Lat: 44° 13.53 Long: 076° 28.58
The City of Kingston, Ontario is renowned as the freshwater sailing capital of the world. Its consistently windy waterfront, past hosting of the 1976 Olympic sailing events and the annual Canadian Olympic-training Regatta Kingston (CORK) all cement that reputation. Every August, hundreds of boats and thousands of sailors compete on courses set in the idylic St. Lawrence River and out into Lake Ontario. The Kingston waterfront is a mecca for cruising and competitive sailors alike.
Established by the early French explorers, Kingston later became a British stronghold with Royal Navy dockyards and fortress. To this day, Kingston plays a significant role in the life of the Canadian Forces as home to the Royal Military College. Serving once briefly as Canada's capital, Kingston was the home of Sir John A. MacDonald, an architect of Confederation and Canada's first Prime Minister.
The city is an eastern gateway to the Great Lakes and a terrific base from which to explore the 1000 Islands towards Montreal or the Rideau Canal that meanders north to the nation's capital, Ottawa.
FROM THE EAST (St. Lawrence River) Staying on the north side of Wolfe Island, follow the channel west. As you do, be aware of the charted shoals in the centre areas of the channel. All are marked with lights. When you clear the south tip of Cedar Island, you can alter course to 285oT. (Note - the ferry route that follows this course line.) This course will bring you to the entrance to Kingston harbour - the mouth of the Cataraqui River. FROM THE WEST (Adolphus Reach & the North Channel) Follow course of 065oT leaving the Brothers Islands to your starboard. Do NOT pass south of the Brothers Islands! When you clear the Fl GREEN light on Centre Brother Island, change course to 101oT. Approximately 3.5 nm will bring you abeam the Fl GREEN light (K5) off Carruthers Point. Change course to 080oT and hold for 3 nm til you clear the Fl GREEN light (K1) on Myers Shoal on your port. Change course to 010oT and hold for approximately 4 nm to enter the Cataraqui River.
FROM LAKE ONTARIO Coming in from the Lake, make your course to the Fl GREEN light (K9) that lies between the eastern tip of Amherst Island and Simcoe Island. Leave K9 on your starboard and pick up the Carruthers Point RWG Range light. This will give you a course of 046oT and a distance to run of approximately 2.5 nm. When you see K5 Fl GREEN light on your starboard beam, change course to 080oT and run approximately 3 nm til you clear the Fl GREEN light (K1) on Myers Shoal on your port. Change course to 010oT and hold for approximately 4 nm to enter the Cataraqui River. LASALLE CAUSEWAY BRIDGE (613-545-8359)
This bascule bridge marks the beginning of the inner harbour and helps form Anglin Bay. The bridge opens on the hour from 0800 till 2200 EXCEPT at 0800, 1600 and 1700. Boats with less than 16' air draft can clear under it. Otherwise, note your timings and approach accordingly.Call the bridgemaster if additional information is needed.
The Kingston water front area is affected by a strong magnetic anomaly caused by mineral deposits in the immediate area. The CHS pilot books for both the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River describe it thus:
"The normal variation of the compass for the shores adjacent to Kingston Harbour was about 12 degrees west, but along the front of the city it is not less than 18 degrees in the same direction. At the Government Drydock [Kingston Shipyards] it is as much as 30 degrees west, and abreast the Penitentiary it is 18 degrees east. A short distance west of Rockwood Asylum, the variation is again normal. Midway between Pt. Frederick and Garden Island, the amount of westerly variation is 20 degrees. At Simcoe Island it is again normal."
Care is needed when navigating in and around Kingston harbour. The harbour limit is defined as extending from the south shore of Cedar Island in a straight line to the south shore of Carruthers Point.
North of that line you are entering a harbour from the sea. Thus, red buoys must be kept be to starboard and green buoys to port.
South of the harbor line you are to be going down the Lakes towards the sea and therefore departing harbour. Thus, the green buoys must be kept to starboard and red buoys to port.
This change in the buoyage can be confusing, especially if you are crossing back and forth over the harbour boundary as you cruise the area.
Considering both the magnetic anomaly and the buoyage changes, navigate with care.
MARINAS, YACHT CLUBS, MOORINGS, ANCHORAGES
Confederation Park City Marina 613-342-2134 | VHF 68
This is the preferred marina for many cruising sailors. It is large (approx 400 slips), centrally located and steps from Kingston's downtown with its many restaurants, pubs and shopping. Make sure that you use the southerly, deep-draft entrance. Avoid the northern entrance by Shoal Tower with its very real risk of grounding on unforgiving rocks. There is an ISO Green light marking the preferred entry. If you have any doubts, call the marina on VHF 68. You can make reservations up to 24 hours in advance of arrival for 1 of the 300 transient slips. This is a VERY popular marina that can be very very busy, especially during regatta season. Washrooms, showers and laundry are available as well as a convenience store. There are no fuel or service facilities. The downtown area is steps away.
Kingston Marina 613-549-7747 | VHF 68
Kingston Marina is located north of the LaSalle Causeway on the west side of Anglin Bay. It is easy to locate with its sign mounted on a large, 75-ton crane. There are up to 20 transient slips available. In addition to haulout facilities, the marina has fuel (diesel & gas), pumpout, washrooms, showers, and internet service. A sail loft is located nearby. Downtown Kingston is a few blocks west. In front of the marina is an anchorage offering good holding and protection.
Kingston Yacht Club 613-548-3052
KYC is located approximately 1/2 nm west of Kingston harbour. It is marked with 4 Fixed Red lights along the breakwater and a Fixed Green light at the end of the main dock. It is a small club offering limited dockage on a reciprocal-club basis. There is fuel (diesel & gas), pumpout, washrooms, showers and internet access.
Portsmouth Olympic Harbour 613-544-9842 | VHF 68
This was the location of the 1976 Olympic sailing competitions and today serves as the base for the Canadian Olympic-training Regatta Kingston (CORK) held every August. Located about 1.75 nm west of Kingston Harbour, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour has 250 slips and approximately a two dozen transient slips. The harbour entrance lies between the Kingston Penitentiary and a long breakwater marked with a Fixed Green light mounted on the end. Reservations can be made up to 24 hours in advance of arrival. Harbour services are provided by a yacht service company and include fuel (diesel & gas), pumpout, repairs and maintenance, washrooms, showers, haulout, internet service and a picnic/playground area.
The village of Portsmouth Harbour is about a block away. Here you can find a grocery store, bank (with ATM), pharmacy, laundry, hardware store and coffee shops/cafes.
Rideau Marina 613-456-6234 | VHF 68
This marina is located on the east side of the Cataraqui River, 2 miles north of the LaSalle Causeway bridge. It is a full-service marina with approximately 1/2 dozen slips for transient sailors. This is a much quieter are of the Kingston waterfront, situated several miles from the downtown. It has fuel (diesel & gas), pumpout, washrooms, showers, laundry, picnic area and a convenience store. As a full-service marina, it offers all types of repair and maintenance services including fibreglass and canvas repairs. A travel lift can handle up to 25 tons. Approximately 2.5 km/1.5 miles away is a supermarket with a pharmacy. A bank (with ATM) is nearby.
Navy Bay is located immediately to the east of Kingston's harbour entrance. There are anchorages available here. Be careful of shoaling which is extensive. Do not close with the shoreline. There are warves in the bay but these are completely private.
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE, PROVISIONING, BANKS/ATM's
Various services have been noted in specific marinas. What follows here is a listing of what is available across the waterfront.
Boat Repair Centre can carry out fiberglass repairs and also look after boat transport.
Boat Services Kingston can look after fibreglass repairs, hull painting and window sealing. Other repair services can be arranged such as engine repairs, canvas and sail work, etc. Haulout services are available. Bosun's Locker is located close to Confederation Basin. It carries a wide selection of marine supplies including charts, hardware, equipment, cleaning supplies, etc. It is situated within a general hardware store and other related equipment and kit can be found there as well. Canadian Awning and Canvas Products are makers of canvas products for boats. They manufacture and repair canvas, fittings, zippers, etc. Emergency service is available as well. Inflatable Repairs Kingston carry out warranty and non-warranty work on all major brands of inflatables. MP Marine is located at the northern edge of the city. MP Marine offers a full-service engine and electrical repair service. Important to note is that they also provide a 24 hour mobile response service. Kingston Sail Loft is ocated close to Kingston Marina. They make and repair sails. West Marine is a full-service chandlery. It is located quite a distance from the harbour front but offers virtually everything a cruising sailor could need. Items not in stock can be shipped internally from other West Marine stores. Downtown Kingston reflects the size of the City of Kingston. There are grocery stores and supermarkets, an excellent farmers market and liquor store within walking distance. Banks and pharmacies are easy to find as well as a wide variety of shops catering to all your needs and wants. Free internet is available at the public library and some cafes as well.
Kingston has a full range of medical services including excellent hospitals, clinics, many pharmacies and specialized medical services. Kingston General Hospital (613-549-6666) is located just west of the harbour.
Clinic Pharmacy (613-546-2611) is located about a block from the harbour.
PLACES TO EAT
Kingston Canada is blessed with a wide variety of very good restaurants and pubs. (And I have had many opportunities to sample both!)
Tir nan Óg is an outstanding Irish pub located downtown (Actually, there are 3 pubs under the roof but I'll let you search out the other 2). This is a well-known and very popular pub and its patio is a favourite gathering place. Live Celtic music is a definite draw.
Chez Piggy, known locally as 'the Pig' was established by Zal Yanovsky, one of the founders of the hit 60's rock band the Lovin' Spoonful. A longstanding Kingston favourite, it serves an international menu. Tucked away in a secluded courtyard, Chez Piggy offers good food and a charming setting.
Stoney's Waterfront Grill has a lovely limestone-walled dining room and a patio that overlooks the harbour The menu is diverse. I must admit I have only ever ordered the steak here and was never disappointed!
The River Mill has been a favourite of mine and many residents of Kingston for its fine dining. Located in a historic, renovated woollen mill, on the banks of the Cataraqui River, it offers a fine dining experience in an elegant setting.
If you have ever served in the Canadian Forces (or one of our allies' armed forces), worth checking out is a neat little pub on the southwest corner of Ontario and Clarence Streets, only a block or so from the harbour. It belongs to the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Brigade Association. On more than one sweltering summer day I have enjoyed an ice-cold beer in its small, upstairs bar and, if the beer was good, the conversation was even better!
THINGS TO DO/SEE/VISIT
Kingston's most famous attraction is the National Historic Site Fort Henry. It was built by the British government during the War of 1812 at the mouth of the Cataraqui River to protect the Royal Navy Dockyard. The present fort was constructed between 1832 and 1837, replacing the earlier fortification. Kingston's location was strategic as it served as an administrative centre for the British colony of Upper Canada and sat beside the major shipping route west of Montreal into the interior of the continent. There is a very active calendar of daily events and many special performances year round.
On the waterfront is the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, focused, naturally enough, on the development of commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. There are a number of other fine museums scattered throughout the city including the unique Penitentiary Museum located in the former Warden's home of Canada's most famous (infamous??) prison - Kingston Penitentiary.
Sailors might enjoy visiting the CCGS Alexander Henry, a retired Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker. She now serves as a museum ship. She is part of the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes and is tied up on the waterfront, just west of City Hall.
Confederation Park is the focal point of many summer festivals. Concerts are held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The
The Canadian Olympic-training Regatta Kingston (CORK) is held in August each year at Portsmouth Harbour. This world-class event brings sailors from around the world to compete.
The City of Kingston has an extensive system of walking trails and local tours - some of which will take you over to Wolfe Island. All-in-all, there is something for everyone to see and experience in this beautiful city. A quick look at this City of Kingston tourism site will give you many ideas on getting the most of your visit.
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