We Make It to Lake Erie

Monday, July 29, 2013

As planned, we had a relaxing day in Whitby today.

First, we went to the local chandlery to buy a new bumper to replace the one we lost en route yesterday. I wasn’t exaggerating when I described our turbulent trip!

We took our bikes to the downtown section of Whitby, about a couple kilometers from the marina. In order to get there, we needed to cross over the 401 overpass. Having the 401 run right through the heart of a town is less than ideal for a number of reasons.

The downtown was sort of typical of the other historical towns we’ve experienced lately except it isn’t geared so much for summertime visitors. It’s smaller scale and caters to the basic needs of the townspeople. All good.

Rick and I went to a good old fashioned busy diner for an early lunch – all day breakfast served. He got an email while we were there with really sad news that his friend Gary is very sick.

When we got back to the boat we had a serious discussion about our sailing plans. We’ve had a fantastic experience so far with Guinevere. We’ve learned a lot about sailing and the cruising lifestyle, about the boat’s abilities and needs, and we’ve found out how much we like living aboard. We’ve also seen some beautiful country and had some wonderful adventures together. Having said all this, we are both ready to come home.

Rather than continuing in the vacation mode, we are ready to move into the boat delivery mode. The weather is supposed to be good for travelling tomorrow. Rather than heading for Toronto for a couple days of exploration we are going to move directly across the lake to St. Catherines/Port Weller, which is at the beginning of the Welland Canal. We’ve made arrangements to go through the canal on Wednesday with the man we’ve hired to help us.

It rained a lot in the afternoon. When it cleared up we took our bikes to a very nice little art gallery in a converted old railway station called The Station Gallery. There is a lot of community involvement with the gallery. The current show, called the Wiki show, follows a very interesting concept. People from all over Canada have submitted work. The public votes on the artists’ work they like the best and the winning artist will get a special show at the gallery later in the year.

It’s early to bed for us again tonight. We want to leave early in the morning tomorrow to cross the lake.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We left Whitby at 6:50 this morning and we arrived at the St. Catherines Marina at 3:00 p.m. after a relaxing motor ride across Lake Ontario. We could see the faint outline of the CN Tower all across the lake.

We refueled, had a pump out, and checked in to the marina then went for a bike ride along the Welland Canal. When we got back from our ride I made potato salad for dinner and for lunch for our trip en route the canal tomorrow. We had showers then decided to leave the marina and go to the dock where boats can tie up at the first lock of the canal. We made this decision because we need to meet Rodger, the man who is going to help us through the canal, at 6:45 tomorrow morning. We decided that it was best to get there tonight and sleep in a bit more tomorrow. I guess we didn’t need to pay for a slip at the marina but this is a case of live and learn for us.

Before heading to bed Rick found out via email that his friend Gary has passed away. Very sad news. He was a good man.

We had tentative plans for my brothers, Mark and Joel, to meet up with us and help Rick to marathon sail Guinevere to Windsor so he could be there for the funeral, if necessary. As it turns out, there is no possible way for Rick to make it home on time so Rick and I will probably go back to our original plans of sailing from town to town on the U.S.A. side of Lake Erie. We won’t dawdle but it should take us a few days anyway. There is some iffy weather in the forecast which will affect our schedule.

Early to bed tonight. We have a full day tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We were up early today so we could be ready to make our way through the Welland Canal by 6:45 a.m.

When Rick called the pilot house he was informed that an ocean freighter was waiting to enter the locks so we would have to wait until 11:00 a.m. to move. Pleasure boats have low priority compared to commercial vessels on the canal.

Rodger, our guide, was knowledgeable and confident. He worked on the Welland Canal until his retirement 7 years ago so he is quite an expert and gave us good advice. Our trip through the canal went very smoothly. Rick helmed the boat, Rodger grabbed the ropes and pulled in the stern lines and I handled the bow lines. It took us 7 hours to go through 8 locks, in 23 nautical miles.

Getting through the Welland Canal feels like a positive accomplishment and I’m happy with how Rick and I handled the challenge. We are now on what seems like the final leg of our trip. We’ve made it to Lake Erie. Tonight we are staying at the Sugarloaf Marina in Port Colborne. Storms are expected tonight and tomorrow so we will probably stay put here until Friday morning when better weather is expected.

On Friday we plan to head over to the U.S. side of the lake to make our way west. There are a lot more ports along that way that can accommodate sailboats compared to the Canadian side of the lake.

We will not have a cell phone data plan while we are in the USA. My phone will not work over there at all and Rick will be able to make phone calls on his cell phone but no texting. When WiFi is available to us we will be able to use email on the computer and, of course, I will be able to continue my blog.

We are ready for our upcoming adventures. We figure that we should be home in 2 weeks if the weather cooperates and all goes well.

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2 Responses to We Make It to Lake Erie

  1. Carol Anne Winters says:

    Rick & Michelle Sorry for the loss of a friend. Always difficult. Whitby and many of your ports are so familiar. We loved to go to Whitby Harbor with my Mother and watch the boats come and go.
    Glad that you are through the Welland Canal. Have fun on your last stretch. Where will you dock in Windsor? Lasalle? Look forward to seeing both of you Love Carol

    • Hi Carol,

      We are at Dunkirk, New York tonight. Expecting lots of wind in the next couple days so may be staying put. Don’t know exactly when we will get home but when we do we’ll be leaving the boat in LaSalle and having her pulled out right away.

      Hope all’s well for you. I picture you doing lots of beautiful art and gardening. Look forward to seeing you.

      Take care. Michelle

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