The sun was just starting to light up the horizon when we departed our home slips in Crystal Harbour, LaSalle, Ontario, and entered the Detroit River. It was June 28, 2014, the first day of our adventure to explore the waters of the Great Lakes and beyond from Windsor to Montreal. We had set aside about six weeks to cruise down Lake Erie and enter the NY Canal System near Buffalo, travel east on the canal to Oswego, head straight north across Lake Ontario to Kingston, traverse the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, cruise down the Ottawa River to Montreal, head back west up the St. Lawrence River to the Thousand Islands, and finally re-enter the NY Canal system at Oswego and follow it back toward Lake Erie and home.
My wife, Hélène, and I travelled on Mystic Blue, a Mainship Pilot Classic. Terry and his wife, Linda, voyaged on their Camano Troll, 4 Buoys. Both 30-foot vessels were designed to cruise at a comfortable and economical speed of about 8 – 9 knots.
Just across the border from Canada’s Gulf Islands – and there’s a story behind that – San Juan is an engaging destination rich in history, culture and opportunities to explore shoreside.
Our first cruise to the San Juan Islands was in 2005, our seventh year of cruising on our wooden sailboat, South Islander. We had heard about how lovely the San Juans were, and even though we have many beautiful anchorages in Canada, we felt it was time to do some exploring south of the border. After all, the San Juans are really just an extension of our own southern Gulf Islands; it’s the international boundary that runs right smack through the middle that makes the San Juans a separate destination.
Boats and Erie have a solid historic connection. If you managed to stay awake during Grade 10 history you’d have traced the communities of the lake back to the early exploration of North America. During the War of 1812 (which we know as our victory in Canada, although it seems to have had a different outcome south of the border) a 27-year-old US Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry built a fleet of ships and defeated (!) the British at the Battle of Lake Erie.
To reach it, any boat too large to be put on a trailer and towed for hundreds of miles through mountainous terrain must be placed on a barge or brave a 500-mile transit across the open and often tempestuous waters of the Gulf of Alaska.
I have always wanted to go to Baja, but like many of the other 25+ destinations on my bucket list, I still hadn’t got round to it. Imagine my delight when a last minute invite – timed perfectly around a crazy production schedule – found me basking in the beauty of the Marina Costa Baja ready to hop on one of Mooring’s brand new, fully loaded Power 474s with a bunch of like-minded journalists, ready for a first-hand experience of a lifetime. The first day – ‘the getting to know one another day’ – found us only six miles from our departure point in La Paz, Mexico, in the well-protected anchorage of Caleta Lobos.
Adamant 1 has had an adventurous trip since returning from the Bahamas. The Intracoastal Waterway is full of twists and turns, marshland, shallow water and spectacular scenery. It has been very quiet as well with little boat traffic. We pulled into Fernandina Beach at the Florida-Georgia border. We heard it was beautiful there so we rented a car and toured all day. Sadly, we got caught in a tropical depression that lasted for two days with sustained winds of 80 km/h. Once the storm abated, we headed north again. Georgia doesn’t have much to offer except marshland.
Florida is celebrating its 500th Anniversary this year. What you might not know is that it all started in St. Augustine, recently recognized as one of the top 20 places to see in the world according to National Geographic Traveler. Although part of you is likely anxious to get back home to friends, family and terra firma of any kind, a short stay in St. Augustine will leave you wanting more and certainly provide you with one final memorable reprieve before the last leg of your journey.
The big adventure continues! After ten days in Mobile, sightseeing, doing repairs and stocking up, we put the mast back up and were ready to go. We just needed a good weather report. One great thing about the VHF weather in the USA is that it goes by county. It makes trip planning easier because the forecasts are localized. Bypassing part of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) because Adamant’s mast was too high for the bridges, we headed to Panama City.
The entire state of Florida is celebrating 500 years since the arrival of Ponce de Leon in 1513. Counties all over Florida are marking this year in style… including Pensacola. As part of your Great Loop experience, a stop in Pensacola is highly recommended. Palm Harbor Marina – a frequent stopover for fellow Canadian Loopers – will welcome you with open arms. Palm Harbor is actually home to many Canadian boats kept there year-round. In fact, the Technomarine docks installed there were built in Canada.
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Cape Breton – My Personal Playground
By Elizabeth Ann Kerr
A year ago, it’s quite possible that if someone gave me an outline of Canada and asked me to point to Cape Breton Island, I would have failed, at least on my first attempt. Now, its shape, topography and waypoint remain indelibly emblazoned on my heart.
It is also quite possible that Celtic Colours – an annual gathering of more than 200 local and internationally renowned musicians, performing 49 concerts in 32communities– helped to kick start Cape Breton’s tourism industry 20 years ago.
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By Katherine Stone
You can’t possibly pack in more national history associated with a yacht club than what you can find on Deadman’s Island in Nova Scotia. This is what Halloween legends were made of, as it was not uncommon once upon a time, to have an arm appear out of the ground in winter with the remainder of the poor skeleton not being reunited with its appendage until the spring thaw.
Many years after the Micmacs discovered Melville Island, the spot they called “end of the water,” the site was used for storehouses and then was purchased by the British, where a prisoner-of-war camp was built to house captives in the Napoleonic Wars and then later during the War of 1812.
Read more about Armdale Yacht Club...
By Andy Adams
Big, elegant, and capable
Families with young people who are seriously into waterskiing or wake boarding face a difficult choice: Buy a dedicated tow sports boat and make the kids happy or buy a more traditional family boat and make everyone comfortable.
In our opinion, the Vanquish 24 Runabout offers up a big, elegant, and capable solution that could make everybody happy. This is not a cheap solution, but it's an impressive one. Last August, we traveled to Gravenhurst, Ontario, and got our first look at the Vanquish 24 Runabout, tied up at Muskoka Wharf Marine. One glance told us this was a special boat.
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DIY & How to
Always a major exhibitor at the Halifax International Boat Show, Seamaster’s sales manager Dave Trott tells us they will have several news products on display including the new Stingray 206cc and the 186cc.
Seamaster Services of Dartmouth is a diversified company with roots in the marine safety business. Over the years they have expanded from liferafts to inflatable boats, as a Zodiac dealers, and now sell and service an extensive line of fibreglass and inflatable boats including Grady-White and Stingray.
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