We've Moved


Our blog had gotten too large, and it was getting to the point where it was difficult to comb through looking for specific posts or information. So we have developed a new blog at SailingVita.ca Come and see whats happening now.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sailing; Freedom Thru Simplicity - Has Moved

Hi everyone, for those who are still reading. After all, lets face it, I haven't exactly been the chatty type over the last few years. But that is all about to change. Starting Right now.

First thing we did was get Vita her own Domain name. You can find out new site at:


Then we build a new blog/website, organized it, and made it easier for everyone to find what there are looking for, us included.

Secondly, as I was going through all of our old blog posts sorting them for the new site, I realized there were a pile of comments that I didn't even know were there. I owe everyone an apology in that regard. I don't know what happened, usually I get an email notice telling me that there is a new comment, but I did not receive very many at all. The new page has a Contact page, so if ever you have problems with the site, or notice that I have not replied to your comment, please contact me. I love interacting with my readers, and the thought that some of comments went unanswered causes me to drink heavily, and nobody wants to responsible for that. So please yell at me if need be.

Other than that, enjoy the new site, and check out our budding YouTube Channel. Its still in its infancy, and I am learning a whole pile of new stuff, but it should get interesting. If you like the videos, or not, please say so in the comments. Share, and subscribe.

Freedom Thru Simplicity

Vita Back to one six!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

We've Been Robbed......Literally

I suppose if you travel long enough by boat, you are bound to run into some undesirables. We have somewhere near 5000 miles under our keel, and we've been to a few shady places, but we have never had a problem with anyone taking anything from our boat, until last week. We were tied up at Lovesick lock, a place we have come to really enjoy, hanging out with some wonderful new friends. One of the other boaters had a fire going, and had brought out his guitar. So we were sitting around the campfire, singing and carrying on all evening. When we returned to the boat around 11:00, the galley window screen had been pushed in, and the bandits had made off with a loaf of bread and a package of bagels. We were no more than a 100 feet from the boat all evening, but the sneaky little bastards still managed the theft right in plain sight. I apologized to the Lock Master the next day, as I had inadvertently now left two bread bags on the island. He gave me a short lecture on littering and the fines associated with it, but considering the circumstances, let me go this time with a warning.

So, if anyone is in the area of Lovesick Lock, and they see a raccoon with a bagel belly! You'll know the thief!

I also have to take a moment to talk about Serena's new found hobby. After spending so much time in the locks this summer, getting to know the people, the rules, and succumbing to the wonder of the canal system, she has taken it upon herself to start educating other less fortunate boaters in canal etiquette. At Lovesick she gave a rather ignorant boater a lesson in coming into the lock too fast, as he had waked all the boats tied up on the wall. When he claimed that there was no speed limit, she politely explained that it is only common sense to enter into a small area slowly. The boater behind her was not so nice and got into an argument with the guy after she left. Sometimes girls get away with telling you your an idiot, where another man cannot. Then later she caught a local cottager dropping his garbage off on the front step of the lock station after the staff had gone home. Lovesick is a remote island area, there are no roads, and because of that it is has a pack in - pack out rule. Serena picked up the garbage and waited near the peoples boat to give it back to them explaining that it couldn't be left there and why. It was pretty obvious that the cottagers knew, but they pleaded ignorance and took their garbage with them. I think maybe the Federal Government should give her a job, "Minister of Canal Education." Or Canal Cop....

In my last entry I talked about turning around and not continuing up Georgian Bay. At the time we were just disenchanted with the idea of travelling up there without the mast. Also the 175 mile trip up to Kilarney and back would have eaten up any time we would have had left of the summer. So we headed back into the canal system. We would spend the next 7 days dragging our heals while we waited for some friends that were sailing down the bay. We were going to meet them at their yacht club on Lake Simcoe. We took 7 days to travel what we had done in only 2 on the way up, and it was the best week of the entire trip. One of the little ironies in life is when you settle with or are forced to do something that you may not have chosen to do yourself, you end up better off and all the happier for it.

There are only 4 locks between Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe, so we were really go slow, "the speed of snail." Nightly limits on the lock system is 2, for most places, but as long as your not trying to abuse the system, or there is a storm, or you ask politely, the lock staff will usually let you stay a third night, and maybe a fourth, but we never pushed it that far. Saying that, we had been at Swift Rapids for two nights, the first hanging out with a great group of people. The second recovering from the first, when one of our new found friends showed up and a wine and cheese party ensued. Which meant of course that we couldn't leave; for although we have done some questionable drinking and dinghying, we would never drive Vita under the influence.

And this encounter became the highlight of our trip. If you look at the picture above, the young girl on the left is Lola. She was an incessant chatterbox, but her bubbly personality was infectious. And the group of us spent hours reliving our childhoods, playing in the water, diving off the wall, and just forgetting for a short period of time that we were stiff collared adults. If you ever read this Lola, thank you so much for helping a bunch of old people to let their hair down, and I hope that life feeds you nothing but sunshine and lollipops.

She was a pretty incredible kid, far more cultured than her 11 years, and I could probably go on for hours about how much she impressed us. But the picture below was of her docking her Dad's boat. With one engine acting up I might add.

The third night at Lovesick found us surrounded by new people, one of which asked our permission to swim nude. Although perhaps odd in Canada, perfectly normal down south, far be it from us to interfere. But I made a bit of an ass of myself trying to light a fire using the bow-drill method. Basically rubbing two sticks together. 

After getting everything ready, making the bow-drill set, all I ended up getting for my efforts was smoke and black soot. I know my mistake now, but it didn't do me any good at the time. I ended up lighting the fire with a ferro-rod instead. Not as impressive, but cooler than a match. Next time!

On the seventh day back in the system we stopped at Orillia to do some provisioning and get some laundry done. Then we headed down to Hawkestone Yacht club on the west side of Lake Simcoe to meet up with some friends. 

We had a great time catching up with Gil and Diana, and Jorge and Kim, couples we had met while we traveled down the ICW and into the Bahamas. Jorge and Kim did a two year trip returning last year, and Gil and Diana are still our there doing it. They spend their winters down in the Caribbean, and their summers here in Ontario. Rough life huh?

Since then we have been slowly making our way home. We are in Peterborough now, and we are meeting with family so that we can play "lift-lock tour boat". Lets face it, the lift lock is pretty cool.

Then we will make the quick trip home. We will be back a little earlier than originally planned, but the new to-do list is already 3 pages long, so a little extra time couldn't hurt.

Vita back to one-six.

Vita in the railway. A fellow cruiser took this for us, along with some video. The sweetest gesture, one we are very grateful for.

The railway is big. Here we see our male Vanna posing for size relationship. Now give me a vowel!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tootling Around the TrentSystem Part Deux

I never in my life would have believed this, and I am still not sure that it has sunk in completely, but I've come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as too hot out for a cold beer. I tried earlier today, and it just didn't work. My body rejected that wonderful cold elixir of life. So I sit here at the picnic table and drink a bottle of water while I type this. To all my readers, please do not think less of me, I'll try again later after a refreshing swim.

Its getting to be a recurring issue with me, trying to get blog entries out. Like most of my other blogging friends, I am starting to lose the desire to keep it up. It is such a pain in the butt trying to get reliable wifi, and enough time to site down and use it. I was about to give it up completely when a gentleman in another Bayfield 29 motored by us the other day while we were at a dock. He yelled out, "I read your blog", and I knew that I couldn't give up writing it. Because, truth be told, I love doing it, and for all the people that I disappoint, or those that expect more than I can give, I really do this for myself. And, if along the way I entertain someone just a little bit, than so much the better for it. After this summer though, I have decided to change my format a little. I am going to start a Facebook page to follow Vita's travels. Even when wifi is so bad you can't upload a picture, you can usually get out a short status update. I am, however, not abandoning the blog, its just the updates may be fewer and farther apart. Ideally I would like to start a web page, and a you tube channel, and link them all together, but if I can't manage to keep up a blog, where the hell am I going to get the time to keep all that other stuff going. But I digress; on to your regular blogging.

BTW, you might want to grab a glass a wine, and bring the bottle with you. Its been a couple of weeks, and this entry might take awhile to read.

Lovesick lock. That's where I left off the last blog entry, because I wanted to upload some of the video we took while we were there. It was funny as hell. Problem is, as stated previously, wifi and time, both in short supply. Then today, I went looking for the videos, and I can't find them anywhere. I sure hope that I did not delete them. They have to be on one of the computers somewhere. I did a little cleanup of both machines about a week back, and sorted everything so I could find everything easily. Then I forgot where I put it. So forget the video for now. I hope to get some serious YouTube uploading done in the fall and winter, I have hours and hours of footage that needs to be edited down and made into something worth watching, and that is not going to happen out here.

Lovesick was great. It is the kind of place we like to be. Quiet, out in nature, and very few people. The first night we were there we were sitting down to dinner when Serena noticed a little face looking in the galley window. I stuck my head around the corner of the dodger, and there was this cute little raccoon with one paw on the boat, and his two siblings running off into the grass. His innocent little face hiding the true terrors that this little fellow could impart on a cruising boat. It was only 6:00 pm, right at supper, I thought, maybe coons like barbecue is all. They would visit us later, when Serena caught one trying to pry the window screen out of the galley; and throughout the night running around on deck, before Serena managed to scare them off. One of the neighbours didn't do so well, losing their dew worms, and a tube of polysporin left behind on deck.

There just so cute!

We enjoyed the location so much that we decided to stay for a second night. I think the old rules allowed only 1 night at this lock, but this year Parks Canada changed that. What to do on day two. Why go kayaking of course. Up to this point Serena had not even been in her new kayak. I had spent a couple of hours before we left padding around the river at home with Serena's Dad, But she as yet hadn't had the chance.

The ever bashful human in a kayak. Serena says that it was hard for me to hide in nature with a red kayak, but I think I was fairly well camouflaged.

Lovesick has a neat little canoe portage made with rollers. It was built by a local group to mimic the old portage that was built originally way back. It was kind of neat. Our dismounting and remounting skills weren't very impressive, but it was definitely easier than carrying them. Hopefully I find the videos, and we can upload them so that everyone else gets to laugh as hard as we did.

So this route took us from the top of the lock to the bottom. Or Lower Buckhorn Lake to Lovesick Lake, which I assume was the same lake until someone decided to build a lock and 4 dams to separate them.

The lift of the lock is only like 4 feet. So its not like it was a huge portage.

However, we like the modern way of going back up. Serena had asked the Lockmaster if the kayaks could go through the lock, and he said no problem, as he could clearly see the yearly passes on the kayaks. I couldn't find them, but he said they were there, and his word is the one that counts.

Leaving Lovesick was hard, especially since we were headed from the quiet of the wilderness into the misery of cottage country. It might be a wonderful place for twenty-year-olds on jet skies, but not so much for a cruising home.

We stopped in Buckhorn overnight, and then in Bobcaygen to provision and get some laundry done. It was perfect for that, everything close by. But other than than, nothing appealing. Oh, almost forgot, the home of Kawartha Dairy, where they make the ice cream. That was cool.

Then we got to Fenelon Falls. By then we had had enough of the cottage country rat race, and after a couple of hours walking around town we said screw it, and left for some peace. Why anyone would want to immerse themselves in that chaos is beyond me. But I guess if you spent all week couped up in an office or downtown Toronto condo, this would be a welcome break

We planned on anchoring out for the night. I picked a nice spot on the chart, but when we got there, someone on shore lit this nasty fire burning garbage and all kind of crud. Not so appealing. So we changed our plans yet again, and managed to find a spot on the wall at the next lock, just barely.

It would turn out to be a great decision. Rosedale was another one of those secluded locks. There were more boaters here than Lovesick, but they were the quiet kind. Looking for a little piece. We went swimming, and visited with the other boaters. It was just perfect.

At most lock stations you can find chairs like these put in place by Parks Canada. We shanghai'd this one at Rosedale for evening cocktails. Just picturesque, and did I mention peaceful.

I can't remember the name of the dog, but he was my new best friend. He wouldn't go home no matter how many times his owner Ralf called him. Until of course I finished the piece of cheese I was eating, and then poof, no more dog.

We left Rosedale the next day, and we probably should have stayed. But hind sight being as it is. We moved on. We had everything planned out for the next few days, and by the end of the day we were sitting at Hawkestone Yacht Club on the west side of Lake Simcoe, 4 days ahead of the schedule we had set in that morning. Always happens. Don't ask me how, I haven't figured it out. Nothing changes faster than our plans. 

Lift lock at Kirkfield.

Entering Lake Simcoe. Finally some open water. I have been suffering from tiny river fever all summer. We are sailors, we like big places. But something was missing, "the mast". I has been a problem for us all summer, and eventually it would send us over the edge, shortening our trip.

Open water is nap time. My Dad retired last year, at 65, and I keep telling him, the key to a good retirement, is naps, lots and lots of naps.

The members at Hawkestone treated us like family for the short few hours that we were there. We had hoped to catch up with some friends that we met on our travels south, but we weren't having any luck. We did eventually meet up in Midland for coffee, and we'll drop in on the way back. But for time being, we just kept moving.

Pitter patter of little feet in the night. We found these little footprints in the cockpit the night we stayed at Swift Rapids. Another beautiful, secluded spot.

Swift Rapids is the biggest conventional lock in the Trent System. 47 feet I think. But the water at the top was crystal clear, and it was really quiet. We'll spend a couple nights there on the way back.

Marine Railway. We have some video of this, "I think!", that we'll eventually get on YouTube, "I hope!" This was really neat. Serena sat in a lawn chair in the bow of the boat. We were right at the front, so it had the effect of her hanging 50 feet up in the air. The video is really cool, if somewhat understated, but I am glad she took the bow. Damn that was a long way down.

At the last lock in the system we helped this power boater thru the lock. Serena and her trying to save the world tour. This guy was on an old Chris Craft, wooden hull, big gas engines, 50 feet long, and he didn't now how to drive it, didn't have any crew, and was a little scary to watch. Serena figured if we helped him out, then we might save someone else the anxiety of going thru the lock with him. It was actually pretty smooth, and he let us off at the bottom of the lock. So technically we completed the Trent Severn Waterway before Vita did. Don't tell her though, we are keeping it a secret, she'll just get poutie.

By the time we got to lock 45 at Port Severn, I still had not opened the guide for Georgian Bay. Too busy doing the planning for our daily trips I guess. So we met friends for coffee in Midland, and headed out to anchor behind Beasoleil Island in Georgian Bay, so I could read the book and figure out where we were going.

We would spend 7 days there. Hiking all over the islands trails, fishing, swimming, sailing Lifeline, and just kicking back. It was a nice break, and a pretty little spot. I read the guide book, and knew where we were going, the problem was that we didn't know why we were going there. Its one of those strange epiphanies when you finally realize that you have no idea why you are doing what you are doing, your just doing it.

We tried to leave on day 5. We went into Honey Harbour, got some provisions, diesel, and a pumpout, and started heading out the small craft channel that tools its way up through Georgian Bay to the North Channel. But after getting the crap pounded out of us for 40 minutes by passing boats, we turned around and headed back to the anchorage in Chimney Bay. We just didn't have the desire to go any further north.

The truth is, that we just couldn't do it. We are sailors; Georgian Bay is probably the sailing mecca of Ontario. And where was our mast. Sitting in a rack in our yacht club in Trenton. It just felt wrong. Through the canals we had been an anomaly, but understandably, there are not a lot of sailboats in the canal system, even with their masts on deck. But out in the Bay, we were the only sailboat without a mast. We weren't an interesting anomaly, we were a misfit. I kept waking up in the morning expecting that Santa had moved us and poor Vita to the land of misfit toys.

As beautiful as the promises of Georgian Bay are, we just weren't comfortable, so we headed back into the canal system. We'll take our time going home, Stop to enjoy the things that we discovered we loved, and quickly skip through the things that we didn't. And never again will we make Vita be a pretend trawler. Are we glad we did the trip? Definitely. It had to me done, because it was there. We grew up on the Trent, we had to experience it, and it was a great experience. And next time we'll drive right through as fast as possible, and step the mast in Midland.

Fairy lake, on Beausoleil Island. One of the beautiful hiking trails looped around this lake.

Day 2 at Beausoleil, we went for a little hike, then drove Lifeline around the anchorage just taking it all in. We see these people waving from the shore, and when we waved back, they changed, motioning us to come over. So, curiosity got the better of us, and away we went. These too girls and their parents were visiting from Holland. The eldest was starting school in New York in the fall, so they were on a whirl-wind tour of North American before they left her to fly home. They had walked almost 4 hours from their campsite, and one of the girls was having a bad reaction to the deer fly bites. They asked if we could give them a ride back to their campsite. We of course obliged, and started the long 40 min, each way, trip to take them back. Lifeline had been set up for sailing, so the bottom plug was missing from the boat. With just the to of us on board, it wasn't a problem, but with the extra weight, the water was gushing up through the center board trunk flooding the dinghy. It was a constant battle to keep the water out of the boat. Of course they had to flag down the slowest dinghy in the anchorage. We did get them home, and other than an overheating engine problem on the way back, we managed the trip unscathed, and the girls appreciated the ride as it was better than taking the long walk back through the woods.

The trails were gorgeous, but the landscape was not all that different than what we have at home.

The views were a little better though.

Serena was excited about the hiking. She wanted to catch a glimpse of the Massasauga Rattle snake. She had never seen a rattle snake in the wild, and was keen to add that to her list of experiences. I told her not to get her hopes up. There were few and far between, plus they were very shy of humans. She kept looking for them anyway.

And then she spotted one. After walking about 20 kilometers of trail, her next foot would have landed just inches from this little guy. I managed to get some pictures and some video before we left the little fellow to himself.

 Of course Serena had to play with him a little first. Just can't keep her hands to herself. Serves her right really.

Just kidding. These little guys are endangered, and we would never mess with an animal that is already having a hard enough time with humans. This was a stone carving on a plaque, and Serena was just pretending to hold its head. Creepy though. The previous pictures are real, we just didn't touch it.

Vita in her anchorage. The misfit boat.

This is the largest Beech tree I have ever seen, so I got Vanna to stand beside it for reference. Now give me a vowel.

At some point we ran out of delicates. So I did a load of cockpit laundry. It seems we wear more clothes in Canada than in the Bahamas. Down there we could go 3 weeks easy.

This is what the small craft channel looked like. It was crazy.

So now we start the long drive back down through the Trent. We are at Lock 45, and are dragging our heels waiting for some friends that are coming out of Georgian Bay. They have their mast up! We are just going to relax, in fact I think I am going to go for a swim here very shortly. And it has cooled slightly, so the beer Serena just brought me is going down quite nicely. Until next time, remember, if you want to be a sailor, go to sailing places, and if you want to be power boater, go to the canals.

Vita back to one six.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tootling Along the Trent Canal System

How can you tell we aren't in a hurry, well, its easy, we've been out 2 weeks, and haven't gone anywhere.

Ok, not completely true. We are sitting in Buckhorn tonight, and I am not really sure where that is other than it is north of Peterborough somewhere. Cute little spot though, we went for lunch, had ice cream, picked up a few essentials, and did some boat chores. Pretty much a typical day on the Trent.

We were actually doing pretty good, but between meeting up with my father and helping our Son buy his first house, we ended up sitting around Peterborough for a week. In fact we made the trip up to Lakefield with our guests, but had to turn around and go back to Peterborough the following day so that I could catch a bus and go do a home inspection for our Son. So we spent some time chasing our tails, but at least we got to spend some time anchored out in Little Lake, downtown Peterpatch.(local slang for Peterborough). That was really nice.

Other than that, its been a pretty peaceful trip so far. We've eaten too much, and drank too much, and eaten and drank too much of the wrong things, but that's what vacations are for, right? And this sure feels like a vacation after building two houses over the last too summers.

So we got out of Trenton and pushed ourselves in the first day all the way up to Campbellford. Unfortunately we missed the last lock into town and got stuck at the bottom of Rainy Falls. A good 5 km walk from Captain George's. It was a blistering hot day, we traveled for 10 hours, but we weren't going to give up George's fish and chips over a little 10k walk, so off we went. I said to Serena on the way there that I hoped they didn't have the air conditioning cranked, because I didn't think my body could take it, and we needn't have worried, because it was broken, and it was hotter in the restaurant than it was outside. Not really what I was going for.

The next day was a mix of sun and rain, and still more heat. The lock staff got us through in record time, and I dropped Serena off in town so that she could make the trek up the hill to her doctor for a emergency booking. She had gotten poison ivy while we were home, and some of it was around her eye, so she was a little nervous, with good reason. The appointment was quick, antibiotics in hand, she swung by picked up her sister and we were gone. Its always nice to have new person to boating on board, because their experiences are fresh, and we get to see through their eyes how cool this life on the water really is. Serena's sister Sherry left us in Healy Falls, and we carried onto Hastings to take a day off and recuperate from too much travel in too short a time. We always do it, we always pay for it, and we can't figure out why we keep doing it. I'm sure there is a psych paper in there somewhere.

In the slimy lock walls, you get to write things, like your boat name. Or your cousin's phone number, "for a good time call." Kidding.....

Swing bridge at Campbellford. Built by the Engineers in Trenton, damned if I can't remember the name of the unit, my memory is not what it used to be, and I was the goalie on their hockey team. Anyway, we used it on the way to Captain George's. Remember, fish.......


Hastings was a bit of a crap hole. And I really should be nicer since my cousin, not the one "for a good time call", has a cute little restaurant there, most of the people are really good. And there is a little bit of everything there. But; there are enough people on the bottom of the evolutionary scale to make the place seem somewhat inhospitable. And the fisherman, wow, is there a lot of fisherman hanging around the lock, the bridge, the dam, just everywhere. I will admit that I am a tad bit biased, as my wallet was stolen out of my car here several years ago, but when a man walks up to the tree next to your boat, in the day time, in the park, and pisses on it, while you sit in the cockpit, then maybe its just a little too much. Especially when the "open" lock washrooms were only 40 yards away.

Peterborough was much nicer. We had intended to stay out in Rice Lake for a couple of days to do some fishing, kayaking, and relaxing, but the weather man, plus a planned date for visitors in the Peterpatch changed that. As schedules and weathermen always seem to do. So off we went, making the 8 hour trek up into Little Lake. 

Until Peterborough, the trip was pretty unexciting. Vita did not do so well in the first 18 locks, bucking and kicking so bad that both Serena and I now have man sized calasus and boxer sized bruises. But we'll recover. I'll do a post at some point on tips and hints for the canals, because the Rideau is different than the Trent, and all the locks in the Trent are different from one another. 

Peterborough and beyond you start running into traffic, lots of traffic, big traffic, little traffic, houseboats up the wazoo, and traffic that don't know how to drive a boat. You meet tour boats, like the one above, and the Canal monster the Kawartha Voyager. You start to watch the morning jockey for position, as everyone tries to get into the first lock of the day. It is quite the parade. And not everyone finds it that funny. Serena and I just laugh our heads off, whether were in the middle of it, or just standing by sipping our morning coffee. It really is a must see. But I am sure that the laughing gets to some of the other boaters. But like everything else in life, if you take it too serious, you'll be on a short train to cookoo land. So the gates of the lock open, and everyone wants to be first, the lock master starts playing a good ol game of boat Tetris, and the boaters start playing that fun game of bumper boats.

And attitudes run the gamit. We saw people that were afraid to have anyone in the lock with them, because they might scare the gelcoat on their boat, to people who smashed and banged, and didn't care. Most of the rental houseboaters were afraid that they were going to smack into someone else's boat. No worries that they were going to look bad, that was a given. They were all just trying to mitigate the damages. Lets face it, no matter how good you are, driving a houseboat is like driving a bus with no steering and too much power. But, if you take it all in, and try not to stress the little things, then life is good.

The lift lock at Peterborough was really neat. It is one of the items on our bucket list. A smaller item for sure. But right up there with finishing the Rideau, or the Trent, or growing our own raspberries to make wine with. Did someone say wine?

It's a very quick ride though, in, up, out, or down, or in our case travelling through 3 times before we got out of Peterborough. 

With a 66 foot lift though, and being rather open, I am surprised that I didn't have an issue with the height. I can't seem to figure out what triggers my fear of heights. I know a 8/12 roof will do it every

The fountain in Little Lake Peterborough. They turn the lights on at night for a little show.

Jockeying for position, You go ahead beside the houseboat, no, you go, you were here first. Actually, I think we'll wait for the next lift, yeah, good idea. Let the houseboat go up with the sailboat.

Hey honey. We going up Samwise.

We left Peterborough, finally for good, no schedule, no plans. It was a slow day up to Young's point, as Serena was a little under the weather. She had the 750 ml flu. So I pulled over mid day and let her have a badly needed 2 hour nap.

After that our intentions were to drop the hook in Clear Lake for a couple of days to let off some steam, and get back on track. Well, we have never been up here before, and what we realized quickly is that there is a lot of rock, everywhere. Trying to find an anchorage that was not a big rock pile was pretty much impossible. The chard would say 17 feet deep, but the bay would be 60 feet. I guess that there was probably a rock in the bay that came up to 17 feet, but how to find it, and how to get an anchor into the top of it is beyond me. So we enjoyed a meandering cruise up through Clear Lake, and Lovesick Lake, till we got to Lovesick Lock. A gorgeous little spot with no fisherman, and no riff raff, unless you count the raccoons. Even the lock workers have to boat to work, because there are no roads. Lovesick was a treat, and I am going to stop here, because we did some fun things, had some interesting encounters, and I don't want to ruin it before I get the You Tube video posted!

Vita back to one six.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bye Bye Rideau Canal

I am afraid I am behind my time yet again. We have been home for a week, and its been at least two since the last blog entry. Busy busy.....

So we left Smith's Falls, looking for a place to get away from the hustle and bustle, in an anchorage where we would be protected from the heavy southwest winds that were expected for a couple of days. We tied up on a Parks Canada mooring ball in front of Colonel By Island in the middle of Big Rideau Lake. We would have liked to tie up to the last mooring ball around the south corner, as it had the best protection, but there was a pile of people at the island, and almost every space was taken. Sure as the sun comes up though, all the boaters cleared out around supper time, and we got our opportunity to move to the choice spot. In fact we would have the island virtually to ourselves for the next 4 days.

Colonel By Island has to be the jewel of the Rideau system. For as much fun as it was to take our boat thru the Nations Capital, it was twice the fun to have an Island to ourselves for a few days.

On Monday the winds blew in strong. And although we had the best mooring ball of the bunch, Vita was bucking like a wild steer, so we spent the day on shore, reading, sun tanning, and playing tennis in the tennis court left over from a previous tenant. Someone had left racquets and a tennis ball for everyone to use, so we played away the afternoon joking about being Serena Williams and John McRnroe, if only because they are the only two famous tennis names we could think of.

It is a great spot. Over the 4 days we went swimming in the beautiful clear waters more times than I can count, we kayaked through the archipelago of islands, and lost lake; we went for dinghy rides, read books, relaxed, enjoyed sundowners, and just really enjoyed each others company in a lovely place, void of the intrusion of world. The only other people we spoke to were a couple of guys on their first kayak trip, who stayed the night at the island. It was eden, and it made up for any of the bad crap we had to put up with the rest of the trip.

However, all good things must come to an end. And between our planned scheduling, weather, and some other interesting places we want to check out, we figured we had better get a move on. Besides, lets face it, the weekend crowd would have ruined our opinion of the place, and in that ruined the memory of a truly great time.

So we headed out on Thursday morning looking to check out Jones Falls. The lock station has four locks, a turning basin, and one of the most impressive damns I have ever seen. They also have a rather short, but rugged walking trail that was a lot of fun. And, as always seems to happen with cruisers, the world gets smaller and smaller with every person you meet. Well, we met a lovely french couple on a Monk 36 who just happen to be the parents of a young man who with his wife and two children had made the trip down the eastern seaboard to Florida 3 years. ago. The same year we did. And wouldn't you know it, they were on a Bayfield 40 that we locked through the dismal swamp with. I had pictures of their boat on my computer, and their son had remembered our little Bayfield 29. No matter how many times its proven to me, I am still amazed at the little things that make this world shrink to human size.

Jones Falls, however, is where the trip went to hell. We got stuck waiting over 3 hours to get through the lock. We had intended to go a little anchorage just below the falls in a quiet little spot to do some kayaking and swimming for the day, but we were so disenchanted that we decided to move further down the system and anchor in Cranberry Lake. That way we would be able to get out of the system the following day, and we might still get a swim in.

Another plan shot to hell, as we got to Cranberry Lake and discovered it was choked tight with weeds. What was a beautiful lake on the way up two weeks previously, was now a big swamp. Oh to hell with it, lets get out of here! We managed to make the last flight of locks at Kingston Mills right at the end of the day, and tied up to their dock at the bottom of the locks at 7:00 pm. The bottom end of the Rideau was like one big weed bed. The warm sunny weather, combined with the unusually clean water had choked the system right up. Vita was having a hard time getting through because of the weeds wrapped around her prop. At one point we were down to 2 knots, and I kept stopping to put her in reverse to try and dislodge the hitchhikers. I would not have wanted to try to do this trip in late July. In fact, I don't think we could have made it.

We woke early on Saturday. We were headed out through Kingston and back to one of our favorite anchorages behind Ram Island in Hay Bay. It was a picturesque morning. The temperature was perfect, the sun was bright, the wind was calm, and we were all by ourselves. We saw very little in the way of traffic. In fact I spent most of the morning in a clothing optional state, it was perfect.

Down behind Ram Island, we were planning to wait out a storm that never emerged. We swam, kayaked, relaxed, and even got Lifeline, our Walker Bay dinghy out for a sail around the Island. A nice end to the trip.

After a couple of days we decided to head home, originally expecting to take two days, we changed those plans and made the 6 1/2 hour run for the Yacht Club. Well, 8 hours later, and a very uncomfortable ride, we made it home. The wind had clocked around from the southwest to the west during the trip, almost seeming to fight us every time we made a direction change. And it was a very strong wind. I had heard people talk about Big Bay being rough in a good blow, and I can remember chuckling to myself, cause lets face it, its a tiny body of water, at least in comparison to some of the places we've been. Well, I take it back, and to the person that I quietly laughed at, I am very sorry. Don't get me wrong, it was dangerous, but it was cantankerous, short steep waves, right on the nose. It was slow going, and then every few minutes a set of waves would come along, slamming into Vita's hull and stopping her cold. Not a place I would have preferred to be.

Overall we are glad we did the trip. Going through Ottawa was cool. Seeing the old manually operated locks and bridges, double cool. Just living aboard Vita again was incredible, and felt like where we were supposed to be. However, I don't think we will do the system again in a sailboat. A houseboat would be neat, or even a small trawler. But I think the real glory of the Rideau would be to do it in a canoe or kayak. So right now we are tentatively planning to make the trip from Kingston to Ottawa in the kayaks in two years. Vita will be in Florida on the hard for hurricane season, and we will be back in Ontario for a few months, so it is the perfect time.

Please enjoy the following pics with narrative.

Vita back to one six.

I love these pics. Which one of these is upright. The top one or the bottom one. It was a very calm, very clear morning.

Colonel By Island was hit by a tornado in 1985, and some of the trees that got knocked down still survived. Although they don't really look like normal trees. It was odd, but neat at the same time. Nature really will find a way.

Lost lake, no fishing allowed, and surrounded by islands. I was shocked at how deep the water was. I though it would be a swamp, but when we kayaked through, it dropped off pretty good.

Colonel By had a nice hiking trail. And all the green you see on the ground are thousands of tiny maple trees. 

Serena Williams

John McEnroe

The water got really thin in some spots, but Vita never went aground. Not so for Lifeline. It looked like there was enough water to get between the islands, there however was not, and Serena wanted to make sure she documented the Captains decision to try it.

The trail at Jones Falls, although short, was the best walk of the trip. Rugged and steep at times. Wish it was 10 miles longer.

The damn at Jones Falls. crazy big. All made with hand hewn stone blocks.

This lock was tight. When we tied up ready to go down, Serena could touch the bridge from her position on the bow.

Tell me this isn't heaven. Ray (the autopilot) was driving, the weather was perfect, and I sat on a lawn chair on the bow watching the world go by at 5 knots.

Lifeline is a blast to sail. It took us a bit to get past the island, tacking back and forth with the wind on the nose, but then on a broad reach, she just flew. Now if only I could learn to sail..........