First Ever Winter Voyage - March 19th


To my knowledge, today was the earliest in the year we have ever launched the boat (March 19th). Typically on our spot of Lake Ontario, we're still waiting for ice-out day at this time. Since it never actually froze anywhere except for a few sheltered, shallow bays, we didn't have to wait this time.

Despite my fears of the lake levels from the lack of snow, it wasn't too bad. Still about 30cm lower than at the melt last year but much higher than it was at the end of August. It was enough to get the boat into the water and out again without any trouble.

While Matt was working on getting the boat untied, I noticed something in the water. He guessed it was a river otter. You could just see a head and part of its back in the water and it looked about the right length. You don't see them too often around Kingston though, so it may have just as easily been a beaver. Our first signs of wildlife for the year!

The haze over the lake was beautiful, but very cold. We stayed out of the fog because from past experience it's freezing, and I was the only one with a coat (to be fair, I thought I was going to roast – it was over 15 degrees C all day next to the lake). I managed to get a few good pictures though against the sunset.

Once out on the water, we headed down towards a stream where we'd seen fish spawning last year. On the way, there are two marinas, neither of which had any boats in the water yet. The only signs of other boaters were a fishing boat that went in just after we did and a pair of canoeists farther away towing a piece of wayward dock. More on them later. Everything else was still hibernating on shore shrink-wrapped and tarped up for the winter, probably until around May 2-4. It was kind of fun thinking that we're out on the water before almost anyone else. The pleasure of owning a small, trailerable boat.

dozens and dozens of sleeping boats

I was advised to post this picture as well for Matt's friends who went sailing down south.  I believe this is your dock.

We had a look for fish the whole way, and besides the odd suspicious bubble, we didn't have any confirmed sightings. It was a bit early and we knew it but it was worth a shot. This is an area in the summer that is very much alive with fish fry, turtles, herons, gulls, ducks and blackbirds. Even though the air was warm, everything was still dormant though. It is still winter for another 2 days.

On the way back, the paddlers were still having some problems lugging their dock back to their house. It had broken free and drifted off during a wind storm we had here a few weeks ago. We decided to help, took a few different angles on how to tow the thing and eventually after some zig-zagging, they went back to their house and we brought the thing in. Matt had to hold the tow rope himself since Sunset Chaser doesn't have a centre towing hitch. The boat was zig-zagging trying to get the thing to go straight otherwise. 10 minutes later we manage to move the dock the 100 metres from where we took over to the house.

While getting our boat ready to head home, our new friends pointed out a beaver that often came by their place. He swam up within 20 feet of the boat! I was yelling at Matt to look, completely forgetting my camera until he asked me where it was, so the picture sucked. I did get a photo of his back end going into the water though when he noticed we started following him.

It was getting dark and the beaver moved fast.  Pardon the blur.

By the time we got out of the water, the sun was gone, and the fog was diminishing on the deeper part of the lake. You could see the water line below the fog as it was lifting and fading away. If we ever wondered what it was like to boat in March, we discovered today. Though we never would have been able to if it hadn't been so warm this winter.

A parting sunset shot.




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