Black Rapids Lock to Smiths Falls, Rideau Canal, ON

The best way to describe the past few days is too hot to lock, too hot to blog.  The heat combined with the high humidity has almost made it hard to breathe at times.  We understand that's true for everyone east of us as well.  What that meant for us is that we established a few basic daily goals: do as few locks as possible and tie up at a place with power so we could run the A/C overnight.  We also had to find a stop to refill our water tanks, re-provision and get pumped out (necessary every few days or so).  Local knowledge, which the locals we've met are always eager to share, tells us that provisioning and other services will be harder to come by between where we are now and Kingston.  Kingston is our entry into Lake Ontario and, we believe, a few days away.

The day we left Black Rapids, we made it as far as Burritts Rapids Lock before deciding to call it a day.  The heat hadn’t really come on yet, and we had a lovely time locking through with a few locals, including Nicole and Tracy who live on the Canal just below Burritts Rapids and who were heading up to Merrickville for the holiday.  Their boat is much faster than ours, so we locked through together at the Long Island Lock before they left us in their wake.  However, one lock was plenty of time for Nicole to tell us about the not-to-miss places on the Canal.  She left us saying that we would meet again on their way back home from Merrickville, and sure enough, we shared a wave and a holler when our paths crossed again the following day.

Locking with a little help from our friends

Locking with a little help from our friends

From Black Rapids to Burritts Rapids, the Captain and I went through four more locks, all of them fairly isolated and very pleasant.  Once moored at Burritts, we had the pleasure of talking with an Ontario couple who shared even more local knowledge and not-to-miss sights from there to Georgian Bay.  Their ambassador, Max, was in full agreement with the recommendations.

Very cute but apparently not very self-aware - he wears a harness so that he can be plucked from the Canal every time he falls in, which is often.

The next morning the heat and humidity really started to build, and we hoped to make it to Merrickville for Canada Day on Nicole’s recommendation.  Unfortunately, there was no mooring space left by the time we got there despite the best efforts of the lockmaster (these Parks Canada people are really great).  So we had to check the charts and regroup.  We settled on a private and beautiful spot at Kilmarnock Lock, the closest mooring with power.  The heat was oppressive, and we’d been hoping to find a place to swim.  In this part of the Canal, though, the water is very weedy and dark, dark brown.  We believe that’s due to the organic material present, and there seem to be at least two opposing schools of thought – “you can swim if you want, but …  Oh, and keep an eye out for the snapping turtles!” (most Parks Canada folks) versus “Don't pay any attention to that.  We swim everywhere – love it!” (Nicole and Tracy).

Still not convincing despite the heat.


This water doesn't move very much, but damn it's hot ...

Well, just before the lock closed for the evening, a small trawler tied up in front of us and the father and son on board jumped right in without hesitation.  Thus began our debate.  If the kid’s not afraid, what the heck's the matter with us.  So, when the coast cleared we put on our suits and jumped in, too.  Needless to say, we didn’t stay in long, but we did cool down for at least 10 minutes before the sweating began again.  Pre-bed showers were mandatory that evening.

From Kilmarnock we hoped to find a mooring in Smiths Town but were told there were no powered spots available on the Parks Canada wall and the only marina I called, Victoria Park, said they were booked solid.  Even so, we tied off at the marina in the blazing sun to get pumped out.  Apparently, this marina is a campground first and marina second so when I mentioned on the phone that we were a 42-foot trawler, I think they heard trailer instead.  Indeed, their campground was full, but there was powered space available for boats.  So we paid up and tied up.

Watertower Park, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada Day 2018!

Watertower Park, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada Day 2018!

And that’s when we met Steve and Linda.  Steve is a man in his mid to late 70s who looks and acts like a much younger man.  He helped us with our lines and then struck up a conversation (which Linda says he does all the time).  Linda is a woman who discovered painting in retirement and is now starting to sell her work.  Well, long story short, after talking with us for 10 minutes, Steve loaned us his truck - insisted actually - so we could make a Walmart and adult beverage run.  He also insisted on helping us lug everything from his truck to our boat in the 90+ degree heat even though our provisions included six heavy gallons of water.

We then spent the afternoon celebrating Canada Day with Steve, Linda and others on the green.  They invited us for breakfast at their home the following morning and offered to come pick us up.  Because the heat has slowed down our progress considerably, we felt the need to keep moving and politely declined.  They were more than gracious.  The Captain and I decided that this is what great karma looks like.  Natural generosity and kindness yielding health and great humor in retirement.

The next leg of our journey will take us into the Rideau Lakes region.  Our eyes are now on Kingston, and we are hoping that moving from the Canal into the lakes will allow us to make some significant headway over the next day or two.