21 September 2019 | Currently on the hard at Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada
11 August 2019 | Rimouski Marina, Province of Quebec
03 August 2019 | Longueuil Marina
09 June 2019 | Kingston, Ontario
07 June 2019 | Port Whitby Marina, Canada
01 October 2018 | Irondequoit, Rochester New York State, US
03 September 2017 | Port Whitby Marina, Ontario
07 August 2017 | Kingston, Ontario
05 July 2017 | Cobourg, Lake Ontario, Canada
11 June 2017 | Waterford, NY
24 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound, New York
11 May 2017 | Port Washington, Long Island Sound
28 April 2017 | Annapolis
23 April 2017 | Washington DC
13 April 2017 | Washington DC
20 March 2017 | Deltaville, Virginia, US
13 March 2017 | New Zealand
01 March 2017 | New Zealand
The Best of Times; The Worst of Times
21 September 2019 | Currently on the hard at Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows: Sailing into Etang-du-Nord, Iles De La Madeleine
More pics on Google pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/CYMt4Jdpwm8b4Wba6
The Best of Times!
After two nights at anchor outside Gaspe Marina the weather looked good for an overnight passage to Etang-du-Nord on Isles De La Madeleine, 135 nm out in the Gulf of St Lawrence. We'd heard that the Madeleines were 'not to be missed', and from there it would be a shorter hop to the east end of Prince Edward Island or Cap Breton, Nova Scotia.
Craig and Zena on 'Adriana I' contacted us to say they were underway from Riviere Renard and would also be crossing to Etang-du-Nord overnight so hoped to see us 'out there'! We set off in the afternoon with fine clear weather, and saw one last whale blowing in the distance as we left the Gaspe Peninsula. The passage went well, despite 'lumpy' seas in places and at 1330 next day Kit called 'Land Ahoy' as he spotted the Islands in the distance. By 1530 we were tied up in the fishing harbour of Etang-du-Nord next to Adriana.
The Madeleines are a dozen islands interconnected by sandbars that enclose large shallow lagoons. The 36-mile long archipelago is shaped like a giant fishhook. Narrow entrance channels and dredged fairways allow access to the ports. They are part of Quebec Province therefore the residents are French-speaking, although many are bi-lingual with English as a second language. The islands are particularly beautiful with green hills, red sandstone cliffs, white sandy beaches and blue waters - at least the waters look blue when the sun is shining!
Set around the port of Etang-du-Nord is a cluster of brightly coloured houses, with a fish market, restaurant, café, a couple of gift shops and a kite shop that advertises itself by flying a huge kite hung with coloured streamers high in the sky (see Google pics). We loved the place immediately and spent a few days socialising with Craig and Zena and enjoying the pretty scenery. Whilst we were there the remains of Tropical Storm Erin passed through, giving us strong southerly winds that produced quite a chop in the harbour. Tropical storms, even their remains, do not normally reach as far north as Canada so this was an unusual event - we didn't know it yet but there was far worse to come!
Wishing to see more of the islands before we headed off once the swells had subsided. Adriana and Quilcene set sail for Ile Havre Aubert, to the south of the archipelago. We sailed right around the south west corner and made for the approach channel to Baie de Plaisance, before sailing along the inside of the south shore sandbar and into Havre Aubert as evening fell. The pilot book describes Havre Aubert as 'a natural haven protected from all winds'. There's a small fishing harbour on the approach, a small marina on one side and an anchorage in the bay opposite where we dropped the anchor and looked around to admire the scenery - and were immediately attacked by mosquitos! Retreating into the cabin we spent a peaceful night and next morning decided to go and tie up in the marina so we could visit La Grave, a small town on the 500m x 100m isthmus.
We were welcomed into the Marina by marina manager Réal, who pointed out the facilities, gave us a key to the showers and told us that the café/bar at the head of the dock is almost always open - result!
La Grave is delightful! Former fishing cabins have been transformed into cafes, restaurants, a bakery, a fish market and a few craft and gift shops. There are also a couple of small art galleries displaying the work of local artists and the Musée de la Mer.
We loved having 'elevenses' or lunch in the friendly Café La Grave, a lively, place where a solitary pianist entertains the clientele with pleasant background tunes every lunchtime and there is live music most evenings. We shared sundowners in the Marina café/bar with Craig, Zena, and many locals who meet there for a drink and chat (see Google pics). As visiting yachties we were warmly welcomed into the conversations, despite our poor grasp of the French language!
We were having such a good time that we weren't in a hurry to leave as it was still early September. Pilot books told us that September would be a good time to cruise in Nova Scotia; we expected good weather and fair winds until the end of the month when we would put Quilcene in winter storage and fly home to the UK.
The Worst of Times!
We hardly noticed a blot on the horizon in the form of Hurricane Dorian which was currently battering the Bahamas many miles south of us. However we began taking it seriously when there appeared to be a possibility that Dorian might possibly track across the Canadian Maritimes.
Locals reassured us that wouldn't happen, hurricanes didn't reach the Madeleines and storms invariably fizzled out or passed by at a safe distance. When Dorian was subsequently downgraded several times we began to feel safe, However we watched with growing horror as instead of heading out into the Atlantic, Dorian was upgraded again to Category 2 and apparently making a bee-line for Nova Scotia and the Maritimes.
We looked at our options - run for Nova Scotia or back to the Gaspe peninsula, both at least 24 hours away and in less than perfect conditions. Both were also within the 'warning cone' on the NOAA hurricane website. Alternatively, we could stay put and hunker down until the threat had passed. We felt like rabbits trapped in the headlights.
After much agonising we decided to stay; On 6th September, with 24 hours to go before it reached us, Dorian was predicted to track across the Gulf of St Lawrence as 'a hurricane force post-tropical cyclone' - a hurricane by any other name - and the Madeleines were right in its path. Although not as strong as when it pummelled the Bahamas, we were in the path of a hurricane!
Craig and Zena decided to sail Adriana back to Etang-du-Nord as they thought it might afford more shelter. After sad hugs and farewells they cast off - none of us knew exactly what to expect when the storm hit and we wished one another well.
The weather that day was strangely calm as we set to work preparing Quilcene as best we could - removing the sails and canvas and lashing everything down, ensuring that no rope ends could come undone and flog. Any loose items were stowed below decks. Kit removed the blades from the wind generator and fixed the solar panels down horizontally. We were moored to a fixed concrete dock and although the tidal range was only around half a metre, we were concerned about the possibility of a storm surge. The people of Havre Aubert were wonderful, they made us welcome and found us a B&B close to the marina to stay for two nights until the storm had passed. Someone offered us the use of their car and they assured us that help was on hand should we need it.
In the marina café/bar that evening the approaching hurricane was the main topic - would it really hit? Which direction was the wind going to come from? How strong would it be? What about surge? So many questions and just as many opinions. We tried to sleep that night but our heads were buzzing as we lay awake wondering what tomorrow would bring.
On the morning of the 7th September at 5am there was an incredible red sky to the east as the wind began to rise. The NOAA hurricane website showed that Dorian would make landfall at Halifax, Nova Scotia, then pass over Nova Scotia at the Canso strait and move across the Gulf of St Lawrence close to the Madeleines - there was no escaping. Réal came to tell us that he and a couple of others would help us to move Quilcene over to the floating east dock as a big storm surge was predicted.
I (Belinda) am quite brave but was upset and anxious so went ashore to have a few minutes to myself. Despite the now-strong wind blowing the boat onto the dock Kit, Réal and the others managed to pull her off the dock with Réal's skiff and within a few minutes she was tied up on the eastern floating dock. Finally we could do no more so we gathered up all our papers, computers phones and a couple of changes of clothes, put the washboards in and with heavy hearts, left Quilcene.
Arriving at the B&B Ginette, our host could hardly open the door to let us in as it faced the easterly wind. From Ginette's house we could see the marina but couldn't see Quilcene as the west dock with moored boats was in between. As darkness fell the spray and water from the bay were being blown across the road. The wind was wailing and rain hitting the windows sounded like hailstones. Ginette said she was glad to have company during the coming hurricane and gave us dinner although we were only booked for Bed and Breakfast.
Checking the news on the internet we saw that Nova Scotia had 200,000 homes without power due to the hurricane. Later the lights flickered twice and power on the island went off leaving us in darkness.
It was a terrible night as the storm raged and gusts of wind shook the walls of the house. Kit managed to sleep somehow (I always said he could sleep through a hurricane!) but I sat downstairs reading my e-book to try and take my mind off things. Ginette appeared now and then, checking around the doors and windows and mopping up water that had found a way in. We were both frightened and we chatted a bit but couldn't even make a cup of tea or coffee as Ginette's house is all electric!
Emergency vehicle lights were flickering across the bay, but we couldn't make out what was happening. At 5am the wind seemed to drop a little, so I turned on the phone data and looked at the NOAA website. Tracking showed that the eye of the storm had just passed over the Madeleines from south-east to north-west. The wind picked up again from the west but the house was more sheltered from that direction and it was not as noisy so I dozed a little.
Morning light was slow to arrive but when it finally did we looked across to the marina and beheld a scene of devastation; the western dock was no longer in place. The whole dock with around 20 yachts and motor boats still attached had broken loose and was washed up on the shore. A trimaran that had been on a mooring was beached along the shoreline, as was a yacht that had taken its chances anchored in the bay. Part of the road outside Ginette's house had collapsed onto the beach and the rest was covered with silt and seaweed.
We could just make out Quilcene on the eastern dock; she was still afloat, but we feared the worst. Shredded sails were streaming from many of the remaining boats on the dock and masts appeared to be at odd angles. We rang Réal and he said that no-one had been hurt - thank goodness. Some of the links holding our dock together were partially broken, and it was midday before we were allowed on to it briefly to look at Quilcene. Walking carefully down the dock we saw that many of the yachts had broken and twisted pulpits and stanchions, some had holes in the bow and the side, one mast was snapped and the yacht next to Quilcene was partially sunk.
Miraculously Quilcene appeared to be OK. We couldn't believe it! On closer inspection there was some damage to the fibreglass on the bow and the wooden toerail. All in all, very little compared to damage sustained by many of the other boats. However no-one had been hurt and that was a relief.
The marina café/bar, which doubles as a community hub and meeting place had been flooded in the storm surge. Despite the shock of the devastation it wasn't long before locals began arriving with mops and buckets to help with the clean-up. They said it had been the worst storm in their history. The winds had reached 130 km/hr.
As soon as our dock was made safe and we were allowed to stay on the boat, we began the task of putting Quilcene back together; there was a forecast of fair winds to sail to Prince Edward Island and we knew that Havre Aubert Marina would be busy sorting out the repairs. Despite their own problems people came to help us with the sails and gave us lifts to nearby shops etc.
Just three days after the storm hit we bade a fond farewell and sailed away from these beautiful Islands and the people who had been so kind and helpful throughout our stay. We will return; the Madeleines really are a special place, even in a hurricane!
The Gaspe Peninsula
26 August 2019 | Gaspe
Belinda and Kit
Picture shows Riviere Renard, Gaspe Peninsula, from the hilltop. Spot Quilcene!
More pics on Google Photos; https://photos.app.goo.gl/7uCPpGw44GWcwtKDA
Once the thunderstorms were over we ventured out and about in Rimouski. Shorts weather resumed and things looked much brighter. We met locals Andrew and Diane, who were very helpful with advice and information about the area. Andrew took us to get a propane refill and offered to pick us up for a spot of sightseeing. He drove us all around the area stopping at local points of interest including Pointe-au-Pere Lighthouse, Onondaga submarine, unusual carvings of figures emerging from the sea by a local artist (Gagnon) and Pointe Luce beach where we indulged in a very decadent ice cream!
As we continued our journey along the Gaspe Peninsula stopping at small ports, this type of hospitality became an everyday occurrence - people were so friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble. We encountered a few foreign flagged yachts so began to meet other cruisers again, something we'd missed during our time on the Lakes.
Most of the places we stopped were principally fishing ports, and we were usually one of only two or three visiting yachts. The weather stayed fine and dry and we were often motorsailing on flat calm sparkling waters. We saw numerous seals, porpoise and dolphins. Whales are abundant on this stretch of the St Lawrence and we became almost expert on identifying them by their blow shapes. There were regular sightings of Right Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales, Minke Whales and most spectacularly, Humpback Whales; famous for displaying their tail as they dive. Unfortunately, they all kept their distance and we kept ours so any pictures we managed to take are of distant blows and fins. However, it was a wonderful experience to see so many of these magnificent animals in the wild.
Riviere Renard was one of our favourite places; Patrice at the Marina offered to drive us to the supermarket, and en route drove around to show us the fishing port and the best place to buy fresh fish and seafood. The fresh Halibut we bought there was absolutely delicious! In Riviere Renard we met Zena and Craig from Australia on 'Adriana I', and Margot and Eduardo from Quebec on 'Wooloomooloo'. The six of us instantly hit it off and shared several sundowners on one another's boat.
Zena, Margot and I walked up the hill to the little chapel, enjoying the wonderful views over the marina and port. We spent our last evening together in the local microbrewery, watching live music and sharing a tasty supper.
Vowing to keep in touch we left for Gaspe, and Margot and Eduardo left for Shippegan where they would lift out their yacht until next year. Craig and Zena were waiting for windlass parts to arrive so had to remain a few days longer.
We sailed along the coast and around the point into the Bay of Gaspe. Gaspe Marina was a long way in at the end of the bay and taking advantage of a light breeze we sailed slowly in to arrive and anchor in the designated anchorage just before dark.
From here we could either sail across to the Isles De La Madeleine or go into the Northumberland Strait and behind Prince Edward Island - the former would be out into the Gulf of St Lawrence and the latter would entail dodging numerous lobster pots as the season was still under way.
Cities, Currents and Cetaceans!
11 August 2019 | Rimouski Marina, Province of Quebec
Belinda and Kit | Stormy
Picture shows: Mooring field at Tadoussac; Quilcene is out there!
More pics at; https://photos.app.goo.gl/mqoydhtFbf7b2Csx6
Soon after we arrived in Montreal we found ourselves in the middle of a heatwave. The temperature soared to almost 40C with humidex values of 45C! For a couple of days we just stayed on the boat with the fans on, only venturing out on our bikes during early morning to go to the local shops.
The heatwave ended with a spectacular thunderstorm and the air was cooler and clearer when we took the ferry from Longueuil Marina across the river to the Old Port Marina in the heart of the Montreal. It was apparent as the ferry punched through the swirling water that we couldn't have bucked the current to get there in Quilcene; the only boats in the Old Port were motor boats with more powerful engines.
We were a little disappointed with Montreal; wall to wall restaurant and cafe decking lined the narrow streets of the Old Port area, particularly Place Jacques Cartier and St Pauls boulevard, which is the oldest street in the city. Waiters hovered outside their establishments trying to attract customers, very off-putting!
However we wandered around and found the ' Music Space' in Place d'Armes where free jazz, folk, and regional music concerts take place around lunch time. It was relaxing to sit and enjoy an ice cream and be entertained. Some of the finest buildings in Montreal line this shady square including Basilique Notre Dame and Montreal's imposing oldest bank. We called an Uber car to take us to Chinatown for a delicious lunch then wandered back to the ferry via the lovely old market building.
Leaving Longueuil and Montréal next day we followed the shipping channels as the river wound its way north-eastward to Quebec City. We spent a couple of nights at anchor in the pretty Sorel Islands, before crossing the vast shallow lake of St Pierre, where buoys mark a dredged channel deep enough for us and the big ships!
With the river now subject to tidal influence, we had to use the ebb tide and currents to our advantage; in areas where the rivers narrows these currents are very strong and can normally reach speeds of up to 7-8 knots, and with the extra flow this year may be more!
The pilot book advises on the best time to leave ports and anchorages and we adhered to it religiously. A tidal stream atlas was also very helpful as we could see where, and at what time the fastest flow was expected. Nonetheless, it was with much trepidation that we approached the 'Richleau Rapids'; a narrow section where the navigable channel is only 0.25 nm wide and large boulders lie outside the buoys. We'd read about yachts attaining speeds of 12 knots through this section, and were concerned about controlling our course, especially if a large ship was also in the channel!
As it transpired, our timing was perfect, and despite seeing a few whirlpools outside the channel, our speed did not exceed 9.4 knots and we had no problems. You can imagine how good we felt to arrive safely in Quebec Old Port Marina with the rapids behind us!
A celebration was in order so after a welcome shower we hit the town for drinks and dinner!
Quebec City is wonderful: beautiful old buildings and pretty narrow streets that didn't appear to be overcome by tourism. Yes, there were lots of other tourists but somehow Quebec seems to have more class than Montreal! We took the funicular to the upper town and enjoyed great views of the city and river before following the winding streets back down to the old port where we lunched on moules and frites! Well what else in a 'French' city!
We spent six days in Quebec including another two-day heatwave; the marina was lovely with great facilities, they even have a swimming pool! ..although it is rather small and more suitable for cooling off in, and posing next to, than swimming! Next to the marina is a grain store with a row of tall white silos - which could be considered unattractive. However every night a light show was projected onto the silos (see Google pics); the changing colours represented the Aurora Borealis, it certainly kept us entertained as we guessed which colour would follow in sequence!
The next leg of our journey from Quebec to Tadoussac ran through the Charlevoix, an area of outstanding natural beauty with steep hills and dramatic scenery as we sailed past the Laurentian Mountains. The stopover en route is Cap a L'Aigle, or 'Cape of the Eagle', a tiny marina and the only port of refuge on the passage. It can be entered on any state of the tide, hence the 'port of refuge' tag.
It's a 72 mile hop from Quebec to Cap a L' Aigle and we'd been concerned that we wouldn't make it before dark. In the event our speed had been 10-12 knots in some stretches, and we were there in time for sundowners! ..and it proved to be such a delightful marina in a pretty setting that we stayed two nights.
Another feature of the Charlevoix is the abundance of whales. They say it is virtually impossible to transit this area without at least a few sightings, and sure enough we had our first sight of Belugas as we pressed on to Tadoussac. Saguenay Fjord meets the St Lawrence River at Tadoussac and the water depth at the confluence is over 1000ft. Conditions were much cooler here as the water temperature plunged from 26C at Quebec City to 8C! We were getting condensation on the floor of the boat, which was so cold that we had to start wearing socks!
The deep cold water and abundance of plankton at the mouth of the Fjord make it an ideal feeding ground for many species of whale. Belugas were numerous on the passage (although they didn't pose for me to take a picture!), and we saw a Northern Right whale blowing and diving as we arrived at Tadoussac. Our arrival wasn't without drama either! We'd had a very fast passage, exceeding anything we'd expected as we hit 14.4 knots in the current in one area! Hence we were a little early, and the last of the ebb tide coupled with a 25 knot wind combined to give us a very lumpy approach!
However, things quietened down once we reached the shelter of Tadoussac Bay, and with a sense of relief we picked up a mooring buoy - and had a calming cup of tea! Generally we prefer to anchor if possible but here the seabed shelves off to 200ft or more very close to shore making anchoring difficult - a mooring buoy gives us peace of mind at night and on visits ashore.
The following morning Kit launched the dinghy and we headed over to the marina to register and visit the town. Tadoussac is picture postcard pretty, lots of colourful houses, and an attractive large hotel with a red roof. Unfortunately it is a whale watching Mecca, and coaches and cars arrive bringing crowds of people to go out on 'whale watching' trips. I say unfortunately because many of these trips are in huge, fast, noisy rigid inflatables (RIBS). As many as 15 of these RIBS, and larger vessels too, race out at high speed once the tide turns and the whales feed at the mouth of the Fjord. I'm no killjoy but this is supposed to be a marine protected area and many of the whale species are endangered. There is a speed limit and no- one is supposed to chase or pursue the whales!
It seems unnecessary too because the whales come quite close in and you can watch, without disturbing them, from the rocks on the shore for free as they dive and feed. ...which many people do! Including us!
In fact we were also fortunate enough to be on Quilcene on the mooring when we heard a whale blow close by! A Minke whale had come into the bay near the mooring area and was diving and blowing close to the boat. We felt honoured! ..and I even managed to get a piccie, albeit a bit distant! (See google pics).
There was thick fog on the day we'd earmarked to leave, so our departure was delayed. Fog is another, rather unwelcome feature of this area as warmer air blows over the very cold water. We sat on the boat unable to even see the shore, but again we heard a whale blowing nearby and even glimpsed it through the fingers of swirling mist.
Sailing away from Tadoussac next day we were out on the river in sunshine but looking back could see the mist once again descending around the fjord entrance. We had a fine 52-mile passage to Rimouski on the south bank of the St Lawrence, but once again were hit by strong winds gusting at 25 knots on the final approach. Nothing is ever easy!!!
However the skipper handled it admirably again, and we soon reached the safety of the marina, where a helpful dock assistant met us and took our lines. ...and here we'll stay for a couple of days as a spell of strong winds and thunderstorms are expected.
Transiting the St Lawrence Seaway
03 August 2019 | Longueuil Marina
Belinda and Kit | Hot and Humid
Picture shows; waiting at a lock for the big ships to pass through
More pics at; https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZPDYGeFYich7BWSk8
With the new radar in place and up and running, we left Kingston on July 13th to head down the St Lawrence Seaway, quite a challenging passage.
La Salle causeway bridge opened for us to leave the inner basin and we sailed toward Wolfe Island and the Seaway beyond. We'd planned to spend the first night anchored on one of the Thousand Islands but just before lunchtime we heard a strong wind warning on the VHF so decided to anchor in the shelter of Brakey Bay on the NE end of Wolfe Island. A short first day, but a pleasant sheltered anchorage out of the strongest gusts.
Next morning we hauled the anchor joined the principal Seaway route that runs through American waters to the south of the Thousand Islands. We passed lots of little island houses, many had submerged docks and water lapping right up to their doors.
Our cruising speed is normally around 5-6 knots but due to the unprecedented water levels in the Lakes, which are only just beginning to drop, the strong currents increased our speed to 7-8 knots. Soon we were passing, and being passed by, huge ships in quite close proximity; normally we would be giving them a wide berth but here we all must share the shipping channel. ..and what a bow wave they create, we were often sent rolling about like crazy!
We sailed past Boldt and Singer castles on their respective islands, looking like castles on the Rhine, and under the Thousand Islands Bridge that connects Canada with the USA.
Toward evening on the approach our next anchorage, a few hundred yards from the first Seaway Lock, we were flying along at 8 knots and wondered how on earth we could slow down to leave the main channel. However, the current moderated as we sidled away from the buoyed channel and we anchored behind pretty Toussaint Island in reasonably still waters, feeling a little nervous about negotiating our first lock in the morning.
A Canadian and US project, The St Lawrence Seaway was opened in 1959 and links the Atlantic Ocean ports with the Great Lakes ports. It stems the St Lawrence River with a series of dams and locks towards the western end, enabling passage up to the Lakes. There are seven locks, two American and five Canadian.
Designed principally for commercial shipping, the vessels that use it are roughly twice the length of a football pitch and half as wide. Each enormous lock fills and drains 24million gallons of water in a very short time. Pleasure craft over 6m long and weighing over one ton may use the Seaway, but precedence is given to commercial traffic so we were expecting a wait next morning as we approached Iroquois Lock - the first Canadian one. The procedure for small craft is to tie to a waiting dock, phone in from the phone provided and pay via a ticket machine. It went like clockwork and we were surprised to be called into the lock straight away.
In the Canadian locks the attendants hand us a rope each, one at the stern and one at the bow. We loop it around a cleat and slip it slowly as we descend - often some 45 feet. Luckily Iroquois lock only has a height difference of a couple of feet, so it was an easy introduction to the system!
Not so lucky at the American Eisenhower Lock; we arrived there later and were told they had a busy commercial shipping period and we'd have to wait a few hours, pushing our arrival at the next anchorage into hours of darkness. Dismayed, we mentioned this to the lockkeeper and he suggested that we stay on the waiting dock overnight, a good result! Procedure at the US locks is slightly different, we paid cash for the two locks, Eisenhower and Snell at the first.
In the lock next morning we had to loop our bow and stern lines around a floating bollard midships, running them back to the cleats. As the lock emptied we controlled the boat by fending off as it swung. Again, this all went well, and as there was no waiting about at Snell lock we arrived at our next stop, Valleyfield de Salaberry, by early afternoon. We were now in the province of Quebec; quite a change to suddenly hear only French spoken over the VHF. We quickly pulled out our phrase book!!
Thunderstorms were forecast next day so we spent two nights there. Valleyfield anchorage is in the middle of town and during the daytime there are lots of pleasure boats racing around. A fountain in the centre of the inner harbour is a magnet for small boats, jet skis etc. as they can circle around it and get showered on the downwind side! There was plenty to entertain us and we watched their antics from our cockpit. Nightfall brought peace and quiet to the anchorage, and an unusual sight in the front garden in one of the houses! (see Google pics).
From Valleyfield we passed under the next lifting bridge with several motor boats and made best speed toward the St Louis lifting bridge before the next lock. To our astonishment the bridge was lowered as we approached! We tried calling on VHF as we circled around but our calls went unanswered, although we heard the bridge operator responding in French to other vessels. Admittedly we don't speak French well, but English is the language on the sea and all international shipping uses English.
15 minutes went by and we saw a huge ship approaching. Well, the bridge would definitely open for him!! Sure enough the bridge lifted and we passed underneath in his wake!
Arriving at the next set of locks, Beauharnois Locks, motor boats were taking up all the waiting dock space so we tied to a concrete wharf. Kit clambered up to go and pay and report in, but the phone booth is fenced off and only accessible from the waiting dock! We tried calling the lockkeeper on the VHF channel given in the Seaway Guide to explain the situation but no response! ..although he responded to French boats!
We were feeling quite persecuted by this time! There was nothing to do but wait for the lock gates to open. Shortly after lunch an American flagged boat arrived and we heard them calling the lockkeeper in English to find out what was happening but to no avail. They asked us if we knew, and we commiserated about the lack of response to our calls.
A couple of commercial ships passed through with ample time between to lock the pleasure craft through, but we had to wait. Five hours later a flurry of activity by the motor boats signalled that we were at last on the move again, so we cast off. Once in the lock the attendants spoke perfect English! We explained that we couldn't get to the ticket machine and after a bit of pleading a sympathetic attendant consented to get one for us.
By the time we cleared Beauharnois Locks we still had 28 miles, two locks and two lifting bridges to go before Montreal!
Luckily we weren't kept waiting as long again, but it was 10pm and dark when we exited the final Seaway Lock in Montreal.
In Montreal the St Lawrence river comes racing past the City to meet the Seaway and our speed picked up to 8 knots again. It was clear that we'd never be able to fight against the current to get to the recommended Old Port Marina so we headed for Longueuil, about a mile downstream. The entrance looked straightforward on the chart except the approach channel cut across the fast running current. Peering into the darkness to identify the buoys we crabbed along the channel and managed to squeeze in between the unlit breakwaters.
We tied up on the fuel dock as there was no-one around, and had a stiff brandy!!
The Seaway locks were behind us and we had a week in Montreal to look forward to.
Heading East Again
09 June 2019 | Kingston, Ontario
Belinda and Kit | Warm and Sunny - at last!
Picture shows; Fair winds out on Lake Ontario
A few more pics on Google Photos; https://photos.app.goo.gl/Lay14AQ77S99NeWQ9
Summer finally arrived in Ontario, albeit somewhat late. Temperatures began to rise, and we were able to throw off the extra blankets at night - not before time!
After completing lots of (long put off) maintenance tasks on the boat we bade farewell to Peter and Pat and our friends in Port Whitby and had a great sail east along the Lakeshore to Cobourg, where we spent a few days anchored inside the breakwater. It was fun watching all the Cobourg Yacht Club boats vying for position as they raised sails in the harbour for their race night. We launched the dinghy and made several runs ashore checking out shops and cafes. The water level in the lakes had shown no sign of abating and although Cobourg marina was open, they had no power to the docks as the power cables were underwater.
Next stop was a pretty, peaceful anchorage in Prince Edward Bay; Van Dousens point is off the beaten track and we were the only boat there. An eagle appeared in the early evening and perched atop a dead tree, an ideal vantage point for spotting its prey. We watched transfixed as it swooped down to strike and flew away with a fish supper held in its talons. Early morning brought three deer down to the water's edge, making their way around the shoreline in the trees, oblivious to us sipping our first cuppa in the cockpit!
From there we headed toward Kingston, dropping the anchor en route in Kerr Bay on Amherst Island. This anchorage is about 16 miles from Kingston and its close proximity makes it popular with locals. We were one of 15 boats anchored there but there's plenty of room for all. Again, there was ample opportunity for spotting wildlife; deer on the shoreline, a pair of hunting Osprey, and numerous Terns performing their dive- bombing fishing technique kept us entertained. I, Belinda, took my first swim in the Lake this year, it was still quite chilly but invigorating! Kit prefers the water temperature to be 30C before he dons his swimmers!
We're now in Kingston, a favourite place of ours. This is our fourth visit in three years, so we know where to find the best shops, cafes and bars. We arrived on Canada Day, July 1st, dropped anchor and watched the celebratory firework displays from the water.
Unfortunately, we'd discovered that our radar is not working but had managed to find an electronics engineer near Kingston to take a look. Obviously, we had to check into the marina for him to come aboard so we've taken a week alongside. The Furuno radar unit we have has been a good one but is now quite old, and despite his best efforts, the engineer couldn't breathe life into it!
Replacement parts are not now available, and radar will be essential for when we hit fog in Nova Scotia, which by all accounts is unavoidable. With no easy fix, we had no option but to order a new one - making quite a dent in the bank balance!
So, we're waiting for the new unit to be delivered and fitted, hopefully in a few days. Meanwhile we're enjoying the delights of Kingston, which just happens to be hosting a 'Busker Festival'; it's fun wandering around town with street entertainers drawing crowds on many corners. The antics of one guy, 'Kilted Colin' were incredible. Not only did he play 'Scotland the Brave' on bagpipes whilst riding a 10 ft unicycle, but he juggled three knives at the same time!! That was definitely worth a donation in his Scottish hat!
The last three days have brought high temperatures and high humidity, combining to feel like 40C and making us feel whacked by the afternoon. Happily a 'cold' front just passed through cooling things down to a manageable 25C -long may it last!
Chilly in Canada
07 June 2019 | Port Whitby Marina, Canada
Belinda and Kit | Fine but chilly
Picture shows; Keeping warm out on the Lake!
More pics on Google Photos; https://photos.app.goo.gl/MGiHNWFzF3o6KvSH7
Well, here we are back in Port Whitby, Canada! We arrived here in a roundabout way; two days in New York, ten days in Rochester preparing the boat for launch, and a very cold passage across Lake Ontario!
It rained almost all the time we were in New York, we went to Times Square but ended escaping the rain in the Hard Rock Café. During a dry couple of hours we did manage to take the Staten Island ferry and got great views of Manhattan Island, albeit under dark skies!
We'd booked an Airbnb in Rochester, just a small comfortable studio, which was very handy as we worked our way through the list of tasks to complete before launching. We worked hard sanding and painting Quilcene's hull and it was nice to have somewhere to stay, shower and cook away from the boat! We had also rented a car for a week and were able to stock the cupboards with all the heavy stuff.
Slowly Quilcene began to look shipshape, and launch day came around - it's always a tense time wondering if all is watertight and functioning correctly, but it went smoothly and we were afloat once again! Next we fitted the sails ready for the trip across the Lake.
Most of the docks in Rochester are fixed as the lake is not tidal, but at present they're often under an inch under water so we had to paddle to get on the boat! The electricity supply we'd used last year is also underwater so they'd installed new shoreside posts to hook up to. The Great Lakes' water levels are at record highs after an unusually wet spring and the snow melt. It made fendering very difficult as they just floated. There is flooding all around the Lakeshore and a state of emergency has been announced for NY State counties on the lakes. Many boat owners have delayed launching as most of the marinas and docks are under water and few have functioning electric hook-ups. It was like this in 2017 and they said it was a 'once in a hundred-year occurrence'!
It's high time that serious global action is taken to combat Climate Change.
Rochester Marina did have some good points tho'; namely a bar/restaurant called Schooners where we could get a refreshing beer after a hard day's sanding and painting. One evening they had a great band playing jazz and rock classics. We even had a dance!! ....and with Kits creaky knees too!!!
We crossed the Lake to Canada on 27th May and had a calm but bitterly cold 12-hour passage! Despite the sunshine it was only 7C in the cockpit when we were out on the Lake. The water temperature was 7C too so any breeze across the water felt icy. We had thermals, fleeces, woolly hats, gloves and full weatherproofs on!
Port Whitby has floating docks secured to the bottom with chains, so the water level isn't causing too much of a problem here although some of the chains have had to be lengthened we're told. Facilities are better here, with washing machines, dryers, and lovely warm clean shower rooms.
Kit's brother Peter lives a few miles away so it's great to be able to visit him and Pat again
We removed the sails again and had the mast lifted off and laid on trestles in the yard. There were several jobs to be done; changing lights, retrieving lost halyards, rewiring and replacing the VHF radio antenna, replacing the wind instrument etc. That's been keeping Kit busy, along with fitting a much-needed new heater in the boat. The latter task was quite difficult as he was working in a confined space in the cockpit locker!
The weather is sunshine and showers but it's still quite chilly! When the wind blows from the north it's cold, and when it blows from the south across the lake it's cold! Last May here was much warmer. Roll on summer!
Our plans to head down the St Lawrence are on hold for a while as parts of the River and Seaway are hazardous to small craft because of flooding, increased flow rates and debris in the water. We're in no hurry to leave Port Whitby as we have other maintenance work that's been put off for a while so now is as good a time as any to get on with it! Then we'll take our time and stick to Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands until the water level situation improves.
No hurry - no worry!