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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Trent-Severn Here We Come

Hi All…It’s Ben again - in the Trent-Severn Waterway,
Ever since Sally left I’ve been taking her place standing guard on the bow of the boat when we’re in the locks. I’m not sure what else she did up here, but Jeff keeps trying to get me to do some sort of rope thing.I sure wish she’d come back so I could get some sleep.

We took the “Izzy R” to Clayton, NY, in the Thousand Islands, to go to the Antique Boat Museumwhere they keep a lot of old wooden boats. Jeff spent a long time looking at them. I hope he’s not thinking of getting a smaller boat like that and leaving me behind just because I don’t know what to do with that rope. Jeff and Izzy took a ride in one of the old boats named “Miss 1000 Islands II”. They took some pictures.

This is Jeff trying to talk the captain into driving really fast. There are houses on little rock islands. The only way there is by boat. All this water freezes in the winter, so they make roads on the ice and line them with Christmas trees so people can ride their snow mobiles to get around.All the cottages on the shore have special garages for their boats linning the waterfront. Our garage in Irvine is never under the water like that. When their ride was over, they came to the 'Izzy R' and got me so we could go tho the Farmers Market for some vegetables and a berry pie, and then to a music concert in the city park.
There was a fishing tournament going on that weekend, so we were all awakened the next morning at 6 AM by a bullhorn calling off the names of all 200 fast bass boats, and the roar as each one started off from the harbor beside our marina. I just buried my face in the corner and tried to sleep through it.We crossed back across Lake Ontario to Kingston again for another night then headed west to Picton where our friends Susan and Doug from “Goose Boots” live and keep their boat. Their dog Murphy travels with them.
Our first introduction to them was about a month ago on a windy, rainy day when they had to raft to our boat in the 32 ft. tall Saint Catherine Lock near Montreal. Izzy was on the bow holding the skinny nylon line dropped down from the top of the lock and pulled through our front cleat. It was tricky for her to keep the bow of the two rafted boats close to the wall because as the water rose the wind caught our enclosed flybridge. The boats swung out from the side of the wall for a few panicky moments as Izzy dug her heels into the rails on the slippery deck and pulled on the line like she does with my leash when I try to chase after one of those Canadian black squirrels. She finally got them back close to the wall in the wind. We continued to cross paths with Goose Boots through Ottawa and the Rideau Canal. They keep their boat in Picton, so when we got there, Izzy and Jeff did some tricky mooring twice (wrong ball the first time), in the pretty harbor. Susan and Doug picked them up and they all went for a little trip to the local wineries and dinner at a place called Portabella. I think it was Italian, because they came home raving about the good food, and they smelled like garlic. Murphy and I didn’t get to go…I think Murphy was on watch dog duty too.
We rolled out of bed the next morning and Izzy untied the funky line they rigged on the mooring ball, then we headed to Trenton, Ontario for our preparation to go through the Trent-Severn Waterway.Frazer Park Marina is the popular spot for most of the loopers and other cruisers in the area, and our boat was tied up right in front of the office and next to the fuel dock, so I had lots of opportunity to practice my watch dog techniques when anyone came by the boat. There was good ice cream in the marina office. (Jeff got some for me every day),and a nice park just steps away from my ramp where I could get some exercise and meet other people and dogs. Izzy and Jeff got their exercise walking around the little town and carrying those big wine bottles from the nearby LCBO store.

They also rode their bikes to the Canadian Air Force Museum. Jeff said he was surprised there was such a thing. They took some pictures there so I could see what I missed...This is a Halifax plane that was shot down in WWII and recovered from under water then put back together piece by piece. The bike ride there and back was a little tiring on the warm day, so when they got back to the boat, Jeff decided to get in the water and wash off some of the dirt on the boat that we couldn't reach from up here on the dry deck. Good way to cool off.Izzy and I had ice cream and watched.We said goodbye to the Frazer Marina and went under this bridge to start the Trent -Severn Waterway leg. I think everyone takes a picture of this as they go under that bridge.
The first day day we went through 8 locks. Jeff and Izzy were getting a routine down by the end of the day. They decided that Jeff would ease the boat into the lock and Izzy would tie up on a cable at the mid ship cleat, then got to the back and get the stearn. Then Jeff would come out and tie up the bow with a boat hook if it looked like we needed it.They wore their headsets so they didn't have to scream at each other. I guess they could still call each other bad names, but no one else would be able to hear them.
Do you see the kids standing on the railroad bridge beyond the lock gates in the next picture? They were jumping into the canal from up ther and having a lot of fun. When we passed, they all jumped in together and tried to splash me! There are all ages of people swimming in the water as we passed the cottages along the canal. Here's a grandma and grandpa. and finally stopped at the top of Percy Reach Lock. On our way into the lock we saw this crazy dog barking and barking as he was swimming after a goose in the big lake. The goose would swim just far enough away from the dog to make him think he might be able to catch it, so eventually the dog was way out in the middle of the lake and getting tired when the goose just flew away. Luckily his owner lived nearby and had a little boat that he put in the water and went out to rescue the dumb dog. I'm glad he wasn't blonde...we already get enough bad press.
Each of the locks here in Canada seems to have a real nice park beside it with grass, picnic tables and barbecue grills for the people and their dogs in the boats that want to tie up for the night.The locks close at 7 o'clock, so the water gets still and it's real peaceful. Usually there aren't any lights, so there are lots of stars to see after dark.

After we had our barbequed chicken on the boat, we took a walk around the quiet lock and took some pictures. Before long the mosquitoes came out in full force and we hightailed it back the "Izzy R' and closed the doors. Izzy and Jeff had a "swat fest" that night trying to chase those little buggers out of the boat before bedtime.

It's nice to have Izzy to myself for a few days so she'll snuggle up with me on the flybridge.Our next stop was in Campbellford where we bought 1,058 liters of fuel for the boat at 90 cents per liter. Jeff says we pay big money for fuel. In the park right down the waterfront from the gas station is this giant "Tooney". I think Jeff is right...it is big money in Canada. Jeff needed some cheering up after that. Izzy reminded him that it's just "Canadian", but that didn't help much, so we walked to the Chocolate Factory and bought big bags of goodies to make him feel better. Then Izzy took him to dinner at a little restaurant in town called Capers. The said it was the best dinner they have had since Vergennes. They must have liked it because I didn't get any leftovers at all.

A few more days of locks and we arrived in Peterborough where we were going to meet Sandy and Dimitry the next day. There were pirates in the lock with us having a water battle. This one got me wet with his squirt gun.They told us there was a free concert in the park in town that night. Sounded like fun, so we planned to go, too.

After we got settled for the rest of the day at the lock wall, the rain started. But Jeff can't sit still for long, so he got ansy and decided to get the bike out and take a ride to a book store about two miles away. He has been looking for some magazine about old engines and thought he might find it there...so off he went in the rain. Here's a picture of "rain man", as Izzy called him, as he came home sopping wet a couple of hours later. She made him dump the water out of his shoes before he came inside the boat.

After the rain stopped, the sun cam out for a while so we walked down to the concert area, but it had been called off due to the rain. I was diasappointed that I didn't get to see the pirates again and squirt them back for getting me wet on the boat that afternoon. We came home and had an early night so Jeff and Izzy could get ready for Sandy and Dimitry's arrival.
I went to bed and watched the sunset...red sky at night, sailor's delight! Love,

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On the Rocks - Montreal to Ottawa to Kingston with Sally

Hi All...Ben here in Canada, eh?
Sadly, Wendy and Jim left us in Montreal to go home to Colorado. It was fun having them around. Jeff and Izzy are always happy and laughing, and that means more treats for me! The ‘Izzy R’ took off again soon after Wendy and Jim left for the airport. We briefly went east on the St. Lawrence in a fast current, and set a new ‘Izzy R’ speed record – 13.5 knots (Yikes!)and then westward on the Ottawa River towards Canada’s capital. On the way we went through the 65’ high Carillon Lift Lock. I think this is the tallest one we'll go through here in Canada. We stayed on the wall below the lock for the night so we got to walk around check it out before going through it. It was scary looking from the top. This was taken from the top of the lock looking down to our boat parked along the wall. And this is the view into the lock on the other side as the boats go in to be lifted the 65 feet to the top water level. These are the lock doors that keep the water in. According to the sign, we may have to raft up in there to get a lot of boats in at one time. Here we are tied to the floating dock inside the tall lock. When I barked it echoed in here. Jeff and I had stern line duty. After all the boats were safely tied up and the big doors closed, the water raised quickly, and we were out of there and on our way, 65 feet higher, within 15 minutes.A couple days later we were looking for a quiet anchorage in the rain near a huge log cabin (Izzy called it Chateau Montebello) when a nice man named Paul Beam came down his personal dock and invited us to tie up there for the night. Naturally I barked at him, until he scratched me and I could smell his dog on his clothes. Turns out he was Univ. of Waterloo English professor and a great guy! He and his wife, Mary, came out and helped us tie up, then invited Izzy and Jeff to their house for a glass of wine to chat with them and their neighbors. They had a nice visit with them and even came home with fresh lettuce from their garden. Izzy loved that because she really likes salads, and we don’t get fresh vegetables at every stop. I could smell their dog Molly on Izzy’s clothes, so I was looking forward to meeting Molly the next day. That night we barbecued on the boat and looked at the pretty sunset from our sundeck. In the morning, I got my wish to meet Molly. She was real nice and didn't mind if I peed on her front grass. Then Paul gave us a tour of the "mini Montebello Chateau" that is on their island. Izzy took some pictures while I roamed around inside smelling the smells and imagining the vacationers having a good time romping in the grass, and cuddling up to the big fireplace in the huge living area with the comfy sofa and rugs. Dogs’ paradise, if you ask me. Look at the size of that moose head! This was a nice stop…I hope we’ll see Paul, Mary and Molly again sometime and return the favor in California.
Our next stop was Ottawa, and we anchored below the Ottawa Falls for the night so we could get an early start in the morning to meet Parke Davis, our old friend from my sunny days in Fort Lauderdale. Here's a picture of a sightseeing boat getting real close to the falls the scare the tourists.Parke and Moira live in Ottawa and we have been looking forward to having Parke join us on the boat as we go through the famous flight of eight locks up into the heart of downtown Ottawa and the start of the Rideau River. Doesn't look so big from a distance, but it took us two and a half hours to go through all eight locks and get up to the top of the river.Parke was waiting for us on his bike at the bottom of the locks. He jumped onboard and we started up the locks with Parke manning the stern line. Goose Boots with my dog friend Murphy tied up next to us in the flight of locks. Parke helped us up the locks and we had a good time talking about ole times in Florida where it never rained. For part of the way we were accompanied by a cute little bystander boy named Ryan who was there with his grandparents watching the boats in the lock. Here he is with his grandmother looking a little suspicious of Izzy taking a picture of him.His expression changed when Jeff invited him aboard to join us for a ride up a few locks. We got out the littlest lifejacket (besides mine!) and Ryan jumped on to go up several locks and help us as the rain started. Here I am showing him around the boat
. And here he is with Parke on the stern.After two and a half hours, we reached the top of the locks. This is looking back down to the bottom where we started.
We passed the Parliament building, and tied up on the wall right in downtown Ottawa where the tourist boats pass by regularly and wave to us. This is the beginning of the Rideau Canal. Very cool spot with access to the city and good walking for me and and biking for Jeff and Izzy. Parke had his bike with him, so Izzy and Jeff joined him on a ride through Ottawa. Here they are in front of the Spider at the Art Museum. I’m not very good on a bike, so I stayed on the boat as the OWD and took a rest. I heard the Mounties and bagpipers march past and thought about our friend Debbie Grayston who loves the bagpipes. She’d like it here. They play a couple of times a day when they have the “changing of the guard”. Nobody ever played bagpipes for me when I go on duty…must just be a Canadian thing.
Later that day, the Captains’ sister Sally came from New Hampshire to help us travel the Rideau Canal down to Kingston, Ontario. Everybody left me again and went out to dinner with Sally, Parke, and his wife Moira, then to see the light show on the Parliment building. This is what the building looks like in the day time...and this is what it looks like during the light show.They play music and shine pretty colored lights on the old stones for about 30 minutes, ending with the Canadian National Anthem.
Next day Moira was nice enough to give up her day and take Izzy and Sally shopping to Costco and the wine store in Ottawa, then to Parke’s Yacht Club, where Jeff and Parke went sailboat racing. They said they got “DFL”, and were laughing and drinking beer.

Sally got a quick orientation to the boat to be ready for the first day with eight locks on the Rideau on a hot and sunny day. People were swimming in the canal as we passed by the cottages along the route.These kids were looking in the water at the fish swimming in the clear water in one of the locks. When we went through the locks, Sally had the stern line duty the first day and got to chat and joke with lots of lock hands and the people on the shore watching the “show”. She was repeatedly asked the same two questions that we hear most often:
1. How did you get the boat here from California?
2. What kind of dog is that?
She got pretty good at answering the first question after a little practice with the map. But she got tired of trying to describe my ancestry, and I heard her tell someone that I was a “California Beagle”…guess she thought we were far enough away that they might believe her. She got a few strange looks. The joke caught on to the rest of the crew, and I have been labeled with a variety of fictitious breeds, such as the “Alaskan Licks-a lot”, the “American Boat Hound”, and the “Yankee Doodle”.
Following our 8 locks that day, we had a BBQ on board at Hurst Marina.Next to us was a Cigarette boat which made really loud V8 noises and didn’t have any inside space at all. Jeff said they used $400 in fuel on the same trip where we burned $40 of fuel. It looked like fun until the mosquitoes and the rain set in big time. Then, I decided I liked the trawler style better with my soft dry bed. Meanwhile, Jeff, Izzy and Sally sat on the sundeck just a little too long that night enjoying their wine while the mosquitoes invaded our boat, too. We had a “swat fest” for a while until we got them all chased out.
Sally jumped right in and helped with all the chores. Here she is fixing me a peanut butter sandwich!And here she is taking me for a walk to stretch my legs. She sure is nice to me. Next days locks got us to Merrickville – rainy again – what a surprise! We went through a few bridges that had to swing out of our way so we could pass through. This guy was turning it by hand. Looks like a lot of work.Sometimes the bridges lift up instead like this. That night at the Merrickville Lock we had a BBQ on the boatand watched the wild life and a beautiful sunset before the mosquitos took over the sundeck. This is a Red-Winged Blackbird that was in the marsh beside our boat. And this is one of those Canadian black squirrels that I love to chase.There are loads of Lily Pads floating in the waters around here.Izzy picked one to float in a dish on our table one night.

Sally and Izzy were always looking for the Loons that make that haunting call in the evenings and at night.Sometimes they carry their babies on ther backs like the one in this picture that I got off the internet. Izzy wants to find a real picture like this sometime, so she runs for her camera each time she hears the Loon call. Next morning was clear, and Jeff walked me around to the Annual Merrickville Car and Truck Show. Lots of tires to sniff, but he wouldn't let me pee on them.Locks, locks, and more locks! These ladies came in a boat and tied up at one of the locks. Izzy said they are the Red Hat Ladies, and sure enough they were all wearing red hats and lots of purple clothes. They were having lots of fun and taking pictures.

I like to socialize with the lock people so it's fun for me, but these days there was a little terse chatter between crewmembers about lines and locking procedures. Jeff has to pull into the locks with these two women who like to do things their own way, and sometimes it's tricky getting the lines around the cables in the lock with the wind blowing and other boats beside us.They're still trying to figure out the best way to tie up this big unweildy boat quickly. Jeff gets a little frustrated sometimes, but I think he tries to keep his cool because they fix the dinner. Here's Sally with the big orange fender she has to wrestle over the rail when we go through the locks.However, at about “5:00 o’clock somewhere”, the talk softens, and everyone laughs and has a good time, and I get a walk, some more scratching and a few treats for being a good dog all day.
Nine locks later we arrived at Poonamalie, and had refreshments with the folks on Goose Boots, and traded stories. Their dog, Murphy liked to lie out on the grass next to the lock-wall and kick back. Sally took me to make friends. Next day some more narrows and locks, and we wound up in Westport. They had a neat canoe-making shop, and we got to chat with the owner for quite a while. Great ice cream, and the gang all got “Life is Good” t-shirts. I am about ready for a ‘Life is Good’ collar, but did anybody step up for me?...no way, Jose!

After Westport, as we were snaking through some narrows, Jeff missed a sharp turn into a channel to the left. As he casually went straight through, he ran aground again! This time it wasn’t in some little sand patch, but on the ROCKS! After I took this picture, I made sure I was in my bed listening to XM Radio so I wouldn't be blamed for something I clearly didn't do!The white dot is us sitting on a green rock bed, instead of following the black line around the Elbow Channel! This time it was bad – we couldn’t get the boat to budge and the propellers made a terrible grinding sound if they turned at all. Jeff and Izzy got the dinghy down from it’s perch,and Jeff got in and rigged up some lines and reved up the motor.We were a little skepticle about that little 25 HP dinghy pulling this 53,000 lb boat off the rocks, but there wasn't much choice other than to try it. Izzy and Sally stayed with me and cheered him on. It looked kind of funny from our vantage point…kind of like Jeff was waterskiing in the dinghy off the back of our boat! First to the right , then to the left, trying to wiggle the big boat off the rocky bottom. A passing fisherman came by and tried to help with his 50 HP motor at the same time. Between the two we moved a little but still weren’t free. The fishermen finally left and said they’d check back with us in a while to see if we still needed help. Jeff kept trying different approaches…from side to side. After an hour of tugging, we felt a little movement, and off we came! Good thing Jeff was persistant in pulling us off, because the Tow Boat US said it would have taken 2 days to get there! I’m sure we have more skid marks on the bottom, and I’m sure the ‘Cap’ will try to lay off some of the blame on me! It never fails!

Finally we arrived in Kingston, Ontario, and fortunately Sally agreed to stay another day. She is really nice to me, and never blames me for any screw-ups. She takes me for lots of walks, too. I heard they had a great dinner at the “Wooden Head” restaurant while I stayed back to be the OWD (Official Watch Dog). Next day she had to go back to New Hampshire – too bad. I hope she comes back again to see us.

This has been a long post, and I'm really tired, so I'll sign off for now and write more another time.