Since leaving Orillia we’ve been in more remote sites without wifi connectivity so we’ve not been unable to post anything. WiFi here in Fenelon Falls is a bit sketchy but here we go.
We woke to a beautiful Saturday in Orillia, warm and sunny. Mike met a couple from France! They had their boat shipped to Florida and had come up the intercoastal, and were underway to do The Great American Loop. They were a bit concerned about Georgian Bay, North Channel and the rocks. Mike assured them to follow the well marked route, occasional bow watch and all would be well. They were waiting for the crystal clear water they had heard about… they will definitely find it there!
We were able to see the beginning of the Scottish Parade and enjoy the many bagpipes. It was such a beautiful day we decided to be on our way. We went through the Narrows into Lake Simcoe.
The Narrows is a bit crazy, tight navigation, pretty strong current and a lot of boats! It was Saturday and the first nice weather Saturday in a long time according to the locals. Lake Simcoe was calm so we put the boat on plane until the Trent Canal, also know as “the ditch”, per the locals. It is a bit narrow but very picturesque.
We continued on through two swing bridges, then locks 41 through 39. These locks are in rapid succession, about a mile apart (give or take a bit), with 10’/14’/13’ change in elevation respectively. The lock masters at each lock communicate with each other to keep the flow going as smoothly as possible. The people working the locks were very friendly, helpful and informative about the Trent-Severn Waterway. We were advised by the lock master at Lock 40 to tie up at the next lock (Lock 39 for us 🙂 ) as it would be the best place to be given the time of day (4:00 PM) and it would be too long before we could get to another good anchorage.
We arrived at Lock 39 and after a short wait below the lock for some picnickers to leave we were able to tie up above it. It was beautiful. It’s part of the park system and is clean, and quiet, with picnic tables, and facilities available. No power or water to the boats, that’s OK. There was a 34’ sail boat, 29’ power boat and couple who were canoeing the Trent and set up a tent. It was a very nice place to stay.
Woke up to another sunny morning on Sunday… unfortunately it didn’t stay that way. Spent time talking to Ken and Nancy in the sailboat, they have sailed all over in Canada and The Great American Loop. They were very knowledgable about the Trent-Severn (had done it several times) and gave some much appreciated advice and insight.
Left Lock 39 about 11:30, it’s now overcast. Went through Locks 38 and 37 with 14’ and 22’ change in elevation then into Canal Lake. The Hole in the Wall Bridge is at a narrow section of Canal Lake, built in 1905 it’s a perfect semi-circle. Very pretty, even in overcast and rainy weather. Have to go slow in Canal Lake as the chance of deadheads here is pretty high. We got through without incident.
Canal Lake goes into Trent Canal again then Lock #36, Kirkfield Lock. IT. WAS. POURING!!! Tied up below the lock, got very wet every where except where the foul weather jackets covered us. By now it’s 2:30 and the lock wasn’t running due to the rain. Even though it cleared for a while more rain was coming so we decided to stay here for the night.
The lock did resume operation for a while… pretty spectacular. We enjoyed watching it and reading up on how it works. It is a lift lock that operates like a giant counter-balance with two large “pans” the boats go in, one up and one downstream. The top pan gets an extra inch of water added, this equals ~144 extra tons of weight. A valve is opened and the extra weight of the top pan forces the bottom pan up. This one is the second largest in the world, the largest one is a little farther on in Peterborough. These are the only two in North America, the others are in England, France and Belgium.
More rain in the evening then woke to clouds. Went through Kirkfield Lock at 9:00 A.M., it’s the easiest lock so far! Just go in, tie up, sit in the pan and go for a ride! A 49′ change in elevation in just a few minutes, very fast. This is the summit of the Trent-Severn Waterway, from here it’s all downhill, don’t foget to flip the bouy markers reference after this lock.
We progressed through more of the Trent Canal, through Mitchell Lake to Balsam Lake. This is the highest spot in the world a boat can go from the sea under it’s own power, pretty cool! It’s a big, beautiful lake. Spent a little time exploring it, Mike went for a swim (I watched, it was 10:00 AM and not hot enough). We then went to Lock #35 with just a four foot change. The water is so high this year when the lock doors were shut the water was still coming in over the top of the doors, not a lot, but still coming in. Went through to Cameron Lake, another beauty, to Fenelon Falls. Were very lucky to get a spot to tie up on the wall. It is beautiful here, and we will stay two nights. The weather is now hot and sunny. Plan to spend a dinghy day on Cameron Lake, swimming and exploring.