Transiting the Welland Canal and Lake Ontario
14 August 2009 | Cobourg, Ontario
Sylvia / hot & windless
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The auto steering is installed so we are off again to transit the Welland Canal connecting lakes Erie and Ontario. All of the advice we received included getting to the call in pier before Lock 8 early so we were up and on our way just after 7:00. As we neared the docks we were hailed by Marguerite, a 1981 46 Freers sail boat. They told us to raft up to them and call in and pay for the transit quickly because Seaway Welland was ready to start the two power boats at the docks and our two sailboats down the canal. They had seen us coming up and were just waiting for us. So we didn't even have any wait time there.
We all gently motored under the bridge and into Lock 8 and were out of that lock at 0755. The remaining 7 locks went very smoothly. The two sailboats were rafted up together as were the two power boats. The first time we rafted up Marguerite was on the wall. She was much lighter than Eos so from then on we put Eos on the wall and Carl and Patty Lundgren (from Ontario, NY) rafted Marguerite up to Eos and then came aboard and helped to fend her off the wall as the water was drained from the locks. Bill and I had the lines and played them out as the two boats lowered. With the four of us it was very straight forward. We didn't even bother to unraft when we did locks 6, 5, 4 which are one right after the other.
It all worked so smoothly and Carl and Patty were so very helpful not only with the locking but also with lots of info about areas to see and hints of how to handle things in Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence as well as the Canadian Maritimes. They had done the Welland about 12 times and were just returning from several months on the Great Lakes where they had spent some time on the north shore of Lake Superior. They were seasoned cruisers and had lots of good advice for these "newbies". They told us if we needed anything while on Lake Ontario to give them a call and they would help us out. What fine folks.
We only saw three upbound ships and only had to wait 15 minutes for one of them. One of the seasonal staff at one of the locks said the commercial traffic was way down because of the economy. Normally he was called in by mid-May and this year he wasn't called in until the latter part of July. And so we just kept going through the locks one right after another. Your are told in the lock guide to expect a minimum of 8 hours and up to 14 hours for the transit of the 8 locks. We exited Lock one at 1400. It was a total of just over SIX hours for the whole transit. Amazing. Several places they just called on the radio and told us they saw us and to just keep coming. The bridges would be open by the time we got there. But with the rapid transit there was no down time so we were really tired and hungry by the time we cleared the canal and motored 3 miles along the coast to Port Dalhousie, Ontario.
We docked there at 1500. We checked in and there was a package of mail for us. I had talked to them earlier in the week and we discussed having our mail sent UPS to them. But when I filled out the shipment info for our mail services I mistakenly clicked on USPS Express International. I didn't realize it until I got an email notifying me of the shipment that it was being sent by US mail to Canadian mail rather than UPS. Then I wasn't at all sure it would be there waiting for us so it was a pleasant surprise when the woman at the marina pulled out our package. We went to the harbor restaurant and bar, Tokyo Joe's, for a cool salad and a cool drink and to celebrate a fast and successful transit of the Welland.
Friday, August 14, 2009
We were up and motoring out of the marina at 0730. I did my first motoring away from the dock. I had to back Eos around and then head her out of the marina and into Lake Ontario. It was a quiet morning and the fairway was larger than normal so it was a good time for me to start practicing. We headed out into the lake and then spent some time calibrating the newly repaired auto steering to work with Eos.
The day was sunny and hot with no wind at all. The lake was like a calm pond so we spent 10 hours letting the auto steering which now works beautifully motor us across the mirror that Lake Ontario became in the dead calm. We both got a chance to read some and the wind over the deck helped with cooling us a bit but we weren't miserable. It was just a long motor.
We arrived in Cobourg, Ontario at 1730. The marina is the nicest we have been in so far. The 2009 North Humberland Rib Fest started today at the park just down from the marina. Great ribs, good music and nice people to talk to at the long tables. The local people and other boaters at the marina and the rib fest couldn't be nicer and the town itself is right here and is quite lovely. If we weren't trying to make time we would love to lay over here a couple of days. But we must keep moving although we will spend a little more time here than we normally do since we are planning an overnight passage directly to Kingston, Ontario and the beginning of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
We will have some time tomorrow to enjoy Cobourg a little more before we take off late afternoon for the over-nighter. The weather is supposed to be stable for the next couple of days so it will probably be a lot of motoring.