Cottage country 30 minutes from the subway
By Andy Adams
Canadians are blessed when it comes to access to the water and to the boating lifestyle. In centres like Victoria, Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal and Toronto, you can literally take a city bus to the marina or yacht club.
Ontario and Quebec especially, enjoy an abundance of what we call cottage country, with smaller, more sheltered lakes and countryside scenery. Krates Marina in Keswick, Ontario on the south east side of Lake Simcoe, is a gateway to cottage country boating, yet it is very close to Toronto and the GTA. I live in Keswick, just a few blocks from the entrance to Krates and I can drop my kids at the Don Mills subway station in 30 minutes from my driveway. Thanks to the recently opened Hwy #404 extension, Krates Marina is conveniently located for all 2.8 million GTA residents, yet it enjoys the peace and quiet of the country.
The marina is like an oasis in the town of Keswick. It’s a large parcel of lake front property well away from the roads and traffic although you can easily walk to stores and restaurants.
In the foreground, just to the left are some of the Sea-Doos that are available for rent while on the right hand side is the breakwater and sheltered channel leading out to Cook’s Bay.
The summer of 2020 is going to be special at Krates Marina. The property was first developed as a fishing boat livery back in 1930. That was 90 years ago and a lot has happened since then!
The owners, Benn Spiegel and his partner took the marina over five years ago and they attribute the success of Krates today, to the team of people they assembled to execute their vision for what the marina could be. Enthusiastic boaters themselves, they talked to their resident boaters to learn what they wanted in their marina. The answers were that they wanted a marina that treated them with respect and that gave them an environment that really promoted boating enjoyment.
When they started, the vision was to spend between $200,000 and $250,000 a year on facility improvements, but that budget has now doubled, and even after putting more than $2,000,000 into the facility, they are still making improvements. Their goal is nothing less than to build and maintain a great community.
Of course, it’s focused on the waterfront. Krates Marina is truly the most convenient gateway to the lovely cottage country boating throughout Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching, and the entire Trent Severn Waterway, from Georgian Bay through to Lake Ontario at Trenton. From there you could do the Great Loop, go to the Caribbean; just about anywhere! And, from Krates, much of this is on scenic, sheltered waters that offer clean water for swimming, sight-seeing, water sports and fishing.
There are day trip places to go by boat as well. Benn speaks with high regard for the waterfront facilities in nearby Barrie and Orillia. Orillia in particular, is a great destination for a boating family to enjoy a day of cruising on the lake with a destination that offers delightful shopping, dining and entertainment.
Another popular place to visit is the new Friday Harbour development at Big Bay Point. Shopping, dining and activities there, also attract lots of visitation.
This is the new RV park with the children’s playground on the left and the sheltered gas docks visible in the top right. Some RV families also keep a boat at Krates in the water.
But you don’t have to go anywhere to still have a great day. In the last five years, the Krates Marina staff have introduced enjoyable home events such as “Breakfast with the Harbour Master”. Typically, this brings a small group of people together to talk about boating, the lake, the marina and the things that they like, or would like improved. The Harbour Master also holds a “Docktails” event periodically and they put out hors d’ouvres in a pleasant setting where their resident boating families can bring their own cocktail and socialize with their friends and neighbors. It’s a pleasant way to get to know the other Krates Marina families who most likely share your vacation and boating interests.
A new development recently, is the creation of a green space with facilities for a few RVs. It turns out that there are a lot of similarities between RV owners and boaters. They now have a few RV families who have also bought boats to keep at Krates – the best of both worlds it seems!
Krates Marina has more than 500 slips making this one of Canada’s largest marinas and of course, that brings service and support needs. Krates has that covered very well. There is a big fuel dock and pump out in an area near the entrance channel and it is very sheltered.
Krates Marina also has a great partnership with the Pride Marine Group who operate their own boat sales and service business on the property, giving Krates customers the opportunity of having a full package available that includes their new boat, seasonal slip, all maintenance and service, winter storage and more.
The other facilities at Krates are also quite impressive. The marina has a very sheltered inner harbour that divides the property into the North and South areas. Each has its own clubhouse for social gatherings and special occasions like birthdays and weddings. For convenience, there are two sets of fully upgraded washrooms. Both have elegant decor that includes varnished wood, granite counters and other luxury touches for the enjoyment of their guests.
Here are three rental pontoon boats available for families or Krates visitors to enjoy.
Another feature that’s much appreciated are the two heated swimming pools. Relax around the pool, close to your boat and all the other facilities. For your security and to make it comfortable for your guests, there is gated security that includes a system where your guests can dial your cell phone from the gate and you can let them in.
Wouldn’t it be great to bring a group of your friends to join you on one of the “Introduction to Cruising” group rendezvous events? It’s a great way for people to learn more about cruising in their own boat. New for this summer is the “Ones – Classic Car Show” that will be holding their cruise nights at Krates.
Whether or not you have a boat at Krates, you might want to look into their on-site boat rentals. To enjoy the sheltered waters around the marina, you can rent a 17-foot bowrider, Sea-Doos or one of the larger pontoon boats that are ideal for a small group.
The marina management is clearly dedicated to their residents and a great example is that this year, Krates is dealing with the current COVID-19 measures and the global economic situation by offering their own stimulus package for Krates customers. The package includes a deferred payment scheme as well as a free Boat launch this spring.
There are still some slips available for the summer of 2020 and more activities and features are being added all the time. To learn more about Krates Marina Ltd, visit: https://www.kratesmarina.com or go to:
290 The Queensway S, Keswick, ON L4P 4H3
Phone: (289) 803-0097