We are in the Trent-Severn Waterway!

The Trent-Severn Waterway, TSW for short, is a canal system linking lakes and rivers together, much like the Erie Canal is.

We are starting the TSW from Lake Huron and will exit into Lake Ontario.

There are 43 or 44 locks to go through, including some very unusual ones. We went through one of them yesterday.

But to back up a minute, at the southern end of Georgian Bay (part of Lake Huron) we stayed a few nights in Midland at Bay Port Yachting Centre, a huge marina.

It was a long weekend in Canada and we wanted to not be jostling with other boats to get through the first couple of locks, so we waited. Then the weather forecast was for high winds so we waited some more.

We were able to attend church. It felt good to be there after having been out for the previous three Sundays. They sang songs we knew so that was an extra blessing!

The time came on Wednesday morning for us to cast off our lines and head out for Port Severn.

Just before the Port Severn lock there is a narrow and tricky channel, Tug Channel, in which you don’t want to meet another boat. And that channel goes under a highway bridge so you cannot see who is coming.

A boat in front of us, going the same way, called a securite’ to alert any boaters coming through Tug channel downstream out of the lock. Someone answered saying that the boater should be advised that there were five boats circling in the small body of water just before the lock and to please wait.

We heard that and slowed down to wait as well. We waited out in the bigger body of water for about a half hour, and then headed up the channel after the down bound boats had come by.

Waiting on downbound boats as they come out from under the highway bridge and navigate Tug Channel. This one is Faith, who we met last May in Elizabeth City, NC shortly after they started their loop.

When we got up to the lock, there was a boat on the blue line, one circling in the water and us. So we circled through another lock up and down cycle, until there was room on the blue line for us.

The dam spillway and lock at Port Severn, our first lock. There is one boat on the blue line and two of us circling in this small pool waiting to tie up at the blue line. By the time we tied up, there were four boats behind us circling. You can see the definite boundaries to the water and the rocks.

The blue line is the “line up and wait” section of the walls just before the locks; there is one on both the upper and lower sections. There is also a gray line section where you can tie up for up to a day or two.

Blessings Flow tied up to the blue line. Photo credit: Laura Drexler. Laura has been going to all the locks this summer and has photographed boats and put them on Facebook. I understand she is a teacher and has an interest in the locks. I talked to her here from the other side of the channel.
Blessings flow and the boat ahead of us waiting on blue line. This is the smallest lock and they were only taking up one boat at a time. Photo credit: Laura Drexler

Finally it was our turn to enter the lock and be lifted 12 or so feet to the next level.

Doors opening to let in up-bound boats. Note the cables hanging from the lock walls. They are attached at both top and bottom. Photo credit: Laura Drexler

Lance pulled slowly into the lock while I was on the bow of the boat to grab a rubber coated cable with a boat hook. (Truth be told, I forgot to take the boat hook with me that first time.)

I slid a line around behind the cable and back to our boat and temporarily attached it to the cleat, then ran back and grabbed the cable near the back of the boat and slid the line around.

Then Lance turned off the motors and came to manage the back line while I went to the front to tend the front line.

As the boat rises in the lock, you hold the loosely looped line around the cleat but do not tie it off. If the line gets hung up on the cable or something, you want to be able to quickly release it. Not have it cleated.

We were happy when we reached the top and were ready to head on out.

All throughout this section, there are narrow rocky channels where you have to watch your reds and green aids to navigation (Atons). Fortunately the lock has signs reminding you which side is which and the lock master also made a point of calling it out. It is especially important for that first lock as the system switches at that point and is opposite than out in the bay.

Handy sign showing which side is red and which side is green going forward.

The Big Chute Marine railway was the next lock, several miles up the waterway. We were hoping to be able to stay there for the day on one of the gray line docks, then move over to the blue line after the lock closed to be one of the first ones the next day.

It all worked out that way, but it was much busier than we imagined. We knew there was scheduled maintenance that day, but hoped, being a Wednesday, that not as many local boats would be out and about.

We managed to squeeze in between a small boat and this couple on a pwc. He was kind and helped us catch our lines to dock.
We spent the night on the floating blue line and moved over to the blue line on land in morning when our turn came.
Chatting with our blue line floating dock neighbors

The next morning our turn finally came. A looper friend happened to be docked on the upper side and was able to come say hi and take some pretty amazing pictures and video of our trip over land and road on the marine railway.

Heading into the Big Chute rail car
Our boat must hang off the back because of the way the running gear (propellers and shafts) is configured. Every model of boat is different, so the marine railway staff must know a lot about hull configurations to not damage one by improper loading or placement.
Thanks Raeyann for making the long trek down the stairs in the rain to say hello and shoot some pictures. We met in May in Norfolk at the AGLCA rendezvous.

After the Big Chute we went through a lot of forested countryside, winding our way through the atons to keep to deep (enough) water. Interspersed every so often were lakes that looked plenty wide but had very specific narrow channels marked to avoid rocks or shallows.

Section of TSW lined with cottages, each with their own dock. Slow speed limit here. 10kph or about 6mph.

We ended day 2 in Orillia where the boat will stay while we move the car forward to a friend’s house in Pennsylvania and then fly home for a couple weeks for my dad’s memorial service.

We had left our car nearby at the home of the local harbour host, in early July. He and his wife brought our car to the marina and then we went out for a delicious meal at a small waterfront restaurant. It was great to finally meet him.

Ken and Georgi who kept our car for us this past month. Next, we move our car forward to Pennsylvania, where a former co- worker is going to let us park it on his property!
Lots of looper boats in Orillia today. Most of these are headed in the opposite direction than us. So we’ll just see them this one time, rather than running into each other time and again as we would if going the same direction.

When we arrived and went to the office to pay, there was some sort of an event going on in the room off the lobby. When we heard it was Loopers having docktails, we said , “We’re loopers!” and crashed the party. So we met a good number of the folks on these boats.