Alice sails around Grand Island!

Dave Baker’s boat.

I got lucky. Dave Baker offered me a trip in his 31-foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge. Yep, it’s a boat! And not only was I offered the opportunity to take a boat ride, the boat ride actually occurred, which was the lucky part. The skies were gray on September sixth. It had rained nonstop during the previous night, with the added excitement of thunder and lightning. That makes for fine entertainment in the house but is not too good for a boating adventure.

Pip, fashionably attired in her life preserver, is ready for a Big Adventure.

It was drizzling on the morning of September sixth but the promised rain showers did not occur. Dave drove me in his bright yellow car to the North Buffalo marina where he keeps his boat. In the car, I got the chance to become acquainted with Dave’s black labrador retriever, Pip. She is a lovely girl, who is very affectionate and who quickly became enamored with kissing my face. As I enjoy Dog Kisses, I was very happy with my new canine friend.

At the marina, we hopped into the boat and waited for Dave’s friends to come. Before long, they had arrived. The companions for the journey were Doug and Sandra (a married couple) and Charlie. We listened to the weather report and discussed the pros and cons of proceeding with our adventures. The cons were: it might rain!!! The pros were: there is a roof on the boat. There is no small craft advisory. No storms are predicted, just spotty showers. We took a vote, and, to my glee, the “yes” vote won.

near the foot of Hertel Avenue in Buffalo

park in North Buffalo (maybe Riverside?)

the city is up there.

water tower for… I think… Town of Tonawanda

Industrial area in the Town of Tonawanda. 

Loads of parked boats.

another view of the parked boats.


Before long, we were off. We left the marina and headed off on the Niagara River, north to Grand Island. It is really something to see Buffalo from the water. I am used to seeing the Niagara River from the land. 

It didn’t take long before we were intercepted by a Boat Cop. We thought that we were about to be Boarded and Inspected, which I thought would be entertaining, but the others in the boat just thought would be irritating. Instead, the Boat Cop simply wanted us to move over because there was a boat race and us being in the way would be a Safety Hazard. We happily moved over. The boat race consisted of smaller boats with motors traveling at high rates of speed. I wondered if the folks in the racing boat got soaking wet. I never found out, as there was no way to ask questions of folks in speeding boats.

These are the Boat Cops,who steered us away from the race.

We traveled past the bridges that connect the Town of Tonawanda to Grand Island.  On the Tonawanda side, we could see a whole series of parks along the river. The Grand Island side was mostly houses and docks. I could see where the Erie Canal (also known as the Barge Canal) veered to the east. We continued north on the Erie Canal until we arrived at a large marina, called the Smith Boys marina. Charlie wanted a tour of that marina so we took it. There were the usual assortment of boats, large and small, and there were a few Official Boats, having to do with Border Security, to protect us from… um… Canada. Your tax dollars at waste… I mean, at work!

Traveling under the bridges between Tonawanda and Grand Island.

the East River, a view of Grand Island.

the bridge from a distance.

the Tonawanda side of the river.

a big structure in Tonawanda.


Smith Boys marina

a closer view of the marina

here is some border security.

Border Patrol protects us from… um…

No comment.

Life on the water.

After this Magnificent Tour of Our Tax Dollars at Waste, we returned to the river and continued heading north. We passed Byblos Niagara, which used to be the Holiday Inn, as we continued up the east river toward the City of Niagara Falls. After a while, there were no more houses. We were passing Buckhorn Island State Park. It looked very green from the river. There was a whole bunch of greenery in the river, which was interesting to see. Then we went under the north bridges, which are the bridges that connect Grand Island to the City of Niagara Falls. We went around the northern tip of Grand Island and began traveling southward along the west river. As we traveled up the middle of the river, Dave let me know that half of the boat was in the United States and half of the boat was in Canada. How cool was that? Fortunately, there was no Border Security from either the United States or Canada to protect themselves from… um… us. I stood in the middle of the boat and had one foot in the United States and one foot in Canada.

A dog’s eye view of a river journey

There are bears in the boat!

Bears in prime seating.

Alice and bears at the captain’s chair.

Grand Island looking very green.

the bridges that connect Grand Island to Niagara Falls.

West River Road, Grand Island

another view of the west side of Grand Island.

Dave Baker, captain of the boat

Back in Buffalo

Returning to the marina.

Here it is, the marina.

I remembered being at La Mitad del Mundo in Ecuador. First, I stood on the line, and I was standing squarely on the equator. Then I had one foot on the northern hemisphere and one foot on the southern hemisphere. This is an experience that will be worthy of storytelling for years to come. 

And standing on two countries at the same time gave me the same feeling.

We passed Riverside-Salem United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ environmental chapel, where people were, at that moment, working on firming up the floor of the the straw bale house. Dave suggested that we stop to work at that project. The suggestion was offered with some laughter so we ate lunch, instead of docking. We continued on our way and, eventually, passed Beaver Island State Park before heading back to the City of Buffalo. We returned to the boat’s home marina and Dave parked the boat, ending the adventure. It took us close to four hours. For sure, it is slower than driving a car and faster that walking. Since there was no hurry, the slow pace of the trip was quite delightful. I enjoyed seeing my community from that perspective. 

I am very grateful to Dave for inviting me on the journey and to the other sailors, Sandra, Doug, and Charlie, as well as Pip, a Dog at Sea.

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