So, my previous blogs would suggest that this adventure is all birdsong and smooth sailing, but that would be glossing over the reality of what we’re doing.
Leaving the Contrecoeur anchorage we had a few days under our belts and the newness was starting to wear off. We began the day with a low voltage alarm that triggered because we'd been at anchor all night, with no shore power, and I turned on the coffee pot. When anchoring in the future, I will boil water on the stove and use a Melita filter instead – no power needed, just propane, boiled water and some ground coffee. Lesson #1 (well, we’re probably up to at least Lesson #6 by now).
Then we attempted to use our new deck washdown system to clean the anchor and chain before bringing them back on board. The system had been carefully researched and tested. However, as soon we set it up and turned it on, the wand launched off the end of the hose and quickly sank out of sight. We tried to laugh it off – not so easy after a few days of total togetherness in a small space – and broke out the bucket and the brush. Lesson #7 – laughter helps.
We eventually pulled ourselves together and started our passage to the next port, Old Montreal. On the way the river again transitioned from rural to industrial, and we needed to be mindful that large, working ships aren't terribly concerned with small pleasure vessels.
The approach to Old Montreal is always tricky because not only are we moving upriver against a very strong current (the current averages between 5.5 and 6.5 knots when our average speed is around 7.5 knots), but the way the water flows around Ile Sainte-Helene creates eddies that can push your boat against the wall if you’re not careful. The Captain is very careful. So instead of hitting the wall, he throttled up (our speed was now down to 2 knots even with a much higher RPM) and got us safely into our next port aided by a little adrenaline.
We spent the next two nights at the Montreal Yacht Club. Now, I realize I made an earlier reference to scarcity, but this was a bit of a splurge to give us time to pump out our holding tank, take on more water (now that we have a better understanding of how much we use), do a load of laundry and collect a care package from home with a few items we neglected to pack on departure. The Captain’s cousin was kind enough to make a quick round trip to Montreal to deliver the package, with help from our son who collected the items we needed.
Dick's delivery service
By the 3rd day at the Yacht Club we were more than ready to get going again. We had cruised to Montreal previously, but the next leg of our journey brought us into brand new territory, starting with passage through the St. Lambert lock closely followed by the Cote Ste. Catherine lock. Both of these are huge locks. I mean really huge. They are designed to service commercial traffic, and we watched a massive ship lock through in front of us at each lock.
Pleasure crafts lock through separately whenever the lock master decides he can permit it without interrupting the flow of larger ships. We were fortunate and didn’t have to wait long. We locked through with only a couple of other boats, making the locks seem even bigger, or our boats seem smaller. Another brand new and humbling experience. The link I've provided offers a really cool graphic of how things work here.
We ended the day tied to the wall just below the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue lock. This small city at the western tip of Montreal Island is the second oldest community in Montreal’s West Island. It has taken full advantage of the recreational boaters that come here to tie to the wall, and restaurants and shops line the Promenade du Canal. The Promenade is very active this time of year, especially this weekend while Quebec celebrates the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. The people watching has been fantastic. We have enjoyed many spontaneous conversations and are loving the openness and diversity.
A storm blew in and chased all the people away before we could take pictures, so here's the sign!
And then there’s Alex . He runs Peter’s Cape Cod restaurant in town. Alex was very interested in our boat and our story, and we spent some time talking. He left and returned a short while later with two cups of delicious clam chowder in hand, gratis. We had dinner at his restaurant that night, and he came to see us again the following morning bearing fresh coffee and pie. A prime example of the friendliness we’ve encountered here.
We stayed overnight and were prepared to lock through at 0900, but the Captain decided it was time to step the mast. That production is the subject of my next blog post. In the meantime, we continued to enjoy the Promenade and decided to stay tied up there a second night. Like we did in Chambly and again in Montreal, we’ve talked about moving here. We love this place.