By William Kelly

Three boys, a homebuilt raft and a slow-moving river, launch a lifelong love of boats and the water.

After owning our Spencer 35 sailboat for almost 30 years, Anne and I recently sold her with the intention of getting a roomier vessel for two teenage boys, an energetic terrier and us. Our old boat headed for a new life on Vancouver Island and seemed a good fit for the new owner.

After helping deliver Sway to the island, I returned to the marina on the Fraser River where she had rested between our many cruises up and down this rainy coast. There was nothing much left but a small anchor and some rusting chain – I think I just needed to check that Sway was really gone. Out past the red beacon at the marina entrance I could see the current as the river ran on into the late afternoon light. I thought of another river, a childhood river where my journey with boats began.

This was the Credit River in suburban Toronto – where I took my first voyage on the water in a small vessel, a raft of logs made by myself, my older brother Bob and his friend Sal, who did most of the work. I had travelled on ships with my parents but this was my first voyage in a vessel so close to the water. It was an unforgettable day and it altered the course of my life.

Sal Petruccelli, the oldest son of Italian neighbours, was a breath of fresh air in our otherwise WASP neighborhood of Applewood Acres, now part of Mississauga. His big laugh and shout at the end of the street signalled to kids within earshot that egregious events were in the works and it was worth dropping whatever you were doing to see what was up. Sal was worldly, interested in everyone, and shared his entertaining views on most things in life. He listened patiently to my befuddled take on how people came into this world and replied simply, “Ahh, I don’t think so, Guglielmo.”

Sal’s father worked at Grampian Marine in nearby Oakville, and I can still see the painted paddleboat Mr. Petruccelli made one summer and placed on their front yard with a “for sale” sign.

So it was very like Sal and my generous brother Bob to invite me, four years younger, to join them on a rafting adventure on the Credit River one summer morning. Sal had a bag with a hammer and some spikes while Bob and I brought lunch.

We hiked through fields past an abandoned farmhouse until we reached a place Sal knew above the steep riverbank. Down we went, away from the familiar, to a strange shore with a view across the mighty Credit to where cattails and rushes held down a low marsh. (I didn’t know it then but the Credit and its tributaries extend over 1,500 kilometres and drain an area of more than 1,000 square kilometers. It has a significant trout population to this day.)

Sal told Bob and I to gather large logs along the bank, while Sal scrounged planks for the platform that would hold the raft together. Soon, we were ready to launch our vessel and, to my amazement, it floated. But what amazes me to this day is that it stayed afloat with the three of us on board!

Sal warned me not to venture too near the edge of the raft for fear it would flip and toss us overboard while he and Bob, equipped with poles, gently shoved us off the bank and into the current. Out of the shadow of the overhanging trees we broke into the morning sunshine, free of the sullen land. I can still see that moment, my eyes filled with the sun that transformed the rippling river water into a glittering carpet of jewels. Everything seemed within reach.

We drifted across the river, Sal laughing as he urged Robouski, as he called Bob, to push hard to get us to the other side. We all laughed as we made it across and landed at the edge of the marsh, striding about our newly discovered world like conquerors. We sat on the bank, ate lunch and relaxed.

Soon, we felt the urge to press on and we shoved the raft off the beach. What a sensation – skipping away from the shore to drift down a slow-moving river. Eventually, though, we drew close to the river’s mouth at Lake Ontario and our adventure was at its end. Sal hauled the raft up on the beach near a bridge where rattle and jawing of the real world could be heard overhead. Exhausted, we mounted the bridge and began the long march home in silence.

In the years to come, I would gaze out the windows of various classrooms and offices and find myself transported to that scene. I moved to the West Coast and eventually had enough money to buy a boat and embark on fresh sailing adventures with my wife and children. My brother, now retired, lives nearby and still gets out on a boat to fish. Sal, however, passed away a few years ago but, like his father, retained a keen interest in boats, the wind and the water to the end of his life.

Eventually, I stopped gazing at the red beacon and the Fraser, collected the chain and anchor, and headed down the dock. Outside the marina, the tide was still ebbing and the muddy river just ran on.

William Kelly’s sailing adventures have taken him up the West Coast as far as the Gulf of Alaska. With Anne Vipond, he is the author of Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage.

Photo Captions:
Photo 1 - Sal and son Nick sailing on Georgian Bay in 1980.
Photo 2 - Sal Petruccelli was a veteran raft builder, shown with his sister Carmela.
Four hundred influential artists, philanthropists, athletes, and business leaders set a new fundraising record at the 5th Annual Waterkeeper Gala in Toronto last Thursday, April 21...
Every year thousands of boaters go out on the ...
A view of the coastal waterways on Cape Breton ...
On the heels of Earth Day last week this film ...
Spinlock has been handed Britain's top business ...
Many aerial drones now feature a Follow Me mode – ...
  • MJM 50z with Triple Volvo Penta IPS 600 Engines
  • The Azores Islands with Distant Shores and Canadian Yachting
  • CY's Galley Guys cook Asparagus and enjoy it with  Whitehaven wine
  • 2016 Azimut 55 S Yacht Sea Trial with Andy Adams of Canadian Yachting
  • Neptunus 650 Express Tour with Canadian Yachting Magazine
  • Yacht Controller Founder Gerald Burton Describes This Precision Docking Innovation
  • Explore the new Cruisers 60 Cantius with Andy Adams and Canadian Yachting
  • Beneteau GT40 Sneak Peek with Canadian Yachting's John Armstrong
  • Galley Guys at Krates Marina in Keswick, Ontario
  • Executive Yacht at Toronto Outer Harbour with Canadian Yachting Magazine
  • Diane Reid - Clipper Round the World Race - The Countdown is On
  • Port Credit Spring In-Water Boat Show with Canadian Yachting Magazine
  • 2016 Neptunus 62 Launch with Canadian Yachting
  • Enjo Outdoor Cleaning Kit - Chemical Free Cleaning Solutions for your Boat
  • Keeping Diesel Fuel Clean Part III - Water Separators - Ask the Experts
  • Launch Day 2015, Midland Bay Sailing Club with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Keeping Diesel Fuel Clean Part II - Filters - Ask the Experts
  • Mystic Seaport Museum with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Marine Museum of the Great Lakes with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Kingston’s Pumphouse Steam Museum with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Antique Boat Museum Clayton NY with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Shrink Wrapping a 16 ft Glastron Bowrider for Winter Storage
  • Flare Disposal with CPS-ECP's John Gullick and Canadian Yachting
  • Keeping Diesel Fuel Clean Part I: Biocide  - CY's Ask the Experts

Destinations

  • Prev
We had been out on the ocean for 17 days, just the two of us, keeping watch around the clock. One ...
We’re leaving the dock early in the morning in order to catch the incoming tide that will carry us ...
The sunny sky suddenly turned black as we waited on the blue line for our turn to enter the mammoth ...
Morning. Thompson Island on Lake Superior. Fourteen nautical miles out of Thunder Bay. Perfect ...
Cruising on Canada’s East Coast, at least for those who have never been there, can conjure up ...
We are taking off from Antigua and are tightly belted into our twin-engine, seven-seater ...
We were cruising for two weeks in Gwaii Haanas. Spread out among three boats, (a Campion, a ...
Glancing down into the water as I prepared to furl in the genoa for the approach to the Tobago ...
Boaters visiting historic Gig Harbor will be rewarded with one of the most extensive and sheltered ...
Saturday, July 18th, 2015  the Port of Newcastle invites you to their 21st Annual Wooden Boat ...

Exploring Lake Superior
Story By Mark Stevens • Photographs by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

Morning. Thompson Island on Lake Superior. Fourteen nautical miles out of Thunder Bay.

Perfect weather.

This begins on Day Two because we cast off yesterday and conditions precluded time spent below deck with my nose buried in “Frodo’s” logbook: co-operative winds, scenery that could make a politician cry, waves decorating cobalt waters that glittered like jewels in a crown.

Read more about Exploring Lake Superior...

 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
The Doral 250 Ci­tation is a top-of-the-line mini-cruiser offering an in-cabin galley, private ...
No matter who designs Baltic's boats, they all come out looking great and, amazingly enough, ...
A glance at the sail plan of Meridian tells you this boat is fun-and fast. It looks as though the ...
Have you ever realized, while sipping drinks in the cockpit after a friendly Wednesday-night race, ...
The CS 30, the lat­est addition to the CS family of yachts, made its debut early this year and ...
A stylish sport cruiser from a traditional company.
Beneteau Yachts and Naval Architects Nuvolari - Lenard, really have the new Gran Turismo 40 dialed ...
The Carver Riviera 28 Aft Cabin, featuring distinctive styling with a true international flavor, ...
The first of the new C&C 27s was launched this April and we had the opportunity to take it out ...
Rick Richardson climbs out of the thigh-deep main hold of Canoe Cove's Tri-cabin Coho 41...

Beneteau GT 35Andy Adams

Great performance in a versatile, modern design

For the Canadian Yachting readers who are not yet familiar with Beneteau’s broad range of power boat models, the Gran Turismo 35 may come as a bit of a surprise. Our test boat is a head-on competitor to the North American built express cruisers and the latest day boats that are coming on the market.

The GT35 has the style and amenities to match the best new designs in it’s size range, the stern drive power to deliver exhilarating high speed performance plus, it still adds in an overtone of Euro style.

Read more: Beneteau GT 35...

Lifestyle

  • Prev
In the heart of the Huronia wilderness, the Jesuits established the first French outpost outside of ...
It is always an interesting dilemma when crossing into another country; what exactly should one say ...
Like many other harbours on Lake Ontario, Cobourg has seen its fair share of changes. Screams used ...
Bermuda is the host country for the 35th America’s Cup, set to take place in 2017, a competition ...
In 1791, a 36 foot sailboat from Spain, captained by Don Jose Maria Narvaez anchored off Point Grey ...
Mark Mattson is a man of gentle demeanor but don’t be fooled by his calm, cool collectedness. This ...
We hear about the plastic problem in our oceans all the time. Scientists on the media talk to us ...
Thick beef stew you can make in any galley, over a campfire or at home.  Good eaten from a bowl or ...
As summer becomes a distant memory, see if you can close your eyes and recall those glorious days ...
The Halifax Harbour is well known not only to mariners and historians, but also to most Canadians ...

Cobourg Yacht Club - 2015 Sailing instructorsKatherine Stone

Like many other harbours on Lake Ontario, Cobourg has seen its fair share of changes. Screams used to be heard from kids piled into a toboggan on wheels that went hurtling down a wooden slide into the harbour. Above it all was the bustling din from the waterfront of ship’s whistles, train engines, foghorns and thundering coal cars. It is now a rather serene place for the locals and visitors to enjoy various watercraft. Fortunately, the beautiful beach that lines the waterfront is still a star attraction for the town.

Located 95 kilometres east of Toronto and 62 kilometres east of Oshawa on the north edge of Lake Ontario, United Empire Loyalists first starting arriving in the area as early as the 1780s. The first settlement in 1798 was called Buckville, later renamed Amherst, then called Hamilton (after the township) and also nicknamed Hardscrabble. It wasn’t until 1819 that they finally settled on the name of Cobourg, which was incorporated as a town in 1837. In the late 1820s large schooners with passengers and cargo had to anchor well off shore, as there was only a landing wharf. A group of Toronto businessmen formed the Cobourg Harbour Company which built the wooden Eastern Pier from tolls charged for the use of the harbour.

Read more: Cobourg Yacht Club...

Galley Guys - a toast!

Katherine Stone

Oh sure…boaters love to go boating, but some also like to, you guessed it: stroll. One of the great things about boating the north shore of Lake Ontario is pulling into Cobourg Harbour to tie up for a visit and walk about town in a leisurely or idle manner. Boat strollers are easily picked out around town, sporting Sperry Top-Siders that are a little worn out, sunglasses held on by a Croakie or duct tape, burgee embroidered canvas tote bags, clothes that are a little crumpled and a displaying a few days’ worth of facial hair.

Read more: Galley Guys Cobourg...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Informed estimates are that barely 10% of Canadian pleasure craft have underwater lighting but in ...
Comfort and convenience are important factors both to keep boaters enjoying boating as well as to ...
Winterizing your boat in the fall is important and may be a daunting task for some boat owners.  ...
Boaters who prefer to be on the hook, such as ourselves in our Islander 36 sailboat Holole’a, ...
Will traditional paper charts soon be a thing of the past? And what will that mean for recreational ...
With built in functions for radar, weather, chart plotters, engine data, and radio controls, boat ...
Understanding how systems really work – and degrade over the winter – can help you prepare your ...
The Interlux® Boat Paint Guide has gone digital with the launch of a free app for Apple® IOS and ...
Convenient, Cool and Low-cost!From simple organizational Apps for your smart phone to complete ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
The day before it revealed its 16-camera Odyssey rig at Google I/O last year, GoPro announced it ...
Cutting-edge technology and effortless style were on display at Coal Harbour Marina, as M&P ...
Leading marine power generation manufacturer Northern Lights has introduced the Tough Series ...
For all intents and purposes, the Mercedes S-Class Convertible is the perfect car for a seaside ...
VMG Marine, Canadian distributor for NASA Marine Instruments UK, is pleased to announce a new ...
On 25 February, the 100th Lagoon 620 left the shipyard with great ceremony. All those who ...
Jarrett Bay 54 refit featuring Aqualuma Generation 4 18 Series LEDs
Life today demands a 24/7 connection, but reception on the water is notoriously uneven. Dropped ...
The Early Detection & Rapid Response (EDRR) Network Ontario project, co-delivered by the ISC ...
It may finally be the end of the “Big fish story” with today’s announcement from GoFree, ...