People of the Salt Water

07 August 2017 | Kingston, Ontario
05 July 2017 | Cobourg, Lake Ontario, Canada
25 June 2017 | Oswego
11 June 2017 | Waterford, NY
24 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound, New York
11 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound
28 April 2017 | Annapolis
23 April 2017 | Washington DC
13 April 2017 | Washington DC
20 March 2017 | Deltaville, Virginia, US
13 March 2017 | New Zealand
01 March 2017 | New Zealand
01 March 2017 | New Zealand
22 February 2017 | Sydney, Australia
12 February 2017 | Australia
23 August 2016 | Virginia, USA
26 July 2016 | Deltaville, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia USA
13 July 2016 | Norfolk, Virginia
13 June 2016 | Charleston S. Carolina

Lazy days in the beautiful Thousand Islands

07 August 2017 | Kingston, Ontario
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows Quilcene anchored off Beaurivage Island

More pics on Google Photos; https://goo.gl/photos/5pqduDMczhspDidq6

Heading east toward the Thousand Islands we took the route south of Prince Edward Island to anchor at Van Dousens Point in Prince Edward Bay. The light winds were not strong enough to give us good speed, despite hauling up the colourful MPG (for light wind sailing), so once again we motorsailed for a large part of the trip to arrive at dusk. It was nice to be out on anchor again and we spent a few days just relaxing and taking in the scenery. The evening light on the shallows around one or two distant islands made it look like a scene from the Bahamas (see Google pics).

We slowly sailed on to Kingston via another anchorage on Amherst Island, again using the MPG (Multi-Purpose Genoa) as distances between anchorages were short and we were in no hurry. The weather was still rather unsettled with a few sunny days interspersed with rainy ones and even a few thunderstorms.

Kingston is at the western end of the Thousand Islands and a great destination in itself. We checked into a marina and enjoyed having 'shore leave' after 7 days anchoring. There is a municipal sports centre with a swimming pool close to the marina and we both made good use of it. I had taken a swim in the Lake but it was definitely still chilly!!!

We were pleased to see a New Zealand flagged yacht called 'Restless' come in and anchor off the marina. We'd first seen them as we left Oswego to cross the Lake and again met them in Cobourg. Roland and Consie invited us over for sundowners one evening and we discovered that we had several sailing friends in common. Despite both of us visiting many of the same ports and anchorages we'd somehow managed not to meet before - it's a small world!!

Apart from Restless and a couple of US flagged boats we saw no other foreign vessels - we seem to be the only British boat around!

With cool café's and several nice pub/restaurants there is no shortage of places in Kingston to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by. What we did find difficult was finding an electrician to sort out a small problem that was baffling Kit. No fewer than 3 guys came to look at the wiring and shook their heads! Finally someone put us in touch with a man who not only diagnosed the problem but fixed it too! Hurrah!

Dragging ourselves away from the pleasures of Kingston we headed into the Islands and found that they are every bit as beautiful as their reputation. A little apprehensive at first because of narrow passages and rocky outcrops we soon got the hang of it and visited several pretty spots.

The 'Thousand Island Association' a voluntary group of boaters, have helpfully put markers on shallow isolated rocks, making navigation easier. There is a lot of bottom weed in places making anchoring a little challenging, but once through the weeds the holding is good. The anchorages are often in the middle of a group of islets with shelter from most directions. Not that we needed it as the weather had finally settled down to sunshine most days. The water is clean and clear and with temperatures around 22C it's not exactly Caribbean but good enough for a swim.

Almost all of the islands, even tiny rocky knolls, have a house built on them with a landing dock and boathouse. Due to the abnormally high water levels many of the docks and landing areas are still under water and we hear that some people can't get to their summer homes because they can't land! Many of the islands belong to Parks Canada, and a few of these are currently closed for the same reason. We can take the dinghy to the docks of the Parks islands that are open and go for walks, they even provide garbage disposal so we have no problem donating a little for their maintenance.

The colours of the rocks and trees are lovely in the sunlight, especially in the morning and evening. The cries of Osprey and Bald Eagles echo around the rocks and we feel fortunate to be able to watch their acrobatics as they swoop down whilst fishing.

Another highlight was to visit Gananoque Playhouse, where we tied up on the Playhouse dock, stayed overnight and walked up the pontoon into the theatre. How cool is that! We saw 'Maggie and Pierre', a play about Pierre Trudeau (father of current Canadian PM Justin Trudeau) and his younger wayward flower child wife Maggie. It was a bonus for us that the dockage is currently free of charge as parts of the Playhouse docks are still underwater.

On Bostwick Island, one of the many islands we visited, there is a narrow inlet named 'Half Moon Bay', accessible only by dinghy (see google pics). It is a beautiful spot and on Sunday mornings they hold a service at an outdoor chapel on a rocky ledge just above water level. This event is apparently so well attended by boaters that wire is strung around the rocky face of the bay for participants in dinghies to hold onto during their devotions!

It is now August and the height of the holiday season here. There are many families amongst the crews of yachts and motor boats and the children have a fine time splashing about on inflatables, canoes and paddle boards. The warmest water temperature we recorded was 26C in one sheltered area, not bad for a Canadian Lake!

Predictably the nice weather also brings out the fast and noisy jet skis and speed boats that roar through the anchorages creating wake that set us all rolling (despite low speed limits in the islands). Happily they all disappear off home in the evening when peace and tranquility is once again restored. ...and we often managed to find some more remote spots less visited by the speed freaks so overall they were no more than a nuisance.

Sadly it's now time for us to leave the islands and begin to move west toward Port Whitby and our winter haul out, but we plan to return next year to explore more of these beautiful islands.

In time for Canada Day!

05 July 2017 | Cobourg, Lake Ontario, Canada
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows us with Peter and Pat celebrating Canada Day

The crossing from Oswego to Cobourg was a little disappointing as despite a good forecast we were heading what little wind came up.

However it was fine and bright and so motorsailed most of the passage in sunshine. Eight miles out from Cobourg the sky darkened and we were caught in a very nasty thunderstorm - lightening all around for a while. Not a pleasant welcome to Canada!

We left the boat in Cobourg marina and Kit's brother Peter and his wife Pat picked us up and drove us to their home in Scarborough for Canada Day Celebrations on July 1st.

Previously called Dominion Day, Canada Day is the anniversary of the day when three separate colonies; Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick became a single Dominion within the British Empire - Canada. This year was a big celebration as it's now 150 years ago!

We had a lovely time with Peter and Pat, going to several celebrations and family get-togethers.

Now we're back aboard Quilcene and about to head east toward the Thousand islands for a few weeks cruising - people of the fresh water!

A Trip on the NY Canals

25 June 2017 | Oswego
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows a beautiful spot on the Erie Canal

See more pics on Google Photos; https://goo.gl/photos/ao1uQGpm2UcgyYQx5

After a few dry days the water levels had subsided sufficiently for the canals to reopen but just to be sure we gave it another day or so before heading into the first flight of locks. The first one on the Erie Canal (perversely numbered Lock 2) is a 'biggie' with a 34 foot rise. We were quite apprehensive but managed OK and once through the first 5 and into the Mohawk River we felt like old hands.

We left Waterford with another yacht, 'Espirit'. The skipper, Pete, was single-handed and we were very impressed that he could manage alone as the Canal locks, especially the rising ones on the river sections, are actually quite hard work. Most are next to a dam with rushing water that sets up a lot of turbulence as we approach, then we have to go in and hold on to pipes, cables or sometimes just ropes hanging down the lock sides.

It can be difficult to control the boat and stop it swinging when the water rushes in. The deepest lock had a rise of 40 feet and didn't have opening gates but an overhead gate that dropped down - it felt like going into a dark tomb! (See google pics) We stood on the boat at the bottom hanging onto just a rope each as the lock filled.

The locks are perhaps more difficult for yachts than motor boats because we have the mast overhanging both ends! We tried to alleviate the problem with a wooden plank tied across the boat close to the bows to keep the masthead fended off but it snapped in the second lock! However we only had one casualty - the VHF antennae which hit the lock wall and got twisted at the top of the mast. Luckily Kit has another and was planning to replace it anyway!

New York Canals are in their centennial year and as part of the celebrations are waiving all transit fees for 12 months. We travelled 184 statute miles on the system from Waterford to Oswego, partly on canals and part rivers. There are numerous docks along the route where we can tie up overnight for free, so our passage through cost us very little.

We travelled with Espirit for a few days but Pete was in a hurry and had further to go than us as he was bound for Buffalo on Lake Erie. Our route saw us leaving the Erie and entering the Oswego Canal to get to Lake Ontario.

We rose up to 420 feet above sea level, however once we got to that level and began to go down in the locks to the level of Lake Ontario (245' above sea level) things were much easier!

Overall the canals were very interesting and we enjoyed seeing wildlife as we motored along; Bald Eagles, Osprey, beaver, ground hog, deer, snapping turtles and numerous small birds. It was also good to visit some inland places and many pretty canalside towns where people were very helpful and made us feel welcome.

Even so it was a good feeling to pass through the final lock and arrive at Oswego on the shore of Lake Ontario. It's a nice town with lots of individual shops on the high street - something we haven't often found in the US!

Re-stepping the mast went really well despite our misgivings about the slim-looking gin pole they use in Oswego - again the guys know exactly what to do and are very professional. Now, we're looking forward to raising the sails and heading out onto Lake Ontario.

Too much water under the bridge!

11 June 2017 | Waterford, NY
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows Quilcene on the dock at Waterford with the river in full flood

More pics at;
https://goo.gl/photos/bRvwJCo1RFqtUb9Z8

Eventually we sorted out the liferaft problem and were on our way again. Passing through New York as we left was much less hectic, mostly because we left Port Washington at 0345 to transit Hell Gate on the East River at (almost) slack water. Also at this hour there was very little traffic on the water.

We spotted Concorde on display at a NY waterside aviation museum but didn't get close enough to get a good pic as it was guarded by a coastguard vessel sporting a rather large gun on its bows!

We must've got the timing right as we had a favourable current for 50 miles up the Hudson River to Cornwall where we dropped anchor for the night. We picked up the following flood tide next morning and spent a beautiful sunny day admiring the mighty Hudson. To see the beautiful Hudson River Valley from the water was a real treat, and we loved the lighthouses, which are actually houses on rocks in the river! (see google pics) The only downside was that we had to keep a careful watch to dodge the numerous logs and debris floating down the river. There had been a lot of rain and water levels were quite high - as we were to find out later....

We anchored in the river opposite Catskill, where we sat out a couple of wet days waiting to go in and get our mast unstepped. In between rain showers we watched Bald Eagles fishing in the river behind us - a wonderful sight as they scooped up a fish in their talons and flew overhead with the struggling fish held fast.

Once tied up on the dock at Catskill we took down the foresails and Kit busied himself preparing the rigging and wooden horses to hold the mast. We celebrated being on the dock with a delicious lobster dinner at the Port o' Call Tavern in Catskill.

The guys in Catskill Marina are obviously used to unstepping masts and it went well. Two strong men and a big crane was all it took. Kit had done quite a lot of preparatory work; disconnecting the electrics on the mast, loosening the rigging etc., and we did have a few anxious moments, but in less than 90 minutes the mast was safely stowed on deck and Quilcene was a motor boat!

Setting off next morning it felt very strange, especially when we passed under a low bridge!
We were still running with a bit of fair tide and made good time to a quiet spot just south of Troy Lock. We decided to drop the hook and as it was a Friday Kit set to and cooked our traditional Friday curry!

Next day we passed through Troy Lock on the Hudson, having to fend off strongly as the boat swung in the incoming water and the overhanging masthead almost hit the lock side. With a couple of dozen more locks to pass through Kit has since worked out a solution to that problem!

Shortly above Troy we turned into the Erie Canal approach and tied up to the floating dock at Waterford Visitor Centre. The dock here is free for 48 hours, and also has free showers. Very civilised!
There was a farmers market on the dock on Sunday morning so we decided to stay another day and stock up with fresh vegetables.

The stalls had just about packed away when it began raining hard and didn't stop for 2 days. This compounded the earlier days of rain and water levels began to rise in the Mohawk River and Erie Canal approach; soon it was flowing fast. After the first flight of locks at the east end of the canal, the route is actually along the Mohawk River, which was now in full flood. A canal closure was announced due to high water and strong currents, and the 48hr docking rule was suspended, not that we could go anywhere anyway as the rushing water was holding us firmly to the dock.

We spent an anxious night listening to the water rushing past the hull and next morning the water level had risen by 4/5 feet. Our floating dock, which had been 5 feet below the concrete dock wall was now level with it! (pic above)

Rather than watch the water we checked that our lines were secure and took a bus to visit Albany, NY state's capital city. Albany has some impressive buildings and an interesting museum. We bought lunch from a street vendor and ate it sitting by a lovely pool and fountain. Later we read that the pool freezes over and is used as an ice rink in winter!

Back in Waterford the weather had improved and with a good forecast all we had to do was wait for the water to go down. Still, there are some nice walks and lots of wildlife to spot!


'They say the neon lights are bright....'

24 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound, New York
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows Times Square

More pics at; https://goo.gl/photos/2QXUXcgMopZ3Q4xf9

We're still on a mooring ball in Port Washington, Long Island Sound.

Phil and Monica on catamaran ‘Miss Molly’ were here with us for the first few days. We enjoyed having company, especially for one of Kit’s Friday night curries!

Phil heard that the local yacht club was hosting a talk by an adventurous sailor called Richard who was anchored out in the Bay. We headed over in our dinghies to listen to his talk about an expedition to the Antarctic. Brrr! Just looking at the slides made us feel cold!!

Wish we could say the weather is great here but it’s not! It’s a bit like the English weather; a few lovely fine sunny days then a spell of damp, chilly, windy, grey days!

Still, we’ve made the most of the good days and been into New York three times on the train, it's very easy from here. We've done lots of touristy things – eaten pastrami on rye sandwich in Ben's Kosher Deli; been to a Broadway show - 'Beautiful', the Carol King Musical (Kit's birthday treat). It was brilliant!! We queued hopefully in Times Square for half price tickets and were lucky enough to get them!

Carol King not only made some great records but along with her first husband Gerry Goffin also wrote many famous hits for other stars – including the Drifters 'On Broadway' - very appropriate and of course just our era.

We saw the matinee so afterward went to 79th St Basin on the Hudson River for a drink and supper. It was really nice as the weather was perfect. People had advised us to take Quilcene to 79th St Basin moorings but they looked really rolly so we did the right thing staying in Port Washington.

On one of our excursions into NY we took a picnic to Central Park. We looked at the Famous Guggenheim Museum first but didn't go in. After seeing so many museums in Washington (all free) we limited ourselves to one in NY!

Central Park is a haven in the middle of Manhattan Island. New Yorkers walk, run, cycle and just hang out there in good weather. There are lakes, monuments, cycle and running tracks, street artists and lots of green space. After wandering for miles around Central Park we finally found Strawberry Fields - the John Lennon Memorial garden; a quiet space to enjoy our picnic before heading on to MoMa - The Museum of Modern Art (our choice for the one!) for a spot of culture! So many famous artists and works, it is really interesting, and the MoMa garden was a peaceful haven where we enjoyed an ice cream before heading back via the subway and train.

We were set to leave on Sunday to head up the Hudson but the water taxi bumped the side of our boat and damaged the liferaft. We’re waiting to hear if it can be repaired or if we need a new case.

..and the same evening an Osprey flew into our wind generator! It immediately started knocking (the wind gen not the Osprey!) and we feared the worst but couldn’t see much as it was dusk. Luckily after Kit took it down next day and reset the blades it seems to work fine again.

But the poor Osprey wasn’t fine - it fell in the water and had its head up as it floated away but a wing looked badly damaged so we didn't hold out much hope for it. Osprey are rare in the UK but along the waterways here they're quite common. We love to watch them fish and felt really sorry about it.
So we'll be here for a bit longer. Not too much of a problem tho' - the Erie and Oswego canals didn't open until May 19th and it’s probably still quite cold as you head inland.

Also Port Washington is a nice town; supermarket, laundry and West Marine are all near the dock, and there’s a great Mediterranean Cafe/Restaurant/Deli in the Port who have a Jazz Band playing once a week. It’s good fun and a change to go out in the evening; we don’t tend to do it much, especially when we’re anchored or moored out in a bay.

After a few days of glorious weather, 30C and clear, we now have a wet week coming by all accounts.

Hope it’s better where you are!

The Big Apple

11 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows the Statue of Liberty
(Liberty Enlightening the World) - a gift from the French people to the people of the United States in 1886 - the pic was taken as we entered NY Harbour. Quite a moment for Quilcene and her crew!!

On Monday 8th - Kit's birthday - we left Annapolis and had a long day sail up to the top of Chesapeake Bay and through the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. There was a bitingly cold wind and we were wrapped up like mummies under our oilies! As if to cheer us up we saw a sea eagle swoop down and catch a wriggling fish in its talons - incredible!

Also to cheer us even more we cut Kits birthday cake en route!

We anchored at the east end of the canal overnight along with Phil and Monica on 'Miss Molly' who we'd met in the Caribbean,and seen in Deltaville. We set off down the Delaware River for Port Henlopen, opposite Cape May next morning. Halfway down we got a weather forecast giving strong northerly winds for later in the week so we decided to carry on overnight Tuesday and all day Wednesday to get to New York ahead of it.

Cape May was a bit tricky as we took the inside passage close to shore to save time. Here we encountered rip tides just as the tide was turning. It was a relief to get through the disturbed seas. Again we were rewarded by sighting a whale quite close to the boat! So close we could see barnacles on its fin!

It was quite a good passage up the coast; Atlantic city was well lit up when we passed during in the night, with whole sides of buildings showing moving adverts! We could see them through the binoculars! We sailed a bit and motorsailed a bit and saw a fantastic sunrise next morning - just like a Rothko painting! (see google pics)

Coming into NY was quite daunting; as we sailed past the famous statue I managed to click a few pics but it was really busy with sirens blaring, traffic jams on all visible roads, lots of fast ferries and Coastguard boats racing around throwing us all over the place, and police helicopters overhead - not to mention incredibly fast currents and tides! The coastguard called us up on VHF to ask us to pass north of Governers Island to enter the East River instead of the recommended channel inside it as they had an 'ongoing incident' - we never found out what it was tho'.

It was a hectic couple of hours; thank goodness we'd heard of quiet moorings up the East River and into Manhassett Bay, Long Island Sound!

It's lovely and peaceful here - it's a shame we have to go back through NY to get to the Hudson River when we leave! That will be in around 8-10 days because the Erie and Oswego canals don't open until 19th May - must be because of the possibility of ice!

It's actually quite cold here at present - we had to wear thermals and several layers of clothes under our oilies to sail overnight! The forecast gives heavy rain for the weekend but promises warmer weather next week - hurrah!

We can go into NY city by train (only around 30 mins we're told) to have a look around so will probably go a couple of times. We may even take in a show on Broadway!!
Vessel Name: Quilcene
Vessel Make/Model: Bowman 40
Hailing Port: Plymouth, UK
Crew: Kit and Belinda
About:
In our previous lives, Belinda worked as a marine biologist at the MBA Plymouth and Kit was a surveyor for a marine civil engineering company. Over the years we had sailed the south west of England and northern France. [...]
Extra: Quilcene, a Bowman 40, is a masthead cutter designed by Chuck Paine and built in 1991. The name is an American Indian word meaning 'People of the Salt Water', which we feel suits us very well. Quilcene is also a town on the West coast of the USA near Seattle.
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