This lake is NOT a lake. It’s an enormous fresh water ocean. The waves are crazy. The winds are fierce and totally unpredictable. The locals warn to be on your toes because conditions change without notice. They are right!
Every entrance had pretty lighthouses to guide the way in.
Our first stop was Petoskey where we connected with Wayne and Jody from Chasing Eighty. They had been there while and I was super excited to catch up on with them. I had missed them. This little town was awesome. We had 4 days to explore, walk the downtown and shop, eat out. This area is known for a particular stone called Petoskey stones. Jody walked us to a rock covered beach where I found a handful of them. I now need a rock polisher to shine them up.
A pretty little chapel we walked past.
We stayed 4 day because this was a great town AND the lake was not cooperating. We didn’t mind as we explored, shopped and ate our way thru the town. The day we decided to depart the prediction looked good. We began to make our way out of the inlet and the water got choppy. Then the swells hit. They were coming right at our nose and they got bigger and bigger. We kept going knowing that as we rounded the corner and they would be at our side. I was not very excited about this but we kept going. We eventually made it to Charlavoix and into the protected lake. We hooked up to the dock and relaxed. We all looked at each other and said “Ok, what they say about this lake is true. Let’s look for the next good day before leaving.”
Before we left our friends in Petoskey, I made bracelets for everyone. I was honored to be able to do this and so happy the guys even got into it.
I am the Bead Woman!
We spent 2 days in Charlevoix and enjoyed this cute little town. There was an art show and a small downtown.
The next stop was Frankfort for an overnight. Nothing really here to here except sleep. We found a local brewery and had a beer.
The next stop was Grand Haven. This was a great stop. The town was super cute and the town did a light show every single night. We were there 3 nights and every show was different. I loved it here. It was hard to leave. It feels like we get in someplace, get familiar with it just in time to leave. I loved the boutiques and the marina was right on the town wall with people walking by, concerts every night and it was really awesome.
The light show every night was amazing!
The next town was Saugatuck. We pulled into this little inlet and it was lined with homes that were so amazing. I could tell that this little town was a wealthy town, lots of wealth here. Especially as we get closer to Chicago for the boaters to come for weekends. We stayed at a yacht club and payed more for one night then some place for a week. Obviously we stayed 1 night.
This boat was a fellow “Looper.” I loved this!!
We ate here and we learned this was a famous spot. It was good and full of old money and stories. My story just started here. Robin had been here with her mother and we reminisced about those days.
The next town we headed for was where we would leave our boat for awhile. We had some projects that needed to happen and I needed to go home. Andy had been in touch with a mechanic who would be doing the work. I had been terribly homesick and I was counting the days to flying home. We had been traveling with Robin and Ted Curtis on Curti-Sea. Robin was from this area and she needed some time home and so did I. As we pulled into the marina a fireman tribute was happening and we got a welcome spray from the firehouse.
This is Panacea on the wall as we passed. A fellow Bayliner from California.
This is our buddy boat Curti-Sea
We arrived in Saint Josephs and pulled into the marina and it was SHIT. Our boat was too big for the slip and the poles were broken and the cleats were missing. We managed to get it secured and took a deep breath. It was cheap for a reason. We had a mechanic arranged so we didn’t want to move and mess up the plans. I worried about leaving the boat here but what can we do? I also realized some marinas are good, some not! This one was NOT! We have been pretty lucky so far.
This sunset was incredible because we were getting hit by a storm. The storms in this area are incredible.
I am packing up for a little break from the boat. I am ready for a break.
I am sitting on my boat today in St. Josephs Michigan, the night before we head to Chicago for a little luxury. The sky is dark and thunder storms are passing by. We had some work started on the boat that Andy had set up. We wanted to be here to supervise step one (no one cares about your stuff like you do!). We are headed home for a boat break and celebrate our birthday at home this year.
Going home for our birthday is poignant.
I will explain:
To those who don’t know my history with Mr. Andy Scheer. We share a birthday. The same day, not the same year. We are both Virgos but born under different moons, Thank God! Virgo/Virgo combinations could be deadly. We are different Virgos, but somewhat both intense energies. It works. We care deeply, we are totally loyal, we both are total analytical, we both are dedicated to our cause.
We discovered on our first date, June 27th 1989, this rare fact and we were blown away. What are the chances? I cannot remember how it even came up. I do remember us both pulling out our driver licenses to prove it. That August, just 3 months after our first date, as our joint birthday was approaching, he suggested a weekend trip to Cabo San Lucas. To my mothers horror, we went away together and had the best time. It “sealed the deal” and just a few months into this guy I was hooked. He was my forever guy.
Today, 29 years later, I am sitting on my boat in the middle of America and I cannot help but wonder where the time went. 29 years of shared birthdays!
As I reflect on this trip I still have questions and find it hard to gather my thoughts. We have been a lot of places on this crazy journey in such a short time. I keep thinking:
How the hell did we get here?
What the hell was I thinking?
Will I ever have a home again?
Do I actually WANT a home again?
Shall we just pack a bag and travel the world untethered?
Where shall we go?
Why does everyone think we are crazy? Not everyone but A LOT of people!
I said YES to this crazy trip because frankly I felt tired of the day to day but more importantly I felt it was time for Andy to live his dream. He spent all his years working for us to make a future and he really wanted this. He was unappreciated, burnt out and because I love him with my whole heart, I said YES!! Yes to selling everything and not knowing what the future would hold or if I could handle this trip. This trip has been far from easy. It has actually pushed me beyond anything I could have imagined. I have been tested and toughened up. On land, when you don’t like a situation you can remove yourself, walk away, get in your car and drive. Here, I have had to suck it up. Face my emotions. Sometimes scream in a pillow, cry and then move on. There is no escape. There is no running away. I have been force to dig deep. I am not the same person who left my big comfortable life. I have let go of every luxury and I have found a new equilibrium.
Here is the map of just how far we have gone so far. Impressive.
NOW, home for a boat break, celebrate our birthday, but first CHICAGO!!!
This Island was definitely was one of the stops we were looking forward to. It was one of the stops that was a “must see.” We were all super excited to go this day. It was warm and would be an awesome day. We boarded a ferry right next to our marina in Mackinaw City Michigan with our bikes. I was beyond stoked to be headed over. I had thought about this island for a while and I was excited to finally be going! All the anchoring in Canada and in the North Channel, I knew would lead us eventually to this magic place. Horse drawn carriages transported people around the island. The smell of horse poop was at times extremely pungent. It made me sneeze as we rode through piles of it. They had crews with carts to clean up after them but it was strong! After all the years of these streets being walked on by horses could never wash away the urine and poop. I think it added to the charm but I am allergic to horses so I sneezed a lot. Bikes lined all the streets and riders darted around each other in a chaotic manner.
We started our visit with a bike ride. The island has a bike path that circumnavigated the island. It is about 8 miles around. The path was full of bikes, mostly tourist. We stopped along the way to enjoy the scenery and I searched to beach for treasures. The waters here were Caribbean blue and inviting. The day was sunny and warm.
Always on the hunt for treasures!
Are we in the Caribbean?? The water was clear and blue!!
Wishing he could jump in. We didn’t think to bring bathing suits.
A must-do on a visit to the Island is a visit to The Grand Hotel. It sits on top of the mountain and has a great view. The hotel, with its rich history and grandeur did not disappoint. It smelt like an old building and had decor of its day. I never really wanted to stay here but I did enjoy walking thru it and sitting on the front porch for a rest. They actually charge you $10 to just walk thru the property and sit on the porch. Whatever, I had to see it and sit in the white rocker. It was worth it!
The Grand Hotel
They really know how to do flowers here. I just love all the perfect manicured gardens.
The only thing missing from this picture is a cold beverage in my hand!
Ted and Robin sitting on the Grand Porch. You cannot come to this Island without sitting for a moment to enjoy the view and rest.
The movie “Somewhere in time” was filmed here. I think I need to rewatch this!!
The streets were full of bikes and people. This is the prime time to visit the island. I think lots of families have traditional visits here each summer. We watched groups of families getting off the ferry with bags and groceries for the week. I loved being here for the day, that’s all the time we had and it was fine.
I also loved seeing all the homes that have been here for years, most likely passed from generation to generation. The gardens were perfectly manicured and the flowers grow beautifully in this climate. Made me want to buy a house again and start gardening, although I am sure I would never accomplish such perfection.
Pretty beaches but look at the hillside dotted with large homes. They had quite a view.
Loved this sign!! Look at these flowers! Just amazing! 💐🌸🌺🌻
The Island was also full of Bed and Breakfasts. This one was exceptionally pretty. I would much prefer this kind of stay if I ever come back here.
I bet this house has had a lot of visitors and could tell stories. I loved the charm and all the flowers.
Bikes lines the streets and the streets were full of riders
This churches date back to 1820!! Can you imaging all the events that this church has witnessed? Weddings, baptisms, funerals and worship. Crazy!
This cracked me up because I was sneezing all day with the smell of horse poop and hay. A stable with my name made me laugh! NEVER!!! As charming as it was, I couldn’t breath! Lol
I kept calling the ferry company Shlepers. Just change the L and P for a different name. That’s what they did! Shlep (some Yiddish for ya) people back and forth from the mainland to the Island. This is the only way to get here. They ran all day long, back and forth. You cannot drive to the Island so this is your only option.
It was a very good day. We ended with tired feet and ready for the bumpy ferry ride back to our boats. It’s great to be back in the USA. We will be making our way down the Michigan coastline to St. Josephs where we will take a break from the boat. I am hoping we don’t get stuck for winds and weather, which is highly likely on this very unpredictable lake. We will see how it goes. This mama needs to get home for a while and off the boat for a little break.
This part of the trip is the section most loopers love the most. The problem for me is that I started this section really home sick. I don’t know what happened. I was fine. I had a lovely visit with Renee and Dean, and then my parents while on the Trent. Something happened, like a switch turned. Ok, enough of that because no one feels sorry for me. BooHoo! I had a few days that I threw myself a pity party, then I had to get over it.
These stone men were all over the rock Islands
On a positive note, We connected with Robin and Ted on Curti-Sea when we got to Orillia. We decided to travel together. Andy and Ted planned the route and we set off from Midland Ontario together. This friendship has been a life savor for me!! I love Robin and I really needed the distraction from my misery. We laugh a lot, Ted is hilarious and it is awesome to have a buddy boat.
The Georgian bay is an area of 30,000 islands, or rather granite islands. They are beautiful but navigating through them is nerve wracking. You cannot veer off your charts or risk hitting one. The channels are marked pretty good but some areas felt like threading a needle.
This area is just beautiful. The granite rocks that make up this area are also covered in pine tress. The smell of the pine reminds me of the days we spent up in the Sierras. It’s been a long time since I have smelt the clean air and fresh pine forests. The stars are bright and thick but the sun sets so late up here its hard to stay awake long enough to see them. One night I got up at 2am and went outside. They were incredible.
We are on constant look out for bears or moose. So far nothing but I will keep looking.
We have seen loopers all over and in in this anchorage we connected with a few boats. We took our dingy down and went over to the famous Henrys for fish and chips. They did not disappoint!
Ted and Andy planned each stop and anchorage along the way. It was good to have a buddy boat and we hit some good stops. One was called The Pool. We had trouble setting our anchor here. It took 3 tries and each time I pulled up a pile of grass that strained the bow and left a pile of long weeds to cut off, along with mud. It was a messy job!
We took a wonderful hike up the mountain to Topaz lake. The water was crystal clear and the color of the deepest blue. It’s called Lake Topaz but it looked more like a sapphire. It was so inviting that I decided to climb down the rocky cliff and jump in. I wasn’t sure how I was getting out but I found a way. It was the first big hike we had taken in awhile. The exercise felt great. The air is so clear up here because there is so few homes and no real roads. We hoped to see a bear along the way but that didn’t happen. Andys new knees are doing really well in spite of the lack of exercise we are getting living aboard a boat. He found these along the way.
We made it to the top, Lake Topaz below.
I was the only one who got in. It felt awesome!!
The Georgian bay is gorgeous. There are hundreds of anchorages and places to visit. It is impossible to see it all. I felt that we spent more then enough time here, actually I felt we spent too much time. I had been ready to get back to marinas and cities, or cute quaint towns. I have to admit that I am not a fan of anchoring. Up here you have no choice. We did find a few marinas but mostly we were on anchor. Andy and I tried not to yell at each other but it didn’t always go so well. Our anchor was difficult to set, taking several attempts and this added to my anxiety. We were never in any danger but I just never get comfortable. Wine helps 🍷. Also being with a buddy boat helped me greatly. We shared meals and cooked together. We each anchored and drifted together so we had security of 2 anchors and lots of scope. We took super long dingy rides through the rock islands, places the big boats could not go. We explored looking for bears and moose (we didn’t find any but they are out there).
We even ran into other loopers anchored in different coves. There were so many to choose from. Hello Dorthy and Brian!
Andy got tired of my whining so he dumped me off on this rock on time out! I got the message! LOL! 😭
Lots of areas to kayak here. Our inflatable is perfect! We need another one!
Like most sections of this loop, I always feel good when we have completed it. This for sure was one of those. Starting this section being home sick sucked because It wasn’t an area I could quickly get out of. I had lots of days when I woke, I had to talk to myself and snap out of feeling sad. I could choose to be unhappy, or I could choose to enjoy God gift of beauty and this incredible opportunity to be here. Everyday is a gift along the way. I am grateful to be here, doing this now. Ok, time to get to the USA!🇱🇷
This is pretty exciting. The Marina we are staying at for the next week is lovely. It will be a great stop, respite and a place to get ready for our second set of company. This is the starting gate to the Trent-Severn Waterway. We have 44 locks and 240 miles ahead of us and lots of cool little villages to stop along the way.
Have you ever wanted to participate in a Guinness Book of World of Records? NO?? Me either. We found out that the park across the marina was having the worlds largest human maple leaf the next day. Andy thought it would be great fun to go stand with 5000 other people in the wet grass on a hot humid day. The free red t-shirt was the shoe in. 🥵
We sucked up the heat and felt privileged to be here to help break the record. I think the final number of people was around 3900, which broke the current record of 1200. The only problem with this plan was the stupid Guinness book “rules and regulations” made every single man, woman and child wear a red plastic poncho for 5 minutes. The bell wrang and we had to stand still for 5 full minutes. Sounds like no big deal but 2 minutes in the sweat started pouring down every crack and the babies started crying and I thought for sure the older people would drop like flys. Longest 5 minutes ever. Thankfully everyone survived, to the the best of my knowledge, and the record was broken. After all was said and done, heat and all, we were really glad we did it!! The cold beer afterwards tasted especially good this day!
One of the best things about looping is the docktails. Trenton was the starting gate to the the next section so boats were coming in daily, provisioning, fueling up and getting ready for the next 240 miles of canals and and 44 locks. We all gathered nightly to talk, eat, and share stories. I have to say that this is by far the best thing about the loop. We have met such cool people and we all have the same concerns, questions, hesitations, fears and triumphs. It’s so fun to see off a fellow boat only to pull into a marina and find them again. We are crossing paths with people all the time and have made great friends. It’s awesome.
June 29th We picked up some stow aways!
They are joining us for 10 days on this section of the Trent-Severn. Renee gets sea sick usually but when they expressed interest in doing a section of our trip and we knew this would be perfect. Flat rivers and canals. They arrived in time for Canada day. We had lots of docktails and Dean fished from the dock scoring a big bass.
I have always been the hostess and it seems fitting that most docktails end up at or on our boat!! Here is prime example. They kept coming and pretty soon the dock was full of loopers.
Canada day is equivalent to our 4th of July. Fireworks, BBQ and lots of Canadian flags showing their Canadian spirit. We had a great time.
July 2nd Time to get going up the Trent-Severn
The next morning we woke up and started our trip up the Trent Waterway. The day was warm and beautiful. First stop was to fuel up and pump out. There are not a lot of Marinas along the way for provisions and fuel. We would be fine for the mileage because we would be going pretty slow most of the way.
Lock 1, Lock 2, Lock 3……… Then it got HOT!!!! I was holding the lines on the front of the boat while Dean handled the stern. Andy supervised. Sweat was poured off me and I was roasting. Did we seriously have to pick the hottest week in Canadian history? The sun beat off the shiny white fiberglass and radiated into my bones. When we arrived at our first wall I was thrashed. First stop was Frankford. We did 6 locks and only 7 miles. We wanted to break our new guests in slowly.
Day 2 was just as hot. I sweat just as much. It was lovely countryside and all……but the heat! OMG!! We pulled into Campbellford and tied up to the wall. Several loopers were around. Renee and I braved to heat and walked a bit. We went to the famous bakery for butter tarts and found a small grocery store for a few things. We came back and chilled down inside the air conditioned boat. This leg we did 7 locks and 25 miles. Our spot for the night was along a wall with a park and a giant Looney statue. What a fun name for their currency. The dollar is a Looney and a 2 dollar is a Tooney! Hilarious!
Day 3 we did another set of locks and when we got to the town wall it was full. This is a typical problem on this section of the trip. They are all first come, first serve and it is the busiest time of the year. Canadians only have a few months to enjoy the summer months so the lakes are full of small pleasure boaters out for the weekend. We decided to go up a few more miles to Rice lake and drop anchor. It was a great spot. We jumped into the lake water (which was 81 degrees and hardly cooled us off) and floated around.
I made dinner and blew up the inverter. (The switches were in the wrong position) That meant we had no power. Oh well! But did I mention it as HOT!!!! No fans! No AC. The air was nice on the top deck so we sat and enjoyed the sunset.
THEN……..(WARNING: If you don’t like bugs and spiders skip ahead) The biggest spiders came out and started weaving webs over our head from the Bimini. We saw 1, then another, then another, then we ran inside and shut the doors. BUT it was HOT!!!! OMG! Here we are in a beautiful spot that had been taken over by spiders and bugs. There was a swarm of some little white mothy things and those spiders ate very well that night, their tummy’s bulging with insects. I am however NOT happy that have hitched a ride on my boat. Now, to be completely honest, we have had a constant problem with spiders. They are on the lines. They are making webs all over the boat at night. I bought a little hand broom that I call the “spider whaker” and I go around the boat every morning destroying their nests. When we got to the next Marina I asked Dorthy, a fellow looper what I should do. She handed me a can of some nasty spray and told me to start with the Bimini and lines and spray them every time we tie up. Most people know I’m a natural oil kinda girl, but this called for the big guns. I took that can and sprayed the heck out of the boat. They came crawling out of their daytime hiding spots and one by one I conquered!! So far we haven’t seen any yet since said attack by chemical warfare.
Day 4 we traveled to Peterborough. We planned a few days here to tour around before taking Renee and Dean back to Toronto. We ate good food, we relaxed (spider free zone) and had air conditioning because YES….. it was still HOT!!!
We ate Poutine (NO we didn’t really love it!) and we found a casino. I lost $100 in 10 minutes so it was a short visit!
We toured the coolest Canoe Museum. They had a large display of old canoes and had the history of the areas indigenous people. I enjoyed the display and artwork.
The next lock on this canal is the famous Peterborough Lift Lock. It was built in 1904. There are only 2 like it on the canal and this is the big one. It raises you up 65 ft in 90 seconds. It’s a cement bathtub of sorts that is counterbalanced using just 12 inches of water they fill the high side and it pushes the low side up. It’s an engineering wonder. We were told it was a great tour to see before you actually take your boat thru it. We went over with Renee and Dean and some other loopers for the tour (they only do for loopers). It was surreal to think we would doing this lift in the next days. Totally cool.
The day Renee and Dean flew out, my parents flew in. We rented a car and drove them to Toronto to drop them off and pick up my parents. My mom was so happy to see us and it felt like forever since we had been together. They only had 5 days on the boat. We traveled with them to Bobcaygeon. My dad slept a lot and my mom and I chatted.
The people who have homes in this part of the Canada are called “cottagers”. They only have a few months of the year to enjoy the summer. It gets really cold here and they only summer here. We have passed a bunch of small cottages and some really awesome homes. They have boat garages to store their boats.
It’s also very popular to rent houseboats. We saw lots of them. They are totally uncontrollable boxes on the water and we were told to stay clear of them especially in the locks. A collision could ruin our trip. Thankfully we had no encounters with them.
We said goodbye to my parents here. It was bittersweet but they had a great 5 days with us and we got to catch up. They got to experience a little cruising and it was great to have them.
Some scenery from the route:
We loved this little church built on a rock Island. The only way to get to service is by boat! How cool is that!
The water ways here are very complex. They go from lakes and deep water to very narrow canals that are shallow and have rocks on both sides. You could almost touch the tree branches and it was creepy. Any wrong adjustment could send the boat crashing into the rocks. We had to do security calls warning any boats coming the other way. The smaller day boats did not monitor radios and we did encounter some. Might has right!!
There was another lift lock. This one went down so the perspective was totally different. We followed a boat in and I was thankful not to be on the leading edge. This one isn’t as tall as Peterborough but it was just as impressive. It went fast!! It was over before we knew it!
One of the highlights of the Trent-Severn is the famous railway lift called The Big Chutte. Lots of boats choose this direction just to do this lift. They literally lift your boat out of the water, sling it and drive a rail car up and over a road. We finally arrived here and stopped to check it out before taking the ride. When it was our turn Andy drove the boat up as instructed and my heart was beating out of my chest. As the boat lifted, with us on it, and started moving up out of the water, I had a moment of “what the hell have we done to poor AQUAMAN.” This boat has been through a lot. It was a totally cool experience but also nerve wracking. Honestly, it was something to behold, the engineering, but I am happy it us behind us. We have 1 last lock and then we are done!!! Yay!!!! I took pictures of the boat ahead of us but no one was behind us so I am kinda bummed we don’t have a picture of AQUAMAN slung up on the rail car. Oh well, NOT doing that again.
The bottom picture is the original lift.
This part of the loop has been my favorite. The scenery is incredible with deep forests that come right down to the water. The homes are quaint, some are extraordinary and the fresh water is pretty and inviting. The locks are easy and the Canadians are friendly, super helpful and talkative. At most locks, while the water is filling or releasing, they come over to talk. Everyone wants to know where we were going and how we got our California boat to Canada. I have loved Canada and all its beauty. I have also loved being in fresh water, heat aside, it’s been wonderful. Having company for part of this section has been great. I miss them already, but being on the loop with fellow loopers means lots of time for social interaction. We have been traveling with great people. Everyone is helpful and curious. So much so that one of our large white ball fenders fell off the rail and into the water, unbeknownst to us. The boat Allure who was following us stopped and retrieved it. When we got to the next lock I was getting my line ready when I noticed it was gone. We began to lock thru when Allure showed up with our missing ball. We were so thankful. Fellow loopers are awesome and all look out for each other.
Just to summarize for my notes.
We started the Trent- Severn waterway July 2 and got through the last lock number 44 on July 19th to Bayport Marina in Midland Ontario. This is the start of the Georgian Bay and another section to explore! This was a much longer route then we planned but it was great. I am feeling homesick and we have a lot of miles ahead before getting somewhere we can fly home. I’m writing this only as a reminder to myself that I have learned to breathe through these moments and be in the present. It is hard!! I miss my kids and my parents. I miss my friends. I have a daily talk with myself and most of the time I am ok. It’s just small moments that the heart hurts. Then I look around at Gods beauty and remember how blessed I am to be where I am. I am being honest, this tripp is HARD!!!! And AWESOME! And Beautiful! And Scary!!! And Unknown!! And the WEATHER!!! It is not for sissy’s!! It’s also not like a chill, drinking a margarita everyday kinda trip. There is sooooo much to do. Life living on a boat is not easy. We don’t have a washer (maybe my next boat will, I am dreaming) so every thing has to be hauled to a laundry mat. We have no car, so we ride bikes to the grocery store or walk. We just got a little cart to haul stuff in walking distance. Some marinas have a courtesy car, which is awesome. Repairs happen almost daily. Andy’s always fixing something. The boats always a mess. I have let go of my perfectionism. I bought a little handheld vacuum which helps me tackle the daily bugs and dirt. We are living in tight quarters and we still love each other. I feel so thankful for that. Andy drives the boat like a pro while I serve him whatever he needs, food, drinks, chapstick, coats, hats. I hardly sit still unless its a long haul, then I sleep or read. Andy plots our course every night. It’s a lot of work. There is very little down time. We are always working onto the next section. There is a lot to study and plan.
The END of this LONG chapter. NOW, onto the Georgian Bay!
Our friends left Oswego while we went on a road trip to Niagra Falls. They went to this little town called Clayton NY. This place was not on our radar at all. Actually we were not sure where we wanted to go after Oswego. We wanted to see the 1000 islands and Bolt Castle but we hadn’t planned that far ahead. After contacting Jody and finding out that she loved this little town we decided to head there. (Stalkers! LOL!)
We pulled into the Marina and we were reunited with Chasing Eighty and Curti-Sea. We headed out for lunch all together and the girls went shopping in this little town. I just loved it and found lots of cute things. Shopping is a luxury on this trip so I really enjoyed browsing through the shops.
The main reason for coming here was to go see Bolt Castle. Normally you were able to take your boat and tie up at the island to take the tour, but They have had so much rain that the docks were underwater. It meant that only tour boats were allowed. They raised the docks so people could still visit. We booked a tour on a local tour boat.
Bolt castle was build by a man who I had never heard about but soon learned he was behind running the Waldorf Astoria in NY. He eventually owned it and also started services for customers such as room service and concierge. He was a man before his time and created hotel hospitality that we see in hotels today. He built this castle as a symbol of love for his wife. There are heart shapes in the design and he even carved out a section of the island to make it heart shaped. The castle never got finished because she died suddenly at a young age. Mr. Bolt was so heart broken that he never returned to the island. It fell into disrepair and was vandalized. Today it is being restored and open for tours. The top floors were left as they were. Sad story but a real work of architecture and design.
I was a bit sad to leave this place but it is just like all the others. Some towns are great, some are just ok. This one was great! I hope to come back one day.
We arrived in Oswego and took a deep breath. We had finished the Erie Canal and this marked another section completed. We felt we deserved a break from the boat and a little road trip. We were just 170 miles from Niagra falls. We rented a car and got a hotel reservation and took off. We started our drive in the pouring rain. It wasn’t just a little rain, it was a downpour and the windshield wipers could barely keep up. We pressed on. It is a very weird sensation being in a car going 50+ MPH after traveling in a boat going under 10 MPH. Things were buzzing past us at what felt like lightning speed. It did take a little getting used to. Something we did everyday in our previous life suddenly felt totally foreign. Andy did remember how to operate a car and we relaxed as the rain let up.
We arrived in Niagara Falls, checked into our Inn on the American side and took off walking. We only had one night here so it was time to seize the day. We walked to the falls and stared at the grandeur. We then boarded a trolly that took us to other spots to observe them. It was incredible.
After walking miles we decided to get back in our rental car and drive across the boarder to the Canadian side. We would go to the casino and find some dinner. It was definitely prettier from that side. I spent $40 in 10 minutes in the casino and that was it! I did not bring my Vegas luck with me.
The next morning we decided to take a drive to a town called Niagra on the Lake in Ontario. I loved it. The valley was full of winery’s and it felt like we could be in Napa Valley. The houses were gorgeous and the town was full of fun shops and restaurants. I especially loved all the flowers. The streets and building were full of perfectly manicured flowers. I guess the climate here is conducive to growing beautiful flowers. I loved it!!
I had this strange feeling the whole time about wanting to get back to the boat. Me and Andy both felt it. It felt strange to be away, as much as we enjoyed this getaway, we were both also anxious to return. This has become our home, our happy place that moves us from place to place. It has become so comfortable. I have adapted to this lifestyle remarkably well and I have to say how much I love it. We have made such great friends. We are seeing so much of this country. We have tough days just like everyone. Some days the weather sucks. Mostly it’s beautiful. We continue to be amazed by this journey.
“Low bridge, everybody down, low bridge yeah we’re coming to a town. And you’ll always know your neighbor, you’ll always know your pal, if you ever navigated on the Erie Canal”
“15 miles on the Erie Canal”
Well….. They got that wrong. It’s more like 40 miles and 22 locks. Boy was I happy to be done with it. Below is how it went: Kind of a saga of mixed days. Ultimately we survived with tales to tell. Every day was different. The best part was the friendship and buddy boats. It made it so much better for me to have girls and company. It also made it fun to laugh at the tough days, and party at night.
On our last night in Shady Harbor we met up with 3 other couples in the restaurant. We all had planned to leave in the morning but not together, and start up the Erie Canal. We formed a pack of 4 boats (United 771, Chasing 80 and Curti-Sea). We decided what time we would all leave and how far we would go the first day. Over drinks and a lot of laughter I relaxed about this section. I had been told that it was common to get bunched up with boats during this section. I had also been warned to choose wisely because once you start traveling with your little group there is no place to really separate. I liked these people and I felt really excited instead of nervous. The night before I prepared all the fenders and lines. We got out our gloves, life jackets, charged the batteries of our headsets so we could hear each other talking vs yelling over the sounds of the lock. The next morning we woke up and headed out all together. We encountered our first lock right on the Hudson in Troy NY. We moved right thru Waterford, which is the headquarters of the Canal with a visitor center and cute little town. The thought of having to listen to any more conversation about how to run the locks made me nauseous. We had been talking this subject to death. I was as prepared as I could ever be. I was ready. I had total butterflies, but this was excitement and disbelief that we were actually here. All the months prior, all the videos, all the discussions, all the books had finally lead to today.
The first day we did 7 locks and 211 feet of elevation. It took us 7 hours to only travel 30 Miles. We pulled into the Marina exhausted but totally euphoric that we did it AND survived without a mishap. We were slightly relieved that it didn’t seem such a big deal. The locks have ropes that run down the walls that are weighted at the end, so they hang straight. You simply grab a rope and hold on. Then as the lock fills you climb your hands up the wet slimy rope to the top. Seemed easy. The struggle was that the boat sometimes got pulled by the current and you had to use your body weight to keep the rope tight and not to let the boat swing into or away from the slimy wall. Of course we had fenders everywhere to protect the boat but it’s best to keep the boat slightly pushed out. Otherwise they scrap up the rough cement walls. Some were very slimy and rough and our new shiny new balls got slimed and scratched. Some locks were easy, some were more challenging and needed a lot of muscle. At the end of day 1 was pretty tired but psyched that we survived. We were the lead boat today. Aquaman led the way.
Day 2: It poured rain so we hung out a bit. I spent most of day in the boat editing pictures and the video I had made of our first day on the canal. Later that day all 4 boats gathered to have dinner and celebrate Steves (United 771) birthday. Lots of laughing and drinking made for a fun night.
Day 3: We headed out for round 2. We choose how far we would go and we all tackled each lock as they came, some were easy, some were a struggle. At one point United 771 lost their front line and the boat went smashing into the other wall. Steve recovered control of his boat but it was totally freighting. Then it started to rain. I got out the rain gear. I was wet and my arms were burning and I felt a wave of “OMG we have soooooo many more of these to do! Can I handle this?” It felt totally overwhelming. It was a totally different feeling then that first day where we ended excited. Today I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of locks in this canal. We got to our spot for the night and secured for the night (in a crappy little spot along a cement wall). I put on my jammies, made a bowl of pasta and went to bed. My body was pounding and I was exhausted. Everyone in the group was the same. No happy hour tonight. We all retreated to the comfort of our respective boats. I hoped when we woke it would be with a new attitude.
Day 4 only 3 of us left. Cathy on United 771 got a sore throat so they were going to rest up. We said goodbye, I gave her a bunch of onguard oils. We were now a group of 3. As we headed out today I gave myself a little talking to. “You got this girl, you are strong and capable, you are having fun, you are experiencing something few people get to do, you must put on a smile and get it done!” It worked because I had a much better day. The locks were still tough, it did still rain a little but I changed my attitude and I didn’t get so overwhelmed. As we approached each lock, I took a deep breath and started a countdown in my head. Lock 18 done, lock 19 done, lock 20, 21, etc….. That night we tied up to a cement wall that was a restaurant. It was a yummy restaurant!! We all enjoyed a nice dinner and went to bed a little less grumpy.
Day 5: Rain AGAIN!!!!! Happy Father’s Day Andy!! Everyone decided to sit tight and just relax. The problem for me was we were in desperate need of a pump out and groceries. I was looking forward to moving to a town. Not today!!! To make matters worse our boat sprung a pretty bad leak. Water was coming into the boat, thru the light fixtures and down my new shades. We spent hours chasing it. I placed towels and bowls everywhere. The boat stank and it was damp out and I was grumpy. We got an Uber and went to get groceries in the rain. I made cupcakes for the dads and I made Andy a stir fry for dinner. I had to keep busy doing something.
The Erie Canal has been a day of ups and downs. This day I was OVER IT!!!! I wanted to go home. I wanted to get to an airport and fly home. I knew this emotion would pass and it did. Everyday of this journey has had highs and lows. Some days are just wonderful, some not so much. Just like life. At the end of the day we were graced with a sunset. I am grateful for all my blessings.
Day 6: It was bright but chilly. We left the security of the restaurant wall and headed out. Because we have had several rainy days and NO-GO days, we blew right past a place we wanted to stop called Sylvan Beach on Lake Oneida, and continued on. We crossed Lake Oneida and made it to Brewerton. This was the first time AQUAMAN has been in a lake. It was beautiful and the water was flat. When we got to our marina, we fueled up and emptied our holding tanks (Thank God!). The marina was full of loopers. I cleaned a little and straightened up which always makes me feel better. Andy did some cleaning of the engine room. I felt better today. I was recharged from our down day and rested up. I was happy to be making progress. I was happy that we were only 1 day from finishing the Erie Canal and Oswego canal.
Day 7: The last day of this section. This section is actually called the Oswego canal. We will pull into the town of Oswego on the shore of Lake Ontario. We have a marina booked for 5 days. We will take a time out. I need a little break. We are going to rent a car and drive to see Niagara Falls. Today we have 30 miles and 8 locks. I am so ready to be done with this Canal!!! Our 2 buddy boats were staying another night. We were ready to move on.
We arrived at the marina and tied up. The locks today were all descending and easy. It wasn’t a hard day. I have discovered however that after 5 or 6 locks I am done. We got to lock 8, the very last lock we will do for a while and I was SOOO happy. I felt a big sense of relief as well as accomplishment. This was a long week. It also marks another section of the loop that we have conquered. I am so proud of us!! We have learned to work as a team. We have a rhythm. We don’t yell at each other. I am so much better at chillin out and going with it and Andy is better at explaining things to me which helps me not be anxious. We have good days and tough days, but mostly we are having fun. Each section brings on a new challenge.
We will be leaving the boat for a few days for a break and driving to Niagara Falls. A hotel and some sight seeing by land!
I am happy this section is done. It was challenging. It’s an area we can cross off our list of places traveled.
We left NY and started up the Hudson. Mr. CRAZY was excited to be taking a ride. We diverted to the Statue for photos, then he got on his facebook and started a live feed. So many people logged on to see this and he talked to people thru facebook. It was hilarious, and totally annoying! LOL
Half Moon Bay June 7th
This is the first stop up the Hudson and a common spot for Loopers to stop. There was a bunch of us in the Marina. The area is called Croton on Hudson and it is a place New Yorkers have weekend homes. The train runs right by and is a quick run into the city. There were a bunch of loopers here. I opened the boat for docktails and I think we topped out at 16 people aboard. It’s a very social life in these Marinas as we travel. We are getting to know people and starting to see the same boats and faces. It’s really fun.
Bernie AKA Mr. Crazy, Jamie and his sweet daughter, Greg from Golden Daze, Bruce and Brenda of B-Side, Trish and Jamie of About Time.
Kingston at Roundout Yacht Basin
This little port town was adorable. The actually town of Kingston was a few miles away. We took the dingy down and cruised up the river and then over to the town square. There were a bunch of restaurants. We choose an Italian place called Savinos and it was the BEST!!! I still have garlic mouth from the breadsticks. Mr. Crazy Bernie bought us dinner and he really picked a good one! I wish we had more time here to explore but tomorrow we want to be in Shady Harbor for the Looper Pig Roast!! Can’t wait. People do the loop again and this is why. You just cant see all these little towns.
Shady Harbor Pig Roast and Looper gathering.
We came here because we thought it would be fun to see a large gathering of loopers. Shady Harbor Marina is an AGLCA sponsored Marina and they host a pig roast for loopers. This just happened to be the weekend! This is a big draw for loopers. The chef cooked a pig and everyone brought side dishes. There was a lot of great food. They had live music and it was a fun night.
Here are a few pictures of some great people who we have met.
Nancy & Rob of Misty, Namaste, Ted & Robin of Curti-Sea, Greg & Nancy of TxAu, Greg & Susan of Lucky Me, And the Chef and owner Donavan of Shady Harbor.
We had a lovely time here at Shady Harbor. We ended up spending 3 nights. We dropped Bernie in Albany and he rented a car to drive back to the city. We had a night of rain and wind. I just love hearing the sound of the rain on the boat. We decided to stay put while about half the loopers took off up the river to Waterford. This is the start of the locks and the Erie Canal. We have the fenders ready, the lines ready and I have read the books and seen the YouTube videos. I can’t be anymore ready. It’s time to get over the fear and go for it. I am sure we are going to enjoy the first few locks, then everyone says they get annoying after awhile. It’s part of this looping adventure and unavoidable. The time has come!
Pulling into the New York Harbor was mind blowing. In my wildest dream I could not imagine pulling up in our boat. I thought it was the craziest idea. It never occurred to me that we would would take our boat all the way from California and one day be pulling into the NY harbor. It’s also crazy to think how far we have traveled to get here. It blew my mind. It blew Andy’s mind. We were there, present for every moment along this journey, but I still think it is a dream.
We left Manasquan Marina in New Jersey and set off through the inlet to the open Atlantic Ocean. The day was misty and hazy. When we left I hoped it would clear and the ocean would be calm. We left along with a bunch of commercial fishing boats and a few sports fishing boats. A few looper boats also where heading the same direction. I hoped that when we got to the Atlantic Ocean the seas would be kind to us. This would mark our very last ocean crossing for a very long time. Once inside the New York harbor, we will be going up the Hudson and into fresh water. We won’t see salt water again until we hit the Gulf of Mexico. A long time from now. Again, this is blowing our mind!
We entered the NY harbor and it was unusually quiet for a Sunday. We expected a ton of boats, harbor tours, ferries and recreational traffic. It was pretty early on a Sunday morning and it was remarkably quiet. We approached the Statue of Liberty and as it got closer we teared up. Disbelief, in awe and so grateful. It was a powerful moment. Not another boat was around. We positioned the boat and took some pictures of us on the bow sprit. We looked at Lady Liberty and floated a while. After we had our fill we found our way to Liberty Landing, our marina for the next week.
The first day we toured NY with Jody and Wayne and had a great time. We took the ferry across the river to ground zero. We toured the grounds and went to the top of the One World Trade Center. The view was incredible. We could see Liberty Landing where the boat was. We could see The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We had great views of the city. We rode the subway uptown to Times Square. We ate at the famous Carmines. Then we walked Central Park. Exhausted and with tired feet, we made our way back to the boat. It was a full day!
The next day we picked up a stow away!! Mr. Crazy flew in and joined us. Some people will understand when I say this was an epic visit with someone who we love so much. Some people will also know what he is going through. To have him make this journey to see us and travel up the Hudson is beyond words. You cannot take the Crazy out of Crazy Bernie.
He showed us a good time in his favorite place. He scored us front row tickets to Beetlejuice, which was fantastic.
He took us on the Bernies tour of the best NY pizza joints, and to the oldest bar in NY (they only served shitty beer so we didn’t stay long, but if the walls could talk!). He made us laugh in normal Bernie fashion. It was so great to have him aboard.
When we were leaving NY another looper boat offered to take our boat pictures in front of the Liberty!! Thank you so Much to Jamie and Trish of R Time!!
New York was a fun week. The sound of the city, the ferry horns, the backup beeping from all the trucks, the pounding noise of construction, the sound of large party boats and tour boats coming into the marina for fuel was A LOT for us. Even though there is definitely an energy and excitement of being here I secretly was ready to go. I will always be in awe of this section of the trip but I really enjoy the smaller historic towns we have been stopping in all the way up the East Coast. The next section of this loop will be canals, rivers and locks. I am looking forward to it with a bit of anxiety and fear. I have learned along the way that most of what I am afraid of has been really nothing to fear at all. Onward we go!
We reluctantly left St. Michaels. I just loved it there and I felt sad to leave. Gotta go!!!!
This was Memorial Day weekend and when we left we were greated in the bay by hundreds of sailboats doing a regatta. The sailmasts were dotted as far as the eye could see. We had to alter our route as some approached because they have the right of way undersail. The scene was beautiful with puffy clouds and colorful sails for miles. We arrived in Annapolis just a few hours later and having a much better ride then then previous time.
The Annapolis Harbor was buzzing with activity. We had the most traffic we have seen this whole trip. It was crazy. We would have preferred not to be traveling during this holiday weekend but we just didn’t think ahead. It was fine and it worked out. We were glad when we got settled in and tied up.
This is me fueling us up. Andy always does this but I decided to “Woman up” and help. He drives all day while I relax and nap. It wasn’t all that bad, except the smell👃🏻
Fellow loopers were in the marina and before I knew it we were invited to docktails. This is really one of the joys of flying that burgee. It’s seems an open invitation to greet each other. I have approached looper boats flying flags as well. This time we were approached and invited. I so enjoy meeting new people.
What does one do while in Annapolis? Well, tour the Naval Academy of course. We did and we had a great guide. It was 30 years ago my adopted brothers graduated. I remember the graduation and the festivities and I am so proud of them, now career Navy pilots. Rick and Russ McCormick are my true hero’s. The campus is amazing. We even saw a Bride and Groom coming out of the Chapel. Saturdays are “wedding days” and it is said you have to apply a year ahead of time and you have to have graduated from the Academy. Graduation was 3 days before we arrived so the wedding were happening fast and furious. The tomb of John Paul Jones.
We walked all over and saw the old building and brick streets, now turned into shopping and tourism, and amazing restaurants!! The Iron Rooster had the worlds best Chicken and Waffles I have ever had!!
The harbor was alive with activity. Boats coming and going, people partying on their boats blasting music. It felt like a real holiday weekend. We walked the town, sipped drinks at old taverns, looked at the old buildings, and shopped. I found a little bag made of old sails with a mermaid. Perfect! These sail bags are everywhere and very popular. It’s hard not to buy them all.
Andy never misses a chance to kayak. I almost bought this pillow because the crab pots are no joke!!!
While here we connected with a fellow looper on Chasing 80. We enjoyed docktails with Jody and Wayne and discovered we would be leaving the same day. We buddied up for our route the next day. Andy and I had originally planned to stop in Baltimore for a few days but frankly, I didn’t want to and felt stressed about the big city vibe. The idea of all the commotion, traffic and noise gave me some anxiety. Wayne convinced us to skip it and go straight to Chesapeake city with them. Agreed and a change of plans was made. We have learned on this trip that flexibility is a must! Besides the fact that the next leg, after Chesapeake city is the Delaware bay. This body of water can be nasty. I was nervous about this leg of the trip. Lots of loopers post pictures of rough seas and horror stories. I was feeling nervous and just wanted to get it done and get out of The Chesapeake. We looked at the weather forecast and we had a golden few days of calm waters so we skipped Baltimore and followed our new buddy boat. It’s nice when you can hook up with someone but it’s not always the case. People travel at their own pace and timing. It seemed to work out with our new friends. We left early as the sun came up and the sun rise was just beautiful. The marina looked nothing like it did the day we got here! Empty.
Today we are making the jaunt to Cape May. We will stop over night in Chesapeake City and then get up early for the second section thru C&D Canal and the Delaware Bay. I will be so happy when we pull in and tie up. It will mark a big hurdle. It will be another 2 state line crossings Delaware and New Jersey. It will mean we have traveled from Fort Lauderdale all the way up to New Jersey. It will mean we are only days from New York and then we start the journey up the Hudson to the interior of the country and away from the ocean. It seems so weird to think we will be inside the USA on our boat!! Crazy.
Cape May at Utsch’s Marina
I was worried about crossing the Delaware Bay from what I had been reading. This can be NASTY. Andy keeps telling me to relax because we won’t go on bad days. Someone posted that they thought the weather was fine and they got caught in nasty seas. It was a long run today so I woke up nervous. We followed our buddy boat, Chasing 80 and it was a gorgeous morning. Then we got to the inlet to the bay. Flat glass. I relaxed and laid in my spot. I anticipated as we got closer the ocean and the huge mouth of the bay, it would pick up. It didn’t. It was flat glass. Andy decided to do a a few minutes at WOT. Wide Open Throttle. Blow the diesels out a bit. With a 2+ knot current heading out of the bay we hit 22.5 Knots. We were flying. We got to the marina and I couldn’t believe what a perfect day it was to make that crossing. That night we had drinks and dinner with a new set of loopers and made new friends.
Andy and I decided to get a car and do a bunch of errands and see Cape May. We toured the lighthouse and a local beach called Sunset Point. The Southernmost tip of New Jersey. This beach was covered in quartz crystals and moonstones. I collected a huge pile and when I couldn’t carry anymore I reluctantly agreed to leave. What a great spot. I was in Heaven. I am an earth girl and I love stones, shells, rock. I wish I could have gotten more but I left them for others to collect. I have never seen a beach covered in raw quartz. It was spectacular. The ocean tumbled them perfectly round and deposited them right on that beach. My next thing is to get a rock tumbler and shine them up. For now they are perfect just as they are in their raw state.
These houses lined the beach and were mansions of their day. Most are Bed and Breakfast now. I can just imagine the lives of those who summered here. The elite and rich or famous. They were amazing!