So near, yet…

It’s really astonishing. In Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, there are six million or so of us, crowded into bustling neighbourhoods and driving on packed roads. As Canadians we see the United States  as a bigger, even more populous big brother next door.

BUT. A mere 30 miles across Lake Ontario, you can find pastoral country in the charmingly American harbour and village of Wilson, NY that defies whatever image you have of the United States as the hub of industry and commerce. Tired of traffic on the 400 or QEW? For a quick serenity fix whenever you want just click www.wilsonnewyork.com/webcam.htm for a camera view of peacefulness in progress. Or better yet, head southeast, navigate carefully up the left side of the channel between the long Wilson Harbor piers extending out into Lake Ontario.

Within the harbour, follow the channel to discover a charming getaway that mostly is visited only by boaters. Even though it’s America, upstate New York is quiet, shockingly quiet. Wilson used to be a one-industry town; since Pfeiffer Salad Dressings closed its plant in 2009 it’s a no-industry town. Today the popular Wilson Boat House restaurant that overlooks your boat slip might be the largest employer. There is next to nothing doing in Wilson and therein lies its appeal. You’ll quickly forget that the Big Smoke is but a hoot and a holler to the north.

What you will find in Wilson is a big, friendly welcome for Canadians and some fine boating facilities. Wilson Harbor has been a vacation spot since the mid-1800s when, according to tourist sign information, Torontonians arrived by ferry for picnics. Today there are three well-equipped marinas with transient slips and three friendly yacht clubs that offer reciprocal moorings for visitors plus a state park with some visitor slips and anchorage just beside. The harbour itself is beautifully protected and scenic, offering several dining/drinking spots, some interesting shops, a community swimming pool and a gas dock.

Tucked in behind Sunset Island, hiding it from view on approach, Wilson Harbor is surprisingly sizeable. Inside, the water is Y-shaped. From the entrance, follow the channel carefully to avoid grounding up the port side and you’ll immediately see a huge lighthouse building which is actually a community centre with the accompanying Linnea’s Pool, a very inviting, kid-friendly facility.

There are moorings on this east side at the Wilson Boatyard Marina or the Tuscarora Yacht Club — mostly taken up by fun loving sport fishermen. The many fine boats there seem to be equally equipped for angling and partying, although in the tranquil Wilson tradition it appears to focus mostly on happy afternoon fish tales and very little raucousness.

If you take the starboard channel coming in, you will be in Tuscarora Bay, which extends west into a significant basin where there are many mooring options including the Wilson YC, Moyer’s Marina and the Island Yacht Club — which is part of the complex containing the Sunset Bay Marina and Wilson Boat Works. Everyone seems to monitor VHF 68 if you want to call in.

At the west end of the Bay is the State Park for both a mooring option and the non-optional U.S. Customs and Border Protection videophone check in (which you certainly won’t want to skip — trust me). Also on the north side of the Bay is the Sunset Grill that — from its perch on a slight rise — overlooks the harbour, some fine parkland and yes, some pretty good sunsets. Perhaps on a really clear day, you can see the CN Tower if you want to be reminded that your iPhone probably has 125 emails waiting for you. The Sunset is locally known for Blue Wednesdays bringing fine bands to the harbour on Wednesdays throughout the summer.

Once you’re tied up, it’s pretty easy to explore the area on foot or bike. Surrounding the lighthouse building is the longstanding Wilson Boat House Restaurant with its superb patio. Adjacent to the gas dock building is an enclave of small touristy shops including a C-store, Vizcarra Vineyards local wine shop, 4 Season Gifts and Destination clothing. Walk up Harbor Street just behind the Boat House Restaurant and you’ll find Brownie’s Custard Stand for oldish-fashioned hot dogs, snacks and ice cream. Continuing along Harbor takes you to Young Street, the main business strip — it’s not far at all. The adjacent downtown — translation: one block has a couple of local watering holes, an IGA, a bank, a bookstore, then a very village-y Wilson Free Library and… well, that’s about it.

Since we’re here to visit the United States, check out the village homes especially the “Historic Cobblestone Homes.”  In Western New York during the 1800s, many homes were built of the rounded polished rock of Lake Ontario that was all along lake beaches. Wilson has quite a few, mostly on Maple Road.  

The Wilson House Restaurant and Inn at Lake and Young at the centre of the village adjacent to the town’s traffic light is another cobblestone example. It’s open for old-fashioned cuisine including the mandatory Friday Fish Fry.

Wilson has an unusual isolation. It’s about the same distance from Buffalo as it is from the CN Tower and not far east of Youngstown, NY, well known for its Level Regatta. It’s about 60 km along the very quiet Seaway Trail Highway 18 that parallels the shoreline toward Rochester. Nearby Olcott Beach was once an amusement park and is now trying with moderate success to re-invent itself.

If you check the calendar of events at http://villageofwilson.org you’ll see a summer-long schedule of community-driven fun like the Wilson Dog Paddle in June, some well attended auto Cruise Nights and August’s Field Day, one of the last remaining of such events in the state that brings fire trucks and marching bands to Young Street. There’s also a regular series of free movies and band concerts in Clark’s Park behind the Wilson Boatyard Marina.

Readying for the journey to Wilson and looking for the hot insider cruise tips, I asked a dock mate, who very frequently crosses the lake to weekend in Wilson Harbor, what draws him back again and again.

“What’s there, Jeff?”  

“Nothing, not much at all. That’s why I love it!”


Walk the walk

The Reporting Requirements for Private Boat Operators in the Great Lakes Region, effective January 2008, says that, “all U.S. Citizen and alien boaters, family members and all guests entering the United States MUST REPORT for inspection immediately upon arrival.”

Since leisure is the operating mode in Wilson, you won’t mind the slightly inconvenient location of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection videophone at the east end of the harbour and just up the hill on the side of a small building in the State Park. Right after you moor, take the stroll over to the lovely park and do your duty to the Stars and Bars. A lazy meander back to the dock, then it’s time for cocktails.


Hey buddy, where’s the fire?

This summer the landmark (if that’s the right word) Hub Hotel on the main drag has been given a new life as the Firehouse Tavern. Your new hosts as of July are locals Russell and Susan Jackman.

Russell’s other life is as the fire chief of Wilson. As a visiting regional instructor, he met firefighters all over Western New York collecting souvenir helmets from those brave lads and lasses, which now adorn the wall of the newly re-done beverage spot. The incendiary theme is continued in the Five Alarm Wings, and other menu faves.


Photo Captions
Photo 1 - The lighthouse community centre and Wilson Boat House welcome you if you take the left channel in.
Photo 2 - Cruising kids love Linnea's Pool.
Photo 3 - There is lots of angling on the south shore of Lake Ontario.
Photo 4 - There are a few cute shops at Wilson. Maybe this is the day you get to know some NY State wines?
Photo 5 - Pretty and relaxing, the Wilson Pier sign welcomes visitors.

By John Morris

Related Articles

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 14:28

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club has confirmed that it will compete in the 2013 New York Yacht Club.  Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, bringing the competition to 20 international teams.  Founded...

Friday, 08 March 2013 13:33

Completing the Tour of the Six Celtic Nations. Sheryl and Paul Shard continue their sailing adventures with an autumn cruise of the Brittany coast of France aboard their Southerly 49 sailboat,...

Monday, 04 November 2013 10:17

When boaters ventured into Frenchman’s Bay even a couple of decades ago, it was not without some trepidation - the entrance to the harbour was badly marked and was flanked by the remnants of...

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 14:48

Each summer, in a Canadian cruising tradition, thousands of Western Lake Ontario sailors join the annual summer migration to the Bay of Quinte and the Thousand Islands.  The route,  for most of us,...

Friday, 10 May 2013 16:07

Let’s be honest. In terms of Canadian small cities Belleville is just another one. However, as a boating destination and as a historically important sailing force, it punches well above its weight....

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 14:28

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club has confirmed that it will compete in the 2013 New York Yacht Club.  Invitational Cup presented by Rolex, bringing the competition to 20 international teams.  Founded...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Once again, Cruisers Yachts is leading the market for day boats with their new 42 GLS model that ...
Optimized sailing performance and comfortable living – a sweet ride. The expression that came to ...
This is such an exciting time in boating! While we feel very sorry for people whose health and ...
For many, the 2020 sailing year will be one to go down into the books as “different”. With delayed ...
What perfect timing! Beneteau is has just announced their new Antares 11 model for North America ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full-service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...
The Oceanis Yacht 54, younger sister of the Oceanis 62, embodies the innovation that has always ...
Beneteau announces the launch of the latest addition to the Antares range! With a length overall of ...
I had been looking forward to a sea trial aboard the Greenline 33 because I was hoping it would ...
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

 

Cruisers Yachts 42 GLSBy Andy Adams

Once again, Cruisers Yachts is leading the market for day boats with their new 42 GLS model that premiered at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show at the end of October. The concept of a large day boat is now a very well-established trend made possible by the amazing new power and efficiency of the latest four stroke outboards.

Buyers are looking for a different boating experience and we think that the 42 GLS nails it. Fast, handsome and versatile, the 42 GLS is designed for fun and adventure.

Read More

 

Bahamas - There and Back Again IIIn Part I, Sheryl Shard ended the story at June and the start of Hurricane Season when they were once again joined by friends.

This time it was Noel and Tracey Dinan, whose new shallow-draft Allures 49.5 was in build at the time, we headed north from the Exumas across the expanse of the Great Bahama Bank, dodging coral patches as we sailed to Eleuthera then Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco. Another commercial centre in the islands, we cleared out of the Bahamas here after provisioning for our offshore passage up to the Chesapeake Bay on the US mainland and out of the Hurricane Zone until mid-November...

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
OK, stop the presses. This photo just came in from Beacon Bay. Clearly those folks know how to get ...
Back in the day, the publisher of a magazine would receive a bound copy of the year’s monthly ...
Boaters on BC’s West Coast have heard the story of the garbage pickers of the Marine debris removal ...
Skipper John “Drew” Plominski is hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Plominski, whose boat ...
The Association provides a forum for exchanging information, tips and access an advocate on behalf ...
Kristin Cummings, Operations Manager at Beacon Bay Marina took this shot after the skies broke ...
Our Photo of the Week (two, in fact) comes from New Zealand where the second America’s Cup AC 75 ...
The Marine Debris Recovery Initiative (MDRI), a collaboration with the Clean Coast, Clean Waters ...
The International Joint Commission (IJC) is reviewing Plan 2014 and could use your help. The plan ...
The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), thanks to funding from Environment and Climate Change ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Styles, shapes, pitch and diameter of props are widely discussed on online boating forums, YouTube ...
There’s nothing worse than wondering how much fuel you have on board. You’re left wondering how ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is a phrase that many of us are familiar with. Most of the ...
I’m on many different types of boats, with many configurations. Some have a single ...
I often get asked if regular care and maintenance is necessary for inflatable PFDs. Here is a ...
Labour Day weekend tends to be the ‘last hurrah’ on many fronts: the last long weekend of the ...
One of the Great Lakes’ best known tall ships, sail training vessel TS Playfair, will soon be ...
My Dad is not a mechanical guy. He is educated and well-read, and handy around the house – but not ...
I was cleaning up my workbench the other day. My eyes then scanned across my workbench and fell on ...

WinterizationBy Andrew McDonald, Lakeside Marine Services

“They don’t make ‘em like they used to”, is a phrase that many of us are familiar with. Most of the time it is in reference to a bygone era of better, and it’s used to lament the sorry state of what we have today. It is a phrase that can be applied to many areas of our lives: architecture, art, furniture, tools. Boats? I would argue that they don’t make them like they used to. But, is that lamentable, or is it progress?

Progress, I think. With this concept in mind, as we enter another season of putting boats to bed for the winter, why do we winterize as we always have?

Read More

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
When Linda McErlain and Erica Robertson purchased Anchor’s Away Custom Boat Bedding and re-branded ...
On Monday, Volvo Penta announced the availability of their fully integrated assisted docking system ...
Perhaps the ultimate audio solution for boat owners, the JBL by Harman BassPro Go from Prospec ...
It only takes one foggy, disorienting day on the water to make a boat owner understand the value of ...
It’s a voyage everyone wants to undertake, but few get to make. The Whales of Lake Erie is the ...
Over the years I have had a real soft spot for the Jeep Wrangler line of models. Recently I had the ...
Wait no longer, the 2021 Rideau Canal & Lower Ottawa River PORTS Guide has returned! Purchase ...
The Tundra 65 is Yeti's most versatile cooler, just as adept at keeping catches cold as it is ...
Fireball self Extinguisher. It's a revolutionary self-detonating device designed to extinguish a ...
The problem with driving any full-size Pickup Truck or Sport Utility Vehicle is that when you are ...