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!)


Bill said...

Was happy to finally see a picture of one of you swimming a few posts back. I continue to enjoy your blog, read it daily, or whenever it's updated. What is the average cost of going through a locke?

Richard said...

Great photos, which bring back memories. Years ago when I worked in a research lab in Toronto, we had an annual retreat every summer on an island a few miles from Penetanguishene. Keep the pics coming! -Richard

Norm said...

see you passed Beau Soleil Island, and Beau Soleil is one of the great Cajun bands.

Honk if it's not 95 degrees (35 C :-))

What do you do for HEAT?

Winnie W. said...

Swimming up here is GREAT! If you like a cold plunge, you can go to a deeper more open spot, the sheltered bays are noticably warmer. Our anchorage the other day was about 78F. And no need to rinse the salt off....

We will try to keep the pics coming, we have a million of 'em. It's a beautiful area.

We didn't stop at Beausoleil Island but we did several cruise-by visits; it is a beautiful spot. We also rafted up to an accordian player but alas, he doesn't "do" Cajun (only polka and some Hank Williams).

Doug says he loves the summer up here, when it's in the low/mid 80s everybody is melting and it's barely warm by NC standards. Probably chilly to N'awluns blood.

Doug & Kathie