After years sailing the Caribbean we traded our Tayana 37 for an Island Gypsy to explore The Loop

The Trent-Severn Canal

28 July 2019
Janice Nagle
Every day is a new kind of wonderful! Visiting cute towns, meeting new people, experiencing incredible locks. It really is such an amazing adventure.

I've mentioned it before and will say it again - We are so fortunate to be Land and Sea Nomads!

This leg of the adventure was the Trent-Severn Waterway. 241 miles long and 42 locks. Completed in 1920, this series of man made canals interlocks rivers and lakes in a zig zag pattern, connecting Lake Ontario to Lake Huron. The canal allows Loopers to stay off the big waters and cruise in more protected areas while enjoying interesting small towns along the way. Many of the locks are still manual hand crank mechanisms and there are a few quite unique locks in the mix. Because we took the longer Lake Champlain route we had already traversed many canals and 78 locks. For most Loopers this is the first Parks Canada canal system. The locks on this canal raised us from 244' above sea level to 841' at Balsam Lake. Kirkfield lift lock is the starting point for lowering traffic down to 578' to enter Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.

There were many wonderful stops and much docktail imbibing but two highlights stand out on this route. First was the Peterborough lift lock, the highest of its kind in the world. Most locks flood or drain water to adjust the level to match the waters in the direction you are traveling but this lock is unique. You drive into a tub and a swing gate seals the water in so that the tub with you in it goes up like an elevator car! After we rode up we tied to the wall at the top and had a tour of the control room and watched other boaters ride up, it was just amazing. The other very famous highlight was the Big Chute Marine Railway. We literally drove up onto a submerged rail car and were lifted slightly with a sling. This rail car then rode up out of the water, across a road and then down a hill. When we were back in water 58 feet lower on the other side, the sling straps loosened and we drove away. Truely a once in a lifetime experience.

We are still traveling with Bella Gatto and at a leisurely pace. Jayne, Jonathan and dog Bella are perfect buddy boat pals. With a similar speed and size, our slow moving routine had us moving early and enjoying small towns or quiet anchorages most afternoons. 13 days averaging less than 20 miles a day, we lunched at small diners, sampled the famed Butter Tarts, and had our fill of Poutine. There are those that do the loop in a few months but this is how cruisers should experience this amazing adventure.

This weekend will be spent at a marina cleaning and loading up on provisions before we start our tour of Georgian Bay and the North Channel. It seams like forever ago that we were planning this trip and the Great Lakes seamed so far off but here we are! Time for another celebratory drink.

So far we have gone 3773 nautical miles (4288 statute miles) and 120 locks on this wild and wonderful LOOP of ours.

Ontario and the Rideau Canal

10 July 2019
Janice Nagle
The approach to Ottowa by boat is mighty impressive. Parliament and Chateau Laurier dominate the skyline while the The Flight Of Eight appears as a grand staircase. These step locks lifted us up 79 feet to the heart of Ottowa and is the entrance to the Rideau Canal. Once at the top boats line the canal walls and have easy access to sightseeing and markets. The process took us 2 hours and celebratory blender drinks were whipped up as soon as we were secured and connected to power. This day was the hottest day we had encountered this season, made hotter by the environment of the locks and big city buildings. Once the air conditioning was humming and we had that frothy rum drink in our hands we were able to appreciate that we only had to maneuver the boat and hold mooring lines while the college students on their summer jobs were hand cranking every lock.

Ottowa is the capital of Canada and our arrival was just after the national holiday, the city was still bustling with tourists. The stunning historic buildings of Parliament Hill are over a century old and undergoing a multi year refurbishment. Our visit to Notre Dame Basilica was one of the high points, several decades older than the parliament, the exterior is stately but it is the interior that really takes your breath away. The oldest and largest basilica in Ontario, it is brightly painted, has ornate stained glass and hundreds of statues. We happened upon visiting during organ practice and the sound was heavenly.

Built in 1832, the Rideau Canal is 126 miles long, and has 47 total locks (we transverse 45), almost all of which are hand still cranked. A UNESCO World Heritage Site! Our leisurely pace took us through small towns and amazing scenery. Numerous option for overnight docking at the locks and several had power available to run the welcome air conditioning. Hot days cooling off at nights make perfect boating weather!

So there is this thing in on Ontario called a Butter Tart. They even have a Butter Tart Festival and bakers vie for the best tart award. Completely absent in Quebec, the second we entered Ontario there they were. Butter Tarts! My first experience was sickly sweet, runny and a mediocre crust. I didn't get loopers obsession with these little pies. However, on one of our lunch stops on the Rideau there was a visitors center that sold butter tarts from an award winning bakery in town. Now this was a tart I could appreciate. Flaky crust held a perfect balance of sweetness and flavor. Think pecan pie and you would be in the general area but not quite there yet...

Those that read my posts will know that I am a huge fan of the United States National Park System. I must say however that Canada's parks are incredible as well! The use of all of these locks and docks to moor to overnight were well worth the price of the season passes we purchased.

Everyone has been wonderful, everyday has been wonderful, even the rainy days are wonderful.
What a life!

Vessel Name: Nomadic Spirit
Vessel Make/Model: 32' Island Gypsy & 36' Monaco
Crew: Janice & Steve
This adventure began in October of 2007 when Steve came to look at a boat that Janice had for sale on Craig's List. Steve wanted to learn how to sail and Janice needed a new kitchen. [...]
FAVORITE QUOTES: 'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do then by the ones you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' Mark Twain 'We went cruising not to [...]
Nomadic Spirit's Photos - Virgin Islands
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Added 18 March 2011
'You're lucky if YOUR LOVE loves what you love the best' Eileen Quinn