The Big Chute!

July 8, 2016 – Departing Orillia, we hoped to make Port Severn and finish the waterway system in one day.   From Orillia, we moved onto a pretty large body of water called Lake Couchiching.   Finally making some speed, we encountered 3 boats coming towards us while overtaking another.   We moved out of the channel a bit as the charts said we were OK.   Unfortunately, charts and the helmsman (Mike R), were in error and Bang!, we hit bottom and messed up our propellers.   The bottom here is all rock – all rock, yes rock, so bad news.      We had some vibration but could still make good speed so kept going, hoping to find someone to fix things in the Port Severn area.    Frustrating…………..

We made good progress but the endless cottages close to shore kept us from making good speed as we would have had too large a wake and potentially damaged their docks.     As a result, we missed the cutoff time at the Big Chute by 15 minutes.   Soooooooo, overnight at the lock wall right beside the Chute.

The Big Chute is one of the few railroad “locks” in existence.   Basically, a rig travels on railroad tracks into the water.  Your boat is hauled up on straps, and the rig, or railroad car, travels along over land to the other side, where it enters the water again and you float off the straps.    They let you ride along inside the boat and it is a weird feeling to see the boat come out of the water.   Certainly one of the highlights of the trip!!!   We have video, but the internet connection won’t let us upload it right now.  Maybe when we get home we can add it.


One side note on Lake homes.   In Canada, they call them cottages, and folks who own them and come up for weekends “cottagers”.   An apt description for sure, eh?  On this portion of the Trent, there are innumerable cottagers with their cottages.   Some are small, some large, some beautiful, some not.     This section of the waterway is basically a large river, or series of small interconnected lakes.   As a result, the waterway is not wide, perhaps 1000 feet or so for most of this section.    For those who don’t know this Evening Star throws quite the wake, so we have to go slow along the entire section lest our massive Tsunami of wake damages the cottagers docks (I know we mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating).    After a while, seeing a thousand cottages at 6 mph can get, well, boring……   The Big Chute made up for it though, and after going a few more miles we finished with our last lock at Port Severn.     46 locks done!

We decided to stay in a town called Midland as there was a marina there we felt could help with the props.   Sure enough, in a day they had replacements (ouch on the $ side), and we were off to the Georgian Bay.    Not without first checking out the town though, with it’s street art and awesome Auntie Ann’s bakery.

Mike and Ann departed to Toronto, then Mobile and home.    Donna, Kelly and Brian came from Raleigh via shuttle from Toronto along with Islay, Kelly’s friend from studying abroad.   Islay lives in Toronto and knows Georgian Bay and the area around Pointe au Baril, which is where we will head next.



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