Rideau Canal Retrospective

From rideau-info.com

I thought I’d capture my experience and impressions of this segment that I’m finishing, the Rideau Canal.

This is my third trip up from Kingston. I first did it 4 years ago, then again in June of last year. I’m not tired of it yet.

My favourite section is still the area between Brewer’s Mills and Newboro. The geography is spectacular in places, particularly Whitefish Lake. You can see pics from last year’s blog. It’s clean and empty, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. If I were a swimmer I’d spend more time there. But there’s a severe dearth of takeout, which kept me going through there this year.

Last year I was struck immediately by the poor water quality below Smith’s Falls. It’s farm country. The whole river from there down seems pretty dead this year. No bugs, very few birds or other critters.

Last year I saw quite a few birds of prey, particularly in the southern section. I didn’t see any this year. That’s probably a function of driving from the pilothouse. My field of view is much narrower.

Escapade is an excellent boat for locking. Last year when the boat was new to me I came down the Trent Severn, and I was working at controlling the boat without relying on the thrusters and just figuring out where the corners were.

This year I’ve embraced the thrusters. If you’ve got them, use them. I rewired over the winter to provide lots of power, and have confidence in using them. Now when entering or exiting the locks I keep the rudder centered and use the engine and thruster controls only, and can easily stick my head out the door to see down or aft. It really does work. The biggest challenge is getting on and off the boat when entering going downbound. The top of the lock is only a couple of inches above the water level, and my midship freeboard is probably four feet. It’s a big step up or down.

Going into an empty lock is a joy. I step out of the pilothouse door and can easily walk fore and aft. I go aft first, make fast there, then can bump the thruster if needed on my way by to get the forward line.

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