The day we took delivery of the C-Shel, a 1989 Tollycraft 34 Sport Sedan, was a day of mixed emotions. Extreme excitement about acquiring our new vessel, mixed with ample amounts of anxiety. The trip from the delivery point at Pelee Island Ontario on the western side of Lake Erie to Leamington Ontario was a breeze, but the stress was building from the thoughts of docking what felt like a 50 footer. Upgrading from a 26 foot single engine cruiser, to a twin engine 34 foot (40 LOA) flybridge sedan, was a shock to the system to say the least.
The 3 attempts for me to stern in to our assigned dock at Leamington was the most stress I have every felt in my life. My first time in close quarters, and surrounding my dock were a cavalry of half a million dollar yachts. No mishaps, but now at the dock, my heart was beating out of my chest. It literally took me two days to recover from that and to get my nerve up to begin our journey across Lake Erie to the Welland Canal, across Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence, and up the Rideau River to our home port on the Rideau Lakes.
Docked at Leamington Ontario
A little naive about Lake Erie, we eventually cast off the lines and headed SE around Pelee Point. Not a bad day, 2 footers on the western side of the point, and the weather reports stated 1 meter or less out on the lake. No problem... we thought. Rounding the corner of Pelee Point things started to get a little more uncomfortable. Things kicked up to 4-5 footers, then off in the distance I seen some fairly big rollers coming. At the worst of times I can only estimate that we were hitting 8 footers. The bow would bury, and what felt like a wall of water would crash in on us on the flybridge. We were soaked. This lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, until eventually the big rollers were gone, and we were consistently in 3-5 footers. I quickly learned that this Tolly liked to be on plane at about 17-18 knots in this type of chop . She would crush the waves smoothing out our path ahead and we would see spray thrown out either side 40-50 feet.
I had known how quickly and how violently Lake Erie can kick up, however, I was not prepared that it does this with just a breeze of wind, and with all radio indicators indicating 1 meter or less on the lake. Lake Erie is fairly shallow, and has many shoals, these shoals over time shrink and grow with the movement of the water, and where things are relatively calm out in the middle of the lake, 2-3 miles off shore these shoals will push the waves up and out of the water. Making 6-8 footers out of the 1 meter waves further off shore.
We had planned for 3-4 days to cross Lake Erie from West to East, however the lake did not want to let us go that fast, it was day 8 before we entered the Welland Canal. We were on a time budget, and had 2 weeks to do the full trip. Losing 4-5 days off of my trip plan on Lake Erie cost us some of our relaxation time at ports and anchorages for the remaining portion of the trip.
The remainder of the cruise home was pretty much uneventful, but beautiful. Lake Ontario was very good to us, nothing huge, just 3 foot swells most of the time. I was getting use to my twin engine boat, and felt confident in my close quarter manoeuvring when there wasn't much wind on. We passed through the Murray Canal into the Bay of Quinte, on to Kingston Ontario, then a couple of days spent on our home waters, traveling up the Rideau River to C-Shel's new home.
View Tolly Purchase Cruise Home in a larger map
This happened in Aug of 2008. We have had the C-Shel for what is going on our second full season. She has been a wonderful boat. Still a boat none the less, with a few items needing maintenance and repair, some of which we will blog about here. This boat is making us long to be live-aboards, we have dreams of cruising to Florida, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, of being loopers, and maybe even passagemakers.
This blog will be about those dreams and God willing the execution of those dreams, our adventures and mishaps on the current C-Shel, and a little about our search for the next C-Shel. We hope to capture, with words, photography and video, just a little bit of what it is like to be swinging on a hook in a secluded cove at midnight with the haunting sounds of loons while gazing at the biggest of starry skies, the feeling of freedom on a fresh summer morning to untie the mooring lines and set out for a day of exploration. We hope you enjoy following.
Cyndi and Sheldon