Monday, July 2, 2018:
We had enough of the city. Ottawa is a great city, but it is a city. So, we untied from our spot on the wall under the bridge without waking the couple sleeping on the walkway. We waved to Alan on Sea Jamm and Peter and Sally as we started south down the Rideau Canal. We had to wait 20 minutes at the Pretoria Lift Bridge for the 0930 opening. We just idled about trying to stay in place and under the shade of the fixed bridge just before it. The wind was starting to get breezy. The bridge opened right on time and a couple of other boats followed us through. At 0947 we entered Dow Lake and continued on with the canal arriving at the Hartwells Locks. We locked through with three other boats at 1025. By 1108 we had been lifted 25 feet in the Hogs Back Lock and at noon another 10 feet at the Black Rapids Lock. There are many locks on the Rideau Canal as we keep going higher and higher. The locks are somewhat of a source of stress, but I realize locking with these locals in smaller boats that I’ve become a fairly competent captain and don’t really need thrusters or dual engines. It was “South Florida” hot and humid. I notice that at each lock the wind is picking up. In this system, boats tie up at the blue line portion of the dock outside the lock. The lock master notices and then comes out to give locking instructions. When we arrived at the blue line for the flight of three locks (14, 15 and 16) we had to wait.
Since another boat had joined in ahead of us, I knew it might be an hour before we could enter the lock. I went for a swim in the basin below the dam. That felt really great. The lockmasters and their crew are all very nice and readily admit that their primary job is to make sure we boaters have a good experience. Most of the locks are hand operated with antique equipment.
It was quite the engineering marvel in its time. While I was swimming an older long-haired dude came by in his small boat and introduced himself as Mark Monnet, the AGLCA local harbor host. He was very kind to offer to run to the store and get us anything we might need. We were out of ice, so we said that’s all we need at this point. What a great guy to come out and find the Loopers coming by his island in the river and offer to run errands. He came back while we were still on the blue line waiting to get into the lock. He had been to four stores and they were all out of ice. It is understandable since today is a holiday and it is hot as Hades. It was fun to talk with him and he even offered to bring us some of his marijuana that he grows in his back yard! I told him I was writing a blog and offered to leave that part out and he said I should definitely include it.
Mark Monnet with Insel aboard New Freedom.
We got our turn in the locks this time with Sea Jamm as Alan and his daughters had caught up with us. We were through the flight of three locks and the hand crank swing bridge by 1500 and on our way to Hurst Marina. We are looking forward to getting there because we can refill our water tanks, get a pump out, hook to electricity, and most importantly, they have a swimming pool! At 1530 the skies turn purple and we smell the ozone and then the storm hit. Jane was super getting the panels put back up so we’d be enclosed on the fly bridge. Lightning and thunder and some hard rain came down, but onward we trudged. The storm ended before we arrived at Hurst Marina at 1600. It’s not fancy, but the pool felt great and they even have a hot tub. We enjoyed the pool and the hot tub. Sea Jamm pulled in too. Later Joe and Rhonda on Band Wagon showed up and docked next to us. Jane and I went to the restaurant next door, Swan on Rideau, and dined on their vegi burgers. It was a comfortable spot and we stayed another day doing laundry and boat chores tending to some of the varnishing and bright work.
Wednesday, July 4, 2018:
We got the dock boys to give us a pump out of the holding tank and then eased out of the marina at 0900. By 1220 we had made it through the lock at Burritt’s Rapids and tied to the wall. They have electric available here, but the 30 amp failed to keep even just our air conditioner running. The lock staff had the electricians out working on the problem. I asked the lock master if generator operation was allowed. She said of course, no problem. So given the heat wave and humidity, we were worn out from the heat and battling the deer flies, so we cranked the gen-set and put on the A/C for a nap. Later we got a little grief from a lady on another boat that had been sitting in a chair nearby. She wanted to know if we planned on running our generator all night and said it was noisy. Uh, it’s not at all, really, but we took her feelings into consideration and turned it off and went over to Lock 17 Restaurant and set up camp in their air conditioned bar. I brought my computer and we used their wifi to complete some work on the blog. We stayed for a several hours and enjoyed the friendly waitress and had a pizza for dinner. This place also has a coin operated shower that I later came back and tried out. It was awesome.
Thursday, July 5, 2018:
By 0900 I had received a refund for the $9.80 electric charge and we left the wall headed for Smiths Falls. There was a construction project underway at the swing bridge that was supposed to be finished in April, but they’re still working on it. We arrived at the swing bridge at 0920 and the lock master said earlier that the contractor would be ready to let us through, but that wasn’t the case. The workers said it would be a delay of half an hour. By 1010 we they moved the temporary pontoon walk bridge and we went through. We continued onward locking through locks 18, 19, 20, and the triple lock of 21, 22 and 23 at Merrickville.
By 1357 we were through lock 24 at Kilmarnock and we pressed on locking at Edmonds and finally going through the doubles of 26 and 27 at Old Sly’s Lock. We were worn out with all the locking in this extreme heat. I thought we left this weather in Florida! Jane’s personal journal records that we were sunburned, tired, cranky and bitchy. I can’t disagree. We finally docked at Victoria Park in Smiths Falls and the electric worked so we were ecstatic to have air conditioning again. We biked over to the post office to mail some things and then on to the public “beach” (it’s a wall with a ladder to get into the river) for a cool-off swim. It was very refreshing. I think it hit 97 degrees here today.
Friday, July 6, 2018:
It was very windy and I was very unsure about leaving. I’d be just as happy to stay here at the dock and enjoy the town for another day avoiding locking in the heat and the dangers of putting our boat into the locks in windy conditions. It was cooler and the wind helped with that. Finally, I decided that I could manage the breezy conditions and we backed out of the slip at 1100 and by 1130 we were done with lock 31 (upper Smiths Falls). By noon we were through the Poonamalie Lock number 32 and into the open lake relishing in a much cooler day than the oppressive heat of the last week. It was very windy but with waves of only about one foot. The lake was beautiful, enhanced by the numerous rocky islands and outcroppings. I really loved the granite boulders and cliffs and the evergreens. There were many idyllic lake cottages, some built out over the water. We went past a small cable ferry too.
At 1335 we were negotiating the Narrows and by 1445 we had cleared the Narrows Lock. At this point we were boating on the Upper Rideau Lake and it seemed like we were on top of the mountain. The sky was more expansive and indeed we were at the highest point on the Rideau Canal system. We had been raised 275 feet above the Ottawa River and were now boating in waters 408 feet above sea level. In places it is marshy and at others it is like boating in a mountain stream.
We would have liked to have made it to the anchorage in Morton’s Bay, but the time required for locking wouldn’t allow for that. We locked through at Newboro beginning our descent at 1530 and by the time we got through one more lock at Chaffey’s we were spent and tied to the wall at Davis Lock at 1655 for the night. There was electric available, but we didn’t need the air conditioner in the perfect weather.
Saturday, July 7, 2018:
We’ve another perfect day in store with temperature in the 70’s, partly cloudy and a good breeze. We were ready to enter the lock when the staff arrived at 0900. They were on their game and twenty minutes later we were on our way. By 1120 we had gotten through Locks 39, 40, 41, and 42. The bridge tender at the Brass Point Swing Bridge was ready for us and opened without prodding so we didn’t skip a beat. This part of the Rideau has been the most enjoyable section of the journey so far. We realized that locking in the cooler weather is easier, less exhausting and there’s a lot less barking at each other. It actually became enjoyable. Meeting the staff and chatting a few minutes each time was interesting. They are all so nice. By 1600 we had completed Locks 46 through 49 and at 1700 we docked into slip H23 (even though it was windy and the slip was in a somewhat difficult location). Six jovial young dockhands were there to take lines from Jane as we eased in with caution.
Joe from Band Wagon came over to invite us to docktails aboard Wine Speed with Mike and Cindy and the Captain and Dorothy from Magic. Kingston appears to be a happening spot for the weekend with the Busker’s Rendezvous going on. Buskers are street performers and they have some really good acts with several going on at the same time. We all walked over to Casa Dominico for a good meal. Jane and I made good use of the marina showers before bed and they were really great.
Sunday, July 8, 2018:
We biked up to the First Baptist Church. It was evident right off that we had ventured into another dwindling congregation occupying a beautiful historic structure. That is so sad. After church we kept on a few more blocks to the Metro Grocery. It’s ok, but it ain’t no Publix. We stocked up and made it back to the boat and then walked over to enjoy the buskers’ shows. They were great entertainment, but always with a pitch for the passing of the hat. Buskers have to eat too.
Docktails were in the boaters lounge at the marina office. We only got asked to keep it down once. That’s pretty good for this group.
Jane and I went and enjoyed the “waterfront” deck dining at the Indian Restaurant. Good food but the waterfront was a long reach.
Monday, July 9, 2018:
We slept a little late to leave with the others at 0730, but we got off the dock at 0745 with a slight breeze but without help and trailed the other three boats out into the North Channel of Lake Ontario. Wine Speed, Band Wagon and Magic are all headed for Trenton and we are up for the 71 mile day unless we get tired and elect to anchor along the way. There is a cloudless sky and 72 degrees as we make our way behind Amherst Island. The wind picked up as we moved along and around midday it was about 20 mph. We kept plugging along and docked in slip E15 at Trent Port Marina at 1640. Trent Port Marina is by far the nicest marina we have stayed in. The entire facility is only a few years old and it is very, very well run. Washrooms are spotless as is the entire place. Here, as in Kingston, each washroom is a full bath, but these are brand new top of the line. Landscaping is beautiful and they even have a “Help Yourself” herb garden. Our group of 8 met on the patio for docktails and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. We then moseyed over to Tomosso’s for dinner. (Somewhat of a pattern going on here).