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 (and, yes, the white stuff is poo!  

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 of them!), 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 and dock identification 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 on it!).

Trent Port Marina, along with a funny boat name

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”, so when you’re in Canada, you are surrounded by Loonie Toonies! The signs in the marina laundry rooms along the way explaining this were humorous.

Crews of JADIP and Pilgrimwaiting at “The Blue Line”, Lock # 13, Campbellford, Misty rafted while and we wait, and Campbellford, where the famous  “Tooney” resides along the canal. Misty is tied up second to the end.

We had been looking forward to spending a night on the hook, and Rice Lake seemed like a great spot.  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 experienced 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 on “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.

Heading into the Peterbrough Municial Marina on Little Lake, and a fun concert in Del Crary Park, from a Tom Petty coverband, “We Ain’t Petty”!

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 we’re 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!

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, and were 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. We loved our stay here!

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.

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.

Soot covered bow thruster and a Happy Captain with his new parts!

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, and 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. And there was another Holiday weekend!  Once we had the parts, we did have Neil replace the selenoid and finally got on our way.

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! Kegerators, fridges, crazy signs and an abundance of dogs, gives you an idea how fun this stop was!

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.  His reason?  You’re the kind of boaters we like to host, and you’re in a bad spot….just wanted to help out.  Above and beyond! Thank you to everyone who made our stay in Peterborough so wonderful and memorable!

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 and we loved every minute!

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

We got to the wall early 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. It’s a short cruise from Lock 20 to the Peterborough Lock, but they are aware of your approach from communication with Ashburnham, 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:

First, an Eagle, then an Osprey and beautiful 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.

Rob next to the quartz rocks at Burleigh Falls Lock, locking through with a slew of houseboats, & houseboats rafted on the lake.

This entire area of the TSW is filled with little islands, most with only one small summer cottage, a dock and a small boat.  They’re extremely private, secluded and 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!

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.

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!

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! (they were starting to mop the floor!)

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 (or should I say chilling?).  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“.

A nice way to ask boaters for no wake:  “Smile and wave as you slowly go by!”  The flamingo float was so big, it needed to be tied to the dock (Nancy loves this!)!  Note it’s owner fishing on the dock, and how small he is in comparison!

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 and all was good.  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.

Mariposa Market

Later that afternoon both Encantada and Domino came into the marina, and we enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres on Encantada’s porch with Jeff, Lucy, Zyg and Jan before they went out for a late dinner…we went back to Misty, as we were too stuffed from our yummy shrimp tacos at lunch to join them! We had a strong rainstorm in the early evening, but it cleared into a beautiful night, and we enjoyed the neon Canadian flag on the marina breakwall!

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One of the most unique parts of this adventure is the Marine Chute Railway, which takes the place with what would have been Lock # 44.  While some people get excited for it (Rob), others dread it (Nancy), and others opt not to take the ride at all, walking around and over the bridge instead, while the captain goes it alone (plenty do that, but we both stayed on board).  August 19 was the day we would arrive at the “Big Chute”. It was a 35 mile trip with some narrow waters in Lake Couchiching, two locks, a couple of narrow cuts and on to the Severn River.  Our original thought was to spend the night above the Chute at the free dock, so we tied up and wandered over to take a look at the Chute in action.

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Severn River rapids next to the Big Chute

After checking this thing out, and chatting with some of the many folks hanging around watching it, we saw that there were no boats waiting for the Chute on the blue line.  So, we decided to go for it, fired up Misty’s engines, and headed over to the blue line.

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We waited for the Chute car to come back up and over the hill, unload, and we were soon called into the Chute “car”.  We were finally going to take this trip we had watched so many times on YouTube! YIKES!  At least it was a beautiful day.

Misty entering the Chute

The Chute railway car is on a track that runs down a track under the water, and you drive your boat into it as instructed via loudspeaker by the lock hands riding the car.  The boat slides over slings within the walls and floor of the car, controlled by levers on a platform on the side of the car, that brings them up to hold the boat in place.  BUT…the larger boats have a pretty good chunk of their rears hanging over the back of the car to protect their props. We were really glad that we didn’t know or see that until AFTER our boat made the journey, when we were taking pictures of our friends Jeff, Lucy and Zyg crossing later.

There’s a quiet cove at the bottom of the Chute with free docks (no electricity or water) for about 6 – 8 boats.  Once Misty got through the Chute, we tied up to one of the docks and walked up the hill to watch our friends cross through.

Jeff and Lucy/Encantada in the Chute, check out how far her stern is hanging over the end of the car!

Zyg/Domino in the Chute

The original Chute tracks and car, retired in 1964

The crews of Misty, Encantada and Domino were pooped, and we all tied up to one of the free docks.  Since Encantada and Domino were on a floating dock, unattached to land, Jeff came and picked us up in his dinghy, and we all enjoyed docktails and a delicious impromptu shrimp curry aboard Encantada.  We drank a hearty toast to the fact that we only hand ONE MORE LOCK to go, marking the end of the Trent Severn Waterway. Thank you, Chef Jeff for a delicious meal!! It was the perfect ending to a pretty crazy day!

Relaxing on Encantada’s porch with Jeff, Lucy and Zyg

August 20th was a warm, sunny day, with calm winds, which was great for some narrow spots before hitting the Port Severn Lock, LOCK 45, THE LAST LOCK OF THE TSW! Misty was the first to head out in the morning, pulling away at 8:45 on a warm, sunny, calm day.

It was a pretty run, and the water was quiet.  We only had 17 miles to go for the day, and as you know, we were very excited to be taking a break from locks.  We’ve figured out that we have completed 115 locks on our Loop, and another 24 from last summer on the Champlain Canal (up and back), for a total 139 locks completed since we began traveling on Misty in May 2018.  So, this was a very big deal!

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LOCK # 45…THE LAST LOCK OF THE TRENT-SEVERN WATERWAY!!!  WOO HOO!!!

Our destination was Queen’s Cove Marina in Victoria Harbor, at the beginning of Georgian Bay where we were staying for two nights.  Misty was having an oil change and the Yamaha dinghy motor was, once again, getting looked at for being its usual sputtering self.  We need that baby to work in Georgian Bay, because today, WE HAVE ARRIVED!!

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