This is update #7 as we cover Fred and Sidonia St. Germaine's trip along The Great Loop in their Nimbus 405 Coupe. Links to the other updates are below.
Our last segment ended with the couple on their way to Trenton, Ontario, the entrance to the Trent-Severn Waterway. They had left Picton, a quaint and fun little town full of energy and people enjoying themselves during the summer and stopped for the night in Belleville.
They did not find any joie d’vivre in Belleville as in the previous Canadian towns. That is frankly understandable, as Belleville has a population about 10 times larger than the other towns they have visited in Canada.
Belleville is a commercial and industrial city, and home for companies and corporations too long to list. However, readers will recognize some of them: Proctor & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Parmalat Canada, and the Canadian headquarters of the North Carolina-based corporation of cloud communications, Avaya.
Instead of small downtown streets line with shops, restaurants, flowerpots, and ice cream parlors, Belleville has two large shopping malls. So, it was no surprise Sidonia and Fred had a different experience here.
“Our internet connection here has been a problem, so we hooked onto the marina wifi. We were finally able to catch up on emails and other things for which we needed the internet.
“We rode around town trying to find historical buildings or houses and anything that had historical interest. While we saw lots of old buildings, we saw no plaques to indicate dates or historical significance. We returned to the boat with our initial impression intact. Belleville did not impress us very much. On the other hand, Crate Marine was a very nice place to dock for a day or two.
“We left at 2:00pm on Friday, July 1st, and soon passed a large Canada Day celebration going on at a waterfront park.”
The distance from Belleville to Trenton is less than 10 miles, and as the waters begin to shallow, and there are water hazards that threaten larger, deep draft cruisers.
“As we approached Trenton, we passed a flock of mute swans and stopped so I could take a photo. When we started back up, we couldn’t get up on a plane. The water is shallow here and full of seaweed which had wrapped around our props. Fred reversed a few times and that seemed to help.
“Once we reached Trenton, we headed over to Trent Port Marina. As Fred backed into our slip, five men came down the finger pier to give us a hand. After we tied down, they stood around asking us about our boat and wanting to look inside. There were more compliments, and they were very impressed with the visibility we enjoy from the helm of the Nimbus 405 Coupe.
(Seen below: Trenton Port Marina.)
“Later in the day, two locals stopped by to ask if we needed anything. They offered to drive us to the store or wherever we needed to go.
“Given the excitement of Canada’s national celebration, the marina was full of owners on their boats ready to watch the fireworks set off right across the river.
“We had the best seats in the house for the fireworks show and Trenton really puts on a great show. Some of the pyrotechnics seemed so close I expected sparks to rain down on our boat. When the impressive show ended, people all around us cheered, and, of course, everyone honked their horns.
“The Trent Port Marina is fairly new and the premium, 375-slip marina is the nicest we’ve ever been to. The main building is attractive and clean and offers a nice lounge and TV area. There are free laundry facilities and individual toilet and shower rooms that are sparkling clean. Altogether a very nice marina.
“While doing laundry the next morning, I enjoyed talking with two other Loopers, Elizabeth on ‘No Agenda’ and Lynn on ‘Acadia.’ We had seen their boats along the way but had not had a chance to talk with them.
Located on the Bay of Quinte, Trenton can handle the many tourists who arrive there, and many come on boats as part of the Great Loop. Trenton is the east end starting point for the Trent-Severn Waterway, which winds through Canada northwest to Peterborough and exits at Port Severn on Georgian Bay into Lake Huron.
The town offers many tourist attractions, and is home for many sports and recreation activities, with nine golf courses, hiking trails, even three hockey rinks.
Many years ago, Trenton was once considered “Hollywood North,” as film studios made silent movies here until the early 1920s.
Today its main employer is the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Canadian Forces Base Trenton/8 Wing is based here, a transport group with search and rescue operations. Trenton is also the site of the National Air Force Museum of Canada.
There is much to see and do in Trenton. And next week, Trenton will host its “Downtown Trenton’s Festival on the Bay,” a three-day festival of live music (all day for three days), sidewalk shopping, a fireworks and drone show, arts, pancakes for the kids… Three days of family fun to celebrate the summer. But Sidonia and Fred would miss the party as their journey continues.
“We rode our scooters through the nicely landscaped city park and around town, then picked up a few groceries at the Metro store, conveniently close to the marina. Just after we got back, another local boat owner came by and gave us freshly baked banana nut muffins.
“The hospitality we received in Trenton was second to none.
“A short taxi ride away from the marina is the Trenton Golf Club. It is quite different from the other courses we’ve played on this trip because it has many elevation changes, and the fairways are much drier. On many holes, we couldn’t see the distant green from the tees as they were behind a big hill or below us somewhere. But we lost no balls today.
“Back at the marina, we bought a couple of ice cream cones. The winds were up as we walked back to the boat, and my good old straw hat blew off my head into the water.
“We couldn’t reach it even stretched out with a golf club in hand. The wind was slowly moving my favorite hat toward another pier, so I went over to that pier and waited. It was nearly a half hour before the hat got just within grabbing range, then stopped as it stuck in a patch of weeds just out of reach. The brim was totally under water by now and only the tip of the crown was dry.
“I called Fred to bring our extendable boat hook but though he got it got close to the hat, we couldn’t quite reach it. Another fellow went to his boat and got an even longer boat hook. His first attempt completely submerged the hat. He stabbed again, though, and was able to get under the hat and bring it in to me.
“The hat looked pretty forlorn, and it may not ever regain its shape, but it’s been my ‘go to’ hat for such a long time, I would hate to lose it.”
The next day, July 3rd, they would leave Trenton to enter the Trent-Severn Waterway (Trent Canal).
The canal connects Lake Ontario (at Trenton) to Georgian Bay (on Lake Huron) at Port Severn. This 240-mile waterway took 87 years to build and was completed in 1920. It includes 41 locks, and the lock chambers are 120-feet long and 32 feet wide. The waterway also includes a marine railway, and two hydraulic lift locks, one of which is the largest in the world, located at Peterborough, Ontario.
Of the many waterways along the Great Loop, one might argue this canal is the most exotic. It travels through beautiful sections of Canadian landscape. Over 122,000 boats travel this waterway each year.
“It’s official, we are now in the Trent-Severn Waterway. We were under way for five hours today and went a whopping six miles, going through six locks.
“At the first lock, we paid our transit fee of CAD $220, which is good for the entire waterway. The lock situation is a little different from the Erie and Oswego Canal locks. We locked up with the same three other boats through all six locks. These locks are small and only four boats in the 40–45-foot size range can fit.
“In the first three locks, we secured to the wall and another boat side-tied to us. The next three locks, we side-tied to another boat, which was easier as we didn’t have to tend our lines on the lock wall. One gets acquainted very quickly with the other boaters in the locks, as we are tied together for 20 to 30 minutes in each of the locks. It was a good time.
(Seen below: Some of the lockmasters had beautiful gardens.)
“We were totally surprised when we got to the top of the first lock and saw two lock attendants hand-cranking the lock doors open. No modern hydraulic systems are used, as they want to keep the locks as original as they can.
“As we entered the third lock, it looked like Niagara Falls coming over the top gate (the hinged upstream doors at the front of the lock chamber). Water is not supposed to come over the top of the lock gates, but we were assured that everything was fine. As we were traveling up in height in the waterway, they explained there were water level fluctuations today. Earlier, they had to hold up several boats in the lock until the water on the high side went down to safe levels.
“One of the lock attendants invited me to help crank the lock gates open. What looked like hard work was really very easy.
“We had hoped to tie to the wall after Lock #6 at the village of Frankford, but other Looper boats were already on the wall and there was no more room left for us. In our research we read about a restaurant serving terrific Asian fusion cuisine, and we really wanted to try it. So, we continued about a half-mile beyond the lock and anchored in a wide area in 9 feet of water. It was a very peaceful spot, with just a hint of occasional road noise from across the river, but mostly the lovely sounds of the breeze rattling the leaves in the trees and birds singing. It was very peaceful.”
The next morning, on July 4th, the boats tied to the wall above Lock #6 in Frankford continued on their way up the waterway. The crew of Last Item, still keen to explore Frankford, raised anchor and headed back to the now-open lock wall.
Unfortunately, after riding across the bridge into the little town, they found the the Asian restaurant, Riverside Restaurant, closed and apparently permanently. Even though its voice message indicated they would be open for lunch, it was obviously closed. (Its web presence also indicates business as usual, but no doubt it was a victim of Covid, which shuttered many small businesses across North America.
Undeterred, they backtracked to Dimitri’s Pizzeria and Restaurant not far away, where they ordered fish and chips. During their meal they saw Loopers Tina and Tommy from their boat, “Two T’s Aweigh.” They had met the couple in Trenton, and they sat down to catch up.
“A little after 1:00, we headed out again. Most of the time now we traveled slowly to keep our wake down, because people fished from small boats and there were numerous waterside homes with docks and boats. Homeowners complain to the lock masters if boaters don’t show proper courtesy when traveling such narrow waters.
“We made it through Danger Narrows without incident. It doesn’t really pose any problems unless one gets out of the channel and among the rocks on which we saw turtles sunning themselves. We passed through several marshy areas and saw more swans.
(Seen below: A narrow passage on the Trent River.)
“After going through Lock #7 at Glen Ross, we anchored off the main channel in a quiet side channel of the Murray Marsh called The Blue Hole. It is in a wetland that our Trent-Severn guidebook says is ‘one of the most valuable wetlands remaining in Ontario.’ On both sides there are acres of what look like cattails and waterlilies with bright yellow blossoms popping up.
“We covered 13 miles today in two hours and only had to transit one lock.
“We woke to raindrops on the boat, a wonderful sound that urged us to just turn over and go back to sleep. But we wanted to get an early start so we could cover more ground than we had in the past two days. So, we donned our rain gear and were ready for Lock #8 at Percy Reach when it opened at 9:00.”
The day would prove to be a blur of slow travel, one lock after another, in quick succession. Locking through 10 locks over 26 miles made for a long day.
It was also today they experienced their first “flight locks,” where one travels into a lock only to exit into another lock. Locks #11 and #12 at Ranney Falls combine to raise the boat 48 feet.
And the rapid order Healey Falls locks (#15, #16, #17) took them up an additional 76 feet.
(Seen below: Flight Lock #16)
“After #17, we worked our way through 15 miles of islands in Seymour Lake. There were a few spots where we could speed up but there were still many waterfront homes, so we slowed down.
“Fred and I expected more uninhabited areas along the Trent Severn and were surprised to see so many waterfront cottages. It’s no wonder, though, as it is such a lovely area with quiet waters lapping near your front porch.”
When they arrived at Lock #18 in Hastings, they were told to stay put at the lower lock entrance as the wall above the lock was already full of boats.
“The village of Hastings is small (population about 1,200) and without the tourism we’ve seen in other small towns. The next morning, we had an omelette at Bridgewater Coffee and Pizza, which was only a short walk from the boat.
“We left after breakfast and covered 42 miles in five hours. We made some speed through Rice Lake and occasionally in the river, but mostly our speed was no more than 7 knots.
“On entering Little Lake, we could see the 250-foot geyser of Peterborough’s famous fountain.
“The Peterborough Marina is just beyond the edge of town. Not too far from the docks is a large grassy area with a stage where Peterborough puts on weekly concerts on Wednesday nights throughout the summer. Tonight’s the night for a concert.
“We heard the band practicing in the afternoon, and they sounded pretty good, but we’re glad our boat is on a dock farther away from the 20 speakers we saw on stage.
“One of the boaters we met in the locks yesterday has his boat just down the dock from us. Sadly, he told us he hit something along the way and damaged his props and the bottom of his boat. He arranged for a diver to check the damage and replace one of the props.
“We, too, brought spare props along, just in case.”
On to Port Severn. See you next time.
Here are links to the LAST ITEM's previous Great Loop updates:
Update #1: Let's Go On The Great Loop!
Update #2: "Last Item" Begins The Great Loop
Update #3: Up The Hudson To Waterford
Update #4: Last Item Heads To Rome
Update #5: Big Water Ahead As LAST ITEM Heads to Oswego
Update #6: A Taste Of The Thousand Islands
Update #8: Deeper Into The Trent Severn
Update #9: Georgian Bay
Update #10: North Channel