The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

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

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!

1 comment:

  1. Hi to Carrie! Just love your blog! Now, it's rocks instead of locks! Wasn't the Big Chute something? And, we could have stayed at South Bay Cove forever. Did you try the onion soup?...We are in Brit on the Byng Inlet at Wright's Marina; a good repair marina. Lady Jayne is ahead of us and Last Dance is behind us. NOVA, a Looper from Martha's Vineyard was towed into the marina with engine problems. The engine has been fixed, and, if we leave today, we'll buddy with them. The thought was an anchorage halfway to Killarney, but the wind is supposed to pick up, so plans are still up in the air. The Captains are planning at this moment. Are you planning to go to the rendezvous at Penetang? We are almost to the North Channel, which the locals say is even more beautiful. Tell Carrie I have several cottages picked out; I'd go for living on an island....Safe travel...hope to see you, somewhere...Ginny on the Free To B