June 23-July 2, 2019
June 24 – Rouse’s Point, NY on Lake Champlain to Saint-Jean, QE (24 miles)
June 25 – lovely windy, rainy lay day on Saint-Jean’s free wall
June 26 – Through the Chambly Canal to the Chambly QE, free dock in a lovely park .25 miles from a market (30 miles)
June 27 – Through Lake Chambly to Ours Lock free dock in an even more wonderful park (37 miles)
June 28-July 2 – Up the Richelieu River to Sorel and then down the St. Lawrence Seaway on into Montreal (54 miles)
Miles traveled this blog: 145
Total miles traveled: 6005
Add Quebec as our first Canadian Provence
The weather couldn’t be more perfect. We have had a ratio of at least 5 good days to 1 rainy or windy one for the past two months and the temperatures have been delightful – highs in the low 80s with lows in the low 60s. Temperature predictions are in the 90s for the next ten days. Hot summer has arrived!
We pulled out of Rouse’s Point on a beautiful Monday morning heading about two miles north to Canadian customs in Quebec. Somewhat anxious, we saw customs ahead knowing that we must dock without assistance. Meanwhile, a sailboat scooted past on our port side (cutting us off) and making it to the dock without using the channel. Of note, it was a woman at the helm, makes me wonder if she ever went to kindergarten? Anyway, due to lack of space we stood off for twenty minutes before proceeding into the beautifully maintained facility. It was a gorgeous day, absolutely still and easy-peasy docking.
The Namaste waiting patiently to clear Canadian customs.
Protocol is to raise a yellow quarantine flag, pass through customs and then raise the Canadian flag along with the American Flag flying on our stern for the remainder of the time we are in Canada. Jim with his fat black notebook went ashore with hopefully the correct documentation we would need – passports, boat registration and insurance, and Sammy’s vaccination certificate. After somberly reviewing our papers, the official asked me to come into the office for identification (this hadn’t happened on the previous two boats indicating the procedure is different for each reportee) and then simply asked us our destination (Detour, Michigan) and length of stay (we indicated September 7 padding a few days to our plan). We have no firearms onboard accept our safety flare guns; were well under the alcohol limit and had only two fresh bananas we were prepared to eat if necessary which all turned out to be mute issues.
See the fat, black notebook under Jim’s arm – everything we need for this trip!
The changing of the flags.
The Canadian flag flies high on the Namaste.
Feeling relieved and happy to be in Canada we proceeded to our planned destination of the free wall in Saint-Jean, Quebec. As we traveled north and still in Lake Champlain although it felt more like a river, we were amazed at the number of boats and people using the waterway on what should be a quiet Monday morning. As we moved along the Lake, the crowds increased dramatically and everyone was in a holiday mood. Turns out it was Baptiste Day (birthday of John the Baptist) a holiday in Quebec. Not unlike the American July 4th or Canada Day the French Canadian summer celebration was on, complete with hot dogs and beans for supper with Jenny Lynn, Dan and Mac and fireworks 150 yards off our bow. I held my hands over Sammy’s ears and she sat quietly watching the festivities – what a boat dog! The next day it was windy and rained on and off until late afternoon so we let the bridge tender and lock master know we were staying for another day and wouldn’t need the bridge to go up nor would we be locking through. Good thing, as the 9:00 post-holiday operation was quite a circus with high winds and lots of boats!
The wonderful little town of Saint-Jean – rafting because it is Baptiste Day in Quebec!
The interesting white structure above is a new lift bridge over Lake Champlain at the Saint-Jean lock entering the Chambly Canal. We have now seen lots of lift bridges but never anything like this one. Just below it is the current bridge in green and apparently a major traffic nightmare. It doesn’t even open during rush hours including the lunch hour. Another view of the pretty new bridge as we pass under heading into the lock.
And the town turns out for the Baptiste Day festivities including some of the best fireworks we have ever seen.
As soon as we cast off from Saint-Jean we were in the Chambly Canal, a National Historic Site of Canada and an absolute treasure running along the Richelieu River rapids! There are ten bridges, eight of which are hand operated; and nine relatively small, 200 year-old, hand operated locks in this 7.5 mile stretch which took us about 6 hours to complete 6 of the 9 locks. We were tired and the sky indicated a potential afternoon squall so we stopped in Chambly at lock #3 in a picturesque little town park with free wall and power. While we manage well, life is always better with power (think air conditioning – did I mention it is hot; hair care appliances; microwave, etc!
An interesting swing bridge a a little crossroads somewhere on the Chambly.
The Chambly Canal – now a National Historic Site of Canada but originally created as a means of opening the northern USA and Canada to the New York Market.
There were many more bikers than boats enjoying the Chambly Canal. It was a picture from the past.
Another manual bridge along the Chambly – definitely a one-at-a-time operation.
Not a doll house but rather a Parks Canada Station along the Chambly at one of the many locks or bridges. They were all different but of the same theme.
The manual gates and locks were operated mostly by college students working for Parks Canada during the summer. They were an absolute delight. Above, draining the lock. Below opening the wooden gate.
The entire 200 year old lock operation, refurbished in 1983.
The town of Chambly offered two grocery stores, two ice cream stores and a concert across the river attended by what appeared to be the entire town of happy people. We listened for awhile and then watched the democratic debate on Melody’s smart TV. It’s magic!
The town began to gather at 6 for an 8 o’clock concert.
This is an example of one of the many free walls along the Chambly. Trivia: Three of the important characteristics of a good overnight tie-up include nearby grass, trash and recycling. Picture taken from the shadow of the Namaste.
The Chambly town bridge and lock first thing in the morning. They all open at nine precluding an early start. Oh darn!
It is also important to note that at this dock we are 32 miles east of Montreal. However, it is impossible to get there from here (no water) so we must travel 40 miles north to Sorel, make a u-turn and travel 50 miles south on the St. Lawrence Seaway to Montreal. Couldn’t they just. . .? But I am getting ahead of myself here. . .
As I write this we are approximately at the red arrow above Plattsburg and 32 miles from Montreal. However we must go north (Sorel) to go south (on the St. Lawrence Seaway) to go west (montreal)!
After we cleared the final three locks at Chambly, changing our strategy somewhat for safer entry and exit of these small locks, we entered Chambly Lake. Highlights this day included watching seaplanes play touch-and-go and navigating the Namaste through the tiny opening under a railroad bridge with a crazy-fast following current. Captain Jim crabbed us through a nail-biting 2 minutes or so – seemed like forever.
Another Chambly lock. These two were having so much fun working together that if they aren’t a couple now they soon will be! (Yet another made-up story.)
Entering Lake Chambly from the last lock of this series.
Touch-and-go right off our starboard bow.
Scary railroad bridge! Captain Jim navigated us through the opening on the far right of the picture. Coming up the Richeleau River we had to make a quick turn to port (left) and under the bridge in what felt like something only slightly less than raging current. Whew!
We didn’t think dockage could get any better when we came upon the Ours Lock and an even more perfect park but this time a rural campsite. We stopped because once again the sky was threatening but almost more because this park was too good to pass up! We were again able to grab enough data to watch much of the second night of the debate. I will keep my hopeful yet guarded comments to myself for now.
Ours Lock and Park. See the blue painted stripe on the dock just ahead of our two boats? Tying up there indicates you are ready to go through the lock right now. We had already traversed the lock and were spending the night in this quaint and beautiful spot. We were nose to the lock for smoother sleeping due to the current in this narrow spot. The next morning we turned and were on our way.
Picture taken in the late afternoon. Looked like we were in for a squall but it never materialized. A little light rain and that was it.
Again this park, bridge and lock (am I getting repetitive here?) is maintained by Parks Canada. There were 6 or so of these cabins available to rent for $120 per night or about $85 in US dollars. It was a week night and no one was in residence but they were preparing for a busy Canada Day weekend.
Our next and last segment into Montreal turns out to be a slow slog of about 54 miles because we were bucking a current of anywhere between 1 and 4 knots. Now, that may not seem like much and probably isn’t to large and more powerful craft, but for us it slowed our progress from 7 to between 6 and 3 knots. The closer we got to Montreal the faster the current and the slower the Namaste. All along the St. Lawrence it was beautiful but we were on the continuous lookout for the “big boys” or ocean-going freighters going either direction. Five of the six boats we encountered were coming toward us and because the river is wide and deep we easily stayed out of their way. The sixth boat however passed us in a rather narrow section, giving us an uncomfortable however brief “waking”. We knew he was coming but the 5 loud blasts indicating he was passing us on the starboard, was startling at such close range.
Making our U-turn onto the mighty Saint Lawrence Seaway. Melody leading the way in smooth as glass waters.
Three of the six freighters we saw that day!
As we approached Montreal proper it was Friday afternoon of Canada Day weekend and the boat traffic (freighters, ferries, cruise ships, police boats, coast guard, large and small recreational boats and wave runners) along with the 4 knot current mentioned above made for an exciting entrance into the Port De Plaisance Real-Bouvier – our marina home for the long weekend and a 15 minute ferry ride across the river to the downtown or the Old Port de Montreal.
3-4 knot current but if we stayed to the side of the channel we could sometimes reduce the impact.
We spent much of three wonderful days exploring the city including a Greyline Hop On, Hop Off double-decker red bus tour. We felt like a couple of old people but did I mention our temps were in the high 80s and much of what we wanted to see was spread throughout the city. It was a great way to get our bearings and over two long days see as much as we possibly could. As of this minute, the pictures of our touring Montreal have not downloaded from my phone to my computer. The cloud functioning seems pretty random so I will add them at a later time after a good overnight wifi connection. Finally got a wifi connection at Montebello and the download took about 10 minutes! Here are a few of the pictures of our visit to Montreal.
Welcome to Montreal!!
Montreal City Skyscape from Mont Royale
Chateau Mont Royale
Montreal from Mont Royale or the mountain originally owned by 7 families and sold to the city for about $1,000,000. Mont Royale became Mont Real and eventually named the city Montreal. The mountain is all park with easy to difficult hikes and bike rides, Chateaus and incredible vistas. We spent most of a day here.
Flowers everywhere but this was my favorite.
Beautiful tribute to Leonard Cohen
Montreal’s underground city, one incredible mall!
The famous Notre-Dame Bascillica Montreal
On the third day we went in late for dinner to the highly recommended Jardin Nelson which did not disappoint – complete with great service and two different jazz groups. We were all tired but got more than our 10,000 steps just wandering around the Canada Day celebrating city after dinner.
Anybody been to this place?
Some of the best food we have had on the Loop.
A word about the language and culture from my limited but observant perspective. In the Provence of Quebec, French is spoken exclusively which can be intimidating until you learn that 105 languages are spoken in this multi-cultural city and almost everyone gives English a jolly good try. Most young people speak fluently, almost natively. At the same time, there remains a truly European/French feel to almost everything from the occasional abruptness of passers-by to the often less than perfect directions/explanations. In other words, sometimes things feel just about 5 degrees askew and that is some of the delight. An example: after we were settled into the marina we began looking for the pool (did I mention it is hot?). After several quests our answer was, “well yes, we are supposed to have a pool but we don’t and yup, supposed to have WIFI but it isn’t good meaning, we don’t.” The restaurant, bathrooms, showers, and laundry were immaculate but a flight and a half of wooden outdoor stairs and a 300 yards away – no Americans for Disabilities Act here. Somehow, I appreciate the casual style and my need to adjust. Everyone has been friendly and inclusive at the marina, a brotherhood of boaters. Many were interested in our experience on the Loop.
Remnants of the Montreal 76 summer Olympic games. The tall, tilty structure is holding up the dome below it – as seen at sunset from our marina across the St. Lawrence Seaway.
An evening rainbow while in the Port de Plaisance Real Bovier Marina
A surreal part of this visit was meeting Jim’s cousin Suzanne Dugas, her husband Mike, their daughter Dawn and son-in-law Fred randomly on the streets. On day #2 we were looking for a restaurant for late lunch or early dinner. We peaked down and small ally to see what appeared to be a quiet and pretty restaurant. As we approached, Suzy and her family were the only other people in the ally and thinking the exact same thing. How did this meeting happen in a city of 1.78 million (smaller than Toronto but bigger than Quebec)? The stars aligned and who will ever know the how or why but we shared family news/stories and generally enjoyed one another over a lingering dinner. Mike and Suzy are on a motor home adventure to eastern Canada and the Maritime Provinces for the summer and Dawn and Fred are headed to Virginia Beach on vacation.
Fred, Suzy, Mike
. . .and Dawn sharing dinner, stories and laughs!
It was a wonderfully long Canadian holiday weekend and now it is time to move on. We planned to leave on Tuesday (July 2nd) but Dan is having trouble with his starter and we do not yet have a permanent fix for our aft-cabin head so the captains rode bikes for parts, did I mention it is hot out and are feverishly trying to get everything working again! As I write this, Melody’s starter is replaced and the Captains continue to explore the Namaste for the culprit wire or whatever to repair the electric toilet.
Captains commiserating. No head solution yet – stay tuned!
Good-by Montreal, hello to the Ottawa River!
Good Boat Name: Pironor. I don’t know what the word means and I was hoping for something more eloquent but according to Google it is the name of a French fabrication company. However, “Pironor” adorns the transom of a stately, 1956, 45’ Crist-Craft. What a gem!
Happy Birthday to: Kaitlan, Judy
Happy Canada Day to all my favorite Canadians.
Happy Independence Day to my American family and friends. We will especially miss Camp Lookout and the Frankfort Parade.
Note of Jim & Jo history: Jim and I spent our delayed honeymoon in Montreal at Expo ’67 and were also here in ’87 on our way to Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and Mike’s adventure on the Pegoria. All three visits are so memorable!
A loud shout-out of appreciation to the kind and helpful Parks Canada staff who operate the bridges, locks and care for their beautiful parks.
A small shout-out of disappointment to Verizon. After many promises from them and at a pretty good chunk of cash from us, we have marginal reception and extremely limited data for our “beyond unlimited” plan. After .5G of use we are “monitored” down to 3G service for the remainder of the day. This usually happens about 2 p.m. The explanation is that data is expensive in Canada! The devices still show LTE on the screen but the response is so painfully slow that it almost doesn’t exist. For some reason my laptop is currently on Wifi so I just may get this posted. Again, magic!
What an interesting blog entry – wowza! The pics of the locks and lock houses along the Chambly look just like those we experienced in France along the Canal du Midi!! Brought back memories. We have been to many places in Canada over the years (via land rather than sea 😁) but always LOVE the people and places. So enjoyable to read about your experiences- continue on and happy trails. Love, Penny
Thanks Penny! The quaint locks are the best. The ones we potentially have to share with commercial traffic are another story but so far so good. We will do the stair-step (locks 1-8) in Ottawa when Lee is here visiting with us. I hear you are walking and doing great! Congrats on such a good recovery. Take good care and “hi” to John too! Love, Jo Ann
Hello Jim and Jo Ann, we are Lionel & Andree, we met today at Hawkesbury municipal marina. We were very happy to meet you and discuss few minutes. Wish you a lovely cruise on Rideau waterway.
Lionel & Andree
Hi Lionel and Andree, We enjoyed meeting with you too and wish you all the best in your boating adventures.