Boats we are seeing and people we are meeting

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A Diesel Duck built in Asia and glorious inside.

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A refurbished Tug Boat with a cruising salon out back.

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A sailboat under sail! One of the few we saw sailing. Mostly they motor between the rocks or motor when they are waiting for wind. Of course we are not out on the really windy days….

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I just included this one because Roger liked it’s lines. It’s called a Mainship.

 

We’ve seen a lot of different boats and met a lot of different folks.

Most of the boats doing the The Great Loop are trawlers like ours and not like these boats. Usually they range from  35 – 50 foot in length. Some of them have visitors onboard and some have relatives. Some buy boats that can have married children aboard and others have space for only the grandchildren. The grandkids have a blast fishing with Granddad and reading with Grandma.

We’ve met a lot of lovely American people (mostly couples except for one woman who is solo and a few solo men), who are doing the loop, because I always go up to them and introduce us. Boats doing the loop are identified by a small flag called a burgee. We fly ours on the mast but many loopers fly them on the bow, so when they are in port we can easily see their Great Loop burgee, and go over and meet them.

Sometimes we travel with people we’ve met  (called buddy-boating)  who are going the same way, and sometimes we see them in passing multiple times per week for a while. We may get ahead of them for a while or they may get ahead of us. We may stop at different places, but we are always happy to see someone familiar!

We are a slower boat, so usually other boats end up ahead of us, but more loopers always arrive from behind to fill their place.

When we meet loopers at a marina we do docktails (cocktails on the dock) and many of us will gather with our own drinks and a shared appetizer, or we may go out to dinner together, or chat and compare weather forecasts and apps and they give us their boat cards. I have a whole stack of them now.

We don’t have a boat card but use an e-card on a website called Active Captain.

It seems that all of the boaters are very friendly and we really enjoy sharing stories about what places are interesting to them, where the fishing is good, what to use for tackle, what they like about their boats or details about anchoring locations.

It’s wonderful to know we’ll see many of them again and again on our journey.

 

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The Big Chute Marine Railway

The Historic Site Designation

The Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) is a National Historic Site in Canada. To keep this designation, some of the original locks are still used.

Why the Locks were Built

The TSW canals connect existing rivers and lakes with dug canals and addresses the problems that waterfalls and rapids create that prevent navigation. The Rideau Canal was dug for military reasons but this inland waterway was created to be used as a means of transportation for commerce. Originally the TSW was used for shipping logs to market and later for recreational boaters.

Many of the towns we passed through were originally logging towns.

The TSW has three types of lock. The most common is the type where gates open, you cruise in, the gates close and the water is raised or lowered and then you are let out the opposite end.

In Peterborough and Kirkfield they have lift locks which are pans of water that you cruise into and you are raised or lowered in situ.

The Big Chute is the third type and is the last of the marine railroads. It was built over a hundred years ago and has a vertical drop of 58 feet. It hasn’t been replaced with a conventional lock.

A benefit of this type of “lock” is that the BCMR  prevents the  transfer of lampreys into Georgian Bay that a conventional lock would facilitate.

You Might like to Try this Lock

I thought you might like to experience the Big Chute Marine Railroad  (BCMR) for yourself.

As boaters we were very curious about how this process was going to happen. We  docked our boat near the Big Chute and took a look so we could see for ourselves how it worked.

When we arrived there was a lot of activity. Here are some boats loaded on the BCMR being taken over the road. It looks like the BCMR could accommodate one to four boats depending on their size.

Road closed at train tracks waiting for the marine railroad to cross and go down the other side of the hill.

Road closed at train tracks waiting for the marine railroad to cross and go down the other side of the hill.

The traffic must stop to allow the boats loaded on the Big Chute Marine Railroad to cross the road. A warning gate comes down across the road and the ringing bell is the same as a normal railway crossing warning sound (you can see the Parks Canada staff on top).

Here’s the loaded Marine Chute Rail Car going down to Georgian Bay to deliver a boat and pick up another boat. Notice the framework on either side for the staff to ride. the BCMR down to Georgian Bay.

Here is the Marine Chute railcar loaded.

Here is the Marine Chute railcar descending on the railroad tracks toward Georgian Bay.

Almost down to Georgian Bay.

Almost down to Georgian Bay.

The boats are strapped in place by the competent Canada Parks staff. They ride this railroad all day!

Here’s another boat coming back up. The boats are strapped in place by the competent Canada Parks staff. Staff ride this railroad all day!

Ok, Now We’re Ready

We get back to the dock, turn on the diesel motor and cruise over to the approach to the Big Chute Marine Railroad.

As we get closer, the noise of the Big Chute Marine Railroad sounds like bagpipes being warmed up! It’s around 100 decibels.

Ta Ta approaching the Big Chute Marine Railroad.

Ta Ta approaching the Big Chute Marine Railroad (photo courtesy of Kathy Scott). That’s me on the foredeck.

Here you can see the Big Chute Marine Railroad descending to the Trent Severn Waterway . It had already crossed the road at the Parks Canada building on the right of the picture. There is a loaded boat  (if you look closely) that has just finishing the trip and is about to be lowered into the water so it can disembark.

We loaded shortly afterwards by floating into the Chute frame. It lifted us right out of the water and the process was effortless for us as we didn’t have to  hold on to the lock walls with our lines as at every other lock. Surprisingly, I was allowed to ride on the foredeck of TA TA all the way down to Georgian Bay!

Here’s what I saw.

Here's what I saw.

The empty Big Chute Marine Railway car waiting for us.

Getting ready to cross the road.

Loaded and getting ready to cross the road. You can see my bow railing in the photo.

Going down to Georgian Bay.

Going down to Georgian Bay.

At the crest of the hill and descending down to Georgian Bay.

At the crest of the hill and descending down to Georgian Bay (photo courtesy of Kathy Scott).

Almost there!

Almost there!

And we disembarked and cruised  to Port Severn and the last lock of the Trent Severn Waterway.

Limestone and Granite and what to do with it…..

Here’s a boat House built along the Trent Severn Waterway along the limestone cliff.

Sedimentary limestone wall along Trent Severn Waterway

This is what a lot of the canal walls of  sedimentary limestone look like along Trent Severn Waterway near Fenelon Falls.

Narrow channels dug between existing waterways in the Trent Severn Waterway.

This is how narrow the canal is where they had to excavate. the canal over a hundred years ago. This is TA TA navigating the channel dug in the limestone between existing lakes and rivers that comprise the Trent Severn Waterway (photo courtesy of Kathy Scott). You can see there is room for two small boats to pass and you hope the big boats will radio ahead in the narrow sections to advise they are coming!

We saw a lot of interesting cottages near Fenelon Falls. Here’s a geodesic dome built on top of the limestone cliff. Note the set of stairs down to the dock.

TA TA tucked in behind the bigger boats at Fenelon Falls.

TA TA tucked in behind the bigger boats at Fenelon Falls on the limestone lock wall.

We really appreciated the workmanship in the locks and bridges if they were made from limestone and not concrete. Here is TA TA navigating the Hole In the Wall limestone bridge on the Trent Severn Waterway which was built in 1905 and still perfect (photo courtesy of Kathy Scott).

On the shield, baby!

At Georgian Bay we’re on the shield, baby! No excavation for your cottage is necessary and you will have a steady foundation in the wind (note the trees bending away from the winter winds). The water quality improves and the taste is sweet. You don’t see algae blooms and it feels soft when you dive in. I love Canada!

New Friends and Guests on TA TA

New Friends

So far we have had a number of visitors look at our boat and climb aboard. Other boaters quickly become friends and we give tours and see their boats. Loopers are favourites and also other owners of Albin boats. We quickly compare notes on charts, gear and rocks to avoid.

Here’s an example.

We saw “By” from Arkansas in a number of places and he’d often look out a place on the lock wall for us and help us tie up.

His wife has a good sense of humour and I enjoyed seeing this t-shirt! She doesn’t accompany him, but she sent him along on his three-month boat trip with this t-shirt.

By from Arkansas standing in front of his 21 foot Ranger Tug that he pilots alone.

By from Arkansas standing in front of his 21 foot Ranger Tug that he pilots alone.


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If you look at the fine print it says “No Refunds!”

 

Visiting Guests

My Aunt and Uncle and my cousin and her husband were our first guests who drove in to Percy Reach Lock to visit and share appetizers.

Keith, Susan, Aunt Lois and Uncle Ted on a sunny afternoon at Percy Reach.

Keith, Susan, Aunt Lois and Uncle Ted on a sunny afternoon at Percy Reach.

 

 

Staying Guest

My sister Liz was our first overnight quest and we were thrilled to have her. She slept in the aft cabin for a few nights and helped a lot.

Here is a glamour shot, then we put her to work!

This is my sister Liz in front of TA TA.

This is my sister Liz in front of TA TA.


Down in the galley doing dishes on a hot, sunny day.

Down in the galley doing dishes on a hot, sunny day.

 

Can you see her between the slimy lock wall and the boat?

Can you see her between the slimy lock wall and the boat?

Lizzy was working the bow line and boat hook in this shot on a hot, humid day in the locks waiting for the lock to fill and the gate to open and let us carry on our way up the Trent Severn Waterway a National Historic Site.

Friend from the Past along our Way

My friend Elaine was my best friend in junior high and early high school. We hiked the Bruce Trail and the Ganaraska Trail together when we were 15 and 14 respectively for up to a week at a time with no cell phone, email or Skype!

Elaine has a massage practice in Bobcageon and lives with her husband in a spectacular home with sunken gardens with pool surrounded by huge limestone blocks. Their home is filled with art and a massive stone fireplace that her husband built. They invited us to their home to share a BBQ dinner.

It brought back so many memories to see Elaine.

I look happy, don’t I?

Elaine and I in Bobcageon on the canal.

Elaine and I in Bobcageon on the canal.

 

We’re hoping to see more family and friends along the way!

We are swimming all the time…

After a refreshing swim on the lock walls at Bobcaygeon.

After a refreshing swim on the lock walls at Bobcaygeon.

When we are moored along the lock wall we find a set of concrete steps down to a spot off the canal or an adjacent lake bank to climb down (watch out for snapping turtles and water snakes). Sometimes we jump off the swim platform on the back of the boat.

You’re not really supposed to swim in the canal but people do after all the boat traffic has cleared for the night around 6:30PM when the canal closes for the evening.

Once when the ladder side of the swim platform was against the lock wall, I tied the boat bridle (to tow the TA TA by the tender PUDD if necessary) to a cleat off the swim platform and put my foot up onto the double line and swung myself onto the platform to get out of the water.

We started swimming when the water got to 20C. It’s now around 25C, so it’s easy to get into frequently.

We’re moving north-west gradually from Trenton which was on Lake Ontario and I’m looking forward to the water clearing.

The limestone areas of the productive south are mesotrophic and you can see mats of blue-green algae and lots of water plants. Roger has had to get under the boat to clear weeds off the propeller.

As we transition to the Canadian Shield the granite provides less nutrients and the lakes are oligotrophic so they look cleaner and feel cleaner and smell differently.

I was surprised at this transition to see that even the library walls had a foundation of limestone and granite.

 

WE ARE BIKING ALL OVER!

 

We’re so glad we brought the bikes. Roger’s parents gave him a folding bike and we found another for me on Kijiji. Roger’s folds in the middle and mine folds in four places and needs the seat height adjusted. Mine folds in the middle, just below the handle-bars and then each peddle folds out too.

Biking means we get different exercise from just walking and we can get much farther around each town so we see more of it and get a better feel for it.IMG_0934

So far we’ve followed quaint roads lined with historic homes in Cobourg and found bike paths along the canal and around the lake in Peterborough, and around the lovely tree-lined lakeside streets in Bobcaygeon.

Having the bikes allowed us to do a recci on the Peterborough lift locks the night before the 65 foot lift.

The Peterborough lift lock is 65 feet tall. I look small, don't I?

The Peterborough lift lock is 65 feet tall. I look small, don’t I?

 

I HAVEN’T HAD A BATH IN A MONTH!

 

We’re in Bobcaygeon now sitting outside the library in the shade across the street from the canal on Canada Day because they have free WiFi even though they are closed.

The parade is just about to start and I can hear the bagpipers playing. Everyone is wearing red and white and the American boaters have their courtesy Canadian flags flying.

There is a protocol about where the flags go and we fly our country of origin flag from our stern. In the states we will be obliged to fly the USA flag too.

In the Bahamas we’ll fly a quarantine flag till we’re through customs and then a Bahamian flag along with our Canadian flag.

 

We’ve done 138 miles up the Trent Severn Waterway and done 32 locks, and we have had a heat wave.

When we’re cruising, the breeze is lovely and we travel in bathing suits and pfds (personal floatation devices).

When we are in the locks waiting for the water to fill it is still and beastly hot. Don’t forget the humidity.

We are used to being wet all the time and are drinking a lot of water.

 

Getting clean is a pleasure, but how to do it is sometimes a challenge.

If we stay at a marina, they always have showers and often laundry facilities.

I can get a load done while I have my shower.

But on the locks there are no showers and we resort to swimming a lot and sponge baths.

On the cold days, I use the head sink. I can even fit my size 5 ½ feet into the head sink on the boat. It feels wonderful to have clean feet!

On the canal, each lock has a bathroom with sinks and some have water for your boat and some have shore power (electricity).

They usually have one bathroom sink and one large sink but they don’t specify what you can do in them. Roger hauls water for our boat in 5-gallon water jugs and I find if I get up early enough, I can wash my hair. Today I figured I could shave my legs. There was no one around.

 

Early morning walks have their advantages too. Today I enjoyed a family of geese goslings plopping into the water from the canal walls….

So many goslings plopping into the canal in the early morning.

So many goslings plopping into the canal in the early morning.

…and two pussy-cats watching out the window of a gorgeous house boat.

Red house boat behind us with scolded pussy cats inside.

Red house boat behind us with scolded pussy cats inside.

They must have been sitting on the counter, as I heard them being scolded when someone got up, and then the pussy-cats were gone.

WHERE ARE WE?

 

Jammed into a lock with many other boats on a hot, humid day in the Trent Severn locks.

Jammed into a lock with many other boats on a hot, humid day in the Trent Severn locks.

If you are interested in knowing where we are, here is the SPOT location link.

 

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0F6q5NfpZ2iQPQMSRDrAkFLfmFiLZSS4z

The SPOT is a GPS device that we use whenever we arrive at a new location. It is linked to a number of satellites and it will give you the last seven days of SPOTs.

 

If we don’t move, we don’t “SPOT”. Currently it shows five locations, as we were in five different places in the last seven days.

 

A SPOT also serves as a way to notify others of our changes in plans and as a 911 tool to activate search and rescue, if needed.

 

We noticed that it doesn’t show our route exactly, but shows a straight line connecting the places we’ve stayed at along the Trent Severn Waterway.

 

If you save this link you can click on it whenever you like and see where we are or have been.

Coburg and the Trent Severn Canal System

The trip from Toronto to Coburg was long but uneventful. We had a following sea which meant we had to steer to correct the way the wind was pushing us.

We always watch the weather and wait for a good weather window. Our preferred weather is winds less than 10 knots which means wavelets and a few white caps. Then if the weather gets worse, we tuck in to a marina. We have learned our lesson!

Coburg is on the north side of Lake Ontario about half the way down. It was meant to be the capital of Upper Canada and there are some lovely old buildings there.

Cobourg planner's office. If you lived here Joanne D., this would be your office!

Cobourg planner’s office. If you lived here Joanne D., this would be your office!

However, the shoreline is littered with treacherous rocks in unexpected places and a lot of ships went down in the early days. It was decided to move the capital away from Coburg for that reason.

Roger says that Coburg is the prettiest town he has ever seen. There are a lot of stately old homes with beautiful gardens. There is a sandy beach with beach volleyball and a splash pad for children. They offer movies on the beach and theatre in Victorian buildings.

The marina has a lot of sailing boats and a race was underway shortly after we arrived.

We had good weather the next day so we travelled to Presqui’lle Bay and anchored out just off the entrance to the Murray Canal. The next day we traversed the Murray Canal which was built in the 1880s at the site of a portage and then continued into the Trent Canal System and did the first six locks.

Starting the Trent-Severn waterway!

Starting the Trent-Severn waterway!

We never saw so many turtles!

We never saw so many turtles!

Trent Canal north of Trenton with trains crossing canal.

Trent Canal north of Trenton with trains crossing the canal as we went under the bridge.

Lock one on the Trent Severn Canal system… waiting for our lock tender.

Lock one on the Trent Severn Canal system… waiting for our lock tender.

Mary on the bow of TA TA in the first locks (note the lifejacket children).  I am holding the rubber covered chain with a short rope and have the boat hook at the ready to deflect the TA TA from the lock walls. Roger is doing the same at the stern. You can see the water coming into the lock from the upstream side.

Mary on the bow of TA TA in the first locks (note the lifejacket, children). I am holding the rubber covered chain with a short rope and have the boat hook at the ready to deflect the TA TA from the lock walls. Roger is doing the same at the stern. You can see the water coming into the lock from the upstream side

 

We went through six locks the first day. At lock six we  moored on the lock wall at Frankfort. We had bought a decal for locking and mooring from Parks Canada, so there is no charge except for power. The lock tenders have been very kind to us and the setting is beautiful with a few boats locking through, Canada geese with goslings grazing on the grass, treed, grassy areas with picnic tables adjacent to the lock walls and turtles poking their heads above water in the canal between the boats.

We have already met some “loopers” docked in Trenton and last night at the sixth lock. They recognized us by the AGLCA (America’s Great Loop Cruiser’s Association) burgee which we fly on our mast.  We expect we’ll run into them again on the Loop as we all try to make Chicago by early September.

Oh My Goodness! After a good start, things went bad, and then good again.

We left 100 Mile House later than we planned on June 1st, 2014, and stayed at Sicamous the first night at a lovely campsite.

Roger on cell at Sicamous. We had a lovely view from our port holes.

Roger on cell at Sicamous. We had a lovely view from our port holes on TA TA.

The second night we stayed with my sister’s family in Canmore. Phil, my brother-in-law made a wonderful dinner with BBQ chicken and a special friend from Red Deer who now lives in Canmore named Joanie came over and brought us champagne for the trip.

Mary at Canmore with sister Liz and her daughter Claire and Roche in front of the Three Sisters mountains.

Mary at Canmore with sister Liz and her daughter Claire and Roche in front of the Three Sisters mountains.

Things were going well until six days into our drive. We were crossing Canada pulling the TA TA on a 35-foot trailer. We were boat-camping (yes we have to climb up a ladder to get onboard) to St. Catharines, where Roger’s family live, and we had arrived  at Pancake Bay, just outside of Sault St. Marie, right on Lake Superior.

Mary at Pancake Bay on Lake Superior, Ontario

Mary at Pancake Bay on Lake Superior, Ontario

This is the bad part and please skip it if you like

We had planned to take a day off after six long days of travelling, but we got a call at 8AM from my sister, in tears, about our Mom. She told me Mom had had another “spell” and it was bad. She was getting on a plane to Toronto later that day, from Calgary.

I called the Hastings Manor, where Mom is in long-term care on the Alzheimer’s ward to get an update and spoke to the nurse. She told me she “had authority to pronounce death,” and she felt death was imminent!

I asked the nurse to hold the phone to my Mom’s ear so I could speak to her. I told Mom I was coming and would be there soon. She could only groan in response.

I called my brother, John who lives in Oshawa, and some of our aunts and uncles to get the phone triage started and advised them about mom’s imminent death. Then Roger and I packed up the boat and truck and drove 14 hours to get to St. Catharines to drop off the boat and continue east to Belleville to get to Mom.

Within a short time my cousin, Frannie, who used to work on the Alzheimer’s ward, arrived at mom’s room in Belleville and she said ”she took over.”

She said she recognized the symptoms of a TIA. Mom had been unresponsive for two hours, but began responding. Shortly afterwards, Frannie got Mom some water and up to the bathroom and was feeding her some yogurt, when I called next!

What a relief!

Mom was confused and tired and had no memory about what had happened. She “didn’t know what all the fuss was about” and then apologized.  She was a little cross with me and said she had told me that  “I didn’t have to come !” but I had only heard her mumbles and groans. Anyway, as I have explained to her on previous occasions, I have no choice, I have to go to her whenever something happens.

Frannie said it was normal for someone to feel agitated after a TIA as the brain was healing itself and she explained that Mom could have a lot of these.

Frannie was a big comfort to us as she stayed all day with Mom along with my Aunt Lois who also went in and was there when I called. We’re so lucky to have family in Belleville!

Everything was put in place for mom in case this happened and everything worked well. The nurse confirmed with me that we wanted mom comfortable and cared for but not rushed to hospital as that would be so confusing for her. They can give her excellent care at the Hastings Manor. They have a doctor in the manor on staff and nurses on each floor along with personal support workers and many other staff  for activities, cooking, cleaning and maintenance.

Later on the day of the TIA, Mom was walking down the hall and eating her lunch! The nurse said she had seen some people recover from a severe TIA before, but not that fast! We are very thankful!

Meanwhile my brother arrived with his wife and all three sons. John called to say that he was there and when I asked, he said Mom looked “just like she had three weeks ago,” when he saw her last.

Unfortunately that day we also heard that our Aunt Margaret was in serious trouble.

After what we were told was a heart attack, she was recovering and asking for her lipstick and hairbrush. On the same day as Mom’s TIA Aunt Margaret had a stroke and became paralyzed down her right side.

At lunch with Mom, John got the call and he and his wife Glenda rushed back to Scarborough to be with Aunt Margret and met Liz there. She had been picked up at the airport and taken to the hospital in Scarborough to see Aunt Margaret. Just after Liz arrived she was able to accompany Aunt Margaret in the ambulance while Aunt Margaret was transferred to Oshawa so she could be closer to home.

Frannie, my cousin, says her short-term memory will be a little worse after the TIA and within a few hours, after her TIA, mom was “back on the job.” She thinks she works at the Hastings Manor, and as a matter of fact, she has a lot of projects on the go.

So, Roger and I arrived in St. Catharines from BC . We stayed at Roger’s brother Andy and his wife Sandy, and spent a day visiting with Roger’s parents and family, then stopped and saw Aunt Margaret in Oshawa at the hospital and we continued on to Belleville to the Hastings Manor to see Mom.

That night we  stayed with my Mom’s sister Aunt Lois and Uncle Ray who own a century dairy farm, north of Belleville on the concession where Mom grew up.  I love to go there and see Grandpa’s old farm, enjoy my Aunt and Uncle, and listen to the stories. Other relatives dropped by to see us, and chat, so we felt supported by family, given our scare with Mom.

As our trip to Belleville overlapped Sister’s Day, (the monthly luncheon that all the aunts and uncles attend), I took mom, even though it was only a few days after her TIA. Mom did very well and everyone was relieved to see her. She went around to chat with her 20 relatives seated in the restaurant and was quite social. After lunch we all went to tea at Aunt Doris’ home which was lovely. The men sat in the great room and the ladies sat in the living room. We had tea in cups and saucers and enjoyed my Aunt Doris’ hospitality (and her roses). Another of the aunts, Aunt Shirley served. The cousins sat on the rug and chatted and my Aunt Bessie teased everyone.

Aunt Doris was very gracious and showed me all of the items (mostly china and figurines) she had received from Mom through Liz and I while we cleared out Mom’s condo and at a previous tea where mom was present. Aunt Doris had them displayed in places of prominence so I was very happy and touched that she is enjoying these lovely and sentimental items from my Mom, Aunt Doris’ big sister.

The next day we headed back to St. Catharines to celebrate Father’s Day with Maurice, Roger’s dad, and the rest of the Packham family at a family BBQ at Andy’s home, and also get the boat ready to begin our trip.

We had another sea trial to test the fuel injectors again, and one of Roger’s brothers, Andrew, and his wife Sandy accompanied us. This time the engine worked well with no lingering issues with smoke from the exhaust! Replacing the fuel injectors fixed the smoking engine problem!

Andy (Roger's brother)  and Sandy our first guests on the TA TA in Ontario. Andy has just retired. Don't you think he looks happy?

Andy (Roger’s brother) and Sandy our first guests on the TA TA in Ontario. Andy has just retired. Don’t you think he looks happy?