August 26, 2006 - Rideau Canal

Change of Plan

What is that saying about “the best laid plans of mice and men…”? After much research, deliberation, argumentation and negotiation, we have now officially changed THE (CRUISING) PLAN. Instead of doing the Trent-Severn Waterway, Georgian Bay and the North Channel then going on to Chicago and the Mississippi, we decided to lop about a thousand miles off our journey down south.

As things now stand, we will make our way up the Rideau Canal, down the Ottawa River to Montreal and then back to Sorel to catch the next flight of snow birds going down the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain route. From there we will take the Hudson River to New York, and then travel down the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) to Florida.

We did make it as far as Trenton last week where our son Josh joined us for a night at a quiet anchorage near Belleville. We then changed our course after dropping Josh off back at Trenton and retraced our route to Kingston to enter the start of the Rideau Canal last Monday. In Kingston we had a great visit with old friends Brian and Carolyn who came down from Orleans to have lunch aboard. After spending a night at the Kingston Marina, André jury-rigged a support brace to lower the mast to fit under some of the low bridges and we began our travel up the Rideau. It is gorgeous, no hurry kind of travel but you have to keep a close watch on your depth sounder. There are beautiful spots for anchoring or just being nosy looking at great properties along the shoreline.

Friday we met up with old friends Bill and Donna Garland at Chaffeys Locks and they traveled up several locks with us to Westport where they have a summer home. Tomorrow we’ll head towards Smith Falls and then on to Ottawa for a few days.

Taking the Great Circle is nearly 2700 nautical miles to reach Palm Beach, Florida from Trenton as opposed to 1700 miles with this alternative, called the Down East Circle Route. A thousand miles is a lot of diesel and many days of forsaken anchorages and visits. We’re now enjoying a slower pace, as it was starting to feel too much like work to have to cover a certain amount of distance every day in order to maintain our schedule. We’ll just have to come north a little earlier next summer to ensure we have enough time to try the Great Circle Route again at our leisure.

Hope everything is well with our friends and family.

Andre and Olga on board m/v Mystic Bond

The Rideau Canal , August-September 2006

We went to Trenton for the run north and turned back because of the late season Beautiful scenery on the Rideau Canal
Lots of locks to go through
Most locks are the original dating from the 1800's
Watching your depth is critical so admiring the scenery comes second
Olga coming back from a chat with the lock master
The navaids and directions are quite clear especially with 20 feet clearance
Mystic Bond at Chaffey's Lock
We used all the fenders we had
Janet and Frank visiting with Chester at Dow's Lake
A small step down before getting to Ottawa
Alison helping us lock through
   
Coming into Ottawa
Docked across the National Arts Center...for free
Big step down (7 flights) leaving Ottawa
Finally, we made it to the Ottawa River

September 6, 2006

Special Log

To those who will relate to our mode of travel: it has been three months to the day since we moved aboard Mystic Bond.

What has changed?...lots:

We’ve had a blast since moving on the boat. Some days have been horrible (usually due to weather and sea states) but most days have been a fantastic experience.

What you see on the water is quite revealing. Our waterways are really unique and still relatively undeveloped. There are still many anchoring spots but they are going fast.

Our friends Howard and Donna just came back from the south of Newfoundland where there is still real wilderness. While such a trip is not in my bones (or my confidence level) I envy what they have done.

Hope more of you guys get out there and DO IT!

Andre and Olga on board m/v Mystic Bond

September 6, 2006 - Ottawa River

Heading South

Hurray! The pointy end of the boat is finally heading south on the Richelieu River.

For the past few weeks, we’ve had a wonderful time on the Rideau Canal, in Dow’s Lake, downtown Ottawa and then on the Ottawa River. We met with family, old and new friends as we went along, people we had not seen in years or fast new friends of the boating type.

The Rideau and Ottawa River are fabulous cruising grounds with lots of anchorages or docks to tie to. While the depth sounder did show zero feet a few times, it is safe cruising and the worst you’ll get is lots of mud and grass on the propeller. One morning we pulled a whole log from the bottom which had provided a “safe” anchorage for us. Oh well! A boater’s nightmare is Mother Nature’s delight and thank God for superpowered hydraulics.

On the way down the Ottawa River we encountered a bit of a traffic jam at the Carillon Lock, since it was the last day of the Labour Day weekend and everyone was trying to get back to Montreal before dark. It was Monday, but talk about Sunday drivers! Back on the St. Lawrence Seaway, we detoured back to old Montreal for one last night at Steak & Frites. If you ever come to Montreal you have to try that restaurant on St. Paul Street in old Montreal. You have to bring your own wine (very civilized) but they provide fantastic (and cheap) food. I (Andre) even ate snails (disguised in lots of cheese and garlic).

The ride from Montreal to Sorel this morning (40 miles) was interesting with container ships or tankers every half hour or so. The channel is very narrow and we had real joy rides in the wakes of those ships. The consensus is “the uglier the boat the less wake, while the sleek ones provide for a good 5 feet wake behind”. A Northeast wind of 15 + knots on the nose did not help.

As soon as we reached Sorel and turned into the Richelieu, seas were calm and the scenery nice. We are now docked at a Parks Canada lock called Saint Ours. For our English friends that translates as Saint Bear. Don’t ask me who he was or whose patron he is, but there are no grislys here, just a beautiful park with a nice sunset.

We will be spending a few days at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu to get ourselves ready for U.S. Customs. (We still have lots of wine and scotch to drink!). We still have a stuffing box issue to resolve and a few other maintenance issues that we want to take care of so we will need to make enquiries about hauling out the boat for a few hours.

Andre and Olga on board m/v Mystic Bond

 

The Ottawa River to Montréal, September 2006

The main point of interest was the Carillon Lock On a long weekend it gets crowded
But we all fitted into the locks except for latecomers
This is quite a height...
And one big door...
Impressive when it opens and you see sky again

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