the 13th North American Rally
Wellesley Island SP, New York
* July 14-20, 2012
My First Wayfarer Rally: Wellesley Island 2012

OK. Time to stop reading all about it and start doing it. I mean I have spent so much time on the Canadian Wayfarer web site I am sure I will recognize most of the attendants of the Wellesley Island Rally before I am even introduced.  After a few emails from Al, Kit and Dick and some last minute shopping I think I was ready. I had chart, flares, fire extinguisher, paddles and all the other required safety equipment. Convincing my wife was easy with the help of Kit Wallace's report and pictures of the town of 1000 Islands from the previous rally in the area. This one even had a miniature replica of the house on its front porch. Yes, all was going good. I even managed to get the time off work. There was only one problem, I didn't own a Wayfarer, I had never raced, and by the look of the list of people who signed up I was going to be the only CL-16 attending. This caused me some concern, would they accept me or would I be looked down upon all week. It would be a long drive and an even longer week if I was going feel like I didn't belong.

Excitement grew as we crossed the 1000 Island Bridge and got a look at the St. Lawrence River below. Crossing into the US from Canada went OK for us. We had decided it would be easier to take an empty cooler and buy our food there rather than try to figure out what was allowed or not. We did see one other boat getting inspected; apparently you can only bring a certain amount of alcohol across the border.

Well, my concerns about fitting in with the group were soon put to rest. From the moment I met the first boat owner until the time we left, all we got was kind words of encouragement and acceptance. Later I wondered how much of that was due to the fact that I was the only one with a motor. I am sure I would have been even more popular, had the wind died on one of the day cruises.  I watched the focused look of skippers skillfully manoeuvring their boat in and out of the docks, I found myself using my noisy motor less and less. I was even very proud of making it back to the dock without firing her up (the motor, not the crew).

The Wellesley Island area is a great place for day cruising with its many islands, narrows and beautiful scenery.

Day one took us to Canoe Point on Grindstone Island. We left the dock at 12:00 and arrived at 14:00. We arrived about the middle of the group, which eased my concern about being last and holding everybody up all week. One of the beauties of this area is the multitude of State Parks with good docks and picnic areas, Canoe Point being one we used a few times through the week.

click here for larger map

Day 2: The plan the next day as discussed at the 9:00 captains' meeting was to head for Bluff Island past Canoe Point and Picton Island. There was talk of a small unique gift shop on the island. We started off in light winds until we got past Canoe Point where winds increased. They seemed to be funneling up the channel between Picton Island and Murray Isle. The wind increased to about all I was willing to handle when we noticed a little white marker right ahead of us. I should have studied the chart better, there were two rocks awash right in the center of the channel. If that wasn't enough there was a big power boat bearing down on us trying to figure out which way we were heading. All the fleet, except one behind us were already out of sight. That was enough for me; the Bluff Island gift shop would have to wait for another day. I had nothing to prove, better safe than sorry, so I made the conservative decision and we turned around for Canoe Point. I figured when they stopped for lunch on the way back I could act all cool and ask them "What took you guys so long?"

Day 3 the winds were even stronger with rain in the forecast. Some of the group thought it would be a good day to practice capsize drills. We later learned that some who hadn't decided to practice capsizing did it anyway. We decided to head to Alexandria Bay and take one of Uncle Sam's boat tours which would visit both sides of the river; viewing very upscale cottages of the rich and famous and then drop us at Boldt Castle, on Heart Island on the return trip. If you are ever in the area this is a very worthwhile side trip. Check it out first though, as some tour boats don't stop on the Island.

I've heard of a three-car garage but this would work, too.

Day four the wind was very light. Paddled away from the dock (wouldn't be right to pass everyone with the motor). I think the intent of the group was to go North past Ash and Wallace Island (probably Kit and Patsy's idea) and back through the narrow channel called the elbow and then return to Watterson State Park for a lunch and swim. I had seen the strong current bubbling around the island the day before from the comfort of Uncle Sam's tour boat and one look at the amount of detail on the chart had me convinced I would maybe catch up to them for lunch again. So we headed across to the Canadian side and took a look around. Apparently it is fine to sail along there but even though we were Canadians, we could not anchor or dock there as we had entered into the U.S. by car.

Watterson Point was only a few miles from Wellesley and had a great dock, picnic and swim area.

There wasn't quite room for everyone but no problem for these experienced cruisers, they found a nice little cove.

click here for larger map

Day five, the plan was to go through the Gananoque Narrows past the Lake Fleet Islands to Camelot Island than back up the side of Grindstone to Canoe Point for a late lunch before returning.  This was our biggest day of the trip: 14 nautical miles. We were really getting the hang of it until the wind would funnel between the islands and give us quite a knock. Coming from the shores of Lake Huron on the Ontario side, we were not very familiar with such shifty winds. We normally sail with a steady west wind with only one island in the area and very few navigational aids. So this was a great learning experience for us.

One of the issues with being out in your boat is trying to get pictures of it sailing.
My wife happened to mention this to Al (I think because he had the biggest camera) and he was up for the challenge.

It was great to have some company to sail with and learn from.

Hey Al, where are you going ... how about a few more pictures.

Al, Al, slow down ... Looks like I've got a thing or two to learn about keeping up with the masters.

Another added bonus of this area was the incredible amount of Osprey that seemed to be nesting everywhere.

These were American Osprey and proud of it.

And these two young located right at the Park entrance would test their wings but weren't quite ready to leave the nest.

Some chose a more traditional look for cruising.

Yes, this was a very special week for us. Thank you to every one of you who made us feel a very warm welcome, who gave us words of advice and encouragement along the way and who shared your knowledge and experience with us. We arrived not knowing what to expect; we left with many fond memories, and new friends. Who knows? You may even see me upgrade to a Mark 1 woody one of these days.

And it wouldn't be right without a parting sunset.

Looking forward to our next rally, and to seeing all of you again. Blessings,

Don and Deb  CL-1068 Notta Yachta