BB and crew reached the half-way point on the Trent-Severn Waterway on August 2nd, 2014 after leaving Peterborough Lift Lock #21 and stopping at Lakefield at Lock #26. There are 44 numbered locks on the TSW – with 39 of them similar to the 24 locks that we experienced on the Erie Canal system. Certainly a lot of the fun while doing the TSW is the experience of doing the lift locks at Peterborough and Kirkfield, and the extraordinary Big Chute lock just before the last lock at Port Severn. As we traveled west along the TSW the boating traffic increased. We found out as we went along that as we went west we got closer to the peak vacation time for Canadians – early August, and also we got closer and closer to Toronto. In long stretches the waterway became almost non-stop weekend / vacation homes that would be occupied by vacationers from Toronto, Ottawa, and even Montreal. The lock facilities were the same – we had access to tying up overnight at the locks, but on weekends the available spaces would be occupied early in the day, and maybe not at all on Saturday. The joy of boating with a few fellow boaters became more of a challenge, but for sure we did enjoy the company of good friends that I will describe as we get to the photos below.The beautiful homes along the TSW , especially on one of the sunny days, made our cruising day a memorable delight. This photo is not exceptional, and I’m sure I did not get pics of the very best, but the beautiful homes and scenery in general made this part of our trip thru Canada very enjoyable.
We often wondered while cruising the Inter-Caoastal Waterway along the east coast, or when we were in The Bahamas – how did the Canadians get their sailboats out of Canada. The process starts with stepping down your mast, laying it down so your boat can clear the low bridges, and somewhere down south such as Moblie, Alabama or Fort Lauderdale, Florida raise the mast back to its normal secure holding position. We met this sailboat, “Ursa Major II” several days along the way, and we talked a few times on our VHF radios. This is a big sailboat, but they had six adults onboard. They were headed for the Caribbean, and I can imagine that somewhere before Mobile that boat was going to feel too small.
Please meet Canadian friends Joe and Peggy Dorricott from Bobcaygeon, Ontario. We met Joe and Peggy as they walked along the sidewalk next to the docking area that was just west of TSW Lock #32 in downtown Bobcaygeon. We invited Joe and Peggy onboard BB, and we enjoyed rum drinks together, and then went to dinner in town. The next day Joe brought his well used large scale charts of Georgian Bay (they have cruised this area for about 20 years), and we spent more than an hour marking up places to anchor, marinas, and towns to visit. Our mutual interests and personalities made what we hope is a friendship that will extend beyond just this one get-together at Bobcaygeon. We still have Joe’s charts, and we plan to meet again in Sarasota or Fort Myers after we all get to Florida to spend the winter season.
This is the downtown TSW Lock #32 in Bobcaygeon. Beulah Belle is along the left wall (facing the wrong way), and a high interest boat among the locals to have the chance to talk to a couple of Americans that actually live-aboard their boat full time.
This is the TSW at its best. A beautiful sunny morning at Rosedale Lock #35, only a few fellow boaters coming and going, and an easy day ahead while making our way toward the Big Chute and then Georgian Bay.
The TSW is made up of a variety of waterways – rivers, narrow canals, and lakes. This pic shows a man-made canal through a very rocky terrain – not very deep, and thankfully very straight so we could see any approaching boat traffic.
Capt Mary is enjoying the view from BB’s bow as we go thru the Kirkfield Lift Lock #36. This second lift lock is of the same engineering design as the Peterborough Lift Lock with the exception of the reinforced concrete pillars being made from steel. The other difference is that the Peterborough Lift Lock is near a good size town, but the Kirkfield Lift Lock is in a very rural area.
Please welcome friends John and Karen Bell and their yacht Sundowner. Sundowner and BB were cruising companions for many days along the TSW. We lost contact with each other after doing the Big Chute and entering Georgian Bay, but we certainly expect to meet up again once BB gets to Sarasota and Sundowner gets to St Petersburg.
There were a good number of swing bridges along the TSW. This particular swing bridge caught Sundowner – a normally open train bridge that closed as Sundowner approached. The cruising guide told us that the waterway current might be a problem here, but, BB had no issue as we gave everyone plenty of room to wait out the bridge to open which took about 15 minutes.
Aha – we’re almost done with the Trent-Severn Waterway. Just ahead is the railway carriage at Big Chute Lock #43 that we drive BB up into for the most spectacular locking you can experience probably in North America.
This photo was taken from the visitor observation platform – we docked BB for about an hour as we waited for Sundowner to catch up, and take a look at how the process works. For those that have ever gone from the Loon River to Loon Lake on the railcar portage there – it is the same process. Actually this behemoth is much easier – you bring your boat into the center of the railcar slings, and stop your boat when the lock-master tells you to stop your boat. The lock-master raises the slings just enough to have your boat rest its keel on the railcar flatbed, and then they turn on the power with a cable system connected to electric motors inside a powerhouse. The trick is the double rail system and two sets of lift wheels to keep the boats level as the car goes up one side and then steeply back down the other side. The design came about originally because of a lack of cement needed for a huge lock, and has continued to be used in recent years to prevent critters and bad weeds from getting from one lake / water system to the other.
We are about to complete our Big Chute lock. Capt Mary waited 2,000 miles to do this – stand on BB’s bow and watch and wave as we go down the hill and near the end of our Trent-Severn Waterway cruise.