Friday, July 6, 2018

Thousand Islands – Canada Day

Happy Canada Day! And I can’t think of a better place in the world to be on our national holiday – in a gorgeous anchorage on the St. Lawrence River with great friends and two amazing boats.

I wake up just after 6 am and find that our batteries are almost completely dead, with insufficient juice to crank the engine. This is odd, since we’ve anchored out many times in the past and never had battery issues. Additionally I had taken my batteries to Canadian Tire to have them analyzed, and they tested out fine. Ana and I boil water on the gas stove and sit in the cockpit to enjoy a morning coffee, the smell of which instantly wakes Tony, so we hook him up with hot water and then discuss our battery situation. We learn that they have been having trouble with their toilet so Ana proposes a “battery for plunger” trade, which is accepted and helps us both out of a poopy situation.

For Canada’s 151st birthday one of the local radio stations is playing the greatest 151 classic rock songs of all time, which is pretty much the standard set list  for any rock station. Nevertheless, we enjoy the sounds of Heart, Steve Miller, Led Zeppelin and the Guess Who as we eat breakfast and plan the day’s mission. I impress Tony and Angela with my falsetto “Crazy On You” harmony with Anne and Nancy Wilson, but then my throat starts to hurt so I stop.

Ana and I hop in the dingy and motor over to southeast side of Bostwick Island to visit the famous Half Moon Bay. We turn the corner of the island and look up to see a large chunk of painted plywood cut to a half-moon shape, mounted high above the bay’s entrance. We slowly motor in and find a miniature bay with gently circling waters and a natural, flat granite stage that has been topped with a podium-shaped rock. Since 1887, there has been Sunday church services held here, delivered by various denominations from Gananoque. Travelers and locals arrive in their dingies, canoes, kayaks, stand-up boards, rubber inflatable rings, or anything else that floats, squeeze into the bay alongside dozens of other crafts, and listen to the service. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I can’t imagine a more beautiful setting for a church service. After we return, Tony and Angela take the dingy over to check it out, and then I take the kids over to see it too.

We are going to stay at the Gananoque municipal marina tonight, but the check-in time is not until noon, so after a round of swims we pull up the anchor and go for a little ride around the area. There seems to be houses on nearly all of the islands – even the tiny ones. There is one cute little house on an island so small that there is barely any land left to walk on, and I have no idea how it could survive a bad storm as the foot of the house is inches above the lake level and one could easily fish right from the front deck. The island names continue to impress – here we find Blackduck, Hemlock, Pitchpine, Forsyth and White Calf islands.

We arrive in Gananoque to a very busy marina and get tied up at the main dock for a round of pump outs and send Magnus out to to figure out where our reserved slips are. We both motor over and get docked, attach the electrical cables, and get that sweet air conditioning pumping, as it’s just past noon and already 31 degrees. Since there’s little wind in the protected marina, it feels a lot hotter here than it did at anchor.

The gang enjoys a round of sandwiches on Bella Blue and then the Olsons walk into town while the Henriques opt to stay back to do a little work on their boat, and perhaps enjoy an afternoon nap. It’s a short, but blazingly hot walk into town. Today is the last day of a local Ribfest and craft market which are being held at a downtown park. In the craft market is, of course, another one of those damn cloned Peruvian flute bands which I just can’t find room in my heart to appreciate. You may want to see the post from our recent trip to Madeira for a full explanation of the worldwide Peruvian flute band phenomenon. I walk by them with my pinky fingers jammed neatly into my ears, but tried to hide it so I wouldn’t hurt their feelings.

The Ribfest is a hot mess. There’s a bunch of food trucks selling sad, greasy meals, and a line of smokehouses with their giant facades proudly boasting accomplishments like “St Louis 1997 - Best Ribs!”, “Port Dover 2009 – Best Sauce!”, “Toronto 2014 – Customer’s Choice Award!”, “Rochester 2012 – Brisket Champion!”. The stalls have been oriented to provide the least amount of shade for the ribbers, and we see one of them being cooked himself by the fierce solar rays, wearing a black t-shirt and black scarf over his mouth and nose, while hunched over a blazing hot, wood powered grill, scorching full racks of ribs slathered in sauce, with the sweat flying off his brow into the grill and, no doubt, onto the ribs, giving them an extra bit of salty character. We decide to find somewhere else for dinner tonight.

We walk down Main Street, lurching from shadow to shadow and find a nicely air conditioned Dollar Store which provides refuge from the sun for a few comfortable minutes, and as an added bonus we get to enhale fumes from some of China’s finest plastic creations. We stop for a drink at a small café and pay $13 for four small, crappy lemonades and decide it’s time to return to the boat for better refreshments, cooler temperatures, and perhaps a short nap.

At around 7pm we return with Tony and Angela downtown and go for dinner at an English pub. The food is just okay, but the beer selection is fantastic and we sample several. One of the local craft beers is called “Juicy Ass” which opens up a wide range of naughty word games one could play with the server, but Tony and I restrain ourselves and just giggle silently at the end of the table, like schoolboys.

After leaving the restaurant I spot a black Ford Ranger with a license plate that reads “Gym Me”. Oddly appropriate when one considers the boater lifestyle, where cocktails begin at noon, snacks are served all day, and exercise is limited to cannonballing into the lake, or repairing boat disasters when they inevitably occur.

As dusk approaches, we join up with the Henriques on Cabin Fever to enjoy the Canada Day fireworks show. The scene from the top deck is cool – a giant barge in the middle of the harbour is surrounded by little white, red and green lights from the boats, some of which are anchored and some of which were still buzzing around, trying to find the perfect spot to watch the show. In the public park to the east of the marina is a live band, playing loud classic rock cover songs, with a huge audience of people.

The fireworks are okay, but definitely overshadowed by the tenacity of the bloodsucking mosquitos that drive the ladies and kids into the protected space of the main cabin while Tony light up cigars to try and repel the mozzies. The fireworks finish with a grand finale and we walk back to our boat, along the way discussing how lucky we are to live in such a fine country as Canada.

1 comment: