Friday, July 06, 2007

An afternoon at the locks

We took some time this past Monday to pack a picnic lunch and head over to a neighboring town where the Rideau Canal flows through. We parked the car and walked through a grove of trees into a park area right on the canal. There were many families already enjoying the beautiful weather and boats moving up and down the canal. There is more park area across the canal accessible by a bridge that swings out of the way to let the boats through the locks.
I took quite a few pictures and several videos as it was a very busy place this past holiday weekend.

As you can see in the picture, the boats in the lock start out very low and slowly(about 10-15 minutes) rise with the increased water level to the normal height of the canal. The boatees must hold ropes which lash the boat to the side of the canal to prevent them from floating into other boats and poles which are used to keep the boats from smahing into the cement sides of the lock. For bigger boats, it requires at least two people to man the ropes and poles, sometimes three. In the far left corner of the picture, you can see a man walking across the gates of the lock. They don't actually open the gates until the water level is high and the boats are almost ready to move through.

As is was a busy day, the boats were manuvered into position in order to accomodate as many as possible. While these boats were being lifted, there were several boats waiting at the top to go down the three locks. They had quite a wait as there were more boats behind these pictured here that would go next. And as you can see from both pictures, you are able to stand as close to the edge as you want to risk. There are no guide rails or barriers, which makes parents nervously hold back their children's inquiring bodies.

Here an American boat from New York is the first to exit the lock and is now free to continue their journey down the canal. Several other large boats that we saw also were from the States with one being marked as far away as Florida.

Here is the second load of boats we watched making their way through the three locks. As we stood and watched the boats being assigned places in the lock, I was able to give one Fourth of July greeting to an American couple who had a very expensive large boat and were both outfitted with headsets as they worked the ropes and poles at either ends of their boat. The man thanked me and passed the greetings along to his wife through the headset. He probably thought, "Canadians are quite friendly." The next picture is a close-up of their boat which is out of Washington D.C.

The locksmith manager had several boats he couldn't fit in this last load, but he said that the boaters waiting at the top needed to get down next as they had been there awhile. These particular locks are manually cranked but there are apparantly other locks in other areas that are opened hydraulically.

The bridge is swung back into place so that the waiting park traffic can cross before more boats are lifted up the lock. I have a couple of videos showing the bridge being manuevered back across the road which I may post later. We had a wonderful afternoon together in the sunshine watching the boats and people. It is only about 15 minutes from our house and is a great place to relax by the water.

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