There is a bike/walking path along the entire 10 miles of the Chambly Canal. The lock keepers followed us in a golf cart from one set of locks to the next and then another lock-keeper followed us to the swing bridges to open them as we passed. This is why you could only pass through these locks either at 8:30 or 12:30 each day. The whole lock-thru took four and a half hours with all the workers helping just us three boats. You can see the Richelieu River adjacent to the canal.
The trip down the Chambly Canal and locks has made this whole trip worthwhile! At 8:30 AM a crew of 8-10 canal workers descended upon us..all smiles. They put all three sailboats at the waiting dock-our 42' Catalina, a 34' Tartan, and a 33' Beneteau all with very long masts sticking beyond bow and stern pulpits into a 100 ' longlock, 24'wide. It was a squeeze. The lock depths and doors are all attached to huge gears cranked by hand. One lock went to the next and then to a third followed by a swing bridge. It looked like German engineering to me!
I've seen everything now.....the party boat has a double four poster bed on the roof with curtains around it! And who would try to back up their RV onto a suspended deck so they have a view of the river? Bob, I bet that Greta would not let you pull a stunt like this!!!!
Locking through the St. Lawrence Seaway is a waiting game....how long will the lock-master make a pleasure boat wait before taking his $25-$30.00 fee per lock just for the privilege of a lock-thru? We sat in the Beauharnois lock for over an hour before they closed the gate and locked us through....another hour wait at the St. Catherine Lock...and almost another hour at the final Montreal lock of St. Lambert. We take the advice of a boat captain and anchor in front of the Longueuil Marina. All our stress drains away with some wine and cheese and a view of the Montreal skyline.
We made some great time today because of the current in the St. Lawrence. We pulled anchor at 0700 and headed into light fog which lasted til early afternoon. At first we impressed ourselves with a boat speed of 7 knots but as we passed Alex Bay and headed towards Brockville we were doing 9.6 knots which was awesome! Our chartplotter went blank after Brockville so we had to rely on our paper charts. Thankfully two tankers passed us so we followed them to the Iroquois Lock....the downside-we waited from 3:00-5:00 at the floating dock as commercial traffic has priority in these locks. We anchored south of Ogden Island for the night.
We visited the Erie Canal yesterday and it's a fact that several locks are disaster zones.....but nobody is giving out any info about when the canal will re-open. Thanks to Don and Suzi we now have the charts to try the St. Lawrence/ Lake Champlain exit south. On Thursday we saw this beautiful Lake Ontario sunset as we were pulling into Oswego. Today we un-stepped our mast and motored across to Cape Vincent for the night. The adventure to Montreal has begun......
We are amazed at the destruction that Hurricane Irene has caused to the Erie Canal. We are supposed to sail to Oswego today to begin our trip south to the Florida Keys....but the Canal is closed indefinitely. Check out this blog: www.tug44.org/flood/hurricane-irene-2011/. The Weather Channel is correct when it states "when weather changed history" and provides video of awful scenarios created by weather gone wild.
So, we are changing our plans, buying the charts for the Champlain locks and leaving this week for Montreal. We hope to be in the Hudson River at the end of next week.....weather permitting.
Walt and I have been avid sailors for 38 years. Our retirement dream was to sail to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter months which we did for the first time last year, 2007-2008. We decided that we loved the cruising life
and four days after our return to Lake Ontario we traded our Catalina 320, Eagle's Wings, in for a Catalina 42 which we named Waves of Grace. We hope to continue to cruise in the Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas for many years to come