Thursday 11 June 2015

Thousand Islands Kayaking Gananoque To Kingston


Another kayak camping trip, this time to complete the remaining western portion of the islands between Gananoque and Kingston by circumnavigation of Howe Island.  In a previous blog entry I covered east from Gananoque to Mallorytown Landing.    That encompassed  the Admiralty and Fleet Islands and included Grenadier Island at the eastern end of the archipelago .

Howe Island
Once again our put-in is at Clark Marina just west of Gananoque; a late start as my paddling companion had to work Friday and our timing coincides with the storm predicted for late afternoon.   Black clouds, and the rain starts just as we launch but as yet no thunder or lightning so as we only have a few kilometres to cover this day, we take the risk.

Clark Marina

Bateau Channel
Paddling SW down Brown's Creek leads us to Bateau Channel then turning SE past the eastern Howe Island ferry we head toward the Admiralty Islands. Here we will find Aubrey Island, the furthest southwest which is to be our camp for the night.   A distance of just over 4 km in a steady rain.   We paddle around its shores checking for possible landings that might be closer to our site than the designated kayak landing.   The designated landing turns out to be best and is right by the shelter. After discussion with the American couple, the islands only other occupants, we decide to set up our tents within the shelter (A no no) so nothing gets wet and as we are leaving early next day it is unlikely that anyone  will be inconvenienced.

Stormy arrival
We awaken to a beautiful sunny day with a stiff NE wind as predicted, which is much to our benefit as we travel roughly SW along the outer shore of Howe Island towards Kingston and will have all that wind at our backs.

A beautiful morning
After breakfast we pack up the boats and are off fairly clipping along with the wind at our starboard quarter; almost our back.  We hold fairly close to Howe Island shores as there is not much to look at on our port side, just an expanse of open water.   Like most of the 1000 islands there is lots of pricey real estate, much of it very attractive, this of course means private property so landings may be few and far between.  No more Park property until Milton Island which is today's destination.  Quinn Bay lies about half way down the island and should at least offer some sheltered water so we will look there for a possible lunch stop.   We luck in, just east of Quinn Bay I espy a picnic table on shore, a small shallow sheltered bay likely private but not signed, with a ratty shed and even rattier picnic table and that seldom used look.   A metal duck (?) boat lies on shore and it looks as if this is someones boat launch.   Ideal for a quick lunch and stretch and it will be as if we were never there!

toward Quinn Bay
lunch stop

Lunch over we continue towards Milton Island where we plan to camp tonight. After a 4 km open water crossing which again exposes us to the 20+ km winds we are in sight of Milton and Cedar islands the last two western islands of the Thousand Island Park.

Milton has just the one anchorage a small horseshoe bay at it's eastern end with 3 or 4 mooring docks but no kayak/canoe jetty or beaching area.  This makes for rather tedious disembarking.  After clambering up onto the dock one has to pull the kayak up bow first over the end of the dock, then unload on the dock.   Luckily no power boats were moored at this dock when we occupied it almost entirely with both kayaks and gear, once empty we hauled up to grass area close to camp.

Milton anchorage at sunset

I had a reserved campsite on Milton but on arrival we find others have taken it and then have taken off for parts unknown forcing me to stifle my invective till later.  So we set up on another site rather than waste time awaiting their return.  As it turns out we don't have to carry our gear as far now, although much less private, this site is closer to our launch dock.

Site 1

From the walking trail which encompasses most of the island we can see Wolfe Island to the south with its dozens of wind turbines, and to the southwest is Cedar Island the western extent of Thousand Islands Park easily identified by the red roof of Cathcart Tower.   This fortified  tower was built in 1848 to guard the eastern approaches to Kingston harbour and Fort Henry a bit less than a kilometre NW of the island.   

Cedar Island
Late afternoon and the wayward claim jumpers return and suitably chastened from my little spiel decide to move tent and gear to the other side of the island. I hadn't suggested they do this as we had no intention of re-locating at this stage but it is  all for the best as they play rock music in the evening but are at enough remove to be no real bother. And all quiets down at a reasonable hour so we pass an enjoyable evening sitting by the water on the site thus vacated.

Site 2 (reserve only)

After breakfast Sunday we leave Milton and head toward Bateau Channel to return by Howe Island's inside passage.  Again the weather is as was predicted, give the weather man a prize!  SW, then switching to southerly 20 k by noon, ideal for our return paddle.  Shortly after entering Bateau Channel we cross paths with the western Howe Island ferry on our way to Grassy Creek park where we can stop for a lunch break.

Howe Is. ferry
On cue around noon the winds really pick up and just before Grassy Creek I spot a large raptor flying toward and then landing on Howe island.  I think it likely an eagle so hurry over to get a better look.    Sure enough it turns out to be an immature Bald eagle and I catch him in flight.

Bald eagle (immature)

From here we head across to the beach at Grassy Creek with the stiff south wind at our back it is almost a surf landing.  We find a table away from shore to get out of the wind which is feeling a little cool off the water.   Then it is off on our last leg back to Brown's Creek and Clark marina.   About 3 km east we find an adult Bald eagle atop it's aerie and I am able to get an image of this one too.

Bald eagle

Nav light Bateau Channel

We are back at Clark by about 3:30 then it is pack up and head for home!

Happy paddling!


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