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