Friday, July 2, 2010
Lock dog greets everyone. What a great face!
Hydraulic lift lock - when I am at the top
Hydraulic lift lock - when I am at the bottom
Happy Canada Day! Yesterday was a national holiday, similar to our 4th of July. I've finally made my way towards the end of the Trent Severn Canal through central Ontario as of Thursday July 1. Over 230 miles from Trenton, Ontario to Georgian Bay with 36 conventional locks, two flight locks, two hydraulic lift locks and a marine railway. After 4 days of below average temps (60s during the day and windchills in the 40s) and high winds directly into my face most days, I am taking a day off in Orillia Friday. Still one more day on the Severn River to reach Georgian Bay and I will experience the only marine railway lock in the world, the Big Chute with a 57 ft. drop.
It is worth your time to look up YouTube videos of both the Petersborough Lift Lock and the Big Chute Marine Railway lock. They are spectacular and such a testament to ingenuity. The locks don't open until 8:30 on the TS each morning so it is hard to get an early start and waits for the lock to fill or empty from the other direction are common. Wednesday I got to the first lock of the day at 8:30 and by 2:00 in the afternoon had traveled a grand total of 36 miles. You cannot predict where you will end up at the end of the day and this makes planning for accommodations difficult. I may be sleeping on the boat after today for awhile as this weekend is like our 4th of July and most things are booked. Will be glad to leave the locks behind, as interesting as this waterway has been.
This is a beautiful country, and so far the Canadians, have been consistently gracious hosts. I have yet to experience one case of poor service or attitude. On at least two occasions, including yesterday afternoon at the Bridge Port Marina, staff have volunteered to drive me to my hotel. At one lock yesterday the lockmaster called to locate lodging for me. One of the hallmarks of great customer service is consistency. I did not experience that in the U.S. - one day the interface with service people was good to great and the next it could be dismal. Employees are poorly trained at many small businesses - it is just dependent on how sharp the management is.
Another challenging experience on big water on inland lakes yesterday crossing Lake Simco to Orillia. I knew it would be rough due to the windy weather and had read the cautionary notes about the lake. I could/should have turned back to the canal but after an hour of 12 mph and 20 more miles to go, a 40 ft. cruiser passed along my route so I managed to get into his wake water which calmed things considerably and I was able to make it to Orillia by 4:00 P.M. making 20 mph.
Today is a laundry and route-planning day. While I will not have any more locks after tomorrow the navigation becomes very important due to many rocks just below the surface in much of the route from here to Lake Michigan. Red buoys will be on my right and green to my left as I head west on Georgian Bay and then thru the North Channel. If you lose sight of your next marker, STOP, determine where you are and proceed. The water can vary from 20-feet deep to 1-foot deep in a matter of several yards. I should explain that the navigation aids in the water or along the shore are not like following the white lines on a highway - they may not even be within eyesight so you have use your chart and the GPS in addition to the navigation aids in the water to stay within safe, navigable waters.
On the days when I do not post blogs the reason for that is due to no wi fi access, and that may be the case for awhile. My SPOT locator will work anywhere so you can still track my daily whereabouts.