Day 15. Cap-à-l'Aigle
Cap-à-l'Aigle is a gorgeous little marina, with real seaweed (Fucus), and lots of tide action. We motored for ten hours because we had weak winds from the east (AGAIN!!). There were 14 ships (see photo of SeaMarlin), including a difficult-to-see grey American warship with no AIS, that passed us in the narrow channels. Anne was a bit nervous about motoring so close to such large ships, but Uwe had experience with large ships in the Pacific Ocean when he was younger and was unconcerned.
The gas station in the marina was only accessible at mid to high tide, but we were OK for fuel at that point in time. The north shore of the St. Lawrence River is beautiful! Uwe thinks it is very similar to the coast of BC - mountains, cliffs, a few waterfalls.
We had fresh rice bran muffins for breakfast, egg salad on fresh GF bread for lunch and salmon patties and potatoes for supper. Plus we had all kinds of snacks! So once the sun came out after lunch we had a marvellous day!!!
Day 16. Parc du Bic Anse à l'Orignal
We motored all day, 6:40 am to 5:00 pm. There was a strong wind warning with increasing cloud forecasted, but instead we got light winds (no sailing possible) and sunshine. We wore our floater suits because the 17 knot apparent wind on the nose was icy cold.
In spite of having to motor, it was a wonderful trip. We saw a trio of seals, just their heads popping out of the water - something not seen in Lake Ontario! We passed the mouth of the Saguenay River about noon and saw four whale-watching boats. Using our binoculars we saw some whale flukes and splashing between these boats, but a little while later we got to see our own whales, first some smallish grey-coloured whales, then Anne saw something very white and very big about 50 feet away (beluga?), and then we saw a pod of belugas. All in all, that made for a great day. We anchored in Anse à l'Orignal.
At about 7:30 pm we finally got the 15-20 knot winds that had been forecasted. The boat was rocking a great deal during the night, but we were secure. Uwe really appreciates the anchor alarm on the GPS - and Anne is happy he knows how to set it! We have never actually needed it, but it does give us peace of mind to know an alarm will beep if your anchor begins to drag.
06/19/2012, Quebec City
Day 13. Québec City (see photo)
We survived the St. Lawrence River! 495 nautical miles (917 km) from Bronte Harbour to Québec city in 13 days! We went through 7 locks, under 3 lift bridges, and through one nifty set of rapids. We had huge ships turn right in front of us in the channel, saw a submarine on a barge pass us, and spent one day at anchor in 20-30 knot winds (36-55 km/hr) because we did not think it safe to navigate in such narrow channels under those conditions. The locks were impressive - drops of 45 feet or so in most of them. The first three locks were quite exciting, but by the 4th we were quite comfortable with the whole process.
The river is extremely wide in places, forming very large lakes, but the depth is mostly less than 10 feet, and often less than 6 (our draft), so we had to follow the channel markers carefully. We only ran aground once, in soft mud, because we could not see the next mark - the marks are sometimes miles apart. The entire trip down the river was spent motoring because of the narrowness of the channels. Hopefully that will change soon.
We hit a top speed of 14.2 knots through the Richelieu Rapids which scared Anne, but was absolutely thrilling for me! I actually didn't tell Anne when the speed increased beyond 12 knots (not until afterwards) because I saw her trepidation about the boat speeding by all the nearby rocks. Our speed was usually around 8.6 knots over ground - actual speed through the water was about 6.6 knots. To put it another way, it would take almost twice as long to go back upriver, which we hopefully will not need to do. Our speed did drop to a low of 4.2 knots for an hour so so on the last day when bucking the incoming tide near Québec City.
We stayed at four marinas and anchored for the night six times. The turning spaces in the marinas in Montréal and Québec were cramped and involved some tricky maneuvering to dock, but we managed to get by with no scrapes on the boat so far. Tidal waters go from low tide at 1 foot to a high of 17 feet in Québec City, but the water is not all that salty.
Day 6. Prescott Marina
We left Gananoque Marina at 10 am and motored on the St. Lawrence River where the current is very strong. The Garmin GPS indicated 8 knots over ground. We put up the main jib while passing Brockville and arrived at Prescott at 4 pm.
We met a young couple, Cindi and Matt, who showed an interest in our boat. They would like to cross oceans within 5 years. We wish them success in fulfilling their dreams.
Day 7. Cornwall
We left Prescott Marina at 7:30 am and followed a ship, the AlgoSoo, into three locks: the Iroquois Lock (Canadian), the Eisenhower Lock (American), and the Snell Lock (American, see photo). At both American locks we waited over half an hour for the ship to go through. The locks were just barely large enough to accommodate it. We were glad we had our old oversized fenders with us because the lock walls were rough.
We had excellent weather going through the locks, but once we were anchored east of Cornwall, several squalls rolled through. Uwe and I took shifts on anchor watch overnight. We stayed at the anchorage an extra day because we felt that with wind gusts up to 30 knots, it was unsafe to proceed through the narrow shipping channels. We were pleasantly surprised when the Coast Guard and Research vessel (which often docks at CCIW), the Griffin, anchored along side of us. I believe they were anchored to wait out the high winds before checking on channel buoys.
Day 9. Beauharnois Locks
At the first lift bridge, Pont de Valleyfield, we waited 40 minutes because the AlgoSoo had just gone through, and the operators did not want to disrupt the traffic so soon after. There was no delay at the second lift bridge, Pont St. Louis.
The wait at the two Beauharnois Locks was over 2 hours. A small motorboat with engine problems went in the locks with us. We anchored just off the St. Lawrence River buoyed channel in shallow water but felt quite exposed to wind and rain because we were not in the wind shadow of any islands - it was wide open.
Day 10. Longueille
We were pleasantly surprised when the Pont CP lift bridge went up as soon as we approached it! And we only had to wait 5 minutes at the St. Catharine's Lock. Uwe was proud that he was able to communicate in French with the lock masters. Again at the St. Lambert Lock, we didn't have to wait at all.
We stayed overnight at the Port de Plaisance, in Longueille, which had very nice staff who were trying to practice their English and were pleased to help us with our French.
Day 11. Sorel
Thank heavens for our AIS reciever! Because of the AIS, we figured out what the ship "Thalassa Desgagnes" was doing. The ship initially overtook us at 13 knots, slowed down to 2 knots, backed into an area marked on the chart as "ship anchorage", and then proceeded in the opposite direction. We finally passed around it by going outside the buoyed channel where the chart indicated safe depths for us (greater than 2.5 M). We also passed "Bacancier", a C&C called "Wind Shadow" and "Oceanex Avalon".
The rest of the day was spent following channel markers and watching passing ships going upstream. At buoy S114 in Sorel, we turned into a side channel to anchor south of Ile Plate for the night. Because of the 2 knot current, we arrived at this destination earlier than expected and I made chocolate cake to celebrate!
Day 12. Rivière Batiscan
There was a weather alert for strong winds and thunderstorms today. We met up with "Thalassa Degagnes" AGAIN, and AGAIN it anchored in front of us! This time the river at Trois Rivières (at Pont Laviolette) was wide enough that there was no problem for us to get around it. We also passed "Maria Desgagnes" and "Algoma Navigator". Not too many ships so far. We anchored just past the mouth of Rivière Batiscan.
We have crossed the length of Lake Ontario five times in our previous boat, CS-cape, and this trip would be our third in Stonefire. This may be our farewell excursion to our favourite Lake Ontario ports and Thousand Island anchorages (see photo, Great Blue Heron in centre of photo). Because of our rudder repair delay, we will be unable to spend very much time at any of them.
DAY 1. Bronte Outer Harbour Marina to Whitby Harbour Marina
We left BOHM at 9:30 am and arrived at Whitby Harbour Marina at 5:00 pm. The wind was from the east, the direction we were heading, so we motored most of the way. Because the day was sunny and pleasant, I did three small loads of laundry while underway. I have a toilet plunger (new) to agitate the clothing in a bucket of water and a portable hand wringer to wring out excess water. My "washing machine" worked like a charm. We had roast sirloin pork, rice-onion-egg and peas for supper, AND a beer!
DAY 2. Whitby Harbour Marina to Kerr Bay
We left Whitby at 4:30 pm, and boy was it windy on the lake compared to the marina! Waves were only 1 metre from trough to crest, certainly nothing to worry about, but we were glad we put on our anti-sea-sickness patches (Transderm Scopalamine)! At the beginning of a sailing trip when we still do not have our sea-legs, we like to take anti-nausea medication. We were pleased that Stonefire ploughed into the waves with no rocking horse action. Then shortly after we were underway, a rain squall hit us. I had just put on my rain pants, but Uwe was trying to shorten sails first before he put on his. He was drenched within minutes! We sailed all night; I took the first shift: 10 pm to 2 am; Uwe took the second: 2 am to 6 am. Uwe slept another hour or so before we reached the K14 marker in Prince Edward Bay. Several ships were identified by our AIS (Automatic Identification System) receiver but they were not close enough for us to see them, even with our binoculars. We were surprised there wasn't more ship traffic.
DAY 3. Anchored in beautiful Kerr Bay, a quiet anchorage in which to rest up!
DAY 4. Thousand Islands
We motored past Kingston, had a beautiful sail in the large bay near Howe Island, and then anchored south of Beau Rivage Island, one of our many favourite spots in the Thousand Islands.
DAY 5. Gananoque Marina
We refilled our tank with diesel fuel at Gordon's Marine and emptied our holding tanks at the marina. Our long-time friends (from University days), Jean and Carol, treated us to champagne and a beautiful time at Athlone Inn restaurant! The cuisine was wonderful, and the visit even more so!
Before we were able to get some off-shore boat insurance, we needed to provide the company with a survey conducted within the last 12 months. Our last survey was done when we purchased the boat 4 years ago in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Oh dear! We did not think about needing a survey! But we were in luck. The surveyor who completed the survey on Stonefire at the time of purchase was kind enough to do so again on short notice. Everything on Stonefire he considered to be fine, except for the rudder about which he was uncertain. There was delamination of the fiberglass skin on the rudder which meant water had gotten in somehow, and could mean serious corrosion of the steel frame. So he recommended it be inspected.
Inspection of the rudder meant dropping it from the boat, cutting through the fiberglass, inspecting the steel frame, welding on new steel if required and then rebuilding the rudder. Again we had some luck because Nick Bailey (of DIY magazine fame for the article on rudders) at Bristol Marine said it could be done expeditiously if we brought the rudder to him before the beginning of the busy season in May.
We had never taken off a rudder before! It meant working on seized screws for 3 days. It meant digging a 1-foot hole under it because the shaft was so long (see photo).
Although our rudder had no signs of frame corrosion, it still took the experts at Bristol Marine three weeks to inspect the rudder, re-fiberglass it, one side at a time so that the shape of the rudder would not be de-formed, repaint with Interprotect, and finally re-paint with antifouling. The Bristol Marine staff did a fabulous job!
Then we had to re-install it again. Uwe used rope, blocks and tackles for hoisting it back up. Not an easy task. Our good friend, David, was always there at just the right moment to provide some help!
Of course all this drama over the rudder caused us to miss our original launch date. But once again BOHM staff showed compassion for our plight and re-scheduled it without penalty.
The mast was delivered from Klacko Spars a couple of days later. The mast head was reinforced and other modifications made it stronger. It was also repainted and looked awesome. It took Uwe and me all day to get it ready for stepping: things we never did before such as re-installing the rod rigging and the radar, and things we were familiar with such as spreaders, furlers, antenna and Windex.
A couple more modifications which required that Uwe climb the mast with the ATN TopClimber, and then we were on our way! It has been so very difficult to say good bye to our family and our friends.
05/15/2012, Bronte Outer Harbour Marina
A question I have been asked often in the past couple of weeks is, "How do you know how much food to bring?"
A couple of years ago, with our mid-cabin locker filled with non-perishables (see photo), we were able to travel to the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River from the western end of Lake Ontario, and back again, without having to shop for groceries! It was great to anchor and moor among the beautiful islands without needing to make frequent shopping trips to Gananoque. It was also good practice for our planned extended cruise!
I learned a great deal about provisioning by reading Lin Pardey's book, "The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew", and by participating in the Seven Seas University webinar presented by Barbara Theisen, "Complete Guide to Provisioning".
Lin Pardey suggested estimating how long it would take for the ocean passage and then adding 50% more. Because I estimated that our longest passage would be approximately a maximum of 8 weeks, adding 50% (4 weeks) came to 3 months. I determined menus for a 2-week period, made up an ingredients list, and then multiplied by 6 in order to have a 3-month supply of non-perishables. I consider the mid-cabin locker to be my "short-term" storage locker. It will be restocked at ports, or from other less accessible long-term storage areas on the boat. I also have a pantry for Rubbermaid containers of flour, sugar, rice, pasta, etc.
Lin Pardey also documented several methods for long-term storage of fresh eggs without refrigeration. For the Thousand Island trip, I tried the "boiling for 10 seconds" method, which worked really well. I also had success with her method of keeping cheese unrefrigerated in jars of olive oil.
In port or at anchorages, we can have meals with fresh meat, vegetables and fruit, but on ocean passages of more than a week, we will be dependent upon our non-perishables. We may get tired of tuna quiche, spaghetti, chili and Pad Thai, but at least we won't starve. At least that is the theory! Keep posted!