Saturday, June 30, 2007

Trent-Severn Peterborough to Orillia

This is the second of two postings today. Be sure to scroll down to the previous entry to keep the order correct.
We left Peterborough on Sunday and headed on up the Trent-Severn Waterway. The first bit of excitement was travelling through the "Lift Lock". This lock is basically two pans filled with water that raise and lower through water pressure. An additional foot of water is pumped into the upper pan to make it heavier and it lowers on large hydraulic rams to the bottom. This lock was built in 1904 and is the largest of this type lock at 65 feet of lift. It is quite an experience to ride in a "bathtub" up this distance.

We headed for Fenelon Falls to stay on the dock with a cousin of some people we met in Jacksonville and again in Norfolk. Norm and Barbara Hewton were absolutely wonderful hosts and we all rafted together on their dock just below the lock. I was able to change my engine and transmission oil and dispose of the old oil locally and we all stayed on their "beach" where we swam in the 70 degree water. They supplied us with power and water on the dock.

We took the dinghy up to the falls and Stacy and Gail bailed out and drifted back to the docks.

Since Norm's normal cruising area is Georgian Bay where we are headed we got out the charts and he gave us many tips and recommendations for anchorages and places not to miss.

Right next to us was a large rock ledge where the locals would come out and jump into the water. Stacy could not help but think of our Nieces and Nephews jumping from the rock at Lake Keowee and the boat house on Burton.

After two days here we continued our journey northward. We were now entering the narrow canals of the Trent. These canals are lined by rock ledges and in certain sections we must issue a Securite' call on the radio to warn boaters coming the other way. This is not an area where you want to meet another boat.

We were also travelling through shallow sections of lakes and canals that are choked with weeds. This is a result of the Zebra Mussels that have taken over the Great Lakes region. The mussels feed on the algae in the water with the result that the water is very clear. This results in sunlight being able to reach the bottom where the weeds can start growing. This is becoming a major problem. We have on numerous occasions had to reverse our engines to try to clear weeds that are wrapped around our props. At one anchorage, I dove under the boat to clear some tightly wrapped weeds.

During this portion of our trip we arrived at the second "Lift Lock" on the system. This one at Kirkfield. It was not as high as at Peterborough but operated the same way. The difference here was that this was the first lock on the system that is locking down. We had to enter the upper pan and pull to the edge looking over a direct drop. The series of pictures shows us at the top, then somewhere coming down, and then at the bottom.

We headed for the Port of Orillia to stay for the Canada Day weekend. This is the same as our 4th of July. We had tried to make reservations at the marina but they were not any further reservations and had limited space available on a first-come, first-served basis. We made a long day of it and found our first moose along the way.

We anchored in a cove about 5 miles from the port and then came in on Friday morning where they were able to make space for us. Within an hour of our arrival they were telling boaters that there was no available space in the marina. We could not believe that we were able to get our three boats in. This place is a zoo with all of the boats coming in for the weekend. I will create an additional blog entry to show Orillia later.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Trent-Severn to Peterborough

I have found another hotspot so I can update now. This is the first of two blog entries.
We were in Campbellford in the last entry. Campbellford is the home of the person who designed the Toonie, Canada's two-dollar coin. A large sculpture of it is located in a park next to the marina.

While we were there we noticed some kids jumping off a bridge just in front of where we were moored. Apparently the police didn't care if they did it. Stacy convinced all four to jump at once so she could get a picture.

As we were walking in town Chuck and I spotted a barber shop and stopped in for a hair cut. It was the first I have had since March.

We found a Bocce set and bought it and then played on the lawn area next to our boats.

We left Campbellford and headed for Peterborough. We were arriving the day before the opening day of Peterborough's Festival of Lights where they have a free concert and fireworks. We anchored in the small lake that was right next to the concert grounds and in the same spot as the fireworks barge was set up. We saw Herman's Hermits and then the fireworks. In the middle of the lake was a large fountain that was illuminated at night with a variety of color changes.

Also in Peterborough was the annual Greek Festival. They mostly just had Greek food from the local restaurants so we sampled some.

On the subject of specialty foods, we had specialty beers from a Belgian restaurant. Chuck and I had Kwak which is made by Trappist Monks and was served in special glasses. Apparently in Belgium you are required to leave your shoes with the bartender when having Kwak to ensure that you do not leave with the glass.

The weather and scenery here is absolutely beautiful. We have taken our bikes down a few times to ride the pathways next to the canals. We are starting to get into areas now that are more rock than mud. Many areas have speed limits that are 10 kph (6 mph). It is interesting to see signs on the rocks as if anyone would want to go much faster through there anyway.

We are leaving Peterborough and will enter our first "Lift Lock". I will update in the next entry.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Trent-Severn Waterway Canada

I have found a hotspot so I can update the blog. We left Oswego and had a great crossing of Lake Ontario and stopped at Waupoos Island to check in to Canadian Customs. Since this was an out-of-the-way place, we only had to call Customs on the available phone and they checked us in with a few questions. They could have required us to go to a different city to be inspected but I suspect that since they had Chuck & Bill's information already in the system (from trips to British Columbia from Washington) they figured we were not a threat to Canada. After checking in and getting our clearance number I could raise the Canadian courtesy flag.

We docked across from the marina on the island and went exploring. There were a number of houses on the island and they all seemed to be summer houses. Currently there were sheep everywhere. We took our bikes and rode all of the "roads" we could travel. We found sheep and three pigs.

We took the time to repair a place on Bill's dinghy while we were there. The next morning we all awoke to black boats. I didn't get a photo but our boats were covered with bugs I call "Fuzzy Bills" and others have called "Blind Mosquitoes". They are, I believe, male mosquitoes and do not bite but will cover boats and die. We left hoping that it was just the sheep farm and not the time of year.

We went to Picton next and found that there was a free concert in the park. We heard a band playing mostly country music along with some oldies. We went into town and in the grocery store I found that you could buy live Rainbow Trout. This was something new.

We found that we were in an area that had float planes. One took off and one landed right next to us.

Ww stayed in Picton overnight and then headed for Trenton and the beginning of the Trent-Severn Waterway.

We tied up to the wall after the first lock and purchased our locking passes and spent the night at the wall. Gail found out about a concert of Fiddlers in Frankford, the town after Lock 6, only about 6 miles up the waterway. We went there on Saturday and they had the "Fiddlers on the Trent". The fiddlers showed up on canoes just as we were tying to the lock wall and then the bagpipers arrived on pontoon boats.

We rode our bikes into town to a Chinese restaurant then went to part of the concert then had dinner in the park next to the boats.

Some of the fiddlers were very good. It was a benefit that occurs each year on Father's Day weekend. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is a charity and all contributions are matched 4 to 1 by the Canadian government. On Sunday morning they had a church service of all of the community churches and we attended.

We left this morning (Monday) and passed through one of the largest locks in the system. It is a "flight" lock where you actually exit one lock into the next. It was very interesting looking at a door 48 feet above you holding back that much water.

We will be here for a couple of days before moving on. There are quite a few things to do here and I will update when I can. The weather has been absolutely beautiful here but we are supposed to get stormy weather here tomorrow. After the front passes we will make our way further up the waterway. Everyone tells us that the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Erie and Oswego Canals

Prior to leaving Waterford, NY (the beginning of the Erie Canal) we rented a car to make trips to a marine store to get a few more fenders and a new anchor for Chuck. We took all of Chuck's chain out of his locker and reversed it end for end so he had newer chain to use for anchoring. Generally on the East coast you only need about half of the chain he carries.

We left Waterford and started up the Erie immediately through a series of 5 locks. We stopped for the night after Lock 8 where we could tie up to a lock wall. Locking through is done one of two ways on the Erie. One way is where there are ropes hanging down the lock walls and you grab one on the bow and one on the stern to keep your boat against the wall. The other either has a pipe or cable recessed into the wall where you put a rope around it and hold it in the middle of the boat. Some locks have both.

The next day we headed through more locks to Amsterdam, NY. This city was the center of carpet mills before the business all went south and then offshore. It is a nice city with beautiful houses but is is struggling to keep industry here.

From Amsterdam we traveled to Canajoharie and tied to the city docks where they provide free dockage with power. This city is the home of Beech-Nut Foods (chewing gum as well as other food products). The downtown was flooded last year and they are still rebuilding. One of the early owners of Beech-Nut had a beautiful house there and it is now a home for elderly women still financed by the foundation.

The name Canajoharie is an indian word for "Pot that washes itself" so we found the original "Pot" in the stream. The city also has one of the few remaining pedistal type traffic lights in the center of town.

After our stay in Canajoharie we went on to Herkimer and then to Rome. Before getting to Rome, we locked through Lock 17, a unique lock in that the lock doors do not swing open, rather, a gate is lifted above you. At 40 feet, this lock is the highest lift of the NY Canal System but not the highest we will encounter on the rest of our trip.

Rome is the site of one of the earliest forts in the area, Fort Stanwix. It was vital to protect the Mohawk river. The fort has been recreated in exact detail on the original foundations. We visited the fort where we saw the conditions early soldiers lived in. The small room is the Surgeon's ward in one of the "bombproofs" in the fort.

The Erie and Oswego canals are very pastoral and serene. We shared the canal with other boaters (kayakers) and local wildlife.

A couple of the more interesting features on the waterway are "Guard Gates" that can be lowered to block the water flow in the canal itself (it flows down the original river bed) so work can be done on locks and walls and the remains of the original aquaducts that carried fresh water to New York City.

We crossed Lake Oneida and stopped in Brewerton on the western side of the lake to fill our fuel and water tanks prior to crossing into Canada where fuel is substantially more expensive. We hope this full tank will take us all the way to Michigan. From Brewerton, we headed to the Oswego Canal that turns north to Oswego, NY and the southern shore of Lake Ontario. We have tied to a wall between locks 7 and 8. We will probably lock through lock 8 tonight and tie to a restaurant wall below the lock so we can get an early start (5:00) in the morning to cross the lake.

The photo above is a good example of how the canal was built with the locks running beside a river. Lock 7 is visible in the background.
The Trent-Severn waterway and Georgian Bay/North Channel on Lake Huron are reportedly the best part of this trip. We will let you know when we can.

Unless I can find wifi hotspots in Canada this may be the last posting for a month. Tomorrow morning we will cross Lake Ontario to start our trip up the Trent-Severn waterway. My Verizon phone and Aircard will be very expensive to use there so I will update through wifi if I can find it.