Today was our first day on the Trent-Severn Waterway and (spoiler alert) it is fantastic!
Start: Trent Port Marina, Tenton, Ontario, Canada, 0925
End: Lock 6 West Wall, Frankford, Ontario, Canada
Total Distance: A whopping 6.4 miles
Average Speed: 1.8 kts
Number of Locks: 6 (1-6)
Number of dog treats: 9
We get to sleep in this morning since the locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway don’t open until 10am. And the first lock is about 20 minutes (slow sailboat speed) from our marina. It rained most of the night and the morning is cloudy with the rain still falling on our heads. But the forecast is for clearing skies later in the morning, so we decide to push off. Which we do at 0920.
First stop is to take on fuel and to take off waste. We take on 24 gallons of fuel at a cost of $123.00, which is over $5/gallon and that leaves a mark. The only saving grace is that we are not a power boat that can take on hundreds of gallons of gas!
Then we are off. We cross under the bridge that marks the official beginning of the waterway and I call on the radio to the lock; this is the one and only time we will use the radio to contact a lock. All the other locks will be contacted by the previous lock via phone to let them know we are coming through. Or, if it is first thing in the morning, they will look at their walls and see who is tied up to the part of the wall painted blue. If you are tied there, you want to go through the lock.
By the time we get to the lock it is ready and we get in and grab the lines along the wall. No issues. Doors shut, water begins to fill and we rise. And as our heads pop over the top, there are the two lock masters who bid us a good morning and proceed to talk to us for the next 5-10 minutes. And get Lucky dog treats. This is not the Erie Canal. Conversation finished, they mosey up to the front lock door and turn manual handles (manual handles…like they have to turn the things by hand…not push a button) to open the two doors and we are on our way.
Almost. Because we cannot have an unblemished day. As we start to leave, our boat gets pushed back into the lock wall and Murphy decreed that we would hit the wall where our fenders were not. Which means another racing strip on the boat. I need to take out some stock on a gel coat company.
Lock 2 same deal, minus the racing stripe. Door open, into the lock, up we go and as we rise, heads peer down at us and begin talking as we rise. Dog treats appear and quickly disappear down Lucky’s throat. And there seems to be a pattern. Two personnel at each lock, one older (wiser?) and one younger. The younger seem to either be designated as ‘the one to go talk’ or else they are all chatty Kathy’s (sorry all Kathy’s/Cathy’s out there). And dog treats (or two) for Lucky.
The rain has been on again/off again all morning and it is in a pattern as well…it starts as we get into the lock and all have to be on deck holding lines, and stops as the front gate opens and we get to go back under our canvas.
Lock 3 was the only outlier of the day: No dog treats. They were out. Lucky was beside himself. And it was an outlier as well for my utter boneheaded move which gets me the Donkey Head award for this week. Surprised it took until Tuesday.
In the TSW (I’m tired of typing the thing out…forgive me), once you get in a lock, you have to shut off your engines when your lines are secured. Going into Lock 3, I came in a bit hot (like 1.2 knots instead of 1.0 knots) and a bit outside. So Jan had to reach and pull. I dropped the engines into reverse to help stop the boat (per SOP). It wasn’t as smooth as normal, so I turned off the engines (I follow instructions very well) and went back outside to give Jan and AJ a hand. We rise majestically to the top; Lucky practically turns himself inside out trying to get a treat; and when we get the ‘go’ signal I turn the keys on the engines. And get nothing.
Like absolutely nothing. No spark. No turning over of engine. Nothing. I check the safety catch–they are in place. I check the batteries by raising the motors a bit; plenty of juice. But nothing. The nice lock people mosey down to see what the problem is and when we tell them we have an issue with our engine, they helpfully pull our boat out of the lock so we can tie up to the wall. And so they can also lock other boats through. Now that panic has subsided, I look up at the throttles and notice that they are still in reverse. And Yamaha (and all motor manufactures) have a neutral safety switch which won’t let you start the engines without being in neutral. Which I have discovered before. Just not in the middle of a lock. Donkey-head to Jimmy. We fire up the engines and are on the way!
Lock 5 ended up being our favorite of the day. They had Twizzlers for AJ AND dog treats for Lucky.
Tonight we are tied up just after Lock 6. This is a great place–has power, so we can work our electronics. Is by a small town along a park and people walk by all the time to chat. And the rain has stopped, the sun is out and the temperatures are in the mid-60s. It is a gorgeous night. We have some enchilada chicken in the magic one pot. AJ is deep into electronics on the iPad; Jan is reading a book, Sid is sleeping on the table and Lucky just got back from terrorizing a small Shih Tzu who had the temerity to walk on the grass by our boat. There are worse places to be right now.
Post Script: Timing is everything (or nothing)
***Danger: Poop Talk Ahead***
We live on a small boat. There just isn’t enough space for us to hide from one another. AJ and I were working on his school work when he said he had to go to the bathroom. “Knock yourself out” I said. So down he tottered, almost closed the door, grunting noises, pumping of the toilet handle. And then I hear “dad, I have a problem. The toilet is broken.” So it wasn’t broken but the switch from fill bowl to flush bowl is not working so well. We figured it out. But not five minutes after the poo incident, over walks the younger lock dude who has a key to their bathrooms in case we want to use it during the night. Five minutes.
***Poop Talk off***
*Apologies to all donkeys.