The Trent Severn Waterway
The Trent–Severn Waterway is a 386 kilometres (240 mi)-long canal route connecting Lake Ontario atTrenton to Georgian Bay at Port Severn. Its major natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, the Kawartha lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and the Severn River. Its scenic, meandering route has been called "one of the finest interconnected systems of navigation in the world".
We had to tie up on the wall before the Lock and wait for the next Lock-through. Yes, this is what our 25 foot Ranger Tug looks like next to the other cruising boats doing the Great Loop. We are used to it by now but we always attract attention when people see our AGLCA burgee (America's Great Loop Cruising Association flag) and want to know how we manage to live on the boat for a year. And if we still like each other after 10 months on the trip.
Yes, we do. And we have for 41 years.
Nellie May to the rescue!
We were boating down the Trent Canal and saw this boat just bobbing in the water. Our experience on this trip told us they were probably fishing or sun tanning or just floating around. But ...the guy moved to the front of the boat and he was holding a rope in his hand.
He did not yell or wave his hands to ask for help. Noooooo.
But I have seen that look before so I asked if he needed some help. His girlfriend just rolled her eyes. I don't think this was their first rodeo.
Turns out the boat had quit less than 1/4 mile from their cottage. So I hooked them up and Tim went into tugboat mode. The young mans' neighbors were laughing as we pulled them back to their dock. Guess it has happened before...
We are always glad to do a "good turn".
The Peterborough Lift Lock
Opened July 9, 1904, this lift lock is the highest of its type in the world, transferring boats between two water levels in a single 19.8 m (65 ft.) lift. Designed in place of conventional locks, which would have lengthened the time considerably to transverse a gradual drop, this lift lock was a unique solution made feasible. It operates on a balance principle. Each boat chamber is supported by a ram, 2.28 m (7.5 ft.) In diameter. These move up and down inside water-filled cylinders connected by a pipe. A valve, located in its center, controls the flow of water between the two cylinders.In operation, the upper boat chamber is filled with an extra 30 cm (1 ft.) of water which weighs 130.6 t (144 tons). When the valve is opened, this added weight causes the upper chamber to descend and the lower to rise.
(Information from this Link)
We took a boat tour of the Lift Lock with 100 other people so we could enjoy the experience before we took Nellie May through the Lift Lock the next day. There are loads of videos showing how this works so if you are interested in seeing what we experienced try this link with a time lapse video.
A small detour...
This map of Lake Simcoe shows where we entered the lake from the east and headed for Orillia. We had a mechanic scheduled to do a little maintenance on the engine. We thought he was meeting us at Orillia. I called him to confirm the time and tell him we were almost there.
He said,"You are headed for Orillia?" We said, "Yes, almost there." He said, "Turn left!"
Turns our there was a miscommunication in the service department and they wanted us at their marina.
We saw alot of Lake Simcoe. Thank goodness the weather stayed calm for the trip down and the trip back the next day.
The Big Chute
The Big Chute Railway Lock is absolutely awesome! I had been looking forward to this experience since we started the Loop last September and it didn't disappoint. Since we don't have a photo of our boat on the Chute I am showing you our Looping friend's boat---Island Girl. See how she is hanging off the back? That is because her propellers hang below the keel.
Nellie May doesn't have that issue so they put us as far forward on the sled as possible. Did I say it was awesome?
I encourage you to click on this link and watch a short video produced by Parks Canada showing how the Big Chute works.
Click here to watch the video. And then imagine little Nellie May as the only boat on her trip on the Chute.
A change of plans
This map shows our path down Monument Channel on Georgian Bay. Looks a little strange, right?
The plan was to travel the Monument Channel and then rejoin the small boat channel on Georgian Bay.
The map shows our progress as we dealt with mysterious engine issues that resulted in the boat quitting. 5 times. She restarted each time but after the 5th try we puttered into a cove shallow enough so we could drop the anchor and phone for help.
The path you see had us is DEEP water edged with shallow rocks. Not the sort of situation any boater wants to encounter.
We got an escort back to a marina with a certified Volvo engine dealer who worked with our great Ranger Tug dealer to try to diagnose the problem. Parts were ordered, we stayed at a marina down Honey Harbor while the parts arrived. We rejoiced when they came and the mechanic installed them the next day.
Back on the trip in record time!
A very, very hard decision
Tim has always said that sometimes the right decision is not the easy decision.
The next leg of our Loop would take us out into big water with a narrow channel with rocks right under the surface of the water a few feet away from the channel. And no cell phone coverage.
Until we put more hours on the engine we wouldn't be certain the proposed "fix" was the correct "fix". The smart/safe move is to put the boat on the trailer and take her back to our home waters where we can put hours on the engine in shallow South Dakota lakes.
We rented a car, drove back to South Dakota, picked up the truck and trailer and headed back to Canada. We plan to continue this stage of the trip on the highways of Michigan. We will play tourist while we see how we like "boaterhoming" (using our boat on the trailer as a camper).
Stay tuned, the August newsletter should be very interesting.
You meet the nicest people on the Loop
We landed in Shady Harbor Marina the first few days of June. As soon as we pulled up to the gas dock we were greeted by other Loopers who were at the Marina. Greetings turned into a potluck dinner that night. We may run into our new friends again on the Loop or not, so we have learned to enjoy the moment while it's happening.
Entering the Erie Canal
We had been anticipating entering the Erie Canal since we left New York City. The Erie Canal is 100 years old and has 34 locks. This is Lock #2 in Waterford, considered by some to be the first lock on the Canal. You can tell by the water line on the side of the lock that we are going to be going UP. This lock got pretty turbulent as the water filled it from the center underneath. I was glad there were only 2 boats in the lock as we hung onto the ropes hanging from the walls and fought to keep our boats next to the wall.
The old Erie Canal
Lock #2 was rebuilt in the early 1900’s. The channel of the original Erie Canal can be seen in many places, with one of the best examples adjacent to Lock #2. There were three locks in this section and the original stonework is still in remarkably good condition.
"Tim in a box"
Holding the boat to the wall in a lock is a team effort. I am in the back hanging onto a rope attached to the top of the lock wall while Tim stands on the cabin seat and pops out the hatch to grab a second rope. This photo was taken by a friend on the lock wall. Our locking process was called "Tim in a Box" because he popped through the hatch and surprised our friend.
After lock 23 on the Erie Canal we discovered a delightful marina called Pirates Cove. It was hot and they had a pool. We liked it there and that's a good thing because we ended up staying for 10 days while we waited for a mechanic who finally came and told us we needed 4 new batteries. They ordered them, installed them and we enjoyed the quiet while they worked.
Since we had some time waiting on the mechanic we rented a car and headed to Niagara Falls, only 3 hours away. I had never been there so I was pretty excited to experience the Maid of the Mist and all the other tourist adventures. We stayed at a hotel on the Canadian side of the Falls for one night. Big beds! TV! A shower! We were asleep by 9 pm but heard that the laser light show at the Falls was spectacular.
Boldt Castle in the 1,000 Islands
Another milestone in our Loop is exploring an area called 1,000 Islands by Clayton, New York. While we were there we took a tour boat through the islands to Boldt Castle. This rich fella from the City wanted to build s summer house for his wife, and being VERY rich, built a castle. Trouble is, she died during construction. He stopped the construction and never went to the place again. It fell into disrepair and was eventually taken over by the state parks. It is being restored/completed and is an amazing place…a real example of the over-the-top wealth of the Gilded Age.
Welcome to Canada
We entered Canada at Kingston, Ontario. The process is fairly simple. We entered the marina and tied up first. Then Tim took a walk to a special phone booth located at the marina gate where he called a Canadian Customs agent. They asked questions, he gave answers and they gave us our Canadian pass number to post on our boat. We put our American money in a ziplock and went to an ATM to get Canadian money. Canada uses $1 coins called Loonies (because they have a Loon on them), $2 coins called Toonies (because they equal 2 Loonies) and they don't have pennies. Interesting. The US could learn some things from Canada about currency. Not having pennies and dollar bills is real nice.
The Trent Severn Waterway
We finished the Erie Canal and started on the Trent Severn Waterway on June 29. The Trent Severn has a total of 44 locks. These locks are smaller and service smaller boats, not commercial barges. The next newsletter will have more information on the how it goes with the Canadian locks.
10 months on the water
We are experts at locks now! That doesn't mean every lock goes according to plan but you won't see photos of those because we are both too busy handling lines to grab a camera.
I love this shower...
By now you know that I judge the quality of a marina by the showers. At Trenton Marina they have the best showers I have seen so far on the Loop. And they have 8 of these gems, each one a different color. And they have a pile of clean fluffy bath mats!
I took photos and measurements. I think our master bath at home needs an upgrade...
Tim and I started our Great Loop Adventure on 9-11-2017 in Ottowa, Illinois. We put the boat on a trailer and drove 9 hours from our home in South Dakota to Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottowa to put her in the water. Tim's brother, Dan, drove the truck and trailer back to our house. Thanks Dan!