Testing The Waters (Part 2)

Day 10:

Next morning it was a chilly 37 degrees! Sunny, with a high of 59, and it was supposed to be in the low to mid 60s the following day. We left the dock around 9am and headed out of the harbor. Out in the river we were motoring at 11 knots! There was a 6 knot current right outside the marina, but once the river widened it settled down to 1.5 to 2 knots for most of the day. We made good progress; saw a lot of commercial shipping, and the day turned out quite nice and sunny.

We made good time; with the current we were able to make around 9-10 knots all day. We decided to push through to Portnouef which is just about 30 miles from Quebec. The captain from the other boat came over to our vessel around sunset, and we motored toward the destination he described. I found it on the charts and we set out to get there. Suddenly the whole navigation system went out. We spent about a half hour trying to fix it to no avail. It turned out the problem was due to our lady crew making a wholesome dinner down below for us, the electric skillet and microwave were sucking juice faster than the generator could handle it and our main batteries were down to 11.3 volts when they should have read about 13.

Once we figured that out, the instruments corrected themselves and started behaving again. We arrived at the marina around 10pm and the entrance was not properly lit. Note to self; DON’T enter a strange harbor in the dark, especially when the aids to navigation are off. We motored up very slowly trying to find the entrance. I was at the helm, and according to the charts we were passing by the entrance, so I turned the boat around and almost immediately we landed gently aground on a sandy bottom. We motored off, and started to head towards the entrance as shown by the charts. I went forward with a powerful flashlight to see if I could make out the entrance more clearly. Then I saw lights moving on shore. Two people had seen us trying to come in and they came to the entrance and guided us in.

Once tied up we talked the other boat in on the radio and tied up for the night. After a shot of whisky to calm the rattled nerves of everyone, we went to bed.

Day 11:

Next morning we woke up and it was 30 degrees. Fog rolled in, not super thick, but enough that we needed to use the radar when we ventured out. We got a slow start, so by the time we left the fog had lifted enough that we could see the river. Off we went, motor sailing at between 10 and 11 knots. The trip was uneventful. We arrived in Quebec city in the early afternoon. We had to pass through a lock to get into the marina; the tides are 16-20 feet here, and they want to keep the marina water depth consistent. We schmoozed with our dock neighbor who had a 100ft long powerboat, and then went to dinner in a small neighborhood eatery in the old town. After a delicious meal we wandered back to the boat for a little chat before turning in for the night. Tomorrow the crew will go on tours while I work:) The weather was beautiful; sunshine and 60s – hopefully a good harbinger.

Day 12:

I spent the day working while everyone else went shopping and touring around. The weather turned out beautiful; sunny and warm enough that I put on shorts and a T-shirt. When everyone returned, we went out to dinner at a french cafe called Echaude – enjoyed a great meal, but it was SERIOUSLY EXPENSIVE! Roughly $80 per person and I didn’t even pay for my wine – someone else did! I could never afford to live here. After dinner we went up to the Frontenac hotel – the castle that dominates the Quebec skyline. We poked around in all the downstairs rooms, libraries etc – very European and extravagantly done. Then we had a drink there and returned home to bed.

Day 13:

Next morning we got up early and prepped for departure. Once we locked out of the harbor and got under way, we discovered that the head was leaking. We did a repair on it the previous day, and found an orange piece of what appeared to be plastic or carrot in the joker valve. When re-assembling I think we forgot to properly tighten all the hose clamps. Oh well. Someone once said that cruising was “repairing your boat in exotic locations” – I hope that does not hold true for us when we take our trip.

About half way to Tadoussac, a layer of clouds rolled in, and it started drizzling. Then the fog rolled in. No biggie, with a full canvas enclosure we were all quite cozy. Then it started to get dark, so I took the helm. At 7 pm a strong cold front pushed through and within 20 minutes our wind went from 10 knots out of the west to 30 out of the North West. The fog was gone, but the wind was whipping up a nasty chop because it was blowing against the prevailing current.

The water was quite deep, so I turned and headed toward the windward shore about 2 miles away to try and reduce the fetch. The tide which was against us most of the day, holding our speed to 5-6 instead of 10-12 had turned in our favor and we were scooting along at 8-9 knots. The wind brought furious rain, it pelted us relentlessly to the point where I could not see out of the windshield. About 200 yards from shore we were in 250 ft of water, and a small town was off our port beam. Running along parallel to the shore, it felt like the traffic on the highway was coming right at us, a very spooky feeling.

The wind intensified dramatically, and soon we were in a full gale with winds sustained over 50 knots. The waves weren’t much of an issue due to the short fetch, but the winds were howling and were were afraid that it would tear the enclosure to shreds! Snaps popped off, and the canvas was flogging around threatening to beat us all to pulp. I was at the helm, trying to steer a course parallel to the shore, and one of the crew was hunched over the chart plotter telling me what I was seeing. The wind was a thunderous roar at 50 knots; I will say it shrieks at 60 – we took a vote and everyone was comfortable with heading on toward Tadoussac; our other alternative was to run with bare poles but with only 10 miles to the lee shore we would be out of room in an hour with nowhere to go. The chop close to shore was about 3 ft, very manageable, and once we had improvised a “net” of lines to hold the windward side of the canvas in place, the canvas issue became somewhat resolved and we could concentrate on finding our port.

Being in the dark in a strange place is very unnerving, we headed out under bare poles while we were getting the canvas squared away, and then headed back to the windward shore against some very stiff opposition from both wind and waves. We took a wave when the wind was over 60 knots and the jolt knocked 2 of the crew into the nav pod, and the instruments went out! We worked on getting them repaired while the rest of us steered and navigated in the inky darkness. One of the crew had her tablet with charts on it, so that became the backup and she guided me while I drove and tried to pick my way along the shore. The tide turned and our speed went from 9 to 3 – yes – 3! We had a reef to skirt which forced us out further from shore, and the results were not good, for about a half hour we were taking 7 footers on the port quarter and they managed to find their way into every nook and cranny – we were all soaked.

Half the crew, from having their heads down working on the nav equipment, got seasick. Once the sick were attended to, I drove, calling out landmarks, and the other healthy crew member found them on the chart and relayed me direction and distance information. During the whole thing, which lasted close to 4 hours, I kept repeating Psalm 23, and I talked to God, imploring Him to calm the waves and the wind so we could enter port safely. We had one last reef to get around before motoring up the channel to Tadoussac harbor. The Lord answered my prayers! As we motored in, we found the center channel mark, rounded the reef and saw the runway of red and green lights, and God calmed the seas, the wind backed off until it was in the 15-20 knot range, and by the time we got into the harbor, winds were under 10.

The tide was in so we had plenty of room to maneuver, and after a few tries fighting the wind and the current we tied up and were on the dock. Shore power! Change clothes! We all hugged each other and then proceeded to pour a 6oz shot of whisky for each of us and we unwound, talking about the night’s adventure. I looked out of the window of the boat and there, framed by the window was a white, lit cross on top of a church steeple. Tears came to my eyes, it was God showing us that he was watching and taking care of us. We made hot chocolate that we added a double shot of vodka to, and that really warmed the belly. We had left Quebec around 9am, and arrived at 1:30 am the next morning in Tadoussac. It was time for bed and I slept like a LOG!!

Day 14:

The sun was shining the next morning and we got underway. We were able to get all the nav instruments working again and so we set out against a rip current of 4 knots out the harbor with main and jib flying. It was a beautiful crisp morning. We had to dodge all the whale watching boats as we left; the dockmaster told us she had seen a Minke whale swimming around in the harbor when she got to work, but we did not see any. We left picturesque Tadoussac behind and headed North East to the Gaspe peninsula. The wind gradually backed to the South, and then died. So on a calm sea we were gently rolling along at 7 knots about 15 miles from the Eastern shore. Temps were in the 50s, but with no wind it felt like the 60s. Yesterday’s adventure was long forgotten…

We had our first injury of the trip. I was going up the companionway steps, and someone had closed the hatch. I banged my head on the lock and took off a nice flap of skin. It bled like crazy, but with 2 doctors and a nurse on crew, the wound was quickly dressed and taken care of. Then they put on a band aid and took a picture of me because I looked so silly. Guess I will be wearing a hat for the rest of the trip – lol. I didn’t feel too bad about it though,because one of the other crew did the exact same thing about a half hour later. We had a good laugh over it. The sun set and we agreed on a watch schedule. One watched until 10, one watched from 8-12, one watched from 10-4 and I watched from midnight to sunrise. It was an uneventful night, calm winds with a gentle breeze pushed us along at 7-8 knots.

Day 15:

We decided to push straight through to PEI since we lost so much time fighting the current and there were relatives that had invited us to visit. With the schedule we were on, we would be there by some time Sunday. Forecast was for favorable winds so we were all happy about that. When we had left Tadoussac, it was 47. I will say the night watch was cold! I wore socks and shoes, 2 pair of sweatpants, foul weather pants, a T-shirt, cashmere sweater, my new cold weather jacket, foul weather jacket and gloves. I was chilled to the bone by the time the sun came up, despite 2 cups of coffee to warm the innards. It was a beautiful sunny day, the cockpit was warm and so all was good. Fall up here is really beautiful. We stayed about 3 miles offshore and hugged the 600ft line. I was quite surprised at how many lights we saw – the entire coastline was populated; somewhat sparse in some areas, but that was not expected. When the sun came up, we realized why they were all at the coast; the land rose VERY steeply, and a half mile inland it could be 300 to 400 ft above sea level! Windmills dotted the tops of the hills, and surprisingly enough the cell reception was excellent. We stopped counting windmills at 150.

Our original plan was to gas up at Riviere Au Renaud, a small fishing port about 20 miles from the tip of the Gaspe peninsula. We pulled in and to our surprise, our travelling companion Island Dancer was tied up at the dock. They had continued on after the storm abated and sailed through the night when we pulled into Tadoussac. They did not motor, only sailed, and since the winds were so light, we had managed to catch up to them. We decided to spend the night, and tied up to a fishing wharf, rafting off of them. We made a yummy dinner; the local fish house was a 2 minute walk, and we bought a huge bag of mussels caught that day, cooked them up and ate them. Delicious dinner! Then we sat around recounting our stories of the storm adventure. The time came to plan our departure, and when we looked at the updated forecast it was for 30 knots out of the South. We all decided pounding into waves for 120 miles would be no fun, so Sunday was to be a lay day. We would leave early Monday for the shot over to Charlottetown, PEI.

Day 16:

We woke up the next morning and the sun was out, winds were light and we went to breakfast at a quaint little bistro that was a 2 minute walk from the boat. The meal was delicious and cheap! We had a great breakfast, and when we left an hour or so later, it was cloudy and the wind was howling! We had made the right choice. The wind was about 30 out of the South and was making strange moaning sounds through the rigging and tackle of the fishing boats. We were all glad we were snug in port! Ivan, the marina owner bought jerry cans of diesel to our boat, as the docks had been removed for the year. What a helpful guy. We invited him over for dinner that evening. He opened up the marina so we could take a hot shower that evening – that went over VERY well! We went to the fish store and bought mussels, smoked salmon and halibut. Two of us walked to the grocery store and bought the rest of what was needed to prepare dinner. We cooked up a wonderful meal and after some socializing we turned in for an early morning departure.

Day 17:

We left at 5am on the high tide (about 8ft) and headed out of the harbor. Our 2 boats, plus a 125 ft powerboat and a Volvo 60 headed out and turned for PEI. The skies were clear and the wind was light. There was a gentle rolling swell from the South, but not much in the way of wind. We would get a pocket of wind, then nothing. We made good progress around the Gaspe which has 200ft high cliffs. They were illuminated by the sun as it came up and it made for a spectacular vista. We had coffee, made breakfast and then I settled down to work.

As we passed by Perce, we saw a seal floating in the water watching us. We all grabbed for our cameras, but he was gone before we could get a snap. The cliffs of the gannet colony were mostly empty as baby rearing time had long passed. We saw a few flocks flying low over the water, and even saw one close up. It was in our path and swam out of the way as we passed by. A weak cold front was supposed to come through in the early afternoon and was supposed to give us 15 knot winds from a favorable direction to help speed us to PEI.

The cold front came through with little fanfare, but it made the seas very confused, and we were soon in a 25 – 30 knot wind off the starboard quarter. 2 of the crew got seasick in the confused sea and I had a crisis at work that I needed to get addressed! The ladies graciously took over watch for me while I furiously tried to develop a solution for the issue at work. Once finished – WHEW – I went up and the 3 of us navigated the boat through the night.

Around 4am, one went to bed, and right after that we started making our approach to the Northumberland strait – a narrow pass between PEI and the mainland. That whipped up a tidal bore which caused the boat to act as though it was surfing at 12 knots, but we were only moving 4.5 to 5, surfing 5-6 ft waves! Strong current! On the charts we found shallower water and made our way over to the inner shore. Once there and the water depth dropped below 30ft, things calmed down dramatically, and we no longer looked like someone that needed to be pulled over for a DUI. End of watch came and I went to bed.

Day 18:

I woke at 9 and started work – we were passing under the huge bridge that connects PEI with the mainland. Clearance was almost 200 ft in the center, and the bridge crosses a span of almost 9 miles! The seas were calm, and we picked our way through crab traps that were being diligently attended to by their owners. The water was dotted with brightly colored buoys – the color code I guess indicating ownership. Glad we did not come through here at night! We turned up the channel and headed into the harbor at Charlottetown. It was a very cute place, very New Englandey.

Our first task ashore was to demolish a bucket of mussels along with a bottle of wine – we passed that exam with flying colors! Then we went for a walk around town, and in the evening the relatives came to meet us. We went out to an Irish bar for a great dinner and saw pictures and heard about the lobster fishing business; that’s what he did for 25 years. We walked back to the marina and there was a near gale blowing the boat onto the dock and it was in danger of being damaged. We struggled against the howling wind to secure and stabilize the boat to protect it from the elements and eventually succeeded. One thing we learned is that the weather changed very quickly in this area, and when we take our trip, we will need to be very vigilant in watching for suitable windows of favorable weather when making some of the longer passages.

Day 19:

The forecast for the next week or so changed for the worse, and so it was decided that the boat would haul out at PEI and over winter there. The boat owners bought me a plane ticket home. One of the crew decided to drive home, so we picked up a rental car and I booked 2 rooms in a hotel for us right next to the airport. We went out for our last evening on the island and celebrated the journey by ordering a lobster dinner with all the trimmings. I took my computer on the plane and all the rest of the stuff came home by car, so the trip home was quick and uneventful.

I do know that I NEVER want to be away from my wife EVER again for that long a period of time. Communication was difficult for me because my phone plan said one thing, and my phone did another – I had no phone service, I guess because my phone was an older model and did not support the GSM network. We have rectified that so our phones will work properly when in Canada, and when in the Bahamas and the BVI, we will have IP phones courtesy of my Wirie (boat network) which uses GSM.

Testing The Waters (part 1)…

In October, 2016 I undertook part of our planned adventure together, helping a friend move their boat from Sandusky to Boston. Bad weather did force a premature end to the adventure, but I gained valuable knowledge for our trip later this year.

  • I WILL be able to work when we go; for all but a few hours I had 4G LTE coverage – amazing!
  • The effects of allowing a schedule to drive you instead of working with nature are disastrous – nature always wins; we will NOT be travelling like that. We will work with nature.
  • October is COLD up there!! Thank goodness we are doing our trip in summer!

I kept a journal during the trip. Here is the first half of the journey as documented.

Days 1&2:


Sandusky Harbor before leaving

I left Sandusky with a wave and a smile, but I left my best friend behind with the dog. We both agreed that this would be a good opportunity to scope out the lay of the land for our adventure in 2017. After waiting for the other boat outside Battery park marina, we set off for open water. We found out once our heading was set that the lead boat had decided to shoot straight across Lake Erie to the Welland Canal. That left 2 of us on our boat for a 26 hour ride. We set the throttle so we were cruising comfortably around 7-7.5 knots.


Rain squalls bring rainbows

Sandusky soon disappeared, and after about 3 hours even the roller coasters were gone. Nothing but water. I went to bed at 6pm. I had agreed to take the night watch from 10pm to 6am. The weather was calm, but the lake was unsettled due to storms during the day. I couldn’t sleep. Too much adrenaline and too much noise – that “purring” engine was right next to my cabin. Before you know it my alarm went off and it was time for watch. I got dressed and got acquainted with the controls and the current situation. The wind had come up a little and was from a direction that was helping our efforts. We had some rain squalls pass through, and there was lightning all around us, but not close.

I settled down to a watch and put on my headset, set my iPod to play all the WOW CDs, and watched the most fantastic display of lightning for about 4 hours. Forked lightning – cloud to cloud, cloud to ground, sheet lightning – it was fantastic and truly creative – a definite God sighting. All alone on this tiny speck in the middle of Lake Erie I was struck by how small and insignificant we are – it truly IS about God. I marveled at His creation all around me and talked silently to Him. I thanked Him for the fact that the lightning was there for me to see, but not close – it helped keep me awake. My meditation was interrupted by the auto pilot suddenly going wonky – it would not hold a course which meant I would have to hand steer for about 6 hours.

Just then a radio transmission – it was the Coast Guard warning about waterspouts on the lake. Then another transmission – a powerboat wanted to pass us and wanted to know my intentions. Apparently he was not used to sailboats weaving as they surfed the waves and he thought I was in trouble. I told him to pass to my Port side (left) and figured he would zoom by – not so – for all the fuss he made it took him at least 2 hours to pass me! We were moving quite nicely, and although it wasn’t super windy, the storms around us had kicked up a confused chop, some waves were 5-6 feet! No light or land in sight, although there were soft glows on the horizon that marked where Cleveland, Erie and some of the other major cities were on the lake.


Looooong Point…

The lack of light made steering challenging, but eventually the gray gloom of dawn approached and once the sun came up, we were able to get into a smooth rhythm sailing down the waves. The other crew got seasick so anytime something was needed down below I went to get it. I am amazed I did not get woozy. We had some morning squalls chase us down the lake from Sandusky, and they brought with them some torrential rain and an even more confused chop – the wind came up and we were surfing rollers – I saw 11.3 on the speedo 4 times, and we cracked 10.5 probably 10 times during the course of the morning. I steered virtually all the time as he did not have the hang of the waves and I was getting the boat moving well.


Approaching Port Colburne

We passed Long Point quite closely, and from there its only 40 miles to Port Colburne. I can see why they call it Long Point – it seemed like we would never get around it. The last 40 miles took just under 5 hours – we averaged 8.2 and when we finally furled the sails and pulled into port, both of us were ready for a nap – neither of us had slept at all the night before. So we napped for a few hours, then went and purchased our ticket for the canal and went out to a nice little Greek restaurant before turning in for the night.

Days 3&4:


Motoring through the Welland Canal

The canal authority told us to be there at 6:30 on Monday, so we got up at 5:30 and prepped the boat, took off and found ourselves at the first bridge. Once it lifted up, we passed through and went into the first lock. That lock is an equalizer, so it only took us down a few inches, then we motored for 15 miles to the second lock. 4 locks in quick succession, dropping you anywhere from 45 to 75 feet. It was an amazing experience. Met some interesting people on the way, and when we finally got our locking technique down pat, we were done! The lead boat decided to go straight through to the entrance of the St Lawrence River, so we pushed ahead, first hugging the South shore of Lake Ontario, then striking out to the middle to cross during the night.


One of the locks – before we dropped

I stood watch until 10, and during that time got to watch the most beautiful sunset. The lake was like glass, no ripples, the sky was clear and when the stars came out, the Milky Way looked like a cloud in the sky. Absolutely gorgeous. Definitely a God sighting! We were motor sailing at 8 knots, and as the night wore on, the air cooled and we were suddenly in dense fog! I turned on the radar – the other boat was a quarter mile in front of us and I could not see him! That lasted for an hour or so and then just like that, the sky was crystal clear again. The moon and Venus made a pretty picture in the western sky, and once it set, it was very dark. Very little light along the shore.

Motoring across Lake Ontario

I was relieved at 10, but right after going below to get some shut eye, the wind came up and we started bouncing around very uncomfortably. Someone from the other boat (there are 6 on it) was supposed to come over and stand a watch from midnight to 4am, but they decided the water was too rough, so after about a half hour of true sleep I was up on watch again. I once again marveled at the beautiful sky. As we approached the St Lawrence River, traffic got heavier, we started seeing freighters and there was at least one in view almost all the time. Sunrise came, and we motored up the river.


Our boat guest enjoying breakfast

While on the way up, a little bird landed on our boat and started eating spiders. I was working the jib sheet on the port side, and my foot was next to the rub rail. The little guy hopped right up as bold as can be. I took a spider off the bimini and put it in front of him, he had breakfast! Later he found his way under the enclosure and was hopping around on the dock lines munching bugs. He stayed with us for a good hour before he left. Neat! We made our way down and docked in Clayton New York. After taking a nap we visited the wooden boat museum and then I got some much needed work done. Below are some images taken in the town of Clayton and at the wooden boat museum.

 Day 5:


Passing ships

Next morning we woke up early and headed over to the gas dock. We refueled and started heading down the river to our next stop; Alexandria Bay. It was only about a 90 minute trip, close to Clayton. The small town is across from an island with a famous castle on it. The husband built the castle for his wife, and she died before it was completed, so she never got to see it. The motor down was very picturesque, small houses, huge mansions, homes on tiny islands – the scenery was quite beautiful. We tried to get in to the castle dock, but the water was too shallow, so we ended up across the channel tied up to the city dock.

Located in a small cove, we were about 150 feet from shore and the water was 45 ft deep! The center of the channel was perhaps 200 yards away, and it was 250 ft deep! We waited for a few hours for our travelling companions – they had motor issues and were delayed in departing Clayton. When they arrived, we went to dinner in a family owned Italian restaurant – the food was awesome! While we were there, the captain of the other vessel travelling with us told us that they had waved to a person sitting on their porch who lived on a house on an island just outside Alexandria Bay. He met that person at the restaurant we were eating at, and invited him over for drinks after dinner. We socialized afterwards, and learned a little history of the area.

Day 6:

In front of the mansion after the tour

The next morning he came over and picked us up, and took us on a personal tour of the mansion he lived in. The mansion was bought by his parents when he was 5 years old, and was filled with artifacts from the early 20th century – an Edison drum phonograpgh in good working order, old muskets, antique pianos – it was like walking through a museum. We had a wonderful tour, then said our goodbyes and headed down the river. It was uneventful, beautiful scenery, islands with castles on them – one of them even tried to solicit us to stop for a visit as we passed by. We got to the first lock – Iroquois – it was a “huge” lock with a big six inch drop – we laughed at the trivial drop, but further down we encoutered 2 locks – each dropped us 45 feet and they were only a mile or two apart. It was getting dark so I went below to look at the charts and catalogs we had on board to try and find us a place to spend the night. CRASH – #$@%$^#&$ – wow – I have never heard cussing like that – we had side swiped a HUGE channel mark. Our lead boat turned around to head back to a marina they had seen a mile or so back. I took over steering duty since my night vision was apparently better and we followed them to a marina about a mile up river. We tied up, and after talking on Skype to my wife, I enjoyed a good chili dinner along with a stiff drink to calm my nerves. Tomorrow we head to Montreal….

Day 7:


The morning started off well, the place we stayed was a marina on the Mohawk indian reservation. We had a great conversation with the owner while we fueled up, and then left so we could recalibrate our autopilot which was still acting up. This involves doing two slow 2-minute circles. With a 5 mph current that was almost impossible to do, and in the end after about 5-6 circles we gave up and started heading down the river again. I was taking a look at the charts and looking for our next lock when we ended up running aground on the only shallow spot for miles around in a mile wide river. We gunned the throttle and headed back up stream from whence we came, and we slowly came off. Then, after we motored into the navigation channel, I took the helm and we headed back downstream.

Our destination today will be Montreal. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We motored down the river past some beautiful fall foilage, across some very wide lakes until we came to the outskirts of Montreal. The first of 2 double locks was in Beauharnois. We passed through the first lock, dropping 45 ft and then motored on to lock 2. We tied up and while waiting for a cruise ship to enter the lock, our travelling companion’s dog slipped off the deck and fell into the water. Panic ensued for a few minutes until they were able to get him out of the water. Then we exited the lock after dropping another 45 ft, and motored on to the second pair of locks.

We were too late for locking through so we anchored out in a bay next to the lock. The lead boat dropped anchor, and we rafted off them. We went over to their boat and enjoyed a wonderfully simple dinner; grilled cheese sandwich with broccoli-cheese soup, followed by chocolate for dessert. Yummy!! We were all tired and turned in early – we are on the outskirts of Montreal, but didn’t quite make it down to the city itself. Tomorrow…

Day 8:


A lifting bridge we has to pass under

We woke up this morning and it was raining. First lousy day. Temps were in the 60s but there was a damp chill in the air. A freighter came out of the lock right at 9am, the official starting hour for locking through pleasure boats. Alas, the light stayed red; there was another freighter right behind it. An hour later the light went green and we were waved into the lock. After dropping another 45ft, we were done with all the locks – YAAAAY! We motored out the channel, and turned into the current to motor to our marina a mile or so south of the canal entrance. In the manuals, it suggested skirting the channel on the left side to make headway as the current was strong in the center. We went straight up the middle. Motoring at 8.5 knots, our headway was about 2 knots, a 6.5 knot current! So our 20 minute trip took an hour. We tied up in the marina about a block from old town Montreal, a very quaint area. 2 more crew (both ladies) were due around 7pm that evening, so after a hearty lunch on Island Dancer, we headed back to the boat to clean up and prep for their arrival. That meant me moving in with the food. We got eveything arranged and I moved into the food locker – a single but comfortable and warm.

The women arrived around 7pm with all the goodies; a new mainsail and autopilot compass, plus all their clothes and some supplies. We went out to dinner at a restaurant that was located in old town Montreal in a house built in the 1700s! Had a great dinner and  then went back to bed. Next morning we went out for breakfast, and then decided to look for a grocery store to provision the boat. It took a while to find the store because it was in an indoor mall, AND the street names kept changing as you walked. Walk a block and the name of the street changed – it was very confusing, but we made it. These pics below are some we took on the adventure in old town.

Once we got to the store we stocked up and then carried the food back to the boat and put it away. We had hors douvres and wine, and then I went to bed while the others went over to the companion boat to watch the presidential debate. Next day we left and struck out for Quebec City.

Second half of this adventure to come later…

The Adventure Begins…

This is the start of an adventure. I will be documenting with words and pictures over the next 2 years or so as we prepare for and begin the adventure of a lifetime. Since I was a kid I have always wanted to sail around the world. Well, that will not be happening. But the next best thing is for me and the love of my life to take our boat on an ocean adventure and explore this wonderful world we live in; meet new people, see new places, smell new smells and just take it all in.

Our plan is to finish fixing up the boat and then take it out to the ocean. There’s a lot more to it than that but the full plan, which has already been set in motion is this:

  • Get rid of everything we don’t want. That means selling stuff, giving things away to friends and family or donating to charity. We want as small an amount as possible to store so that it doesn’t cost us a fortune. We are actively getting rid of stuff right now; pictures, TVs, mowers, clothes, furniture, whatever we don’t think is necessary to start anew when we return. We are down to 1 bedroom set, 2 dining room tables, a computer workstation (my land-based office) and a bunch of stuff we are still trying to get rid of. The house is emptying out…
  • Move out of the house and turn it over to the landlord. This we will do after my wife’s oldest son gets married next month. After Easter will will have a huge garage sale, sell all the things we aren’t storing and donate what we don’t sell to charity.
  • Move whats left onto the boat. There’s a lot of stuff on the boat – weekender type stuff – that will need to come off and then we will do a serious job of provisioning and packing for an 18 month journey.
  • Finish the to-do list. There are some painting, hatch repairs and replacements that need to be done, as well as other equipment purchases and installs that we will need to do before we depart. We are VERY adamant about our safety gear, MOB beacons, tethers, harnesses, EPIRBs and the all important liferaft. Some of the things can be done while we are on the journey, and we will do that, but there are many things – like the hatches – that need done before we can leave.
  • Depart…

To those interested in visiting us along the way, we will provide a spreadsheet with estimated times that we will be in certain locations. We will keep everyone updated as to our progress, and will welcome any traveles that wish to join us for part of our adventure.

Our itinerary thus far is to cross Lake Erie, transit the Welland Canal into Lake Ontario, then visit Toronto, and travel the North shore of the lake over to Kingston. From there we will briefly head over to the USA side of the river to Clayton and then Alexandria Bay. Then we will return to the Canadian side, and travel down the St Lawrence River to Montreal, Quebec City, and then out into the St Lawrence Seaway.

Our next major stop will be Tadoussac, a MAJOR whale watching area. This is at the entrance to the Sanguenay fjord which we will explore a little as well. Then we will head over to the East side of the seaway, and head North towards Riviere-au-Renaud on the tip of the Gaspe peninsula. Then we round the peninsula and head South to visit the Gannet colony off Perce and then on to Summerside on Prince Edward Island (PEI) where we will visit a Yacht/Curling club. Our next stop will be Charlottetown, the capital. Almost all the mussels you eat in restaurants come from this island. We will be sampling some of the local fare 🙂

When we leave PEI, we will sail to Port Hawkesbury and on to the Bras d’Or Lake where we will go to Baddeck and see the Alexander Graham Bell museum. From there we will go to Canso on the North East tip of Nova Scotia. We will travel down the coast to Halifax, Clarks Harbor, Digby, then across the Bay of Fundy to Maine where we will head South along the coast and explore some of the local towns before launching off to Provincetown on Cape Cod.

After transiting the Cape Cod Canal, we’ll put in a quick stop at Woods Hole, then off to Nantucket and Marthas Vineyard before heading over to Newport for a few days. We will leave there and head South to Norfolk Virginia and hope to arrive there in late September.

After some time visiting family, we will join a rally in early November and head to the BVI where we will explore the local islands before sailing North to the Bahamas in February. We will traverse the Bahamas moving North and eventually jumping back to the US coast. Heading up the coast we will take the Hudson River from New York up to Albany where we will drop our mast and take the Erie Canal to Buffalo and then head home to Port Clinton from there.

We expect to be gone until September of ’18 – God willing.

During the planning of this trip we have received advice and guidance from many people, some we hope to meet on our journey and personally thank for their assistance.

My next blog will be a teaser – I have already taken part of this trip! I left in early October on a friend’s boat and made it as far as PEI before bad weather forced an end to the journey. We wanted to check out whether this trip would be feasible for us, from a sailing AND a work perspective. I still need to work and wanted to ensure that I would have sufficient access to both internet and phone to be able to continue working while we travel. The good news is I  will – we had 4G LTE coverage for 98% of the time, so I am sure I will be able to serve my customers well. My office will however be mobile.