Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2nd Year: Thousand Islands, Gananoque & Kingston, Canada 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Awoke here in Cape Vincent at the dock to find our boat absolutely covered in tiny gnat like bugs – EVERYWHERE.  The lights at the dock attracted them and they all took up residence aboard, including huge spider webs with newly fat spiders smacking their lips!  We brushed off what we could so we could sit down on the fly bridge and took off for Gananoque, Canada via the Wolfe Cut into the Admiralty Islands, all part of the Thousand Islands, listening for that pounding from the engine room.
Arriving in Canadian waters!!

After many trials at different RPMs, and in discussion with the folks at the Marina who did the work,  we finally decided all was well….Could not replicate that noise again.  VHF still doesn’t work, however….At least, as we go up the Rideau Canal and onward until coming to Lake Champlain, we can probably SCREAM and someone on shore will hear us in the locks and canals, so guess we’ll be OK till after that.

In the Thousand Islands, Canada
Arriving in Gananoque, the ‘commercial and tourist center for the Canadian Thousand Islands” after two hours of cruising while constantly smacking those gnat bugs off, we  successfully cleared via telephone Canadian Customs at the City Marina.

We'd thrown overboard my herbs and scrubbed the pots (no soil allowed into the country) and I only sweated the booze.  Andy was very honest, somewhat dumb...."How many liters of liquor sir?"  Answer:  "What's a liter?"  A back and forth with Andy telling Customs we had some cases of wine and a lot of liters of booze, all opened bottles - all ship's stores just for us and "How Do We Measure Exactly What We Have?" Suddenly, no more conversation about booze and we were cleared.  Baffle one with bullshit and sometimes one wins.  We declared it all and went on, no $$ charged to us.

Fire Hydrant in Gananoque
We immediately began scrubbing down the boat trying to remove the bodies of a zillion dead bugs.   These gnatty things remind me of the Florida LoveBug….they are eating the paint off the boat, I swear and it seems impossible to get the dead little bodies scrubbed off.  Nasty time spent, but at least our boat is much cleaner.

Canadians have a great sense of humor-- marina in Gananoque

We took off for the town so the guys could reward themselves with ice cream.  I bet after this trip Chase and Andy will have spent a zillion dollars on ice cream and gained 10 pounds each.  Chase could use the weight, but not Andy!  There seems to be a contest between them to see which town will make the best ice cream!  With the both of them the JUDGE and JURY of course.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Our little detour into the Thousand Islands is very nice.  These islands are actually about 1,800 islands, most now privately owned with beautiful homes, cottages, etc on them.  By coming up into these islands, instead of direct over to Kingston, we avoided clearing Customs in Kingston, where we probably would have been boarded as a major Customs House is there.  A potential hassle we did not want!  This detour also is very scenic.  Islands of granite outcrops with steep faces and lots of forests in between the rock dot the entire section, including the Bateau Channel we cruised through on our way to Kingston.. Beautiful that all this is, one must realize that because these islands were once mountain PEAKS, water depths between them can change abruptly  ..i.e. from 50 feet to 0 feet!  We nervously traveled very very slowly, even in the channel.   Many of the Canadian buoys, new to us, are small, narrow and hard to see.
Beautiful, but lots of rocks and often shallow spots
Wandering about trying to stay focused on our chart, depth sounder & bouys, we finally arrived safely in Kingston, we were able to gain last minute space for the two days in the city marina in the Confederate Basin – a coup, given its popularity!  We were lucky.  Advance reservations are strongly recommended!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009
A great day yesterday afternoon and today sightseeing in Kingston.    The city Trolly Tour was informative.  Kingston, population 153,000, is a very pretty and shows off its’ British and French background.  Many buildings remind me of French chateau’s.    We hear many speaking French everywhere we go, although this is not Quebec (French) Province, where French is the official language.  This city is nicknamed “Limestone City” as many buildings are built of that rock, quarried right on the site of the building.  Kingston was founded by French and Indian traders during the 17th century, finally gaining independence from Britain years ago.

 Lucky for us, we arrived yesterday in time to snag tickets to the Sunset Ceremony at Ft. Henry. This Fort was recently designated a World Heritage UNESCO site – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.  The Ft. Henry Guard Drums, Drill Squad and Artillery Detachment marched with bugles, fifes and drums pounding away the military music..  Much ceremony – historically correct to 1867 and so very interesting….muskets fired, bayonets were fixed, cannons were primed and shot, smells of gunpowder everywhere!

Ft. McHenry reenactment begins!

Chase with the mascot

Marching while under fire!

This entire event was spectacular!

Firing away

God help them all with that equipment & those strategies

Fire away -- wait wait while stuffing the cannon!!
We were treated to bagpipes, Scottish dancers and fireworks at the end.  The lowering of the British flag, complete with the singing of God Save the Queen and a couple of other songs that sounded so much like our American patriotic songs.

A choice tidbit – there was a battle here in Kingston way back when and the U.S. lost.  Had we won, all of this section of Canada would have been American…..

Andy, Sharon & Chase

We caught the local Farmer’s Market, again buying tasty vegetables and fruits – so delicious!  

We got into quite a discussion at the City Hall with others taking the tour and the tour guide comparing the Canadian and American legislative branches, etc.  Fascinating!  Wish I had some history books aboard!

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