Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cranberry Lake, Ontario

We awoke to a cooler morning on Wed., July 18 in our narrow anchorage on Clear Lake.  We skipped a swim and paddle and set off at for us was a very late time of 10:30.  We went through Chaffey’s Lock on our way to Jones Falls which we knew would be a mid-way destination for us.  The lockmaster there was very helpful in providing guidance on how to manage our time at Jones Falls and take advantage of all there was to see there.

 Upon arriving there, the lockmaster said it would be a two hour wait for the boats ahead of us to lock through.  They then would need to refill the basin for the next load to go through. Fortunately, Jones Falls has lots to explore and we knew we wanted to spend some time there. So we set off on a trail that led all around the locks and falls.

 There was lots to see including wooden chutes that are used to supply water to a power plant.

The dam created for the lock was the largest dam of its time in 1830.

We visited the lockmasters home that had been in continuous use until the 1970’s.  It has since been restored to its original design and decor.  A well-informed tour guide was on hand to provide the history and some color commentary.  We also explored the Hotel Kenney, an old-fashioned riverview hotel that was built in 1888 and owned by the Kenney family for many years.

We met lots of interesting people who were either waiting for the locks or sightseeing.  These included a couple who were on a canoe paddling the length of the Rideau and camping at the various lock stations.  We also met a man from Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia on a  tiny converted dory who was traveling solo with only his sweet little blind dog.  

Once we cleared the three locks at Jones Falls we continued on a combination of winding passages and wide open lakes.  

We went through a swing bridge and found our way to Cranberry Lake where we would anchor for the night.  We found a wonderful spot next to Beaupre  Island.  It was a stunning setting, much more open than our previous night’s anchorage.  There were no other cruisers anchored there and only one or two fisherman trolling by.  

Georgio was his usual adorable self as we enjoyed dinner on the aft deck.  

Later on we had a lovely sunset.  The evening was so quiet and peaceful. When it got dark we saw more stars in the sky than we’ve seen this whole trip as there is absolutely no light pollution here. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Clear Lake, Ontario

Lynn finally tried Jonny’s paddleboard on the beautiful waters of our Colonel By mooring on Tuesday, July 17.  The water was very calm and the conditions were perfect for a nice long paddle.  We had a delightfully relaxing morning and went for another swim sans swimsuits!  What fun!

We released the mooring ball by 10 a.m. bound for the pretty little town of Westport. The weather was perfect, sunny and warm and not too hot.  The Rideau is no longer a narrow channel but has opened up into three expansive lakes, the Lower, Big, and Upper Rideau.  They are studded with tiny islands some of which have homes that can only be reached by water.  The shorelines are heavily wooded.

We stopped in the village of Westport on the west end of the Upper Rideau Lake.  It is Ontario’s smallest community by land area.  We pulled up at the town dock and were aided by two helpful dock attendants.  The dock is connected to the town by an arching bridgeway.  We walked a block or two up to the Main Street where we checked out the two main restaurants in town.  The first was full and had a wait for lunch so we chose the second option, a small little restaurant, quite homey and with good food (and a good ale on tap for Jonny).  After lunch we strolled around the village stopping in a few shops.  We shared an ice cream cone as an extra treat to ourselves.  

Resuming our journey on this lovely day, we only went through two locks, quite an easy day compared to previous ones on the Rideau! 

Because we were in such beautiful surroundings with available anchorages we decided to anchor out again.  Traveling between lakes we had to go through some incredibly narrow channels (note the painted arrow on the rock).

This time we found a very  secluded spot on Clear Lake and dropped the hook at 5 p.m.  We were in a narrow inlet off of the main part of the lake and had this quiet and peaceful spot to ourselves. We thought it might be a good place to swim and paddle but the weather had become breezy and the temperature is dropping so we chose not to.  We also skipped dinner and watched a video before turning in for the evening.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Colonel By Island, Ontario

Jonny went for a short bike ride on Monday, July 16 to scout out the town of Smiths Falls.  He  reported back that it reminded him of an old New England mill town, thereby damning it with faint praise.  When he returned, we both set out on bikes to the nearest grocery store to stock up on some basics.

It wasn’t long after unpacking the groceries that we got ready to move on.  We ran over to thank Frances and Helene for their hospitality, then we set off.  We headed over to the lock to wait for it to open.  This time there were three boats ahead of us and Bucket List was behind us.  The lock could only fit three of us so Bucket List had to wait for the next opening.  After going through with the other boats, we decided we preferred to travel with Bucket List.  We had our system down together and were comfortable sharing the lock space.  When there are several boats and/or inexperienced boaters the locks can be quite nerve-wracking.  So after exiting the lock we waited by the lock wall for Bucket List and told them we’d like to join them again for the day’s cruise.  We set off together, neither of us having definitively decided our ultimate destination for the day.

As we traveled the Rideau started to change drastically from a narrow canal-type of environment to wide open waterways dotted with scenic little islands, some with homes or cottages on them that could only be reached by boat.

We cruised by some “diversions” which were like side trips off of the main route.  One was to a town called Perth which was supposed to be an exquisite example of 18th century architecture.  It was about a ten mile diversion and we decided not to take it.  Afterwards, we realized that we had given our selves ten days on the Rideau and we were zipping right through it, way ahead of schedule.  We had been urged by others not to go through it too fast but to linger and explore its various facets.  That’s when we decided to slow down and enjoy the journey.  We notified Bucket List that we would be doing so.  They were unable to join us because their windlass was broken which made it difficult for them to anchor out.  So we proceeded on our own to explore possible anchorages.  We were missing the beauty and isolation of those out-of-the-way places.  So we proceeded a bit more slowly along our way.  There were not a lot of boats on the water but their numbers will be increasing each day as Canada’s construction holiday is beginning where thousands of Canadians who work in the construction industry will be on vacation for a couple of weeks.

We found a beautiful spot by Colonel By Island where there were some mooring balls and a small dock that led to some nature trails.  On the shore was a deteriorated contemporary style house that was owned by a celebrity who had hosted many famous people there decades ago. 

We went ashore to hike the trail but cut it short because there was so much poison ivy lining the narrow paths and we didn’t want to risk it. 

Col. By, the island’s namesake, was the English officer assigned to manage the building of the Rideau Canal System.  He was instrumental in figuring out its design and dealing with the myriad of problems encountered from bedrock to cost restrictions to malaria, etc.  The decision to build it was a strategic military decision because the English were afraid that the Americans, after the War of 1812, might attack Canada and close the St. Lawrence River.  This canal system was meant to create a secondary route between Kingston, Ontario and Montreal. As it turns out, it was never used for its intended purpose and is now primarily used by pleasure craft.

It was a hot day and when we returned to Zendo we went for a wonderfully refreshing swim.  The water is not too cold at all - quite a surprise to us Floridians who have developed an aversion to cold water!

That evening while listening to the outrageous reports ofTrump’s disastrous meeting with Putin, we managed to enjoy a meal of homemade mushroom ravioli from Montreal’s Italian market and a big salad on the aft deck.  What a beautiful spot we’ve found! We’re very happy to be here!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Smiths Falls, Ontario

The first thing Jonny did on Sunday, July15 was go paddle boarding in the beautiful rural  setting at our Nicholson Lock Wall.  He was so excited when he returned having seen what he thought was a beaver and river otter!  He followed his paddle with a spin in the dinghy because it hadn’t been used for awhile.

By 9:00 we met Bucket List at the lock wall.  Ron and Debbie are the only boat going through the locks with us which has been great.  We have our routine down with them and we don’t have to spend time negotiating who goes first and who is on the starboard or port side. Their home port is Long Boat Key, FL and they are doing the Great Loop as are so many others who we’ve met along the way.

This was a long and very warm day.   At mid-morning we stopped in Merricksville which is touted as the prettiest town on the Rideau.  It was too early for lunch so we just walked around and looked at the cute shops.  It is a pretty village! 

Part of the time Lynn was on the phone with Stephanie who was telling her about the awesome Taylor Swift concert she had gone to the night before.
When we passed a sign that said it was national ice cream day and the flavor of the day was salted caramel toffee with cashews.  Lynn couldn’t resist so we each cooled off with a delicious ice cream cone.

After our two hour sojourn in Merricksville we continued on our journey with Bucket List in the lead.  We were planning to stay in Smith’s Falls, the best town for provisioning midway on the Rideau.  We cruised through varied landscapes including a winding trip through numerous S curves interspersed with wide open bays passing some lovely farms and homes along the way.

We went through ten locks in all, each of which has a small historic stone structure as its lock house.  One of them, a two story building, had remnants of gun shot holes in the walls.  All of the lock masters have been well informed about the historical aspects of the Rideau as well as the towns along the way.

Jonny had been communicating the last few days with the American Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) local harbor hose, Francis who had arranged to meet us in Smiths Falls.  In fact Francis had saved a spot for us on the lock wall there. He and his wife Helene invited us to join them for cocktails and we chose to sit at a picnic table in the shade next to our two boats.  We then walked to a local pub for dinner and a pitcher of beer. Later on they invited us for a glass  of  port on their fly bridge.  We had fun getting to know them and had a lively conversation.  They are very experienced boaters having spent a lot of time cruising in Canada, the U.S., and Europe.  In fact they were currently in the process of finalizing the purchase of a river boat in France!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Merrickville, Ontario

Upon leaving the Ottawa Lock Wall on Sat., July 14, we had to wait for the Pretoria Ave. bridge to open. Unlike any other bridge that we’ve seen so far in Canada, on this one the entire span of the bridge rises up vertically. We followed Bucket List in line waiting 30 minutes by the lock wall for the bridge to open.  

We would be traveling on the Rideau Canal Waterwayfor the next couple of days which has a total of 49 locks for us to go through.  We had already gone through the first eight when we did the staircase locks coming into Ottawa.  Within 6 miles we had come upon our first set of twin locks and we were lucky because just our two boats went through together very smoothly.

It was a stunning day, sunny and warm but not hot.  The Rideau is absolutely beautiful.  It’s a winding waterway that alternates pastoral vistas with pretty homes lining the banks.  There are lots of weeping willow trees that remind Lynn of the backyard of her childhood home.

We passed Mooney Beach where there must have been hundreds of people participating in what looked like all kinds of sports competitions.  On the water there were scores of kayak type races going on. It was quite the lively scene!

We proceeded through another seven locks.  It seemed like we were the only cruisers on the waterway until we went through the Burritt’s Rapids Lock where we were joined by two canoeists and a small motorboat. 

We planned to stay at the lock wall just above the next set of locks.  The lock tenders are very helpful and chatty.  They checked to see if there was room for us at our preferred stop but the lock wall was already full so apparently there were several other cruisers out on this glorious day.  

Towards the end of our journey after going through a swing bridge, we saw this interesting vehicle.

We opted to stay at the Lower Nicholson’s lock wall which turned out to be a beautiful pristine setting.  Lush parkland surrounded us and the waters were very calm except those next to the nearby falls!

We each went for a walk after dinner - Jonny’s being much longer than Lynn’s.  He was fascinated by the mechanical workings of the locks here.

The only activity around us were a couple of sets of people fishing, two cousins who had just reconnected at a family reunion that day and a nice family with two little ones who were very excited about catching tadpoles and fireflies.  This is one of the quietest and loveliest natural setting we have stayed at in a while.