Friday, July 13, 2018

Lake Ontario - Sailing from Picton to Belleville

We leave at 6 am for the 28 mile Picton to Belleville run, which will take us beyond the halfway point through the Prince Edward County leg of our trip. It is a perfect day for motoring as the lake is flat and there are few other boats around. In fact, as I follow our way through the middle of the wide channel, there’s really not much to see at all.

Crate marina is where we choose to dock and it’s a little tricky getting there as the Belleville harbour entrance has a strange, S-shaped marked channel that you need to wind through to avoid grounding yourself. We proceed immediately to the gas dock to fill up on diesel, get a pump-out, and to get our dock assigned, but there are already two boats there and little room left for our sailboat. Soon, one of the boats leaves and we get in and are helped by the fantastic staff, who also give us a bag of tourist brochures. I am very impressed by the gas dock office, which is clean, new, smells great, air conditioned, organized, and sells a small range of the critical boater supplies like toilet paper, oil, cleaners and salt and vinegar chips.

Cabin Fever arrives shortly after us and Tony laments at the disgrace of being beaten by a sailboat for the second day in a row, but I do not rub it in, because I am not that kind of guy. But I am the kind of guy that likes to rub in our $80 diesel fills compared to the typical $800 bill for powerboats with their massive twin engines!

Ana and the kids are keen to hit the pool (finally, a marina with a pool!) but I look at the state of our boat and decide it is way overdue for a cleaning so I stay back, put on the Rush Chronicles cd, and clean that boat to the sweet chipmunk chirping of Geddy Lee, until she is sparkling and beautiful.

After lunch, we all take a walk downtown to explore the wonders of Belleville, but the only wonder is how there can be hardly anything open. Mind you, it is a Sunday, but there are very few shops, cafes or restaurants open and really not much of anything to see or do, so we settle for an ice cream and return to the boats, more than a little disappointed with the city centre.

The cabin of Bella Blue has developed a strong smell of diesel, so I dig into the engine compartment again and find diesel leaking all over the place and it takes me two hours and three rolls of paper towel to troubleshoot the problem and clean everything up. This puts me in foulest of moods and since I’m feeling so crappy already, I decide to put up this horrible, gold foiled radar reflector I have been meaning to install for three years, but never get around to it. This is a piece of equipment that sailboats are supposed to have, as it helps to better reflect the radar signals sent from the big freighters so they can easily see you on the radar at night. I attached it just below my new Canadian flag and it goes up surprisingly well, but looks surprisingly ugly.

My mood only improves when the rest of the gang sets up a sundowner on the dock and I have a nice cold gin and tonic. The kids and I organize a game to see who can throw a coiled line the furthest (a very important skill to have for docking) and then we practice tying knots and try to master this slick move we saw a crew member on the small ferry boat at Boldt Castle doing a few days ago. He was able to cleat a line by whipping the line back and forth masterfully, creating the figure eight pattern required to tie it up securely, all done while standing straight up and not having to bend over. Stella was so impressed by this she insisted we learn it, and together we spend at least 30 minutes on that, and by the end we can nearly do it.

The group decides against going out for dinner after our lacklustre afternoon stroll through town so instead Ana makes an absolutely delicious chicken dinner with potatoes and salad, which is ten times better than any restaurant meal we’ve had thus far on the trip.

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