continuousWave--> Sail-Logs --> Ottawa River 2006 --> Day Six

Leaving Mattawa, Again


Date:Thursday, July 27, 2006
Weather:Cloudy, then clearing
Destination:Somewhere Else
Distance:100 miles by car; 10 miles by boat.


Weather information has been very hard to acquire in Mattawa. Our VHF Marine Band radio can received ten channels of weather broadcasts, but in our current location in the northern river gorge we cannot pick up a single station. We have not seen a daily newspaper, either. We are relying on our own skills to forecast the weather. This morning is still cloudy and the sun is obscured. It looks as if it could rain more.

Yesterday we finally located more navigation charts. The local tourist information center dug up a newly released edition of the chart for Lake Temiskiming. That reach of the river looks very interesting. It is a long run from Temiskaming up to New Liskeard. We could haul the boat here at Mattawa, drive up to Temiskaming on the highway (about 45-miles), and re-launch above the dam. Then we'd have all of Lake Temiskaming to explore. The problem is now one of time. We have plans to be back in the Pembroke area by Friday evening. If we go further north now, we'll have a lot boating (150-miles or more) and driving (150-miles) to cover in one day. That is too much travel, we decide. The weather is also a factor. Up here, once again, the weather is not attractive. It still looks like rain. Down in Pembroke, it apparently has hardly rained all week!

By the time we finish hauling the boat and preparing it for the highway it is late in the morning. The weather still has not cleared. I think both Chris and I are a bit weary from the rain. My instincts are telling me to head back. We will leave Lake Temiskaming unexplored, and visit it anew some other day.

Driving down on Highway-17 the weather finally clears. We break into sunshine for the first time in days. We head for the Marina at Pembroke, where we launched. Before backing the boat down the ramp, we both need to use the bathrooms. Their condition is quite a shock. The facilities are about the worst I have ever seen at a marina. I have never been in a county jail in west Texas, but I think they probably have better bathrooms than the Pembroke Marina. These are truly awful. We decide we cannot possibly stay overnight at this marina.

We consult the chart and cruising guide for an alternative. About ten miles away in Petawawa is the Jubilee Lodge Marina (Tel.: 613-687-5511 Extension 5180, Email: We get back on the road and head in their direction.

The road map we have does not show any details of Petawawa, but fortunately the marine navigation chart does. The streets are not named on the marine chart, but there is an excellent landmark for the road leading into the marina. You turn on the first street after crossing the river. We drive along the highway waiting for the river to appear.

A few miles up the road we cross the river, but we are presented with an usual situation. The road to the marina, as clearly shown on our navigation chart, is to our right, but this leads onto a military base. But the chart is clear, if we want to get to the marina, we have to go down this road.

We pull into the entrance of the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa, our truck, boat, and trailer not looking at all like a military vehicle.

"We'll probably be stopped at gun point in another 100-yards," I say to Chris.

But we aren't. We just drive onto the base without any intervention. Following the map as best we can, we eventually find the road leading down from the high shore bluff to the water. Sure as can be, there is a nice marina facility at the end of the road. We park near the ramp and look for someone to inquire with about staying. A friendly fellow, Chuck Omdal, the marina manager, welcomes us and answers our questions. Yes, we can launch here. Yes, we can stay overnight. Yes, we are on a military base. Yes, we are welcome, even though we are not military personnel or even Canadian citizens! Wow.

The place looks absolutely wonderful to us, and we are eager to get CONTINUOUSWAVE back in the water. We back the trailer down the long narrow ramp to the water, and our Boston Whaler returns to her element. There is a large parking lot adjacent to the ramp, and I store the trailer in the tall grass on its eastern edge.

The Evinrude motor comes back to life on the first crank, and we move the boat over to our assigned slip, which happens to be right at the end of the third dock, giving us a great view of the waterway. While I am fiddling with the boat, Chris settles up with Chuck for the fees for launching and overnight docking: Total cost, $14-Canadian--an absolute bargain.

The Jubilee Lodge is a very nice place, built from pine logs and overlooking the marina. There is a dinning room, a bar, and a kitchen. The facility was constructed some years ago as part of a training exercise by a visiting British Army construction corps which was stationed at CFB Petawawa for the summer. They built the beautiful lodge as a parting gift to their Canadian comrades. And they did a fine job of it!

"Are you serving dinner tonight," Chris asks Chuck.

"Sorry," he replies, "no dinners, but we are open for lunch and sandwiches."

We ask him for some suggestions of restaurants where we might be able to eat in the area, and he has an unusual reply.

"You can eat at the Mess Hall," he tell us. "They serve an excellent dinner and the price is very modest."

Of course, we have no idea how to find the mess hall, so our guide draws us an elaborate map to help us find it. The novelty of eating some Army chow is appealing, and we make tentative plans to have dinner there.

By now it is mid-afternoon, and it is getting hot on land. We cast off and go for a boat ride in the river, exploring among the many islands in the vicinity. We enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the boat, interrupted by the attack of about six flies which have come aboard somewhere. In spite of all our efforts to shoo them away, including running the boat up to 40-MPH and frantically waving at them with towels, these buggers remain with us all afternoon. They bite our legs with ferocity, and without a fly-swatter we are unable to repel them. It gives us a glimpse of what life must have been like in these woods before the invention of DDT.

Photo: Jubilee Lodge Marina at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa, Ontario
The Jubilee Lodge Marina is located on a military base, CFB Petawawa. It welcomed us with very special Canadian hospitality, and it is a great facility. It is also home to the Petawawa Yacht Club.

Photo: Hand-drawn map to the mess hall on Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Petawawa, Ontario
Chuck, the Jubilee Lodge Marina manager, drew us this map to guide us around the CFB Petawawa.

By the time we get back to the dock, it is around six o'clock. The lodge has excellent shower facilities, and we tidy up for dinner. With our map in hand, we head up the big hill in our Suburban, looking for the Mess Hall. After a couple of wrong turns, we finally locate what we think is our destination. Chris runs up to verify we're in the right place, while I wait in the car. We have found the mess hall, but, unfortunately, the military dines a bit earlier than we do: the door is locked and the mess hall is closed.

"It says 'Dinner served 1630 to 1830'," Chris yells over to me. "What time is it now?"

It is 1850 or 6:50 p.m., and we have missed dinner by about twenty minutes. We head off-base and into Petawawa, a growing community of about 15,000, in search of dinner in a commercial establishment.

After dinner we stop on our way across the base at the CANEX, an on-base retail store, to do a little shopping. One thing we desperately need is a fly-swatter. The CANEX has just about everything you'd want, except a fly-swatter. We move next door to the Tim Horton's coffee shop. It is a popular spot with soldiers with laptop computers. There is free Wi-Fi connectivity to the internet, and there are many young military personnel sipping coffee and using their laptop computers. Chris gets some tea and a butter tart to go, and we head back to the boat. It is a very pleasant evening, warm, and no rain.

Photo: Ottawa River at dusk near Petawawa, Ontario
Around Petawawa the Ottawa River flows through a number of islands and channels. There is a tall bluff on the southern shore, from which this view was taken at dusk.

Photo: Deck of the Jubilee Lodge Marina, Petawawa, Ontario
Chris enjoys some tea and a butter tart from Tim Horton's on the deck of the Jubilee Lodge Marina before heading back to the boat for the evening.

Photo: The docks at the Jubilee Lodge Marina seen from the clubhouse,  Petawawa, Ontario
Evening at the Jubilee Lodge Marina, which has docks for 140 boats. The main channel of the river winds through the islands several hundred yards offshore. There was no boat traffic at night to disturb us.

It has been an odd day of boating. We've been to three marinas, hauled our boat, driven over 100-miles, and re-launched her. Along the way we've been re-thinking our decision to skip Lake Temiskaming, gotten a bit depressed when we got to Pembroke and saw the facilities, and been very pleasantly surprised by discovering the Jubilee Lodge Marina. It's our sixth day of travel, and we are both a bit tired. We fall easily into a restful sleep at our quiet berth at the end of the dock.

The nine-day narrative continues in Day Seven.

Copyright © 2006 by James W. Hebert. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited!

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Author: James W. Hebert
This article first appeared August, 2006.