“I’ve giv’n her all she’s got captain, an’ I canna give her no more.”
–Montgomery “Scotty” Scott in many episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series
Start: Lock 24, Douire, Trent Severn Waterway, 0858
End: Lock 31, Buckhorn, ON, Lock 31 (topside), 1524
Total Distance: 21.5 nm
Average Speed: 3.3
Number of Locks: 6 (25-31, but there is no 29)
Number of dog treats: 0. Lucky has taken to jumping on the lock to get attention.
There are many type of boats out here on the water with us every day. Jet skis buzz around us like (very fast) flies. Fishermen scream by at warp speed, pull up in front of us, stop dead, turn on the trolling mother and then putter along trying to catch fish. Speed boats barrel by us on their way to the next party. Trawlers, enormous luxury condos on the water, throw up a wake and try to swamp us as they pass. House boats, we have heard, will make an appearance soon. And sail boats. On this part of the water with their masts down. Moving slowly, yet majestically, amongst all the other craft. We, obviously, are on the sailboat.
Our maximum speed using only the engines (as we are doing now and will continue to do for a majority of the great loop) is around 6.5 mph. That is with engines at 70-80% power, no wind, flat water, thinking good thoughts and Lucky breaking wind. That doesn’t sound fast: It isn’t. But we aren’t in a hurry so we don’t (for the most part) mind.
There are lots of caveats to our max speed. Which I was thinking about today as I was sitting making one mph fighting up the Otanabee river on the Trent Severn Waterway.
Why were we going so slow?
Let’s do some basic math:
Max speed: 6.5 mph
Effective speed is our max speed with adjustments (up or down) based on some (though not all) of the following:
Current: Is there a current and if so, is it helping our hurting us. We are on the Trent section of the TSW and ever since Rice Lake, we have been running up the Otanabee river. Because of all the rain (the incessant rain), the river is running very strong and
there are high current messages out advising mariners (and us) to be careful. We are going against the current and have been since Trenton. And will continue to do so until Balsam Lake. But this portion of the river is especially wicked with the maker buoys being under water at times, knocked over by the current. It is a pretty straight forward relationship–current of 2mph knocks off 2mph from the max speed. Today, based on the bobbing markers and using my finely calibrated eye, we were seeing 3mph of current. So our theoretical max of 6.5 mph is now adjusted to a max of 3.5 mph after subtracting current.
Wind: Our boat is by no means the largest on the water. We are relatively low, but we are beamy (nice word for wide), we have two keels and we have a enclosed cockpit, all of which can and do catch the wind. Sometimes to our detriment.
For example, four days ago we were coming into a lock with a dam on our left (port side). The current was pushing us to the right (starboard). The wind was from the opposite side (starboard). Which was good as long as I kept the boat pointing between the two. But of course, the lock door was closed, it was a short chute, and we needed to tie up to the only available spot on the right wall. So I turned to boat to the right, the wind caught the front the current caught the back and before you could say ‘insurance claim’ we were sideways in the channel. It was sunny, it was a Sunday, and the locks all have parks that are full of people fishing, eating picnics and watching the dipstick with his boat sideways in the lock channel. Love the Audience. We don’t like wind.
Back to the main story
The impact to wind on our boat when we are motoring along isn’t quite as significant as current (1:1) but it still slows us down, or speeds us up depending on which way it it pushing. Light winds have very little effect, moderate can push us .4-.5 mph either way and severe winds can knock a full mph off our top speed. The prevailing winds here are from the west and we travel mostly west. Life is unfairly. Today we had moderate winds, so it took off about .7mph.
Weeds. I’m going into business harvesting seaweed from these lakes and selling them as a nutritional supplement. I’d be rich. From Trenton where our slip was filled with seaweed to the point our air conditioner crapped the bed because of the darn things sucked into the intake, to the Petersborough lift lock, where the channel was choked with the things, we have had to deal with seaweed whenever the water is below six feet. Not a big deal. We thought. Then we noticed that when we passed through a bed of seaweed, out forward progress slowed, our engines emitted a God-awful choking sound and our wheel had to be turned about 90 degrees to the left to keep us going in a straight line. Jan had the lightbulb come on first (because she is both the brains and the beauty in this operation), opened up one of the engine hatches and saw about a ton of seaweed surrounding our engine. I lifted the engine and cleared as much as I could, then did the same to the other and we picked up speed, but not as much as before the weedbed. And we still had issues with the steering. The day was spent clearing seaweed. When we stopped for the night, I hopped in the water and found a ton of seaweed wrapped around the runners on both side which was causing the drag and pulling of the rudders. Weeds in rudder subtracts about 1/3 mph. Weeds around engines subtracts up to 1 knot per engine until they are cleaned.
Butter Tart/Poutine/ice cream effect. This boat is loaded down. We have all our
worldly possessions (that we didn’t sell, give away or store) on our boat. Food, water, fuel, dog, cat, xbox, tv, etc. That all increases drag. But the farther north we go, the more rich the food has become and the wider my ass is growing, further increasing drag. I’ve talked about the beauty of poutine. And ice cream is everywhere up here and we get a cup daily. And two days ago we had our first butter tart.
Not exactly sure what a butter tart is made of. It is a tart. A pastry made into a cup in the middle of which is a brownish substance. Made of, one assumes, butter. And perhaps sugar. They also come with raisins (presumably to keep one regular) and pecans (for those on a protein rich diet). And they are fantastic. Heard of these things before we got into Canada and forgot about them until yesterday when AJ and I scored one at a local bakery. And we aren’t going to miss too many more opportunities.
Back to the main topic
So calories in have increased while calories out (i.e. Exercise) has remained the same or decreased. Think when we started we had taken .2 mph off our top speed, by by now we are up to .4. And trending the wrong way.
To put in an equation:
Speed Effective = Speed Max + Current + Wind – Weeds Rudder – Weeds Around Motor – Weight Factor Butter Tarts
And for today, it equals 6.5 – (3 Current) – (.7 wind) – (.3 weeds around rudders) – (. 4 butter tart effect)
Which is 2.1 mph to the good. Which gives all of us plenty of time to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. And wave at the kayakers as they overtake and pass us on the river.
At lock 21 we passed formally into the Karawatha Lakes region, but up to lock 27, it was mostly river with some lakes. After lock 27, it flips and we are entering long, skinny lakes with fewer locks, and consequently less time fighting the current. It is still there, just spread out over a much larger area so we don’t feel it as much. And the lakes are gorgeous. We went through Clear Lake and into Lower Buckhorn Lake with both of which had lots of rock island onto which are built cabins ranging in size from one bedroom to huge houses that take up the space of the entire island. Boating is more interesting–or at least we have to pay a lot more attention to the maps to make sure we don’t run into hidden shallows. Because the shallows here aren’t mud, they are rock. And they will leave a substantial mark upon the boat. The water is clear and getting more so. And the mosquitoes, ever present, have increased in size as we have moved north. Jan saw one yesterday that was the size of a small unladen swallow.
We were also introduced to the aquatic species know as the ‘houseboat.’ Our introduction was outside a lock where we were tied up when one of the exotic ‘houseboats’ tried to put his blue plastic waterslide through our starboard side. I think they thought that it would be a lovely addition to our cat. And AJ was all in. But we had to push them off a bit and leave our boat as is. We have three more days with the ‘houseboats’ and then we will pass out of their migratory path.