Friday, May 26, 2017

North Channel and Arrival in the Great Lakes

Image result for north channel
North Channel (click for larger)

Well, the 2017 season is about to start so I had better get caught up on last year.

Things started to move so quickly at the end of the boating season in 2016 that I missed posting about the last several weeks. Once we had good weather in Killarney Ontario (the last town on the right along the top shore on the map above (straight north of the "O" in the word Georgian), we headed into the North Channel and towards Little Current, Ontario on August 22. Like Georgian Bay that we were leaving behind, these are some of most beautiful cruising grounds in all of North America. 

Little Current, ON

We needed to be at a place with good cell reception for Deb to do a phone call for Girl Scouts. Also, we hadn't seen a grocery store in a while so we by-passed several interesting stops to proceed directly to Little Current. One thing that boaters should know about Little Current is that the name is a lie. The current in this narrow pinch of water is not little and it is created by the water being pushed easterly or westerly between the North Channel and Georgian Bay The current can be quite large at times. It is always an adventure to dock there!
Main Street Little Current
Little Current is the hub of activity on Manitoulin Island with full services and marina staff that are very knowledgeable about boating and all aspects of the North Channel. The grocery store is about a mile long walk away up hill with the LCBO available along the way. The North Channel Cruiser's Net is operated each morning from the second floor of the Anchor Inn. Since communications around the North Channel can be spotty, the Cruiser's Net offers a radio meeting on VHF channel 72 each morning during the season to connect boaters with the news, weather, the location of cruisers in the area, the relay of messages between boaters, and the relay of any urgent or emergency traffic. 

We were lucky in our arrival in that the Cruiser's Net was holding its 2nd pot luck dinner and celebration of the season that evening at the Little Current Yacht Club (LCYC). The Cruiser's Net, the LCYC, and the town could not possibly be any more friendly.

Covered Portage and The Pool

Image result for covered portage cove killarney
Covered Portage
The next day, August 23, we headed back to the east to a small anchorage called Covered Portage. This beautiful small harbor has enough room for about 10 boats to anchor. It is surrounded by tall stone hills and completely unspoiled land. On the 24th we moved to the end of a long narrow passage between the small mountains call Baie Finn to a protected harbor call The Pool.

The Pool is completely protected from the weather from all directions which is a good thing. About an hour after we anchored, a strong thunderstorm roared through. We sat calmly at anchor and took that opportunity of the break in the total silence of the place to run the generator to top off our batteries.

Window view at The Pool
The next morning we had an early start since Mike had a scheduled phone call with Navigant, his part-time consulting job, regarding a possible project to start up in the fall. The Pool is about 10 miles from the nearest cell signal so we needed to get to the opposite end of Baie Finn in time for the call. All went well and Deb piloted the boat while Mike did his call.

Return to Little Current

Little Current

On August 25, we headed back to the west and, necessarily through Little Current. We refueled, adding about 100 gallons of fuel - trying not to add too much fuel at the high Canadian prices. We took a dock in the Marina, docking with about a 4 knot cross-current. Surprisingly we saw another cruise ship stopping for the day just as we were tied-up to the dock. 

We had a great time there again. With a short trip planned for the next day, we had time to take care of a few maintenance items and to give Carousel a well deserved scrub-down. On the morning of the 26th, we awoke to yet another cruise ship docked at Little Current. We really had no idea that Great Lakes cruises had become a "thing".

North Shore 

For the next few days we anchored in several small harbors, namely the Benjamins, Hotham Island, Cleary Cove. The Benjamins were a must because we had anchored there over 20 years ago with Deb's parents in their sailboat. Once again we climbed the tall rounded pink granite rocks to the top of the island.

"Prince Arthur" approaching the exit from Cleary Cove
Hotham Island was interesting. Owners of a near-by cabin rowed out to our anchorage and invited us over for drinks at their place. They are former boaters who have opted for more stationary views of the North Channel and let friendly cruisers come to them for social interaction. What fun!

The weather was a bit unsettled with rain in the area and building winds. However, on the 28th we moved about 15 miles west to Cleary Cove. That's not where we were planning to go but the anchorage we chose was so bouncy with waves from the building winds that Mike got on the radio to inquire about better locations in the area. An accommodating boater Robbie Colwell on another Grand Banks, (Prince Arthur) responded with a recommendation for Cleary Cove, about a mile away. He told us about a very narrow entrance and shallow entry and that he would take his dinghy out to meet us and guide us into the extremely narrow channel. Thank goodness for his help! The entrance was not much wider than our boat and we bumped the bottom a bit as we squeezed between the rocks on both sides. We had a wonderful talk with the other two boats anchored there. We dropped the dinghy to explore the area and went back through the entrance on the small boat. The water was so clear that we could see where we bumped coming in. We needed to be about a foot to the east! When we started cooking a black bear came down to the shoreline to give us a sniff. Luckily, he decided that we were not worth the energy to swim out to us!

Heading back to the US

On the 29th we headed to Gore Bay, ON on Manitoulin Island for a little more fuel so that we would have a generous safety factor. We would have a few long days ahead of us before we could get to some less expensive fuel in Michigan.  The next day we headed about 60 miles to the west to the last of the North Channel islands, Drummond Island. Drummond became US land at the end of the War of 1812 and is a designated US Customs port of entry. There is not much there, but we did find a restaurant that served Lake Perch, one of our favorites!

The Best of Lake Michigan
On September 1 we moved out to the St. Mary River along with some large passing lakers and on to the big water of Lake Huron. Our trip was about 30 miles to an anchorage in Les Cheneaux Islands. The next day, we passed though the Mackinac Straits past Mackinac Islands. The turbulence there with the large passing ferries and yachts was very uncomfortable and some of the loose items in the cabin were unceremoniously rearranged.

As we passed under the Mackinac Bridge and entered the wide open waters of northern Lake Michigan, we found calm waters for our trip to Petosky, Michigan, a 70 mile trip. Once in Petosky, we settled in for a few days of provisioning, laundry, and land-based recreation.

(to be continued)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Georgian Bay

Deb has been posting pictures along the way on Carousel's Facebook page. So far that has been updated more frequently than this blog. I hope that the delay in updating the blog is not too confusing. We've decided to create one entry for the entire time we were in Georgian Bay - 13 days.

Please note, you can click on most of the anchorage names to see a map of the area.

Tuesday, August 9th we resumed our cruise after the trip to Galena and then the engine repair. For a safety margin, we added 400 liters of fuel at the US equivalent of about $3.60 per gallon. Ouch! We had originally planned to get all of the way through Canada without buying fuel-  but then we were only going to spend about 12-15 days in Canada! Once we slowed down our pace, added more traveling, and more nights at anchor (more generator run time), we increased our planned fuel usage. However, with Deb working about 10 hours a week, we didn't feel a hit to our budget.

Beausoleil Island Revisited

Dinghy Ride
On the 9th, we made a short 1.5 hour trip over to Beausoleil Island. The first time that we were here we stayed at the Cruisers Dock. This time we sought out a more isolated dock at Ojibway Bay. It was pretty hot and we could have used more breeze but we had a great time hiking the island and exploring some of the other nearby islands in our dinghy. The trails in Canada can be a a challenge and we probably don't have the right footwear so we had to be extra careful with the uneven surfaces.We also made the mistake of underestimating how far we might walk so we didn't bring along any water. Mike did remember bug spray but in many places, the bugs seemed to be more attracted to it than repelled..  We also encounter a large creature that we later found our is a fisher or fisher cat.  Anyway, we had fun.

Deb and Mike on the trail

Fisher Cat Sighting (far tree in center)

Bone Island

On the 10th, we traveled about 2.5 hours to an anchorage on the north part of Bone Island. The anchorage can hold several boats but there were already 3 boats there when we arrived. We had started to observe that many boaters leave early enough in the morning to get to their new location mid-day. Later arrivals take a little risk that the best spots are already taken or that there may not be enough room. In any event, we slipped past the first two boats, one of which was a Grand Banks 42 Classic,  and set our anchor in a narrow spot between two islands
At anchor at Bone Island
The area that we picked was small enough the it would seem that we might swing around too close to the islands if the wind would switch direction. But that was really only an illusion and we were safely anchored. This was a beautiful location but not much to do there.

Indian Harbor

On August 11th we traveled about 3 hours to Indian Harbor, a small protected area between several
Our anchorage view at Indian Harbor
islands right on the main part of the recommended route. The first time that we tried to set the anchor we heard the scraping sound of the anchor dragging across bare rock. Deb looked down and there was the rock, as big a a bus, right under the boat! She was a little concerned about the rock being right under us but the depth gauge read 9 feet. It only appeared closer because of the clarity of the water. Anyway, we moved over about 50 feet and set the anchor in the mud bottom.

We kept ourselves pretty busy for the afternoon. We explored several narrow and tight places in dinghy and took a swim off of the back of Carousel. Mike managed to bump a submerged rock with the dingy's prop but no harm was done.  We were joined by a group of college age girls anchored beside us to swim in the warm water for part of the afternoon.   It got much quieter when they left ahead of the little rain storm that blew though late afternoon. Our late afternoon/evening entertainment was watching the boats traveling along the main channel.

O'Donnell Point and 12 Mile Bay

The next day brought a stiff breeze, more moderate temperatures, and a sunny sky. A portion of the
One of those narrow spots
trip to 12 Mile Bay was out in the open water where there were some waves up to about 3ft. We had been so used to cruising in calm water that we didn't take all of the proper precautions in stowing items in the main cabin so some thinks got rearranged a bit because of the rougher water. This trip also had another of those spots where there is a sharp corner in the channel between two buoys that are very close together. As we were approaching that narrow spot, we heard the radio warning from on-coming boats so we spoke with them over the radio and we agreed to let them come through first. One of them actually bumped one of the buoys as he passed it!

The anchorage off of 12 Mile Bay is large enough to hold perhaps 10 boats comfortably. However, it
Water Fight!
has a large rock in the center of the anchorage that must be avoided. When we arrived, there were four other boats already there. We picked a nice location close to land and we were soon anchored and exploring the area in our dinghy.

Several of the regular cruisers in the area know each other very well as they share some of the same anchorages year after year. In this case, a water fight broke out between two sail boats anchored behind us. It was fun to watch and we were happy that their hoses could not reach as far as Carousel.

Port Rawson

On the 13th we traveled to an anchorage at Port Rawson, The route to Rawson is pretty complicated
Carousel in her private cove
so we had to keep a sharp watch on our charts. Once in the bay, we saw perhaps 30 boats rafted up in the south end in the normal anchorage area. Fortunately, a local that we spoke with in 12 Mile had told us about a few nice anchorages in the north part of the bay. We found a nice, secluded spot in a small cove beside a wilderness camp site. Fortunately, nobody was at the camp site so we were not intruding. If we are ever back this way we will keep that location in mind and we will take advantage of the fire pit at the camp site. We were anchored pretty close to shore again and we were able to explore the entire bay by dinghy. We investigated the raft-up at the south end and came away happy that we would not be part of the ongoing free-for-all that was going on there.


Parry Sound

On Sunday the 14th we traveled to Parry Sound for a schedule re-supply stop but not without stopping at the world famous (according to them) Henry's Restaurant on Frying Pan Island for lunch. Henry's has been around for decades and is an old fish camp type of building. The employees live on the island for the summer with very little time off. We had a smoked trout appetizer and we both had Pickerel (Walleye) and it was delicious. Seated right by the front window we cold watch the comings and goings of other boats. We saw seaplanes drop off customers who pay $160 per person to fly over from Parry Sound. It was a fun stop.

Sea Plane at Henry's

The canals to Parry Sound have three of those narrow spots where boaters should radio ahead before entering. It was all very scenic. As we were docking at Parry sound, we heard on of the local day-trip cruise ships calling out his way through the narrow channels - we would NOT have wanted to be there then!

At Parry Sound, we did all of the typical town activities; a cab ride to the liquor and grocery store,
pump out the holding tank, eat ice cream, give Carousel a bath, fill the water tanks, and do laundry. They have developed a beautiful walking trail along the Sound and we walked along it for a while until the sun started going down. We turned around to get out of the wooded area in anticipation of an onslaught of nighttime bugs. We also enjoyed watching the seaplanes arrive and depart from the nearby town dock.

The town of Parry Sound (witch Apple spell correction keeps wanting to change to Party Sound) has an interesting rail trestle going right over town. It really looks like something our of a model railroad.

The marina had about 4 other Loopers at the docks, but everybody seem like they were getting caught up so there was not much socializing.

We also had the pleasure of borrowing the marina's printer to take care of printing the signature pages for the contract for the sale of our New York house. We were able to get all of that taken care of very quickly while in port.

The paper charts that we bought in Midland only covered us this far so we bought the Canadian  paper charts for the rest of Georgian Bay and the North Channel.

Snug Harbor

 On Monday, August 15th we motored about 2.5 hours to a small harbor just beyond the open water entrance to Parry Sound called Snug Harbor. We had been told about another fantastic fish place there so that helped us make our anchorage choice. We were anchored in a small protected area but there were cottages on the shores that made us a little uncomfortable in running the generator for the morning and evening battery top-up.

We did our normal dinghy exploration and then headed over to the fish restaurant only to find out that they were closed on Mondays! Bummer. We had a great meal on board instead - Jambalaya.

On Tuesday we were rained in so we kept ourselves busy with small projects on board and Deb got a full day of revenue paying work in for Estee Lauder. Thinking there would be a bright side to our being stuck in the harbor an extra day, at dinner time we went over to the fish restaurant only to find out that they had run out of fish earlier in the day and they had closed early. Eating fresh fish in Snug Harbor was just not meant to be.

Well, we had another great meal on the boat with a full rainbow during a small shower, and a wonderful sun set and moon rise.
Rainbow at Snug Harbor

Sunset at Snug Harbor
Moon Rise at Snug Harbor

Cambria Island and The Ojibway Club

On Wednesday we traveled onward to an anchorage behind Cambria Island. This was a very nice isolated
Ojibway Club
anchorage and one of the first of many we encountered where it was so quiet that you could hear everything with great clarity.

We took the dinghy over to the nearby Ojibway club for lunch and to fill the dinghy's gas tank. It started to rain just as we arrived so we ended up hanging out at the club until around 5pm when the rain quit. Between showers, we were able to hike the trails on the small island and tour grounds. The club was holding a day camp for the cottagers' children in the area so there was plenty of activity.

Bad River

We had originally planned to travel to the Bustard Islands on August 18th, but we dropped that stop in order to get ourselves to the next planned marina stop in Killarney a day earlier. The weather report was promising rain in a few days and building seas on the Bay. Each of the next two legs of our journey would take us out to the open waters of the bay.

In fact, we had pretty lumpy water for the passage so we used a little more of Carousel's speed to smooth out the ride a bit.

Bad River is a very difficult anchorage to navigate into as it has uncharted rocks in the main entrance. We entered VERY slowly and made the safe passage. There are a few locations in the harbor where the drop is so steep that boats can tie to the rock face on shore and safely dock at the rock.

The dinghy ride at Bad River was unique and special. There are navigable rapids just a short distance away. We were lucky enough to encounter another boater who guided us right to some of the best rapids; one of which, when going up stream, our dinghy motor was just powerful enough to get us through the swift current. On the way back down, there is a sharp dog-leg double 90 degree turn that must be negotiated by over-steering the dinghy which actually speeds up the boat in the sharp curves. Great fun! 

Deb Driving From The Flybridge

Collins Inlet to Killarney

On the 19th our planned trip to Killarney would take us into the open bay twice. The winds had been blowing pretty good for a few days and the waves were 3-4 feet. Carousel got pushed around a little which rearranged some items from the counter tops to the floor in the cabins (again). The largest part of the trip, though, was through the beautiful Collins Inlet behind the protection of Phillip Edward Island. This is a fairly narrow passage with steep rock walls on both sides in many places. There are a few hunting clubs along the shores and a few cabins. We were told that there is an abandoned logging town up one of the tributaries but all that was visible were some rotting pilings where steamers may have docked back in the day.

As we exited the calm of the Inlet, we entered the open bay again and the full fetch of waves that had built for the entire length of Georgian Bay. Mike decided that shortening the remaining  four miles would be the best best so Carousel accelerated to a solid 16 knots and we comfortably covered the distance in about 15 minutes.


Killarney is just a little village in the protected space between the mainland and George Island. But, it has the Killarney Mountain Lodge where there is a new, modern marina and another famous fish place - Herberts. The weather forecast underestimated the high winds and the rain so we ended up staying there for three nights. The resort was a lot of fun. On the first night we went to the Carousel Lounge - Yes, Carousel Lounge -  for a few drinks and to listen to the live music. We met some locals and got to talking about what there might be to do for a few days and whether we could ride our bikes to the nearby Provincial Park. One of the people said not to worry about that, we could just borrow her truck! How nice!

So, on Saturday (August 20th) we did that hike, once again learning that we probably do not have the right hiking gear
The Hikers
for these trails. We hiked about 7 kilometers up and down rocks and through the forest around lakes and bogs. We really enjoyed it and really wore ourselves out.

On Sunday morning, as we were cleaning up around the boat, a gentleman came up behind Carousel in a skiff to give her a complement. He owns a Grand Banks 36 Classic which was at his dock just down the canal. He asked us to lunch in his beautiful waterside home overlooking the town and canal with the mountains in the background. They served Mike's favorite food group. Pizza.

 What a nice time. He let us know about the Great Lakes Grand Banks Association which has a rendezvous each summer. He and his wife have interest in a boat like ours so we invited them aboard later in the day.

Well, we had a great time showing them Carousel and opening a few bottles of wine and putting some of that cheese and sausage that we carry around to good use. In the  morning, just before we were getting ready to leave, he brought us some fresh baked bread!

A View Along the Hike

Killarney was a lot of fun. It was a great way to end our Georgian Bay segment and begin the North Channel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Georgian Bay: Port Severn to Midland

Well, I am almost a month behind on the blog but Deb has been doing such a great job posing picture albums on Facebook at CarouselCruising  that I feel some of the pressure is off! The other thing is that updating the blog is very tedious without a fast internet connection and we have had very few of those recently.

Entering Georgian Bay

We  left the Trent Severn Waterway system on July 26 and entered into Georgian Bay at the top of Lake Huron. Georgian Bay is one of the premier cruising grounds in the world, according to many. The waterway here can get quite busy but as we entered the bay we saw only a few other boats.

The navigation charts have "recommended routes" marked in red lines. The recommended routes are intended to be safe navigation areas with proper depths and distance from hazards.

Well, soon after we entered the Bay, we encountered a VERY narrow spot on the Recommended Route. The opening between the buoys was only a few feet more than Carousel's width AND the rout takes a 90 degree turn between the buoys! We approached the spot dead slow with the engines in neutral and using Carousel's inertia to move forward as we centered on the channel between the buoys, Mike put the port (left) engine in forward and the starboard engine in reverse. Carousel pivoted nicely around the red buoy as the green buoy just passed across the transom. Mission Accomplished!

The rest of the trip was pretty easy as we approach our first Georgian Bay stop, Beausoleil Island
part of the Georgian Bay National Park. The same pass that allowed us to stop overnight at the locks in the canal system is valid at the National Parks. We docked at the "Cruisers Dock" with a few other boats. We enjoyed a celebration steak dinner, the sunset, and a campfire. Since we had also now entered the Great Lakes, we paid our respects to the Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC) by hoisting their blue and white burgee on the port spreader. The GLCC is a great resource for detailed harbor descriptions throughout the Great Lakes. But, importantly, is was GLCC members who originally charted the "recommended routes" through the Georgian Bay in the 1930's and 40's.

Midland, ON

On the 27th we departed for a short 1 1/2 hour cruise to Midland, Ontario for a stay at the Wye Heritage Marina. Our purpose there was two fold. First we were going to depart Carousel for several days and fly back to Galena, IL for Mike's high school reunion and to meet up with some old friends. Second, we had been experiencing a little vibration on the starboard engine and we wanted to get that addressed before going much further. We had been talking with the marina on the phone for about 10 days about our stay. They were helpful in lining up a shuttle to take us to the Toronto airport. However, they hadn't made any arrangements internally to look at our engine issues. We departed Carousel on a Wednesday with the commitment that they would look at it "in a few days" and call the local Caterpillar guy. Well, that didn't happen. When we returned almost a week later, finally they arranged for the Cat technician to come by the next day. In about 30 minutes, he diagnosed that we had a bad fuel injector that was stuck closed. Simple enough fix, but the part was in Mexico and would take 2-3 days.

With that news, we shifted our plan and rented a car to do some land cruising. We also found out the next day that the part might not be arrive for 3-5 days. Well, Mike called the Cat dealer in northern New York, found the injector. They would have it at their location near Buffalo, NY the next morning. We called our secret weapon, our daughter Maggie who lives in Buffalo and she committed to picking up the part at 7AM the next day, before going to work (she starts at 8AM). When Maggie mentioned the early morning pick-up to her good friend, Kimberly Clendenning, a member of our church in Commack, Kimberly volunteered to take on the morning pick-up. Kimberly is going to school in Buffalo and working there this summer. The next morning, Friday, Kimberly was at the Cat parts store at 7AM, part in hand in about 20 minutes.

With that news, Mike told the marina to schedule Cat first thing Monday morning and Mike and Deb drove to Buffalo on Saturday morning, met up with Maggie and her boyfriend Brendan; had a nice visit with them and picked up the injector. We had an enjoyable day, seeing how homey Maggie has already made their apartment.  Of course, while in Buffalo, they took us for lunch at Duff's for a lunch of buffalo chicken wings!

On Sunday we visited some historic sites around Midland and the Monday morning repair went without a hitch. Mike asked Cat to mail the the parts that they had ordered to Killarney Mountain Lodge, a marina that we would visit in about 10 days. With that, we would now have spare parts on board should we ever have that problem again. We did some final provisioning, as there would be no ports for the next 5 - 6 days and were ready to set off to Georgian Bays 30,000 islands on Tuesday morning, August 9th.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trent Severn Waterway Part 4:

Orillia to Port Severn, ON

Catching Up

We are at anchor on the Georgian Bay today waiting for an all-day rain system to pass. We have been having really great boating weather and, I believe, this is only the third rain day that we have had since June when we started.

So, this becomes an opportunity to catch up on the blog. Updating the blog takes a pretty good data connection so I have fallen behind. However, Deb has been updating the CarouselCruising Facebook page pretty regularly with pictures as we have been going along from her phone with marginal service.  Today while at anchor we have a pretty good cell service!

Deep Bay

Lake Couchiching
On July 24, from Orillia we proceeded north on Lake Couchiching for about 8 miles back towards the waterway. Lake Couchiching is a fairly shallow lake and we had to continue to watch our course to stay in deep water. 

We planned a pretty short day for ourselves with a short 2-3 hour, 12 mile journey to Deep Bay (map here) just off of Sparrow Lake.

Our list of obstacles for the day included some tight bends in the channel, a swinging railroad bridge and only one lock!

CN rail bridge closing JUST after we passed through!
Other things to look out for along the way
We moved right along and arrived in Deep Bay about 1PM. We moved toward the back of the bay and anchored between land with a few cottages and a large rock. The forecast included thunderstorms overnight so we selected this well-protected place with a good mud bottom to give the anchor great holding. The area was one of the prettiest that we had seen so far!

Sunset on Deep Bay

The Big Chute and Gloucester Pool

On July 25, our 14th day in the Trent Severn Waterway, we had a bit of work to do in getting the anchor up. The anchor and chain were covered with mud and weeds! The whole operation took about 20 minutes to clear the weeds and hose off the anchor chain as it was brought on board.

The trip along the way included several tight bends and narrow channels. By this time we have become pretty used to navigating in these tight quarters but continued diligence is necessary!

Weeds in Deep Bay

Deb navigating the channel

Sometimes it feels a little close.

Zut Alors!

In some places, the channel becomes so narrow that larger boats like us radio ahead on VHF channel 16 to warn of our approach and entry into the area. This lets other larger boats know to hold off until the first boat is cleared. The warning follows a standard format that is easy to recognize; "Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité. This is Carousel, a 42 foot trawler approaching Little Chute in 5 minute. All concerned traffic please respond on channel 16."
Lock 43 - Swift Rapids

This was also the big day for the tallest lock on the system and the Big Chute Marine Railway. The lock dropped us an amazing 47 feet and everything about it seemed large! No manual operation here - there was actually a concreate control tower. However, this is pretty small compared to the full-size Laker locks we will see next year getting to Lake Superior!

The Big Chute Marine Railway is another engineering marvel. The two bodies of water actually do not connect so the marine railway picks up the entire boat. The process is that all boats dock along "the blue line" and the lockmaster will call each boat over a loud speaker as he is ready and as he can fit them on board the railway. We got to go alone and you can see the video of our lift here.

Back in the water, leaving Big Chute!

After Big Chute we navigated a zig-zag course to an anchorage in Gloucester Pool (map here). We were serenaded by Loon calls in the evening. Another beautiful spot for the night!

Gloucester Pool Anchorage

Port Severn

July 27 was our last day on the Waterway. With only one lock to go we admitted that we were ready to move on and put the locks behind us for a while. The waterway in this area was very scenic with cottages along the way.

Lock 45 at Port Severn is quite busy since it connects the Waterway with the Georgian Bay. It is also smaller than most locks and, therefore can hold fewer boats. We had to wait about 30 minutes to enter the lock and we found the combination of wind that day, the current into the dam, and the closeness of the other boats that were waiting, made us do quite a bit of maneuvering to hold our position.

Waiting for the group ahead of us at Port Severn
Two smaller boat in the lock with us

Then, upon exiting the lock, one last navigation challenge. The exit is an obstacle course of buoys leading under the the Highway 401 bridge, which strangely, has a large rock under it that needs to be avoided. Then we were in the Georgian Bay!

Highway 401 bridge

Friday, July 29, 2016

Trent Severn Waterway: Part 3

Lovesick to Orillia, ON

Life On Board

Just a glimpse of boat life:

We have been able to keep up with paying bills and emails using our cellular modem connection and WI-FI when it is available. Deb and Mike have even been able to do a little revenue generating work for our former employers along the way. We call it "making fuel money." It is a nice option to have.

Carousel has two refrigerator units, one of which we can keep at or below freezing, and the other acting as a good refrigerator. They are both small in house terms so we have to plan how much freezer and fridge items we can carry. We have learned to buy small containers, even though they may be more expensive, since they are stored more efficiently.

As we get further into Canada the spiders are finding Carousel a nice environment. We are still working on controlling that issue. We had forgotten that spiders are more of an issue on fresh water than the salt water in which we have been boating the last 16ish years.

We have had a few very minor malfunctions on Carousel, all of which we have been able to address with the spares that we carry. These things are to be expected given the increased use that the systems on the boat are experiencing. A good set of tools on board is essential.

When we are away from marinas, we rely on two large battery banks to provide power to the lights, instruments, pumps, charging electronics, and refrigeration. We draw off of one bank at a time and keep the second topped up as a back-up. These batteries also start the engines so flat batteries would be a problem. We have to run Carousel's 8kw generator about 3 hours a day to keep the batteries charged. We usually time a morning run with the need to make Deb's coffee and hot water for Mike's shower and we time an evening run to correspond to any need to run the microwave for making dinner.

Deb is maintaining several spreadsheets to keep us organized. One spreadsheet contains the route information for the balance of the waterway, including low bridges, locks, towns, and attractions and she uses that to plan the stops along the way. The other major spreadsheet keeps track of the groceries on board and helps build shopping lists and plan meals.

Bobcaygeon, ON

Narrow and beautiful channels in Cottage Country
Leaving Lovesick Island, we entered what we consider the prettiest end
of the Waterway with pink granite outcroppings and evergreen forests. These are also some of the busiest ares of the Waterway system. The houseboats were described in the last post but this is also "cottage country." The canals in this area are generally lined with cabins and there is a fair amount of local boat traffic. Also, in this stretch, we encountered the lowest bridge in the system.

The next stop on our trip was the town of Bobcaygeon. Whoever sells Adirondack chairs around here does a good business!

Approaching the town of Bobcaygeon
There is a lock in the middle of town and tourist shops on either side of the locks. The major entertainment in town is the land-based tourists watching the houseboats and more serious boaters locking through. Approaching the Bobcaygeon lock, the canal takes a sharp bend after which suddenly appears a crowded and narrow channel. The lock is very busy so there is usually a wait. With nowhere to tie up, we had to make Carousel "hover" in place in the channel until the lock became available. 

Approaching Bobcaygeon Lock
Fortunately, with Carousel's twin screws (engines & propellers), we can pretty well keep her in place by selectively shifting engines forward and aft and directing water with the rudders.

There were no places for us to tie up for the  night below the lock so we would have to take our chances above the lock or move on to the next location. As we went through the lock, the staff told us there were no places upstream so be began to update our plan as the lock lifted us. Coming out of the lock and past several boats of various sizes, we spotted a spot along the wall about 45 feet long. Now, Mike is getting pretty good at parallel parking Carousel but her 42 feet is actually 43.5 feet at the waterline and 45 feet from the anchor on the front the end of the swim platform on the back The parking trick here is to back the aft starboard corner to the wall and tie a line tight and short to the bollard on shore. Then we advance the port side engine forward and the starboard side engine in reverse and swing the boat into the wall. with other boaters hopping off their nearby boats as we started this maneuver (some to help and some to deal with whatever disaster they anticipated), Deb called out our distance in feet to the small cruiser behind us and Mike asked someone on shore if the bow would miss the jet ski ahead of us. Well, it all worked according to plan with us wedged into a spot about the same size as the boat and the bow actually overhanging the jet ski.
5 ft deep water beside our slip at Bobcaygeon

We enjoyed walking around Bobcaygeon, having a nice restaurant lunch, topping off groceries, and visiting the head office of Karwatha Dairy, the manufacturer of the ice cream we have been enjoying since entering the Waterway.  There were several shops that Deb could have used an extra day for doing some browsing and window shopping, but with no room on Carousel for "stuff", we decided to make this a one-night only stop.

The water here is quite clear but we have been seeing more weeds in the shallow water. This all makes visual judgment of water depth quite difficult. It also means checking the strainers in our water intakes more frequently.
Salad anyone?

Fenelon Falls, ON

Canal between Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls
Our July 20 destination was a short 15 nm away - another nice little town, Fenelon Falls. 

Our target docking spot was another tight space and we began to execute our parallel parking maneuver that worked so well in Bobcaygeon the day before. Only this time, however, we had some current working against Carousel swinging into place so we needed a little help from another boater on land in pulling in our lines for us.

Our plan was to visit the Farmer's Market there but after walking a few miles to two different locations, we discovered that our information was wrong and it is was being held on a different day. So, we did well on our number to steps for the day but poorly in our quest for fresh veggies.

Fenelon Falls Museum
Parks Canada has done quite a bit of work on updating the moorings there so we enjoyed both water and electricity. Carousel got an end-to-end scrub-down. She is happier when she is clean.

They have a fantastic local museum located in a canal-side park in Fenelon Falls which we enjoyed very much.

We could have enjoyed another day there but we decided to press on.

Thorah, ON

For July 21, our trip to the Thorah lock was an exercise in navigation and new sites. I will be using the word narrow here a lot.

Just at the edge of Fenelon Falls, the narrow canal proceeds through an even narrower swing-bridge opening and then into a lake. This particular bridge is out of service so it stands open in the summer and is closed in the winter as a pedestrian path.

This portion of the system has several of these swing bridges. In each case that we experienced, the bridge tender was alert and closed the bridge to car traffic and opened the bridge just as we approached.

This portion also has some VERY narrow passages where we are required to announce our entry on the VHF radio before entering and then it is suggested that we sound our horn every quarter mile. This is all so that another boat does not enter from the opposite direction until we clear the area.

We actually met another boat in one section who apparently was oblivious to the navigation requirements. We had to hug to the rocky and shallow shore on the right a much as we could and then we came to a full stop and held position until he passed.

Kirkfield Lift Lock
Perhaps the highlight of the day was the second lift lock in the system, the Kirkfield Lift lock. In this case, we had the lock to ourselves as we pulled in and found ourselves hovering 70 ft above our destination.

In between the narrow channels, we crossed a couple of more lakes and then had a string of 5 locks.  We had decided to only proceed through 3 and pull up to the fourth for the night to enjoy one of our favorite features at lock walls - the fire pit!
A long way down
Narrow stone bridge between two lakes

Orillia, ON

After enjoying our evening campfire, we were up and ready to lock through the Thorah lock as soon as the lock crew arrived.  We had one more lock 1/2 mile down the canal and shortly after that, we entered Lake Simcoe, the largest lake of the system. In Lake Simcoe we powered Carousel up and crossed in a couple of hours. We entered Orillia in a narrow channel and headed towards a gas dock to get our holding tank pumped. We found shallow water in the process and had to back gently away from the shallow mud. We stirred up quite a bit of mud in the process but we accomplished our goal.

We planned a two day stay at the marina here to take advantage of the activities of the small city and to stay parked for Saturday so that we would not have to deal with the weekend traffic.

Orillia Street Art
Farmers Market
Of course we found the farmers market, found the ice cream stand, and enjoyed the waterfront. We also both got haircuts. They were having a street festival there and had the main street blocked off for the two days of our visit. This would be our last day at a dock for a few days, as we would be entering wider channels with anchorages.