Friday, 28 August 2009

Monday August 24, 2009 - The Return Trip: Part 2

Big Chute Marine Railroad to Jackson’s Point - Home at Last

Monday morning came with a forecast of clear skies, light winds, and no wind at all in the evening. Perfect conditions to end our marathon sprint back home. When the staff arrived at the marine Railroad we were ready for our lift, and alone we went across.

The staff, all on the port side of the boat said they couldn’t see any damage on our keel as the boat rose out of the water, but that water continued to leak out of it all the way across the railroad. Possibly, water was being held in the cracks. We will have to have the damage assessed by a professional. We touched down on the up side of the railroad, and the engine refused to start. In his book “The Boat that Wouldn’t Float” Farley Mowat referred to his engine as the Bullgine. I think ours is a stage worse. I think it’s a Bludgeon. Eventually I got the right wrist action on the starter cord, the right cusses, or the right position on the choke, and the engine came to life. We headed upriver toward home.

The currents in the narrow channels seemed a lot stronger as we went upstream, and often the knot log would read 6 knots while the GPS read 4. That would mean about 2 knots of current. Often the current would grab the keel or the nose of the boat and push us around. I could feel the rudder jumping in my hand and hoped that my jury rigged solution to the lost cotter pin from the grounding would hold. It did. Every time we entered one of these spots, usually labelled as rapids on the chart, we called a securit√© and hoped for the best. Our VHF had lost its charge, and the on-board radio had a stub for an antenna. We weren’t receiving much in the way of radio traffic so I can only assume that we weren’t sending well either.

We reached the Couchiching Locks, our last lock in our trip at about 2:00. The staff remembered us, and asked where the baby and Chuck were. We shared the story with them, and they were amazed that we had come all the way from Henry’s in 2 days. Folks in another boat that were picnicking ran to help us away, and offered help. I’m not sure what they had in mind. We respectfully declined their offer, and put-putted through the rest of the system to Atherly Narrows.

Cutie and I had discussed her catching a ride from one of the marinas at Atherly Narrows back to Barrie, but since we reached the Narrows at 4:30, and would be at our home port before sundown, we decided to stay the course. The engine pushed us through the current at the narrows, and we nosed our way back into Lake Simcoe.

As much elation as I had felt at our escape from Simcoe some 11 days earlier, I now felt relief as I was back on “my” lake. Iris ploughed through the water and we watched the North shore slip away as the south shore came into view. It takes 3 hours to cover the 16 miles across Lake Simcoe from Atherly Narrows near Orillia to Jackson’s Point, and I counted down each mile as the GPS locked onto our home port. Eventually we were passing more familiar landmarks. Big Bay Point, and Kempenfelt Bay, the Weather Buoy, Thorah and Georgina Islands, Fox and Snake Island came into view. We kept our bow pointed at the Sutton Water tower, and the GPS track pointed at “SGA Race Mark 1”, and tried to make out the marina, or the resort, or the B&B next door as we crossed the lake.

At first the lake was lumpy, and the ride uncomfortable, but as the weather had predicted, things settled down the closer we got to the marina. As we reached it the wind was calm, and folks ran to our slip to receive our lines. We had squared everything away, and after tying up ran to the van within 10 minutes. We were at the house in half an hour, and got a call away to the kids.

The kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves. Grandma and Grandpa had spoiled them, and Buddy was just on his way to bed. The best medicine, it was decided was that we should go to bed too, and come get them in the morning. Which we did.

As I write this, Chuck is “lumping” around on her crutches, she’s figured out how to go up and down stairs, get herself into and out of bed and the bathroom, and is completely mobile. Buddy is his old self, and things are almost normal. We need to go and unpack the boat, wash down the Barbie Dream Boat and return it to its owners, raise the mast and take Iris for a hard sail to better judge the extents of damage from the grounding, and unpack and clean up.

As a bonus, I have another 10 vacation days to do chores around the house. The blessings never end.

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