Category Archives: blog

Island Airport Jets Likely Bad for the Harbour

We’ve been here in Toronto’s Inner Harbour for a few years now. Thirty-three at Queen’s Quay and Rees to be precise. In recent years, the sound of the airport has become increasingly loud and distracting. We don’t mean to be melodramatic, but the whirr and groan of the airliners often shatters the air, making being outside unpleasant. It’s difficult to heartily recommend the harbour’s attractions to guests and tourists given this noise.

We have flown through the airport, and found it pretty convenient, but expect the new Pearson airport train will make this convenience far less significant.

We understand that there are plans to bring more, louder, bigger planes to the island airport, and choking off the Western Gap shipping channel to accommodate their greater runway requirements. We are of the opinion that reducing a vital water passage and increasing the ambient noise is a poor plan for the harbour, and very much hope it does not come to pass.


“Remember, it’s about sailing!” — Lin Pardey

Lin & Larry Pardey will be at the Toronto Boat Show this January (11th – 14th)!  Lin writes:

DSC_0019Remember, it’s about sailing!

Spring refit time finally arrived here in the southern hemisphere. With the wind down, rain holding off for a week, we set to work on the paint, the varnish. I got my scrubbing gloves on and began removing spots of mildew that marred the white of the overhead. Every day I laid out a plan for the next item I’d attack. Larry was right there with me until the sixth day. It dawned bright, clear, warm. A light breeze ruffled the water – perfect for applying a coat of varnish to the skylight. “Forget working, let’s go sailing,” Larry said, throwing a wrench into what he jokingly calls “my tidy little plans.”

“But it’s going to rain tomorrow and I’ve already sanded the forehatch,” I countered.

“If it’s going to rain tomorrow, we’d better get out sailing today,” he announced.

CAREFEEDSoon we were skimming away from the jetty. I sheeted in the jib and watched our wake straighten as our forward momentum gave the rudder traction. For the next few hours I forgot about spring refit and was reminded of the rule we’d made many years before when we were outfitting our very first offshore cruising boat together – no matter how long the list, clean the boat up, and get out sailing every two weeks. We’d learned getting out sailing as we outfitted or prepped for a voyage, we can see if our upgrades really worked, check to see if we’d forgotten to put something on the list, maybe even cross some things off as we found they weren’t really necessary. But even more important, getting out sailing served to remind us why we were doing all of this work. That was years ago, and Larry was right, it was the perfect choice this time too. (And by the way, it didn’t rain for three days so the varnish got done too.)


Fall Book Reviews from Ontario Sailor

The American Practical Navigator (Bowditch)
By Nathaniel Bowditch (Ed. NGIS)
Skyhorse Publishing Inc.
Softcover, 879 pages
BowditchThis book, first published in 1802, is simply known as Bowditch and named after the original author Nathaniel Bowditch, an early U.S. mathematician who is considered the founder of modern maritime navigation. There has been more than 50 editions published through the decades, and this latest has been revised and includes electronic navigation, meteorology and oceanography. The book is standard reading and is carried aboard every U.S. Navy vessel. The topics cover everything connected to navigation, from piloting and celestial navigation to safety at sea. There is an exhaustive glossary of navigation terms that runs an eye-popping 137 pages, along with an extensive grouping of navigational tables listing figures used in calculating navigational themes. The book is more technical in nature, with updates by the U.S. government agency National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (within the Dept. of Defense). The book has only black-and-white photos and graphics and is printed on paper stock, but offers details on tides, dead reckoning needed if instruments fail or fog rolls in, reading and understanding electronic charts, sailing in ice, fog and any other conditions that Mother Nature can throw at a sailor. This is for the serious sailor.

Legends and Lore of Lake Ontario
By Susan Peterson Gateley
The History Press
Softcover, 122 pages
Legends and Lore of Lake OntarioWriter, teacher and scientist (Master’s in fisheries) Susan Peterson Gateley, who sails her 32 ft. Chris Craft sloop out of Little Sodus Bay in New York, has written seven books on Lake Ontario along with some children’s titles. She used to sail solo on another boat but married and moved to the larger boat. She enjoys sailing on the U.S. and Canadian sides of Lake Ontario. Her latest book covers legends like ghosts and monsters that some sailors say inhabit the waters, along with tales of rum running during Prohibition in the U.S., and legendary ships. There are details on the 130 ft. schooner called Oriole which was owned by the Gooderham family (of Whisky fame) and kept at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the steam yacht called Clover owned by George Boldt (who built Boldt Castle on Heart Island in the Thousand islands), and the 126 ft. steam yacht Cangarda, which was owned by the Fulford family from Brockville and still sails after being restored. The book begins with the tale of Carcagne, a female spirit from the lake with a wolf’s head, vampire’s fangs and the black wings of a bat. Sailors claim to have seen her flying during storms. And there’s the spirit of a long-dead soldier who walks the ramparts of Oswego’s Fort Ontario who likes to wander around. The author writes in a folksy style and there are black-and-white photos and graphics. This is for those enthused about history (textbook or otherwise) and sailing on Lake Ontario.

Your First Channel Crossing
By Andy Du Port
Adlard Coles Nautical
Softcover, 144 pages
Your First Channel Crossing
This U.K. publishing company offers up a comprehensive and detailed book to help English sailors or visitors to the area to cross the Channel to France. Many of the tips offered here on a passage can be applied anywhere in the world, although there are some specific details on places to cross from the southern U.K (the popular 12- to 18-hour route from the sheltered Solent port of Yarmouth or Gosport to Cherbourg or St. Vaast in France) and the paperwork and other details needed to land with little extra effort on the other side. The book is written by Andy Du Port, a former editor of Reeds Nautical Almanac and sailor who crosses the Channel regularly with his family and crew. He advises to work out the tides when you depart and land, and lay a course for steering, along with alternative ports for landing. There are general details on passagemaking, like briefing the crew, watchkeeping and dealing with emergencies like a man-overboard situation. The book details various ports with GPS coordinates, harbour entrance details, and distances and times for a crossing. There are colourful photos and graphics and a pleasing layout.


Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto’s Waterfront Heritage
By Jane Fairburn
ECW Press
Softcover, 429
Along the Shore: Rediscovering Toronto's Waterfront HeritageToronto lawyer Jane Fairburn, who lives near the Scarborough Bluffs with her husband and three kids, says the city lost its connection with the waterfront beginning in the 1930s. That’s when people paid to get into the old Sunnyside Amusement Park near the Palaise Royal to see the burning and sinking of the last of the Great Lakes schooners, the Lyman M. Davis. It was the waterfront’s first “body blow” followed by the closing of Sunnyside theme park, the building of the Gardiner Expressway and the littering of buildings along the waterfront that blocked the view of the lake for many area residents and visitors. One of the biggest challenges for the future “will be to envision Toronto again as a waterfront community,” the author says. Fairburn enjoys history and celebrates the city’s shoreline in this book, detailing the historical and geological features that have shaped the shoreline from Scarborough to Long Branch (including the Beach, Humber Bay and the islands). She begins the detailed and researched work with the formation of the shore, the early aboriginal and French eras, followed by European settlement, the area’s “resort” period when the city came to recreate along the water’s edge, and details the area right up to its present-day uses. She draws on the writings, observations and historical records of many locals, including artists like the late classical pianist Glenn Gould and filmmaker Norman Jewison, to pioneer Mrs. John Graves Simcoe, lifesaver William Ward and sculler Ned Hanlan (areas in the Toronto islands bear their family names). Talk a walk back in time along Toronto’s shoreline with this book.

My Lake Freighter Adventure on the Kaministiqua

I recently joined my boyfriend, and sometimes Nautical Mind employee, Rhys Weed [Rhys's excellent Transport Canada Exam guide is here - Ed.] at work for a week. For some people this would seem like a mundane opportunity, however for me this meant an exciting adventure on the Great Lakes on a 223 metre lake freighter named the Kaministiqua.

Helmsman Rhys Weed plying his trade.

Wheelsman Rhys Weed plying his trade.

Over the past two years Rhys has been employed by Lower Lakes Towing, a company with 12 vessels hauling a variety of materials including, wheat and canola seed, across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Up until now, my interactions with the freighters had been limited to dropping Rhys off in the Welland Canal to join the ship, tracking the ship’s daily whereabouts on AIS and hearing his accounts of life onboard. Now, I would get to see what on the boat was like first hand. Continue reading

All About Boat Insurance

Great Lakes Sailing shared this excellent excellent article on boat insurance with us.  Insurance seems to be an overlooked topic in most of the boat book literature we have, so we’re re-posting this for y’all.


Purchasing a boat is a major financial decision for most of us. Probably right on the same scale as buying a house or a car. Like a house or a car, we want to protect the asset and ourselves. However, like many things marine, boat insurance comes with its own specialized terms and conditions.

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Join Us This Weekend at the Port Credit Boat Show!

The Port Credit in-water Boat Show! will be held this Friday, Saturday, & Sunday (Aug 23-25) at the Port Credit Harbour Marina. This year, for the first time ever, we’ll be there each day with a heap of our great books and boat show specials.

Come, smell the excitement!

We’ll be also joined by a bunch of great authors like Paul & Sheryl Shard, Rob MacLeod, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, and more.  The timetable for the many informative scheduled seminars is here.

So come on down, check out some neat boats, hear some tips and tales, and pick up some cheap gear and great books.  Hope to see you there!



Ontario Sailor Reviews: CG Skills, Dag’s Cruising, & Perfect Passage Making

Leet-Boat-SkillzBoating Skills and Seamanship
by US Coast Guard Auxillary

The auxiliary works closely with the U.S. Coast Guard on search and rescue and boating safety and is the largest U.S. boating educator in that country. It has come up with a 14th edition of its popular primer for boaters who want to learn about seamanship. Topics covered include choosing the right boat and safety equipment, like electronics, locator beacons, and boat handling, trailering, and other, important safety topics. This book is written like a study guide, complete with chapter review questions and answers, to test your knowledge. Both sailing and powerboats are covered, and the book features colour graphics, charts and photographs, making it easier for the novice to understand concepts. Although the regulations are for the U.S., the general concepts, such as recognizing severe weather fronts, tying standard knots, docking and collision avoidance apply to everyone. This book is ideal for the safety conscience among us.


Dag-yo-CruisingCruising Under Sail
By Dag Pike

Although British marine journalist Dag Pike, now in his late 70s, spent a good part of his time on powerboats, including navigating during Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Challenger record-breaking, fastest-crossing of the Atlantic on a powerboat in 1986, he’s also spent time on sailboats. He first took up ocean sailboat racing in 1948, and was also involved in some of the early testing of RIB inflatables and RNLI lifeboats. In his latest book, Dag now tackles the subject of cruising for sailors, and how to prepare for the big trip, from using paper charts, anchoring, weather watching, and planning each leg, to using a GPS, understanding tides, the importance of crew and coping with emergencies. On the topic of emergencies, the author suggests a series of “what ifs” to prepare yourself for some tricky situations, like a leaky hull (stuff something into the hole), grounding (safety of crew is most important), towing of being towed, dismasting and steering loss. The book features many colour photographs. The layout is quite simple, but the information contained is important for both the novice and the experienced sailor.


PasMakPerPassage Making Made Perfect
By Alastair Buchan

An author of various sailing books (Sailing an Atlantic Circuit, How to Sail on a Budget), Alistair Buchan has more than 50 years of on-the-water experience and two Atlantic crossings and now offers up to long distance cruisers how they can best prepare for the trip, from selecting the boat and crew to mapping all available routes and ways to get there as safely as possible. This book is similar in coverage to Dag Pike’s book (see above review) although Buchan is generally more detailed, with less personal or first-hand accounts of sailing experiences and more facts and figures. For example, in a discussion on the ideal cruising boat, this book mentions topics such as side decks (wide enough for walking), deck hardware (bolted through the deck to backing plates), grab rails (don’t usually have backing pads and may be unsafe) and jackstays (to clip onto when leaving the cockpit), while the other book is silent on some of these topics. The author details plans for short, day trips and longer passages of many days, both coastal and bluewater. There are checklists in the appendix which helps skippers prepare before setting out. And he offers this tongue-twister, borrowed from the military: “Proper planning and preparation prevent pretty poor performance.”

New DRIVE-THROUGH Service at The Nautical Mind

Queen's Quay & Rees: Rock beats Paper, Construction beats Parking!

Queen’s Quay & Rees: Rock beats Paper, Construction beats Parking!

Guys, guys, we know.  Between cataclysmic neighbourhood-gutting by construction, waves of tourist buses and Rogers Center fans, and special events like the Indy, it can sometimes be a little tricky to find a  parking spot.  There is metered parking out front, and plenty below the Radisson hotel and in the lot across the way, but it fills up fast on Saturday afternoons (when the lots are also likely to jack up prices).

That’s why we’re introducing a new “Drive Through” service!  Here’s how it works:

  1. Browse online at and make a list of your desired books;
  2. Call us during business hours at 416-203-1163 with your order, credit card number, and estimated time of arrival;
  3. We’ll charge your card and prepare your book(s) for pickup;
  4. Call us again when you get near, and we’ll meet you at the curb with your purchase. [on Google StreetView/Maps]. No need to park of get out of your car.

The down side is that you don’t get to browse, although if you know what you want, that’s not a problem.  Of course, we’re always happy to deliver too; if it’s in stock, it will likely show up in the next day or two.

If this proves popular, we’ll add an online ordering form too.  Let us know what you think.

(*All that said, we like having people in the store, chatting about boats, and helping you find things)

“Why we go to Cuba” — Capt Cheryl Barr

Cheryl Barr, author of the Yacht Pilot’s Guide to Cuba has written a series of blog posts for us about Cuba.  Here’s the first of three, Why we go to Cuba:

Having sailed to Cuba more than a dozen times, I am frequently asked, “Why do you go to Cuba year-in, year-out?” The quick answer is “It is warmer than Canada in the winter, it’s an easy sail across the Gulf Stream and Cuba has amazing “theatre of the street”. But Cuba is so much more than this.  

Cuba’s land area is greater than half the Caribbean islands combined and it has a population of 11 million. As a result, it offers so much more than anywhere else in the Caribbean. For many years it has been a friendly place for Canadians to travel—almost 2 million fly-in tourists arrive annually. Canadians are issued a 3-month tourist visa which is renewable for an additional 3-months while all other nationals receive only a 1 month visa.  

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