What a wonderful concert in Peterborough last night. Our Greek food was spectacular and then we used our VIP passes to sit on the 3rd row in front of the stage. The Celtic Band called “Town Pants” was lively & had us all wanting to do an Irish jig. What a great endeavor for the Rotary & City to partner and bring a different band to this free venue every Wed & Sat night all summer long. They sell $5 raffle tickets for a 50/50 drawing and rent space to food vendors to defray the cost. They have around 10,000 turn out on a good night. Today was a great day for ducks! We went through the Peterborough Boat Lift (Lock 21)in the rain. A hydraulic lift took us up 65 ft using gravity as a counterweight power source. The top (see-saw) tray of water stops 2 “ below the upper water level and the gate opens. The extra 2 inches of water rush in and weighs enough to take the top “tray” down which is a counterweight for bringing the bottom “tray” to the top! It moves pretty fast once it starts moving. It was interesting & fun, like a carnival ride, even in the rain. Pretty smart 1904 technology. Rained cats & dogs all day but never hard enough to impair vision. Stopped at Buckhorn around 6pm, too late to see anything of the little town. We will up & out early in the morning.
It was overcast but dry as we began our 30 mile cruise today. The water here is very clear. They say it is because a Russian freighter inadvertently introduced the Zebra Mussel to these waters. They are very small and eat the algae from the water. Removing the sediment makes the water clear. It has endangered some fish who normally feed off the algae. It sometimes causes heart attacks in boaters because you can look down and see the huge rocks that make up the bottom. No more soft forgiving sand for our props! Passed through the picturesque Bobcageon area and on to Fenelon Falls. We were on the lock wall by 1pm and the sunshine broke through the clouds this afternoon. We walked around the town and saw another Looper “Queen Anne’s Revenge” on the upper wall and stopped by for a chat. Each lock has short walls below & above the lock. If the wall is painted blue, it is for boats to line up on while waiting for the lock to open. If it’s not painted, then you can stay on the wall overnight. It doesn’t have power so we have to use the ship’s generator and there is a small dockage fee. That’s our plan for tonight.
Ready & waiting for the first lock up at 8:30am & we are on our way to Orillia today. 50 miles & 8 locks, skies are mostly overcast but we never saw more than a sprinkle until the last hour. Arrived at destination 5:15pm. It was an interesting cruise day. Much of the day was spent in channels so narrow that you could not pass another boat if you had to. You could see the jagged rocks sticking out on both sides of the canal. Occasionally we ran through some open lakes, but they too were shallow and dangerous. Keep to the middle of the channel. We went very slow today and stayed on high alert. The 3rd lock was the Kirkfield Lift Lock. It is the first lock down instead of up and it works like the Peterborough Lift Lock. Very exciting to drive the boat into an unenclosed pan that is suspended 5 stories above the ground. Gives you the feeling of really “hanging out there”. When the counterweight starts the hydraulics, we yelled “yee-haw” as we swiftly lowered to the new water level. Then at Lock 39 we had a little problem. The cables that run vertical on the wall that we run our lines through are fairly loose to the wall and bent out from boats tugging on them. As we were leaving the lock, our stern fender went under the vertical cable rather than over it. I saw it and yelled at Brad but you really can’t stop a 41,000 lb boat on a dime. I watched as it bent the fender double and broke the line. We are lucky it didn’t pull the cleat & leave a hole in the aft deck wall. We stopped on the blue line and the lock tenders tried to fish it out for us, but it was tangled on the bottom of the cable and would not loosen. 2 Problems, we wanted our fender back and the lockmaster wanted submerged obstacles out of his lock. So after discussion, we backed back into the lock, and cut the line with our emergency snippers. Everyone cheered & bragged on how well we maneuvered back into the chamber & up to the wall for the rescue. They admitted they were a little hesitant to let us try. All’s well that ends well. Glad we are sitting still tomorrow.
A nice day in Orillia today. We spent the morning at the Laundromat & looking for a marine store that had the right size line to do our little fender bender repair. All through by lunch time, we bicycled for miles along the Lake Trail this afternoon. This town is full of parks and the people are out there enjoying them when the weather permits. Toured the town & hit the high spots, made a run through the grocery on the way home. We are having grilled pork teriyaki kabobs tonight with side orders from Kings Chinese Takeout.
We will travel toward “The Big Chute” tomorrow. Not sure if we will make it over tomorrow or the next day. We are excited about this unique opportunity. Stay tuned!
We left the dock before 8am and made our way through lakes, canals & into the Severn River. The cute little houses that line both sides of the canals & river are referred to as “cottage communities”. Two locks and 30 something miles later, we are sitting at the top of “The Big Chute” and have decided to wait until tomorrow morning to take our ride. Bob & Charlotte Snider “Foreign Exchange” (but currently on 4 rubber tires) met us at the dock & caught our lines. Haven’t seen them since Annapolis so it is great to have them here. They also are going to the Mini Looper Get together at Penetanguishene tomorrow. And then we plan to visit them at their “cottage” in Honey Harbour in Georgian Bay!!!We will be moving over to the “blue line” around 7pm to be sure that we are the first load through in the morning. They will have to take us & Good News on different runs because of our size. We will have a quiet night out here listening to the loons. No power, but the nights have been nice & cool so we really don’t need the air anyway.
To boaters, it’s like the 8th Wonder of the World. Not technically a lock, The Big Chute is referred to as Lock 44 of the 45 that make up the Trent-Severn Waterway. It’s a unique marine railway that allows you to drive your boat into a submerged “rail car”, shore up with lift straps to hold the boat in place, and then use a cable system to pull the car up out of the water, over a road, down a hill, into the pool of water 60 feet below. We were back in the water in 15 minutes. There was still a lot of current, skinny water, shallow rocks and narrow channels until we were 5 miles into the Georgian Bay. Bay Moorings Marina in Penetanguishene is sponsoring the Looper get together that gets underway today. The ride over was fine & we arrived around 1pm. The wind was howling. Took us several tries & 3 dockhands to successfully get into our slip. No harm, no foul! There is a cocktail party planned for the Looper group this afternoon (what a surprise)! It should be fun.
Gray skies cleared before noon and the Sniders, who stayed overnight with the Sarvers, were kind enough to tote us around the town of Penetang (that’s what the locals call it) to do our important errands. For instance, Brad Salvage was down to 1 Miller Lite. That’s never happened before and we have all been a little worried about the ill effects that might have. First stop, The Beer Store! No, really, that’s the name of the only store that sells beer (except the LCBO)! Had a quick tour of the town and stopped by the famous “Dock Lunch” & had lunch on the dock. Sampled some of the local fare called “Poutine”. Its French fries w/melted cheese & brown gravy on it. Had a planning session this afternoon and made some reservations for the coming week. There is a Looper’s BBQ tonight. We are off to Bob & Charlotte’s cottage in Honey Harbour tomorrow after we fuel. Diesel is $.99 per liter. That’s about $3.75 per gallon which hurts our feelings & makes us homesick!!