Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thousand Islands June 30 - First Night Out

I open my eyes and look up through the v-berth hatch to see grey, overcast skies and hear the sound of rumbling thunder. What the hell, I think, it’s supposed to be clear and sunny today. The boat is rocking and bouncing around from the chop stirred up by the wind, but by mid-morning the clouds have disappeared and the full sun is out, heating up the day, and slowly cooking this strange looking fish that has somehow found its way onto the dock.

I get our 2.5 HP outboard engine mounted on the dingy and try to start it, but it simply will not fire. Not even a sputter. Andrew even calls in his mechanic neighbour who helps us out but we’re still unable to get a flicker of life out of it, so we head out to Ward’s Marine and buy a brand new Mercury 2.5 HP engine as we need something reliable for this trip.

We get the engine mounted on the dingy and tested and then meet up in Andrew’s living room to watch the Portugal – Uruguay world cup match. The view from Andrew’s house is stunning – he is situated right on the shore of the St. Lawrence River and looks across the Bateau Channel to see Howe Island. He’s been consumed by a multi-year renovation, or perhaps more appropriately “reconstruction” project, but everything is finally taking shape and it’s getting close to completion. As part of the project he built a huge extension to his dock to accommodate multiple boats and constructed a second level which will be the ultimate summer party lounge complete with built in bar, fridge, sink and icemaker!

Sadly, our boys are not able to squeak through and are eliminated so after about 3 seconds of  melancholy we realize we’re on day one of our Thousand Islands sailing trip and are immediately happy again. We say our goodbyes to Andrew and Victoria, throw off the dock lines, and set sail east down the Bateau Channel. The wind is coming from directly behind us, so we set the sails in a wing and wing configuration, which is when the main goes out to one side and the headsail is pulled out to the other, allowing you to capture the maximum amount of wind. We pass by dozens of boats and many beautiful houses, both on the mainland and on Howe Island.

We clear the Bateau Channel, turn south towards the Admiralty Islands, and get our first taste of what these cruising grounds are all about. There are islands everywhere you look, with pre-Cambrian jagged rock faces, tall pine trees, mossy ground, with dangerous reefs and shallows lurking between many of them, requiring the helmsman to keep a close eye on the charts. Some of the islands in the region have docks and mooring balls which are maintained by the Canadian government, but we’ve read that to get a space you need to arrive quite early in the day as they are very popular. We pass by one such island called Mermaid Island, but the docks are full so we continue down Wanderer’s Channel and settle on an anchorage west of Lindsay Island, where there are several other boats anchored. Our initial anchoring attempt fails, but we do succeed in winding up two hundred pounds of weeds on our anchor. Tony and Angela then drop anchor and it sticks easily so we raft our boat off theirs and are set for the night.

The water is 22 degrees Celsius and provides a bit of cold water shock as the kids, Tony and I plunge in. We get the shampoo and soap out for an evening bath and before long the water feels just fine. Magnus and I then take the dingy out to do some fishing and we bob in and out of the bays, throwing casts, but are not able to latch onto anything. Many of the islands here are private and have cabins built on them, most of which have elaborate boat houses for the boats required to get to the mainland and back.

Angela gets some snacks together and invites us to their flybridge for a sundowner. Their boat is a 36’ Mainship named Cabin Fever, which is a two-level boat with the steering wheel at the top, giving the helmsman an excellent view over the water. I call it the “Warship” as it has a menacing and dominant look - at least compared to our sailboat. Over drinks we discuss the day’s events, plan for tomorrow, and even come up with an idea for an on-water movie theater where we would pull our main sail out and project a movie onto it from the top deck of Warship. The only thing missing from the plan is a projector, so I make a mental note to try and find one along the way somewhere.

With that, we retire for the evening in this beautiful anchorage, after sailing a modest total of eight miles for the day.

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