The boat

Mazurka is a 1978 Mainship 34. ┬áHere’s a picture at launch last month.

and a few more from last summer


The Dream

I can pinpoint the genesis exactly. It was in late November 1986, and we had just entered the intracoastal waterway (ICW) at Norfolk VA. We were on a 40 foot sailboat and had left Halifax about ten days earlier. It had been a tough slog.

I was utterly enraptured. Parts of the waterway had been constructed in the 18th century. There was always something to see. Lots of other boats of all shapes and sizes were around. There was (for me) exotic vegetation and critters. The commercial traffic was a novelty. And the best part was that there were no waves. By the time we got through NC I was plotting a return in my own boat, taking the time to poke around and stop as desired.

The confirming experience came in the fall of 1992, when Samantha and I took a few days to deliver a friend’s sailboat from Chicago to St Louis, traveling on the Illinois River and (briefly) the mighty Mississippi. I loved that trip. Samantha wasn’t so keen.

Shortly after that we moved to London ON – not by any stretch a boating center – and I got busy with kids, career, life without boats. I’ve had small boats, and really enjoyed racing Laser in the competitive masters class for a few years. Having another ‘big’ boat was nowhere near the top of the list, but I often thought about river cruising over the years, and set it as a goal for when I had the freedom from other commitments to be able to enjoy it. It had become pretty clear in discussions with Samantha that this wasn’t a shared goal, so this was likely to be a solo project with a virtually unlimited scope. My hazy goal was to cover all the navigable waters of the Mississippi basin, and that is a lot of travel – possibly several years.

In early 2015 I started to seriously consider making my dream happen. In my next posting I’ll talk about my boat, and how I came to choose and buy Mazurka.

Last trip of the season

After leaving the boat in Belleville for a month I’m back aboard for the final segment of the season. I decided to haul for the winter at Wiggers in Bowmanville. Seems like a competent small yard, not too expensive and relatively close to Toronto. The boating business has really changed in the 30 years since I was immersed in it. Wiggers was a pretty well known and busy semi-custom boatbuilder in the 80s. Then they survived on major service and restoration work for a long time. These days they use their shop for heated indoor storage.

I write this from the Murray Canal. I came down here from Belleville this evening. Unsettled weather today, blowing pretty hard from the East and rain at times heavy but it looks like a great forecast tomorrow for the 50 mile run down Lake Ontario.

I still really like this boat and the style of boating it provides. Was nice to hang out inside for the blustery and wet trip down the Bay of Quinte.

Edit Feb 2018 – I meant to report fuel in this blog. Filled up at the end of the trip, first fuelling since the Erie Canal. My recollection is that it took about 625 litres.


I fetched up in Belleville today and secured a slip in the municipal marina until the end of the season, which is mid-October. Cleaned up the boat and am heading home. Not sure when I’ll be back.  My plan is to haul and store the boat somewhere in this area.

Tuesday was a great day. Left Chaffey’s at 10 am and didn’t stop for 12 hours. No waits for locks – I think their busy season is done – and very little boat traffic.  I got through the causeway at Kingston at 6 pm and had a nice moonlit cruise to Adolphustown where I anchored for the night. Today I came up to Belleville.

Some pictures from Tuesday


Chaffey’s Lock

Am sitting in the pub at the The Opicon, a resort next to the lock.  Had a very relaxed cruise here from Smith’s Falls today.  Boat was exactly as I left it.  Sarah drove me back, and after provisioning this morning I headed south towards Kingston.

I really like this area. Not too many people or boats, clean water, interesting cuts between the lakes like this one

I expect to be in Kingston Wednesday, and will head into the Bay of Quinte from there.

Smith’s Falls

It’s been 8 days since my last entry. Wow.  I’ll try to catch up.  I’m now in Smith’s Falls for the second time, and am heading home for a week or so to see my family, welcome Mallory back, and reconnect with my work in preparation for a mid-September return.  Then it’s back to the boat for the final segment of my 2017 travels, back down to Kingston and east into the Bay of Quinte. Tentative plan is to hail and store the boat somewhere around Belleville.

On Friday evening I met Samantha and Sarah at Westport.  We spent the night there at the municipal docks after a nice meal out, and on Saturday traveled through Upper Rideau then Big Rideau lakes.  Had a fun trip up the old Tay canal to Perth and had lunch there. Then back to a lovely anchorage south on Rideau Ferry.  I dropped them off Sunday morning at Rideau Ferry and they tode their bikes back to Westport.  See her blog with some great pictures here https://fitisafeministissue.com/2017/08/16/bikes-and-boats/

Monday I went through to Smith’s Falls.  Spent Monday night in the basin at Victoria Park.  Had my first ever lock issue in the downbound lock approaching Smith’s Falls. Not sure what happened – it was a really weird eddy in the lock – but when I went to exit the lock I ended up sideways with my anchor wedged against one wall the the dinghy the other.  Lock is about 35 feet wide and I’m about 40 feet long with the dinghy on davits.  More embarrassing than anything else.  The lock staff threw me a line and pulled my bow back over.  No damage done, though I’m sure my bow roller left a scar on the lock wall.

Tuesday morning I finally got rid of my waste oil and containers. Walked to a nearby Canadian Tire and borrowed a shopping cart.  Fixed the stuck thermostat and did a few other housekeeping chores and got underway after lunch.

Tuesday night was spent at the Kilmarnock lock.  Lovely isolated spot, hung out with the cadets I’d met earlier who were on an old Navy gig.  
Wednesday I arrived in Ottawa.  Got as far as the lock right next to Carleton University.  I had planned to go through to downtown just above the flight locks, but the smoke trail I’ve been leaving was attracting some unwanted attention… The multiuse path along the canal has a lot of traffic, and I really felt bad about the smoke.  And I was thinking of my plans to leave the boat for a week on Saturday.  So I turned around Wednesday evening and headed back down the canal.

The trip back to Smith’s Falls on Thursday and Friday was relaxed and pleasant.  Not much boat traffic, spent Thursday night at the bottom of the Merrickville locks. Nice little town.

The lock keeper at Smith’s Falls was very accommodating, as he had been on my earlier visit.  No problems leaving the boat there, no charge, and they ran a long hose across the lock to fill my water tanks.  The lock staff through the entire system have been helpful and friendly.  Generally they aren’t that busy, and are happy to chat and help in any way they can.

As I write this I am on the train, heading back to London tonight with a stop at Sarah’s farm in Prince Edward County.  Not sure when I’ll be back to the boat – most likely in eight days but maybe earlier if I can talk my son(s) into joining me for a couple of days.  

Rideau Canal

I traveled from Gananoque to Kingston yesterday, noodling through a bunch of islands and anchorages on the way.  Nice area below Howe Island.
When I got to Kingston I went through the causeway and anchored for the night just north of the lift bridge. Went into the town for some supplies and a bite to eat. 

I left Kingston this morning on the Rideau and am now anchored in a beautiful cove just below the Jones Falls locks. I have to say this is my kind of boating – lots of natural beauty, very few boats and the old locks are pretty cool.  Took lots of pics so will share here.

Under the 401

Squeezed into the first set of locks.  It takes about 2 hours to do a flight of three so they get everyone in.

Got my free season pass

I’m a bit out of order here. This is where I’m stopped for the night now.  

Thousand Islands

After hanging out in Phoenix for Friday and Saturday night I headed north to Oswego on Sunday.  I had been watching the weather on Lake Ontario and the forecast was for benign conditions on Monday.  Saturday I did some serious boat cleaning.

The trip to Oswego was leisurely and uneventful.  Tied up for the night on the wall just south of the last lock and went out for dinner with a guy I’d met who was taking his Cape Dory 29 from the east coast to Chicago.

Monday I headed out into the lake and had an uneventful cruise across Mexico Bay and into the St Lawrence at Cape Vincent.  Then downstream on the US side to Clayton.  I stopped for an hour or two at the town docks, then went a few miles to find a nice spot to anchor.

Tuesday morning I went back to Clayton to spend a couple of hours at the antique boat museum there.  Wonderful spot.

After leaving Clayton I continued downstream to Alexandria Bay.  Stopped there for lunch, then nipped across to Heart Island to tour Boltd Castle.

After leaving Boldt Castle I headed across to the Canadian side. Cleared customs at Rockport, then headed up river to arrive in Gananoque in the early evening.  Anchored close to the town and dinghied in for a nice meal.  

This area is quite beautiful.  Endless little bays and islands, and not overrun.