Trenton to Napanee

Starting to realize that most sailboat owners are crazy. When I get up, most of the boats we saw docked the night before are all packed up and have left well before 7am. Lori and the kids are usually still sleeping at this time.

I went for a morning jog (OK I’m crazy, in my own ways) and picked up some groceries, milk and eggs. Had some time to get the Raymarine all programmed for our trip today. We are heading up the Napanee River. We’ve had several people mention this trip as being different from most places and involves motoring up the river.

We left Trenton without incident, under motor for the first bit to get through the narrow parts and then put up the sails.

Best sail ever

After passing Belleville, there’s a large open area called the Bay of Quinte. We had some  strong winds from South kicking up Whitecaps. With wind coming at us about 60 degrees off the bow the boat gave us a good 6 knots while staying mostly upright and stable. It was the best sail we’ve had on this boat.

Running free

Sailed under last bridge with wind directly behind us. Didn’t like running free with the jib flapping about so did long reach under with a jibe. Of course, our timing sucked. A fishing boat was coming up behind fast. And we would have been pinching through the same small opening at the same time. So we let up the sails, coasted over to the side and let it go past. We are still struggling with our jibes. We pull in main but it still snaps on us as we cross over in the wind.

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Tried something new. We pulled in the jib and ran with main only down wind. Worried about an accidental jibe we kept wind slightly off. And it worked fantastically! Kept a steady 5 knots.

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Napanee River Power Lines

As we approached the Napanee river we pulled in sails and realized it was going to be another hour up the river. The first obstacle ahead… power lines. From a distance you can see the lines draping across the river at what looked like 100′ up (I have no idea how high they are). Friends from Cobourg told us about these and said they’ve been under and we shouldn’t have any issues. But as we got closer, I was getting more nervous about going under high voltage wires with a huge metal pole floating on the water. I started moving further to the right, it was shallower but the lines were not sagging down as low.

I slowed right down. I looked up. The angle making it difficult to tell how close the mast was to the lines. At this point, the angle made it look like we are going to hit. I put it in reverse and come to a stop. I look around back worried I’ve sucked the dinghy line back into the motor… again.  But it was still clear. I then scanned the shores and buoys looking for a way we could back track to. But by this time, I look up again and see we’ve drifted, sideways, under the lines anyways. We were clear!

Napanee River

It was a beautiful zig zag route throughout the narrow winding river avoiding the weeds and keeping an eye on depth. It was mostly well marked, and our depth finder reported a good 10-15 feet the whole way.

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We slowly puttered along, taking in the beautiful houses and landscape on both sides of the river. I was nervous, wondering if maybe it wasn’t smart taking a sail boat up this river. As we round the last bend we arrive to see a huge Catalina sailboat made it without issue.

There are spots on the right hand side for overnight stays and spots on the left hand side for quick stops at the restaurant pub. Payment uses the honour system through a metal lock box. No forms, just put in your money. We docked on the right, then promptly walked over the bridge to the pub.

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Here’s our boat and the Catalina in front of us. So yes, it appears there’s tons of room under those power lines and plenty of depth for sailboats up here. Our boat looks so tiny, in comparison.

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The Waterfront Pub

This was a beautiful spot on the river with the perfect setup. You could sit down and have your beer and a great meal while surrounded by trees and be able to see your boat across the water the entire time.

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At night, the trees are filled with dancing LED lights.

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It was a beautiful spot to visit. And a fun experience to have waterfront parking in front of a pub.

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On our way back to our boat, we passed the Catalina again and someone yells out, “hello!”, and waves to us. Boat people are always so friendly! They invite us on their boat for a quick drink and we shared stories about going up the river. Their story was much more impressive.

The boat is a beautiful Catalina 368 from Kingston called Stolen Moments. With Louis and Stacey, and their dog, on board. They run a flooring business in Napanee and like to bring their boat up every now and then.

They suggested we check out Picton and a few places along Adolphus Reach.

Next morning I walked into town with Gavin to explore and then hauled my gas tank up the hill to get some gas from the Pioneer Energy gas station right next to where we docked. We’ve used 18L of gas since Cobourg.

Lessons Learned

  • OK, I technically still haven’t learned this. I’m not sure where I can find minimum height for overhead obstacles, like the power lines. If anyone knows, please let me know in the comments below. I was just going by what other sailors had told me.
  • Timing narrow openings under sail. Need to get better at timing. This time we had to lose all of our momentum to let a fish boat go by.
  • Going downwind, running free, is easier without the jib in our boat. Just be careful of wind direction to avoid an accidental jibe.

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