Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dragon boats in Mooney's Bay

It's been three months since I published a blogpost here. We're now in mid-summer, June 21st, and the Ottawa rivers look totally different. This weekend the Dragon Boat Festival takes place in Mooney's Bay on the Rideau River with crowds of competitors and their supporters there, thousands of people making a noise.

From downtown, I cycled up the bike trail by the Rideau Canal to see them, returning along the Rideau River trail, a ride that only took about 40 minutes each way, and I'm not a speedy cyclist. Some of my friends from the Ottawa CFUW were paddling in the races but so many people were there, I never spotted them. Some teams were just there for a laugh; others were taking it very seriously, limbering up with team chants, arm-waving exercises, press-ups. All participants wore a uniform and life jackets. The marshalers lined them up to wait for their turn in the boats, which had dragons' heads and tails as in the Chinese tradition on this day–– Duānwǔjié (端午节). During the races a drummer in the prow of the boat beats a rhythm for the oars and a steersman or woman stands at the back. At the end of the race came the cheers and mutual congratulations, high fives.

On the bank were many tents and stalls. The results tent listed the teams that had competed so far this morning, among them some silly or witty names: Blazing Paddles, Rowdiculous, Girls on Fire, Sea of Troubles, Release the Krakens, Holy Ship, Fire Breathing Rubber Duckies and even My Arms Hurt.

Photo by CW Clark
This afternoon Chris and Chuck are flying above Mooney's bay in our Cessna so that Chuck can capture pictures of the boat races from the air.

(Added later.)  See one of these pictures on the right. Click to enlarge and you can clearly see the wakes of the dragon boats and a close finish for 1st place in this race ...

A couple more pictures created by CW Clark are attached below.

The whole of Mooney's Bay, also showing the Hog's Back Falls and canal

Dragon boats returning from a race, with the Festival site beyond

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ice-breaking: a slow process

This month's ice-clearing operations on the Rideau River, upstream from the Rideau Falls, have so far only reached as far as the Chinese Embassy. As usual, dynamite was used first, then the amphibious excavator, but it's taking more time than usual because the ice is so thick this year and because the ice is piling up to a huge extent at the base of the falls.

I took some photos yesterday:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

They've begun

The ice-breaking crews have sprung into action on the local rivers. The amphibious excavator has created a semicircle of ice floes beneath the Rideau Falls and this morning my husband 'phoned to warn me that the bridge on Sussex Drive across the Rideau River was being closed, so that the dynamiting operations could begin just above the Rideau Falls. As the Minto bridges are also closed at present, this means quite a long detour for people wanting to access the Rockcliffe Parkway.

Anyhow, they have a nice, bright day for it. Windy, but sky clear.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mo's Fly-in, on the river!

Last weekend, Feb. 22nd, was the date for Mo's Fly-in on the Ottawa River, the aircraft landing on ice. It was good weather for it! The sun shone and melted some of the surface ice, but the ice beneath was strong enough for a runway to be ploughed and even aircraft not fitted with skis could land for the event, the 25th one of its kind.

Here's a video made by Yves Grenier of the ground operations, this year:

The event started at 1000 hrs and ran all day on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, 1 mile west of the Ottawa VOR. The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association published the following details about it:

Coordinates: 45°26'57" N, 75°55'48
Runway: Runways 34 & 16, 3500' x l00'
Frequencies: ground 122.75 MHz, air 123.20 MHz.
Notes: Ski landing recommended. Landing is at your own risk.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Boats are back

My MacKay Street friend Susan reports that the "boats are back in the dog park" on her side of the Rideau River, ready for use by the ice breaking team. There's no accessible water to float them on yet, though. The Weather Network reports that the "polar vortex makes a return this week" and the current temperature out there is -12º (feels like -17º)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What to do along the river

I meant to write this blogpost sooner; my post of yesterday reminded me.

Towards the end of January, Kelly Egan of the Ottawa Citizen wrote an opinion column about what could be "done" with a river (the Ottawa River in this case) to make it "less sleepy"––more animated. The white water rafting wasn't on his list of ideas, but he had some good suggestions nonetheless. He mentioned water taxis, which have already come into operation through my favourite boat company, Au Feel de l'Eau. Other possibilities, he thought, were
  • gondolas, crossing the river from the bottom of the Rideau Canal locks to the Gatineau bank
  • floating bonfires with music in the background
  • giant chess boards on the banks
  • wi-fi spots at regular intervals along the shore
  • playgrounds and skateboard ramps
  • places for practising yoga
  • places for indulging in chalk art
  • ice cream sales points and a beverage service
  • kayak rentals from Bate Island
He also mentioned the possibility of flea markets and farmers markets close to the river bank. Perhaps this will happen more readily when the Chaudière Falls area is developed.

Musician on the South Bank of the Thames, in London
I thought of this article when walking along the South Bank of the Thames the following weekend, where a huge amount of activity was drawing the London crowds. Admittedly that's a far bigger city, but the principle is the same.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Coming soon: white water rafting through the city!

The national capital region has a huge amount of potential that could be far better exploited by the tourism industry, if people put their minds to it. The Ottawa River is a good example of this under-use of natural resources, but maybe things are about to change. CBC Ottawa announced this week that this summer there will be a new attraction in town. Wilderness Tours, a white water rafting company that normally operates from much further upstream, near Cobden,
Ottawa River with the city ahead, from the Remic Rapids
below Bate Island, spring 2013
will begin offering tours down the Ottawa River right in the heart of the nation's capital beginning in June [...] The company has been given permission to take customers downstream through the Des Chênes and Remic Rapids from Britannia to Lemieux Island, just west of Chaudiere Island.
It sounds like a good idea that will especially appeal to visitors from elsewhere in Canada or from overseas, because:
... tour guides will also inform participants about aboriginal, fur and lumber trade history [...] "You're not just being told about the history of the Ottawa river. You're experiencing it for yourself."