Adventures in the 1000 Islands
Our boating adventures began in the 1980’s. We had advanced from an aluminum canoe with a 3 hp motor to a 16-foot aluminum bow-rider. The kids loved to ride on the seats up in the bow of that boat. Although we had a season dock on the Great Sacandaga Lake just an hour from our home, the 1000 Islands, located 3-1/2 hours away, beckoned us when vacation time came.
Camping on Wellesley Island in the State campground made for family quality time that included boating, swimming, and fishing as well as cookouts and campfires. In addition, the wonderful view of the 1000 Islands from atop the Hill Island tower and a tour boat ride from Gananoque, provided memorable experiences for our family. In those days, you no sooner dropped your line and you were reeling in a fish! It was especially exciting to see a northern pike at the end of your line. We were big into “catch and release” though, and still are. Not only were the fish hooked, but we also were hooked—hooked on the 1000 Islands!
The children grew up fast as children seem to do, and so we continued by ourselves up to Wellesley Island each year. We progressed to a hard-top 21-foot boat with a cuddy cabin. It included a bait station which we used as a counter top for our camp stove that we cooked on besides our grill. The bait station also had a sink with an ice box under it for beverages. In addition, we hauled a battery-operated cooler for food. This, in essence, became our camper since we rented a dock at Wellesley Island and slept on the boat instead of getting a campsite. But many nights we would anchor out in different bays where we would cook and spend the night with the cool waters rocking us to sleep. Upon waking, we would enjoy breakfast on the boat and later go for a swim.
The water was refreshing to say the least! One particularly warm summer night, we anchored near Picton Channel between Clayton and Eel Bay. We enjoyed a simple dinner and a most pleasant evening, before going to sleep in the cabin. All of a sudden around midnight, we woke to a large crash of thunder that was followed by lightning bolts making a spectacle in the sky like a great fireworks display. Although we were in a protected bay, our boat rocked back and forth as the clatter of the thunder continued booming and lightning bolts continued flashing turning night into day. After my husband checked to be sure our anchor was still set, we huddled in the cabin to wait out the storm. I always had confidence in my husband’s good skills in choosing a protected spot and setting the anchor, but when he said, “If anything happens to us, I want you to know it’s been a good ride,” panic really set in. I was truly afraid for no matter how great one’s skills are, Mother Nature can prevail over them! Thankfully, we made it through the night to once again see glorious sunshine in Wellesley Island and boating also became the catalyst for meeting a couple who became our best friends despite the fact that they lived 5 hours away from our home.
We would meet several times a year for boating, boat shows, and other get-togethers including our children’s weddings. We were like family. Our 1000 Islands boating adventures took us on trips with them up and down the St. Lawrence River from Ogdensburg and Brockville to Cape Vincent and Kingston as we kept our course by closely following river charts in those days prior to GPS navigation we have now. We also cruised through the International Rift into the Lake of the Isles; went through the narrows over to Fishers Landing; went swimming at Potters Beach on Grindstone Island; and ventured into Lake Ontario with stays in Sackets Harbor, Long Point, and In the 1990’s, we had a 24-foot live-aboard boat and moved with our friends to seasonal dockage in Cape Vincent.
Weekend after weekend, we would head up to the boat. In addition to enjoying the village of Cape Vincent, many weekends were spent anchoring up in North Bay at Carlton Island. The marina was like a little community where residents got together to share food, stories, and laughter building memories to last a lifetime. People back home would say they couldn’t believe we went so far for just a weekend, week after week. Our standard reply was, “it’s worth the trip”!
Love of the river inspired us as well as others to move here in retirement. It’s a beautiful area—definitely worth the trip!
By Camille Crandall, Poets & Writers, INK
Camille Crandall resides in Cape Vincent and is originally from the Schenectady, NY area. She was employed as Benefits Coordinator for many years and currently works part time from home as an administrator for a CPA firm in East Greenbush, NY. Her enjoyment of writing has brought her to the Poets & Writers INK group, and she has had several pieces published in the “Thousand Islands Sun” and “What's Happening in Cape Vincent.”