September 10 - September 16, 2004

September 10 - 11, 2004

Finding internet access to do website updates can be a challenge. The marina in Rochester supposedly had a Wi-Fi connection but we couldn't connect from the boat.

Beth was determined to post our latest website updates before we left Rochester. She was able to get a weak Wi-Fi signal late the night before our departure in the parking lot of the marina. It sure was cold!   Beth updating website at 11 p.m. in marina parking lot

We left Rochester under beautiful, sunny skies. But before we got underway, we had to deal with a parade of debris and crud floating down the Genesee River -- a result of flooding caused by the residue of Hurricane Frances. Here's Ken fending off a log and removing some of the debris from around our boat:

Ken fending off log in Genesee River   Ken removing debris and sludge from side of boat

 

The debris line extended quite far out into Lake Ontario, so Ken performed lookout duty from atop the pilothouse. He's playing a few tunes on the harmonica for good measure -- Beth is glad he's not singing.   Ken playing harmonica while watching for debris

We made good time sailing across Lake Ontario toward Cape Vincent and the beginning of the St. Lawrence Seaway. We got to the mouth of the Seaway in the middle of the night and "hove to" until the next morning. This will be the last sailing we'll do until we reached the mouth of the St. Lawrence River near the Atlantic Ocean.

We were excited to finally enter the Seaway -- it really felt like we were getting somewhere. We expected to experience a remote environment, interspersed with some shipping traffic. Imagine our surprise and alarm when we spied a line of about 12 speed boats racing straight toward us as we entered the Seaway. Some were going over 100 mph! Fortunately the racers rounded a mark and turned away before they got to us, but we had a couple of bad moments thinking we were in the middle of a race course.

Line of speed boats racing toward us in the Seaway     Speed boats racing by  

 

Fishing boat getting buzzed by racers   Some of the local fishing boats were sitting in the middle of the race course and were buzzed by the racers.
The famous "Thousand Islands" area begins at the east end of Lake Ontario and is a beautiful and bewildering maze of islands and rivers. The area is heavily populated and it seemed that every island -- no matter how small -- contained a house or structure.   Small house on small rock island in Seaway

 

We saw some enormous estates along the way -- the most famous is the Boldt Castle. The story goes that in 1894, George Boldt (who ran the Waldorf Astoria in New York) bought Hart Island and spent 11 years building a castle on it.   Boldt Castle on Heart Island
Closeup of Boldt Castle shoreline building Boldt had the shoreline of the island modified into the shape of a heart and modeled the residence after a 16th century castle (the island was later renamed "Heart Island"). George planned the island as a Valentine's Day gift to his wife, Louise.  
A year before the work was completed on the castle, Louise died and George never again set foot on the island.   Closeup of second Boldt Castle shoreline building

We spent the first night on the Seaway at Brockville, Ontario and were amazed at the number of friendly people who stopped by to talk with us. Some people gave us suggestions on where to find great food in town and as a result we had a delicous dinner at a French restaurant called "Tango".

One couple, Wayne and Patricia Suttner, had spotted our boat from the window of their apartment and stopped down for a look. Wayne has done a great deal of reading on sailing and he mentioned he had a book on modern day pirates. Later that evening, we were floored when we returned from dinner to find Wayne's pirate book sitting in our cockpit!

September 12, 2004

We transitted the first two locks on the Seaway with no problems. The current boosted our speed to over 10 knots between the locks and we made good time.

We went through three locks run by the U.S. This lock is the Eisenhower lock and has a drop of about 45 feet.   Transitting Eisenhower lock


Back on the river, our speed hit 11 knots near "Polly's Gut". Going with the current sure made travel much easier and faster. We decided that we would only travel in daylight on the Seaway since the Seaway channel is very narrow in places and we would need to see the channel markers.

Our next stop, Cornwall, was located back up the River in a side channel. Not only did we have to fight the current (which we expected) to get to Cornwall, but the sun was directly in our eyes (which we hadn't planned on) and it made seeing the channel markers very difficult.

Cornwall is a very modern marina and has an attendant on duty 24 hours. We learned from the staff that with the break-up of the Soviet Union, Canada is now the biggest country (physically) in the world. We believe it -- the St. Lawrence river certainly seems to go on forever!

September 13, 2004

Although we didn't travel that far, we had to go through bridges and two locks. It took us about two hours to lock through the Upper and Lower Beauharnois locks, as we had to wait for commercial traffic to clear. Since there were no convenient places to dock until Montreal, we decided to drop anchor SW of Montreal in Lac St. Louis.

We motored slowly around the area we had selected for anchoring to make sure we could safely anchor and not swing back into the shipping channel. We must have looked confused (well, we did motor around in circles for quite a while) because we got a call on our VHF radio from a local boater wondering if we were lost! It was nice that someone was looking out for us. Anchoring is very nice -- best of all, it's free!

Spectacular sunset on Lac St. Louis, SW of Montreal We finally dropped anchor adjacent to a bird sanctuary and were treated to an awesome sunset.  

September 14, 2004

We were itching to raise anchor (it only took 25 minutes) and get to Montreal. We had two locks to transit before Montreal, where the Seaway officially ends. Beyond Montreal, we'll be on the St. Lawrence River. Actually, we were told the real name is "Fleuve Saint-Laurent" -- "Fleuve" being an estuary where fresh and salt water mix together.

Navigating the St. Lawrence requires constant vigilence. There are ships and other types of commercial traffic that you have to watch for.   Barge with tugboats on St. Lawrence Seaway

The shipping channel is quite narrow in places and you have to be careful to stay in the channel when you change directions to follow the curve of the river. We got slightly out of the channel at one point as we were motoring through Lac St. Louis and almost went aground. That was scary.

Wardrobe malfunction We had another scary moment on the way to Montreal when Ken suffered a "wardrobe malfunction." We were glad we spotted it before we got to port.  

 

We traveled through the last two locks in the company of "Martine" (first boat) and "Sojurn".   Fellow sailors transitting seaway SW of Montreal

After we exited the last lock, St. Lambert, we headed toward Montreal. Like Cornwall, we had to fight our way back upstream to get to the marina, Port d'Escale in Old Montreal. The current was ferocious and we had 5-6 knots working against us. Our speed overground was less than 2 knots even though we were going almost 8 knots over the water. The Sojurn showed us a few tricks by leaving the shipping channels and working through shallow water to minimize the current. She beat us into port even though we can motor at 8 knots to her 5.5 knots. We decided we have a thing or two to learn about currents -- they don't have those in Lake Michigan.

September 15 - 16, 2004

We decided to stay a few days in Montreal and we actually took a full day off to sightsee. We really felt like we were in a different country. Everyone spoke French, but they were very nice and spoke English to us when they realized we were clueless about French. (Ken has been busily studying Spanish since we left Chicago. Didn't help much in Montreal!)

The city has a cosmopolitan feel and you could tell the residents from the tourists because the residents -- both men and women -- had a real style and sense of fashion. We saw many unusual styles -- one woman had shoes which matched her maroon hair color! Unfortunately we looked like visitors -- fashion has never been our strong suit.

The staff at Port d'Escale was enthusiastic, helpful, and exuded that Montreal charm.   Staff at Port d'Escale in Montreal

Our friends, Debbie and David Dranove, visit Montreal regularly and gave us some wonderful ideas for restaurants and places to see. We ate at "Cube" on their recommendation and decided it may have been the best dinner we ever had.

Range Rover on world expedition Early in our visit to Montreal, we stumbled upon an unusual looking vehicle parked on a side street near the Port. It was a six wheel drive Range Rover with "Transworld Expedition 2003-2005" on the side.  
We peeked in the window and saw a young couple sitting inside. We had a great conversation about their trip -- they are attempting to circumnavigate the world by truck (crossing oceans where necessary by shipping their truck on container ships). We found we had wrestled with many of the same technical issues, despite our different means of transportation.   Range Rover on world tour
Michael and Sandy on world tour in their Range Rover The travelers, Michael Groves and Sandy Methven, are about 18 months into their journey around the world in their Range Rover. The vehicle was specially built for their trip and has many unique features.  

Michael and Sandy have a website and you can check out their adventures at www.expeditionoverland.com (they've had over 100,000 hits on their site!).

The city of Montreal has a wonderful park around the mountain called Mont-Royal (now you know how the city got its name) and we took a hike to the top.

Beth should have known that a "hike" with Ken really meant mountain climbing. Rather than taking a nice paved route up the mountain, we took a shortcut -- straight up. In our best clothes.  

 

The view from the top of Mont-Royal was beautiful. The Chalet at the top of the mountain was built to commemorate the first visit by the queen of England to Canada.   Ken atop Mont-Royal

 

Taking a break in Chocolantara   As we made our way back to the harbor, we stumbled on a charming chocolate shop, Chocolantara, on the avenue leading to Mont-Royal. Naturally Beth took the opportunity to refresh our chocolate inventory.
The shop just opened in August and the owner, Julie Cantara, makes her chocolates fresh everyday. She won't send them through the mail, as she is very concerned about quality and does not want her chocolates to be ruined in transit. We promised to tell our friends about her shop.   Chocolantara proprietaire Julie Cantara with her delicious chocolates

We finished our day off with a trip to the Parc Olympique, built for the 1976 Olympics. We spent a few hours wondering the grounds of the Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden). There are several different gardens within the Jardin.

The Japanese Garden was serene and beautiful as evening approached. The Garden uses stones, water, and plants to create a harmonious setting.

Tranquility in the Japanese Garden of the Jardin Botanique Enchanting Japenese garden  

We lucked into the fall "Magic of Lanterns" event in the Chinese Garden. The Chinese Garden is the largest of its kind outside China. The garden was first assembled in China and then shipped to Montreal in 120 huge containers. Sixty Chinese workers helped in the reassembly.

  Magic of Lanterns festival in the Chinese Garden   Lantern Festival at the Chinese Garden within Jardin Botanique (Olympic stadium in background)

The Lantern festival was breathtaking. Hundreds of colorful painted lanterns dotted the garden.

We plan to leave tomorrow, heading toward Quebec City. Fortunately the weather for the next week looks to be storm-free.