Heading through The Trent – Severn Waterway, our gateway (albeit a long one!) to The Georgian Bay July 29 – August 19, 2019

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Leaving the Thousand Islands was hard!  It’s absolutely beautiful, and we enjoyed our time there immensely, but it was time to move on to Trenton, Ontario and begin the Trent – Severn Waterway (TSW)!  We were fortunate to have a spectacular day on the water, heading from the St. Lawrence River across a tip of Lake Ontario past Kingston, and on to the Bay of Quinte.

Leaving the St. Lawrence River heading towards Kingston, Ontario

As you leave the St. Lawrence River and pass Kingston, Ontario along northern Lake Ontario, there is a huge field of wind turbines and an island with a rookery for the birds.  

We broke up the trip with a stop at a beautiful anchorage in Hay Bay.  Once we were settled, we blew up the River Rat Rings, and spent the afternoon floating in the water.  It was a fabulous way to relax after a six hour, 56 mile trip!

Hay Bay Anchorage

Our trip to Trent Port Marina, located just below the first lock of the TSW, was only 35 miles. It was a cloudy, breezy day, and we arrived shortly after noon, and got settled into this lovely marina.  We were struck first by the professionalism of the dock hands, but once we got up to the marina office and facilities, we were blown away! There’s a beautiful Captain’s Lounge, FREE laundry with detergent provided, new, clean individual bathrooms (10!), with clean bath mats provided.  They have lovely gardens, including an herb garden for everyone to share. They’re also one of the only marinas we’ve seen that have HUGE signs at the end of each dock for directions as you approach by boat.  The town of Trenton has everything you need to provision, with a Metro  grocery store across the parking lot from the marina, a big drug store, a deli and even a little farmers market.  Nancy was also fortunate to find an amazing hairdresser at Salon Eleven to fix her hair (boat life has been hard!).

Trent Port Marina

It’s always interesting to look at boat names when you walk the docks.  Some can be pretty bad, but we saw one in Trent Port that really made us laugh!

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Funny boat name in Trent Port Marina

We departed Trent Port Marina early (7:50 am) to get on the wall for the first lock opening at 9 am.

It was a long day, arriving in Campbellford just after 5 pm.  We were exhausted after a day of 12 locks, but we accomplished nearly 32 miles of the waterway.  The last lock of the day was at Ranney Falls, locks 11 & 12.  Unlike most of the other locks, this one is hydraulically operated, as it’s 5 stories high.  The fist chamber raises you 24′, and the second chamber raises you another 24′.

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Ranney Falls, Locks 11 & 12

There’s not much to do in Campbellford, and despite the city’s moorings being offered at a “stay two nights, get one free”, we didn’t see the point.  We walked across the bridge, visited the giant “Toonie” monument in the park, and had a quiet night on board.  The Toonie Monument in Old Mill Park honors local wildlife artist Brent Townsend, who created the giant polar bear design for the $2 Canadian coin, nicknamed the ” Toonie”.  Hey, they call their one dollar coin a “loonie”.

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There were a lot of Loopers there, but they were all pretty settled once we got there, so we relaxed on board to recharge our batteries.

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One side of the Campbellford Wall…that’s Misty second from the end

Campbellford is home to the well – known Dooher’s Bakery.  We were leaving in the morning, but made a point to walk up the street and grab some goodies when they opened at 7 am. We enjoyed muffins (they have a huge variety of flavors), bread and butter tarts on board Misty for a couple of days!

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Crews of JADIP and Pilgrim at “The Blue Line”, Lock # 13, Campbellford

We had been looking forward to spending a night on the hook, and Rice Lake seemed like a great spot to spend the night.  After our experience on the Ottawa River, we are being very careful about picking anchorages.  If there isn’t information about it through all of our resources, or through local knowledge, we don’t go!  We did read great reviews, and had good information on a spot off of Margaret Island, so we headed there.  We arrived around 3:30 pm and had a great day floating in the water, and enjoying our showers outdoors.   Ahhh….nothing like it!!

A beautiful afternoon off Margaret Island

Saturday, August 3rd was another beautiful day on the water.  We were so happy to have the hot, humid weather we had on the Rideau gone! Our days through the Trent – Severn were largely sunny and a pleasant 80 degrees…we’ll take it.

A beautiful day on the water…lovely homes, fishermen, kids jumping off bridges into the water, and some cows getting a drink

After getting fuel and a pump out, we headed to our slip at Peterborough Municipal Marina on the end of the T of “C” dock.  Ben (both the dock master and the local Harbor Host for AGLCA) and Lou took great care of us, and we got the name of a mechanic to take a look at our bow thruster.  Yup…our one year old thruster decided to quit on us in the locks over the past few days, so we wanted someone to take a look at it.  Ben connected us with Neil Curry, who was scheduled to come see us on Tuesday morning, as this was a long  National Holiday weekend.

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Heading into the Peterborough Municipal Marina on Little Lake

After getting settled, we wandered over to the marine supply store and the grocery store, both conveniently located a short walk from the marina.  Nancy’s EarTech head set fell into the water in a lock earlier in the day, and since we were set to be here for a few days, we wanted to replace it.  It’s a very small store, and they didn’t carry head sets, so we ordered it from the company directly, and had it shipped to Peterborough since we were stuck here.  Hey…those headsets are important, and are called “marriage savers” for a reason!

The Peterborough City Marina sits on the edge of  Del Crary Park, and during the summer months, they offer free concerts in the park on Wednesday and Saturday nights.  We were excited because that night would feature a Tom Petty cover band “We Ain’t Petty”, from 8 – 10 pm.  So, after dinner we headed over to the marina office for Kawartha Ice Cream (a regional favorite), then over to the park to hear the band.  They were great!  We sang and danced, enjoying the band, despite the fact that the lead singer was wearing a blond wig trying to look like Tom Petty.  Nancy really wanted him to tear it off his head during the encore, but it didn’t happen!  Regardless, it was a lot of fun and it drew a great crowd!

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Enjoying “We Ain’t Petty” performing in Del Crary Park

By the time we got back to the dock, it was jammed!  The local boat owners were there in force, with their chairs and kegorators at the ready! Our friends Barbara and Joe Huber aboard Balahula had been through here in early July, also stuck here with some mechanical issues.  They were in the same slip as we were on “C” dock, and made friends with a group of the locals on the dock.  As we got closer to Misty, we randomly asked a group of people if they knew Balahula, and we hit the jackpot!  Brent, Krista, Axel and Andrena were enjoying the beautiful evening and the band from the dock.  Thanks to Balahula, they knew we were coming, and welcomed us with open arms.  We had a fun dinner with them and their grown kids at Riley’s Pub early in the week, a short walk from the marina.  They were super generous with their time, knowledge of the waters, offers to use their cars or take us anywhere.  As we have learned since entering the country, the Canadians are extraordinarily kind, helpful and generous people.

The largest lift lock in the world, with a lift/drop of nearly 65’, is located in Peterborough, and it’s quite the tourist attraction, as it’s also a National Historic Site of Canada.  If they’re not busy, they welcome Loopers to come take a backstage, private tour of the lock.  There were a number of other Looper boats spending a couple of nights at the City Marina:  Jim and Jo-Ann/Nameste, Dan and Jenny Lynn/Melody in Sea, Steve and Carol/JADIP, Lee and Barbara/Encore, and Peter and Julie/Pilgrim. So on Monday morning, we all took a 1.5 mile hike over to the lock and enjoyed a fascinating tour with Lock Master Rob.

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Our walk to the Peterborough Lift Lock

Views from the top of the lock

Control Tower views, and Julie making the lift announcement!

Getting inside the guts of the lock

We were happy to have Neil come aboard on Tuesday to look at the thruster.  However, when he opened the casing, we found the thruster completely covered in black soot.

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Soot covered bow thruster

The initial diagnosis was that the solenoid and the “brushes” in the motor needed to be replaced.  So we called the manufacturer and arranged for the parts to be shipped to Canada. This is not an easy or inexpensive thing to do, but we were stuck. After all this was done, Neil called that evening to tell us he had been thinking and doing some research, he thought the black soot was a result of the new thruster brushes getting “settled”, and that a good cleaning would solve our problem.  The good news was that he was right, but the bad news was that it was too late to cancel the shipment of the parts.  Unfortunately, the shipping of the parts did not go smoothly, and our expected delivery of Friday, ended up getting delayed until Tuesday. Once we had the parts, we did have Neil replace the selenoid and finally got on our way.

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Happy Captain with his new Selenoid!

Nancy took great advantage of the area to run errands, riding her bike to Wal-Mart, all over town and several times to the brand new (and wonderful) public library to work on our blog.  There are several great restaurants, and we most especially enjoyed Indian food at Shafiq’s Taste of India, breakfast at The Electric City Bread Company, and a surprisingly delicious meal at The Souvlaki Pit, a sketchy place across the street from the marina which our local friends assured us was worth a visit…and it was!  We also stocked up on some yummy homemade pasta from The Pasta Store. We enjoyed delicious cannelloni and lasagna, along with their homemade blue cheese dressing.

Scenes around downtown Peterborough

There’s also a great little art center that showcases local talent.  It’s small, but well done, and they have a lovely gift shop.

Art Center of Peterborough

On Monday night we hosted “docktails” for all of our Canadian friends and fellow loopers on the dock.  We had just met Zyg/Domino, a fellow, solo Looper, and while sitting on our aft deck that afternoon, we spotted our friends Jeff and Lucy/Encantada (we met them in Miami in February!) pulling away from the fuel dock.  Nancy immediately texted Lucy, and learned that they had tied up to the wall at the Peterborough Lift Lock.  We were thrilled when they rode their bikes over to the marina and joined the party! We loved our time with them in Miami, and were so happy to have caught up with them, as they too had some mechanical issues that held them up.

Docktails on “C” dock, thanks for everything to all the great people there!

There are people with boats there that have T-shirts that read “What happens on C dock, stays on C dock”.  Now we know why!

We can’t say enough about the Peterborough City Marina.  With all of the delays we were having with our part delivery, we kept going into the office and paying for another day.  Finally, on Saturday, when we went in to give them our “final” departure date, we met the GM, Don.  We spent some time chatting with him, and when we told him about adding additional days, he told us he wasn’t going to charge us for the last three nights of our stay.  Above and beyond! Thank you to everyone who made our stay in Peterborough so wonderful and memorable!

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The evening descends on “C” dock

The ever changing fountain in Little Lake

Del Crary Park

Wednesday, August 14 was a beautiful day to get back on the water.  It was sunny, around 60, going up to 76 with light winds all day.  Perfect for throwing an anchor!  Based on several recommendations from our local friends in Peterborough, we were going to an anchorage off Juniper Island, just off McCracken’s Landing.  But first, we needed to get through some locks, the most significant being the Peterborough Lift Lock.

So long, Peterborough Marina…you were wonderful to us!

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Lock 20, Ashburnham, featuring the traditional Canadian red Adirondack chairs

We got to the wall for Lock 20, Ashburnham, at the base of Little Lake, just around the bend from the marina.  We tied up to the wall and were ready to lock through when they opened at 9 am. There’s a short cruise from Lock 20 to the Peterborough Lock, but they are aware of your approach from the previous lock, and they were ready for us when we got there.  We cruised right into the pan, loaded one other boat, and up we went.  It does look a bit scary when you’re at the top, but you’re surrounded by the pan on all sides, so it’s not too bad, and it’s over with quickly.

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Phew!  Glad that’s over!

Shortly after the Peterborough Lock, the TSW flows right through the center of Trent University. Nancy had seen it from the land on Monday, when she went for a walk at the nearby Zoo with Andrena, and they stopped there first. Andrena’s an alumni, having received her second BS Degree (in Biology Geology, and Forensic Science…one smart cookie!), so she could continue her teaching career in Canada.  It’s a very modern, but beautiful campus that spans both sides of the canal.  The views from the water are amazing!

Nancy and Andrena take on Trent U. and the Zoo

Trent University

Once you pass through Peterborough, the scenery becomes more rural, with islands and cottages (some big, some small) everywhere.  This is the Kawartha Lakes region of the TSW, and it’s absolutely spectacular.

We had some great bird sightings along the way:

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First, an Eagle

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Then a few Osprey

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And finally, a Loon

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There’s a charming little white church perched on a small island, accessible only by boat!

After twisting and turning through beautiful passages among the islands, we came around to our anchorage off Juniper Island in Clear Lake just after 4 pm.  It was a beautiful evening, and with the exception of a houseboat far off our port up on the shore, we had the place to ourselves.  We were pooped after a long day, with 8 locks, so we decided against taking the dinghy over to McCracken’s for dinner. We had a lot of great food onboard, and it was great evening to chill!

Juniper Island anchorage

It was sunny, clear and calm when we pulled anchor at 8:20 am the morning of the 15th.  We only had three locks ahead of us, but almost 30 miles. Our next stop was Bobcaygeon.  We had heard great things about this little town, so we wanted to have time to explore it. We had 6 locks, and 28 miles to get there, but it was a beautiful day and the scenery was spectacular.

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Crazy modern house and deck

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Burleigh Falls

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Rob at Burleigh Falls Lock, where we’re starting to see the pink granite

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It was a day of locking with houseboats

We saw lots of boats rafted together, and houseboats nosed onto the shore

This entire area of the TSW is filled with little islands, most with one small summer cottage, a dock and a small boat.  They’re extremely private and secluded, accessible only by boat.  The homes are all beautifully kept, whether large or small, and all take great pride in their gardens.  There’s a lot of whimical stuff along the way as well.

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Colorful Adirondack chairs are very popular, most especially in red (for Canada).  This grouping of yellow chairs feature a fancy mannequin!

More and more rocks, and narrow passages

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A huge bird rookery, Buckhorn Lake, and yes, the white is poo

We officially caught up with Jeff and Lucy/Encantada at the lock wall in Bobcaygeon.  The wall was still full with day trippers when we arrived, so Encantada rafted up to us for the afternoon until some space freed up.

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Encantada exiting the Bobcaygeon Lock

There was a small grocery store in town, so we were able to provision, and we of course made the obligatory stop at Biglies, a renowned store among Canadians that has varied merchandise (kitchen stuff, bath stuff, some boutique type clothes and jewelry, beach wear), but is known for its shoe department.  It is huge, with a great selection, but we were coming through towards the end of the season, and inventory was depleted.  Oh well, didn’t really need shoes anyway!

Biglies, Bobcaygeon

We had a nice visit from the Bobcaygeon AGLCA Harbor Hosts, and they offered suggestions for dinner in town.  Taking their advise, we set off with Jeff and Lucy to The Bobcaygeon Inn for a casual dinner on the water, after enjoying docktails aboard Encantada’s beautiful back porch.  As with other towns on the water, the park on the canal was holding a free concert, and we had a great view of it from Encantada.  After dinner, we all went back to Misty and enjoyed “Little Beers”.  After 6 locks and five hours on the water, we were all pooped…time for bed!

The short 15 mile run to Fenelon Falls took only two hours, arriving at 11:15 am.  The small town runs right along the canal and lock.  After getting settled, we went looking for Dolce, a small restaurant we had read about for fresh and yummy food.  We enjoyed a panini and a veal sandwich, and scooped up some rolls and butter tarts to take back to the boat!

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Dolce

Nancy rode her bike around town and found the farmer’s market, the Curling Club, the used book store and a few cute shops, and we took a walk over to the falls along the lock.

Scenes around Fenelon Falls

Fenelon Falls

We enjoyed a delicious pot luck dinner with Jeff and Lucy, sharing a veggie lasagna from The Pasta Store in Peterborough, a big salad and a grilled, split, marinated chicken Jeff found in the local grocer in Bobcaygeon.  It was delicious!

Jeff, like Rob, is an ice cream freak, and they were both determined to get a treat before the store closed (which is what happened in Bobcaygeon). We barely made it, as we were their last customers!

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The morning of the 16th brought rain and fog, so we sat tight in Fenelon Falls until 9:35 am.

The day remained rainy on and off, and there were a couple of landmarks on this stretch.  First we tackled the Kirkfield Lift Lock, #36.  The lift here is not as high as Peterborough (only 49’), but the pan here is more open, so it’s a bit more thrilling.  Plus, this lock takes you DOWN, so you start out at the top, looking waaaaay down.  Fortunately, we were the only boat in the lock, and I asked Rob to tie up Misty in the center of the pan.  After all, I’m the one securing the line up on the bow, and the thought of being so close to the edge…um, no.  

Kirkfield Lift Lock

The second landmark wasn’t nearly as thrilling, but beautiful and narrow.  It’s the “Hole in the Wall Bridge“.

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A nice way to ask boaters for no wake:  “Smile and wave as you slowly go by”

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This flamingo float is so big, it needs to be docked (Nancy loves this!). Note it’s owner fishing on the dock (and how small he is compared to the flamingo!).

We had already been through 5 locks, and traveled over 25 miles, when the skies began to get even darker.  So we got settled at the Thorah Lock #40 wall around 2:40, and immediately had a downpour, and our VHF radios were warning of tornados for the area.  Fortunately, the worst of the storms by-passed us, and we had a lovely night and pretty sunset.

Lock #40, Misty on the wall behind Ceci Kay

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Last bits of the sunset at Lock #40

Jan and Stacy aboard Ceci Kay were also on the wall with us.  Nancy enjoyed chatting with a couple of Canadians that have spent parts of the last few summers exploring the TSW, and they had just completed the entire waterway. They were celebrating in every legal way possible!

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Beautiful sunrise, Lock #40

Sunday the 18thremained cloudy, but the rain held off and the sun came out later in the day. The crew at the Thorah lock got us through promptly at 9 am, so we made our way across Lake Simcoe to Orilla, a 35 mile trip, in three hours.

The Orilla Port Marina is conveniently located right at the head of the small town, and adjacent to a nice park with a bike trail along the water.  The winds were beginning to kick up, and the narrow marina fairways are filled with tall weeds. As we were trying to dock, Misty got stuck, and Rob couldn’t tell if we hit some mud or if the weeds were holding us.  We moved to another slip, which was also better protected from the wind.  After getting settled we joined Jan and Stacy/CeciKay and Meredith and Scotty/Thunderbolt for lunch to celebrate Ceci Kay crossing their wake here in Orilliaofficially becoming Gold Loopers!

We wandered a bit in town, which has some cute shops and restaurants with sidewalk terraces.  We went to Wilkie’s Bakery at the suggestion of the dock hands, and the amazing Mariposa Market further up the block.  Mariposa has more than baked goods, and we had a great time gathering goodies to enjoy on Misty:  Miniature quiches, butter tarts, and beet relish.