Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We May Be Slow, But We're Low

SlowBoat's customary speed of travel is 4 to 5 mph. This may not appeal to everyone. If my casual survey of other power boaters is any indication, it hardly appeals to anyone. (Sailboats think we're awesome however.)


Yup. We've been passed by kayaks.
Traveling at the speed of one human walking is a Zen experience. It's mellow. You see everything. There's time to indulge your inner naturalist and identify birds, trees, wildflowers. Plenty of time to page through those field guides as you slide on by.

And you make lots of friends, because everyone passes you: other powerboats, kayaks, pedal boats, senior citizens on tricycles, moms with jogging strollers, little kids pumping away on scooters.

So we're slow, but we're also low.  Just 9 feet from the waterline to the tippy top of our bimini (the canopy over our stern deck, once a charming expanse of fringed canvas, now a sleek expanse of solar panels.

This lowness was a major advantage on our Great Loop trip. And it's proving to be the same on our Little Loop excursion.

No Flying from Our Bridge

Many other boats  have flying bridges: second stories, or even third stories, where the Captain sits WAAAAY up high, master of all he surveys.  Add in the tall poles on which perch your Garmin, your Loran, and your satellite TV dish, and we're talkin' about 20 feet above the water.

So there's a nice view up there, but it also means you need to be extra careful about bridges . . .

The SlowBoat Advantage: Merrickville

Good thing they let a little extra water out of the lock!
We appreciated our lowness recently, in the charming town of Merrickville, which has lovely antique buildings, a cool museum celebrating the many industries once powered by the river, and a flight of three locks.

Cap was starting her down the flight when . . .poof . . . the power went out, all across the town.

This was one of the few Rideau Canal locations where the bridge is not one of those nifty super-balanced swing bridges that the locktender can just give a  little push to swing out of the way. It moves w electricity.

"How tall are you?" hollered the locktender. Hearing nine feet, he said, "We'll just lower the water level in the lock a little more than we usually do, and you should be able to squeeze under."

Yup, with inches to spare.

The SlowBoat Advantage: Hog's Back

Same scenario not once but twice today, first at the Hog's Back Lock.  This lock is quite close to Ottawa, and the swing bridge just before the lock was busy with lunchtime traffic.  "Clearance is 9 feet 5 inches," said the cheerful locktender.  "You should be fine."

Crew, up on the bow, was holding her breath as the bimini approached the metal span. Collision seemed certain . .  . brace for impact!

And we sailed on thru.

The SlowBoat Advantage: Pretoria Bridge, Ottawa

A few miles further on was the Pretoria Bridge. Theoretical clearance 10 feet.  It surely didn't look that tall.

But we made it.

Coming Up: Lachine Canal

We'll spend a couple days in Ottawa (come visit) and then, we continue east on the Ottawa River toward Montreal. There, we have a new lowboat challenge, the Lachine Canal.

It's a good choice for us, avoids fast currents and difficult waters.  But the lowest bridge is a mere EIGHT feet tall. Right. And we are nine feet tall.

But Cap has a plan. Stay tuned.

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