Last night we were on the hook on the Loop for the first time. Which is to say we were anchored in a protected area in the St. Lawrence River, a bird sanctuary near Iles de Contrecoeur to be precise. And we celebrated the Solstice with the birds, the fishermen and a little white wine (thanks Jeff!) and bourbon (thanks Dick!).
We spent the two previous days in Chambly which has become one of our favorite places. The town is lovely and so are the people. Where boaters tie up at the wall is adjacent to a park and parallel to the Chambly Canal Path, which is always busy with people walking and bikers biking. It's still early in the boating season in Quebec – the official start date is today – so we had the wall to ourselves.
We enjoyed the peace and quiet and used the time to finish up chores we hadn’t completed before leaving Burlington, like cleaning (there’s always plenty of that to do), food shopping and completing the tech hookup (traveling with an A/V guy means that connectivity and music are always top priorities). And, of course, the afternoon involved a mandatory plate of poutine and a pitcher of Canadian beer.
On this vessel, the Captain is not exempt from chores.
The wall is also the perfect spot to watch other boats lock through at Locks 1, 2 and 3. These are called the staircase locks because locking through is like going up or down a set of stairs. For example, going down from the Canal to the Chambly Basin, as we did, you start at Canal level in Lock 3 and are lowered one level. The chamber gate then opens and you move immediately forward into Lock 2, are lowered and then repeat the process for Lock 1. When you exit Lock 1, you are in the Chambly Basin. The hardware appears to be authentic, dating back to the mid-1800s, and is still manually operated. It's a fun experience and a unique way to interact with history.
Once we finished locking through, we started the cruise from Chambly towards Montreal. Since we are now both jobless, we are embracing scarcity which means that anchoring, which is free, is preferable to a marina slip, which is not. The exact spot was to be chosen closer to the end of the day’s cruise.
The ride up the Richelieu was as enjoyable as last year. The river is easily navigable and is lined with beautifully landscaped homes. The Richelieu intersects the St. Lawrence River at Sorel, the industrial part of the cruise. On entering the St. Lawrence, we were reminded that this is a working river requiring our attention.
Nevertheless, for us it was a gorgeous, calm day with minimal traffic. The Captain laid in his course using autopilot and joined me on the foredeck to enjoy the hot sun and cool wind. After a time he turned to me and said, "For the first time I actually believe we're doing this."
We cruised for a delightful 8 hours and chose our anchorage about 30 miles north of Montreal. The quiet was interrupted only by birdsong , bullfrogs and passing boats. If this is being on the hook, we’re all in.