Part 4: Ontario Cruising
July 13, 2011
We last wrote you on July fourth and here it is July 13 already and we are close to Lake
Simcoe on the Trent-Severn Waterway. We haven't had electric plug-in or a “real”
shower since we left Peterborough. It has been a series of short runs ( 4 to 23 miles)
with stops in a variety of settings. Some are quiet and peaceful like Lovesick Lock and
here at Portage. Others are near towns like Lakefield or Bobcaygeon where we stayed
for the weekend to avoid being in the canals with the neophyte houseboat drivers and
tons of local small boats. It also gave us a chance to reprovision, visit a museum and a
re-creation of a settler's village as well as the ice cream store and a bakery and get
sausage in a bun from a street vendor for lunch. There are two Canadian food
specialities we haven't tried. One is peameal in a bun ,which I understand is back
(Canadian) bacon ; the other is poutine which is French fries with cheese and gravy
(maybe I'll pass on that one!!).
We also anchored out one night on Stony Lake (once Jean got over the name and
determined that all the major “stones” are marked or designated on the chart. In addition
to rocks, water weed is a major problem in some areas. The non-native zebra mussels
have been so efficient in removing all the plankton from the water that it is clear, even to
15 ft or more allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper and promote the growth of water
plants. The problem is that the weed gets wound around the prop and shaft and
increases drag. So far we haven't had a much of a weed problem that we know of.
We do have one major problem however. Jean forgot to open the thru-hull for the
generator cooling water and we ran the generator for a few minutes without water. The
hot exhaust gases melted something inside the muffler which is plastic)so we are
noisier that normal when the generator is running. The generator seems OK and we
have ordered a new part which should be waiting for us in Orillia tomorrow. Then we'll
have to install it which I hope will be easy (but nothing turns our to be really easy.)
In addition to going through the Peterborough Lift lock (the highest in the world) we also
went through the Kirkfield Lift Lock (second highest). These huge structures are
amazing to see in operation and fun to go through because it is so easy – just drive in,
tied up and enjoy the ride (if you like the idea of being afloat in a pan of water five or six
stories up in the air). We still have Big Chute to look forward to (more on that in the next
Bruce and Kris and the boys will meet us in Orillia on Saturday. Bruce and Cam plan to
go along with us on the rest of the Trent- Severn while Kris and Graham go out to
Beausoleil Island (part of Georgian Bay Islands National Park) where we will all meet up
on Tuesday. Then we'll do some crusing and anchoring on Georgian Bay. I hope the
beautiful weather we're having today lasts for their week up here. We did have some
warm humid weather two days ago but most of the time has been quite comfortable. I
can't sent this until I find an Internet connection so will add to it later and send.
July 14: After hanging out at the Portage Lock Station for two windy days to avoid
waves on Lake Simcoe, we crossed an almost smooth lake his morning and are now in
Orillia. The muffler was here waiting for us but it was the wrong size! So we are hoping
the right size will arrive by air from Nova Scotia tomorrow. We are pleasantly surprised
to find there is a Scottish festival here this weekend. It will be hectic at the marina but
Mel is looking forward to bagpipes.
We hope your summer is going well and not too hot and humid. If you are suffering from
the heat, we recommend Canada – the low tonight will be in the low 50's and the high in
the mid-80's and fairly dry.
After we got to Orillia, we were able to make contact with the Baha'i community there
and attend a devotional meeting on Friday night. It was a nice way to end a day of
laundry and grocery shopping and getting ready for the grandchildren (and their
parents) from Indiana. Bruce and family arrived on schedule - the same can't be said for
our generator part, but more on that later.
We all enjoyed the Scottish festival in Orillia on Saturday and ended the day with Thai-
Viet take out which we ate at a picnic table in the park. We all slept aboard that night;
Mel and Jean stayed in the V-berth where we usually sleep, Kris and Cam were in the
salon and Bruce and Graham camped out in a tent on the flybridge - cozy but it worked
We got a late start on Sunday-- the boys came with us taking turns driving the boat.
Bruce and Kris took advantage of being without children for a couple of hours of
shopping and lunch out in Orillia. They caught up with us at Lock 42 at the end of Lake
Couchiching. Most of us went swimming in the canal, enjoying a couple inflatable tubes
which Kris had brought. Bruce and Mel drove to Washago for pizza for dinner and we
all slept on board again; there was a thunderstorm in the middle of the night which
made it damp for the two in the tent and one of the inflatables blew away.
The next morning, the first boat up the canal was the police boat from Orillia. They had
found the tube around a bend on the canal and brought it back to us! We took Graham
through the lock with us for the experience, then he and Kris left for Honey Harbour
where they would get a boat to Beausoleil Island. Bruce and Cam came with us.
We stopped at the lock station at Swift Rapids to eat lunch and then went on to Big
Chute, which has a marine railway car that carries boats up over a hill to the lake on the
far side (this to prevent the lampreys which are in the Great Lakes, from getting into the
other lakes on the Trent-Severn). We watched the procedure in the afternoon, went
swimming and got ice cream for dessert.
In the morning we had our turn to drive the boat onto the railway car, be secured with
slings and then lifted out of the water as the car started up the hill. The car stays level
so it's not as scary as it might be when the car descends the steep hill on the other side
to the lake below. The car goes down in the water and the boats float off.
We locked through the final lock of the Trent-Severn at Port Severn and took the small
boat channel on Georgian Bay. Graham was waiting for us when we reached
Beausoleil Island (the main island in Gerigian Bay Islands National Park). He and Kris
had camped there overnight and had already seen two Massasauga rattlesnakes (one
of them in the campsite they were first assigned). In addition to the smakes, the island
also has black bears and raccoons which like to raid the campsites. Mel and I were
sitting in our folding chairs at the campsite when I heard him say, "Get out of my lap!" A
large raccoon was trying to climb up to get some of the snack Mel was eating! Graham
and Kris had named him Otis. Otis was persistent but Mel was determined; the last I
saw of Otis, he was hightailing it down the path with Mel in hot pursuit!
The campsite was sited on the beach which was a huge sandbar stretching out some
distance into the water -- great place for kids to swim and old ladies to float around in a
tube! We had hot dogs, mac and cheese and salad for dinner at the campsite topped
off with s'mores.
On Wednesday we took a little cruise to the north end of the island and walked in to
Fairy Lake. On the way we came upon another Massasauga rattlesmake, which was
unperturbed and just laid there while we walked around it -- didn't even rattle. They are
beautiful. I had never seen one before. We left Kris and Graham to camp another night
and went on to anchor at Indian harbour, a beautiful round small patch of water
surrounded by granite rock and pine trees. We went swimming off the boat and rowing
around in the dinghy.
Thursday night we started up the channel leading to Parry Sound and found a place to
anchor behind an island. There was a beaver lodge on the shore and we were treated
to the sight of a beaver swimming near the boat in the morning. From there it was a
short hop to Parry Sound this morning, where Kris and Graham were waiting for us.
What wasn't waiting for us was the generator part which we had arranged to be
redirected to Parry Sound when we learned it wouldn't reach Orillia until after we had
left. It got delivered to Orillia and the plan is now for the courier company to get it to
Killarney by August 1.
So, this afternoon, while the laundry was being done, we sat down and planned ten
days of cruising and anchoring to arrive at Killarney on August 1. Bruce and family left
after lunch to get a start on the long drive back to Indiana. We were delighted to have
them along with us for the week.
It's been hot here, by local standards (in the mid 80's mostly). I suspect it may be hotter
where you are. We're not complaining!
More from Killarney!