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Friday, June 22, 2012

St Anne de Bellevue

Yesterday we left Montebello and went to St Anne de Bellevue which is where the Ottawa river rejoins the St Lawrence.  Along the way we went through two more locks including the Carillon Lock which is whopping 65' drop in one lock.  Being inside of it at low water is intimidating to say the least.

Carillon Lock, About 2/3 Empty

Carillon Lock - See the attendant on the dock up towards the gate?

The lock at St Anne de Bellevue is the last one on the Ottawa River, and after locking though there is 1/2 mile or so of promenade where you can tie up on either side.  It's a very cute college town (part of McGill is there) with all sorts of pubs and restaurants, and best of all, ice cream!

It's a pretty small group of people doing the various "loops" by boat, and you tend to keep running into the same people along the way.  Sometimes you are heading in the same direction, and sometimes in opposite directions.  Yesterday, tied up across from use were three boats that we ran into back in Croton-on-Hudson in NY.  They are all doing the Great Loop but took the route up through Lake Champlain and were now heading up the Ottawa River and down the Rideau, just the opposite of how we came.  We swapped stories about where to stay and what we liked, and this morning we all continued on in our respective directions.

Today we covered the remaining portion of lock-controlled waterway, but this time is was part of the main St Lawrence Seaway.  Wow, what a difference, and not for the better.  If we've had a crappy day, this was it.  We had about 25 miles and two locks to transit; St Cathrine and St Lambert, which drop the river around Montreal and finally leave you back in tidal (sort of) water.  These locks are all business, and pleasure craft take a far back seat to commercial traffic.  Each morning the Seaway Authority posts a schedule for pleasure craft lock times, which after about 5 minutes is completely blown to hell.  We were too far away to make the first lock time, so we went for the second at 2:00pm.

Passing Tanker in Canal

We arrived early, and the holding pen where pleasure boats wait doesn't have much dock space and you are expected to raft up with other boats.  As we approached, some other boaters very nicely untied their boat and moved it down the dock to make room for us.  It was a short space and we were going to have our butt hanging off the end of the dock, but what the heck.

Then came the fun.  As I was approaching the dock, the back of the boat (the part out past the dock started getting pulled sideways towards a roped off area that's some sort of overflow intake.   For those of you who haven't operated boats before, you can aim them and make them go forward and backwards, but you can't make them go sideways.  So here we are getting sucked sideways into this overflow and a dock and other boats blocking the front of us.  Yikes!

Lots of people advocate boats with a single engine for better efficiency.  And lots of people advocate lightly powered boats and look down on faster boats.  All I can say is Screw That!  I'd be a drain plug in the St Lawrence right now if it weren't for over-powered twin engines.  We aborted the landing and it was peddle to the metal in reverse on one engine, and forward on the other to get the boat pulled and spun away from that whirlpool we were heading down.

Well, after that we just rafted up next to another boat well away from the danger zone, and the good news is that we only had to wait for one tanker to go ahead of us and we actually locked through about an hour early.  But, we made up for all gained time at St Lambert where we had to sit and wait for 4 tankers.  It was like weather delays at an airport, but all in slow motion.  My God these tankers CRAWL into and out of the locks.  We had to wait for about 4 hrs before locking through, and by the time we did finally get to go there were about 12 boats to pack in.

And then came the Nantucket Sleigh Ride.  When you finally come out of the canal and rejoin the river, the current is cranking - 6kts or so.  To get to the marina we first ran with the current for a 1/2 mile or so, then pulled a 180 and ran against it for about a mile or two.  If I recall my geography correctly, Niagara falls is basically Lake Erie dumping into Lake Ontario.  And Ontario is the headwaters for the St Lawrence, so all that water flows out the St Lawrence.  So our little up-stream swim was basically running up against all the water that comes over Niagara falls.  Did I mention that I'm glad to have an over-powered boat.  But once you get through the mayhem, you turn into an old ship basin that's now a very nice marina right in the middle of Old City Montreal.

So anyway, it was a long and stressful day for the captain, but we made it.

1 comment:

Angela said...

Less microphone, more throttle! One can never have enough power or icecream.