Sunday: I have another twelve hour drive ahead of me to return to Peterborough from Charlottesville, VA so I start out at 8:15am from the DoubleTree and exactly twelve hours later, 8:15pm, I’m pulling into the lot at Peterborough Marina. Wow! I’m really glad I went and I’m really glad I’m back at the same time.
Monday: We plan for two more days here in Peterborough before returning to the waterway. There’s severe weather in this afternoon’s forecast, so we spend today doing indoor stuff around Kailani and both of us have internal clocks that need some catching up after the weekend’s travels, etc.
Tuesday: Today we walk over to the Peterborough Lift Lock for an up close and personal view of this awesome feat of engineering. It’s really amazing to realize that in spite of the looks of the lock, it is entirely balanced in all directions and perfectly quite simple in it’s operation. Couple all that with the fact that the entire process of lifting and lowering boats sixty five feet for over one hundred years is accomplished with virtually electricity use.
The only power needed to run a complete cycle is for the lights on the control panel, everything else is hydraulic and physics. Both ‘bathtubs’ are identical with the exception of one extra foot of water in the upper chamber. That one extra foot of water is what drives the upper ‘bathtub’ down while the lower ‘bathtub’ is lifted. To visualize this whole process, think about a teeter totter. When the heavier end goes down, the lighter end goes up, simple. Now I’m sure everyone has been on the receiving end of a jolt at the top or a bump at the bottom of a teeter totter. Well to control that in the lift lock, there’s a six foot diameter rod/piston on the underside of each ‘bathtub’ and it is driven up or down in a completely sealed water-filled chamber. The two chambers are connected with a valve to separate them. So when the upper chamber takes on the additional one foot of water it wants to start going down, but it can’t until the lock master opens the valve between the two pistons and lets the water getting squeezed out of the upper piston, travel into the piston of the lower ‘bathtub and that forces the piston up as theater takes up the space in the sealed piston chamber. Simple physics and some ingenious engineering.
On site there is also a Lift Lock visitor’s center with interactive exhibits showing the operation and pictures showing the construction process from over a century ago. After the walk to the lock and walking around for a while there, we decided to call for a taxi and get a ride back to the marina. However, once he got there, we asked him to drop us off at the local grocery store for some light provisioning and we would walk back with a few bags of groceries. So we filled four grocery bags and on the way walking back to the marina, we went past the Holiday Inn with patio dining and it just smelled too good to pass up, so we stopped in for a late lunch, then back to Kailani to unpack the groceries. Tuesday night became laundry night and saying our goodbyes to some friends we’ve made staying here for a week.
Wednesday: Winds have died down today and we are able to pull away from the dock at 8:45am to make the lock by 9:00am and get thru in the first opening. When we get to the lock, there are already five other boats there and Careb comes up behind us in line so we’re thinking that we’ll wait for the second opening and go thru with Careb, but we soon learn that there are three of the five boats ahead of us that are not locking. So the lock staff call for us to follow in behind the sport fisher on the starboard side while Careb and the sailboat fill the wall on the port side. The sailboat is a couple from France and they are in a fifty foot long aluminum sailboat named En-Dro. The entry order requested by the lock staff is for the sport fisher to enter first on the starboard wall, then Careb on the port wall, then us on the starboard wall, then En-Dro on the port wall. They say to staying this order for the entire day thru six locks and that’s exactly what we do. We first saw Looper Careb in Canajoharie, NY last month and now we’re cruising with him. He is a solo cruiser and requires a few extra minutes in each lock as he drives and handles his lines all at once.
The second lock for us today will be the Peterborough Lift Lock and once we are actually entering the lower ‘bathtub’ it all becomes very real, but not at all anxious now that we have a better understanding of the process. As usual, Gold Looper Rob Liss from Peterborough is at the lock taking digital photography of loopers passing thru (see above)! He gets pictures of each vessel from the bow and stern as it is entering the lock, then he runs halfway up the lock and gets pics of the vessels as they are raised. Then he rushes up to the top of the lift and gets photos of the vessels reaching the top, some sixty five feet higher than when they entered the lock. Peterborough is the world’s highest Lift Lock. Once he’s got all the photos, he separates them by vessel and emails them to each looper and he does this all for free (and for the exercise!). That’s just another hidden asset to membership in this great organization.
After six locks we are arriving in Lakefield, Ontario and the Lakefield Marina has a pump-out service which we need, so we call them and see if they have a slip and the pump-out. As it turns out Logan says yes they have a spot for us and it’s on the pump-out dock. So we get two birds with one stone. At 2:35pm after six locks and only ten nautical miles, we’re done for the day and safely tied up at a very comfortable marina facility.
For dinner, we walk two blocks to Lakefield Restaurant and fill up on very reasonably priced food. Once back aboard Kailani, we do a little research on our progress and verify that we’re still in great shape for making Chicago in mid-September, so we may actually stay another day here as it really feels homey and comfortable. They also have another one of those ‘mini libraries’ like we saw in Peterborough. They really add charm to the community. Besides, Tracy is catching some Bass, so we have to stay!
Thursday: We do end up staying here in Lakefield today. It’s really a lovely little place and the marina staff and everyone else are very friendly and helpful. I walk over to the Tim Horton’s for morning pastries and I see more people than the population of the town! What’s up with that? And it’s 9:00am to boot, not even real early in the morning. Tim Horton’s must be the Dunkin Donuts of Canada eh! Only difference is every Tim Horton’s is staffed with ten or so employees that know their jobs. The coffees and breakfast sandwiches come very quickly and hot too!
After my apple fritter and Tracy’s sausage/egg and cheese sandwich we start the day. The dinghy is already in the water and we will use it today, but first, we walk over to the local farmer’s market where Tracy finally finds her lamb chops (and at a reasonable price), and we buy an assortment of butter tarts for our sweet tooth.
When we get back we go for a dinghy ride looking for a place to jump in and cool off, but all we get is a dinghy ride since there’s no appropriate place to land the dinghy and swim around. Upon returning we see that there is a wall just north of the marina that we can walk to and there are people swimming there, so we get back, walk to the dollar store and buy a couple of el cheapo rafts and head over to the swimming hole.
There’s a dad with his two kids there and we jump in and swim around for a while with them. After returning to Kailani, we have a dinner of some left-overs, I do some relaxing chores, plan for tomorrow’s cruise and hit the sack while Tracy fulfills her commitment for hosting on a virtual reality disco night.
Friday: We are only planning a twenty mile cruise today with four locks, so it’s not imperative that we leave in time to catch the first lock opening at 9:00am. So as we’re leisurely preparing Kailani for departure including raising the dinghy, we see our friends Al and Ruth aboard Tortuga pull in for an early morning pump-out. They had spent the night on the Lakefield lock wall and we were both glad to meet up again. We hadn’t seen them since Winter Harbor in New York.
After they completed their pump-out and we got Kailani fired up, we both headed out with Tortuga in the lead. We had about a forty five minute cruise to the first lock of the day, lock 27, Young’s Point. After Young’s point, we entered Clear Lake which is a wide open crossing until the north end intersection with Stoney Lake and numerous islands to negotiate. Once we were in Clear Lake proper, Alan called and said they were going to anchor for a while and we could pass them, so we swung wayside to his starboard and went around him up Clear Lake.
Soon we were into the islands of Stoney Lake and an area referred to as Hells Gate (one of three on the loop). This area includes an old Anglican Church on an island with only boat access and the story is that it’s packed on Sundays. At the end of these picturesque islands is the Burleigh Falls Lock and the start of Lovesick Lake. Soon we’re going up the Lovesick lock and into Lower Buckhorn Lake. This is the area where Tracy has been anticipating for quite a while. She picks Deer Bay for us to anchor in for lunch and as I’m maneuvering into Deer Bay Kailani suddenly jolts and the port engine quits! Uh oh, I’ve hit a rock. Nick, as a mason, used to love canadian pink granite. He is not quite as fond of it now. – tc
Now we must drop anchor immediately and figure out a course of action. We verify that Kailani is not taking on water, so we just have to calm down (me more than Tracy) and limp to a marina for repairs. Fortunately at the last lock, there was a guy talking to us on the wall who docks at Buckhorn Yacht Harbor and he said they were a full service marina in case we needed gas, etc. Well now at least we knew where to go, so Tracy called them and asked if we could limp into their marina and did they have room and a mechanic that could check out our damage. Turns out we were very fortunate in this regard because they are a propellor shop with a machine shop to boot. We had stumbled onto just the ideal place to bring Kailani, so we raised the anchor and on the starboard engine only, we crossed Lower Buckhorn Lake at 7.2 knots. When we approached the very popular and very busy Buckhorn Lock I slowed to a near stop and fired up the port engine. She seemed to respond normally for us and we pulled up to the blue line and waited for lockage. As we were waiting, Rascal’s Retreat pulled up behind us for lockage. We had seen them pull into Peterborough Marina the day before we departed there and here they were right behind us again. They are from Dallas and working on their loop.
The top side of the Buckhorn lock was packed to the gills with boats and the lock master reiterated over the loudspeaker that the topside walls were full and there was no room for any of us if that was our plan. We told him we were going to Buckhorn Yacht Harbor so no worries.
Once we were in Buckhorn Lake, I put some rpm’s onto the port engine and it started to vibrate, so I backed her down to idle and the vibration was over. So we pulled into the marina and Pete the owner came out to meet us and discuss strategy. It was 2:30pm on a Friday afternoon, so he said he would pull us out first thing tomorrow morning and assess the damage, but with a propellor shop and machine shop on site he would have no issues making any repairs necessary to either the prop or the shaft, so we felt we were in the best hands possible under the circumstances. He even offered us a truck if we needed to go out for provisioning! We said we were all set and we tied up for the night knowing that at 9:00am Pete and his staff would be helping us with repairs.
Buckhorn Yacht Harbor is a family owned facility with five owners living right on site, so the facilities run very professionally and we are glad we made it here even though we had both been looking forward to a night on the hook in Lower Buckhorn Lake.
Saturday: Pete is looking at Kailani at 8:00am so I talk with him and he tells me what his strategy will be and then takes me in his golf cart over to the ramp to explain every step
of the process to me for reference. We decide that we should start earlier rather than later because the winds are kicking up and it will only get harder the longer we wait. He tells me he prefers that his guys drive the boat so long as the owners have no objections. I mention to him that the longest boat I’ve ever driven onto a trailer was 24 feet, so be my guest! He says he’ll return in twenty minutes ready for the move and twenty minutes later Pete comes over with his son Luke and Ralph. Ralph will be driving the boat so Show him the helm controls and leave him to his job. Back on shore, Pete, Luke and I are trying to spring Ralph off the dock with the wind pushing him right back onto the dock. Eventually, we get the stern out far enough for him to pull the boat away and over to the ramp. Soon thereafter Andrew is driving Kailani out of the water and onto dry land. That’s when I see the damaged propeller. One of the three blades is turned back into a spiraling ‘cee’ shape! I hope the prop is the only damage, but we’ll have to wait to determine that.
After Kailani is secured on land, still on the trailer and chocked up at the stern, Ralph removes both propellers and it appears that the shafts are not damaged. So now Peter will get the propellers over to his brother John at the propeller shop and see what he can do for us.
John reviews the damage and looks for propellers in his stock so we’ll have every option available in making our decision. He finds a matching set of four bladed propellers in his consignment inventory so he’ll price up the cost of the replacements and the cost to repair the existing and we’ll make a decision. We spend the rest of the day and evening meeting some of the friendly boaters here at Buckhorn Yacht Harbour. We go to bed realizing that Kailani is tilted slightly to the stern so our heads are a tad lower than the rest of our bodies once we’re laying down in bed. Oh well at least the outcome of the rock damage is relatively minimal and there is no other mechanical or shaft damage to deal with. We have to close up the windows because there’s rain in the forecast and we cannot use the air conditioner because it relies on drawing raw water for the cooling process and we’re not sitting in the water, so there’s no water for the pump to draw into the AC system, oh well.