Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lake Champlain to Montreal

We stayed two days at Chipman Point Marina because of the predicted high winds on May 25. Of course neither the winds nor the rain materialized and we felt sort of cheated by the Weather Bureau, but found out later that Burlington did get the weather which made our decision to stay prudent. CPM is an economical place to hang out at $1.25/ft./day or 55.00 plus 10.00 for pump out. The views of the mountains from the Marina were beautiful. The facilities are adequate with clean showers and $1.00 per load for washer and/ or dryer.
On May 26 we sailed north on Lake Champlain to Burlington, VT. It was a rainy day and we traveled with radar to check for other boats. The system worked perfectly in that the radar image fell exactly on the chart image. This is not always the case because the electronic charts are not always accurate while the radar shows exactly what is there. Our CMAP charts running in the SIMRAD chart plotter produced strange results. The buoys at one zoom level were reversed, the reds were on the green side and visa versa but when we zoomed in they were correct. I need to complain to CMAP. Lake Champlain is very deep and we saw one place with 452 foot depth. We stayed at the Ferry Dock Marina which was listed in Active Captain at $1.75/ft. but when we talked to the dock master they had changed the rate to $2.25/ft. The sign on our dock 10’ from the boat still showed the old rate but the DM would not honor that rate. I told him it was false advertising that didn’t help either. He blacked out the old rate while we were there. The on-site restaurant was being re-constructed, there were no showers, the restrooms were only open until 5 pm, and the docks were not completed making it necessary to jump over a 2-3 ft. gap in order to get onto land.

Despite all this we stayed 2 nights and thoroughly enjoyed the City of Burlington. There was a festival atmosphere since the Vermont Marathon was scheduled that weekend. Sadie and Skipper both took a dip in the lake at a small beach along the city walking trail. Skipper and John walked to a dog park where Skipper could run loose. It was warm so Skipper only lasted 30 minutes running at full tilt. Juli and John took the free shuttle bus to the end of the line at the University of Vermont.  It is a lovely campus.  We returned by bus to Church St. – the main pedestrian walkway which is full of interesting shops and restaurants.  The area is lively and full of people.  Burlington is clean with beautiful flowers everywhere – it is well worth a visit if you ever have the opportunity.
On Sunday, May 28 we filled up with diesel at 35.6 gallons for $93.98, the lowest rate until we return to NYS. Then we proceeded North on the Lake to Gaines Marina at Rouses Point, NY. They charged us for the length of the dock rather than the length of the boat at $1.50/ft. x 50-10% AGLCA discount =$69.98. It was a calm, sunny day with almost no waves.
On May 29 Dutchess sailed into Canada. We approached the Canadian Customs Dock in a gale and had to make a u-turn to approach facing into the wind. The customs officers were helpful in tying up the boat. The entry process went smoothly despite the fact that Skipper escaped to land – thank goodness Paul cornered him quickly. John had all the boat and dog papers in folders and asked to go inside the office to keep them from flying away. We showed our passports and discussed ship’s stores and then were sent on our way, an easy peasy process. We can only hope that entry back into the USA goes as smoothly! We proceeded to St Jean de Richelieu Marina. The marina has been totally refurbished with a new restaurant attached. The next day the wind was gusting up to 30 knots and John decided not to attempt to approach the bridge/canal. Therefore, we stayed 2 nights at the marina at a cost of $101(Canadian). Two of Paul’s nieces met us at the boat and took Paul and Juli on a grocery shopping expedition.  We really appreciated their help with transportation since some supplies were running low.  Merci beaucoup! The next morning we were told that the Bascule bridge Number 12 on the Chambly Canal was not operational and it has a very low clearance. Dutchess moved to the village dock to await word on the bridge. The dock was free because the bridge was stuck. We were promised that a crane would come at 1500 to lift the bridge but no crane showed until the next day. At 0930 on June 1, the crane moved onto the road and pulled the bridge up enough to clear the assembled boats.


Six boats passed under the bridge, two entered ECLUSE #9 and 4 of us tied to docks to await the next locking. Then two more locked thru and then the final two. They required that we all stay together so they could open the many bridges just one time for the group.
Finally, by 1430 we tied up at Chambly above the last 3 locks. All of the locks on the Chambly Canal have a nice well maintained park adjacent and this was no exception. We stayed here at Paul’s request because he has relatives in the area and the dock is level with the downtown. They charged $39.80 Canadian for the night. Paul thought we would do the last 3 locks in the morning at 0900 but they made us wait until other boats came down and we locked thru at 1330. Why??? No idea.
On June 2 we proceeded thru the last three locks of the Chambly Canal and down to St. Ours Lock where we were too late to go thru. We tied Dutchess to the wall before the lock for the night. They charged $0.90 Canadian/ ft. plus taxes it totals $39.80 for the night on a concrete wall with no services. In Canada everything has two sales taxes added national and provincial.


On June 3 we went thru the St Ours lock and into the lower part of the Richelieu River to Saurel Marina in Sorel on the St Lawrence. Going down the Richelieu River we encountered two cable ferries, the first did not see us and he started across when we were 100 ft. away. Paul was driving and he immediately stopped the boat by going into reverse and revving the engine then the cable ferry reversed to drop the cable in front of us and we coasted across the cable. They can be dangerous because the cable hangs below the water surface. At Saurel Marina we did pump out and topped up the diesel. The diesel costs 1.15/liter for 45.9 liter it cost 52.79, pump out was only $5.00 for both tanks. The Marina dockage was $98.65 for the night. We each had a hamburger for dinner at the attached restaurant “Le Belvedere.” It turned into 3 hour dinner?!?!? Why did it take 2 hours to burn 2 hamburgers? Juli did sneak out with a souvenir Stella Artois glass however. She had cleared it with the bartender.
On June 4 we left Sorel with the intention of going thru the St Lambert Lock and to stop at the St Lambert Marina. However, the heavy current in the St Lawrence Seaway slowed us to 4 to 5 knots and we arrived at the lock just before 1700. They require that pleasure boats tie to docks provided and call them on a phone mounted on the wall. But the steps leading to the phone were under water! They also do not answer the VHF so we had no communication. We untied the boat and proceeded to the lock entrance and floated around hoping to attract attention. The lock gates were open but the light was red. Finally an employee showed up in a pickup truck and told us that the lock is closed at 1700 to pleasure craft. Now we went down river and entered Marina Real Bouvier in Longueuil QC and begged them for a slip. They were full but they allowed us to stay at the fuel dock with no electric but at the full price of $96.12 - nice of them.

The next day June 5, we motored to the lock and again tied up to the dock with another sailboat and a tour boat. We waited about 15 minutes being given the all clear to enter the lock. It was an easy process as we rose up in the lock. They provide the ropes which they throw down to the boat, you need gloves because the ropes are rough. When you get to the top they require payment of $30.00 Can. in cash. Each of the Seaway locks charge the same. After leaving the lock we motored only about a mile and into the St Lambert Yacht Club. They only charge $1.00 per foot per day and we pay when we leave. It is now Sunday June 11 and we are still here resting up and visiting John’s cousin Gerry Doche and the City of Montreal. Our crewman Paul Berthe, who has been with us for 2 months, is a resident of Montreal and he has left the boat to return to his life. 

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