Aug 032012
 

We should have known how today was going to go when just as we woke up the dead battery alarm went off.  Scott started the gen on the auxillary batteries and we were good to go……….or so we thought.   After a quick shower at the back of the boat and a general clean up we headed off into Sturgeon Lake.

We were about half way across when the starboard engine quit and would not start.  We knew that the marina that we were getting diesel from was not far so we puttered on one engine to their marina.  Of course our cell service was non existent and our internet flaky and the marina was not monitoring its VHF radio. I proceeded to wave down a fellow mariner who was washing his boat and he got on the radio.  Scott let him know we were down an engine and we were coming in.  He got some help at the dock and we were in pretty easily.  We were thankful that we made it there and asked for diesel.  The owner said that they have never had diesel and that the next place would be about 10 miles further down our  route.  Scott was now down in the engine room in 30 degree heat beside two engines giving off more heat.  He was drenched by the time he fixed the problem which was air in the fuel rails.  It is supposed to self prime itself and Scott did the filters correctly but was a bit short on adding diesel to the filter.  Note to self that diesel engines are picky when it comes to filling the oil filters.

Off we go again to find that diesel at the next stop.  The fella at Birch Point Marina was kind enough to sell us his stock of about 40 l  to get us down to the next stop.   We pull up to the diesel pump only to find out that the pump is down and that the only place after them is Orillia.  We don’t have enough fuel to get to Orillia.  Please remember that we have this trip planned very thoroughly and that fuel stops have been planned out but we didn’t plan for wrong written information and pumps that stopped working.  After discussing our options we came to the conclusion that the best plan of action was to make it to Kirkfield lift lock, call my mom right now and have her buy 6 – 20 L containers and drive to meet us.   Then Scott can run to the gas station with her car, fill up the 6 containers and do that 3 times.  So that is what happened.  We sat down to have dinner at about 8:00 or so and sent mom on her merry way back home, us happy with half full tanks of gas to get us to Orillia. Thanks again Mom!  We owe you a dinner at least!

I must add that the highlight of the day was a swim in Balsam Lake.  Beautiful open lake with clear blue waters and warm.  Balsam Lake feeds the entire Trent Severn Waterway going in both directions.  It is also the highest point navigatable by sea in the world.

We stayed on top of the lock only because there was road access and it would be easier to lug over those Geri  cans.  It is very industrial there.  The buoys are stored there and work barges are there too.  No park like setting but we did have a picnic table.

Tomorrow we lock through the Kirkfield lift lock going down instead of up like at the Peterborough lift lock!

 Posted by at 2:15 AM
Aug 022012
 

This beautiful country up here in The Kawarthas.  The only problem is everyone knows it.  Cottages are literally everywhere almost on top of each other.  The water is crystal clear and so far not many boats are on the water.  Leaving Buckhorn behind (much to my pleasure) we head on off to a marina in Bobcaygeon for those well waited for toilet parts. 

Upon arriving to the marina it is quickly noted that that the marina is really not equipped to handle this size boat.  After getting us set up at the end of the gas dock , the attendant says he has an alternate spot for us.  It turns out it is a bit shallow and the width will fit the boat but just barely.  He says we can stay at the front of the gas dock but is concerned for any house boat rental drivers that may be in for gas.  No kidding!!!  They are not only the worst drivers on the water but it is our guess that many have never really been around boating.  That goes for their crew as well.  After a 20 minute instructional video they are handed the keys to head out into the waters and those close quarters on dock walls and locks with the regular boats.  I can tell you it is quite the painful experience watching them try to manoever them. 

The boys made friends with two other boys around the ages of 14 and 16 docked behind us here on the wall.  They spent the day making forts, fishing and just being boys.  My mom made it down for the evening and we had some catch up time too.  Scott did the maintenance on the toilet, rebuilt the pump and changed oil filters.  They only real job left is changing the oil. 

Bobcaygeon on the upper side of the lock is a really good stop.  You can get all your supplies here, do some shopping, watch those boathouse drivers for entertainment, and the lock is a busy one but far enough away that you can still enjoy the beautifully kept park area.  New this year is a two hour stop until 5:00 and then you can overnight.  However, the lockmasters seem to turn a blind eye to that rule.  They are just too busy doing the locking.

 Posted by at 12:49 PM
Aug 012012
 

After the day of rain yesterday today was a welcome reprieve of breezes and warm temps.  We have decided to head to Buckhorn and stay on the wall.  Our books say the best place to stay is topside of the lock but now that we are here the bottom is the place to be.  The books seem to favor the city side rather than the solitude side of the locks.  Oh well, we’ll know for next time.  Today C spent the afternoon and most of the evening fishing.  He has hooked a couple big ones, trees that is.  His biggest catch of the day was finding a louwer.  His perseverance paid off after finding the louwer and He was rewarded with a small pickerel that the boys decided to keep for  lunch tomorrow.  Scott showed the boys how to clean and prepare fish.  Thrilled they are.  Now that we are here on the wall the boys are again fishing for that illustrious big one in a no fishing zone at that.

 

Buckhorn is a very busy lock with cottagers coming and going throughout the day.  I personally don’t like it much.  Hard to swim here, no fishing rules, busy streets and too many people.  We won’t do this again.

The hardware store was able to supply us with one engine’s oil for the change that Scott has to do.  That was a bit of a relief.

 Posted by at 2:22 AM
Jul 312012
 

Rainy day today but on the good side of things we were able to go into the lift lock in Peterborough.  I knew it was an engineering feat for its day but I didn’t expect the feeling that went with it. Being in the tub gave you a strange feeling.  I can’t explain what that feeling is though.  Going up 65 ft in the air in a giant bathtub overlooking the landscape was pure euphoria.  You have to put this adventure on your bucket list.

The rain started up heavily after the lift lock to the point that we sent the kids downstairs to video games.  Scott and I did the tough locking through part.  I must say that my makeshift “window” to replace the lost panel worked pretty well.  It won’t stand up to winds but it got us through the day.

The kids can collect wildlife cards and stickers to complete a Trent Severn Waterway sheet which they both have only a couple stickers left to get.  You get those at the lock stations from the lock masters.  It makes the locking through fun for them too.  Apparently they say this is the last year for these items.  Cutbacks and such.  The also snagged posters of frogs, turtles and snakes for their bedroom walls.  Great for a couple of science geeks.

We locked through to Lakefield at lock 26 and now we sit on the wall.  The rain and lightning that stopped us, due to the locks being shut down, has finally stopped.  A trip to town for ice cream and some milk and we are good for the night.

Tomorrow the toilet parts come into Bobgaygeon but we are looking at a stop in Buckhorn. Weather looks good too.

 Posted by at 2:01 AM
Jul 302012
 

This morning was gorgeous.  We woke up to the soft sounds of nature through the hatch.  No air for us last night.  It was cool and the kids were exhausted after playing in the falls in the afternoon, walking the two km or more there and back, staying  up way to late at the campfire and made some new friends with kids traveling with their families in their 20 ftr and tents.  Made our life here so much more appealing .

Scott really wanted pics of  Healey Falls so we made a stop at the top of Lock 17 on the wall for a short walk over the power station to the falls.  They were right.  It is beautiful and worth the stopover.  The kids went under the falls itself  in the small  caverns only to stick their arm out from under.  I tried not to look as boys do what it is that boys do.

We were going to stay before Rice Lake but decided to stop at Campbelltown dock instead. Passing through Rice Lake was uneventful except the fact that I undid the canvas window we have on the port side only to lose it in the wind.  We searched for it for awhile but to no avail.  Now I hope there is no rain until we get home.  We can’t order it either but have to have it made custom.

Passing through Otonabee River we passed so many cottages  that it was hard to stay up in speed.  Once we made it to Campbelltown the  town dock was  not suitable to stop at.  Large metal spikes stick out on the sides of the dock.  So now the only choice we had was to make it to Peterborough.  So now here we are in the marina where I could do laundry and pick up some supplies from the grocery store.  The complaining about walking to the store seemed to go away once the ice cream sandwiches were purchased as well.  The boys carried home the supplies too.

So now the kids are fishing off the marina dock with bread to catch a huge carp.  C did catch it only to break the line.  Try explaining how the line broke to a 10 year old who thinks that the carp is for breakfast.

 Posted by at 1:39 AM
Jul 292012
 

We were thinking that today we would stop in Campbellford to do some laundry but it was only 3 hours of driving time.  So we decided to push on toHealeyFallsat the first lock.  The next 2 locks are staircase locks just up from our little spot here in “the basin” between locks 15 and then 16 and 17.  I still need to do laundry but we’ll just wear our bathing suits today.  Really cuts down on the laundry loads. 

Passing through Campbellford we noticed that it would be a great place to be if you want the “city life”.  They have everything right there with enough spots for 50 or more boats.  Gas is the cheapest here than anywhere on theTrent.  It is the same price as the street price which you don’t see ever.  We didn’t see diesel but we’ve been told it is here too. 

Most of the locks we passed through are rural with only nature around and maybe a mom and pop shop selling ice cream.  Now we are here in “the basin”.  We all have been swimming behind the boat where the water is clear and warm with lots of curious fish that look like rock bass.  We can have campfires here and buy fire wood to burn.  Apparently they don’t sell marshmellows though.  I didn’t bring any because who knew we would be having campfires.

I think that fishing for our dinner has a new meaning.  The boys are determined to bring in a big one.  I haven’t had bass in awhile so that would be a nice change.  Scott already has his knife sharp for the carving.  The boys went to find the swimming hole with “the rapids” and look at the power station.  That was about 2 hours ago.  I think I’m due for a cold brew.  That will go great with the sausages that are being cooked over the open fire tonight for dinner. 

So they are back now and apparently I missed one of the highlights of the trip.  The water levels are low this year and the falls is more of a cascading ankle deep water over layers of rocks.  The boys swam across the river and then were at the falls where they were able to stand under the cascading waters and let the water flow over them.  They were delighted with the whole experience.  Healey Falls is a bit of a walk but worth it.  Scott says it was by far the most beautiful and fun thing he has seen on this trip and the kids just loved the whole idea of going under the “waterfall”.  For those that want to make this their reason for coming here go to the top of the lock at Lock 17 and dock there for the night.  It will save several steps to get to the falls.

 Posted by at 1:45 AM
Jul 282012
 

Today will be a short day of about 3 hours or so.  We are picking up Aiden’s friend, C, at the lock in Frankford,ON.  The bonus is that this is the only stop that has hydro available by Parks Canada.  For $10.00 we can catch up charging our electronics and enjoy  peaceful air conditioning.  Usually we aren’t air people but it gets crazy hot in the living quarters.  Boat only has one small 18” x 18” vent.  What is that on a boat that is over 20’ living space. 

 Anyway, we didn’t have luck catching the locks today.  Lock 3 should have waited for us but for some reason didn’t keep 2 boats waiting 5 minutes for us to catch up.  That created a 15 – 20 minute backlog of wait time for subsequent locks.  Our friends coming from Grimsby made it to Frankford faster than we did.  We travelled from above Lock 1 to above lock 5 and they were waiting. 

So now we have C onboard with us.  Aiden is beside himself excited to speak to a kid his age again.  They have already gone swimming in a river that is only about 3 ft deep at the centre, fished until the fish were full of the worms lost on their hooks (we use barbless so they slip off easily), hiked, and played washer toss.  I think they may be onto the reading section of their day already.  Hope they sleep well tonight.

Thanks again Dana, Kevin and E for my first car ride to a grocery store in over 2 weeks even if you did bring me back 2 days of travel time.

 Posted by at 1:53 AM
Jul 272012
 

Today was a day of getting some chores out of the way. Scott found a place in Kingston that had some of the parts for the toilet but a major part had to be ordered and then will have to be shipped to us en route. Hopefully our second toilet will be functional soon. We stopped at Collins Bay Marina for diesel as well.

Heading on up the Bay of Quinte to the west we had clear skies and flat water. It is a beautiful section of water that should be enjoyed on its own but our mission today was to make it to Trenton. Sorry Dana, we missed the Pictom area for some great wine tasting. We’ll just have to go by car someday. Wanna join us?

As we came to the start of the Trent Severn Waterway we were greeted by a bridge and a sign that ensured we had found our way. Passing through Trenton we passed civilization and headed for Lock 1 of the next part of our journey. We had to wait for a boat locking down and it was with anticipation that we watched them maneover their last lock but our first. As we passed each other, with the standard wave of hands, we got ourselves situated on the lock wall with ease. I guess after traversing over 70 locks thus far we can be considered pros.

So here we sit at the top of Lock 1 in the Trent Severn Waterway waiting once again for the sun to rise and the real beginning of our journey.

Tomorrow a friend of Aiden’s  joins us for a week’s vacation.  How much fun will the adventure be when we have two 10 year old boys on board in a confined space and no where to go?  We are looking forward to that adventure as well!

 Posted by at 1:30 PM
Jul 262012
 

Oh yeah, we completed the Rideau Canal.  That is a big check mark.

It rained all day today.  Soaked but enjoying the last few hours of this experience we trudged our way through the last 10 locks.  I was not upset to see that last set of tri-locks in Kingston.  Although on the good side of things this is our first real day of rain and the first rain in these parts in over 2 months.

Now to bore you with some history on the Canal.  We have learned so much.  The route the canal follows has been in use since the beginning of recorded history.  The Natives used this route to get from the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario, even before Champlain traced the route in 1615.  Over the years, forts and trading posts were built along this route.  In the War of 1812 Kingston was an important British Naval Base.  The hostilities between England and the Americans made the British more concerned about a secure route for their military forces and supplies from Lake Ontario to Quebec.  The first part of the journey at that time ran along the St. Lawrence River adjacent to the United States.  It was feared by the British that in time of war they might not be able to ship supplies or reinforcement to or from Kingston to Quebec.

A route was surveyed between Kingston and Ottawa. An engineer from England was sent to Upper Canada to oversee the construction.  Lt Colonel John By was the lead.  Eventually a city in his name was formed.  By Town it was called.  Today you know it as our nation’s capital, Ottawa.  Constructon of the Rideau Canal began in 1827 and was completed in 1832.  Along the entire length of the canal small fortifications were built to help defend this vital waterway should war with the US occur again.  The canal was never needed for use by the military but was an immediate economic success.  Freight of all sorts was shipped by this waterway and towns and villages sprang up all along the route.  Around 1860, freight shipments peaked as railroads began to make inroads into the canal shipping business.  Freight business continued its slow decline, but coal barges were still shipped on the Rideau Canal until 1920. 

Use of the Rideau Canal by pleasuer craft has steadily increased over the years and today is the major use of the canal.  The original Rideau Cnanal is still inuse today and is over 166 years old.  Most of the locks and bridges are operated manually.

FACTS:

The canal is 126 miles.

14 locks raise the boater 165 feet from 243 feet above sea leavel at Kingston to 408 ft above sea leavel at Upper Rideau Lake. 

32 additional locks then lower the boater 274 ft from the Upper Rideau Lake to the Ottawa River at 134 ft above sea level. 

Locks are numbered 1 to 49

The locks have tapered walls.  The locks are 2 ft narrower than at bottom than at the top. 

There are a flight of 8 locks in Ottawa.

 

 Posted by at 2:04 PM
Jul 252012
 

Beautiful…..that is the only way to describe this area.  We are in Canadian  Shield territory with its rock formations, open waters and blue skies,  It’s like being  in Muskoka.  This is cottage country for sure.

We made good time and did 10  locks.  We are nestled in at the top of the lock in Jones Falls waiting for the first  lock through tomorrow morning.  Quiet here with just a few boats and  set between cliffs.  Too bad for predicted rain because the stars would be glorious tonight.

Aiden went fishing, swimming and hiking already.  This area is rich in the history of the Rideau with lock master houses, blacksmith shop and settler areas.  I even had a cast or two.  The fish here are very social.  When swimming they will come up to you and watch.  I don’t mean just a few either.  There are hundreds that are curious and come to watch you.  You can  hand feed them.  They are just rock bass, but still a cute treat.

We are having an issue with one of the toilets so we are hoping to head to Kingston to get parts.  Scott is not looking forward to this repair.  In the past he said that this would be one job he would hire out for but that is not an option at this point.  So he is hoping it is the easier repair that he thinks will fix the flush problem.  You know what they say….      It happens.

 

 Posted by at 1:09 PM