"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

July 31, 2012

July 31 – Rideau Canal

Locks, Locks, Locks
Long Island Lock

We had a long day; we went through 10 locks and lowered another 92’.  Most of the scenery today was farmland...nice but nowhere near as pretty as the first half of the Rideau Canal. We are docked at the bottom of the Long Island Locks. We docked and then sat in the shade and watched several other boats come down the flight of three locks. Not long after they locked through it began to rain and we spent the rest of the evening watching the Olympics.

Not everything is bigger in Texas...I've never seen a bigger hanging basket. It was beautiful.
There were three locks at Merrickville, they are detached, meaning there is a small body of water between each one.
One of the farms we pasted today
Notice the man in the middle? He is opening the Nicholsons Lock...by hand. The bridge is also opened by hand, all done the same way for 180 years.
Some people have boats...other have planes!
Looking down from the Long Island flight of locks

July 30, 2012

July 30 – Merrickville, ON

Meeting New People
The Pond

We went through eight locks today two on the Tay Canal and six on the Rideau, we dropped 99’.  The scenery today became more like what we saw along the east coast through the Carolinas, more marshland with trees in the distance. It is much flatter and less rocky. We came by a few farms and towns today. We are docked in the quaint town of Merrickville, it’s called the Jewel of the Rideau. The main street runs right along the canal and it is full of little boutiques, restaurants, and plenty of history. We spent the afternoon exploring the town and visiting with other boaters and locals. We seem to be the only boat from the States in the area right now and definitely the only boat most people have seen from Texas. We have only seen a few other trawlers…the majority of boats we have seen are Doral or Rinker, which are fancy fast boats…they all look alike to me. We have seen a few boats larger than us, but most are around 30’ or smaller. It’s kind of nice being the bigger boat when you come to a lock…they always put the larger boats in first. If it is the first locking of the day and the lock is busy the smaller boats have to wait until the next lock through.

The channel into the Poonamalie Lock - a little narrow
The lock at Smith Falls
The Pearl in The Pond at Merrickville

July 29 – Perth, ON

The Prettiest Town in Ontario
Tay Canal Lock 34 Wall

Today we locked up one more lock to the highest point on the Rideau Canal. The Upper Rideau Lake, at 408’ above sea level, is the highest water body on the Rideau Canal system. From the Narrows Lock on, we will be lowered 274’ to the Ottawa River, which is 134’ above sea level. We went through the Narrows Lock and then went up two locks in the Tay Canal so we could visit Perth. We docked on the upper lock wall and took our dinghy about five miles into town. Most of the Tay River reminded us of home, some trees, but mostly marshland. We saw Blue Herons and quite a few Loons on our way. Perth is a very pretty town, the river spilt and runs through town in several places, and the downtown area is made up of century old buildings full of shops and restaurants.

We stopped at Coutts & Co. for coffee and free wifi. I had a chance to update the blog, email a few people and even make a few calls to family. Being without our internet and phones is hard to get use to…at least for me! After getting my internet fix, we walked through Stewart Park, a beautiful park in the heart of town. We sat by the river and had fun watching the kids play in the water.

We are the only boat on the upper wall, so it was very peaceful. We cooked on the grill and sat at the picnic table right outside the boat for dinner. It just doesn’t get much better.

It is just so pretty here!
More narrow passages today
Stewart Park
The Tay River
The Pearl on the wall at lock 34
Lock Master House

July 29, 2012

July 28 – Rideau Canal

Locks Take Time
Chaffey’s Upper Lock Wall

We went through 6 locks today, raised 79’ and only traveled eight miles. We had planned to travel further today, but the flight locks (4 locks) at Jones Falls took longer than we expected. We got to the lock a little late so they started locking boats down first. They were in the first lock when we arrived and it took about an hour for them to complete their locking before we could start up. It was very busy and it took the lock tenders a while to get everyone moved into the first lock. Once in everyone moves to the next lock in the same order…luckily we were the first boat in each time. It took about 1 ½ hours for us to complete the process. At the top of each lock there were people watching the locking process, everyone had the same questions for us…did you bring that boat all the way from Texas and how can you get here from there?

The next two locks were individual locks and didn’t take as long to complete, but we had already killed almost five hours, so we decided to stay on the wall at the Chaffey’s Lock. Each lock station is very pretty and provides plenty of space for boats to spend the night…with picnic tables, grills, bathrooms and some have electrical hookups. This lock station is very nice, with a small waterfall close to where we are docked. We could hear the water flowing all night…very peaceful.

There were people on the dock from Ontario and Quebec. It was fun visiting with everyone and getting more info on the places we are going, local knowledge is always better than info you can get from books. We walked through an art show in the yard of the Opinicon Resort that is above the lock and wandered through the Lockmaster’s House Museum. This was a great little place to spend the afternoon. The weather here has been wonderful, warm afternoons and cool nights. It’s fun not having to run our air conditioner and I love sleeping with the windows open.

The middle lock at Jones Falls - waiting for our turn
A little full in the locks today
More narrow passages today...so pretty
On the wall at Chaffery's Lock
Scenes from Chaffey's Lock

July 27 - Rideau Canal

Just Beautiful
Morton Bay - Anchorage

Today we did the first seven locks of the Rideau Canal, we locked up 79.5’. The Rideau Canal was completed in 1832 and was one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. It was built as an alternate military route between Lake Ontario and Montreal in case Canada’s enemy to the south (America) ever captured the St. Lawrence River. It consists of a system of beautiful rivers and lakes connected by 45 locks. Today, the Rideau Canal is primarily used by pleasure boaters. All of the locks on the canal are operated by hand using various systems of gears and pulleys. Everyone working at the locks was very friendly and helpful. The lock stations are like small parks with nice grassy areas, flowers, picnic tables and bathrooms. Boaters are permitted to dock overnight at most of the locks. At many of the locks, there were crowds of people watching the boats lock through. Everyone seemed very interested that we had brought the boat all the way from Texas…some didn’t seem to understand how that was possible!

We left Kingston in time to make the LaSalle Bridge opening at 9:00. The first four locks were about five miles away. We docked on the lower wall and walked up to the lockmaster’s office to purchase our seasonal locking and mooring passes. The first three locks are a flight, meaning you enter one lock, lock up or down and immediately enter the next lock. To enter the fourth lock we had to move forward about 100 yards and have a small bridge raised. The whole process took about 1 ½ hours to complete. The lock at Lower Brewers has a swing bridge that they open with a hand crank just like they open the lock doors; the lock tenders get a real workout each day.

Some areas of the river today were only 100' wide…I've never been on such a small river in such a big boat. The scenery was breathtaking. We are anchored in a beautiful bay with granite cliffs on one side, one of the prettiest anchorages we have ever stayed in. We spent the afternoon enjoying a swim and relaxing on the boat.

Leaving Kingston - Kingston City Hall
Outside of the Kingston Mills Locks
Looking back at The Pearl waiting to lock up
Kingston Mills Lock - at the bottom of lock 49
Kingston Mills Locks - top of lock 47
Brass Point Swing Bridge
Some of the canal get very narrow
Entrance to Morton Bay
Our wonderful anchorage in Morton Bay

July 27, 2012

July 26 - Kingston, ON

Rainy Day
Confederation Basin

This morning was the complete opposite of yesterday...it rained most of the night and it was very cloudy and dreary when we got up. Our dockage may be free but the scenery is about the worst we've had. After breakfast I walked up to Starbucks to use their wifi to check emails and post the blog. There was very little traffic on the street and I had a chance to really see the wonderful old architecture in this city...I didn't notice it as much yesterday with all the hustle and bustle going on.

We spent most of this rainy day visiting with Wayne and Ruth Pollock, a couple we met at the fall AGLCA Rendezvous in 2010. We followed their great loop adventure by reading their blog and now they have been following us by reading ours. It was great to finally have a chance to get together. They live between the St Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal, so they had a lot of good information to share. We visited for a couple of hours on the boat and then spent a few more hours visiting over lunch at a local Italian restaurant. We truly had a wonderful time visiting with them and it was a great way to spend a rainy day. We hope to get together with them again before we get to Ottawa. We spent time this afternoon wandering around town, doing a little exploring until the rain chased us back to the boat. This evening we worked on plans for our first few days in the Rideau Canal. If the weather clears enough tomorrow we will be on our way.

We will leave Kingston go up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa, then to Montreal and then down to Lake Champlain.

July 26, 2012

July 25 - Kingston, ON

Thousand Islands
Confederation Basin

We woke up to a bright sunny morning in our picture perfect anchorage. The Thousand Islands is an amazingly beautiful place. There are over 15 Canadian National Parks where we could dock and spend time hiking, swimming and relaxing, and we would love to spend a week or so exploring this area, but there just isn't enough time left in this summer to do it all...so we wound our way through the maze of islands up the St. Lawrence to Kingston. Kingston, Ontario is located in Eastern Ontario where the Saint Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario and is midway between Toronto and Montreal.

We docked in Confederation Basin around 11:30. The marina was full, but we were allowed to stay on the day dock. It's not the greatest view from the boat, but it's free and we have easy access to everything in town and the company is nice...we met Bill and Laura, another MTOA couple off of Kindred Spirit III. We had lunch in a little sidewalk café and spent the afternoon exploring the town, it really has a European feel to it.

We enjoyed happy hour visiting with Jim and Laura...it's always fun exchanging stories with other boaters. Later we walked down the street to the Kingston Brewing Company for dinner. We started visiting with the people at the next table...they asked us if we were visiting Kingston on a boat? We've had several people the last month ask us that...do we look different or smell different? Anyway, this couple lives on their trawler in Ontario during the summer and spend the winter on their sailboat in Granada. They were a lot of fun to visit with.

Today's scenery
Thousand Island Bridge
Aerial view of the Thousand Islands near the Thousand Island Bridge (courtesy of the Internet)
A Loon
More beautiful scenery from today
Coming into Kingston