Trenton to Midland – The Trent Severn Waterway

Tuesday July 10 and Wednesday July 11, 2018:

We took advantage of our time staying in such a nice marina and also managed to relax and recoup a little. I confirmed with Brian Smith of American Diesel that the correct amount of oil to put into the Ford Lehman is only 14 ½ quarts.  Not five gallons, like I had been using.  During our stay here in Trenton, I changed the oil, cleaned the air filter and degummed the intake manifold (maybe from using too much oil).  I also changed the transmission fluid, cleaned all the strainers and serviced all the batteries.  The Trent Port Marina has new HE washers and dryers and they not only free to use, but the marina provides detergent and dryer sheets.!  Jane did the laundry plus the sheets and mattress pad.  She was in laundry heaven.  We got the shopping done and took care of some business.  We were going to leave on Wednesday, but I was able to get an appointment with a good dentist to get my crown put back on.  It had fallen off a month ago and I popped it back on but now it won’t stay on anymore. The dentist keeps his boat here at the marina so he understands the urgency since we are traveling. It was a very well run practice and I was pleased with the result and price.  The dental practice was very modern, even had a 3-D printer from which to make same day crowns.  Wow.  The visit was less than $150.  Maybe I should have gotten one of those same day crowns anyway.

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Wednesday was Jane’s birthday, so I made her blueberry walnut pancakes for breakfast.  She didn’t want any gift from me, but Sherry from Sea Jamm showed up with flowers and a card for her.  That was so thoughtful.  I did take Jane out to Thai Sushi for dinner and when she tasted my vegetable green curry dinner, I lost it to her completely.  Happy birthday, Dear.  That’s what happy couples do.

Thursday, July 12, 2018:

After I washed the decks and refilled the water tanks, we cranked up at 0810 and made our way over to the fuel dock for a holding tank pump out. There was a sail boat already ahead of us, but by 0900 we were on our way up the Trent-Severn Waterway under crystal clear skies.

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We encountered more waiting at Lock 1 and entered the lock at 1050.  Less than 3 ½ hours later we had gone through six Locks with Sea Jamm.  We both tied to the west wall at Frankford and paid our $9.80 for the electric service.  The day had heated up quite a bit and we needed to cool off, so Jane and I went down through the park to the beach.  It’s not much of a beach, but there is some sand amongst the goose poop and we waded out through the river rocks and boulders for a refreshing dip.  We got back to our boat and the A/C had cooled it down nicely and so it was nap time.  When we woke up we found that several new boats had arrived on the wall and how they got so close in front of and behind us, I’ll never know.

Loopers and locals gathered for drinks at the picnic table after dinner.

Friday, July 13, 2018:

It was a beautiful day without wind. At 0750 we shoved off the wall with Alan and Sherry’s help.  We needed a full sideways push to slide out of the tight parallel parking spot having been hemmed in the afternoon before.  At 0830 we were battling the deer flies again as we went through Danger Narrows.  By 0930 we exited Lock 7 at Glen Ross going up 9 feet with Sea Jamm, and a Canadian couple and a sailboat from France with an older couple. We continued on locking with the same group for five more locks.

 

The locks on the Trent-Severn are not as antiquated as the locks on the Rideau.  Most have been rebuilt.  The double locks of 11 and 12 at Ranney Falls provided a lift of 48 feet.  It was only another mile to Old Mill Park at Campbellford and we docked on the west wall at 1400 with 30 amp power.

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We paid for two nights and will get the third one free.  We got out and walked the town a bit and then realized how tired we were.  Locking in the heat takes a toll and we returned to the boat for a nap.  There were about six or seven other looping boats along the walls on either side of the river.  We found a restaurant (Capers) that reminded us of Café Gardens and enjoyed dinner on their patio and their live musician.  On Saturday we ventured over to the farmers market and the Incredible Edibles Festival. Later there was a Rotary street dance with a great band.  We dined at Antonia’s, a great small ethnic restaurant, and then hung out aboard Magic listening to the music and watching the people.

Sunday, July 15, 2018:

We had planned to go to church and stay another night in Campbellford, but when we got up and moving, we decided to give up the free night and move on up the Trent-Severn. We left the wall at 1025 and locked in Lock 13 with three other boats.  Canadians, Dave and Leslie from Endeavor rafted to us and we kept the same order for each lock through 17.  Locks 16 and 17 are double locks and raised us 55 feet and into Seymore Lake.

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When we reached the Hastings Lock (#18), we went through alone as the other boats had made it through the lake much faster.  We continued on and the river gave way to Rice Lake.  Rice Lake is about 20 miles long and several miles wide in places.  There are a number of islands and some good anchorages.  We opted to drop the hook between Rack and White Island at 1705.  We went for a cooling swim and I donned fins and mask to check on our zincs.  They all looked good except I didn’t see the prop shaft zinc.  I brushed a lot of growth off the hull.  That was good exercise, treading water and working with the long handle scrub brush.  It was a very pleasant anchorage in fairly open water.  There were few fishermen around and we showered on the fantail.  After a beautiful sunset in the western sky, Venus flirted with the crescent moon before it descended as a dark orange fingernail.

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Monday, July 16, 2018:

We pulled anchor at 0755 and sprayed off some weeds that clung to the anchor, but not as bad as some had told us it would be. By 0845 we were at the mouth of the Otonabee River.  The river proved to be mostly rural with some cottages along the way at the Hiawatha Indian Reserve on our right as we moved up river.  By 1305 we had passed through locks 19, 20, and the Big Lift Lock at Peterborough (#21).  The Peterborough lock is not really a lock.  It has two pans and one goes up while the other works as the counter balance and comes down.  It is over 100 years old and each pan weighs 1300 tons when filled with water.  They just put an extra foot of water in the pan that is at the top when they are ready for it to come down, so the whole thing works sort of like a giant hydraulic teeter-totter.  It was amazing how fast it raised us 65 feet.

At 1345 a storm was coming so we tied up on the wall below Lock 22 at Nassau Mills. By 1510 the storm had passed and we were on our merry way again.  At 1812 we tied off on the starboard wall below Lock 27 at Youngs Point.  The lock master from Lock 26 had called ahead and had them leave a washroom key hidden for us at 27.  Youngs Point was a very pleasant and quiet place to stay the night.  The dining room at the local inn was closed, but we had plenty to eat on board.  The old bridge from 1885 still stands, but is only used for foot traffic now.  We saw some interesting sights along the way.

 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018:

We pulled Sabbatical  by hand from her spot at the end of the wall to the front of the blue line.  By 0900 the lock tenders had arrived and by 0918 we were out of the lock and cruising in Clear Lake.  It is appropriately named.  This is beautiful boating territory and it was a fantastic day under a cloudless sky with a good breeze.  The temperature was perfect and I made a mental note that this is the best day so far considering the combination of weather, water, and location beauty.  The islands and cottages are amazing and the rocks are intimidating.  It’s a good thing we can see them through the crystal clear water.

 

We paid very careful attention and stayed in the marked channel.

 

By noon we had passed through Hells Gate and the locks at Burleigh Falls, Lovesick, and Buckhorn.  We wanted a spot on the wall in Bobcaygeon with electricity but they were all taken so we went on through the lock there to look for a spot on the upper side.  Before we could get out of the narrow channel with boats tied up on left and right, here came a houseboat head on, trying to get into a spot to our port.  There would be no way for the two of us to pass between all the boats.  I recognized that the houseboat was a rental and knew immediately that the operator would not give way or even have good control of the vessel.  I was forced to reverse and hold position with boats tied within just a few feet of us on each side.  Meanwhile Houseboatdude further entertained us by crashing into a runabout trying to dock.  After we were able to get by Houseboatdude, the lock workers came out and helped make some room for us to tie up on the starboard side by pulling one of the locals ahead and they even helped us get docked.  It was windy by then, but we put it right where we wanted gently against the floating dock.  We walked over to the laundromat and then to the grocery store.  I wheeled the groceries back to the boat and Jane went to finish the laundry.  Bobcaygeon is a small touristy town and it’s pretty packed.  We dined at Embers after getting turned away from the Waterside Grill because they were overwhelmed and not taking tables.  The only complaint about this day is the welts from the deer flies and horseflies.  Jane’s entire right hand, wrist, and forearm are swollen.  It looks pretty bad.  We’ll be glad when the bugs quit biting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018:

It was another beautiful cloudless day around 60 degrees in the morning. We left the wall at Bobcaygeon at 0720.  It was a perfect day to be boating through the Kawartha Lakes chain.  We entered Sturgeon Lake and by 0825 were rounding Sturgeon Point enjoying the beautiful day.

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By 1000 we had been through the locks at Fenelon Falls and Rosedale.  We then entered into Balsam Lake and with the lift from the Rosedale lock we were at the peak of the Trent-Severn Waterway and boating at 840 feet above sea level.  The whole area is just so beautiful.  By the time we had crossed Balsam Lake, we had caught up with our friends, Mark and Lezlie on Antonia. They were just behind four other Looper boats and we all continued in line through the narrow Trent Canal.

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We rode down in the Kirkfield Lift Lock (another set of hydraulic pans) for the 48 foot drop with Antonia and then continued on to Sunset Cove Marina in Bolsover. Antonia and our boat were the only Loopers that were staying the night there.

There isn’t much there, but we could have electricity, showers, water and get a pump out of the holding tank.  The four of us got together at the picnic table on the dock for dinner.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018:

I started filling our water tanks and soon Mark informed me that the water at Sunset Cove is not certified as potable. Great!  I stopped the filling and put the hoses away.  We cranked up at 1000 and I moved on over to the pump out station.  They charge $25 for a pump out.  It should be free when you pay for dockage.  While it was pumping, the owner’s dog jumped aboard hoping for a boat ride.

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By 1248 we had locked down through the Bolsover, Portage, and Gamebridge Locks and were crossing Lake Simcoe on another beautiful day.  Lake Simcoe is the largest lake on the Trent-Severn Waterway and the weather can be an issue for boating here.  We had a great day with almost no waves to disturb the clear green water.

At 1500 we were in the Narrows and had the Island Princess coming at us from ahead.

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I was glad to have already cleared the abandoned railroad bridge when I got his security call.  I moved over as much as I thought I safely could and let the captain know by radio that a port to port would work unless he wanted to wait for us to clear the Narrows.  It worked out fine and we docked at Port Orillia shortly after.  Docking at Port Orillia was without assistance from the staff.  To complicate the issue, they have cleats that fold down when not in use, so even when I had the boat right beside the finger pier, Jane had nothing to loop the line on.  Another boater finally came out and helped.  Boaters are good to help each other.  There are a bunch of Looper boats in the marina and Herb Seaton held docktails aboard Phanthom. There was such a large group, I’m sure I didn’t even meet everyone.  Later a group of us went out for dinner and had a disappointing experience.  But that’s not common here and the musician did come over and sing Happy Birthday to me.

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Friday, July 20 – Sunday, July 22, 2018:

On Friday we took care of some housekeeping items and I got another lease done. We felt great that we’ve turned over two rentals without going home.  We went out for breakfast and later rode our bikes way over the hill to the theater and saw the Denzel Washington movie, Equalizer II.  It took about an hour to ride there but only about 20 minutes to ride back since it was downhill most of the way.  For the weekend rounds, I was able to receive the British Open on the TV via the digital antenna.  We stepped over to the Metro Grocery in the late morning and coming back we had to cross the parade for the Scottish Festival.  Lots of Scots around here.

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We did some shopping, ate out at Vietnamese and Mediterranean restaurants, attended a cool church, watched the Open and the rain, got take out from Pita Pit, relaxed reading and of course planned the next legs of the cruise.

Monday, July 23, 2018:

We left the dock at 0730 under cloudy skies but almost no chance of rain. There was very little wind and Lake Couchiching was calm.  We caught up to Wine Speed and Magic waiting on the RR Swing Bridge to open at 0900.  The three of us were holding position in the narrow canal.  They had been waiting longer, but we only had to wait about ten minutes for the bridge to swing.  We had thought that we might stop at Lock 43, but we traveled with them for the bulk of the day.  By 0930 we had locked down at #42 and then we pulled Sabbatical into the fuel dock at Lauderdale Point Marina to take on diesel.  I commented on how much diesel they sell as we prefer to buy from a volume dealer to make sure we’re getting fresh fuel.  The workers on the dock said that they didn’t think they would even have enough to top us off when I mentioned that we’d probably take on around 200 gallons.  That scared me off because I surely didn’t want to empty their tank and get the dregs out of the bottom.  It wasted 20 minutes, but we had fuel enough to get to a better dealer.  On we went across Sparrow Lake and rounded the turn at McLean Bay.  The channel gets narrow there, but the landscape is gorgeous.

At 1115 we were in McDonald’s Cut and at 1207 we were the only vessel in the lock as we dropped 47 feet at Swift Rapids (Lock 43).  The lock attendant was nice to take our picture and email it to us.

By 1330 we had caught up to Magic at the Big Chute Marine Railway. Wine Speed had already gone over and was waiting in the pool on the lower side.  The Big Chute is not a lock but it does serve the purpose of getting the boats either let down or lifted up depending on which direction they’re going.  We went into the Chute with Magic. They were in front and we came in after.  We drove our boats into a submerged “railroad car” and then hovered over the straps while the attendants worked the controls for the straps to lift us out of the water.  Once both boats were secure hanging in the straps, the railroad started to move up out of the water on the tracks and over the hill and highway and then down down down into the lower water below dropping us 58 feet.  It was a crazy ride and the workers on the rig are great at working it and seem to enjoy moving the boats up and down.

By 1510 we had passed through Lock 45 at Port Severn and were set on continuing on to Bay Port Marina at Midland. Lock 45 was too small for us to lock with the other boats and they went on ahead.

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The channel coming out of Port Severn was extremely narrow and crooked.  We were able to navigate it without any problem, but this is one area to keep alert.

By 1630 we arrived at the fuel dock at Bay Port Marina and got refueled and pumped out before going to our slip.  They offer a buy-two nights-get a third night free deal so we opted for that since the day had been so long, we were ready for a rest and the rain is coming.

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Mural on Archer Daniels Midland flour mill in Midland, Ontario.

Later, we got the bikes out and rode over to the Boathouse Grill for dinner and ran into Herb (Phanthom) and Keith and Gail (Southern Style).  It was a fun place with a large waterfront patio and a good band.  It was a Monday night and the place was packed!

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Boathouse Grill in Midland, ON.
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Dragon Fly love.

One thought on “Trenton to Midland – The Trent Severn Waterway

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