Monday, June 30 - Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is around 37 miles from Montreal, with two locks in between. We left the Montreal Yacht Club around 8:30 AM and had made it through both locks by 12:30PM. We were tied up on the south wall at St. Anne's by 3:30PM. We wondered if we'd be able to find room at the wall...but a lot of people were there for the day only and were leaving about the time we came. By 6 that evening there were several spots still open. This wall is one of the places covered by our annual mooring pass that we purchased for our stay in Canada. Without the pass the rate for the night would be 90 cents/ft. We plan to use the mooring pass often! Granted, there are often no provisions for electric or water...but it is convenient and paid for!
Today, being a holiday, was a little "crowded" towards the end of the trip. And this is what the locks looked like as we went through...
We spotted this cute dog out for a ride that evening...
Tuesday, July 1 - It's Canada Day! Another holiday. We had decided to stay at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue for one more night to let the traffic settle down on the water and to take the time to look around the town. We were told there would be a small parade around noon. But...around 7:30 AM the work crews began to take down a bridge between us and the lock. Guess they didn't get a holiday...OR they were being paid extra to work! At any rate, the atmosphere at the wall changed completely. It wasn't "feeding our souls" so we decided to continue traveling towards Ottawa.
We usually plan our course the evening before...so we pulled up the charts and started planning the day. Surprise, surprise...the electronic charts kinda dropped off the map at the Carillon Lock. Oh, we had a "blue line" to follow, but it didn't quite match up to the markers on the water...and there were no water depths indicated at all. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem because we usually have back up paper charts. As you recall, we changed our minds about taking this course (instead of taking the Erie Canal) so we hadn't purchased paper charts for the areas of Canada we were now cruising.
OK, we'll leave a little later this morning. In the meantime we went back to the marine store we'd visited yesterday on our quick walk around town to see if they had the paper charts we needed. They had one...but not the ones that would help us today and tomorrow. We picked up a few groceries (remember: never pass up the chance to get groceries) and headed back to the boat to prepare for going through the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Lock.
Luckily for us, we were ready to cast off at around 11:15 AM and the lock had just opened for passage. We might have had to wait for hours! From there we went to the Carillon Lock, a deep lock, at 65 ft., with a door that lifted up for us to enter under. As we approached the lock we could see it was open, but wondered whether we could make it there in time, or whether it would have room for us. YES to both! Again...we were spared a wait and made it through smoothly. It was strange, though, seeing the lock door lower behind us...
We headed on down to Hawkesbury for the night. One guidebook said there is a public dock and another guidebook said it was an anchorage with complimentary daytime docking. There was a nice, long public dock with only one small boat docked so we decided to tie up there and check with the Chamber of Commerce office right on the site to see if overnight tie ups were OK...and it was OK.
We'd made it to Hawkesbury by about 4:30PM...pretty good time considering the locks and the current.
Hawkesbury was celebrating Canada Day! They had a carnival set up at a park just across the road from the dock and families were pouring in to enjoy the amusements. Several people stopped by to visit and comment on the boat. One man, a boater himself, offered to bring us some of his paper charts for the trip to Ottawa. We assured him we'd probably be able to find what we needed at a nearby marina, but he went home and came back with two of the four we needed! We'll mail them back to him when we've completed that portion of the trip.
A musician set up at a little venue very close to the dock and we wondered if we'd need to close up the windows on the boat early...but we really enjoyed his music. He had a synthesizer and an electric guitar and most of the songs he played, we knew. I went on to bed at my usual 9:30 and Wayne stayed up long enough to catch the fireworks that evening.
Wednesday, July 2 - First order of business this morning was to locate the missing paper charts. Wayne set out at 8 AM to find a phone and contact the local marina. When he had trouble completing the call, he just got directions and walked. Meanwhile, Michael, our friend from the night before who'd loaned us charts, came over to drive Wayne to the marina. When he realized Wayne had already gone, he sat with me and went over his favorite places in Ottawa and the Rideau. Wonderful information! Wayne returned with the needed charts and we set out for our day to Ottawa.
The distance from Hawkesbury to Ottawa was almost 60 miles. Ordinarily we could do 10 mph at 1500 rpm and be there in 6 hours. As it was, with the current against us, we left at 9:15 AM and got to the bottom of the Ottawa 8 locks at around 5 PM, 8 hours later. We stayed on the "blue line" that night, a section of dock just before the entrance to a lock, meaning we were ready to go through the locks when they opened next. This set of 8 locks has to be done in sequence.
Once you enter the first one, you have to go through number 8...no place to stop. The locks don't close until 7:30PM...but we really didn't want to go through the 90 minutes (minimum) trip this lock would require. We tied up and ask the lock assistant if we could "sit it out" for the night on the "blue line" and he said that would be fine. (Each lock has an area marked off in blue for those boats wishing to lock through on the next opening.) See the blue line?
Already we're impressed with the look of Ottawa. We passed by the Rideau Falls on our way...
Ottawa is the capitol of Canada. Tomorrow we'll go through the locks and hope to find a space on the canal wall right in the city. We're looking for wi-fi connections and a telephone, first. Then maybe a tour. We'll stay two nights, most likely.
Thursday, July 3 - We were ready to do the 8 locks! There were 3 boats ready to go through, including us, and the lock gates opened that morning at about 8:45AM. The largest boat was a houseboat...a true water cottage. Next was Segue and then a smaller boat.
It was pouring rain. We had on our rain suits, pants and jacket, and set out to climb the locks!
Oh, there were hairy moments. Like when the houseboat ladder got caught on the cables in the lock and held it down as the water was rising.
They had to lower the water in the lock to get it unhooked. By the time we got to the top of the locks the rain had stopped, but the wind was blowing a cool breeze and we were both chilled to the bone. We found a spot on the canal wall, tied up and headed out for some lunch. That afternoon we found a phone and a wi-fi spot so we could catch up on blogging and emails.
Friday, July 4 - Fourth of July...by the calendar. Needless to say, it wasn't much acknowledged up here. We woke up at 7 AM to the sounds of a drill on rock...a-gain. The nearby bridge was being worked on. We talked about leaving Ottawa, ready for some rural solitude...but decided to spend another night and make ourselves busy during the day so we wouldn't notice the noise. Poor Lucy, though, had to stay home with the racket.
We found a bus tour that morning and enjoyed the nice weather in the open air top of a double-decker. We saw the changing of the guard ceremony as we were waiting for the tour to begin. We stopped at the By Market, a large, outdoor market with all kinds of produce and products. After we lunched at a pub, Wayne went off to do more Internet work and I bought some fresh veggies and browsed the market. I topped off lunch with part of a "beaver tail," a local delicacy of fried pastry with sugar and cinnamon topping that the tour guide told us about (she probably owns part of the franchise). It's a lot like a funnel cake, for those in the South.
That evening we firmed up our plans for the next day's journey and caught up on some reading.
Saturday, July 5 - We left at around 8:30 AM, knowing that the bridge just down the "road" would have to be lifted for us and it didn't open until 8:30. The trip out of Ottawa was beautiful! The canal meanders through the city with bike and running trails on each side, beautiful landscaping and, occasionally, homes. We are so impressed with the access Canada provides to be outdoors. Walking and biking trails are everywhere. And, with this week being the beginning of their summer season, people were out all over the place taking advantage of the resources.
We had in mind going all the way to Burritts Rapids, 40 miles away. With a speed limit in the canal...and no wake zones...and the current against us (a-gain)...and 7 or 8 locks...and the desire to get water and fuel...well, we weren't sure we'd hold out for the full 40. We were leaving at the same time as Sandpiper with Bill and Ann Levine. One of our "life chores" for the day (gathering water) was made much easier when Bill arranged for us to follow his setup and get water at the Hogs Back Lock while we were in the lock! The lock attendant ran a hose from the lock house to the edge of the lock (we were headed up) and we handed him our hose by boat hook. Viola!! Check that one off!
I may have mentioned that there's an ice cream parlor on nearly every corner in Canada. Well, this ice cream boat is something we haven't seen before!
We stopped at Hurst Marina for fuel and a pump out...and left there around 4 PM knowing it was another 17 miles to Burritts. We'd decided to ask the lock if we could stay on the blue line that night if the other mooring spaces were full. Turns out the ones below the lock were full, but they had a spot for us on the upper side so we locked through and found ourselves in a lovely rural setting with about 5 other boats.
We've been so impressed with the helpful, friendly, competent staff of Parks Canada, the organization that handles the Rideau Canal, the Chambly Canal and the Trent-Severn Canal. They call ahead to let following locks know you're coming, for instance, and will assist you in finding a spot somewhere around the locks in the evening. Many of the full time employees work a 66 hour week during the summer season (6 eleven-hour days) and "bank" the extra time so that they get paid the same amount year-round, even when they're not working during the off-season.
We met an "off duty" employee of Parks Canada this evening who had come to pick up his daughter when she finished her day as lock helper. (They hire students during the summer to help in the locks.) He gave us some great advice for the rest of the week on the Rideau...and we assured him that Parks Canada has a winning formula for picking employees!
So...our first full day on the Rideau (not counting the entrance to Ottawa) was a long one, but we have a plan. The "juicy" part of the Rideau is ahead of us...the picturesque towns and lock houses...rural canals.... Today's trip was fascinating because it was new territory, but we're looking forward to seeing the images we've seen in guidebooks that describe the Rideau Canal. Tomorrow...we're off to Smith Falls.
Sunday, July 6 - Woke up this morning and it was a beautiful day again in Canada. So pretty...and our spot here at Burritts Rapids was so nice, picnic table and all, that we decided to take the day off and stay another night here. Sandpiper had spent the night across from us and were leaving that morning for Smith's Falls. Sandpiper, Double SS, Bella Luna and several other boats are forming a group that will travel together for a while. That's what's so nice about this trip: there's no set way to do it. Some like to go in groups, large or small...while others tend to do a solo trip, interacting along the way, but not committing to a daily schedule. We fall in the latter group! Part of what we enjoy about doing this trip is the challenge of figuring out where to visit and how to get there.
Wayne ended up working the bigger part of the day rebuilding a motor for one of the heads, so I'm not so sure he had a true "day off."
I walked into the little town of Burritts Rapids and visited the General Store. I talked with the clerk who told me all about the Rideau Canal having been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site last year. I'd heard the phrase before, but we certainly hadn't considered that designation when we decided to visit the Rideau. She's concerned there's not going to be enough resources (money) put into the area to make it work. Once a place is named a World Heritage Site, she said, it has certain obligations and standards to meet in order to stay a World Heritage Site. She said Parks Canada, the agency that runs the canal, has no money to invest in things like guides and signage for tourists. She's already seeing more people come to Burritts Rapids by boat and by bike...but often they come in asking questions about where the trails are, for instance. As I left the store I noticed it is for sale, as is the house immediately next to it. Across from our mooring spot there had been a restaurant and a laundromat...both now closed and the building is for sale.
When I got back we had an early lunch, then I spread out my painting supplies on the picnic table and painted all afternoon. It was SO-O-O nice! People were all over the lock site that afternoon picnicking, swimming, and fishing. Most of the people we talked with were from the area between Ottawa and Kingston. They bring their boats up to one of the locks and spend the weekend relaxing and cooking out. We didn't see any campers, but tent camping is allowed, too, at the lock areas.
We talked at length with a couple who live on Lake Erie and trailer a boat to a different area each summer for a couple of weeks. They've been to a lot of the places we've been already or will soon see.
We grilled some chicken for supper and finished off a good day.
Monday, July 7 - We were ready to leave when the lock attendants came in at 8:30AM. We'd already gone through the lock at Burritts Rapids to get to our spot, but there is a swing bridge about 5 minutes up the way that is operated by the same crew.
I'm not sure I've mentioned before that the Rideau Canal is 126 miles long from Ottawa on the Ottawa River to Kingston on Lake Ontario. There are 44 locks along the way to go through. Some are single locks and some are grouped together so that you leave one lock and go right into another, like the first 8 step locks we went through in Ottawa.
Today, we thought we'd end up at Smith Falls for the evening...but we were interested in stopping in at Merrickville, only about 6 miles (and 5 locks) up the way. We got there around noon and decided to find a place to tie up and see the town. We docked at the long wall in what's called the "pond" area by town and decided this would be a nice place to spend the night.
Walking into town we passed lots of antique stores (Connie, you would love it!) and settled on the Goose and Gridiron Pub for lunch. The weather was lovely that day, though a little warm. If you found a place in the shade, however, the breeze felt really nice. The pub had an outdoor patio by the side, in the shade, and we enjoyed a lunch of pizza and a reuben sandwich.
We stopped at the small grocery store and picked up a few things, and looked for a wi-fi source in town. Wayne was told the public library had Internet access so we took our groceries back home and walked back to visit the Merrickville Public Library and a public phone.
The library door was open when we arrived, but we found out soon that the library was only open at that time for a special children's program...and the normal hours that day were 6-8PM. A parent who was waiting on his son said the library does have Internet access, but he thought you had to have a password to access it. We sat down on the back porch and fired up one of the laptops to see if we could access the link, but couldn't. So...we'd come back later. Meanwhile, we walked a short walk back to the community center and a public telephone to catch up on some calls. While there, the parent biked by and said the librarian told him there was wifi access in the library and that if we sat on the front porch we might be able to use it outside. It worked! We checked our emails and went back to the boat to sit in the breeze and dangle our feet in the water!
Tuesday, July 8 - OK, today we would make it to Smiths Falls. We left Merrickville at around 7:30AM, timing it so we could be ready to lock through the Kilmarnock Lock, about 7 miles ahead. Four locks later and we were in Smiths Falls before noon. We'd talked to a lovely couple from Ottawa as we went through the locks, Pierre and Pierrette Parisien. They've been cruising the Rideau Canal for years and gave us lots of good advice on places they'd liked.
We were in need of a pump out today and needed water, so when we had gone through the first lock at Smiths Falls we stopped at Victoria Park and took care of those needs before we settled in along the mooring wall on the opposite bank. What a beautiful setting this was....
Pierre and Pierrette helped us tie up right behind them and then they started giving us the low-down on Smiths Falls. With directions to Walmart, a Chinese restaurant for lunch, and a laundromat...we were armed for the day!
First stop: lunch! We biked to Wong Chinese Restaurant for a lunch buffet, and it was delicious. On to Walmart for a few items and later to the public library (beautiful building, again) for wi-fi access. That evening we enjoyed sitting around and talking with Pierre and Pierrette and their friends.
We were even entertained with bagpipes...
Pierette is crazy about dogs and had Lucy "eating out of her hand" when she served up black coffee with a little sugar...Will we be up all night with the caffeine?
The weather forecast indicates a possible storm tonight. It's very windy and grey.
Wednesday, July 9 - We lingered around Smiths Falls until about 10:30 AM. There's a swing bridge at the far end of the town waterfront, just before Lock 31, that has timed openings during the morning hours and was due to open at 11 AM. As we were getting ready to pull out so were Karen and Wayne Franklin on the boat Iceman 46. They were going to Westport, as were we, so we decided to run along together that day.
Interesting story about the boat name: Wayne used to tend the ice ("Hey, Iceman!) for his curling club. According to the Brittanica Concise Encyclopedia on Answers.com, curling is a "game in which two teams of four players each slide a round stone by means of a gooseneck handle on the top over a 138-ft (42-m) stretch of ice toward a target circle. The object is to deliver the stone closest to the centre (called the house). Each player delivers two stones, which average 40 lbs (18.1 kg) apiece, often applying a curl to the stone's trajectory. The player's teammates use a broom to sweep the ice ahead of the oncoming stone in order to facilitate a longer slide or to adjust the arc of the curl. Blocking and knocking out an opponent's stones are important strategies of the sport. Curling originated in Scotland in the early 16th century. World championships have been held since 1959 and are usually dominated by Canadians and Scandinavians. In 1998 curling became a medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games." Now if I'd been keeping up with my Olympic winter sports I'd have known that!
So we traveled for a while with Iceman until he decided it would be a good idea to rush on up to Westport to see if there would be space at the little marina for our two boats. He radioed back when they got there and had a spot saved for us.
As we made our way through this section of the Rideau (Ree-dough, as I've learned to say) we passed through what begins to be the prettiest part of this canal. At one of the two locks we passed, the Poonamalie Lock, we spotted the prettiest house and grounds. Turns out it was the lockmaster's house. When I commented on how nice a house and setting this was he said he felt very privileged to live there.
There are two little towns in this section of the Rideau that seem to attract visitors, Westport and Portland. Both are a few miles off the route...but we wanted to see at least one. Westport had been a recommended stop by many people, and we weren't disappointed. A walk around town took us by two nice bakeries where we bought muffins and sausage rolls for breakfast. I loved the clothesline behind one of the bakeries...
There were art galleries and gift shops along with post office, grocery store, bank...and a library with the cutest door handle....
We grilled hamburgers out this evening and visited with the Franklins and their friends who live in Westport part of the year. Tomorrow we're thinking we'll leave around noon and go to Chaffeys Lock for the evening.