Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lake Ontario - Exploring Toronto

I am awake early and go for a short walk before returning to the boat to write and enjoy the beautiful morning. We have a slip booked at the Quay West marina for the next two nights, but we can’t check in right away, so instead we throw off the lines and motor right into the main Toronto harbour and find a cozy anchorage between two channels that is well out of the way of boat traffic, and gives us a million dollar view of the city and the unfolding morning action of Porter airplanes, public ferries, and the endless stream of traffic snaking across the Gardiner Expressway which is a horror when you are on it, but cruelly satisfying when watching from a sailboat, enjoying a slow coffee, on a Wednesday.

Ana calls the marina and they tell us that we can come in anytime, so we pull anchor, motor over, and identify our assigned slip. Stella, anxious to test her line throwing skills practiced the other day, takes the lead and has a couple of bad throws, and then nails it, and we get safely docked. So here we are, settled right in the downtown of Toronto, with all its mysteries and pleasures, right on our watery doorstep. How exciting!

Yesterday we had periodic updates from Cabin Fever as the mechanic was working on their boat, but the repairs took all day so they were not able to get here. Fortunately, they were on the lake early so their anticipated arrival time is 12:30, giving us plenty of time to go for a walk. We lock up the boat and take a wander through the Musical Garden, which is right alongside the marina. Continuing along the bike path, we are passed by many people on bikes, but also runners and walkers, out for some morning exercise. Stella notices a yellow machine and walks up to find that is a sunscreen dispenser, provided free by the City of Toronto - brilliant. We find a Timmies and stop for coffee and morning snacks, and then proceed next door to the Nautical Mind bookstore, where we spend an hour looking through their amazing selection of boating books and charts, finding a couple of great additions to our boat library. We also stop at the Dock Shoppe marine store, and find a few things we need for the boat (a boater is physically unable to walk out of a marine store empty handed…it’s just not possible). Directly beside this is a Beer Store. These guys certainly know their customers.

I was in this same area just a few weeks ago for a sailing course, and found an amazing Indian Roti take-away place that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about, so I take Magnus over there and we order up a chicken vindaloo roti as a pre-lunch snack, which we then take back to the boat The kids devour the food greedily, and I’m lucky to get two bites for myself.

Cabin Fever arrives at 12:30, safe and sound, but a little exhausted after their early morning departure. Our friends Chris and Sarah and their children arrive shortly after that and leave their dingy tied up at our slip while they head into the city to pick up some supplies. We all have a quick visit and plan an evening campfire back out on Hanlon’s Point where they plan to tie up for the night.

The crews of Bella Blue and Cabin Fever put on their best flip flops and head to Queen Street for lunch at the Rivoli and are not disappointed. Stella, as usual, is more interested in watching the world cup matchup so she sits inside the restaurant at the bar, chatting with the locals and giving us periodic game updates, while the rest of us enjoy our meals on the patio, except Magnus, who slips off to a nerdery store to browse their selection of Magic cards.

At this point we split up – the girls go shopping and the boys return to the boat, but along the way we stop at Shoeless Joes to watch the rest of the soccer game and are caught up in a bar full of rambunctious, loud, England supporters, who are devastated when Croatia emerges the victor. We weren’t too worried either way, but I was hoping England would make it to the final to face off against France. So now, we cheer for Croatia!

Back at the boat, we enjoy some drinks on the top deck of Cabin Fever while soaking up that beautiful, hot sunshine, and watch the airplanes coming and going. The girls return with their treasures and we enjoy a big meal together on the boats. Tony and Angela decide to pass on the campfire, so as dusk approaches, we motor back out to Hanlon’s Point, find Chris and Sara, get tied up on the wall, and then crank up a magnificent bonfire with wood Chris scrounged from the shorelines in his dingy and some discarded timber we pilfered from the junk heap at the marina. We have drinks, eat smores, chop wood, chit chat, and do all those things that makes a campfire a campfire, but I can tell you, it sure doesn’t feel like Toronto. But then again, I suppose this is exactly what Toronto feels like for some people, we’re just late to the party!

We leave at around 10:30 and the ride back through the harbour is simply magical - the dancing lights of the city, the still busy harbour with the red, green, and white navigational lights zipping around, and the splashing of the waves on the boat.

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