143 Lake Ontario to Macedon, NY

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Our conversation with the couple from Kansas continued as we sank lower in the lock. They had stopped to see a canal lock operate. I glanced at Ruth and she smiled reading my mind. As we passed out of the lock we shouted back inviting the couple to join us at the next lock to experience a ride down. They did and we continued our conversation learning a bit about their life in Kansas as we dropped down in Lock 2 on the Oswego Canal.

The next day we were first into Lock 1 and then watched as five other cruisers followed in behind to catch the 7 AM lock. Most had been waiting for a day or more for favorable conditions on Lake Ontario. We turned at the harbor entrance and headed west, the rest continued on across the lake.

Ford Shoal, a friendly mark from our twenty years of sailing Lake Ontario, came up quickly; and we left it to port as we headed for Fairhaven. The swiftness of its appearance had surprised us and it took a moment to realize that we’d learned the lake, almost by heart, sailing it as a 4 knot sailboat. Now as a 10 knot powerboat things happened more quickly making Lake Ontario feel quite a bit smaller. We accomplished what had been morning’s sail from Oswego to Fairhaven in about an hour.

The walk into town from the state park dock was for us pure nostalgia. It had been many years since we’d walked into Fairhaven and it was refreshing to see that many of the small things like, an eagle casting on a roof peak, or shake shingles on a cottage we liked, triggered memories of past visits and provided the illusion of a rare unchanged scene.

The compression of time worked against us, and we found ourselves back aboard Odyssey shortly after noon. Instead of staying at the state park seawall we decided to head for Rochester and arrived just as Shumway Marina was closing. Our afternoon trip would have been a very long sailing day and again reminded us that we were now traveling at a faster pace on Odyssey.

Of all the ports on Lake Ontario, Wilson has the feel of small town unchanged by modern times. The tiny harbor overflows with sailboats and the accompanying friendly boater feeling. A shady tree-lined road leads to town and speaks to a quieter time, as do the modest well kept homes and small town business district. We spent the afternoon talking with Tom who was curious about Odyssey and then spent some time talking about Sills Marina (our marina of 20 years) and events on Lake Ontario we remembered.

Tom and Marilyn met us at Niagara On The Lake for a fun reunion. We poked around town enjoying the explosion of flowers accenting a town that understands that if they do it right people will visit. Since we were all boaters it seemed only normal that we worked in a visit to the Welland Canal to check out the boat traffic between Lake Erie and Ontario.

Fifteen years earlier we’d partied pretty hard at Port Dahlousie. Now we realized we’d been there on the weekend when the town was alive with people from Toronto and other towns enjoying the weekend. On our weekday visit we found a sleepy town filled with boats just waiting for crew to arrive and start the party.

The old adage: “Cooler By The Lake” let us down. By 7 AM we already had an 80–80 day (temperature–humidity) and we were heading for another 90–90 day according to the weather forecast. Occasionally a whisper of a breeze smudged Lake Ontario’s glassy surface like breath on a mirror. Behind us our wake spread out in a widening V disappearing into the humidity shortened horizon. Indistinct gray shapes barely a shade darker than the heavy air was all we could see of Toronto’s skyline. Finally the unspoken question came out. Did we really want to spend time walking Toronto’s heat soaked pavement? The answer came easily and it took just a few finger strokes to change the GPS waypoint to Whitby and electronically hand it off to the autopilot. Hours later we discovered Nice Bistro (French pronunciation ‘Neece’) had a great French lunch and then headed back along Whitby’s heat soaked pavement to relax aboard and watch the afternoon harbor traffic.

The hot weather scuttled plans for anchoring out. It was just too hot. We’d end up running the generator to keep the cabin cool and for us the noise distracts from the quiet charm anchoring out brings. Plans shifted to finding marinas where we could enjoy the harbor scene and be plugged into shore power to keep the cabin cool.

Cobourg is home for Terry and Cindy. We’d met them a couple of times on the Trent Severn Canal and became friends. They joined us at the harbor and we had a fun evening learning where the locals hang out. They filled us in on their “new” boat, which we hope to see next summer when we once again do the Trent.

We hadn’t been in Kingston long when John and Bobbie arrived on Short Circat, a sister ship to Odyssey. They’d left Solomons, MD a month earlier and were having a ball cruising in fresh water. It was fun exploring town as we swapped cruising stories. We headed for Oswego and John and Bobbie took some time to explore the Thousand Islands.

We’d been in Oswego a few days when Lew and Karen on Vagabond, a classic wood Grand Banks 42 that Lew had lovingly and beautifully restored, arrived in Oswego. We’d docked with Vagabond and Lew a number of times at Gangplank Marina in Washington, DC. This was a great chance to get acquainted with Karen, and it felt as though we’d always known them. We hit it off and had a grand time exploring town and watching the harbor and canal fill with boats for the weekend Harborfest celebration. Happy hours were fun as we reviewed charts recommending anchorages along the Great Loop route.

 Swimmers enjoy the Oswego River as rafts grow for Harborfest

Swimmers enjoy the Oswego River as rafts grow for Harborfest

Oswego harbor rapidly filled with boats in anticipation of Harborfest and the major Saturday night fireworks show. It wasn’t long before the entire harbor edge and river had boats rafted 3 and 4 deep. We were above Lock 1 tied against the canal wall where rafting wasn’t allowed and the party wasn’t quite so intense.

Itchy to make miles, Lew and Karen pushed off heading to the Thousand Islands. Hours later Short Circat showed up, and we continued the fun we’d started in Kingston.

The US Boomerang Team (who knew) was in town and putting on demonstrations. We took a break from the Taste of NY wine and cheese tasting we’d been enjoying to watch. Being a boomerang throwing failure in my youth I was eager to see a skilled thrower. For an hour we sat fascinated watching different throws: distance, accuracy, trick catches, time aloft etc. They even got a few kids involved and had them throwing so that the boomerang came back.

By early Saturday morning an eclectic quilt of blankets, tarps, ground cloths and chairs covered every square foot of grass with fireworks visibility. Having staked out their few square feet everyone was off enjoying the activities. As darkness descended we joined the crush of people heading for the harbor front and found a spot to squeeze in among the now occupied blankets. A continuous bombardment from two barges and the Oswego harbor break wall made for one of the most impressive fireworks shows we’ve seen in years.

At the junction of the Oswego and Erie Canal we parted company with John and Bobbie. They turned east heading for the Hudson, ICW and eventually to their new home in Florida. We headed west back toward Macedon to again enjoy family.

One morning two sailboats with their masts on deck slipped by as we enjoyed breakfast in the cockpit. Seeing them on their way south stirred all kinds of emotions. We both remembered vividly the feelings we had eight years earlier when we were making our first trip out the Erie Canal aboard Tranquility with her mast on the deck. Then a time to get moving south feeling caught us off guard, and we starting talking about towns and anchorages we enjoyed only to stop as we realized we had a different plan for the first time in eight years. Odyssey was coming out of the water to winter in a cocoon of shrink-wrap while we traveled by RV. Reality kicked back in and as the sailboats disappeared down the canal we switched back to what we needed to accomplish to get Odyssey winterized and the Trek ready for eight months of living aboard.

Odyssey waiting for her winter shrink wrap

Odyssey waiting for her winter shrink wrap

Odyssey indicated its unhappiness with being left for the winter by presenting us with a number of challenges. Three different unplanned minor repairs showed up. All things we could handle, but time consuming and frustrating. The Trek seemed to feel it was missing out and came up with repairs requiring trips to the garage to fix. The unplanned items made the transfer from boat to RV a bit frustrating but it all worked out.

The Trek's dock spot when we are living aboard at the marina.

The Trek's dock spot when we are living aboard at the marina.

Life got a bit easier once we made adaptors to allow the Trek to use marina hook ups. Now we can connect the Trek into marina 30 amp dock receptacles and also hook up to the marina pump out system. The canal view from the Trek equals the canal view we had from Odyssey.

It’s been wonderful summer. Good bye’s were especially difficult since we had such an extended visit with everyone. Summer parties and Mike and Cindy’s house were great. Jeff, Danielle and Heather got comfortable just hanging out with us. It was great just poking around with Steve and Linda and enjoying Brian and Jody’s company.

Odyssey is on the hard waiting to be shrink wrapped in late October. Just after Labor Day we headed out on the RV with plans to become boaters again in April.

That’s all until next summer,

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