No shortage of correct identifications of the March image and many stories including three great ones from Peter Mabee, Allen Benas and Robert Charron, all of whom just have to receive a set of prints for their efforts, but ultimately there is room for just one "official" winner.
That would be Allen Benas of the Thousand Islands Inn in Clayton for sharing this:
“You finally picked an easy one for me, since I fish those waters so often. taken from over Grindstone looking NW into the sunset with Jolly down to Barge Island in the foreground and the Admiralty Islands at the top. Here’s my story:
It was a hazy mid September afternoon in 1966 and I was captaining a tour boat, the 98 passenger, single deck MISS CLAYTON, for the American Boat Line that operated out of Clayton and Gananoque. It was close to 4 P.M. in Clayton and our task was to return passengers to Gananoque that had boarded there at 1:30 P.M., and deadhead back to Clayton. It was my last day of work for the season, having to return to college in Boston the following day.
We left Clayton and all was fine but as we got closer to Gan, the fog began to set in and by the time we got to Gan. the visibility was about 3/4 of a mile. I told my deckhand that if we could just get the passengers off and get back out onto Forty Acres and get a line on Hickory Island, we'd be OK. The only potential problems remaining, and significant ones, were that the boat didn't have a compass and we had to clear the small shoal off the west side of Leak (Thwartway) Island, on the downstream end of Forty Acres. Back then it was marked by a red stake buoy. Today it has a white T.I. Association shoal marker.
We swung out the Hay Island Channel and got a bead on the large field on Hickory Island and with that, the fog reduced the visibility to only a matter of feet. I quickly decided to return to Gan. for the night, but not having a compass and watching our wake for direction, I couldn't be sure we turned a full 180 degrees in the process, which, as it turned out, we didn't. We had turned 270 degrees and were between Kalaria and Leak Islands heading down the south shore of Hay Island towards Huckleberry. I knew where we were, just not precisely enough to navigate it.
I asked my deckhand to get the anchor ready on the stern and bow and to go out on the bow and yell as soon as he saw anything. We were just edging ahead and shortly he yelled "island ahead." I told him to drop the anchor and tie the line on the cleat with lots of line out and then go to the stern, and when I hollered out, drop the anchor and tie it off. I put the boat in reverse to back off the island and set the anchor and when we stopped I hollered to drop the stern anchor.
We were well secured for the night with not much to sleep on, other than some school bus seats and cork life preservers for pillows. Supplies included an array of chocolate bars, potato chips and some soft drinks. It wasn't cold so we knew we weren't going to freeze or starve to death. We had a CB radio on board so I called the Clayton office and told them where we were and that everything was fine, although that wasn't what I had in mind for my last night at home. O'Brien's would surely suffer.
It wasn't long before seagulls began to land on the long bow of the boat. Even they couldn't find land. Shortly after that we heard a boat and low and behold a 20 some foot runabout pulled up along side with four people asking how to get to T.I. Park. I asked them if they were nuts, but they said no. Yes, they were! Other than pointing "that-a-way" down river, the directions left a lot to be desired, but off they went. I called the office to report that too, so that in the morning they would know their last known location and where to begin the search. (Just kidding!)
The night went on, we slept a little and finally around 4 A.M. it had cleared. We pulled up the bow anchor, a relatively light Danforth and then went to tackle the stern anchor, a huge, traditional ships anchor that outweighed both of us, combined. We pulled into Clayton around 5 A.M., greeted by one of our large double deckers still tied to the front dock, apparently unable to navigate to its regular overnight dock up in the bay, due to the fog.
We tied up at the front dock, for the next crew to take over for the day's schedule, and I went home, took a shower, packed the car and was off to Boston. I heard the next weekend that the boat with the four people had, indeed, eventually made it to T.I. Park. God must not have had anything else to do that evening.
Today, of course, with all of the modern electronics, this would never happen. It might not have then, if I had only had a compass. Around here, an accurate compass on a boat is like that credit card that you should 'never leave home without.' Don't get me wrong, electronics are great, but the power never fails on a compass.”
A great story Allen, many thanks. I know exactly what you’re talking about as I had a similar experience while out shooting pictures one morning in my plane, forcing me down unexpectedly. Without a propellor (in the water) I eventually decided to taxi the five miles home, blind. They were the strangest five miles I’ve ever travelled. If I can find the time to focus on it, the longer version might eventually appear in a written book I’m working on that will share some of my unlikely Thousand Islands adventures.
Paul Malo’s online magazine has been going out to the recipients of these screensavers. Server issues suggest the March notification may not have reached everyone, so if you didn’t receive the notice two weeks ago, this link will take you to that issue and the site which also serves as a very comprehensive Thousand Islands resource: www.ThousandIslandsLife.com.
As the countdown to summer during this old fashioned winter finally gets shorter, I’ll share this image with you for April. As usual, a set of 6 prints awaits the best story about the area pictured:
Beginning this month, we have added a "comments" section for this and earlier postings. Please feel free to share comments or stories that you think others might appreciate.
Download wide-angle version
Trying To Set a Fishhook in Jell-O March 2008The current screensaver is but one of a series of dramatic backlit photographs of the Admiralty Islands taken at sunset by Ian Coristine. This series is among my favorites, and when we organized an exhibition of Ian’s photography at Onondaga Community College in November of 2006, Paul Malo suggested that we use a similar photo for the exhibition poster because of its abstract and painterly qualities. This shot was taken over the north shore of Grindstone Island looking northwest. Webster Point, Jolly Island, The Punts and Barge Island are in the foreground, Leek Island (aka Thwartway Island on Canadian charts) is in the middle ground to the left and the Admiralty Islands fill in the background. This area of the River is one of my favorite cruising grounds. It is endowed with several Canadian National Park Islands and countless quiet anchorages that beckon cruising sailors. During the past 27 years, I’ve often spent an entire week or more sailing and gunkholing among these picturesque islands. When I wanted a change of scenery, I would simply pull up the anchor and sail to a different location. Having a good anchor and knowing how to properly set it are important considerations if one wants to have a good night’s sleep aboard. I soon realized that a standard Danforth anchor does not hold well on the weedy bottoms one often encounters on the River. Since I anticipated getting a larger boat someday, I bought a larger anchor, chain and rode that was required for Mischief, my 26’ Carl Alberg designed Pearson Ariel. My choice for a primary anchor was a Bruce. Its one-piece construction is easy to handle and has the advantage of being able to reset itself when a wind change causes the boat to swing. Leek is one of the largest National Park islands with a beautiful anchorage in sheltered bay on its southeast shore. Mischief drew less than four feet and was ideally suited for gunkholing If the mooring buoys were taken, as they often were during the high season, it was relatively easy to anchor in about six feet of water behind the moored boats. After setting the anchor, I would tie a stern-line to a bolder on shore to prevent me from swinging into the other boats. I recall one particular cruise to Leek in August of the early 1990’s. After setting the anchor, rowing the inflatable dingy ashore to register and having a delightful swim, it was time to set the cockpit awning and prepare dinner. The gas grill was mounted on the boat’s stern, so I untied the dingy and moved it from the stern to the side of the boat; a maneuver that would later save my boat! It was a warm and peaceful evening, and after another swim, it was time to retire for the night.I was awakened around 5:00 AM by violent thunder, lightning and increasing winds. A squall was moving through the anchorage and the cockpit awning was acting as a sail. I got up and quickly removed the awning and started the engine. My intent was to motor ahead slowly in order to take some strain off the anchor line. I tossed the awning below, and before I could return to the tiller, the anchor lost its grip on the bottom and I was blown to a large bolder on the shore. The inflatable dingy acted as a giant fender and kept the boat from pounding on the bolder! At this point I noticed I didn’t even have time to put on any clothes!About twenty boats were anchored in the bay, and everyone dragged their anchor. I donned my rain slicker, tossed off the stern line and went forward to haul in the anchor line. I’m not sure how I managed, but I was able to pull the boat off the bolder and into deeper water. With the wind pushing me back towards shore, there wasn’t time to raise the anchor, so I untied the rode and tossed it overboard. I barely made it back to the helm before being tossed back on the rocks. I put the boat in gear and slowly motored out into the channel. The storm departed as quickly as it arrived. After things calmed down, I motored back to the anchorage in the coming dawn and retrieved my anchor. (I always tie a float with a trip-line connected to the anchor’s stem for this purpose.) I rest the anchor, retrieved the stern-line and retied it.I checked below for damage and everything was dry. After sunrise, I dove under the boat to check for external damage. All was well, or so it seemed. About two weeks later, I was sailing in heavy air near Clayton when I heard a “thud” against the hull. The tiller was responding, but was difficult to turn. I reduced sail and went back to Clayton. After another inspection, all seemed to be fine. Later that week, I sailed to Gananoque. When the boat speed exceeded 4 knots, the difficulty in turning the tiller returned. I soon discovered the rudder was split in two and just hanging on by one bolt at the top. Under four knots the tiller was fine and there wasn’t any pressure on the hem. But, I wasn’t sure I could make it back to Clayton so I started to call some friends just in case I needed a tow. Peter Parker graciously answered my call and met me on the way back. I made it home, but it was evident the sailing season had come to an end. The boat was hauled and the rudder repaired in time for the next season. When I told a fellow sailor of my ordeal, he said, “Anchoring in the clay bottom at Leek Island is like trying to set a fishhook in Jell-O.”Robert Charron
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
How do you start to describe the playground where you started your life - lived your life - and are sharing this experience with your child ? We need to ask ousleves - "What are we passing on to the next generation" ? The islands in Ian's picture are actually portions of two of the St. Lawrence Islands well-known "groups" - that of the "Admiralty" and "Lake Fleet" - both south of Gananoque at the beginning of the St. Lawrence River - east of Wolfe and Howe Island. We are looking west towards the east end of Howe Island, the setting sun catching the northern edge of Thwartway Island (local Leek) mid picture. The western set of the Lake Fleet group is in the foreground - the international border bisecting the islands among them; the Admiralty group fills the uppermost portion of the photo. This part of the river has been the centre of my life since my birth; and remains so today. Swimming on the beaches of Leek; scuba diving the depths in several locations; fishing virtually every inch of this scene; sailing and windsurfing the protected waters east of Leek - experiencing this portion of the River - are something that I have taken for granted. I have been a resident here for almost 50 years, through a time of environmental change that is unprecedented. In my lifetime, we have seen immense changes in water quality. Many of us remember long filamentous algae on the rocks in the 60's - only to be replaced by "improved" water quality - clear water - in the 90's with beaches and shores that now are a hazard to wading swimmers owing to sharp zebra mussel shells. We have witnessed muskellunge die-offs - a result of viral hemorrhagic septicemia in 2006 - every summer, we all see a change in water quality and the effects it can have. White tailed deer occupy most of the islands you see here - something that traditionally did not occur - robbing the landscape of important regeneration of native tree and shrub species. This population shift is a result of climate change, improved survival, reduced hunting effort and habitat improvement on the mainland. Within this portion of the river the fish popluations continue to flourish, changed albeit, to invasion of the zebra mussel, round goby, river rudd and many, likely to this point, unrecorded invaders. Where will our fisheries resources be in ten years ? Through the 80's, the forests on these islands experienced infestations of gypsy moth caterpillar, short-horned oak worm and the forest tent caterpillar - most of which now are fortunately a mere nuisance. The Ice Storm of 1998 - a continental aberration - left a significant mark on the landscape which our forests are still recovering from today - virtually all of the islands in this picture bear the evidence. While it is apparent to those of us who have spent our lives "on the River" - we all need to remember, while we are here to enjoy this place, we must also take action to preserve it for the next generation. Take the time to make yourself aware of waterfront issues; engage yourself with causes that improve our environment; do your best to preserve our River heritage - we owe it to ourselves and the future "Riverkeepers". Ian has given us a unique perspective of the River - I was once a licenced pilot myself and enjoyed seeing my "playground" from this elevation. Why, from here, you can hardly tell there might be a water level problem ! Have a safe and enjoyable 2008 ! Peter MabeeA Humble Resident
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
This beautiful picture is taken looking northwest from over Grindstone, across to the Eastern tip of Howe Island in the distance, beyond the western end of the Admiralty group. The large island just to the left of the sunpath is Leek, or Thwartway as it's still identified on the charts. In recent years, we "Axemaniacs" have enjoyed a strong resurgence of interest in The Thousand Islands, and family members come from many parts of North America for our annual "reunion" in early August. This includes a large contingent of young people in their teens and twenties...and every afternoon we find ourselves sailing up this sunpath, chasing our hopes and dreams. I've come to cherish these times--this link to our younger generations fostered by the magic that is The Thousand Islands. Just recently, we've begun to document a very definite link between our Axeman Island and Leek Island which we're researching in much greater depth. It seems our islands were owned by the same family when my grandparents purchased Axeman in 1926. Leek Island was the site of a convalescent hospital facility for wounded soldiers during World War I. We are trying to find out if Axeman was used in any support capacity during that time. I recently Googled Axeman Island and was surprised to find a NY Times obituary from August 10, 1919. It documents the sudden death of Lilly Vail Squier on Axeman on August 4th. It was the first any of us had heard of this part of our island's history, and we immediately wondered if it had anything to do with the hospital affairs. We are actively pursuing all this with the help of many island friends, and I'll keep you informed of any further developments. Just as a curious aside, I started this journey of discovery only a few short weeks ago, so I've been looking at this very same picture quite a bit over those weeks. I find it interesting that you'd choose this same photo for this month.Scott Ritson,Axeman Island,The Lake Fleet.
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
Your March photo is finally a picture that I can place - which just shows that I don't get out of my neighborhood very much. The picture is looking toward the Admiralty Group of islands and is from the perspective of just above the edge of Grindstone island - in fact the very edge of Grindstone island is on the left of the photograph. The photo was taken at sunset - the sun casting that lovely light on the water. I grew up in this neighborhood and still live there after 51 years (at least every summer). In the center left is Leek Island (some call it Thwartway), where as a kid we would boat over to swim in it's sandy-bottomed coves. My own kids love swimming there now. In the right, closer to the top, is Hay Island which we look at from our living room. Towards the upper left is Bostwick with Half Moon Bay - brings back memories of handing out the hymn books and taking the collection from a canoe when I was 10. Just above Hay Island is Forsyth Island which has a granite quarry from the 19th century. Our little island (Irish Isle also known as Eagle's Crag) is to the left of Forsyth, almost as an appendage to it. With the low water this last year we could walk across - and the unfortunately the dogs did many times. In the far of the photo is the mainland west of Gananoque. The photo encompasses nearly my whole neighborhood; all of my fishing spots from just off the left hand side at 7 Pines (there is only one pine left) to the reeds off of Hay island off the right hand side; my sailing waters in the 40 acres shoals and the wide waters beyond; the places where as a boy I caught turtles and frogs off of McDonald Island. Thanks for the memories. Phil BatemanKaty, TX and Irish Isle, Gananoque, ON
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
Right now - even - we are in a discussion with Canadian - mostly Gananoque , friends as to the original owners of Leek ( Island ) and it ' s use as a recovery facility during WW I [ see attached photo - and some discussion - kindly sent to us on Axeman by our friend Larry Killen - with additional input from Jim ( Dr . James - on Big Stave ) Cote and his builder brother , Paul - all area natives , friends ] . Too , cousin Sandy Ritson has avidly researched sources for information . We at Axeman have a ' tangential ' interest in this , as Bill Buckley might have drolled . . . ; some say Axeman was also used by the ( Runyon / Kip ) family to provide ( as an adjunct to Leek ) recuperative and rehabilitative facilities to injured WW I veterans from more than forty regiments / units from throughout the British Empire !Wow . They provided an environment peaceful and healing ( maybe no longer the case with the many " Axemaniacs " we harbor each summer . . . )We - our grandfather - purchased Axeman from Dr . Medford ( Meford ? ) Runyon who eventually did own Leek and who ' s family as well owned the Golden Apple ( restaurant ) long ( and still . . . ) as your readers know a fixture to islanders on the corner of Route 2 in Gan .The Kip ' s owned Leek first - or , as well , or , ' mostly ' and it is there folks are attempting to sort out who / when as to the first original owners of Leek / Thwartway subsequent to it ' s being a Bureau of Indian Affairs ( Ottawa ) island where - we guess - it was held in trust for the original Native Americans .Dr . Runyon was originally engaged to lead the recuperative effort .Too , apparently members of the New York Stock Exchange were financial backers of the hospital ; I myself coincidentally a former stock exchange broker - American Stock Exchange - knew Leo Friede of Sugar Island as a boy .Leo an International Deck Canoe sailor and member of the N Y Stock Exchange may or may not have been a contributor.Leo had the camp directly across from Headquarter ' s Dock ( and his lovely very blond wife ) on Sugar ; too they owned - and ' parked ' there , the famous - certainly to us kids ( it ' s passing , even way over close to Grindstone , brought us racing ' cross island to view it . . . ) Bon Papa speedboat - a Hackercraft I believe ( as per brother , Bob . ) Boat name said reverently !Leo subsequently purchased Princess Charlotte eventually selling it to the Wright’s ; Gan ' s Wright ' s Woolens family .Leo ' s s son John serendipitously appeared in my freshman class at college .So , it is the view toward the sunset and the Admiralty Group beyond from somewhere above the main Canadian channel. Bravo !Too , the international cooperation aspect as to the N Y Stock Exchange members contributing money to support the island hospital .We don ' t know who those members were ( sure would like to . )Larry , Jim , Paul , cousin Sandy , others , are still hard at work on this . Jim ( Cote ) , PHD , a Professor at the University of Western Ontario . . . in the Sociology Department - has contact with the Gananoque Museum which apparently has much more on this long ago facility . Has always fascinated me - also my sister Patty dated Andy Kipp - of the ' family ' who would - to me - appear mysteriously out of the west ( from over Leek way ) to visit her at Axeman . Too , we utilized Leek for years as our ' shore dinners ' facility with it ' s wonderful sand beaches on the Wide Waters .Jack Patterson, Axemaniachttp://collectionresurrection.blogspot.com/2007/03/from-your-soldier-patients.html
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
Ahhhh, for once, I immediately recognized the Monthly contest photo. It is one of the only two spots I can honestly say I know very well on the River. This sunset shot of the Admiralty islands is in the Gananoque area. At the very top of the picture one can make out the point on the mainland from where the Howe Island Ferry leaves. My parents and I used to sit on the back deck of Binnacle Island and watch the sun set over the ferry as it made it's last trip for the evening. It is (or at least it was, 20 years ago) a cable-driven ferry so it was an important lesson to not follow it too closely in a power boat. One memory I have of life on Binnacle Island was swimming over to Beau Rivage Island, a provincial park island just a short distance from Binnacle. Of course I realize that to do that today would probably be considered an illegal border crossing since Binnacle is a US owned Island (the Syracuse Power Squadron). Another favorite memory was our Sunday trips to Half Moon Bay on Bostwick Island (pictured) for the evening vesper services held there each week. Several of the local (Gananoque) churches took turns leading the services with a BYOB (bring your own boat) congregation anchored in the small inlet. I'm not sure how I pulled it off, but I was invited to sing at one of the services one time (singers and speakers get to be on dry land, on the island's makeshift podium). I will never forget looking out at my floating audience as I sang. Though, admittedly, in a setting that beautiful I noticed that very few were looking back at me, but were taking in the wonder of this unique island sanctuary. The other memory I have of the weeks we spent on Binnacle was that when I saw a tour boat going by the island I would sometimes pull out my trumpet and give it the one long; two short blasts of greeting. By the end of the week, the tour boat was actually swinging closer to the island (I had clearly become a tourist attraction). I mentioned doing this one time to a friend of mine who was a Tuba player. I later heard he tried the same greeting on a few passing freighters over in the US channel. Thankfully, none of them tried to alter their course to respond to him since he was tooting from well outside the main shipping lane. Patty Mondore
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
The March photo is the up-river end of the Lake Fleet Group. You are looking west and south into the setting sun over the Admiralty Group. Two items strike me as I look at the shot. The first is just how much Jolly Island looks like a tuning fork (towards the left of center). Jolly Island is beautiful and would be three islands were it not for the millennia of soil in the middle section which connects all three. The second is Gig Island (second in from the right just left of Barge Island. For all of my life Gig was one island until the owners removed a low-lying strip of soil which ran lengthwise, making two islands out of one. The natural cleft can be seen on the upper part of the island. Michael BrinkRamsden Island
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
This picture is taken over the north shore of Grindstone Island looking to the west northwest. Jolly Island is on the left with Huckleberry Island on the right and the sun setting between the two. Leek Island is just behind Jolly. The Howard Smiths own the property right below the airplane on Grindstone Island. My sister in law was married to the oldest son Rick. Rick's father started Link-Built, and fell in love with the river, and began buying up property on Grindstone Island. He owned hundreds of acres prior to his death of a heart attach in his forties. From there front porch, I have experienced a similar sunset.John DarcyWest Henrietta, NY
ian posted on: Monday, March 31, 2008
I so look forward to your email every month and your work finds its way on my Christmas list each year. I eagerly wait to read the winning story just to bring myself back to my fond memories of the Islands. This months winner has motivated me to send this email. I must say the winning story by Allen Benas of the Thousand Islands Inn in Clayton had me sitting forward in my chair. I felt as if I was right there stranded in the fog. I was emotionally moved and it has really put me in countdown mode until my first visit to the Islands. Although my family has sold its place in Sand Bay, we still visit often and camp along the Seaway at any chance. I sincerely appreciate the effort you put in to the monthly communications. Keep it up! Jim BellsoPhoenix, NY
Jim Bellso posted on: Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I have to say that it was a winner of a story especially for young boaters who may not have the wisdom to wait for better weather. I know as kids we had that drilled into us.Michael Brink,Ramsden Island & VT
Michael Brink posted on: Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Okay okay okay! Allen showed us all up (WHAT A STORY!!!!).Patty MondoreJamesville, NY
Patricia Mondore posted on: Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Can Allen B. tell us who his deck hand was? Many of us have family and friends who worked those routes.
Sarah Boss posted on: Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Hi Sarah: My deckhand was Gary Matthews, who had worked with me for a few years as he began his family. He passed away many years ago at much too early an age, while his children were very young. At the time of his death his wife, Bonnie, worked for Susan and me at the Inn as a server. She got the call while on duty and she and Susan rushed to their home. Gary, as all of the Matthews brothers, have been dear acquaintances of ours since our first introductions back in the 1960s. It was a sad day for everyone. Thanks for your concern. Allen
Allen Benas posted on: Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Having the opportunity of knowing most of the Islanders over many years, I remember this part of the river very well. I have been following the Leek Is research for the length of the discussion and I feel that many more discussions are necessary or will we lose a large part of the local history. To Mike Brink Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org as i may have part of a Penn story to relate. Peter Brooks
peter brooks posted on: Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Mr. Jack Patterson - and others - Leo Friede was my Great Uncle, and his third wife, Mildred "Mimi" Ivory Friede owned an Island, and according to your information it was "Sugar Island." I know very little about this Island, other then they vacationed there quite a lot in the 1930s. I have a few photos in B&W of my aunt and others on the island. She was a great and essentric person and I remember her well - Uncle Leo died before I was born, she died early in life at 61 in 1969 in Mount Vernon, NY (complications of diabetes and cancer). She was a retired actress and model - having been on Broadway for many years at the Ziegfeld Theatre in the Ziegfeld Follies in the late 1920s and throught out the early 1930s. Uncle Leo was a champion canoeist and won many awards in his younger years - then was a Wall Street broker and investor. Their close friend was Max Baer the boxer, who stayed with them off and on many times in their NY City duplex penthouse. My father and I fished in the St Lawrence in the Thousand Islands many times as a young boy and adolescent - i have lots of those photos! It was a most special place to see and be! I would love to know more about Sugar Island and any photos you may have as well as any other stories you may have of the Friede's. email@example.com
Mark Allen posted on: Saturday, July 18, 2009