Friday, June 29, 2012

Internet Junkies and Engineers Celebrate

Peterborough, Lock 20 to Peterborough, Lock 21

Days on cruise:  98

Distance traveled today:  1 mile

Travel time: 1 hour

Locks today:  2

Total trip odometer:  2,227 statute miles

Our overnight spot on the lock wall at the bottom of Lock 20, below.


After a quiet night adjacent to a pretty park, as all Trent-Severn Waterway locks seem to be, we unloaded the bicycles for the first time in a while.  We were on a mission today and had too many kilometers to cover to do it on foot. The pretty, young, female lockmaster at lock 20 (not to sound sexist or anything, but this is in stark contrast to 98% of the lock masters in New York who were all, save one, male, and older than Cathryn) gave us the overview of Peterborough, including how to find the nearest Rogers Wireless store.


Test question: How do you identify a Looper? They always have a West Marine crate on back of their bike!

A week ago we thought we’d made headway in acquiring Canadian internet equipment and service, but a week later, alas, no further word telling us our credit check and service activation were complete. So we rode our bikes to the Mall  eight kilometers away and were told by the Rogers Wireless store manager there that our set-up had been handled incorrectly, and of course we could get our Mi-fi hotspot device activated in the next few minutes! We were skeptical.

Keslynn called the credit check/activation office, handed the phone to us, we provided Bob’s passport number, Keslynn confirmed the passport photo really did look like Bob, and voila . . . . our hotspot mi-fi device was turned on! We sat in the mall for 15 minutes to ensure it really worked with our iPads we’d brought along, then rode back to town, happy to again be connected to 21st century technology, which we’ve sorely missed for the past week.  Now we plan to use Skype for outgoing phone calls, text messages on our U.S. cell phones, and email as usual. It appears we won’t have service coverage everywhere while in Canada, but about 80-85% of the water we’ll travel shows on their map as having coverage, so we’ll hope that turns out to be true.

Next stop: a bicycle shop to get a repair of Cathryn’s rear brake and a clunky sound when shifting gears. It turns out salt water isn’t good for bicycles.  Duh!  We stored our bikes on the bow of the boat the first two weeks of our Loop in Florida, discovered waves regularly break over the bow, and thus onto the bicycles, so moved them into the guest room where they live except when we have guests. Thirty dollars and 20 minutes later, we left with the bike operating like new again!


Lunch was at a local pub with both a brewery and great food on site, with open air tables right on the busy town street lined with shops, restaurants, galleries and hanging flower baskets.  Nice!


Tomorrow’s plan was to travel through Lock 21, a hydraulic lift lock unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. So we rode our bikes up to this lock to take a look and see how it works. While there, we were told by the lockmaster it would be ok for us to spend the night on the wall at the top of the lock, something we’d previously been told was not allowed. We immediately began discussing the idea of making the move today rather than wait until tomorrow, as it was only 3:00.


We overheard a Canadian family express disappointment that no boats were going through the lock so they could see how it works. On a whim, we told them we were considering making the move now, and if they wanted to walk back to Lock 20 with us, board our boat, and travel the kilometer to Lock 21, they could ride up the hydraulic lift lock with us. They were thrilled and jumped at the chance.  So Dave, Karen, Tyler (age 8) and Justin (age 6) joined us on the boat. We fitted both of the boys with life vests and took off.


The Peterborough Hydraulic Lift Lock is one of only 8 ever  built in the world, and one of only 4 still operational.  Built  between 1896 and 1904 from unreinforced concrete and steel, almost all its’ components are original. We understand it is subject to rigorous, regular inspections.





The hydraulic lift lock raises and lowers boats inside two water-filled steel “pans”, each 8 feet deep, 140 feet long and holding 228,000 gallons of water weighing 1,700 tons. Each one rises 65 feet when operated.  The two “pans” are counter-balanced, with one at the top, one at the bottom, and the shifting of the two initiated by adding 1 foot of water to the chamber at the top, which forces it to travel downward and the other chamber to move upward.


With our family of guests on board, Cathryn drove the boat, and Bob and Dave handled the lines, as it was so windy the boat was getting blown around, so their strength was helpful in keeping the boat under control. Tyler and Justin were interested in every detail, and Karen took lots of photos (many of which are posted here) to document the experience. It was a little weird or creepy to be sitting in a pan of water 50 feet and higher up in the air, looking down over the edge to the water below! We were all laughing, craning our necks to see each detail, and exclaiming about what an extraordinary experience this was.



Quickly we reached the top, the gate holding the water in place dropped down, and out we drove to tie up to the lock wall just beyond the hydraulic pans. What a thrilling ride!  We enjoyed sharing the experience with a family of interested enthusiasts, and it was fun having kids on board for the first time on our Loop, if briefly.



We ended the day by walking back to the visitors center which tells the story of the lock’s construction, complete with photos and explanations of how it came to be. Amazing!


Here we are, parked on the lock wall at the end of another wonderful day on the Loop.


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