Killarney (July 12-14)

We were happy to pull out of Killbear and be on our way.  Not knowing what to expect in Killarney, it turned out to be one of our favorite stops.  Our travels through Georgian Bay brought us to the Killarney Channel where the water became a beautiful clear aqua.  We passed a number of lighthouses along the way and one marked the entrance to the channel.  The small community of Killarney sits along the mainland side of the mile long, hundred yard wide channel that separates George Island from mainland Ontario.

    

    

Along the Killarney Channel we were impressed with the history.  Until 1962, Killarney was only accessible by water, therefore the local businesses had docks rather than parking lots.  Before Killarney became the township it is today (population of less than 500), if you wanted groceries, you pulled up to “Pitfield’s General Store”  dock.  Pitfield’s is the only grocery store in town.  The local LCBO (Liquor Control Board Ontario) was next.  We watched a seaplane pull in for a bottle of wine and beer.

    

    

“World Famous” Herbert’s Fisheries is located along the water in the center of town.  All of their fish is caught in Lake Huron by its fishing boat “Playfiar II”  that docks here as well.  They only have fish on the menu – you can order a 2-piece dinner with fries and slaw, or you can order a 6-piece dinner to share.

    

A short distance later was our destination, The Sportsman’s Inn, with docks on both sides of the channel.  We docked on the island side and had a perfect view of all the comings and goings in the channel.  Sportsman’s Inn has a drive-inn movie theater, which is actually a boat-in movie theater.  During the summer months they project movies on a large white billboard across the channel from the Inn.  Inn patrons and boaters tune in their radios for sound and watch the movie on the large screen.

    

    

This was our view East and West.  Out to the east, where we entered, is Georgian Bay.  Out the West, our exit, would be the beginnings of the Killarney Range mountains.

    

The channel was busy with floatplanes, a small sailboat parade (I think they were all homemade), more floatplanes, kayaks, paddleboats, canoes, peddle “bikes”, dozens of dinghies, and every kind of boat imaginable.

    

    

    

    

    

    

Karen playing in her dinghy……

This is Nick, our favorite employee at the Sportsman’s Inn.  Nick, along with helping boaters dock, fuel, etc., would shuttle us back and forth across the channel in “Tinker Bell”, the Inn’s pontoon shuttle.

    

Since each dock was outfitted with two bright red Adirondack chairs, it was the perfect spot for us to watch the traffic on the channel.

    

    

The waters were so clear we thought we saw a sunken treasure here……still not sure……

    

The variety of boats continued to entertain us……..

    

    

…and same for the houses that dotted the shoreline…..

    

Ominous clouds rolled in the next day but we didn’t let that stop us.  We packed our umbrella and walked to town.  It was a short walk and we got to see the same businesses from the street side.  We decided to walk to the general store to pick up a few things, but along the way ran upon a farmer’s market where we picked up some fruits and vegetables.

    

    

This was “The Hermitage”, not exactly the same as the one in Nashville, but caught our attention all the same…..

    

Everyone recommended the souvenir store to pick up a few local gifts for the grandkids so we walked down Waterfront Street, took a right on Charles, passed the OPP (police station), only to find a little one-room house with nothing more than a few sundries and nick-nacks.  We left empty handed and chalked the walk up to “exercise”.  And we got to visit the small stone Irish Catholic church.

    

On our last day we took a walk to the Killarney Mountain Lodge.  It was a very nice resort and it also had it’s own marina.

        

In their bar we ordered our first order of “Poutine”.  Poutine is very popular in Canada and, like butter tarts, we had to try it while there.  Poutine is a bowl of french fries smothered in brown gravy and topped with cheese curd!  Was not our favorite way to eat french fries – but we can say we had it!

    

Back at the Sportsman’s Inn we had dinner in the pub – a Killarney burger and flatbread pizza.

    

It’s sad, but a big part of our entertainment each day is the sunrise and the sunset.

    

    

RANDOM STUFF:  Here is a perspective of the loopers in this area.

    

Killbear (July 11th)

It was a beautiful ride from Queen’s Cove to Killbear.  We had perfect weather and calm winds – every boater’s dream!  We have been told over and over again that this would be the most beautiful part of our trip so we tried to soak in every bit of scenery!

Each part of Georgian Bay is an individual experience and yes, the waters of Georgian Bay are a bit nicer than the inland rivers back home.

It was an 8 hour 60 mile trip.  We stopped at Henry’s Fish Restaurant on Frying Pan Island for lunch but they had a 45 minute wait and we needed to get those pineapples to Hawaii so we re-boarded and continued on to Parry Sound.  Henry’s is a well-known stop, famous for its batter-fried pickerel.  You can only get to Henry’s by boat or floatplane.

The waters were more wide open today, although still shallow and rocky.

                

Once again, our reminder of the important things…….

    

Robin at Queen’s Cove suggested we take the inside passage to Parry Sound and so we did.  If you can see the first map, it was hard navigating through the islands, rocks, narrows, etc.  The charts were just a scribbly mess to me and we had to study them continuously to stay on track!

    

We we finally arrived at Killbear Marina.  We had no electrical power (hydro they call it in Canada), but after a bit of a delay they rigged us up some power from a couple of towers down the dock and we were good to go (with A/C)!  The bathhouses were marginal.  There were already several other looper boats here and after securing the power, lines, etc. (and after Karen succumbed to some Canadian moose tracks ice cream), we all met on the docks to exchange our looping stories of recent………

    

It was a rather small marina and we were docked with Tom and Patty on “The 7th Day”, Greg and Doreen on “Noah’s Ark” and Luc and Sylvie on “Lil Hide Away” ……

and we tried again at “selfies”…..

    

We made 6:30 dinner reservations at Flynn’s Irish Pub….another patron took our photo (along with her selfie)…..and we continued to wait to order dinner.  After deciding on what we wanted, we were told they were out of mashed potatoes (so no shepherd’s pie), no white wine left,  Ron wanted an appetizer – but – no pepper poppers left……so we finally ordered whatever was left on the menu.  And we waited, and we waited, and we waited.  When 8:00 arrived Ron went back to the boat to make a sandwich.  Karen followed shortly thereafter.  When 9:00 arrived and the other loopers still had no food, everyone left…….hungry…….so you see, although Killbear had been recommended, it was not a good stop for us.

        

It was a beautiful sunset over the water…..and we would have an early departure in the morning…..

…..tomorrow Killarney Harbor!

Queen’s Marina, Kay, Ontario (July 9-10)

After conquering the “BIG CHUTE”  (haha) we were faced with the challenge of the “LITTLE CHUTE”.  This is a very narrow, fast current (that reaches up to 5 knots) channel that requires a security call or one long horn blast as you approach.  It is a blind approach with an immediate 90 degree port turn.

    

    

Upon exiting, you enter the Gloucester Pool, with beautiful surroundings, and yet – we are ever aware of the rocks just beneath the surface!

    

While the channels offer wonderful, quiet and private anchorages, it is a little disturbing to run up on “Mister Speedo” (a chubby little guy in his tiny little  speedo swimsuit!)

Okay, and why was Karen taking pictures of Mr. Speedo??????

    

The last and the smallest on the Trent Severn was lock #45.  The attendants, as always, cranked open the big gates that would lead us into Georgian Bay (the next leg of our trip).

    

After leaving Port Severn we traveled south of Methodist Island to Victoria Harbor and arrived at our next stop – Queen’s Cove Marina in the township of Tay, Ontario.  It was mid-afternoon and were delighted to have our second covered slip of the trip.  We walked to “The Queen’s Quay British Pub & Restaurant” for a late lunch and to unwind after our morning Chute ride.

    

    

View from our covered slip………and our ever present Seagull friends were calling it a night on the roof!  Jonathan is 12th. on the left.

    

Robin, the General Manager of the family owned marina, regularly sits with transient boaters in the gazebo to highlight the more beautiful spots along the Georgian Bay as they route and plan their journey.

We also met Lee, on Breeze, again.  He was having some work done and was tucked between the marina’s shade trees for his time on the hard.

    

The Queen’s Quay British Pub & Restaurant was our getaway retreat for food and libation while at Queen’s Cove (no other loopers here for docktails..).

First day we shared Irish nachos (don’t ask) on the restaurant patio…..

    

    

…..second day we had BBQ ribs in the Pub……

    

and, we enjoyed a little Irish humor in the Pub…..

    

The marina was good enough to have the right spot set up for us to watch the sunsets….benches and adirondack chairs.  The sun set after 9:00 pm.  The days are really long in Canada!

    

THE BIG CHUTE (July 9th)

As the sun rose, we awakened early with butterflies and nerves – not totally knowing what to expect.  We would await at the entrance wall for the 9 o’clock opening.  Some boater consider this truly amazing, others consider it truly crazy – piloting your boat over land.  Why are we doing this?

We have shut off sea-cock valves to our air conditioning and generator, we put blue painter’s tape to mark our “sling” spots, we are ready – our boat is about to be lifted out of the water, carried over land – and dumped back into the water on the other side.

BIG CHUTE MARINE RAILWAY is a unique slip at lock 44 of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario.  It works on an inclined plane to carry boats in individual cradles over a change of height of about 60 feet.  It is the only marine railway of its kind in North America still in use.

    

We met two dock builders on the wall while waiting.  They were headed to work on the lower Gloucester Pool.  They were kind enough to take our picture as we were transferred over the chute.

   

They strapped us in and here we are at the top of the chute – 60 feet in the air.  We were on board and it was quite the ride!

    

Our anxiety level was increased while watching other boats being carried over the day before.  Large boats hanging off both ends of the chute did not give us a secure feeling.

    

As you can see, the entire apparatus rolls on rails from one body of water to the other….

    

The attendants were excellent at slinging our boats and quelling our anxiety.  It wasn’t their first rodeo.

    

And after the momentous ride down the rails, we were splashed and on our way….

    

…and why, again, are we doing this?

Travel to Big Chute Marina (July 8)

Sunday morning we decided to travel from Orillia to The Big Chute Marina, at the entrance to the most anticipated “lock” of all.  It is not exactly a lock, but we will explain that in the next post.

Jim and Susan on “Gypsy”  traveled with us until Sparrow Lake, where they would stop for a few days to visit friends.

    

We had only two locks and two swing-bridges today.  The second lock is the deepest on the Trent at 47 feet.  There was not room for boats to pass through the first bridge so the oncoming boat held back.

    

    

    

Today took us through “McDonald’s Cut”, another one of those narrow passage-ways that required us to hail the Security International Safety Signal on our VHF radio, “Security, Security, Security, this is Kara Mia, 43 ft. cruiser, west bound on McDonald’s cut, arriving in approximately 3 minutes.”  When we are through the cut we hail again that we have cleared.

Imagine excavating this cut by hand in 1905!    

    

Although the scenery was beautiful, the rock-lined channels with strong currents are dangerous and kept us tense as we worked to stay in the middle avoiding large rocks just beneath the surface.  You can see frequently we are just feet away from the banks on either side.  More than a few boaters have lost props in these waters.

        

        

While the rivers offered little houses, neat houses, trailer-park houses and landscaped houses – the lakes presented more up-scale and sizable homes.

    

    

    

Ron’s favorite house was on a tiny island…..

…..and paddle boats and ducks……

    

Restaurants along the water were busy on a Sunday afternoon.

The water is crystal clear and you can see the growth that presents a problem for us.  The weeds get sucked up through the engine and A/C strainers and clog things up.

We finally arrive at The Big Chute Marina, another step back in time.  It is quiet and peaceful and as we stroll around the grounds it reminds me of the days in my grandparent’s yard, sitting in the swing beneath the trees…..and the small laid-back marina had none other than – an ICE CREAM store!  What is it with these Canadians and their ice cream?

    

    

    

        

After docking and settling in we walked over to “The Big Chute” to see what we would encounter in the morning.  We video taped another looper boat, the Macgee brothers on “True North” as they went over…….

    

As the sun began to set above the trees we called it a day.  A big day awaits us tomorrow.

    

Orillia, Ontario (July 5-7)

Orillia, Ontario was incorporated as a village in 1867, as a town in 1875 and as a city in 1969, and is located on the shores of lakes Simcoe and Couchiching in central Ontario.  It was a more active community than several of our last stops.  The marina was nice and centrally located near town and stores and there were a number of looper boats coming and going.

    

    

We had some ominous clouds and a bit of rain off and on…….

    

We were also positioned to witness some gorgeous sunrises……

    

We call these “city mascots”.  In Norfolk it was mermaids, here in Orillia it is sculptures of sailboats – placed strategically around town.

    

The Chippewas of Mnjikaning Indian Reservation is here as well.  The name refers to the fishing weirs at Atherley Narrows between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.  There are 1600 members with approximately 700 living on the reserve and about 900 living off the reserve.  Weirs are used to trap fish and are usually built from wood or stones.

    

With all of the lakes and bodies of water in Ontario, we have frequent sightings of float-planes, both docked at marinas and in the air.

    

There was a nice city park at the marina, complete with a sandy beach……

…..a mini train ran through the park………and of course – ICE CREAM!

    

We took advantage of the ample biking trails throughout Orillia……..

    

On our walk to town we found this neat “Fairy Village” at a local nature store, and we timed it just right for the downtown street festival!

        

After a long walk we decided to take a break and stopped at Fionn’s for some “Mini Yorkies”, which are basically mini shepherd’s pies and really good!

    

Two evenings were spent meeting follow loopers.  Jim and Susan, aboard “Gypsy”, invited us to their boat for docktails.  We managed to increase their entertaining space by having 13 on board one evening.  Thanks Jim and Susan!  We also met Julia and Steve on “”Erben Renewal”, Greg and Doreen on “Noah’s Ark”,  Bruce and Janet on “Elixir”,  Tom and Connie Jo on “rPad”, Jan and Stacy on “Ceci Kay” and the Magee’s on “True North”.

                

We had dinner with Jim and Susan at “Rustic Pizza Vino” , where David was our most attentive waiter, and were later joined by the local Orillia Harbor Hosts.

    

The marina had a lit up Canadian flag………and Karen manually routed us from Orillia to Coldwater for our departure in the morning……

    

Random Stuff:  It was humorous watching the many geese at the marina – much of the time they were diving for morsels and exposing their big white butts!

    

INDEPENDENCE DAY (July 4th)

We would celebrate yet another holiday on the boat, July 4th., America’s Independence Day!  This would be mostly a travel day for us so Karen decided we needed to show some good ole’ American pride (even though we were still in Canada) and decorate the boat!  Ron, thinking we might offend the Canadians, recommended against it.  Our American spirit did prompt some attention from the Canadians.  We were greeted at all seven locks with, “Happy July 4th!” and it made the long travel day much more pleasant.  There were two young couples out on their dock as we waited for one lock to open and they began singing The Star Spangled Banner (I was surprised they knew all of the words)!  And as we got closer they saw Santa and immediately switched to Christmas carols.  What a fun day on the water!

    

We are continually impressed with the clarity of the water……and always on guard for the rocks!

    

    

More fun on the water……

   

More cottages along the canal…….

    

“Hole in the Wall Bridge”………

    

This part of the canal, constructed in the 1920’s, is a very narrow, shallow canal connecting Balsam Lake with Simcoe Lake.

    

“SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY” (SAY-CURE-IT-TAY).  This is the International Safety Signal and is a message about some aspect of navigation………..Before entering the canal we had to send this signal over our VHF radio, also announcing our direction, size and boat name.  The canal is so narrow that, unless you are a small boat, you can’t meet or pass another boat and you certainly can’t turn around!  It was a harrowing experience!

    

Our second “lift lock” seemed more precarious because we started at the top of the lock.  This is the highest point in the Trent Severn Canal and at this point we start going down in the locks.

    

Seven locks today made for a long and tiring trip.  We appreciated the work of our lock attendants manually opening and closing the HUGE lock doors, that we might pass through their waterway.  After going six miles an hour for 30 miles, we were excited to reach Lake Simcoe and let the Volvo Penta 600’s breathe (30 MPH).

    

        

Orillia is just around the corner!

Fenelon Falls (July 2-3)

The Monday morning ride to Fenelon Falls was pleasant and uneventful until the last two miles.

    

We continue to enjoy the cabins on the islands on the many lakes.

   

The last two miles through a gorgeous canyon was disrupted by a serious thunderstorm.  We could not see through our isinglass.  While keeping us dry, it fogged over and we could not see where we were going.  The area was congested and we barely missed other boats and kids swimming in the channel.  Debris was flying everywhere.  It was one of our most unpleasant moments thus far…..

The rain abruptly subsided and we locked through – up into sunshine – and docked on the city wall.  Santa was ever popular with the kids here!

                

The lockmaster suggested “Texas Burger” (really?  in Canada?)  for a great casual meal.  We hiked the short distance back across the lock only to find Texas Burger and Murphy’s both closed.  (It was Monday, this happens to us a lot).  The Perch, overlooking the waterfalls, was a good option – but they closed early!

    

But they did allow us chicken wings, a pizza and a go-box.

    

This lock tends to be congested and with little maneuvering room.  We were pre-warned about “Hiawatha” – a very large cruise boat!  Hiawatha departs the Fenelon Falls dock, makes a wide U-turn in the small area between the lock and the railroad bridge and does not wait for vessels to clear the area.  She turns in front of existing vessels – regardless of right of way!  Look out!  And Canada’s version of the Coast Guard was busily re-positioning misplaced green and red buoys…….an ongoing issue in the waterways.

    

A tour of Fenelon Falls revealed these cute butterfly seats, fun in the water, kids at the water-park, the museum, and a nice stroll along the water….

            

The  FRIENDLY FOLKS OF FENELON FALLS were a pleasant reminder of hospitality on the waterway.

Hernando from Hondurus (aka Bob) and Wenda and Adam and Nadine (aboard Star Chaser) offered us great direction on our trip along the waterway and the Georgian Bay.

    

And Sandy at the yarn and crafts store sewed on Ron’s AGLCA patch for free, and her knitting club helped. Great people here in Fenelon Falls.

We’ve met Lee on “Breeze”  several times and we enjoyed meeting up with him again here in Fenelon Falls.  We had some great burgers at “On The Locks”.  Lee is doing the Great Loop solo!

    

    

We left after daylight with clear waters and tons of rocks and boulders….the LARGE ORANGE DANGER signs were abundant and gave us cause to take precautions on our voyage…….

        

and the sun set over Fenelon Falls . . . .

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  “Your Mind is a Garden,  Your thoughts are the seeds, You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds…….you decide!”

  We enjoy finding words of wisdom along the waterways………

CANADA DAY (July 1)

This was “Canada Day” , the celebration of the July 1, 1867 act that united the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single dominion called Canada.  We rode our bikes to town for breakfast.  The town was hopping with people off for the long weekend celebration.  We had breakfast bowls (back bacon, which is Canadian bacon, and grilled potatoes topped with a fried egg), sprout toast and bagels at “The Lock Stop Cafe”.  After a little shopping at the general store for the grandkids, we biked back to the marina.

    

Our dock neighbors invited us to celebrate Canada Day with them on the docks.  We toasted to Canada Day and they toasted to our upcoming July 4th.  Even “The Dude” (green shirt, sunglasses below) joined in the celebrations.

    

Buckhorn (June 29-30)

We have now entered the Kawartha Lakes region.  This has long been a vacation spot for Canadians and abounds in lakeside homes, cottages and churches.  This is also a product of glaciers thousands of years ago and is called the Canadian Shield.  The rock islands and boulders are plentiful – nice to look at but hard to dodge!

                

A lot scarier sounding than it actually is, we entered “Hell’s Gate”,  however, the current does make it tricky.

Not far after the Buckhorn Lock, we entered Buckhorn Yacht Harbour Marina and docked in our first covered slip since leaving Nashville.  We would lay over here through Canada Day and avoid the busy holiday traffic.  The marina even had its own little beach – they just forgot to spread it!

    

    

    

The next day at the marina, we enjoyed visiting several of the folks around the docks until the power went out.  Everyone scrambled to turn on their boat generators for air conditioning as it was nearly 100 degrees.  It got hot fast in Canada!  We got on our bikes for a tour of town.  On our way, we passed Adam & Eve.

    

The town was quaint and of course had ice cream shops and a general store.

    

    

We thought we would have dinner at one of the three restaurants, however, power was out in Buckhorn as well as the marina (the ice cream shop had a generator to preserve their product).  The best we could do was a glass of wine at “The Ice House” – nothing cool about it!  Kim was our waitress and was pleasant in spite of the heat.

        

……so we biked home and had dinner on our boat – WITH AIR CONDITIONING!

RANDOM STUFF:  Our good friends Mike and Brenda have a Rossborough like this one.  You don’t see too many Rossboroughs around!  And this marina had more Carver Yachts than any marina we had encountered so far.

    

Karen is growing an herb garden and we enjoyed the fresh basil and onions in our salad and on our pizza!