Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Peterborough to Orillia

Monday - Tuesday, June 25-26

We left Peterborough Monday morning in time for the first opening of Ashburnham lock (#20), just a mile or two from the marina. The lock after that was the Peterborough Lift Lock (21) a half mile away. This is a unique lock- it has two "tubs" of water that counterbalance. Boats and water are lifted up (in our case) as the other side comes down. The top tub is filled with 11 extra inches of water to make it heavier, and therefore it goes down while the bottom tub rises. We were raised 65 feet! When exiting the top tub, that 11 inch difference gave us a little bump as we pulled out. For a better explanation, Google "Peterborough Lift Lock."

Tub on the left is up while the right side tub is down

Meeting midway
That was a fast, fun ride!

We moved on through more "normal" locks- Nassau Mills, Otonabee, Douro, Sawer Creek, Lakefield, Young's Point, Burleigh Falls, Lovesick, and Buckhorn. We tied to the upper wall of Buckhorn for the night and met a friendly couple from Bridgenorth traveling the opposite direction. We shared docktails and stories.

Tuesday we had a few longer intervals between locks. We left at 0615 to make it to Bobcaygeon for the 9:00 opening. We got off the boat briefly in Fenelon Falls for an early lunch at "On the Locks". We traveled the rest of the day with "Contentment", a Michigan Looper, as we transited more locks- Fenelon Falls, Rosedale, Kirkfield, Bolsover, Portage, and Gamebridge. Our goal was to cross Lake Simcoe today because tomorrow's winds could make for a bumpy ride.

Wonderful scenery today- narrow in some spots

The Kirkfield Lift Lock is very similar to the one in Peterborough.

We crossed Lake Simcoe with no issues and arrived in Orillia at 7:15 p.m.- 13 hours, 80 miles and 9 locks. Needless to say, we were exhausted. Port of Orillia is a friendly marina with beautiful new facilities. We will be exploring Orillia until Friday, June 29.

Sunset in Orillia

We have been in Canada exactly 21 days, of which 14 were travel days. On those 14 days we transited through 98 locks! (4 more to go) We have our reasons for moving at this speed- family, friends, home, a baptism, Kids' Camp, and a very small boat.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Trenton to Peterborough

Trenton to Peterborough

I have been posting less since we have been away from Internet connectivity most of the week, so I’m catching up now. 

Tuesday, June 19 - We had an easy 72-mile ride from Kingston to Trenton NO LOCKS! We left early in the morning, made a quick stop in Belleville to buy Volvo oil, and arrived at Trenton shortly after noon. We had our oil changed shortly after we arrived and defrosted our tiny freezer. Trent Port Marina has the most luxurious shower rooms we have encountered anywhere! They are recently remodeled and very upscale- nicer than my shower at home! 
We walked to a nearby grocery store to pick up some fresh produce and had dinner at a sushi restaurant. We like grocery store sushi and the rolls we make ourselves, but this was a different animal. We tried to select a few things that resembled our favorites until the server pointed out that our choice was rolled in raw fish eggs. We opted out of that one and picked something less authentic. It was not as good as Publix sushi or homemade sushi. I guess our palates are not all that adventurous.

We pulled out of Trenton the next morning, Wednesday, June 20, and entered the Trent-Severn Waterway. We look forward (not) to another 45-lock obstacle course in the next 2 weeks or so.

We were still on spring hours, meaning the locks operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We met up with 2 Canadian boats at Trenton Lock (lock 1)- Lukx with Iwona and Markin, and Saoirse (Irish for "freedom") with Glenda and Doug. We stayed together for the next 2 days, lock by lock. In many places the speed limit is 6.2 mph, so it is slow going. We reached the lower side of Percy Reach, lock 8, by 4:30 p.m., too late to transit.  Doug and Glenda anchored out while we and Lukx  spent a pleasant evening and night tied to the lock wall. There’s a park-like area around the lock, and restrooms. The lock itself is in a very rural area.

Thursday, June 22- We were more than ready for the 10 a.m. lock opening. We cleared 10 locks in 4.5 hours and covered a whopping 25 miles today. The 3 of us spent the night on the lower wall of Lock 17 at Hastings. There’s a small village here, and we had a nice walk after grilling burgers for supper. Every village has at least one ice cream shop featuring the famous Kawartha ice cream. We haven’t tried the infamous butter tarts, but this ice cream is memorable!

Preparing the lock for us

Friday June 22- Hooray for the arrival of summer lock hours! 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on week days and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. We only had 2 locks today, separated by 40 miles. The 40 miles was another speed limited zone for the most part. 

Just past the second lock, kids were having fun on an abandoned bridge, seemingly unaware that large boats need to pass through.

We arrived in Peterborough around 2:30 to hugs from our friends Anne and Bruce on Sea Biscuit. We met these long-time boaters at the Looper Rendezvous in October 2010 as we were standing in line to pick up our registration packets. We get together whenever possible, since they often winter in Florida. We have been looking forward to this meeting ever since we met. Their land home is in Belleville, but they live on their boat here in Peterborough in the summer. We’ve been traveling since May 5, so familiar faces are a great comfort to us. We have a lot of catching up to do. 

We went to an outdoor blues concert this evening, right on the banks of the water. The audience included many boats rafted up together, people in the outdoor bar, and pedestrians. Great fun!

Saturday June 23- Time to celebrate- It’s our 45thanniversary! Where has the time gone??
Dinner at Tre with Anne and Bruce

It’s a perfect time to stay put for a couple days. Weekends here are jam-packed with events. Today there is a kayak paddle from lock to lock heading north. There is an excursion boat that takes people through the next lock and back several times a day. Tomorrow there will be another kayak thing, when they will pack the lock with as many kayaks as they can cram into the chamber. We want no part of negotiating those things, so we are thrilled that we can spend time with Bruce and Anne. Summer is short here, and it seems that weekends are packed with activities to maximize the warm days.

Canoe museum
This gentleman, Russ Parker, built this ultra light  canoe with a Dacron skin. We wanted to buy it, but it would not fit on the top of Mara Beel.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Westport to Kingston

Sunday, June 17

It's Father's Day in Canada, too! The locks on the Rideau have extended hours on the weekends, so we took full advantage. We finished the Rideau Canal Waterway- 44 miles and 14 locks in 9 hours today. We are done with this waterway and its 49 locks, which is more like an obstacle course than a cruising area.  But, we still have the Trent-Severn Waterway ahead, which has another 45 locks.

At the Newboro Lock we started to descend on the canal instead of rising. It was downhill the rest of the day.

One of the hand cranks used to open and close the lock gates

The most interesting locks were the flight of 4 at Jones Falls. While we waited we had time to explore the history exhibits that were open- first a working blacksmith who was making nails.

She explained the meaning of the phrase "smash to smithereens" - smithereens are the tiny bits of iron that fall off the item being shaped on the anvil, in the smithy.

We also toured the lock master's house museum, set up as it looked in the 1830's.

Mara Beel tied up on the Blue Line, waiting for the lock to open.

The scenery varied along the waterway today. We enjoy the granite lining the shores. We went from lake to lake via narrow passages connecting larger bodies of water.

Speed limit 10K, No Wake, keep to the left of the green marker 

One of the narrow connecting waterways:

After a while the surrounding area turned to marsh and was very shallow for about 8 miles. It wasn't pretty scenery, but it is a nesting area for swans.

These are a welcome sight after the zillion Canada Geese that are everywhere. We saw a group of geese at our first lock of the day that had flown in the previous evening. The lock chamber was too small to allow the geese to leave, because they need enough space to take off. They had to be content with spending the night inside the lock. As soon as the gate opened at 9 a.m. they swam out. By the way, the Canadian people watching with us told us they refer to these birds as "American Geese".  Nice.  None of us like dodging all the goose poop littering the grounds!

We arrived at the LaSalle Causeway Swing Bridge in Kingston just in time for its hourly opening at 5 p.m. From there it was a half mile or so to our berth at the Confederation Basin marina. We were assigned a slip next to another Ranger Tug, Scotfree, our big sister at 29'. Leon and Karen are also Loopers and will finish at Sau Ste. Marie. We had docktails with them, Bill on Chip Ahoy,  and Robert and Caroline (who we met in NY) on Sauvy B, all Loopers. We are all spending an extra day in Kingston due to weather. We all need to cross a small but significant stretch of Lake Ontario when we leave here- today there is a southwest wind at 15 knots with gusts to 50 and thunderstorms. No boater wants 3 foot beam waves!

After eating breakfast in a mom and pop restaurant- home fries!! - we walked to a nearby grocery store for fresh produce, a wine store, and a bakery. Seven buses unloaded tourists in the park next to the marina. Apparently Canada is a popular destination for Japanese travelers. We noticed a surprising number of panhandlers on the streets downtown- perhaps taking advantage of the influx of tourists.

We cleaned out the strainers on our cooling system again, since we sucked up a lot of grass that was floating in the locks yesterday. The grass can clog the water intake causing the engine to heat up so we need to keep it free of debris. It's a poorly designed system, but that can't be helped.

Our next stop will be Trenton.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Riding the Rideau

Wednesday June 13 - Friday June 15

As we left Ottawa and continued up the Rideau Canal system, glorious sunshine was replaced by drizzle, thunderstorms and plummeting temps- a good two days to travel in our snug little tug. We spent Thursday night at Hurst Marina in Manotick, Ontario, in a rain storm. We had hoped to do our laundry, but their only washing machine was out of order. Another Ranger Tug pulled in next to us, but we weren't able to visit much with Dennis and Peggy on "3 Cheers," as we left very early the next morning.

The Rideau is made navigable by locks- many, many locks. Lots of locks. On Thursday we traveled all of 16 miles and went through 8 of the historic hand-cranked locks. As I've said, the lock workers are all very friendly and helpful. They always ask where we are headed and then call ahead to let the next lock operators know we're on the way so the lock can be ready for us. Sometimes a bridge must be opened for us as well- a common occurrence. But we were not quite prepared for this "bridge"!


This did not look passable, but yet it had to be.....

Soon two men showed up and- unbelievably - attached two trolling motors to the bridge. As the small motors worked, one man pulled on a rope to swing the bridge open. Crazy!

Attaching 2 trolling motors to the "bridge"

The novelty of the picturesque locks has worn off now, and we have many, many more ahead.

Thursday night we tied to the wall on Merrickville Pond, just above the Merrickville set of locks. I took off on a walk and found a nail salon and decided to have a spur of the moment pedicure- a great decision! We met two other local boats here and traveled part of the way with them on Friday. More locks- a total of eight for us.

The sunshine returned on Friday, perfect weather. We stopped in Rideau Ferry Harbor for a pumpout and fuel. I am puzzled by the Canadian insistence on keeping their waterways clean (understandable) but yet pumpout facilities are few and far between. Many marinas do not offer fuel, especially diesel, or pumpout service. We have a small boat with small tanks- 100 gallons of diesel (held 600 on our former boat) and 40 gallons in our holding tank- so we have to be intentional about where and when we stop for these things. To add insult to injury, the charge for our pumpout yesterday was $25.

We are currently in Westport, another cute little village. Eight "le boats" are also here. Le boat is  a European company that rents boats to people who want to cruise the Rideau. The people are given basic instructions, but may or may not have any boating experience. They pay $5000 a week to do this! The boats here are carrying foreign journalists who are experiencing the Rideau on le boats and will write about their experiences. The 44 foot model has 4 cabins and is designed for 4 couples without much privacy. The boats hold 400 gallons of water, and the current occupants use it all it a few hours- they don't realize that water usage on a boat is different than at home. In comparison, we hold 40 gallons, which can last us 4-7 days depending on how we use it. Theses boats are new, but have no chart plotter, radio, depth finder, etc. We have no idea how the renters navigate! Le boats are equipped with a governor limiting their speed to 6 mph, and have built in fenders all around the hull. Our policy is to stay away from these boats, much like rental houseboats on the Mississippi.

Today, June 16, is chore day. Laundry, groceries, refilling our propane tank, cleaning an engine filter, baking a batch of breakfast muffins, etc. Laundry is a .4 mile walk each way, as is the grocery store. We did go out for lunch. Fun times!

Part of the le boat fleet
Showers are in the Visitor Center a few blocks away- $1 for 2 minutes, $2 for minutes- and no way to regulate the temperature. Give me a break! We both opted for showers on the boat!

A Loonie is a $1 coin (has a loon on it) A townie is a $2 coin.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Ottawa is great! Its is the capital of Canada, it is in Ontario, and English is the predominant language here. It is much smaller than Montreal and feels more English than French. We arrived here June 11 and spent 2 nights.

Ottawa skyline

To get here, we had to climb the steps- Locks 1-8 of the Rideau Canal. These locks are literally stairs steps for boars. They are small, hand-cranked, and were constructed in the 1820's, and remain pretty much unchanged. We were the only boat in the locks.

Looking up at the locks before we entered

Looking down the locks after our lockage
After locking through, we were right on Parliament Hill, a 10 minute walk to this historic building. Of course we had to take a tour! After this summer, tours will be unavailable for the next 10 years as this national treasure undergoes extensive renovation. Having been warned that the English tour tickets go quickly, Mark decided to get in line an hour before the 9 a.m. opening of the ticket office. He was the first person in line!

Parliament Building with the Peace Tower in the center
The tour included the Memorial Hallway, the Library, and the Peace Tower. We could not enter the House of Commons or the Senate since both houses were working. The library contains over 1,000,000 volumes, many of which are stored elsewhere.

Queen Victoria statue in the library 
The plaques in the Hall of Memory list every member of Parliament- if you look closely as we accidentally did, you can see the Mather, B. was an MP for several years in the 1960's!

The view from the Peace Tower was impressive.

The East Office building - the West Building looks pretty much like this one.

Fairmont Hotel

War Memorial

One of these men in the foreground is a member of the Scottish Brigade. 

The Guard changes every hour at the War Memorial

We checked out the By Market District of shops and outdoor cafes, and sampled a Beavertail- a tasty pastry with about 30 grams of sugar.

The Rideau Canal wall where we are moored, behind the larger boat. In a few weeks both sides will be lined with boats, but we are here a little early in the season.

Today, June 13, we continued up the Rideau. We went through another 8 small, hand operated locks in the space of 16 miles. We also had to have 3 low bridges opened, and the first one made us wait about 45 minutes. This is as far as we could go today, since the next set of locks would be closed for the day by the time we arrived. So we are in Manotick, Ontario, at Hurst Marina for the night. They have a pool and hot tub, but we  rain and thunderstorms kept us inside. Oh well- tomorrow is another adventure.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Montebello

Saturday, June 9

Our first hurdle to clear after leaving the Montreal Yacht Club was two large locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway. We tied up at the waiting dock at the St. Lambert lock and climbed up the stairs to call the lock master  on the very special yellow telephone to let him know we were there and wanting to go through. We waited about 1 1/2 hours for the St. Lambert lock until a freighter exited. We were then able to lock through with seven other pleasure craft, tying up shoulder to shoulder.

We are just in front of these boats.

It all went smoothly. Next up was the Cote Sainte Catherine Lock, another on the St. Lawrence. Both St. Lambert and Cote St. Catherine charge $25 Canadian to pass through, which we paid online.This also went well- no more locks this day, and we soon turned off the St. Lawrence and on to the Ottawa River, or Outaouais as it is called in French. That is a lot of vowels!

Our dockage for the night was on the lock wall at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, which is a really happening place! Restaurants line the walkway, and on a Saturday night the village was rocking with live music and boaters partying. A pleasant change from our many quiet nights.

On the wall at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue

Boats line the narrow waterway below the dock, 2 abreast on both sides.

We had a good dinner at the Klondike Restaurant, which we chose based on the strength of its free Wifi. 

Sunday June 10

We had a leisurely morning since the lock opens at 9 a.m., and we were 5 minutes away. Three of us locked through together. St. Anne lock is operated by Parks Canada, as are the rest of the locks we will encounter. These are all covered by our seasonal lock pass.

Carillon Lock gate
Next up, The Carillon lock, another lock that has a floating dock inside to tie to. This is Canada's largest lock, and it lifted us 64 feet in 20 minutes, with 20 millions liters of water. During the lockage we were allowed to get out of our boats and walk on the dock and visit with the other boaters and the lock workers- who are college students. No life jackets required.

Inside the lock- going up!
Our dockage for the night is at Chateau Montebello, a luxurious resort on the Ottawa River. It has indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, horses, hiking, canoeing, biking, fine dining, and in the winter, curling, horse drawn sled rides, cross country skiing.... and the list goes on. Mark was disappointed that curling was not available.

Chateau Montebello Lodge, built in the shape of a 6-pointed star out of logs hauled from British Columbia.

The huge fireplace dwarfs Mark.

The indoor pool- not shown are the 2 hot tubs.

On the hiking trail

Granary at Manior Papineau
Adjacent to the resort is the Manior Papineau, an historic estate built in the 1840's. We didn't take the house tour.

We ate an elegant French dinner at the Montebello restaurant and took advantage of the hot tub to cap our evening. This is probably the only hot tub we will find on the rest of our trip!

Tomorrow we will head on to Ottawa, Canada's capital, so this is our last night in Quebec. We have been pleasantly surprised at the friendliness of the people we've  met (of course they were all boaters) and the fact that nearly everyone we interacted with was bilingual. It's been fun Au revoir, Quebec.