Saturday, July 08, 2006

Oh, Canada!

Well, it's been an eventful few days.
Wednesday, at about 1:00 PM they opened the locks on the Oswego Canal. After 6 days of being stuck in Phoenix, I was ready to go. I cast off and was the first boat into Lock 1.
At lock 5, I ran into some trouble. The lock has terrible cross currents right in front of the entrance. As I had to wait for the lock to cycle some southbound boats through, I thought I'd wait on the approach wall. Big mistake. As I came alongside the wall, the current pushed the boat rather violently into the wall, right into a one-inch thick steel angle iron that was protruding out from the wall at a right angle. Slam! It tore a three inch by one inch hole in my bow. I was sick.

I carried on and made it to Oswego, where I tied up for two days to make repairs. The marinas were all full due to a fishing tournament so I had to use the city dock. Yuck! There's no protection from the constant wave action. The harbor water looks and smells like sewage. The hull is now filthy, far worse than what the locks did. And to top it all off it is impossible to sleep there because of the "waterfront events" they seem to have scheduled every night. Wednesday it was a comedy act - outdoors - all night. And Thursday it was a heavy metal concert! The noise was unbelievable. The hull and my head are still throbbing.

But - it's better now. Friday morning at 6:30 AM I set out to cross Lake Ontario. At first the winds were very light and I had trouble making 3 knots. I was worried I wouldn't have enough daylight to make it all the way across. I had plotted a course that took me close to "Main Duck Island," which I could use as shelter for the night if I didn't get all the way over. I needn't have worried. By 9:30 or so the winds had picked up and I was able to make 5 to 6 knots and pulled into Collins Bay Marina, near Kingston, Ontario about 6:30 PM. A long, exhausting day, but well worth it. I crossed 51 nautical miles of open water and sailed into the marina just as if I knew where it was. GPS really is a wonderful thing.

The crossing itself, other than being tiring single handed, was great. I made the entire trip on one tack. The winds were out of the west or southwest the whole day, and my course was basically north. So port tack it was the whole day.

Since the time the boat was launched, I've been troubled by a leak that only shows itself when the boat is sailing. It never leaks when sitting at the dock or motoring, only under sail. I could never find it. Well, with the autopilot set, and no other boats in sight, I crawled around below to search out the pesky leak. I finally found it. It's in the bulkhead right behind the mast. Apparently, the pressure of the mast against the bulkhead opened up a seam. I've paid for an extra day here at Collins Bay so I can make repairs and hopefully be rid of that pesky leak.

Other than the little leak problem, which the bilge pump handled, the sail was spectacular. I'm really starting to gain a lot of confidence in the boat, and my sailing skill. The boat seems to like open water sailing.

I will have to do a better job of securing gear below, however. A couple of gusts heeled the boat over past her normal 16 degrees and stuff spilled all over the cabin floor. But nothing broke, and everything is easily put back where it belongs, so all is well.

The marina here in Collins Bay is very nice. I recommend it to anyone traveling this way. The people are nice, the facilities first rate and the rest rooms and showers exceptionally clean.

Sunday, weather permitting, I'll starting heading for Trenton and the start of the Trent-Severn Waterway. It feels stange to be putting away my Hudson River and Erie Canal charts. I might never never need them again.

This adventure really is a major undertaking. But now that I've successfully crossed one of the Great Lakes, I have more confidence that I'll actually be able to do it.

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