Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Thousand Islands - Alexandria Bay to the Navy Islands

All of the boats that were anchored last night are gone this morning, leaving this beautiful anchorage just for us. We take turns going for dingy rides and then chop up some peaches to make delicious peach oatmeal for breakfast.

We pull anchor and begin our westward migration. This is the furthest point east we will travel on this trip, leaving the rest of the St. Lawrence for future adventures. We sail through Canadian waters to the Thousand Island bridge, which has a very heavy current beneath it – much faster than anywhere else we’ve seen so far. I take Bella Blue between Huckleberry and Constance Island, looking for a nice anchorage for a lunch stop, but our mast won’t clear under the bridge at this point, so I take her back around to the public docks on Georgina Island, but they are already all taken. So we continue on.

We sail all the way up the Canadian Middle Channel and then I spot a beach to the south on Wellesley Island – back on the US side. I radio Tony and say, “Cabin Fever Cabin Fever, Bella Blue Bella Blue.”

“Cabin Fever here, I’m assuming you’ve spotted that beach,” he replies.

“Oh yes, what do you say to a lunch stop there?”

“That’s an affirmative - I’ve already got my Speedos on. Cabin Fever out.”

“Bella Blue out.”

We get solidly anchored and raft up together and then prepare some lunch. The only problem with this spot is that there are dozens of passing powerboats, all of which kick off a wake, and these combined wakes rock the hell out of our boats, putting them in danger of getting banged up, so Cabin Fever unties and anchors a short distance away.
After lunch, the Olsons hop in the dingy and motor into the beach. There a well-marked swimming area, but beside that is an unmarked section that looks like it’s for dingies. As we are approaching the beach we hear a loud noise coming from the swimming area so we look over and every single person on the beach and in the water has stopped what they are doing and looking at us. Then we notice the lifeguard is holding a megaphone, so I cut the engine and listen.

“You must leave immediately. No motor vehicles allowed,” the lifeguards highly amplified voice rings out. Then a pause of several seconds and, “…sorry.” He must have noticed we were Canadian so slipped the apology in there. I considered just paddling in, with the motor up, but I thought that might be perceived as being a bit obnoxious, so we motor back out to the lake and find a small cove to the east where we are able to motor in, beach the dingy, and go for a walk around the park and beach area, plus take a “free pee” in the park washrooms. Any relieving of oneself outside the boat is considered a free pee, since one must pay for pump-outs of boat waste, so we take advantage of every public washroom opportunity.

We sail north to Canada and encounter what is called the Navy Islands group. On the charts we find an interesting looking anchorage buried between some small islands, so we navigate through a narrow channel between Mulcaster, Ninette and Downie islands and then an even shallower one that leads between Otty and Boucher Islands, finally reaching the anchorage just west of Stave Island. Now usually the Bella  Blue is the gypsiest boat on the lake with our laundry pegged to the lifelines with oversized Dollar Store multi-coloured clothes pins, inflatable pool toys shackled to every available piece of rigging, pool noodles and snorkeling gear stacked up on deck, and towels lying everywhere. Well, the sailboat that was already anchored there has us beat; besides all of the above items the two hippie couples aboard also have paddleboards, hammocks strung across the deck, a huge jury-rigged canvas sun shade, multi-coloured wind scoops directing breeze into every hatch, jugs of water and gas strapped to the topsides, paddles and oars, and clothes lying everywhere. In fact, the only part of the actual boat that is visible is the mast. I bet they are having an awesome time.

The kids are thrilled when they check the water temperature and find a balmy 25 degree reading, but are less excited when they look into the water and see large clumps of gelatinous algae blossoms suspended, jellyfish-like, in the water. Magnus announces, “I am not going in there,” and his sentiments are echoed by Stella, but she is eventually convinced to float around in a pool ring while Tony and I have a swim.

While we are goofing around in the water, both Ana and Angela (the responsible administrators of the crew) are calling into customs to report our re-entry into Canada. Now here’s the thing with boating across international lines – every time you call in to report, you get a different story. Literally every agent has a different (sometimes starkly different) interpretation of the rules. When we sailed to Clayton a few days ago, we had re-entered Canada, dropped anchor in a secluded anchorage, called in, and cleared through with no problem. Today, are told by the agent that we can’t just anchor anywhere – we must report to an approved entry point to clear customs, the closest being Ivy Lea which is about 2 miles away. There is, of course, no actual government office there, but they want you to be there just in case they decided to come down in person to dig through your boat for all the booze, lawn pesticides, and scuffed shoes you forgot to report. That last one will only make sense if you are tied into the July 2018 news cycle or the Trump twitter feed.

We return to Ivy lea, call customs again, and are grilled with a series of questions like these:

“Do you bring back any fruits or vegetables from the US?


“Are you sure? No fruit?”


“How about apples? Did you bring back apples?”

“No. No apples.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

Look, even if we had apples, they are exactly the same as the damn apples we buy here in the grocery store. Anyway, Ana plays it like a pro, doesn’t take the bait, and doesn’t get rattled, which is why she is always the one who makes the call and not me.

Since the green algae slime was not such a hit, we find a much better anchorage in the same area, but just east of Mulcaster Island. The water is still 25 degrees, but clear of algae, and the entire crew from both boats jumps in and engages in water Frisbee, diving competitions, cigar smoking, and floating around on pool noodles sipping fancy cocktails. We follow that up with an amazing dinner of grilled steak and pork, herbed potatoes, asparagus, relatively fresh bread, and a bottle of Tony’s Red – some very ordinary wine made extraordinary by our current circumstance and company.
With thunderclouds piling up in the distance, I throw out a safety anchor before going to bed, expecting our first rain of the trip, which puts the wraps on a 15 mile sailing day.

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