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Trent Severn Waterway (1st half)


June 28 Trenton to Frankford, ON

We left around 9:30 to start on the Trent Severn Waterway, a Canadian National Park that is 240 miles long (40 miles longer than the Chesapeake Bay), although only a few thousand feet wide. The Trent Severn is a winding waterway linking Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay (above Lake Huron) via a combination of canals, creeks, rivers and lakes and is a highlight for many loopers. It has 45 locks, many of them historic with the doors and water valves manually operated by the lockmasters.

The guide books were right and we were pretty worn out after the first six locks so we tied up to the lock wall. We tied up right next to Piglet, a red Cutwater 32, who we had been playing hop scotch with since the start of the Erie Canal. While Jason rested his very sore back from being bent over in the engine room the day before, Nancy chatted with Darin and Beth, exchanging our similar mechanical woes and funny stories.


They too are surprising and confused on how tiring it is to cruise more than 6 hours. Turns out they have biked across the country 3x in their Harley (which seems more challenging then doing the Loop!). Jason once again tried to wash the bugs off, this time just concentrating on the decks, but it seems like a futile endeavor. Dined on steak, rice and corn.



June 29 Frankford to Cambellford, ON

The next day, our weather app showed the forecast as "smoke", which turned out to be accurate, but ironically, not as bad as MD, which was really suffering from the wildfires in Canada. The scenery is truly lovely and probably would have been gorgeous without the haze of grey over everything. Nancy had better luck using a dry and wet cloth to hand swipe the bugs off the bow section.

Jason did the first three locks of the day and we were the only boat in the locks. Nancy switched to drive for the fourth lock of the day. We had a pontoon boat cut in front of us and there was little space between the back wall and the boat in front of us. The lock was more swirly than expected and Nancy had a hard time controlling the boat with the thrusters. Jason did not help matters, over-directing from the bow, leading to a lively discussion afterwards. The last 2 locks of the day were also very swirly.

We spent the evening in the town of Cambellford, which was a pleasant small town with a bakery and ice cream store. Jason and I walked to dinner at a place a local recommended. We took a seat by the window and there were five flies buzzing around the window sill. Jason killed them all, and questioned the quality and cleanliness of the restaurant. Nancy thought the food was yummy and the bathrooms were spotless.



We went to the drugstore and bought some candy. Sydney got Jason hooked on these Nerd blobs, which of course are really hard to find in Canada. The boat, Piglet was docked at the park across from the drug store, so we stopped and chatted with them some. They are staying for another couple days because they heard Hastings (where we are headed, is crazy the weekend of July 1st (Canada's Independence Day).

June 30th Cambellford to Hastings, ON

The lockmaster at the first lock of the day, chastised us for leaving our engine on. We explained that we had a hard time keeping control of the boat without the engines. He explained that we just needed to ask the lockmasters for a "gentle ride" and they could fill the lock more slowly and make it less swirly. It made all the difference in the world. Bringing our stress levels down considerably. When we told him we were anchoring out because Hastings was going to be busy, he called ahead and got us the last available slip. Super nice guy.


Each lock decides which side you secure your boat to and in 95% of them, that is the starboard or right side wall. Unfortunately, in this stretch, we had two locks, not in a row, that were port or left tie so Nancy was forced to run around the boat some, switching all the bumpers and lines to the opposite side of the boat. Turns out they upgraded two of the locks, and those two have to have the boats on the port wall. The engineers had not understood that all the other locks were starboard side locks.

We went through a HUGE step lock, meaning you enter one lock, raise up, and then immediately go into the next lock, the doors in between serving double duty as both front and back doors and they were truly massive. Both locks combined raised the boat up 54 feet, over five stories tall!



We showed up to Hastings and the marina was empty with only a handful of boats in slips and some larger boats at the end of the T-docks. Turns out that the marina was setting off the fireworks on the first, so all the boats needed to be moved out the next day, seasonal and transients alike.


The next portion of the Trent Severn supposedly has some of the best fishing in Canada. The giant fish statue by the marina may have hinted at that. Nancy crossed the bridge with Radar to the town. There was a 6 foot waterfall about 4 boatlengths behind us and the amount of water rushing through was very impressive. Weirdly, we didn't notice the current too badly when docking.



July 1 Hastings to Peterborough, ON

It was beautiful territory, although with a haze of smoke over everything because of the Canadian wildfires. There were pockets of marsh with lily pads, some dotted with yellow flowers and some with white flowers, but hard to capture from a distance. The locks entries and exits on this portion were filled with white, yellow and purple wildflowers.



We rounded the corner to Peterborough marina and there was a giant 80 ft fountain in the middle of the lake. The marina was packed solid with everyone plus their friends hanging out on their boats and piers. We of course were assigned a slip down a narrow aisle at the bulkhead. A few people were shouting at us as we came in. Nancy finally made out that they were talking about the severity of the current.


Turns out that the current and the wind were both pushing us from the port side as we tried to back down into the aisle. Even with the thrusters, Jason could not hold the bow against the current and wind. After the 3rd unsuccessful attempt and worried that attempt four would end us up on some YouTube's Boat Failures video, we asked if they had a different slip. They only had 2 and one was too shallow for us. They had one by the fuel dock, which while challenging for Jason was at least doable. Still difficult with over 100 people watching us.


Peterborough had a free concert in the park next to the marina with a Celtic band, a fiddle playing family of musicians followed by fireworks for Canada Day that were being set off on the other end of the park. It was like being docked at Ego Alley for fourth of July. Hundreds and hundreds of people strolled by. Jason and I walked a few blocks through an outdoor sculpture garden.



The restaurant we went to was run by an Indian (From India) family. Nancy had mango soup that was spicy but still refreshing and tried some rose flavored milk. The food was excellent but the service was slow and the restaurant was hot with no air conditioning. The Celtic violin player and the band was impressive. Jason and I went up to the flybridge to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, they were behind a huge tree. Radar was freaking out at the noisy fireworks, so we decided not to move for a better view.


July 2 Peterborough to Stoney Lake

Peterborough lock was for many years the tallest lock in the world. Still impressive today, it continues to lift boats 65 feet up in the air in 2 minutes using nothing but gravity, water pressure, and the principle of counterweights. Basically there are two giant bathtubs filled with water that sit on top of an 7 1/2 foot diameter pipe. One of the bathtubs has 144 tons more water in it and its extra weight pushes the other tub upward. See stock photo below.




The nice part is the water in the bathtubs is perfectly still, so you can tie off the boat and film the lock moving. The other locks you always have to have a hand on the line and maybe the other one holding a boat hook as the locks fill with water, so you can't really film them easily.


The lock actually lifted the boat extremely quickly into the air. Nothing that weighs 60,000 pounds like our boat should move that quickly! We went through this lock, plus several more, with the sailboat Never Say Never. Nancy's plan to reach Lovesick Lake by the end of the day turned out to be overly ambitious. However, we went through lock 23, so less locks in front of us than behind us. Only 22 more to go!


We stopped and anchored in Stoney Lake, which had almost 100 tiny islands, many of them with houses on them. Radar did not want to use the pee pad. See below his reaction to being asked to go potty.



July 3 Stoney Lake (Mackenzie Bay)

Nancy took Radar in the dinghy over to one of the nearby islands, where she let him roam free and explore until he got to the far end and started eating goose poop, which ended his free time.



Jason and Nancy had a great exploration through a few dozen of the islands, one of which had an Anglican Church on it. Lots of super nice cottages, many of which had been built decades prior.



It was nice to finally stop for a little bit, but unfortunately, we were only able to be off the generator for 3 hours at a time. Jason disassembled the front cabin to get to the batteries. After several hours of testing and talks with Gregg Gandy, he discovered that one of the four house batteries had a bad cell and was drawing down the rest. Gregg made arrangements to have a battery shipped to Midland, the first port of significance on Georgian Bay.


Onward to the second half of the Trent Severn Waterway!

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