On 9/6 the weather stabilized enough for us to travel again with decreasing wind and clearing skies (but needing hats, pants, and coats!), so we left the Kingston Confederate Basin Marina early and set off, leaving the Bay of Quinte, and entering the St Laurence River into the 1000 Islands National Parks. Lovely cruise along the protected cut between Howe Island and the mainland. It was gusty and choppy as we passed the openings into Lake Ontario, thankful we didn’t have to cross it this time.
We had enjoyed this area in 2019 and were excited to try new spots and visit new islands. Twenty of the islands are part of the Thousand Islands National Park and have moorings or dockage, picnicking, and kayak camping on these beautiful rocky islands as part of the National Park. All are accessible only by boat. We were surprised that our earliest choices were, despite being after Labor Day, full of boats with no room for us, as we had assumed most boaters had gone home as school had started in the US and Canada, and the weather was quite cool.
We found a beautiful spot on Aubrey Island, off the point of Howe Island where the ferry runs from the mainland to the south point of Howe Island. A bit of a challenging docking in the winds into a narrow spot amidst the rocks, but a fellow boater helped guide us in and greeted us warmly. They are Canadians aboard a 42’ Defever trawler and are soon heading to the Bahamas! Eight campsites, all empty today, scattered around the island, connected by a 0.6 mile walk that includes the Canadian traditional welcoming red Adirondack chairs. The tour boats out of Gananoque and Kingston came by several times, a stark contrast to the quiet beauty of the area.
We enjoyed a few days of short island hopping, exploring these National Park islands as the weather gradually improved: wind faded, clouds lift, and temps stayed in the 70s.
Thwartway or Leek Island, where we had stayed before in 2019 (but the island was closed due to flooding). Super moorings in a protected bay. This island is right on the Canadian/US border – closest we’ve been to US in over a month! Amazing 1.5 hour kayak around the island with clear water, beautiful striated rock formations, huge fish (? bass or carp), and a surprise finding of otter at play on the rocks and a “wake” of vultures scavenging a dead fish. I learned that vulture groups have different names depending on where they are gathering: in flight = a kettle of vultures, at rest in a tree = a committee of vultures, and fittingly, when scavenging = a wake! Great swimming, beautiful quiet night.
Can we just say that, overall, Ontario Canadians are so very friendly and kind? We’ve met some wonderful fellow boaters and locals as we’ve traveled. Always willing to answer our endless questions, whether it be recommendations for fuel or anchorages, or about their country’s social situations or local sights to see. Noticeably, they always welcomed us to their country. Eh?!
We also spent two nights at Endymion Island, next to Camelot Island, for our final nights out. We had been to Camelot in 2019 but all the moorings and dockage were taken this year – including the new docks they’ve added. Lovely mooring, next to a heron’s favorite fishing spot, but on a bit of a thoroughfare with lots of boat traffic. There wasn’t any hiking trails on this island, but a great kayak around the island, wonderful swimming, and we were able to take the dinghy to Camelot and hike there.
After a great 2 months, it was time to head back into the US and store Clare for the winter. Clearing customs was easy with the US app, CBPROAM (Customs Border Protection) since Dean had preloaded all our info. We cruised into Clayton NY on a cloudy cool day, and stayed two days at the municipal marina to prepare Clare for winter storage. Lots of stowing away gear, taking down the upper helm canvas so she could be towed over land, packing up food, clothes, etc, then doing lots of cleaning and shutting down of systems. Thankfully we got the majority of it done before the predicted rains came.
This year we left Clare at a new winter storage place, recommended by a fellow “Monk,” who was local and had stored his boat with RiverRoc storage for years. We were eager to store in Clayton, rather than again having to traverse the Oswego Canal to the Erie Canal – better positioning hopefully for next year’s trip to, God willing, the Georgian Bay and North channel. It was very different from our previous haulings, but worked out fine. Just kept us on our toes until we observed and learned their processes.
We crammed amazing amounts of boat stuff into a rental sedan (Bensleys are amazing packers) and headed for home in the late afternoon after settling Clare into her storage space, content with her surroundings. The rain started to clear as we began the ~600 mile trip and we opted to just drive straight through. Beautiful farm country from Clayton to Utica, and a good Audible book kept us entranced until we wearily stumbled into our house close to midnight. Thankful for a safe hauling and travels home. A softer, bigger bed, flush toilets, real showers, and fresh veggies are appealing at this point!
We are so appreciative of the summer months that we were able to travel. Although we left ~ 6 weeks later than originally planned, we got a wonderful bit of travel and adventure in. We missed having guest crew but understand we messed with everyone’s travel plans and they were difficult to reframe. Thankful everyone on the “home front” stayed stable while we were away, and we are again energized for home (and returning to work). Please continue to pray for my sister, Donna, and her family as she continues her cancer and rehab journey. My brothers are doing well in their new living situation and have also stayed safe, healthy, and stable. God is good.
We are also grateful for all of you who read along with these LONG blog posts and cheer us onward. Thank you, thank you.
By the grace of God we go!
~ Karen and Dean
Another great journal entry and pictures. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have someone pay you to travel and write these wonderful blogs? Thanks for sharing your summer adventures with us all. And Clare sure is a pretty boat, and the paint job still looks wonderful!
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As always, thanks for reading and supporting us from afar! Yes, I could be a travel blogger!
I truly enjoyed my armchair travel adventures again this year! Your delightful blogs make me even more excited to join you next year!❤️
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Karen and Dean, you guys are awesome. I know it is 2023, but I have been really busy with the camp, selling “Nautical Dreamer”, and making 3 trips down to CT to put her away for the new owners. It still feels like I own her! I just finished reading your last blog, and enjoyed them all, as always. I hope all is well, and look forward to reading this year’s blogs!!