Orillia, Ontario to Midland, Ontario and the Big Chute

This will be a short post tonight, but I never like to miss an opportunity when we have the Internet at our service!

We left Orillia yesterday after deciding to sit out Sunday’s rainstorm. It all worked out for the best, though, because there was a bakery nearby as well as a grocery store.   When I stopped at the office to pay for an extra night, the man who runs the town marina told me that I should not miss Mariposa, a bakery/deli/gift shop/candy store in town. He also mentioned that, if I went to the grocery store, I should just walk back with the cart and bring it right to the boat with my provisions. This was too good to be true for me! While John worked in the engine room, I headed out to make sure we had plenty of supplies when we entered the Georgian Bay. There, it is very remote and towns are far apart. It seemed like a good idea to be sure we were well supplied before we started that adventure. After finishing my shopping and putting everything away, we enjoyed a nice night at Orillia. We will definitely go back there on the way back down the canal.

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The first palm tree I’ve seen since April!

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Families were out enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday.

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Many of the homeowners named their property.

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Proving again that it doesn’t take a lot tp enjoy life!

Leaving Orillia brought us through some beautiful cruising grounds. Homes lined the shores of the narrow waterways and the lakes. Some were large, some were small, but they were all beautifully kept summer homes.

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These boats are moving across the highway.

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Waiting for the boats to head down.

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Down the hill and back into the water.

We had a lock to pass through and another lake and some narrow channels  to cross but after a few hours we found the Big Chute. Although it is called a lock, it really is an over ground marine railway system that moves boats over a change in height of about 60 feet. This lock actually lifts the boats out of the water, takes them over a highway, and then takes them back down a hill and places them back in the water. It was a little scary to think about them lifting AfterMath’s almost 30 tons out of the water, so we docked her and went to check out what would happen before we went through. It turns out that this 100-year old system is safe and efficient. It is also the easiest lock we have gone through on the whole trip.

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Making our way into Big Chure.  The lockmasters call boats in the order they want them to load.

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Getting the slings just right.

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The boat in front of us.
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Over the road.

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At the top

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Going down.

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The hill we descended.

To enter Big Chute, a boat is simply driven into a roped off area that contains a large palette like platform. The crew’s only preparation is to bring in the fenders. Once in the platform, lockmasters ask the owners how long their boats are and how much they draw (how much water is needed before they hit bottom).   They also ask if the boat has stabilizers and if the props are above or below the keel. Owners are welcome to have input on where slings should be positioned, but the lockmasters know boats well and are very comfortable with placements. From this point, the boat has slings placed around it to keep it from moving, and an underwater platform starts to move forward. As it is going uphill, before long the boat is raised out of the water and begins to rest on it’s keel. Soon all of the boats are out of the water and crossing a highway, then up the hill a little more, and soon back down a hill until the platform is back underwater. At this point, the boat owners start the engine and drive away. It’s an amazing and ingenious way to move boats.

Once we went through the Big Chute, we decided to stay at the bottom of the lock. It was a peaceful night and we were the only ones there.

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More beautiful scenery along the way

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Closing the valves on the lock takes hand cranking.


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Done with locks for a few weeks!!

This morning we made our way to the last lock on the Trent-Severn Waterway. For the next few weeks we will be lock free! We traveled to Midland, which is on the eastern edge of the Georgian Bay and we were very happy to have arrived here, as it was one of our big goals of this trip. Before moving into the Bay, John wanted to stop and get the oil changed on AfterMath as we were approaching 200 engine hours and he wanted to be sure everything was ship-shape before entering this remote area. The oil will be changed tomorrow and we will head out as soon as possible after that job is done. It is Canada Day here tomorrow, July 1, so if we end up spending another night, we will hope to see some of the celebrations. If we are done early, however, we will make our way into the bay. It is time to make some new memories!

And here is where we are tonight.

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2 thoughts on “Orillia, Ontario to Midland, Ontario and the Big Chute

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