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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #6
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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Discussion Starter #9
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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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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Discussion Starter #11
my husband is calling the marina today to get the reservation, so i have my fingers crossed....will also keep them crossed for a fleet free passage.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
we just called and it seems they are full. i guess we should have reserved earlier but someone had told us it shouldn't be a problem. in any case we are on a waiting list and are hoping something will open up. are there other places on the island where we could tie up for the day in the event we don't get a spot at the marina?
thanks again for the help. i really do appreciate all the kindness.
 

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Warm Weather Sailor
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You can tie up on the wall at Hanlons, it's the most westerly entrance on the island, just after the airport. First come first served. If you belong to a club you can get a slip at RCYC or IYC or Queen City Yacht Club.
 

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Try Queen City Yacht Club. I don't know their price for non-reciprocal boaters, but it can't be that bad.

Just veer to the left when you go in, as there are shallows in the center. The way is properly buoyed.
 

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We are doing Niagara on the Lake trip every year sometimes 2-3 times per year. It is 5 hour trip sailing in a good wind and 4.5 hour motoring if there is no wind. Niagara on the Lake is a busy place and they don't like visitors for a week. We usually call at 5 miles out and they will invite you to fuel dock and in most cases find place for you. If it's your first time spending a week in Niagara will be ok but after fist time it may get a bit boring. Another place to consider is Port Dalhousie Peer Marina. They are not as nice as Niagara but on the positive side they always have space there so if Niagara for any reason turns you down you can move to Peer Marina for a day or two and come back to Niagara. Another good place to visit is Wilson, NY. We stay at Tuscarora yacht club and it's nice, quiet and in park like settings. If you are with kids you will like it. I would suggest split trip between Niagara and Wilson. Wilson is only 11-12 nm to the east of Niagara.

We have a hunter 29.5 next door to you at TSCC and we just come back from 10 days trip. 5 days Niagara, 1 Youngstown, 2 at Dalhousie and 2 at Wilson NY. Just plan for a good weather window and you will be good. If you leaving in Jul-Aug try to leave early so you get in before any local thunderstorms have time to form.
 

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Ladybo - Do you know about Toronto Harbour Licenses, supposed to have one if you are navigating ANY powered craft within Toronto Harbour authority area (think of it as Leslie st spit to the far side of the Island airport).
Mostly a duplication of the PCOC but with an in water test as well. As long as you can operate a small alum boat with a 9.9hp boat and recover the lost lifejacket without shredding it in the prop,you should pass.
Mostly a PITA and a money grab, but still a requirement for the area.

Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
We are doing Niagara on the Lake trip every year sometimes 2-3 times per year. It is 5 hour trip sailing in a good wind and 4.5 hour motoring if there is no wind. Niagara on the Lake is a busy place and they don't like visitors for a week. We usually call at 5 miles out and they will invite you to fuel dock and in most cases find place for you. If it's your first time spending a week in Niagara will be ok but after fist time it may get a bit boring. Another place to consider is Port Dalhousie Peer Marina. They are not as nice as Niagara but on the positive side they always have space there so if Niagara for any reason turns you down you can move to Peer Marina for a day or two and come back to Niagara. Another good place to visit is Wilson, NY. We stay at Tuscarora yacht club and it's nice, quiet and in park like settings. If you are with kids you will like it. I would suggest split trip between Niagara and Wilson. Wilson is only 11-12 nm to the east of Niagara.

We have a hunter 29.5 next door to you at TSCC and we just come back from 10 days trip. 5 days Niagara, 1 Youngstown, 2 at Dalhousie and 2 at Wilson NY. Just plan for a good weather window and you will be good. If you leaving in Jul-Aug try to leave early so you get in before any local thunderstorms have time to form.

other than passports is there anything else we would need to take if we decide to go to wilson. btw we are probably only going to spend one day at each marina and just take it slow and stop at a few ports to and from ontario place. the kids can't handle a long sail at this point. so it will be baby sails every day ...each day getting us closer....i guess what would also be useful to know is which ports enroute to niagara are the best to experience with kids. thanks again
 

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There is a video reporting station at Wilson. It is way up the creek past the marina by the State park so you'll need a dinghy to get there unless you take your boat up there. There's a few slips in the park usually used by fishermen but enough water for 6 foot draft. As you're over 30 ft you'll need a customs decal. If you don't have one you'll eventually get a bill.
 
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