Tag Archives: Bay Of Quinte

Life’s Adventures, & Working ON A Ferry. (update)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. The past couple years has been… well full of adventures, exciting, exhausting, chaotic, and down right life changing to say the least.

Since my last post back in May of 2019 my life has basically been turned upside down.

My life started to change when I had done some serious self evaluations and realized in March of 2019 that I had to make some serious changes. The fact was I simply, was not happy in my life, and I was spiralling into a deep depression.

I had made the very hard decision to leave my wife of nearly 20 years. Now my ex wife was and is an amazing individual it’s just we seemed to have grown apart. I guess this happens sometimes. And as unfortunate as the circumstances were at the time I feel that this was the best decision I could have made, not only for me, but also for my children and my ex wife.

Today my kids are doing very well, we have a much better relationship, I feel they don’t walk on eggshells around me and when I’m over visiting they are engaged in conversation, well most of the time anyway, lol, and spend their time with me, instead of locked up in their rooms playing video games. I’m not saying that never happens of course but at least they are paying attention to their father and vise versa more often than when I lived there. And we are doing things together more too.

My ex has a great guy she has been seeing for over a year and seems to have a bit of pep in her step lol. In other words she seems to be loving life again for the most part. I think the only stresses she has in her life still has to do with some loose ends she and I had yet to sort out lol.

And I have moved on with a relationship as well with the love Of my life Erin. Since I started dating Erin in September of 2019, I have discovered new hobbies and interests in my life that have kept me/us very busy, These are common interests both Erin and I share together which has been such wonderful experience to share with a partner.

Erin and I both have a love of being on the water, infact both our careers involve being on the water. We both work for the MTO working on separate passenger Ferry vessels in the KFL&A region.

In our spare time during the summer we spend the majority of our time on our sailing boat exploring Lake Ontario, The Bay of Quint, and the St Lawrence River throughout the 1000 islands .

During the past year, trying to work through and deal with the challenging times of Covid, Life still proves to be active and very interesting.

Of course because of Covid most of us have been unable to spend time with many of our loved ones like family, for me I have not been able to spend time with my parents, or sister and her family as well, I have now missed out on seeing them for 2 Christmas years and my nephew and niece are growing up and I miss them dearly, this type of thing has been hard on so many of us I know. I hope things get back to some normality soon so we can all get together again.

At work both Erin and I have realized that We have been very lucky to have the jobs that we do. Despite the everyday challenges of the working environment, if I sit back and think about life on the boat, it really is very interesting and I know I am super lucky to have a position in a company and in the industry I have come to love and have a passion for.

It’s funny when I chat to many of our passengers and just people I know in general, about my specific job, I get similar interpretations of what people think life on the ferry is like, in other words I get asked regularly if my job is boring?, they say it can’t possibly be to stimulating to run the same half mile stretch day in, and day out? Well, I say to most people, although they are not wrong about sometimes it can get a bit monotonous just running the same stretch everyday, what many people don’t see is what makes the job interesting.

What could that be you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked? Lol. You see, the fact is, that this job isn’t just running back and forth the same half mile everyday parking cars. This job requires that everyone is certified in some respect. From a deckhand to Captain we all require certification that enables us to work on the vessel, and at different positions, such as Marine first aid requirements, firefighting, operator certification, marine radio licenses, we all must have medical updates to maintain a specific level of health, ok sure so we need to be certified, but there’s much more to it than that.

You see we are a customer service type of service, answering people’s inquiries about the area, we give recommendations for local restaurants and sites to visit, wineries to try, we are a human version of Google maps for the area giving passengers directions, I personally on several occasions have helped law enforcement or ambulances do emergency runs across the bay, in other words, we are public servants. We have been front line worker’s throughout the covid pandemic with little to no recognition really a thankless job. So what makes a job like this so great?

Well other than the obvious about being a government job, with so many benefits to that alone. There is the fact that we work outdoors, YES, the winter can be a bit Harsh at times with extreme cold, or heat waves in the summer of course, but for the most part the winters aren’t too bad as long as you dress for it, and really I am Canadian so what are we gonna do, complain ? Ha ha ha. But there are some really great things about working in the winter too. For one, when all the bodies of water are frozen in the area, the ferry creates an open track (as pictured above), the local fire department sometimes does open water ice rescue training right in our path which was really great to witness.

This track we keep open during the winter also allows wildlife to congregate so they have fresh water to drink, it provides a hunting ground for birds, so we get a vast array of bird life to watch during the winter months from ducks, and swans, to owls and Bald eagles.

Owl watching me from a near by building
A bald eagle waiting for the propellers of the ferry to churn the water and send up a meal to the surface of the water

The sun rises are absolutely stunning. You can never get tired of watching the sun rise or set over the bay when it’s covered in a blanket of ice and snow.

Sunset over Picton cement plant
Sun rise on the Adolphus side of the river

During the Spring all the way to end of Fall, watching the magnificent boats of all sizes and classes pass by our position is fascinating. From fishing boats, yaughts & sail boats to big Lakers. They all pass by and I think about where they are all going and where they came from.

The scenery on the water is constantly changing and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. The Bay is my office and it a view that is constantly changing. Even if it is only a 1 half mile stretch of water.

Every day is just a little different, sure sometimes things go wrong, but tell me a job where nothing has ever gone wrong, it’s all about what’s going right that one should focus on. So for me it’s obviously the scenery and atmosphere, the people I get to work with, and the people you meet. I met my future wife at this job, so that should tell you it’s a pretty awesome place to be lol.

So that is just a few of the good points of how life working on a ferry boat is for me lol. There have been so many other changes in my life over the past 2 years but I’ll leave that for another blog (soon to come)

video of some BOQ walleye  with Scottie Martin and the Canadian Fishing Network. 

Hey folks I know it’s been a little while since I posted but I managed to get out on the water the other day with a few good friends , Ed MacKenzie from Chain Eyes  , and Scottie Martin , & Red Andal from #Canadianfishingnetwork  for some Quinta gold. So sit back and enjoy the show 

#LakeOntario – The Last 100 Mile Stretch

It’s amazing how quickly you can be on the top of your game and end up at a complete loss. This past week I was on route to having my best season since I started this guiding game over 3.5 years ago. Over the past 2 weeks I have been experiencing motor problems “again”. I mean lets face it, owning a boat means you are constantly doing maintenance, weather its a brand new boat or a used one, there is always something to be done. what does BOAT stand for? Break, Out, Another, Thousand.  Just over the past 2 weeks alone, first a fuel pump went down on one of my mains, then I had  spark plug cables need to be replaced, then coils, none of these items you would think are a big problem right? well in order to get these issues looked at and assessed properly each time,  you need to have a marine mechanic come out to your boat at the marina because you cant move a big boat like mine easily. Well first, everything costs 10 x the amount when your talking boats compared to cars, and then try and find a mechanic willing to come out to you is nearly impossible unless you have deep pockets.

 

After calling almost every mechanic listed on craigslist, Kijiji, Yellow pages, and online, It seems you need to have someone recommend you to the mechanic in order to get any decent service. otherwise you probably won’t have anyone come out to see you for weeks on end. Now just to have a guy show up to the boat 20 minutes away from his shop is around $150 to $250 and he hasn’t even looked at your motors yet. Needless to say after all of this you hope/pray that the mechanic that shows up is a good one. now I am sure the guy that came to my boat was a good mechanic but after everything was assessed he had to go back to his shop and order the right parts, this takes a day of 2 to get the right parts in, especially when you have motors like mine.

20160717_085106.jpg

So trying to save a few $$$$ I picked up the parts in a few days and went back to install them myself saving a few hours of labor and another $250 delivery fee, probably a $600 saving overall lol. Once the parts were back on the boat the boat seemed to run like a dream, so I started booking clients once again. I had a party of 4 show up to the boat, but as I headed down the channel to the open water they started sputtering and then stalled out and would not turn back on,  Now I couldn’t figure out what went wrong just that one of my mains wouldn’t start again. I had to call a buddy of mine, another guide and let him take my clients out for me.  I spent 2 days trying to figure out the problem and decided it was not worth spending the money to have the mechanic come back out again as paying for another “show up fee” would just piss me off. I made up my mind to take the boat back to my home area of Napanee in the #BayOfQuinte. The journey would be right around 100 miles on the water with 1 main engine completely down and the other was running, iffy at best.

fb_img_1470080429302.jpg

I started off from Bowmanville harbor on my #Yamaha  kicker motor, a small 8 horse power 4 stroke motor that I have never had an issue with in the past, very reliable, infact that motor is the only reason that I decided I would even attempt the journey at all. I started off at 4am by trolling out of the harbor. In about 10 minutes I was in 45ft of water and decided to throw out a couple lines as I have a ticket for the #GreatOntarioSalmonDerby anyway, and since I’m trolling my way along I may as well be #fishing, right?

20151111_081030.jpg

well it wasn’t long before I had my first hit of the day, a decent but much too small for the derby, 12lbs king salmon, as it was not big enough to weigh in I carefully released the fish because I was on a 2 day journey and the fish would spoil if I kept it. Soon after the first fish I had my second fish of the day on the line, a bit smaller than the first, so again the fish was released. then I had a massive hit on a wire dipsey line with a #SeafourLure spoon on the end of it, a little Shad sent from #LiquidMayhem to entice the bite & WHAAAAMO. The Line screamed out of the reel, my excitement level rose drastically making me forget I was even in a broken boat on a 100 mile journey. All I cared about was landing what ever was on the other end of the line. I fought the monster for approx 35 to 40 minutes before I was able to tire it out enough to be able to get my net underneath her and lift her into the boat. She was not as big as she fought but it was still a decent 20lbs plus fish anyway. When I tried to put her on the scale, my scale was reading all over the place I could not get an accurate reading which means one of 2 things. Either this fish is bigger than I think it is or the batteries in the scale need to be replaced LOL.

20160728_201959.jpg

The sun was now up and running low over the water. the fish I just landed may be the last of the season for me so I figured I’d better keep her and get it weighed in at #PortHope which should only be a couple hours away from my current location. In the Livewell the fish went, with some ice to keep her as fresh as I could.

By approximately 10:00am after catching & releasing 3 more smaller fish, I arrived at Port hope marina. I pulled up to the fuel pump station and was greeted by a beautiful young women working the weigh station/and fuel pumps. after fueling the boat I asked her to weigh in the fish I had kept. The fish weighed in at 25.10lbs  which was exciting as I knew being the beginning of the week that this fish would probably make the derby board, (which it did) and it stayed there until Wednesday too until I got beat off the board with a 25.84. oh well I can say I made the board for a few days anyway LOL.

img_20160807_222301.jpg

I had a quick breakfast at a nice little cafe (great breakfast by the way) right at the marina by the beach,  bought new batteries for my scale (ha ha ha) and of course had to go and see the beautiful girl at the weigh station one more time (to buy ice)  before heading back out in the big water on my journey.

There was only 1 other stop I could have made before committing to go all the way to Brighton which was only 40 miles away from Port Hope, this was Coburg #Marina but it was only 5 miles away from Port Hope Marina. the decision was either to spend the night in Coburg or try and make it to Brighton. Take into consideration that the top speed of my boat was about 3 to 5 miles an hour on my kicker motor, or 7MPH on my one main half working main motor, which would put me in Brighton around 8pm that evening, I had started the day at 4am. that is a long day to be on the water in the sun, trust me. anyway of course I decided to make my way to Brighton the wind was in my favor with west winds.

 

It seemed like forever  to get Coburg out of my sights. It made the day seem like I was making very little to no progress, and to make things worse the winds had kicked up to 25 west winds with gusts of 42km west wind. This made for some large rolling waves, maybe 6 footers at times, it was travelling in the right direction allowing me to get a bit better timing 8 miles per hour as with each passing wave the boat would almost be pushed enough to start surfing. then once the wave passed the boat would slow to 2 miles per hour. this jerking motion for hours on end mean you need to be on the ball in terms of steering or you can be turned around in a split second, constantly counter steering the boat to try and stay in a straight line. I was praying that the waves would get just a bit bigger so that I would be able to surf the boat and ride the waves to my night time destination.

 

at around 7pm I got to the point that leads into Brighton harbor as I rounded the point to head into the harbor it got very shallow. I went from 45ft of water to 5ft of water within a few meters and with the rolling waves (now white capping) that I had been riding were now big enough that the boat actually was able to do a bit of surfing only this time I was in dangerously shallow and unknown waters. Yes in case you were wondering I was getting a bit nervous LOL.

screenshot_2016-08-10-15-54-44.png

 

Once I got around the point and the land blocked the wind, the water instantly became like a sheet of glass and I calmly made it into the Brighton Marina. I pulled up to the marina about 7:45pm as I needed a bit more fuel to make the rest of the journey. I had came 65 miles and was now only 35 miles from my home destination. After I fueled up, the marina told me they had no 2 stroke Oil to sell me which I needed as I pre mix my fuel.  I hoped my friend  Sean, from #PresquileBayOutfitters was around and I prayed he sold the oil I needed. His shop was just steps from the marina.  It wasn’t long before I was able to find Sean and  like he has done on several occasions in the passed he (saved my behind) again LOL. Sean has great customer service and great deals on #fishingtackle and #Kyakrentals. I recommend everyone go and see him if your in the Brighton area. here is the link   http://www.presquilebayoutfitters.com/

anyway after fueling up and a short visit with Sean I was on the water again to find a spot to tie up for the night, have some dinner, and get some sleep. I headed up the Trent canal and immediately found a good spot to tie up to, right next to a very impressive sail boat who had also decided that they had enough travel for the day. the sail boat was heading to where I had just come from 16 hours prior. They figured they would try to get to Port Darlington or Whitby by the following afternoon.

20160806_205015.jpg

I was up early as was the sail boat next to me, and off the pier at 6am the next morning to try and get a good head start on the day, however I was quickly brought to a halt by the first swing bridge in the canal only 1 mile from where I tied off the night before as there was no attendant to swing the bridge open until 9am that morning. I tied off again and got out to walk around only to find 3 other boats tied off on the other side of the bridge that had just missed the last turn the previous night and were forced to spend the night in the canal as well. I spoke with a few of the boaters and everyone seemed very relaxed and well rested but were just waiting for the bridge attendant to get to work. It wasn’t long and the attendant showed up for his shift the bridge was swung open and everyone was on their way to the various destinations all over the lake (and further).

swing bridge

It took several hours but by about 11am I had made it from Trenton  about 18 miles to the #Belleville Bridge. Just after the bridge there were about 30 to 40 small sailboats all crossing my path in every direction, I think they had all been part of a sailing school. I tried to go around them but everywhere I went they would cut me off, now normally I would have easily been able to get out of their way but with only running one of my main  motors and going about 5 miles an hour I had no choice but to bull dog my way right through the lot of them. As soon as I made my way through There was a guy waving at me to slow down his hands in the air and I thought to my self,  what a fool, as if I’m going too fast LOL. anyway I almost came to a halt thinking he might be in trouble only to clue in that it was actually a good friend of mine Dave, out for a day of fishing on the Bay.

received_10157218748335392.jpeg

Dave pulled up along side of my boat tied his boat to mine and climbed aboard for the next few miles. I was relieved to have someone on the boat to chat with but I soon realized that I was very tired and probably had a bit of heat stroke, needless to say I probably wasn’t making much sense at the time. Anyway I took some time and cooked up the last of some chicken legs I had in my cooler, put them on my BBQ to have a bit of lunch with Dave before he had to leave  climb back onto his boat to finish his day of fishing.

It didn’t seem long,  maybe a few hours after leaving Dave before I was back crossing under the Deseronto Bridge and was at my destination to meet my wife at the launch so I could get the boat hauled out and get it to my mechanics.

received_10157218748330392.jpeg

Im not sure whats in store for Sea’s The Day Fishing for the rest of the season? I can only wait to hear from my mechanic about all the issues I will need to deal with. I will be back out on the water soon enough, but for now I’m just happy to be home treating my sun burn and heat stroke LOL

 

Thanks for reading about my 100 mile journey across Lake Ontario. Also feel free to leave any comments you may have below

Video of some my May fishing trips

Looking for work on a commercial fishing vessel – Top 10 things to know!

 

Being from the heart of the city of Toronto Ontario, many would find it odd that I have spent many seasons as a commercial fisherman.  A few people have asked me over the past few months let alone years, what it’s like and how to go about getting a job on a commercial fishing vessels in different Area’s of Canada when your not a local.

 

Over the years I have had the pleasure of experiencing the commercial fishing industry in many areas first hand. I have fished in Canada on The Bay Of Fundy (Advocate Harbour) in (2002), out of Mabou Harbour Cape Breton  Nova Scotia last Spring (in 2015),  and over seas in Aberdeen Scotland U.K. ( in 1997-1998) as well.   Every time I have fished somewhere it has been a very different situation or circumstance.

BOATS I HAVE FISHED ON OVER THE YEARS.

boy gordon 02 - Copy - Copy boy gordon 02 – Copy – Copy     Plaice /crab/ skate

Aberdeen harbour  Scotland

DSC_0749     Lobster season 2015

Mabou Harbour Cape Breton N.S.

DSC_0139   scallop 2002DSC_0144

 

Advocate Harbour N.S  This was not this boat, but the old boat I was on is no longer there.

DSC_0589lobster  boat i fished on when our boat was broke                                                                                  down

Mabou Harbour N.S. 2015

 

No job is alike, and every species is fished differently.  I suggest if you are seriously considering giving this type of work a try, then you do your homework to find out exactly what type of species you’d like to fish for before just jumping into the deep end. Last Spring, although I have been on several types of boats and fished many species, I found myself fishing for 1 day on a snow crab boat and let me tell ya, I thought I was a hard core fisherman, but that 1 day on a crab boat just about killed me LOL.

DSC_0597  This was the boat for 1 day for snow crab & I did 2 days lobster on this vessel as well while the boat I was on had some mechanical problems and was getting repaired.

Mabou Harbour 2015

Before I get into the next 10 questions you should ask yourself Why am I going to try working on a commercial fishing boat?  If the answer is , because I have watched every episode of Deadliest Catch over the past 11 years and you want to go earn a tonne of cash in a short period of time, Then you may as well stop reading any further. The reality is, there are a tonne of guys every year that make their way up the Dutch Harbour and places like that where the big boats are looking for work, but unfortunately when they get up there they realize there is slim to no chance to ever land a job like that. there are just too many experienced fisherman living in those areas and have already secured a spot on one of the many vessels long before this was even a thought in your head. Truth is in order to land one of those positions you may have to volunteer your time as a deck hand for free and or work in the less desirable jobs for years before you get the chance to become a greenhorn on one of those boats. However if your answer was, for an adventure, and a life experience then by all means continue reading (LOL).

when looking for a species of fish that you think you would like to try  ask yourself these following questions.

  1. What fish do I want to try? What time of year are they fished?

Obviously, your google search engine will help you with this.

2. What shape am I in, and can I handle the work load?

If you Youtube the type of fishing you are researching you can see what type of physical demands are required. However, remember you will have to repeat these tasks over & over again, all day long, and Youtube will generally not give you an idea of the hardest parts of the job.

  1. What area is the species caught in?

This information is easily found when researching the time of year from step 1.

  1. Your job search

You can find a job from home, or, from dockside. You can use your computer and go on Government job listing sites, craigslist, Kijiji, and any other sites you can think of that you can generally find work. Search by province and key words such as, fisherman, deck hand, corks-man,or second-man, and the type of fish you want to fish for. However, to be honest, many of the captains are old school. You may not find very much on line and still the best method is to be ready and willing to work dock side. Not being local you may need to work a little harder.  Being dockside the week (or preferably 2) prior to the season, volunteering your time,  loading traps, splicing ropes, and odd jobs, is a great way for captains to get comfortable enough to offer you a position or give you a reference to another captain in the fleet. do not over crowd a captain, if he looks uninterested in you then be prepared to hand him a business card with your information and picture on it so he can be reminded of who you were or pass it along to other captains that may be looking for deckhands.

Another great way, is to befriend the waitress at the local pub.  She is often the local ‘fishermans therapist’,  so if anyone knows the local fishermen, and who is hiring, its her (LOL).   Leading up to the season many captains take lunch (in-between 11am and 3pm) at the pub as a break from this busy prep time. don’t be afraid to spend a bit and buy a round to break the ice with a few thirsty boat captains, it can go a long way, trust me LOL. Tip your waitress, she will remember you and every time you are in the pub you will get better service. for the entire duration of your working vacation.

  1. Can I get to the area cost effectively?

Consider, gas mileage, train or air fair, food, and accommodation.  Also,  if driving, can you cover car repairs?. Even though we all tend to do things with great intent you may not be able to work as intended.  If you can not find work, or cannot handle the physical demands, or discover you get sea sick, you will need to have enough money to come home before you even make a pay cheque.

  1. Where will I stay when I get there?

If you are one of the lucky few to acquire a job prior to your departure, the captain may be a great resource for cost effective solutions.  Otherwise, be prepared to be mobile because once you meet many friendly locals you may have an opportunity to find cheaper short term rental units that are not sourced online and a bit of a distance from the wharf.  I have transported my own camper trailer as sites in local parks seem to be the best option. I have even parked my trailer at the wharf for a season at no cost to me.  Even though my gas mileage heading there is higher. but I have even put my trailer right at the wharf that I was working out of so as to have $0.00 in accommodation fees.  Be careful what time of year you leave with this option as a late thaw can limit availability to operational parks, (ie. power/heat) and leaving you a bit stranded LOL

 

DSC_0329            DSC_0323

yes I was a bit early last spring and we were 2 weeks delayed due to the ice. I had no power or running water during this time.

If you are taking a position where you are out to sea for days, weeks, or even months on end, do the math.  It may be better to take a cheap motel for a day or two when on land then a monthly rental. If this is the option you choose you will only be traveling with a bag of clothes, pillow, and sleeping bag.  You will have to budget for eating out when on shore.

  1. Do I have enough cash to support myself while I’m away and before I find work?

Like any job you will most likely have a 2-3 week waiting period before seeing your initial pay.  It is also important to keep in mind, if you are taking a position in the spring, jobs may be delayed due to a long winter and can add an additional couple of weeks to this time frame.

  1. How long is the season?

While you can find this information during your initial research, keep in mind, you do not want to financially depend on how long employment would be for the season.  While your job may start late due to lingering winters it can also abruptly end due to early ice up.

 

DSC_0269

 

  1. How long do I want to give this a try for?

Do not over estimate your abilities.  You are going to work in harsh conditions, long hours, minimal days off, and grueling physical work.  Start with a season which last weeks not months, with the ideas of possibly staying longer.  Many captains will work the boat with back to back seasons with different species.  They will probably never mention this until the end of one season, and then only if you were a great deck hand that they want back.  If you are a valuable employee your captain or another in the fleet will know and possibly offer you further work.

  1. …and most important, DO I GET SEA SICK?

The worst part about this is, it can happen at anytime, to anyone, and you have no choice but to, suck it up buttercup!  No captain will spend thousands of dollars in fuel to bring you back to land. Taking Gravol works but only if taken prior to boarding.  If you find out you get sea sick easily, your season is done.  If it is happens randomly half way through the season, take medication for the next few working days before trying to go out without it. Sea sickness is the leading cause of most deckhands bowing out and walking out of the industry for good. I myself am lucky for the most part.  I do not generally get seasick but I do remember back in Scotland a small period that I could not shake the sea sickness. It went on for 3 or 4 day’s straight and I can tell you I have never felt like I wanted to die like, I did then (LOL).

If everything comes together and all the above 10  tips come together without a hitch then you could be in for one of the best opportunities and or adventures of your life. If you think you are up for the adventure I can tell you its well worth it.

DSC_0952.JPG  DSC_0445.JPG DSC_0666

good luck