By: Rick Layzell
Our ‘planned’ itinerary for the trip:
July 16 Marina del Rey to Wye Heritage in Midland
July 17 Wye Heritage to Big Sound Marina in Parry Sound
July 18 Big Sound to the Bustard Islands
July 19 Bustards to Killarney
July 20/21 Killarney to Little Current on Manitoulin Island
July 22 Little Current to the Bad River
July 23/24 Bad River to Port Rawson
July 25 Port Rawson to Wye Heritage
July 26 Wye Heritage to Marina del Rey
There was never a doubt that I/we would learn a few tricks on our trip and I’ve had lots of people ask me what the trip was worth. Join me as I share both in the words that follow.
Lessons learned – some are so very simple, some require a bit of research, and some quite frankly are just common sense.
1) Spares – on our last morning in the Bustard Islands I fired up the generator to make our morning brew… and within minutes our neighbour exclaimed "Rick, there’s no water coming out and tons of smoke, shut the genny off." As they shared with me that I had clearly burned out the impeller on the generator they immediately offered to assist so we could install my spare…. which I sheepishly admitted I didn’t have. Lesson learned – carry the right spares for your vessel. Think oil, power steering fluid, impellers (engines and generator) and more.
2) Know Before You Go – I was shocked and amazed at how many other boaters on the trip really didn’t comprehend their electrical systems. With both DC & AC on board there are unique differences versus what we have in our homes. Take the time to understand, ask other experienced boaters, and get the knowledge you need before you embark on a long journey. One boater asked me to join him on board to discuss his own generator struggles – and he started the generator without first starting the blower!
3) Toilet Paper – yup, toilet paper. On day three another of our fellow boaters radioed a call for help. Seems his toilet/head was plugged. I bumped into him later on and he was proud to tell me that a boater beside him had a plumbing snake on board and he was all fixed up. When he smiled and stated "It was like a solid brick of toilet paper in there," I asked if he was using marine grade products. His eyes went from smiling to blank and he asked, "What is that?" The head on our boats, whether manual or vacu-flush are marine systems that absolutely require the use of marine products. These are readily available at most marinas – don’t cheap out and bring the stuff from home.
4) Fuel range is a tough one to fully understand since there are so many variables that affect us when we are on the water like load, speed & RPM, water conditions, plus ambient and water temperatures. The simplest lesson here – Never pass gas! Always monitor your fuel gauge(s) and always top up. On a run like this we filled every time anyone wanted to stop. When we are on our own I monitor constantly and rarely allow my tanks to get below halfway.
5) The Locks – if you’re taking a trip through the Trent-Severn Waterway like we did, take time to review the TSW website in advance. There is great of information for all boaters in all types of boats. One lesson for all – the blue wall is shared by all who are waiting to lock through, don’t be a blue wall hog! Dock as close to the front as you are able and pull forward if the lock masters are unable to load you on the first trip.
6) Music – specifically the VOLUME of your music. Let me be clear, I love music, just about all types of music but I have zero desire to spend my time on the water listening to someone else blaring their tunes. Play your tunes so only your boat can hear them and respect the other boaters and those on shore. Music amplifies as it makes it’s way across a bay and into the shoreline – and they don’t want to hear it either.
7) Never run out of ice – just like fuel, always top up the ice in your cooler. There’s nothing more disheartening than thinking ‘I’ll get some at the next stop’ and then getting there to a sold out sign.
8) Install a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke alarm and check your batteries. Meant 2 Be has both, and both were updated when we took delivery in 2020. With engines and generators running near living and sleeping quarters these are very cost effective and potentially life saving lessons.
9) Cheap Sunglasses – cuz once they’re gone they’re gone! Unless you need prescription sunglasses like I do, go buy yourself some cheapies for the boat. Watching a brand-new pair of Maui Jim’s sink into the depths of Georgian Bay was a sad moment. Karen’s $12 sunglass specials worked great for her on the trip and we wouldn’t have blinked an eye if they had fallen in (yes, we have spares).
10) Food planning and prep sure makes the journey easier. We invested time and energy into both ahead of our journey knowing we could re-provision in Little Current. The only thing we needed in Little Current... was fresh bread (and the LCBO).
11) Cool trick! One of our friends overheated their iPad. I’ve done the same when leaving on the dash for my Navionics charts in direct sunlight. A short visit into the fridge and their iPad was quickly cooled back down and pressed back into action!
12) If Navionics is your choice then learn how to use the system before you go. Whatever charting system you use, get comfortable in advance and always carry paper charts.
13) Final one – I took a Maritime Radio course over the winter months and I was sure glad I did. We used our VHF daily on the trip and understanding and respecting this tool sure helped.
Now, onto the $$$$ burned. I’ve been asked by so many people: "how much gas did you burn/ how much did the trip cost?" etc. I preface every reply with: "What does it cost to go south for 10 days?" Most will agree it’s around $5,000 for a 10 day all inclusive on a beach. And then I willingly share the estimated details:
Provisioning Meant 2 Be-
A) Food= $250, keeping in mind that most dinners were off the boat, this was breakfast, lunches and snacks
B) LCBO & Beer Store = $350 covered wine, beer, & spirits
C) Dinners out= $290, which included two dinners at $110 each and one at $80
D) Lock Pass= $110 for purchasing a 6 day trip pass
E) Slip fees= Transient fees for a total of 4 nights was $300 (a good estimate is $2/foot)
F) Hotel Room= $250, and we were the only boater that did this on our trip
G) Fuel – In total we burned approximately $3,000 in fuel. I regret not logging actual litres purchased and many of my receipts are just the total amount of dollars. As an example, the run from Wye Heritage to Big Sound to Killbear consumed 270 litres of fuel. Prices ranged from $1.85/litre to as low as $1.69.
Add in a couple hundred for miscellaneous (water, ice, & ice creams) and our grand total for a 10 day epic journey from Orillia to Manitoulin Island and back was just under $5,000.
Consider this -- Orillia to Midland to Parry Sound to the Bustard Islands thru Collins Inlet to Killarney to Little Current to the Bustards again and to Midland and back to Orillia on the Trent Severn lock system – for the same price as one trip down south. So what was the trip worth? In a word: PRICELESS.
We were honoured to have been invited by Maple Leaf Marinas, we met so many wonderful people, learned, and laughed so much. Would we do it again? Heck yes we would! We might just join the Rendezvous for a night or two here and there, spend some time with our new friends, stay longer in the Bustards, and maybe explore Baie Fin or Covered Portage up near Killarney or the Bad River or Port Rawson or....
You get the idea.