Starting the Trent-Severn Waterway
126 Days Looping
1,853.1 Nautical Miles Total (2,132.5 Statute Miles)
107.7 Nautical Miles This Week
18.6 Hours Underway This Week
7.4 NMph Average Speed
18 Locks This Week, 104 Total Locks
Monday – August 12th – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Kingston, Ontario, Canada
On Monday we got the boat ready for the next leg of our trip up the Trent-Severn waterway. In the morning we did laundry, did a few maintenance items on the boat, went grocery shopping, and re-stocked on docktail libations. Alcohol in Canada is VERY expensive. A 750ml bottle of Jamesons was $39.00 CAD. A 6 pack of Mich Ultra or Molson is $15.00 CAD! I should have stocked up more before we left!
After we finished the laundry and put away the groceries, it was about 1:30, so we decided to take the free ferry service over to Wolfe Island where they have all of the Power Generating Windmills and is also the home of Wolfe Island Bakery where the Butter Tarts we got in Kinston are made.
The ferry was just a short walk from the marina and runs every hour. You just walk on, at no charge. The ferry can hold about 50 cars, and an extra 100 passengers so pretty good sized. The trip over is about 20 minutes. When you land on the island you are in a small town called Marysville. Many of the vehicles on the ferry are locals that commute to work on the mainland, or vacationers going to one of the many campgrounds on the island.
Marysville consists of a couple of craft & art shops, the Bakery, a General Store, 5 or 6 restaurants, 2 B&B’s, and a car repair shop. It mostly caters to the tourist and commuter crowd. We walked through the craft shops, then down to one of the restaurants for something to drink.
We’d been seeing the giant wind turbines since we came across Lake Ontario a few weeks ago, and there was one that showed up on Google as being about a 15-minute walk. We walked to the edge of town, turned up a side road, past a herd of cows, and down an access road through a farmer’s field. As we got close, we could hear the blades swishing through the air. It really was an impressive sight, these windmills are truly massive! The central hub is 262 ft high, and each blade is 165 ft long, so when a blade is at the top, the total height is just under 427 feet. There are a total of 86 on the island and when running each can produce 2.3 Mega Watts of electricity.
We walked around the base, and then back to town to catch the 4:30 ferry. We made sure to leave enough time to stop at the Bakery and restock on Butter Tarts! The ferry was right on time, and we crossed back to Kingston. I walked to the boat to drop off our tarts, and Brenda checked out restaurants by the ferry terminal for dinner.
We ended up walking up a block or two and had dinner at Jack Astors a local chain burger place. After dinner, we walked back to the boat and stopped at a Beaver Tail shop for dessert. Brenda is a big fan of Fried Dough at fairs, and this is Fried Dough on Steroids! Our time in Kingston was at an end, we were ready to get back on the water in the morning!
Tuesday – August 13th – 67 NM – 0 Locks – To: Trenton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, we pulled out of Confederation Basin Marina just before 7:45. Confederation Basin does not offer pump-out services, but their sister marina, Plymouth Olympic Harbor does. Plymouth is only about 3 miles away and the marina we visited is next to the Kingston Prison last week. We pulled in right at 8:00, and there was nobody around. The sign said that the fuel and pump-out dock opened at 8:00. We hung around and at about 8:45, the dock-hand pulled up in his golf cart all apologetic. Apparently, they had to change the tire on the golf cart so he got a late start. We were pumped out and ready to go by 9:00, and because we had to wait, he didn’t charge us the normal $25 pump-out fee. Very nice!
The water was almost dead calm and it was partly cloudy and only about 73 degrees. We ran from the flybridge for the first time in about 3 weeks! It was very nice. We had a few rolling swells that came in off Lake Ontario, but as soon as we were behind the islands, there was no wave action at all.
The water path from Kingston to Trenton is a big zig-zag so while the air miles are only about 45, the water miles were 67. Most of the way we were in fairly wide open water, lots of camps and homes along the shore, a few large industrial complexes and power plants, but all in all, not much to look at. There was also not a lot of other boat traffic, we passed some fishing boats, and a few sailboats, but we were able to run at 20 knots for much of the way. When we got into the Bay of Quinte, the water turned GREEN! There was a huge algae bloom and the water was thick with the stuff.
We pulled into Trent Port Marina at around 2:00 and were all tied up and registered by 2:30. There were a few other sailboats already on the dock and as we chatted with them, two of the boats we’d passed earlier pulled in. (It’s always good to be polite and slow down when passing, you never know when you might see someone again!) One of the boats is a regular here at the marina and they gave us recommendations for dinner here in town.
We relaxed for a few hours and then walked into town for dinner. Right behind our slip is an industrial building. We saw large trucks emptying something into silos, and when we walked past, there was a sign for Quaker Oats (a Pepsi Company) who knew! On our way back from dinner we happened to meet one of the workers out on his break and asked if they packaged Quaker Oats there. “No”, he said, “We make all of the muffins for McDonald’s in eastern Canada.” Again, who knew!
The Town of Trenton is beautiful, with flowers everywhere and well-maintained public spaces. On the way to downtown, we stopped to do a Geocache, then walked to where the restaurants in town are along the Trent-Severn Waterway. As we were walking, two large military cargo planes did a low flyover the city while landing at the Royal Canadian Air Force Base, just across the river from the marina. We selected a Bistro Pub for dinner, it was just okay. We’ve had some good food on the trip, and this was only adequate. My chicken was overcooked, and the oil for Brenda’s Fish & Chips tasted overused. Oh well, the view was great!
After dinner, we walked back to the boat, and as we neared the marina, the planes started more short approach landing practice. There were a few passes, where we thought they’d scrape the tops of the sailboat masts. Our own airshow! The passes lasted for about an hour, one every 10 minutes or so. Most of the marina was out on their boats watching the show.
As the sunset, the planes did their final landing, and a Dragon boat that is based here at the marina paddled in behind the boat. Lots of activity!
Wednesday – August 14th – 0 NM – In: Trenton, Ontario, Canada
It was COLD in the morning, 63 degrees! After breakfast, we chatted with some of the boaters that were heading out and helped them cast off. We then walked into town to the local Farmers Market. They have a special market building in a parking lot near the restaurants on the banks of the canal. It was “very small” and there was nothing there that interested us, so we moved on.
Our plan was to catch a Trenton city bus to the Canadian Air Force Museum at the airbase on the outskirts of town. We checked the map, walked to the bus route, and started looking for a bus stop sign. Nothing, so we walked across a bridge to the other side of the canal, where there was a mark on the map, and again, no bus stop. I called the transit service and the woman who answered asked where we were, after a bit of a delay, she said, “Oh, you want the ‘A’ bus.” I had looked at the “A” bus and saw that on the map, it only went to the museum on Saturdays, so I mentioned this. “Oh… yes… well…, then you need the ‘C’ bus.” which was the one we were looking for. I asked where the nearest stop was, and she gave us directions to a place about two blocks away. We walked the two blocks, and there was a bus stop sign! For the ‘A’ bus!!!!. We decided to walk over to the street marked on the map to see if we could find a stop. After a 1/2 mile, we still had not seen a bus or a bus stop, and as we were more than halfway to the museum and it was a nice day, we decided to just walk.
The Canadian Air Force Museum is run by volunteers and funded by private donations. The Air Force does donate planes, equipment, and transportation services, and assisted with part of the building and land. It’s a very nice collection. I knew that Canada had a fairly large aircraft manufacturing industry. Many of the regional jets that we fly in are Canadair planes. But I didn’t know how involved they were in making planes during World War 2 for the Allied war effort and how many Canadian pilots took part in the war.
The pride of their collection is a Handley Page Halifax bomber that was shot down during World War 2 in Norway and ditched in a lake. It sat in 750 ft of water for 50 years, before being raised and lovingly restored. It’s a beautiful aircraft! They have a full restoration shop where they bring in old planes and restore them, all with volunteer labor. In addition to the collection inside, they also have a number of more recent planes, helicopters, and other equipment in their outside display area.
We spent a couple of hours looking around and chatting with the volunteers then headed out to catch the bus back to town. We asked the volunteers where to catch the bus and fortunately one takes the bus to work so was able to point out it stops. We had missed the 1:00 bus by 15 minutes so had to wait for the 2:00 bus. Another person waiting said that they are never on time, and at 2:10 the bus showed up. The ride back to town only took 10 minutes or so.
We stopped at Subway for a quick snack, then tried to visit the Trenton Historical Society which was closed, so we walked around town a bit more, then back toward the boat. As we were walking down the street, we passed a woman, who, just after we went by her called out “Murrells Inlet!” We turned, and it was Jade from “Escapade” who we had met in Kingston. They were at the marina as well but on the other side of the docks. We chatted with her and agreed to go to docktails on their boat at 5:45.
We spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat doing blog stuff and planning out the next day’s trip up the Trent-Severn. At 5:30 we walked over to Escapade and met Bill & Shawnie on Reward who are Gold Loopers from Ontario and were also at the marina. We chatted for a couple of hours, then we all went our separate ways for dinner. We didn’t have anything out, so we walked to a pizza shop next to the marina.
Thursday – August 15th – 27.4 NM – 12 Locks – To: Campbellford, Ontario, Canada
Today was the start of the Trent-Severn Waterway! When we got up just before 7:00 and looked outside, we saw a long line of Bass fishing boats in the channel! It was day 1 of a Bass fishing tournament. There was a lead “starter” boat that was arranging the boats in the starting order (and keeping them from going fast and rocking the boats in the marina). They then lead them out into the bay, and at 7:00, let them go. 50 or 60 boats heading in all directions at top speed!
After getting dressed, we got the boat ready for the trip. I dropped the mast as the bridge heights on the waterway are less than 23 ft, and we checked our lines for locking through. We were ready to go just after 8:00 but as we were less than a mile from the first lock and the locks don’t open until 9:00, we had breakfast and rinsed some of the bugs off of the boat.
At 8:50 we pulled out of our slip and headed up the waterway toward the Trenton Lock (Lock #1) our first of 45 over the next week or so. The locks on the Trent-Severn are more modern than the locks on the Rideau. Many have been upgraded to Hydraulic water gates and doors. Some still have “manual crank” doors, but these are done with a push-bar where the lock person walks in a circle, similar to the swing bridges on the Rideau canal.
We passed under the Trent-Severn Gateway bridge and we were on the Trent! The locks on the Trent have a higher lift on average than what we experienced on the Rideau Canal with the lifts (or drops) being between 18 and 65 feet.
After a short delay, while they drained the lock, we passed under the railroad bridge and into the Trenton Lock, Lock#1. The lift was fairly quick and we chatted with the lock operators as we went up. They asked where we were headed and we told them Campbellford, 11 more locks, and about 25 miles ahead. They said that they would call ahead and let the other locks know.
As it was a weekday, and we are later in the Looper season, there was almost no traffic. For locks #2 and #3, we had one boat ahead of us so had to wait a few minutes for them to drain the locks for us. Then we were alone until lock #9 where we had a small boat join us. We saw a few local boats in the water but only met two larger boats headed downstream.
At this point in the trip, most locks look like any other lock. Doors, water, cranks, dams, etc. so as we have 11 more to go through, I’ll just list them out until we get to locks #11 & #12 which were spectacular!
Lock #2 – Sydney – Mile 2.4 – 20 ft lift.
Lock #3 – Glen Miller – Mile 3.9 – 27 ft lift
Lock #4 – Batawa – Mile 5.2 – 18 ft lift
Lock #5 – Trent – Mile 6.4 – 18 ft lift
Lock #6 – Frankford – Mile 7.3 – 18 ft lift
Lock #7 – Glen Ross – Mile 13.8 – 10 ft lift
Lock #8 – Percy Reach – Mile 25.3 – 20 ft lift
Lock #9 – Meyers – Mile 26.4 – 16 ft lift
Lock #10 – Hagues Reach – Mile 28 – 24 ft lift
Lock #11 & #12 – Ranney Falls – Mile 29.7 – 48 ft lift
Locks #11 and #12 are large, not the largest on the system, but our tallest lift so far on the Trent at 48 ft. You enter the first chamber, go up about 20 ft, then move to the second chamber for the other 28 ft. As you get close to the lock, you can see the cliffs on either side start to rise, and a suspension bridge going over the river gorge that the lock lifts you past.
Again, the main doors were open waiting for us, and we pulled in for the first lift. The doors in front of us were huge and showed signs of a recent leak. The lift went quick and we were up to the second lock in just a few minutes. The second lift was a bit higher, but again it was quick. After 12 locks in a day, we were ready to be tied up for the night!
The wall where we planned to spend the next two days was just over a mile up the canal along a park with walking paths on both sides of the canal. We disturbed a flock of geese who kept taking off, then landing about 100 feet in front of the boat, only to have to take off again when we got near. The park in Campbellford where we tied up is run by the local Chamber of Commerce. In the park is a sculpture of a giant two-dollar Canadian coin. The sculptor that did the design for the polar bear side (His name is Wilson) lives in the area so it’s a commemoration to him. After tying up we took a selfie and then walked up to a local brewery’s Brew Pub (the beer is brewed in an old church about 5 miles outside of town), and I sampled about 5 (small tasters) of their selections, which were all very tasty! We then went next door for dinner and turned in for the night.
Friday – August 16th – 0 NM – In: Campbellford, Ontario, Canada
We had decided to spend two extra days in Campbellford to see the sights. Friday morning was cool (64 f), but clear. We walked across the bridge to the Eastside to visit the Campbellford Historical Society museum. Unfortunately, it’s only open on the weekends so that was a bust. Next, we walked to the other end of town to visit the “Worlds Best Chocolate” chocolate factory outlet store that had been recommended to us. That went better, and we walked out with a bag of chocolates. Next was a visit to Dooher’s Bakery another local landmark, we were still pretty well stocked up on Butter Tarts (and to be honest, I’m starting to go into a Butter Tart comma) so we just got some raisin pastry. We also made a stop at the local Dollarama store and got a dusting mop to try to do battle with the nightly offering of spider webs we’ve been experiencing, and to get some goodie bags to had out to the lock staff.
With full arms, we crossed back over the bridge to the boat to drop everything off. There was one more museum in the area that we’d seen, a military museum that was about a mile back downstream the way we had come. It had warmed up (mid 70’s) and we walked to it. As we went up the driveway, we decided to give it a miss. The “Museum” is an old chicken coop with the rusted hulks of a few airplanes and an APC sitting on the front lawn. We’d gotten our fill of old airplanes in Kingston, so we turned around and as we were already halfway back to Locks 11 & 12 and the suspension bridge, we decided to walk down and take a look. As it happens there are geocaches every 1/4 mile so we also got in 4 caches as we walked along.
When we reached the lock, we chatted with the lock staff and got a look at the “Master Control Panel” for the lock. We were able to watch a boat go down through the lock and walk across the top of the doors to take some pictures.
From the lock to the suspension bridge is just a short walk. We got a great view of the hydro plant that is being refurbished, then crossed over the bridge to the park on the other side. The suspension bridge is part of the Trans-Canada Pathway a hiking trail that goes from coast to coast in Canada, sort of like a super Appalachian Trail. After crossing, we decided to walk up the other side of the river back to the Main St bridge near the boat. It was a nice walk through the woods and we finished the 3-mile loop in a couple of hours.
In the afternoon, we just relaxed on the boat for a while. Brenda took a nap, and I went back to the Brew House to finish my sampling. We tried a Greek restaurant that had been recommended and had a very good dinner.
Saturday – August 17th – 0 NM – In: Campbellford, Ontario, Canada
Saturday morning it was cloudy and overcast. When we checked in with the Chamber of Commerce, they handed us a flyer for a “River Festival” with local crafts, food vendors, and a craft beer tent. The Festival was in Hastings which is 25 miles and 5 locks ahead of us (our next planned stop) by boat, or 10 miles by car as the Trent river makes a big loop North between the two cities. We decided to get a local cab service to bring us over, and they picked us up at 9:30. Almost as soon as we got into the cab it started to rain, but we’d committed, so we went anyway. The ride to Hastings took just over 10 minutes through rolling hills and past lots of farms. We were dropped off at the Hastings marina where the “River Festival” was being held. It was raining steadily so we put on our raincoats, opened up our umbrellas, and walked around. They were still setting up, but we saw the dockmaster walking around and went over and talked to her about a reservation for Sunday night. As expected they had plenty of space, and we filled out reservations form, then decided to walk over to Lock 18, just across the bridge. We saw two boats of “Looper” size and as we got close we noticed the AGLCA Burgee’s (flags)! It was Nectar who we’d met in North Carolina on our second day out, and Summertime Blues, who we’d met in Half Moon Bay on the Hudson River in New York back in early June. The swing bridge at the lock was having problems, so we chatted with them for a few minutes, and found that both of them were headed downstream (opposite of our direction) however they were staying in Campbellford where we were for the night. The bridge bell started to ring, so we helped them cast off and said that we’d see them in Campbellford in a couple of hours.
We walked back across the bridge and watched an Osprey looking for his breakfast in the pools at the base of the falls. The “Festival” had started so we walked down the row of about 15 booths, mostly local organizations like the “Christian Farmers”, a Judo school, Canadian Canoe Museum, and the Boy Scouts. There were a couple of craft vendors, but nothing very interesting. The food vendors were just setting up, and the beer tent didn’t open till 2:00. Nothing really interested us, so we walked back to the main road and a small restaurant called Banjo’s and had some breakfast, then called the cab. It only took about 10 minutes for the cab to show up, and we rode back to the boat in Campbellford.
We spent the rest of the day on the boat avoiding the on and off rain. We watched a movie (we had good wifi!) and I worked on the blog. Around 3:30, Nectar and Summertime Blue arrived and we helped them tie-up. Shortly after two Canadian boats pulled in and made it 5 of us for the night. We went to dinner with Summertime Blue and heard the story of their grounding, and the decision to delay the rest of their loop until next year.
Sunday – August 18th – 17.8 NM – 6 Locks – To: Hastings, Ontario, Canada
When I woke up and looked out at the river, it was shrouded in fog. Visibility was only about 1/2 mile. We were only about a mile from our first lock, so we had until 9:00 for the fog to lift. The other boats that spent the night in Campbellford pulled out around 8:00. They were positioned at the downstream lock to get through early. At 9:00 the fog had lifted slightly so we dropped our lines and headed up the river to the Campbellford Lock (Lock #13) dubbed “Luck Lock #13” by the staff. There had been signs all over the visitor center in Campbellford about staying in the channel going to Lock 13 as there are rocks just outside the channel. Apparently, there had been some incidents of groundings and rock strikes earlier in the season so wanted everyone to be sure to watch the markers. We went slowly and arrived at the lock at 9:15.
Lock #13 is a fairly tall lock, with a 23ft lift. The lock house is just visible from the bottom. As we approached, the lock doors were closed, and there was no activity at the top. I tooted the horn, and still, we didn’t see any of the lock staff come out so we pulled up to the “Blue Line” wall, and tied it off. I walked up the steps to the lock house and knocked on the door. The lockmaster seemed surprised to see me! I think he was sleeping, and his fellow lock person stuck her head out of a back room where I think she was cooking breakfast. They hustled out and started draining the lock chamber so that we could come in. I walked back down to the boat, and we waited for the doors to open. While we were waiting, a woman on a paddleboard with her poodle cruised past. The things you see!
At most of the locks, we see people fishing. In many cases, they are Asian and often entire families. At Lock 13, there was a family fishing, and when we started to lock up, they went to the top of the lock to watch. We were the mornings’ entertainment! Phones out taking pictures and videos, one of the gentlemen got to help crank the lock doors open when we were lifted. We waved and thanked him for his help, and the cameras all started going again.
When we were lifted at Lock 13, we noticed that the fog was thicker at the top, it makes sense as we increase in elevation, we’re getting closer to the clouds, and when the clouds are only 50 ft up, rising 23 ft puts you that much closer! Crowe Bay Lock (Lock #14) was only 1.5 miles away, as we approached large construction vehicles loomed out of the fog. The crew at Lock 14 had called ahead and the doors to the lock were open and waiting for us and we had a fairly quick 25 ft lift.
Our next lock, Healey Falls (Lock #15) was another 2 miles up the river. We thought that we’d be able to pull right in again, but the doors were closed. One of the lock people walked down to the blue line, so we pulled over to the wall. A downbound boat had beat us to the lock, so we had to wait for them to be dropped. We decided to walk up to the top while we waited. We chatted with the lock operators for a few minutes and when they started to drain the locks, we walked back down. We had seen the rush of the water coming out as the locks drained before, but usually from a distance while we were waiting. Here, the stairs back down to the waiting line went within a few feet of the exit sluices, and we watched as 123,000 cubic feet (921,600 gallons) of water came gushing out. Very impressive!
Once the doors opened and the other boat pulled out, we pulled in for our turn at the 25 ft lift. As we were going up, Brenda noticed a dead baby beaver that was floating in the lock. It probably got too close to the intakes. The lock staff said that there had been quite a bit of activity recently and you could see that many of the smaller trees around the lock had been chewed down. As we pulled out of the lock, we passed a swing bridge (already open). It’s used by the Hydro company to get to their power plant. It has a motor, however, the power there is bad, and it kept blowing motors, so the power company just pushes it open and closed with their trucks when they need it.
Next in line was the Healey Falls Flight Locks (#16 & #17) just a 1/2 mile ahead. This is an impressive 54 ft lift. Here you enter the lower chamber, are lifted halfway, then move to the upper chamber for the rest of the lift. The doors to the lock were open waiting for us when we arrived, and we could see another downbound boat in the upper chamber. Lock #14 had told us that we’d be doing a “mid-locking pass” here as there was a boat heading downstream. This was a first for us!
We pulled in and got secured to the wall for our first lift. The huge blue doors were looming over us, and I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if they failed! After a lift of 25 ft, the doors in front of us opened and the downbound boat was waiting. The lock staff was on hand to assist with the passing. The downbound boat moved into our chamber first and the staff took the lines and walked it into position next to us. The locks are 32 ft wide. Our boat is 14 ft and when you add in the fenders, it’s 16 ft. The other boat was about the same size as hours, so figure another 16 ft with fenders. 16 + 16 = 32! In reality, there was about 18″ of clearance between the boats. A pretty tight fit! Once the other boat was tied off, we pulled ahead and into the second chamber for our final lift of 29 feet.
Once we were out of the locks, we had a 15 mile run to Hastings where we were spending the night. We had climbed above the fog, you could still see it in the valley below the dam. The river here is mostly built up on the banks with lots of summer homes along it. We saw a few loons, and a mini-lighthouse or two, and after a couple of hours, we saw the water tower from the old Hastings Tannery come into view.
We arrived at Lock 18 in Hastings at 2:00, and quickly locked through, then crossed the basin, and tied up at the Hastings Marina. What was 10 miles and 15 minutes by car the day before, was 18 miles, 6 locks, and 5 hours by boat!
The Riverfest was still going on and they were having a classic car show, so we walked around checking out the cars, had a hot dog, and then walked around town. We checked out a boat from New Zealand. And we thought WE were a long way from home! In the evening we walked to a local restaurant across the river near the lock for dinner, then back to the boat looking at the unique lighting at the end of the docks.
Next Week: We continue up the Trent-Severn Waterway. Looking forward to the Peterborough Lift Lock!
Tom & Brenda
Thank you so much for your blog. We feel like we are traveling with you. This must be the best vacation you ever had. You and Brenda are quite impressive. Pam and Rob Elders
Thanks for the kind words! We’re glad we are able to share our adventure. Be well!
Great read. Love traveling with you.