Bonnie and Jim Miller sailed their Newfoundland-registered Victoire yacht ‘Vagrant Sea’ from the Queen City Yacht Club in Toronto via the ICW to the Bahamas
South from Lake Ontario – ICW South part 1
We are very lucky, leaving from Lake Ontario, since the route is almost designed to ease you into the cruising life. We sailed from Queen City Yacht Club on September 4 and spent several days in the lake, making modest runs each day as we got used to how the boat handled with all the extra weight aboard, and getting our sea legs. Each day we found places to stow a bit more and each night we stayed at a reciprocating club and enjoyed the luxury of docks, showers and all those facilities which are now just a memory.
The locks were not a problem and motoring through the canal was relaxing and pleasant. We had lost access to power and showers (with a couple of exceptions), but we spent each night at a fine dock, for which there was no charge.
In the Hudson we once again became a sailboat and stayed on a mooring most nights, getting used to that motion. The 79th Street Boat Basin was just as promised — cheap ($10 for a mooring), conveniently located and lots of interesting folks. The current in the river was a bit formidable, but it was worth it.
The Jersey Coast was not as scary as I had been led to believe. We broke it into three days: NYC to Manasquan Inlet, next day Atlantic City and, after waiting out a big blow, Cape May.
Our first few days at anchor put our skills to the test, but all went well. We had a great wind for the trip up the Delaware and through the C and D canal.
Just out of the canal, after a couple of nice days in Chesapeake City, we had a few of the most miserable hours I have ever spent on the water. It was a warm and sunny Sunday in late September and the waterways were packed with thousands of power boats of every size and shape imaginable. The skippers did not come in such great variety — most were of the ignorant, speed freak type. It was awful, and made the Eastern Gap seem like a lonely stretch of water by comparison.
Gunkholing through the Chesapeake has been delightful. There are so many quiet anchorages it is almost pointless selecting out the few we have visited. We also enjoyed Baltimore (you anchor right in the middle of downtown) and, of course, Annapolis. The cold has caught up with us as we near Norfolk, but we are enjoying the scenery and the small towns.
A few days ago we and three other Canadian boats were easing our way up a small creek on the north shore of the Potomac, looking for an anchorage for the night. The first boat was hailed by a local man who said “Can I invite you to spend the night at my dock? We have sailed in Canada and were so well treated we would like to repay this kindness. There’s lots of room and I can give you water and power also.” What a treat!
A couple of cruising tips:
The CAA/AAA Tourbooks have proven very useful. We had a membership last year, when we were still car owners, and picked up the books for all the states we would be passing though on our way south. The brief historical section for each state whets our appetite for getting ashore to learn more, and the city maps and descriptions of attractions are great. Also in Toronto, there is an office providing free tourist information on US states. It is located on the north side of Dundas, about half a block west of University.
Boat cards are a must nowadays; it would be a shame to overlook having your own made up. Don’t worry about finding the perfect design – just do it. (Though I was a bit sorry the first time I was handed a card which listed the name of the ship’s cat, since we had overlooked that aspect.) Bring along a business card file for those you will collect from fellow cruisers. We also brought a new address book for keeping track of new acquaintances, filed by boat name.
Fair winds and snug harbours,
Bonnie James – Vagrant Sea
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