Saturday (9/15) It’s OFFICIAL!
There is a certain bond that develops through shared experiences, especially when they are “out of the ordinary.” It is a bond not easily described, or fully understood by “outsiders” to the group. … Ship’s Log post of 8/31.
Several years ago, we attended a weekend seminar in Itasca, IL, just outside Chicago, to hear about a journey called “America’s Great Loop.” We had read about it and wanted to learn more.
A delightful and energetic couple, Capt. Gene and Kathy Schnagl shared their firsthand account and experiences on the Loop. They not only were Gold Loopers, having crossed their wake in July 2006, they were authors, having written a book about the experience, “Fear Knot.” **
Although we didn’t know it at the time, these Gold Loopers, AGLCA presenters and published authors had a slip on the F-dock in McKinley Marina, just outboard of LOOFAH II.
And they didn’t know it at the time, but they were to become instrumental in our decision to experience the Loop.
As we progressed on the Loop, when it became known our home port was Milwaukee, we were often asked if we knew the crew of “Del Coronado”, Gene and Kathy, “the McKinley AGLCA Harbor Hosts.” They were known for their hospitality, for showing people Milwaukee and taking Loopers to the grocery store or on other errands.
Today, it was special when Capt Gene and Kathy came aboard LOOFAH III …
and present us with a Gold ALGCA Burgee, designating the successful circumnavigation of the eastern third of the United States.
We were invited by Gene and Kathy, and the crew of the “Queen Mary” (Paul and Mary Ann) to return to the F-dock for the annual Fall “chili dump.” It was great to be back!
At the event, Gene and Kathy again demonstrated their graciousness when they took a few minutes, in front of the group, to welcome us back to the pier and to share some very thoughtful remarks.
Later, as we talked on the pier, Gene and Kathy recalled Ron and Eva Stob, and their book, “Honey, Let’s Get a Boat…”
In 1999 Stobs presented a seminar on doing the Loop at the first Trawler Fest. They were given a booth to sell their new book. On the table was a sign-up sheet for those who wanted to be part of a new organization, America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association. The rest of AGLCA story, with its Lake Michigan ancestry, can be found on the website: www.greatloop.org.
It was fun to hear this history from some of the “early pioneers” of Looping.
We have literally come full circle, from Milwaukee and back to Milwaukee, 7,086 miles later. It might be said that we started the Great Loop with Gene and Kathy, and today we ended it with them.
So, now it is official, because Gene and Kathy have so testified: WE ARE GOLD LOOPERS!
It was a good day!
** In 2005, Captain Gene Schnagl and his wife, Kathy set out on their Great Loop adventure. Accompanied only by their white Standard Poodle, Deedee, they were soon to encounter challenges that they had not anticipated before the start of what was to become an almost 7,000-mile circumnavigation of the eastern United States. Through personal experience they learned to overcome their fear and anxiety of such an undertaking and completed the adventure of a lifetime. Fear Knot was written to allow those boaters who share this daring dream called America’s Great Loop to successfully accomplish this goal, without the fears of the unknown. A path to knowing the answers to many of their questions before they start their engines or set their sails. Fear Knot is the book that Capt. Gene and Kathy were looking for before they made their decision to begin America’s Great Loop. That book has finally arrived. Begin your adventure and Fear Knot!
Friday (9/14) The data…
Thank you for the gracious and congratulatory emails! To date, the LOOFAH3 WordPress website has been viewed 9,928 times from individuals in 47 countries. Some were “one and done,” others followed frequently.
A number of today’s emails asked about the specifics of our Loop.
- Started: September 13, 2017
- Finished: September 13, 2018
- Traveled 7,086 miles
- Furthest point south: Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas (N24 10.401)
- Furthest point north: Sorel, ON, Canada on St. Lawrence Seaway (N46 03.146)
- Visited 3 countries, 18 states, 121 ports
- Underway 510 hours at an average speed of 14 mph
- Total locks: 150
- 99 up – 1,614′
- 51 down – 1,193′
- Fuel used: 7,281 gallons, averaging .97 mpg
- Nights stayed (total: 366)
- 310 in marinas
- 27 (travel away from boat)
- 24 along a wall
- 19 on the hard, for repairs
- 10 at anchor
- 3 on mooring balls
The celebrations continued, this evening at a pig roast at the Milwaukee Yacht Club.
It was fitting that we ended the loop with Rick, Madonna, Dave and Carolyn, as we started it, with the four of them, a year ago.
Tomorrow – will the white AGLCA burgee be change to GOLD?
Thursday (9/13) It’s unofficial…
It was time. We got underway.
As we approached the outer markers of the Saugatuck inlet at 8:41:34 AM LOOFAH passed a milestone on the Loop: 7,000 miles since leaving Milwaukee on this day, exactly one year ago.
Our ETA in Milwaukee was four hours later, at 12:41 EDT (11:41 CDT in Milwaukee). Just 4 more hours Looping.
It was a NBD (no big deal) crossing, a following wind at 7-10 mph and seas about 1′. Right on schedule the skyline of our home port came into view.
The “Butterfly” at the Art Museum opened her wings to welcome LOOFAH home!
At 11:40:01 CDT (59 seconds before the ETA estimated 4 hours earlier) LOOFAH cruised through the North Gap.
Soon the white AGLCA burgee, designating a vessel underway on America’s Great LOOP, will be replaced by a gold burgee.
Tonight the Harbor House; libations, oysters, crab cakes, salads and champagne!
Let the unofficial celebrations begin!
Wednesday (9/12) Finally kickin’ back!
Totally relaxed, we poured the coffee this morning and looked up the mirror-like river, interrupted only by the wakes of Loons, toward the Tower Marina.
No provisioning necessary; no navigational decisions; no concerns regarding weather, seas or fog; no research necessary – we were finally on vacation!
Time was spent on the quaint main street, in the pool, and watching the menagerie of boats cruising the river…
… with some onboard capturing a shot of LOOFAH, whose lines are not well know in these parts.
A new restaurant, “The BARge,” has been added to the Ship-N-Shore Hotel since we were last here in September 2016. It was just the place to cap off a relaxing day.
Tuesday (9/11) Just one more port, please!
The day began reflecting on “9/11” and our New York City experience in June:
To those whose lives were lost. Amen
Last night three routes were prepared on the chart plotter. One was 87 miles southwest to Milwaukee. Another was 84 miles south to Saugatuck. The third was a route 89 miles northwest from Saugatuck to Milwaukee.
Votes were cast as we passed these lovely homes, through the inlet, to the lake.
It was unanimous: Saugatuck here we come! Just one more port before we cross our wake!
South of Pentwater we passed the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
These massive dunes are nestled between the shore of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, and are the only sand dunes in Michigan where you can drive your own off-road vehicle.
About noon we were presented quite a different view, a fog bank.
“Steam Fog is commonly seen in the Great Lakes but can be seen on any lake. This forms during the fall season. As summer ends, water temperatures don’t cool right away, but air temperature does. As a mass of dry, cold air moves over a warmer lake, the warm lake conducts warm, moist air into the air mass above. A strong inversion confines the upward mixing to a relatively shallow layer within which the fog collects and assumes a uniform density. Under these conditions, the visibility is often 3/16 mile or less.”
This morning the forecast included a “dense fog advisory” for the Saugatuck area until 10:00 AM. We thought the fog would have been burned off by now. We were incorrect.
Most of the time LOOFAH cruised outboard of the fog. As we approached the fog bank, AIS and radar contacts were identified and marked on the chart plotter. When we hit the fog bank, the running lights were turned on and we started to sound “one prolonged blast” (4-6 seconds) every 2 minutes with our horn. We reduced speed substantially and Sue went forward on the bow as a lookout, also listening for similar blasts. None were heard.
We slowed to a crawl as we approached the waypoint off the Saugatuck inlet, still in the fog.
Thank goodness for GPS. According to our track, we were just 517 feet away from the breakwater lights when they finally came into view! Within another 500 feet, the fog had dissipated, and the sun was out! We, again, could start breathing normally.
We headed to “The Ultimate Waterfront Address” in downtown Saugatuck – the Ship-N-Shore Hotel.
Time for a shower, swim, and hot tub!
LOOFAH III and crew are going to take a day in port tomorrow, to kick back and enjoy this last port of the LOOP. Thursday LOOFAH III should cross Lake Michigan and her wake. Where has this year gone?
Is it too early to celebrate? Maybe, but progressive celebrations are always in order!
Monday (9/10) Reluctant Mariners?
Our Loop is closing!
Are we dragging our feet? Milwaukee is just 136 miles across the lake. The waves and winds are favorable. What shall we do?
Decision made: forget Milwaukee – go south another 63 miles, to Pentwater, MI.
What is the magic of the Loop? Why are we reluctant to let it come to and end?
Yesterday, as we arrived at the fuel dock in Frankfort, we heard, “Hello LOOFAH!” It was Jean, aboard “Makin Memories”.
We first met Jean & Jerry three months ago (June 19th) at Half Moon Bay Marina in Crouton on the Hudson, NY. We last saw each other’s boats in Ottawa.
Once secure, Jean and Sue reviewed experiences, ports and people since our last meeting.
“Makin Memories” is home ported in Tarpon Springs, Florida; this is Jean and Jerry’s first time in Lake Michigan. Their son Blake met them in Traverse City for a leg and the experience of traveling a portion of the Loop.
Sue was able to offer some suggestions on marinas and anchorages. Although we are among the last Loopers in the Great Lakes (“First Forty” and buddy boats may be the last), it was agreed that these early Fall days on Lake Michigan, with clear blue skies and a nip in the air, are to be savored!
This has been a journey filled with new experiences and friendships. The log of fellow Loopers we maintain now numbers 161. Our website has been viewed 9,813 times by individuals in 47 countries.
We are reluctant to end it!
We headed out of the Frankfort harbor at 10:30. It was a great day to be on “our” great lake!
LOOFAH skipped her way past familiar sights like the Big Sable lighthouse…
… and the hydroelectric plant and reservoir near Ludington, built between 1969 and 1973 at a cost of $315 million.
At 1:00 we were secured in Snug Harbor slip #4, Pentwater, MI.
Pentwater is one of our favorite Michigan Harbors. Our Ship’s Log has entries made here, most recently on September 6, 2015 and September 3, 2016. We now add September 10, 2018.
Dinner (once again) was at Gull Landing. It has a wonderful deck, but tonight we dined inside as there is a nip in the air.
It was another good day!
Sunday (9/9) A “safe leeward passage.”
The winds and waves on the upper Great Lakes, each day after Labor Day, become increasing unpredictable. When we grounded in Georgian Bay, the Sound Boat Works crew understood our plight and went “above and beyond” to get us back underway, as soon as possible.
LOOFAH was in port yesterday due to adverse weather forecasts. “Small Craft Warnings” are expected through 10:00 tonight. But, unlike when we were sailing on LOOFAH II, to LOOFAH III winds are less important, and seas more important.
The website at https://www.weather.gov/greatlakes/ provides a forecast, in graphical form, of wave heights, winds, temperatures etc., for the next five days.
Waves in the southern lake are predected to be 7 feet this afternoon at 2PM. It appeard, however, with the easterly winds, if we stayed in the lee of Michigan’s lower peninsula the waves should be minimized, maybe 2′. We could deal with the wind.
During the first leg, to the north-south passage at White Shoal Light, LOOFAH would be running with the waves; good. There would be a short period where the wind (and waves) would be abeam; not so good. But then the shoals should limit the size of the waves. If necessary, we could bail out to Justice Harbor on Beaver Island.
We got underway at 8:25.
The westerly run to White Shoal Light, the passage through the north-south passage, the southerly run in the lee of the upper peninsula, all went as planned.
According to the station at White Shoal Light, the winds there increased to 35 mph later in the day!
We passed the Point Betsie lighthouse with a sea less than 1’ when the mid-lake buoy was recording wave heights of 3.6’.
We arrived at our old friend, Jacobson Marina Resort, at 2:00, having traveled 124 miles at 22 mph. We were given a VIP slip, #2, near the pool and showers!
We like it when a plan comes together!
Safely south of N45⁰ latitude, we can relax a bit and enjoy the wonderful Michigan harbors, before a 3-hour final leg across the lake, to Milwaukee.
But, now, what’s the rush?
Tonight, pizza aboard – “GO PACKERS!”
Saturday (9/8) Mackinaw City is a surprising place!
When we went to bed last night, we anticipated that we would be staying another day in Mackinaw City, due to weather. We awoke on a rocking boat; gusty winds and white caps in the bay confirmed we were staying put.
The morning was spent reviewing weather forecasts, buoy reports, and possible routes to our home port in Milwaukee.
We unfolded the bicycles and headed to Dixie’s Saloon for lunch where we were greeted by Bela (from Romania), the young lady that served us last light at Hooks.
Looking out the window we saw several boats leave, then return to the harbor. The boat in the distance caught our attention!
After lunch we headed to the second floor of MaMa Mia’s Restaurant and the Mackinaw Bridge Museum. Walking through MaMa Mia’s, the two men (one of whom was from Jamaica) that parasailed yesterday with Sue, greeted us. High fives!
The museum upstairs was created by the restaurant’s owner, J. C. Stilwell. JC was one of the ironworkers who built the “Mighty Mac.” The Mackinac Bridge is a phenomenal, 5-mile long engineering marvel, that opened in 1957.
The museum began when JC purchased a spinning wheel (used to build the massive Mackinac Bridge cables from which the bridge deck is suspended) and a copy of a movie about the building of the bridge.
Ironworkers from around the country began donating items to the museum, including a diving suit, documents, photographs, and many tools and parts used during the construction of the Mackinac Bridge. The videos, including one from the History Channel, captured our attention.
We cycled to the southern end of the bridge, the site of the Old Mackinac Point lighthouse, “a light in the storm and a guiding beacon since 1889.” Old Mackinaw Point marks the junction of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The Old Mackinac Point Light Station was in operation until 1957.
Nearby the lighthouse, and the Colonial Miichilimackinac (a reconstructed 18th-Century fort and fur trading village), is the Ironworkers Walk of Fame.
It is a tribute that commemorates and celebrates the legends and stories of Ironworkers and Mackinac Bridgemen. Iron Workers Local 67 in Des Moines is represented. Art served as a management trustee of Local 67’s health, welfare, apprenticeship and pension trusts.
“The monument, unveiled in August of 2010, is that of an ironworker throwing a rivet. This figure was made from over 3000 ironworker tools donated by ironworkers from across the USA and Canada. Over 160 Ironworkers were inducted into the Ironworkers Walk of Fame on August 13, 2010.
“For the past 34 years, each August, a festival brings together Ironworkers of the past and present, their families and spectators in celebration of the skills and extra-ordinary achievements of these men and women. The event brings competitors from across the U.S. and Canada. Participants range from retirees in their 80’s to young hands still honing their skills. These men and women come for the camaraderie and to express pride in their profession.”
We spent some time cycling the town.
As we did so, we saw tractors that participated yesterday in the annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing.
It was “created by Bob Baumgras of Owosso Tractor Parts in 2007. The first event took place in September of 2008 with 614 tractors participating; this year reportedly 1,600 did! This was the 11th annual crossing from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace that takes place the Friday after Labor Day.”
The requirement is that all participants belong to a tractor club with tractors built 1976 or before.
Another noted event on the Mighty-Mac is the Mackinac Bridge Walk. It has been held every year since 1958. “The first bridge walk was during the Bridge’s Dedication Ceremony in June, 1958 and only 68 people walked across the Mackinac Bridge that year.”
“Since then, up to 80,000 individuals have participated.” The walk has been held on Labor Day every year since 1959. Most years, the Michigan Governor leads off the start of the Bridge Walk and President George H. W. Bush led the walk in 1992.
Next we were off to see the United States Coast Guard ICEBREAKER MACKINAW WAGB-83, known as the “Queen of the Great Lakes” and “The Largest Icebreaker on the Great Lakes”.
“She was built as part of the war effort during World War II to meet the heavy demands of war materials and transportation during the winter months. At full load the Mackinaw displaced 5,252.4 tons and drew 19′ 2.25″ of water. Her innovative features included a 12-foot diameter bow propeller which draws water from beneath the ice ahead, both weakening the ice and sending water along the sides of the hull and reducing ice friction. The Mackinaw also has a heeling system which can shift nearly 112,000 gallons of ballast water from side to side in 90 seconds, allowing a rocking motion which assists the Mackinaw in freeing itself from ice.”
Dinner was onboard, and on the internet checking forecasts. We also enjoyed some college football!
We enjoyed Mackinaw City; for us it was more than just a “tourist trap.”
Life is good!
Friday (9/7) Speaking of the bucket list…
As the sun rose over a nearly deserted Straits State Harbor, the question was: where has everyone gone?
We found out several interesting things this morning. The Straits State Harbor has no season slips available; they are all for transient use.
We found the water as pristine as that we saw in the Bahamas! You could easily see the bottom 12 feet below.
We also found out LOOFAH was in the wrong harbor! More on that later.
We found that there was a parasailing operation in the harbor, an experience on Sue’s Bucket List! A reservation for the noon outing was immediately secured.
As Sue was donning the gear, the others in the boat were clearly anxious.
Art, who had the experience previously, did his best to assuage their fears.
Sue was the first to step to the stern platform, get rigged, and fly.
Art though of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E Neuman and his famous phrase, “What, me worry?” as Sue started to gain altitude.
We have seen, from the water, the Sheppler’s ferries running back and forth from Mackinac Island. Never before have we seen on from the air, hanging from a sport chute! Bets are that Sue was captured in many photographs as she flew overhead!
Parasailing can now be checked off the Bucket List!
Back to the marina issue.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources publishes a Harbor Guide and maintains a website to handle reservations at their numerous facilities. We reserved two nights at the Mackinaw City Municipal Marina. We radioed in and we given our slip assignment, #78, on the south side.
When asked if we wanted assistance at the slip, we said we would be good.
We entered the south harbor and found slip 78. It was a bit small for a 50’ boat, so we opted for #80 next to it, still more fitting for a 35’ vessel than one of 50′.
Sue went to the office where a DNR meeting was being conducted and told #80 was fine. No one checked for a reservation.
The correct marina was next door, to the west: Mackinaw City Marina.
The Mackinaw City Marina had been expecting us and slip 78, a 60’ slip was open awaiting us. It was on the south side of the first pier.
We moved this afternoon and wanted to fuel up before getting to our slip. Problem. In the negotiations between the City and State marinas, the Mackinaw City Marina got gasoline pumps and primarily seasonal slips. The Straits State Harbor got diesel pumps and transient slips.
So, we had to go back to the Sate Harbor for fuel, before we went to our proper slip in the City marina.
Loopers take note. Straits State Marina is the southern marina with diesel; the northern marina, Mackinaw City Municipal Marina also has a few transient slips, but only gasoline. If you want to go to the State Marina, turn left (south) as you approach the ice breaker museum, otherwise turn right for the City Marina.
It is time for dinner ashore!
Thursday (9/6) According to the charts…
At 9:15 LOOFAH III slipped off the pier in Meldrum Bay, heading west to the Straits of Mackinac.
We have stayed on Mackinac Island several times and in St Ignace as well. Today we are going to try something different, Mackinaw City.
Our course took us north of Cockburn Island and down the False Detour Channel east of Drummond Island, into Lake Huron.
We felt like we were home when a downbound “laker” passed us to starboard…
… and even more so when the majestic Grand Hotel came into sight.
LOOFAH started to pull us into the harbor on Mackinaw Island, but after a discussion among her crew, we maintained course to Mackinaw City.
Sue used the US Customs and Boarder Patrol “ROAM” app to check us into US waters. This time we were interviewed by an officer using the video chat feature. As we had used passport information to sign in, she asked us to hold them up in front of the camera on the phone. She suggested next time we use our NEXUS card information when traveling between Canada and the US, as the video chat would not have been necessary.
We spent the afternoon enjoying unlimited internet getting our affairs in order.
The scope of our journey was again highlighted this evening as we watched some TV during dinner aboard.
First were reports on the devastation that “Gordon” brought upon Dolphin Island, in Mobile Bay.
We had visited there in November when they were still rebuilding from the last hurricane. Here they go again.
And then the NFL season kick-off game in Philadelphia started with a Shawn Mendes concert at Penn’s Landing…
… where we visited in mid-June .
Shawn Mendes, “the pride of Pickering, ON,” was the big winner at the 2018 iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards, held on the Sunday night we visited Toronto. We walked the MMVA Red Carpet area that afternoon. Later that night he accepted four awards.
In one evening, memories from the south, the north, and in between!
This has been quite a journey! Unfortunately, according to the charts, it is coming to an end. Milwaukee is just around the corner.
Weather this time of the year starts to get “iffy.” Seas and winds this morning were predicted to be favorable but deteriorating this afternoon. As we have visited the North Channel in both LOOFAH II and LOOFAH III previously, we decided to get underway and see how far west we could get, bypassing the usual places of interest (of which there are many!)
We got underway about 8:45.
In Ontario, all spirits are sold by government operated “LCBO” stores or outlets. This one has “drive-up” mooring available for the cottagers.
Shortly after departing Killarney, we caught up with UTOPIA. Their crew was planning to cruise through Baie Fine to “The Pool” and back to Little Current this evening. We radioed them, executed a “slow pass,” exchanged well wishes, and headed on to make the 10:00 swing bridge opening at Little Current, which we approached at 9:55!
“Victory I” was moored at the public wharf.
As we passed, she was hailed by another vessel inquiring about her departure time. It was 12:30.
About an hour later, we saw another cruise ship coming from the Main Passage, around Clapperton Island from the north.
Our guess was this was the vessel that called Victory I. Little Current’s wharf was a busy place and a popular stop!
As the weather was beginning to deteriorate, we decided to pull into Meldrum Bay. We again went out of our way to take the deep channel in lieu of the channel suggested by the autorouting software. We had gone 82 miles today and were secure in our slip when the rains came at 1:30.
“Meldrum Bay was once a bustling logging and mill town, named after a small town in Scotland. In times past, ships ferried freight and passengers the eighteen miles across the North Channel from Blind River and from Southern Ontario and Michigan, steamships loaded the locally-milled lumber on the Meldrum Bay docks, and commercial fishermen and yachtsman kept the wharfingers busy.”
Meldrum Bay, like many other “once bustling” communities has become quite sedate!
We had dinner at the Meldrum Bay Inn and Restaurant which was built by the Victoria Harbor Company in 1876.
It is absolutely charming place located on the eastern most end of Manitoulin Island.
Tonight we turned off the A/C and on the heat. Fall is in the air.
Now that we were up this far in the Georgian Bay, we decided to cruise the Northeast Passage inside the Bustard Islands to Collins Inlet, before arriving at Killarney for the evening.
According to Skipper Bob, the 16 miles of the Collins Inlet “are some of the most protected and pristine on the trip up Georgian Bay.”
Well-favored Passage, by Pixie Haughwout and Ralph Folsom (whom we met years earlier at Strictly Sail in Chicago), includes this passage: “Yet along its [Georgian Bay] northwestern edge just beyond Killarney lie extremely remote majestic anchorages. Collins Inlet alone, with its native American paintings and towering rock walls mantled with pine and birch growing out of cracks and fissures, is worth the journey.”
Mill Lake, located about half way through, is the site of Mill Lake Lodge, the only fishing outpost in the inlet.
We took over two hours to enjoy this passage.
As we were traveling the short distance from Collins Inlet to Killarney, we got an unexpected VHF call from Bobbie on “First Forty.” “First Forty,” “State of Bliss,” and “Moon Dance,” who we left in Parry Sound, were approaching Killarney as well, having spent last night at anchor before cutting across the bay.
All of us were heading for piers at the Killarney Mountain Lodge.
After all of us got settled, we gathered in the “Carousel” of the Killarney Mountain Lodge for refreshment and conversation.
If we hadn’t been forced to go to Plan B two days earlier, we would have missed another opportunity to be with Jill and Ivan in Britt, Collins Inlet, and this merry bunch in Killarney!
Somehow, things for us just seem to work out well!
Monday (9/3) Cautiously underway.
Today’s “Plan A” was to cross Georgian Bay from Parry Sound to Killarney at the East end of the North Channel.
However, as we were coming out of the channel from Parry Sound we received a hail from Dale, aboard “UTOPIA,” a Prestige 500 Fly that had left the marina earlier.
They had been out in the bay and were turning back as they had unexpectedly experienced 6-foot seas. Both UTOPIA and LOOFAH took a few minutes to come up with a “Plan B.”
Not wishing to backtrack all the way to the marina at the east end of Parry Sound, we both decided to head north through the “small boat channel” and to see what materialized.
As we did so, the overcast, gray skies brightened, but the winds still prevailed.
We were still uneasy as we navigated through the rock ledges that we could see, knowing their brothers and sisters were loitering below.
Sharp, narrow s-turns were carefully navigated at just above idle speed. But at least the channel was marked: red triangle to the right, green squares to the left.
As we continued through the channel, we enjoyed seeing the cottages balanced on the rocks. This one was particularly unique.
Then we came to the lighthouse at Pointe au Baril, knowing that we would need to go back out into the bay to get to Byng Inlet and Britt.
Immediately after passing the lighthouse, we came upon this: “The site of the original barrel denoting safe passage through turbulent waters.” Later research regarding the barrel follows the post.
Approaching Byng Inlet, the decision was made to head well out into the bay, to the beginning of the well-marked, deep channel that allowed tankers (years ago) to dock in Britt, rather that the small craft channel that seemed to require some local knowledge.
As initially we were unable to contact Wright’s Marina by VHF, Sue called Gil on the telephone to see if a slip was available. She said the marina crew was assisting UTOPIA get moored, but it appeared there was a slip open next to their boat, “Lake Effect.”
After we got settled, Gil and Ivan, provided hors d’oeuvres ashore for the crews of UTOPIA and LOOFAH III.
When we left Gil, Ivan, Luc and Sylvie last Friday night in Britt, we didn’t anticipate meeting again so soon! We went back to St. Amant’s for dinner.
Were it not for the unanticipated change in itinerary, we would have missed wonderful occasion.
It is funny how things seem to work out!
ARCHIPELAGO TOWNSHIP — Georgian Bay, besides having 30,000 islands, is well known for its dangerous rocky shoals that presumably outnumber its islands. It is not unexpected then, that travel in these treacherous waters is most enjoyed by those who have an adventurous spirit. Its many channels are peppered with buoys and markers to alert boaters of shallow waters and underwater shoals. Though well before Transport Canada was given the mandate to maintain safe passage, this responsibility fell on the shoulders of its residents. Early settlers, who depended on open-water lake trout and whitefish fisheries for their livelihood, were both opportunistic and ingenious in guiding their fishing fleet safely back to port. One never knew if they had to end their day at dusk or the dark of a moonless night. Uncertainty in catches and wind conditions made it difficult to predict how long it might take the crew of a schooner to lift, remove their catch, and reset their fishing gear.
Prior to the establishment of a lighthouse, navigation by fishermen into Pointe au Baril was aided by a simple wooden barrel. Historic accounts indicate the barrel once contained whisky and originated from French fur traders passing through the area by canoe. They had placed the barrel on the point as a marker in the 1870s, hence the name Pointe au Baril or “Barrel Point”. A tradition started wherein the first returning fisherman would light a lamp in the barrel to guide the remainder of the fleet back to safe harbour. At one point, the barrel was placed on its side, and its opening aligned to open water so that the emerging light could only be observed by a vessel when approaching it from a safe, shoal-free direction. The crew maintained eye contact with the lit barrel and in this way did not stray off course. This was a rather unique beacon using the same principle as today’s range tower/lighthouse arrangement.
Eventually, the primitive system was replaced. A lighthouse at Pointe au Baril was built in 1889 by the Department of the Marine. Today, the lighthouse is automated and Emmaline Madigan is the keeper of its museum who makes the most tasty blueberry pies. My father who took his family to the area each summer since 1964 was an architect/cabinet maker. After retiring and reading the history of the original wooden barrel, he thought he might be able to make an unsolicited contribution.
Saturday (9/1) Sound Boat Works: 5 STAR!
We try not to be repetitive, but we found ourselves saying “Wow!” a great deal today.
The Sound Boat Works crew (Gerry, Mike and Curtis) assembled at 7:30 on this Saturday morning of long holiday weekend. The crane was warmed up 15 minutes later.
It was time for us to depart for breakfast and to give the Sound Boat Works crew some space.
When we returned, the IPS unit was up and being carefully positioned in the hull. A major step in the right direction.
Art never imagined that the ports he cut into the garage floor, to check the oil level in the pods, would be used to hoist a new IPS unit into place.
Now the time-consuming work of aligning and connecting the unit to the drive shaft, and the reinstallation of the rigid water intakes and exhaust hoses needed to be completed.
We took the time to get our website posts up to date. By the way, on the way to Toronto we found that our little “Spark” has access to the internet through OnStar! It is as fast as that available at Tim Horton’s and more convenient, if you are willing to work in a car seat.
Back to the task at hand.
Shortly before noon, Gerry climbed out of the maximum 3’ space between the floor of the garage and the hull, aft of the engine room. He had been curled up like a pretzel for the entire morning working with wrenches to get everything, mechanical and electrical, connected to the new drive unit. He had a smile; a great sign!
It was time for lunch and an opportunity for Gerry to stretch out his back.
After lunch, it was time for Mike to begin his wizardry.
First, he installed “pads” on the forward tips of the propeller shafts. They had lasers that shot back and forth to each other to handle final alignment.
Next, he had to download a software update for one of the modules. Then he connected his computer to both drive units, independently calibrating their rotation from centered to full port, to center, to full starboard and back to center. Finally, he came down and used the lasers to precisely align the drive units to each other. It was a symphony.
The alignment pads were removed, and our beautiful new props were installed. Stunning!
All that remained was to reinstall the garage door. Art even got to help with this operation.
And then it was time to launch. LOOFAH III was again floating!
Mike checked the oil levels in the pods and searched for water leaks. All looked good; it was time for a sea trial. Art took LOOFAH out from the pier and the marina with the joy stick. Everything worked normally. He turned the helm over to Gerry who exercised the boat, ultimately to full throttle. While we were still out in the bay, Gerry became familiar with the joystick before he took LOOFAH III expertly back into the fuel pier.
We topped off and pumped out. It was hard to say good bye to this wonderful team. There was nothing that we could say that was adequate to express our appreciation for the extraordinary work they did for us.
After 11 days on the hard, LOOFAH III cruised slowly back across the bay to Big Sound Marina where we were greeted on the pier by Gold Loopers Bill and Bobbie (“First Forty”). We traveled the rivers to Mobile, AL with them until both crews took a break for Christmas.
Jim and Andrea (“State of Bliss“) were also in the marina. We first met them in Green Turtle Bay, KY and last saw them in Marathon, FL.
Bobbie and Bill hosted docktails on First Forty. Art was finally able to give Bobbie a bottle of Iowa’s Templeton Rye, which we brought back to LOOFAH after Christmas. Bobbie had introduced Art to a Colorado Rye when we were in Ottawa.
At docktails, we also met, for the first time, Nancy and Bob aboard “Moon Dance.”
The 8 of us walked down the street, past the Bobby Orr Museum, to Boston Pizza for dinner. We started on the patio before a drenching rain storm forced us inside.
After a big day, we retired to LOOFAH, happily bobbing afloat.
Friday (8/31) Excellence in Customer Service!
The skies were partly cloudy today. A perfect day to continue compounding and waxing operations.
Several emails and text message were received asking the same question, constantly in our minds as well; were the O-rings going to be delivered today?
About 3:30, Art walked through the shop to the guest showers. Mike volunteered that deliveries on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend maybe delayed due to traffic. Gerry joked that we may end up with 4 O-rings on Tuesday.
But, by the time Art returned through the shop, the delivery truck had arrived, and two O rings were pulled from a box!
The rest of the story is interesting. When Mike ordered the replacement propulsion unit from Volvo – Vancouver, he was advised that the O-rings were not in stock. To accelerate the delivery, Volvo had two O-rings from their order drop shipped directly to Sound Boat Works. When Mike found out yesterday that “our” O-rings were still in Toronto he called Volvo to see if they received their shipment. They had. Mike had two O-rings shipped overnight from Vancouver to Parry Sound. The O-rings received were from Vancouver. While we were discussing this, Kim, came to the door of the office loft with a smile, “The other O-rings are still in Toronto!”
Hats off to Mike and Gerry for executing Plan B!
But the best news was yet to come: Gerry, Mike and Curtis are coming in tomorrow, on a 3-day holiday weekend, to install the starboard IPS unit! Hopefully, if all goes as planned, Loofah III maybe floating by Saturday night.
With happy hearts we departed for Britt and dinner with four “Gold Loopers” we met on the second day of the Loop (more on that later). We spent the hour drive talking about the wonderful Sound Boat Works crew and their heroic efforts to get LOOFAH III back in the water.
Case studies are often used in academia. Our experience at Sound Boat Works could be written up as an example of a dedicated team and truly exceptional customer service!
Friday (8/31) Part II – At the beginning and at the end!
We have nearly come full circle on the Loop.
On our second night on the Loop, we were greeted on the wall at Peoria by three Canadian couples: Gil & Yvon (“Lake Effect”), Sylvie & Luc (“Lil Hideaway”) and Wendy and Jim (“Triple Threat”).
After starting the Loop with them, it is fitting we end the Loop with them. We spent three evenings with Jim and Wendy at their cottage on Clear Lake. Tonight, we would dine with the others in Britt.
There is a certain bond that develops through shared experiences, especially when they are “out of the ordinary.” It is a bond not easily described or fully understood by “outsiders” to the group.
Since returning from the Loop, Luc has resumed his automotive work and Sylvie her teaching. Yvon and Gil are building a new house (and a second).
The evening went too quickly, and had we packed clothing, we would have accepted Yvon’s offer to spend the night on “Lake Effect.”
Yvon and Gil (Ivan and Jill) have a place in Fort Myers so it is very likely we will meet again. Yet to be determined is how we will reconnect with Luc and Sylvie; it will happen!
Driving back, we realized once again what a special day, and experience, this year has been!
Thursday (8/30) Shenanigans at the boarder?
It was another productive day aboard LOOFAH. As Art’s sister commented in an email today, with all the attention LOOFAH has received, she should slip through the water!
Mike approached Art this afternoon with an expression like he had just lost is best friend. Fortunately, the news was not that bad.
It seems that the O-rings have been sitting in a Toronto bonded warehouse since Tuesday, awaiting processing to come into Canada. Hopefully they will arrive Friday afternoon, just before the three-day weekend. Mike was at wits’ end.
Someone suggested it was the result of the current NAFTA negotiations and “trade war.”
When Art worked for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) in the early 1970’s, he did training and consulting work throughout the US and Canada, as the trade association had members in both countries. Whenever PCA sent material to Canada it used a broker that specialized in “expediting” shipments through the paperwork and tariffs handled at “bonded warehouses.” Mind you these were notebooks of little intrinsic value. When the cost of this “special handling” was taken from Art’s budget, his boss noted that it was just a cost of doing business in Canada; it prevented “shenanigans at the border.”
Apparently, some things haven’t changed in 50 years.
Sitting high and dry, LOOFAH is in hopes that maybe – finally – a serious, thoughtful and balanced discussion of “shenanigans at the boarder” can take place. The cries to “Buy Canadian,” “Buy American,” “Buy Local,” “From field to table,” etc., all sound great, they just won’t work in this world anymore.
Gerry, Mike, Curtis, Kim and crew have gone overboard for us. It is tragic that the weak-link seems to be bureaucratic.
So much to ponder this evening as the waters of Parry Sound have settled and the sunsets have returned.
Wednesday (8/29) Oh, for the O-rings!
Things continue to progress!
Mike pressure tested the port pod. As no leaks were identified, he put in 3.7 gallons of 75W/90. That accomplished, the restoration work on the port pod was completed.
Curtis sanded and finished the gelcoat on the transom fiberglass work. The color match is incredible. Have you ever tried to match a paint that is three years old? That is essentially what Kim did.
Here was the crack between two molded sections of fiberglass. The sections had been glassed together inside the transom, but just gelcoat filled the joint on the exterior.
Curtis ground out both side of the crack.
Fiberglass was then added making the joint as secure on the exterior as it was inside.
Finally, the gelcoat was applied and sanded smooth.
Better than new!
With the fiberglass work completed, we are down to the installation of the starboard IPS unit.
Amid periods of mist and light rain, Art continued his work on compounding and waxing the hull. It was nice to get the gunk acquired from fenders and locking operations, removed.
The afternoon delivery included all the remaining parts required, except for the two large O-rings that seal the transmission and propulsion units to the hull. O-rings were not in the common vernacular until O-ring failures caused the 1986 Challenger disaster that killed 7 astronauts. Ours are not as critical, but a watertight seal is essential.
So, we are on hold until they arrive.
After dinner this evening there was a knock on our hull. Kathy and Chris on “KayCee,” a Bayliner in the marina, invited us aboard for coffee and conversation. They have a home near here and for the past 8 years have rented a Key Largo, FL home for a month. We had a marvelous conversation and appreciated their gracious invitation.
Although not exactly according to plan, we had another good day on the Loop.
Tuesday (8/28) Christmas!
This morning was spent at the grocery store, laundromat, and on a step ladder compounding and waxing the hull which had not been done since LOOFAH was voyaging in salt water.
When we reconvened for lunch, Mike had replaced the bent shaft and propellers on the port side. They looked magnificent!
During lunch an IDEALLEASE delivery truck could been seen coming through the trees and down the road to the boat works. Could it be?
But, although the shipment had the major components, the O-rings that seal the two units at the hull were not included. Gerry was on the phone. They have come from the States, are in Toronto and will be trucked up tomorrow.
In the meantime, the garage door was removed to facilitate lifting the transmission into place, and Kim and Mike proceeded with the fiberglass work.
It was after 7:00 this evening when Kim and Curtis finished their work for the day. Dedicated!
We appreciate all of the supportive messages via emails, text and facebook from everyone cheering on the Sound Boat Works crew as well as Loofah III’s crew. We are seeing new interest in our blog. Welcome Canadian Cruisers the latest follower.
Monday (8/27) Back to Business
Toronto is quite a city. We enjoyed our experience of walking through the various urban plazas, including the Eaton-Dundas plaza, near our hotel.
After a slow start, we headed our little red Chevy Spark north, making stops at Staples and Home Depot on the way back to Parry Sound.
While we were returning, the team at Sound Boat Works continued their diligent efforts to get LOOFAH back underway.
When we returned we found the starboard transmission in a wheelbarrow; disconnected from the engine, lowered, and removed from the boat. With this completed, all the damaged parts were removed. It was now time to begin putting things back together!
We stood up through the hole in the hull to see that some relatively minor fiberglass work had been done around the collar that supports the propulsion assembly.
Gerry was in hopes that the truck with the new parts from Vancouver would have arrived today. Following up on it, he was told it should arrive tomorrow.
Some fiberglass repairs are required on a non-structural portion of the “garage.” Gerry introduced us to Kim who was mixing up gelcoat material, color matching it to the hull. Amazing!
Gerry and his team are first rate. Hopefully, the trucking company will come through!
Sunday (8/26) A funny thing happened 1,151′ up the CN Tower!
Toronto is an amazing city. As usual, we chose to view it initially through the “Hop On, Hop Off” trolley method, including a ferry ride in the harbor.
But the highlight of the day was our luncheon.
Completed in 1976, the CN Tower held the record for the world’s tallest (1,815.3 ft) free-standing structure for 32 years until 2007 and was the world’s tallest tower until 2009 being overtaken by Burj Khalifa and Canton Tower, respectively. It is now the ninth tallest tower in the world and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. In 1995, the CN Tower was declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Art’s buddies.
The Toronto Blue Jays were at home, playing the Philly’s, 1,151 feet below us.
Although dining in a rotating restaurant was an enjoyable experience, the BEST part was talking with, Dave, our waiter. He had actually been in Des Moines!
Dave had his motorcycle shipped from Toronto to Vancouver. He then rode it down the West Coast, through the Southwest and back to Salt Lake City. From there he returned to Toronto in just 5 days!
In rural Iowa, about a hundred miles out of Des Moines, he had encounter heavy winds and preferred not to ride through them. He and his bike were able to secure a lift to Des Moines. While there, Dave particularly enjoyed seeing the Iowa State Capitol and visiting the Iowa Tap Room with its 120 beers!
On the walk back to the hotel, we passed the Red Carpet for the iHeartRadio MMVA awards which will be held tonight.
Sue provided a wonderful backdrop for CTVs Leena Latafat’s report from the venue.
We also stopped at the Toronto Eaton Centre, North America’s busiest shopping mall, which attracts nearly 50 million visitors a year.
We enjoyed LONG, HOT showers (after logging 12,000 steps) before reclining on the bed in front of Sunday Night Football.
Life is good!
Saturday (8/25) For some, time to decompress.
As Art poured coffee and looked out the galley window this Saturday morning at 7:30, there was Mike walking down to the pier with tools in hand. He and Jerry have been working on a sailboat moored there this past week. Saturday morning, 7:30, and they are at work trying to get someone back underway. Now that is service!
For us, the weekend plan was to seek respite from a home that is functional on the water, but not so on land. We departed on a road trip to Toronto.
Toronto, among its numerous attributes, has one major downside: traffic. Even on Saturday.
When we were researching Toronto this evening at our hotel, it was confirmed:
“A report released by U.K.-based business solution company Expert Market reveals Toronto is the worst in North America when it comes to commuting times and sixth worst in the world. The top five worst cities for commuting are Rio de Janeiro, followed by Bogota, Sao Paulo, Istanbul and Salvador.”
However, “Toronto and Montreal are the top two best places to live in the world according to an index of city rankings compiled by The Economist.
The report ranked cities based on their levels of digital security, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety. The shortlist of 50 cities were selected by the magazine based on factors such as regional representation and availability of data.
When Toronto was weighed by factors such as livability, cost of living, business environment, democracy, safety and food security, it came out on top.”
Tomorrow we will experience this wonderful place.
Friday (8/24) An international effort!
The GREAT news of the day can best be summarized by the following photo:
LOOFAH’s new props arrived!
When we met with Mike, the Volvo expert at Sound Boat Works, on Monday, he said he was successful locating the major parts in Vancouver, but that the prop sets were not to be found in North America.
Apparently, he didn’t stop there. He found them. And they shipped on Tuesday, via Fed Ex …
from Volvo, Oostakker, Ghent, Belgium, 3,662 miles to Sound Boat Works, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada
in 72 hours!
It continues to look like LOOFAH has the right team working for her!
Thursday (8/23) “On the Rocks” revisited.
This morning brought a request from Paul Fenn, our friend at Prestige who did the YouTube video of us when we were in Annapolis ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSwRYAyiasw ).
He had seen our post on the “grounding” and asked if he could use the experience on the Prestige website. We gave him our OK. Sue and Paul messaged back and forth regarding the details. Later in the day, the following was posted at https://prestigeunderway.com/ .
Thank you, Paul, for your kind comments, Paul!
Wednesday (8/22) “Home on the Range.”
Today we settled in to our new location, high on a trailer at Sound Boat Works.
Knowing that we were going to be “on the hard” for some time, we arranged for a rental car from Enterprise. The woman that picked us up was familiar with the location of the boat works and Looping, noting that she had picked up others that also required the yard’s services! We felt better.
We spent the day running errands.
As we were preparing dinner, this was the scene aft.
We had a chuckle as we noted that LOOFAH III was literally, our “Home on the range,” the title and refrain of the classic western folk song that became the state song of Kansas in 1947.
On June 10 we posted this navigational “range” we followed in the northern Chesapeake Bay.
It is an arrangement where the safe course is established by keeping two lights or targets vertically aligned as you proceed.
Our home was literally on the range. At our stern was the forward, lower, target of the range; at our bow, up the hill, was the back, upper, target.
Ah, the things that come to mind over cocktails and dinner aboard LOOFAH!
Tuesday (8/21) The right team!
Loofah’s crew has been characterized, by some, as being “Pollyanna’s,” overly optimistic, glass-half-full (or more), people.
Today started with an early call from David Buchanan of Buchanan Marine Appraisals, the Accredited Marine Surveyor (“AMS”) Steven mentioned in yesterday’s call.
It was followed, almost immediately, by a call from Kim at Sound Boat Works asking if we could have LOOFAH III at their yard at 1:00? David would be driving up from Orillia to check her out. That is service!
LOOFAH was at the dock and pulled by 1:30.
A detailed survey was completed among rain showers that dumped a foot of rain on Chicago yesterday.
Here is what the propulsion unit is supposed to look like, hanging nicely below the hull:
Here is what the hull looks like after one has been sheared off:
Fortunately, the unit is designed to break off rather than tearing the hull apart. This is the view from the stern: the port side pod in tact (without prop set); starboard side sheared off.
We are not suggesting that others on the Loop, or those cruising on Prestige craft elsewhere, try this experiment. LOOFAH has done it for you! And we floated!
Tonight, we are high and dry, awaiting more exploratory work, parts and repairs. This email sent to Ken, Stephen, David, and Team Sound Boat Works, sums up our day’s experience:
Just a quick note of THANKS, to all of you, for the attention you have provided us!
Sue and I know that much remains to be accomplished before LOOFAH III is again underway and the file is closed on this claim. But, if the first few days are any indication, we have the right team working on the case!
Loopers traditionally try to be in Chicago (out of the Great Lakes) by Labor Day. Our experience, home ported in Milwaukee, is that goal is generally very conservative. But things do generally change quickly later in the month. The concern is, as Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald” points out, “When the gales of November came early.” (That was in Lake Superior, not Michigan; but we digress.)
We went to bed tonight reassured, realizing although it is early, THE TEAM is trying their best to get us back on the water and safely home.
And, we don’t think we are “Pollyanna’s.”
Monday (8/20) “On the Rocks”
The first call this morning was to Ken Marks of the Marks Insurance Group. Ken’s group, with Brit Global Specialty USA, offers an exclusive program for AGLCA members that we purchased last year, before commencing the Loop.
Next on the agenda was a dinghy ride across the bay to Sound Boat Works. There was the propulsion unit on the floor of the shed.
Art met Mike, Sound’s Volvo expert, and was pleased to find that he was already up to speed. Mike said he would know more after a call to Volvo in Vancouver, BC when their offices opened a few hours (time zones) later.
Before the day was over, Ken had contacted Britt, Britt opened the case and assigned an adjuster, the adjuster (Steven Butler of York Risk Services Group) called us and secured a marine surveyor, and Sound Boat Works had a replacement transmission and propulsion unit being shipped from Vancouver.
The next step will be to get the boat hauled to see what evils lurk below the waterline.
We took the dinghy over to the “Flight Deck,” a restaurant located at the base of Georgian Bay Airways.
When Art traveled Canada with the Portland Cement Association, he learned to enjoy Canadian Club, “on the rocks.” Fitting! We chuckled as he ordered it.
On our table was a brochure with a menu of available flight opportunities, one of which was a “Fly and Dine Signature Experience” to Henry’s Fish Restaurant. We had moored and dined there the night before we sheared off the propulsion unit. The package was $186 CAD/person (meal extra). Boy, did we save some money going by boat!?
All was well as we cruised back to our floating LOOFAH III, in lucky slip 7, at Big Sound Marina. We had a good laugh as we passed a boat named “On the Rocks!”
It was another good day. What will tomorrow bring?
Sunday (8/19) Postmortem
It was a “bacon and eggs Sunday,” but there was also work to be done. We knew “what” happened yesterday, but not “why.”
The postmortem, according to the “Captain”
This is my story, and I’m sticking with it!
The Raymarine navigation system includes an “Autorouting” feature that, based upon the boats draft (and air draft), suggests the best course between two points. It also shows warnings (a triangle with “!” in it) where special attention needs to be given. Normal waypoints are round circles connected by a red line.
According to the US Army Corps of Engineers website, Lakes Huron and Michigan are 36” ABOVE chart datum. The Navionics charts showed the suggested route proceeding through an area 6’ deep, based on chart datum of 577.50’. With the high water this year (+3 feet), the water should have been 9’ deep. LOOFAH requires 3’4”.
The rest of the story, showing the suggested course, LOOFAH’s course, and the location where the propulsion unit was found, is documented on the following screen shot taken from the chartplotter.
The bad news is obvious. The good news is that no one was hurt, no other boats were involved, LOOFAH continued to float, and although the props were bent, the port engine and drive unit were able to get us back to port without assistance.
We could have chosen a closer port, but Parry Sound was the closest port with a Volvo certified boat yard. And, once we were underway, we didn’t want to chance stopping our only operational engine.
With the postmortem behind us, relieved that an obvious operator error had not been made, we enjoyed Sunday night pizza aboard.
Will the repairs be completed before the Fall gales visit the northern Great Lakes? What are the various possible scenarios? Time will tell.
Saturday (8/18) Fortunately, LOOFAH was built better than the Titanic!
- Marina confirms we can stay as long as we need (subject to ice)
- Marina Manager, George, takes us to Sound Boat Works ltd (Volvo certified)
- Gerry appears knowledgeable and is reassuring!
- Return to LOOFAH to get things back in order after yesterdays potential Titanic experience.
- Gerry calls; “Curtis and I would like to get the propulsion unit off your stern. If it’s OK, well be there in in a few minutes in our work boat.” Wow, on Saturday!
- Part and serial numbers to Gerry
- Brief interested fellow Loopers (and others) in port
- Late lunch and nap
- Pizza and beautiful sunset this evening.
- Life is good!
Friday (8/17) Georgian Bay DISASTER!
- Beautiful Islands
- Until you hit a submerged rock at 22 mph
- Propulsion unit shears off and sinks
- Boat still floats!
- Recover propulsion unit and tie off to stern
- Dive anchor to release from jamb in crevasse 15′ below.
- Navigate 27.1 miles through thunderstorm and pitch dark at 5 mph.
- Arrive at vacant slip in Parry Sound, Big Sound Marina at 11:30 PM
- Greeted by a half dozen mariners, responding to our search light, offering mooring assistance.
- LOOFAH III’s slip number? LUCKY 7!
- Exhausted; time for a nightcap and bed!
- All is well!
Thursday (8/16) Frying Pan Island
- Henry’s Fish Restaurant “and Resort?”
Wednesday (8/15) Penetanguishene, ON
- Discovery Harbor – The largest British Naval establishment on the Great Lakes
- Worlds World Famous Dock Lunch established in 1957
Tuesday (8/14) The Big Chute!
Yesterday we became confident that the machinery and operators of the Big Chute Marine Railway, Lock 44 knew what they were doing and were up to the task of getting LOOFAH III safely up and over. The railroad is the only marine railroad still in use in North America and it can handle boats of all shapes,
To start the process, the 80’ long, 24’ wide carriage is partially submerged. Depending on the beam of the boat, the carriage can handle three small boats abreast…
two abreast …
or, as in LOOFAH’s case, just one.
This is accomplished by rams located below the decking of the carriage that lift belts,
or belts that are cable operated from the superstructure.
The carriage can transport just over 90 tons (LOOFAH weighs 15) and is moved by a cable system…
and four 200-horsepower electric motors with drums.
The current marine railroad was opened to the public in 1978, and cost $3 million to build.
Convinced that we knew the system and that LOOFAH would be in good hands it was Show Time!
At 9:00 LOOFAH headed for the Blue Line. “Please approach.” The crew had been watching us; the carriage was in the water and the rear two slings were lowered. Here goes!
We easily got positioned in the slings, with our pods overhanging the rear of the carriage. Before we knew it, we were airborne, heading up and crossing a road. On the upstream side, there was just a short distance to the top of the hill.
Then it was all down, six stories down!
The 600-foot trip took just 6 minutes from water to water!
Looking back put our downhill ride in perspective and provided a good view of how the dual tracks are constructed to keep the carriage relatively level, the front wheels of the carriage riding on the upper rails and the rear wheels on the lower.
Success! Back in the water we restarted LOOFAH’s engines and slipped out of the slings and carriage. Relief; everything was in order.
However, we could only relax for a few minutes before we were presented with this ominous sign and another challenge.
No oncoming traffic made the passage relatively easy.
At 10:35 LOOFAH approached Port Severen Lock 45, the last on the Trent-Severen Waterway.
The contract for the construction of lock 45 was let in 1914. With the start of World War I, there was a shortage of manpower and resources; Lock 45 at Port Severn was finished as a small, “temporary” lock. The same lock remains in use to this day and is the smallest on the waterway.
It was tight, not much room between boats in the lock or those exiting or waiting to enter.
The “temporary” lock at Port Severen was completed; the locks at Big Chute and Swift Rapids were not. Instead, “temporary” marine railways were built. Lock 43, with a lift of 47′, was constructed in 1964 to replace the Swift Rapids Marine Railroad and a new marine railroad was constructed at Big Chute in 1978.
This evening, over salads on the aft deck, we thought about the marvelous and varied experiences we have had so far on this journey of 6,321 miles.
The Port Severen Lock 45 was the last of the 154 locks we have negotiated on the Loop; 2,821 feet of going up and down.
It is all level from here to Milwaukee.
Monday (8/13) Heading for the Chute!
Did we mention that the impellers of the engines were replaced yesterday and how relieved we were when water was seen circulating through the seawater strainers? Well, that was at idle speed. Now the real test, at speed and under load, before head into Lake Huron.
The day and seas (none) were perfect as we left the marina at 9:00 and headed into the northern portion of Lake Simcoe. It was time to open the throttles!
The Volvo IPS 600’s purred like kittens at 3300 rpm. Relief, squared!
We were feeling great until we passed Ship Island to port.
We immediately thought of Malthus and his theory that population tends to increase at a faster rate than its means of subsistence. Unless it is checked by moral restraint or disaster (such as disease, famine, or war) widespread poverty and degradation inevitably result.
What a bummer!
Fortunately, better vistas were ahead as we got to the Severen River and the Trent Canal.
But you never can completely relax in this area where the granite rock of the Canadian Shield as a “sunken island” may lurk just below the surface! The “10” refers to the speed limit, 10 kilometers per hour (6.2 mph, 5.4 knots).
Why would anyone want to go faster through this beautiful cut?
What a serene place to have a summer cottage!
At 10:15 we locked down 21 feet at Couchiching Lock 42 and at 12:15 another 47 feet at Swift Rapids Lock 43. The Swift Rapids lock replaced the old, outdated Swift Rapids Marine Railway in 1964.
At about 1:30 LOOFAH arrived at the Big Chute Marine Railway, Lock 44. Although we had plenty of time to continue, we decided to moor along the Parks pier at the site of the original Big Chute Marine Railway completed in 1917 that could carry boats up to 35 feet.
In 1923, the original railway was replaced with the second carriage that could carry boats up to 60 feet long. The 1923 carriage was used up until around 2003, on days of extremely heavy traffic, or as a backup for the new carriage. And there it sat, today, behind LOOFAH.
But this was the Big Chute carriage of today.
We spent the day walking up and down the chute, looking at the carriage operation, and watching boats of all sizes, get their ride up and over.
The carriage stopped to exchange crew when we were on the observation deck. In passing, one the operators surprised us by saying, “We’ll put your Prestige on the rear of the carriage with the pods hanging over the end.” Apparently they watch approaching boats closely!
During dinner at the adjacent Big Chute Marina restaurant, this beauty came to the pier for fuel.
For those interested in vintage boats (and reproductions) check out this website! BEAUTIFUL work!
What was Art thinking about as he hit the sack this evening?
Sunday (8/12) Canadians are secretly pugilists.
This morning, our mission was breakfast up the street at the Mariposa Market.
This is a bakery!
We returned to the marina where the cardboard boats were being delivered for the noon races.
“The Orillia Waterfront Festival in-water boat show features new, dealer trade, select brokerage and private owner boats, and includes everything from kayaks to cruisers! Over 100 land vendors and exhibitors offer boating accessories, water sport equipment, cottage and outdoor products, great summer fashions, good food & more! Art exhibits, dog agility trials, Dock Dogs Diving Contest, exciting water ski shows throughout the weekend, and hilarious Cardboard Boat Race Sunday at Noon!
An average of 20,000 people attend the festival each year!
People come to the festival by land and water … sometimes by the same craft.
And sometimes they come by air!
As expected, the boats got a good deal of attention.
As did the vendors.
This “cottage” caught our attention. Built from shipping containers, they can be joined and stacked like Legos, and “easily” moved!
But, each year the highlight of the festival is the cardboard boat races that started at noon.
There are awards for the biggest, the best costumes, the fastest, etc. Then there is the “Titanic Award.”
The event starts out with a spirited race with everyone (mostly everyone) make a college try at it.
But then, at the end of the race, chaos! “Friends Diner” (with the Stanley Cup on its masthead) snuck up on the hockey crew of “KRS” and started to demolish it with their paddles! It must be a hockey thing!
By the end of the event, only cardboard and crews in lifejackets were floating in the bay!
And we thought that Canadians were most proud of their role of UN Peacekeepers. We never did find out who won the “Titanic Award.” Was it the first to sink, our the last?
We have enjoyed Orillia, but it is time to move on. Tonight we grilled steaks onboard and reviewed the passage to the Big Chute marine railroad, “Lock 44,” tomorrow’s destination. The Trent-Severen Waterway is coming to an end, as are locks.
Saturday (8/11) Canadian catch and release?
The major portion of the day was spent attending the to balance of the preventive maintenance items in LOOFAH’s engine room. The major challenge: the seawater pump impeller on each engine. Readers will be spared the details other than to share the relief when the engines started and abundant quantities of water circulated through the strainers!
You will, instead, be introduced you to two charming young ladies who had a fishing business on the pier.
Their bait (bread) was placed into a net which was then tended off the swim platform. The net was patiently tended for the next few minutes, occasionally being swirled.
Inevitably, “I’ve got a fish!” was proudly proclaimed as the net was pulled from the water, with everyone on the pier as delighted as the fisherfolk. The fish was then sorted, by size, into one of three buckets.
Now here is the enterprising part; the girls sold the fish. One dollar each. One might ask what is so interesting about that?
Well, you really didn’t get to keep the fish to eat. It was a catch and release program. The benefit to the purchaser was that the fish would be brought to the stern of your boat to be released!
Friday (8/10) Time for a transfusion!
No, not the crew; LOOFAH!
LOOFAH III has taken good care of us over the past 6,260 miles. It was now time to give her some attention. Fortunately, the routine kind.
This morning, Crate’s Lake Country Boats worked her into a busy boat show weekend to change the oil in her propulsion units. Unlike the engine oil which can be changed with the boat in the water, the drain plug for the pods is located in the lowest point, below the water line. Create’s is one of Canada’s leading Volvo shops, so LOOFAH was in great hands.
This also gave us an opportunity to clean the various sea water strainers, drain water and sentiment from the fuel separators, and to preform the other items on the routine maintenance lists for the engines, generator and heat pumps.
As NASA would say, everything was “nominal.”
With these things completed, we are “good to go” for the home stretch, through the Georgian Bay and North Channel of Lake Huron, and into Lake Michigan.
We returned to the marina where the slips were filling quickly for the weekend activities.
Tonight, we will sleep well!
Thursday (8/9) Until we meet again; yet again!
Mariners, especially those of us “Looping,” are part of a special community. We enjoy helping each other with docking, local information, weather & sea reports, options for the next port, restaurant choices, provisioning opportunities, and in a myriad other ways.
As we arrived yesterday, Joe, aboard “Padraigin” in the slip behind us, greeted us with, “I remember you.”
“We met on the Hudson and you gave us a slow pass that we really appreciated.”
A “slow pass” is when, in an overtaking situation, both boats slow down, minimizing wakes and the resulting rolling. We recalled Joe graciously hailing us on the VHF to thank us.
The last time we saw Padraigin was it was moored behind us at the Waterford wall over six weeks ago!
Shortly thereafter, “Kailani” came into the marina. Art joined a few others to assist with their lines. From the helm we heard Nick say, “Art, good to see you!”
We saw Kalani in Half Moon Bay and then as we did the first 6 locks of the Erie Canal together. They continued through the Erie Canal while we returned to Waterford, up through Lake Champlain and back down through the Canadian Canals. Having gone different directions, we met again!
Later in the day, “Anchor Inn” arrived at the pier. Although they are not “Loopers”, we stopped by to make sure they received the aerial photos Art took of them at lock 39. Marty & Kim live near Bobcaygeon and are enjoying time doing the canals on their boat.
It was hard to miss the Harley Davidson towels prominently displayed in their cockpit. Harley Davidson is headquartered in Milwaukee, which added to the conversation!
Tuesday night, while we were having dinner with Bob & Phyllis (Gabriel), Bob & Laurie (Still Ms Bee Haven) walked into the restaurant.
We first met Bob & Laurie at Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands, as we were getting into the dingy to return to LOOFAH. Laurie inquired where we were staying. They were trying to decide if they would anchor nearby or continue trying to find a marina at that late hour. She had tried several but found they were all full because of the Poker Run.
Sue said we were at the Thousand Island Yacht Club. She offered to find the dockmaster and ask him to call her to discuss possible options, as it appeared a few slips were vacant. Thirty minutes Bob & Laurie waived as they pulled into the marina.
Also, on the pier today was “Big Dog,” with whom we shared several locks this past week, including the pan at the Kirkfield Lift Lock.
Sue was walking back from the laundry as they were departing and inquired if she could give them a hand with lines. They said it would be appreciated. Once safely underway, they quickly shared that their home port is a favorite stop in Georgian Bay: Sans Souci, on Frying Pan Island. They encouraged us to stop, noting it is also the home of Henry’s Fish Restaurant!
Later as Sue was provisioning at the Metro Market, she saw Jennifer (Sea Cottage) in another check-out line.
We first met Jennifer, Erik and Zack at docktails (their first) at Half Moon Bay.
Erik was waiting outside for Jennifer. He offered Sue assistance with her groceries, but Sue had her bike and demonstrated our system for tying the bags over the bike basket as saddle bags. She also passed on to Jennifer and Erik, information that she got from Joe (Padraigin): Metro lets boaters take their cart to the marina where it is later retrieved by the Metro staff. That’s how the Looper grapevine works!
We have already shared the wonderful times we had in the homes of Carol and Dave in Williamsburg, and Jim and Wendy in Clear Lake, marvelous friends we made while on the Loop.
But maybe this last story will be the most demonstrative about “until we meet again,” its genesis being almost exactly three years ago!
The following was posted today on the AGLCA website:
We received the following email on April 17, 2018 when we were in the Bahamas:
Hi there Sue and Art!
I was just updating my position on the AGLCA website and was seeing where everybody was and I came across your position in the Bahamas.
We both thought the name of your boat was familiar but we could not place it and then my wife Rae remembered that we met you folks in Long Point Cove at the West End of the North Channel back in Aug 2015
We are on a Kady Krogen Manatee called Barefoot Shoes
We left the North Channel in August of last year, spend a few months in the Bahamas this winter and are now proceeding back up the East Coast
Hopefully we will run into you guys somewhere along the way
Steve and Rae Mason
This was the picture we took of Barefoot Shoes in Long Point Cove.
You may not know it, Rae and Steve, but you were instrumental in our decision to do the Loop! Congratulations on your double!
It’s a great community… and you never know when, or where, wakes may again cross!
Wednesday (8/8) “I love it when a plan comes together!”
Although we had planned on just one night here, we decided to resist “the need to move on to what’s next” and to spend another night, right here.
And, then we found out that after two nights, the third is FREE! Decision made; three nights here.
And, then we found out this weekend was the Orillia Waterfront Festival with an in-the-water boat show. We threw caution to the wind and signed up for 3 additional nights!
What is happening?!
We spent time this morning on the blazing fast internet here at the marina. Did we mention that the commercial size washers and dryers here are free? Bedding and laundry completed by noon!
While we were here we also wanted to address badly needed haircuts, a replacement for a slow leaking inner tube on the bicycle used for marketing, and some routine maintenance for Loofah.
Success on every front!
Trips to First Choice Haircutters, Velocity Cycle and Ski, and to Crates Lake Country Boats (Volvo IPS specialists in the area).
The town is close to the marina and has everything from a choice of dining venues…
… to wonderful boutiques, stores and the well know Mariposa Market (on the “To Do List”).
When later in the afternoon, Brad Griffin (Crates Assistant Service Manager) called to say that they could work LOOFAH in the schedule Friday morning at 9:00, it was icing on the cake.
As we recounted the success we had today, it reminded us of cigar chewing Hannibal of the “A-Team,” a TV series in the 1980s.
For our Canadian friends and others who may be unfamiliar, “The A-Team [was] a group of ex-United States Army Special Forces soldiers who, near the end of the Vietnam War, were arrested for a crime they did not commit and managed to escape from the Military Police. As fugitives, the A-Team works as soldiers of fortune, using their military training to fight oppression or injustice. Hannibal, along with B. A. Baracus, Templeton “Faceman” Peck, and H. M. “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock make up the A-Team.”
Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, played by George Peppard, often spoke the line, after an unbelievable action-packed episode, “I love it when a plan comes together”.
Today, WE loved it when OUR plan came together!
Tuesday (8/7) “…stolen by the need to move on…”
Last night’s front passed, and all was calm as we approached Thorah Lock, #40. It opened for us shortly after 9:00 AM.
One more lock today, Gamebridge Lock 41, and then 18 miles across Lake Simcoe to Bridge Port Marina for fuel and a pump out. We had a berth waiting at the Port of Orillia marina where we arrived about noon.
Yesterday’s post included the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” Why in the world did we need to stop last night, and “smell the roses”?!#
After all, we have been on a vacation for the past year! Right?
It is probably hard to believe, unless you are a Looper, that “Looping” is not a protracted holiday consisting of daily “docktails,” separated by meals in delightful restaurants, sunning in exotic places, and reading novels.
Discussing this as at lunch, we Googled “stop and smell the roses” and were led to the following post on PsychologyToday.com
“The rush seems to rule the day. Rushing to get somewhere, to get something done, to beat the crowds…and for what? To move on to the next thing that needs to be addressed. This is a real dilemma for many people; demands from family, children and parents and siblings; demands from work and the worry if you don’t get it all right you might lose your job; financial demands that require your attention and focus; demands to be healthier and to rush to the gym or get the grocery shopping done; demands from home to do the laundry, let the dog out and clean the house. The list goes on and on and on. In fact, the list never ends. You never quite get to that destination, because as soon as you get there, something pulls you onward to rush to the next place. The time to enjoy your success is often stolen by the need to move on to what’s next.”
In the last 44 days (since leaving the Hudson River at Albany), LOOFAH III has traveled 972.4 miles gone up 82 locks (1324.8’) and down 43 (753.0’).
The time to enjoy your success is often stolen by the need to move on to what’s next.”
We enjoyed dinner with our sailing friends Phyllis and Bob who concurred with our observations regarding the “pressures” of Looping. They are just a day away from having Gabriel’s mast stepped so they can start enjoying the sails instead of being constrained by the bridges and locks.
As we prepared for bed this night, it was resolved that LOOFAH III will be in port for the next several days and it’s crew would be starting to enjoy a summer vacation!
Monday (8/6) Sometimes you just have to slow down!
This is the last day of the three-day weekend. Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls seem to be the places to go for the cottagers in the area. Yesterday the locks were loaded.
Interestingly, the locals didn’t have seasonal passes for the locks, so locking was delayed while the lock crew had to handle the payments with their tablet computers. Would today be the same at the four upcoming locks?
LOOFAH got underway about 9:15, one of the first to leave the lower wall at Lock 34. We cruised across Cameron Lake for 30 minutes to the Rosedale Lock #35. What would it be like? LOOFAH was by herself! What a difference a day makes!
There was only a short portion of the Trent Canal to negotiate before we entered Balsam Lake. We exchanged greetings with Bob and Phyllis on Gabriel as we both headed to Laidlaw Point and the beginning of a most challenging portion of the Trent Canal.
At the entrance to this portion of the canal there is this sign suggesting boats over 40’ announce their presence to other craft in the canal.
The canal is narrow, a tight fit for for two boats to pass. Fortunately, none in sight and no one responded to our Sécurité VHF broadcast.
There is another unnerving aspect of the canal. The water is clear and rock of the Canadian Shield that was blasted to create this link between lakes is clearly evident. It is within feet of the narrow channel. Not much room to deviate.
We continued to monitor the VHF for other Sécurité announcements. Then we heard one. Another 45’ boat with a 13’6” beam was approaching. LOOFAH has a beam of 14’9. Doing the math: 2’ clearance between boats, and between each boat and the rock lining the shores of the canal, plus the beams… just over 34’ required. It wasn’t going to happen here.
Both craft slowed and arranged to meet were the chartplotter indicated an area where a SLOW pass could be completed. It was nice to see the stern of “locked and loaded”, safely past LOOFAH’s as apparently you didn’t want to mess with this hombre!
About 11:30 we found ourselves floating in a pan at the Kirkfield Hydraulic Lift Lock #36. Unlike the Peterborough Lift Lock where we entered the pan in the lower position, we entered this one with nothing but a folding door between us and the water below. It was a thrill.
Once secured, the rear gate of the pan was rotated up (sealing the water and us in the pan). Next, the upstream lock gate rose up to seal off the canal water. The valve connecting the hydraulic cylinders under the two adjacent pans was opened, and because our pan had an additional foot of water in it, we sank 49’ as the other pan of water and boats rose. It took just a minute and fifteen seconds!
The rest of the day’s journey was uneventful as we passed through the “hole in the wall” …
… and met the tail end of the holiday traffic.
Unlike many of the locks on the Trent-Severen Waterway, Portage Lock 39 is out in the middle of nowhere; it has no public access. Although we had progressed far faster than anticipated, what better place to enjoy the evening! Sometimes you just have to “slow down and smell the roses”, so we stopped on the lower wall about 1:45.
Later in the afternoon, the locks doors opened and there was Gabriel! Phyllis saw us and shared with us, “We’re having so much fun in the locks, we’re going to do a couple more!”
Bob and Phyllis have our admiration! Doing locks with a single screw, no bow thruster, and with the spar stored in a totally unnatural position prohibiting the normal routine near the helm, is an achievement.
Later, as the locks were closing for the day, “Anchor Inn” moored at the wall across the channel. Art inquired if they had any concern with him taking an aerial with the drone. Kim and Marty said, “None at all” and expressed interest in getting a copy.
It was a cozy night in the wilderness, secure at a wall as thunder showers passed occasionally throughout the night.
Monday (8/6) Fenelon Falls to ?
After making this post from Tim Horton’s, and taking a selection of doughnuts back to LOOFAH, we will get underway. How far we will cruise is unknown.
We will go up just 4′ at Rosedale Lock 35. Twelve miles later we will enter the Kirkfield Hydraulic Lift Lock 36 and go DOWN 49 feet, starting our descent to Lake Huron.
The plan is to stop at one of the following five locks before reaching Orilla, likely the next opportunity to make a Word Press post, on Wednesday.
In the interim we’ll try a quick update on Facebook at “LOOFAH III.”
Sunday (8/5) Rest, Relaxation and Reflection
“the first shall be last…” “this too shall pass…”
The first phrase appears in the Bible at Matthew 20:16; the second may have first appeared in the works of Persian Sufi poets around 1436? Regardless, hardly a day passes without us reflecting on these two thoughts.
Literally, today, LOOFAH III went from the first…
… to the last!
And as it did so, the appropriately humbling phrase from Matthew came to mind. It is interesting what in our everyday world, triggers a deeper thought!
And, keeps us centered.
Frequently we are asked “Where” or “What” we have enjoyed the most about the Loop.
The “Where” is demonstrated by the density of pins we have put on the map of the Great Loop; places we have stopped.
They would include the Gulf Coast of Florida where we enjoyed having family and friends aboard, in addition to the beautiful venues, facilities and weather. Obviously, the month in the pristine waters of the Bahamas must be mentioned. And, the time we have had in Canada with family and new friends (made while on the Loop) and these beautiful canals, lakes and waters, are on the list.
But we also look forward to the Georgian Bay and returning to the North Channel.
The “What” we have enjoyed is simple. The PEOPLE we have met; the FRIENDS we have made. We just spent three days at the cottage of Jim and Wendy, Canadian folks we met in a lock in Chicago on day #2 of the Loop.
And just using today, for an example:
“R.D.” and his family were clearly captured by LOOFAH and the Loop. They enjoyed coming aboard to see our home for the past year and talking about our experiences. My guess is that they will be looking at the AGLCA website this evening!
We met Bob and Phillis, aboard S/V Gabriel, while we were kayaking this afternoon and saw their AGLCA burgee. They stopped by later to chat about our common experiences. Their home port is Muskegon, Michigan; we hope to see them as our journey continues.
And, as Sue was going to check on the water filling our tanks, she was greeted by this group standing at our stern, interested in how we got here from Milwaukee. They asked us to honk tomorrow as we pass their home on Cameron Lake!
When we are asked what was the hardest situation we have faced, normally the expected answer includes a story about terrible storms, wind and waves.
But the answer to this question is: being away from family.
Fortunately, we have had trips home, family vacations, pictures, posts and memories to get us through.
Like a great birthday celebration…
A recent post from son, Charlie:
“James told the dock master, oh yea, I sail all the time with pops. Then the dock master left James to rig his own boat! And he did it!”
And as we put hamburgers on the grill this evening, they had a dimple in the center, just the way son Matthew suggested Art do it one evening at the Des Moines condo.
So, we went nowhere today, except literally, from first to last.
We realized, again, with every conversation, how fortunate we are to have this experience, our health, and each other.
We understand life and circumstances are fragile, that “this too will pass,” so each day is special to us.
We finished the day enjoying the colors another sunset, as did this young couple on the bridge aft of us.
It was another great day on the Loop!
Saturday (8/4) The War of 1812 lives on!
Today’s gamble: leave Bobcaygeon early enough to be at the next lock, #34 at Fenelon Falls, by 9:00 when it opens… hoping that a similarly sized boat would be leaving, having exhausted its two-night maximum stay.
We got underway at 7:30 and cruised through glassy Sturgeon Lake at cruising speed.
We arrived at the lock about 8:15. As suspicioned, the walls were full; we went to the Blue Line. We walked up the lock to recon the upper walls. It looked tight, but we saw favorable movement aboard a couple of boats.
Back below the lock, another smaller boat left the wall and went to the Blue Line in front of LOOFAH. He said a friend was holding space for them up top, but “they would try to make room for us.” Two violations of the first-come, first-served routine. Oh well, we are aliens in a foreign country.
LOOFAH wouldn’t fit in the position they vacated below the lock, so we went up in the first lift of the day.
We squeezed LOOFAH into a mooring where the aft 35’ feet were secured to a wall, and 15’ of the bow projected out under the limbs of a tree. But at least we had a home.
There was an encampment for today’s reenactment of the War of 1812 right next to us. It was like we stepped off a time capsule to a time 200 years earlier!
Just before 11:00 (check out time on the wall) a boater across the channel hailed us to tell us he was leaving. His boat was 45’ long, but there would be room as the boats aft of theirs would move back.
The good news was LOOFAH III was legitimately secured. The bad news: she was first in line and in the center of everything.
People were intrigued with LOOFAH’s lines and how we got here from our homeport, Milwaukee. We would pull out the ALGCA map, with the pins in it, and the conversation would get underway.
We felt like AGLCA Ambassadors!
But the REAL AGLCA Ambassadors in the area are Pam and Gary Vaters who are actual AGLCA sponsors and Fenelon Falls Harbor Hosts. They have a wonderful shop that overlooks the lock.
When we were in Bobcaygeon, Sue emailed Pam with a question regarding Fenelon Falls. On the way home from work (Pam and Gary actually live in Bobcaygeon) Pam searched us out on the wall to provide the answer in person! They are marvelous people and real supporters of Loopers and the AGLCA!
Murphy’s was our choice for lunch. We would have had a better view of the parade grounds had there not been this funny looking boat in our way!
After lunch we enjoyed walking through this jumping community with rides to the fairgrounds for the car show via horse drawn wagon, and a school bus to the museum. How appropriate.
Free popcorn, music and a beer garden. The line for the free ice cream was a block long!
The freshly pressed apple cider was delicious!
An hour of music was provided by the quite accomplished community band, while the bleachers were filled for the main event.
Then it was time for the War of 1812 reenactment.
We American’s were clearly outnumbered, and soundly defeated! Tragic.
After a full day, we retired to the boat and enjoyed pizza from “Slices ‘n’ Scoops”, not 500 yards away.
We love these little communities that surround the locks.
Friday (8/3) Bobcaygeon, or Bigley?
The long weekend has begun. Space at the lock walls will be at a premium. Do we enjoy another day here in Bobcaygeon, where we can stay a maximum of two nights, or forge on to Fenelon Falls and take our chances?
We decided to stay, provision, handle some administrative things (like pay bills), and to ride our bicycles to Tim Horton’s for a late afternoon doughnut (and their broadband internet)!
We enjoyed a light dinner aboard before walking over the lock gate and returning to Main Street for an ice cream cone.
The stores were buzzing with activity, preparing signs for tomorrow night’s midnight madness shopping event.
On the corner we passed “The British Bank of North America” now repurposed as a Bigley’s Clothing store.
We crossed the street and did some window shopping at Bigley’s Little Shoppe…
… and for casual wear next door at Bigley’s Boathouse.
The ice cream store, Bigley’s Sweet Treats was across the street.
Inside the store, Sweet Treats was doing some cross selling …
… with Bigley Shoe and Clothing down the street, where they have those 40,000 shoes in inventory and available online.
On the way back to the boat we passed Bigley’s Cottage Kitchen opened in 2013 …
… and around the corner, Bigley’s Beach House with an inventory of “25,000 fabulous swimsuits.”
It appears that cornerstone business, Bigley Shoes & Clothing, has been a family run business since 1911. The tagline on one of their websites is “Enjoy Big City Fashion in a Cottage Country Atmosphere.”
When other small communities are struggling for their very existence, it is gratifying to see a family business that has met the challenges of the past 100+ years and become the keystone of this “Cottage Country” village.
Thursday (8/2) A Hui Hou
A delightful visit with Jim & Wendy was coming to an end, a visit that we will never forget! It was difficult to leave these islands, lakes and especially these people! The Hawaiian phrase “A Hui Hou” came to mind; “until we meet again.”
Jim greeted this morning with the front section of Tuesday’s Peterborough EXAMINER, in hand. There, on page A3, was a picture of LOOFAH III and our locking companions entering the Lift Lock!
Behave, you never know who is watching!
To provide us the local knowledge necessary to successfully navigate to their piers, Wendy joined us at a lock prior to entering their lake. Departing, Jim’s tow provided us the necessary assistance to avoid the rocks and vegetation, and to give LOOFAH additional water below her props.
We took a few drone shots of this lovely “cottage” as we departed just before 9:00 AM. Art was successful in returning the drone back to the boat – our first attempt of an “at sea landing.” Next: take a video while we are underway. Stay tuned!
The islands we passed are part of the Canadian Shield, “originally an area of very large, very tall mountains (about 39,000 feet) with much volcanic activity, but over hundreds of millions of years, the area has been eroded to its current topographic appearance of relatively low relief.”
The “footings” for Leslie and Doug’s cottage required drilling dowels into the rock. Their home is going nowhere!
The challenge to navigation is where the tip of the mountain is just below the surface, which these birds seemed to enjoy for wading!
“Hells Gate” is a well-marked channel where mariners best pay attention to the markers.
As we progressed, the number of rental houseboats increased exponentially. They provide a good deal of living in a small space and are idea for enjoying the bays and calm waters of these lakes.
In fact we later read that Kawartha Lakes “is proud to be Ontario’s Houseboat Capital.”
We could see why their popularity as the ever-changing scenery continued to provide the stage for a beautiful 30-mile cruise to Bobcaygeon.
Next Monday is a holiday in Canada providing a three-day weekend; we started to experience additional pre-holiday traffic at Lovesick Lock 30.
When LOOFAH arrived at the lower wall of Bobcaygeon Lock 32, the wall on which 30-amp “hydro” was available. It was packed, as was the wall across the channel. With our fingers crossed, we proceeded through the lock and got the last open position on the upper lock walls.
Bobcaygeon’s Lock 32 was the first to be built on the Trent-Severn Waterway in 1833 and today is one of the busiest on the waterway.
The afternoon was spent by one aboard assisting boaters at the Blue Line immediately in front of us, while the other aboard chose to secure steaks to grill this evening and to check out Bigley’s Shoes and Clothing, on Main Street. Bigley’s maintains an “inventory of 40,000 shoes” in the store and also ships shoes around the world from this little community.
Late in the afternoon things were being set up for a concert in the park. The Bobcaygeon Music Council Concert this evening provided music for the children by Sunshine and Broccoli at 5:30, followed by wonderful adult classics by The Harry Peterson Band at 6:30.
Both sides of the lock were filled with people enjoying the music from their boat, chair or picnic table…
… or from the upper deck of their houseboat, as was this couple who were on their honeymoon.
They saw the drone and wondered if they might have an aerial to remember the evening. Art was delighted to accommodate!
We enjoyed the dinner music and steak night, and went to bed with light hearts, thinking of the honeymooners on the houseboat behind us!
Wednesday (8/1) ALGCA Harbor Hosts of the year!
Jim and Wendy have been the consummate hosts! We had hoped to see them as we passed through Clear Lake, and maybe share a meal and some memories. This was our third day at their lovely cottage!
Since we were expecting rain today, “inside activities” had been planned.
Our first was a visit to the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. The Canadian Canoe was founded as the Kanawa Museum in 1957 by Kirk Wipper at Camp Kandalore, when he was presented with a circa 1890 dugout. The museum now holds the largest collection of its kind, with more than 600 canoes and kayaks, and a thousand related artifacts. The museum opened its doors to the public at its new location on Canada Day in 1997.
In May 2006, Prince Andrew accepted the invitation to become the royal patron of the museum. He donated three canoes, originally built in the area and gifted to the Royal Family between 1947 and 1981, on long-term loan.
The Canadian Canoe Museum is undergoing a $65 million-dollar campaign for expansion and relocation to a new home located beside the Peterborough Lift Lock National Historic Site on the Trent-Severn Waterway. This would bring together two of the region’s most significant attractions.
Our second stop was for food and refreshment overlooking the 18th hole of Wildfire Golf Club.
It has an elegant clubhouse and course that are located on the shores of Stoney Lake, so one may come by car or boat.
One of the highlights for Loopers, when in Canada, is enjoying a butter tart (or two)*.
Last night at dinner, Wendy found out we had not had one. She commented that Leslie made the best butter tarts in the region. Leslie replied, “If you’re near our cottage, I’ll have some waiting.”
After lunch we drove to Leslie and Doug’s cottage on the eastern end of Stoney Lake to take her up on the offer. A fresh batch of butter tarts awaited; they melted in our mouths. Such a wonderful treat.
It was time for a nap!
About 7:00 we again gathered on the boathouse roof deck/Tiki Bar overlooking the beautiful lake during which Jim and Wendy graciously invited us to extend, our already extended, stay. It was tempting!
We adjourned to their dining room to enjoy a London Broil and a far-reaching discussion on a broad number of topics and experiences only shared between close friends.
It was another great day on the Loop!
*A butter tart is a type of small pastry tart highly regarded in Canadian cuisine and considered one of Canada’s quintessential treats. Traditionally, the English Canadian tart consists of butter, sugar, and eggs in a pastry shell, similar to the French-Canadian sugar pie, or the base of the U.S. pecan pie without the nut topping. The butter tart is different from pecan pie in that it has a “runnier” filling due to the omission of corn starch. Often raisins, walnuts or pecans are added to the traditional butter tart.
Tuesday (7/31) An opportunity (?) arises!
This morning we woke to another of Mother Nature’s exquisite paintings!
“The Boys” spent a portion of the morning doing a bit of restoration work on the pier. Art was delighted to get tools back in his hands and being around saw dust!
Around noon it was time to commission the floating picnic table while we waited for Wendy to return from her appointments in Peterborough.
Jim introduced us to the Canadian Caesar. One might logically ask, “What is the difference between a Canadian Bloody Caesar and a Bloody Mary?” Well, “You take a Bloody Mary and swap out tomato juice for clamato. Shell fish, ie. clams have aphrodesiac qualities. … Invented in Canada, the Bloody Caesar trumps a Bloody Mary and day, or night.”
Wendy caught us in the act; and, soon joined us! The Caesars went so smoothly with the chip dip transported by kayak from LOOFAH.
The afternoon was spent enjoying the islands, homes, resorts and pavilions of Lower Stony and Upper Stoney Lakes.
The Juniper Island Pavilion was built in 1896 on the original site of “Old Preaching Grounds.” The property was acquired by the Cottagers’ Association and has hosted “a wide variety of functions, from dances to regatta festivities, for generations of Stony Lake cottagers and visitors.”
There is also ice cream available!
We passed the “new” preaching grounds, St. Peter’s on the Rock. Mooring is available for all crafts from canoes to cruisers. Jim and Wendy were married here!
We also passed by McCracken’s Landing which looked like a lovely marina.
The evening activities included dinner at the Water’s Edge Restaurant in Bobcaygeon. Locals enjoy coming here by boat as well as car.
Debbie, a neighbor, joined us in Jim’s car and we met Leslie and Doug, friends who live on Upper Stoney Lake, there.
Next stop, the “lakeviewartsbarn” and “Like Father, Like Son? Sorry.”
It started at 8:00 and finished at 10:30 – a long time for a stand-up comedian to be consistently funny.
The consensus in the car on the way home was “5 Stars” was a bit generous. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the entire evening, including parts of the performance.
Although it was late when we returned to LOOFAH, Art needed a few minutes to unwind from the full day with great friends. He paged through the “Kawartha Cottage” magazine and found this listing. McCracken’s marina was for sale!
Now with the current exchange rate very favorable to the US Dollar… would this marina become a chapter in our book?
Monday (7/30) A standout day on the LOOP!
It was going to be a special day, the Peterborough Lift Lock and, best of all, we were going to reunite with Wendy (aka, “Bumper Girl”) and Jim at their “cottage” in Clear Lake.
The fountain in Little Lake started promptly at 8:00 this morning. Boats anchoring in the lake (few do) are warned to watch for wind shifts as the fountain can have an enormous downwind tail!
About 8:30 Angelica, moored on the T of the B pier, started its engines, and got underway. We presumed for the 9:00 AM opening of Lock 20. If so, the morning line up had begun.
The 65’ Peterborough Lift Lock (#21) is the largest lift lock in the world. It gets a good deal exercise from locals, the tour boat that was docked next to us last night, as well as those of us doing the entire Trent-Severen.
There is limited mooring between Locks 20 and 21 so the que starts at 20. Boats don’t proceed through Lock 20 until they can be accommodated at Lock 21, and the 9:00 lift (the first of the day) at Lock 21 is a test run without any boats in either of the chambers.
The walls downstream from Lock 20 were filled when arrived. John and Angie, aboard “Angelica” were standing by; we dropped anchor for the 45-minute wait.
Having gotten the all-clear from the Lift Lock operator, the Lockmaster at 21 assessed the waiting boats. Then using a bullhorn, he assigned our positions in the chamber in order to accommodate the most boats.
A smaller sport boat would proceed first and go to the starboard side. LOOFAH III next to the port; then Angelica to starboard; and finally two smaller boats behind LOOFAH to port. We would maintain these positions in the next 8 locks over the following 6 hours. We all got to know each other quite well!
The Peterborough Lift Lock is a formidable (synonyms: “impressive”, “alarming”) sight!
The lift lock consists of two “pans” of water with doors gates on both ends. Each pan holds just under 350,000 gallons (1300 tons) of water. As a boat enters it displaces an amount of water equal to the weight of the boat, so the contents of the pan (water and boats) still weight 1300 tons.
The pans go up and down on hydraulic rams that are connected; as one goes up the other down. When the rising pan get to a point where the water level in it, is one foot lower than that of the level upstream, the position of the pan is locked by closing a valve on its ram. It is quite a sight and experience, floating in a pan of water 65 feet in the air!
Next, the upstream gate on the lock structure descends, after which forward gate on the pans slowly rotates down. This allows an additional foot of water to come into the pan, now making it heavier than the lower pan. When the valve is reopened the heavier upper pan goes down and pushes the lower pan up. The principles on which the lift lock operates are straight forward. Applying them was an engineering and construction achievement 114 years ago in 1904.
You might wonder if drones are prohibited in the locks, how did we get these pictures? Not just by climbing up on LOOFAH’s roof, although that was done…
Back at Lock 20, as we paused near the entry lock wall, a gentleman on the wall quickly passed a boater card to Sue and said that he would see us at the Lift Lock. He did, camera in hand. And thanks to him, we got these wonderful pictures of our progress through the lock.
Rob did the Great Loop in Monterey during the 2016-17 season. He lives in Peterborough and enjoys taking pictures of fellow Loopers transiting the Lift Lock. What a treasure! THANK YOU, Rob!
It seemed that one of the locks was a bit narrower which made us feel like sardines packed in a can!
We passed the lovely building of Trent University…
… that offered wonderful places for study.
But the major highlight of the day was to see Wendy waiving to us from the Blue Line at lock 26!
She joined us to guide us to their lovely cottage, “Cougar Landing,” on Clear Lake where Jim and a welcoming committee of neighbors met us.
We secured LOOFAH at the end of two piers that straddle their boat house and enjoyed conversation and refreshment before seeing their lovely cottage.
Jim and Wendy are avid curlers. By winning the Eastern Canada tournament a team qualifies to go to the World Championship. By virtue of their win, last year Jim’s team went to the World Championships in Scotland. Again, this year Jim was the “skip” of the team that won the Easter Canada Cup, qualifying them to compete in the next World Championship to be held 2020 in Madison. It was particularly noteworthy as Wendy was on this years winning team. She is the first female to be listed on the cup! Also noteworthy is that Jim was the skip of the team that won the Cup in 1991, 27 years ago!
We look forward to spending the next couple of days here with these delightful individuals in this gorgeous setting!
Sunday (07/29) Loving the area!
The crew of LOOFAH was slow rising this morning, even The Early One. The system that brought much needed rain to the area passed and beautiful blue skies returned.
After 12 locks the first day, and 6 locks the second, we were looking forward to just one lock today, and the open waters of Rice Lake.
We got underway about 10:00 and had just on open bridge to navigate before Rice Lake.
Rice Lake is 20 miles long and 3 miles wide. It was the “site of extensive wild rice beds that the First Nations population harvested. Wild rice, which needs fluctuating water levels to survive, died out once the Trent-Severen Waterway was completed and the water levels became regulated.”
At mile 68.5 there is a 27-foot high floating light tower that marks the entrance to the Otonabee River.
“Considering the number of small fishing resorts on Rice Lakes’s north shore, it’s not surprising that the Otonabee River entrance is often carpeted with fishing boats filled with anglers probing the channels and shorelines for bass, walleye, muskie and panfish.”
We encountered anglers, but more prevalent were the jet skis; personal water craft have taken over the waters.
Bensfort Bridge Resort at mile 76.5 is a cottage resort and trailer park. We just love the feel of this area.
In this stretch of the river, we encountered some atypical anglers!
Sue’s Uncle Ray and his wife enjoyed fishing. Ray once shared, “It’s not about the fishing, it’s about being together.” We would wager that this couple would wholeheartedly agree.
We came to an investment opportunity at Kawartha Trails Resort. The sign says, “Year Round Living – Adult Lifestyle Community – Homes For Sale.” Maybe a bit too far north…
Coming around the bend, we came upon this Canadian family enjoying their holiday!
About 2:00 we came to Lock 19 at Scott’s Mills, a lift of 8 feet. Lock 19 is one of the oldest on the system and the last remaining limestone lock from the original construction.
Scott’s Mills is named after Adam Scott who came to the area from Edinburgh in 1819 and built a lumber mill and distillery. What more do you need? We think we know which came first!
As we passed the bridge just after the lock, we wondered what treasure theses guys were hunting.
And just after the bridge you enter Little Lake. “As you enter the city of Peterborough you’ll be struck by the large amount of waterfront parkland. In fact, Lock 19, the city marina, Lock 20 and Beavermead Park are all part of the 3.8 miles long Little Lake walking trail.
…The truly ambitious could walk, bike or hike all the way to Wakefield (or across Canada) using various trail systems.” Art said that is not going on the list of opportunities for our post-Loop chapter!
LOOFAH III was secured on the end of pier C at 2:45.
This evening before bed we had a special treat, one earthly and one heavenly!
Saturday (7/28) Watching the races in Newton, Iowa!
The “early crew” was up to see, as the sun was rising, the moon setting. A special time to pause and ponder…
The decision was made. The “early start” option for the day was soon set aside in favor of a relaxing breakfast of the sinful, delectable pastries, acquired yesterday at Dooher’s Bakery. We would stay in port and give LOOFAH the attention that she desired. It was necessary work.
After our chores were accomplished, we had a Bloody Mary in celebration of our accomplishments, and took a nap.
We have been challenging the envelope of our DISH satellite system. Typically, there are three satellites available to our chosen antenna. In this latitude, one of them, 129, becomes problematic. But we were able to get NBCSN and the NASCAR XFINITY series, today the U.S. Cellular 250 race at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Neumann Bros., Art’s former firm, constructed the speedway, “The Fastest Short Track on the Planet.” It was fun to watch as they discussed the unique progressive banking in the turns that allow three and four-abreast racing. The race went into a second NASCAR overtime!
We enjoyed the sunset looking over the water to the park and Trent-Severen Lock 18.
It was a good day on the Loop!
Friday (7/27) What’s happening to us?
When we arrive at our mooring yesterday we took the easier option; this morning we regretted it.
Cambellford’s east wall has 50-amp shore power; the west wall 30-amp. We could have used the “Y” adapter and two 30-amp outlets on the west wall, but the “Y” was in the engine room. We wanted to get settled so we took the easier option, the east wall.
When we arrived yesterday, the adjacent construction site was dormant. At 7:00 this morning it wasn’t!
But Dooher’s Bakery was close by and beckoning. “Since 1949, we have been creating mouth watering breads, muffins, cookies, pastries, donuts, pies, tarts, cakes, squares, bagels and SO much more!”
Dooher’s has been nominated to win “The Sweetest Bakery in Canada” Contest. We haven’t been to enough Canadian bakeries to be fully informed judges, but we filled out ballots as we checked out. We also were told we could vote online daily through July 31st.
Canada has a two-dollar coin, commonly called the Toonie. “It is the most valuable of the frequently used Canadian coins. It was introduced on February 19, 1996, by Public Works minister Diane Marleau. The toonie is a bi-metallic coin which on the reverse side bears an image of a polar bear by artist Brent Townsend.”
“The Canadian Mint deemed Cambellford “home of the two dollar coin” and a giant 20-foot replica was created to commorate this occasion.”
And there is was in the Old Mill Park across the waterway from LOOFAH!
Also in town were the touted “World’s Finest Chocolate Factory Outlet Store” and the Empire Cheese Factory. The first Empire Cheese Factory, a farmer’s cooperative, was built in the late 1870s. We’d never complete the Loop if we stopped to see everything. What’s happening to us? Maybe that is the exactly the feeling Mike and Jayne when they named their 40’ Endeavour Cat “Endless Loop.”
As we got underway at 10:45, we saw Jayne and her daughter, who is joining them on this leg of their trip, board their boat. Approaching Lock 13, our first of the day, we saw the gates were closed. Art called Endless Loop on the VHF to see if they were underway; if so we would wait for them at the Blue Line and lock through together, much preferred by the lock crews.
Lock 14 is just upstream about 1 ½ miles. It is a familiar arrangement: a lock and hydroelectric facility. The lock operator said that the generating plant was down for maintenance, the reason for all the water coming down the rapids, usually dry this time of the year.
Canadians refer to their “electricity” as “hydro.” “Canada is the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity after China, and one of the few countries to generate the majority of its electricity from hydroelectricity (59% in 2006). In 2011, Canada produced 10.8% of all the hydroelectricity generated in the world.”
The clouds gave way to sunshine later in the day as we rose in Lock 15, where we again experienced a wonderful crew. The examination and interview process required to get a position at a lock involves questions on hydraulics, safety, history, maintenance, firefighting, boat handling, local attractions, and “customer relations.” And they exemplify exceptional “customer relations!”
When the boats in the chamber rises to a level for easy conversation, they join you with information regarding the next lock, see if you have any questions, and engage in conversation. One young man, responding to a question about where he lived, responded that he had “a one song commute” from his home to the lock, just one stop light. And on the way home, as it is a right turn, it is even faster!
Pat, at our last lock of the day, asked if we were heading to the upstream wall or the Hastings Marina. When we indicated the marina, he called them and returned with the information a dock hand would be awaiting our arrival on the T of the A pier. When Art thanked him, Part responded, “It’s just part of our Concierge service.”
As we progressed through the lakes the homes (“cottages”) are of a different scale that those we encountered in the Thousand Islands area.
Like the Thousand Islands, however, some did have bridges linking the islands of their property.
The scale of the monuments we passed were also reduced.
After seeing so many monuments over the last 10 months, we have become saturated. What is happening to us?
The resorts were more modest but looked like they offered enjoyable times and wonderful memories of family outings.
This enterprising family had an ice cream shop in their back yard with umbrellas and small piers available.
We always watch our wake, but especially for this “craft.”
We arrived in Hastings (20 miles from Cambellford, through six locks, and up another 133 feet) at about 3:15.
Tomorrow’s options were discussed over dinner this evening at McGillicaffey’s Pub and Eatery, known locally as ‘Gillies.”
The marina at Peterborough is full tomorrow night do to Tebey (new country) and the Reklaws (country pop) playing as part of the “Peterborough Musicfest 2018.” We could leave early and hope to find room a lock wall (unlikely given the marina is full). We could anchor part way in Rice Like. We could stay here in Hastings and tend to LOOFAHs needs, inside and out.
We went to bed, deferring the decision to tomorrow. What is happening to us?
Thursday (7/26) Bitter-Sweet.
Yesterday’s rains were replaced by blue sky’s and it was time to begin the Trent-Severen.
As we approached Lock #1, we had bitter-sweet feelings this morning, realizing that this would be the last set of locks to be negotiated before we returned to Milwaukee.
The first of twelve locks we would pass through today took us up 18’; in total, LOOFAH III would ascend 235’ today.
Unlike the gates on the Rideau that were operated by hand cranking and chains, these gates are either hydraulic or operated by gears turned by foot. On the Rideau you get arms; on the Trent-Severen you get legs! “Round and around she goes, where she stops…”
The canals of New York and Canada never get boring and there are few opportunities to use the auto-helm!
Once again, we were the beneficiary of wonderful lock crews that coordinated openings for us as we progressed. On only one occasion, at Lock 8, did we have to wait at the Blue Line for the gates to open.
Approaching the flight of locks at 11 and 12, just off to starboard we could see the popular 300’ long suspension bridge at spans the river, 30’above it.
The flight of locks at 11 & 12, our last locks of the day, took us up a total of 48.’ Lock 11 took us up the dark water line on the blue gate. When the chamber was filled to that level, the gates were opened to the next chamber where …
we rose to the top of the gate. The scenery below the locks…
… and that above the locks was quite a contrast.
A Cambellford we chose the wall on the east side of the canal where 50-amp power was available.
Within just a few minutes, a member the Chamber of Commerce staff greeted us to assist. She checked us in at the boat, no need to go to the office on the other side of the bridge and provided us with all the information we needed. If you stay here two nights, the third on is free.
Wednesday (7/25) For Looper Eyes Only
The Trent Port Marina operated by the city is one of the nicest marinas on the Loop!
The piers are new and steady; the shore power is plentiful and stable; and the internet at the slips and strong and fast. It was a rainy day, so we decided to delay our first day of locks on the Trent-Severen Waterway and stay in port.
“We” spent the day fully utilizing the FREE, commercial sized, washer and dryers available in the marina office/lounge/canteen. The lounge is very comfortable, offers current boating publications and an exchange library.
The shower facilities rival those in private clubs. They even provide a stack of bath mats for your personal use.
And the staff is knowledgeable, personable, and responsive!
The internet was so good, we watched a movie on Netflix this evening.
Here ends the commercial and unsolicited testimonial!
Tuesday (7/24) “What Canal?”
Today, we are in port. You will be saved from pictures of us provisioning and running errands on our folding bicycles!
Instead, a response for the non-Loopers who follow the website and have increasingly inquired, “Where,” “Why” and “What canal?”
Hopefully this illustration will help.
The “normal” loop is the eastern portion of the “red route”: the Eastern Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, Lake Ontario, Kingston route.
We chose to do the “black route”: the Lake Champlain, Rideau Canal, Kingston route. This included boating through Lake Champlain, visits to Montreal, Ottawa, and cruising the UNESCO World Heritage Rideau Canal. The down side: it is longer, has more canals, and goes against the current of the St. Lawrence and has additional draft constraints.
From Kingston, most Loopers do the “green route”, the Trent-Severen, which connects Lakes Ontario and Huron. We will also.
Another route skips Kingston and and the Trent-Severen, and proceeds through the Western Erie Canal to Lake Erie. Alternatively, you could do the Eastern Erie and Oswego Canals, Lake Ontario and the Welland Canal to enter Lake Erie. Both routes then proceed through Detroit and Lake St. Clair, into Lake Huron where we all meet!
So, the canals of New York state and these provinces of Canada provide numerous cruising options. The choice of route, however, may be limited by the “draft” (the amount of water required to float the boat) and the “air draft” (the height of the craft from the waterline to the highest fixed point) of your boat.
The major height restriction for doing the Loop is a fixed bridge on the Illinois River. If your boat’s air-draft is more than 19’6″ (depending on current water level) you can’t get under it and Looping is not an option. Similarly, a boat with a draft of over 8′ is not going to make it either.
For example, (and don’t hold) other significant draft and air-draft limitations:
- Western Erie Canal: 15’6″ air draft
- Downtown Chicago: 17′ air-draft
- Champlain Canal: 17′ air-draft
- Eastern Erie Canal: 20′ air-draft
- Rideau Canal: normally 5′ draft (this year 4.8′), 17′ air draft
- Trent-Severen Waterway: 6′ draft (signed waiver required if you draw more than 5′)
- Okeechobee Waterway, FL: 6′ draft.
- Gulf of Mexico Intercoastal Water Way: 8′ draft
- Welland Canal: essentially none; ocean-going ships use it. Three adult line handlers required when locking westbound.
So doing the Loop requires putting together a puzzle with pieces specific to your boat’s type of fuel (gas and diesel are not always available in a port), range, speed, draft, air-draft and the crew’s sightseeing preferences.
Hopefully, when they all fit together, a beautiful picture, with unbelievable memories of people and places, results!
It has for us!
Monday (7/23) At “The Gateway!”
We have enjoyed Kingston and could have easily spent a few more days exploring its many sights and diverse shops, and boutiques.
We departed the Confederation Marina at 11:15, heading for “The Gateway to the Trent-Severen Waterway” in Trenton, ON, a distance of 72 miles.
This morning the bay was filled with sailboats. This fleet, one of three, was from the Kingston Yacht Club.
Art couldn’t help himself as he mentally got into the tactics at the windward mark. It was a good thing someone else was at the helm!
As we headed West, a waterfront view of the old prison. The stone work and detailing, even in the perimeter wall is, extraordinary. And they did it without all of the construction and hoisting equipment we take for granted today. Quite an achievement.
Cruising on, we came to this massive, stunning edifice, also of native limestone.
We wondered if it was part of the Queens University campus or some other noted campus. When we got to Trent this afternoon, we used Google Maps to find it was the “Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane.” (Apparently we missed seeing the bars at the windows.
This merited additional research!
“During the 1850s, Kingston Penitentiary was deemed to be overrun with mentally ill and criminally insane prisoners. To remedy this, Rockwood Criminal Lunatic Asylum was to be built on the shores of Lake Ontario, just west of the penitentiary. To save tax-payer dollars, it would be built by the prisoners themselves. Construction began in 1859 and although it was not completed until 1870, men began to occupy portions of the building as early as 1862.
“In 1959, one hundred years after ground was broken, Rockwood patients were transferred to the new buildings constructed on the same property, and the former asylum eventually became known as ‘The Penrose Building’, which was a residence for people with disabilities. Penrose closed in 2000 and the historic building has sat empty ever since, surrounded by the splashing waves of Lake Ontario and the newer buildings that make up the mental health facility complex that is currently known as Providence Care.
How can a building that had rooms 9 feet square with bars over the windows be sold or repurposed? The listing realtor had to admit, “It is a difficult building.”
Our course today would take us north of Amherst Island and into the the serpentine Bay of Quinte. It was different cruising than new experienced in the Thousand Islands. the water was open and didn’t have the marine traffic, current, homes or boat houses. They were waters in which LOOFAH III didn’t need to be restrained. Until we came upon the occasional fisherman or sailboat.
It was a pleasure to see the “St. Lawrence II” under sail. Its size was deceiving from a distance, until its scale was determined by seeing the person ascending the rope ladder on the starboard side of the foremast and the skipper in the red shirt at the helm.
A 60th birthday celebration, appropriately celebrated with family on the water!
LOOFAH entered the Trent Port Marina just after 3:00; “The Gateway to the Trent-Severen Waterway” just a thousand yards away.
“Sea Cottage” was in the adjacent well. We first met Erik, Amy and Zack at Half Moon Bay on the Hudson River over a month ago. They came the Erie Canal – Oswego route. They were celebrating a wedding anniversary today.
Later, Louise knocked on the hull. She told us that Dick and “Nine Lives” would be here for 10 days, while she took a trip home to check on things in Hilton Head. Dick’s mother lives here so he will have some time with her.
Knowing the territory well, we asked Louise for a recommendation for dinner. She suggested Tomasso’s Italian Grille on Front Street. It was a great suggestion.
Departing Tomasso’s we were greeted by a fine mist. Should we return for “nightcap” and let it pass or head back to LOOFAH? We chose to make a break for it. Once onboard, wet but not drenched, the rains came and we went to bed as LOOFAH enjoyed a fresh water rinse.
We’ll remain in port tomorrow, to provision and prepare for the next 240 miles of the waterway that includes 42 locks and the Big Chute marine railway. The last 10 months have gone quickly!
Sunday (7/22) Kingston by trolley
At 4:00 AM this morning the forecast front came through with some strong front-line winds, but little rain. One of the crew was up to check the fenders and double a couple of lines. Things are a bit tight here in the basin.
The agenda for the day was to utilize the Hop-On and Hop-Off trolley to explore Kingston.
“Growing European exploration in the 17th century and the desire for the Europeans to establish a presence close to local Native occupants to control trade led to the founding of a French trading post and military fort at a site known as “Cataraqui” in 1673. This outpost, called Fort Cataraqui, and later Fort Frontenac, became a focus for settlement. Cataraqui would be renamed Kingston after the British took possession of the fort and Loyalists began settling the region in the 1780s.
“During the War of 1812, Kingston was a major military centre. It was the base for the Lake Ontario division of the Great Lakes British naval fleet, which engaged in a vigorous arms race with the American fleet based at Sackets Harbor, New York for control of Lake Ontario. The Provincial Marine quickly placed ships into service and troops were brought in. A Royal Naval detachment built warships in order to control Lake Ontario.”
It was only an arms race, never a shot was fired here.
“Kingston was named the first capital of the United Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. While its time as a capital city was short (ending in 1844), the community has remained an important military installation.”
A review of the area’s major employers (According to the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, as of December 2014 were:
- Canadian Forces Base Kingston (includes the Royal Military College of Canada and military and civilian personnel) 9,642
- Queen’s University 7,000
- Kingston General Hospital 4,119
- Limestone District School Board 3,100
- Correctional Service of Canada 2,348
- City of Kingston 1,286
Interesting, no for-profit, private employers in Kingston?.
The first stop was the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) on Point Frederick, just across the bay from our marina . It is the military college for all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces. The RMC was established in 1876 and confers degrees in arts, science, and engineering. “Officer cadets of the Royal Military College of Canada are trained in what are known as the “four pillars” of academics, officership, athletics, and bilingualism.”
We get the “bilingualism” but a military academy awarding a degree in Arts?
It appeared to us that a new class of recruits was reporting today.
We passed the reviewing stands in front of the MacKenzie Building.
Next stop, Fort Henry. The fort we visited was “built from 1832 to 1837 to replace an existing fortification from the War of 1812 era, located to protect the naval dockyard at Point Frederick, the entrance of the Rideau Canal and the town of Kingston, which was the major transshipment point along the supply route between Montreal or Ottawa and all points west.”
“Once inside the wooden gates, visitors enter the realm of 19th century military life, experience guided tours, scenic views, heart-pounding musical performances and precision military demonstrations by the Fort Henry Guard.”
The FHG is “a highly disciplined group of university student recruits trained as British soldiers from 1867. The Fort Henry Guard has no connection to either the Royal Military College or to the modern Canadian Armed Forces.”
We enjoyed watching the FHG fire one of the mortars.
Passing back through downtown, we caught a glimpse of the Fire Truck Pulling competition that closed off the block in front of the City Hall.
Next stop, the “Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada.” Opened in 1835, it was one of the oldest prisons in continuous use in the world at the time of its closure.
“The cells originally measured 26 inches wide by 8 feet deep and 6 feet, 7 inches high. The site was chosen for ‘combining the advantages of perfect salubrity, ready access to the water, and abundant quantities of fine limestone.’
“Charles Dickens visited Kingston in 1842 and commented in his American Notes, ‘There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect. The men were employed as shoemakers, ropemakers, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, and stonecutters; and in building a new prison, which was pretty far advanced towards completion. The female prisoners were occupied in needlework.”
We passed on taking the tour.
Next, we passed through “Queen’s University at Kingston.”
“The Church of Scotland established Queen’s College in 1841 with a royal charter from Queen Victoria. The first classes, intended to prepare students for the ministry, were held 7 March 1842 with 13 students and two professors. The university predates Canada’s founding by 26 years. In 1912. Queen’s secularized and changed to its present legal name.”
“Queen’s is now organized into ten undergraduate, graduate, and professional faculties and schools with more than 23,000 students, and with over 131,000 living alumni worldwide. Notable alumni include government officials, academics, business leaders and 57 Rhodes Scholars.”
“Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, and Tesla, Inc., attended Queen’s for two years.”
Having completed the tour, it was time for refreshment and relaxation at a wonderful Irish Pub, Tir nan Og, on Ontario Street. Art hasn’t had a Smithwick’s (“Schmidicks” in the vernacular) since touring Ireland with our ISU buddies. It’s an Irish red ale-style beer that was first brewed in Kilkenny in 1710.
Here’s to you “Traveling Cyclones!”
We went back to the boat to kick back for an hour and then started working on the website.
The “secure” internet at our end of the marina appeared to be taxed, so Art went closer to the office to upload pictures and text. It was still slow, but then he located “City_Guest,” an open hub maintained by Kingston. The best reception was in the park where the Salvation Army was putting on its weekly Sunday night concert.
As the sky’s darkened, we looked back across the bay to see a line of showers heading our way. We almost made it back to the boat!
Unfortunately for the locals, the showers didn’t last long, but during dinner we were given a special treat!
It was another great day on the Loop!
Saturday (7/21) Poker anyone?
It has been a dry season here. The Rideau Canal, that was closed for nine days last year due to high water, is struggling to control flow in an effort to maintain a minimum of 4.8’. We have had crystal blue sky’s most of our time in Canada. Today, no exception.
It was an amazing scene and contrast early this morning. Fishermen on a quiet bay in an 18’ boat not a thousand yards away from a 600’ tanker on the St. Lawrence.
We got underway and motored out between the islands, passing the lovely compound on “Nobby Island.”
It was not long however that the thunder of the first wave of the high-performance boats participating in the Clayton, NY 1000 Islands International Charity Poker Run, was heard.
It was followed by a second wave.
The waters that earlier been tranquil were now boiling, confused and mean. Mariners in pontoon boats, not aware of the scheduled run, took water rolling over their bows as they tried to maintain control.
Within 10 minutes of the first waves passing, we heard a tour boat captain hail the Coast Guard, “Boat in the water; two people ejected.” Shortly a rescue boat reported on the scene and the tour boat proceeded. A Coast Guard inflatable passed us fighting the wakes of the second wave; then a fire rescue team.
Things on our end of the St. Lawrence started to calm down and we were able to enjoy passing the beautiful homes.
And then another patrol boat went flying by.
The homes and boat houses were elegant.
And then another rescue boat went flying by. We counted at least 9 nine patrol and rescue boats heading north.
We took our time heading south, continuing to enjoy looking at just some of the Thousand Islands. Actually there are 1,864 islands in this archipelago that reaches 50 miles downstream from Kingston. “The islands range in size from over 40 square miles to smaller islands occupied by a single residence, or uninhabited outcroppings of rocks. To count as one of the Thousand Islands, emergent land within the river channel must have at least one square foot of land above water level year-round, and support at least two living trees.”
Although LOOFAH III’s fuel tanks were still half full, we decided to take advantage of US diesel prices and stopped at RJ Marine in Clayton, NY. At 11:45 we had to wait just a few minutes before room the fuel dock was open for us. While we were fueling the dockhand mentioned that he heard that seven individuals had been ejected from boats during this morning’s run.
Just after noon when we departed the “rolling thunder” was back and thirsty. And these boats could use regular octane gasoline. Other required the high octane variety that was available at another marina from a tanker truck as we had witnessed at the Poker Run in Marathon. Our timing couldn’t have been better! We got out of there.
The “International Thousand Island Poker Run” must bring big bucks to the marinas, restaurants, hotels and shops in the Clayton area. Kingston will host one in August. These are “charity” events with proceeds from this event going to Make-a-Wish and the River Community Wellness Program. We hope that the locals and other transients are better prepared than we; avoid the area and stay off the water!
A bit later we saw this Good Samaritan hauling in a boat that had probably “waked” him, or some of his neighbors, earlier in the day.
The balance of our 32 miles cruise from Wellesley Island to Kingston was uneventful. We encountered sailboats, not high performance Poker Runners.
Sue telephoned the Canadian Customs and Border Patrol and provided our NEXUS information as we returned to Canadian waters after 24 hours in the US. LOOFAH III and we were cleared and given our Boater Registration Number.
About noon we notified the marina on VHF 68, of our approach. As we entered Confederation Basin we were greeted by a host of red-shirted deck hands eager to assist with lines.
We spent the afternoon with logs, sorting photographs and doing research.
Dinner tonight was at Oiivea on Brock Street.
As we are accustomed to do, we chose to sit at the bar. In front of us were four Shufferfly pictorial books of trips to Italy taken by the crew at Olivea. The cover of this one, the “Bridge of Sighs” brought back many wonderful memories of Venice. The view from the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the Prison with the Doge’s Palace, was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment.
We had taken at trip there, with two other couples, hosted by Amy (a print maker and curator at the Des Moines Art Center) and her husband, Tom, an art history professor at Drake University. They had restored a home on one of the Venetian canals. It was a marvelous, behind the scenes tour of Venice and surrounding islands. Tom died unexpectedly while we were on the Loop. We paused.
Sitting at the corner end of the bar were are charming couple with whom we became acquainted over a conversation with the bar keep regarding Italian gelato when J.P ask the server for her recommendations for ice cream. As the server began we asked if we could listen as well. Our conversation quickly branched out from there.
J.P and Kaki are on their boat, “Wings” and will head north on the Rideau to Ottawa once they depart Kingston.
They summer in Camden, ME and winter in Pointe Verda Beach, FL. Art asked if they had a boat in Florida as well as Maine. J.P. replied, “No,” and added that an advantage of their boat is that it easily commercially transported between their two homes. We thought of Angelica and David, from Alaska, who had their boat shipped back and forth from the Northwest to the Midwest. A smaller boat could certainly open up additional areas to cruise.
But, as we returned to LOOFAH our thoughts were of people, not boats. We thought of Toms tragic, untimely, death, and of Amy; of Mr. Boldt who was building a castle for his love, when she died at 41. Sues mother died at 56.
Like the Singers who got to enjoy their castle together, and Kaki and J.P who clearly relish their time together, we again recognized that each day is precious and that another one is never guaranteed.
Feeling blessed, we had this day together, we hit the sack.
Friday (7/20) Castles of 1000 Islands
The tour boats were packed yesterday so the plan was to leave Gananoque and cruise 21 miles through the thousand Islands to Singer Castle before they arrived there. After Singer we would return 10 miles to visit Boldt Castle in the afternoon.
We got underway at 9:45, making our way down the Canadian Middle Channel through the Navy Islands.
This island home caught our attention. In addition to its architecture, unusual for this area, we noted it was complete with a floating climbing wall.
There are come-by-boat restaurants and playhouses, so this church was piers available was no surprise.
About 15 miles into the trip the Canadian Middle Channel and the American Narrows meet, and depending on location, you could be in Canadian or US waters.
Regardless of where you are, it was possible you were going to be sharing those water with freighters and tankers using the St. Lawrence to get from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic.
Approaching Dark Island, home of Singer Castle we were delighted to seem ample mooring space available for LOOFAH III.
Only one more project to be completed before stepping on American soil: clear with US Customs and Border Patrol which Sue easily accomplished with the CBP ROAM app.
We used the VHF radio to contact the castle and received approach and mooring information. Once Steve saw LOOFAH, he redirected us as he had been told to expect a pontoon boat. We got settled; Sue went for the tour tickets and Art got out the drone.
He is becoming more accomplished and is ready to leave the constraints of “beginner” status.
A pontoon boat did show up, as did a second one. We heard some chatter about the Loop as someone saw our AGLCA burgee. Then we heard, “It’s LOOFAH!”
When we appeared on the aft deck, Diane and Bob (“Islandia”) greeted us!
We first met them December 12 in Apalachicola, FL when they were leaving a restaurant with Dennis and Jan (“Mother Ocean”). The four of them joined us on LOOFAH for cocktails the following night in Carrabelle before we journeyed across the Gulf to Turtle Cove Marina in Tarpon Springs. Diane and Bob have a home port is Clayton, NY (on the St. Lawrence River) and were visiting the Singer Castle with friends. Diane and Bob left their boat in the Bahamas after crossing their wake December 24, 2017. We enjoyed catching up with them as we toured the castle.
Singer Castle is the only remaining castle on the river to be completed, fully furnished, and resided in during the heyday of the great builders and industrials in New York. Frederick Bourne, the fifth President of the Singer Sewing Machine, wanted to surprise his wife Emma and their children with an island hunting retreat. He purchased Dark Island in 1902, and “The Towers” (built at a cost of $500,000) was completed in 1905. Bourne’s summer neighbor on Ingleneuk Island, the famous American painter and sculptor Frederic Remington, wrote that he could hear construction work as the Castle was being built. Being a good neighbor, he sent a bouquet of flowers to his new neighbors upon completion.
In honor of his good friend, George Pulman, Bourne had Pulman Car seating installed in the alcoves overlooking the St. Lawrence.
After the tour culminated in the boathouse, we were off to visit Castle #2, Boldt Castle.
There was no docking available to accommodate LOOFAH so we proceeded past the Yacht House and on to the nearby Thousand Islands Club Marina. We got secured, checked in and launched the dinghy for a return trip to Heart Island. When we returned we scooted under a small fixed bridge where we found ample dinghy parking.
George C. Boldt immigrated to the United States in 1864 and began as a kitchen worker in New York. By the turn of the century he had become the millionaire proprietor of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City and set out to build a full size Rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay, on picturesque Heart Island. The grandiose structure was to be a display of his love for his wife, Louise.
“Beginning in 1900, the Boldt family spent summers in the 1000 Islands at the Boldt Families Wellesley House near Mr. Boldt’s Wellesley Island Farms while 300 workers including stonemasons, carpenters, and artists fashioned the six story, 120 room castle, complete with tunnels, a powerhouse, Italian gardens, a drawbridge, alster tower (children’s playhouse) and a dove cote. Not a single detail or expense was spared.
“In January 1904, tragedy struck. Boldt telegraphed the island and commanded the workers to immediately “stop all construction.” Louise had died suddenly. A broken hearted Boldt could not imagine his dream castle without his beloved. Boldt never returned to the island, leaving behind the structure as a monument of his love.
“Multimillionaire Edward John Noble, the co-founder of LifeSavers Candy Company and investor in American broadcasting and major motion pictures, purchased every piece of the Boldt property with the exception of Hopewell Hall, which remained in the family until the death of Clover’s daughter, Clover Boldt Baird, in 1993.
“The property was opened as a tourism attraction in the 1920s but was never maintained. The Edward John Noble Foundation inherited what was left of the Boldt estate after Noble’s death. For 73 years, the castle and various stone structures were left to the mercy of the wind, rain, ice, snow and vandals.
“By 1976, the foundation realized the Boldt properties were in serious disrepair and gifted them to the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority in 1977.
“Since the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority acquired the property in 1977 several million dollars have been applied to rehabilitating, restoring and improving the Heart Island structures.”
Keep in mind that neither Boldt, nor Nobel, ever completed the castle. The Bridge Authority has utilized original architectural drawings and notes, as well as furnishings acquired from other Boldt properties to bring it to its current state, including completion of the bedroom envisioned for Louise, which was never occupied.
We took the dinghy across to visit the Yacht House and the beautiful boats.
One report indicates that, between those in the islands and in New York City, Boldt had over 60.
After visiting the property, we circled the island in our dinghy to see it up close from the water:
We passed the power house….
… the “children’s playhouse” complete with a two-lane bowling alley (now under restoration/development) …
… and the entry arch.
“A recent study estimates Boldt Castle and the Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island, generate over $40-million in economic activity for the 1000 Islands International region.”
Having experienced another piece of the “Guilded Age,” we returned to our LOOFAH, still a yacht in our eyes, also moored on Wellesley Island.
It was a good day in the 1000 Islands!
Thursday (7/19) Still thinking…
Last night a couple walked down the pier and noted our ALGCA burgee. They asked about our travels, and we theirs. In the winters they live in North Fort Myers, FL. For the past ten years they have driven to Gananoque for the summer season. They spend 4 ½ months on their boat during the summer which they store here over the winter. They travel the beautiful Canadian canals, rivers and lakes during the summer and the Florida golf courses during the winter. Another option to be considered.
This morning at sun rise, LOOFAH III caught the attention of another visitor.
Over a cup of coffee, Art was enjoying the view of a few of the 1,000 islands laying aft.
He though of all of the wonderful times the family have had at his sister’s and brother-in-law’s summer home on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior.
How about of one of the personal, “pocket sized” islands here. Maybe a “fixer upper?”
Just as he was thinking about it, a boat left with several drums forward. Was this water? Fuel for a generator? Didn’t look like much fun at this stage of our lives.
Our boat is on a pier with large “no wake zone” signs posted which everyone, including the cruise ships, ignore… until a Canadian patrol boat conducted exercises in the channel!
We took our bicycles down town for some provisioning and stopped to see the Thousand Islands Playhouse. “In 1982, Greg Wanless, together with a passionate group of community members, purchased the Gananoque Canoe Club from the local Rotary Club. Over a few intense months, the vintage building was converted into a 360-seat proscenium theatre right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.”
We have been to a number of waterfront restaurants but going to the theater by boat would be a great experience!
And next to the Playhouse was another charming waterfront home.
This is a charming community and it is easy to see why individuals would choose to “homeport” their boat here.
It was a productive and enjoyable day that could not end without a drone training flight over the marina.
Responding to an email we received that requested additional aerial shots of the Rideau locks. We took the shot at the Davis lock before it opened at 9:00. Art got the drone out at the Jones’s Falls locks and was told that the locks were a security zone area; drones were not authorized to fly in the area. Apparently, Google Earth and the pictures on some navigational software are OK but drone shots are not? Really?
Further downstream when we were moored below Lower Brewers Lock, Art wanted to study the control of aperture settings on the drone camera. When he turned the controller on, the GPS software indicated that the drone was in a security zone and could not be activated. Interesting; why there and not Jones Falls?
But a great day ended on a terrible note.
On the evening ABC national news, we saw pictures of tornado damage in a small community east of Des Moines. The system was heading east at the time, toward Marshalltown. We checked in with our children in Des Moines. All OK!
But when Sue checked with a former colleague who lives in Marshalltown, Julie sent a few pictures she took on her way home.
Checking other local news sources, we found that several communities had suffered substantial damage.
Fortunately, no deaths reported thus far.
As we sit in this idyllic place enjoying a beautiful clear sky and silver moon, we finished our day thinking of those who faced losses. Tragic!
Every day we count our blessings!
Wednesday (7/18) Back to the Great Lakes.
Confident that LOOFAH III’s “watertight integrity” was secure, we departed our downstream mooring at Lower Brewers Lock # 45 about 10:00 AM.
Two miles on we entered Colonel By Lake and River Styx. The cruising guide notes that these “are lakes created by flooding the land when the locks were installed. While the channel is well marked and deep enough, there are stumps and other obstruction under water outside the channel.”
The channel was, indeed, well marked… and narrow. Check out the red marker to port and the green to starboard. Just enough for two boats to pass.
At mile 121.1 we approached Kingston Mills Lock #46. We realized that we were shortly coming to the end of another wonderful leg of our year-long experience.
The lockmaster greeted us at the upstream blue line and informed us that it would likely be 30 minutes. He had two boats coming up from the 3-step flight immediately below. He would bring them up and out; leave the gates open for us; close the bridge to maintain traffic flow; wait a few minutes until two boats from Lower Brewers lock arrived; and then take the three of us down through the 4 locks together.
As expected, 30 minutes we were locking through. Looking down from the top of a flight of locks is still a thrill.
As we departed the last of the 44 locks on the Rideau, with cars and trains passing above, we knew soon we would be back in the Great Lakes.
We approached Kingston about 12:45.
The last impediment to be negotiated before we entered Lake Ontario was the LaSalle Causeway Bridge at Mile 125.5.
The timing could not have been more perfect. LOOFAH III arrived just before the scheduled hourly opening at 1:00.
Then we came to the Confederation Basin at mile 126.0.
In the 126 miles from the 8-lock flight at Ottawa, we had gone up 30 locks (272’) to Upper Rideau Lake, and back down 14 locks (166’) to Lake Ontario.
Heading to our marina at Ganaoque, we passed the MacKenzie Building at the Royal Military College (RMC), the military academy of the Canadian Forces established in 1876. Is a visit to another military academy in the offing?
Next was Fort Henry, constructed during the War of 1812 to protect the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard (the site of the present-day RMC) from a possible American attack, and to monitor maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. More historical research…
We passed a number of lovely homes on the mainland.
Some of the properties on Howe Island, directly across the channel, were not as fully refined. But the view of the beautiful channel was the same from either side.
It became immediately obvious that we were approaching the “Gateway to the 1000 Islands,” Ganaoque, when we started to see paddle wheelers and other tour boats, some a great speed.
LOOFAH III got was secured in her slip about 2:30.
The afternoon was spent stowing the tools and equipment used in our search for the errant water, reassembling and making the bed.
As the dinner hour approached, it became obvious that at least one of us (the light sleeper with sensitive ears) had not rested well last night. Hence, in favor of going ashore for dinner, we dined aboard.
While we were enjoying a beverage on the aft deck, a passel of kayakers passed just feet off our pier.
These tourists are real sports, opting for renting kayaks rather than enjoying one of the cocktail cruises which also depart from our marina. Funny people!
Tuesday night addendum – Are we sinking?
We were route planning after dinner last evening. Art heard one of those sounds that was unusual, certainly not normal. It was different. Then it went away.
Not content, Art started his investigation and after searching various hatches he saw some water near the forward bilge pump. Through a weep hole in a compartment further aft, he also saw water between the hull and subfloor. The bad news was there was water inside the boat, not desirable; the good news was it didn’t seem to be rushing in or measurably increasing.
Chasing a water leak is never easy. The only thing about which you can be confident is it runs down hill!
We got the little wet/dry shopvac out (great for inflating the dinghy and other things) to suck the water out of the bilge through the weep hole, noting that the water had not raised to the level necessary to start the bilge pump. We were relieved to see that the water level was going down and became relatively confident that there was not a hole in the hull.
No water in the hull forward. Was the hot water heater or some plumbing leaking? We worked our way aft to our cabin and traced remnants of water to the area in front of our bed, under which the hot water heater is located.
Big decision. The water situation did not seem to be significant. The next step would be to tear the bed apart. Should we tear the bed apart, or get into it? Given the hour, we selected choice #2.
Absent funny sounds during the night, Art was able to get some sleep.
This morning we took the bed apart and found no water in the proximity of the water heater. Great, but now where to look? There had to be something else around here.
We pulled out a drawer located under the bed, at its foot. And there it was!
To minimize openings in the hull, small plastic tanks are located at various locations in the boat to collect condensate lines from the air-conditioning system. When they fill up a float switch starts a pump to pump out the water. If it fills, and the pump doesn’t empty the tank, it is designed to overflow into the bilge where one of three bilge pumps responds after getting sufficient water to activate its float switch. It was full to the brim.
With as hot and humid as it has been, the air-conditioning has generated a good deal of condensate. With the exception of what appears to be a faulty float switch, everything appears to be operating as designed. We will monitor the tank level and deal with the float switch later.
Tuesday (7/17) Heavenly!
The morning started out with drone practice #2. Today Art was able to fly the drone AND control the gimballed camera. Peter heard the buzzzz and joined Art for the aerial exercise. We promised copies to our Davis Lock friends.
We enjoyed another day of cruising the beautiful lakes of this section of the Rideau, today two miles on Sand Lake. There was always something to be enjoyed on every island; something to think about for our next chapter.
Maybe a boathouse with simple quarters above two enclosed slips where boats could be hoisted out of the water during the winter.
At Jones Falls (mile 98.8) we approached Lock 39, a 14’ drop. As two boats were approaching from downstream and could be accommodated without reversing the lock, Bucket List and we laid up on the upstream blue line.
But all was not lost as there was a blacksmith shop to be visited.
After we locked through #39, we turned to port and were greeted by the 3-step flight of #40, #41, and #42. The choreography between LOOFAH III and Bucket List entering and exiting locks had been well refined by now. Debbie and Sue would handle the forward lines; Ron and Art the aft line. This gave time for girl and boy talk!
Some of the locking crew were a bit green, even at this time of the season. These locks have vertical cables secured at the top and bottom of the lock wall around which you loop a line from your boat. This technique holds your position as the water gets a bit turbulent as the water level is raised or lowered.
On this flight the water level on entering was just inches below the top of the lock wall so one of the lock crew would pass your line down around the cable and hand it back to you. Except for the fellow assisting Ron who took the line and asked, “if this one was OK?” pointing at a cable. Ron responded “Fine.” The fellow passed it around the cable, dropped it in the water and started to walk off before Ron reminded him that Ron needed that end back! Ron and Art shared a chuckle.
We stepped down through the flight.
The Brass Point Swing Bridge at mile 105.6 was opening as we approached.
The Lockmaster at Jones Falls had notified the bridge to expect us. The coordination between the lock and bridges has been greatly appreciated.
Bucket list continued to follow us.
We followed another boat, that had come from another part of Cranberry Lake, toward Washburn. It is always nice to have someone with local knowledge leading.
As we proceeded we enjoyed this glorious area and before we knew it we were in a dead end at Seeley’s Bay!
Would we have blindly followed them over a dam? We were embarrassed, as was Bucket List who blindly followed us.
We reversed course and got back on track. As we were locking through the Lower Brewers Lock (#45) at Washburn, here came the boat that we followed into Seeley’s Bay. Apparently, they were not locals, and didn’t want to be in Seeley’s Bay any more than we!
Shortly after 2:00, we were at Lower Brewers Lock #45.
Realizing that we were just four locks from completing the Rideau we chose to stop at the pier downstream of the lock where peace, quiet and power pedestals awaited. However, for the second day in a row, we were without internet access. In fact, we had only one bar on the cellular!
We enjoyed talking with Bill, on the Heritage East 36’ called “Hearken,” moored in front of us. His friend, Jim, was standing in for Bill’s wife on this leg of the trip. Jim had completed the Loop previously and provided some helpful information on upcoming legs. Bill flew B-52s for six years had had quite a pedigree in avionics.
Last night the area received some much-needed rain, although it was brief. The front also brought with it reduced humidity, lower temperatures, and pleasant winds. It was a perfect night for pasta on the aft deck.
Monday (7/16) Plan A, Plan B, or both?!
You must pass the Abbot Swing Bridge (that operates with Lock #31) to depart the basin at Smith Falls. Because the bridge is on a major thoroughfare, it only opens every 45 minutes starting at 8:45 AM until 1:00 PM (just 5 openings prior to 1:00) when it opens upon request.
Lock 31 will accommodate two vessels, side by side, in the chamber. Only two boats of LOOFAH’s size, or four or more smaller boats, will fit at a time.
Our cousin, the Prestige 550 Fly, and their buddy boat, wanted a good start this morning so they headed toward the blue line about 7:15 to ensure they would be first, and pass through the 8:45 opening. They were followed shortly by a third boat. The que had begun!
We had various plans for the day. Plan A: stay in Smith Falls another day; go to the bakery; finally take time to learn how to fly a drone; do a much needed touch up of LOOFAH’s decks, and maybe even work in a nap. Plan B: get underway.
Chocolate croissants were secured, the drone instructions read, and the drone readied, which was far more difficult than anticipated. Flight control software need to be installed and systems calibrated. Finally, in “beginner mode”, after working through some error messages not fully understood, it took flight. Art felt like the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk!
About 10:30 we were at a decision point: stay or depart? Confirmed by a short bicycle ride to the lock, we could be accommodated at the 11:00 opening. The bicycles, shore power cords and adapters, and kayaks were promptly stowed. We left the pier at 10:50. A half hour later we were through the bridge and riding high in the lock, on the third leg of the Rideau Canal.
We passed these rental house boats and thought about how the owner felt when his tax dollars were spent to entice a foreign competitor to come to town.
Probably the same way my friends in the hotel business did when our city and county plowed millions of dollars into a convention hotel down the street. Did everyone benefit? A hard call to make as Art experienced during his time on Des Moines’ Urban Renewal Board. But he (we) don’t have to deal with those issues presently!
The scenery today was varied from narrow cuts…
… to open lakes. Some onboard were even able to work in the nap included in Plan A!
We saw homes on personal islands …
… and on rocky bluffs
About 2:15 we approached the Newboro Lock (#36) where we would start the descent to Lake Ontario. The boats that queued up hours before we did in Smiths Falls were at the blue line (indicating they were ready for the next opening) but waived us past.
We were unsure why but did squeeze into the chamber next to Nine Lives. After we got secured Dick mentioned the others were waiting for an open chamber so they could go through together.
The swinging bridge here is opened manually by putting a Y-shaped “key” into a gear. The operator then proceeds to push it round and round to swing the bridge. It was quite a sight.
The it was back to the lakes and the narrows that connected them.
The cruising guides noted: “Mile 90.8, Ferry Crossing. Watch for ferry crossing the waterway in the narrow channel between Indian and Clear Lake.”
Was this it? Was it seaworthy, inspected, licensed and operated by proper authority?
The lockmaster at Chaffeys Lock #37 told us about the mooring available on the upstream side of the next lock. It had nine 30-amp electrical pedestals. When we expressed interest he called ahead to confirm there was space; there was.
The lock crew at Davis Lock #38 was there to greet us. As it was getting late in the day with no other boats anticipated, they placed us at the end of the blue line at this “beautiful, isolated and quiet” place.
Other boaters on the pier were interested in our boat and hearing about the loop. After getting the Great Loop briefing, Brian and Betty (Mutual Fun$ II) and Peter and Debbie (Smile and Wave) came aboard to check out LOOFAH
Later, Ian and Jaime, aboard a houseboat they rented, came down to chat. They are attorneys enjoying a week off their long hours at law with their two girls, 6 & 8.
As we came into the pier, the girls and Jaime were swimming, laughing and generally having a grand time. Ian said the girls caught so many fish the he was going to make them start cleaning them!
We declared a “Martini’s and Steak night” and enjoyed dinner looking at this bucolic sight.
Sunday (9/15) Remaking Smiths Falls
This is the basin in the center of Smiths Falls formed by the pool between locks and dams 26A and 31. It is a happening place and it is the first time that we have been able to see the bottom in seven feet of water since the Bahamas!
It’s a picturesque place with families swimming, picnicking, and kayaking on this warm Sunday.
It is a town that has a fast-food strip, but also clearly has maintained a celebration of the past retaining the old locks and structures when this was a major stop on the canal connecting Ottawa with Kingston on Lake Ontario.
As many small towns, in all countries, struggle to remake themselves and maintain economic stability, Smiths Falls is no different. The Rideau Canal, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a unique asset and community leaders went to work on developing it.
Over docktails the other evening, cruising the canals of England and Europe was discussed. Others have done it. Thus far, we have only collected literature from Le Boat and discussed the possibility with our ISU traveling companions. It sounds, and looks, lovely.
So we were interested when we saw a Le Boat fleet here in the basin and did some research.
“Thousands of tourists are expected to flock to Smiths Falls come 2018 when water expedition company Le Boat opens up shop.
This will be the first North American operation for the European based boating company.
Le Boat will be offering boat rentals to anyone to travel the Rideau Canal and its waterways. There will be 16 Horizon cruisers to start the fleet, with 16 more coming within five years of opening.
Le Boat picked Smiths Falls, saying that “the picturesque town” offers all the best qualities of Europe’s top travel destinations.
Le Boat also says their operation will bring in jobs and put millions of dollars into the local economy, including $16 million dollars to open the North American base.
The Ontario government is directly investing $2 million and Le Boat is also benefiting from roughly $3.6 million in federal government work that was already going ahead on the Rideau Canal.
Le Boat is investing $16 million itself to launch its operations in Smiths Falls when the Rideau Canal opens for the season in May. The company has already shipped 16 Horizon cruisers worth more than $250,000 each. Depending on the model, the boats can sleep up to 10 people.
Prices range from $1,398 for shorter, four-night hops to Perth or Merrickville. For larger boats, prices can be as much as $13,078 for 10 days to Ottawa or $16,030 for a two-week sojourn to Kingston.
Vacationers rent the boats and are taught how to drive, then spend their trip cruising waterways and exploring communities. Le Boat’s vessels are equipped with beds, bathrooms and kitchens. “Basically it’s a condo on water,” said Sandy Crothers, the base manager of Le Boat in Smiths Falls.
“We’re already 60 per cent sold out for the season,” said Lisa McLean, Le Boat’s marketing manager for Canada. “Literally, tourists from around the world are booking to see the Rideau Canal.”
Reading this article, we thought of all the money we are saving by doing it ourselves!
And although this town has its roots in the canals, other roots have also been cultivated.
For years Loopers stopped here to visit the Hershey factory and then sample the chocolate in a visitor’s center. Then it closed. How could this facility be repurposed?
“CTV News Ottawa
- Published Friday, May 25, 2018 6:33PM EDT
- Last Updated Monday, May 28, 2018 10:22AM EDT
Canada’s biggest marijuana company continues to bring new life to Smiths Falls with its Tweed facility. Tweed, owned by Canopy Growth Co., moved into the old Hershey Plant on 1 Hershey Drive.
The warehouse had previously been empty since Hershey moved out years ago. Hundreds of jobs were eliminated when the chocolate giant left.
When Tweed took over, the company started with a few employees. Today they have 500 at this site alone. Jordan Sinclair, the company’s communications manager, says they expect to have 1000 employees in Smiths Falls by next year.
“We’ve got operations all over Canada and all over the world but this is the principal hub of operations,” Sinclair said.
On top of creating jobs at the plant, the Mayor says it has opened opportunities throughout the community. “We are seeing an economic revival like we’ve never seen before,” said Mayor Shawn Pankow. Pankow says the housing market is hot, and restaurants and businesses are flourishing.
Sinclair says the community took a chance on Tweed when marijuana was less of a hot topic – thanking Smiths Falls for that.
Pankow says Tweed has provided more jobs than Hershey’s did. He says the commitment has paid off ten-fold.”
Attention fellow Century Club Investors:
“The company was the first federally regulated, publicly traded cannabis producer in North America, traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange as WEED. It began trading as CGC on the New York Stock Exchange on May 24, 2018, as the first cannabis producer on the NYSE.”
We enjoyed the day catching up, kayaking and bicycling; things we have not done as much as we had anticipated.
We also watched a rerun of the World Cup soccer final and the post-game celebrations in Paris on the Champs Elysees. It brought back memories of our honeymoon and a special birthday celebration.
The picnic benches were empty and all was quiet on the Smiths Falls basin as the sun set. We had much to ponder as we grilled Canadian bratwurst (nothing like we get in Wisconsin) on the back deck.
It was another “Pinch me, am I dreaming?” day on the Loop.
Saturday (9/14) Rideau #2
Yesterday we didn’t know what to expect, nor did we today. We would make it through twelve locks and get to Smiths Falls, just under 40 miles – or not.
Our departure was at 9:22; LOOFAH III’s fuel tanks had been topped off, and the holding tank pumped yesterday when we arrived, so we were good to go.
We had 17 miles before the first lock of the day. Shortly after we left the marina the river widened, and the shoreline was undeveloped, enabling us to blow the cobs out of the engines. But that changed as we approached the lock.
After our first lock (#17 at Burrits Rapids) we were 9’ higher.
We were in a beautiful, quiet, undeveloped area. There wasn’t even a bridge at this lock.
Just a half mile further we came to this alarming view! CLOSED?
The cruising guide notes “Mile 40.5, Burritts Rapids swing bridge (10’) Opens on request. One long horn blast.” The swing bridge was open, but what was this safety netted barrier? Some sort of temporary construction platform. Why wasn’t this advertised?
Then we saw someone walk across the barrier, followed by two bicyclers. Then a man waived at us, acknowledging we were there. Shortly another man came to the bridge and adjustments were made at both ends. Then the floating bridge was pulled open, by hand and rope.
After 6 more locks we passed charming main street Merrickville. This was a potential stop, but as it was only 2:00, and we were “ahead of schedule”, we decided to press on to Smith Falls.
At 4:30 we arrived at Smith Falls. We passed the original three manual locks (28,29 and 30) to port.
They remain for historical interest and have been replaced by one lock (29A) with a 26’ lift. It is fully automated. Art inquired of the lockmaster if assignments were based on seniority; this one had to be more enjoyable than the manual ones. He responded that this assignment was made as an accommodation for his disability.
Slips at the Victoria Park Camping and Boating Facilities are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. It had been a long, hot, day. We had traveled 38.6 miles; been underway for over 7 hours; been through 12 locks; and been lifted 107 feet since departing Hurst Marina.
We wanted to sleep with the air-conditioning and to get the DISH satellite system powered up and ready for the World Cup finals tomorrow morning. And there was a slip open, right near Nine Lives. We pulled in.
And we were just in time for docktails, hosted by Louise and Dick. We met Orin & Sherry (“Green Eyes”) and Tim and Diana (“ZANADU”) for the first time this evening.
LOOFAH III’s Chief of Communications and Public Affairs noted a Prestige 560 Fly a few slips from us and introduced herself on her way to meet the pizza delivery person.
After getting our exercise locking, and a day in the heat and the sun, it didn’t take long to fall asleep!
Friday (7/13) Out of control!
Today was day one of our transit of the Rideau Canal constructed between 1826 and 1830. The canal is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sights
Approaching Ottawa Wednesday, we noticed this twin set of falls, marked on the charts as the Rideau Falls.
We later read that when Samuel de Champlain traveled up the Ottawa River in 1613 he saw these falls that appeared to him a curtain of water. Hence, he named these falls, and the associated river, “Rideau,” the French word for “curtain.”
At about 8:45 we departed from our mooring across the street from the Shaw Center.
The next few miles were in a beautiful park setting with cyclists, walkers and joggers enjoying the paths on both side of the canal.
Five of use gathered at the at the Pretoria Bridge for its scheduled 9:00 AM opening. We would follow these boats for a major portion of the day at the canal speed limit of 10 km/hr (6.7 mph).
At 9:30 AM we came to Lock 9 that could fit two boats at a time, so we waited our turn at the blue line.
All of the locks gates, sluice gates and bridges on the Rideau Canal continue to be operated manually.
Ross, the senior member of this team and in charge of this lock, was extremely engaging and helpful, as were all of the lock crews.
Some of the locks had bridges associated, which were also opened manually.
LOOFAH’s lines are unique in this area and generally draw many comments and photographs. We have become accustomed to it. But when campers on this dragon boat, one of four that had been racing, started yelling “cool boat” and waiving, we had to smile and return the waves.
Our last locking for the day was this step of three, and one last bridge.
We completed 7 locks today that took 4 ½ hours to transit. The total distance traveled was just 22 miles in 6 ½ hours.
Normally, since leaving Milwaukee last September, we have been in control of the distances we travel each day. Today we totally lost control of time and distance.
We are going to spend some time on the Rideau!
Dinner this evening was at Swan of the Rideau, a pub reminiscent of those we visited with our Iowa State University friends last year in Ireland. David and his staff made it another enjoyable evening.
And then it was back to our home on the water.
Maybe being out of control once in a while is not all bad!
Thursday (7/12) Sandy’s tip pays off!
We awoke in downtown Ottawa on a boat!
On the agenda: the 10:00 AM Changing of the Guard in front of the Parliament. We were there and ready for the pageantry.
The reviewing stand had assembled…
… and the retiring guards marched to the parade grounds. You have to love a good military parade with bagpipes leading the way.
And much to the surprise of the others (we had been briefed by Dick and Louise last night) the replacement guard approached from down the street.
It was a half hour filled with tradition, precision, and pageantry.
We felt relatively safe under the watchful eyes of the security detail who were not exactly British Gurkhas.
We walked the grounds and particularly enjoyed the exterior of the Parliament Library.
The sight from the terrace included the National Gallery of Canada and Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, which we visited by foot.
As we walked by the American Embassy, we could only guess the issues de jour the Ambassador was addressing with his Canadian counterparts. It sounds like President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau are still generating news.
Next stop lunch at the Heart and Crown Irish pub in the ByWard Market area.
The ByWard Market is named after Lt. Col. John By who supervised the Rideau Canal construction from 1826 and 1832. It was the home to many of the laborers who built the canal. The area has hosted an open-air market since the 1840s and is a colorful and eclectic place…
Immediately adjacent to the Byward Market is Rideau Center and its sheik stores; quite a contrast.
We went back to LOOFAH to put our feet up after we got the 10,000 step congratulatory vibration of Sue’s Fitbit.
Shortly there after there was a knock and we met Daryl Banke, the ALGCA “Harbor Host.”
We had heard about Daryl from Sandy (Karine) who said that Daryl graciously secured a 50’ 30-amp extension cable so they could use their “Y” to get 50-amp shore power.
Sandy and Bob had warned us about this when we had dinner with them on Marco Island; we were prepared. Daryl was pleased that we knew the story.
Daryl and Mark have been reading, greeting and talking with Loopers, and evaluating boats in preparation for possibly doing the Loop in 2024.
We went back to the Byward market for dinner and were lucky enough to get the corner balcony table at the Aude Dubliner.
The people watching was wonderful and we think we photobombed many photos taken of this colorful Irish pub.
On the way back to the boat, we made a stop at Starbucks to complete and post yesterday’s log entry as we had exhausted our high-speed internet allocation for the day. The shot of caffeine consumed while on the computer kept part of the crew up well into the night. It was probably a good thing, as he needed to get up to speed on the specifics of the Rideau Canal which we will experience tomorrow!
Wednesday (7/11) Successful summit!
From the sandy beaches of the Bahamas to the fir trees of Quebec, every morning we have enjoyed a different vista. From the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the forests of Montebello, this has been a phenomenal experience we aren’t anxious to finish!
Our goal for the day was for LOOFAH to summit the 8 stair-step locks in front of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa.
Although a small head-on current was still evident, the seas were flat as we proceeded 43 miles west on the Ottawa River.
We passed these individuals who have it all covered – air, land and sea!
This stretch of the river is relatively broad, not crossed by many bridges, but rather crossed many ferry’s, this one at mile 26.7 pulling along its submerged cable.
Just 10 miles upstream, there is this notation in Skipper Bob’s cruising guide: “Caution: Very heavy ferry traffic between Cumberland, Ontario and Masson, Quebec. Stay alert.”
At this point there were four ferry’s running. On both shores, as soon as one departed the terminal, another entered. It was quite a ballet.
We approached Ottawa about noon …
… and found Samuel de Champlain overlooking the river at Nepean Point, behind the National Gallery of Canada. Champlain founded Québec City in 1608 and, in 1613, he explored the Ottawa River.
“This statue commemorates the 300th anniversary of Champlain’s second voyage on the Ottawa River. It was erected at the same spot where Champlain made his solar observation during his expedition in 1615.
“Champlain certainly knew how to use an astrolabe — an old navigational instrument — but the sculptor did not. Champlain is depicted holding it upside down!”
Then we found the foot of the steps. Unlike the commercial locks in Canada, the lockmasters on the Rideau don’t monitor VHF channel 68. In fact, they don’t monitor any channel. A boat that wants to lock through simply approaches the lock, and if the gates are not open, ties off on the approach wall at “the blue line” to wait. We did.
We took turns going up to the lock to see if we could find a lockmaster.
Finally, Art was able to find Ted who was working with a team on the hand operated gates and valves bringing a pontoon down. It would be another half hour or so.
At almost exactly 13:00, the lower gates opened, the pontoon boat exited and LOOFAH III, with its admittedly anxious crew, entered.
It was quite an experience, made so much more enjoyable by the joystick and bow thruster controls available on the starboard side of the aft deck. Sue could loop a line around a fixed cable at the bow and Art could do the same at the stern.
LOOFAH exited the eighth lock, 79’ higher than the river, at 14:10. She had completed the 90-minute process in just 70, a testimony to outstanding teamwork which was recognized by not only the canal crew, but also those watching and photographing our every move!
We found a place along the wall above the last lock where we intend to spend two nights. It is free, but there is a nominal fee for electricity, should we wish to utilize it.
Nine Lives was moored at the wall immediately aft of us. When Louise saw us she immediately invited us to join them for 5:00 docktails. Dick and Louise have been here for two days so they provided us with several helpful suggestions that we will employ tomorrow.
We also spent some time talking about boating the canals of England, which they have done on several occasions. Dick and Louise are considering purchasing property in Northern England in the Lakes Country.
Walking to dinner at Milestones, we got drawn to the bridge over looking the locks. They were drained for the evening.
After dinner, as we were walking down the canal, we met a couple who were returning to their sailboat with provisions. The sailboats mast was down, trussed on the deck to get under the bridges.
We spent several enjoyable minutes speaking with Paul and Wendy about their sailing experiences. This time they were heading out the St. Lawrence to New Brunswick and points north, something that may be in LOOFAH’s future next summer.
It was another day filled with wonderful experience and people.
Hold the presses – LOOFAH III makes the big time!
While we were in Annapolis, Paul Fenn asked us if we would be willing to talk about our boat and experience on the Loop. We received an email from Paul saying that Prestige was posting it on their site as well as You Tube.
If you are interested, here is the link.
Thanks, Paul! Great job of editing.
Tuesday (7/10) Now that’s a log cabin!
Our time at the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club and Montreal was memorable, made even more so by the presence of Ellen and the grandchildren. It was now time to move on.
Today’s cruise is from Montreal to the marina at Le Chateau Montebello, 66 miles east.
We departed at 8:40 and came to our first lock, the Saint-Ann-de-Bellevue lock, about 45 minutes later. The gates were open and although we would only rise 3’, a lift easily accommodated by lines, we were secured to a floating raft inside the lock on the south wall. It took 17 minutes.
Sue, LOOFAH III’s Chief Communications Officer and External Affairs Officer (CCOEAO), had seen on a post that George and Patty Hospodar were doing the Rideau-Champlain-Erie triangle. Their book, “Reflection on America’ Great Loop,” was one of the first we purchased when we were considering the loop and remains a valuable resource.
And there went Reflection…
Art hailed George on the VHF and expressed our appreciation for their work. It was a cordial conversation; Loopers are a special bunch!
Our next lock for the day was a 65’ lift at the Carillon hydroelectric dam.
“Together with the Grenville Canal and the Chute-à-Blondeau Canal, the Carillon Canal was built to navigate the Long Sault Rapids on the Ottawa River which stretched for 13 mi from Carillon to Grenville. The impetus for these canals was the War of 1812. During this war, attacks along the Saint Lawrence River jeopardized the communication lines between Kingston and Montreal, the two main military positions of Upper and Lower Canada. The Ottawa River Canals and the Rideau Canal were thus designed as an alternative military supply route in the event of war with the Americans.”
The remains of lock No.1, built between 1830 and 1833, could be seen as we approached. The hydroelectric dam was constructed from 1959 to 1963.
We entered the chamber with two other boats.
Typically, the larger boats are secured to the floating platform and the smaller boats raft off of them.
It took just over 30 minutes to fill the chamber. So far, only the lift of Whitten Lock on the Tennessee Tombigbee waterway at 84’ was larger than this one.
At 1:30 Le Chateau Montebello came into view. We had been told that this was a “not-to-miss” stop. It certainly appeared to be from the water.
The setting for the Fairmont Le Château Montebello is 65,000 acres of forested wildlife sanctuary and 70 lakes on the shore of the Ottawa River, between Ottawa and Montreal. It is the largest log building in the world. The hotel is on one of the last surviving land grants made by 17th-century French kings to early settlers of New France and originally belonged to Bishop Montmorency de Laval, a founder of Quebec.
“The remarkable log chateau was built in 1930. The first log was laid on April 7. In June, newspapers across North America told of the completion of the massive log chateau in only three months.
“The unusual structure, in the form of six-point star, was built of 10,000 hand-cut and set red cedar logs all transported to Montebello directly from the forests of British Columbia by way of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The project was the dream of Swiss-American H.M. Saddlemire, who was inspired by the chateaux of the Swiss Alps. Finnish master-builder Victor Nymark oversaw the work of as many as 3,500 craftsmen at the peak of construction.”
For it’s first 40 years it was a private retreat. “The Seignory Club’s membership included prime ministers, royalty, and Canada’s business elite.” In 1970 the resort was acquired by Canadian Pacific Hotels Corporation and opened to the public. In 1981 the G7 Economic Summit was held here.
We enjoyed dinner in the chateau’s Bistro before retiring.
Monday (7/9) In port, “paying the fiddler.”
After a marvelous week, it was time to “pay the fiddler.” A number of issues required attention including email, logs, blogs, provisions, etc.
We have been looking so forward to the past week that planning beyond it has been neglected. Tomorrow we will begin a leg that is one of the reasons we diverted from the Erie Canal to go north. It was time to get into the details.
“The Rideau Canal is a visitor’s paradise with its many historic lockstations and 202 kilometres (125 mile) of scenic waterway. The Rideau Canal; a National Historic Site of Canada, a Canadian Heritage River and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of a series of beautiful lakes and rivers connected by canals. It stretches from Kingston, at the foot of Lake Ontario, to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. Maintained by Canada’s Parks service it is arguably the most scenic and historic waterway in North America. Whether you visit by boat, car, bicycle or on foot, the Rideau has something for you.
“The Rideau Canal is living history. It is the oldest continuously operated canal in North America and the locks are operated today much as they were when first opened in 1832. Each lock is unique and the lock staff are always ready to offer the visitor any assistance they can. Most locks provide washrooms, overnight mooring and picnic facilities, including tables, benches and barbecue grills.
“You can visit the Rideau in a number of ways. A boat is of course best to get the full ambiance of the region. The Rideau also makes for a wonderful driving trip, with many scenic roads winding their way through the heart of Old Ontario. So, whatever your vacation preference, the Rideau Canal has something for you.”
As we went to bed this evening we reflected on the another wonderful week with family, friends we have met and made, on experiences, the safe journey we have had, our health, the ability to have this adventure, and other blessings too numerous to list.
As we were high atop the La Grande Roue de Montréal ferris wheel last night we saw this image at sunset.
We acknowledge we are not the center of the Universe. Regardless of theology, or lack thereof, it is concept we wish everyone could embrace.
Our journey continues….
Sunday (7/8) “There’s just a few more hours…”
The only thing that came to mind this morning as Camps Pops and Nanny was drawing to a close was the song from “My Fair Lady,” “Get me to the Church in Time.” It starts with “A few more hours, that’s all the time I’ve got…” And that’s the way we felt.
We jumped into the car and headed back to the Montreal Science Centre to take advantage of the few more hours we had before a plane would take our crew back to Boston.
Our first stop was “DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition” which shows the “Journey from sketch to screen.”
“This summer at the MSC, go behind the scenes of DreamWorks Animation’s most celebrated animated films. Spend time with Shrek, Alex and the gang from Madagascar, Hiccup and Toothless from Dragons, Po from Kung Fu Panda and Eep from Croods, and many more in this fully immersive adventure into the world of animation.
Find all of the family’s favourite characters in this engaging globetrotting exhibition and explore — from sketch to screen — the secrets behind the making of these fantastical story environments. Discover exquisite concept art, maquettes, illustrations and backdrop designs. As you wander through the many realms of the DreamWorks universe take the opportunity to fly on a dragon’s back or create a short movie, experiment with lighting effects or control the facial expressions of your favourite characters.”
Next the 3-D movie, “Our Blue Planet”
“Take an extraordinary plunge into the world’s largest and least explored habitat. Filmed in oceans from all across the globe, Oceans 3D: Our Blue Planet reveals and explores the deepest realms of planet Earth using state-of-the-art oceanic technologies.
“Discover the mysteries nesting in the expanses of submarine forests and dazzling colourful coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living structure. Explore the submerged wilderness that supports all life on Earth and meet friendly 40-ton mammals, a fish that uses tools to prepare its food, and a clever octopus able to put a chimp’s intelligence to the test.”
The questions then became, do you want to look at the exhibits upstairs or head back to the marina?
The marina! Which meant “swimming.” So, while Mom did the packing, there was time for noodle fights and a race or two.
But then it was time to do the most difficult thing Pops and Nanny ever must do: say good bye.
It was comforting to know that Dad had cleaned and properly prepared the Boston playhouse for the campers arrival.
We had a Bloody Mary and took a nap!
Saturday (7/7) The Grand Finale!
The sun rose on the last full day of “Camp Pops and Nanny.”
But this morning was going to be special as Ellen was flying in early from Boston. She was working on just a few hours of sleep having just returned from a business trip late last night.
But she showed up right on time, bearing gifts!
Sweden was playing England in the quarter finals a FIFA World Cup at 10:00. Since we found the pool was closed until 10:00, it was time for Spirograph.
As it turned out the soccer games was not available on TV, only the internet. We ended up watching on the Little Guy’s iPad.
His father was watching on his transatlantic flight to Boston as we could see from his post on WhatsApp.
We have come a long way since March 10, 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell said to his assistance, “Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you.”
After England scored the first goal, the children and “Nanny” left for the pool. The rest of us joined after England won, 2-0.
Each day we are in Quebec, we learn a little more French!
Late this afternoon we headed to Old Port Montreal with the intention of visiting the Montreal Science Centre. However, the 3-D film we wanted to see was not available until after the balance of the Centre had closed. We opted to come back tomorrow and headed for an early dinner.
Then it was off to Voiles en Voiles, “a family theme park with aerial adventure course, climbing and inflatable games in the World of royal and pirate ships.”
We donned the harnesses and helmet for the climbing adventure!
Next we headed to “Take a seat in La Grande Roue de Montréal for an unforgettable experience. A panoramic view 60 meters high, with a breathtaking view of the river, Old Montreal, downtown and the mountains! In the evening? It’s simply magical. And all this in an air-conditioned cabin in summer and heated in winter.” Complete with the photo in front of the green screen.
The view was worth the admission!
And to top off the evening, a fireworks show for the Grand Finale of Camp Pops and Nanny!
The traffic was horrific as we headed out of the Old Port. By the time we got back to the marina it was nearly 11:30. Pops was in the back seat; The Little Guy’s head was resting on his left shoulder, the head of The Eldest, in his lap.
It was the grand finale of a wonderful of a week!
Friday (7/6) Heading for the barn!
You could almost sense it, LOOFAH III could. Today we turned the corner.
At precisely 08:10:03, after traveling 5,579.7 miles, 297 days from Milwaukee, LOOFAH III got to N46⁰ 03.146’ latitude, as far north as she was going. From now on it was all south and west – she was on the final leg, heading for the barn.
As soon as we left the Richelieu River and entered the St. Lawrence Seaway, LOOFAH immediately faced two challenges: a 3-4 mph head-on current and big ships
We knew Singapore …
… but Limassol? Later we found it to be a beautiful place on the southern coast of Cyprus.
The churches and spires we passed were stunning.
The skyline of Montreal soon presented itself.
Not the skyline of New York City, but stark contrast to the RV park of last night.
It was a good thing that we got underway this morning at 7:30. We knew that we needed to cover nearly 80 miles today, had two major locks, and would be limited in speed to 6 knots through the Canal de la Rive Sud, around the rapids at Montreal. What we didn’t know was how long we might be delayed by commercial vessels at the locks.
We arrived at the St. Lambert lock at 10:32, encouraged as the only freighter we saw on AIS was entering the lock. Hopefully our turn was next.
Pleasure craft tie up at an L-shaped dock in a small basin down stream from the lock. Boaters proceed up some stairs to a credit card kiosk to pay the $30.00 fee and to call the lockmaster. Boaters then return to their craft until notified when to get underway and to approach the lock by a PA system.
When we reported we were told they were expecting to lock a “special boat” about 12:30. We would have a two-hour wait.
Time for more crafts. This one is called scra-ffiti. You use a stylus to scratch off the black wax covering to expose the colors.
It was about as much fun cleaning up the wax as it was scratching if off!
Shortly after 12:15 the “special boat” arrived:
The voice over the PA systems advised us to get underway and to follow the craft into the lock. We did so. Two lines were thrown to each craft to use as the chamber was filled and rose 18’. The wind gave Nine Lives, the power catamaran behind us a problem coming in, but they finally got secured and up we went.
Our exit from the lock would follow the hoisting of the railroad bridge after the train passed.
We followed the Police vessel, and Nine Lives followed us, for the next 80 minutes at 6 knots as we proceeded to the St. Catherine lock.
The gates were open when we got to the lock; we had a green light. The Police boat proceeded in directly. Nine Lives already had their ticket and could proceed. We needed to visit the credit card kiosk. Would they wait? Fortunately, yes.
By this time the winds were +25 mph and getting the lines was a challenge. Our aft line was tossed three times. Thirty-three minutes later we were up 32’, and out.
The canal is narrow and needs to be shared, hence the 6-knot speed limit.
When we hit the open waters of Lac Saint-Louis, upstream of Rapides de Lachine, the , the winds had kicked up a 3’ sea. The bad news: the little guy arose from his nap a bit green at the gills and needed to make a quick visit to the head. The good news: the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club was just across the bay.
We got secured at 4:30 and a trip to the swimming pool was job one!
Dinner, cards, and ice cream onboard rounded out another wonderful day.
And, Mom would be rejoining us first thing tomorrow morning!
Thursday (7/5) After 64 locks, LOOFAH meets a new configuration
Having completed the Chambly Canal and its nine locks yesterday, today we cruise 36 miles up the Richelieu River to Parc Bellerive Marina, just 7 miles short of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
LOOFAH III and crew departed the Marina de Chambly at 9:15.
At 0900 the iPads are stored for the balance of the day leaving time for other activities. This morning a new card game was created. Initially called “Bridge” it was renamed “Brisk” after consultation and brainstorming. It is really a remarkable game; one the four of played on numerous occasions.
We tried to work in time for summer workbooks, but on some days (actually most days) we had other priorities. After all this is a vacation!