Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rideau Canal, Westport to Kingston

July 2-5, 2012

After the big Canada Day celebration the night before, we left Westport early in the morning on July 2, heading for Jones Falls, were we had made reservations at the dock of the historic Hotel Kenney, the Rideau’s oldest resort hotel, built in 1877. Today would be Karen’s first introduction to the Rideau locks, and we would traverse 7 of them. She also took a hand a driving.IMG_0304

The first lock of the day was Newboro, which marks the highest point on the Rideau.  Before this, we were always locking upstream.  From now on, we lock downstream. This was also the point where we shifted the little red-green thingy on the helm to remind us that the red buoys would now be on our port, an important thing to remember, particularly in the twists and turns through sometimes very shallow waters.

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The lock stations on this stretch of the Rideau are particularly pretty and appealing, and their lock walls were all full for the holiday weekend. We were smart to have stayed at Westport for the holiday, because we might not have found a spot at any of these locks.  Chaffeys Lock, Davis Lock and the four Jones Falls locks were particularly attractive. But it’s hard to pick a favorite spot on the Rideau, particularly in the Rideau Lakes area – it’s all beautiful scenery, quaint small towns and friendly, welcoming lock crews.

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At the first of the four Jones Falls locks – the last three being another stairstep series – we had a short wait to allow the boats ahead of us to lock through.  We took the opportunity to visit the working blacksmith’s forge where they made all the ironwork for the Rideau locks in the 1840s.  We also visited Sweeney House, the original lockmaster’s house, a “defensible” structure meant to serve as a fortress in the event of an attack by the Americans (which again, never happened). The guide in period costume showed us through the house and explained the life of the lockmaster and his family.  It was considered a prestigious position, but it was a lonely life.  Lockmaster Sweeney’s diary contains many notations “C.D.H.A.Q.”, which meant, “Catherine Drunk. Had a Quarrel.”

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The stairstep locks:


Immediately below the the four locks at Jones Falls, we pulled into the dock at the Hotel Kenney, along with Serenity and Endurance. It’s a very small hotel, nothing fancy, but charming enough to see why it has lasted since 1877. They also have a beautiful view of the bottom of the locks. We enjoyed a cold beer sitting under a tree on the hotel’s pretty grounds. They had a nice flower garden with several birdfeeders, and I was excited to see my first hummingbird of the season.  You don’t see many hummers on the water!

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While we were taking a walk around the locks and dam, we heard that Jackets was coming through the locks, so we walked up and visited with Stephen and Charlotte as they locked through. We hadn’t seen them since before Ottawa, I think.

Later, we took a dinghy ride and then had dinner in the hotel dining room.  A really excellent meal and a great value – four courses for $29! And a beautiful view of the lock and Blue Heron.


The next morning we left early again and headed towards the end of the Rideau at Kingston, where Karen would catch her train the following day. It was a picture perfect morning on Whitefish Lake.

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We went through seven more locks that day, bringing us to a grand total of 44 locks on the Rideau over the past 10 days.  That’s 44 of the 145 plus or minus we will traverse on the whole Loop. Karen said she now understands why we say we’re getting so much exercise on this trip!


After waiting a short while for the hourly lift bridge in Kingston, we arrived at our slip at Confederation Basin marina, right in downtown Kingston.  We found lots of other Loopers there.  Kingston is a small but interesting city.  It was the original capital of Canada and retains a lot of its historical feel.  Because Karen had such a short time there, we jumped on a sightseeing trolley that took us all around the town.  It was a great way to see a lot in a little time.

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That day was our 41st anniversary and we went to eat at a highly recommended restaurant called Le Chien Noir (The Black Dog). We had a wonderful meal, and we were joined by Stephen and Charlotte (Jackets II).  We had celebrated their 31st anniversary back in May in Kingston, New York, and we had joked at the time that maybe we’d all be together to celebrate ours in Kingston, Ontario.  And here we were!


The next morning friend Doug Overbury came to the marina to pick up Karen to take her to the train station for her trip back to Toronto. Her time with us went so fast, but we had a wonderful time together on one of the prettiest parts of the trip, and perfect weather.

After taking Karen to the train, Doug came back and removed the alternator from the starboard engine to take back to his shop to check the bearings.  It would be an all day project, so at his suggestion, Craig and I hopped on a 3-hour sightseeing cruise around the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River.  Yes, we paid money to ride another boat!  Actually, we hoped to see some of the famous Thousand Islands, but they are really off course for our trip.  Rather than back-tracking, we thought we’d take this opportunity to let someone else do the driving and navigating.  And it cost less than using our own fuel would have!  It was a relaxing afternoon and we really enjoyed it.

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Our Fourth of July celebration that night was pretty low key, although we enjoyed a short fireworks display shot off from Ft. Henry across the harbor.  There was also a spectacular moon rising over the water.


The next morning, Doug came back to reinstall the alternator, and drove us to West Marine and Walmart for some needed supplies.  Again, we can’t thank him enough for all he has done for us during our stay in this area.

Around midday, we set off along the shore of Lake Ontario towards the little harbor town of Picton, where we would spend the night.  There was a stiff wind, so the the lake got a bit choppy in parts, but mostly it was smooth sailing.  Along the way we passed the tall ship St. Lawrence II, a training vessel homeported in Kingston. She is participating in many events over the next two years commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and it was fun to see her underway in full sail.


Next up, Picton and the Pipers!


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