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Gananoque to Boldt Castle

To Boldt Castle via The Wolfe Island Cut and Clayton

(This is the long route to Boldt Castle taking about 6 hours)

Leaving the marina, you will head into the Bateau Channel. Turn left, heading east. You’ll be passing the Howe Island ferry. It’s a cable ferry so you want to pass well behind it. Up ahead you’ll see channel markers. The markers that are both red and green mark an intersection of two channels. You’ll see one after you pass the ferry. Heading southeast, you’ll pass the green marker, JH 1. Keep it on your left. Go between Aubrey and Mermaid Islands, two islands in the Thousand Islands National Park. This will take you into open water (if it’s quite windy, you may want to choose a different route due to high waves). In the open water, look for the markers, e.g, H34 (red). You will enter the Wolfe Island Cut around marker PV8 and follow the markers down to PV2. This will take you in the main shipping lane. Watch for freighters and Lakers.

Go east to Clayton, New York. There is a US Customs phone reporting station by the public dock. Just look for the big red building (the Thousand Islands Inn) on the shoreline when you head in. The US Customs dock is just to the right of that.

Once you have cleared Customs, you should take a look around the town. It has been named one of the “coolest small towns in America.” How cool is that? It is also home to the Antique Boat Museum, a must-see while you’re there. And if you think your houseboat is big, be sure to visit George Boldt’s houseboat. It’s part of the museum.


To Boldt Castle via the Lake Fleet islands and Eastern Grindstone Island

Follow out along the Bateau channel as above. When you pass the Howe Island ferry and reach the intersection marker, turn left heading east past the red marker J16. Beaurivage is on your right. This is an ideal place to stop for the night if you’re planning an early morning return to the marina. (Mermaid and Aubrey are also good.)

Follow the channel markers toward Gananoque, passing McDonald Island on your right. After green marker J8, turn right heading south. Stay in the channel with the red markers on your right, passing the house that’s as big as the island it sits on.

Take in the beauty of Thwartway Island

After marker J17 and past Hay Island turn left heading southeast. Pass between Huckleberry Island and Little Huckleberry Island. Tuck in close to Little Huckleberry Island and continue southeast. The large island ahead of you is Thwartway (Leek) Island. On the southwest side of the island are mooring cans. This is a beautiful and quiet spot to stop for the night. No generators are allowed so you have an undisturbed stay. (Remember that your houseboat appliances are powered by propane so no generators are necessary.) There are no docks on the island. If you have a canoe or dingy, you can get ashore at the little landing in the bay. It’s a great island to explore.

If you continue east you’ll pick up the markers and the beginning of the Lake Fleet islands. Here you’ll find two of the prettiest islands in the Thousand Islands National Park: Camelot Island (appropriately named) and Endymion Island (also appropriately named if you’re up on your Greek mythology.)

Several spots to stop for the night

These are both great places to stop for the night. Camelot has six mooring cans, two on the northeast side of the island and four in the most westerly bay on the south side. The docks are on the southeast side of the island. The best way to approach the docks is to go around Niagara Island to get on the south side of Camelot. (You’ll spot Niagara Island easily because it has a distinctive, large pink house/cottage perched on the eastern side of the island. It’s a good landmark when you’re returning from the east.)

To get to Endymion, after you come around Niagara Island, turn east. You’ll see the National Park sign of the west end of the island. Endymion also has mooring cans (four in a southern bay) and docks at the east end of the island.

Heading east continuing on your way to Boldt Castle and Alexandria Bay, you can follow the channel markers for easy navigating. On your right is Wellesley Island on the US side.

Heading under the 1000 Islands bridge

You can either go north of Ash Island or south, between Ash and Wallace Islands. Both routes have channel markers. These routes converge again as you approach the Thousand Islands Bridge and two more islands in the Thousand Islands National Park: Georgia and Constance Islands. Both have docking. Be sure to pay close attention to your charts if you navigate around these islands.


Continuing east, you’ll follow the channel, pass Club Island and then swing south, past Mary Island New York State Park. Keeping Deer Island on your left, you’ll head into the main shipping lane. (Be sure to keep a watch out for freighters: they’re big and they don’t have breaks.) Rounding the corner, swinging back west, you’ll get your first glimpse of Boldt Castle up ahead on Heart Island.

US Customs and Immigration is on Heart Island so you enter the US right at the castle. (If you go, be sure to take your kids into the “playhouse” built for the Boldt children. It even had its own bowling alley.)

After your visit to Boldt Castle, you may want to go to Alexandria Bay for gas. It can get busy so give yourself time if it’s a busy time of the year.

If you’re looking for a place to park for the night in the US (before clearing Customs on your return to Canada) you can back track after Mary Island and head into the Lake of the Isles. It’s sheltered and provides a good place to anchor for the night. The water is also great for swimming.

Going Stateside for Clayton vacations


Via Camelot Island: a scenic route

This can be a very pretty cruise, especially if you can navigate through some of the lesser channels. (A GPS or a navigation app can be a great help.) Leaving the Bateau Channel, you can follow the channel markers east toward Gananoque or you can tuck in behind Beaurivage Island and then follow a narrow channel on the south sides of Lindsay and McDonald Islands for a closer look at some of the Thousand Islands original cottages.


From the Middle Channel to the Main Channel

When you reach the Gananoque area, you’ll be coming up on buoy JE3. Turn south and follow the cut around Hay Island and then southeast crossing on the north side of Huckleberry Island. You’ll then see Thartway ahead of you and green marker (H31) at the beginning of the Lake Fleet Islands. Follow the marked channel east and when you reach Canoe Point State Park, turn south, taking either the west or east side of Picton Island. Your Clayton vacations await you as you cross the Main Shipping Lane.

Clayton Antique Boat Museum: a must-see

After you clear US Customs (there is a telephone reporting station at the main dock) you can set foot in what has been named one of ‘the coolest small towns in America’ and soon realize why Clayton vacations are so popular. From local artists and artisan shops, historic buildings, to cheese shops (River Rat Cheese for great curds and other cheese specialties) and the famous Antique Boat Museum, Clayton is quintessential Thousand islands. Want to know where Thousand Island dressing was born? It was right here.

Rideau Canal & Locks


There are several online resources for the Rideau Canal and area. Ken Watson has created an extensive and comprehensive resource on this national treasure. He has also authored several books on the area, including Tales of the Rideau, a great read for both adults and kids. (For a list of Ken’s books and how to get them, click here.) Ken’s site, the Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada and the Rideau Heritage site are excellent resources if you are planning a Rideau Canal houseboat vacation. And what better way than in one of our houseboats? After all, Houseboat Holidays has been providing Rideau Canal houseboat rentals for decades. Let us help you plan a great Rideau Canal vacation.


First stop, Kingston

If you want to stop in Kingston before you head up the canal, there are several marinas in the area to choose from. There are two islands belonging to the Thousand Island National Park (Cedar and Milton) where your park season pass allows you to dock free of charge. Historic Kingston is a destination in itself and we’ve had customers who rent a houseboat to use it as their base while they explore all that Kingston has to offer. (It’s often less expensive than hotel costs for a family.)

The Locks

To travel the entire Rideau Canal can take 6 or 7 days, each way so if you plan to see it all, plan for at least a two week vacation and houseboat rental. If your vacation is shorter, you will still experience the best of the canal and the locks, the first on your trip to be found at Kingston Mills. Watching the locks in action is a thrill for both adults and children. In your houseboat, you are actually part of it: a real treat. These locks are still hand operated, just like were over a hundred years ago. It’s a living history and you’re part of it.

The Lakes

There are several lakes and other waterways feeding into the river so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore beyond just the canal. If you plan to travel the Rideau and want suggestions on great places to anchor or dock, talk to Pete or Neil when you’re loading your boat. And don’t forget to ask for the charts you’ll need. All the boats have charts of the Thousand Islands section of the St. Lawrence. Charts for the Rideau Canal are provided on request.

What better way to explore the Rideau Canal than by houseboat?  We can help you plan your trip and let you know about the many lakes and rivers connecting to the Rideau and the best spots to stop while you explore this special Canadian waterway.

The Navy Islands to Rockport East


Via Camelot Island: a scenic route

This can be a very pretty cruise, especially if you can navigate through some of the lesser channels. (A GPS or a navigation app can be a great help.) Leaving the Bateau Channel, you can follow the channel markers east toward Gananoque or you can tuck in behind Beaurivage Island and then follow a narrow channel on the south sides of Lindsay and McDonald Islands for a closer look at some of the Thousand Islands original cottages.


East to the International Bridge

After the Navy Islands, you can either go north of Ash Island or south. Either way you’ll end up by Georgina and Constance islands and under the Thousand Islands International Bridge. If you stop at Georgina, you can take the trail around the island and see some of the bridge from the ground. It’s an impressive piece of engineering.

Continuing east, you’ll pass the park on Hill Island and once you pass Club Island, you’ll have the quaint village of Rockport on your left. It’s a pretty village and a good place to get gas.

From here, you can either head south toward Alexandria Bay and Boldt Castle on Heart Island (where you will need to clear US Customs). If you continue further east rather than going south to the US side, you’ll have the choice of two routes. One takes you east on the north side of Grenadier Island and the other east by south route (the Canadian Middle Channel). You’ll make your way to Adelaide, the most eastern National Park island in the Thousand Islands. Just east of that you’ll see Singer Castle on Dark Island towering over the river. This attraction is well worth the visit. However, remember it is on the US side so you will have had to clear US Customs earlier to dock here and take the tour. (You can also take a tour boat out of Alexandria Bay, NY with Uncle Sam Boat Tours if you want to save time).

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