Orillia to Swift Rapids to Midland via Big Chute Marina Railway

Our next significant stop was at the Port of Orillia which is reached after crossing Lake Simcoe after the Gamebridge Lock. The Orillia town docks are well run and quite nice. We stayed two nights and enjoyed another nice Canadian town.

Our next stop was the lock wall at Swift Rapids. The lock there drops boaters down forty-seven feet. We tied above the lock. For supper we launched the dinghy, went down through the lock, and had very good Fish & Chips at the Wabach Restaurant right on the river. The restaurant is on an island and is accessible by customers primarily by water. The picture of the truck on a barge was a delivery for the island, no bridge, no ferry.

From Swift Rapids there remained only two more drops on the river. One was the final lock (Lock 45) at Port Severn. Lock 44 is actually the Big Chute Marine Railway. The railway is a large rail car that runs on four rails controlled by cables, a cable car. The car is let down into the water. Boats enter the car. Larger boats are held vertically by means of straps slung under the boat. Smaller boats just rest on the bottom of the car when it is advanced out of the water. We were going down river so our transit was down a hill, a rather steep hill. Some of the pictures are of boats we observed making the transit to give one some idea of the spectacle. On board the rail car going down was a bit frightening. Because of the size of our boat the lockmaster had the aft third of the boat hanging off the back of the car. Plus, there was a lot of creaking and moaning and shaking as the car made its way down the rails to the river below.

After Port Severn we made our way to Midland which we later discovered was more precarious than any of the shallow sections of the Trent-Severn Waterway, the Potato Island Channel. We made it without incident. Was it blind luck or skillful piloting?

In Midland we stayed at the Bay Port Yacht Center because we had read that the manager there provides detailed briefings on how to best enjoy and safely traverse (lots of rocks) the Georgian Bay. Our plan was to stay for three nights but we have to stay two more nights for an unexpected but fairly inconsequential repair.

In preparing the boat to leave Midland this morning, the captain removed the sea water strainers to clean them of accumulated debris. Sea water is used to cool the engines through a heat exchanger. Plugged up intake strainers means no coolant water flow and overheated engines. Well, one of the strainers could not be reinserted into its housing. The housing is original to the boat. Tomorrow, a next strainer housing will be installed by the good folks here but it means two more nights in Midland before heading out to Henry’s Fish Camp on Frying Pan Island. We were very lucky that the marina had the correct housing in stock.

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