126 Newark, NY to Port Severn, Ontario

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Work and play mixed as we settled in for a few weeks to visit family (the family link provides highlights of the fun we had). Ever itchy to be on the move we finally said our good-bys and cast off with fond memories and the lingering warmth from the hugs of love from everyone.

Coming west on the canal a sad sight had us puzzled. A huge section of shore had broken free, slid out into the river a few feet and then sank. Trees poked out of water. Docks just awash ended many feet from shore. One unlucky homeowner’s house hung out over the edge with traces of foundation out in the water. Now passing the sad sight again it finally occurred to us that we’d read about a dam break at Baldwinsville during the winter. Evidently the rapidly lowering of water levels had collapsed parts of the shore.

One long and one very short day brought us to Oswego and the entrance to Lake Ontario. Thirty years earlier it was at Oswego where we first began to meet people doing major cruising and started dreaming about cruising ourselves. That tradition continued as casual conversations lead to a happy hour aboard Odyssey. Jim off Sirenia, a trawler, had started from Texas and was single-handing most of the loop with friends occasionally joining him along the way. John had just spent a year crossing the Atlantic and back in a Contessa 26 sailboat. Alex, his very proud dad, had joined him to help bring the boat back through the locks to Orillia, Ontario his starting point. It was fun hearing everyone’s stories.

At first light we headed to Sackets Harbor. By sail the trip had always taken 8-10 hours. Now we discovered we were in time for breakfast at Tin Pan Galley. It remains one of our favorite spots for breakfast. We walked town and the old military complex now converted to condos and decided to push on for Kingston, Ontario and an early afternoon arrival.

As we crossed the invisible border into Canada memories of our frequent visits tripped mental reminders to spell differently. Color becomes colour and harbor becomes harbour in Canada.

Days slipped by in Kingston, and we could easily have stayed longer as we visited familiar haunts and found some new ones like the Pump House Museum with it’s old steam engines and model railroad to explore. However, we were heard the Trent-Severn calling. We did squeeze in a great farmers’ market before pushing on.

Couldn’t resist stopping in Belleville for lunch at Dinkels, another favorite restaurant along Lake Ontario. We found the atmosphere changed–improved actually–and the food still outstanding. We walked off lunch exploring the extensive waterfront walk the city has installed.

Expecting a traffic jam on the water because of the air show we arrived early at Trenton to catch the first lock. On this gloomy day we shouldn’t have worried. We were the only boat in the lock. After seven locks we stopped at Blue Hole, the first

Anchorage at Blue Hole

Anchorage at Blue Hole

anchorage along the Trent-Severn Waterway. We share the anchorage with chirping birds and croaking frogs. They made wonderful neighbors. Off in the distance a hillside farm framed by clearing sky above and the marshy waterway below just begged to be included in a painting. Trying to capture the feeling of the anchorage in a photograph was almost impossible. We stayed a second day enjoying the quiet charm of the anchorage while Sunday boaters took over the waterway on a warm, perfect summer day.

We had the first 19 locks from Trenton to Peterborough to ourselves. Lockmasters we talked with indicated the season was unusually slow. The weather turned uncomfortably hot with temps running in the mid 90’s.

Dinner at 38 Latitude was outstanding. Our hosts, Diane and Jim, admitted “foodies” had picked well. They have Down Time, a sister ship to Odyssey, on order for delivery early in 2004 and had driven up after a business meeting in Toronto to meet us and swap notes about our equipment choices. The exchange went both ways, and as we picked up an idea about clipping our sunscreen to the lifelines to improve air circulation while still getting shade.

Early morning found us exploring town a bit before the heat became too oppressive. We explored downtown and a bit of the neighborhood just off the water finding an interesting mix of old and newer homes.

The Wednesday night concert in the park next to the marina was a huge success. It looked to us like over a thousand people had brought chairs, blankets and munchies to sit on the grass enjoying the music followed by a lighted precision boat handling parade and then fireworks. The concerts are so popular that Peterborough runs them each Wednesday and Saturday for the entire summer season.

Four years earlier riding up in the Peterborough lift lock was a thrill. This time it was routine and a bit of a relief to be out in the open air instead of in a lock chamber. Travel was slower now as five boats were moving along the waterway, and lock spacing kept everyone together. It took six slow, hot hours to clear 8 locks and 16 miles to the shady lock wall at Young Point. Jim off Sirenia had stopped also, and we found a late lunch at an old inn.

After our hot day the clear water looked inviting, and I went for a swim. Lingering in the comfort of the water, I lazily scrubbed at the waterline and confirmed the props were weed free after some of the weedy spots we went through. Now it was time for an ice cream, and we headed for the rustic store next to the canal. What a surprise. Inside a wonderfully twisting path wandered through connected rooms and buildings overflowing with very up scale cottage furniture and other goodies. We returned with our ice cream and a new throw rug for the galley floor.

Cindy and Terry invited us to join them at the bonfire they were starting at Lovesick Lock. They were out for a week’s cruise in their twenty-foot boat and had brought wood with them. We enjoyed their company, the fire, and the uniqueness of being at a lock wall built in the middle of an island. The lockmasters commute by boat since the dams on either side of the island join wilderness shores with no road access.

Barb and Don cruise Sea Dragon in the winter, and we’d met at various places along the ICW. Don picked us up at Buckhorn, and we spent a lazy summer day enjoying their cottage in the woods overlooking a tiny river down the hill. We were enchanted by their home; it’s the kind of place we’d love to have if we ever decide to come ashore. Barb and John drove over, and we spent a delightful day enjoying cruising friends.

One of our weaknesses in Canada is chip wagons. We were tied up that the Rosedale lock and remembered from our last passage that the marina ahead had one. Off we walked down the road, over the bridge and then down the road on the other side. As we got close to the chip wagon a black bear came out of the woods a hundred yards ahead. Just then a car passed, and then slowed and stopped just short of the bear. The bear headed for the woods as the car backed rapidly to warn us in case we hadn’t seen the bear. Undaunted we continued on; a mere wild bear wasn’t going to keep us from our chips.

It looked like it was going to be a bit of a wait for our chips. One of the cooks was busy at a picnic table peeling and slicing potatoes. We mentioned the bear and the cook replied: “That damn bear! I’ve had to chase it away from here twice today already.” We decided it was best to finish our chips at the picnic table before starting our 1.5-mile return walk to Odyssey.

Entering the Kirkfield Lift Lock for a 49' lowering to the water below

Entering the Kirkfield Lift Lock for a 49' lowering to the water below

The Lock 37 lockmaster apologized for the delay. He’d been off opening one of the control dams to drain off some of the rain we’d been having. We’d just ridden the Kirkfield Lift Lock down. It operates by putting a foot more water in the upper chamber than the lower. The lockmaster explained that in order to maintain that foot differential he was opening the dam to lower the lake below the lock.

Lake Simcoe was a bit bumpy as we headed across to Barrie. A street fair was in progress, part of Barrie’s celebration for Canada Day, and it was fun poking around all the booths. We could only stay one night because the marina was full the next day for the official celebration. A long early morning walk beside the water brought us to a quiet residential area with classic old homes. We explored for a bit and decided we’d come back to Barrie and spend more time on our next trip.

Orillia Canada Day Parade

Orillia Canada Day Parade

Orillia’s town marina is unique. It’s large and is all transit slips. They had no problem accommodating us on Canada Day. We arrived just in time to watch the town parade come into the marina park for the official start of Orillia’s Canada Day picnic. It brought memories of the kinds of picnics towns had when we were kids. We listened at the bandstand, as Oh Canada was sung then watched cloggers dance at another stage. We stood in line to get a
Canada Day Birthday Cake

Canada Day Birthday Cake

piece of the Canada Day birthday cake being carved up. It had covered nine picnic tables before volunteers began cutting and passing it out. Chips from the chip wagon went down as we listened to an Elvis impersonator perform from the bandstand. A water ski show drew everyone to the water and finally an impressive fireworks display capped off the evening. It was an old fashion wonderful day. We lingered a second day, exploring town and taking a long bike ride along the Gordon Lightfoot waterfront trail.

Hilltop at Big Chute.

Hilltop at Big Chute.

We’re riding on railway floor.Big Chute’s marine railway operators loved us once they learned we could ride on our own bottom without slings. All we did was hold Odyssey in place as the car moved forward out of the water and up and over the hill. We also loved it because since we weren’t in slings there weren’t any cautions about moving around.

A woman walking the Port Severn Lock blue line wall and staring intently into the water caught our attention. She was looking for something then left only to return in a swimsuit carrying swim fins. We learned her boat prop had come off as she was entering the lock. We volunteered Odyssey as a dive platform and put the dinghy in the water to make it easy to get in and out. She looked for a bit and then went and got help and started looking again. I couldn’t resist. I got out my gear and went in to help look. Three of us looked for an additional 45 minutes and finally gave up in the fading light. She indicated she’d return the next day to look again. We never learned if she found the prop since we headed out into Georgian Bay early the next morning.

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