Sunday: Here it is, our first day back on the Loop. I found out that Ralph, the mechanical technician that worked on Kailani will be in today at 10:00am, so I want to speak with him prior to shoving off. In the meantime, we fill our fresh water holding tank, empty our black water holding tanks and prepare Kailani for cruising by laying down all the fragile items we normally lay down. Then at 10:00am, I walk Frankie over towards the office and I see Ralph, so I ask him about the sea trial and he goes into this description of how amazed he was at the power and speed of the vessel. He also confirms that there’s no vibration or cavitation from pushing the engines hard during the sea trials. So as far as I’m concerned, if he’s happy, I’m happy and we’re good to go. I return to Kailani and Tracy is talking to this guy that has a drone flying. He agrees to get a photo of Kailani and send it to us. This is a very nice gesture and later in the day, I get the photo in my email.
11:00am and we’re shoving off from the docks and headed back onto the Trent Severn Waterway. Today we end up doing three locks, Bobcaygeon, Fenelon Falls and Rosedale. These three locks are the last three up locks for us and by the end of the day, we are within one foot of the highest elevation on the Trent. We get lifted thirty four feet today for a grand total of 599 feet lifted on the system. When we get to Kirkfield Lift Lock we will add one additional foot (the extra foot required to make the upper basin descend) and that will be the high point of the entire Trent Severn Waterway.
Bobcaygeon is the oldest and busiest lock on the system and somehow, we end up zipping right thru into the lock and out after being lifted. Yes there’s huge crowds of people watching the events of the lock, and loads of boats staying on the walls of the lock, but we get lucky and are in and out of there in a flash. Fenelon Falls is the second busiest lock and we are not as lucky here. We end up waiting at least thirty minutes for the gates to open and when they do, six powerboats and one houseboat emerge into our canal. As soon as I see the rental houseboat I am prepared on the port side of Kailani to push the houseboat away from us if necessary. In fact, before they can get to us, they crash right into the concrete wall of the lock as they are leaving. Once they see Tracy and I with push poles on Kailani, they divert over to the other side of the gateway and we are clear. While we are waiting, Tracy walks up to the lock and the lock tenders tell her they think there might be a space on the top side of the lock with power for us to stay. When we finally get up there, there is no such space, so we decide to carry on to Rosedale and try our luck there.
At Rosedale, we’re waiting on the blue line and the heat is killing Tracy. She had even gone in and took a cold shower during the cruise from Fenelon Falls to Rosedale! It made no difference! -tc So I called the Rosedale Marina just on the other side of the lock and they said we could dock at their fuel dock for the night, but we couldn’t get there until 6:30pm and we would have to be off the dock by 9am which were both no problem. However, since it was only 4:45pm, we went up to the lock tender and told him that even though we were on the blue line, we would not be locking thru right now. Rather, as soon as the lock emptied of boats and everyone else went inside, we should move Kailani over to the gray wall and wait until 6pm for the lock, then we’d be at Rosedale Marina on time. So during the hour plus long wait, I sat up at the lock and watched them handle the parade of boats locking down at this lock. Apparently there had been a party in Balsam lake at a place called the sandbar with free music, free hot dogs and free hamburgers, so there were a ton of boats that had been partying all day and now they had to lock down to get home. At one occasion, I watched the lock tenders (3) fit sixteen vessels into one lockage, they pack them in three wide when possible! Finally we were locking thru and docking at Rosedale Marina for the night and the electricity was just what we needed to cool off for the evening.
Tracy made some steaks for dinner and we went to bed ready for another cruise day tomorrow.
Monday: Being docked on their fuel dock, they asked us to shove off by 9am today. That fits our plan nicely because we want to leave by 8:30 am or so to coincide with the Kirkfield Lift Lock and any potential vessels coming out of the Kirkfield Cut towards us. We budget approximately ninety minutes to get to the Lift Lock including the six miles of 10km restricted speed area. So by getting thru the cut before too much boat traffic heads eastward, we should be in good shape.
Rocks to the left of me, rocks to the right…here I am stuck in the middle…. -tc
The Kirkfield Cut is not conducive to allowing space for two larger size (like Kailani) vessels to pass. The option is to crash into blasted Canadian stone which is not on my to do list.
Our plan works out great and we don’t see a vessel in the opposite direction until we are out of the Lift Lock and nearly out of the cut on the western side. So just as the other vessel calls for a ‘Securite’ we ask him to wait in Canal Lake for a couple of minutes to allow us to exit the cut and he agrees, so all’s well in Canadian boater courtesy (for today at least).
Back to the Kirkfield Lift Lock, this is the highest elevation on the Trent Severn Waterway because to make the top tub go down, they add an additional foot of water to the elevation of Balsam Lake and the top tub starts down. As we approach the lock, the red light is on, that means we aim for the blue line to wait for a green light and just as we’re two feet from the wall and Tracy is aiming her line to loop the bollard (she’s gotten real good at that), the green light comes on and we change our strategy and enter the lock. This is by far the eeriest cruising we’ve done to date (and possibly forever) because as you enter the upper tub of the lock, you see nothing but sky in front of you. There’s nothing but air! This is very nerve wracking from the helm and as I’m inching into the lock, I’m saying silent prayers that the gears won’t freeze (preventing us from stopping). Well since we’re writing this blog, you can already figure out that we made it safely down to the lower level of the Trent Canal and now, we’ve safely gone up the highest lift lock in the world (Peterborough @ 65’) and gone down the second highest lift lock in the world (Kirkfield @ 49’). The Trent Severn Waterway surely is a spectacle of engineering, and we haven’t gotten to the Big Chute yet.
After coming out of the Kirkfield Lift Lock we must be aware that the buoys are now reversed as we are going downriver, so red buoys are now to port and green buoys are to starboard. We’ve been using the lanyards of the boat keys as our reminder. We bunch up the lanyard on the red side and leave the green side lanyard hanging, so just by looking at the lanyards of the ignition keys, we can instantly know which side should be red and vice versa. Ingenious system that Tracy developed and it has served us well for over a year now. As we start cruising on Canal Lake we start to pick up on the Coast Guard warnings of the squalls on Lake Simcoe, so Tracy immediately starts calling marinas between us and Lake Simcoe and we are fortunate enough to get transient space at Sunset Cove Marina in Bolsover, Ontario. We are met at the dock by two dock hands and we turn Kailani around to provide a starboard tie. Once secure we walk over to the office to register and all’s well as even though it’s before noontime, we’re safe for the day and we can watch the weather from here (approximately five miles from the entrance to Lake Simcoe) and plan our crossing on a good weather day. We were prepared for seven locks and 122’ of elevation drop today, but we only did one locks and 49’ of drop. So whenever we leave Sunset Cove, we’ll have five locks in the first five miles to get to the entrance to Lake Simcoe.
Tracy is able to make contact with our niece, Lynn and she is available to come up for a visit this evening with her beau Josh. Tracy pulls together a meal of lamb chops (bought at the farmer’s market in Lakefield), macaroni & cheese and a salad. We visit with Lynn and Josh for a while, have a delicious dinner, then go outside for a bit of fishing in the canal. Josh hasn’t fished for many years, but he picks it right back up and quickly catches 3 or 4 sunfish right off the back of Kailani.
While they’re fishing, I meet our dock neighbors, Chris and Dionne who came today from Lake Simcoe and are traveling towards Buckhorn Lake. I asked them how the weather was on the lake since we had heard the Coast Guard warning for the ‘squall’ alert and they said it was calm as could be. Oh well, guess the weathermen in Canada went to the same meteorological school as the weathermen in the states! Lynn and Josh leave close to 9:00pm and we clean the galley from dinner, then turn in hoping we can cruise tomorrow across Lake Simcoe to the Port of Orillia Marina.
Tuesday: We have Kailani ready and off the docks at 8:45am so we can make the first opening for the Boundary Road Swing Bridge just past the marina. We have five locks totaling 73 feet to drop today as we get closer to the elevation of Lake Huron in Georgian Bay. All five locks will be in the first five seven miles of the cruise and then we’ll enter Lake Simcoe and hope that the weather is just as nice on the lake as it is before the lake. Simcoe is so large that it can have it’s own weather totally different that the surrounding areas, so we must pass the five locks before we’ll know for certain.
As we come out of Gamebridge Lock and enter Lake Simcoe we find that the lake weather is just as nice as the last seven miles, so no problems crossing the lake. The buoys are quite a distance apart, but the electronics keep us headed in the proper direction and the lake is 40-50 feet deep in the area we are crossing. That is until we get to the north end of the lake and approach the Atherly Narrows. The depths drop down to approximately 8-9 feet and there’s more boat traffic. But with no issues, we pass out of Lake Simcoe, thru the Atherly Narrows and into Lake Couchiching where the Port of Orillia will be found tucked into a bay to our port.
As we approach the breakwall, we hail the marina on VHF 68 and they tell us that our slip is #203 and is’t just a slight turn to starboard and our slip will be on our port side. As we are backing Kailani into the slip, three neighbors (2 of them loopers), are waiting to take the lines from Tracy and we are quickly secure in slip 203 at 1:30pm after five locks and one lake crossing. I lower the dinghy in case Tracy will want to take it out fishing and we’re all set with good 50 amp power.
One of the line helpers is Art Wittmack of Loofah III. We haven’t seen him and Sue since lock 6 of the Erie Canal. He arrived here yesterday and I think they are thinking of staying thru the weekend because there will be an in-water boat show here this weekend.
I go up and register for the stay two days and get the third day free deal and return to Kailani for some relaxation. This marina is in the heart of downtown and there are shops, restaurants, supermarkets all close by and they have laundry with free washers and dryers.
For dinner, we walk over to Studebakers and have an opportunity to try a local treat for the first time, Poutine Fries. They’re a blend of French fries, gravy and cheese curds. They sound heavy, but they were actually not that filling.
After dinner, Tracy got her fishing gear and we walked out to the fishing pier to try her luck. She really didn’t catch anything to write about, but while we were there, three Englishmen walked out the pier and we started talking with them. They were interesting and we had a nice chat with the blokes!
I caught a small fish and as usual Frankie went nuts. There is nothing he loves more than participating in the event. Here I allow him to play with a fish for a short period of time before returning it to the water (No fish were harmed in this video) – tc
Wednesday: Laundry and supermarket day today. We stopped in a small park that has a gazebo with an od piano in it. Locals seem to gather there to listen to each other play. Sometimes one person would be playing and another would just sit down and join them with a harmony. And of course there was ice cream nearby! -tc
We get the wheeled cart and bring the laundry up to the washing machines, then take the cart over to the Metro Grocery Store and fill the cart with groceries. Before we’re done shopping, I leave early to go back and switch the loads from the washers to the dryers, and just as I’m walking in front of the marina office, there’s the three blokes sitting down enjoying the views, so I chat with them for a while, then go in for the laundry. Unfortunately by the time Tracy comes back from shopping, the mates are gone, so she doesn’t get to see them again.
She did however, get a chance to buy a bag of cherries for a homeless guy. She had talked to him before we walked into the store and asked him if she could get anything for him and he asked for cherries. He showed me a store flyer, showing me that the cherries were on sale and off we went. When we came back he graciously accepted the cherries and I sat with him a while chatting. His name is Murray. He lives under the awning of an abandoned grocery store that is on a list of buildings to be demolished. I asked where he would go next and he said he would find another place. He stated that even if he had a “nice condo” he would be sleeping outside it in a tent with a campfire.
Murray has coffee at 7 am with his buddies and they share whatever they have managed to glean the day before. A man in a golf cart came by to give Murray a beer and to get some bottles to return for the deposit. They really look out for each other. These pictures show him with his belongings under the awning of the store – including a flower pot at the curb. I told him my favorite joke and I thought he would choke laughing. He said “You really taught me something today! Wait till the guys hear this tomorrow morning!” I will worry about him this winter. -tc
Tonight is the bi-weekly outdoor movies in the park night, so we get bug spray and folding chairs and walk over to the Couchiching Beach Park and settle in for the movie that starts at dusk. Tonight they’re showing Sixteen Candles and we’ve never seen it, so we are waiting with our beverages and drumstick ice cream cones. Once the movie starts it turns out to be very crude and not even close to enjoyable, so we fold up our chairs and walk back to Kailani for the night. Besides, we’ve already decided to leave tomorrow and try to get done with the Trent Severn Waterway before the busy weekend, especially since we’re going towards the Big Chute and it’s a spectacle of it’s own and lines can get to 3-4 hours long when busy. So we make a plan to go two locks and stay at the town docks on the top side of Big Chute tomorrow, then go out to Georgian Bay and stay at Bayport Yachting Centre for Friday and maybe Saturday. That way we’ll be out into Georgian Bay by the start of the weekend.
Thursday: First thing I must do this morning is re-load the dinghy up top, plus we really don’t have a long cruise day today, so we’re leaving the slip at 9:10am and entering Lake Couchiching headed to the north end of the lake and into the canal again.
When we get to the Couchiching Lock, there are already four boats there on the port blue line, so we pull all the way up on the starboard blue line and five other boats fall in behind us. The lock is slow this morning because yesterday one of the cables that controls the down side valves snapped and they can only let out half as much water when dropping the lock, so an 8 minute drop is now taking 20 minutes. I walk up to the lock tender and tell him that even though we would be fifth in line, we may not fit being the third boat on one of the lock walls, however, there are two shorter than us vessels behind me and if there’s room for them, they can jump ahead of us to maximize the space. As it works out that’s exactly what occurs and then the third boat behind us is a husband, wife and two daughters which works out that I’m at the lock talking with the husband and wife and in no time whatsoever, Tracy is fishing with the two girls off the back of Kailani while we wait nearly an hour for our turn in the lock.
We lock thru together and cruise to Swift Rapids together. At Swift Rapids, I get called into the lock and Hideaway II has to wait for the next lockage.
So when we get to the Big Chute and are all tied up at the public dock, I have time to get cameras ready and take photos and videos of Nick and Shawna on Hideaway II as they go up and over the Big Chute Marine Railway. But first, as we are pulling up to the public docks, there is an ambulance on shore and a small Boston whaler with two boaters, two EMT’s and a stretcher on the dock right in front of us. The EMT’s wheel the stretcher and patient off the dock( she bounced hard over a wake and her back started to hurt so they wanted to get that checked out). The father and daughter, take the lines from Tracy and secure Kailani to the dock. As soon as the lines are secure, the gentleman (father) absently drops his cellphone from his shirt pocket into the drink right at the end of the pier in ten feet of water.
So Tracy gets her snorkeling gear and dive skin on and in short order has retrieved the man’s phone. So they leave with the boat to return home and follow his wife to the hospital.
Meanwhile, I go over to the Big Chute and take some photos while waiting for Hideaway II to go over. Soon they are in line and being called up to the chute for their lockage over the street. I get some nice photos of them and movies of the boat getting carried over land on the marine railway. We exchange cellphone numbers and I agree to send them the photos and movies when I get good wi-fi service.
For dinner we walk over to the Big Chute Marina restaurant and have a nice meal in their cozy restaurant, then walk back to Kailani so Tracy can see if she can get more fish to bite than bugs! Tomorrow is our big day over the Big Chute Marine Railway and out into Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay.
Friday: Frankie gets his walk this morning around the park setting of the Big Chute Marine Railway and he gets to chase a few birds and a squirrel. Back aboard Kailani, we prepare her for an 8:45am departure onto the blue line wall to get in line for our turn on the railway.
As we pull up to the blue line, we are the first and only boat waiting for the 9am railway opening, so sharply at 9:00am, the Parks Canada staff fires up the pulleys of the marine railway and lowers the car into the pool in front of us and uses the loudspeaker system to call us onto the submerged railway car. Since we are propellers and shafts, we need to hang our stern off the back of the car, so we ease Kailani up to the car and go in as far as the staff directs. Prior to today, we had put blue tape on the hull signifying where the sling stops are so no slings would collapse our shafts. They are very helpful to the staff and we stop exactly where we should.
As soon as we are in the car and the belt straps are tightening around Kailani’s hull, my cellphone rings and it’s Nick, Dede and the girls on FaceTime on their way to the CT shoreline. So bonus for them, I turn the camera around and they get to watch us go over then back down into the Severn River while talking to us on FaceTime. Once we’re back in the water on the low side, we fire up the engines again and we’re off to Lock 45 at Severn Sound and the end of the Trent Severn Waterway. Along the way between Big Chute and Port Severn, we pass a Sea Ray Sundancer and as they pass, I look back and see that it’s Boogaboo which is the boat and you tube channel that I’ve been watching for two years in preparation for this journey. Paul and Anchor Girl have downloaded over 800 videos they’ve taken over the last ten years showing all of the locks, both from the top and bottom and lots of the cool locations to stop overnight. They’ve been a big help to me in preparing for this adventure. Eight tight cruising miles later we’re at Lock 45 and the lock is up and gates are open waiting for us. There’s already one other boat in the lock at the front starboard wall and that leaves barely enough room for Kailani at the rear Portside wall since this is the smallest lock on the entire system. Once inside the lock and we are descending down the final fourteen feet to the level of Lake Huron, we are reminded by the lock staff that the buoys will reverse once we’re out of the lock since we will now be headed into Georgian Bay rather than out the Severn River. We come out of the lock at 10:50am so our final statistics for the Trent Severn Waterway are that we started at 9:50am on July 5th and completed the system at 10:30am on August 10th. We did 214 nautical miles, 43 locks including the highest and second highest lift locks in the world and the only marine railway in North America, once we reached Balsam Lake we were on the highest ocean-navigable waters in the world at 841 feet above sea level, used 3/8 of our fuel tanks (approx. 112 gallons), cruised 11 days, bent one propeller, cruised from elevation 243 in Lake Ontario to elevation 841 in Balsam Lake then back down to elevation 577 in Georgian Bay, and went home for two weeks during that span of time.
The Trent Severn Waterway was one of our most anticipated legs of the journey, but alas, although I enjoyed it a lot, Tracy felt the work was worse than the enjoyment. I guess that’s because she had to work the lines and fenders, while I just had to control Kailani. Holding Kailani to the wall was a bit tiresome in some of the locks and Tracy worked very hard which is not our aim on this journey. Alas, we are done with the Trent Severn Waterway and is is now a memory and I hope that as time goes on Tracy will look back with a bit more enjoyment of this engineering marvel. HAH!!!- tc
There’s only nine nautical miles to Midland and the Bayport Yachting Centre, however the first three miles are a twisty/turny path thru some very tight buoys. In fact there are at least two areas where there’s only room for one boat between the markers and that means when you’re the boat, you better be accurate with your maneuvering to stay between the buoys. However, once thru the first three miles, the rest of today’s cruise is across the bay in fifty foot deep water to Midland Bay and our destination.
We pull into the slip bow first so we can take the dinghy off the stern, but soon realize that wasn’t such a good strategy, so later in the day, I get some help from some neighboring loopers and turn Kailani around to a bow first dockage and now we’ll be able to lower the dinghy with plenty of room and the shore power cords will be easier to run onto the dock.
After checking in and getting the AC running to cool down the cabin, I make contact with Corinne Tonner and when they arrive at their vessel later this afternoon, they’ll stop by and we’ll make arrangements to go out for dinner with them. They just recently crossed their wake and went AGLCA Gold!
Here at the Bayport Yachting Centre, the Manager, Ken MacDonald does presentations for cruisers on cruising the small craft route in Georgian Bay including tips, tricks, marinas and anchorages for maximum enjoyment of the next leg of the adventure. We will be attending today’s 5:30pm presentation because you can never have too much information while cruising strange waters.
After Ken’s presentation, Marshall meets us in the marina office and we walk over to their yacht club for the Friday night pub dinner. We meet a few of their friends and have a great time talking about their adventure and parts of ours.
Saturday: Relaxing at this spectacular marina is just what the doctor ordered. There’s lots of loopers here, so socializing is aplenty and I get to spend another afternoon listening to Ken present his information about cruising the thirty thousand islands of Georgian Bay and I must admit that after two session, I now have a clear idea of what’s ahead for us and how to cruise it safely.
Sea Cottage pulled in adjacent to us today with Eric, Jennifer and Zach aboard. We had met them at Half Moon Bay and Tracy and Zach hit it off pretty well, so they watch some videos together and enjoy spending time with each other. The opportunities to meet and run into new friends later in the journey is a nice dynamic that we are getting very familiar with.