Rideau Canal to Ottawa



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Rideau Canal to Ottawa
Monday August 09, 2004

August 9, 2004

We arrived in Ottawa yesterday after a six day transit of the Rideau Canal. The picture above is our view of the Parliament building as we are tied up at canal wall in the middle of downtown Ottawa. This is the first time we have had an Internet connection in a week so this log entry will cover our trip from Kingston through the Rideau Canal to Ottawa.

On August 3rd we left Kingston, passed under the causeway bridge and headed up the Rideau Canal through seven locks to Upper Brewers. There was no town close by so we had a peaceful night on the wall next to the lock. There is a picture in the photo gallery of a classic cruiser in one of the locks. The locks doors and valves are all manually operated and the picture shows the typical winch used to open the gates.

On August 4th we had a long run through six locks to Portand, Ontario on the Big Rideau Lake. This stretch had a number of cuts between lakes that were so narrow that you could almost reach out and touch the trees on both sides of the boat. At one point you had to sound your horn as there was no way for two boats to pass. My knuckles were too white to consider taking a picture passing through these cuts. We met two other cruising boats, TUMBLEWEED and VISTA 3, while locking through all these locks together. We all landed up at Len's Cove Marina and had dinner together. They had both cruised the area extensively so the evening was rich in gathering local knowledge.

On August 5th we got to open up on the Big Rideau Lake for an hour. This lake is beautiful with many islands and secluded anchorages. Many boaters holiday here for a week among the islands. This is a great destination cruising area for just chilling in some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen. At the end of the lake the canal necked down into a narrow winding river where we saw five foot depths at times. We had to proceed at six knots so the boat wouldn?t be draw down and ground. Even with the slowing we hit what was probably a sunken log with a good thump. Luckily, there was no damage but it rattled our nerves.

Our destination was Smith Falls. We tied up a long wall in town at the Victoria Park Boating and Camping Facility. A pretty area but you tie up to a rail fence along the wall which has 15amp service on the backside of the fence posts. Smith Falls has the Canal Museum. The canal was built as a reaction to the war of 1812 to insure war materials could reach Kingston without having to use the more vulnerable St. Lawrence River. It was directed by LTCOL By of the Royal Engineering Corps. The feat in the 1830?s was amazing. He left himself quite a legacy as there was no Ottawa in existence until the canal was built. Now it is the capital of Canada.

On August 6th we moved on to a stretch where the water was the shallowest yet and again we struck something but there was no damage. Our nerves were on edge so we stopped Merrickville for lunch and a rest. We tied to a floating pier in the pool created by the dam beside the lock. The town has attracted artist and crafts people so there were shops displaying lots of crafts. Each stop has its own texture and we enjoyed this little artist colony.

On August 7th we wanted to try for Ottawa but it was too far a run from Merrickville so we made it to the locks at Long Island. The lock has a park and walls with no facilities in a completely rural setting. We were the only boat at the down stream wall and had almost complete privacy. It was a quiet restful spot before the big city of Ottawa.

On Sunday, August 8th we arrived in Ottawa at lunch time and tied to the wall just above the eight step locks that take you down to the Ottawa River. You can see a picture of these locks in the photo gallery. We were joined by Debra and Chris Faulkner, Gwen's mom and dad in the afternoon and they gave us a walking tour of the city center. In the evening we enjoyed dinner with them and Chris's dad who cruised the area for scores of years. It has been great connecting with our in-laws. Our plan is for the five of us to do the locks and take a spin on the Ottawa River on Wednesday before heading down river to Montreal.

Our web publishing software has a limit on the number of pictures that can be posted so we will be culling some of our older pictures to make room for new ones as the cruise progresses.

There is still the possibility of a strike by the lock tenders but we decided not to let it change our plans to do the Chambly Canal to Lake Champlain. It may cause a delay but probably only for a day or two. The alternative is to return by going up the St. Lawrence River from Montreal and then the Erie Canal missing Lake Champlain. We will take our chances with the strike.


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