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Old 18-12-2011, 08:33   #1
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Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Hello,

I'm new to this group, so please forgive me if I've posted this thread in the wrong forum.

Next year we're interested in sailing around Lake Ontario in our 1973 MacGregor Venture 222. I'm having some difficulty finding information or stories about a trip like this on the internet. I'm sure lots of people do it each year.

Questions:

1) What is the average time to circumnavigate the lake (we're in no rush)?

2) We're starting at the Port of Newcastle (an hour East of Toronto). Is it best to start off heading East or West, or does it matter?

3) Does anyone have any knowledge/experience with 22' MacGregor's in rough conditions? Will they readily "knock-down" or are they pretty resilient/stable?

Thank you in advance for any information and/or advice.

Cheers,

Peter & Jill
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Old 18-12-2011, 11:36   #2
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Quote:
Originally Posted by pklose View Post
Hello,

I'm new to this group, so please forgive me if I've posted this thread in the wrong forum.

Next year we're interested in sailing around Lake Ontario in our 1973 MacGregor Venture 222. I'm having some difficulty finding information or stories about a trip like this on the internet. I'm sure lots of people do it each year.

Questions:

1) What is the average time to circumnavigate the lake (we're in no rush)?

2) We're starting at the Port of Newcastle (an hour East of Toronto). Is it best to start off heading East or West, or does it matter?

3) Does anyone have any knowledge/experience with 22' MacGregor's in rough conditions? Will they readily "knock-down" or are they pretty resilient/stable?

Thank you in advance for any information and/or advice.

Cheers,

Peter & Jill
1) It will take as long as you want. The Lake Ontario 300 race is...you guessed it...about 300 nautical miles, but pulling into harbours every 20 NM of the way would increase the time spent.

2) It doesn't matter with the proviso that if you go to (generally) windward by heading to Toronto/Hamilton/Niagara on the Lake, you will spend time first in Canadian waters with far more "outs" as the Canadian population and viable harbours for your boat greatly exceeds that of the north shore of New York State. So if you are not overly experienced, you can hole up in more places. Also, the winds can be weaker on the U.S. side in summer (my experience) and yet still be westerly. I would prefer to broad reach on the American side and pop into the five or so places you might enjoy. Get "PORTS: Lake Ontario" for guidance here, and download the U.S. Lake Ontario chart for planning purposes/distances.

3) Macgregor has a mixed rep, frankly, and I don't know much about the Mac 22. "Resilient and stable" are not the first things that occur to me, but I am affected by a close examination of the Mac 26X "powerboat with a mast", which is a big bag of compromises I do not care for.

I do know that 22 feet for a couple is very snug, and that Lake Ontario can get very nasty in the summer pretty quickly. You would be well advised to carry enough battery capacity to keep nav lights working (I assume you have an outboard, so this might require planning) as it may make more sense to do a leg overnight if the next day looks stormy. You also need a way to charge up a GPS, two DSC-capable handhelds (get an MMSI #) and maybe a wind-up radio as you must, at 22 feet and little experience, keep right on top of the weather and get out early.

To that end, you should have reasonable ground tackle. If it's a short keel or a centerboard sailboat, you can practically get inshore and beach it in an emergency (get out and wade/walk). More to the point, you can anchor behind a point of land in six feet or less (usually) safely. That's a big advantage. Better, however, to be at a YC mooring or a visitor's dock if squalls are passing through. Your boat will seem very lively at 20 knots apparent wind.

4) Take courses, like the CPS 12-week "Boating" course, over the winter. Also consider the Radio Operator's Certificate course and a coastal pilotage course. "How to fix your outboard" knowledge is pretty useful, too, as you might have lots of dead air you'd rather motor through. That means you have to have the engine in excellent shape and to know how to do "at sea" servicing as needed. Plus clean fuel, safely stowed.

Your ambitions are fairly advanced here, to judge by your questions, but there's no reason to assume you couldn't handle this over two or even three weeks of point to point. Be aware, however, that you can only sail maybe 50 NM of distance from dawn to dusk and that you REALLY have to watch for weather windows.

Lastly, you need your passports and some kind of CANPASS/NEXUS documentation so that the USCG doesn't think you're terrorists and/or Charlie Sheen.

Fair winds!
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Old 18-12-2011, 11:56   #3
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Like Alchemy said, a 22 foot sailboat is going to be a bit of a rough ride in 20+ winds.

If you head East, you can sail through The Bay of Quinte and Picton. More navigation to deal with, and lots of shallow water, but not too much of big deal with your shallow draft. And while you still get most of the wind, you won't get the waves. So it will be much more pleasant on the body. And you can barbecue while you sail. Maybe! You'll have more places to anchor at night as well.

A 10 day around cruise around Prince Edward County and back to Newcastle might be enough. Don't feel you have to go all the way around the lake just because it's there.
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Old 18-12-2011, 12:29   #4
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

That's true. I haven't been into Newcastle for years because the depth is a little tight for me, but with Cobourg (nice), Brighton (nice) and the Murray and beyond so close, this is definitely a better and more sheltered "practice" area than going right out into the lake.

I concur: Do this first. You could spend a summer just exploring between Newcastle and Kingston. Get a light NE, and you could return from Main Duck across "the front" of P.E. County and back to Newcastle.

But you need to be able to spot marker buoys in Bay of Quinte and Presqu'ile, even with a shallow draft.
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Old 18-12-2011, 14:09   #5
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You may consider joining The Great Lakes Cruising Club. (there are annual fees around $100ish to this but I hear it's a good resource.)

http://www.glcclub.com/about

SC
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Old 22-12-2011, 08:14   #6
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Wow, thanks everyone for your feedback! What a great community! Alchemy, wonderful detailed response!

I'm new to sailing, however, my partner has been sailing her entire life and races at Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club in Toronto. However, she has never been on a long excursion where she is the "Captain" (I'm "Gilligan").

I just finished my online course for my Pleasure Craft Operator's Card and we both just got our Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) through the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron. We're taking another course through them this winter to learn about navigating, etc. It's all very exciting.

One of the main reasons we purchased the MacGregor was the swing keel. She has a 1.5 draught, which is both fun and handy. Port of Newcastle is very shallow, mainly used by fishing boats, but the amenities (such as spacious free parking) is great! And there is never a crowd. We also live about 15 minutes away. Convenient.

Because of the swing keel, we've been able to sail her up small rivers and tributaries, beach her to stretch our legs (yup, she's a bit small)... the versatility is great. However, we've never sailed her in adverse weather. Like Alchemy recommended, we'll keep a close eye on the weather and get out of dodge at the first sign of trouble.

Based on everyone's response, I think we'll try a few short trips East and gradually extend our excursions. Thanks again!

Cheers,

Peter and Jill
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Old 15-02-2012, 19:17   #7
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Hi,

I'm new to this forum as well. I am, too, looking into circumnavigating lake Ontario next summer. I would appreciate any tips, advices. Is it better to go clockwise or not? Any good spots to anchor? We plan a 4 week trip. 1 week to get to the lake from Quebec city, 2 weeks on the lake and 1 week to get back. I've done the Lake Ontario to Quebec city leg twice so I know what to expect on that part but the lake itself is totally new for me. Things I like to see are the sand banks, Toronto arean, Niagara falls. Is there any other spots a must see?
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Old 16-02-2012, 08:10   #8
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Quote:
Originally Posted by pklose View Post
Wow, thanks everyone for your feedback! What a great community! Alchemy, wonderful detailed response!

I'm new to sailing, however, my partner has been sailing her entire life and races at Ashbridge's Bay Yacht Club in Toronto. However, she has never been on a long excursion where she is the "Captain" (I'm "Gilligan").

I just finished my online course for my Pleasure Craft Operator's Card and we both just got our Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) through the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron. We're taking another course through them this winter to learn about navigating, etc. It's all very exciting.

One of the main reasons we purchased the MacGregor was the swing keel. She has a 1.5 draught, which is both fun and handy. Port of Newcastle is very shallow, mainly used by fishing boats, but the amenities (such as spacious free parking) is great! And there is never a crowd. We also live about 15 minutes away. Convenient.

Because of the swing keel, we've been able to sail her up small rivers and tributaries, beach her to stretch our legs (yup, she's a bit small)... the versatility is great. However, we've never sailed her in adverse weather. Like Alchemy recommended, we'll keep a close eye on the weather and get out of dodge at the first sign of trouble.

Based on everyone's response, I think we'll try a few short trips East and gradually extend our excursions. Thanks again!

Cheers,

Peter and Jill
Peter/Gilligan: Good for you. I would work with the idea that in an emergency, you have the ability to actually beach the MacGregor and tie the bow to a rock or a tree. Patching a few dings in fibreglass is a small price to be safe.

Doing so in heavy surf would be problematic, but the "get out and walk" scenario is not a bad option if the alternative is a capsize in 35-50 knots in a squall. Besides, the rough summer weather tends to run at 90 degrees to the shoreline, so it is quite possible to deke into a creek or around a small headwind to get out of the rough stuff.

In other words, you work with what you've got. Ashbridge's is very sheltered, so you guys (who are on the right track with your studies) should try to get out past the end of the Spit (or a mile off Newcastle) to experience short chop from the west, longer chop from the east, effects of reefing, board up, board down, if hiking out is possible and desirable and so on. Trying this at 12 knots, 16 knots, 20 knots and so on will quickly show you the limits of the boat and the limits of the crew. They are not necessarily at the same point.

The point is to enjoy yourself. A small boat has limitations, sure, but you likely get off the dock or mooring or anchor or trailer a lot faster than a bigger boat does. More time for sailing!
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Old 16-02-2012, 08:17   #9
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

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Originally Posted by Wind Spirit IV View Post
Hi,

I'm new to this forum as well. I am, too, looking into circumnavigating lake Ontario next summer. I would appreciate any tips, advices. Is it better to go clockwise or not? Any good spots to anchor? We plan a 4 week trip. 1 week to get to the lake from Quebec city, 2 weeks on the lake and 1 week to get back. I've done the Lake Ontario to Quebec city leg twice so I know what to expect on that part but the lake itself is totally new for me. Things I like to see are the sand banks, Toronto arean, Niagara falls. Is there any other spots a must see?
You should buy a "master" Lake Ontario paper chart, a copy of Lake Ontario sailing directions, and the latest edition of "PORTS: Lake Ontario edition". Consulting all of them (and using a reliable handheld GPS) gives you 95% of the information you'll need.

To go into U.S. waters, you'll need a CANPASS/NEXUS document, obtained from U.S. officials at airport customs stations. It's not remotely casual as in the past.

Many people find the Thousand Islands area and the Bay of Quinte "inner passage" very scenic. You'll need bulletproof ground tackle.

Clockwise or anti- is up to you. I would want to "warm up to the lake by sailing to windward on the south side, personally, because I would prefer to broad reach from Hamilton back to the St. Lawrence, myself.
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Old 16-02-2012, 09:49   #10
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Thanks again for this helpful information! Right now we're in the middle of a boating navigation course- interesting stuff! We're definitely looking forward to getting out of the classroom and into the water this summer!
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Old 16-02-2012, 14:51   #11
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Peter & Jill, and Wind Spirit IV.
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Old 20-02-2012, 18:26   #12
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
You should buy a "master" Lake Ontario paper chart, a copy of Lake Ontario sailing directions, and the latest edition of "PORTS: Lake Ontario edition". Consulting all of them (and using a reliable handheld GPS) gives you 95% of the information you'll need.

To go into U.S. waters, you'll need a CANPASS/NEXUS document, obtained from U.S. officials at airport customs stations. It's not remotely casual as in the past.

Many people find the Thousand Islands area and the Bay of Quinte "inner passage" very scenic. You'll need bulletproof ground tackle.

Clockwise or anti- is up to you. I would want to "warm up to the lake by sailing to windward on the south side, personally, because I would prefer to broad reach from Hamilton back to the St. Lawrence, myself.
Thank you very for these advices. I was aware of the Lake Ontario edition of PORTS but you got my attention on the saling directions and the documents needed to get into US waters. The latest edition of PORTS I was able able to find is 2008. Are you aware of any newer version?

And clockwise it'll be...

Look for Wind Spirit next summer!

Jeff.
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Old 20-02-2012, 23:42   #13
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

This is now fairly old but still useful: Sailing Directions: Lake Ontario by Canadian Hydrographic Service

The latest "PORTS: Lake Ontario" is, as you've said, dated 2008.

I encourage people considering this trip to take coastal navigation for the ability to get through tight spots, dead batteries in the GPS or skinny water, and to obtain their ROC (M) cards with the DSC cert, meaning you have to get a (free) MMSI. Although it's rare to travel outside of VHF range, it can get nasty, dark, foggy, etc. out there and you should have all communication options available.

I also encourage talking to as many people as possible. I think I give useful advice, but I'm just a bunch of characters on a screen...I could live in an iron lung for all you know...so ask around. You may find little places only the locals know that really please you.
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Old 21-02-2012, 05:04   #14
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Re: Circumnavigating Lake Ontario

The Great Lakes Cruising Club also has a great Port Pilot
The Great Lakes Cruising Club
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