Friday, June 22 to Monday, June 25, 2018:
We borrowed the courtesy van from the Yacht Club and drove to Pierre Trudeau Airport. Our youngest son, Scott landed just before we found a parking spot and we gathered him up and returned to MYC and introduced him to Sabbatical. We enjoyed having him with us and we all enjoyed discovering Montreal for several days. We did lots and lots of walking and biking. We even biked while he ran. We couldn’t keep up with him. It is a very hilly city. We ate in a bunch of vegan restaurants and there are plenty to choose from. We visited the Notre Dame Basilica, biked and hiked up Mount Royal, went for a dinghy ride, and had docktails with the other Loopers that were also staying at MYC. On Sunday we even went to church. We lucked out and the church service we visited was in English. There was a lot going on in Montreal because they were celebrating Québec Day. They had a great many parties and street closings and concerts. Some got rained out, but it was all good.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018:
We departed the Yacht Club of Montreal at 1000 with Scott aboard. Once we got out of the yacht club’s basin and downstream with the current of the St. Lawrence it was a wild ride of eddies and swirling rushing flows making it difficult to steer as we were whisked along. Soon the GPS showed us at 15.2 miles per hour. That’s almost twice our normal cruising speed! We rounded the north end of Ile St. Helene and by 1105 we had locked through the St. Lambert Lock. It was great having Scott with us to give an extra hand with lines in the locks. We arrived at the St. Catherine Lock an hour later and had to wait on a ship. It wasn’t as bad as last time and we locked through the 40 foot lift by 1325. At some point, a transmission in French came across on the marine radio. I picked up the mic and replied, “Oui, oui, bon jour, Monsieur. Jaunte Plume a re’ la tet. Croissant, alouet, merci beaucoux, soup de jour.” Ok, I wasn’t pressing the mic button, but we all had a good laugh. That’s the extent of my French. Arrival at the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club was uneventful and we eased into our assigned slip without a hitch. The Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club was formed in 1888 and has quite a storied history with famous members including two members of the Molson Beer family as former commodores. Our slip was two down from Dutchess which was formerly owned by the Molson Family and a beauty of a boat built in 1937. The three of us enjoyed “health drinks” while hanging out at the pool. Later we got an Uber and dined at a nearby Italian Restaurant outside on the patio.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018:
We said farewells and put Scott in an Uber for the airport which was only about ten minutes away. It was sure good to have him for a few days.
We refilled with fresh water and moved over to the pump out dock. A club member helped us so we wouldn’t have to pay. By 1205 we were on our way in Lak St. Louis. By 1355 we had made it through the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. This is our first lock of the Parks Canada system and the locking here was easy with a floating dock inside the lock with an attendant to assist. They sell ice and we bought some.
We exited into Deux-Montagnes Lake and headed for the next lock at Carillon Canal. The Carillon lock has a guillotine gate assisted by a 200 ton counterweight and the water lift is 65 feet. It was a most pleasant and interesting locking experience and we enjoyed talking with the nice college girl who has the great summer job of working the lock.
We exited the lock by 1755 and only went a few more miles. We anchored in 11 feet near Marina Camping Chatham. The mud bottom provided excellent holding. We grilled veggies and enjoyed being alone on anchor again.
Thursday, June 28, 2018:
We don’t really have a set plan on where to stop next, but we’ll just see how far we get and when we feel like stopping. We cranked the engine at 0915 and by 0930 we had it up and the mud washed off and put away. The boat is a getting a little nasty with a bunch more dead bugs and some filth coming from the lockings. We stopped at Golden Anchor Marina and took on 205 gallons of fuel at 1.40 per liter. That worked out to $3.95 per gallon after the charge was adjusted for the exchange rate. We had paid a higher price in Florida back in January. We continued on after refueling. At 1130 we drove off the charted area detailed on our Garmin GPS chip. We still had Navionics on the iPad and my phone. It would be hard to get lost along here anyway. At 1345 we docked at Chateau Montebello. It has a lot of history and is reportedly the largest log structure in North America. Currently run as a hotel and resort by the Fairmont group. It would make quite the destination wedding location. It reminded me of the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. Jane said it reminded her of the large wooden hotel in Bellaire, Florida, near Clearwater. We changed into appropriate dress and ventured in for a late lunch. I thought that it is a great thing that they offer a courtesy dock for no charge for any boaters that want to stop and eat or just walk around and look at this incredible structure.
After lunch and some walking about, we continued on upriver and anchored in between Parker and Clarence Islands. It was very quiet and peaceful. We knew that we should watch for the rising full moon and since the clouds had cleared, we had some discussion about where exactly it would come up. Jane was closest to picking the right spot and as we were in debate about it, we realized, “Whoa! There it is!” We loved being there together, in the river basking in the moonlight.
Friday, June 29, 2018:
We were off anchor by 0800 in slightly foggy conditions, but an otherwise beautiful day. Jane drove for a time while I piddled around the boat redressing lines and such. At 0930 we had to dodge the ferries. The chart said that they operate on a cable system, but I doubt that’s right. What a hazard to navigation that would be. By 1130 we were passing Rideau Falls in Ottawa and at 1142 we arrived at the famed stair-step locks of the Rideau Canal System. This historical flight of eight locks is one right after the other raising boats up 79 feet to the canal level to bypass the Rideau Falls. The locks are located right between the Canadian Parliament Building and the Chateau Laurier Hotel in downtown Ottawa. The locks are still operated manually. Most all the lock workers are college students working for the summer.
We treaded water for a bit as there was no room on the Blue Line dock and then we rafted up to a cruiser of a nice Canadian Family. The SS Nonnie was already on the blue line. We met the Australian couple aboard and they are doing the Great Loop too. Soon New Freedom arrived and we tried to have them raft to us, but it was too much weight for the smaller cruiser, so we had them move up to raft with SS Nonnie. There was a wait for our group to get into the locks with some boats on the way up and others waiting to come down. Finally, our turn came and we entered the first lock at 1340 and by 1530 we exited lock eight. This was a boating ballet of four boats moving one at a time into the lock, grabbing cables, shutting down engines, lock gates closing, water rushing in floating all vessels up, engines cranking, boats moving in the same order one at a time into the next lock, grabbing cables, etc. etc. over and over through the 8 steps. All the while hundreds of tourists are watching, many asking questions and gawking at the process. “What? You guys are really from Florida? How did you get here? Where are you going?” It might have been more fun if the day hadn’t heated up so much and if we’d had a little less wind to deal with. We endured no scrapes and impressed the other boaters and the lock workers when they learned that Sabbatical is a single screw boat without thrusters. Just past the top of the locks we docked under the shade of the MacKenzie King Bridge at 1535.
During a walk to the Farm Boy grocery store in the nearby Rideau Center Mall we stumbled on a Chipotle Grill. I pointed out that we shouldn’t grocery shop on an empty stomach, so we pigged out first. We got the shopping done and returned with our stock refreshed. Lots of boats were tied to the walls of the canal on both sides. The city is full of tourists of every description in town for Canada Day on July first. Some of the Loopers gathered on our bow since it was in the shade. We had Kevin and Sandy from Koastal Karma, Peter and Sally from SS Nonnie and Kip and Insel from New Freedom. It was a busy but fun day. The hot weather has followed us here from Florida. We saw some interesting animals in Ottawa. We saw black squirells, chipmunks, bunnys, and even a ground hog came out to beg for handouts.
Saturday, June 30, 2018:
About 0730 six trolls came along the walkway and sat down next to our boat. They were just young people up to not much good. A couple on skate boards, one on a bike and the others just on foot. They just got out their marijuana and a bong and commenced to get high. I was sitting right in the cabin just feet from them. I thought about shooing them along, but I want to do my part to promote better relations between Americans and Canadians, so I just let them be. Maybe it is their bridge and they do this daily. Shortly, one of the boys takes a big hit and vomits on the sidewalk during a coughing spasm. When they finally moved along, I went out and picked up their litter and hosed down the puke with my wash-down hose and pressure wand. You’re welcome, Ottawa.
It was very warm but we walked about a mile and half to the farmers market. It was pretty simple, but we got a loaf of bread and some kale. The best part was discovering the Green Door Restaurant right on the corner. They offer a vegan buffet so we waited for them to open and then enjoyed the incredible smorgasbord. After we returned to the boat, we walked over to the parliament building, but were too late to visit as they had reached the maximum number for the day. Since it was so hot, we opted to walk around in the mall and found a good sale in the Eddie Bauer store. When we returned the boat ahead had left, so we hand-pulled our boat on up into that spot. We’d still have no electrical connection, but it was more in the shade escaping the late afternoon sun. We walked on down the canal to join 11 other Looper couples for docktails in the park by where some of them were tied. Man, it was hot! I was happy for a cold shower later.
Sunday, July 1, 2018 (Canada Day):
We had to run the generator for some air conditioning so we could sleep. The heat wave is oppressive. Midmorning we ventured out on the bikes for the Canadian History Museum. We were stopped at the blocked off streets along the way and got a front row view of the band and the Governor General inspecting the Guard.
We did make it over the Alexandra Pont Bridge to the museum which was a good thing to do on such a hot day. The museum was free for the day and there were lots and lots of other people taking advantage of the same thing since it was 95 outside. We got to see a really cool movie about a 2017 voyage of the Northwest Passage by the ice breaker C-3.
Later, we hosted the same group for docktails again plus with Joe and Rhonda from Band Wagon. After everyone left, we enjoyed the fireworks over the river from our fly bridge. It was a great display lasting about 45 minutes.