Locking Through In Canada

Sunset at Trent Port Marina

As some may know, the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) had been closed to traffic due to high water levels.

Some people had arrived at Trent Port Marina a week ago anticipating they would continue on, only to be held up for a week.

So one could imagine the relief that was felt when things reopened today.

Yesterday the TSW lock 1 operators came down to the Marina to organize our passage through.

Those that were at Trent Port Marina the longest were given first choice and were chomping at the bit to get on their way.

The rest of us were happy to let them go first.

We then met on the dock at Docktales to seal the deal.

Finalizing the departure arrangements at Docktales

I have to give a shout-out to Trent Port Marina.

It’s a great marina with probably the best showers on the Loop and free laundry machines.

The staff is very helpful.

At least 7 loopers and at least 5 other boats proceeded through Lock 1 today, the first day the system opened after the closure due to high water the past several days. The early crowd went to Campbellford, the later crowd went to Frankford.

It is a different experience here compared to the NY Canal System. One needs to be patient.

Currently most of the system is a no-wake zone because of the high water and the property damage that big wakes will cause, so anyone traveling needs to account for these delays.

Another reason to plan on taking your time is that the locks are about 1/2-2/3 the volume of the NY canal system locks, so it will take more lock cycles to send through the same amount of boats.

Today we locked 2 40+’ boats at a time, whereas in New York we would have locked through 2-3 times that number.

With the increased water flow from releasing all the water above Lock 19, the currents are still very strong, and there is a lot of debris in the water. We had to be careful coming up to the dam outlets next to the locks as there are a lot of eddies and reverse currents that would send you in surprising directions.

It reminded me of my canoeing days,

High water levels and currents made for some tricky maneuvering on Selkie

Whereas the NY canal system lock operators were nice, the Canadian attendants are amazing. They will do most anything to help you. And everyone is happy to see Loopers again.

I also found that if you arrive at a lock with the strong currents and the gates haven’t opened, you will be using a lot of maneuvering controls to hold your boat in place waiting for the lock to empty.

Despite all of the excitement, we are happy and relieved to be able to keep going.

On to Campbellford tomorrow!

By Tad Sheldon

I'm a retired Silicon Valley Technologist and Director. I teach skiing as a 4th (5th? 6th?) career for fun, and am passionate about Boating. I'm even more passionate about my family and friends. I volunteer occasionally for non-profit Boards, and currently serve as the Secretary of the Board for Western Division of the Professional Ski Instructors of America / American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

4 replies on “Locking Through In Canada”

I’m assuming you started out more of a power boater in Michigan before all the sailing you did in California. The current and Eddie’s are a nasty lot coming in and exiting the locks. Piloting a large trawler like Selkie takes a steady hand and calm operator, much more than a novice to handle the many distractions and sudden changes to even a well thought out plan. I envy the smiles on yours and Libby’s faces as your journey melts into the routine of on board living; realizing you might never pass this way again, yet able to soak in the moments as they happen because of that knowledge. Cambelford, Peterborough, Bobcageon, Francford, all stops on my early Hockey tour. Gods Speed, and watch out for the debris.


Dude, this place has you all over it, I think about you regularly as I walk passed the hockey arenas and smile. Be well bud.


Exciting times! Looks terrifying and fun at the same time. How fun you found like minded loopers to hang with. Fire season is well under way in California….good time to be gone. Cheers!


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