Texx just arrived in Gull Lake and will start reporting tomorrow morning, so tune in all week for amazing Live-ish reporting. In the mean time, back in New York, thanks to fellow Woody Boaters Marten and Theresa Anderson for sending us in this fun tour of the Thousand Islands, the place, not the salad dressing. I am not sure if a tour of a salad would be all that interesting.
Being California natives, we have never experienced the large rivers and lakes of the east coast, except thru Woody Boater. Reading the great stories here, we have learned the Thousand Islands is woody boater heaven.
Our youngest daughter started college in Massachusetts recently and was accepted to an early entry program. We flew to MA, got her settled into the program at school, and then the wife and I had 4 days to explore the area before we needed to be back to officially move her in and kiss her goodbye.
My Boatress and I decided to drive to Clayton, NY, making this St. Lawrence River town our hub to tour the Thousand Islands area. We spent half a day at the Antique Boat Museum. The ABM is a great facility with many fascinating exhibits, and is located on the water’s edge of the St. Lawrence River.
Prior to our trip, my Boatress searched the internet for an on the river tour. Now, we don’t do a lot of the typical touristy type things when we travel, so this type of river cruise was out of the question:
Who wants to be with hundreds of other tourists and listen to a corny narrative thru a drive-thru loudspeaker when you are trying to enjoy the scenery? And, it is steel, not wood!
After a little searching, she found Classic Island Cruises , conveniently located next to the ABM in Clayton at French Bay Marina. Captain Jeff Garnsey is a third generation fishing guide from a family that spans 9 generations in the Thousand Islands. From the time of his 10th birthday, he was a deck hand for numerous Clayton fishing guides including his grandfather and father.
Jeff retired after 26 years in the Submarine force as a Master Chief Petty Officer and returned to Clayton. In 2009 he received his Master Captain’s License and once again joined the ranks of the Clayton fishing guides. In the spring of 2010 he kicked off his first season with Garnsey’s Classic Island Cruises. In addition to fishing trips, Jeff does wine and cheese cruises in both day and evening hours aboard Muskie.
Muskie is a 1953 Chris-Craft 28’ Super Deluxe Semi Enclosed originally purchased by the Heineman Family of Picton Island. Although fitted out as a fishing boat at the factory, she was used primarily for carrying guests and family to and from the mainland and around the Islands. Years later she was sold to Clayton resident Mickey Augustine who enjoyed her as his personal watercraft for many years before passing away. Mickey left her to his daughter Barb Phinney and was she only used by the family a couple of years before being putting into long term storage at the family’s residence. In the summer of 2009, Jeff discovered the boat and purchased her from the Phinney family. A duplicate of both his grandfather’s and father’s Chris-Craft fishing guide boat, she received the name Muskie the same as the last two generations of Garnsey fishing guides. Jeff restored Muskie over the course of 2 years. She now spends most days between May and November on the river fishing, touring or enjoying the scenic beauty of the Thousand Islands.
Part of the outfitting from the factory includes this faucet which is plumbed from the port engine cooling system to allow washing of fish, guts, and other things. With warm water no less.
There are also two copper lined boxes, one that is plumbed, and one with a removable liner to carry the days catch.
The original owner requested the factory inlay 1953 St. Lawrence River maps into the engine boxes. The maps are still on excellent shape.
The captain’s license of three generations of Garnsey guides are displayed under the finish of a custom table top.
For the 4 hour tour of the river, Jeff provided a local bottle of Chardonnay, and a grape, meat, cheese, and cracker platter, along with a small ice chest filled with water bottles for our enjoyment.
The weather in late August was perfect, scattered clouds and temperatures in the upper 70’s! The ride of the 28’ Muskie on the river was superb as we headed from Clayton toward Alexandria Bay. Repowered with 2 MerCruiser 3.0 TKS 4 cylinder engines, Muskie has plenty of get up and go!
Jeff provided personal stories of growing up in the area and related a lot of history about the Thousand Islands. The historic Round Island Post Office in Frontenac, NY has regular summer postal service for the 40 or so summer residents. Run by Josephine Van Order, mail is delivered to the post office via boat.
Jeff is well known along the river getting lots of waves from other boaters. He also told stories from his youth caring for boats along the river, among them “Flicker” in the boathouse and “Pin Tail” pulling in.
The hundred year old residences along the river are a site to see. Many are painstakingly restored and well cared for, looking beautiful even though they suffer thru the area’s rough winters.
The landscape of the area is quite stunning.
We saw quite a few Woody Boaters on the river, including this pre-war Chris-Craft Triple Cockpit Barrel Back with a Canadian burgee and American Flag, near Boldt Castle. The river hosts a wide variety of boat types and styles,
including ocean freighters, this one headed towards Lake Ontario. It is amazing to be up close to these large vessels.
Our trip to the Thousand Islands was a great getaway, and we are planning on future trips to further explore this wooden boat mecca. If you have the desire to see the area from the river, you cannot do better than Jeff as a tour guide and the wonderful ride of Muskie.