Saturday, October 4, 2014

September 16th: Why Did I Wait This Long to Fly a Seaplane?!

We got up pretty early the next morning, threw together breakfast from random things we found in the apartment, and were in the car and on our way out of Toronto by 7am. Nothing like starting the first day of your trip with a two and a half hour drive north! It was for a good reason, though...

...I had a seaplane lesson that morning! Mark had suggested seeing if they offered seaplane lessons since we would be staying fairly close to the Toronto Downtown Airport, which was right on the water. I googled 'Toronto seaplane' or something like that and came across Georgian Bay Airways. It wasn't until I had already booked and confirmed a lesson that I thought to put the address into Google Maps...which is when I found out that it was actually quite a bit north of Toronto. Oops.

I was scheduled with Matt, one of their instructors, in a C180 on floats. We spent a little time going over airspeeds, float operations, and our plan for the flight before heading out to the plane. A short water taxi (and some boat dodging) later, we were out in open water and on our takeoff run. We climbed up to 1600', flew a few miles away from the harbor, and found a good spot between a few small islands to practice some landings.

Matt demonstrated the first landing, then had me do a few. I was surprised at how rough the touchdown was! The wind was probably 13-15kts, and the water was starting to get a bit choppy, so I don't know why I thought it would be smooth. Matt taught me how to pick a good landing area and a few ways to read the wind on the water, which was really cool. My landings went really well and all too soon, it was time to head back to the dock. I could have done landings all day long and been perfectly happy!

There weren't too many boats in the harbor when we returned, so we were able to land relatively close to the dock. 

Mark had my camera and was able to grab a couple pictures as we approached; you can just see us coming in over the trees. Matt had me line up fairly close to that big pile of rock salt off to the side on final.

I had to scoot a bit to the left once we cleared the rock salt, can just make out the two kayakers on the water! They got a nice show, since we flew right in front of them.


As we got closer to the dock, we removed our headsets and Matt got ready to jump out to dock the plane if needed. We shut down the engine as we turned, and Matt had me pull right up to the dock where one of the other guys from the office helped us secure the plane. It was a really fun lesson...I'd love to get my seaplane rating someday!

Since Mark couldn't ride along on the lesson, we had scheduled a short scenic flight so he could get to fly, too. I let him sit in the front, and I sat in the back and took pictures.

Parry Sound is a really pretty area...there are so many small islands! We had actually been doing our landings just in front of one of the bigger islands on the right side of this picture.

You can just make out the lighthouse on the tip of the island.

After making a big scenic loop we started to make our way back to CPS1 (the seaplane base). You can see the whole harbor area on the right side of the water.

Matt brought us in to land where we had earlier at the end of my lesson. This is how close we were to that pile of rock salt!   :)

We taxied past the cruise ship again...

...and made our way back to the dock to put the plane away.

It was a bit of a drive from Toronto, but man, was it worth it - that was really fun!

I, of course, wanted to take the plane home with me.

We wrapped things up with Matt (and I got him to sign my logbook, so now I have a whopping 1.1 hours of float time!), then said goodbye and went into town to grab some lunch. The food was pretty good, and toward the end of the meal an older lady who had finished her meal and was leaving made a point to stop by our table to tell me how much she liked my hair! I thought it was pretty funny...I don't know what it is about traveling, but more and more, people like to comment on my hair when I go someplace new. (If you can't tell from the above picture, I'm only 32 but my hair is almost completely gray and I've decided to embrace it rather than fight it.)

After lunch we started to drive back toward Toronto. On the way north we had seen numerous signs for cranberry bogs (and wine), so we decided to go check it out. An interesting ride through Mohawk Indian territory later, we wound up at Muskoka Lakes Winery.

Looking out over the cranberry bogs. I did a wine tasting and wound up buying a bunch of wine spritzers and two bottles of wine: a cranberry-blueberry mix that was fantastic, and a cranberry-maple ice wine. The guy at the winery said that the ice wine is really good if you pour it over ice cream...I may have to try that!

It took a while to get back to the highway from the winery, and we drove back through Mohawk territory. These signs kept cracking me up, but we actually saw a snake on the other side of the road shortly after we passed this sign! I hope the van coming the other way didn't run it over.

We got back to Toronto around dinnertime, so after dropping our stuff off at the apartment we walked a few blocks to Marben. The food was great and they had Dark & Stormys...yum! We spent the rest of the night relaxing at the apartment, listening to music while I drank wine spritzers and uploaded music. It was a pretty sweet first day in Canada!

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