Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!
Eric here catching you up to date on the travels of Still Waters II. But first a hearty welcome to Livingoutloud64 as our newest virtual crew member.
This week the crew travelled within 10 miles of Montreal and then headed west on the Ottawa River. Click on the Travel Map above or this link to see the day-by-day travel log.
St Lawrence River
On Sunday, the crew took a well-deserved rest day. As the crew interacted with some of the local boaters in the marina, it soon became apparent that the crew was the talk of the marina. Everyone seemed to have a theory on the Customs chaos and all had a good laugh about it, now that it is over.
Also, the skipper thinks his French skills are better than they actually are. I just do not have the heart to tell him. But he should of gotten a clue from this little episode. One lady walked by and he greeted her with a “Bonjour.” (hello) She responded by some long sentence in French. The puzzled look on the skipper’s face must have given him away because the lady stopped speaking French and asked him in English if he spoke French. He responded with “ Je parle fransais (I speak French) while holding his thumb and pointer finger close together, indicating very little. She busted out laughing.
On Monday, the crew headed back down the St Lawrence River. There would be four challenges to overcome in the cruise. Two timed bridge openings and two locks.
The day started great as the crew arrived at the first bridge 10 minutes early. It got even better when the bridge tender opened the bridge right away and the crew passed through early. It was only 5 miles downriver to the next bridge so the skipper was just going to idle to the bridge. But because of the wind and current they arrived at the bridge at 1130, 30 minutes before the noon opening. The skipper noticed however that the bridge tender signaled them to continue towards the bridge. The bridge tender opened the bridge and allowed the crew past the 8 foot obstruction.
It was just five more miles down to the first lock. Upon arrival at noon, the crew docked at the pleasure craft pier and bought a lock pass to proceed. The crew was informed that it would be 1530 before they could enter the lock because of commercial traffic. The crew shutdown the engines and waited four hours before they got a green light to enter the lock. During that time, they watched four large ‘laker’ ships transient the lock.
Once the crew got in the lock it was a quick 10 minute ride down 42 feet. When the gates opened they headed the one mile to enter the second lock and ride down another 42 feet.
After exiting the second lock it would be an hour and twenty minutes across Lac Saint Louis to The Royal St Lawrence Yacht Club. The marina was closed when the crew arrived at 1800 but a man came down and helped them dock. Pierre asked if the crew was doing the loop and shared that he was a gold looper from the class of 2012.
He also shared that there was some kind of strike going on in Montreal and he advised against going there. The skipper called the Montreal Old Port marina and the marina recording affirmed that a strike was in progress and the marina was closed.
Time for the skipper to recalculate his route planning.
On Tuesday, the crew took a day off and worked around the boat, took a walk in the town of Dorval, and went to the store to provision some needed food items. The skipper also spent some time recalculating their next moves since they will not be headed to Montreal. Two hundred employees have decided that going on strike and shutting down Old Montreal at the beginning of the summer tourist season was a good idea. The crew talked with some Americans who had rented a car and gone to Old Montreal the day before. They told the crew that it was not worth the trouble since most areas were closed. The other Americans were leaving and headed down river to Old Quebec.
With that bit of intel, the crew has also decided to leave and head towards Ottawa. The Ottawa River portion of the loop will run 97 miles from the Sainte Anne de Bellevue lock to Ottawa.
On Wednesday, the crew delayed leaving until 1045 so that they could get fuel and pump out the holding tank. The crew waited for a rain shower to pass before moving to the fuel dock. After fueling, the crew headed for the Sainte Anne de Bellevue lock.
As has been the case so far, no lock experience is the same. This lock has a floating dock with two Parks Canada employees on the dock to tie up the boat. After raising the water 3 feet, the employees collect the fee from the boaters. The crew bought both a season pass for locking and a season pass for mooring on the lock walls. The break-even point on the passes is eight lock days and eight mooring days. The crew plans to spend way more than eight days locking and mooring while traversing the Canada canals so they bought the season pass.
Mile 95-80, the crew crossed the Lac Des Deux Montagnes. Crossing the lake was very scenic with mountains rising from the shore of the lake. This was also the widest point on the Ottawa River. There are some points that were more than three miles wide.
Mile 72, the crew arrived at the Carillon Lock at 1535. The lock closed at 1600, but a boat must be at the blue line 30 minutes before closing to lock through. The blue line is painted down the approach from the lock. Entering into the blue line area signals the lockmaster that the boat wants to lock through. Since the crew would not make the blue line, the crew tied up to the lock wall to wait till morning. The first ascend lockage will be at 0930 in the morning, so the crew will be ready to take the 65 foot ride up.
The best thing about being on the down side of the lock though was the evening entertainment. A group of young men showed up to fish. The skipper sized up the situation immediately and determined that these young men were not really fisherman.
The skipper could not determine how many were initially in the group. They kept making multiple trips back up the stairs to their cars. You know, one trip for the fishing pole, one trip for the chair, one trip for the tackle box, one trip for whatever. It was almost 15 minutes before the first hook hit the water. What an embarrassment. When the trips back to the car finally slowed down, the skipper determined that there were nine young men. At the 40 minute mark the skipper thought that they were going to have nine hooks in the water but it would not happen. Just about the time #9 was about to cast, #8 had tired of sitting and reeled in his hook. He then laid his pole down and went down the wall to talk with one of the other guys.
I guess he has never heard the skipper say you cannot catch fish if your hook is not in the water. Two hours later, there was only three poles in the water and six guys standing around talking. One guy has managed to catch two small fish though. The others are still getting pitched a shutout.
Since the fish were not biting and the boys were bored, they resorted to throwing rocks in the water. The one guy still fishing was not happy, reeled in his line, and headed to the car. He must have the keys because the rock throwers all stopped throwing rocks and followed the leader out of the canal.
The Admiral went down and picked up all the trash they left on the canal wall. Along with the trash they left a fishing net, a multi-purpose tool, and a wireless radio speaker. Rookies.
On Thursday, the crew got up and prepared to ride the Carillon Lock. The skipper pulled the boat up to the Blue Line to signal that they wanted to lock through. About 0935 the gate began to rise so the skipper started the engines and the Admiral pulled in the lines.
One of the cardinal rules in lifting and rigging is never get under the load. However, with this lock the gate is a guillotine and is lifted up. The boater then enters under the gate. The skipper is not a big fan of this maneuver so he minimized his time under the gate. There are only two of these type of locks in North America. The crew has already passed under the other one on the Erie Canal.
After entering the lock, Parks Canada employees took the lines and secured them to a floating dock. After three boats were secured the gate went shut and water flooded the chamber raising the boats 65 feet. The whole evolution took 35 minutes.
The lock was at mile 72 on the Ottawa River and the crew is headed to mile 42. Along the way they crossed two large Baies. Miles 60-57 they were in the shallow waters of the Baie Greenville. Miles 54-50 they crossed the Baie De L’ Original.
All along the shore were small towns. The tallest building in each of these towns is a church with a large steeple. On the south shore is Ontario and on the north shore is Quebec. It is interesting how the steeples are different in each providence.
In between the towns is wide open country speckled with farms. The other reoccurring structure on the shore are the grain silos.
Upon arrival at the Le Chateau Montebello the crew explored the large log structure that is now the Fairmont Hotel. Originally built in 1930, as a private retreat (members included prime ministers, royalty, and Canada’s business elite) the property has a rich history of hosting world leaders and foreign dignitaries.
1981 – hosted the G7 Economic Summit, Ronald Reagan was in attendance
1983 – Bilderberg Conference and NATO Conference
1989 – Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canada Premiers
2007 – North American Leaders Summit, George W Bush was in attendance
2016 – Crew and Virtual Crew members of Still Waters II
The building is a six-point star, with 10,000 hand-cut and set red cedar logs. The structure was completed in 3 months with the work of 3,500 craftsmen.
There is also a big event in town this weekend. Town consists of 900 people and 1,000 cows. However, once a year this little village hosts Canada’s largest rock fest. While preparing to dock, the skipper noticed a tent village on the north shore and wondered what was going on. The crew walked into town and was entertained by the young, enthusiastic, high energy crowd.
The crew stopped and talked to two young men to ask for directions. Turns out that they are from Colorado, sorta. One of them is actually teaching in Cambodia at an orphanage and the other actually lives in Colorado. The teacher makes the annual pilgrimage to the Rock Fest.
There is sure plenty of strange colored hair and tattoos walking around. This has the makings for total out of control chaos by the end of the weekend. On the way back to the boat, a group of young men passed the crew. They were smoking pot and had a beer in each hand. The crew stopped to allow some distance to grow between them and the young men.
While standing and waiting, another group of three walked up to the skipper and asked if the crew had come to partake in the revelry. The skipper said no. The young man then asked what the crew was doing in town then. The skipper replied that the crew was boating and on the way to Ottawa.
The young man then said that he thought the skipper was smart enough to name every band performing over the weekend. With 128 artist performing, the skipper would not fare well naming any of the bands. The skipper said no, probably not. The young man reached up and pulled a program out of the skipper’s ear with a list of all the bands. He showed the list to the skipper and said look what I found in your brain.
After getting back to the boat the skipper googled up Rock Fest and the bands and just as he thought, he did not recognize a single name.
The last amusing thing of the day was walking back to the boat. When the crew reached a wooden foot bridge with a posted sign of 8 ton weight limit, the pot smoking beer drinking crew was lined up and crossing the bridge one person at a time. When the crew walked across the bridge with one of the young men in the middle of the bridge they all started jabbering in French. The skipper could make out that they were concerned that the bridge would collapse with all the added weight.
The skipper just laughed at them and shook his head. Yes, the young men are already as high as a kite and the concert does not start until tonight. He hopes they survive the weekend.
It is probably a good thing that the marina is booked full through the weekend. The crew will leave in the morning.
On Friday, the crew shoved off from the dock at 0930 and headed back to the town of Montebello to take a few pics of the tent city that has sprung up around town. Yesterday, every flat piece of grass seemed to have a tent pitched with campers nearby. Some people were just laying on mats in the shade. Luckily, the concert wound down around midnight and the crowd was pretty calm. But they were getting an early start on Friday morning. The crew started to hear music again at 0900.
After getting the pics, the skipper turned back west and the crew headed towards Ottawa. The scenery was much the same as yesterday with small towns and farms scattered along the shores.
Mile 17, there was a very busy ferry crossing. There were at least three ferries’ in the crossing at any one time. The skipper threaded the needle between the boats and crossed without incident.
Mile 10-5, the skipper started to notice more and more homes along the shore. Then the homes became larger and larger. Then the homes started to have airplanes along with boats in the water. The crew saw at least 5 planes in front of homes. Must be some money in Ottawa.
The crew decided to drop anchor for the day and found a spot protected from the northeast wind and the boats in the channel. Unfortunately, when they dropped the anchor at Lower Duck Island, they also dropped the Canadian Curtesy Flag into the water. Not sure how that happened. Surely the crew will be able to find another Canadian flag in the capital of Canada.
On Saturday, the crew pulled the anchor and went to mile zero on the Ottawa River at the Alexandra Bridge.
They passed the Rideau Falls as they approached the McDonald-Cartier Bridge. The crew docked across the river from Ottawa in the Hull Marina. After docking they bought a bus tour ticket that had a hop-off hop-on feature that went to 15 historic sites, museums, and government buildings.
The crew caught the tour bus at stop 5 which was a hockey player nicknamed the Rocket. Seems he was a big deal up here in the frozen tundra. He was the first player ever to score 50 goals in less than 50 games.
The bus tour went by the Prime Ministers residents. Remember those big houses on the river yesterday? Well, one of them was the Prime Minister’s House. The others are homes of Ambassadors.
When the tour bus got to downtown Ottawa, the crew disembarked to walk around for a while.
They strolled along Parliament Hill and made their way down to the flight of 8 locks that they will climb in the morning. There were no boats in progress of locking, but the crew found one boat, Chimera II, on the blue line waiting to ascend. Jim and Gwen started the loop at Kingston, ON so when they complete the Rideau Canal they will cross their wake and become coveted Gold Looper’s.
The crew also found a BBQ cook-off in progress. There were many BBQ stands cooking and selling their special brand of BBQ. Sure smelt good. One of the stands was advertising Texas BBQ. After completing the 8 locks tomorrow, the crew plans on checking out the Texas BBQ.
Many of the buildings and statues in the downtown area and Parliament Hill are in some serious restoration mode. After getting back on the last bus of the day the crew learned that the restorations are for their sesquicentennial celebration in 2017.
The last bit of news this week has to do with shutting down the 8 locks in Ottawa next week. Some rumors state that the locks will be shutdown all week, while the Parks Canada website states that they will be closed only on Thursday. However, the lock walls will be closed to transient boaters on Wednesday. After the crew ascends the 8 locks tomorrow, they will talk with the lock master to determine when they will have to leave.
Come back next week to catch up on the unfolding adventure aboard Still Waters II.
The water goes on forever and the adventure never ends……….
Eric the Red