Topic: Civic Holiday cruise to Port Dalhousie

Hi All,

We joined our yacht club, Etobicok Yacht Club, for a cruise to Port Dalhouise this long weekend.  We were supposed to carry on to Fifty Mile Point but... I'll tell you about that in a minute.  And you can see the videos at the bottom of this post.

So for anyone cruising to Port Dalhousie, I'll jot down some notes.  You have a few choices to as to where to dock in Port Dalhousie, but my comments will focus only on the Dalhousie Yacht Club.  DYC is set up the channel a ways and all the docks, on both sides, of the canal are run by the DYC.  The current is deceptively strong and has large eddies all along the edges;  When we attempted to dock, we were heading down wind, but up current and attempted a straight forward maneuvre to just turn in.  The docks are short.  Very short.  It was short for our Contessa and they were fitting in boats of over 35' on them too!  Anyway, we nosed our way in and expected that the wind would take the bow down and it did.  What we didn't expect was that our stern would get caught in an eddy and rotate us around clockwise - almost slamming us into the wall.  We did a 360 degree turn and attempted it again... this time, we were ready for it and had someone handle the stern line to keep us from spinning off.  I was kicking myself for such a poor docking maneuver until I saw the same thing happen to most of the other skippers as well.

At any rate, there was a dinghy runabout to deliver you from one side of the canal to the other... only he doesn't monitor the radio.  You have to get in touch with the DYC office and they'll send him over.  Eventually.  Nice kid, and probably the best attitude of all the staff but I think he just volunteers.  The docks on the west side are floating grates... like cheese graters.  Terrible for our dog and not very steady underfoot.  The west side is also close to town which is great for exploring but horrendous at night as there are tonnes of drunken young folks partying until 4:30am.  We had a group of 6 or 8 drunk and peeing in the bushes just over the fence from our boat - apparently this is routine.  On the east side is the DYC building with slips along the wall that can accommodate bigger boats.  I don't know if these are any easier for docking as the current and eddies toss the big boats into the wall as well.  There were a number of "QUICK!  Fend off that boat!" incidents while we were there and I think there was a collision as well.  Further, the East side is unmonitored at night so kids come down and break into cars, and boats to see what they can find.  Yes, a car was broken into and the lady's suitcase stolen... for 3-mickey's of rum inside.  Yes, a boat was broken into and then set adrift!  In the fast current, it was washed out into Lake Ontario and it was a miracle that no other boat was hit or damaged as it went.  It must have hit a wall as the rudder was broken off and just hanging.  Fortunately, the Coast Guard rescued it that night.

And yes... there is a Contessa 26 for sale on the hard.  The past commodore is looking to sell it.  I only took a quick look at the outside of it and she looks like she is in rough shape.  Very rough shape.  I do hope she can go to a new home of someone that is willing to restore her... but I imagine it will have to be given away.  Some of the DYC members gave me the history of the boat and it doesn't like it will be in good condition upon inspection.

Port Dalhousie itself is undergoing a massive changeover.  Most of the bars are closed down now with a "giant" (for that area) condo is being erected.  Seems out of place but the town is very different because of the project...  we'll see what happens in the next few years.

Finally, leaving Port Dalhousie was very rough.  Northwest wind meeting opposing fast current after a rain made for a choppy exit of the port.  Our trusty engine (Farymann K34) stalled / cutout just as we exited the channel.  Fortunately we already had the main up to sail away from the rocks.  Let that be a lesson!  Get your sails ready and be ready to use them in case of emergency.  Tacking over, we decided to cut our trip short and head back to Toronto... much better to be stranded in your own slip than on a visitors dock!  We aren't sure what the trouble is yet;  The engine stalled as if it was fuel starved, but then our green warning light came on.  Our temperature gauge has not budged so I'm not sure if the warning light is temperature or battery... hmmm.  In any case, we decided to sail the 26NM home.

At first, this may have seemed crazy, because we were making 1knot VMG and each wave would drop us back to 0.6kt or even 0.  after about 6, very long, miles the wind came around and we began our broad reach wing on wing.  At first, only 2kt VMG...
At the half-way point we were picking up the pace.  And even closer to Toronto we were smoking along... all at 120degrees apparent wind.  We pushed it until we were sailing 6.2kts and surfing to 7+!  (SOG).

My wife and dog napped for many hours and eventually woke up to enjoy the sail too.

Overall, the weekend was two, long, beautiful sailing days for a mediocre port visit. I would definitely recommend that you go once.  A second trip?  well... maybe or maybe not.

Re: Civic Holiday cruise to Port Dalhousie

Jordan, sounds like quite the adventure.

Your experience of Port Dalhousie is somewhat different than mine, though I haven't been there since back when I had my Contessa. I stayed over the night at Port Dalhousie Pier marina, which is, if I recall correctly, just East of the old canal. While I remember hearing about lots of drunken kids and general shenanigans, I don't remember actually seeing any personally.

It's good you didn't go over to Fifty Point - the channel into the marina has a 90 degree dog leg, and most definitely requires engine power to get through, since it's not that wide for maneuverability.

All in all, though, it does seem like a wonderful adventure. The sort I liked to have (and maybe will have again soon) when I was sailing my Contessa.

Re: Civic Holiday cruise to Port Dalhousie

Tea cup adventures keep a little life in me.

The marina, which I didn't visit, is much farther from town...  the west docks of DYC are right on the main strip of town.  Easy access to all the shops but then you have to put up with the drunks, the cars and the bar noise.

Thanks for the heads up on Fifty Point.  So far, I've heard good things about it.  I think we'll still try to get there this summer once I get the engine thing resolved.  Hopefully it's nothing more than a broken impeller.

Re: Civic Holiday cruise to Port Dalhousie

When I go sailing with my father on his Hughes 38, Fifty Point is a common destination. We stop by for a bite at their restaurant, a pint of beer, and a bit of a rest, then sail back to Bronte. I highly recommend Fifty Point as a destination. It's quite pretty.