Back in the water! Resuming our trip!

159 Days Looping
2,137.3 Nautical Miles Total (2,459.6 Statute Miles)
49.0 Nautical Miles This Week
5.7 Hours Underway This Week
8.7 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 129 Total Locks

Special feature! Now that we are back on the boat, I was able to get the video of our rock hit off of the on-board cameras. Click below to watch!

Monday – Sept 16th – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
We had been told that propellers and shafts would be back from the machine shop sometime on Tuesday, and with the fiberglass done, nothing was happening at the boat for the day. The morning was rainy, but it cleared up in the afternoon and we decided to go to the next town over, “Midland”, and visit the Huronia Museum which is a museum of the history of the Midland and Penetanguishene area as well as a reproduction of a “First Nation” village from before the europeans settled the area.

When we arrived, we check in and it was suggested that we tour the village first. The village was pretty good sized and very interesting. It was built in the 1990’s and in 2009 had a fire that destroyed part of the exhibits. Fire codes prevented them from rebuilding the displays, and what was left is starting to show its age, but it was still interesting nonetheless.

The entire area was surrounded by a tall stockade fence, and inside were fish drying racks, shaman huts, grain mills, and a large long-house filled with animal skins.

After touring the village, we visited the museum proper, which was filled with displays from the area’s “first nation” and shipping/fishing history. As we were looking at some of the old displays, we saw a photo of the intersection in Penetang right next to the apartment we were staying at. A sign on the building was for the “Thompson & Lahey Merchants”, spelled just the way we spell it!

The rest of the displays were interesting with many model boats, and other artifacts from the areas history.

Tuesday – Sept 17th – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
In the morning when we went to the marina for our regular check-in, we saw the lift trailer backing up to the boat to move it away from the fiberglass shop. We watched as Jeremy the driver (and also the tow captain that brought our boat in from Killbear) expertly maneuvered the boat away from the fiberglass shop, and into the repair yard. As it’s the end of the season, they had been pulling about 10-15 boats a day out of the water and putting them onto dry storage for the winter. The marina freezes over with about 3-4 feet of ice, so all boats and docks must come out of the water. We watched as the storage yards, parking areas, grass in front of the neighboring houses got steadily filled with boats of all sizes. It was neat to watch them maneuver 50 and 60 ft long boats into storage spots with only inches between them.

As the propeller shafts had not arrived yet, and the day was nice, we decided to head back to Collingwood on the southside of Georgian Bay (near the town with the scarecrows), and visit “Scenic Caves” a tourist attraction of glacial caves and ravines. For our friends in New Hampshire who know of the “Polar Caves” in the White Mountains, it’s very similar.

We drove the 45 minutes to the caves, and climbed and walked through the path. The caves are scattered along the side of a hill and affords some spectacular views of Georgian Bay and the surrounding countryside. There are two zip lines that run from the summit of the hill down to the base station, unfortunately the were closed the day we visited. Ha!

Most of the route was through ravines originally used by the “First Nation” (it’s SO hard not to say “Indians”) peoples as a secure settlement and sacred grounds. There were a few caves to climb through including a natural “Refrigerator” and “Fat Man’s Misery” a through cave that has a 14″ wide gap for the exit. Both Brenda and I have lost weight on the trip (even with all the eating out), and I decided to give it a try. Brenda took the “by-pass” route and waited to call the rescue squad if needed. I’m happy to say that I was able to make it through with no “misery” (and with no external help, thank you very much).

After the caves we walked back to the entrance lodge along a very nice nature trail, then walked about a mile to a suspension bridge over a gorge. In the winter this area is a skiing (we were right on the edge of a ski slope, and snowshoeing course. The trail was fairly steep, but the view was well worth it. The bridge was nice with more great views of Georgian Bay.

Once we got back to the car from the bridge, it was almost 3:30 so we headed back to Penetang.

Wednesday – Sept 18th – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
On Wednesday morning we got a call from the marina that there was an issue getting the propeller shafts reinstalled. We drove down to the marina and spoke with the mechanic. The port side shaft slid it just fine, and was already hooked up and the new propeller re-installed. The starboard shaft however would not go back in. It was off by almost an inch. The suspicion, was that the strut that holds the shaft near the propeller had been bent. We suspected that this might have happened, but without taking it off, there was no way to tell. The starboard propeller and shaft were the ones that had the most damage so it wasn’t a surprise.

We decided to pull off the strut to inspect and if needed shim it. The reason we didn’t do this in the first place was that in order to get to the nuts that hold on the stut, you have to remove the generator, steering rack, water tanks and a bunch of plywood covers. This would involve several days of labor to get the stuff out and then reinstalled. We measured where the strut bolts would be, and it was in an exposed area on the floor of the lazarette, and all we’d have to remove was the battery box for the stern thruster so we decided to try just cutting out part of the floor with a skill saw. I removed the battery box, and the mechanic got a skill saw and handed it to me. “It’s your boat!” he said! I cut out a 1 foot square area and when we popped out the plywood panel, the bolts were easily accessible. Phew!

After dropping the strut and inspecting it, they determined that it wasn’t damaged just slightly bent. Straightening it would involve a lot of effort and delay so we decided that as it was only out about 1/8″ that it was okay to just build a shim. Paul the mechanic crafted a shim and when they reinstalled the strut with the shim, the shaft slid right into place! They finished up the attaching the shaft to the transmission and sealing up the strut. The big nuts that hold on the prop needed to be drilled and tapped as the screws that hold on the zincs broke when props hit and were still at the machine shop being fixed.

Thursday – Sept 19th – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
On Thursday morning the prop nuts showed up first thing and were installed. We went to the marina for 9:00, and started getting the boat ready to go back into the water. At 10:00 they moved the boat to the launch ramp, and transferred it from the trailer lift to the travel lift to drop it back in the water. They lowered the boat into the water, and we jumped aboard to check for leaks. Everything was dry, so we walked the boat back to the dock and started up the engines to get water back into the systems.

Paul our mechanic and I took the boat out for a test run in the bay. We took is slow out of the marina and into the channel. At low RPM’s there was no vibration and everything seemed to be running fine. Once we got out of the area with marinas we floored the throttles and brought the boat up to 23 mph (not quite the 88 mph needed to time travel, but good enough for us). We checked for vibrations and there were none, the boat performed very well. We stayed out for about 30 minutes, then headed back into the marina. Once we were tied back up, we pulled up the floors, and checked for any leaks, but things were still dry. One of our fears was that the transmissions may have been damaged with the strike, however everything worked fine, they shifted in and out of gear smoothly, and there was no binding or grinding.

Paul then did an oil change on the engines and transmissions so that we have a fresh starting point to do an oil analysis in 20-30 hours of run time or so which will be the final check for damage.

When the oil change was done, Brenda and I spent the rest of the day putting the boat back together. We had removed the floor over the engines to make it easier for the repair guys to work, and we put that back in. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the dust from the fiberglass repair and from having the boat sitting in the dirt boatyard with vehicles driving by creating lots of dust.

Friday – Sept 20th – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada
On Friday we checked out of our AirBnB apartment, and spent the day cleaning the boat and moving our stuff back on. We went food shopping to reprovision. By 3:30 the boat was ship-shape and ready to go in the morning.

I went to the office and paid our bill. The final bill came to $40,000 for the repairs on the boat, and $17,000 for the new propellers (That includes the towing and hauling fees, and shipping from the US on the propellers, plus 13% HST tax in Canada). Add in another $3,000 for our AirBnB apartment and a rental car for two weeks, and the grand total is right around $60,000 USD. That’s one EXPENSIVE Rock! Should have bought Brenda some new Bling instead!

Actually, we got away pretty easy. If the transmissions had been damaged or there was more damage to the shafts or hull, we’d have been stuck here for the winter and new transmissions which would have put the total well over $100,000! Also, the labor rate here in Canada is lower than in the US so that kept the costs down as well.

On a couple of our sight seeing trips, we’d past an old Drive-In movie theatre just outside of Penetang. We had not stopped to take any pictures of it and Brenda wanted to go back, so after finishing up at the boat, we drove out to Elmvale to take a few photos.

When we got back, we went to dinner across the street from the Enterprise car rental office, then dropped off the car and took a cab back to the boat. We slept on the boat for the first time in about 3 weeks!

Saturday – Sept 21st – 49 NM – 0 Locks – To: Carling, Ontario, Canada
On Saturday we woke up early and headed out at 7:15. Our plan was to return to Killbear Marina, where we were towed from after we hit the rock. As we reached the end of the bay where Penetang is, the sun was just coming up over the trees. The day was perfect! Almost no wind, sunny skies, and calm water. We made great time, and followed almost the same route that the tow boat took coming back from Killbear. Our route was mostly open water until we got close to Killbear. When we entered the channel to go to Killbear, we went past rock we hit. This time we were on the OTHER side of the marker that we misread in the main channel. We slowed down, and said a few prayers to Poseidon for not taking our boat, then proceeded, VERY CAREFULLY, past the rock, and into Killbear Marina.

We were warmly greeted by the staff and boaters at Killbear who were happy to see us back all repaired and back on the water. After some well deserved and good-natured kidding from the locals we settled in. In the late afternoon, two other Looper boats arrived (and we thought we were the last of the season), “Thirsty” from Texas and “Return Again” from Isle of Shoals New Hampshire! The folks from Return Again are originally from Manchester, NH where Brenda and I grew up, and lived about 4 blocks from Brenda’s parents house. What a small world!

When we checked the weather in the evening, we saw that Sunday was predicted to be nasty with rain, high winds, and 3-6 foot waves, so we decided that we’d stay in port on Sunday. Our fellow Loopers decided to do the same.

Sunday – Sept 22nd – 0 NM – 0 Locks – In: Carling, Ontario, Canada
As predicted, Sunday was raining and blustery and we were glad we’d decided to stay in port for the day. Killbear Marina is in Carling, Ontario. The closest “civilization” that’s open (everything local closes up on Labor Day) is in Parry Sound, a 30 minute car ride on the Trans Canadian highway . Also, the marina does not have Wi-Fi and the cell service is one bar, 3G when you can pick-up a signal. So we spent most of the day either napping or watching satellite TV (glad we have that as there are no digital over the air channels available here).

NEXT WEEK: Heading toward Lake Michigan.