The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Positive Attitude

 When we returned to our boat in Killbear from Parry Sound on our drug buying expedition Tuesday night, we were happy to see Sid and Evelyn on Something Special in the harbor.  We had met them only once, way back in Cape May, NJ.  They had purchased the boat in Delaware a day or two before we met.    They are Canadians and travelled with our friends on Algonquin from New Jersey to their home near Midland, took time to provision and get their stuff together to really begin the loop, and were “re-starting” the loop Tuesday.  They picked an awful day to travel across Georgian Bay and looked a little battered, but were excited to get going.

Wednesday morning Something Special followed us up the Byng Inlet, to Britt.  We had great weather and enjoyed the “deep water” ride, glad not to be dodging rocks for a while.  Once there, we met Pam and Billy from Godspeed, and the six of us went to dinner at the Old Britt Inn. 
Every Looper will tell you, “It’s about the people you meet along the way that makes this trip so great”.  In Britt we met a great family of boaters.  Their boat is named “Positive Attitude”.  When we asked them the significance they had a heartwarming story.  Their daughter (whom we had met earlier, a very personable, outgoing and beautiful young twenty-something) had lost an arm at the shoulder in a water skiing accident years earlier, having been run over by a boat. Yet, she still loved the water and boating.  In fact, she had just been proposed to the weekend before, over the water.  Her husband-to-be took her up in a float plane, proposed to her, and landed where her parents and all her friends had anchored their boats and rafted up together to help them celebrate their engagement.  Her wish for her wedding is to be delivered to the ceremony in her parents’ new boat.  Their boat was named “Positive Attitude” in her honor.   I don’t think we will ever forget her and them.
When we awoke in the morning we found our old friend “water pot” sitting on our fly bridge helm.  We hadn’t seen it since Cape May either, although we were sent photos by e-mail of it in Atlantic City and New York City.  We suspect Something Special had a hand in this, but they deny it.  So little gremlins must have delivered it.  I’ll give Algonquin credit, the transfer was smooth…
Our little flower watering pot returns...turns out Godspeed had a hand in it!
Thursday morning we all set out for Killarney, which is at the Northwest end of Georgian Bay.  The bay was a little rough but manageable.  Once Around and Something Special ducked inside for the last third of the trip and cruised through Collins Inlet, another of those post card perfect Canadian waterways.  We arrived at Killarney about the same time as Godspeed, who stayed outside and runs a little slower.
Collins Inlet leading to Killarney
The Admiral wanted you to see the "pink" granite

We had been told by many boaters to be sure to eat at the little fish restaurant, run (no kidding), out of a red school bus.  They bring the fish in fresh daily.  Either whitefish, perch or pickerel (walleye) are served, whichever is fresh that day.  Carrie and I were not even hungry, so we shared an order of the best fish and chips on the planet, I swear. 
The little red school bus is the kitchen, you eat outside, and buy fresh fish in the little garage behind the bus!
A cool little converted tug I know my buddy John will like passes by in Killarney...
Back on the dock we met some “gold” Loopers, Bob and Janet on Heaven Too.  Gold Loopers are those who have already done the loop.  Their home port is in Michigan, so they have been cruising the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay for many years and are a wealth of information about harbors, anchorages, etc.  My first mate spent some time getting ideas on where to go.  The biggest input they had was to, slow down!  There is plenty of time to get to Chicago.  The Looper "bible" says you need to get there by Labor Day.  Bunk!  They started from Northern Michigan on September 12 the year they did the loop.  They made us promise to go slow through the North Channel and northern Michigan.  They were so convincing I almost wanted to turn back and hit some spots we missed in Georgian Bay, but they said no, there’s plenty of great stuff in front of you.  Just take your time.  (Danny on Potest Fieri, if you are reading this, I know, I know, you were preaching that to me a month ago!  I guess I just needed a refresher course!).
Carrie and I had a wonderful dinner at Sportsman Inn, and enjoyed the live piano/vocalist who entertained us in the dining room.  The song she opened with was “Fly Me to the Moon”, which is the theme song of the movie “Once Around”.  So, she had us from hello so to speak, and we joined her and a bunch of crazy Canadians in the lounge afterwards.  We danced the night away…OK, till 10:30 or so…
We had planned to leave today (Friday), but got a late start on the day.  Something Special departed around 10:00 AM, and we told them we would be a couple hours behind them.  By the time we actually got ready to go (1:30 or so) a stiff and unpredicted wind had come up.  We decided to sit it out on the dock for another day.  Good choice.  It increased to what I would guess would be about 40 mph by late afternoon.  We all had a sick form of entertainment watching boats try to dock this afternoon and evening.  Some of it was funny, some scary, but luckily, no major damage that we witnessed.
While Pam from Godspeed was doing laundry, Billy (a retired diesel mechanic) stopped by and saw me puzzling over a wash down water pump problem.  He had been all over Killarney looking for some anchor chain to lengthen the one on Godspeed, but had had no luck in his search.  I climbed down and disconnected what chain I had from my spare stern anchor and gave it to him to see if it would help.  He then asked a few questions about my water pump problem, which was no emergency to me, but which my Admiral seemed kind of ginned up about.  Next thing I knew, all three of us (Billy, me and the Admiral) were down in the engine room tearing hoses apart and generally working up a good sweat before dinner.  About an hour into it we found some weird rubber grommet that had somehow gotten sucked into the sea water intake and stuck in the fitting entering the strainer.  Wallah…we now have a good wash down pump.  The Admiral is happy…for now. 
The latest plan…in Jello, as always, is for us to follow Heaven Too into the Canadian wilderness of McGreger Bay tomorrow.  I hope the weather cooperates, because these folks really know these waters and are a hoot to hang out with. 
There will be no internet access from there (and little if any cell coverage).  In fact, that may be the case for the next week or two in the North Channel.  So, we may not be able to post again for some time.  If so, the only way you’ll know our whereabouts will be to hit the “Find Us” link on this page.  It works on a satellite so is not internet dependent.
Meanwhile, we miss you all, and remember…Life is Beautiful, just keep a Positive Attitude!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just Sit Tight

We have been caught between two health care systems.  Ours, which has ridiculous hoops to jump through, and the Canadian one, which is a government run bureaucracy.  
Before leaving home, we obtained new prescriptions for which we were told we could obtain 90 day supplies at Walmart.  In Baltimore, MD in May, we determined that was BS; 30 days only.  Not to worry, Walmart was in Canada so we were told we could fill our monthly prescriptions there…
So here’s how that goes:
8:30 AM        Phone Walmart, find that our US prescriptions are worthless; must see Canadian doctor to obtain new ones.
8:35 AM        Call first clinic…told they cannot see us.  Called second, told to “sit tight”, they’d get back to us…
10:00 AM     Determine that the two “clinics” (the only place besides a hospital you get care here) will not see us.
10:30 AM     Leave Killbear Marina on taxi ($60) to hospital emergency room , our only option.  Told by the triage nurse to “sit tight”, she’ll be with us in a few.
11:30 AM     Find out from the nurse that to get treated there will cost $500 each to get in, PLUS whatever doctor fees.
11:35 AM     Call the two clinics again, begging.  The second one tells me to “sit tight” and after 10 minutes on hold agrees to see us at 1:00 PM.
1:00 PM        Taxi to clinic ($15).  Meet Dr. S., a great guy, who writes the five prescriptions we need.  (Doctor fee $80).
1:30 PM        Taxi to Walmart  ($10).  Drop off prescriptions.  We are told it will take 2 hours, so we slowly, do our grocery shopping, visiting also the hardware, sporting goods, electronics, housewares, children’s clothing…you get the picture.
3:30 PM        I sit in the Walmart entry with a loaded cart while my bride goes to retrieve the meds at the pharmacy…
4:00 PM        Reluctantly, I end my conversation with Leonard, the Walmart greeter (whose great-great uncle was Daniel D. Tompkins, the US Vice-President under President Monroe.  Mr. Tompkins was apparently impeached from office, either hung or drank himself to death, but, was later exonerated of all charges…I kid you not.  Haven’t had time yet to double check Leonard’s story, but, somehow I believe it) when Carrie calls from the pharmacy and tells me there is a problem with one of the prescriptions.  They had sent the clinic a FAX an hour earlier…
4:01 PM        Talk to Mary at the clinic who says they never got the FAX; have the pharmacy call soon, because Dr. S. will be leaving shortly.
4:02 PM        Get Leonard to watch my cart, sprint to the pharmacy, give them Dr. S.’s number, run back to my cart.
4:05 PM        Get another call from Carrie…the doctor had left.
5:15 PM        Arrive (by taxi, $60) back at Killbear. 
5:16 PM        Martini…OK, two.
8:30 AM        Start calling clinic.
9:01 AM        Reach clinic on phone, told to “sit tight, they are on it.
10:30 AM     Tired of sitting tight, call Walmart, learn that they had talked to Dr. S., but that Dr. S. needed to talk to me…huh?
11:35 AM     Finally reach Dr. S., who explains the problem to me.  We already knew the solution (it had been obvious since yesterday), but…whatever…we agree to his solution.
3:30 PM        Taxi from Killbear to Walmart ($60).  Pay $250 for our prescriptions (don’t even think about trying to get our insurance carrier involved).
5:15 PM        Arrive by taxi ($60) back at Killbear marina.
5:16 PM        Two martinis…OK, three.
What we learned
1.     American insurance companies rules are designed so that you get fed up and pay for stuff yourself
2.     The Canadian single payer system results in hugely crowded clinics AND emergency rooms, and there is nowhere else to go.
3.     Canadians hate their system, so those that told you otherwise were lying.
4.     Drugs are cheaper here.  One of my prescriptions cost us $120 in Canada.  It was $354 in Baltimore, (where for some unknown reason our carrier refused to cover it after six months of doing so…see #1 above).
5.     We have been “sitting tight” for too long…and if someone tells me to sit tight again, I may go postal…tomorrow we head for Britt, on the Byng Inlet.
6.     Daniel D. Tompkins was the VP of the US under President Monroe…maybe!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moon River

Moon River, wider than a mile,
I’m crossin’ you in style, some day,
Old dream maker, you heart breaker,
Wherever your goin’, I’m goin’ your way.

Two drifters, off to see the world,
There’s such a lot of world to see,
We’re after the same rainbow’s end,
Waitin’round the bend,
My huckleberry friend,
Moon river, and me.

It struck us funny that cruising along slowly in uncharted waters in northern Canada we would both begin singing it almost simultaneously.  My first mate had just told me that we had turned on to “Moon River”, and out we broke in song. 
When I was a young boy, I must have heard Andy Williams sing that a thousand times on a 33-1/3 vinyl record album that my parents often played on their “hi-fi”, as the early stereos were called.  My mom loved the song, as did my dad.  Of course, their other favorite album at the time was Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass.  Explains where my weird taste in music got its’ roots…
My first mate said it was the very first song she ever learned, for the same reason.  Except, she thought her parents record might have been Tony Bennett or Ed Ames.  The music was actually written by Henry Mancini, so no matter.  Still, when we thought about the words, where we were, and what we were doing, the song took on new meaning.
Our new Canadian sail boater friends, Walt, Cath, and their dog, Kiwi, followed us in their dinghy as we made the approximately ten mile ride from our anchorage up through the North Channel, Woods Bay and Moon River Bay, as we worked our way towards Moon River and the promised waterfall there.  It was beautiful country.  Although Walt and Cath had anchored in Port Rawson several times, this was their first trip to Moon River Falls as well.  Most of the way was deep water and we followed local boaters (mostly fishermen) weaving our way around islands and across bays.  A few times we slowed to a crawl to pick our way through tight corners and over shallow submerged rocks.  I had my chart plotter on “tracking” so eventually we could find our path back without a problem.
We had to beach the boats and walk the last several hundred yards to the actual falls.  When we arrived we found a cool refreshing pool below the falls, and we all (including Kiwi) enjoyed a long swim.  None of us were brave enough to try and slide down the falls as we had been told was possible.  That turned out to be a good choice.  We met a high school age local boy who had done so the day prior and had the scrapes (and he believed broken ribs) to prove it.
Moon River Falls
Carrie, Cath, Walt and Kiwi
So, we relaxed on the rocks and enjoyed lunch, sharing a bottle of California merlot that we had brought with us.  We enjoyed talking to our new friends, who are both elementary school teachers.  We compared notes with some of the stories our daughter, Carla, had told us about her third graders this year, and determined there is not much difference between a Canadian classroom and an American one.

Cath and yours truly
We returned to our “big boats” late in the afternoon, pretty much wiped out from the hot sun.  Carrie and I began to prepare Once Around  to leave the anchorage in the morning and head for Killbear.  Reluctantly, we must leave this beautiful spot.  We went for another swim, relaxed, had a couple of coconut rum and cokes and eventually thought about preparing dinner.  We had been anchored out now for four nights, and anything even approaching “gourmet” had long ago been devoured.  Undaunted, my first mate whipped up some microwaved tacquitos, refries and fresh pears…mmm…nothing but the best on Once Around.
Today (Sunday) we were up early.  Before we left Walt, Cath and Kiwi pulled up in their dinghy and gave us a gift, a bottle of Canadian maple syrup to take with us.  Again, the Canadians we have met have all been awesome. 

Walt, Cath and Kiwi deliver our farewell gift to us

We then cruised to Killbear Marina, just south Parry Sound, in the Killbear Point Provincial Park.   

Nice to have one of these to commute to your cottage, eh?

Along the way we passed Godspeed, who was pulling in to Parry Sound.  It is good to see they have worked out their mechanical problems and are back underway.  We would have loved to stay in Parry Sound and visit with them, but it was full.  Although Killbear is somewhat off the beaten (car) path, we hope to meet up with our reconditioned propellers and hopefully get some provisioning done.  We have heard bad weather is coming, so we may be here a while.
Don’t worry, we won’t starve…there is reportedly a good restaurant right here at the Marina…and there’s still a few more tacquitos!
Two drifters, off to see the world,
There’s such a lot of world to see,
We’re after the same rainbow’s end…

Friday, July 22, 2011

Prop Check!!!

When we were water skiers and had a 19 foot boat with an outboard motor, we would hang out on the Sacramento River every chance we got.  There are no heads (see glossary if this term is not familiar to you) on 19 foot boats.  So, every once in a while someone would wade into the river up to his or her waist and act very interested in the stern of the boat while they relieved themselves in the river.  If another of us noticed…and we always did, we would holler, “PROP CHECK”, so that everybody on the beach knew exactly what the guy in the water was really up to.  Wednesday we did a big boy prop check, of sorts…
We had only stayed one night at South Bay Cove above Honey Harbor.  My first mate did about 29 loads of laundry, and we got pumped out, watered up, and basically ready to hit a few anchorages in Georgian Bay.  But first, we had a great dinner at the restaurant at the marina.  Most boaters know this is a bit unusual, as most marina restaurants are marginal at best.  But, one of the lockmasters told me that the guy who built this marina was in the cattle business, and that this place was awesome for steaks as well as everything else.  The eight of us Loopers enjoyed a great meal together and lingered at the table for an hour afterward swapping stories.
In the morning, we said goodbye to the other Loopers as Carrie and I decided we wanted to “go off the grid” for a few days, meaning we wanted to drop the hook (anchor) in the most remote places we could find and be alone.  The cool thing about Loopers is that they all get that, and nobody gets offended when people disappear for a few days…or weeks. 
We had charted a course for a small anchorage near a Canadian National Park by something called, “Bone Island”.  When we got there, it was everything we had hoped for…calm clear water, tree lined shores, remote location, few boats, etc.  Unfortunately, about a quarter mile before we arrived we hit a submerged rock…HARD. 
Before you pass judgement on our piloting skills...check out what we're dealing with!
And these are the marked channels!
I have previously mentioned that prior groundings had damaged my starboard propeller, but not badly.  Well, when I donned my mask and jumped into the cool, refreshing bay waters, I found that I had really flattened my port side (of course) propeller.  There was no other choice but to call a boatyard (oh boy) and schedule a haul out.
Once Around in the sling...
We limped the 10 miles to Penetanquishene (completely out of our planned course) at 5 knots, arriving at Bay Moorings Marina and met Al, the boatyard foreman, at about 2:30 PM.  Al and his crew removed my props, checked the shafts for damage (marginally OK), put my spare propellers on and had us on our way by 5:30.  Great guys.
Not a good looking propeller...
...So, off it came...
...and on with the spares.
Now, I have to dwell a bit on the whole “spare propeller” issue.  Last March, when I ordered them, I took a real dressing down from the Admiral about the cost.  “Why do we need them?  Why are they so expensive?” etc…  NOW, she looks at me with those “Ginger” eyes and says, “You are soooooo, smart”!!!  That was all fine and good until Al called today and told us how much it was going to cost to refurbish the damaged propellers…now I am in trouble again.  Fame is so fleeting in this navy.
Leaving Penetang (even the Canadians don’t say the whole name of that town every time), we went to a small anchorage that Al told the Admiral about.  It had deep water all the way, and we thought we were pretty remote.  However, when we turned into one of the anchorages Al had marked, Jolly Tolly and Moonstruck were already there!  What are the odds?  There are 30,000 islands here after all.  It cracked all of us up that we had ended up there, and we had gone 20 miles out of our way!  We anchored about a half mile from them and dinghy’d over for a drink before dinner.  Back aboard Once Around, Carrie and I had a great grilled steak and some tortellini with artichoke sauce, and an absolutely fabulous bottle of Hartwell cabernet.  What boatyard bill???
This morning, we pulled anchor and headed for another spot (Port Rawson Bay) Al had recommended to us.  This time, we are really in the middle of nowhere.  If you don’t believe me, hit the “Find Us” link on this page.  We are alone (well, there are a few other boats within a mile of us), and we may stay a few days.  This is one of those times on the Loop that you all probably think we do every day, but are really so rare.  We actually have time to read a book, take a swim, think about life and enjoy each other.  If we get the energy, there are some “uncharted” waters nearby.  But, don’t worry; we will be checking that out in our dinghy, not in Once Around.  No more “prop checks” of that kind…we hope.  There is a heat wave coming through, and the cool waters of Georgian Bay are a wonderful thing!
Our view from the stern this weekend...

"Ginger" takes a dip...

We took the dinghy to Henry's for lunch, world famous (at least "Looper famous") for fresh fish.

We left too stuffed to eat desert, but not too stuffed to carry it out!  Homemade blueberry pie and butter tarts!

A lazy Friday afternoon on Once Around.

We met some Canadian sailboaters who anchored near us today and they are planning to take their dinghy up to Moon River Falls (in the aforementioned "uncharted" waters).  We are going to tag along.  They've never been there either...should be fun!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ahh Chute!!!

We spent the weekend in Orillia during the Scottish festival.  The town was busy, and the marina we stayed at had good access to the town and park where the festival was held.  Boats by the hundred were in and out of the marina all weekend. 

Here is a shot of the crowd on shore from our deck...

...and of course, Once Around from shore!

A bagpipe jam session...

...Scottish dancers...
...and folk singers.

Saturday afternoon we met some very experienced Loopers (at least twice around) who live on Georgian Bay and went through our charts on that area with us.

We soaked up the info!

This is Jolly Tolly in the light of the full moon rising at our, "full moon party" on Moonstruck.

But of course, Sunday was Women's World Cup Finals. Loopers and soccer fans at the pub!

Monday morning in Orillia, the weather forecast was a tiny bit "iffy".  We all put our heads together and decided we were going to be in narrow enough rivers and lakes on the next stretch to risk the "chance of severe thunderstorms" warning from Canadian weather.  The Canadian weathermen are no more accurate than those in the US, so we knew we had a pretty good chance of it being great weather.  Besides, the major thunderstorm that rolled through knocking out power on the dock at about 4 AM just might have been the one we were hearing about, and it had long passed.  As it turned out, it was a good call and we had beautiful weather all day.

After crossing Lake Couchiching and entering the Severn River, we came upon Lock #42 and picked up some information from the lockmasters there.  That storm had been pretty rough on the area, and the "Big Chute" lock, #44 in the system, had been disabled by a lightning strike that took out the electrical controls.  Nevertheless, , Jolly Tolly, Moonstruck, Dockers Inn, Blue Highways and Once Around kept going, as we had planned to spend the night this side of Big Chute in the first place (and what else could we do, turn around?).

The Severn was both gorgeous and terrifying in places.  The water is getting clearer as we go, and we can see the huge boulders beneath the surface sometimes only a few feet outside the channel.  Thankfully, the day went without incident in regard to submerged rocks!

Lock #43 on the system was the largest drop of any we had encountered.  It lowered us 47' in one lock.  The effect was like being a little toy boat in the bottom of a cereal box by the time the gates opened to let us out.

I took this of Moonstruck from atop the lock as they reached the bottom.

This is me tending the line at the stern as we are lowered.

As Moonstruck left the lock, they passed Jacques the Pirate, without incident!  Another close call.

We had gotten separated from our friends at one of the locks.  This happens quite often as boats move in and out of the system, so it is impossible to try and stay together.  So, we were the last to tie up on the top side of Big Chute, but Jolly Tolly and the group had warded off several boats and saved us a spot.

Most of us went swimming, although Doug from Moonstruck said the water was too cold for him.  Since he is a reformed Wisconsonite now living most of the winter in Florida or on his boat, he avoids anything cold except a beer. 

Jan from Jolly Tolly said the mesh floatie was so, "Fish couldn't get me (her)".

I took the opportunity to don a swim mask and check to see how much damage the thumpings I had heard in the shallows over the last few days had done to my props.  Result, port side fine, starboard not so hot.  I have some damage on three blades, although I do not feel any vibration.  (John, expect a call, I need some advice). 

Not being able to do a thing about my bent propeller, I did the only thing that made sense at the time...I went fishing.  Some French Canadian kid on the dock next to me was using leeches and knocking the bass dead.  All I had was worms, and I caught a few tiny ones.  I got fed up with that pattern after about an hour (he never offered me a leech), so, I started my generator (to cook dinner) and smoked the kid out with exhaust.  There's more than one way to skin a kid..or something like that.

View from our stern the next morning as the sun came up.

Now, for "Big Chute".  This morning Blue Highways and we were first in line at the lock.  This lock is a one of its kind in the system.  You actually drive your boat into what is basically a rail car.  They strap the boat up, haul it out and over a few hundred yards of land and down the other side, re-launching you at the other end.  They actually sit your bow on the deck of the lock and lift your stern.  You stay on your boat the entire time.  As we were going over the top I told Carrie, "We're an honest-to God land yacht".  It was a wierd feeling and a once in a lifetime experience!  We went through with Blue Highways in front of us.  Our stern was hanging probably 10' or more over the back of the deck of the lock.

Once Around enters the railroad lock, "Big Chute".

Blue Highways was already set and we followed them in...

Once in, the straps raise the props and shaft up to clear the deck...

...and the huge winches begin to pull the railroad car overland.

The coolest part was just as we went over the top and started back down the other side...

Whew!  With only one more lock after Big Chute, the locks were behind us until Chicago, two months or so down the road.  Away go all the big ball fenders until we get there.  I have lost exact track of how many locks we have been through, but, I think it is about 75 or so since we began in May.  My only comment, and my other looper friends here agree, is that they are not nearly as difficult to negotiate as we had been forewarned.  Like my of friend Vic said all those years ago, "Just go slow...and don't yell at your first mate".

However, some of the rock lined channels were enough to scare the hell out of you.

Can't say they didn't warn us though.

The Admiral is still on her search for the perfect cottage.  I think this one is in the running.

We entered beautiful Georgian Bay (North side of Lake Huron) at Port Severn.  Canada keeps getting more and more beautiful as we go. 

I think we will see a lot of these islands.  There are 30,000 islands in Georgian Bay!

And although we haven't yet seen a real moose, this fake one was pretty surprising at this point.

I don't tell me???

 Lastly, we must have 50 assorted pictures of Adirondack chairs.  Only my first mate knows why.  I am including this one only to keep her happy.  She liked the fact that they were so colorful...I guess...

Now, that's the last I want to hear about it...but, I know better.

Tonight we are in the South Bay Cove Marina near Honey Harbor, Ontario.  It is a first rate facility with what is supposed to be an excellent steak house restaurant called "The Cove".  Dinner planned tonight there with the crew of the other three boats.  But first, laundry, boat chores, this blog, and, oh yeah, a nap...

Life is Good and Boating is Fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nail Biters in Canada...and in Germany

We had a nice stay in the little town of Bobcaygeon.  There were some great little shops, so the Admiral and the rest of the ladies got at least a short term shopping fix.  Also, Mrs. Howell found a nail parlor about two blocks from the harbor. 

Thanks for squeezing me in, Betty

My bride put this hat on in the store and asked me what I thought.  I said she looked like the Cat in the Hat!  I think I am sleeping alone tonight.

We ate lunch Wednesday at the Lock 32 Pub and watched the USA defeat France 3-1 in the Women's World Cup semi-final.  Now, I know I am biased, but our pal Megan sat out the first half and part of the second.  When she entered the game it was tied 1-1 and France was pressing.  The entire flow of the game changed when she got on the field.  Within a few minutes it was 3-1 USA.  Megan hit a neat tap off the outside of her foot right into the path of Alex Morgan who made a sweet little chip shot over the goalie for a score.  So, I believe that gives Meggie one goal and two assists in the cup so far, and that's coming in each game off the bench.  Wonder what she would have if she were starting and getting more minutes?  Hmmmm.  Anyway, the FINALS are Sunday against Japan.  We will not miss them!  Tear it up, Megan!

We left Bobcaygeon along with Moonstruck and Jolly Tolly Thursday morning.  By 3:30PM we had only gone about 30 miles and through about 5 locks.  There was a lot of traffic at the locks, and much of what we had to cruise through were 5 MPH canals on the Trent Severn.  These were really scary.  They were as narrow as, and maybe even shallower than what we had encountered in the Dismal Swamp in North Carolina and Virginia.  But, while the Dismal was a soft bottom, this bottom, along with the sides of the channel, are all rock.  A boater's nightmare.  There were times when my depth guage showed less than one foot under our boat!  We actually began to breathe easier when we'd get anything over 2 feet!  No thumps today though. 

That is point 8 feet, not 8 feet

We entered the lift lock at Kirkfield and it was a thrill.  It was very similar to the one we had gone up with Carrie's dad, except this time we were headed down.  Driving the boat out onto that suspended "pan" of water 45' in the air was a very strange feeling.  Kind of like driving your car right up to the edge of a cliff!  Again, I hope the pictures do this justice.

The bow of Once Around almost hangs over the edge!

The bottom of the lock, where we spent the night, aka, "Margaritaville".

This is looking forward in the Trent Canal, not much perspective...

...looking back at Jolly Tolly following us.  They are similar in size to us.

Miles and miles of white knuckled piloting through these shallow rocky canals can take it out of you.  We had planned to go another ten miles or so, but pulled over exhausted and tied for the night to the lower lock wall.  It was at this point we broke out Frank's special Margaritas (see previous post).

So, this morning there were a few very slow moving loopers, but we managed to get under way by 7:30 or so.  Since we were now travelling downstream, the marker bouys would be on the opposite side.  No longer red-right-returning, red would now be on our port (left) side, with green to starboard.  After my little brush with the bottom in Hastings, my Admiral was unsure that I could keep this straight, so she worked out a little code system that even I can't fail to see using the tools at hand:

Note the red and green marker pens taped to the side of my chart plotter.

We had another serious amount of canal to cover, several more "regular" locks, and a lake crossing at Lake Simcoe.  Lake Simcoe is a pretty good sized lake, and reportedly high winds can whip up up to eight foot seas at times.  Once again, we had a gorgeous Canadian summer day with water on which you would have loved to water ski.  Next some more "skinny" water, (that's boater talk for shallow, narrow and scarey as hell) and across a small lake to the town of Orillia.

Tightly packed locks again all day today.

This photo of Carrie was taken from the boat in front of us in the lock.  That's how close we were, actually hanging over their cockpit.

This bridge, called "Hole in the Wall Bridge", was constructed in 1905.

We did pass through some beautiful rural areas.

This one's for Carole.

I got to play electrician some more, helping with a minor problem on Moonstruck's connection and finding an adaptor I had in my storage room that got Jolly Tolly powered up.  I told both of them what my service rates are and they both answered, "Bill me".  The three of us are planning to spend three nights here and take some time to smell the roses.  Blue Highways is also here, and the eight of us are headed into town for dinner, followed by a "Full Moon" party on the flybridge of Moonstruck.  Everybody is supposed to bring music about the moon.  Ron says he has some North Carolina moon song he's going to sing.  I think the boats around us may be calling our "full moon" party a "howl at the moon" party before it is over.

We also heard there is some kind of a "Scottish Games Festival" going on here in Orillia all weekend.  Should be fun.  I'm gonna go see if I can buy me one of those plaid skirts!

PS  OK, maybe I am not so biased about Megan.  The New York Times agrees with me (and that's the only thing the Times and I have agreed on in years!).  Carrie just returned from town with a copy of Thursday's Times.  There is a picture (ON THE FRONT PAGE) of her jumping on top of her teammates in celebration. 

Under it is the caption:  "One Win to GoMegan Rapinoe, top, sparked the US to a 3-1 win over France in the World Cup."  The article in the sports section is all about how Megan has brought the energy to win the last two games.  WOW!!!  Attagirl Meggie!