In June 2004 we drove to Montreal to move aboard our new trawler and bring her home to Toronto. I still recall standing along the wall at the Old Port of Montreal and looking down to see our new boat, the feeling was incredibly overwhelming. During the next 4 days we would navigate through the currents and locks in the St. Lawrence River, through the picturesque 1000 Islands to Lake Ontario where we experienced our first thunderstorm cruising as night fell and entered Brighton Bay to anchor in the dark. On the final day we spent four hours in fog on Lake Ontario listening to the fog horns from the two other ships who like us, were sounding their horn every 2 minutes. Then we heard nothing – silence except for the purring of our engine. I went to the bow to sit on-watch while the rest of the crew watched with eyes peeled to the water looking for other boats through the thick fog. Then suddenly we drove through the wall of fog and before us was downtown Toronto in the distance. What a marvelous sight and after 15,000 nautical miles under our keel Toronto still remains our favorite port and the place we call our “summer home“.
We have found that people are curious about us and about our lifestyle. We are often asked about our travels and the three most commons questions are:
Q: How long does it take to get to the Bahamas?
A: The answer is not how long it takes but long do we want to take. The trip could be done at our cruise speed in 3-4 weeks however that wouldrequire long days and not a lot of downtime. The old cliche holds true, it’s not the destination but the journey. And the journey is amazing. Every part of the trip has its own unique flavour and we continue to explore new small towns and large cities along the way. The lighthouses along the Hudson and the castles on the hilltops are a breathtaking sight in the fall and the trip along the Hudson to New York City harbour is always exciting. They call it the Mighty Hudson for a reason, with currents either with or against you. The dolphins greet us in Norfolk, Virginia and frolic in our bow wake. The Carolina’s are simply charming with the pink and yellow homes along the InterCoastal Waterway (ICW) and the Southern Hospitality never fails. We take our time an meander through the winding waterway in Georgia and spot Osprey nests on-top of the channel markers while trying to escape the dreaded flies in May. In Florida we dodge naval submarines and thunder storms but once at dock we get to interact with the manatees up close. We take hundreds of pictures but my very favorite is the series I call “chasing sunsets and sunrises”. From the modest homes along the New York Canal to the mega-mansions in Florida, it’s all part of the experience of cruising.
Q: How do you get to the Bahamas from Toronto?
A: Some people are surprised that we cruise the boat south. They think we just transport it over land on a truck, which would not be as much fun but it is also impossible because of our size. Mostly commonly people think we go up the St. Lawrence, however, it is a long way around to Nova Scotia and down the eastern seaboard.
The trip across Lake Ontario to Oswego New York takes 15 hours if the weather is settled. There we drop our canvas fly-bridge cover so that we can get under the bridges along the NY Canal System. We navigate through 27 locks to Troy NY and then head down the Hudson River to New York City. From NYC we either take the Delaware and Cheaspeake Bays or go straight for 35 hours from NYC to Norfolk Virginia depending on the weather. Once in Norfolk we follow the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) to Beauford (pronounced BeauFORT), North Carolina. From there we travel along the ICW or along the coast depending on the weather to Florida, where we cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
Q: Do you have a car and where do you park it?
A: Even though we live on a boat we still own a vehicle which we park in the parking lot across the street during the summer and store in the winter. This winter we will be going to the Carolina and taking our truck down there so we have it this winter.
Please feel free to post any other questions here.
i am from quebec..i want to do this trip this years,,what it the time limit to start from toronto..i dont want to catch some bad temperature in new jersey..someone have some good advertisement .my boat its a silverton 34 flybridge..any idea about the hours from toronto to bahamas..and i dont want to come back.i want to live in the marina in cuba..cruising around until the boat die..loll..its true at the border american they are paranoia.i read this in another web site..??
So many questions. I recommend you come and spend a few days in Toronto with us on the Boatel and we can answer all of your questions about cruising and living aboard.
Hi Diane how are you ?
My name is Marcos & My wife is Darrie Lyn we are thinking to buy a boat like 40′ and live in, we are in Toronto Downton and we cannot be far from, do you know from where we can start ? We are thunking to buy it for the next summer thank you !
We are from Ottawa and we own a 47 foot Silverton 453. We are planning to take the boat To Hilton head South Carolina. Do you have recommendations of marinas along the way that we would stay. Do you recommend we travel starting at 6 AM in the morning and only do six hours per day or travel continuance until 5 PM at the latest? Although we do not find the Carolinas warm enough in January do you recommend we bring for further south. We are in the beginning stage of retirement.
I highly recommend that you purchase the Skipper Bob cruising guides. They are cheap ($20-30) and are available at most marine book stores or at the Nautical Mind online bookstore in Toronto. I fact it should be mandatory to have the NY Canal cruising guide when going through the NY Canal system. They also have a guide for Marina in the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) which is very valuable. Our requirements and yours are different because we have a 65 foot boat with a 6 foot draft, so you can get into marinas that we can not.
You need to do you cruise planning based on where you want to get to each day – in the fall the days are shorter so you need to take than into consideration. Do you want to anchor some or as much as possible or do you want to go to marinas every night. What is your cruising speed – do you want to go slower and save fuel or do you want to go as fast as you can? Do you want to go out on the ocean when the weather is suitable or do you want to stay in the ICW all the time? All of these questions must be answered in order to do YOUR own cruise plan – which will differ significantly from our. Cruising is not about 9 to 5 sometimes it’s 6:00 am to 3pm to get to an anchorage you want or sometimes it is 37 hours offshore because we have a great weather window in the spring. Cruising is not about rules but breaking the rules! Having said that Mother Nature is THE ruler!
We have stayed in the Carolinas because of mechanical situation that happened and we need do repairs. We planned to stay for three weeks and stayed three months rather than continuing south that year. We love the people in the Carolinas however it is much cooler than Florida, the Bahamas or Cuba. Having said that it is warmer than Toronto or Ottawa! That decision is yours to make.
If you are interested in cruising from Toronto to New York City the first week of October with us in the fall, you will definitely gain the best hands-on experience in cruise planning, anchoring and living aboard. I wish I would have had this opportunity when we started out 13 years ago. If you are interested then please feel free to contact us.
Otherwise best of luck in your retirement planning. It’s an exciting time for you, so enjoy every moment.