Start: Lakeshore Road Swing Bridge/Entrance to Lake Simcoe, ON 0545/1005
End: Top Lock 42, Couchiching, ON Canada, 1615
Total Distance: 23.6 nm
Average Speed: 3.9
Number of Locks: 0
Number of dog treats: One. Got on at lock 41 even though we didn’t lock through!
Delays. We hate delays. Or we used to hate delays. On this day we were digging the delays.
Our day started early. Our mission for the day was to cross Lake Simcoe; about 11 miles across a very large body of water before we get into Lake Couchiching and back into
smaller waterways. There were warning messages all over the place about crossing Lake Simcoe, from messages to mariners on our maps, to a sign at the exit of the Trent Severn Waterway. Apparently Lake Simcoe can get quite exciting when there are storms/weather or hight winds. Like eight foot wave exciting. We are within a week of getting our mast back up where it should be on our boat, so we are extremely risk averse. We have all the time in the world to get across this lake safely. All this was running through my mind as I rolled out of bed at 0430 to take Lucky out for his morning constitutional and to take a look at the lake. The forecast was for winds from Southwest at 12mph decreasing by 6am to 6mph. The reality was that the winds had not yet died down and it was more westerly, so we were going to be fighting it (and the waves) for an hour or so before heading NW to the exit of Lake Simcoe. Jan was up at 0515, we both checked out the water and decided to push out into the lake and see if actual conditions were better than they looked.
At 0545 we puttered out, following Endeavor. And twenty-five minutes later we were back, tied up at the wall. The conditions were too tough for us, though Endeavor pressed on. To overcome our trauma, Jan and I immediately crawled into bed to take a nap. Or more like get a second night of sleep. We awoke at 10am. Guess we needed some sleep!
We woke and had a couple of text messages from Don saying that once he got about half way through the lake, the conditions improved. We walked out to the edge of the lake and the waves seemed to have died down and the wind, while still blowing, was not as hard as earlier. We decided to head back out.
Bottom line from our second venture was that the conditions were good enough. We left at 1005 and were at the exit of Lake Simcoe by 1230ish. The exit where Lake Simcoe meets Lake Couchiching (or lake Chimichanga as we have started calling it) and it is a narrow channel that passes under a highway bridge and through a swing railroad bridge. The current is pretty fast, and the canal very narrow. And at 1230 on a sunny(ish) Sunday on the day after Canada’s 150th birthday, both lakes are PACKED with boats with all of them transiting the canal.
I’d like to say that I handled the stress of power boats zooming at me like we are playing a sick game of maritime chicken. That I saw boats two or three wide in the channel that left us no maneuver room and calmly accepted what was happening. But I didn’t. I lost my crap screaming not nice words at people that (in my mind) were somehow driving their boats with their heads planted in their rear ends. I owe AJ about $20 in profanity fines, but we made it through without any major accidents/incidents.
Into lake Couchiching and rain started up to make our hour trek a wet one. But we are used to it. At the far end, we got back into a canal, but as we started got a call from the captain of the Karawatha Voyager who was transiting the canal who asked if we could hold until he got out. The Voyager is a very long, wide cruise ship that we had met four days ago on the way up and she was on her way back with her cargo of grey haired adventurers. We gladly puttered outside the canal until she cleared and then continued on our journey.
For 15 minutes. Which is as long as it took to get to a railroad bridge with a 14 foot clearance. Which is 6 inches too short for the mast laying on our boat. We stopped in the middle of the channel and talked to the bridge operator; they were waiting on a train that was already supposed to have arrived but had not yet. We pulled off to the side and took the opportunity to swim and play AJ’s new game he got for his birthday: X-Wing miniatures. We are digging these delays!! After an hour the train finally passed, we got an up close look at how a swing bridge works and we were on our way.
It was only another 10 minutes to the lock 41 where we ‘pulled in’ behind Endeavor for the night. ‘Pulled in’ means that I totally dorked up the landing. We were pulling in between two boats; Don and Peg were there to catch our lines. I got the nose in to the wall but with out enough force to keep the back end in line and a following wind pushed our rear end into the channel. In the middle of a very busy lock channel on a Sunday when all of Canada was trying to get home. By the time we got tied up to the lock there were about 200 people pulling on our lines to get our boat onto the wall. Which is a lot of beer/wine I owe some very nice people.
This is a extremely quiet lock (once all the transient boats left). It has a shower (bonus) and the boats that are staying the night have great people.