Is summer flying by for you this year because it is for me.
We are already in the 3rd quarter of July and I feel that spring had just started yesterday. It is amazing how fast time goes by when your busy.
It seems like a few weeks ago I had just decided to purchase the old Salty Dog but in reality that was about 7 months ago this past January, I had worked on her over the winter, cleaning her up to get ready for spring. She has proven to be a project but one that I feel I must see through to the end and I am determined to get Old Salty Dog back in top working order and feel she will be a great family vessel when I am finished with her.
I just pulled her out of the water yesterday and she had gone to get re-fitted with a new (to her ) motor, (a 305 Merc Cruiser) This will essentially give her entirely new guts,
In addition I have outfitted her with new florescent green lights and a new deck around the wheelhouse as some of the decking was rotted out in one corner. No more ripped carpet for this old girl. Maybe next year I’ll redo the upholstery
Then I started working in Febuary at a new job for the MTO (ministry Of Transportation Of Ontario) on the Glenora Ferryboat, out of Picton, this job has been great so far, it is forcing me to get my excercise which I had been neglecting for, well, I’m too embarrassed to say lol. Also it has been a steady source of income and I have met some great people and made some awsome new friends.
With school ending back in June for my 2 boys one of whom just graduated highschool and will be going to college this fall, there has been a tonne of prep work and getting him ready to leave home in just a few weeks from now to go live at the schools campus. It is an exciting and exhausting time getting him ready to become an independent individual lol.
And through all this I have just taken on another (very part time) position on a dive boat out of Waupoose Ontario.
This is a very interesting position as a Captain of a dive boat, especially as I am not a diver myself. I felt I just wanted to be taking people on guided adventures again since I am no longer running a fishing charter and I miss taking clients out in this fashion. I still need to do a short course in order to take this position officially but I will make sure it is done shortly and will be taking clients out soon. The company (in case anyone is curious or wants to book an adventure ) is at the following website
Hi folks, do you live in southern Ontario in close vicinity to Lake Ontario and or the Saint Lawrence River? If so then you have probably been effected by the rising water levels of our water ways in one form or another.
If you follow my blog or any of my social media platforms then you are probably aware that I basically live on the water lol, (at least that is what my wife tells people). If I’m not working on a boat I am spending time on our personal boat our out fishing with friends and or family. Most of my water activities are spent on the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River system.
Back in 2017 Lake Ontario, and the St Lawrence, saw some of the highest water levels it has ever witnessed on record. The levels reached a staggering 83cm above the average water level for this time of year.
Now just 2 years later and we are currently sitting at 76cm above the average for this time of year, (or for those of you that know what I’m talking about lol, 1.632 Meters above Chart Datum as of 16:00hrs this afternoon), and it is still rising. We are not expecting the levels to stabilize over the coming weeks and in other articles I’ve read, predictions are that we will see at least another 10cm to 12cm before levels begin to level off and start to receed.
It is expected that once again we will see record breaking water levels due to the excessive water flow comming over Niagara Falls from Lake Erie. Along with some very rainy weather we’ve had this spring. Niagara Falls let’s in %83 to %85 of the inflow to lake Ontario the remainder is from the tributaries leading to the lake.
In 2017 the levels across lake Ontario and the St Lawrence river decimated some waterfront properties and washed away shorelines right across the southern part of the province.
Fish habitat was disturbed, fish were found in water treatment facilities and in some cases were found swimming along flooded streets and public parks that had been submerged. The water levels this year are going to get even higher.
People have been stating to me that they don’t understand why the province won’t open the dams along the St Lawrence so that Lake Ontario will settle down a bit? Well the best answer that I have seen is as follows
– The great lakes basin, the Ottawa river, and the St Lawrence River, all merge in Montreal Harbor. The levels in Montreal have already exceeded the record water levels, set in 2017. For every 1 inch that the Iroquois, and Massena Dams allow lake Ontario to drain, it will increase the water levels in Montreal, (and further down the St Lawrence river) by 11 inches. Montreal and further down river are already in some major flooding problems of their own so we simply cannot allow any more flow out of the lake than what we are already letting loose.
I know around my home territory, in the Quinte region, businesses and properties are in desperate need for the levels to drop. However, I fear the increase in levels will be getting quite a bit worse before it gets better
I know at work, the levels are taking its toll on the locals, as even the slightest east wind now can affect the Glenora Ferry service. People in the area depend on this service to get them to and from work, taking them from the island to the mainland and back again. Businesses in the area depend on the ferry to allow their clients to be able to get to their locations, especially this time of year. if the ferry has to shut Down for any length of time, it can be devastating.
Businesses close to the water in the area are getting flooded out. The Picton Harbour Inn, (in Picton), have seen their docks starting to go under water, as well as their parking lot area has just started to get its first sign of flooding. The INN has placed water barrels along the docks in an attempt to hold the docks down and not RIP them out of place. So far this tactic has worked but if the water raises much more I’m afraid it may not be enough.
All the marinas and Yaught clubs in the Picton area are fighting to keep their docks afloat and their boaters from leaving.
Boaters are not putting their boats in the water yet due to the levels, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars worth of expected income to these marinas for this time of year, not to mention possibly costing tens of thousands in repairs to equipment and the docks themselves. This is most likely indicative of all the areas that line the shores of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence river throughout the province.
Last week I did put my boat in the water and it was quite the adventure to say the least (link to blog https://oldsaltydog.blog/2019/05/20/the-inaugural-voyage-part-2/ ) however what I noticed was all the debris in the lake, from trees, and garbage to lumber and even an overturned row boat that someone probably had on shore ready to use this summer floating down stream. I mean sure there is usually some branches/ tree stumps, and things like that during the spring time, but there has been an unusual amount of other debris this year as well.
I hope for everyone affected by the water levels this year that it all turns out ok in the end, if you are putting a boat in the water soon, please take extra care and look out for that debris that can really put a damper in your day.
Also let me know in the comment section what you think of my blog.
It was Sunday May 19th the day had finally arrived. I gathered a couple of my neighbors and good friends Rob, Mike, and, Pete to assist me in the first ever voyage of the Salty Dog. Mike unfortunately, was unable to make the voyage, however was able to assist in the launch of the vessel by using his truck which was much more capable than mine.
We still needed to test a few vitals of the boat, and I wanted to give her a good run as to test her abilities. I figured a 3 hour, 35 mile tour should be a decent test for the old girl, and little did I know just how right I was.
Well of course and just as expected, nothing was going to plan. After a few quick tests and trying to get the vessel running prior to taking her to the lake we find out that the ignition coil was defective. Should be an easy fix right? Nope, wrong.
With not much in the way of stores being open on a Sunday of a long weekend we had no choice but to start harvesting coils from other sources. We tried getting one off Mikes boat. It was the wrong size. We tried going to Mike’s shop. He had a brand new one there, It too was broken, we thought one might be over in Robs garage, it wasn’t. Canadian Tire was open, but they were sold out. Part source in Bellwville had what we needed AND, was open. Rob hopped on his Motorcycle and was off to get the part.
After a couple hours, Rob returned with the part. We got it installed quickly along with a couple sparkplugs and we were off to a nearby river to try and get the old girl started. A few tries, and SUCCESS, Salty Dog started, and actually sounded pretty good.
It was now after 2pm and getting late in the day, but I still had a bit of hope that we would still get Salty Dog launched this day.
Once in Deseronto, we launched old Salty Dog for the first time.
We gently lowered old Salty in the water and checked for leaks in the engine compartment below deck. So far so good. No water, “well, thats a good sign” I thought to myself as I let out a rather large sigh. Next was a test run around the Bay surrounding Deseronto. To the bridge, a few circles (testing the steering) and then back to the launch again.
My wife and Robs wife were standing on the dock when we returned. You would think this was because they came in support to see the launch right? Nope, it was because I was an idiot and forgot my keys for the car I left at our destination the night before so we could get back home once we got to the marina, and had to call my wife to come and drop them off to me before we left for our journey. LOL.
A good 15 minutes or so of looking around and last second adjustments and Salty Dog was good to go, she was all warmed up, one last check in the engine room and POOF, we found water . Wait what? Where did that water come from? It wasn’t much but enough that had me a little concerned lol. Well that’s what these tests are for right?
Now thinking (do I put her back on the trailer and pull her out of the water again?) “Hell’s no! “. (Lol) not for a dribble of water anyway. I call to my now “engineer” (Rob) who was directly beside me, a quick diagnosis of what it was? Tightened a loose hose clamp, and there was a very slow drip from a bolt on the housing, “PHEW”, (almost lost my Kool there), anyway no big deal. So we started off on our days journey. It was now 330pm and we had a 3 to 4 hour tour ahead of us.
Just as were were getting started a coworker Erin, messaged me asking how the voyage was going? “We were just starting” I told her. and since Mike wasn’t able to make the trip I had an extra spot so I offered Erin a spot aboard, and we picked her up on route 10 miles ahead of our starting spot at the public launch over at the Glenora Ferry docks. A quick stop to let Erin Aboard and we continued on our journey.
At this point the vessel was running very smoothly. I had noticed once we tried getting the boat on plane, she seemed a tad sluggish but I chocked that up to some old gas and full tanks of fuel along with a 4 man crew now making the vessel quite heavy. Anyway I didn’t pay much attention to that at this point.
After about an hour of slowly cruising at about 8 knots east in adolphus Reach towards the Gap. (The Gap is an opening in the Bay Of Quinte, between Picton County and Amerst Island, that allows access to Lake Ontario.) I thought it a good idea to take a couple pictures of the group. So I stopped the boat and positioned us to what I thought would be a good photo. Lined the gang on the back deck and as I was about to take the shot, everyone was leaning on the back rail and , SNAP. The rail gave way and all three passengers fell backwards into the lake. Rob did a backwards summersalt hitting his back off the swim platforms ladder, Erin’s legs and hands trying desperately to cling onto the side of the boat and not fall into the freezing 54° water, well she couldn’t hold on for long and (SPLASH) into the lake she went. And Pete fell backwards breaking our flag pole and landing right onto the swim platform. Peter really didn’t get too wet.
I quickly went and turned the engine off as everyone was right around the prop the I went to see if everyone was ok. I could reach Erin who was gasping for air, so I grabbed her arm and pulled her up on the swim deck Pete was already in the boat and then I went to give rob a hand but he was half way up on the platform already Pete was busy trying to salvage the broke handrail LOL. Everyone was safe and so I figured now was a great time for a photo OP, not really the one I was looking for originally, but this will do nicely LOL
After a couple moments to make sure everyone was ok and to stop laughing uncontrollably at the situation we got everyone out of their wet clothing and into dry ones. Ok now it’s time to just get to our destination I think.
I go to start the motor back up, and nothing. Now were dead in the water. A soaking wet and shaking cold Rob was quick to have a look at the motor we used ether to get the motor started, something I never want to do but it was necessary to just get going at this point, once she started we were on the road, or water I guess, once again. I got the boat up on plane, and this time and cruised at a cool 30mph on the way to our destination to Waupoose Marina.
Now 730 PM and just pulling into the marina we pulled up to my slip and there is a nice 35 foot cruiser beside where I need to park. No problem. I pull up so I could back into the slip and when I try going into reverse, nothing, she quit on me again. I tried to start her, and nothing again. Rob once again on his belly almost hanging upside Down took only seconds to get her going once again. And we backed into the slip, shut her down, tied her off and the inaugural trip had come to an end.
So I guess she’s not perfect, but that’s to be expected of a 1979 boat I guess. So looking back on this Inaugural voyage.
A bit of a rough start I know, Some forgotten keys, a broken rail, a missing flag pole, a motor that needs some TLC, there is a very slow drip into the engine compartment that I must fix ASAP, A trip that should have been a total of 5 hours door to door ended up being 11.5hrs, and to top it all off, I only dropped 3 out of 3 passengers into the lake on the first trip out. (SIGH) I now have some fixing to do but all in all it was an adventure and a memory of a life time LOL this is exactly what Salty Dog was meant to do. (Create Memmories) now let’s hope the next trip is a bit less memorable lol.
Hello everyone. I have been off writing lately since the fiasco that happened with my charter vessel in 2017.
Last year had an interesting start for my family and I. As most of you that follow my blog posts may remember, my family and I had a crazy season in 2017. I was away from them for most of the year while I guided up in Northern Ontario at a fly-in fishing resort called Slippery Winds. I then embarked on a cross country adventure fishing from province to province to help raise money for a great charity called, Feed My Starving Children. Once that was done in late August to early September I headed home to help on the build site of our new home as our family was chosen to partner up with Habitat for Humanity earlier on in the year.
Then, in the Fall of 2017, I started chatting with the CEO of St Lawrence cruise lines about working on the ship I worked on back in 2016, ( The Canadian Empress) As some of you may recall the blogs I had written about working on the Canadian Empress back in 2016, I wrote a short 5 part series. If you would like to recap about my adventures? Then before reading any further then please go ahead and read the series again and come back to this blog for the continuation LOL. they start at the following link.
in January of (2018) I had been in contact with St Lawrence Cruise Lines about a possible job position and returning to the company for that up coming season. After respectfully declining a position offered to me to come back to the ship as a deckhand I was presented an offer I felt was hard to refuse. Mr Clark had offered me the position of First Mate/1st Officer putting the stripes on my arm I had hoped for when I left the ship in 2016. under a few conditions, 1st I must complete the courses required over the winter months in a timely manner. these courses were as follows,
1- Marine First Aid , SEN-1 or Simulated Electronic Navigation, MED-A2, 2 written tests from Transport Canada, A Collisions regulations Exam, and a Seamanship Exam. after that I had to Take a Medical by a physician where I had to perform the dreaded “COUGH” test LOL, now once I completed all this I was still 3 months short on my local sea-time so I was forced to find the captain I had worked for, (over 20 years ago) out of Aberdeen Scotland, and get him to sign proper documentation called, a testimony of Sea service. This is required by Transport Canada in order to have enough sea time required to be able to take the position in the first place. NO PROBLEM LOL.
Let me back up a bit as per the regulations in order to run a commercial charter fishing business, in Ontario, I needed several courses in order to become the captain of a small vessel and be able to take paying clientele out on water for excursions. I was under the assumption that some of the courses I already had would have sufficed for the position I was now looking to fill, however I was very wrong, I needed upgrades to my MED certificate, an upgrade to my First Aid certificate, and other than my marine radio license I did not have 1 correct certificate for the position. Nor did the 6 years of experience running a commercial fishing charter business on Lake Ontario and the Bay Of Quinte go towards any of my documented and registered sea-time that Transport Canada would consider to be good enough for the position I was now faced with.
Transport Canada would only take sea-time if the vessel I worked on was over a specific size and or weight. I had received testimonials from several separate commercial fishing boat captains within Canadian waters however Transport Canada would not recognize them as registered sea-time because the vessels were just shy of the minimum tonnage required. This left only 1 more option for me to be able to get my registered time required, in order to accept the position for the 2018 season on the Canadian Empress. I needed the testimonial of a captain I worked for over 20 years ago in Aberdeen Scotland. when I was approx 20 years of age.
In March 1997 I found myself travelling around Europe, I was in Aberdeen Scotland at the time, and was on the last of the money I had to my name, I was down on my luck, broke, and homeless. I decided to spend the last of my funds on a half decent hotel, then as I passed a street kid on my way into town to get a bite to eat, I thought to my self, should I give this pan handler the rest of my cash for what would I do with 20 quid ($35 Canadian dollars) anyway? Then It hit me, I’d offer the guy a meal instead.
I remember taking the stranger to get a Burger-King meal and then to a pub to share a couple pints with him. After that I would not even have enough for a meal the following day. I remember telling the man that I would be seeing him the next day on the streets and asked him if he had any tips for me on how to beg for money, remember I was going to be a newbe LOL.
I remember the bewildered look on the mans face as he couldn’t help but to ask, why had I spent the last of my funds on him? I remember telling him that I truly believe in this saying, “what goes around, comes around”, meaning if I helped him ( a man down on his luck) that someone may do the same for me as I was surly going to need a miracle soon if I were to get out of my current situation, LOL.
As it turns out, the next morning I woke up , it was my 18th birthday, and it was early, around 4am (ish). To this day I wonder why I spent the last of my cash on a hotel if I was just going to wake up so early and leave the hotel anyway’s. I remember a good friend Of mine that told me when he was desparate for cash he would go to the fishing boats and look for work. he told me it was such a crummy job that they were usually short handed and would take new guys all the time.
I decided to head down to the local wharf to see if anyone was willing to take an “inexperienced” young man to sea with them? That morning I had no luck getting a job, however, the last boat I had asked also said they were not looking for help either, so I asked him if I could just come aboard for the experience? The Captain said “sure why not”, and on the ship I got with my nap sack full of all my belongings and an ever slowly growing hunger.
the day was a fast wake up call, the sea was angry, the boat tossed like a kids toy in a bath tub. the catch was small, not too many boxes in the hold. I could feel the tension and the stress of the Captain. he was not willing to chat too much and gave very short answers to any questions I had, if I was lucky enough to even get an answer, most of the time it was a short grunt under his breath. I decided to try and give a hand in gutting and sorting fish throughout the day on deck as the captains helper seemed much more willing to chat.
On the way home to port we were listening to vessels over the radio being asked to anchor outside the harbor as the seas were too rough for them to enter. I was getting excited that we might have to spend the night on the water as I had no place to go to anyway, and it might be an opportunity to lay my head down for the night. Well no such luck, My captain was too experienced, the harbor master gave the OK for Captain Gordon Penny of the BOY GORDON, to make his way through the seas into the harbor. all I remember is looking out the windows holding on to whatever wouldn’t move and seeing nothing but Sky, then nothing but SEA, as we rode each wave up and down getting closer to the entrance to the harbor. Now for the most exciting part, and really this is where the rest of my memory gets a bit hazy, but as we were abreast of the Lighthouse just entering the harbor walls to either side of us, a Gigantic swell picked up the 30 plus tonne vessel as if it was as light as a feather and we rode that wave in like a surfboard until we were several hundred meters into the harbor and back in protected waters. I looked at the Captain and asked if that was a normal day on the water? I got another grunt and we went to his slip, tied off the ship and we were done for the day.
realizing all of a sudden that I was in the same situation I had been in that morning with no money, food, or a place to sleep, a miracle did happen.
As the day was coming to a close and I was helping the deckhand (a 45 year old gentleman), clean the remainder of the days catch. I told him my story and what I was doing in Scotland and that this had been a perfect way to spend my 18th birthday. The deckhand read between the lines of my story and then he offered me a place to stay for the night, at his flat, that he shared with 2 other roommates. Of course I took him up on his offer and went home with the guy LOL.
Over the night the deckhand, myself and the one of his roommates sat down, shared some stories, and drank some suds. By morning I got woken up by the deckhand of the Boy Gordon He asked me if I wanted his job. A bit confused, and still half tipsy from the night before, he told me if I wanted it then I’d have to get my rear end to the boat ASAP, he had a bicycle for me to use and after the day’s work I could come back to the flat and could continue to use the room they had empty until HIS other roommate comes back from working on an off shore drilling rig in a week or so.
It was too good to be true, or at least it seemed. I hopped on the guys bike and rode to the Boat to let the Captain know that his deckhand would not be joining him that day, and if he wanted a hand that I would be more than happy to give it to him. The Captain stuck for help told me to get in and we quickly untied the vessel and headed out to sea once again.
Now I stayed with this captain for the next 9 months before I decided it was time for me to get back to Canada and start my next adventure in life, Of course I have many a story to tell about the days on a fishing trawler in Scotland however that is for another blog. (LOL)
Any way the point to this story is this, Now this past spring it took everything I had to try and find this captain I had once worked for all those years ago. The Captain responsible for my first introduction not only to commercial fishing, but my first introduction to a life at sea.
I started by calling the port authority’s in Aberdeen, they gave me the name of the captain I was looking for however they gave me no other information. I started looking at all the Gordon Penny’s I could find on line and called every one of them until I eventually got a hit and found the right individual I had worked for on the old Boy Gordon over 22 years ago.
now after explaining my situation to my old Skipper he agreed to sign the document I desperately needed for my new position for the 2018 season aboard the Canadian Empress. now I’m not going to pretend there wern’t any problems with this plan, like trying to get an old fishing captain to give a s_it about a deckhand he had over 20 years prior, or the fact that the Captain was a busy individual still fishing and really wasn’t too into modern technology to figure out how to fax a document to me, that’s right we did this the old fashioned way, Air-mail. I sent him the document, and he signed it (eventually ) and then took a picture of it and sent it to me through messenger. LOL. I actually took the photo to the ministry and told them the original was on its way, they said when they got the original that I would finally get the registered time I needed. all sounds great right? well I did not take into count that my old captain thought the picture was good enough and did not actually send the original backto me.
A few weeks went by I called the ex captain again and asked where the original Document was? and without hesitation he said quite happily ” it was somewhere on his desk”. might I mention that our season was to start in a week from this time.
anyway long story short(end), the document arrived approx 1 week after the start to our season here in Ontario and lucky for me that The St Lawrence Cruise Lines had enough faith in me that they held my position open for me until I had all my papers in order, but until then I would not have my stripes.
After the papers were in order and a thorough walk around and practical examination on board the Empress performed by Transport Canada, I received my Mates Limited over 60 Tonne Licence and was ready to accept my stripes as a new 1st Mate aboard the Canadian Empress. Just in time too for the 3rd trip of the season was commencing and it was my scheduled time to be on board.
So the year has been an eye opener to say the least. As a deckhand I was not aware of the management side of the opperation so this season has been a bit of a shocker LOL, nothing I can’t seem to handle mind you but a wake up call for sure. Now I have been a manager of a large organization in the past and had over 30 employees under my watch. I have run my own landscaping company in a busy city environment with over 8 people to oversee at one time, so I did not think that Managing 2 deckhands of a vessel would pose much of a problem if I were to be completely honest. Well it took its toll on me to say the least lol.
Working on the water is much different than being on land and being on a vessel away from home for a week at a time isn’t for everyone, thats for sure. so to go over some of the challenges at sea on a small cruise line just to paint a picture for you.
1st even though most of the individuals hired (not only on this cruise line but on most I’m sure), have some great experience in their respected fields, it can be a much different experience when you go to sea. What people don’t take into account when applying for and accepting these types of jobs are as follows.
1st you basically live at work for the period of time that your trip is designated for, in our case it is usually 1 week at a time before you get a week off. this means at the start of the season you are essentially living with strangers in a very confined space with nowhere to escape to. secondly – time off, or off duty time, means you are still at work with no personal space to unwind before the start of your next shift, 3rd – basically if your eyes are open, and you are on the boat, then you are effectively – ON DUTY. Off duty time only happens if there are no real apparent problems happening and is a shceduled time off for the individual, or you are sleeping.
Now there are many other Items I could list to take into account before you take a job position on a cruise ship but It would be a very long list lol.
Now moving forward into 2019. Although I had plans of returning to the Canadian Empress this year, it seems once again I have made a move and changed jobs once again. At least this time I believe I have made a lateral change and started a position on the Glenora Ferry out of Picton Ontario as a 1st mate once again.
This is a government position and the vessel runs year round and is not just a seasonal boat.Stay tuned for more story telling adventures as I move forward as a mariner in southeastern Ontario.