Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On 7/25/17 Dutchess traveled from Cobourg Municipal Marina to Port Whitby Marina. We had a nice ride in Lake Ontario, with the wind blowing off the land we had almost no waves. This made Skipper very happy.
On 7/26/17 motored to Mimico Cruising Club
Mimico Cruising Club

Toronto Skyline from Lake Ontario
(located in Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto) following the northern shore of Lake Ontario. Mimico C.C. is west of Toronto proper. We passed Toronto and saw the beautiful and impressive skyline immediately as we started out. It started out a bit rolly with the waves on the stern, but quieted down about halfway. Juli walked about a mile to get a mani/pedi/facial in Etobicoke and Sadie also had a day of beauty at the groomer.  We also toured Toronto on a bus – what a huge, friendly, vibrant city!  We especially enjoyed the St Lawrence Market where food, Juli finally found Nainamo bars at a huge bakery (a sweet Canadian bar cookie from her childhood).
On 7/30/17 we sailed across Lake Ontario to St Catherines Marina.  We had a good quiet crossing of 4.2 hours traveling around 22 NM with the wind dropping to zero. This marina is very tight to maneuver in for a 44’ boat and they put us all the way in. This is the only marina near the Welland Canal. John found a long black hair in his Mexican dish that we got at the small food shop in the marina!  (other than that, the food was good – lol) We walked the dogs and then went to bed early because of an early start the next morning.
On7/31/17 we got up at 0530, started the engine almost immediately, left at 0600 and proceeded around the breakwater towards the Welland Canal. About a mile in there is a free wall for recreational vessels to tie up and wait for clearance to enter the canal. We arrived at the wall at 0645 and our helper, Bob Neff, drove up at the same time. We had hired Bob to help us thru the canal because they require a crew of at least three on each boat coming up the canal. The Canal goes from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie basically to get around Niagara Falls. The canal cost $200.00 CA if you book on-line and the guide costs $250.00CA or $200.00 US -- a short cut that costs $450.00CA! Bob called the Canal control and was given no time of transit. We hung out at the wall with a small racing sailboat until 2000 when we were given permission to enter lock number #1. These are huge locks for ocean going ships and “Lakers” with about a 40’ rise.
Welland Canal Lock Doors

Welland Canal Lock
Two sailboats were dwarfed in these dark canyons. Because the lock is so large it takes a while to fill to the next level and they fill them fast with roiling water and currents bouncing the boat around. Being on deck was a bit scary for Juli as the boat rocked back and forth in the dark. Juli handled the line on the bow, Bob was on the stern line, and John stayed on the engine controls to keep the boat stationary. It was very dark and difficult to find the lines that were lowered to us.  The locks are close together which kept Juli on the bow until after Lock 7. After lock 7, around 1400, Bob was paid and he left the boat to return home. We proceeded to lock 8 which took about 2 hrs. We were told to tie to the wall and wait for a Laker to come out of lock 8. We waited for 30 minutes and we got the green light to proceed under the bridge and into the lock. In lock #8 we did not have to be controlled by lines and simply drifted around because it is only a 4’ lift. They extended a basket to us and Juli placed the proof of payment papers and a completed questionnaire in the basket. We had The Active Captain information showing a free wall to tie to once out of the Canal. Juli lassoed a bollard to stop the boat which only gave us one dock line. The wall was 5’ above the deck so John climbed up to tie the boat and rappelled back down into the boat - working on pure adrenaline now! We went to bed at 1630 with our clothes on, dead tired and very cold – but we made it!
The next morning at 0900 we were awakened by a shout and found a 200’ Canadian Coast Guard Cutter next to us. We were informed that we were in his spot. We untied immediately and got away from there – lol.
On 08/01/17  we took a short ride to Sugarloaf Marina in Port Colborne. They gave us an easy long dock to tie to. Still tired we napped most of the day. Then got some showers and dinner at the restaurant in the Marina. We both had Lake Erie Perch and a nice cold beer.

On 08/02/17 Dutchess reentered the USA at Buffalo NY, an easy trip on Lake Erie. We first pulled into the Erie Basin Marina to connect to US Immigration and report in. We saw a green uniformed US Customs officer but he could not help and told us to use the video phone on the wall. You guessed it – the phone did not work!  We left the marina and proceeded on to the Buffalo Launch Club where we had reservations to dock. To avoid the currents in the river, we took the Black Rock Canal and the Lock which parallels the river. We had a speedy transit under 2 bridges that opened for us and thru the Black Rock Lock (say that 3 times on the VHF!). At the BLC we tied to C dock which is a short walk to their beautiful club house complete with dining room, bar, pool, tennis courts, a dog walk area, and nice outdoor seating areas. We reached Customs from here via cell phone – quick and easy.

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