Friday, 14 August 2009

Tucked away at Doral

I'm writing this from the Vee berth, in a great slip at Doral Marine Resort in Midland. Our trip down the canal was mostly without incident, although there were 2 tense moments. Ok, one of them was an incident. We almost didn't clear a swing bridge. What happened was that the boat cleared it, but the masthead instruments (even with the mast lying on deck) didn't. Looks like we're short an anemometer and wind direction doohickey for the masthead. If anyone has a spare...

In any case here's the log for Day 1 & 2.

August 13, 2009 - Day 1: Jackson’s Point to Swift Current

08:50 – With Iris sitting about 3” lower than usual we declared ourselves ready to depart. The day before had seen us provisioning the boat, lowering the mast for the Trent River transit, and shuttling vehicles. We got to bed in the wee hours of the morning and slept in until 8:00. Now it was adieu to our marina, and hello to vacation.

12:00 – Under power at 5knots all the way from Jackson’s Point with barely a breath of air on the water. We just reached Atherly Narrows at the north end of the lake. This is new ground for us. After going through the narrows we will be leaving Lake Simcoe for the first time. There is a lot of powerboat traffic in the area. I wish they would slow more for us since their wake is a problem, especially with the boat rigged the way it is.

14:45 – Arrive at lock 42. This was our first time going through a canal lock, and the process was surprisingly easy. The staff is top notch. We should have bought our permit before entering the lock chamber, but they locked us through, then took payment after. The grounds are very nice. We stayed for lunch and didn’t leave until 4:15.

17:20 – We have reached the north end of Sparrow Lake and it is starting to get late. We are looking for an anchorage for the night. On the rail bridge we suffered our first casualty of the trip. I thought there was room to fit our rig under the bridge, but our wind instruments caught on it. The masthead unit will need to be replaced. Too bad since we just refurbished all the gauges.

19:30 – Tried a promising looking anchorage at the bottom of a chute, but a rock shelf and inadequate swing room meant we had to continue on. Tried lantern marina, but it had already closed for the day. The shadows are getting long and we need a spot to tuck into. Since the next lock station is less than an hour away and there is still at least an hour of daylight, we are heading there.

??:?? – Arrived at swift Locks, and tied to the wall. Buddy has gone stir crazy, he is glad to be on his feet. Pork souvlaki, fried potatoes and broccoli for dinner. It is very quiet and peaceful here.

August 13, 2009 - Day 2: Swift Current to Doral Marine, Midland

10:40 - Depart swift current after a breakfast of bacon and eggs with a little onion fried up for flavour. First boat into the locks! Stopped at the bottom to talk to folks who were upbound, they were from Gilford! Swift current locks arevery high. and SWMBO felt a little claustrophobic in there. Chuck skipped this lock so she could take pictures. The ride down was very smooth.

Some of the channels we traversed today were very narrow, and some had strong currents. Few other boaters respect us - or each other through the channels, and we are often rocking and rolling from the wake of passing boats. We have noticed that the law of tonnage tends to apply with regards to wake, and sometimes in tight quarters I find myself hoping a speed demon will miss the channel and tear out his outdrive.

We have not touched bottom yet, although we have been forced out of the channel once or twice due to wake.

12:08 - Arrive Big Chute. I was nervous about bringing Iris across the marine railroad since I have heard both that the passage is difficult, and that the operators can be careless in handling your boat. Wrong on both accounts. All the way through the Trent System, the lock staff have been first class, both in their care of our vessel, and in the service they provide. We had to wait for a full cycle before there was room for Iris on the rail car, and then we were the first boat loaded on.

We were told to go straight up the centre of the car, and keep the throttle up to pressure the load strap. Then a second sling was placed under the belly of the boat, and Iris was set to go. A few adjustments. and more boats loaded behind us, and we were off. The girls sat up on the bow, while I watched the baby in the cockpit. The car rose up out of the water, stalled for a moment on the brink of the hill, then descended to Gloucester pool below.

At the bottom we found space on the dinghy dock since all the other docks were full, and with some expert handling, we crashed the dock, and put some beauty marks in the gelcoat, just where we wanted them. We nosed around the lock station to look at the displays of local history, and went to the marina/restaurant next door for ice cream before heading out. I promised everyone that at the next lock we'd just go right through without stopping to be tourists.

Depart Big chute at 14:30

15:55 - Arrive Port Severn Lockstation

Between Big Chute and Port Severn were many
beautiful channels and backwaters. It would be easy to leave the mast at home and spend a week just poking around the backwaters, slow but beautiful as the folks on a trawler we met at Swift Current said,

Never stopped for much more than a pee break at the locks. These locks were much tighter than the others we have been through. I was nervous about bringing the boat out, but it went well.

In the lock there is a beautiful Gunter-rigged sailboat named "Dream Time" the owners are very friendly. This is the first sailboat we've found with its mast up, and only the third other sailboat we've seen so far.

18:25 - Doral Marine Resort. We followed dream time from the Port Severn Locks all the way toTiffin Basin. When leaving the locks we finished our second fuel tank and had to hook up the third. This meant a few minutes of frantic activity in the cockpit.

I also found the Georgian Bay chart confusing since the markers are only numbered on the inset chart, and not the main chart. While trying to figure out the chart, I nearly left the marked channel, and the folks on Dream Time stepped in and guided us through. When Dream Time issued a securite that two sailboats were entering Potato Channel - a particularly tight spot between port severn and Midland, someone came on the VHF with a very loud "WOO-Hoo!! Watch them rock & Roll!!" We were a little nervous, but nothing came of it.

When we reached Midland, we took a moment to thank Dream Time for their help, and then motored on to Doral. We also hailed Patti (from the night race) on the VHF, and she told us that we may be able to cross paths tomorrow morning.

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