Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Adding More Locks

You probably recall my previous posts about boat locks, so if this is of no interest to you, you may skip this post. Living in Dartmouth, close to the Shubenacadie canal system, I was familiar with locks and how they worked. I have been through the Panama Canal locks twice and enjoyed this experience greatly. I then started taking Narrowboat vacations in the UK, and learned by experience how the locks worked, as we actually worked many locks on our three trips there. A river cruise from The Netherlands to Hungary allowed me to experience a lot different and larger locks through Europe, and a cruise on the Nile added to the number of locks I have visited or passed through. Although I still have not actually counted the number, I expect it is close to 100. On this trip, I was able to add to that number by touring some of the Trent-Severn Waterway in Ontario. 

Waiting for the Lock to Open

My daughter and her husband live on a large lake in Northern Ontario and they bought a boat to enjoy the lake there and all it has to offer. Since we had not seen them in two years they decided to make this visit to Ontario extra special so they trailered their boat from Lac Seul to Peterborough where his family lives, and where you can easily access the Trent-Severn waterway. Our son-in-law, Derek offered to act as captain and tour guide so we loaded all six of us onto the boat along with the dog, and set out to spend the day exploring a section of the waterway. 

Although similar in design to the locks we experienced in England, these are bigger to accommodate larger boats, but are still operated by hand. Here I did not have to get out and actually operate the locks myself, strong young people were on hand to open and close the locks for us. I thought what a great summer job this must be; out in the fresh air meeting people every day, and the lock operators seemed to conform this with a seemingly genuine interest in the job. You were greeted with a smile and given a friendly wave as you left their assigned section of the waterway. Everyone was friendly and willing too chat and discuss their jobs with us as we passed through. 

Running the River

As we approached the first lock, we sounded a horn and the two lock attendants came out to greet us. They then allowed the lock to empty of water and we motored in. The doors closed and water gates were opened on the opposing doors, allowing the lock to refill, floating us up to the next level. This first lock was more complicated, as once we were through, one of the operators had to jump on a bicycle and pedal to the swing bridge a short distance along the canal which she then had to stop traffic and open to allow us through. As we were travelling on a slow Monday, with very little water traffic, the lock attendants phoned the next location and informed them we were coming so after having to wait at one lock, most of the others were ready for us and we did not have to wait for the lock to empty or fill. 

The Peterborough Lift Lock

There are 44 locks on this waterway, and we explored locks 21, 22, 23, and 24 before time made us turn back to get home before everything shut down for the day. Of these, lock 22 is probably the most interesting as it is a Lift lock, where you are lifted 60 feet from one level to another via hydraulics. There are two metal tubs of water that boats enter and as one is lifted the other descends. We experienced the Anderton boat lift in the UK that was 50 feet high but this one in Peterborough is higher by 10 feet. 

All in all, a great experience and a chance to spend time with family once again. And I got to add four more boat locks to my vacation adventures. 

The Swing Bridge 

Lock 21

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