Sunday, August 2, 2009

Final Thoughts

Gear and food 3,OOO dollars,  Kayak Rental 6OO dollars, Lock Pass,  80 dollars, 15 days on the water in the most picturesque landscape imaginable, PRICELESS!

Funny how at no point was I ever more than 2 hours from my house or 3 hours from where I started and yet, a different world.  

Having grown up on the trent waterway and georgian bay area, can only imagine what seeing this for the first time would be like for other people. Stunning in every way.   I missed so much zooming by in a speed boat all these years and now have a new appreciation for the beautiful area where I grew up.

I would recommend this trip to anyone regardless of skill level, it will not disappoint, add another 5 days to truly appreciate, with 30k a day you are paddling almost all day, stop and smell the roses so to speak.    I don't regret a single thing with the way I did it,  would add a few days if doing it again.

A few thank you comments are required and deserved.  The scenery and challenge only makes up half the memories, the people along the way are just as important.

To all the family, friends and co-workers for all their support, was great having you along and was a great feeling, you were there for every moment.  

To all the amazing people I met along the way,  may the wind be at your back and clear skies on all your future journeys.

To the dedicated people who work at the locks, job well done and you helped make this trip a success.  

To the Hillier family,  for the cold beer, great conversation, dinner and just being a familiar face on my long trip.

To the Elkie family, for the much needed day off when it was needed most, was amazing and the hospitality was incredible.  Will never forget.

To all the inconsiderate boaters who swamped and sprayed and just generally had no respect for the little guy, you have given me a new appreciation for respecting kayaks and canoes.

There are a few questions I get  asked the most...

What do you think about being alone that long? Nothing actually, it's kind of weird, 90% of the time my mind is blank and just take it all in, very refreshing actually, don't worry about going solo and being bored, you won't be. 

Would I do it differently?  Not one thing, I spent months planning this trip, didn't forget anything, need anything, want anything or felt as though I was "roughing" it.   Planning pays off, I've included a lot of info on this blog related to the planning side. Hope it helps. 

Would I do it again?  Absolutely, was fantastic, next time I'm bringing a date though, would be nice to have someone else to enjoy it with, no offense Kyle, you were great company and an amazing Nephew, blast to have along even if just for the last few days. 

What's the next trip?  Ah, the big question, you will have to wait and see, I will be doing one yes and will be just a little bit more extreme and remote, had time to think about it once I determined I was enjoying so much, time to step it up a notch and you will be like wtf? Are you nuts? Already planning. 

My final thank you goes to four people I have never met.  The "spanish donkey" team from Elliot Lake Retirement home.  You inspired me to do this trip in the first place and I only hope that one day you read this blog and/or we meet, the first of many adventures to come and I owe you a debt of gratitude for that.    If you don't know who the "spanish donkey" team is or why this trip was dedicated to them, go back and read my introduction.  

Hope you have found this blog useful and at times mildly amusing. 

Until  next time......

Swift Canoe/Kayak

To all the staff at Swift Canoe/Kayak in Georgian Bay.  Thank you for all the assistance in making this a memorable trip, it was very much appreciated.  

If you are looking to rent or buy a Kayak, I recommend this place with 5 stars.

Real cutie behind the counter too, ok me being me I had to throw that comment in. No offence intended and not looking for any discounts.

Post Review - Navigation

You literally do not require maps, compass or  gps for this trip.  Bring them if you like but wasn't required.  The trent map fold out you can get from any lock was more than enough.

Trent waterway for the most part is clearly marked and there are only a few spots where you have to stop and think about it. 

I did have gps on my blackberry and it was helpful, used it to gauge where I was not really for navigation.  If travelling at night, recommend gps of some sort, on water in familiar area at night is fine but in areas you have never been, everything is different, not a time to get lost or disorriented.   I also had a handheld gps which showed speed and distance traveled, either don't bring or stowe and don't look.  Found myself constantly checking it, how fast am I going, how far have I gone, turned mine off after day and a half.

Here are some tips.

Simcoe, when you come out of the Orillia Narrows and follow to the left, you will  jump a few points and then will just see horizon line in the distance, looking straight across you will see what looks like a point in the distance (barely) wasn't sure if I had to go around it, it's an island and the channel is to the left of the island. Just head for it and when you get close enough to make out the island head to the point on the shore to the left and keep following shore to channel.  Needless to say, if weather is up and Simcoe can pick up quickly I might suggest hugging the short instead of being 5km from shore in bad weather.

Canal lake, the lake splits around a big island on the opposite side, stay on right side, you will see a bridge with like a half moon tunnel, just go under it.

Balsam lake, when you come out of canal, just head to 12 o'clock and you will hit the island, depending on wind either go right and around point, way the markers go, or go left and around the long way.  Rosedale is on opposite end of island at the far left.  Update: Best to go left and around the island and not right, where the waterway goes, shorter and easier in the wind, learned that in the 2010 Trip.

Cameron lake, almost no markers so at first hard to tell if you should go down left or right side.  Fenelon Falls is down the end on the left, look for white buildings on shore and head for them,  when you get to Fenelon Falls make sure you enter lock between the two markers (red triangle and black square) there are rock walls that line channel on both sides, can't cross over if you miss and will have to circle back.

Bobcaygeon, when you leave and come out of channel, it looks like you go straight towards the left, don't. Go right and follow the big island on the left. Don't get discouraged, looks like a long way, channel is not that far down pigeon lake on the left.

Peterborough, when you come out of Ashburnham lock you will see markers leading into Peterborough on the right and will automatically head that way, at least I did.  The next lock is straight towards the bridge on the left not in Peterborough.

Bay of Quinte, when you come out of Trenton you will see markers heading towards the island on the left,  run parallel to the island and you will see the markers in the distance to the entrance to Murray Canal.  Red triangle.  At first you think you have to go down right shore because there aren't many markers past the island.

The above are the only spots where I had to think about where to go


I started this blog as a resource site for other people, from the perspective of someone who has never done a kayak trip before.  

There were some unintended consequences though which I didn't fully realize at the time.

Great way at the end of the day to think back on everything and smile from everything that occurred that day, I looked forward to posting details and it also passed the time and gave me something to do at least once a day for an hour or so.

Was amazing to have people following along and it felt as though they were all doing the trip with me, comments were always a great motivation.

I read back and the memories flood in, feels like I am back on the water.   Highly recommend keeping a log of your trip, even if just handwritten notes, I didn't keep notes, just thought about the day later to remember things but whatever works for you.

I hope that those following along enjoyed my updates and for those that find this site later,  that it provides some useful information for your own trip, which was the intended purpose.


Other than the pictures and memories which will last a lifetime, I picked up two souvenirs which I think are pretty cool.

On my day off in buckhorn, I was given a handmade wrist bracelet from the Elkie girls, cool reminder of my time at oak bay.  Thanks for making it for me girls, it is way cool, still look at it and go, hmm how do they get it to look like that, still wearing.

My brother while waiting for Kyle and I to show up found these two little polished rocks on the shore in lake ontario,  he gave us each one as a reminder of our trip together,  not like my brother to be sentimental and was very thoughtful, I put my rock on my mantle for now, he said I'm suppose to keep it in my pocket as a reminder when I get back to busy schedule, I will just end up throwing it at someone and don't need the lawsuits.   Thanks bro. 

Post Review - Trip Plan

Couldn't have planned it any better.  

Highly recommend doing the trent backwards, exactly for the reasons I mentioned in my original post. 

The current can be very strong, buoys were almost horizontal in some spots, this was especially the case in the home stretch where there are lots of power generator damns and they had the gates open.  I wouldn't have wanted to battle the current for that long.   Doing it backwards means over 2/3rds of the waterway you will be going with the current.

I may have fluked out, wind was my friend for almost the entire trip, this was extremely helpful on some of the bigger lakes like simcoe, balsalm and especially rice lake. I got a sense from locals and the lockmaster that the prevailing winds are typically in that direction, take advantage of it.   If that's not the case, don't blame me! 

The only negative would be that if you start from trenton side, the scenery starts out pretty crap and just gets better as you reach the kawarthas and just keeps getting better, going from port severn means that it starts gorgeous and gets pretty dull at the end.   In my opinion of course.

Post Review - "The Coffin"

Needless to say, after 15 days ii fell in love with my kayak, named it the "coffin" as a joke until I could figure out a better name and it just stuck,  never bothered to figure out a new one.

Went with a fiberglass 17 foot north sea with a rudder, rear and front hatch.  This thing was spectacular and rode the waves like a missile, at no point did I feel as though it was out of control, even in large waves and gale force winds.   I wouldn't get the third day hatch though, just takes up space and you are limited to how you can pack kayak.

For this trip I would recommend fiberglass or composite, plastic  is just too heavy, you are going to have to be lifting out of the water a couple times a day, lighter the better and you will appreciate the difference.  

While I paddled with the rudder up a bit, I preferred steering with feet,  especially in high winds, recommend having a rudder even if not going to use it all the time. 

If renting, double check that the seals from the cockpit to the hatches are properly sealed, silicone them good if they are leaking, mine wasn't too bad but my nephews basically had no silicone seal and any water made it's way into the hatches. Could be dangerous if capsized and the hatches fill with water.   The hatches on mine didn't let water in once. 

Bring a set of ropes and marine bumpers, lot of cement walls and while I rented mine, treated like it was my own, didn't want scratches and the bumpers really helped.  I tied mine to deck rigging when needed,  next time will use carabiners to make them easier to attach.  I stowed them on rear deck near rudder, out of the way and never noticed they were there. 

Recommend a paddle leash, didn't drop paddle but found that it made a great kayak anchor. Pull up to dock, lie paddle on dock and leash would hold kayak there, beats tying up all the time, works well on rock islands as well.

Get a good seat, mine was a little older kayak because I needed the extra space, they didn't have newer high capacity ones available at the time of my trip.   Pick up a padded cushion, I used my towel folded a bunch of times for extra support, was needed.

Had lots of day storage in the cockpit, in front of feet and behind seat, allowed me to carry extra stuff so I didn't have to get out and find it all the time, my umbrella and rain gear was stowed beside the seats, very convenient.