You pick your weather carefully when you cross Lake Ontario into Canada. Winds are usually out of the west and the fetch is 193 miles. For those who are not boaters, fetch is the distance a swell can travel across a body of water. If it’s windy, the swells can be high.
Five boats left Oswego for Kingston with a weather report of calm wind and sunny skies and we weren’t disappointed. While wind grew along with the chop and there were rolls side to side—enough so you had to brace yourself—it wasn’t bad, as long as you weren’t prone to seasickness and you weren’t trying to write something on your laptop. It took about six hours to cross, then another hour or so dodging racing sailboats in Kingston Harbor.
Kingston is a central stop for people heading west toward the Trent-Severn Waterway, north up the Rideau Canal to Thousand Islands, or east up the St. Lawrence River. It’s among the oldest cities in North America, founded in 1673 with the construction of Fort Frontenac (destroyed and rebuilt several times). After the American Revolutionary War, many loyalists left America and settled here along with Mohawks from the Six Nations of New York.
Kingston became the base for the Lake Ontario division of the British Fleet and engaged in an arms race with the Americans for the control of Lake Ontario. Fort Henry was built in 1832 along with distinctive Martello Towers to guard the entrance to the Rideau Canal. All are still standing today.
We can’t stay too long in any one place (we’re Loopers, after all), so when available, we take a tram tour to get a thumbnail history lesson and view the major sites.
Speaking of history, we went through 23 locks on the Erie Canal and seven on the Oswego Canal. Except for Lock 22 where ropes were missing and cheese could be grated on the walls (and promptly thrown out), they were in good condition and easy to go through. Lockmasters were friendly and ducks locking through with you got out of the way. We lost one boat fender (twice), but retrieved it. Otherwise, we had no mishaps.
Tomorrow we continue our journey, heading west. There are 44 locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway. The journey takes about a week, depending on the weather. More about that next time.