Thursday, July 12, 2012

Upper Brewers Lock, Canada

Today we left Confederation Basin and headed north up the Rideau Canal.  The first obstacle was the bascule bridge at Kingston.  While waiting for it to open, we heard the road closure bell ring, and watched the crossing guards come down.  A truck tried to run the light, got across the bridge, and thwack, went right through the arm of the guard and broke it!

The Rideau is not a long ditch like the Erie, but is a channel with some canals linking a series of lakes.  The scenery is varied, but the boater stays in a channel marked with closely spaced green and red buoys, like being on a highway.

Then there were the locks.  Different locks, Canadian, built in the 1830's.  Preservationists would love it here.  Not much has changed, in that the locks still have their original equipment and are operated manually.  No pumps, no motors, only hand cranks.  The first flight was nerve wracking, as they want you to hang on bow and stern. 

They are smaller than the Erie Locks, and do not lift so high.   The lockmasters are very helpful, and the atmosphere is casual.  No radio contact, you pull up to the lock, tie up, and go find someone, chat for a bit, and eventually lock through. 

At the first set of locks, a flight of 4, the lockmaster asks your draft. If it is more than 5 feet, they tell you to turn around. Run by the Canadian Parks Dept., each lock or flight of locks has one park employee, and two young helpers. The helpers turn the cranks manually to empty the locks, open the doors, and reflood the lock. Hard work. A few locks have wooden swing bridges that are also manually opened and closed.

Along the way we saw several blue herons in flight and a 1.5 foot long turtle.  We stopped for the day early at Upper Brewers Lock, where we could let the dogs run for a bit and relax for the afternoon.  There are several Canadian couples here who came on their boats together, very friendly, with their own dogs.

Speaking of dogs, I've decided that River is a mutant food processing machine.  I bought two 250 bag rolls of dog poop bags from (no, I am not making that up).   I just hope the 500 bags last for the trip.

Our little tug is always the most unusual vessel in any group.  Thom had jokingly called it a "Gypsy RV", but it has turned out to be anything but.  Surprisingly comfortable for two people, we are very much at ease living in it.  As long as you adhere to "a place for everything and everything in its place", it stays uncluttered and quite pleasant and livable. A lot like a Manhattan apartment.


  1. As usual, I am charmed by your descriptions. I wonder why the Canadian towns have fared so much better than the towns along the Erie canal? And hand cranked locks?? Wow.

  2. By the way. The password word verification is a pain in the toukas. But you are worth the effort