Saturday, June 26, 2010

Convoy HOOOO!

Our morning in the "Blue Hole" was just as spectacular as the night before that is if you ignored the 10,000 dead bugs on Blue. It took me a good half hour, but I was finally able to wash all the mosquitoes off the decks. I have never seen so many bugs in all my life. If Anna and I had left a hatch open, I am not sure if we would have survived the night. When Anna got up and saw the carnage, she went right to the drawer pulled out a piece of paper and wrote BUG SPRAY in big letters. The night before I had left the anchor light on, to alert anyone going through the area that we were there, it must have been the only light in three miles and the bugs zeroed in on it. Making our way through as many locks as we could, Anna and I found ourselves in Hastings Ontario. We pulled up to the Lock wall and were greeted by a giant Canadian 2 dollar coin. We then found out that Hastings was the home of the artist who designed the new 2 dollar coin and proudly displays it at the main park on the lock wall, it was huge. Hastings had lots of stores so Anna and I took the time to reprovision the boat. We have been pleased to see that Canada and the US are very similar when it comes to food prices and quality. The meat at the market is good and the produce is very fresh. We have been taking advantage of the farmers Markets we come across, and have had some of the best baked goods, we are not sure if it is just unique to this area, but the breads and muffins are some of the best we have ever had. Maybe it has to do with the french influence in the area, regardless it has been a true pleasure having a fresh muffin with a cup of coffee in the morning. The next morning in Hastings we ran into a convoy of American Tugs heading up the canal. We were happy to find that our friends Bill and Carol from the Tennessee Rover were in the mix and we were invited to join their Convoy. So off we went, a line of tugs making our way winding through the twists and turns of the canal. It's real fun to travel with this group, we all talked to each other on the vhf and soon I felt like a trucker on I95. The jokes and banter between the boats was truly entertaining One of the best was an exchange between the Tennessee Rover and the Money Girl. Monkey Girl had stayed a night in an anchorage the night before and had gotten a late start, as the day was coming to an end she had not yet caught up to the convoy. Andrew on the Freedom and Bill on the Tennessee Rover were ruthless to Bill and on Monkey Girl telling him to burn some gas dammit, if you miss the lock you will miss the party tonight. Bill told them he had just gotten off the phone with the banker and was putting her in the corner, he could see the dollar sings fly as he pushed his tug to 15 knots. After we locked through our last lock for the day we tied up and checked in on Bills status. Well it seemed the Monkey Girl had succumbed to a boaters worst fear. Bill announced that Alarms had gone off and the engine was in the red. He was not going to make it to the lock. We all felt awful, had our joking made him push her to hard. There was loads of discussion over the radio with advise and support, but ultimately it was up to them to get the boat in a place that was safe for the night. We were expecting big thunder storms that night and we all hoped their gear would hold through the night. That night the storms came in and turned up the Canal in a hurry. Anna and I both woke up and scrambled to shut the few open hatches, it was pouring and the wind was blowing hard with the loud crack of thunder every few seconds. In the morning we found that Monkey Girl had been unable to solve its engine problems and had lived through a hell of a night worrying about the holding power of it anchor. After a quick morning discussion it was decided that we would take one boat back trough the lock and tow them the final 6 miles to town. So off we went, our Convoy was now a rescue mission. As we approached the Monkey Girl and her crew we were greeted by Bill on the vhf telling us that he though he had finally fixed the problem and was going to fire her up. To all of our relief, he had been successful. I was very relieved, although the idea of towing a boat into the lock sounded exciting, I knew all to well how difficult it would be maneuvering our way through these narrow channels. Unlike Nantucket, the ground here is not sand it's rock. If you go aground here it most likely is going to be an expensive day. Arriving back at the lock we all took our convoy positions and off we went. That night we had the party we had been talking about all day before. It was Bill and Carol's 42nd wedding anniversary and we had a great time busting on Bill for forgetting to say happy Anniversary to Carol that morning. After champagne toasts and a few to many drinks Anna and I made our way back to Blue having had two wonderful days with these three other tugs and their crews. In the morning we were separated, your lock number is assigned to you in the order you arrive onto the lock wall the night before. There was a sailboat tied up before we arrived and the locks and only take four boats at a time. Having been the last boat in the Convoy we would lock through in the next rotation we said our goodbyes and made plans to see each other down the line. It will be good to travel on our own for a day or two, these guys were to much fun and the crew of old Blue are pretty tired.

That is one 2 dollar coin!

All three of the American tugs where red and made quite a spectacle heading up the trent. It made us miss our old boat Tootsie, she would have fit right in with this crowd.

This was the first flight lock we have seen so far on the trip. As you enter the first lock, it fills and opens into a second. Look at the size of those doors behind that is a wall of water the likes of which we had not seen before

The convoy of tugs as we made our way through Rice Lake.

Anna and I jokingly played a bit of the Gordon Lightfoot song "The Edmond Fitzgerald" over the vhf as the wind picked up on the lake. It made for a stir among the boats as they all commented that one should not test fate.

As always the views entertained us on every turn.

Anna thinks she might have found her dream house.

Lets face it, it is hard to wave at all the boats, these people seem to have come up with a brilliant solution.
If I was in the US I would definitely say this guy is a republican.

I could not believe I was able to get this shot. This hawk was hovering over the boat looking for fish. This was right before he dove down like an arrow into the river with it's catch.

There he goes. I wish the camera had caught the rest it was totally awesome.

Just awesome!

I took a few moments to teach Bill from the Monkey Girl how to splice line.
"The Student is now the Master Humm!"

The lock master at this lock was to funny. He had this monkey as his lock buddy. One thing I can say for Canada, the men and women that work for the park system are some of the nicest folks I have ever met.

The convoy minus Blue locking through.

The locks in Canada unlike on the Erie all open manually, this morning I was given the great honor of opening the lock for the convoy. Note the Lei Bill gave to the lock Master from the night before, it was a great night.

Moving on alone Anna and I came to the Peterboro lift, one of the most impressive locks in the world. It hydraulically lifts two pools of water up and down allowing boats to be lift up like an elevator. I was shocked to learn that this lock is over 100 years old.

That ram is half the width of our boat.

As one goes up the other goes down.

The towers support the tracks.

What a view.

Anna quickly found that she is still afraid of heights.


  1. Nantucket is soooo buggy right now too, it must have to do with these warm temps, or maybe your in bug country?

  2. Aren't Canadians nice? Sounds like a great time!