The crew would like to welcome tom m. aboard as our newest virtual crew member.
Now that Still Waters II has entered Canada, she proudly displays her Canadian courtesy flag in the place of honor off the bow. She also is flying her club AGLCA Burgee, and her Down East Flag.
The crew had a good mix of cruising and sight seeing this week. On Monday, they visited the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and stayed the night in Burlington (1). Tuesday the crew cruised around Valcour Island and then docked at Gaines Marina at Rouses Point (2). Wednesday, the crew checked into Canadian Customs and then took a spot on the St Jean (3) Lock. Thursday was a short day that ended up in Chambly (4). Friday, the crew visited Fort Chambly before making way to St Ours (5) Lock. The crew ended the week with a cruise to Three Rivers (6).
Click here to read the daily Voyage Logs and Travel Map for last week.
To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site. The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.
Sometime mid-morning, one of the boats left the town dock so the crew weighed anchor and moved over to the town wall. Of course, this turned out to be easier said than done.
Because of the high Lake level, the town has not put the floating docks in the water this season. This leaves some 4 inch vertical pipes exposed ready to damage the fiberglass side of Still Waters II. The skipper managed to get the boat in close without incident, had a spring line down to prevent the current from pushing them forward into the boat off their bow. The skipper then stepped off the boat to secure the stern line which would prevent the bow from hitting a post.
The current had other plans though. The current caught the stern and started pushing it further from the dock. This caused the bow to close in on that pesky post. The skipper rushed forward to fend the boat off the post. He also directed the Admiral to get up in the helm. He began giving “port forward”, “starboard reverse”, “neural” commands to the Admiral. After what seemed to be 10 minutes of sheer excitement, the Admiral managed to walk the boat back to the wall, and the skipper was able to secure the stern line. That was not easy, but teamwork got the boat safely docked.
With the boat secured, the crew took a stroll around town and got a close look at the waterfalls.
The best thing about moving the boat was that the stern was now facing the waterfalls. After dark, the Admiral noticed through the stern window that the Falls were lit up with colored lights. They remained lit until at least midnight as the skipper finally fell asleep instead of thinking about how to get off the wall in the morning.
Turns out all that planning and loss of sleep was a waste of time. The wind was favorable and was blowing such that the boat easily drifted away from the metal pipes when the crew cast off.
After seven miles, the crew exited Otter Creek and headed south towards the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Upon arrival, the crew took a mooring ball near the Museum dock. The skipper launched the dinghy and the crew made way to the dinghy dock. They then walked up the hill to find the Museum office.
The crew spent about three hours in the museum. Their top three exhibits were the wooden boat collection, antique boat motor collection, and the ship wreck exhibits. There are some three hundred known wrecks on Lake Champlain. Who knew. The museum offers a monthly trip out to a wreck and uses a remote operating vehicle to dive the wreck while you observe the wreck topside on camera. They had several videos of the operation and it looked like a boat load of fun.
The museum offered a 20% discount on lunch at the Old Mill restaurant. The crew walked over and had an interesting lunch. The guy who sat them had a British accent, while their server was from Bulgaria. Then an airplane landed and taxied to the backdoor of the restaurant. The Admiral got her first Lobster Roll of the season, while the skipper stuck with the tried and true, medium rare hamburger. And yes, the food was excellent.
The museum had a whole building dedicated to the Battle of Valcour Island. Benedict Arnold led a group of vessels that were built back in Whitehall against a much superior armada of British ships.
The New York had the largest number of casualties. All but one individual lost their lives when one of the cannons exploded on board. The canon below was found where the New York went down and is thought to be the failed canon.
After lunch, the crew headed back to the boat, then made way to Point Bay Marina. The skipper learned that they were selling diesel fuel at 2.99/gallon. Since he knew that Burlington was selling fuel for 3.39/Gallon and Rouses Point price point was 3.79/gallon, this was a no brainer.
After taking on fuel, the crew headed to their final destination of the day, Burlington Boathouse. Once docked, the skipper headed for the camera store. The computer screen no longer recognizes the keyboard. This has resulted in no means to download pictures from the Canon Rebel Camera to the computer. The skipper is looking for adapters to get pictures from the camera to the laptop screen or iPad. The search continues. Until a workable solution is found the crew will use iphones and iPads for cameras. Quality is not as good but is workable.
Next to the Boathouse is an area dedicated to sailors because of the impact of the naval engagements along Lake Champlain.
The memorial area also had stones for both the Battle of Valcour and the Battle of Platsburg during the War of 1812.
When the crew left Burlington and headed towards Rouses Point near the Canadian border, the skipper took a little side trip around Valcour Island. On the west side of Valcour Island is where Benedict Arnold set up his small fleet of ships to ward off the far superior British Navy in October 1776. All but one of the American ships were captured, sunk, or burned to the waterline in the two day battle. Though the ships and battle were lost, the overall mission was a success.
Valcour Island is to the right in the pic below. The water seen is where Benedict Arnold set up his small fleet to fight the British.
I hear you asking, ‘How can that be? A loss is a win?’
Easy, the mission was to delay the British from advancing down Lake Champlain and into the Hudson River Valley. Since it was so late in the year by the time the British secured victory over Lake Champlain, they did not have time to fortify their position before winter arrived. Consequently, the British returned to Montreal and Quebec to layup for winter.
This delay allowed the Patriots time to reinforce their positions at Ft Ticonderoga and eventually win the Battle of Saratoga that we discussed last week.
A Lighthouse now stands on Valcour Island overlooking the battle scene
This is why some scholars refer to Lake Champlain as the first Great Lake, cementing its place in our nation’s history.
After the little detour, it was time to get back on course and get to Gaines Marina for the night.
Before leaving the marina, the crew went over and pumped out the holding tanks. They are not sure of the availability of pump out stations in the areas ahead, so decided to leave with empty tanks. The task should have been $10, but before the skipper paid for services rendered, he started a conversation with the dockmaster. The skipper reported a few problems with their slip; the water did not work, the electric hook up panel was not properly installed, and there was a broken lamp with glass on the dock.
The skipper suggested that the dockmaster go look at and fix the issues. He also mentioned that he was able to secure work arounds so the issues did not impact their stay.
The skipper then turned to the clerk at the counter to pay for the pump out service. The dockmaster told the clerk that the pump out was free and wished the skipper a good day. Well, the Day has certainly got off to a good start.
The crew shoved off the dock, cruised into Canadian waters, and then landed at the Customs Dock. The skipper is sure hoping his good fortune continues and there is no repeat of the Customs fiasco from 2016.
Fort Montgomery on the way to the Canada Customs Wharf
The skipper and Admiral went inside to meet with the Customs Officer. The Officer reviewed the boat documentation paperwork and asked where the crew was going. The skipper responded that they would be cruising the Down East Loop and gave a high level description of the route. The officer then asked how long the crew would be in Canada. The skipper responded about two months. So far so good.
The next question was a bit of a surprise. Not the question, because it was expected. It was the way the question was asked. The Officer stated, ‘I see you are from Texas, do you have any guns or weapons onboard?’ The skipper replied, ‘Not on board.’
The follow-up question was asked with a bit of a smirk and sarcasm, ‘Do you own any weapons?’ Which the skipper gladly answered with a big grin, ‘Yes of course I own weapons, but I did leave then all back in Texas.’ This might have just started to slip down the rabbit hole and go south.
The Officer then stated, ‘I am only going to ask you this one more time, If I go down to your boat and conduct a search will we find any weapon?’ The skipper invited them to go search but assured the Officer that they would find no weapons.
With that dance completed, the Officer asked if October 1st would be sufficient time to explore Canada and return to the US. The skipper said that would be plenty of time. The Officer completed the paper work, returned the passports, and wished the crew safe travels.
With that little task behind them, they shoved off and made way to St Jean where the crew will spend the night at the beginning of the Chambly Canal.
On the dock at St Jeans
There was a park near the dock with public art displayed and even had a working piano inviting you to come bang out a tune.
The Chambly Canal runs 12 miles beside the Richelieu River and allows boaters to bypass rapids in the river. The Chambly Canal opened in 1843 and facilitated exports of Quebec’s industries to the United States. The Canal is still operated manually, well except Lock 9 which is operated hydraulically. One of the locks may have been updated, but the one thing that stands out the most is just how small the Chambly Locks were built.
One boat and the lock is about out of room
Today was the last day for restricted operations of the Chambly Canal. Tomorrow, the canal will be fully staffed and operational. However, today there are only two lock openings. The crew was assigned the 1330 opening to begin passage of the Chambly Canal along with Jill Kristy and Wild Goose. Three boats in those little locks, this could get exciting.
At 1030 the Lock Master contacted the three boats and directed them to prepare to relocate to the floating dock just before Lock 9. Total travel distance would be less than quarter mile but required coordinating two bridge openings. The crew moved and waited for their start time.
On the dock waiting on lock
The empty lock calling our name
Still Waters II waiting for gates to open and a green light
At the appointed time, the crew started the engines and moved into Lock 9 with a port side tie. Jill Kristy came in next and took a position on the starboard wall. Next, Wild Goose came in behind Still Waters II on the port side. It was a tight fit but the three boats managed to squeeze into the 100 x 23 foot lock.
The rain decided to fall and dampen the excitement of the days cruise. With only about 12 miles to go at 6 mph, 6 locks, and 5 bridges to open the crew was not looking forward to getting soaked. But soaked was exactly what they got. Then once they landed at the park just before Lock 3, the rain stopped.
Time to find the Parks Canada employee, get the hydro (electric power) hooked up, and turn on the dryer and get all these wet cloth dry.
The current day Fort Chambly is actually the fourth Fort built on the location. The first three were all made of wood and were initially built to protect the French assets from the Iroquois. The current Fort was built in 1711 and saw action in the American Revolution.
The skipper was surprised to find out that the architect was a Fuller
The crew also went and got a good look at the Chambly Rapids before shoving off.
After learning a bit about New France history, the crew walked back to the boat and prepared for the last three locks on the Chambly Canal. This also meant saying good bye to the crews of Jill Kristy and Wild Goose, they will be turning towards Montreal and our crew will not see them again this season.
The crew was joined with one other boat thru the three step locks. The lockage went fine until the last lock. Because of strong North winds, the Admiral was having trouble keeping the bow of the boat in position along the lock wall. The skipper went up and traded positions with her and managed to get the bow back along the port wall. When the gates opened, the skipper made the line fast, started the engines, while the Admiral cleared the lines. They were both glad to be done with those little locks.
The crew cruised by Fort Chambly and had a good view of the Chambly Rapids. They crossed the Bay of Chambly and entered the Richelieu River.
The crew was getting a knot or more current push so they made quick work of the 30 mile cruise to St Ours. After getting settled, a second Looper boat showed up. This was just their second day on the Loop. They were eager to swap boat cards, announcing that the crew were the first Loopers they had ever met.
About sunset, the skipper got a call from Jill Kristy. Richard wanted to know if the crew was getting a free concert like him. The skipper said no, we have peace and quite here. Richard mentioned that a band had set up just outside the lock walls and that they had really good speakers. The skipper took that as the music must be really loud. Richard also stated that there was a boat with at least 20 folks on board and that they had all been drinking all afternoon. He also described their lack of toilet etiquette. Seems the drunk boaters are just dropping their drawers and relieving themselves in the Park.
Well it is some Québec three day paid holiday, St Jean de Baptist Day, also known as the Quebec National Holiday. Looks like the crew might be in for an interesting weekend.
The crew made the first lockage at 0900 when Parks Canada opened. The St Ours Lock has been updated since it’s initial construction back in 1849. The lock is now sized the same as the Erie Canal locks. However, it has a floating dock you tie off on and float up or down with the dock.
While entering the lock, a sailboat tied up on the dock just behind Still Waters II. The couple were moving the new to them sailboat to Montreal. The skipper asked them why they bought a sailboat and the young man answered, ‘because sailboats are the best.’
While talking with the young couple, the lock gates began to swing open so the group broke up and got back to business. After leaving the lock, the crew had another 12 miles on the Richelieu River.
At the end of the Richelieu, the crew turned right onto the St Lawrence River. With the recent rains, the crew was getting an additional 2 mph push from the current.
The crew met this large wooden sailboat, Pride II, making way on the St Lawrence River headed to the Great Lakes. She launched from Baltimore.
The winds were supposed to shift around from the West during the day. Instead, the winds built intensity out of the North which caused 2-3 foot waves to form on Lac St Pierre. This caused the two hour crossing to be a bit more bumpier than the Admiral likes. However, the further east the crew made way, the calmer the conditions became.
The end of the Lac and sign that the crew are about to the Three Rivers Marina
Once across the Lac, the crew found the marina and made contact over the radio. Have I mentioned yet that the crew is in Quebec and the locals all proudly speak French? The staff person on the radio rattled out a bunch of French words that the skipper had no clue as to meaning. The skipper answered back in English and a new voice answered back over the radio with a little English. Enough information was exchanged that the skipper found the slip (Joliet 156) and docked the boat.
After docking, a couple came down the dock and introduced themselves. Renee and Maurice are Gold Loopers and Three Rivers is there home marina. They were able to provide the crew with invaluable info on the area and how to time their arrival to Quebec City.
The crew met these folks aboard their motor trawler back on Lake Champlain. They used to race sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay.
In case you were wondering, Apres is French and translates to After in English, so the name of the boat is After Sail.
The crew will go to old Quebec City. They made reservations for four nights, but if they need more time to see all the sights they may extend the stay and spend the weekend.