Oswego Canal to Thousand Islands, NY


 We left Brewerton, NY with Jay & Barb (The Blessing). We first met them in Alabama last fall and had last met up with them in the Bahamas back in February. Our destination was Phoenix, a small town of 1,000 or so people. We arrived mid day and the free wall was pretty full already because as it turns out we were arriving just in time for the town's Strawberry Festival and fireworks. We explored the festival and had front row seats from our dock spot for what was a very well done fireworks display. 

Shake it off Penny!  Penny gets to go swimming more often now that we are back in fresh water. Brewerton had a nice park to swim from – for people and dogs. 

Heartbeat and The Blessing supporting the Strawberry Festival in Phoenix by having dinner at one of the food trucks.  

The next day we got up early, left Phoenix and went through 6 of the 7 locks on the Oswego Canal, finishing up in the town of Owsego, NY.  Oswego Canal opened in 1828, is 23 miles long and connects the Erie Canal at Three Rivers to Lake Ontario at Oswego. Oswego is a good town to wait for the right weather to transit Lake Ontario. We ended up spending 2 nights on a free wall (would have stayed 1 night but had to wait an extra day for the wind to die down before heading out). We made the most of the time here with Jay & Barb – listening to live night music way too late at night, grabbing deli sandwiches from the local butcher then enjoying them in the park. The best part of being in a new place almost every day is the exploring and uncovering of great small businesses and city sites. 

Video of going through several locks on the Oswego Canal one morning – 

Nothing high tech here for the Lockmasters to operate – these locks have been working the same way for a long time. 

Heartbeat tied up between Lock 7 & 8 on the Oswego Canal. The Blessing is just in front of us. We had great access to town and a long grassy area – perfect for setting up lawn chairs and tossing a ball for Penny. 

Champagne toast with Jay & Barb to celebrate their 1 year anniversary of starting The Great Loop. 

18th century Fort Ontario. This fort has undergone several significant changes over the years (depending on who occupied it). It is currently managed by the NY State Parks and has been restored to it’s original state. We spent a couple hours following a self guided tour where you could explore officer’s quarters, enlisted men’s barracks, casements etc. The tour was informative and done very well. 

From Oswego we headed out on Lake Ontario for the Thousand Islands area. Loopers will leave Oswego and typically head north across Lake Ontario to Canada/Trent Seven waterway. We wanted to detour a bit and see the Thousand Islands area so we headed to the eastern side of Lake Ontario and up the St Lawrence River. This area did not disappoint and perhaps it was because it reminded us so much of the San Juan Islands area up in Washington. We anchored at several different small towns exploring each town during the afternoon/evening and then moving on the next day to the next town. 

Leaving the Oswego Canal and heading into Lake Ontario. 

Thousands Islands is a boaters paradise here and we feel it is the east coast version of the San Juan Islands in Washington. 

Sackets Harbor showing the high water that has been plaguing the area. You can see the electrical pedestals partially above water but the docks are covered in water.

Enjoying a cold pint in downtown Sackets Harbor after walking through the Sackets Harbor battlefield (two battles were fought there during the War of 1812).

Skies sure are pretty up in the Thousand Islands area. 

While in Clayton we took a boat tour of the Thousand Islands area. Yes, ironic that we took a boat tour but this allowed us to see some of the amazing homes along Millionaires Row and learn about the history of the area. The tour went through some shallow routes that Heartbeat would not be able to travel. The blue barrels are used when the water is high to indicate docks and other hazards for boaters. We have seen a lot of barrels lately and a lot of docks underwater. 

Stocking up on some amazing local cheese at a specialty shop in Clayton. So so so good. 

Heartbeat in the foreground, The Blessing in the background. 

We had front row seats from our boat in Clayton for their July 3 fireworks display. Fire boat doing the rounds while we are waiting for it to get dark. 

Heartbeat and The Blessing rafted together for July 4 fireworks at Bolt Castle. This would be our 3rd fireworks show in one week. 

Video – Fireworks off of Bolt Castle were not the longest we have ever seen but they were grand and impressive. 

The Thousand Islands is known for an impressive landmark – Bolt Castle.  This was built by millionaire George Bolt for his wife. Sadly she died in 1904 before it was completed. It was not used by the family and over the years it succumbed to weather and vandals. In 1977 the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought it for $1 under the agreement that any money received would go to restoration. It has been beautifully restored and is a popular tourist attraction for the area.  As you tour the home the first two levels have been completely restored but as you climb further you see the condition that the home was in when it was purchased. Quite the undertaking. 

Approaching Heart Island and Bolt Castle from the St Lawrence waterway. The castle is not very visible, it’s hidden behind the trees. 

Hard to capture the size of this castle in one picture. For context – it is 6 stories high, over 43,000 sft and has 120 rooms. 

Alster Tower (aka the Playhouse) consisted of a theater, billiards room, bowling alley.

The Powerhouse which supplied power to Heart Island. Originally spelled Hart Island, George Bolt had it changed to Heart Island and excavated it to resemble the shape of a heart. The gift to his wife of the island and castle was to show his ultimate love for her.  

One of the refurbished portions within Bolt Castle. 

 Most of the rooms on the upper levels awaiting restoration look like this (or worse). 

Italian Gardens, with the Powerhouse in the background. The heart symbol was used throughout the architecture, including here in the garden. 

The Yacht House. We unfortunately could not tour inside (high water) but took the dingy around it to see what we could. It’s huge. But then perhaps it is to scale with the castle. 

We have now spent over a month in New York. There was so much to see and do in NYC, along the Hudson River, in the Erie Canal, through the Oswego Canal and now around the Thousand Islands area. But we need to keep moving, it feels as if summer is slipping by way too fast already.  We will check into Canada in the next day or so and begin the next 'chunk' of The Great Loop – the Trent Severn Waterway. Not knowing that this waterway even existed before this trip we are excited for all it has to offer. 

Holding up items from the last US grocery store run. We obtained a few cases of beer – better to buy it in the US than at the much higher price in Canada).