Not quite the “Tall ship” experience I had in mind 2 years ago when my husband and I tentatively signed up for a trip to the Antarctic on the Tall ship “Bark Europa”. Several “YouTube” viewings later showing hapless passengers battling to stay perpendicular to the ship’s permanent 45% tilt as it crossed the notorious Magellan Straits, we realized that we didn’t have the mental chops or stomach to do a trip like this! I would have had to be permanently sedated – the Bark Europa was tiny matchstick of a ship in the scale of the seas it had to negotiate!!
Lake Ontario is no Magellan Strait and “Kajama” (Ka ya mah) was a tame ride suitable for either your Granny or your toddler!
She is a 1930’s 3-masted schooner that retired to Toronto harbor in 2000 after a lifetime of plying the waters of northern Europe hauling lumber and steel and doing her bit as one of around 30 “powered” tall ships during world war 2. In that time she has undergone many facelifts and surgeries depending upon her cargo but finally she has gone full circle restored to her original beauty by the Great Lakes Schooner Company which owns 3 masted vessels on Lake Ontario; the others being “Challenge” and “Obsession” which are used mainly for charter.
Kajama is spending her autumn years “grazing” on the mainly calm waters of Lake Ontario and suffering the indignities of cack-handed tourists at her helm and backstays. Yes this is a vessel where tourists can participate in sailing……… Or simply sit back, eat, drink and enjoy Toronto’s increasingly spectacular skyline.
The ship exits the protective environs of Toronto Harbor through the channel at Billy Bishop Airport (Porter Airlines) and past Ontario Place, picking up the wind as it enters the Lake proper. Now the engines can be quieted and the sails unfurled to set her free to sail as history intended
She has only 4 deckhands, a Captain and second officer plus sundry catering/waiting crew, and they all work jolly hard especially when the ship is under sail; they make all the announcements and work their way around the passengers with a folder of archive material and pictures if the ship.
You can board the Kajama at the The boat is located at the foot of lower Simcoe Street behind the Power Plant Building between the Harbour Piers. I used a “Groupon” voucher discounted to $21.95 so see the website for correct pricing and schedules.
Tall Ship Cruises Toronto
Verdict – An incredibly pleasant and different way to see Toronto Harbor, but don’t expect any high excitement from the sailing; that should be reserved for marveling at the fact that you are “sightseeing” on a piece if living history!
Over and Out