An Evening Row in Kingston Harbor
by Bruce Hector

(Dont forget Bruce's messabout)

Just got in from a lovely evening pull through Kingston Harbour in my John Welsford designed Seagull. The winds were perfect to row from the downtown core West to Portsmouth Olympic Harbour at the west end of town. About 3.5 mile (5 kms.) and Lake Ontario cooperated by being very calm. Just a few boat wakes and a gentle 1 foot swell with about 6 feet between the crests. Kinda' soothing as Twisted Seagull gently bobbed up and down as I pulled.

Sunset over Olympic Harbour

I rowed past the ex-Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker turned bed & breakfast "Alexander Henry" (That Peter Lenihan and Pesky will be gracing in September), by the Pump House Steam Museum with its Phoebe Restoration Project, alongside the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, past the Kingston Yacht Club and the Hospital. As I was passing the waterfront along King St. in front of Queens University I heard some distant thumps that sounded like artillery, but that I thought were only summer thunder in the distance.

the Brigantine "Playfair"

Continuing west, I open my emergency rations, a can of delicious Stellar Artois, an excellent Belgique beer and then I saw them...

Sparkling and expanding in the distance over Fort Henry, an extensive, colourful and high quality fireworks display. For a moment I wondered why. Both Canada Day and July 4 were last week, then I realiszed what the occasion was. It was Wednesday and the world reknown Fort Henry Guard were puting on a Sunset Ceremony (their cannon must have been the thunder I heard earlier) and it was being closed with a display of "feu artifice", fireworks! It was cool and beautiful, with the "crump" coming seconds after the burst. After about 5 minutes of a great display, it ended with a brief multi-burst finale, and the lake became quiet once again.

Dust Duckies

I continued puling towards the west. The water was oily smooth between the gentle swells and dark, as the sun had been down a half hour by now. I kept close to shore, rocks being my friends now, as they kept powerboats further off the shore than I.

As I came abreast Kingston Pen I wondered if the guards thought this lone row boat was some unusual escape support vessel, as rowboats are pretty scarce around here. But none opened fire, so I guess they were convinced of my benevolent intent.

Kingston Pen at dusk

Just after the pen, I entered the narrow entrance to Portsmouth harbour. In the narrowest section I heard the rumble of an approaching powerboat with a powerful engine. Quickly I swivelled on the thwart and grabbed the flashlight I had brought. I turned it on and waved it quickly back and forth, pointed towards the boat. Almost immediately the engine note died to a murmor as they cut their craft to idle. I wonder just who these courteous mariners were, and as they pulled abreast and were illuminated by a street lamp on the breakwater I saw that it was the Coast Guard in a large RIB heading out for some mission. They gave me a wave, letting me know that they thought nothing amiss of an unlighted rowboat being there in the dark, shining lights at their helmsman. As they passed they opened her up and the RIB leaped ahead and dissapeared into the dark expanses of the Lake.

Now in the placid calm of the small Portsmouth harbour I rowed squeakily into a dark corner and secure Twisted Seagull under a bridge to a floating dock, hopefully out of the way of everyone, including the marina staff who might want an overnight fee. My plan, if the winds are right in the am, is to row her back between 6 and 7am tomorrow morn, if they're unfavorable we'll pick her up with my truck.

With TS tucked in for the night, I walked ouver to "The Ports", one of Kingston's oldest pubs, adjacent to the Portsmouth harbour, and while quaffing a pint of Smithwicks dark bitters, called my lovely Elaine, who arrived to ferry me home shortly thereafter.

The white two story building is the tavern

I hope the weather is right in the early am for a return row.

Bruce Hector
Realizing that times like this is why God (and I'm not normally religous or spiritual) created rowboats!