Monday, June 21, 2010

Evil Weed

Among the Top Ten Reasons to Own a Canal Boat? It's really, really easy to follow the traffic rules! (see photo at right)

On Friday we left the port of Trenton and entered the Trent-Severn Waterway. We couldn't help comparing it to the Erie Canal. Both canal systems aimed to give commercial boats a shortcut to and from the Great Lakes. Work on the Trent started around the same time the Erie was completed. But though the Erie opened in 1825, it took 87 years to finish the Trent-Severn--by which time it wasn't much needed, what with trains and trucks and all.
But--as with the Erie--the Trent is now an attractive destination for recreatonal boaters.

Leaving Trenton you go through 6 locks in rapid succession. We enjoyed seeing the sustainable technology used to open and close the lock gates. Check the photo at left.  Lock tenders grab that metal handle sticking up out of the pavement, then walk round and round in circles, kind of like kids pushing one of those tiny playground merry-go-rounds, to winch the gates into position. No electricity required!

Our bank o' batteries was fully charged and we were traveling on solar power. Just past Lock 4, Bill happened to check the battery meter--and was startled to see the charge was low and falling fast. Yikes! It seems water milfoil (an invasive species) had once again gotten tangled around the propeller, making the electric motor labor overtime and draining the juice.

Time for a swim. The evil green stuff was wrapped around the metal struts that protect the propellor in frighteningly great gobs. Bill wrestled them away, then climbed sopping aboard and went to fire up the diesel, to give the batteries a break. (Running the batteries too low wrecks them.)

Nada. Deja vu all over again!

Luckily it was a sunny day and we limped our way through two more locks. At Lock 6 the locktenders directer us to tie up to the wall, to wait for a boat coming down. At our super-low speed we had little steerage and hit the wall hard enough to make one fender pop off. Luckily the crew on the boat coming through helped us retrieve it.

The reward for a stressful day: a lovely spot to camp above Lock 8.


  1. Red sun at night, sailor's delight. Nice!

  2. In the UK canalboats have "weed hatches" above the props so you can clear them without going into the water. We normally find polly bags and rag, not weed causing the problem