C-Shel has left the Rideau. Last year, given all the talk of the mismanagement of the system by Parks Canada, we thought there might be a mass exodus of boaters off the system to the 1000 islands, St. Lawrence River. This we thought, would cause a shortage of available dock space in the 1000 Islands region, so we decided to get ahead of the game and put our name on the 3 year waiting list at Gananoque Municipal Marina. So instead of 3 years going by, about half a year did. Gan Marina called us and said we have a slip on a set of new docks that are going to replace the break wall, it will have a wonderful view, and will be ready for spring 2014. Since we are the type of people who seem to thrive on change we decided to take the slip. I am able to live and work aboard for the summer, so commuting from Ottawa to Gananoque wouldn't be an issue, it seemed like the right thing to do.
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If there is one thing I became passionate about during all these years of boating and taking in the natural surroundings, it is photography. I make no claim to being some great photographer, I have a lot to learn. However, one this is for sure I really do enjoy it, and will continue into the future and grow as a photographer. So I am am officially starting C-Shel Photography. A place where I will share my best work to date.
Has been a beautiful start to our 2012 vacation cruise. 3 days in, and we will hit Kingston Ontario tomorrow afternoon. Current plans are to go down the St. Lawrence, head south on Lake Champlain, up the Erie canal, then cross Lake Ontario to home.
Even though we just live a couple of hours away, we have never gone to the Old Port in Montreal. We had decided years ago that the only way we wanted to see the Old Port was by boat, it was certainly worth the wait.
The flight of eight locks down from the Chateau Laurier were as uneventful as any other locking we do, except for the fact that we were interviewed by a Japanese documentary crew. The C-Shel may be on Japanese TV! It was also very hot going down, we don't think we have ever been so warm doing any other lock. The heat wave struck big time that day, it reached into the 40's with the humidex. Once out on the Ottawa River however, things were a little cooler with a breeze off the water. With the Parliament buildings at our stern we were in good spirits to make the short trip to the Gatineau River, and into Lac-Leamy to take advantage of the free dockage at the Casino. The Casino Du Lac Leamy is a highly recommended stopover, with power, water hookup, its clean, with easy access to the casino and its restaurants. The casino's Air Conditioning was very much appreciated as well, since the A/C in the salon of the boat gave up blowing cold air in the mid day heat.
The next morning we set off for Montebello. It was ridiculously hot again that day. We have a certain budget for fuel, so cruising at our hull speed of 7.5 knots was what we had planned to do most of the trip. The wind at our stern made it feel like there wasn't a breeze, we had no choice but to bring the C-Shel out of the water at planning speed of 19 knots. We enjoyed the wind at that speed and kept it up for about 1.5 to 2 hours. The Ottawa River opens up here, and almost begs you to go a little faster anyway. It was completely calm and it seemed we were the only ones headed this way.
We arrived at Montebello mid afternoon, registered, then quickly went to the pool to cool down. We have never been to Montebello before. It exceeded our expectations. It is a lovely resort, with great marina facilities, beautiful grounds, and wonderful food. There is no way anyone cruising the Ottawa River should pass this place by. We will return every time we are on the Ottawa River.
The following days cruise included a lockage through Carillon Lock. It is the first lock on the way to Montreal from Ottawa. It is a Parks Canada lock so your passes for Rideau or Trent locking work here. Carillon is the largest dropping lock in Canada, some 65 feet, and with its 200 ton guillotine door it is quite the experience. Locking through though is a breeze though, they have a dock installed inside the lock that goes up and down the lock wall. All boaters have to do is tie to the dock and relax and watch, no handling messy lock lines or fighting to keep you boat off the lock wall.
Continuing on to the village of Hudson, we stocked up on provisions at an IGA that was the nicest little grocery store. Hudson is a great place to stock up, and the village has a few nice places to eat as well. The Irish Pub we found served very good Lamb Shanks.
The last stop before Old Montreal would be the Sainte Anne de Bellevue Lock, which is on the lower western point of Montreal Island. This would be our destination for the next day. We stayed below the lock after going through. The southern pier is the quietest, though if you like the night life, the northern pier is where you will want to stay. The lock at Sainte Anne is lined with bars and restaurants. The Northern side will give someone great access to these, but you will get a lot of foot traffic coming by the boat. We actually were the only boat on the southern pier, probably because the water was so low, there was no access from the dock to the boat except from the bow. The C-Shel has a high bow so we had no problems. A couple of very good friends were in the area and decided to drop by and see us to chat about how the trip was going, as they may be doing this leg of the trip and back in August if the water levels do not get any lower.
Speaking of low water levels, it is pretty low on the Ottawa. I can remember kicking up mud in at least two places; pulling away from a fuel dock in Oka and pulling away from the dock in Hudson. The Yacht Club in Hudson would not even put us in the marina in a certain slip that was available because they were afraid we would hit. We stayed on the outside of the break wall of the marina. By examining the dock in Saint Anne it looks to be 2-3 feet lower than normal. It is said that the levels are at Chart Datum, and the charts display depths on the low side for safety.
The next morning it was off to Old Montreal, The distance wasn't too far, but we had 2 commercial locks to do and the wait times could be up to 3 hours. They were also calling for thunderstorms in the afternoon, so we had to set off early. It was once again hot and not a breeze. I got lazy and left my bike leaned against the rail on the bow not tied down. I usually fold it up and put it in its storage bag in the cockpit, but not this one time. As we were entering the canal, there was a train of boaters heading from Lachine marina to go up the locks as well, each one kicking up a mighty big wake, having forgot about my bike we took the wakes at the bow as we normally would, except this time I noticed my bike rolling back and forth, It wasn't long until the bike's front tire rolled off the bow and the bike went under the rail and sunk to the bottom of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Needless to say, the C-Shel is taking donations for a fold-up bike.
After waiting for an hour to go through the first lock and finally getting through, we noticed some very dark clouds to the west that were blowing our way. I thought it best to bring the boat on plane and try to out run it to the next lock so we could tie up and take it at the dock. The storm was at our stern the for the 15 minutes it took to get to the next lock. The pleasure craft dock was full so I asked it I could raft onto someone quickly, and someone agreed. As we were tying the lines, the wind started and it poured out of the heavens.
The storm passed and we made it through the lock, now enroute to the Old Port in Montreal, we rounded the La Ronde amusement park and there was another dark cloud. This time we could not out run it, we had to head right for it. It was slow moving through the 4-5 knot current on the way to the Old Port, where we would normally be going 6.5-7.5 knots we were going 2.5-3.5 knots. At times the rain was so heavy that I could hardly see my bow pulpit and if it wasn't for the compass and the GPS, I wouldn't have a clue where we were heading. However as soon as we broke the current and the rain lifted, we could see the Old Port before us and we knew upon first glance that the trip through the commercial locks in the storms would be well worth it.