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.
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.
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.
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.
Life is Good and Boating is Fun!