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Lock 8 Wall, Percy Reach 6/16/2019
Campbellford Wall, Campbellford, ON 6/17/2019
Hastings Village Marina, Hastings, ON 6/18/2019
Lakefield Marina, Lakefield, ON 6/19-20/2019
Lock 34 Wall, Fenelon Falls, ON 6/21-22/2019
Port of Orillia, Orilla, ON 6/23/2019
BIG CHUTE Marine Railway
Starport Marina, Port Severn, ON 6/24-26/2019
After a day of touring, we took advantage of having a car and ran to the grocery store. We had decided on Saturday that if the weather was going to be ok, we’d head out Sunday morning, so after provisioning, I ran up to the Trent Port marina office to let them know that we were going to be leaving in the morning (Sunday). Little did I know that all the flooding had caused one of the private dams on the Trent-Severn to overflow and blow out a main road between Locks 1-7, our planned route for the morning. The Waterway was going to be closed indefinitely. That meant we weren’t going anywhere! Great….I had to go back and tell the captain that good news. Not my idea of fun! He wasn’t a happy camper, but realized it was out of our control and mother nature didn’t care that we wanted to start the Trent-Severn Waterway in the morning. Oh, well, move on to Plan B.
Sunday (Father’s Day) morning came and of course we checked to see the status of the locks and go figure---they were open. What??? Yup, they fixed the dam/lock issue and we were now able to start the Trent-Severn! Yippee!!! Tom started prepping the boat while I returned the rental car and by the time, I got back we were ready to pull out of the slip, but unfortunately two other boats beat us to Lock 1 and the locks here are tiny and only two boats fit into that first lock thru. The lock master (Tom, from Brighton Road Bridge on the Murray Canal) radioed us and said that it would be an hour. 2 ½ hours later we got into the lock. Tom, the lockmaster felt so bad and apologized up and down for the long wait. Such a NICE guy. That would never happen on the Mississippi. While we waited, we had a nice Father’s Day breakfast tied up to the lock wall. It was a beautiful morning to be out on the water and it was great knowing that we were going to be able to lock thru.
Tied up at our first Blue Line waiting for Lock 1 to open. The Blue Line is the staging area for a boats wanting to go thru the lock. The Locks don't use VHF radios, so you can't radio them and say "hey, I want to lock thru". Instead, if the lock isn't open for you to enter, you tie up at the blue line and sometime have to walk up to the lock and let them know your there so they'll open the lock for you. As you can see the water was VERY high!
A little lock info- like I said, they are tiny (most of them) and the folks that run the Trent Severn are unbelievably nice. Pretty much everyone in Canada is nice. Remember the bridge tender that ran Tom to the liquor store? Well, here’s another one. Yesterday when we were out and about with our rental car, we parked in a lot and had to use an automatic payment machine on the lot. We’re totally a couple of corn cobs. First of all, the parking machine wouldn’t take our credit card. OK, we’ll just use some money. Nope that didn’t work either. It wouldn’t take US $. About the time we realized that we didn’t have any Canadian change, some woman rolled up next to us in her car and said, “you must be American, here, I have some change for you.” I’m not kidding. How nice is that? We gave her some dollars and she said her daughter would be thrilled. Another nice Canadian 😉
Back to the locks and bridges on the Trent Severn. They have limited hours until June 23, when they change and are open from 9am-6:30pm. But until then hours are: Mon-Thur 10am-3:30pm. Sat-Sun 9am-5:30pm. Most are opened and closed at each end manually. There is a turnstile at each end on both sides and the staff walk round and round opening and closing the lock. It’s cute. And if I haven't said already written, the Trent-Severn Waterway is a 240 mile long twisting and turning waterway and it has 44 locks. Two of which are Lift Locks, Peterborough and Kirkfield. Peterborough is the largest lift lock in the world and was open in 1904. (Photos below) There is also the Big Chute Lock, which is a large steel railway carriage, thirty feet high and 27 feet wide, that will lift your boat out of the water with slings like a travel lift. On Father’s Day, two of the lock workers had their family there with them helping them open and close the lock doors. And once again they were all NICE! Did I mention that the locks are completely open to the public? I mean, folks walk right up to you and stand on the side of the lock and talk to you while your being raised or lowered. There is not fence or anything. This happens at every lock. Families, little kids, dogs, everybody can just walk right up beside the canal and watch/visit with the boaters. It is so cool. Plus, the lock and bridge tenders are right there to answer all your questions. They are like mini travel agents and love to give you information about the area. We’ve met some swell Canadians in the locks!
Even with our slow start we got through 8 locks today. Stopped and tied up above Lock 8 – Percy’s Reach. It’s lovely here. After tying up we realized that Pete, who we met at the Brighton Road Bridge was working the lock so we chatted it up with him and a couple of the other boats. One of the boaters, Scott, from Midland, Ontario, is a boat captain. He gave us some tips for the rest of the Trent and Georgian Bay. Again, another NICE Canadian. We sat on the bow and took in our surroundings and were thankful to be in such a beautiful place.
Below pics tell the story of our journey crusing the Trent-Severn~
It’s been a fun, lock filled couple of weeks! Locking, cruising, locking, meeting people, locking, enjoying the scenery, locking, loving Canada, locking. You get the picture. We’ve experienced so much in the last week since leaving Percy Reach Lock 8. Here are some of the highlights:
Campbellford - we loved the suspension bridge over Ranney Falls and the hiking path. It was also my first introduction to butter tarts!
Hastings Village Marina was JUST above the dam. If you untied your boat from the dock the current was sooo swift that it would take you right into the dam. Met Jim on the dock perched on the back of his boat having a stogie and drinking a beer. He was a friendly fella looking for a woman. Wondered if I had any sisters. He was 82 years old. 😉
The lift lock consists of two water filled pans or chambers, like a bathtub, each weighing 1300 tons with one in the up position and one in the down position connected by a hydraulic ram so when one goes down the other goes up the corresponding amount. Both pans have large gates at both ends. As you approach the lift lock from the lower level a gate opens in the lower chamber allowing you to enter. Several boats can be accommaodated at a time. After all the boats have entered and tied up to the side walls, the gate is closed. The an additioanla foot of water is added to the upper chamber making it heavier by 130 tons. A valve is then opened to connect the hydraulic rams together and the heavier upper level descends forcing the lower chamber up 65 feet to the upper level. The the gate is opened at the upper level of the waterway and you continue on. Amazing!
Lakefield – Mark the local cop was at the Lakefield Lock when we arrived to lock thru. We weren’t sure if he was waiting for us (a Canadian boarding and inspection?) or just there visiting. As it ended up, he was there to visit. And visit. And visit. We were the last lock of the day but he didn’t care and the gates were open for about 10 minutes before he decided he was done talking. We were going to stay on the Lock wall, but he convinced us to go the marina instead. We did and he came there and continued talking with Tom long after we tied up. Great guy and ambassador for Lakefield 😉
Fenelon Falls – we had an awesome cruise that day. We cleared seven locks and the terrain along the water just got prettier and prettier. We will definitely come back to this part of the Trent again. We weren’t sure we were going to make it to Fenelon Falls in time to get a spot on the lock wall but we did. The Fenelon Falls wall is a super busy, fun place. After arriving, Tom discovered our float switch in the aft bilge was shorting out. After four calls and no luck locating a mechanic and part, a couple of angels showed up: local Harbor Hosts, Gary and Pam stopped by to welcome us. They helped us find a mechanic and he came at 8pm on a Friday night, diagnosed the same problem Tom did, ordered the part and was back on Saturday morning to install the part. We loved Fenelon Falls and stayed another day and took in the Farmers Market, Tom got a haircut, we hiked the trails, met some great folks on the wall, Kim and Jay from Canada. They are planning to do the loop in a few years. They are a fun couple and they’ll do well on the loop. We really enjoyed chatting with them.
Orilla – big day on the water. We did another seven locks including Kirkfield, second lift lock (bathtub lock) except this time we were lowered. This was the start of getting lowered in the locks instead of being raised. I would have pictures of the Kirkfield lock, BUT, the lock master put us in the very front of the lock, I’m incredibly afraid of heights. I sat in the front holding my line with my eyes closed, paralyzed and praying it would be over soon. (I’m not looking forward to Big Chute – Lock 44). We crossed Lake Simcoe on plane and were tired and hungry when we got to Orillia so we called it a day.
Big Chute – Lock 44
Tom called the Big Chute, the Big Easy! We completed locks 42 & 43 and then headed for the Big Chute. The Big Chute Marine Railway is a patent slip at lock 44 of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario, Canada. It works on an inclined plane to carry boats in individual cradles over a change of height of about 60 feet. It is the only marine railway (or canal inclined plane) of its kind in North America still in use, and is overseen by federally operated Parks Canada. We tied up on the visitors dock and checked out this crazy, over land lock, which isn’t really a lock. I was very nervous about this lock since it again was high in the sky! While at the visitor’s center, we met Jeff and Donna. Jeff is from Parry Sound and Donna resides now in the BVI’s. Donna had never done a lock and they asked if she could ride along with us in the Big Chute and Jeff would take pictures. We said sure. It was nice to have her a board. All the pics show Tom and Donna on the front of the boat while I played it safe back near the helm. It ended up being one of the easiest, most unusual locks we have ever gone thru. We’ve talked about this lock for three years. Can check it off our list!
Getting loaded and slinged in for the ride down
Port Severn, Starport Marina
Nice little marina right before the last lock on the Trent Severn. We spent a couple days planning our cruise and stops up Georgian Bay. Staff and marina were great. Beautiful boaters lounge with kitchenette, free laundry and awesome ships store. We tried peameal, which sounds awful, right, but it’s what Canadians call Canadian bacon 😉. Had a turtle drop out of the sky. We met Mike, a great guy and his wife, Diane, local boaters considering doing the Loop (Mike reminded us of our friend, Steve Broman). And we celebrated Tom’s 61st Birthday with a nice dinner at Rawley’s Resort.
We headed out rested and ready for Georgian Bay on Thursday morning. As Tom always says, one challenge is always replaced by another on the Loop. So the locks (which we actually enjoyed) will be replaced by ROCKS! We’ll be staying between the red and green and following our charts!
More from Georgian Bay later~
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.