A Narrowing Experience

Sue and Sharon over a box of water that is 59 feet above the water below.

Today was our first day running with Sharon and Paul. We ran 8 miles through Sturgeon Lake, looking at the varied and colorful mix of vacation lake homes and docks. We entered a narrow channel passing close to homes and groups of kids swimming in the 82 degree water to get to the lock at Fenelon falls, where we stopped for lunch yesterday.

Tessa at Centre Point marina, where we stayed in Bobcaygeon, called before we got into the lock to say we forgot our power splitter on the dock. One of her workers would drive it to us, so we rose 26 feet and then tied up on the wall past the lock. We met some other loopers staying there and had a good time waiting. The guy with our splitter showed up almost too soon, and we untied and were off to navigate around Grand Island in the middle of Balsam Lake.

After rising 26 feet, getting ready to leave lock 34 at Fenelon Falls. We tied up to wait for our splitter between the houseboat and white trawler dead ahead on the right wall. We just fit in between them.

On the other side of Balsam Lake we entered the Trent Canal, which runs straight and very narrow for two miles. Active Captain does not mark much in Canada, but I checked later and it does mark this. There was also a sign on the way in saying the same thing, so I gave a Securite call on the radio as we plunged in. I got no answer, and we met only a very small aluminum deck boat which went to the edge as we went by in the channel center.

The channel was blasted from granite. Looking down I could see the granite edge of the shallow areas before they dropped off. It was simply not wide enough to pass anyone, and just touching that edge would be bad. This was considerably worse than the Rockpile in South Carolina. Rental houseboats and others with no radios use this channel as well. If we had met someone, all we could do is come to a dead stop and hope they could do the same. Then we would have to use ropes and fenders to slide past each other very slowly, so that if we did scrape we could get only scars on the hull rather than a hole. We took this at idle speed.

In the Trent Canal. The deep part does not extend to the edge. You can see shallow granite shelves on each side.

We passed through a very tightly marked and shallow (we hit bottom once) channel in the small Mitchell Lake and then it was back into another very narrow two mile channel that ended opening out to lock 36, the Kirkfield lift lock. This time we were locking down and first in, getting a front row seat at the outer edge of the lift lock box. We quickly dropped 59 feet as the box to our right side rose the same.

Looking back as we left the Kirkfield lift lock. Daisy, behind us, is docked in front of us tonight.

After that we entered ¾ mile more of narrow blasted out channel where we finally did hear a securite call from another 50 foot boat coming the other way. I answered that and they waited while we and the boat behind us came out of the channel.

This year we lucked out and did not meet anyone. We’ll come this way next year, and I’m trying to figure out how to be more certain of securing a good passage through this area. So far no ideas.

As we passed through lock 37 we asked the lockmaster to check where we could stay. He got us a spot above the next lock, 38, where we stopped at about 3:30 for the night. We were with friends. A number of other boaters who we had met a few times already, several while waiting for that splitter, were there sitting under the trees in the park.

Swimming off of our boat at the top of lock 38.

The water was 82 degrees, so we all sat on life jackets and floated around. Paul went in last so he could take a picture. Afterwards Paul barbecued some great hamburgers.


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