Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Big Chute to Midland

The red line is where we opened up the engines a bit. Wee!
We experienced a genuine squall around 7:30 pm last night. We saw the skies turn dark while sitting on the fly deck, hanging out. On a hunch I took the bimini top down in front. We also moved the boat forward a bit to put it closer to shore (better cleats were on that part of the dock). Within minutes a rockin' wind came up, tossing us and all the other boats around. It didn't last long, but it was intimidating. Rain came soon after. By 10 pm, it was over.

The Big Chute rides like a really slow Disney ride. Kinda bouncy, a little scary, but amazing to do. When you queue up for the passing you tie on a blue line, just like all the other locks. Then they call you, so you may not get to go first, even if you got to the line before everyone else.

We chuted with the Jill Kristy, fellow loopers we met months ago on the Wahoo (wahoo!). They loaded first, and we tucked in behind them. Most boats have keels, or a v-shape to their hulls. The carriage has both slings and pistons that rise from the bottom to hold them in place as they travel. Not us. Since we have a flat bottom, we simply sat on the carriage without help. In other words, we rode the roller coaster without our seat belts.

Out the last lock. #45
Today marked the farewell to the Trent Severn. After The Big Chute there was only one lock, and then you're in the Georgian Bay, back to swollen waters. 

The journey was lovely -- narrow channels that weave their way between rocky island. One of the prettier rides on the waterway.

We're staying a Bay Port Marina, which is more sheltered and newer than the town marina. But it's about a mile from town. So, I'll get to use my brandy-spankin'-new bike!

Just the start of rocky islands here on the Georgian Bay

Monday, July 29, 2019

Orillia to The Big Chute

The deal at the Port of Orillia Marina was buy two nights, get the third free. So we did that, hanging out in the cute town, walking the street fair going on that weekend, and enjoying the lovely weather. 

Today we intended to stop and eat lunch at the restaurant in Severn Falls. Apparently, so did half of Canada. The dock was stuffed with all sort of little boats, speed boats, pontoon boats leaving no room for us. Or any looper, for that matter. So we pressed on to... THE BIG CHUTE.

We knew it was coming, the last of the crazy locks on the Trent Severn, but We. Had. No. IDEA. The thing is huge! It carries two boats at a time. While it's impressive that it lifts the boats up and over a road, what's crazy is that it takes them down another 58 feet to the other side. 
Awesome canal cruising today.

The large carriage rides on two sets of rails, so one end goes down faster than the other, keeping the carriage (and the boats, therein) level. 

Lots of boats waiting to lock through

The carriage of the Big Chute

Apparently, this is a 2.0 design. The first version didn't keep boats level. They'd thought of that, using various straps and slings to hold them, but eventually, things went badly.

How it works...

Down the other side some 58 feet. Note 2 sets of tracks,
one higher and one inset, lower.
We plan on doing this first thing tomorrow. Then, it's out to the Georgian Bay.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Kirkfield to Orillia

Orillia. Party central of the Trent Severn Waterways. Hope it's not a bad idea to be here through the weekend.

On the wall, when we got to Kirkfield, were four other looper boats, all of which were leaving today. We knew there was a swing bridge that needed to be opened, and they weren't in operation until 9 am, so the entire group planned on heading out around 8:30. All of us left in a line, slowly making our way through the thin canal. Turns out we still had a lot more of the narrow and shallow canal to get through (which means slow going). We got to the bridge by 9:30.

An old pump from the Kirkfield Lift Lock, now art.
Five locks, all downward. All fairly steep, like 20 to 25 feet. One of the first four stopped to pump out, so we got to take their position in the locks. It was a little crowded with the four of us.

Then came Simcoe lake. For the first time in a long time (Lake Ontario, in fact) we got to open up the engines a bit, traveling at 8.5 knots. 

Arrived just before a small afternoon thunderstorm, so good timing on our part. 

Another couple of miles of narrow channels...
...until we got to Simcoe Lake!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Bob Cajun to Kirkfield

Our day started pretty early. A diner in town had blueberry pancakes and I wanted some before the vet appointment. We were there when the waitress unlocked the doors at 7 am. 

From there we walked the dogs to the vet. Great update, by the way. Both dogs are doing well. In fact, the vet told me we were doing a good job.

So we thought, what the hey, let's head out. We left around 10:30.

The first lock we came to was in the town of Fenelon Falls. We planned to just go through when, about 10 minutes from the lock, Russ's phone rings. It's Bill. 

The famed Fenelon Falls of Fenelon Falls
Looooooong ago, way back in Kingston, New York, we had some docktails with Bill and his wife, Geni. The topic went to anchoring, and from there the lines we have in excess -- we've been schlepping 300 feet of extra line for nearly six months. It's really, really big, and that's really, really long. Turns out, Bill was looking for 300 feet of really, really big line, two 150 feet sections with 15 inch eyes on both ends. A deal was made. Russ was happy to cut and splice the line for him (he's kinda into this whole mariner thing), but Bill was heading out the next morning while we stayed for a day or two longer. Emails were swapped along the way but it looked like we were never going to catch up to their boat, Patriot, again. 

Bill called to tell us that he'd rented a car and saw us on NEBO (the app that loopers use to track one another) and could we meet him in Fenelon Falls. We took a spot on the wall, did a little shopping, then Russ passed off the line to Bill. Woo hoo! That's what I call a great day!

Just as Russ boarded the boat the lock doors opens and the down-bound traffic unloads. Lock protocol is that, if you park on the blue line (a painted blue section of the wall), that's a clue to the lock master you want to lock through. But we were on the mooring wall for the transaction, and the blue line was on the other side of the channel. With all the boats heading out, we couldn't make our way across to the line, and the lock doors started closing. Russ told me to honk three times. I did. Nope, still closing. Again, he said, I did, longer this time. The doors stopped, but didn't open. I honked a third time while Russ stood on the bow, waving his arms. The doors opened (whew!), and we locked through. 

Russ on the bow looking for rocks! Unlike
the Dismal swamp, bumping here will cost us.
The next lock was in a small town called Rosedale, just three miles away. Originally we wanted to end our day there. But (as we've seen through most of the waterway), there was no room. We knew it was only 13 miles to Kirkfield, and lock folks told us there was plenty of room there. We moved on.

This, by the way, is the highest point on the entire loop. It's all downhill from here. Another looper milestone!

The first half of that section was through a deep lake. We picked up speed, and zipped through it. I went below to make us some fruit and yogurt, Russ at the helm. About two minutes in, he cut the engines. Then he knocked on the fiberglass -- our cue to "get up here!" I rushed up just in time to see a woman and her kid on a jet ski coming up to our boat. With a fender. Our fender. Our brand new fender! We dropped it somewhere just past the lock, and she was kind enough to deliver it to us. I'm telling ya, the boater world is crazy friendly.

Then we got to the Trent Canal, blasted out of rock for boats to get through. It's tough to find on a map, it's so small. It's tough to navigate, too.

Boats entering the canal that are over 40 feet need to announce a "sécurité" to warn other vessels. We did. That didn't seem to stop them from coming down, since we encountered two. Both nearly scraping the hulls as we passed.

Took a long time to get through that 1.5 mile stretch.
It was only a mile and a half long, but it was nerve wracking. Nearly the entire time our depth gauge read three feet, less in some places. We stopped at one point and got out Russ's lead line (a string with a lead weight on it) because we didn't believe it was that shallow. It was.

At the end of this madness was Lock 36, the Kirkland Lift Lock. Shorter than the Peterborough lock, it was a bit scarier since it went down. Which means you enter the chamber, facing out over the abyss! We tried to capture the experience on our GoPro, but the camera fell over just as we got into the box. Stupid thing!

Anyway, we parked at the bottom, nearly 5:30, and ate leftovers for dinner. Long day. Time for bed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Buckhorn to Bobcaygeon

Every time I hear the name of the place I laugh. It sounds like the name of some Louisiana car sales man. "I'M BOB CAJUN AND I'M MAKIN' DEALS FROM HERE TO ALABAMA! STOP ON BY 'CUZ I GOT CRZ I NEED TO MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!"

I suspect it's more of an amalgamation of names, like Texarkana, or Mexicali. There are two Bob channels, Big Bob and Little Bob, the Pigeon River, and lots of islands that some folks call cays. Just a guess, though.

The birds really liked THAT island.
Even the trees are white.
Looks like a long day from the map, but it was only a couple of hours. We left early and headed to a nearby marina to get some water. From there we started our day, but quickly had to stop. The boat was vibrating like crazy. The water was weedy so we figured stuff was wrapped around the props. We ran the engines in reverse and forward a couple of times, to shake it off. From then on she ran fine.

We might be in Bobcaygeon for two nights. Since we got here earlier today (without much of a hassle, thank goodness) we were able to get the shopping we wanted to do out of the way. I wanted a pair of sandals, so folks told me this town had one of the best shoe stores on the Trent-Severn, Bigley. That wasn't some Trump joke, that is the name, Bigley.

Not just boats on the water.
Russ took a run, which he hadn't done in a while, then we bought an electric bike for me. It folds up, just like the other one I currently have. It should be easier on my knees. Took a ride in the afternoon -- I confess, it feels like cheating.

The dogs have vet appointments in the morning, which is another reason we're staying here. If it goes well, and we get antsy, we might just keep-a-goin'. 

Dog update: Both are doing well. The vet appointment is largely just a check up given the events. Lizzie's skin thing was, indeed, cancer. So, we have to watch. Savannah seems to be doing really well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lakefield to Buckhorn

One advantage of parking above the lock (that means going through it the night before, then stopping) is that you can leave first thing in the morning. The locks don't open until 9 am, so if you park below them you're waiting for the operators to get going.

We headed out this morning around 7 am. It was about an hour long ride to the next lock, but we like moving early, especially on sunny, warm days. We ate cereal on the way. We'd have to wait there for an hour or so, but we could walk the dogs and talk to neighbors.

Besides, one of our looper pals on United 771 was having tooth pain and had a dentist appointment in Bobcageon, beyond our destination. We thought we'd be his placeholder if he got there on time. They just missed the first lock, but caught up with us on the next one. As You Wish and we just moved aside and let them get going.

One of the crazier channel ways. Between the rocks!
The plan was to tie up at the wall in Buckhorn. Once we got to that lock, however, we were told there was only space for one. Due to other boats joining us as we traveled, Cat-n-Dogs got bumped to the back. As You Wish parked on the wall.

We arrived around 1 pm, and were given a spot below the lock. Houseboats lined the walls above. Apparently, vacationers pick up their boats on Monday in Bobcageon, but only travel a small distance or anchor out. Then they start to spread out over the Trent-Severn Waterways, swimming, fishing, and vacationing, and they clog the nearest town walls on Tuesday. Which is today. 

Houseboats everywhere
John and Martha (crew of As You Wish) had our backs. They asked some folks to tighten up, move a bit, then had us come up and take the spot in front of them. We locked through and, with their help and the aid of the lock worker, squeezed Cat-n-Dogs into a spot on the wall.

With about a foot to spare on either side.
Parked her like a boss!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Peterborough to Lakefield

North! North, I say!
On Sunday the line to get through the Peterborough lock was crazy long. Boats stacked up on the wall, and boats idled outside, all waiting for their turn. So we didn't plan on leaving early Monday, since we figured it would be more of the same. While we couldn't see the lock from our marina, we could see the clog of boats -- and none were there this morning. So, we headed out early-ish and took a place on the wall. We did have to wait for a turn but we were in the second group through.

We traveled with three other boats through seven different locks. The four of us packed into each lock like sardines, but we managed not to bump or scrape one another. I felt like a pro, wiggling my way into our niche.

Today was also the day we, as loopers, got to ride Lock 21 one last time. Good thing, too. Apparently it broke during the day and they had to shut it down. Not in a spectacular way -- no tumbling boats. But the big pistons ride on pads that leak and eventually need to be replaced (we got that info on the tours, donchano).

The back two boats. We were in front.
We had a bit of drama going into the last lock, Lock 26. First, it's the only lock that made squeezing into my little space between another boat and the wall tricky. We caught some wild current getting in and Cat-n-Dogs kept twisting into the boat. We managed, but it wasn't "like buttah" as the previous six locks had been.

Then, while in the lock, the lockmaster (who also manages the walls) asked who was staying here. As You Wish and we both planned to. He said he only had room for one. It's vacation time here in Canada (as it is in the US) and this part of the waterway is crowded with houseboat rentals. They lined the wall.

One of the lockmaster houses with a mileage sign.
Port Severn is just 235 km away!
We had no problem letting As You Wish take it, since they're just a bit smaller than us. We kinda went round with the lockguy on options (next lock? the one after that? isn't there another wall in town?), phone calls were made, and eventually he told us to park on the blue line going the other way. So we did.

As if my magic, a couple of houseboats from the wall pulled out and locked downward. Woo hoo! We fired up the engines and took a spot on the wall.

It dawned on me as I wrote this that we parked the boat eleven times today, either on a wall to wait for a lock, or in the lock itself. 

Only once did it not go perfectly.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Lock 21

The Peterborough Lift Lock is a small legend here in Canada. Built in 1904, the lock is one of only a handful world wide. It's one of two in Canada, the other just a ways up the Trent-Severn. It's also the tallest in the world. 

We took our bikes out to see it in action. We went up to the top where the lock to the control booth. As luck would have it, a couple of boats came down needing to be lowered. 
The console looks like "high tech" in 1904, don't it!

After that the control booth operator came by. We mentioned we were loopers and he immediately invited us into the booth. Some more boaters needed to ride up. I got to operate the lift and make the announcements to prepare them for the experience. I have pins for my efforts.

The following day we brought out the kayaks and paddled over. We locked through lock 20 and then rode 21 up with four larger boats, most of them loopers we knew.

We tied off at the top and took a second tour with John and Martha (As You Wish). The four of us rode Lock 21 down by ourselves. The whole thing was quite an experience.

The day was cooler than yesterday but still warm enough to kayak under the large fountain spray in the middle of the Otonabee River. 

It was a wonderful day to spend on the water, little boat style.

Russ hung a hand over to get this shot.

Waiting on the wall, John and Martha behind me.
Us loading into the down-bound bucket.
Left to right: Russ, me, Martha, and John
Or as someone called us: Huey, Dewey, Louis, and Donald.

At the top of the lock.
Ready for the ride.

Peterborough has a population of 65,000. Blew me away. I asked some folks why it was here. The story is that some body came over and liked it, so he invited some of his farmer friends. It's a farming community, not lumber, coal, or mining. And unlike other cities we've been to, this one is open all year long.

Just some nifty architecture in Peterborough.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Hastings to Peterborough

Way back in Trenton we had the opportunity to pump out. At the time we didn't really need to and pump outs are not free in Canada like they typically are in the US. So, by stretching out our use we can get by with fewer of them. Besides, the pump out was so packed when we left Trenton, if you recall, we locked through by ourselves without our friends.

But pump-out options are limited. The next one was Hastings, and the one after that was Peterborough. When Russ did the research it looked like the Peterborough was more expensive. Moreover, as we got closer, word came down that it was broken. So, Hastings. But we didn't get in until late yesterday (picking up the pug, lots of waiting at locks, yadda yadda yadda), so it was our first thing to do this morning.

Lovely day on Rice Lake.
As you'd expect, we weren't the only ones needing this service. Once the establishment was open at 9 am, another boat was ahead of us.

The weather apps and news were mixed for the day. While some said moderate, warm, high humidity, others said thunderstorms. We attempted to get along as quickly as possible, just in case, but we didn't get underway until nearly 10 am.

We only had one lock today, right at the end, Lock 19. The rest of the day was either on the lake or the twisty river, all of which was very pretty. And we could move a bit faster than we had been. We made up for some lost time.

This is frequently how we're represented
in our auto-pilot navigation. We can never
get the "little boat" to point our direction.
One of the cool locks is coming up, Lock 21. We're planning on being here through the weekend (largely to avoid the avid weekenders who rent house boat and jet skis and don't know how to drive them). We plan a hike to "the lift" to film it -- you have to see it to believe it.

A bit of "turnabout being fair play" -- recall we lost a lock due to a broken boat getting underway? We traveled most the day with Impulse Power (who pumped out as well), and passed them on the lake. When we to the lock a boat was already in it, waiting for us. As luck would have it, only two boats would fit. So, today, Impulse Power had to wait.

I love it when the universe plays evensies.

The lock wall at Hastings, now empty but for one boat.

Campbellford to Hastings

Traveling with a dog is a bit of work. Traveling with a sick dog is challenging. Traveling by boat with a sick dog is maddening.

When we were at the lock two days ago watching boats come through we returned to two separate locations of dog up-chuck. It became pretty clear, due to her lack of enthusiasm, that Savannah was the culprit. "She just got into something," we thought and cleaned the mess and gave her some water. Immediately, she threw up again. After this repeated itself for the sixth time, we called a vet. They couldn't see her, though, since they were booked for the day. Later that evening she pooped, but only pink liquid came out. When that happened again in the morning, I didn't get the vet an option. Russ and I toted the dog in a cart to the vet to be there just as they were unlocking the doors. Upon seeing her, they put her on an IV, ran some blood work, did abdominal x-rays, took a urinary sample -- the works. Nothing obvious emerged, just a really sick dog that needed lots of antibiotics and water. They kept her overnight on an IV.

Needless to say, we didn't leave as early as we would have liked, and it was a longish day. We locked through 6 locks, the last of which was right at Hastings. The town wall is so stuffed they had us dock in the lock's channel for the night. We were the last boat through at 6 pm.
Crazy channel markers, built on cement columns.
That way they don't have to take them down in the winter.

In Campbellford twenty looper boats had tied off last night, all heading this way. Some stayed, but a good number traveled today. The lock chamber only handles so many, so a back up and queue started at the first one, Lock 13. We were the last boat to leave, traveling right behind with United 771.

We went through the first lock together. Chatter about a boat named Impulse Power having an engine fail while in the Lock 14 came over the radio. They had to pull over and jump themselves. As we approached that lock, Impulse Power was there waiting to go through. They hailed United 771 and said we should go in the lock first, and he'd come in behind us, so all three of us could go through. Apparently, once he got his engine running he didn't want to turn it off, which we're supposed to do, so being in the back he wouldn't gas anyone behind him. Russ responded and pointed out that he was a wider boat, and all three of us wouldn't fit in the chamber together. So, um, tough luck Cat-n-Dogs. We had to sit and wait for the lock to cycle.

On the plus side, we had all the locks to ourselves for the rest of the day. But the weekend had begun, and the locks could only do so much. A number of times we had to tie up on the wall and wait for the other boats to get through.
The sick dog. She knew I was taking a mug shot
of all the trouble-makers on board.

BUT. That gave us many opportunities to practice our on-and-off-the-wall technique. Once all the lines are off, Russ pushes the stern away from the wall. Then I spin the boat bow out, which move the stern back to the wall, where it bounces off a ball fender, sending it out again. By then the nose is well away, and I can just move forward. It's worked fabulously!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trent-Severn Lock 11-12

The last lock we went through yesterday was a double lock. Given we both had a bunch of work to do to get through it, we didn't get much chance for pictures. Today we took a walk back to it and got some shots. We had the good fortune of watching the Kawartha Voyageur go through on her way to Ottawa.

Kawartha Voyageur about to enter the locks.

Looper boats in lock 11, on the bottom

The Kawartha Voyager -- she takes up the
whole thing!
Below is another GoPro vid of us locking. The first one starts at 18 seconds. You'll see us start to leave the lock, stop, and go again. That's because we had trouble getting off the wall. 

The next lock is at 1:15. Again with the starts and stops. The cool lock (11-12) starts at 2:21.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Frankford to Campbellford

We continue our tour of little known places in Ontario.

Another couple heading our way on a vessel they named Subject to Change asked if they could join us for dinner. We ate at a little Italian place in Frankford and discussed the travel ahead. Having learned that the locks are 110 feet long and only 32 feet wide, us four boats wanting to continue up stream were not going to fit in a lock together. And the two longest boats (United 771 and Subject to Change) couldn't fit in at the same time. So we divided ourselves into two groups, one shorter boat and one longer boat. The only fly in that ointment was that Subject still had to get through lock 6. There was no room for her where we were, so the lock master had them tie up below to lock through first thing in the morning. Which is 9 am.

Much of the day looked a lot like this. Quite lovely.
We agreed that United and As You Wish head out in time to make the next lock right when they opened. Cat-n-Dogs would wait for Subject

They keep the lock filled over the night, so the easiest thing for the lock folks to do was take some boats down first (two were heading that way). Only then would they bring up Subject. While the first two boats headed out at 8 am, we didn't get underway until 9:30.

Another six locks to do and a longer day of travel given the lack of towns in this part of Ontario. Four of the locks were clustered at the end of the trip, one of which was a double lock. That was incredible. You pull into the lower lock, facing a massive door ahead of you. They raise you up about half-way, then you move into a second chamber and get raised a second time. Total lift of 48 feet.

A giant two-nie! That's Russ below it.
We continued to struggle a bit getting off the lock walls to leave. Although we think we have a strategy, where I move the bow out first and Russ, from the swim platform in the back, pushes us away from the wall. Worked well in the last lock. I'm sure we'll perfect it before we're done.

All four boats arrived in Campbellford without incident. We plan to stay a couple of nights at least. Weather is coming.

Not ours anymore

There's a saying in the boating world, that the happiest days of a boater life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. This...