Happy Canada Day! or How far can flies fly anyway?

Although Oswego was a pleasant surprise, we were ready to move.  But then weather on Saturday scrubbed the mission.  West winds on our end of Lake Ontario are a deal-breaker.  Effectively unlimited fetch and 15-knot winds mean 4 to 5 foot waves on the beam as we plow north.  So put we stayed.  Lake Ontario is called “The Graveyard of the Great Lakes” for a reason.  Maybe the reason is just to sell posters at the museum or dupe people into buying houses in Oswego rather than risk their lives, but still.

Things looked better for Canada Day so we planned departure for 8.  At 7, another couple of Looper boats left Oswego.  We fired up the engine and set the lines for easy release.  Then one of the boats—Canadian Eh—pulled right back in and tied up.  Although the winds had shifted, they encountered 4-foot waves and turned around.  The other Looper boat—Miss Norma—reported that things smoothed out after an hour or so, however, so we threw on some bluegrass gospel and took off.  (We agreed that we would change the music if Pandora gave us Nearer My God To Thee.  No need to tempt fate.)

img_4080After setting a course at 12 degrees, we settled in for a nice cruise.  Not a cloud in the sky.  The thought of biblical plagues never crossed our minds.

Then the biting flies landed.  Ogden Nash once wisely observed: “The Lord in his wisdom created the fly.  But then he forgot to tell us why.”  He didn’t forget.  There just isn’t any good reason for flies.  If the apparently-amphibious fly population in the middle of Lake Ontario is the result of Rachel Carson’s fight against DDT, perhaps we lost the war after all.  It was like someone snuck a dairy farm aboard Misty Pearl.  A good chunk of the trip we spent trying to kill the swarming bastards.  A 12-gauge with buckshot, however, would’ve been more effective than our measly fly swatter.  We kept at it only because we feared Canadian Customs would think we were smuggling livestock.  We hoped the buckets of carcasses we threw overboard would send a strong message to the other battalions but that didn’t work.  The closest land was 30 miles away and they kept coming.  How is that even possible?

img_4081Dana thought it funny to see Doug on the hunt.  Obviously she doesn’t appreciate impressions of Mr. Miyagi in his post-Arnold’s career.  Fly-killing with style, baby.

Ultimately, however, you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.  We fled to the pilothouse and turned on the generator for AC.  If only we had put 2 and 2 together and left the flybridge earlier.  Duh.  The silver lining, if any, is that using more fuel might give us an extra inch of bottom clearance on the Trent-Severn.

800C5E06-6B98-4C10-B9BC-ACFA6F72CB9EThere aren’t many exciting photo opportunities when no land is visible and no odd boats are present for much of the trip.  Dana even took a nap.  After 5 hours we sent out a dove, which returned with an olive branch to confirm there actually was land out there.  We shortly reached the St. Lawrence River, which oddly starts at the lake and flows northeast past Montreal on its way to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Tibbett Light welcomed us to Thousand Islands.  Almost Canada!

img_4090Thousand Islands is home to Thousand Island dressing, at least according to the locals who sell it.  We suspect that may be myth but we’ll go with it.

8 hours and 55.7 nm after leaving Oswego, we tied up in the Town of Clayton, just across the river from the Canadian shoreline.  Clayton is filled with summer visitors who lie that this time of year “usually it’s so cool at night we wear jackets.”  Yeah right.  It’s brutally hot and humid and will be that way all week.  Maybe Canada will be different, although the Canadian barge that waked us didn’t seem too worried about our comfort.


This will be our last U.S. stop for a few weeks.  The boys hope to get stamps in their passports.


Allô! Ça va bien Ontarians?


Hello!  How are you, Ontarians?  Or something like that.  But first, we spent a glorious yesterday in Clayton and the Thousand Islands.  Of all the many charming places we’ve visited so far, Clayton, N.Y. is the charmingest.  There are cool restaurants.  The grocery store has a courtesy shuttle.  The water is clear thanks to invasive zebra mussels.  The park out-Spreckels Spreckels Park.  The views of that clear water are everywhere.  The sunsets are epic.  It’s just a really neat place, although maybe it can be 15 degrees cooler (but not 80 degrees cooler) next time we visit.

img_4124As Dana put it, yesterday was one of those magical days.  Not to be mean to people who go an office every day, but yesterday was the kind of day that makes us happy we don’t go to an office every day.  Wait, that’s every day.  But this was an even better every day.

One of the neatest things about Clayton is the whole Wooden Boat Stuff.  Turns out Clayton is the home of the Antique and Classic Boat Society.  Who knew?  There are numerous shops with quality St. Lawrence River memorabilia and history.  We ducked into several of them on our walks about town.

img_4115The Antique Boat Museum is full of classic wooden boats, motors, and history.  We spent a couple of hours there but could’ve spent several more.

While on a restored 110-year-old 110-foot-long houseboat, a teenaged boy touring with his parents sat down at the ballroom’s custom antique piano and flawlessly performed a perfect period piece of music.  He was so spot-on we thought he might be a plant, but he wasn’t.

Even the Wood Boat Brewery where we ate dinner was worthy of buying a t-shirt, despite the 2-hour wait for our pizza.

img_4145One of Dana’s trip requirements was cruising up through Thousand Islands.  So we did.  According to a local tour guide, officially there are 1,864 of them, which means nearly half are sad little specks with an inferiority complex.  To be considered an “island” in these parts, the land at issue must (1) be above and surrounded by water year-around and (2) have at least two trees.  Supposedly they all have names.   We don’t know this cute lil one’s name but it probably didn’t make the top Thousand.

Between us we took a bunch of photos but agree that none really does the place justice.  You just have to come visit.

img_4498St. Lawrence was a Catholic martyr and the patron saint of cooks and comedians because—according to legend—as he was being roasted alive he asked to be turned since he was done on that side.  (This seems rather unlikely, but does bring to mind Edmund Blackadder’s story about Sir Thomas More.)

None of that, of course, explains why he has a river named for him or who installed the statue of him—bizarrely holding the grate on which he was broiled—along that river, but it’s a good story.  From what we’ve seen so far it’s a pretty spectacular river though, so at least he has that on his resumé.

img_4154George Boldt  bought an island and started to build a huge mansion in about 1900 and then quit before finishing it.  We heard various stories about how he made his money but generally it had something to do with the Waldorf Astoria hotel.  The joint was pretty opulent and pretty unfinished, but it seems much of the construction was done in the past 20 years to turn it into a tourist destination, accessible only by river.  Probably worth one trip but definitely not two.

Mid-day, we even moved the boats.   Other folks supposedly had reserved our slips so Second Wave and Misty Pearl had to go out into a narrow passage, spin 180 degrees, and dock on a wall.  Not to mix dance and sports, but after a perfectly-executed water ballet, we stuck the landing.  Bravo to us.

We planned to leave at 9 this morning, but during the the engine room check we found diesel fuel in the bilge.  Seems pretty certain it had something to do with Doug changing the filters.  Sure enough, in a very non-judgmental way Brent found, ahem, an extra gasket lodged up in the main fuel filter.  Problem solved and on our way at 9:10.

F37A1EFB-7DFB-4CB2-9AD8-B8F932E08457Just out of Clayton we passed into Canadian waters.  Rounding Wolfe Island at the Wolfe Island Light we expected to see herds of moose.  And hockey players.  And Bob and Doug McKenzie.  Mostly it looked a lot like the islands we just had admired.  Beautiful yes, but a tad disappointing.

08CC1B35-8016-46D7-BA1F-D5CCE40451FBKingston, Ontario, was a major naval base from which the British overlords launched ultimately-unsuccessful attacks on the good guys circa 1812.  The Canadians still honor the British monarch on their money so they aren’t completely without fault, but we figured we’d forgive them since  (1) it was over 200 years ago, (2) we weren’t even born then, and (3) we’re going to be in Canada for a month or so and might need some help from them.  Plus as we discovered on a backpacking trip in British Columbia two summers ago, it’s an amazingly clean country, which we appreciate.

We docked in Kingston, cleared customs, and had a nice stroll through town with Second Wave.  The Confederation Basin Marina stuck us about a mile from the shore so each dog-walk requires crossing a maze of dock, but we’ll survive 2 nights of it even in heat that Phoenix would be proud to claim.

We had an eye for Kingston


We didn’t have long in Kingston, but it’s a pretty decent size with a pseudo-European vibe.


Surprising exactly nobody who’s been following our blog, Kingston, Ontario, is way cooler than Kingston, New York.  This Kingston is so very hip that it actually has a pretty significant downtown street named The Tragically Hip Way, apparently honoring (or honouring) a local band of some renown ion these parts.  It’s possible that we’re so tragically unhip that the group is wildly popular south of the border and we’ve just never known it, but we pulled up some of their music and a video and the band being wildly popular seems unlikely although you never know with kids these days.  Either way, it’s a cool name for a street.

img_4202One thing we noticed immediately is how much Canadians love their flag.  It’s everwhere.  Most boaters have several of them.  It’s a pretty cool flag, however, so we can’t blame them.  We have a courtesy flag on the bow and like the look.  The International Boys of Mystery even took to the maple leaf without a whimper, although they peeled them off quickly after earning a treat basically for refusing to pose.

img_4186The heat and humidity mostly kept us inside today, but we ventured out for some mundane errands and dinner.   Between us and Second Wave there are 3 Texans, so we tried the Lone Star “Tex-Mex” restaurant.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, and after a long stream of the same menus at small-town waterfront marinas (Clayton excepted) it actually was pretty good.

Tomorrow we’ll go west, young man.

Misty Pearl on America’s Great Loop and The Down East Circle

Here are maps of Misty Pearl’s stops along way, right down to our actual slips.  (Except for Beaufort, N.C., where D Dock is too new for Google Maps.)  Pressing one of the little red balloon-looking thingys on the first map will load up our blog posts related to that spot on The Down East Circle.   The second map will do the same for our Great Loop posts.

Misty Pearl on The Down East Circle


Misty Pearl on America’s Great Loop


If you want to find out what’s going on without having to remember to track us down, you can follow us to get updates by email.  Woo Hoo!

UPDATE 6/25/2020

For those who don’t make it through 200+ posts, here’s the spoiler.  We completed the Great Loop last June, and completed the Down East Circle last October.  We’re self-quarantined aboard for a bit.  No more blog posts, but you can see what we’re doing on Instagram.  @douganddanaandaboat.  #mistypearllife.  Created by our much more hip daughters.  Although we’ve been pretty bad at it so far.

Smellville then Belleville

Last evening at dusk we settled in to watch the Wednesday night fireworks show that Fort Henry launches.  We figured it was the 4th of July and all so we’d get a taste of home.  Two minutes.  Maybe.  Not even time to get the camera out, but at least it was something.

58D372FA-0C33-4D8B-8ACA-9C8C2EAAD7F4We awoke this morning to find the courtesy flag and the Looper burgee snapping in the wind.  The passage to Belleville is pretty sheltered, however, so we headed out for a long cruising day.  Chris Knight was asking the Lord to send him a boat until Dana wanted Jimmy Buffett instead.  Somethin’ ‘bout a boat.  Somethin’ ‘bout a dog.  Obviously we listen to lots of boat songs.  But we digress.

Pretty much everything is, was, and has been green, except for the Brother Islands just west of Kingston.   We passed down-wind and deduced that the apocalypse won’t be triggered by zombies but by bird poop and bird smell killing all vegetation.


BF4078BC-D484-4C5B-AB11-2F6B881E9CAAThe chart warnings about magnetic anomalies in the area proved correct—our magnetic compass and our GPS compass differed in spots by as much as 40 degrees—but we found our way to Adolphous Reach, which took us out of big water up towards the Canadian interior.  Once there the sailboats started popping up.   At one point we met an armada pretending to be under sail so they could force us to dodge around them.  Not surprisingly they were American.   We think they might be the same guys who believe jet-skiers own Lake Powell.  We’re kinder and gentler while cruising, however, so Doug’s middle fingers remained holstered.


Just past the turn-off to Picton, we entered a narrow stretch where ferries criss-crossed in front of us.  With everybody traveling at about 7 knots, it was kind of like Frogger but with sloths.  We stopped for a bit until we could inch by.

Maybe the coolest part of the day was passing Mallory Bay and Shannonville in the span of about an hour.  What are the odds?  Maybe the least cool part of the day was the least cool part of the day.  When you travel at 7 knots and a 7-knot wind is with you, the air doesn’t move.  That’s  a bad thing when the temperature and the humidity percentage both are about 90.  Sweltering.

img_4208As we entered the harbor at Belleville, we had to slow for the lawnmower.   Not exactly a lawnmower, of course, but pretty damn close.  Water plants grow to the surface around here, and water plants at the surface aren’t great for boats.  So this guy drives around and mows them down.  We hope he comes by our slip before our air conditioning pump sucks up a bouquet.  Or maybe we should summon some of those pooping birds.