The Welland Upbound.
25 July 2016 | Port Colborne, Ontario, CA
Another late post, but I wanted to keep the chronology going.
We spent the 23rd and 24th of July enjoying the hospitality of Port Dalhousie.
The morning of the 25th, we started early and checked in as requested at 0700, we were given an assignment of about 10:30 AM. When we checked in we were alone, but as time went on two other vessels arrived, and as expected we would lock through as a group. This was an interesting locking group, the smallest vessel was a 23 foot sailboat, that had lost its inboard engine and was going to lock through using a borrowed outboard, he indicated that he could make 5 knots, but as we got started, we noted that 2.5 was about all he could do. That speed would make the last 14 miles very long.
Based on our downbound experience, we hired two crew. As our group collected at the beginning of the canal, the power vessel only had two onboard instead of the required 3, and the small sailboat had 3, none with any sailing experience, they had just purchased the boat and were transporting it by water to Port Dover, it was their first boat.
Our Upbound transit started at about 1100, our crew was onboard, and we entered lock 1 without incident. Bob and Don, our crew, were very experienced, and provided guidance in positioning the boat. Don was retired form the Canal System and had operated most of the locks, and knew many of the lock tenders. This was a great help in that the position of the boat in the lock determines the forces on it, and the amount of effort required to keep it safe. The amount of effort is substantial, and a deep keel sailboat experiences the full force of the water entry. We learned that the Canal system had recently increased the speed of the water entry as they prepared for conversion to automated locking for the freighters. The result is more violent forces which do not affect a freighter that is essentially attached to the walls via a hydraulic system, but do affect pleasure craft.
We were fortunate, while pressed very tightly against the lock wall, our trusty extra-large fenders kept us from any damage. Our crew still had to work very hard to keep us off the wall, but we were successful in our upbound transit.
The Canal is very interesting and an engineering masterpiece. It was so nice to transit in the daylight. However, being in a group with a slow vessel made the last 14 mile transit a 5-hour trip rather than 2. Traffic upbound was light, however, as we entered lock 8, the final lock, I could see a commercial vessel approaching from the stern on the AIS. I am sure that if the Seaway system had known the speed of our slowest vessel, they would have held the group for at least 6 more hours to allow the commercial traffic to clear. The slow transit and the abundance of weeds in the canal allowed the intake strainer to partially plug and restrict cooling. But clearing it would have to wait until we docked in Port Colborne.
We arrived in Port Colborne as the sun was setting after the marina staff had gone home for the day. The winds were picking up, and we were glad to have docking help from our dockmates. Another long day on the Welland and the Admiral repeated her never again pledge.
Lake Ontario was wonderful, and I would love to visit it again for a longer period of time, but my back is telling me to reconsider and of course I have to convince the Admiral.
Fair winds and following seas.
Ed and EJ