Back on the Loop – Tranny Update and the Welland Canal Big Chill

It has been awhile (again) since I have updated the blog.   So, I should start with a Tranny update. When we first got to St. Catherines the marine repair facility ordered a new transmission from Kentucky and they expected to receive it in 3 – 4 days. Well, we waited and waited and then after 3 weeks we were told that it went to Vancouver and was sitting to clear customs.   That was over 2,200 miles away. We were kicking ourselves for not driving to Kentucky to pick it up.   We were not getting any responses so Steve wrote Investor Relations at Volvo and then things started kicking in.   That was on a Friday and on Monday it was shipped to clear customs near us on Tuesday.   Tranny ArrivalWe received the Tranny on Wednesday.   It was our feeling that it was never shipped in the first place and there was only one available in the entire country. Sigh, what can you do at this point?

Thursday was our big day of installation and the sea trial. We were never sure that we had not damaged the shaft.   When we fired up the engines my stomach was in a big nervous knot.   Little by little Steve gave the boat several tests and we were confident that everything was once again working fine.   What a relief!! No other damage.

Our plan was to depart on early Friday morning to traverse the Welland Canal.   This route is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway and connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie via a series of locks. It is heavily used by freighters transporting goods. Most of the Loopers do not go this way, but we were too wide or too tall to take the other waterways so this was our route. It is 26.8 miles long and consists of only 8 locks.   Each lock raises the boat approximately 46.5 feet for a total rise of 326 feet. This is the “by-pass” around Niagara Falls. A freighter will take 11 hours to complete all 8 locks and they definitely fill an entire lock.   Pleasure boats have to wait until all of the commercial traffic is cleared before they are allowed to start locking through.   There is no stopping like on the Erie Canal.   The entire locks must be completed which takes typically 6.5 hours to 10 hours.   Additionally, a pleasure boat must have 3 people onboard when locking up to Lake Erie to assist with the long lines to secure the boat.

Friends on the WellandFortunately for us I had a high school friend that wanted to come with us for the Adventure.   He and his wife arrived on Wednesday so that they would be ready when we were ready to go. Friday we left the dock at 6:30.   For the first time we awoke in a big fog bank. Crap!! Fogged inWe tried to inch our way to the inlet for the canal, but even with radar we couldn’t see the entrance to make it in safely. We were worried about the freighters exiting the canal as we were trying to enter.   We sat at anchor until finally Steve decided to follow a freighter in, but we couldn’t see him.   That worked, but by now it was 9:30 by the time we made it to the wall where we contact the lock to ask when we can proceed. We were told that if we could have gotten in at 7:00 we would have been able to start right away.   Crap again!! Now the commercial traffic was all ahead of us and our delay would be hours.

We settled back to wait and relax.   Around 2:00 Steve checked back in, but they still had too much traffic so we watched a movie. Another boat showed up on the wall, but they were going to wait until morning.   We had dinner and checked back in around 7:30.   At this point we were told it would be after midnight so we decided to make the run in the morning after a good night’s sleep.

Lock entrance
Lock entrance
Double Locks
2 way locks
Lock Waterfall
Waterfall Wall

On Saturday we started our locking at 7:30 and we completed the process at 5:00 – about 36 hours from when we got to the wall.   Happily for us we had no issues with any of the locks even though they are huge when compared to the Erie Canal and the rush of water is greater.   We were prepared for it and it definitely helped having someone at both ends of the boat.   Plus, they put us first in the locks where we were not getting hit with the large turbulence.   However, you are exhausted when it is over because there is tension to keep the boat close to the wall by pulling in the slack.   We had 2 boats behind us that were told to raft together and we watched them struggle.   We were just glad that it was over!

Glad to be moving on the Loop again!

Breathe in, Breathe Out, Move On…….Jimmy Buffett