Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) Part 2

Leaving the Peterborough Lock behind, we conquered Locks 23, 24, 25 and 26 and stopped for the night at Burleigh Falls anchorage.  The next day we traveled to Bobcaygeon planning to go through Lock 32. Upon our arrival, we learned the lock was broken.   We tied up on the wall below the lock and planned to stay the night waiting for it to be fixed.  Later when we came back from town, we saw the lock staff manually opening the gate with a rope and letting a house boat through.  We asked if we could get through and after a consultation, they said yes.  So, we were able to lock through past Lock 32 which allowed us to leave early in the morning.   Several people (and our research books) told us about a very large clothing/shoe store in Bobcaygeon called Bigley’s.  It has more shoes than we have seen anywhere! Teresa scored on a pinkish-red sweatshirt with the words “Canada 150” and Steve found a “Canada 150” tee shirt in town. Both commemorate the country’s 150th anniversary.  Lock 32, we tied up along the wall just after the lock. Steve was thrilled because just across the street they sold Canada’s ever popular Kawartha at Flo’s Loch Ness Ice Cream and Restaurant.

Lock #35 is the highest point in the TSW (Trent Severn waterway).   Balsam Lake is the highest point in the world that a boat can travel to from the ocean under its own power.  All the locks up to Lock #35 had been lifting Sanctuary.  The next series of locks will lower Sanctuary a total of 260 feet by the time we arrive in Georgian Bay.

Most of the locks are conventional style with opening doors that allow a walled area to fill or drain to move the vessel to the next level.   There are three special locks on the TSW: the Peterborough Lock, the Kirkfield Lock and the Big Chute Railway.   Both the Kirkfield and Peterborough locks use movable tubs to lift and lower vessels.

The Big Chute loads the boats on a rail car which then travels over a road and down a long hill.  We stayed at the Big Chute Marina which is within sight of the Big Chute Railway. It was cool to be able to just walk over to Big Chute and watch other boats motor into the sling and go over the road and down the steep hill back into the water on the other side. We took pictures and observed from a deck above the operation. Still somewhat frightening! We sure hoped they knew what they were doing and wouldn’t drop us the next day when we planned to lock through.

Our daughter Amanda joined us in Orillia where we stayed a few nights at the newly opened Port of Orillia marina. This is a huge marina with new floating docks, boater’s lounge, fancy restrooms-showers, and soon-to-be hooked up state of the art washers and dryers.  We were so excited to have Amanda travel with us through the last series of locks, walk through the Farmer’s Market, and experience the trip together.  She arrived at o’dark 30 Friday morning braving tumultuous downpouring of rain, lightening, no cell/map service, and customs in a foreign land. Oh, happy day in Canada when she arrived! Thanks to a kind soul in a gas station near the border who let her use the WIFI to call us. Thankfully, she was immediately able to get Verizon international service and let us know her progress. She grabbed a paper map (old school still has its benefits) of Ontario and circled her route to us in Orillia.

It was great fun to be able to show her some locks and complete the last lock of this trip with her on board.  She was with us for the very first one in Chicago and the last one at Port Severn Lock #45.  For us, we were excited to be done with locks! Now we can enjoy lock free Georgian Bay and the North Channel. At the final Lock #45, we talked with the dock staff and told them this was our last lock. They were very much interested in where we came from and how long we’d been on the trip. Since it was our final lock, we asked them to take pictures of the three of us and the boat while still sitting in the lock. We’ve found the Trent-Severn Waterway staff to be most kind, informative, and extremely helpful. This group was no exception. We felt like we celebrated with them right there!

While we were in Orillia, we participated in a Scottish Festival complete with numerous Scottish clan bands, bagpipes and drums, sheep herding demonstrations, and mini railroad train rides.  There are 150 large maple leaf art pieces around town to commemorate the 150-year celebration for Canada. We saw many of them and couldn’t help taking some pictures of the artists’ creativity.

There were a number of loopers at Orillia so we had to have looper docktails.

Looper Docktails

After the locks were completed, we traveled across the bay to Midland Ontario.  Steve traveled by car back to Orillia to retrieve Amanda’s car so she would be able to return home.  We enjoyed our time with her visiting, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end since need to return for work.

The rest of this trip will be bays and inlets on Georgian Bay, the North Channel, Lake Huron, and finally Lake Michigan.  Not all our travels will be in open water. Some of the time we will follow the small boat channel route which is anything but wide-open water.  Often the route winds around and through skinny channels making it tricky and wise to keep eyes on the charts and the depths very closely.


Lock 32 Bobcaygeon



              Are we entering the twilight zone….





Trent Severn Waterway very narrow in places……


Kirkfield Lift Lock


Orillia Maple Leaves


Orillia Scottish Festival


Lock 42 and Lock 43 Swift Rapids


Big Chute



Last Lock,  number 45 of the TSW






The next update will be about Georgian Bay

Trent Severn Waterway (part 1)

After Trent Port Marina at Trenton, we started the Trent Severn Waterway.   The water way is over 240 miles long and has 44 locks.  The first obstacle after the marina was the second bridge before the first lock.   Even though we called and were told “yes” there is 22’ of clearance that is not what we found.  We quickly lowered the mast on Sanctuary so we could fit under the bridge.  Then we traveled up to the wall and waited for Lock #1—the first of six in a row for the day.

As we entered lock #1, they set up four boats to travel together and raft off each other going through the locks.  We locked with Tag Team a friendly looper couple from Texas.  We first met them in Clearwater, Florida last year.   The other two boats in the lock were Vega and Bucket List.  Our two friends, Moon Shadow and Southern Cross, were in the next set of boats to lock through.  So, all day long we were being followed by a Moon Shadow and they caught us when we stopped for the day after lock #6 in Frankford.   We all ate a nice home-style breakfast at Mama Bears near the lock.

As soon as we tied up on the city wall in Campbellford, we were automatically presented with brightly colored cupcakes by one of the attendants.  There is a great park next to the tie-up wall where power is available.  We rode our bikes back to lock 11/12 to view the gorge and swing bridge.  Due to all the rain and high-water levels, we saw a dramatic show of rapids through the gorge.

We left Campbellford and traveled to a nice anchorage at Steam Mill Island.  Since Moon Shadow and Southern Cross stayed another day in Campbellford, we had the anchorage all to ourselves.  They later caught up with us in Peterborough for the festivities there.

We scored in Peterborough with a BBQ festival where we thoroughly enjoyed sampling a variety of ribs and chicken.  The grills were supported by semi-trucks in very elaborate set ups.  Looking at the photos, you can see the signs towering over the crowds announcing the grill master’s menus.  The fountain we saw in 2004 is still operating in Little Lake bay next to the marina.  In the large park area, next to the marina is a concert stage where we enjoyed a free concert in the park by Tom Cochrane (“Life is a Highway” song).

Peterborough is home to the world’s largest hydraulic lift lock built between 1896 and 1904.  Instead of filling a chamber like most locks and then opening the doors to let the boats out, the Peterborough Lift Lock is comprised of a set of gigantic tubs that lift and lower boats.   When one tub goes up, the other goes down so they counter balance each other.

We decided to ride our bicycle over to the lock while staying at the marina before doing the lock with our own boat and check it out from the land viewpoint. Other loopers were entering the lock, so we took pictures of them being raised to the higher level. We wanted to watch them on the top side and then exit, so we again hopped on our bicycles heading toward the upper viewing area.  Steve made it just fine, but Teresa experienced a crash and burn on the rocky street. My Knight on a Motorcycle (Ed, I found out later was his name) was coming down the hill from the lock. He saw me sprawled out on the pavement, took pity on me, and dismounted his motorcycle to help me up. Ed pulled out a radio from his leather jacket and radioed a gal name Kathleen back up at the lock. Apparently, I fell at the right place because I soon learned that Kathleen was a medic and had the tools to clean and bandage a boo-boo. Just so happened that Ed was also the boss at the lock operation there at Peterborough. I was thankful he was so kind to take the time to assist a damsel in distress. We told them our story of being on the Loop for almost a year now and that we planned to go through this very lock in two days. BONUS: Kathleen would be on duty that day AND she took some awesome pictures from her perch above the lock. We’re also friends on Facebook now!

It is an amazing feat to see the lock in operation, and a little scary when you are at the top and look over the small barrier behind the boat out into open air. We visited the lock in 2004 by motorcycle never imagining then that we would be traveling through the lock on our very own boat.



Kathleen fixes Teresa’s knee at the Peterborough Lock



Peterborough Fountain in Little Lake


Peterborough Festival and sling shot chair


Peterborough Lift Lock


So many locks…………..


Falls and Rapids at Campbellford


Scenes along the water way


Burliegh Falls Anchorage



Part 2 will look at the second half of the trip thru the Trent Severn Waterway.


Canada Day Celebrations

From Prinyers Cove, we traveled a short distance to Picton and docked at Tip of the Bay Marina.   There is a lot of flooding on Lake Ontario because the water level is about 3 feet above normal.  Many marinas on Lake Ontario are closed because their docks are under water.  Picton has a nice shopping district and is where we tasted our first Canadian butter tart.  How many of you recognize this cubical glassed in structure with a phone inside? We spotted this booth at the Picton Marina— something we have not seen in a while.

Waiting out rain storm


Rainbow after the storm

High water at Picton


We traveled from Prinyers Cove to Belleville (Crates-Belleville Marina) and then on to Trenton.   Trenton has a new marina called Trent Marina and the facilities are fantastic!   They have new floating docks and the nicest club house bathrooms we have seen on the trip.

Our Looper peeps did their homework to search out a logical, location to celebrate Canada Day—and we found just the right place! July 1 is Canada Day and we celebrated with the Canadians on their 150-year anniversary with competitions in the park, craft and food vendors, community bands, concert stage, and much more to see and do.   Boy, do they know how to celebrate in style with good, clean, family fun! The celebrations included strongman competitions where contestants pulled a huge tow truck and later threw heavy kegs over a tall goal post. There was a fireman competition, where in full gear, they climbed flights of stairs caring a 42-lb. fire hose, then pulled up another hose with a rope, used a sledge hammer to move a heavy weight, ran to hit a target with a full fire hose, then pulled a 165-lb. dummy to the finish line.  The celebration was complete with an outstanding display of fireworks over the bay.   The fireworks displayed directly in front of the marina, so we watched them from the deck of our boat right at the dock.  What a great day of celebrating with the Canadians!


Celebrating Canada Day

Celebrating Canada Day Fire Works at Trent Port Marina – Trenton Canada


Dave and Colleen with Canada flag and all the states from the trip



Kim Russo from AGLCA and Mike from the Perch with Teresa and her book


The Canals

The beginning of the Erie Canal is at Waterford where you leave the Hudson River.  The Erie Canal starts with lock #2, because the Federal lock at Troy on the Hudson is not counted as being part of it.  The Troy Lock is called the “government” lock and is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Locks are like elevators for boats since boats cannot go up a water fall or dam.  The locks lift and lower boats as they pass through the canal system.  Once we passed the Troy lock, we no longer needed to be concerned with tides and their varying water levels or brackish/salt water. The Flight of 5 locks at Waterford raise/lower boats over 150’ which is the greatest lift in the shortest distance anywhere in the world.

Entering the Troy Lock


The Lower Place (Charlie and Robin) in the Troy Lock


The canal system is celebrating its 200-year anniversary, so there is no charge to use the system this year.  Until we get to the Oswego Canal, we are passing by familiar territory and get to visit places we enjoyed on our previous trip through the Erie Canal.    Waterford is one of those places, so we made a point to have breakfast at Don and Paul’s which is the local diner.  Just like we remembered, it was a unique experience and has good food at inexpensive prices.  We explored the park over the river which we missed last time.



Scenes from Waterford


We also made some stops at new places like the town dock at Canajoharie and Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage.  Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage is in an oxbow of the river just below a dam and lock #8 on the Erie canal.   It was a nice quiet anchorage. Our boats were held straight in the center of the river by the current pushing past.   Our looper flotilla was up to five boats in that anchorage. (Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, and Sanctuary)

Isle of the Oneidas Anchorage


Canajoharie is a free dock provided by the city.  The town was celebrating their 150th-year anniversary while we were there.   We participated in activities such as a car show, concerts, and chicken barbeque.  Over 15 looper boats ended up in that small harbor. The locals said they had not seen that many in their town before at one time. Many folks came down to the docks just to see the “show” and ask,

“What is going on? Why are there so many of you in here now?” Their questions were followed by one of us explaining The Great Loop trail and that this is where boaters on the Loop pass through in order to set ourselves up for the next system of locks.

The town has a very unique stop light mounted on a block of cement in the center of the street in the center of town.   The town was once home to Beechnut, but the factory closed leaving an abandoned factory building and lots of lost employment.


Scenes from Canajoharie



Sanctuary at Canajoharie


Scenes from Erie Canal


On our previous trip though the canal, one of our favorite stops was Ilion.   There is a very good Italian restaurant there and an Aldi grocery store.  Teresa was very excited to visit her first Aldi grocery store on the trip—just like going home again.   Crazy to miss a grocery store, but am finding it’s those take-it-for-granted places and people I miss the most.  There is also a large Remington factory with a gift shop and museum.    Steve loves it because the marina has an ice cream shop right next to the docks.

ILion Marina


When we arrived at Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake, we tied up on the wall in the same location that we used in 2014.   We also caught up with Scott and Karen on Last Call.  The amusement park was open this year, but not the day we were there so we still did not ride the roller coaster.

Docked at Sylvan Beach


Sylvan Beach


We crossed Oneida Lake and docked at Winter Harbor Marina—the cleanest boat yard any of us has ever seen!   Most boat yards tend to have lots of old boat junk around, but not at Winter harbor.   We had a cutlass bearing replaced while we were there.   They quickly pulled the boat and set about completing the repairs very speedily.    Part of our Looper Flotilla decided to stop early. Dave on Moon Shadow was not feeling well and visited the ER while they were docked at Amsterdam, NY.  The group was back together at Winter Harbor Marina and celebrated with a Looper potluck. (Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, Songlines, Seaquest, and Sanctuary)


Looper Potluck


Soon after leaving Winter Harbor Marina, we turned off the Erie Canal and entered the Oswego Canal.   This was all new territory again for Sanctuary, even though it seemed very similar. We stopped the first night at the town docks in Phoenix which proved to be one of the nicest free docks we have seen.   The docks have power and are all brand-new composite decking.   We explored town and had a nice lunch at Duskee’s.

Phoenix Town Dock


After one more stop at Oswego on the wall, we were ready to cross Lake Ontario.   The weather was predicted to be good on Monday for the crossing and it turned out to be perfect. Clear skies and almost no wind with calm seas.   When we crossed the US/Canadian border, we turned a complete circle to mark the spot on the plotter and Steve played the Canadian National anthem on his trumpet.


Crossing Lake Ontario into Canada


Crossing Lake Ontario into Canada – Note loop at border line


We stopped in Canada at Prinyers Cove and completed the required check in with Canadian Border Customs.   Thankfully, the check-in was easy and painless, over the phone, answering a number of questions, and supplying our documentation numbers. We now have visited 16 states and 2 countries on this trip.


Some of the graffiti is well done, I liked this one – Boatin Down the River Feeling Glad


The Hudson River

We left the New York city area and started traveling again.    The route from Half Moon Harbor took us past Stoney Point—the first light house we saw on the trip home when we purchased Sanctuary.  We are retracing our route until we get to the Owego Canal and turn north off the Erie Canal.  The scenery quickly turns much more rural and mountainous as you head north on the Hudson River.  Instead of sky scrapers and the hustle and bustle of the big city, we see hills covered with green trees and rock ledges.

One of the first major sights is West Point, the United States Military Academy.  The gray and black granite buildings are an impressive sight on the hills beside the Hudson River.  The academy was established by Thomas Jefferson in 1801.  The main campus is a national landmark and has an extensive museum. We were fortunate enough to tour the campus last time with our good friends, Bob and Vicki.

As you travel along the Hudson River and the Erie Canal, trains also travel the same route.  Along part of the Hudson River, there are tracks on both sides. On one side, you will spot passenger trains and the other side runs freight trains.   Often, we see trains running the tracks next to our route on the river or canals. If you do not see them, you will hear them in the distance.

We stopped at an anchorage near Rondout Creek Light House called Port Ewen.  The Lower Place and Southern Cross were already there at the marina in the harbor.  After dinner, we took our dinghy in and visited with them. We planned our next destination and expectantly watched the recording of when we visited the Today Show.

We also passed by Esopus Light House, Hudson City Light House, and Saugerties Light House.  We saw more lighthouses in this short journey than in many miles along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

As we continue north on the Hudson River, the hills are getting smaller and the houses are more like cottages.   Our planned stop for the next couple nights is Starbucks Island Boat Club.  The facility is built on an old barge with attached floating docks.  It reminded us of Hoppies on the Mississippi river but in better condition. The owner, Joe, is very accommodating and provides a courtesy car.  Many marinas provide a courtesy car, but most are old with well over a hundred thousand miles on them.  Here the courtesy car was a brand-new Ford Focus loaded with every available option—the nicest courtesy car we have seen. Joe noticed the distance we needed to climb to get into our boats and mentioned that he had some leftover gym equipment that might prove useful for us. Bless his heart, Joe volunteered to meet us up the river in Waterford where he dropped off complimentary aerobic steps for us to use on low docks to climb into our boat. They have proven to be a lifesaver to us—handy and safer when we do so much in and out on our boats.

We grilled dinner and had a pot luck on the barge for dinner with all the loopers there. Moon Shadow, Sandy Gal II, Southern Cross, The Lower Place, and Sanctuary were there which represented Canada, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Each person and couple bring a different flavor to the table and add additional spice to gatherings. It amazes me with such a diverseness in our backgrounds we can still mingle and complement each other so well.

The looper group we are traveling with have mascots on their boats.  Those mascots have been known to show up in various locations and events. They even have been known to hold their own mascot meetings. To date, Frog (from Sanctuary) has met a few characters along the way:

  • Tator Gator from Southern Cross
  • Molly the Mermaid and Polly the Pirate from Moon Shadow
  • Margo, a real white Cockatoo, from The Perch
  • Inky a black Lab from Panacea
  • New additions to Sanctuary: Popeye the Sailor man and Ben from Ben & Jerry’s Ice cream parlor

When we say we are traveling with loopers, it is a lose attachment.  The group may stay together for a few days and locations, but often someone needs to stay behind to meet friends/family or attend to some other task.  Since the route is a loop, eventually they catch back up and then we celebrate and share happenings experienced apart.   Often you meet back up with loopers that you have not seen in months.


West Point



Hudson River Light Houses


Bannermans Island


Bannermans Island was once a munitions storage facility

Hudson River


Anchorage where we spent first night on the trip home with Sanctuary in 2014




Strange place to park your truck….


Grill masters on the barge at Starbuck Island Boat Club


Froggy and friends…….