Off on a birding adventure to the Darien province of Panama. There is a new bird for Panama just seen there, the Russet-Throated Puffbird. A common, but hard to see bird in Columbia, but this the first time recorded in Panama.
Follow our track at: https://share.garmin.com/mapshare/CraigOwings/ Password: conepatus
Wednesday, August 23Most of day it’s blowning like stink (25-35 knots). While we have wind and some rain, Quebec has lots of power outages from downed trees and Montreal is quite a mess with many trees down. Ottawa has had hail bigger than quarters.
Two sailboats come screaming in about 7:30 in the AM happy to be out of the rough water and howling wind. At high tide (extra high as it’s a spring tide) the spray actually is coming over the walls. Although we are safe, there is a surge in the basin so being on the boat is less than ideal. Fortunately the club house is very comfortable with a coffee machine, microwave and kitchen.
In the afternoon, akind and friendly club member takes Craig to fill propane tank so we have plenty of propane to keep us warm during the cold nights to come. I spend several hours trying to work out tides and currents for the upcoming days.
Thursday, August 24We’re underway from Club Nautique Vauquelin about 10:30 – 25 minutes after high tide. There’s still a bit of current from the flooding tide even though the water is dropping. It’s choppy for the first 10 miles. By the time we reach the Quebec Bridge things have smoothed out. It’s still blowing 20 knots but it’s with the current. – a good thing as the current is really ripping through the bridge and passing Old Quebec. The water is very roiled up and turbid.
AT 1147 hours traveling 20 knots over ground, we hit what I think is a log. There are 3 rapid but distinct bumps. We stop the engines and inspect the props. There’s no apparent damage to the props, no vibrations from the engines, and no ingress of water.
About 1245 we reach our destination and pull into Club Nautique de L’ile Baccus on L’Ile d’Orleans, another refuge created by piling rocks into breakwaters. Like most of these harbors, the entrance is challenging. Wind and current are across the break between the rock breakwater and the ferry dock.
The entrance hole at this tide is about 50′ wide and Craig does a superb job of crabbing us to the entrance straightening just in time to enter the calm, protected water. Although we have been dealing with tides for many days, we are now in brackish water for the first time. Once we take on fuel and water, we get tucked into a slip and snuggle into the cabin. It’s still blowing 20 and the temperatures are in the low 60’s. Tonight may drop to the upper 40’s.
Very quaint town, and well kept. Really NICE!
Tuesday, August 22Heading out about 6:30 we hope to make Quebec. The morning is fine and we speed along nicely with the river current. One area of concern due to current and rips is the Richelieu Rapids. All the waters flowwing out of the Great Lakes flows through this narrow and relatively shallow reach. If the current is flowing against a strong wind it can get quite dangerous. Fortuneately we make it through easily with help form both wind and current. At the downstream end we stop at Marina de Portneuf to top up with fuel to make sure we have enough to get to Quebec.
Portneuf is a nice, well protected harbor created by a man-made rock breakwater. The entrance is a real dog-leg with the arms of the breakwater overlapping. We are soon headed down the river again. In the late morning the wind came around to the NE – an unforecast event. This creates a nasty chop with the current against the wind. We are about 20 miles from Quebec proper but decide to pull into Club Nautique Vauquelin in Neuville.
This is also a man-made harbor of refuge created by piling large bolders into a breakwater. The rock breakwater is high and protective but the arms don’t over lap. The entrance is narrow with a strong current. Craig has to “crab in” straightening out just at the right moment when the current is blocked by the rock walls.
The club house seems very new, with nice bathrooms with 2 showers in each (great hot water), and good internet.
Monday, August 21 Montreal to SorelAlthough we have enjoyed the cities, we have all had enough. About 9:45 we lock out, erect our antenna, and head out through the roaring current. Once clear of the tourist area of Old Port, we motor past the industrial port. This goes on for almost 10 miles. We are now in the St. Lawrence River in a wide fairly flat river bed. The river is flowing at 2-3 knots and is full of islands.
By early afternoon we arrive at Sorel and tie up at Marina de Saurel – Parc Nautique de Sorel. Tom and Jane turn into the Richelieu River at Sorel making their way part way up to the Sainte Ours Lock. Our marina is ok but expensive. We fail to connect to their internet and the deposit for the key is a hassel. They do have 2 washers and dryers, though, so we get the mountain of dirty clothes and bedding cleaned up. There’s also a Metro supermarket about 20 minutes walk away so I refresh our produce.
Sunday, August 20 Montreal
Tom and Jane are waiting for their granddaughter Cori and her friend to arrive. By chance the girls had scheduled a vacation in Montreal this summer and we have arrived the day before they fly in.
While Tom and Jane prepare for this visit, Craig and I walk around Old Montreal. There are many tourist activities along the waterfront – zip lines, paddle boats, IMax theater, and lots of food booths. Much of this is set up in movable buildings based on shipping containers. In the streets behind the waterfront we find many beautfully restored, historic buildings. Many contain restaurants and boutiques with everything quite expensive. Although is is beautiful it is quite crowded and noisy. Perhaps we should have waited until mid week to come?
Returning to the canal wall, we are introduced to Cori and Sarah. They are both delightful young women – smart, sure of themselves and quite mature. Soon Craig and I say our goodbyes so Tom and Jane can get some more personal time with the girls.
Knowing Jane and Tom have probably not had a real meal today, I cook supper for us all; we eat together on Relax playing a roound of dominoes afterward.
For some reason Sunday night proves to be much noisier than Saturday. The din goes on until after 3 AM with young people gathering to talk loudly just outside the park area. At 3AM a long, slow train rumbles along the waterfront, across the canal bridge, and into the train yard beyond.
Saturday, August 19. St Anne de Bellevue to MontrealWe push off about 8:30 and head for the St Lawrence Seaway. We don’t have far to go to Montreal and the Lachine Canal but there’s no telling how long it will take to lock through the 2 Seaway Locks. The high wind warnings for today are justified; it’s blowing 20+ as we proceed down the rather circuitous channel. Just before entering the tight channel into the Seaway, we stop for fuel, water, and ice at Kahanawake Marina.
As this is on a first nation’s area all items are tax free. We arrive at Ste. Catherine Lock about noon just as the gates are closing behind a commercial ship. There is an electronic sign saying our lockage is at 1400. At 12:30 we hear an announcement on the load speaker but do not understand. I go to the pay booth and call on the yellow phone – direct dedicated phone to lockmaster who confirms we have a green light. There are several ways to pay for the lockage; Craig downloads the app and pays online with a credit card. This worked really well as the lockman had a tablet and could see we had paid. We proceeded into the lock where 2 lock personnel dropped polypropylene lines to us. We tended these as the water dropped. Once we are at the bottom and the gate start to open, we cast off the lines and they are pulled back up.
We arrive about 2:30 at St. Lambert Lock and tie to the floating dock. Again it is tricky with stong wind about 30 degrees off the port bow and swirling currents that flow into the lock and into the spillway off to the side. There is an express boat and a small sailboat waiting here. The captain of the express boat is furious we are being made to wait so long but these locks are for commercial traffic and the ship get priority.
We finally get into the lock about 4:30. We’re hoping to get into lock #1 of the Lachine canal to stay on the wall between lock #1 and #2. Clearing St Lambert we blast on down the channel, into Montreal, through the current rips. Conepatus arrives about 5:15 and we are in luck – they have delayed the final lockage for us – they even hold it for Relax.
In order to get into this wall we have to pass under 2 low fixed bridges. Checking with the lockmaster before arriving we have been told the clearance is 14′. This can change depending on the water between the dams on the St Lawrence. We approach the bridge with antennae down and the dinghy retrival crane dismantled. Relax has taken his radar down and lowered his bimini. We both pass under with room to spare and get secured to the floating dock infront of the restaurant. There is a second floating dock at the far end of the basin but this is already full.
In the middle is the Daniel McAllister, a historic, riveted hull tug on display for the public. Although she appears to be floating in the lock, she is actually sitting in a concrete cradle. This is quite amazing to be able to tie up in yet another of Canada’s major cities, in fact we are on the edge of Montreal’s Old Port.
Info On Tug
Friday, August 18. Ottawa River to St. Anne de Bellevue.We head out of the cut at daylight hoping to get through to the lower wall at St. Anne du Belview tonight. The weather is grey and rain can not be far away. Soon we have strong head winds and rain. To make matters worse, the wind is against the current running down the Ottawa river making steep, choppy waves. Soon we realize our dingy is a bit loose and beginning to shift in her chocks on top of the cabin.
Craig finds us a small shallow area along the western shore that gets us mostly out of the wind and chop. Relax and Conepatus are soon at anchor in this nook and we are more comfortable. We secure the dinghy and wait about an hour – enough of a break to catch our breathes, relax, and get a bite to eat.
In a more positive frame of mind, we decide things have settled a bit and we will head out at least to Hawkesbury where there is a free wall in a protected spot. By the time we get there, the weather has become more manageable and we keep going to Carillon Lock. This is bigger than the Rideau locks and is a big drop. Nevertheless it’s very easy as they have boats tie to a floating dock inside the lock. If there are more than can be accomodated on the float, the other boats are instructed to tie on the shoulder. (What we have always called rafed up) We are soon like sardines in a can.
We are hesitant to proceed but come to the realization we can easily make it to St. Anne de Bellevue Lock. We arrive about 3:30 in plenty of time. There are a number of boats locking with us so the larger boats are tied up on the float inside and the rest are “tied on the shoulder” of the larger boats. We have a full lockage.
Clearing the lock we see there are lots of boats on the wall but space enough for Relax and Conepatus. There is less space than usual, though as the wall along the town side is flooded and roped off – a reminder that Lake Ontario and the rest of the Seaway system is still over-full.
After settling in and running the generator (no power or hydro to plug into here), we around the small town and lock area. Dinner at the Snittzel House. While Craig says it’s very good, Tom and Jane who have spent some time in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are not enthusiastic.
Returning to the Lock, we find they are having a salsa music and dance lessons on the waterfront. Apparently the town is footing the bill in an attempt to boost tourism. The music’s not too bad and it’s fun to watch. And it only lasts until 10! Even before the music stops we are all in bed and sleep like logs after so many busy days. There is a train track and a road across the lock area but these don’t bother us at all.
Thursday, August 17. Ottawa
In the morning Tom, Jane, and Sarah walk across the bridge to Gatineau to Mosaicultures Internationales de Montreal while Craig does chores and rests his knee.
Although we get there at opening time we find there’s a line of people ahead. This open air exhibit is free and apparently very popular. It consists of 32 tableau made by inserting live plants into wire mesh frames. There are tableaus depicting important professions (a lobsterman, a prospector, a drum dancer, a monty and his horse), various animals important to Canada (orcas, muskoxen, puffins), and ones based on first nation stories.
Gravel paths lead the attendees pasts each exhibit allowing views from various angles. The explanitory signs are positioned so folks wishing to take pictures are not impeded by those reading the signs. Although the plants used to accomplish the tableaux are nothing special and the same ones are used over and over again, the whole effect is quite amazing. We had been told about it not long after we entered the Rideau and all agree we’re glad we made the effort to see it.
It’s now time to leave the city and return to boating life. Needing food before getting underway, we all grab burgers at the mall – remarkable good for a food court. Hurrying back to the boats we move to blue line and wait for an hour and a half. One of the drawbacks with flight locks is a complete lockage takes a long time. Here we wait for boats coming up through all the lock chambers before we can start down.
We finally clear about 5 and blast down the Ottawa River. Anchor in Isle Dube Cut about 20 miles down the river. A boater who was waiting on the blue line with us today suggested this spot which has proven to be as nice as he said. We are protected from weather and wakes here in the roomy, quiet spot.
Looking down all the locks in the Ottawa flight locks
Kids watching the boats lock down
Wednesday, August 16 Ottawa
Another busy city day. We all walk over to the National Gallery. This is quite a large collection with a strong emphasis on Canadian art including that of the first nations. There are also paintings and sculptures of some of the best know European artists such as Degas, Picasso, Dali. Most are exhibited in such a way that you can get very close aind really examine the paint and brush strocks as well as stand back to get an overall sense of the work. Outside the building is a huge sculpture of a spider.
Tom and Jane are tired from all the walking and over stimulation of so much to see and study and head back to Relax while Craig and I grab a bite in the Rideau Center Mall.
This is quite a large place full of high end stores many of which are familiar to us from the States. Summer sales are winding down and we pick up a few sale items at Eddie Bauer. Craig heads home while I linger and window shop.
This summer Ottawa and Montreal have been having a contest to see which can have the best fireworks displays. These extravaganzas are Wednesday and Saturday nights. The point of origin is a barge in teh Ottawa River so we wark over to the high headland overlooking the River and the flight locks.It’s quite the display! Numerous starbusts, high and low, sparkles, booms, cascades, etc. go on for almost an hour. Although the crowd is much bigger than the Parliament light show crowd, we all get good views and Craig gets some decent photos.