Time: ~5:30 AM to ~8:00 AM
Launch Point: Cherry Beach, Toronto, Ontario
Destination: Leslie Spit and thereabouts
Crew: Frank Lemire, Michael Mitchener & William Self
Conditions: Light and variable winds with smooth seas
Sightings: A sunrise cult, many sailboats at rest, wild broccoli, a large boat, cranes, an owl, a million cormorants, four obnoxious birds, an old wreck, tennis ball chasing dogs (although we missed Chyna), and one brave swimmer.
For the first paddle of the season, we met up at 5:00 am just as some of the neighbours were heading off to bed - always a sign that you're up too early. Given the recent summer solstice and the longer days, an early start is the only way you'll manage to catch the sunrise on the water. There was a thin strip of pink on the horizon as we drove across the drawbridge and approached Cherry Beach. It didn't take long to park, unload Nessie, and carry everything down to the water where we were treated to a beautiful sunrise with much colour against the clouds. In short, perfect conditions for canoeing.
After paddling past the iconic lifeguard station, we canoed towards Ashbridges Bay and cut across the water to the Inner Harbour Marina. There was an amazing variety of boats moored in the marina and I always get a kick out of the quirky boat names (e.g. Seas the Day). After a quick cruise through the marina (where we were warned to watch our wake), we turned around and headed out towards the red bridge at Leslie Spit.
It was a peaceful and quiet morning until we reached the cormorant nesting area which is normally inaccessible during the summer months unless you're in a boat (or roll like William Self). Thankfully, the cormorants kept their distance and after many pictures and many sites, we turned Nessie around once again and headed back to shore. It was a great morning on the water other than we were either too early or too late to meet up with Chyna the Wonder Dog.
After strapping Nessie back on to the car, we stopped for a coffee at Voulez-Vous and admired Frank's new camera which thankfully survived its first canoe trip. A great first paddle of the season. Here's to many more.
Want more Nikon meets Nessie? Be sure to check out Frank Lemire's Sunrise Canoe with the Urban Voyageurs story on 500px.com