Mackinaw City August 28-29

Saturday was a nice day to go across the water from Mackinac Island to Mackinaw City. The Ferry did cause a little rocking on the short trip (7 miles) to the mainland.

Once in Mackinaw City we did a walk around and found some history about the city, an arts and crafts outdoor market, and some shops.

One very interesting place was an indoor Italian restaurant decorated with a bunch of taxidermy. They also had beer and wine tasting.

We had dinner at this great bar called the Key — there must have been 10,000 keys all over this place. We met a couple of guys at dinner from Jamaica, and Larry showed them all his bar tricks.

The next day, we took a long walk out of town to check out a nearby walking trail — well it was about 4 miles out of town so ended up being 8 miles walking round trip. On the way to the park, we ran across the Heritage Village — a historic outdoor museum town — it was very interesting and we got there just as the sky opened up and poured the rain down on us. Luckily we got under this Welcome Center and Store building and the rain didn’t last too long. There was a 1922 pickup and a 19 10 metered gas pump inside the store building.

There was one quarantine building — they called this the Pest House. Interesting how things back then seem way too familiar to what is happening today with COVID.

We continued on to the trail at the Headlands – International Dark Sky Park. It had cooled off from the rain, so we stayed on the roadway since all the trails were muddy. There was an interesting audio program that we listened to about the constellations as we walked to the stargazing building.

We were quite tired after the 8 miles so stopped to have a cold one before retiring back to the boat for the night.

Mackinac Island, Michigan August 25-27

After getting our US Customs clearance to come back into the US, we left Canada early at 5 AM in the moonlight for the US. Our first stop was Mackinac Island in Michigan.

The Marina at Mackinac Island was nice and central to town and Marquette Park where there was a live concert one night.

We saw a small version of the statue of liberty donated by the Boy Scouts of America —

Seems that there are 200 of these around that the Boy Scouts donated between 1949 – 1952.

Mackinac Island has a downtown lined with bicycles — since there are no cars allowed on the island – only horse and buggy or bikes.

We had dinner at the Pink Pony overlooking the hotel pool and marina and the Ferry back to Mackinaw City from the island.

We rented bicycles and rode around part of the island. There were a lot of hills, so it was easy to get tired.

Fort Mackinac was high above the park overlooking the Marina. We spent some time there and watched the cannon firing demonstration. There were several things to see in the fort – a school, barracks, infirmary, etc. After a long day of touring around we had docktails on the dock with a few other boats doing the great loop.

The last day on Mackinac Island was stormy, with a high of only 62 degrees and 30 MPH winds all day and night. It was probably the worst weather we have had on the Great Loop. It was too windy and the lake was reported to have 6 foot waves so we opted to stay on the island one more day and wait for good weather to head to Mackinaw City.

Georgian Bay – Wrights Marina, Little Current City Docks and Blind River Marina in Ontario August 22-24th

We left Midland early – around 7 AM and headed into the Georgian Bay. The weather for the next few days was going to be great so we opted to go into the main bay instead of through the 30 thousand islands. We ran across one of our buddy boats, Aquaholic, who was heading the same direction. We both were going 8 mph, just enjoying the calm waters. Along the way, we thought we would blow a little soot out of our turbo chargers as we had been experiencing some chugging of the engine at times — like it wasn’t getting enough fuel. After a few minutes, our engines both quit and we were adrift in the Georgian Bay. Our buddy boat was checking with us and helped us trouble shoot the problem being fuel filters that had clogged. Luckily we had a new set of fuel filters on the boat, so once we changed those, we were back in business and underway once again.

We found the day so calm that we decided to move a little farther to where another buddy boat was – “What a Day”. They had opted to stay at Wright’s Marina in Britt, Ontario, so both us and Aquaholic decided to go there too. This was fun as we all went to a burger and ice cream joint for dinner, then played dice games until looper mid-night.

We left Wright’s Marina at 7:30 AM and headed out to the Georgian Bay — we intended to go as far as Killaney — but again, it was a fairly nice day on the water.

As we had an early start, we decided to continue on to Little Current Town Docks for the night — they also had power and water and moved us a little further along.

At Little Current Town Docks, we met some very nice Canadian Loopers, who wanted to come to America to continue their Great American Loop, unfortunately, the US Border was not open to Canadians. They could fly into America, but could not boat over. Seems dumb.

Our next stop was Blind River — This was a very small marina about 1 mile from town.

We took a walk downtown. Many places were closed and it was quite a sleepy little town.

Lauderdale Resort and Marina, Sparrow Lake August 20, then Midland, Ontario August 21

We left Port of Orillia the next morning with the goal to get to Port of Trent Severn to meet up again with Don and Leslie. The first obstacle was a railroad swing bridge that only opened starting at 9 AM. We refueled before arriving at this swing bridge at around 9:20 AM, just in time for the swing bridge to open. We were behind 3 other boats also waiting for swing bridge to open. Upon arriving at the first lock (Couchiching – just a little past the swing bridge) the Lockmaster told us that Swift Rapids Lock (next lock) was closed for maintenance and that we could stay at his lock wall for free but not to go onto the next lock. We had lunch on the Couchiching lock wall then started looking for a marina before Swift Rapids lock.

We found one marina just at the entrance of Sparrow Lake called Lauderdale Resort and Marina. We decided to go there for power and water since it was early and a hot day.

After getting tied up at the marina, we spent the afternoon catching up on laundry then had a nice dinner at their on-site grill — we sat at TABLE 8!! Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Don and Leslie, but postponed our visit with them for 1 more day.

The next morning we headed out early to get to Swift Rapids lock when they opened at 9AM.

Swift Lock is the deepest single chambered lock on the Waterway at 47 feet high.

After Swift Lock and the delay from the previous day, we decided to push past Port Severn to go all the way through the final 2 locks (Big Chute Marine Railway and Port Severn) and onto Midland, Ontario across the Severn Waterway and Midland Bay. There were lost of beautiful places and sculptures to see on the waterway.

Some places had their swim slide just outside on the water, and some places were the only house on a small island…

We also went over the Big Chute — a railway lift that takes you over the roadway and drops you off in water on the other side.

Big Chute coming down with boaters from the other side
Our boat entering the Big Chute – straps ready to pick us up

After arriving at Bay Port Yachting Center in Midland, Don and Leslie picked us up for dinner at a great little woodfired pizza joint, Dillons. We learned that Leslie and Don knew alot about Midland, Leslie’s family used to own a summer cottage here and so they were quite familiar with this area and Orillia and Port Severn. We had a second great evening with them here in Midland — both parties agreed we needed to get together back in Bradenton when we are all back there.

Port of Orillia – August 19

We finally made it to Port of Orillia, Ontario. We had been working to get here for a couple of days, but due to lock issues, we were delayed. It was good to be here.

We did a quick walk around town and of course found an Irish Pub for some refreshment and snack.

That evening, we were picked up by our friends from Tara Golf and Country Club, Don McIntyre and Leslie Bailey, who took us in Leslie’s new convertible BMW to the country club in Orillia where they were members – Braestone.

They treated us to a great dinner, and we had a lot of fun talking with them!

After dinner, Larry and Mary walked to the Couchiching Beach park near the marina to see the Champlain Monument — considered the one of the finest bronze statues in North America.

Unfortunately the monument was not there…

Bobcageon to Thorah Lock 40 August 18th

The 18th was another many lock day. We started at Bobcaygeon (Lock 32), went thorough Fenelon Falls — which was a beautiful place and looked like a nice stop — but we pushed on…

We had to go through a narrow canal/river on our way to Kirkfield Lift Lock — and had to wait for a houseboat to come through — not wide enough for both of us.

Then we passed through a very narrow channel that was surrounded by lots of shallow water on our way to Kirkfield = another hydraulic lift — it was fun!

We had to stop for the night at Thorah Lock — as the next lock would be closed before we got there. Thorah was another very nice lock wall — again with no power, but we had the whole place to ourselves. The lock was surrounded by farmland, so it was a very quiet night.

Many of the locks on the Trent-Severn Waterway were manually operated by the lock operators. Depending on the height of the water in the lock, there could be 10 or more turns of the wheel to open the lock doors.

Lakefield to Bobcaygeon August 16-17

After a full day of going through Locks on the Trent Severn Waterway, we stopped overnight at the Lakefield Lock Wall to spend the night — no water or power, but luckily it was a cool night. The locks were slow so we didn’t make it to our planned marina. Lakefield was a nice place — we got off the boat and took a walk around town to see the sights and go to the local Canadian Post to mail a couple birthday cards.

We had Taco Tuesday at Henry’s Bar, the local Lakefield pub and eatery.

The next day we were off doing some more locks. We went from Lakefield to Bobcaygeon.

We stopped at Bobcaygeon because we were having an engine issue with overheating. Found out there are no mechanics really on the Trent Severn Waterway near us, but luckily another boat who we followed through locks that day had their son aboard who is a diesel mechanic — Thank the Lord! He made the comment that it looked/sounded like a fuel issue, and we also found that the new fresh water hose had come unattached. After getting the hose fixed, and replacing a generator battery (because our overnight on the lock wall found we had a dead one), we were good to go the next day.

There was a cute little downtown at the Bobcaygeon Lock — wish we had more time to take a look around, but we left when the lock opened at 9 AM.

Peterborough Marina and the Famous Peterborough Lift Lock August 15-16th

We headed to Peterborough Marina, in Ontario and after a long 8 hour day and 40 miles, we cleaned up the boat then strolled around town to find an Irish pub, McThirsty’s Pint Larry had a Moosehead beer — Canada’s Oldest Independent Brewery. We headed back to the boat and had some great Indian Food at a local place near the marina.

The next morning we set out early at 8 AM to be at the first lock in Ashburnham, but several other boaters had the same idea, so we had to wait to lock through about 30 minutes.

The Peterborough Lift lock lifts boats 65 feet high in the worlds tallest lift lock. Boats enter the “Pan” and the weight of the boats displace the water. Then the lock doors are closed and another 1 foot of water is added to the upper lock, which adds roughly 700 tons to the weight of the upper pan and makes the two pans shift up / down in relation to the other. The lock movement took just a minute or two — it was a very quick 65 feet! The museum for this famous lift lock was closed due to COVID.

Hastings Marina at Lock #18 August 14th

We spent the night at Hastings Marina, just past the Hastings Lock #18. It was a cute marina, just on the waterway, within walking distance of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church where we walked to for Saturday night service. After church we went to get appetizers at the local restaurant McGillicafey’s Pub and Eatery and then for ice cream right near the marina before turning in for the night. We planned to leave early the next morning so this was just a quick stop.

Going through the Trent Severn Waterway – Day 1 to Campbellford

The first day on the Trent river was very scenic. There were several houses or “cottages” along the river and the park service had some glamping cottages as well that they rent out.

We went through several locks and a few swing bridges.

Campbellford, Ontario was a quaint small town and nice stop. We arrived in the pouring down rain. Our Looper friends on the boat “Wanderer” were tied up to the wall and they jumped off to help us tie up in front of them.

We walked across the Trent River to check in at the Municipal Park office and pay for our stay.

In the park there was a large “Toonie” – the two dollar Canadian coin — because the coin’s designer home town was Campbellford. This little town even had a working telephone booth!

We ducked in from the rain and had dinner at a local restaurant / bar before heading back to the boat for the night.

The next morning we went exploring around Campbellford before leaving. They had a small Farmers Market and a nice trail along the Trent river

We walked on the trail to the suspension bridge and back up to the Ranney Falls Double-lift Lock 11/12.

We went to Dooher’s Bakery to get some fresh bread, donuts and more Butter Tarts — this was a popular bakery, with the line around the corner. Took about 30 minutes in line (nothing like that time I stood in line for the “Cake Boss” bakery in Hoboken, NJ).

The World’s Finest Chocolate factory was also in Campbellford. Larry went chocolate shopping while Mary waited in the Bakery line at Dooher’s. Larry must have liked the chocolate store, since he came back with a large bag assortment… 🙂