We have been stuck for one week in upper Ontario, and it was great fun, even though it was not planned. A week ago things were not looking good for the Big Chute, the second last lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway.
On Friday 8 July we moved down to Big Chute. A wise move, as Parks Canada allowed one other boat behind us before turning boats away from the small staging basin. 23 large cruisers tied securely to walls, docks and in a small craft marina. Locals had not seen the like before. Some boats waited one week, we waited five days. The weather was sensational prompting members of our cohort to make use of the delay by explorations in dinghies, kayaking, stand-up paddle boards and swimming. Camaraderie was developed through interactions at social gatherings, docktails and around the fire pit.
Mark and I made use of the time and perfect weather to finish the lower deck varnishing, including the anchor platform and bowsprit. We finished polishing the the superstructure. We worked hard and the results were worth it. Compliments have been forthcoming.
We also made time to explore in the dinghy – ‘discovering’ the hidden lake gained by lifting the outboard engine and rowing in extremely shallow waters under a low bridge and across a ‘secret’ lake. Quite exciting and very scenic. We also motored up the Pretty Channel. Thought we would look at the dam from the land.
After tying the dinghy to a tree, we stepped ashore in thongs (flip flops), only to be nervous where we placed our feet: me with the possibility of rattlesnakes; Mark with poison ivy! Decided to cut our land exploration short.
Mark and I have enjoyed this time of socialising and getting to know other boaters. Not all are loopers, but all wanting to get to Georgian Bay. The laugher has been loud and the conversation boisterous. For a short time we were bound together, sharing hopes and stories. Now, we are dispersed and all have gone their merry way.
Some of the people we have met are the ‘salt of the earth’. At Swift Rapids lock five days ago, we socialised with Scottish Canadians who live on Georgian Bay. Evan and Ruth were able to give us wonderful advice on where to go. During the days at Big Chute, our food stores dwindled. Ruth organised a way for me to be taken to Midland town for a restock of provisions, and then drove me back to the boat, before heading back to her home in Midland. Each way was 45 minutes. And tomorrow night we have been invited to their home for dinner. The friendliness and generosity of Evan and Ruth are humbling. Through hardship friendships are forged.
Today we made it over the Big Chute – a marine railway which is a 7-minute ride on the giant travelling carriage from one lake to another. And just like that… everyone has gone their separate ways. I am sure we will cross paths with some as we journey onward. But for now, what to some was a real downer, has been a rewarding time of doing jobs on Bushranger and meeting new friends.
Such is Life!