Celebrating Birthdays for Canada, America and Our Son, Sam
We have been anticipating our time in the Trent-Severn Waterway ever since we started our trip. It has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful cruising grounds in North America and makes a great place to spend the summer with its warm days, cool nights, fresh water and friendly people. The waterway is 240 statute miles long and runs west from Trenton on Lake Ontario to the Georgian Bay. It contains 44 manually operated locks and meanders through lakes, rivers and canals that are dotted with quaint towns, parks and bicycle paths along its entire length.
After crossing the U.S.-Canadian border, stopping in the town of Gananoque, checking in with Canadian Customs, exchanging our money and raising our Canadian courtesy flag, we cruised to Trenton, the gateway of the Trent-Severn Waterway. We were fortunate to arrive on Canada Day (Canada’s Independence Day, July 1), with the Estrellita situated in a marina slip that gave us a front row seat to a fantastic fireworks display. We also celebrated our son Sam’s 22nd birthday with his arrival in Trenton after a fragmented journey from Charleston to DC by train, then by plane, bus and automobile! Since his arrival, he has been in awe of the beauty of Canada and of course, enjoying the relief of cool temperatures as compared to what he left in Charleston.
During a lengthy 4th of July cruise, which included about 15 miles and negotiating 10 locks, the Canadians continually yelled out “happy birthday” wishes to us and our country as we passed by them in their back yards, in the parks and on their boats. The Canadians are genuinely some of the most friendly people we have met and they are extremely happy to have us as guests in their Canadian waters. On the night of the 4th, five “looper” boats tied up to a mooring wall in the town of Hastings and organized an impromptu celebration with flags proudly flying, a pot-luck cookout, great music and wonderful fellowship until dark. Our lack of fireworks tempted us to improvise by firing our flare guns, but we restrained ourselves after discussing the fines that might be imposed for sending false distress signals! Happy Birthday America and thank God for the freedom to travel through the waterways of our country and those of our friendly neighbor of Canada!
Canada’s Trent-Severn Waterway
Sam’s time with us through the first section of the Trent-Severn Waterway was great fun and memorable for all of us. His impression of Canada was that it was not much different than the U.S., especially in reference to two of his special interests, automobiles and restaurants. But, he specifically appreciated the cool weather which was a relief from Charleston temperatures! We had met a wonderful Canadian couple that was kind enough to offer their car for taking Sam to Toronto to catch his flight home. It blew us away that someone who we had only known for a few days would allow us to use their car to take a four hour trip to the airport and back. We were thankful to meet such kind people, but felt the anxiety of driving a borrowed car through the crazy Toronto traffic. As we said goodbye to Sam, our friends Boogie and Jo Tudor were flying in to spend 9 days with us for the remainder of our cruise down the Trent-Severn and into the Georgian Bay.
We have traveled extensively with Boogie and Jo in the past and most of our trips have involved sailing, so adapting to our new crew was a pleasure. They are very experienced boaters, so turning the wheel over to Boogie was easy and relaxing, especially as we entered shallower waters with unforgiving rocky bottoms. Jo is comfortable and efficient in the galley as she is on deck. As we continued our northwest passage toward the Georgian Bay, the water became clearer and the shorelines became more beautiful with lush foliage, rocky ledges and quaint cottages. The weather was perfect, with 75 degree highs, crystal clear skies and very low humidity. The locks were an adventure in themselves, with their pristine landscaping and creative engineering. The culmination of our locking experience was our passage through the Big Chute, which is a mechanism that lifts your boat onto a giant railway platform and carries it across a highway and big hill to the other side, where it transfers the boat back into the water. During the 20 minute transfer time, you are required to stay on your boat for the craziest ride of your boating life!
Adventures in the Georgian Bay
We have done a good bit of traveling with Jo and Boogie before, but the days that we were together were full of things that we have never seen or done before. The weather was variable to say the least, requiring jeans and jackets in the morning, changing to shorts and t-shirts in the afternoon. Unfortunately, no bathing suits were ever pulled out of storage. We completed the cruise of the Trent-Severn Waterway, which allowed us to experience some very unique locks, great park-side overnights stays, local restaurants, pristine clear water, and the viewing of hundreds of quaint summer-time cottages along the shoreline.
We put in some lengthy days at the helm so that we could experience part of the Georgian Bay before Jo and Boogie returned home. The Bay is also known as the 30,000 Islands, which is characterized by its clear water and rocky terrain. Cruising through this territory is quite different than at home, where any deviation from the channel results in props biting into unforgiving rock, not sand or mud. Fortunately, the Canadians are very good at marking their channels, so if you pay close attention, the reward for negotiating through some tight places is well worth it. The colorful rock formations projecting up through this beautiful water are quite impressive and provide for some great dinghy exploration. We have been fishing in the evenings, with a great deal of time spent learning how to catch these local fish, including large mouth bass, walleyes (or pickerel as the Canadians call them). A word to my buddies back at home….I have not hurt the fish population in Canada.
We arrived at Britt, Ontario where Boogie had arranged for a seaplane come from Parry Sound to pick them up. It was quite a sight to watch it fly in so low, taxi up the Byng inlet and pull right up to our dock at Wrights Marina! From what we have heard, they thoroughly enjoyed getting to see some of the Georgian Bay from the air as the plane took them back to the mainland to catch a cab to the airport. Thank you Jo and Boogie for another memorable adventure.