Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Eric here catching you up to date on the travels of Still Waters II.
Click on the Travel Map above or this link to see the day-by-day travel log. The crew completed the Trent Severn Waterway which also marks the half way point around the loop for all crew and virtual crew members. After completing the last lock at Port Severn, the crew crossed the bay to Victoria Harbor.
Monday August 1, 2016
After a day of rest on Sunday, our crew made the first drop at the Kirkfield Lift Lock. This is the second largest lift lock in North America with a 48-foot lift.
Watch the following video for a virtual ride down the Kirkfield Lift Lock.
After the lift lock it was another narrow shallow canal. There has been little to no rain in these parts all summer and the water level is about a foot below normal. The shallow water is worse than normal and the crew found themselves in 4-5 foot of water with weeds until they got out of canal lake.
There was this interesting bridge built in 1905 as the crew passed into the Talbot River.
In the Talbot River there were a couple of swing bridges that the crew had to get open to continue the journey. Parks Canada bridge tenders had the bridges open with little delay.
Then it was two hours to pass thru five locks that were about a mile apart. These locks dropped Still Waters II an additional 63 feet.
After the fifth lock, the crew entered Lake Simcoe. This lake has a bad reputation because a west wind can cause large 6-8 foot waves. Our crew crossed the 20 miles with a southerly breeze in their back. Since the boat had not been run at top speed in a few weeks, the skipper brought her up on plane and they crossed the lake travelling at 10 knots.
The crew then made their way to the Port of Orillia Marina where they will stay for three nights. They are docked by two looper boats that they have not met before. They also have run into ‘Avocet’ here, and have already caught up on the happenings since they last met back in Ottawa.
The first night in the marina the ‘Home Office’, docked next to Still Waters II, held an impromptu concert and sang oldies but goodies into the night.
While going ashore in Orillia the skipper has found the best butter tarts in Canada. The bakery also sells cinnamon rolls and monkey bread. What a great place to be for a few days. The walk to the bakery each morning is about the most exercise the skipper gets most days.
In town there were several art projects called story poles. Different businesses sponsored the art and a few of them are here for your viewing.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
The crew shoved off from the dock about 0915 and headed towards Lock 42. The passage today was through small lakes and narrow passages connecting the lakes. These narrow passages were cut back in 1905 before the advent of modern machinery. The reason the cuts are so narrow is the granite rock was cut using dynamite and manual labor.
After the 21 foot drop at the Couchiching Lock the crew headed to today’s final destination at Lock 43, Swift Rapids. Because of the lack of rain, the swift rapids were more a slow trickle. Upon arrival at the lock the crew found ‘On Business’ waiting for them to help tie the boat to the wall. The crew grilled burgers and dogs with Andy and Twylla for an enjoyable evening.
Friday, August 5, 2016
The crew had moved over on the blue line last night so they would be first thru the lock this morning. ‘On Business’ actually entered first and Still Waters II followed behind. Once in the lock it was a 47 foot drop in about 8 minutes.
This lock is nicknamed ‘The Giant’ because it is the largest lift of the traditional locks in the system. The lock was reworked back in 1965 and is also the most modern lock on the system.
The subfloor of the lock has multiple holes to allow the water to fill or drain the lock. This allows for a faster smoother ride while filling and draining the lock.
After the giant drop, the crew worked their way thru some more narrow cuts and small lakes.
Most of the shore line was covered with summer cottages so the speed limit was set at 10 Km/HR (6.2 mph). A few of the cottages for your viewing pleasure:
After an hour and half of taking in the scenery, the crew finally arrived at the Big Chute Marine Railway. The crew has been hearing about this lock that is not a lock for over two years. In the books it is Lock 44; however, it is actually a 100 ton travel lift that takes the boat completely out of the water, then travels up and over a granite rock, and then down 58 feet to splash the boat back in the water.
Upon arrival, the crew docked the boat and walked over to the Big Chute to watch the operation. They observed some boats unload on the low side and then watched as a large yacht loaded. They then walked the path alongside the Big Chute and watched the re-launch on the high side.
The skipper decided he had had enough training, so the crew headed back to the boat and took their turn up and over on the Big Chute.
Hope you watch the video and take a virtual ride on the Big Chute with the crew.
After getting back in the water, the crew docked for the afternoon to wait for a storm to blow past. The skipper heard a coast guard warning of gale force winds out in the Georgian Bay. The wind got up, but nothing in the range of 40 mph. By the time the storm passed the winds dropped back to normal, the crew had decided to just stay at the Big Chute and complete the Trent Severn tomorrow.
Saturday, August 6
As often happens on this loop adventure, the simplest things can sometimes get complicated. After a simple eight mile cruise the crew arrived at the Trenton Lock. This is the smallest lock in the system and as you will read causes a little competition for entry into the lock.
There were about four boats already circling in the basin waiting to enter the lock when Still Waters II arrived. Three of these boats made the lock and the fourth boat went over and tied on the blue line. That boat tied in the middle of the blue line so that there was not room for Still Waters II to tie up in front or behind the boat. That left the skipper in the basin all alone circling in the 15 mph winds for 30 minutes while waiting for the next lock opening.
When the boats locked down, the lock staff loaded the boats below for the lift up. As the boats began to raise in the lock, the free for all started. At least six smaller boats and one large boat coming from the grey wall and area marinas all got in their boats and headed for the lock. They were all maneuvering for position to enter the lock ahead of the one boat on the blue line. The skipper was trying to hold his position close to the lock with the bow into the wind.
Once the lock gates opened and the boats in the lock cleared the lock the smaller boats began the rush for the lock. Parks Canada staff finally took charge of the situation and backed the small boats out of the way to let the large boat on the blue line into the lock. There was not room for two large boats so the crew would have to wait for the next opening.
When the large boat moved off the blue line the skipper maneuvered for the blue line and got tied up while the smaller boats were circling and backing away from the lock. The lock staff finally allowed some of the smaller boats to enter the lock with the one large boat. Then one of the more aggressive small boats came over and pulled to the blue line in front of Still Waters II.
While waiting for the lock to turnaround, another four boats had arrived to the Lock. Parks Canada came over and told everyone the order that they would load the lock. Mr. Aggressive was to go first, followed by Still Waters II. Then a couple more smaller boats would enter to fill up the lock. When Mr. Aggressive was to enter, his boat would not start.
Still Waters II entered the lock and then was joined with three other boats. As they were locking down the skipper could still see Mr. Aggressive troubleshooting his start problem. While the skipper wishes no harm or trouble on any boater, this issue could not have happened to a nicer guy.
An hour and a half after arrival at the lock, the crew finally cleared the lock and completed the Trent Severn Waterway leg of the journey. This also marks the beginning of the Georgian Bay leg. The skipper is also claiming that they are now half-way complete with the loop.
Speaking of milestones, the crew has been traveling with ‘On Business’ for a few days. The crew of ‘On Business’ made the Severn Lock just ahead of our crew and went right down without waiting. When Still Waters II finally cleared the lock and got to the Georgian Bay they noticed ‘On Business’ anchored and waiting for the crew to arrive. The two boats then headed to Queen’s Cove Marina together.
Upon entry into the marina, ‘On Business’ crossed her wake and officially became a coveted Gold Looper after 357 days on the loop. Congratulations to Twylla and Andy.
Tune in next week to see the progress of the crew through the beautiful Georgian Bay. These waters are considered some off North America’s best cruising grounds and also rank in the top three areas to cruise in the world.
The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends.
Eric the Red