My Watermark is the Toronto Harbour of Lake Ontario.
In 2009, at the age of 45, I took up sailing at the Port Credit Yacht Club and pretty much jumped into racing that first summer. Bucking the trend of most sailors, I went from racing on bigger boats to smaller ones and in August of 2010 I bought a very fast, 20 foot sport boat called a Melges 20 and began one-design racing. We built a nice fleet in the Toronto/Mississauga region and have a summer sailing series, often times sailing out of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club on Toronto Island.
I’ve since spent a lot of time racing and socializing on and around the Toronto Island. The one thing about these small boats is when it’s windy it’s the most fun but you sure do get wet! If it is too windy to go out on the lake, we often run our races in the harbour. Those of us who are aware of the condition of the harbour water, especially after a heavy rain, just focus on having fun and racing hard and when we get hit by a large bow wave we try not to think about the sewage runoff. We sure are quick to shower off after racing, however!
Because my fiancé, Mike Wolfs, and I have been spending so much time sailing in the Toronto area, we recently bought a small powerboat so we can sleep over on the island during the regattas. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve taken friends and out-of-town competitors for a harbour cruise. Whether we’re hosting people who have lived their entire lives in Toronto or fellow racers from as far away as Japan, Brazil and New Zealand, one thing that amazes them all is the oasis we have right off the downtown of North America’s 7th largest city. As we tour the lagoons around the various islands where you can’t see or hear anything from the city people are astounded by how peaceful it is. Then, as we round a bend to head back toward the main harbour and the skyline comes into view, it truly is remarkable – especially at night! Many of our guests, who have travelled the world sailing, have told us that the Toronto skyline from the water at night is one of the most spectacular in the world. I certainly haven’t gotten tired of it and never miss an opportunity to show it off.
The Toronto Harbour is an absolute jewel in this city and we must protect it. Things need to change if we are going to keep the water quality safe enough that people can continue to enjoy water activities like sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding and maybe even swimming one day, without fear of getting sick.
We can all be Waterkeepers by doing our part to keep our beautiful lakes clean and spreading the word about this fabulous Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Initiative.