Sunday, June 5, 2016

RICE LAKE - June 3 & 4, 2016

Leaving Peterborough, we headed south on the Otanabee River. This name comes from the Ojibwe language and means “the river that beats like a heart” in reference to the bubbling and boiling water of the rapids along the river. Of course, with the waterway dams and locks, the rapids no longer exist and the 17 nautical mile run passes through lovely cottage country as well as some very interesting natural marshland.

The river then opens up into the shallow Rice Lake for a 16 nautical mile run to the town of Hastings. Rice Lake was named for the wild rice which grew in it and was harvested by the First Nations people of the area. Most of the original stands of wild rice originally found here were wiped out when later levels were raised in the lake by the construction of the waterway. There are prehistoric burial mounds found at Serpent Mounds Park on the north shore of Rice Lake. 

The Cobourg & Peterborough Railway, completed in 1854, crossed Rice Lake from Harwood to Hiawatha, however, thick layers of winter ice damaged the bridge beyond repair and it was closed after only six years of service. Sections of the railway bed are still visible in the lake and it is a navigational hazard if one failed to pass between the red and green buoys that mark the safe passage through where the railway used to pass. 

Rice Lake is famous for its recreational fishing for Muskie, pickerel (walleye), large & smallmouth bass, catfish, perch, crappie and bluegill. The small village of Hastings (Hastings Lock #18, completed in 1844) plays host to extremely well attended annual fishing tournaments. Like many communities on the Trent-Severn waterway, Hastings got it start with logging, a saw mill, a grist mill and a lock, all contributing to attracting settlers, services and commerce. 

We continued our cruise eastward along the Trent River to Healey Falls Locks 17, 16 and 15. These three locks have a total vertical drop of 76’ . Locks 17 and 16 are “flight locks” meaning when you go down one lock, the doors open and you move directly into the next lock, which shares one set of lock doors. Then that second lock lowers you to the next level. When you are sitting at the bottom of the second lock and you look back up at those enormous doors above you holding a lock full of water (154’ long, 32’ wide and about 26’ high) you silently thank the engineers who designed the locks allowing your safe passage. 

After Healey Falls, it was a short run on to the town of Campbellford, where we tied up for the night. This was our longest day so far, starting at 0900 and ending at about 1845 hours and we were glad to set up our chairs in the park in downtown Campbellford, right beside our boats and enjoy a refreshment and appetizer to relax and discuss the day. This was followed by a lovely dinner at Capers, a local and very popular restaurant. 

Saturday June 4, 2016
Campbellford is in the centre of a farming district and we were pleased to be able to pick up some locally grown produce at the farmers market and some bread at a local bakery. 

Campbellford is also well known among the boating community for the lowest cost fuel on the Trent-Severn Waterway. There is one location that serves both vehicles and boats and offers boaters its fuel at road prices rather than the typical marine prices. We all took advantage of the 93.9 cents per litre price for their diesel. Now some folks are probably thinking pushing a 37’ boat through the water is pretty expensive and compared to a small, light car, it is a little. But it is far less than  you’d think. For our boat Tug’n, we started from Penetanguishene on Georgian Bay. To this point we’d travelled 200 nautical miles (230 statute miles or 370 kilometres). When we filled at Campbellford, we took 200 litres of diesel. For me, I’m thinking that is pretty efficient. Anyway, all three boats took on almost 1800 litres of diesel, so that Esso station had a good morning. 

We were underway rather late in the morning and over the course of about six hours, we made our way further down the Trent River and canals through locks with great sounding names like:
Ranney Falles
Hagues Reach
Meyers Lock
Glen Ross 

to eventually arrive at Frankfort, lock #6. This is a favourite stop for boaters on this stretch of the Trent. It was the first lock in the system to offer boaters hydro and water when they tie up for the night. Gradually more and more locks are offering these services. The lock is attractively maintained and tiring up on the upper side of the lock usually means you get a nice breeze which is great on hot days. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, we experienced more cruising boats than anywhere else so far. There were six of us tied up for the night. Once again, happy hour under the welcome shade of some trees was just what we needed from today’s travels under the strong sun.

Wings in a narrow channel

Dinner at Capers

Healey Falls flight lock. There is a lot of water behind those gates!

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