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Old 07-29-2009
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cruising lake ontario

hi there
i am new to sailing. my husband and i bought a 34' hunter last summer and this year are planning a small holiday with our 2 kids aged 4 and 6. any suggestions for traveling with young kids and also for a week long sail towards niagara-on-the-lake would be very much appreciated. our home marina is ontario place. we are also considering doing an overnight as practice on the toronto island any suggestions with that would also be great.
thanks very much
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Old 07-29-2009
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Good Luck! Safety is the first concern, which means good life jackets always, even at the dock, when not asleep in the cabin. Consider safety netting on the lifelines. Sail in short hops in good weather. Children get bored on long days on the water. Go ashore frequently, if you can. If the weather is challanging you may be tense and distracted, which is not calculated to improve their mood. Remember, this is new to them and they may be apprehensive. My two were older when we started but they did fine.
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Old 07-29-2009
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For short hops in Lake Ontario there's no need to do an overnight. Do a few short daylight hops first. Ontario Place to Port Credit. Then to Oakville etc. When you have done this pick a night with a full moon and do a trip to someplace you've been before so that you are familiar with the entrance. You will be amazed at the difference a full moon makes. I would not do Toronto Island at night as a first night trip as you may get confused by all the lights. It's better to go to a less well lit and confusing port. Or better still do the nightsail back to Ontario Place from Bluffers or someplace further. At night being familiar with the port you're entering makes a lot of difference. You should also consider joining a club if you're into cruising. Then you can visit all the ports on the Lake and get a spot in a reciprocal club. This greatly increases your cruising area as many of these spots don't have marinas or places to anchor.
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Last edited by Vasco; 07-29-2009 at 08:13 AM.
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Old 07-29-2009
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You will need a copy of Ports onboard.

Here's a link -
Ports: Lake Ontario and Thousand Islands, including the Bay of Quinte

All the local marine supply stores have them in stock.
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Old 07-29-2009
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I would also recommend a large scale chart of Lake Ontario to plot bearings and distances, and to buy the Richardson's chart book of the lake, which is convenient for plotting positions when offshore. The charts in it are old and "not for navigational purposes", but they suffice unless you are in the Thousand Islands or the east end of Prince Edward County, in which case you really need the charts for those somewhat tricky waters.

Lastly, I would purchase the Sailing Directions for Lake Ontario...I used this more than any other guide for spotting landmarks, etc.

Why am I mentioning this? Because we have a seven year old son, and getting him a pair of yard-sale binoculars meant that he is now "in charge" of navigation aboard, and gets to use a hand-held compass, takes bearings and marks charts (in light pencil). This gives him a stake in the journey and gets him involved in the process (he's too short to helm!).

If you get your kids involved in the running of the "ship", they will naturally take the first steps to being involved in your sailing lifestyle, and, having a stake, will be less bored underway.

I also recommend a lazy sail to Bluffers'. It's close and safe and the complex of clubs is big enough to run around in pretty safely.
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Old 07-30-2009
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thanks so much for all your suggestions. i really do appreciate it. i am afraid i didn't explain my plan very well for the weekend sail to the toronto island. we are planing to sail there during the day and get a slip there for the night. for those who have been, is it a difficult marina to get into by daylight and anything to avoid? also i would love to hear from any members who have been to any of the marinas enroute to niagara with kids. i am most interested in ones that are kid friendly...playgrounds and other kid friendly things.
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I am at Toronto Island Marina, slip C403. The bar has the best view of the city by far and the whole island complex is a giant playground for the kids. Unfortunately, with the strike on, the amusement park isn't running. Lots of paths that are easy to walk and few tourists due to the ferry strike. You can still get to the city if need be as the marina has a private tender which runs on the 1/2 hour on the weekend. Buy tickets for the tender at the marina office. There is a Sobey's Express at the city side tender connection. Short walk one way to the beer store, slightly longer the other way to the HUGE liquor store and HUGE Loblaws.

Easy as pie to get in and out of the marina. Come in the East Gap of the harbour to avoid dealing with the airport ferry and to give yourself a decently long sail from OP. Technically, you are supposed to motor through the West Gap.

At the marina, stick to the centre of any privately marked channels. In particular the channel in to the fuel dock when you go to check in. There is a nasty shoal on the east side.

I am in the C basin (round back where it's quiet), draw 5'6" and there is only one tricky spot to watch for if they assign you a slip back there. As you enter the basin, you see a collection of old docks tied to the shore on your port side, starboard you will see a steel piling in the water. Keep towards the side with the piling if you draw more than 4' 6" when you are passing those docks.

My boat is "Eclipse" and my transom (as seen in my avatar) is easily seen as you enter the C basin, at the end of the main dock on your portside when you enter. Drop by for a coffee if I am in.
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Old 07-30-2009
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Knowledge doesn't get more local than that!

I agree about that bloody shoal. The water is nearly a metre up from datum, though, so it's a little easier to avoid.
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Old 07-30-2009
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so grateful to be part of this community. thanks so much for your tips and hospitality patrick. we will stop by and say hello. we do draw 5'6" and i was afraid it would be shallow. which makes me nervous. in this case is c basin the best section for us. i would hate to be the newbie who ends up on the lift.
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Old 07-31-2009
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C is the quietest basin (feels like being up north except for seeing the Porter planes coming in and out) but A probably has a little more depth. If your are in fact going this weekend, be advised there is live music at the outdoor bar all 3 nights but the music shuts down at 11pm.

Also be advised that the snack bar is easily overwhelmed if they get more than 3 orders at the same time. A quick plate of fries may not be that quick. I am a cook/co-owner of a restaurant and just can't figure out what the problem is. At least the coffee is mostly acceptable but not for the price. The food isn't bad, in fact breakfast can downright spectacular for a paper plate, but a little pricey. I would get your snacks elsewhere.

Another quick tip. Watch out for ugly tour boats coming out of the channel when headed back into C basin. They do a tour of Long Pond and then head out the channel. Some of them are a decent size. I usually go pretty slow in that channel. My first time going in, a small fleet of Albacores was coming out.
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