New York Canals - St. Anne de BellevueThe 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. 

San Juan view across Hotel de Haro gardensJust 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.

The Presque Isle peninsula is a 3,200-acre – 7-mile long arm that extends northeast into Lake Erie creating a large, sheltered boating paradise of a harbour.  With a string of well equipped marinas, a wealth of facilities and a very impressive yacht club, it has attractions for boaters that place it at the top of a cruising destination list. This may come as a bit of a surprise since Erie, PA is a relatively small community with a population that has hovered around 100,000 for decades. Nonetheless, it is a comparative giant in terms of boating.

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.

Few cruising boats visit beautiful and remote Prince William Sound. Some 2,800 square miles in area and situated at the very northern tip of the Gulf of Alaska, from which it is separated by a series of major barrier islands, this inland sea has a coastline equal to that of Oregon and California combined. Within its boundaries lie the towns of Cordova, Valdez and Whittier  ̶  as well as the native American villages of Chenega and Tatitlek.

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.

The much anticipated envelope arrived in the mail at the beginning of September 2010.  It was sent from the AGLCA, the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association.  Inside the envelope was a letter from the association congratulating us on completing the Loop, a gold AGLCA flag that we could proudly fly on our signal pennant and a certificate, our “Baccalooperat”  This piece of parchment meant as much to us as receiving a degree from a university. We had done it.  We had conquered the continuous waterway that took us through the Great Lakes, the inland rivers of the United States and the Gulf and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterways.

Lifestyle

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We admit it, this Photo of the Week shot was just too cute to resist even though it was blatant ...
Reader Lorraine Gentleman took some liberty with our request for Photo of the Week shots from the ...
This afternoon portrait of her son enjoying a snooze in a pretty unlikely spot comes to us from ...
I've been cleaning dresser drawers for space and came across this 1979 LYRA t-shirt. This was my ...
Our Photo of the Week comes from one of our CY team members who writes “This is my son and his best ...
This boat carries the distinction as the last boat to leave the C&C Custom shop in Oakville ...
We crossed Lake Ontario from Oswego with a minimum of fuss and did a little happy dance when we ...
Our Photo of the Week comes from Mark and Lisa Harris who winter in Vancouver, Washington and spend ...
I am new to boating. Bought a 2019 Ranger Tug in April followed by taking a short boating course ...

DIY & How to

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This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...
Purchase your copy of the BRAND NEW Ports Georgian Bay 2020 Edition at the Toronto International ...
The boat was put on the hard for this winter and were going to follow along with Graham as he ...
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As the seasons change and we move from warm summer into cooler fall, many fanatic boaters ...
On the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had ...
A reader suggested we take a look at anchors. Anchoring seems simple enough. A weighted hook with a ...

Diesel Fuel MaintenanceSince the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over gasoline. In more recent decades, that argument has included boat manufacturers, and increasingly, individual boaters. As I pass through boat yards in the spring or fall, I’m sure to hear a comment or two (sometimes ruefully, other times with great joy) of the merit of a particular engine or fuel source.

Increasingly, diesel engines are praised for their long-life, ease of maintenance, compact design, reliability and safety, and rate of combustion. As well as cruisers and trawlers, many sailboat manufacturers in particular have chosen to install diesel engines. 

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Boat Reviews

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With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

Beneteau Flyer 32By Andy Adams

Summer sun boat! The handsome new Beneteau Flyer 32 is all about entertaining and the bow area is one of the main attractions. It's a wide shape forward with a huge anchor locker and opening centre section in the railing that invites you to beach the boat and go swimming. The bow is really one giant sun bed area with armrests that fold down and head rests too, for fall-asleep comfort. 

 

 

Read more about the Beneteau Flyer 32....................

 

Dufour 460By Katherine Stone

When one does an October yacht review on the Great Lakes you can never be sure of what kind of weather you will get…. and did we ever luck out! A beautiful sunny day with a high of 31 degrees and a perfect 8-10 knot breeze with light chop made for a champagne sailing day. Lucky for me we were at Swans Yacht Sales located in the Whitby Marina on Lake Ontario, trying out the Dufour 460 Grand Large, a flag ship for the midrange Dufour boats. With an overall length of 46’5” and a hull length of 44 ‘, this boat is majestic, not only in size, but also in elegance with timeless and contemporary style. 

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Belize: Sailing SolitudeBy Mark Stevens

We’ve just weighed anchor off Thatch Caye, a tiny island nuzzled by Caribbean waters flowing between the world’s second longest barrier reef and the mountainous coast of Belize to our west, and now we’re navigating a serpentine course through a crowded congregation of coral heads.

Once safely in deep water we raise sail. I spin the wheel of “Kavok” (a Lagoon 421 catamaran we’ve booked for our weeklong Belize bareboat adventure from Dream Yacht Charter) until we’re pointed south – steady on a lazy beam reach.

Read more about Belize......................

 

Marine Products

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Every cruiser in the region has used it for years, but now there’s a brand new edition of the ...
When you visit the Toronto Boat Show, come to the Canadian Yachting booth (#1741), trial a pair of ...
With the Davis Scrubbis Underwater Hull Cleaning Kit it's easy to rid a boat of algae, grass, and ...