July 14 – Dows Lake to Hurst’s Marina (19 miles and 7 locks)
July 15 – Hurst’s Marina to Merrickville (23 miles and 7 locks)
July 17 – Merrickville to Smith Falls (15 miles and 5 locks)
July 18 – Smith Falls to Newboro Lock (17 miles and 6+2 locks)
July 20 — Newboro to Morton Bay ( 19+6 miles and 7 locks)
July 21 — Morton Bay to Upper Brewers Lock (11 miles and 0 locks)
July 22 — Upper Brewers lock to Kingston (17 miles and 7 locks)
Miles Traveled this Blog: 121
Total Miles Traveled: 6355
As indicated by the title above, we loved traveling the Rideau (pronounce Redo)! The entire trip from Waterford to Kingston through Champlain, Montreal, Ottawa, and the Rideau is considered a side-trip of the regular Loop route which goes from Waterford through the Erie Canal and to Kingston. This Northern Triangle Loop was a section of the route that we had anticipated as our 2015 boat buddies, Ron and Vicki on Sea to See talked about it often and fondly. It lived up to every expectation – difficult but beautiful, remote but friendly, cold when they were there in June, 2015 but hot, hot for us in July, 2019!
One of the many picturesque scenes along the Rideau and yes, we had to go through that narrow passage!
We left Dows Lake on a quiet, beautiful Monday morning with clean laundry, full water tanks, empty holding tank and cupboards & fridge full — ready to traverse the Rideau Canal. This is yet another Canadian historic canal site operated by the Canadian Parks System the route of which (Ottawa to Kingston) has been in use since the beginning of recorded history. During the war of 1812 Kingston (at the SE end of the canal on Lake Ontario) was an important British Naval Base and because of the hostilities between England the Americans, the British became concerned about the supply route between Kingston and Quebec and thus, the Rideau Canal was constructed. Along the way, fortifications were built to defend the waterway against America and remnants can still be seen. The canal was never used militarily but did support successful commerce until railroad transport became available. Small towns and villages sprang up along the banks and particularly at the locks. Today the Rideau is a pleasure craft highway but has maintained the rural nature and historic manual operation of 170 years ago. It is a national treasure! The route is 126 miles with 49 locks depending on how you count them but that is another story.
Remember these? Christ Craft of the 1950’s.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull allowing our safe passage!
Rements of a Shoal Tower – One of the types of fortification along the Rideau
After miles of gorgeous scenery, beautiful homes and quaint cottages, our first stop was Hurst Marina because it had a pool and the heat was blistering 90+ after 9 pm. We swam for several hours getting our body temperatures down while the plugged-in Namaste was generating cool air for sleeping. The only time we can run air conditioning is when we are plugged in at a dock through a big yellow cord. This is becoming important!
Captain Jim swimming in the pool. I cannot explain how refreshing it felt that day.
Next stop was Merrickville and perhaps the most interesting of our stops along the Rideau. It is a darling little town with a blockhouse museum and park right at the lock. Shopping was high-end with lots of cute, unusual and yet unnecessary stuff. I so wanted to bring home a 10’ metal giraffe sculpture but Jim said I would have to sleep with him. Shopping and a pedicure melted away the recent stressful and hot 7 lock days. After solving some non-urgent medical issues in the group we shared a lovely dinner and ice cream with Dan and Jenny Lynn! We even made an early run to Nana B’s bakery for her famous butter tarts the morning we left.
Heading to dinner in Merrickville across the lock from the Namaste.
Nanna B makes great butter tarts and beautiful flowers!
Smith Falls lock and a larger but less quaint town welcomed us. Most importantly we encountered our first close-up Loon and Swan in route. The Falls were lovely but even better was the Smith Falls “beach” on a 90+ degree evening. The beach was really a laddered cement wall in a clean water basin offering us the first real lake swimming of the season. We stayed afloat on our noodles as the raft accommodated the towns young teens: running, jumping, screaming and splashing until almost dark — just like the old days on any lake in Michigan.
Our nightly goal was to stay up long enough to hear the Loons
Sammy says “hi” but when no food appeared the Swan hissed at her and moved on.
A few more bridges and locks and we arrived at the Newboro Lock. As you can see by our mileage above, our daily progress was slow with between 5 and 7 locks to manage with intense heat and a growing collection of boats with whom we traveled. The more boats in a lock the longer it takes. The more boats in the waterway the longer the waits. We spent two nights here because we had power, thus air for better cooking and sleeping. We swam off this dock in the lake at the end of the lock.
Peaceful and some of the best swimming so far. Water temps were 80 degrees F.
A homemade vessel on a three week holiday. The captain wants to do the Loop but wife says, not on this boat!!!
Morton Bay was by far the highlight of the Rideau as far as serenity and beauty. We arrived Saturday afternoon to lots of boats in the anchorage and everyone playing in the water. After two attempts we got the anchor to hold, put on our suits and joined the fun. By 8 pm all local boats were gone except Melody and Namaste as severe thunderstorm warnings had been posted. We were concerned but felt save in our totally protected anchorage with high stone cliffs around us. The storms never materialized and we heard Loons and saw a far off lightening show late into the evening. The following morning was likely one of the longest and most peaceful cups of coffee we have shared in our 53 years together. Even a little skinny dipping (no pictures)!
One of the highlights of anchoring: Sammy to shore at least 3X a day.
Does it get any more lovely than this!
Another issue are the weeds that sometimes come up with the anchor. It was as big and heavy as a Christmas tree but a few whacks with the machete knife and they fell away.
The following day was a short 11 miles and no locks to Upper Brewers Bay where we secured above another lock on a powered dock. Funny story here! The lock master asked us to move the Namaste up the dock so that a 44’ houseboat could pull into the space behind us. Fair enough until we learned that he was having engine trouble and could only move forward at high rpms – too fast for docking. About ten men including the staff helped him out of the lock, turned 180 degrees around and cozied up to the dock behind us without hitting anything, including us. Hear applause! Carburetor class then ensued on a picnic table with master engineer Dan Girvan teaching the specifics of unclogging the idle and low speed carburetor jets. Success – again, hear applause and a very grateful houseboat owner!
Ahhhhh, fresh water lake swimming!
The next morning we were first into the lock with three larger-than-us boats destined to travel together for the day. After squeezing into 7 locks with only inches to spare on each end and between boats, a nerve weary group pulled out of the Rideau and into the St. Lawrence Seaway, waited 40 minutes for a 2’ above the water swing bridge to open and scurried for the Confederation Basin in Kingston, Ontario. We will stay here three nights to regroup, provision, do the laundry, change the oil and manage some sight-seeing of this lovely city which hosts Queens University and three colleges. It has finally cooled down and we love having the boat windows open and sight-seeing in the cool fresh air.
Yet another unusual bridge as we head into Kingston. Note the three small sailing school vessels ahead.
Guess where we are?
Nobody has a prettier waterfront park than Kingston, Ontario.
Good Boat Name: Soul Purpose
Bad Boat Name: Sooper Pooper (now really – did I say we weren’t seeing bad names?)
Quote of the Day:
Happy Birthday to: Dawn, Lynn
Happy Baby Felix at 4 months:Caption: Of course I want to go boating with Grandma and Grandpa!
Happy Super Starter Lookout Campers: Nate & Leonie (lost a front tooth the first official day of camp).