Severn Falls to Penetanguishene:
Big Chute here we come.
Lock # 44, Big Chute, is one of the most exciting portions of the Great Loop. It is listed as a lock but technically is a marine railway. This lift was opened in 1978 and can transport boats up to 100 feet in length with a maximum load of 90 metric tons. Boats are transported over land 748 feet at a maximum speed of 200 ft. per minute. It is quite an amazing process to watch.
We are underway this morning at 7:00 AM in order to reach “The Big Chute” Lock for their first lift at 8:30 AM. We are a little nervous about this whole procedure. Our boat will be floated onto the wooden deck of the marine railway car and cradled by a sling. The carriage is then slowly raised out of the water and the boat “settles” into the slings for support. The carriage is then hoisted up the slopes by wire ropes attached to winches.
IT will then be transported over a big hill, crossing a paved road in the process, and lowered back into the water on the other side.
The carriage stays almost level due to a unique double track which allows the front legs of the carriage to follow one set of tracks and the back legs another. Once over the summit the carriage is again lowered into the water by the wire ropes.
We will then be floated off and resume our journey on the other side. Normally several boats are transported at one time. Because of our size, they will take us by ourselves. We arrive at the blue line to find no other boats here. Yesterday they were lined up waiting for hours to be transported. Jeff gives the lift tenders a lifting diagram of our boat as an added precaution. Because of all the rain over the last few days, the current is really fierce on the bottom side of the lift. As we are so big, the lift tenders decided to shut off the release for us because they are worried about the current pushing us over into the rocks. We soon see the big steel carriage being transported across the road and lowered into the water. We are pleasantly surprised to learn that Alice and Barry aboard Prowess are docked just below the lock. Alice graciously offers to take pictures of us as we go through the Big Chute. Alice, thank you very much. What a special treat it is to have some memories of this portion of our trip. The lift tenders soon motion us into the carriage. It takes several minutes to carefully position us in the carriage before being lifted out of the water.
Although the carriage is 80 feet long, they position us on the very back end. In fact our stern is hanging off the back by about five feet. This is a little disconcerting but they seem to know what they are doing.
The lift tenders very carefully raise the wooden floor out of the water so that our keel is now resting on the bottom planks.
The three nylon straps are tightened around IT’s belly to prevent us from falling to one side. The slings are there to prevent us from tilting to one side not to lift us. The lift tenders are very cautious during the whole process making sure everything is exactly aligned. Our size presents somewhat of a challenge for them and they are proud of the job they do. One of the tenders even asks for our camera so he can take pictures of our hull for us.
We are soon completely high and dry out of the water and the carriage begins to creep forward taking us across the road. We summit a big hill and are then whisked down a 60 foot embankment where we are lowered into a pool of water on the other side.
The engineering of the track system is amazing. While going up and down this big hill our boat stays completely level. The carriage is then submerged beneath the water and away we go.
What a ride! It was a trip we will not soon forget.
Just below Big Chute we again enter a very narrow cut called Little Chute. We again must issue a securite warring and hope we meet no other boats. As we exit the cut we see another boater waiting to enter. He heard our securite and waited on us to exit. We are now in another large lake known as Gloucester Pool. This area has many cottages along the secluded coves and islets. We are soon to our last lock on the Trent at Port Severn, Lock # 45.
This is the smallest lock in the system and has a backlog of boats waiting to transit. As we wait our turn, we can see the current raging below the lock due to all of the recent rain. The current here can run up to 5 knots. Earlier this year the Trent was closed due to the strong current at this lock.
As we exit the Port Severn Lock, we are quickly shot down the narrow channel by a four knot current. We can hardly believe our eyes as we round the bend and see both the strong current and narrow channel in front of us. We are both speechless. Buoys are everywhere marking this tricky section.
The channel is no wider than our boat with rocks on both sides. We literally surf downstream barely missing the channel markers as we go by. Jeff does a great job of boat handling through this unbelievable section. He says this is by far the toughest slalom course we have ever negotiated.
We are both relieved to soon enter the wide open Georgian Bay. The Trent Severn with its many locks is now in our past. The Trent was beautiful and we are happy to have gotten the chance to experience this waterway. However, I will say that I wouldn’t want to do it again any time soon. Our stop for the next few days is Bay Moorings Marina in the harbor of Penetanguishene. The marina has been kind enough to hoist a looper get together for all loopers. We look forward to spending time with other loopers and learning about our upcoming voyage on Georgian Bay.
Total Miles Traveled Severn Falls to Penetanguishene: 27 Locks: 2
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2433 Total Locks: 74
Orillia to Severn Falls:
We pull away from the docks this morning in a light rain. It has been raining for the past few days and more is predicted for today and tomorrow. The weather has been really crummy since we arrived in Canada. Everyone here in Canada says this is the worst season they have seen in a long time.
Our clutch is fixed but we are still unsure as to whether we can use it or not. Northern Lights is concerned that maybe there should be some brackets to support the weight of the power take off and that is the reason two clutches have failed. They say clutches vary rarely fail. We have sent them pictures and measurements for their engineering department to analyze. Until we hear from them next week, we will try to do without the generator. This means we must continue to use shore power each evening. This is not as easy as it sounds in these parts of Canada. There are several marinas on our route today but our boat is way too big for most. We finally found one marina that sounds like a possibility so we are going to give that a shot. First we have two locks and another section of the rocky Trent Canal to deal with.
After traveling across the large Lake Couching, we enter the narrow channel leading to another section of the Trent Canal. They call this area “The Bowling Alley” because of all the fast power boats traveling through this narrow channel. Today we are rocked by several of these fast boats as they pass us. They don’t bother to slow down at all. We give another Securite call on the VHF before entering the canal.
Luckily we see no other boats in the canal.
We arrive at lock 42 to find the blue line full of other boats waiting to lock through. There is no way we can all fit. Several boats enter the lock and we take their place on the blue line for the next lockage. By the time the lock is ready for us, several other boats have arrived. This is the busiest lock we have seen on the entire waterway. It is a Saturday so lots of weekend boaters are out. Had it not been for our delay in Orilia, we would have chosen not to travel today. We had hoped the rain would keep everyone home today but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The four boats are jammed into the lock and we are soon lowered the 21 feet and once again on our way. The next four mile section follows the narrow Severn River, only 200 feet wide in most places. This river is lined with cottage after cottage.
Luckily this area is deep so not too many worries.
We soon find ourselves in the wide and deep Sparrow Lake. We are now starting to see large granite boulders along the shores. Our next challenge is McDonalds Cut. Jeff issues a Securite warning over the VHF that we are entering this narrow passage. The red and grey granite walls rise 40 feet as we travel through this cut. We again hold our breath hoping that no other boats are headed our way. These passages were cut by glaciers that left gorges and cliffs along with several fjord-like coves and side channels. This remote scenery is very beautiful. The river remains deep to lock 43 at Swift Rapids. Here we again find four other boats waiting to lock through. Several more boats arrive behind us. Everyone is not going to fit.
The lock doors open and the first three boats are instructed to use the starboard side. We must take the port side. I quickly switch the fenders around as we enter. It is really difficult for us to tie on the port side as we don’t have a walkway on that side and also our boat backs to starboard. Once inside the locks, the lockmaster wants us up beside the other boats. There is no way we can fit beside these other boats. The lockmaster says he wants to get all the boats in. Jeff pulls half way in the lock and refuses to move any farther forward. We can’t risk damaging our boat or theirs. After some discussion, the lockmaster finally realizes that we can not fit besides these boats. Had he let us tie up on the starboard side, some of the smaller boats could have fit up front and more boats could have been locked through. Jeff wasn’t too happy with this lockmaster. Soon we are going down the 47 feet. This is the largest droop on the Trent. The lockmasters have a glassed in viewing area above the lock so that they can see the boats as they are lowered.
No more locks today. From here it is only three miles to our stop of the day, The River Emporium.
The River Emporium turned out to be a good choice. Our first impression of the old wooden dock was not too great. Our boat is almost too big for low floating platform.
As we are hovering in the channel examining the dock, the owner comes out and waves us into our space. Severn falls is made up of only two businesses, our marina and the restaurant next door. The marina is also the local grocery and liquor store. The place is very busy as this is the only grocery store and restaurant for miles around.
Most of the “Cottagers” arrive here by small boats. The little boats come and go all day long.
We decided to stay here two nights so as to avoid traveling on a Sunday. Our next great excitement will be the “Big Chute” Marine Railway just five miles from here and we don’t want to arrive here with crowds of other boats. We ride the bikes over to the Big Chute to scope out the setup. Although considered as one of the locks on Trent, this is actually a marine railway which lifts boats completely out of the water and across the road to the other side. We have seen many pictures of this and it is really frightening to think of our boat being transported out of the water and across the road.
It is amazing to see this operation in person as the boats are carried up and over the hill. Jeff talks with the loadmaster about the specifics of our boat. After watching as several boats are transported along this incredible railway, we feel much better about the process. The loadmasters seem very proficient at what they are doing. “Big Chute” get ready for Idyll Time.
Total Miles Traveled Orilla to Severn Falls: 30 – Locks: 2
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2406- Total Locks: 72
The town of Orillia has been our home for the last week. We had originally planed on stopping here for several days while Jeff flew home to take care of some business. Toronto is only an hour away and there is a shuttle service from here to the airport. Our generator problems dictated that we would be here longer. If you have to spend a week somewhere, this is a great place to do so.
We lucked out in finding a mechanic here in Orillia who is an authorized service rep for our Northern Lights generator. He was onboard at 8:00 AM the day after our arrival with a new clutch which had been sent overnight from Seattle, WA. After taking everything apart, it was determined that the main bearing had disintegrated.
This is the second set of bearings to be replaced. The first clutch was replaced under warranty before we ever took possession of the boat. We are still trying to determine what is causing this problem. A clutch should last 10,000 hours and ours only has 400 hours. The first clutch went out after only 100 hours. Something seems to be causing this. The metal housing was so chewed up that it too needed to be replaced. So another one was overnighted and the mechanic returned the second day with part in hand. While installing the new clutch, it was then discovered that the rubber coupling was also broke. This meant another part had to be sent overnight. We are starting to wonder if our clutch is ever going to get fixed. The mechanic was again back the third day with part in hand and the repair was finally complete. We are still in discussions with both Krogen and Northern Lights as to why this keeps happening.
We were dealt another good hand of fate as we happened upon a great farmers market here on Saturday morning. These farmer’s markets are an easy habit to get into. Saturday afternoon we were again treated to a special event being held in the park next to the marina, The Annual Scottish Festival.
We have never seen such a gathering of bagpipes and drums in one location. There must have been over 300 participants for this annual event. It was a sight to see. After the grand parade down Main Street, all of the bands congregated on a large open field and proceeded to perform various melodies.
There were several competitions in which participants were judged on their tone, talent, and performance. Awards were presented that evening with all the bands again congregating to perform several songs for the closing ceremonies.
The Port of Orillia Marina has been full of activity during our stay. In addition to the many boats coming and going each day, several float planes have arrived here as well. Jeff keeps hoping one of these planes is for him.
There is a nice park here and many people are out each day enjoying both the park and beach facilities. Our boat is one of the larger ones at the marina and many of the locals stroll down the docks each evening out to the end T-head where we are docked. We are constantly asked where we are from and how we arrived here. Almost everyone is amazed and think that Tennessee is land locked. After repeating these answers dozens of times, we have our speech memorized. Many nights we don’t dare come outside because we know these questions will take up all of our evening. These people are all very nice and we don’t mind answering their questions but sometimes we have chores to do so we just watch from inside as the people come by to look at our boat. After a while it is comical as everyone does exactly the same thing. They all stare for a few minutes before walking to our stern to see where we are from. They then come back to the front of the boat and stare a few more minutes before crossing their arms and looking up at our top deck. Some of the braver souls rub their hands along our varnished teak rails. They all seem oblivious that we are inside. After a good look they stroll back down the docks stopping half way to get one more glance. This is repeated time and time again. We can predict with almost 100 % accuracy every move each person will make.
Orillia is blessed with many fine eating establishments. In addition to the many restaurants downtown, we find two bakeries within a block of each other. The incredible Maraposa Market is almost overwhelming with their selections of homemade cakes, breads, pastries, and those wonderful Canadian butter tarts.
We ate our way through the market as there are sample trays everywhere loaded with goodies. We become regulars here as everything is really good. Alice and Barry, whose boat “Prowess” is docked next to us, educate us on “Chelsea Buns”. We call these “Sticky Buns” back home. She informs us that Klydes Bakery’s Chelsea Buns are even better than those from Maraposa Market. She had just returned from there with some hot out of the oven. We made a quick dash to verify this information. We came back to the boat with a dozen of our own and her information proved to be right. It is a tough job but somebody has to do it. If that wasn’t bad enough, there is an ice cream stand just across the road from our marina. Canadian’s must really like ice cream. We have found ice cream stands at just about every marina on the Trent Severn. They have really good ice cream here in Canada. After consuming all of these calories, we felt it necessary to get on the bikes down and ride. There are several great multi use trails which connect through this area. Most of these are abandoned railroad beds and are now used for hiking and biking in the summer and snowmobiling and cross country skiing in the winter. One day we rode the Uhthoff Trail to the next town of Cold Springs.
It was a great 40 mile ride through some remote countryside.
The dogs have really enjoyed their daily runs along these trails as well.
After spending a week here, we are anxious to get underway. We decide to break our rule about weekend travel and give it a shot tomorrow (Saturday). Hopefully the boat traffic won’t be too bad. We only have 44 more miles of the Trent Severn and are anxious to get this section of the trip behind us.
Bobcaygeon to Orillia:
Today will be a very long day. Many of the Trent’s challenges will be in our path. We hope to reach Orillia which is 60 miles and 9 locks away. One of the nine locks will be the second lift lock on the system. We also have to travel the Trent Canal which is both very narrow and also very shallow. In this canal only six foot of depth is maintained. The clutch for our generator is being overnighted to Orillia and we have arranged for the mechanic to meet us tomorrow for the installation.
We can see the Bobcaygeon lock from our dock. Again we must delay our departure until 8:30 AM for their first opening. Once through the Big Bob Channel, we have a wide open stretch for the next 10 miles on Sturgeon Lake.
On our way to Fennelin Falls Lock #34, we go through a narrow canal with many small docks lining the twisted channel. As we round one bend, we see a big tour boat headed our way.
Luckily we are at a deep spot where we wait for him to pass. We tie up to the blue line at Fennelin Falls lock while we wait on the lock to be turned around. There is a nice small park here with the shrubbery manicured to spell out Fennelin Falls.
This lock lifts us another 24 feet. Lock 35 at Rosedale raises us another four feet. This is the last lock in which we will be raised. From now on we will be going downhill. Just beyond this lock we cross Balsam Lake which is the highest point in the system at 598 feet above where we started in Trenton.
We soon reach the dreaded Trent Canal. This is a land cut through the Canadian Shield.
The Trent Severn Waterway Authority restricts vessel draft to six feet specifically because of this area. We won’t have much more than six feet through this entire three mile canal. We slow to 5 mph and give a “Securite” call over the VHF that we are entering the canal. Hopefully any vessels traveling the other way will hear this and give us a call. We have only three or four feet on each side of IT. In many places the tree branches along the banks are brushing against our hull. Our depth sounder is constantly yakking in our ears. In many places our sounder goes below five feet. We hold our breath as it is all rock below. Luckily no one is headed the other direction. There would be no way to pass in this narrow canal.
To test our nerves even more, this canal leads us into the Kirkfield Lift lock.
This lock is similar to the Peterborough Lift Lock that we went through several days ago. However this time we are pulling into the pan while it is raised 49 feet into the air.
It almost seems as if we are driving off a cliff as we cautiously pull IT into the lock.
No other boats are in the lock so we stay as far back as possible. The ride is incredibly fast and we are soon to the bottom. We see Quitidium, the little tug we met on the Erie who is also doing the loop, tied up to the bottom wall. It is good to see Maurice again.
Our next obstacle of the day is Canal Lake. This man-made lake is also very shallow and has extreme weed growth with many submerged dead heads. Our guide book warns that if you are going to hit a dead head it will probably be here. We travel through this area at an extremely slow 5 mph also. The weeds are very thick and we see the many hairy tendrils reaching to the surface. Once again our depth sounder wails in alarm. It is now getting late in the day and we still have five locks and then another 20 miles across Lake Simcoe before reaching Orillia. We are now racing against the clock.
The next five locks are all within a mile of each other. Each lock is ready and waiting as we arrive. We have a smooth ride down in for each descent.
It is so much nicer going down than up. We have none of the turbulence pushing us against the concrete walls when water is being let out of the locks. These locks are all manually operated and look to have the original parts. From lock 41 we again have a narrow canal to travel which brings us to the entrance of Lake Simcoe. This lake which is 20 miles long and 16 miles wide is the largest on the Trent Severn. In severe weather it can be hazardous. As we start across the lake, IT seems really sluggish and doesn’t want to go. We have weeds on our prop. Jeff puts the boat in reverse to clear the prop. This seems to do the trick as we see a large glob of weed float to the surface. No sooner are we underway than the alarm for our stabilizers sounds. The alarm says “no connection to servo”. There must be weeds on the stabilizers also. We back down several more times in an attempt to clear them. This seems to work and we are again on our way. The lake is calm this evening and we have an easy transit for the last 16 miles of the day. We arrive to Orillia at 8:30 PM, tired but happy to be here. The Trent threw all she had at us today but we survived. Hopefully the worst is behind us now.
Total Miles Traveled Bobcaygeon to Orillia: 62 – Locks: 9
Total Miles Traveled year to Date: 2376 – Total Locks: 70
We pull away from the docks early this morning for our trip to Bobcaygeon. Our first lock of the day is five miles away so we are able to get an early start at 7:30 AM for the lock opening at 8:30 AM. It is a beautiful day out on the water.
The winds have finally calmed down and the sun is warming things up nicely.
We are now traveling in an area known as the Kawartha Lake Region once known to the Indians as “happy lands and bright waters”. This area is a very popular vacation spot for Canadians. Boaters can enjoy a dozen or more lakes which make long loop like passages across Ontario. Houseboat rentals are very popular in this area and we are expecting the waterway to become more congested. We have been warned to watch out for these crazy houseboat drivers who come and rent a houseboat for the week with no previous boating experience.
The calm still waters add to the beauty of this lake region. Lots of cabins line the shore banks. The boats have now been replaced with float planes at their docks.
It is hard to really enjoy the beauty of the lakes as it is really shallow with 6 foot and less. Our depth alarm is constantly going off and things are a little tense as we navigate these rocky waters of the Katchewanooka Lake. We have an easy 7 foot lift at Youngs Point and are now in Clear Lake. The small fishing cabins have now turned into impressive homes with garages for all the boats.
We see one home which is built of all glass. They certainly have some fantastic views of the water.
We enjoy a break from the narrow rocky passageways and are happy to be cruising in the wide deep water for a change. This doesn’t last for long. Just across Clear Lake, we enter an area known as “Hell’s Gate”. This very narrow twisting channel winds us around many rocky islands.
The channel is well marked with lots of red and green markers to guide us. St. Peters-on-the-Rock Church sits on one of the small islands overlooking our channel. Church is still held here in the summer months.
Some places are so narrow that it almost seems impossible for us to fit through. The rocky islands are within a stone’s throw of our boat. The scenery is stunning and is by far the prettiest area we have seen on our entire Great Loop trip.
It reminds us a lot of Alaska. We are now traveling in Stony Lake which is appropriately named. The area is full of rocks and many small rocky islands with a home sitting on top. We are starting to see several of the houseboat rentals plying these waters, but so far they are all going in the other direction. We stay well clear of their path.
Our next lock of the day is Loveslick lock. This is one of the smallest locks on the Trent Severn and has a lift of only four feet. This lock is located on an island and the lockmasters arrive to work each day by boat. This was to be our intended stop of the day. With no generator, we have to go on to the marina where we can hook to shore power. We are really disappointed not to be spending the night here. This is a fantastic spot located in the middle of nowhere with beautiful scenery all around. We were really looking forward to getting the dinghy down and exploring this area.
Our fourth and last lock of the day, Buckhorn #31, marks the halfway point of the Trent Severn. From here we travel across Buchhorn Lake and have 15 miles of lock free travel to our stop at Bobcaygeon. Instead of staying on the lock wall we must stay at the marina here and hook into shore power. We are docked just a few hundred feet from the Bobcaygeon Lock which runs right through the center of the small town. Bobcaygeon means “shallow rapids’’ and lock 32 is a focal point along the waterway as it was the first lock built on the Trent Severn Waterway.
Total Miles Traveled Lakefield to Bobcaygeon: 38 – Locks: 4
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2314 – Total Locks: 61
Peterborough to Lakefield:
We leave the Peterborough Town docks and arrive to lock 20 ten minutes before their first lockage (8:30 AM). We are anxious to get these next six locks behind us. Lock 20 is known as the “Forgotten Lock”. Due to the fact that it is only ¼ mile from the famous Peterborough Lift Lock, it doesn’t get much attention.
We have an easy lift of 14 feet. The Peterborough Lift is just ahead.
Ever since beginning to plan for our Great Loop trip, The Peterborough Lift Lock has loomed large in our mind. We have seen many pictures of this engineering marvel. It is intimidating to think of IT being lifted up this high while sitting in a pan of water.
We arrive to the lift and are instructed to go into the left pan. The right pan is now suspended 65 feet above. The Peterborough Lift lock is the highest hydraulic lift in the world and only eight lift locks of this type have every been built. Two are here in Canada on the Trent Severn. The others are in Belgium, Great Britain, and France. This lock took eight years to construct and was completed in 1904. It is over 100 years old and all the original parts are still being used. In chatting with the lock master we learn that five people have died here over the 100 year period. He says it is a little creepy to be inside this lock at nighttime.
The left gate is lowered under water and in we go into the huge tank shaped like a giant cake pan. Parallel to our chamber, but 65 feet in the air suspended on a big piston, is another chamber.
Each of the two pans weighs 1500 tons when filled (330,000 gallons). With one pan up and the other down the two balance each other.
It takes about 15 minutes to prepare the chambers. The upper chamber is then filled with an extra foot of water (1 foot equals 130 tons). This increased weight in the upper tank forces the lower tank to rise while the upper tank sinks down. It doesn’t matter how many boats are in each pan. A boat will displace its’ own weight in water. Soon we hear an announcement over a loud speaker and away we go. It takes only two minutes to be lifted the 65 feet. It is amazingly quick. The view from our stern is incredible if we dare to look down below.
We almost felt like we were on a ride at Disney. Lots of spectators are at the top of the lock when we arrive.
The gates are lowered and we are again underway.
We continue through the canal enjoying the amazing scenery. It just keeps getting better and better. We reach lock 22 and 23 and are locked through with little problems. These next few locks are all hand operated and still use the old valves in the gates themselves. The lockmasters stay very busy as they manually open these valves. The water is amazingly clear and we can see the rocky bottom just feet below our keel. Going into lock 24, we actually scrape bottom. Our depth finder goes to 4.5 feet (remember we draw 5 feet). IT shudders as we skim over the rocky shoal. Luckily, we were going very slowly and no damage is done.
We are soon to Lock 25 with only one more to go before Lakefield and our destination for the evening. Things have gone well today …….Until! We start to exit lock 25 and Jeff notices that his bow thruster has no power. He quickly goes down into the engine room to access the problem. He soon returns with the news that there is SMOKE in the engine room. We have problems!! You can smell something burning. This is not good. He quickly shuts down the generator system. Our main engine system is still working fine so we slowly proceed up through one more lock to Lakefield Marina. There we will figure out what is wrong. After exiting the last lock, we enter a narrow 35 foot wide channel which curves around a bend.
We hope and pray no one is coming the other way as there would be no room to pass. Luckily no one appears during this transit and we soon see Lakefield Marina ahead. We are relieved to be securely tied to a dock.
After a flurry of phone calls and several engine room inspections, Jeff determines that it is our hydraulic get-home clutch that has failed. How are we ever going to find someone to fix this in the remote area that we are in? We call several marinas and non have ever even heard of a Northern Lights Generator. We finally resort to calling Northern Lights themselves and they put us in touch with a dealer in Toronto. Many phone calls later, a new power take off clutch is located in Seattle Washington and will be overnighted to the marina in Toronto. We hope to have someone meet us in Orillia several days from now for the installation. What a Day!!
Total Miles Traveled Peterborough to Lakefield: 11 – Locks: 6
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2276- Total Locks: 57
Hastings to Peterborough:
Jackets are donned again this morning as temperatures are in the 50’s. Burr!!
Today we are crossing Rice Lake which is the Trent’s second largest body of water. This 20 mile long and 3 mile wide lake was named for the wild rice that grows around its shores. This area attracts large flocks of ducks and geese on their way south to their winter feeding grounds. This area is also a fishing hotspot. We have a good 20 knot breeze today which makes the shallow lake very choppy.
Fifteen miles across Rice Lake we make a starboard turn into the Otonabee River. This quiet stream winds for 20 miles through swampland and rolling hills.
We are again traveling in what seems like a very remote area with lots of marshy areas. Every once in a while we glimpse a nice log cabin tucked into the woods.
This type of cruising is very enjoyable. While winding our way around one of the bends, our wakes crossed with fellow loopers John and Cindi aboard Fet-Esch.
We first met John and Cindi several years ago in our home town, Chattanooga. They enjoyed Chattanooga so much that they ended up staying a year. They are doing the loop backwards in a clockwise direction. We have been in contact with them over the last few months as we knew our paths would cross somewhere in Canada. Tonight they are going to Hastings where we left several charts and cruising guides for them on their trip south to the Chesapeake.
Our only lock of the day is just before Peterborough. As we arrive at the lock, two other boats are also here. The lockmaster says we can all fit. As we enter the lock, the lockmaster is up above directing us where to secure IT. He startles me by calling me by my name. Things are a little hectic and I just assume he must have overheard Jeff talking to me. A few minutes later he calls Jeff by his name. How could he possibly know our names? Not only that but he knows we like Italian and starts giving us information on restaurants in Peterborough. During our lock thru we learn that both Whiskers and Fet-Esch had given him this information. It seems like the loop network is in full force. I wasn’t sure we could all fit but somehow the lockmaster knows how to pack his lock. We have another looper docked next to us with maybe two feet between the two boats.
Our bow is almost touching the small boat just in front. The lockmaster does a great job and the ride up is very smooth. While being locked up, the lockmaster comes around each boat and offers to take pictures. When he finds out that we are staying at the Peterborough Marina he gives them a call so that we will know our slip assignment. We have experienced this hospitality with all the lockmasters throughout the Trent Severn. They are all very friendly and helpful. The U.S. lockmasters should take some lessons from these guys.
Peterborough is one of the largest cities on the waterway with a population of 74,000. The marina is very nice and conveniently located in the heart of the vibrant downtown. There are several tour boats at the marina taking guests through the Peterborough Lift Lock just two miles north of here.
Our main reason for stopping here in Peterborough was to view the Peterborough Lift Lock before traveling through with IT. This lock is the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock and quite a tourist attraction. We take the dogs for a two mile hike along the canal to view this engineering marvel. This lift lock is like none we have ever seen. It is hard to believe we will be going up in this. Tomorrow should be very interesting. Locks here we come!
Total Miles Traveled Hastings to Peterborough: 38 – Locks: 1
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2265 – Total Locks: 51
Campbellford to Hastings:
We have an easy day today of only 20 miles and six locks. Normally six locks would sound like a lot but after doing 12 locks in one day, six locks should be a piece of cake. Today is a Sunday and we normally don’t like traveling on the weekends due to all the local boat traffic. We have seen very few boats in this area and the weather is good today so we decide to give it a try. Our first lock of the day is only a mile from the town of Campbellford.
We arrive at 8:30 AM for their first lock lift. No other boats are here and we go through the lock by ourselves once again. We encounter two more locks in the next two miles. The locks keep us busy today as we have to tie on the starboard side on the first lock, port on the second, and starboard on the third lock. This means that I have to switch fenders and lines for each lock. All the locks are within a mile of each other so I have to be really quick. We seem to be getting this locking down and have an easy time at each lift.
This section of waterway lined with small summer cabins. We see many people swimming off their docks or just sitting in the lawns watching as the boats pass. There are also lots of locals out fishing in their small boats today. We later learned that today is “Free Fishing Day in Canada”.
We continually notice that most of the fishing boats are filled with Chinese. We reach the Hastings lock to find the lock wall lined with fishermen of all ages fishing from the shore. These are mostly Chinese also.
We have to dodge the many fishing lines out in the water as we enter the Hastings town lock. This lock runs through the center of the small village of Hastings. As we are raised up the eight feet in this lock, we see more fishermen all along the bridge that connects the two sides of Hastings. This is the only bridge along the Trent where people are allowed to fish.. Free Fishing Day is very popular. We learn that there is a large ethnic population of Chinese in Toronto which is less than an hour from here. Just on the other side of the Hastings lock is our dock for tonight, Hastings Village Marina.
We once again get the bikes down to explore some of the countryside. Before leaving town, we stop at the local bait shop and purchase a seasonal fishing license for Canada.
We enjoy another great bike ride through the undulating countryside. This area is know as the “Tuscany of Ontario” and it very much reminds us of biking in Italy as we wind our way up and down rolling hills. Back in town, we make a quick stop at the local take a way for some poutine. We are acquiring a taste for this regional delicacy of French fries smothered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curds. “Good and good for you”.
While out on a walk this evening with the dogs, we stop at the local ice cream shop which is conveniently located along the lock wall. This always gets Daisy and Sebastian’s attention as they know they will get to lick the bowls and spoons afterwards.
While enjoying our ice cream, we meet a gold loopers Clare and Bill aboard Rangatira from Canada whose boat is docked along the wall. They completed their loop in 2006 and we learn that we were both at the looper rendezvous that year at Joe Wheeler State Park. What a small world! They give us some great information on the next section of waterway and we enjoy chatting with them about their loop adventures in 2006.
Total Miles Traveled Campbellford to Hastings: 20- Locks: 6
Total Miles Biked: 20
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2227 – Total Locks: 50
Trenton to Campbellford:
Today we officially enter the Trent Severn Waterway.
The canal was built in stages beginning in 1833 and was not completed until 1920. This waterway is 244 miles long and connects Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. We will encounter 44 locks along the way. Some of these will offer a new challenge to us. In addition to the 36 conventional locks, we will encounter two sets of flight locks, two of the world’s highest hydraulic lift locks and a marine railway that will actually lift our boat out of the water and over a hill to the other side. In addition to the many locks, we will constantly be on our toes due to the shallow depths. The controlling depth is only six feet in the channel (we draw 5 ft.). Many rocks lie waiting just below the surface. All boats with a draft five foot or over are required to sign a wavier releasing the Trent Severn Waterway from any liability. This section will be one of the most challenging of our entire Great Loop trip.
It is a beautiful day to begin our trip on the Trent Severn.
The sun is out in full force and the temperatures are in the low 70’s. Our first obstacle this morning is to get IT out of the tight spot that we are in. The dock master sees us getting ready to leave and quickly comes over to offer a hand. Jeff cautiously maneuvers IT backwards and forwards as we slide out of the tight confines. As we pass the many vacant wide open slips, we again wonder why we were put in such a crazy place.
The first lock of today is only a mile from our marina. These locks operate differently than previous ones we have encountered. The lock masters do not use VHF radios. When a boat wants to lock through, he ties up to the blue line. This is a section of concrete wall painted with a blue stripe.
The lockmaster will then prepare the lock and announce over a loud speaker when to enter.
The first six locks are all within a period of about six miles. Lock 1 is known as the “Greenhorn Lock”.
For many boaters this is the first lock that they have encountered. Many spectators arrive here by car to watch the locking process. We are the only boat locking through this morning. The locks in the Trent Severn require boats to turn off their engine and generator. In the past we have left our generator running so that Jeff can use the bow thrusters to keep our hull off of the concrete walls. With our full five foot keel, the water force pushes us very hard against the wall. Sometimes the force is so great that it almost seems our fenders will pop. Without the bow thrusters we must rely on our human force to keep IT off the wall. As we enter the locks, I will attach a stern line around the cable. Jeff will then shut off the engine and come out to our center cleat and attach another line around a cable. We will then have to manually use our hands to push IT off the wall. At 70,000 pounds it is extremely difficult. The lockmaster realizes our difficulty and only gives us a “1/2 valve” flood. He radios ahead to the next locks for them to do the same.
We are raised between 17 and 24 feet at each of the next twelve locks. The lockmasters are all very helpful and friendly. The lock doors in the first six locks look to be the original wooden doors.
They are opened and closed manually by the lockmaster pushing a long t-bar around in a circle.
Today we have the locks to ourselves and have an easy lock through at each lock. At each lock we are given several Canadian wildlife cards which describe some of the wildlife found in this area. As we go from lock to lock we continue collecting these cards. By days end we have over 30 different wildlife cards. Between locks 6 and 7 we travel through an area called “Danger Narrows”. It is appropriately named as we can see many rocks just a few feet outside the narrow channel.
There are many channel markers in this area to guide boats through these rocky strewn waters. The water is very clear and we can see these rocks lurking just below the surface. After lock 7 we have a break of about 10 miles to the next lock. This area seems very remote with lots of marsh lands. The scenery is some of the best we have seen and continues to improve as we head west. The water is very clear although there are a lot of weeds growing in the shallower areas. We see several white swan families on the water. This seems to be a good habitat for them. At lock 11 and 12, we encounter our first set of flight locks in which we are raised 48 feet.
The lockmaster instructs us over a P.A. system of when to enter and exit each lock. As we come out of the first lock, we are actually entering the second lock.
After 12 locks and 51 miles we call it a day in Campbellford. This is a new personal record on number of locks in one day for us. The town operates a nice park, Old Mill Park, on both sides of the canal with dockage and power.
Campbellford is a great stop and we enjoy two nights here along the park wall. We again find a nice farmers market on Saturday just beside our boat. Here we learn of a new delicacy, Canadian butter tarts. These miniature tarts have a delicious golden filling similar to that found in pecan pie without the pecans. We browse though some of the shops in the small town. They are all pretty basic and the town seems to hold on to its past. The local grocery has a large selection of VHS tapes for rent. Change seems to come slow to this area of the world. We do find a great bakery here called “Dohers” where we enjoy some really good homemade donuts. After eating all of these treats, we take the dogs for a four mile run along the waterway to Ranney Falls where we cross a steel pedestrian suspension bridge connecting us to many hiking trails. The dogs enjoy the gravel trail through the woods. This afternoon we get the bikes down to explore the countryside. This area is known as the Trenton Hills and we quickly discover how it gets its name. The countryside is very scenic with its many rolling hills and farm land. We stop at the Healey Falls lock to see what is in store for us tomorrow. While here we see a really bad storm approaching. We arrive back to the boat 20 miles later after peddling really hard up and down the Trent Hills trying to outrun the storm.
Total Miles Traveled Trenton to Campbellford: 51 – Locks: 12
Total Miles Biked: 20
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2207 – Total Locks: 44
Kingston to Trenton:
We have a beautiful crisp clear day for our trip to Trenton, Ontario. Today we are traveling up the 60 mile long Z-shaped Bay of Quinte (pronounced Kwin-tey). It is nice to finally see the sun out. The locals have told us this has been the rainiest and coolest season in many years. We can believe that. It is hard to believe that we are still wearing jackets in July. Sebastian has been wrapped in his blanket the entire trip.
He is still lobbying for the Bahamas. This area has some sort of magnet anomaly in the rocky lake bed and our compass heading is off by almost 20 degrees. We are again amazed at the lack of other boats out on the water. We see only one other sailboat in the Bay of Quinte. Is this normal or is it due to the economy?
At Glenora, we pass just between the two car ferries going back and forth across the waterway.
It is nice to finally see some other sailboats out in this area enjoying the nice deep waters.
We had planned on stopping today in the town of Picton but decide to take advantage of the nice weather and continue on to Trenton. We have a very easy day of cruising. There are no locks or bridges to worry about and the water is plenty deep.
As we reach Trenton, we radio Frazier Park Marina for dockage instructions.
The marina manager advises us to set up for a starboard side tie and that he is going to “tuck us in behind some other boats”. As he waves us into our spot, we quickly see what he meant by “tucking us in”. Somehow we have to negotiate down a narrow opening with boats on both sides and then turn IT sideways against the concrete wall behind the other boats. It is going to be really tight as the fairway is only maybe two feet wider than we are. There are about 10 people standing at our slip watching as we maneuver IT into this tight spot. It seems people always want to watch the docking in hopes that someone crashes into something. With inches to spare one each side, Jeff manages to get IT turned around sideways in the tiny space. We have been in some tight spaces before but this has to take the cake. Jeff did a great job and not a single boat was touched. The crazy thing is that there are plenty of free docks on the other side with lots of room. Why did the dock master put us in this tight spot?
Two other loopers, Blue Moon and Sootsus at Sea, are here also. Sootsus at Sea was docked next to us at Kingston. Just after meeting Kathy, she presented me with a great gift of a brand new denim shirt with the Krogen logo embroidered on it. She had won this at a boat show and since they don’t have a Krogen, she thought I might like it. What a nice gift and from someone we just met. It constantly amazes us at how nice loopers are to one another. Once you meet another looper, you have a friend for life.
We take the dogs for a nice jog down to the first lock on the Trent Severn and are able to buy our locking pass for this waterway. Boaters can purchase one day, seasonal, or one way transit passes for the Trent Severn. We purchase the one way transit pass for $240.00. For the last few weeks we have heard from everyone about a great Italian restaurant here in Trenton named Tomasos. We had planned to eat aboard tonight but give in and order takeout. Back on the boat, we enjoy one of the best pizzas and Veal Parmigiana that we have had on the loop. Someone knows how to cook Italian.
Tomorrow we will start the Trent Severn.
Total Miles Traveled Kingston to Trenton: 71
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2156
Oswego to Kingston:
We have spent the last two days in Oswego waiting on a weather window to cross Lake Ontario. It looks like we have a window today to make the crossing. Miss Ruby pulls away from the docks just in front of us.
Lock 8 won’t open until 7:00 AM. We are ready and waiting when the lock doors open. Whiskers has decided to hold back and get a weather report from us once we get out into the Lake. The forecast was for 2 ft. or less seas. We were surprised this morning to wake up to a blustery wind and light rain. This wasn’t in the forecast.
Once through the lock, we soon reach the Oswego breakwater with its lighthouse standing guard.
The seas look like they are settling down so hopefully we will have a nice crossing. Miss Ruby radios us to say goodbye. They are spending some time in the Thousand Islands before heading to Kingston. We call Whiskers and give them the weather report and also say goodbye. They too are going a different route. Hopefully our paths will cross again somewhere along the way with both of these loopers.
Lake Ontario is the 14th largest lake in the world spanning 175 miles long and 46 miles wide with depths between 100 to 800 feet. Boaters must give this lake respect when crossing. Lake Ontario gets its name from the Indian word “Lacus Ontarius” which means “beautiful lake”. The Great Lakes contain roughly 22 % of the world’s fresh water. As we continue across the lake our 1 foot seas gradually build. By the time we reach the center of the lake we have 4-6 foot seas. IT handles these well but we are very happy to finally reach the other side where things calm down considerably. While out in the lake, we cross the border into Canada. Jeff hoists our yellow quarantine flag.
We will fly this flag until we have been cleared by customs.
As we approach Kingston, ON, we call the Canadian Customs. We had applied for a CAN Pass before our trip. This allows boaters to call customs and handle everything over the phone when entering Canada. Because we have the birds aboard and their CITIES need to be stamped, the Customs Officer advises that we need to stay on the boat once we arrive at the marina. A Customs Agent will come and inspect us. Let’s hope everything goes O.K.
Once across Lake Ontario, we are now in the waters of the St. Lawrence River. Continuing down the St. Lawrence Seaway would eventually bring us out into the Atlantic Ocean. Today we turn up the Cataraqui River. Kingston sits just beyond the mouth of this river. By continuing up the river one would be on the Rideau Canal which would lead to Ottawa and then Montreal. This will be another year. Two Customs Agents show up to the boat within 15 minutes of our arrival. They inspect the birds CITIES papers and quickly sign and stamp the birds into Canada. They tell us this is the first time that they have dealt with parrots and have no experience with CITIES. No other questions were asked and they are quickly on their way. This was a big hurdle for us. We remove our yellow quarantine flag and replace it with a Canadian courtesy flag.
Now we are free to explore Kingston.
While in Kingston, we are staying at Confederation Basin Marina which is run by the City of Kingston and is in the heart of downtown. We find the local farmer’s market just behind City Hall. This is one of the oldest farmer’s markets in Canada and is held each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. We enjoy several morning runs through the town along with the dogs. The stone architecture and cobble streets remind us of Europe. There are many great restaurants tucked away in little alleys. We enjoy a fabulous dinner at Chez Piggy.
Everything is homemade including the bread. After a great meal of pasta with fresh vegetables and salmon, we treat ourselves to some fresh strawberry shortcake which was also homemade and equally delicious.
Chez Piggy was highly recommended and has gained a reputation over the past 30 years for good local cuisine.
There is a great maritime museum here. In addition to the many artifacts of Canadian maritime history, the museum houses an authentic Coast Guard Ice Cutter, The Alexander Henry.
We were able to go inside this 210 foot ship which was built in 1959. This vessel also serves as a bed and breakfast and you can book nightly stays onboard. One morning we loaded the bikes on the free ferry to Wolfe Island.
This island is one of the 1000 Islands on the St. Lawrence River. . Just this last year, 87 huge wind turbines have been installed on the island.
We learn from the locals that this is very controversial and has split the island into two different camps ruining many longtime friendships and also dividing families. We bike almost 50 miles along the Kings Highway to the opposite end of the island. We have a very picturesque ride through rolling farm and pasture land with many views of the surrounding coves and bays. With very few cars, this was an extremely enjoyable ride. Before leaving the island, we stop at the local bakery and purchase several tasty selections of homemade breads and pastries. Once back in Kingston, we decide to splurge on the local delicacy of this region, “Poutine”. We have seen this on the menu of many restaurants. It basically consists of French fries smothered with brown gravy and then topped with cheese curds. After biking 50 miles we felt justified in ordering this local delicacy. This tastes much better than it sounds.
Tomorrow we will head up the Bay of Quinte towards the Trent Severn Waterway.
Total Miles Traveled Oswego to Kingston: 51 – Locks: 1
Total Miles Biked: 60
Total Miles Traveled Year to Date: 2085- Total Locks: 32