Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More islands, anchorages, rocks.... lots & lots of pictures

We're now on a flotilla in Georgian Bay; these pictures are from Penetang and the first section of the flotilla. Here are Doug & Kathie in the afternoon sun . We took an evening cruise on the 'Georgian Queen' out of Penetanguishene Harbor- that's wind, not a punk hairdo!

(link to GoogleMap of this location)

This is a view of the park & town dock at Penetanguishene. The statue represents an Indian... Native American.... First Nation... legend and honors their memory.

Here is a placard on the statue pictured above

Here is the long line of boats winding along the channel as we began the flotilla; at the left you can see the Champlain memorial. The Looper Flotilla had 22 boats between 30 and 50 feet in length, and the line was three miles long, due to spacing and speed. Plus there were numerous narrow places with multiple buoys, traffic from both directions (sometimes boats from the other direction had to wait), and *everyone* had to slow down, so the slower boats (we are one) had a chance to catch up with the convoy.

This is the memorial marker for Samuel de Champlain, the first European to explore this area. We did not get quite as close as this photo makes it seem.

A funny-looking navigation marker? Actually, this is two "range markers," one behind the other. When the two are aligned (like in this photo), then your boat is traveling exactly down the safe channel between the rocks.

The Looper Flotilla assembles in Port Rawson Bay. The first boat to anchor was the leader, Bob & Karen in their beautifully restored Hatteras 'My Bonus'.... all the other boats tied up to one side or the other until all were rafted up.

Here is a view of the Looper Flotilla anchored in Port Rawson Bay. The fleet of 22 boats tied up nearly filled up the northwestern cove of the bay. The line-up was anchored in front & back at several points.

(link to GoogleMap)

This is what we look like; Doug & Kathie & Hank on the aft deck of 'Winnie W' ... our next-door neighbors Jerry & Rosalie on 'Sunrise'

This is what the beautiful scenery of the anchorage looks like. There are at least a million places just as nice in this region. This is bedrock, part of the Canadian shield, formed by glaciers. The rocks have moss and lichen on them, which may decompose and form a soil so that plants and eventually trees can grow on the rocks. Dwarf cypress (two are just to the left of teh marker) grow without soil and are hundreds of years old by the time they attain more than 5 feet of height.

Beautiful scenery of the Port Rawson Bay anchorage. On the left was the shore where Hank walked and played several times a day, often with dogs from other boats. One owner was kind enough to tell us she thought Hank was "sweet" and played well with her dominant lady dog!

Hanks is not really a water dog, when compared to a Chesapeake Bay Retriever (which we know well), but he needs exercise and he likes joining in the fun.

This is the waterfall at Moon River, more of a steep rapids than waterfall perhaps, but it is a beautiful spot. The Looper Flotilla took a long dinghy ride (some made it into a race) from the anchorage. Kathie rode with Jerry and Rosalie while Doug and Hank stayed to work (Doug), play (Hank), and relax (both).

Another excursion ashore for Hank. This is getting to be "business as usual" for him. You can see that he is not afraid of getting in the dinghy.

Party time and home-made music: the Looper Flotilla is entertained (in more ways than one) by musicians Doug & Jerry aboard 'Sunrise.'

We're having a great time, continuing onward with the flotilla this week We hope that you all are well & happy-
Doug & Kathie

(link to GoogleMap of current location)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Goodbye Trent-Severn Waterway, Hello Georgian Bay

We finished up with the Trent-Severn Waterway and arrived in Penetanguishene late last week. The next notable area we cruise through will be Georgian Bay, the eastern section of Lake Huron.

In contrast to the farmlands we passed among on the eastern sections of the Trent-Severn Waterway, much of the west is rugged & rocky. Logging was an early industry. Now vacationers are the biggest contributors to the economy, and summer cottages are along almost every bit of waterfront. In fact, some people have told us that there is a bit of a conflict between boaters, especially cruisers, and cottagers.

Here's a photo of our traveling companion Tom-Kat wending her way through the rocky shoreline at the western end of the Trent-Severn..

For many cruisers, the "Big Chute" marine railway (which would be lock 44) is the highlight of the Trent-Severn Waterway. At the time that the last connections were being made to complete the system, the budget was short and a marine railway was a less expensive way to complete the connection between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron's Georgian Bay. Furthermore, the railway replaced what would have been two locks.
Boats are driven onto a carriage, slings are placed around the boats (like on a travel lift when boats are hauled for boatyard projects), and then the carriage is lifted to drain the water.
Then the railway carriage goes along the track and drops 57 feet. When boats reach the bottom, they float off. Here's a picture of Tom-Kat (in the second row; hard to see the boat) when they went down the hill to the Gloucester Pool, the westernmost level of the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Here's what it looked like from the bow of the Winnie W as we descended the hill! We were also in the second row; two smaller boats fit in ahead of us, and we were hanging from slings in the middle of the back half of the carriage. Kathie was worried that being up the the air on the lift, raised yet higher on the boat, and going downhill would be scary- but it was exhilarating! There has been discussion of replacing the railway with locks, but money has continued to be an issue and most cruisers like the unique experience of "the Big Chute."

Here's Bob and Sue's boat Tom-Kat leaving the last lock (#45) of the Trent-Severn Waterway. This is at Port Severn, the mouth of the Severn River where it flows into Lake Huron.

This is looking down the channel at the mouth of the Severn River; this is where we have gone around the corner and under the bridge to enter Georgian Bay.

Almost into Georgian Bay, to the left is Waubashene and to the right is a winding passage leading between Green Island and Potato Island. We went to the right, eventually going past marsh & rocks into to the open Bay.

This is a photo looking at a notorious part of the Potato Island channel; it is narrow, shallow, and rocky. On the bright side, at least there's no tide! We didn't really have a problem getting through the Potato Island Cut... one good thing is that the water is very clear and you can see the rocks.

Hank is not much help with the navigating in these rocky channels. But you can see he doesn't worry either.

Here is the view down Penetang Harbor as we arrived. A squall arrived at the same time we did, the sky is threatening and the wind is rather pushy. Docking was a bit of a challenge.

For the last few days, we have been part of a big meeting of the America's Great Loop Cruiser's Association, including a rally of people & boats currently on the Loop. It has been a lot of fun and we have also learned a lot about the waters ahead.

Tomorrow morning we depart Penetang and join a flotilla of 20+ boats traveling along the eastern side of Georgian Bay. We will be in an area called "the 30,000 Islands" and it's not an exaggeration. Most of the way will be sheltered behind the islands but we will have to be more concerned with weather than we have been on the inland rivers & canals.

This map shows where we've been, and where we are hoping to go for the next few days: from Big Chute to Port Severn and on to Penetanguishene; then a couple of nice anchorages and on to Parry Sound. We don't think we'll be able to get Internet access for perhaps another week.

Hope you all are well & happy-
Doug & Kathie (and of course, Hank!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hank the Boat Dog

Our dog is probably more popular than we are; most dog owners know the feeling. We are known far and wide as "those people who drive Hank's boat." He is such a happy soul, he makes almost everyone feel better just being there.

Cruising with a dog has its challenges & down sides... it certainly is extra work & worry... but the rewards are tremendous!

When we stopped at the small town of Bolsover, along the middle part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, Hank met a young "marina dog" named Mercury. They played together most of a day, and we gave up hopes that they'd tire each other out. Merc was a star attraction already and the two of them really hit it off.

Hank is a real charmer, all right. Not being shy, he met these beautiful young ladies on the Port Severn dock and immediately invited them on his yacht.

The odds were not in favor of Hank's becoming a yachting dog; he was in the animal shelter and one day short of being euthanized. I suspect that he was aware of the situation, and looks at every new day of life as a gift & a bonus... an attitude we try to share.

Here are our new friends Lise, Ross, and Bailey. Hank invited them aboard the Winnie W when he heard that Bailey was also a yacht hound. Bailey keeps his cruiser at Penetanguishene, and he lets Ross & Lise drive it for him.

It is a gift to make friends in new places like this, and it certainly brightened our weekend to meet them.

We hope that Hank has cheered you up too!

Best wishes
Doug & Kathie

Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting back in touch

Shortly after leaving Orillia a few days back, we had to stop & wait for a train!

For some bridges, we'd consider folding down the mast & antennaes; the Winnie W has a minimum clearance (sometimes called "air draft" in contrast to water draft) of 12'. This bridge was too low for that trick to work, so we waited.

However we didn't have to wait very long, and the bridge tender was very friendly. He let us know that he'd seen us waiting, appreciated our patience, and opened the bridge for the Winnie W and Tom-Kat as soon as he could.

Info for cruisers coming to Canada: lock & bridge keepers here do not have radios.

I guess some islands don't float. Fortunately this one still shows just a tiny bit above the water, and the helpful navigation people did put a sign on it. Our friends Bob & Sue on 'Tom-Kat' are navigating properly around this rocky channel.

One of the best things about cruising is a mellow anchorage and a beautiful sunset. You have a finite number of sunsets to enjoy, this was one of the best.

There are other things to enjoy in this anchorage... it was a GREAT swimming spot. Doug likes to check out the hull, prop, & rudder... it's that work ethic thing, can't just relax and have fun! Or it could be that he thinks the goggles make him look cool.

More scenery on the western part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, actually this was along the Severn River. Winnie W proudly flies the "Looper" flag. And you can see more of the rocks that motivate Doug to keep checking out the hull, prop, & rudder.

Today we are in the big city.... Penetanguishene, Ontario! (link to MapQuest) One of the metropolitan benefits is that we now have internet access and can begin catching up on this blog.

Penetang is right next door to Midland, both are popular bases for cruisers & sailors on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. This is said to be one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world, and coming from the scenic Trent-Severn Waterway that is saying a lot. We have been looking forward to this section of the trip since long before we started.

Thanks to you all for your patience in our slow updates, and your interest in our progress.

Sincere best wishes-
Doug & Kathie

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Taking a long short-cut

We apologize for being out of touch for over a week, but we have not had access to the Internet for most of the Trent-Severn Waterway. This map gives an overview of our route, which is a kind of short-cut from Lake Ontario to the west up to Lake Huron.

We wanted to show the sceptics that Canada geese, who have a reputation of living year-round at ponds throughout the south-east U.S., do in fact live in Canada also.

Here are two pics of our anchorage at Rice Lake. Hint- that stuff ain't wild rice! However, Rice Lake was really named for it's tremendous beds of wild rice, which the Indians and early settlers loved. The environment has changed and rice no longer flourishes here, which is a shame.

We originally intended to anchor further east, off the channel in the river, but poor holding ground and the opportunity to make a few miles more progress led us to this spot (link to GoogleMap) near Margaret Island in Rice Lake.

Here is Bob on Tom-Kat dealing with the flora of Rice Lake. This weedy stuff clung to the anchor and chain but would not assist in holding the boat securely for the night. We also had trouble at times with weed clinging to the rudder & propellor.

Here is a photo from the Ottonobee River, which leads north from Rice Lake up toward Peterborough. This dock has obviously seen better days, but it's probably never seen more seagulls.

We successfully navigated our way through Rice Lake and on up the Ottanobbee River to the city of Peterborough, where there is an unusual method of getting boats up the hills: a "lift-lock" (link). This is a simple machine consisting of two tubs of water, each mounted on hydraulic cylinders. The cylinders are connected so the weight of each tub counterbalances the other. Boats drive into the tubs, a small pump puts slightly more water into the upper one, which then becomes heavier and goes down, pushing the lower tub upward.

Since there is no water flow in the lift-lock, there is less need to secure the boat. However, Doug is making sure that the Winnie W. will not drift around in the lock!

Here is a photo of our friends on Tom-Kat as we are leaving the lift-lock tub at the upper level. You can see that we are above the treetops of the lower level... what you can't see is that this was a windy day, and it was much windier at the top... maneuvering out of the lock was a bit of a challenge!

Here is a get-together of cruisers above the Lakefield lock. There are at least a hundred cruising boats "doing the Great Loop" in the Trent-Severn Waterway this summer, however there are so many beautiful stops that we don't see each other very often.

From furthest to closest: Winnie W, Tom-Kat, Mascot, Vagabond, TwoWowie, and Jolly Tolly all tied up on a peaceful morning at Lock 26.

Not all vessels transiting the locks are cruisers. These people were out for an early morning paddle and decided to lock thru on their way down the river, instead of carrying their gear & their boats in a portage... the old fashioned way (which is hard work!)....

Then we proceed onward, passing thru rural Ontario on our short-cut to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Rolling hills and prosperous farms make beautiful scenery as we go along these rivers & lakes north of Peterborough.

This is really a lovely way to travel and you see the best of the area.

Remember, it's all about Hank. In fact a lot of people we've met, cruisers & shore-dwellers alike, remember us only as 'those people who take Hank away on their boat.' Here Kathie & Sue enjoy the park at the Rosedale Lock, headed west into Balsam Lake. This is the summit level of the Trent-Severn Waterway; reportedly the highest altitude that a sea-going vessel can reach on her own power, just short of 900 feet above sea level and higher than Lake Superior or the upper Mississippi. From here we are literally going down hill to Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.

Here is a (link to our location) for this night

Here is the narrow canal heading west from Balsam Lake. It looks wider than it really is, we were brushing against trees as boats passed! The canal was dug & blasted from solid rock.

Since this pic, we have travelled thru more locks, lakes, canals, & rivers. Most notably we crossed Lake Simcoe.

Currently we are in the city of Orillia on Lake Couchiching; which is connected to Lake Simcoe... easy to find on a map and a nice long stretch with no locks! (GoogleMap link)

We have a couple of days to continue on the Trent-Severn westward to Penetanguishene, which you can also find easily on this map.

Hope you all are well & happy!
Doug & Kathie

Monday, July 9, 2007


Here's a link to where we were in Campbellford. This morning we are headed further west on the Trent-Severn Waterway.

The Trent-Severn Waterway between Glen Ross (where we were the night before last) and Campbellford (where we were last night) is surprisingly marshy. In fact, ahead of us today is a lake named Rice Lake!

Houses are in idyllic settings along the waterway.

Here's a house with a view of the marsh- what a spectacular location!

There are also farms along the waterway.

Here's the same farm from a different angle.

This is a funny sign on a store near one of the locks we passed.

The store itself.

We spent yesterday afternoon in Campbellford. These are houses we saw as we were heading into town.

Here's an especially pretty house.

There is a suspension bridge on the east end of the town, just north of Locks 11 & 12. Lock 11 leads into Lock 12, which makes it a "flight" of locks.
We biked out to see the bridge and the falls. I have bicycled more each day than in the last ten years! We are staying fit.

The falls aren't very high right now.

This was an interesting view, across from where we were docked last night: the firehouse has a steeple that is lit up at night! The color of the sky is a bit off, but pretty good for a night photo.

We hope that you are well and happy, Kathie and Doug