First of All –
- First time seeing a guy hovering on jets of water
- First locks passed on the Rideau Canal
- First time ever in the City of Ottawa
- Rideau River
- Miles Cruised today: Power: 44; Sail: NA
- Total Miles Cruised to date: 5,564
- Hours Underway: 8 1/2
- Fuel: 22 gallons; $102; 6 mpg
- Morning House Battery Reading: 14.3 (plugged in)
- Wind Speed: 8 ; Wind Direction: W
- Daily High Temperature: 80
- Water Temperature: 74
We get started around 7:30 this morning, since it’s more than 40 miles to Ottawa. The day is clear and sunny, with just a light breeze out of the west. The river is wide and easy to navigate, with fairly light boat traffic until we draw near to Ottawa. I see a marina with a fuel dock on the south side of the river, just below Ottawa, and decide to stop there and fill the tanks. It’s a busy place, with lots of boats coming and going. While filling the starboard tank I hear a commotion and see a crazy sight out on the water. A jet ski is circling around and, above him is a guy standing on two jets of water. An umbilical trails behind him and drops down into the water, obviously connected to a high speed submerged pump which is being towed by the jet ski. I’ve never seen such a thing before, and I have no idea what it’s called. It looks like one of those rocket packs, only using water. The guy is pretty good at maneuvering around, and only crashes once or twice. What will they come up with next?
We arrive at the entrance to the Rideau Canal around 3 pm, and we tie up on the blue line behind one other boat which is waiting to lock up. These locks are quite famous, located in the heart of downtown Ottawa and right next to the Parliament Building. A stairstep set of 8 locks dramatically lift boats up from the Ottawa River and into the start of the Rideau Canal. These historic locks are all hand operated and boats enter the first chamber, rise with the filling water, and then directly enter the next chamber. The chambers are quite small, with only enough room for 4 to 6 boats. It takes 90 minutes to travel all 8 locks. If they’ve started a cycle of lowering boats, the wait can be up to 3 1/2 hours before passage is completed. We wait on the wall for about an hour while 3 boats in the locks complete their downstream passage. This gives us time to walk up and view the system and take pictures. When our turn comes, we follow the other boat into the chamber, and secure to the wall on our starboard side. The chambers have fixed cables running vertically down the lock walls, and we simply ease up to the wall, pass dock lines around the cables, and hold the lines while locking up. We have a bit of a tail wind which makes maneuvering inside the chambers tricky. I use our boat hook to grab a cable for our stern line. We’re in a bit of a fish bowl, with both sides of the locks crowded with tourists, who are there to watch the show, and we’re definitely the show. We do just fine, up until the final lock. I catch the cable with my boat hook and start pulling our stern in when the telescoping boat hook pole gives way, and the hook half of the pole falls free, into the water. Major oops. I expect it to immediately sink out of sight, but to my surprise it floats, evidently with air trapped in the pole. I lean over the side and manage to catch the hook with the handle half of the pole and, by sliding it up the lock wall, I retrieve hook. Trying to look as casual as possible, I reassemble the boat hook and secure us to the wall. The other bit of drama in the locks involves a hen mallard and her 4 tiny ducklings. They’ve managed to get themselves inside the 7th lock chamber, and the lock attendants are eager to get them out. They herd them toward the upstream opening gate by dropping life rings into the water. The ducks lock up with us into the 8th chamber, and then make their exit once the final gates open, accompanied by cheers from concerned onlookers.
Once clear of the locks it’s time to look for a place to tie up for the night. We have a season pass which enables us to tie up along the canal wall, however, the best places, with electrical hookups, are all occupied. We end up tying to the concrete wall on the north side, and just hang out for the rest of the afternoon.