within a few minutes of leaving Winter Harbor we reached Erie Canal Lock #23; we’ve transited this lock 4 previous times. It’s approach walls are always filled with people fishing or picnicing. There is free overnight mooring both ends of the lock.
Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal was frequently referred to as Clinton’s Ditch or Clinton’s Folly. Clinton was the Governor of NY and the canal’s most vocal political advocate. On completion New York City became the major shipping & banking city in the US, quickly surpassing Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. The canal opened the Midwest to development. Farm goods, timber, minerals could now be more easily transported east, manufactured goods and immigrants could reach their destinations in weeks rather than months of overland travel.
We had an easy first day, stopping at the free lock wall in Phoenix NY. This was the first time we stopped here, though we have passed by several times. Phoenix has one of the best free docks; picnic tables, water, 15-amp power, restrooms, and showers. Phoenix is well known by boaters as the home of the Phoenix House Brats, local high school students who cater to boaters. In addition to helping with docking, they will clean your boat, run errands, deliver restaurant meals, I’ve even heard they will do your laundry. They do this for tips only, to raise funds for their high school programs. Unfortunately, the House Brats did not start until the following week and we didn’t get to meet them.
The next day we locked through 6 times, stopping between lock 7 & 8 for the night. During the Oswego Canal construction of the 8 planned locks, designs were changed and lock #4 was eliminated. They didn’t want to change all the drawings, so left the other lock numbers as planned. Several other boats joined us along the lock walls. It’s a nice quiet stop after the lock closes for the day with plenty of green space for Duke. Up early the next day to catch the 0700-1st lock opening, we found the lock #8 lockmaster had already accommodated another boater and let them pass early. It only took a few minutes to fill the lock chamber up, and soon we were crossing Lake Ontario. It was a pleasant day, only a few whitecaps and an occasional 3-foot wave. Arriving in Cape Vincent we found room at the free NY Dept Environmental Conservation docks. Three other small trawlers were already in and they helped catch our lines. Again, we had very nice free docks, no water or power, but very clean restrooms. Dinner was at a nice restaurant right across the street. We next headed to Alexandria Bay, which was another short day. AB is a busy tourist town, with many cruise boats taking passengers around the Thousand Islands and to see Boldt Castle, right across the river. We thought Cape Vincent was going to be our last free dock. But the public dock at AB had not yet started collecting their usual $1.50/ft docking fee. We were too early in the season by one day. The dock attendant showed up for the first time the morning we cast off but didn’t ask for payment for the previous night.
June 14 – checking into Canada
Heading down the main St. Lawrence River shipping channel, we had an almost boat traffic free day, at least until we arrived at the Brockville Narrows and Needles Eye Island. There we met an upbound freighter, so we prudently moved out of the channel and held our position until he passed. Using AIS, we had plenty of notice where we would meet. Checking into Canada Customs in Prescott was an easy 10-minute phone call. We rate Prescott Marina as having among the most helpful dock staff we have met. Dockmaster Dwaine always had a treat for Duke. The marina is situated within a riverfront park. On the weekend we visited, there was a Taste of Prescott event and actors were rehearsing for their summer Shakespeare festival. Leaving Prescott, we travelled a short distance upriver to Brockville. One of the attractions here was the recently re-opened railroad tunnel. To service waterfront businesses a spur RR line was built underground down to the docks. Long abandoned it now has music, and a light show as you walk through the tunnel. Much of this city’s early history can be traced to the close of the American Revolution. Many Loyalists were forced to leave the colonies and Great Britain aided them in moving to Canada. Further, the city is named after Sir Isaac Brock, the British general who defeated the Americans at Detroit in the War of 1812.
June 19 – in the heart of the Thousand Islands
Several AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association) members serve as Harbor Hosts. They offer information and help to Loopers passing through their areas. A very few Hosts also offer dockage at their homes. Jeff & Anne Timmons are among those Hosts offering overnight dock space, we took them up on their offer to stay at their Hill Island dock, enjoying docktails before we turned in for the night. Deciding it was time to take advantage of our Parks Canada season mooring pass, we headed to one of the Thousand Islands docks. Many docks were damaged in 2017 flooding and are still undergoing repair. Fortunately, Parks Canada put out an alert noting which docks are not available.
We decided on Endymion Island and were not disappointed. The dock was crowded with 5 other boats, but we all made room for one another. Unfortunately, most of the island trails were closed due to some environmental issue. Our batteries were running low due to short days underway and several days without power, generators are not allowed on most Parks Canada islands. We headed to Beau Rivage Island where generators are allowed. We expected the docks to be busy, but we were the only ones there until late afternoon when one other boat showed up. Beau Rivage also had trash pickup, so we made the most of our two nights stay there. The east side of the island had another dock and it was full both nights. Gananoque was our next destination, a whole 4 miles from our dock on Beau Rivage. There we found a church for Mass on Saturday evening, had dinner out, and stocked up with groceries. Gananoque was another town that can trace its roots Loyalist resettlement from the American Revolution.
After Gananoque we started making our way to Trenton, 1st stopping for a couple of nights on Cedar Island. All the dock reviews said this was a very busy dock, but we were the only boat there both nights. A few boats came in for lunch or a swim. No generators are permitted on Cedar Island, but since we were the only boat there we broke the rules a little to keep our batteries topped off. Cedar Island is across from Fort Henry, 1st built by the British to protect Kingston Harbor from the Americans during the War of 1812. The island has its own Martello Tower, used as an outer defense to the fort. The fort was rebuilt during the 1830’s and became known as the “Citadel of Upper Canada.” As relations improved between the USA and British Canada, the fort was used as prisoner of war camp in WWI and WWII. For a time, 1914~1920 it was used to inter Canadian / Ukrainian immigrants considered to be “enemy aliens.” Today it is a very popular tourist attraction, cannon fire every afternoon which Duke did not appreciate.
June 27 – heading to Trenton
The weather was turning, rain & high winds were predicted. We thought to leave Cedar Island a day early and get a spot in Picton. But they were full Tuesday night and we stayed on at Cedar Island. We left Wednesday after first light and beat the rain to Picton. There was only one short section on the Bay of Quinte where we were exposed to the full width of Lake Ontario, so the ride was not too uncomfortable. Coming into Picton we were passed by a 130-foot mega-yacht. They had to anchor before the bottom of the bay as their draft was too deep to come in close to town.
Thursday, we made the last leg to Trenton, eastern gateway to the Trent Severn Waterway. It was an uneventful day, just how we like; little boat traffics & pleasant weather. Trenton Port Marina is a new facility and they did it right. Easy to find slips with wide fairways, club house with boater’s lounge, free laundry, almost luxurious restrooms & showers. The marina is a block away from a Metro (Canadian grocery store), and a block away from downtown Trenton. We’ll be attending an AGLCA event, a preview of the Trent Severn and Georgian Bay and are looking forward to enjoying Canada Day celebrations here, just like we did in 2014.