Last you heard we had left the Erie Canal and were on Lake Ontario. Our route is to head west on Lake Ontario, dock and traverse the Welland Canal to Lake Erie. That was the PLAN, but…………………………Gypsies Palace had other ideas.
The day started picture perfect. Lake Ontario was like glass. We were going to stop in Rochester, but it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of the flat seas and push on to Port Dalhousie (St. Catherines) Ontario, Canada. Everything went according to plan and we came into the marina in windy conditions. We had no one to grab our lines so Steve needed to make a couple of passes at the dock to check wind and current.
About 10 feet from the dock, disaster struck. We heard to big clunk and the next thing Steve knew, he did not have use of the Starboard propulsion! The Engine was working fine but he couldn’t put the transmission in gear. We later found out that with the water levels so high on Lake Ontario there is stuff floating everywhere, most right under the surface and our prop grabbed a submerged line and it wrapped around the shaft so tightly that it pulled (broke) our transmission off of the engine! We later heard that someone had hit a refrigerator floating just below the surface not far from the marina. So, a lot of crap is out there under the water.
We weren’t out of the woods yet. Steve only had one engine to control the boat and it was the wrong one with the winds and current. Everything was pushing us into the rocks and breakwater. Gypsies Palace could not make the dock on one engine with the wind pushing us away from the dock. Steve managed to get us out of the marina and we anchored in the Lake just outside the Breakwater. What we needed was a tow to the docks. We sat on the boat and tried to contact SeaTow or TowBoat US, but they had no one nearby. So, what were we going to do?
Luckily for us, a young guy on a sailboat from the marina seemed to recognize our distress and came by to ask if we needed help. Yes! Of course! Another piece of good fortune is that there was another guy that has a tug at the marina that could help us. We called him and he definitely was not a random person, he had towing and tug qualifications. We just needed to wait.
While we were waiting the wind kept picking up and we could see storms in the distance. Not exactly what we were hoping for. After a couple of hours our rescue started. Ed, the tug captain, was able to raft up next to us with a lot of maneuvering. He began the tow with the seas going up and down. It really felt like we were barely moving, but I could see progress. He finally was able to get us to the dock safely where we were thankful to tie up without worrying about the wind and the weather.
The time span for all of this was 3 hours from trouble to the dock. Both the US and Canadian Coast Guard was notified and they were calling us every 15 minutes to make sure we were ok. Still not sure how the USCG found out about us. The young guy had called the CCG to let them know that we were there. Although we were not in any danger, they are there, just in case something changes. We only had one cell phone with service which added to the frustration. But, it was an immense relief just to be sitting at the dock safely.
So, our status is sitting at the dock and waiting for a new transmission to arrive. Here they call it a “Tranny” and people ask us, “How’s the tranny coming”? We know that one was shipped from Kentucky, but we have no idea when it will arrive. It has been nearly two weeks and we are still waiting for it to arrive.
But, what can you do? You can make the best of it and see the sights in the area and pretend to be on “vacation” from the Loop. We have explored by biking to the Welland Canal museum and ended up riding way more than we had ever done. All I can say is Yay for the Electric part of the bikes! We have gone to the beautiful town of Niagara On The Lake and had our first Butter Tarts! They are in the Looper Folklore, for sure. The area has fertile land so many things are grown – grapes, cherries, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes. We have stopped at many farmer’s markets and bought locally grown items. We had visited wineries and even golfed at a winery! Shopping is certainly in our favor with a 30% exchange rate in our favor so we have done some of that. We have had the $10 Fish N Chips dinner at the local yacht club and gone to many restaurants and sampled the local beers.
I wanted to include a shot of the area that shows the record high (100 year) for Lake Ontario. Many marinas cannot operate. Docks are underwater and you can see power poles ruined. There is no way to access them. It is an amazing thing to see. Many people cannot get their boats out of dry storage because there are not many places to dock them.
It has been fun and it looks like summer has finally arrived. On Canada Day we grilled steaks and took them up to the bridge and watched a beautiful sunset before watching multiple fireworks. My thought was that we are very lucky at this point in time. We aren’t going to be able to do this forever and we should embrace having the time to soak in the local environment. We could have worse problems………………this is just what happens when you are living the cruising lifestyle.
“It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad.” …….Jimmy Buffett