After transiting the Welland Canal, we found a small marina just beyond the last lock and turned in for the night. Water, power – no one around so we docked and slept like babies. Next morning we awoke and found that the marina was actually a delivery site for the Neptunus power boat company. We talked to a new boat owner who explained the situation, so we pottied the dog, hopped aboard and took off before the employees arrived. We saw the Nina and the Pinta tied up just outside the first lock! How cool, they must have come in during the night. We headed out into the lake about 6 miles in heavy seas – 6-8 foot rolling waves, then set the sails and aimed for Kingston.
We had a great sail for about 4 hours, then off course like clockwork the wind died. After bouncing around for a while, we decided to motor. We took off and made slow progress Eastward. The wind had died but the waves had not; there was this ugly chop that really hampered progress. We stopped after a few hours to re position the dinghy in the davits because it was not balanced properly. While balancing off the back, the dinghy support system snapped! The boat slid backwards and dropped engine first upside down into the water. We were able to recover it quickly and get the boat back up and secured in the davits, but not before the motor had spent some time under water. I was furious – the davit harness had failed. We had to jury rig a solution to let us safely lift the boat, and then we headed on our way. The wind remained very light through the night and so we were both able to get some good sleep while off watch.
Morning saw us rounding West Point and heading down into the St Lawrence river towards Kingston. The wind picked up a little; enough to allow us to switch off the engine and sail a little. We were headed deep downwind so we put up the spinnaker for a little while and ran wing on wing with it for an hour or so until the wind reached 12-15 – then we dropped the chute and broad reached down the channel and into Kingston.
We arrived mid afternoon, tied off and went ashore. The marina we were in was right in the center of downtown, so we took a long walk around before taking a shower, doing the laundry (which was free in the marina) and then going out to dinner in a neat bistro with a view of the water and the park. This is a very quaint town, it reminded us of Old Westerville, lots of tourists and very clean.
Next morning after work we went to the grocery store for a few necessities and then tackled changing the oil in the engine. I took the oil out of the engine and then walked a good 2 miles to a disposal location before walking another mile to pick up the oil filter and then returned back to the boat to install and add the new oil. After we finished that and got cleaned up, we left in a 15 to 20 knot breeze from the South and headed down the river on a beam reach. It was a beautiful sunny day, blue skies with puffy clouds and great wind. We saw speeds of 8.5 knots, so there must be a current here already. We sailed for about 4 hours and enjoyed some tasty sangria and a quinoa salad along the way. We weaved our way through the islands and into the American Channel, past Clayton and under the bridge to Wellesley Island and found a small Cove near Fishers Landing called Swan Cove. There we anchored for the night; it was so calm it felt like we were at the dock.
We left early in the morning and headed upriver. Naturally the wind was blowing towards us, so we had to motor sail. Around noon the wind backed more to the west and we were actually able to turn off the engine and sail. We had to tack in a few places but with the current we were over 9 knots a lot of the time! It was exhilarating. We went through our first lock on the river – Iroquios and then decided to find a spot to spend the night. We found a free marina run by the Lions club near Morrisburg, so we pulled in and decided to tackle the next few locks in the morning. While dinner was being made, I spent the time trying to get the obviously flooded (water) engine to start. A gentleman named Guy from Quebec struck up a conversation with me and with his help I was able to get it going – he is a true genius when it comes to engines! He also had suggestions for me to try to fix the engine racing issue I have when the motor is in idle. I did try one of his ideas and it helped a great deal; the motor still idles high, but now its manageable and not out of control. Thank you Guy for you insights and your help – hopefully our paths will cross again.
Woke up rather late the next day and after breakfast we left with a nice breeze from the nose, so we had to motor and we put out the staysail. We motor sailed to the Eisenhower lock, and along the way started having issues with the engine. The engine alarm was going off but not loudly. So after we passed through the Snell lock we pulled over to one side, anchored and we checked the water system over. I checked and cleaned the water intake, the raw water impeller and the engine impeller. Then we got going again and the alarm came on again so we are thinking it might be the thermostat. We found a nice place just north of Cornwall and anchored in a residential area in a Cove for the night. We saw a beautiful sunset, it was very calm with about a one knot current that held us into the wind perfectly. Around sunset someone came out and played the bagpipes on his back porch. We enjoyed a good salad for dinner along with a glass of sangria and then went to bed.
Next morning we woke to a beautiful sunny day with a gentle breeze blowing. After eating breakfast and taking the dog for a walk, the wife went up the mast to replace the courtesy flag halyard and then we set sail. Winds were very light but gradually increased during the day and with the current we saw speeds of 6 to 7 sometimes. We averaged about 5 knots; there was not a lot of commercial traffic but being Sunday, there were a ton of power boats and sailboats. We ended up finding a free anchorage on a wall that was part of the old Canal system before the current locks were built. It was in Les Coteaux near an RV campground. We were able to refill some of our water bottles, then enjoyed a nice light dinner took a nice long walk. Talked to some young girls that were going to college in Montreal and convinced them to jump off of the bridge (15-20ft high) that we were walking over. We walked around the campground and then came back for dinner, took a shower and then turned in for the night.
We woke up early the next morning, filled our water tanks and then departed for the next lock at Beauharnois. We transited through the locks into Lake St Louis, set sail and sailed to our next lock which is outside of Montreal at St Catherines. The winds were light and it was a beautiful day; we moved along at about five knots comfortably with the wind on our stern. When we arrived at the canal entrance, we lowered our sails and drove down the channel to the canal that takes you to the last two locks on the river. While in transit we heard a Mayday call, a small aircraft crashed into the st. Lawrence river behind us; apparently it was a false Mayday.
While waiting for the first lift bridge we got caught in our first bad squall. It rained cats and dogs for about 45 minutes and we were soaked. Just when we thought it was over, the next wave of blinding rain and wind would blow through reducing visibility at times to less then a few hundred yards. It was very frustrating because the lift bridge operator would not respond to our calls for a time when the bridge would open. That was after I confirmed with the Coast Guard what channel they respond to. I thought that was very rude. Once the bridge came up, after about an hour and 15 minutes, we motored through and down the channel to the second-to-last lock where we were made to wait for no reason for almost an hour. We locked through there and then motored down to the last lock where they took us in almost immediately.
Free! Finally free of the locks, we motored out of the canal and North of the city to an anchorage I found on Active Captain. When we arrived we realized it was too exposed so I started to look for another place to anchor. I found one that said “Good for sailboats”. We headed over to it and dropped anchor in about 30 ft of water in a channel between 2 islands. It was 12:30 am – a looooong day. It turned out to be a great spot; we were facing West into a 2 knot current which held the boat steady and calm all night long – we slept like babies.
We decided to stay in this spot for two nights. We explored the island and did laundry among other things and just lazed around all day. The weather was nice and sunny with just enough of a breeze to cool things down. It was nice to relax after such a long tiring day.
In the morning after a great night’s sleep we went to explore the other side of the island we were anchored by. The whole island was a paintball haven – almost looked like a military training ground – pretty amazing. We headed back to the boat and prepped to leave.
Then we hauled anchor and headed North towards Quebec City. We motored pretty much all day, there was very little wind. We were able to sail for a short while and then Anchored In Lake St Louis. We found a group of islands to nestle down in between and prepped for an impending storm. We had three waves of rain, winds of 30 knot and plenty of lightning and thunder but it was very sheltered so the anchor held well.
Next morning we got up early and headed off down river. Our destination was Portneuf. There was very little boat traffic, and of course no wind, so we motored all day, which is getting sort of boring. The sides of the river are getting higher and steeper and the river is getting wider. The good thing is that with the current we are able to make 7-10 knots while only running the engine at half throttle, so we are getting pretty good gas mileage!
We anchored off a point in in the river at Portneuf for the night, arriving around 5pm. There were gentle winds, and a small current that held the boat nicely pointing towards the West. We went ashore and explored the area; it was a private park, very heavily wooded and beautiful. We turned in early in anticipation of the 30 mile trip to Quebec the next day. During the night the winds came up from the north and the boat turned around, the anchor held but I was rather nervous because if it did come loose, we would have had very little time to get away from the shore.
We got up very early in the morning and after we walked the dog we hauled anchor and took off. The winds that were blowing through the night became stronger, and soon we were looking at 25 to 30 with a very long fetch, so we had four to five foot waves on the nose which made things VERY slow going. We had to motor; very slow going at first, but when the tide turned in our favor – yes Portneuf is 30 miles from the ocean and has 10 ft tides – that helped our speed and after starting at about three knots we ended up doing 8 to 9.
We pulled into Quebec around 1:30, took a nice long walk, explored and went grocery shopping. Then we left the dog on the boat and went for a walk in Old Town, stopped at a cafe and had some coffee and gelato and did some window shopping. It is a very quaint and European looking city. Came back to the boat showered and went to bed.