TYC to Montreal
20 June 2007 | Montreal
What an amazing journey this has been - even in the short 4 days since we left Trident Yacht club.
That fine Sunday morning - June 17th - Fathers Day, our sons, Liam and Alex, drove us from Ottawa to the club near Gananoque, Ontario. Mary Beth had been with us for a visit the week before so our hearts were full of her presence in spirit as well.
We enjoyed conversations with many club members that morning, as we had in the days before. Some offered valuable information from previous experience with such journeys; some were filled with shared enthusiasm and eagerness to hear how it all unfolds; ALL were rich with good wishes and encouragement. It surely warms our hearts to know that so many people - at Trident and from all other areas of our lives - are traveling with us and sharing our experience.
As we motored away from the dock, I had to stop coiling lines and pulling up fenders to keep my watery eyes on our boys, standing together on the dock - waving and throwing kisses. Jim managed to steer us in the right direction even though his vision wasn't quite as clear as it usually is. Farewells were shouted from along the dock and an air horn blew and it was a grand departure.
We motored along all day, and as we rounded Toussaint Island (just before the Iroquois Dam) that evening we saw Strathspey anchored there, as Mary and Blair Buchanan awaited our arrival for a celebratory toast to the journey and the friendship.
From Monday morning onward, it was new water, and new experience for us. We tied up at the pleasure craft dock at the Iroquois Lock, as we would for each lock on the way to Montreal. It was there that we met up with Chris and Mary and Ellen and Monika on Wings (soon to be christened with her new name, Arctura) on their way to Summerside, PEI. This was the first of what I expect will be many meetings with boats on a similar track.
After a huge ship emerged from the open doors of the lock, we entered, caught the lines that were thrown down to us, cleated them off and dropped a few inches before motoring out the other end of the lock. It was much more exciting to go through the Eisenhower and Snell locks later that day. The procedure is to tie up at the pleasure craft dock, phone the lockmaster to request passage through, wait till the green light beckons us in, and either toss a line around a bollard or catch a line thrown down by the lock employees. I'm glad the first big drop was one of those where the lines were tied off because it gave us time to take pictures and ooh and aah at the experience. It was just amazing to drop down and down, till the top of our mast was at about the height of the ground. It happened quickly and smoothly. Then the gates swung open, the lines were removed and out we went.
In other locks, where the lines are tossed down, we had to maintain tension on them to keep steady on the wall - not swinging too far out, nor rubbing too closely on the wall. We were very glad we had prepared a fender board to take the worst of the rub. In fact, that fender board saved us from much worse damage when we had a hard landing on a horribly constructed pleasure craft dock at a lock farther downstream.
The locks were just challenging enough to make us feel like we had really accomplished something at the end of the day. The attendants were helpful and the guidebooks clear in telling us which side to have our fenders on and what the procedure would be. The Canadian ones cost $25. and the two American locks charged $30. (in either currency) Most of the waits were fairly short, and the one long wait was easily passed by watching the huge Captain Henry Jackman snuggle itself into and out of the lock, and in conversing with fellow sailors.
I read in Phil Jenkins' book, River Song that the early engineers who built these locks had to enable a drop equivalent to a 20 story building over 168 miles between Kingston and Montreal. Imagine! We have dropped into a whole new landscape.
We have been fortunate to have a combination of anchorages and marinas - peaceful Touissant Island, (thanks for the suggestion, Jennifer of Moon River), St Regis Island where unlit and very fast boats blew past us in the dark of night, to the hustle of the port of old Montreal - reached via a strenuous push against the current as we rounded Ile St Helene. It took us close to an hour to make 1.5 nautical miles; we shot out of there in 10 minutes the next day.
We had a perfectly lovely evening in Montreal, enjoying the company of our friends Elizabeth and Dave Austin in our cockpit and then over dinner at the Jardin Nelson. On Thursday morning we wandered the streets a bit more, sat in a coffee shop with laptops on...yes... our laps and café au lait close at hand, and then made a smooth departure from Marina Port d'Escale in Jacques Cartier Basin. It was a rapid trip down the stretch of water past LaRonde where we could hear the screams of excited roller coaster riders, across the river to Longueuil for a quick and efficient stop to fuel up and pump out, and then out on the river again.