The last three locks were easy, as far as turbulence goes, and with addition of practice handling the lines we breezed through the remaining 2 or 3 locks. Anticipation and excitement filled the air, as well could see the skyway ahead of us, knowing that we’d soon be in Lake Ontario. The home lake for Mizz Fitz for the next few years, and the gate way to the world and adventure.
However, as normal my adventure to get Mizz Fitz home was not over yet. We get out of the last lock and still have a few more miles to go to get to the Burlington Lift Bridge which allows us into the Hamilton Harbour.
As we go out the Welland canal and under the Garden City Sky-way, we know we are crossing the border into Lake Ontario. A good feeling of accomplishment, where we could all breath a bit of relief, and chat about the events of going through the canal, what worked well what worked not as well. Explaining how we handled the situations, kind of an informal de-briefing. Most of the conversation revolved around the currents, and I think we all agreed that if that is what we went through, coming from Lake Erie, to Lake Ontario, and if it is supposed to be harder going the other way. I think we all agree that none of us would look forward to doing that trip.
Getting into Lake Ontario, we were hit by wind, waves, that made sailing difficult. Keeping the head sail up, for stability, we motored around taking some hammering by the waves. The waves weren’t huge, but enough to let you know they were there. As dusk fell we turned on our running lights, as we motored our way around from Port Weller to the Burlington Lift Bridge almost 30 miles away.
I made a bite to eat for the crew, as we continued to motor, it was a bit cooler with the inclement weather. By the time we got to the lift bridge it was close to dark. We radioed the bridge control, as they open on the half hour to let them know we are interested in going under. The problem is that with a boat such as Mizz Fitz a Whitby 42, it is not like you can just park it, in a confined space. So Kenny our master Helmsman delayed our entrance into the channel until it was time for the bridge to go up. We were doing ‘donuts’ in the water and through the waves. When we got the call we steadied our course and went under the lift bridge. As we did so the waves and wind started to subside, and we cruised in the Hamilton Harbour with ease.
Thinking we done it and all that there was to do is dock. Boy, was I wrong. Not that simple, just like the whole trip. We got to the Hamilton West Harbour, and tried to find the new home for Mizz Fitz. Consulting the letters from the marina, I knew there was break wall issues, I referred to an email and went through the north opening of the break wall, however, Gerry keeping a sharp eye out we noticed some obstructions in the water which we were able to avoid.
I knew it was on the outside. Kenny, with aid from Gerry motored us in deep into the marina, as we looked for my slip. As it turned out Mizz Fitz’s slip was not ready, as there was still challenges for the marina from the wind damage form the spring. Wondering what to do, a voice come from a finger dock. Kevin said, “just park you boat in my mom’s slip, I will meet you there to help you dock”. We follow his directions and managed to turn the boat around in tight quarters and come into the dock and tied up for the night. So after all that I though okay that is the end of the struggles. Well I guess I had one more struggle for the night.
I don’t think any of us ever visited the marina before, so once everything was secure, we packed our stuff, and made our way to the gang way to exit the marina and into the car park. Once in the car park, we didn’t know how to get out, as it is a secure area, especially if you were to take into account the fact that the marina is right beside the Hamilton Police Service Marine Unit Station. Struggling to find a way out as the gates were closed and were activated by an induction loop, to sense a car. We were caught in a dilemma. Well Gerry being the fit guy he is was able to slide under the gate. Kenny being nimble hopped the fence with ease. Me, being neither of those managed to hop the fence right beside the police, in not so glamorous way. I was waiting to be captured and questioned. Incidentally, keeping in mind that we were trying to escape in the dark, but I found a switch a few days later to open the gate.
So in hind sight I got a lot of ‘lessons learned’ from this trip. I think the biggest one is that, the “devastating moments in life” will, in time, become a memory. I know now that I should listen to my inner self a little more. That I have good friends, kind of always knew that. I learned the lesson in persistence, “three feet from gold”, first hand (google it, three feet from gold Napoleon Hill). I also learned that I have a lot to learn!
Join me next week when we meet the neighbours, and how grateful I am for the sailing community.
I would just like to thank Gerry K and Kenny K, as well as Paul W, and my son Johnny. For helping me get Mizz Fitz to her home port.
I couldn’t do it without you guys. Tanx!