Since the locks open at 9 and we stayed on top of lock 38, we started later than usual today. We passed through locks 38 through 41, altogether covering only 2 ½ miles, after which we entered Lake Simcoe. We have been locking down since the Kirkfield lift lock (36), so our highest navigation was between locks 35 and 36 in Balsam Lake at 841 feet. We locked up from Lake Ontario at 243 feet. We’ll go back down to the Georgian Bay, part of Lake Huron at 581 feet.
Simcoe is the largest lake on the Trent-Severn system, about 15 miles across in any direction. It can get pretty rough, and several boaters we met in the last few days said winds on Simcoe were expected to pick up this afternoon.
Some were waiting to go later, but we got through the four locks by about noon and decided to plunge onward. The winds were blowing around 15 mph as we got out on the lake, and seemed to pick up a bit in the hour and a half as we crossed, but the wave height never did seem to get very high. I thought it was 1 ½ feet. Sue, down below thought about 3 feet with water sometime splashing to the tops of the salon windows. Anyway the depth was good and we crossed without incident.
We entered the harbor at the north end and went on maybe a half mile to Bridge Port Marina to pump out. The channel narrows down there and Active Captain, which I was looking at more since the narrow channel experience, said the currents past this marina can be more than 10 knots, around the top speed of Star Gazer. This only happens when rains hit Simcoe, however.
I angled strongly into the dock and used the thruster and engines, and just kept sailing on past! Turns out the current, while no 10 knots, was still pretty strong today. The channel seemed wide enough to take our length, so I opposed the engines and applied a lot of power to turn in a hurry, gave a strong push to get momentum straight into the dock and then used more power to turn another 90 degrees to hit the dock sideways. There were plenty of dockhands to catch our lines, and plenty of us on board to throw them, so we got into the dock in a hurry that time.
We did the necessaries and had several dockhands brace our starboard back corner, let the current help turn the boat back around, and we were off into the much smaller Lake Couchiching. A hard left turn and two more miles and we arrived at Port of Orillia Marina in downtown Orillia, thankfully well out of all that current.
One day is enough to finish the Trent-Severn, including the Big Chute marine railway, and reach Georgian Bay. We’ll stay here at least another day to learn a bit more about where we will be going.