We continued our journey home from the Thousand Islands, leaving Picton and heading towards the Murray Canal. We know there’s a good chance of a wind storm but we go anyways.

Date: August 2, 2020
Distance: 28.6 NM
Duration: 4 hours 38 minutes 
Weather: Calm, overcast, to rain, to windy, to oh crap!

We left Picton early in the morning. 8:30am, and other than the rain it started off OK, we knew it was going to be a stormy day and had picked spots we could hide in along the way if things got bad. We were the stupid ones with the schedule to meet and wanted to get as far as we could to reduce our trip distance the next day, we needed to be back in Cobourg by Monday evening.

In the morning light we could finally see the other boats nearby.

Mooring Balls in Picton

We were close to Prince Edward County Yacht Club (PEYC). During a stay here in 2017, with our previous boat, I met someone telling me how great the CS36 Traditional was as long as you liked to work on engines.

Docks at the PEYC

Hey look, it’s our previous boat, a Macgregor 26x! Not the same boat, just the same model.

Macgregor 26x at PEYC

We noticed a cute homebuilt sailboat and recall seeing it earlier this trip in the Thousand Islands.

Cute Home Built Sailboat

We took this opportunity to fill our tank at the Picton Marina and Harbour fuel dock. Currently 1/4 tank.

Picton Marina and Harbour Fuel Dock

We told the fuel dock attendant about our adventure the night before and he said if it ever happened again, just grab a spot on the wall.

New trick for siphon locked fuel tank during filling

Not sure if siphon lock is the right word, we’ve been experiencing issues filling our tank. If the flow rate of diesel is too fast it would back up and stop the flow from the pump. It was frustrating and resulted in having to pump really, really slow. I took a quick look under the deck and realized the issue. The fuel line goes from the deck fill down and then back up slightly to the tank. If the boat is leaning toward the deck fill then it forms a trough in the line that the fuel sits in and causes it to backup.

We tried putting our weight on the opposite side of the boat and it fixed it!

Leaving Picton

As we left the narrow section just North of Picton we unfurled our genoa. The wind direction wasn’t perfect, it was swirling around and we had to tack back and forth a few times. Two tacks were sloppy, I don’t think we were fully awake yet.

As we looked around in the daylight we saw what some of the confusing lights were from the night before. On the Western shore there is some sort of factory. To the East we found the ferry terminals that caused us grief.

A rain squall approached from the South and we decided to start the engine and furl the genoa to see what the wind was going to be like. It was a good decision, we had lots of rain but little wind. Ahead we saw another brave boat running with their sails.

It was wet, cool, and visibility was limited so we both stayed in the cockpit as much as possible.

Video: 29 seconds

For a quick meal, Lori cooked up some beans and wieners. Not fancy, but they tasted great and warmed us up. The rain didn’t last too long but it was still overcast and gloomy.

Motored most of way until after the bridge near the entrance to Napanee.

I probably have 100s of pictures like this. Always feels like the mast is going to hit.

It was now clear with a little bit of wind. We pulled out both sails and now getting a nice comfortable 5 knots. Another sailboat with just their genoa slowly motor-sailed past us and a Catamaran approached from the opposite way.

We noticed some boats anchored to the left. Lori suggests we stop but the sailing is so good and we were making good headway! And I wasn’t convinced those would be the best holding if the wind picked up.

Here comes the wind!

Through the Bay of Quinte, the wind increased and we started to heel over. Speed picked up to 6-7 knots and we were catching up to the motor sailor that passed us earlier.

Then the gusts started to pick up, boat speed was pushing 8 knots and the boat uncomfortably heeled over. So we turned to wind and pulled in about 1/3 of our genoa. This flattened out the boat and made the ride more comfortable.

We were having fun until we got to the West side of the bay. That’s when I saw the boat in front of us pass the narrows just North of Massagauga Point. The winds must have been gusting on the other side of that point. The boat suddenly got hit and it heeled right over, putting their rails into the water. They handled it well, they spun to windward and then after a brief pause pulled in their fore sail. I could only imagine the shock they had.

But we now had to think of ourselves, we were closing in fast and would be hit by the same wind within a few minutes. We only had time to pull in our foresail before we got to the same spot, there wasn’t enough room to drop our main and we didn’t want to tack and head back into the Bay of Quinte. Eased our main sheet. Made plans to quickly drop our main as soon as we had room. We approached the same spot and we also got hit by the wind, but the boat handled it well. During this time I started the engine… well, I tried to start the engine. It has never failed me before, but it seems like it wanted to give us a bit of an adventure. Our main was now loose to the side and flapping, wind was howling and the boat speed was dropping. I was concerned that we were now getting blown toward Ox Point to the North. I went over the starting procedure several times to make sure I didn’t forget anything (yes, I’ve forgotten important things before). We tightened the main to get some forward momentum and heel over once again. One more time, through the checklist from the beginning. This time the engine instantly fired up! We push forward to a more open area and turned again to wind and just released the main halyard. It drops… only by a foot, the wind pressure was too much to let it slide freely. Lori fearlessly got up on deck and grabbed the main sail, pulling it down and not caring what it looked like in the lazy jacks. Turned back on course and motored forward. Boat heeled a bit even with no sails but we were on track.

The wind suddenly dissipated and it was calm again. The boat leveled out, and all we heard was the engine purring away. We took a deep breath, looked at each other and knew we were thinking the exact same thing. Time to stop! We were close the Bellville, Meyers Pier was still not taking any transients but Crates Marine was. We called ahead and they had a spot for us. We found a safe dock, grabbed a bottle of wine and settled our nerves. Hard to put the adventure into words, maybe my explanation above probably sounds smooth and calm. But I assure you there was a lot of yelling with a lot of mistakes and slip ups. We are pretty comfortable in rough weather but that’s the first time I’ve felt a gust like that one. 

Crates Marine in Belleville

After we checked in, the weather was nice so we walked through downtown, took note of the Beer Store location. And we ended up ordering take out from Aji Sai right next to the marina.

Downtown Belleville

That night, storm after storm kept blowing through. It would be calm and then you would hear the rumble coming and the winds would pick up. At one point we heard the loudest rumble, like a freight train coming in. Lori says that’s what’s tornado sounds like. We cautiously looked out and started to hear the clackity clack. It was a freight train going by.

Video: 47 seconds

We were beat, spent by the previous night keeping an eye on our mooring ball. We fell asleep early and briefly woken up several times by the gusts of winds through the night.

It was a crazy night and glad we had a safe place for the night. We had friends out in the storm that had a sleepless night. And heard of several boats that had dragged anchor during the night. Global News called it the worst storm of the season:

And yes, we were the stupid ones out there trying to get back home for work. Next time I think work will understand if we ask for one or two extra days to get back home safely.

Side Story: Canadian Flag Alberg Sailboat

During our walk at Crates Marine we saw a sailboat that caught our eye in the boat yard. See her peeking out?

With such a bright design, we thought that it must have an interesting story. Sure enough, a month later we saw one of the vloggers we follow talk about this boat. Here’s Lady K Sailing and their story about this boat.

And here’s his review of the Alberg. I think he likes them.

Sounds like a great boat, but a pretty big project to take on! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Next story from this trip: Heading Home through the Murray Canal