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On the Downslope

Looking over the bow of Selkie at the canal almost 50 feet below us while suspended in the air. A bit nerve wracking.

Everything is backwards now. We’ve spent ten days on the Trent Severn, and until yesterday it was all up hill.

Yesterday, we reached the pinnacle of the Trent Severn Waterway with our passage through our second Lift Lock, the Kirkfield Lift Lock.

That meant the red buoys were the right (“red right returning as the old adage goes), but now they are on the left.

That’s important to remember with the narrow channels and shallow water.

Everything is a lot skinnier now… meaning the water isn’t very deep.

This is the Trent Canal, part of the TSW. Long, straight, narrow and shallow. You have to pay attention in these sections.
What’s waiting if you get too close to the edge of the Trent Canal

Before you enter the Trent Severn, you have to declare how much you will draw (how deep your hull is in the water).

If you draw five feet or more, you have to sign a release form saying you knew you were entering shallow water and there was a chance you would hit bottom somewhere along the 240 miles or so of the canal system.

We draw 4.5’.

Today, the depth finder was alarming so much I just shut it off.

We knew we were in shallow water, but there were plenty of boats like ours who had not run aground, so on we went.

We stirred up mud, but never touched.

The locks are different now because we can barely see them. At least they don’t look insurmountable as some did coming up hill.

On the other hand, we can’t tell if we are going three feet down, or 30 feet down until we are in the lock.

Imagine driving a 36,000 pound vehicle towards a four story cliff with bad brakes.

Looking over the edge at the top

That’s how it felt with the Kirkfield Lift Lock today.

You don’t appreciate how high up you are until you enter the lock chamber and look over the bow, and then you realize you are suspended in your boat more than four stories in the air.

Who needs an E-ticket ride to Disneyland… if there is such a thing when you do that.

Luckily, nothing happened other than we got the boat stopped and we made it through safely.

We continued on.

Selkie creeping along under a bridge built in 1907, with shallow water.

At one point, the channel was so narrow that we were required to broadcast a warning on channel 16 so that anyone that was similar to our size would know we were coming… and decide whether they wanted to wait, or if they wanted to risk getting caught with us in the channel.

The section where we were required to report on the radio we were coming through

That was 5 miles of wondering who was coming the other way, and if we would all fit. The channel was narrow enough that we would have difficulty turning Selkie around.

We ended at the mouth of the Trent Canal at Simcoe Lake for the evening.

The entrance to the Trent Canal from Simcoe Lake at sunset.

The Tres Amigos got together for Docktales and discussed the next day.

Then Libbie and I made pizza and went to bed.

The next day (today) the Tres Amigos decided to split up at least for a couple days.

We all had different agendas, and needed to be in different places.

But that’s what doing the Loop gets you: new friends and contacts to stay in touch with, scouting out different parts of the Loop and keeping each other informed.

We will see each other in a couple days. And if it suits us, we will hang together some more.

Tonight after an uneventful day, we found ourselves anchored in Duck Bay of Sparrow Lake. There wasn’t a soul in sight as the sun set.

At anchor in the long twilight up north. The moon is starting to show itself as well.

It was just Libbie, me, a few loons calling and a million mosquitos.

Luckily, the wildlife are all outside and Libbie and I are comfortably resting inside.

We continue on 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.

One reply on “On the Downslope”

What an adventure!! I’d need Xanax and then I’d be No help at all!
You wenthrough Lake Simcoe? We have friends who had a B&B there for several years. A beauty of a place. Stay safe. Greetings from chilly Tahoe.

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