Story by Hugh Fletcher. Photos courtesy of Petra U.
Heading past Queen City Yacht Club between Ward's Island and Algonquin Island. Photo courtesy of Petra U.
The 2012 OAR Toronto Island tour was hosted by Hanlan Boat Club on July 15. It has always been a great success for the participants even if we have encountered some rough waters from time to time. Sometimes Adventure Rowing lives up to its name and this year was no exception. Twenty-six rowers headed out from Hanlan's docks in the touring quads. JC Marly came in the coach boat for the outbound trip as Eric Hall had to leave early by ferry; each rowed one way only. Worked out perfectly. Last year we had rowers from France and UK register but this year it was all Canadian, eh. We had people from Quinte RC, ONEC in Ottawa, Peterborough, Guelph, Don RC, etc.
Our plan was to row to the pier on the Lake Ontario side of Centre Island and then decide on rowing around the outside of the islands or circling back through the eastern gap. Halfway to the pier we decided it would be safer to head through the Eastern Gap into the inner harbour. Five quads and the safety boat filed through the picturesque island waterways to Long Pond where we were met by Tom Butscher (Island Rowing Club) and a few landlubbers who had taken the ferry across. Tom fought off the crowds and kept picnic tables and a BBQ open for us, as he has done in the past. Good man, Tom. JC took control of the BBQ and soon we had a fine feast. We definitely win the touring boat gourmet feast prize every year with some great home-prepared food thanks to Hanlan members who double as chefs.
Getting back to the club was challenging and not because of the food. The eastern gap was already really choppy. On reaching the outer harbour conditions were something akin to the Perfect Storm. The trailing boat took on water going through the Gap and then were unable to turn safely downwind back to the club . The safety boat escorted them across the waves to the far shore where the bailers were put to use. By the time the boat was emptied, the bad weather was moving in fast. The bay was full of whitecaps and a mixture of spray and sand was blowing everywhere. It was not safely rowable (if that is a word) so somebody asked the Mooredale Sailing Club safety boat captain to bring the crew home quickly while the quad was towed ignominiously back to Hanlan. All was stored away when the downpour started. So, we had a bit of an adventure, got a bit wet, but had a great time and everybody and everything came home in one piece. The participants have been sending emails thanking us for the great day and all want to participate again next year. Adventure Rowers are a hardy lot, especially if you feed them well.
We are looking forward to other OAR tours and, of course, we will do it again next year. Hopefully one year we will row around the outside of the Toronto islands instead of through the harbour. Join us next year. It is a lot of fun and comes highly recommended.